I have had many diversions not the least of which was an extended fishing trip.
This time Mr Gilbert fell out of bed. There should have been a simple remedy – not the unseemly kerfuffle that ensued before we had him neatly tucked back in again.
Perhaps I was to blame and should have rejected his kindness in offering me the bright red balaclava for my head. It had been knitted lovingly by his 7 year old granddaughter in recognition of his freezing fishing exploits. The style was initially creative, encompassing a bulging ‘codpiece’ for his nose. The addition and decrease in knitting stitches was not always by intent – leaving gaps and loops and threads and flaps which did not naturally align with any body part – not even with the light on and I wore it in the dark!
So – after the crash, responding to the moans, the tinkle as of broken glass, the fumes of leaking port – the prayers ascending upward in the form of ‘Oh-dear-Christ’ repeated in a reverend tone – in the darkness after the crash I removed the lumps of wool from my mouth to ask, ‘Are you alright?’
‘No.’ He said, ‘I don’t think I bloody am. I’ve been hit on the head by a bottle in the middle of the night. How would You be? Put the light on so I can see what’s going on!’
I advised him that I couldn’t – that I couldn’t see a thing – that I couldn’t even work out what way I was facing. ‘Why not?’ He wanted to know. ‘Did it hit you tooo?’
I explained that I could not align the balaclava with any part of me. There were no portholes to see through. My attempts to remove it altogether simply pulled the cunning drawstring tighter – the one devised to keep the chill winds out of dear old Poppy’s neck was threatening to garrotte me. I felt my way along the wall reckoning the location of the light switch. The resultant feeble glow revealed Mr Gilbert sitting on the floor clutching a shelf newly released from its wall space. Cleverly balanced on his head he wore the dining table and was surrounded by a sea of bedding which, by now, was soaking up the port – eliminating thereby the risk of our inebriation.
As his eyes adjusted to the light, Mr Gilbert requested, pleading the intercession of Our Lord to hasten my response, to remove the awful gadget from my head which gave me the frightening appearance of the axe murderer’s victim – being nothing but a red blur of lumps and threads with no recognisable human part to associate with the strange sounds which issued from my erstwhile throat.
‘You could give a man a heart attack just by looking at you.’ He accused.
It was no easy matter to raise Mr Gilbert to a more dignified position. Access was limited by crates of food and fishing gear. His recently implanted knees and hips rendered him less flexible than I would have hoped. For a time I yanked at all available protrusions without any positive result while Mr Gilbert coughed, chortled and fought for air. Though I suspected a terminal heart attack pending I was able to establish that the cause of his unco-operative hooting and thrashing was not more than a giggle fit.
I struggled bravely to establish decorum till my persistence was rewarded. I cleared the narrow spaces, rolled Mr Gilbert from his turtlesque position and commenced to jack him upright with foam cushions which had rained down from all parts of the camper.
Mr Gilbert expressed his gratitude by offering to make me a cup of tea, which indeed was overdue. I was now exhausted and my head was still chopped off; a detail Mr Gilbert drew attention to with further whoops of glee and the comment – ‘I’ll just have to work out how to pour the tea into you!’
At last a knife was found to cut through the garroting thread which in turn allowed my eyeballs to return to their sockets which in turn allowed a clearer vision with which to survey the scene.
The port bottle hadn’t broken – just knocked down some cups and spoons and spilt its contents to provide a rich aroma similar to the rum soaked timbers of a smugglers pub. This reeking will now guide us far into the future.
And finally Mr Gilbert did apologise, explaining that he had simple thought to exit the camper without disturbing me. He thought I needed sleep – that I seemed a little stressed ? he thought he would steady himself against the overhead port bearing shelf to ensure a ghostly departure to facilitate my rest.
We reached an agreement that in future he would exit only after a preliminary triple somersault to give fair warning of his exploits and to ensure that neither of us suffered terminal shock.
How has your holiday been?