Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Wilfred The Macaw: My good friend Mr Clack agrees to look after Mrs Hewitt's pet macaw

….And a Parrot in a Pear Tree.

The half finished quarter bottle of Lamb’s Navy Rum slipped from Mr Arthur Clack’s hand landing on the empty bottles of pale ale that surrounded his armchair. The sudden crash woke Mr Clack from his alcoholic sedation and his eyes darted around the room looking for any young thug, who may be about to clobber him over the head for his shop takings. There was nobody. Even so, he swore at his none existent assailant advising them not to try it with him.

As a locksmith and key-cutter by trade, with a small corner heel bar, the last thing he needed was a break-in and his picture appearing in the papers with a big black eye. Very bad for business if people think that he can’t lock his own doors. That’s why he kept the loaded Luger pistol down the side of the chair. If they got in, they weren’t getting out, he would say to anyone brave enough to stay in the room when he started waving it about.

“Let them bloody try it!” he’d shout as visitors edged towards the door suddenly remembering an urgent appointment.

It was the Luger pistol “what did” for Mrs Hewitt’s pet Macaw, Wilfred. He was called, Wilfred, after Wilfred Pickles, who was a big star at the time she got him. Wilfred Pickles had a weekly radio quiz called “Have A Go” which ran from the late 1940s for about 20 years. Contestants had to answer questions for cash prizes, and at a time when there was still rationing, the thought of winning cash was very exciting and it elevated Wilfred Pickles to superstardom. It was a very popular programme and Mrs Hewitt loved it and the host. Well Wilfred the Macaw was a wonderful talker and what’s more he could repeat all the catchphrases from the show.

“How do, how are yer?” "Are yer courting?", "What's on the table, Mabel?" and "Give him the money, Barney"

The macaw became a minor local celebrity amongst the neighbours. He could have become even more famous if he hadn’t taken a sudden vow of silence on the day Wilfred Pickles and the BBC actually turned up at the house to do a feature on him.

The moment they shoved the microphone up to his beak, Wilfred the macaw retired from all conversation. Cage Fright, they said. “Waste of my bloody time” said Mr Pickles as he stormed out without even saying goodbye to Mrs Herwitt, who stood there, holding open her unsigned autograph book that she’d bought just for the ocassion.

Years later, and the show long forgotten, Mrs Hewitt still had Wilfred, and still he refused to speak. One day, she announced that she had to go away and asked Mr Clack to mind Wilfred for a week. She was going to stay with her sister to help her about the house following her hip operation, although Mr Clack told everyone they’d put her sister in the Looney-bin, which was his standard observation when anyone went into hospital.
Mrs Hewitt loving mummy to Wilfred the macaw
On the second night of Wilfred’s stay, Mr Clack had again been dozing in the armchair, while Wilfred, who was still wide awake, preened his magnificent green and blue tail feathers, occasionally looking up at his unfamiliar surrounds and wondering when Mrs Hewitt would appear with a seedless grape or some such treat.

Radio Four was playing in the background, broadcasting a nostalgic look at radio quiz shows. Clack had nodded off in the middle of a clip from Robert Robinson’s Brain of Britain. The clip had gone on for far too long and as he dozed, Mr Clack muttered something abusive about Robinson’s stupid combe over hair and him being a baldy know-all. “You should be proud of your baldy head! Like me!” He exclaimed as he slumped back into the chair.
Robert Robinson (baldy)
The next sound was Mr Clack gently snoring, causing Wilfred to look up and cock his head to one side before burying it again into his tail feathers.

While Mr Clack fell into a deep sleep, the radio programme moved on to some other long running favourites and they began talking about The Wilfred Pickles show “Have A Go”

The Queen Mother was apparently a great fan and was in the audience for the particular survivng clip they began to play from the archives.

After all these years, the sound of old Wilfred Pickles, and his catchphrases must have been a bit of a shock for the Macaw, who suddenly found his voice and screamed out one of the half remembered catchphrases from his perch.

“Give us the money! ” It screeched.


A shot rang out, Clack had woken up thinking he was being robbed and imediately grabbed the gun. There was a muffled thud and three feathers floated down from the ceiling in front of Mr Clacks startled, bulging eyes. His nose twitched with the smell of gunpowder, and then the silence was broken by the sound of the neighbours, hammering on the wall.

“It’s alright..”, he shouted, “it was the bulb”

“You bleedin’ maniac, you want locking up!” cried the voice from next door.

“Sod off !” Mr Clack shouted, as he rose from his chair, still holding the smoking gun. He gingerly approached the tray at the base of Wilfred’s perch. There, eyes still wide but glazed in death and with his beak open and twisted to one side, lay Wilfred, who had quite evidently gone to join his namesake.

