#58

Maybe I won the church tombola, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that a series of bizarre events are unfolding around me and I seem pushed by some unknown force right into the centre of them. I'm starting to believe the rumours are true, that I am indeed a fated man...

Even in summer, St Mary's church is a cool, shady, damp place. It's like a little retreat away from the steel bins, tower blocks and rat infested stairwells of the city. I arrived early sporting a blue and white striped t-shirt, crumpled beige trousers, no socks and an old pair of vintage green and white Dunlop plimsols. It wasn't really sleeveless weather, but I'd figured on buying a jacket from one of the stalls.

It was the vicar himself who opened up proceedings, welcoming us in from the south porch entrance. Just behind him, sat at a little wooden table, was a small, miserable looking woman in a headscarf, and to her right, a tall, broad man in square specs and a thick woolen jumper. He looked like he'd been cut from cardboard. On the table was a little book of blue tickets and an old ice cream container full of odd change. Behind, and kind of hidden in a small alcove, were a group of three younger people - all submerged in ipad activity. When they saw me, they huddled together in a swirl, whispering excitedly and making strange noises.

The miserable woman looked me up and down as if searching some reason to refuse me entry. On finding none, she gave a little nod to the cardboard cut-out and said sternly.
“Adult plus none. £1.50.”

“Oh, and I'd also like 48 tickets for the Super Bonanza Tombola.” I said pointing to the little book on the table. At this the Nerdette swirl in the alcove became even more agitated and began twittering away frenetically.
“FORTY EIGHT!!!” cried the miserable headscarf “I cant sell you forty eight tickets, there'll be none left for anyone else. Have some consideration for others, please! The maximum is 16. Church rules!”

Begrudgingly I accepted her decision, but not before coughing a “fucking bitch” into the palm of my hand. Sour-faced, I watched as the cardboard cut-out systematically tore my tickets from the perforated book, lined them up along the table and physically counted each strip of four. After receiving The headscarf's nod of approval he pushed them my way. I paid, scooped up my tickets, and entered the hall.

Well, there wasn't much of a jumble! Seven stools and two of them were selling home made cheese pastries and gingerbread Jesuses. But there was one stool that grabbed my attention: “Warhol Wig for sale.”

Amongst a table strewn with old clothes, tops of teapots, and fake jewellery was a wooden head wearing a hideous peroxide hair-piece; all greasy and flattened down.
“Interested, sir?” said a voice “only £15 and a bargain at that.” He went on to tell me it was the 'real deal' and how the church of St. Mary's had come into possession of Andy Warhol's famous barnet. “..and you can take that as gospel," he finished "I'm the vicar's brother!”

I picked the wig up, making pretence that it grabbed my fancy. I erred and ummed and pulled a few indiscriminate faces. “Here,” said the vicars brother, snatching the wig out my hands “it's real human hair, none of your polyester shoop! Sown, hair for hair... A real work of art.” He turned the hairpiece over showing me its filthy interior and its '£15' sticker. “Yeah, and Warhols real hair was black?” I laughed, pointing to a few disgusting hairs that were poking out from under the price label. “And anyway, what the hell would I want with a hair piece, I've a full head of my own, ha!”

I left the vicars brother to his con and wandered around the other pitches searching out a jacket and passing time until the big Tombola. The jacket business wasn't an easy one. There were plenty to choose from, the problem was finding one as crumpled as my trousers. Eventually I did, though, a coffee sprinkled light pink affair – perfect for a leaping, waving, screaming, raving jackpot winner.

By the time we were called out for the tombola there were 87 people (including myself). A quick calculation told me that I was 8 times more likely to win first prize than anyone else, and 50/50 for picking up one of the two 'lesser' prizes. With a dash of extra luck, I could easily scoop the lot.

Outside the weather for once had held up. It was a little breezy but blue and clear. Good! There's nothing quite as depressing as umbrellas going up and the English checking soggy raffle tickets in the rain. There can be no crazy American game show winners on days like that.

The vicar stood on a small platform made from milk crates. Propped up besides him, on a chair, was a box covered in black crushed velvet and with a hole in the top. The crowd gathered around in a semi-circle. I kept in the middle so as my scream of triumph would be more dramatic. Just a noise, and then me emerging victorious from the rabble. Maybe they'd even raise me up and pass me along over their heads? I felt John's imaginary hand grip mine and I beamed with joy and excitement.


