The Advance Upon Appleton Marsh

What went wrong, Blabs. After putting out the bunting and hiding Flo out of sight, I waited, and I waited.

Ever since I heard you were coming, and I told Margaret Chaff, Connie Jackson, Audrey Brown and the rest of the Appleton Marsh Mafia, there has been a buzz about town. Nobody’s talking about the Pope around here; it’s all Blabs, Blabs, Blabs. Today, every time a car pulled up outside the Sue Ryder shop I strained my neck to see if it was the Blabs Mobile.

Risking DVT and a restricted view of your laptop screen (and with a make or break convention looming), your half-centenary tour has reached Europe and we’re so pleased that Appleton Marsh is on your itinerary.

I’ll be honest, your no-show today has been a crushing disappointment. By time closing time I’d had enough of the sound of Flo’s incessant moaning coming from the staff room. After letting her out we cling-filmed the battenburg together before locking up.

If we felt irked then our irkedness soon turn to concern when Kirsty turned up in her Picasso. She’d been listening to a programme on BBC Radio Devon (103.4FM, 94.8FM, 95.8FM, 96FM and 104.3FM) about the dangers facing the unwitting tourist in London. Agreeing you fell in this category Kirsty went on to recount tales of organ theft, forced prostitution and worse. Unsettled, on the off-chance, we took a detour past the THF where a vexed Kirsty, confused by the one-way system, succeeded in catching her colour coded bumper on a planter near the hotel’s drop-off point.

I remembered that you had relatives in Worst Yorkshire and we decided that you had probably changed your itinerary without telling us.

If this reaches you Blabs, we are waiting. The Bissell has been emptied and is R.T.G. We have enough battenburg to fill a microwave and a box of unopened Ritz crackers. Mayor Pepé Rodriguez is on stand-by to open twinning negotiations with you now Appleton Marsh has severed all ties with Gaza.

It’s a bit early for the fallow deer rutting season but there’s still plenty for us to do when you eventually turn up.

In great anticipation and with much admiration,

Your true friend Doris.

Dear Doris,

First of all, thanks for your hospitality in Appleton Marsh. I really hadn’t expected the Morris dancers and it was very nice of Audrey to lay on the cream tea, even if she doesn’t have the lightest touch with scone mix and mistakenly brought out the Branston, thinking it was Bramble jam. Shame about the cream too. I was a bit taken aback when Mr Rodriguez addressed me in Cuban Spanish—I hadn’t realised he started life in Havana and that somehow his inner tube took a wrong turn, eventually washing him up just off the Cornish coast. What a story. And now he’s the Che Guevara of the West Country…

I am so sorry I was a day late. As I suspected, the Valiant Valerie wasn’t as familiar as she might have been with the outer reaches of the Golden Tetrahedron and that counted against us once we left Taunton in the Honda Civic. Somehow Cheriton Bishop is always a hard place to get find. Anyhow, I appreciated your efforts to re-enliven the Battenberg and there was no real harm done.

To be honest, I’m not sure I could have taken a full 48 hours of Flo anyhow. It’s odd the way she sings to herself when she’s folding the Tricel turtlenecks isn’t it? And the way her little pointy tongue sticks out when she’s zipping someone up? If she hadn’t made such a thing about wrestling me into that afternoon frock, I really might have taken it. It’s so unusual to see those colors together—and not everyone who suits maroon and mustard and that very vibrant green. Anyhow, I can see that you feel you have a responsibility there. You’re a saint, you really are.

It was good of you to crack open a Fray Bentos for tea. I really enjoyed the potato croquettes and isn’t it great that a jar of beetroot can keep so long past its sell by date? No need to thank me for the Lambrini—I had to wrest the last 4 litre bottle from an underage drinker at the Co-op but thanks to the screw-top it’s good to know that you and Flo can enjoy a glass or two on and off until Christmas, and toast the memory of our time together.

 I enjoyed seeing the bungalow of course. I think its wonderful that you can get such good reception with the rabbit ears and once you get the “tap, tap BONG” right with the electric shower it’s a really refreshing stream.

Please thank Kirsty for the ride to the London train. It’s amazing how well she can drive with that squint but I agree that she really deserves a handicapped sticker. Selfishly,  it would really have helped at Exeter station but luckily there was a stoner only too happy to help me with my case, man, in return for the price of a bottle of Magner’s.

I made it back to London in time for cocktails with the Cackler and the others. As you can see, she was thrilled with the dress from Sue Ryder. The best 3.99 I ever spent. You’ll be pleased to note that we were not sold into sexual slavery–another narrow escape, despite your worst fears.

I’ll close now but will promise to send some cast offs for your policeman friend when I get back to the States. Only sorry my shoes won’t fit—I could see he loves a patent peep toe.

 Love to all my friends new and old, Blabs.

About Liz Barron

US Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger,cook, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveler.
This entry was posted in Crone as Pen Pal, Culture with the Crone, food, friendship, The Traveling Crone and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Advance Upon Appleton Marsh

  1. Doris says:

    After spending the preceding week on a state of high alert (DBLW DefCon 1), at last the Blarneycrone show rolled into town and all the preparations were worthwhile.

    Audrey let me down, I have to be honest, the girl’s in a mess and Mayor Pepé was incomprehensible, which I put down to nerves. Otherwise I thought it all went swimmingly and the good townsfolk of Appleton Marsh DC (Devon Council) gave a good account of themselves.

    You looked fabulous Blabs I must say. I’ve never been a fan of leggings, or slippers when used for formal occasions, for that matter but you pulled it off. I think the rhinestone poncho helped. You looked so gracious and regal but you definitely a common touch which went down with the more raucous elements of the assembled crowd. I wish though you’d have told me that I had red moustache on account of the wine! Did anyone take me seriously that night?

    I pleased that you enjoyed the FB and it was no trouble at all for Kirsty to run you the 55 mile round trip to Exeter at 6.00am in the morning to catch your train. She admitted to feeling quite weepy when you said your goodbyes, but this is quite normal; Kirsty is on industrial-strength tablets to combat her depression.

    So, you came you saw and you conquered our hearts. Even Flo grasped that something was going on. You took with you, our admiration and affection, and a dress from the Sue Ryder shop which I know for a fact used to belong to Lillian “Hanging Basket” Greenhalgh.

    I am following your odyssey and see that you are now in the Northern Ireland of your ancestors. It looks, if I’m honest with you, a little dreary but then so does Appleton Marsh if it’s twilight and it’s in the middle of a freak thunderstorm.

    Well, must sign off. I have to open the shop in the morning. As they say in your adopted home: “missing you already.”

    Your dear friend,

    Doris B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s