It had been a perfect clean shot, right through the heart but the pride in his marksmanship was offset by the concern about how he was going to explain it to old Ma Hewitt. Within the hour he was telephoning Mrs Hewitt, to get it over with and give her the bad news.

Mr Clack
“Hello, Mrs Hewitt? Listen, I’ve had to take Wilfred to the vet, he took bad during, Bargain Hunt. Twenty quid they charged me! But I’m afraid it’s bad news.There was nothing they could do the vet said in fact they were surprised he had lasted so long. Did you know he had a hole in the heart?”

Mrs Hewitt, was grief stricken. “Oh poor Wilfred, I knew I should have taken

him with me but she’s allergic, I knew something like this would happen, I thought he was a bit off colour when he wouldn’t eat his seedless grapes”

“Well he’s at peace now …he didn’t suffer, it was very quick” said Mr Clack trying to give her some comfort. “..he even spoke one last time, just before he passed away, found his voice after all these years ”

“Oh what did he say?”

“…he called your name, he said where’s ….where’s …he said where’s… Agnes?”

“Who’s Agnes?”

“It’s you isn’t it?”


“ Oh, well I can’t bloody remember….look I was too upset to take bleedin' notes, anyway he was probably delirious with the fever”

“what fever? I thought you said it was a hole in his heart”

“ It was but he had some complications, that’s why they couldn’t operate..look I’m not a bleedin’ vet ask them”

“Oh I will, don’t you worry, what’s their number?”

“ You can’t..…..the vet’s dead as well”

“The vet’s dead? How did that happen?”

“…er…he got bitten by a python. A big one”

“I thought pythons crush you don't they, you say he got bitten by it, that wouldn’t kill him would it?

“No, well a Tarantula bit him first, then the python grabbed him in it’s claws, and bit him as well before it wrapped itself around him, so he couldn’t get to the cupboard for a dock leaf or whatever they put on Tarantula stings I mean scorpion bites. Look does it matter? I'm still in shock here! You know what, they shouldn’t be allowed to have these dangerous pets, I’ve always said… anyway, look he’s dead, so there’s no point you ringing them.”

“How awful, oh I don’t know what to say! Would you do me a favour, Mr Clack, will you get a nice box to bury him in?”

“What, the vet? His family will sort that wont they?”

“No, for Wilfred I mean, I want him buried in the garden by the Clematis. Get something decent. Go to the antiques place by the church, they have some lovely ones there. I’ll pay you for it and see you right for the cost of the vet’s bill, but make sure you get a nice one, I’m not bothered about the cost. I want Wilfred to have the best. Actually there’s a lovely one in the window, with a brass lock and hinges on it”

“What do you need a brass lock on it for, he’s not going to try and get out?”

“Because it looks nice, will you just do it for me please. I’ll give you the money when I get back”


The conversation went better than expected but Mr Clack couldn’t help thinking what a waste of money, buying some antique box to bury some dead bird in the ground.

Mr Clack looked down at Wilfred’s carcase still lying open beaked in the tray. His hands moved from side to side with uncertainty over the dead macaw, while he wondered how best to pick it up. There was a long thin stick of rock from Llandudno on the shelf, it had been there for years and the cellophane had turned yellow with age. That might do it, he thought, looks about the right size. It was a perfect fit for the bullet hole and Mr Clack was able gently thread it through and lift Wilfred from the floor, being careful to not allow the bird to slide down the rock onto his hand. This was a difficult move as Wilfred’s now stiff body began to spin around requiring him to be centred with a hand on each end of the stick of rock to balance Wilfred in the middle. Looks like he’s on a spit, thought Mr Clack, giving it an extra twirl as he entered the kitchen…he paused, looking towards the grill… best not, he thought, probably not much meat on them anyway.

Mr Clack let Wilfred slide from the Llandudno keepsake into a Tesco carrier bag and quickly rolled the top of it tightly together. A bag for life, it said. Not if you’re a parrot, he thought to himself.

“A Polly-thene bag!” he suddenly shouted, smiling at his wit in the face of such tragedy. Ahh you have to have a joke, he said, it’s our way of dealing with things.

Right, he said, I’ve got to buy you a wooden overcoat tomorrow. And with that, he turned out the light and went to bed.

The next morning, Mr Clack was standing outside, Austin Cambridge’s Antiques Shop on the High Street. In Mr Clack’s opinion, the proprietor of the shop was; a pillock, a robbing swine, or a smarmy little spiv. Primarily though he was a pillock, for having the same name as the model of the car owned by Mr Clack. (not that it ever came out of the garage other than for it’s monthly polish and turn-over of the engine)

Mr Clack looked at the name above the shop and then at the eponymous owner, who stood there waiting to hear the usual comment.
“Your mother must have been barmy, fancy being called Cambridge and then calling the baby Austin….ha, baby Austin that was a car as well”

Mr Cambridge had to listen to this same wearying opening gambit every time Mr Clack walked by or worse called in for a look around, saying everything in the shop was spiv prices. But this time, as he walked through the doorway, he got straight to business. How much is that box in the window? And give me the proper price not the spiv price! He demanded.

