JIMBO DEREK AND ME AND THE FARMHOUSE TREE AND KENNY THE GORILLA HARRIS.
THIS IS A WORK OF FACTION. ALL CHARACTERS ARE IMAGINARY, WITH THE EXCEPTION
OF JIMBO AND DEREK.......Copyright David Hill 2014.
Please forgive any errors - spelling/grammatical. Takes me an age to type out a chapter of this length and it hasn't been copy edited. Hopefully any errors will not spoil your enjoyment. Please let me have comments - good, bad or indifferent on my twitter site.....See you in a couple of weeks.
The Christmas Wish, The Wish Granted And Up The Chimney Down.
CHRISTMAS DAY DINNER,THE bestest meal of the year. My willow pattern plate was almost empty. Twenty minutes ago and it had been brimming over with an Island of roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, stuffing, slices of roast chicken and a bone, surrounded by a sea of thick brown gravy. Yum-yum-pig's-bum.
Now all that remained was the wishbone, the most important part of the meal. Picking it up, I examined it carefully before holding it out at arm's length across the table. My old aunt gripped half of it in the crook of her little finger.
"Pull!" Laughed dad..
Mum joined in the fun. "Tug really hard. It could be your turn to make the Christmas Day wish this year."
Closing my eyes, I pulled at my half of the tiny bone. There was a loud click as it snapped. Hardly daring to hope I slowly opened my eyes. "Yes!" I shouted.
My old aunt dropped her bone fragment and covered her ears with her hands. "Now make your wish. Don't tell us what you're wishing for, or the spell won't work, and your wish won't be granted..
Between my fingers the shattered fragment with the lumpy bit on it. The piece which holds the wish. Closing my eyes again I shut myself off from the rest of the world and silently muttered the magic word - ABRACADABRACADABRA in my head. Clenching my fists tightly, so that my nails cut into my palms, I wished and wished to complete the Christmas ritual.
Ten minutes later when I found the shiny sixpence in my slice of custard-coated pudding, and I repeated my secret wish I knew that the year ahead was going to be a cracker.
Nothing happened over the next few days. And when the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months and still nothing had happened I began to think that my wish wasn't going to be granted.
In early March, when the wind was roaring around my farmhouse tree like a ferocious lion, and I was standing in the front court trying to make up my wind whether to play a game of marbles with myself or go for a walk through the fields the magic happened.
There was no WHAM! BAM!
No flash of bright light.
No cloud of blue smoke.
One moment I was standing on my own, and the next moment they were there - right next to me. I blinked, but they were still still there. I blinked again, but they were still there.
Two boys of my age had appeared as if from out of nowhere. I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn't dreaming. But they didn't go away. They were still there. The magic had really happened.
"James," said the nearest boy, "but you can call me Jimbo."
"Derek," said the other, "and you can call me Derek."
We laughed, and I introduced myself.
I still couldn't believe my eyes. They were mirror images of myself. They were the same age, the same height and they were wearing clothes identical to mine. I gave a gasp. Even their eyes and hair were the same colour as mine. We could have been identical triplets.
"Heard you were lonely," said Jimbo.
"Bored with not having any brothers to play with, or sisters to tease," added Derek.
I nodded, but could they have known. I'd never seen them before.
"Here to keep you company," continued Jimbo.
"Be a gang," echoed Derek with a grin.
"Come on," I shouted. "Race you into the farmhouse tree."
I won by a yard, and when we'd got our breath back we sat down on a long wooden form in back kitchen.
"The farmhouse tree is old, almo......"
I'd hardly started speaking when Jimbo interrupted me. "Almost three hundred years old. The walls are made of cob which is a mixture of mud,straw, small stones and cow dung.Uuuugh! Poohy,whooohy!"
Derek continued, the words tumbling out of his mouth. "No electricity. No car. And you have pump water up from an underground spring. You haven't got a proper toilet that flushes, and you call it the farmhouse tree because it's as old and as big as an oak tree. And the walls are the trunk and they're two feet thick and the twelve rooms and corridors are the branches."
I was speechless. How could they have possibly known all that.
As if reading my mind Jimbo tapped his noise and said, "All of the far work is done with a Shire horse. Oh yes we know all about you."
