Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gum Boot Commute

Well as you can imagine, Uncle Ed’s sudden passing, peacefully in his bed
caused us no end of worry, yes, a real big problem
that is to say, how were we to get his twenty four stones down the
winding way of his crooked stairs in his crooked house where
nothing, wall, floor, tables, chairs or ceiling grows up straight?
There was talk of cables and hoists, planks and ropes but
somehow we made it without any of these things. Course,
throw in the super-sized coffin and the sheer bulk
meant that the tradition of close family and friends
being pall-bearers went right out the window – which
was another option we considered when we got him
out of there, past his portrait as a young boy in RAF
uniform at the start of the war – everything was thinner
in black and white except his glasses and smile. Past the
china dogs with chipped noses and out into the village where
mourners gathered and everyone traded their
favourite memories of Uncle Edgar – how he always wore
gum boots whatever the weather even on the beach in summer,
the car he bought in 1967 – an Austin A40 that never went anywhere
because Ed refused to go further than the end of the village and this:
the time he was asked to shift the chicken shed so he set to it
crow-barring the boards apart and walloping the beams
and it was hot work but he kept on until the roof was gone, the walls
were gone and there was just the floor and he took of his cap,
wiped his brow and prised the planks and yanked the nails
and chucked the timber into neat stacks when the dirt started to move
and he couldn’t believe his eyes but it wasn’t dirt or earth that moved
but thousands and thousands of grey mice that scampered this way
and that ‘shocked by the sudden daylight’ the old boy laughed, and said
there were mice in every woodpile, pantry, piano and shed
and Farmer told Ed it was probably best he kept quiet about this
day’s work so he did, walked from farm to his crooked cottage
-in his gumboots - at the top of the hill –his daily commute.

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