“Eighty Five Pounds” Cambridge replied, just waiting for the cries of outrage and “I’ve thrown better stuff than that on the skip”

But instead, Mr Clack said, “Right, I’m interested in that.”

“Really?” asked Cambridge expressing some doubt.

“ Oh yes,” he replied with a grin. Mr Clack, rested his elbow on the counter holding his chin in his hand stroking it with one finger, whilst he began to think. “Eighty Five Quid eh? So these things really sell for that?”

“Yes they do Mr Clack, but if you want it, you’d better hurry up as there’s somebody coming to see it this afternoon, he’s a dealer from London”

“I tell you what, just hold the price tag up and let me take a picture of it, just to see if it goes with the rest of my collection and I’ll let you know later, but don’t keep it for me if there’s another buyer” Mr Clack took out the camera, that he always carried, in the hope of photographing an accident and selling the picture to the papers.

All afternoon, Mr Clack kept phoning Austin, and true to form, calling him a different model of automobile each time.

Hello, is that Morris Oxford? Has that box sold yet?

Hello, is that Vauxhall Victor, have they been in to buy the box yet?

Hello, is that The Hatchback of Notre Dame, has it….Yes? It’s been sold, bloody marvellous! No I don’t need another one, that one is perfect.”

So armed with the photographic evidence of an £85.00 Victorian Rosewood and Brass fittings sewing box. Wilfred the Macaw was laid to rest under the clematis in Mrs Hewitt’s back garden, wrapped in the Tesco shopping bag along with a receipt for a bottle of Lambs Navy Rum, six bottles of Pale Ale and an Admirals Pie.

When Mrs Hewitt returned, a few days later she called to the house looking for the box so that she could bury Wilfred, and asked if Mr Clack would be kind enough to dig a little hole for her. (Mr Clack resisted the temptation to say why, are you not well either?)

Oh you can’t, it’s too late, said Mr Clack, I had to bury him yesterday, he was stinking the house out. Mrs Hewitt winced, but said oh, I see, yes, I’ll go and look. Mr Clack went with her to the grave, I didn’t want you getting upset he said, showing her the photo of the box in which Wilfred was supposed to have been laid to rest and telling her the price, several times. “And then the vet was another twenty” he said. They arrived at the resting place and Mrs Hewitt looked at it in surprise, holding her hands to her face…

”Oh Mr Clack!” she said, “..that’s lovely, oh you are thoughtful, how kind of you!”

The little grave had been marked out with some round white stones (stolen from the rockery across the road) and a little cross had been manufactured from two old pencils and an elastic band and stuck into the soil. The finishing touch was a little bunch of plastic grapes taken from Mrs Hewitt’s ornamental vine by the kitchen door.

“He loved his grapes didn’t he” said Mr Clack, as he took out his handkerchief and blew his nose productively before offering it to Mrs Hewitt so she could wipe the tear from her cheek. “It’s alright, I have a tissue” she said reaching into her bag. The next thing he knew, Mrs Hewitt placed a hundred and ten pounds into Mr Clack’s hand.

“That’s for the vet bill and the box, you keep the change…” she said, “..have a little drink, to Wilfred” And for the first time ever, Mrs Hewitt leaned forward placing her hands on Mr Clacks shoulders and gave him a small kiss on the cheek.

“You’re a good man at heart Arthur, despite what everyone says. I won’t forget you for this. I really won’t”

Clack looked at the money and then glanced at the grave and at Mrs Hewitt as she tried to hold back another dignified tear…..

Something was stirring in that dark cavity where once lived a conscience.

“Arrgghhhh!” he suddenly bellowed.

“Good grief! Whatever’s the matter?” cried Mrs Hewitt, turning in alarm.

“Cramp” he said….he paused and looked at the grave and again at Mrs Hewitt..

“Look, I can’t take this, I won’t take it. I don’t want any money, you have it back, you keep it, do what you want with it, give it to the RSPB or something, I don’t want it…….I LOVED THAT BLOODY BIRD!

Reovering his composure, and not wanting to overdo it, he said “Let me pay for it, it’s the least I can do for him, my way of thanking him for all the years of pleasure he gave us. God Bless the little fellow.”