Derek copied him. "Everything. That's magic. Real magic."
" OK. Tell me more, if you're so clever and know so much. Go on Jimbo your turn."
Without hesitating he said, "You live with your mum and dad and an old aunt. She's mega old. Over sixty. And she wears her hair in a net, and when she goes to bed she takes her teeth out and drops them in a glass of water.
I saw him wink at Derek, who carried on amazing me with knowledge they couldn't possibly have known unless magic was involved. And he spoke in a tone which had a 'know it all' ring to it. "Your old aunts bedroom is directly under the attic, where you're not allowed to go because you once put your foot through the floor and the plaster from her ceiling landed on her belly when she was lying on her bed having her afternoon sleeping and snoring and......"
Not wanting to be outdone, and feeling slightly annoyed that they were telling me facts which I should have been telling them I interrupted him, "Bet you didn't know this. There's rats, and spiders and bats in the attic. But they're not just ordinary ones. These are giant ones. The bats are as big as crows, and they fly out each night and flap round the village looking for necks to bite and blood to suck out. No one dares to go into the village after dark. Anyway that's what my dad says, and he's always right. He knows everything."
Even as I was speaking I could tell they were impressed, and when I mentioned blood sucking I saw Jimbo begin to squirm. I pressed on, "The spiders have big red eyes which gleam in the dark like flamimg torches and they spin massive great big webs. If you stumble into one you're trapped.
"What happens next?" Jimbo asked in a quiet voice.
"No escape.You hang there mummified in webs until the spider gets hungry and decides to eat you. They can strip the flesh from your bones in ten minutes. If you've just had a roast dinner, or a big of fish and chips or two cream buns, it takes the spider an extra five minutes to crunch you up. Dad told me that and he should know because he also said that once he cut down twenty ropes and got my old aunt to weave them into ropes which he used to tie up a bull calf in the shippen."
There was a long silence before Derek mumbled, "What about the rats?"
I could tell that he was scared of them. So am I, but I wasn't going to let him or Jimbo know that. I breathed out deeply, "Wheeew! Real giants. Some nights Icanhear them running across the attic floor above my head. You'll probably see them one day, because the smaller ones run around in the stable and the barn. Their eyes are luminous yellow. Dad says the bigger ones never leave the attic. They're a rare breed called Atticus-Ratticus. Some nights I think they're going to gnaw through the ceiling and jump down on me. But I'm ready for them. I keep my catapult under my pillow, just in case they mount a surprise attack."
That really frightened them and Derek's mouth sagged open.
"Dad told me about the giant creatures the day after I put my foot through the attic floor. He was afraid that if I went up there again they'd attack me. He told me I was lucky to have got away with it the first time. I haven't been up there since.
Jimbo began rubbing his stomach. "And you mentioning fish and chips and cream buns has made me feel hungry."
"And me," echoed Derek.
Right on cue, the grandfather clock struck one. "Dinner time. Wait there and I'll ask mum if you can stay if you like."
They did like and they both nodded and grinned..
As I entere the cellar, which is the name we call our kitchen - it's not under ground, but yonks ago my grandfather stored barrels of cider which he had brewed there. Mum and my old aunt were laying the table. Mum took one look at my hands and said, "There's enough dirt under your nails for your dad to plant seeds in."
When I asked her if my two new friends, who had appeared from nowhere, could stay for dinner she laughed and nodded. My old aunt ruffled my hair and gave me a kiss on my cheek, "Two new friends. I imagine that'll be nice for you."
She smiled at mum who smiled back. I knew they were trying hard not to laugh, but I couldn't see anything funny in what I had said, so I just laid the two extra places.
"Make sure the three of you wash your hands," instructed mum, "if they're as dirty as yours there can't be any earth left outside."
And they burst out laughing. Grownups are really funny at times.
I made a quick exit. I didn't want another kiss, but mu old aunt's kisses aren't half as bad as another old aunt's. She slobbers her kisses all over my face, and she's got a little white feathery moustache which tickles. It's worth it though because she always give me some extra pocket money - a lovely thrupenny bit and I spend it on a comic, usually the Dandy or Beano and a penny gobstopper.
