At the heart of life in Itchy Ankle are Barkis and Peggoty. Named for the couple in David Copperfield, Itchy Ankle’s Dicksenian heroes, like their namesakes, married late in life and are kind to enfeebled mothers and their forlorn offspring. Barkis and Peggoty live life at their kitchen table and always seem to have a glass of wine and warm welcome for passing friends and neighbors. Both are very good cooks and specialize in the filling and the hearty–people travel from miles around for goulash, meatloaf and pesto pasta, and to feel the love.
Peggoty likes to garden–and to good effect.
Baby Jane is Itchy Ankle’s answer to the Real Housewives of Orange County. She likes to shop, albeit at dollar stores, she boasts a gym membership, and, like the Bi-at-ches from Bravo, she’s been known to take a drink in the middle of the day. Jane appears in Itchy Ankle only infrequently these days because she’s living in Indiana and moving to Tennessee. We miss her.
Jane is married to “Henry” Ford, an entrepreneur and business man in the fine American tradition. Busy and important during the week, Henry spends all his time in Itchy Ankle in PJs or shorts (depending on the season) and in his recliner watching football. That’s not completely true-sometimes he dons a pair of Crocs and goes out to walk the corgi.
Marilyn, on the other hand, lives outdoors, managing a large garden around which she is lovingly building an arts and crafts fence. Larks set their clocks by her and the entire neighborhood raids her tool shed when disaster strikes. If you need to chop down a tree, erect a mailbox, or mend a wheelbarrow tire then the lovely Ms Monroe is your woman. Short of half a hundredweight of bell peppers? A cord or two of wood? A cure for some awful kind of cat canker? Just give her a call. Marilyn’s kitchen though is virgin territory, her stove untroubled by daily or even annual demands to yield something hot and nourishing. Marilyn is strictly an outdoors cat.
Our lost boy, Itchy Ankle Andy used to say of the cast above, something like the following: ” Looking for a potato peeler? Jane has three, but she doesn’t know where any of them are, Peggoty has one but it’s holding up a tomato plant in the garden, the Crone has one, but the children broke it, Andy had one, but his ex-wife took it, Marilyn has one but she doesn’t know how to use it.” and this just about sums it up.
Pirate Mike when not captaining the Honey Dipper is another Itchy Ankle resident who is good with his hands. If you need some shelves put up, a deck built, or a cigarette rolled, he is almost certainly your man. The Pirate is also Itchy Ankle’s only linguist, being fluent in English, Spanish and French with a smattering of Arabic for good measure. Should Itchy Ankle become a throbbing metropolis, or, more likely, a mainland version of Guantanamo Bay, this will come in very useful.
And then there’s the Princess and the Captain, responsible for good taste, design innovation and high standards of community maintenance. Princess Di can make sushi, pasta and all sorts of other fancy foodstuffs. She is a brilliant hostess, an original artist and invented the Amaretto Yummy, a cocktail you really must try…
If there were trains in Itchy Ankle, Captain Kirk would make them run on time. His Christmas lights are the talk of the neighborhood because the wires do not dare to kink or knot but instead run in super-straight lines all along his rooftop, providing a sort of landing strip for Santa. A propagation genius, the Captain runs a small nursery at the side of his house, rescuing reject plants from end of season sales at garden centers and lovingly bringing them on. The Crone gets most of her plants from him, and suspects he comes to visit and succour them when she is not home.
This is probably just as well.