Mrs Hewitt was amazed. “Arthur, you’ve taken my breath away, I had no idea you cared so much about Wilfred, you were always flicking things at him when you came round or making those sudden loud spitting noises like a cat to make him jump. Oh you! You’re just a big softy really aren’t you, it’s all an act, all this meanness. Well thank you, thank you from both of us. What a lovely gesture.” Mrs Hewitt took the money, popped it back into her bag and turned again to look at the grave.

“Arthur, go on, you get yourself off to the pub, I know you want to. I’ll be fine, don’t worry and thank you
for that idea, I’m going to write that cheque to the RSPB right now.”

“Er hang on…” Arthur spluttered, suddenly remembering that he was skint and hearing that the money was going to charity. What better charity than his beer kitty?

“I tell you what….er, just pay me for the vet, only I’m a bit short for the pub…and I’d like to raise a glass in Wilfred’s memory”

“Yes of course” said Mrs Hewitt, slightly flustered as she began digging back into her handbag. “Twenty they charged you wasn’t it?”

“Er thirty… with the taxi”

“Look, here’s forty, I don’t want you out of pocket, now take it or I’ll be cross with you”

Clack took the forty pounds and thrust it into his long deep trouser pocket, before he got another attack of conscience. “Give us a shout if you need anything” he said, going out of the gate and heading in the direction of the local with a cheerful whistle.

For the next five hours, Mr Clack drank heavily but without enjoyment. He had visions of Wilfred spinning, - literally - in his mind. He was about to take out his last five pound note when the barman called for everyone to drink-up.

When he got home, he put the fiver in a jug on the shelf, where it sat for over a year, A year in which Mrs Hewitt had filled her house with Macaw and parrot ornaments and little pictures in an ever growing shrine to Wilfred.

Being woken now by the smash of his bottle causing him to reach for the gun, had brought all these memories back and the feelings of guilt began to gnaw at him once again. But then suddenly the cause of the noise registered in his mind. Christ! That’ was my rum he thought as he leapt from the chair. Luckily most of the contents had poured into his shoe hardly losing any of the precious liquid. He carefully lifted the shoe and poured it back into the bottle picking out the odd bit of fluff from his socks. That’ll be alright, I could do with another bottle though, that’s not going to last but I’m skint, he thought. Then he remembered the fiver in the jug.

“Oh, that sodding bird!” The radio played Big Ben’s chimes announcing midnight and Christmas Eve. “Too late now, he thought, I’ll nip out tomorrow.

That night he dreamed of fighting his way through the Amazon Rainforest looking for an off licence, Parrots shouted directions at him deliberately sending him the wrong way and then laughing and squawking, mocking him as he fell through the dense foliage and tore his clothes on the thick sharp branches.

On the morning of Christmas Eve at precisely 11.00am he set out for the off licence on the main road, to get his bottle of Rum, clutching the five pound note from the jug. On the way, he passed by many of the increasing number of charity shops that had opened up on the High Street, and he suddenly stopped as something in one of the window displays caught his eye. It was a large toy macaw, almost the same colour as Wilfred. It sat there, almost smiling at him, resting happily on a plastic swing perch suspended by a string from the ceiling. The slightly battered original box was below. The print on the side read “Monty The Talking Macaw. Realistic Movements, 10 fun phrases and playback voice recorder.” The shop had stuck on a price tag of £4.99, with batteries included” Clack looked at the toy bird and began to think.

On Christmas day, Mr Clack and a couple of neighbours had been invited round to Mrs Hewitt’s for drinks and the Queens speech. He arrived like every year with perfect timing, just as the Queen was finishing. Oh you’ve missed it again, said Mrs Hewitt. Never mind, it’s repeated later, now what would you like to drink Mr Clack?
Queen's Christmas Speech 3.00pm
“I’ll have a large rum if there’s any going?” he said, smiling with anticipation and rubbing his hands.
“Oh, I don’t have any spirits, only a bottle of Emva Cream, the QC or a Snowball, oh there’s some  Cherry B’s from the Professor if you’d…”

“Oh for Christ sake, have you not even got any cans?” Mrs Hewitt shook her head. “Ahhh give us some of the QC then…no use that big glass” he said, taking the schooner from her hand and passing her a large tumbler from the draining board. Fill it up - save you coming back out.

The rude Professor

They went into the lounge and greeted the neighbours, who’d also been invited in for the annual festive drink. They had been looking at the mountain of parrots and macaws covering the sideboard, the shelves and the table in the window. I see you’re admiring my collection, said Mrs Hewitt proudly. Yes, there’s a load of junk in our shed you can have if you want, said the professor from next door. Mrs Hewitt thought he was a very rude man but she was a good friend to his wife so she usually had to tolerate him.