But the worse kisses if all come from Shirley the Suckerfish Stone and her blubbery lips in the school playground.
After dinner I gave Jimbo and Derek a guided tour of my farmhouse tree,because it had started to rain and I had to stay inside. The final room was the kitchen. It's not a room we use every day, only during the twelve days of Christmas, special occasions and the odd night in winter when we make toast over the glowing embers in the large open fire. Really it's a sitting room. But years and years ago it was where all of the food was cooked in big black iron cauldrons and where the iron kettle was boiled
"It's the larges branch of my farmhouse tree," I boasted. "The oak table is over eight feet long, and those two easy chairs were made from old car seats from an Austin Seven car by the carpenter across the road. And I bet you've never seen a fireplace six feet high, six feet across and four feet deep."
I might as well have been talking to myself. They were only interested in staring up the wide chimney. Standing in the hearth, Jimbo craned his head right back and stared into the blackness. "you can see right up to the sky. if it was sunny it would be all blue."
"Just like looking up through a giant telescope," said Derek who had joined him.
"Dad cleans it with a rope and a gorse bush. You get up on the roof, drop one enof the rope down, run back into the kitchen and pull the gorse bush down through and it dislodges all the soot."
"Do you think you could climb up the chimney?" Asked Jimbo as he took a step back. "Bet you can't"
"Yeah. Go dare you," echoed Derek.
How could they have known that I'd always wanted to have a go at climbing the chimney. This was real magic. And their dare was just the challenge I wanted
"Nothing to it. Easy, peasy, easy peasy." Encourage Jimbo as he poked his finger into a crevice between two stones, "Grab hold of the sticking out bits and up you go."
"Yeah, dead easy," echoed Derek. "Bet I could do it."
If anyone was going up the chimney it was going to be me. After all it was my dad's chimney. Taking a deep breath I grabbed the two jutting out stones, pulled myself six inches off the ground...a foot.....And that's when my chimney mountaineering exploits ended before they'd properly begun. One of the stones came away in my hand nd I fell back into the fireplace engulfed in a big black cloud of soot which billowed back into the room.
THERE WAS GOING TO BE TROUBLE WITH A CAPITAL 'T'
Picking myself up, I peered through the soot storm to where I though Jim and Derek were standing.
But they weren't there. They'd vanished as quickly as they had arrived.
And in their place......
"Get out of there at once," roared mum. "No, on second thoughts stay exactly where you are while I get some sheets if newspaper. Get undressed, while I'm gone, and don't move an inch or there'll be sooty footprints everywhere."
It was then that I discovered that soot gets everywhere. Up your nose, in your ears and it even gets inside of your pants in places where it shouldn't get.
"Right I've laid a trail of paper up backstairs to the bathroom. That's where you're going my lad. A cold bath, because the fire hasn't been lit to warm the water. Just look at your face, one big black blob."
"But mum, someone might see me in the nuddy."
"You should have thought of that before you pretended the chimney was Mount Everest. And no one will see you, Father Christmas won't be coming down the chimney for months," replied mum. Her face a picture of disbelief at my exploit. I was about to tell her that Jim and Derek had dared me, but when I saw the look on her face that I knew so well I decided against it.
"When you've had your bath, get dressed and join me in the dairy where I can keep an eye on you while I churn the butter. A job I should have done this morning. Tomorrow morning I shall have to an extra wash."
"No more buts. Bath now, and I'll clear up this mess."
I made my naked way along the newspaper path and up the back stairs, relieved that Jim and Derek couldn't see me, but annoyed that they had left me to take the blame.
Little did I know as I sat shivering in cold black water that the afternoon was only going to get worse and Monday at school worser still.
At the same time I suddenly recalled one of dad's many riddles: "What goes up a chimney down, but not down a chimney up?" I smiled at the thought of my old aunt trying to stuff her opening umbrella up the chimney. At least I could laugh about something as I washed the soot out from the place where it shouldn't have gone.
COMING IN CHAPTER TWO - 'Head first into a bucket, head behind bars and between bars.
AND IN CHAPTER THREE. Watering the lettuces from the boys' school lavatory, whacks with the ruler and the day that the door fell off the rust bucket cream and red school bus.