My numbers were 225 – 240. Why tickets were numbered in the hundreds, I don't know, maybe to stop any would-be cheats???. I didn't really care. My attention was on the stage... the microphone. And then the speakers crackled to life, there was a “Huh-hmm” and with that the Tombola began.

To kick the event off the vicar gave a little speech about the church. Then he thanked someone for their commitment to the parish and for their help in organising this fund-raiser. Of course, it was none other than the miserable old biddy in the headscarf who stepped forward into a whoosh of clapping and acclaim. She stood there even more unhappy than before, just ever so slightly nodding. “Oh what the hell” I thought, and then I joined in, letting out three ecstatic “Whoahhh's!!! ” and two piercing wolf whistles.

“Ok, OK, OK!” laughed the vicar, calming the crowd (me especially) “Now, if we're ALL quite settled and ready, lets get this SUPER BONANZA TOMBOLA underway!” There was a little ripple of excitement, and as my heart tried to hammer its way out my chest, the vicar reached into the magic velvet box and rustled about.

“The 3rd prize, a year free church organ lessons, goes to ticket holder 1-8-2. One hundred and eighty two!”
From my right, a miserable little shit of a boy was pushed forward and out. He hurried up to the stage and took his prize. As he was about to leave the vicar MC held him back. “Stay here and wait for the others. You're going to be in the local paper, young man!” Local paper??? I looked out from where I stood, and sure enough, right up the front there was a photographer, rushing to and fro and taking photo's. The vicar withdrew his hand from the box for the second time.

“2 -4-2” he said slowly, looking around with a huge grin across his face. I nearly collapsed. “Fuck! Fuck!” The crowd parted to allow a decrepit old couple through to the stage. “Well done! Two hundred and forty two wins our 2nd prize which is a free plot in our ancient cemetery. No-one has been buried there for over 200 years!” The vicar helped the old couple up and handed the man his prime plot of church real estate. There was furious clapping, no less from the old mans wife, who nearly fell off the stage in delight.

“And now, for our SUPER BONANZA TOMBOLA FIRST PRIZE!” said the clergyman, reaching into the velvet box one last time. I closed my eyes and held my tickets in luck. “And the lucky winner, who in addition to a £10 church voucher, will also have a Rectory bench named after them, is: 2–2-....”

And then there was a scream. Someone to my left with his arm raised in victory. I felt kind of feint. I hadn't heard the last number. Along with the rest of the crowd I turned around to get a view of the winner... to watch in pretend joy as he went forward to collect his Bonanza Prize. To grit my teeth and quietly tear my losing tickets up as the photographer flashed away. But as I turned, I noticed he didn't have his arm raised in triumph, but was turned towards the bell tower, pointing. People were covering their mouths and looking skyward in disbelief. And then an astonished hush fell over the crowd.
“What in the...” said someone else pointing and looking way, way up. My eyes followed her arm, up across her hand and off her index finger. And there, 200ft up over London, wound like an insane work of art around the cross on the top of the steeple, was a wheelchair... a black, motorized, battery powered wheelchair.

3 comments:

  1. I hope, for their sake, that the Nerdette Swirl at your pathetic little jumble was not my nephew's little gang. The fact that I am currently unaware of their location suggests this is a possibility.

    For there has been a Nerd revolution. Thick Blue Glasses suddenly has a rival as leader of the group. A once small little geek, who in a matter of months shot to seven feet in height, has decided to suffer in silence no longer.

    'Forget the numbers! Forget about Tristram and John! We have to work on our LOST retrospective blog. This is all distraction!' he roared in his suddenly baritone voice.

    Thick Blue Glasses countered Seven's attack with:

    'But we must get to this jumble sale. It's a metaphor for - '

    Seven stood tall and proud:

    'Jamaica was a metaphor! The numbers were metaphors! The wheelchair was a metaphor! No more metaphors!'

    The Swirl gazed in awe at Seven who, like his Star Trek namesake, has taken to wearing tight, figure-hugging outfits which reveal all too clearly that his spectacular puberty has been very kind to him in the genital department.

    My nephew has moved him into his suite as 'principal carer'.

    I am having none of that.

    Thick Blue Glasses and I formed an alliance to delete Seven.

    And then they all disappeared.

    I do hope you have nothing to do with this.

    For your sake, I really do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. God, another person who's in two places at once.

    There was somethng poking out the alcove, and it wasn't an index finger... If it was the Swirl, I think Seven may be a little too keen to show his recently acquired member off. That'll get him into trouble. X

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am lost but I love your writing.

    ReplyDelete

 
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