“Mr Clack bought me a christmas present you know” she announced to the guests. The professor, who was a regular drinking partner with Mr Clack and knew how careful he was with money, almost choked and spluttered his drink on hearing this news. He knew more than most how tight-fisted Mr Clack was, and yet only a couple of hours earlier, when he saw him, he’d given him a glass of rum, which was a nice surprise, even though he had to pick some bits of fluff out of it. He’d even given him a present for his wife; a stick of Llandudno rock. But Clack buying Mrs Hewitt a Christmas present went beyond all comprehension. The professor couldn’t think what had gotten into his miserable old friend. “Christmas?” He thought to himself hearing the voice of Tiny-Tim in his head.

Sorry..wrong Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim; A Christmas Carol
 “Go on you can choke” said Mrs Hewitt, “You’ve never bought me anything for Christmas, you old misery” She went over to the tree and returned with the toy macaw to show everyone. “Now it says on the box that he talks Mr Clack, but I can’t get him to say anything…just like our Wilfred, he stopped talking too, it must be me!”

“He probably just can’t get a word in edge ways” the professor muttered.

Mr Clack took the bird and said it might be the batteries and began to fiddle with it. As he did so, Mrs Hewitt told everyone the story of Mr Clack’s kindness when Wilfred had died and how he’d bought the expensive box in which to bury him, how he paid for the vet and had even made the little grave in the garden. As she spoke everyone leaned forward in disbelief wondering if it was the same Mr Clack she was talking about.

“Don’t look at him like that..” she said, “…you don’t know him like I do. He loved Wilfred, didn’t you Mr Clack?”

“Here that should do it, one of the batteries was in the wrong way round” said Mr Clack, standing the toy macaw on the coffee table for everyone to admire.

“Say something into it..” he said, “…it copies your voice and plays it back funny”.

Mrs Hewitt leaned forward and said loudly, “Hello Wilfred”

The macaws head and wings began to move.

“Hello Wilfred” it replied in a speeded up version of Mrs Hewitt.

Everybody laughed and then the macaw laughed too, copying them. This went on several times causing even more laughter, even Mr Clack was laughing.

Mrs Hewitt clapped her hands in enjoyment. The macaw’s head and wings moved again playing back the sound of her clap. Wait, she said, I’ve got one, quiet a moment...

Mrs Hewitt leaned over the bird and said,

“Hello Mr Clack, thank you and Merry Christmas ”

The toy bird moved it’s head and wings, about to repeat her words and this time the wing seemed almost to point at Mr Clack.

“Murderer, murderer, murderer !!!!”  It screamed.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Nine Days That Shook The Neighbourhood: Mrs Chucklebutty Missing in Luftwaffe's final attempt to take Grotty Cash

By Jove Missus, despite all the problems of 2009, it's been a lot easier for me than 2008.

While I struggled away to keep producing my Internationally renowned blog "Professor Chucklebutty's Official Guide to Liverpool Capital of Custard 2008" terrible events were taking place at Grotty Cash Hall, the family home. Mrs Chucklebutty went missing after a terrible accident.

Now the Custard guide was vital to the success of 2008 and people were relying on me. Nobody knew what the programme was or who was doing what, or when. People were doing runners with large amounts of cash by the minute and then some scruffy haired bloke off the telly was wheeled out to try and steal all my credit! In the middle of all that, some giant mutant spider crawled out and started terrorising the city. So here ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, in one complete edition, previously only seen in a special multi-national BookFace Support group, are the full extracts from my personal diary covering the events that became known around the world as....................

       Mrs Chucklebutty is Missing

Dear Diary... (it was as well, £15.00! and it's not even leather bound!)
Day 1

When doing the gardening at the weekend, Mrs C, my dear wife, dug up a World War 2 shell. It turned out to be quite a large one as it happened.

She spent about an hour belting it with a shovel to check if it was still live. Now I know what you are thinking, but she was wearing earplugs as a safety precaution, she is not stupid. Anyway, she gave it one last almighty clout and guess what? It was live. Now half the garden is gone and so is she. I have no idea where she is, she left her wellies in the hole and I found her earplugs in the pebble dashing. The neighbours are furious! I have already had to fork out two grand for windows alone. Fortunately my ears are still ringing so I probably missed a lot of the unpleasant comments, well you could tell by their faces. I suspect that when she saw the damage to the street after it went off she did a runner. But thinking back to how she was straddling it at the time, I am starting to fear the worst
Day 3

I couldn’t write anything yesterday, I was just too upset. She has taped over the Emmerdale omnibus!!

It's been a couple of days now and no sign of her. The house seems very quiet; I just don’t know what could have happened to her.

I suppose it really hit me tonight when I went to the fridge and saw some chops we were supposed to be having for a special tea, just the two of us. Well now I just don't know what to do next.

Is it best to grill them or fry them?

If you see her get her to ring me, please! The sell by date is tomorrow.

She may be at her sisters but her sister wont speak to me, not since I offered to mend the toilet flush for her and got the connection mixed up with the power shower.  Just come home or ring me. Actually ring would be better or a fax.

Day 4 Still no sign of my dear wife. Although I heard a familiar moaning sound coming from up high in one of the Elms, well there is only one of them now, but at least the fire has gone out. Yes moans and intermittent shouts. That’s near where I found her top set of teeth yesterday. I was going to go and have a proper look but it's been raining most of the day so I stayed indoors and at last had the chance to catch up on Barnaby in Midsomer Murders. Anything just to take my mind off it all. Fantastic, I have got about six episodes of them on video to catch up on. And I can watch it without the constant “what’s he been in?”

Sometimes, she even asks it about John Nettles.It’s usually something like this;

Mrs C. “What’s he been in?”
Me “Midsomer! He’s been in this, this is it now, we are watching it!”
Mrs C “No the other one where he was a Bergerac, what was that called?”
Me "BERGERAC! It was Bergerac for god’s sake!
Mrs C “Yes I know that. But what was it called?”
Me “Dixon of Dock Green!”
Mrs C “………..well who was Julie Bravo in?”

I taped the Midsummer on Sunday and fortunately the aerial was still ok. So I spent almost the whole day enjoying them all by a nice warm fire. Well you don't want to go out again once you're settled do you and it's a bit nippy now. Mind you, that moaning sound has been getting louder. It could keep me awake all night. Luckily I still have those earplugs, which was a stroke of luck finding them. So, I'll be able to get some kip now and I can check up the tree in the morning. Mind you, thinking about it, what with all the worry and no one to do breakfast. I'll probably just have a lie-in instead. Oh, it’s started to pour with rain again now and it looks like a storm brewing. I'm definitely not going out there now, not with all that thunder and lightening, that tree has been struck a few times.

Day 4 pm

Popped out the back to have a look at the house - not as bad as I thought. I've got a tub of Polyfilla somewhere in the shed and most of the bricks have landed in nearby gardens, shouldn't be too big a job. Mr Clack will probably help; he's got step ladders and a pasting board. I am surviving on Winalot biscuits and Daz at the moment. That's all that's in the cupboard.

I have had a call from my friend Malcolm, who is on holiday in Romania. He thinks he may have spotted her wrestling with a goat and screaming something about not having any teeth. He said she was seen at the police station earler claiming that bats had urinated on her signed photo of Jimmy Clitheroe making all the ink run. Now instead of Jimmy Clitheroe it just reads _ _ m_y Clit_ _ _ __

I didn't even know she had one. I've never seen it, although I know she had one of Frankie Howard. That’s probably knocked a few quid off the value. She can hardly ask them to take a look at that on the Antiques Road Show.

Jimmy Clitheroe

Anyway, my friend Malcolm couldn’t be 100% sure it was her, as when he got closer, she ran off into the hills, still carrying the goat on her shoulders. It may have been her other sister Gladys, who lives out there. She likes goats.

Fantastic news everyone! Wonderful! With all the rain, the bomb crater is full of water and a lovely family of ducks have settled in. Still no sign of her though. I am going to play safe with the chops and boil them for a few hours. Maybe make a stew!

Day 5 am
More good news. The shovel she was belting the bomb with has been found and returned. Mrs C likes to engrave everything with our name and address. I think that's why Bernstein our tortoise did a runner. I told her to paint it on like they did with Daniel the Blue Peter Baby years ago - or was it Fred? Anyway, I've got it back and it's still in serviceable condition. It was found three streets away by our neighbour Mrs Hewitt. 

It seems that with the force of the explosion, it got embedded into somebody’s garage door. Well actually it caught the hood of Mrs Hewitt’s Danimac as it came down and pinned her to the door as well. The people who live there are away so she'd been dangling there in this weather since Saturday. The postman found her and cut her down. A tribute, I told her, to the quality of her waterproof Mac, as despite two days of solid downpour, her cardigan was still bone dry. She still hasn't said a word.

Just been back out in the garden, or what’s left of it and had a quick look up into the tree where all those funny noises seem to be coming from,. There are still definite noises but it is so full of debris, I can't make out if she's up there or not. First thing in the morning I am going to get somebody to take a proper look. The new greenhouse is being delivered as well so maybe they can check for me.

I must admit I am starting to miss her. It's the little things I miss most, like where I can find a clean teaspoon. In fact I don't think there's a clean dish or a pan in the house. I suppose I have let them all pile up a bit, I told her to do some before she started the gardening!  Ahh well there's nothing for it, I suppose I'll have to go and buy some more.

A bit of a mess in the kitchen

The other thing I am missing is those nights when she’d be out on the garden patio playing her cello, particularly the Elgar Concerto. The Elgar was always very moving to hear and she plays it with such passion. It reminded me of what a fine cultured woman she can be, until she suddenly stops and then starts screaming for me to come out and pull the effing slugs off her stockings. They must be missing her as well. As soon as she starts playing, out they would all come, hundreds of them, snails as well, from all over the garden like a great pilgrimage. Her legs were a shrine for them. I’ve told her to have more salt on her chops that’d keep them off. It's very odd in a way but her father also played cello and suffered the same problem with slugs and snails. One for Arthur C. Clarke I think.

 Mrs Chucklebutty's father  unfortunately all the pictures she has of him are with snails or slugs
Fed the ducks, in the new pond. Or should I say lake! Very relaxing and guess what, they are nesting. Bless them. I can’t wait for those little ducklings to hatch out. Four little eggs and soon little fluffy ducks running round the garden. She would love to see them. Well, life goes on and at last something to look forward to.
Day 6
Those duck eggs went down a treat for breakfast! Delicious. I am sure the ducks won’t mind, they can always lay some more and needs must as they say.Anyway, important message for everybody that has rallied round during this my hour of need, She is back!

I suppose four days up a tree half naked and covered in soil and splinters would get you rattled so not the easiest of homecomings. About five minutes ago there was what sounded like branches splintering and then an almighty crash and a yell as if somebody had dropped a bag of cement through the new green house that was put in this morning.

Within a few seconds there she was having kicked open the French windows and standing there like the creature from the black lagoon. All twigs and soil.

”Stig of the Dump!” I said jovially.

Not a flicker of a smile. Obviously not worried about how I’ve managed. She hasn't spoken to me directly but she was using some very course language and mumbling something about hearing the theme from Midsummer Murders over and over as she put her foot through the TV.  I was going to ask if she had any plans for tea but I think she is still in a bit of a mood. That's odd those are my suitcases!

Oh, she’s thrown all my clothes down the stairs now. That’s a good sign; she probably wants to catch up on the washing. Back to normal. What’s for supper?

Day 7

Will the fall-out never end? Mr Clack from the key cutting shop was raging at me today, not unusual in itself, he rages at anyone who comes into the shop and if it is to replace a lost key or get a duplicate, he goes berserk! "Why do I waste my effing time? What do you need another one for, don't you think I have anything better to do than cut effing keys all day?" He's a very bitter man. Anyway today he was particularly upset about his car. It is an Austin Cambridge hardly ever uses it, keeps it in the garage with about thirty locks on the door.

Well some time back I bought Mrs C a rather pleasant little garden gnome for her birthday. He had a shovel and a bag of gold looking like he was going to bury it. She adored the funny little chap and christened it Mr Henshaw. She was always polishing it, chatting to it until one day she caught her shin on it and as usual flew into a rage and took his head off with an axe.

Well Mr Henshaw’s head has remained lost in the undergrowth for at least 2 years. Mrs C had just stuck a pot of geraniums in the neck hole. Well every cloud, as they say. Mr Clack decided it was time to give his prize car its monthly wash and turn over the engine. Beautiful car and still in showroom condition. He opened up the garage and immediately saw a large hole in the roof and there to his surprise, in the middle of a severely dented bonnet surrounded by glass from the smashed windscreen, was Mr Henshaw's missing head, smiling up at him. What a stroke of luck!  The bomb must have unearthed it.

He didn't share my joy and continued to rant so loud about the damage to the car, that I had to turn the volume up on Midsummer (I’m onto the last tape) but then he threw poor Mr Henshaw's head right through the TV screen! A brand new 32" plasma High Defamation. That's two tellies gone in two days!  Unfortunately I forgot to unplug the set when Mrs C tried to pull the head out again. I swear with the first bang and flash you could see her in X-Ray as she flew across the room. She had just had a new bubble perm as well but now she looks like Don King. I decided not to make the comparison. It was bad enough when I sang Help, help; It's the Hair Bear Bunch!

This bomb has been a nightmare for me. I don't know yet where my canoe landed not to mention the sceptic tank. She still won’t let me back into the house and I am beginning to think that this could be the end of nearly three years happy marriage – which isn’t bad out of nearly fifty.

Mrs C and I were married in March 1960 combining a special offer of a wedding at sea and honeymoon cruise off the coast of North Africa. The ships captain conducted the ceremony. It was very cheap for the time although a bit no-frills. I still think there was a mistake at the Travel Agency, as we seemed to be the only wedding party. There was terrible noise from aircraft when strolling on deck but we didn’t let it spoil things. They had told me to watch out for the Vixens on board, although I thought they meant the waitresses and randy old spinsters, not that there were any. So anyway there we were on board HMS Ark Royal - I’m still not convinced to this day it was a proper cruise liner – with Mrs C looking radioactive in her wedding dress.

The dress handmade by her mother from finest silk coffin liner - well she said it was such a waste, once the lid was down who'll miss it? For the veil, she used mosquito netting that she brought back from Burma. It would have been better if she'd taken the flies out, but it gave the veil an interesting fleck look. The ceremony went without a hitch until just as she raised her arm to throw the bouquet....

She got her sleeve caught in the catapulting mechanism launching one of the Vixen Aircraft. You should have heard the language out of her as she hurtled down the flight deck heading out to sea. Even the Captain blushed! Disappeared into the distance swearing her head off. The woman can be such an embarrassment at times.

I felt a right fool later that night with no Bride at the reception and having to cut the cake on my own. I ended up having to dance with Alf the wireless operator, although I must say, he was very light on his feet and the crew seemed amazed by our Argentinean Tango and gave us a standing ovation. The crew were marvellous and several of them offered to keep me company rather than be on my own all night in the Bridal Suite. Alf was very supportive, as it turned out, and said to them quite firmly, as he shoved them away, that he would see me back to the suite.

I had downed quite a few by that time and whispered to Alf that I wanted to go to bed. Come on then, he said, lets get you back to your room and get you undressed and into that lovely big bed. Well when I awoke the next morning it was still quite dark in the cabin and I could just about see every stitch of clothing I'd had on scattered on the floor. Then I suddenly became aware of somebody else in the bed and could feel their breath close on the back of my neck and their stubbly face grazing against my skin with each breath. There was a low moan as they moved their body close to me and I could feel something hard poking in the small of my back. As I reached my arm around carefully, I put my hand on a great hairy leg. In shock, I leapt from the bed and turned on the light. She was back!

She had sneaked in during the early hours with a jar of pickled gherkins; she still had one stuck to the front of her nightie. She had been brought back on board in the early hours after she’d been picked up off the coast of Sierra Leone. It seems she held on to the Vixen aircraft for nearly 5 hours but eventually nodded off and lost her grip. It was lucky that she landed in the swimming pool of some millionaires yacht in the middle of them burying his grandfather at sea. "One out, one in." she shouted as she clambered out of the pool and started necking a bottle of sherry and grabbing a mouthful of sandwiches.

The shock of seeing her dropping from the sky caused the crew to loose their grip on the burial casket and instead of lowering gracefully into the blue depths, it smashed into a lifeboat cracking open and sending poor Grandfathers corpse flying into the sea where it was then set upon by about thirty sharks.

They couldn't see the funny side of it at all. All the kids started screaming, two women fainted, the men all shouting poppa, poppa! Even when Mrs C, trying to lighten the mood, pointed outthat one of the sharks had grandpops' toupee on its head, they all started wailing again.

Anyway after the crew held the family back at gunpoint and locked Mrs C in the engine room they still brought her back to the Ark Royal. The family didn't want to keep in touch so I was never able to thank them.

Day 9
It’s funny that only yesterday I was thinking about our wedding day because a package containing somebody’s wedding album was posted through the door this morning and Mrs C left it outside the new shed for me - my temporary home.

It was addressed to me for some reason so I started leafing through the mysterious wedding photos and, my word, what a wedding party!
The bride looked filthy and as if she was screaming in some of the photographs, her hair dripping down her face, all the bridesmaids’ gowns soaked and covered in some kind of slime, hair all over the place. The wedding breakfast table had collapsed and everything and everyone seemed to be covered in black and green slurry.

You could just see the tip of the wedding cake and the legs of the bride and groom, sticking out of what looked like a giant cowpat. The last picture was of a collapsed marquee. It looked to me like they were taken in the Vicarage garden just behind the local church.

Anyway as I puzzled over them I noticed that, also inside the package, there was a letter from a solicitor. Remember I said that after the explosion, the old sceptic tank from the garden had gone and I had been wondering where it could have landed? They are trying to sue me apparently. Why me? Sue Herman Goering, he dropped the damn bomb in me garden!

But anyway yet again, with the bad comes the good. My canoe has also turned up. It was found inside the church, resting on what used to be the font - not a scratch on it. Amazing considering it went right through that Burne-Jones Stained glass window. It was an old window anyway so I’ve told them I’ll pay for a new double-glazing PVC one to keep the draft out.

Anyway I’m glad I got that canoe back, I can use it in the huge new bomb crater pond. Marvellous! Maybe this hasn't been too bad after all and with the crater being so deep, I found a way to get back into Mrs Cs good books and back into the house, something we can do together. I have bought her that diving helmet she always wanted.

As I have always said, there are no depths that woman won’t sink to? Now, does this pump oxygen in or out?

The happiest she's been for years, who would have thought getting her a big helmet would have saved a marriage?

Burned the damned chops!