Fran’s tongue protruded slightly onto her lips as she placed the last stitches to tighten the “body-suit” of the doll she had just completed for the “ West Wyalong Horticultural and Steam Engines Society extravaganza!”…She sat the finished doll against the large, cross-stitched cellophane “trinket-box” she had entered in the 2001 show. The sorry memory of THAT moment brought a bitter twist to her lips..Although she had gained the third place ribbon, it was a very distant third behind Lorna Roesler’s “Applique Autumn” tea-cosy and with it’s –just out of line-lid, it looked rather tawdry on the “winners circle” table next to Lorna’s entry…That cruel condescending smile from Lorna said it all .
To cap it off, at the end of the show, when all was being packed away, that crude and vulgar lump of “agro-culture” (as Fran describes him) Herman Saegenschnitter , picked her trinket box up in his big, dirty ,clumsy hand, turned it over a couple of times, flipped the lid back and asked in his loud, vulgar voice ;
“ So what is it…a fart box?”…and he looked around to the others there and laughed and laughed..!..and then several others joined in..Not a memorable day at all.
Funny, ‘cos Fran used to enter AND win many times in the cake section…that is until Annabel, that up-start “blow-in” from Woy Woy, with the Bondi Bouffant, pretentious foreign words and flamboyant dress-ups swept all before her with a new style and range of Italianate cup-cakes that made Fran’s Strawberry Lamingtons and Frog-cakes appear dowdy in comparison.
“Ahh..the world is a changed place”, she sighed.
Fran was talked into entering the “craft-doll section” by her old school chum ; Michelle, now a Librarian in the big city. Michelle was entering too, she had made a replica “cabbage-patch” doll of unique expression..it reminded Fran of someone..but she just couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
Again she carefully perused her “Piglet” doll from “Winnie the Pooh” with her crafty eye for any defects of structure and character..all looked well…except..no, not really..but then perhaps?…it was the mouth..that fine stitching that created the smile with the dimpled cheek..just there, on the right side..one stitch just a tad too tight had perhaps created a bit of a snarley look..and as she stared at the doll, she could not help but think of a picture she once saw of a Middle-Eastern king…
‘Now who…Oh yes…Feisal..old King Feisal with his “curled lip”….oh dear!” she sighed. .and she just hoped they wouldn’t notice…
In another life, Annabell would wince at the term ; “Bondi Bouffant”, as it was one of those hair-perms that she considered an essential part of the ” Entrata Spettacolosa!”..and was nothing to be sneered at!..Annabell kept a ‘cache’ of foreign words ready for that certain moment when a “drop of that vital essence of mystique” was required…she treasures the memory when, on the “Classic Hollywood” opening night of the film ; “Roman Holiday”, fully decked out in a gown of white French organza, splashed with scattered clumps of crimson cherries woven with their leaves, in what she would call her ; ” haute couture of conquest!” she swept into the foyer of the Woy Woy Odeon picture theatre hatted like an exotic tropical bird of paradise and greeted all her open-mouthed friends with a flamboyant ; “Caio everybody!”….that was our Annabell !
And anyway…HER variation of the Bondi Bouffant was created after many long nights and many failures, until she switched products from “Toni” to “Richard Hudnut” home perm….it was the “lanolin waving lotion” that did it! and the rest, as they say in the small town of West Wyalong ; “is what you make of it”. No-one..could “bouffant” like ” ‘bell th’ gurl” as the locals would often say.
Annabell had but two regrets in her life, one was that she didn’t stay in the big provincial town of her district, where she is certain she could’ve made a successful business of a ladies hair dressing salon…a friend suggested a name for it in keeping with Annabell’s fifties themes..; “Period Piece”…the play being on ; the time-line and a hair-piece…get it?…but Annabell was too saavy a wordsmith to fall for that ‘faux pas’ and instead she moved to the big smoke and became a shipping clerk for a transport company. Her second regret was that she wasn’t born earlier so she could become like her…; a call from downstairs!..”Coming mo…” she pulled herself up…she realised she almost shouted ; “mother” !…THAT would have been a Freudian slip for sure..”Coming ; kids “! , she quickly corrected herself.
Bazza swilled the ice-cube around the bottom of the tumbler in the dregs of the scotch whisky….he was a bit piqued that his favourite barman ; Ron, wasn’t taking him seriously…”no-one takes me seriously anymore” he thought.
“You see, Ron..I’ve thought about it..It’s the name..: Bazza !”….Ron was really too busy polishing glasses to be concerned…it was the latest “Barryism” in a long line..
“What’s wrong with ; Bazza?” he sighed.
Barry continued ; “Well…it’s a “slogan name” isn’t it?….you know, someone enters the room spots you, stops and in an exaggerated way “pistol-fingers” you with both hands and shouts so the whole room hears..; “BAZZZAH !” like they’ve just had a eureka moment…how’s that make a bloke feel?”…….there was a depth of silence…”It’s like you gotta jump off your stool, face them arms and legs spread like a 96 lb. weakling full-back trying to block a Jonah Lomu charge single handed !”
In truth, Barry lamented his fate..He had the perfect situation, he had a captive audience, yet no matter how he pressed his point of view on a topical situation, they just didn’t seem to take any notice of him!
“I can’t understand it , Ron…the other day f’rinstance..I had Barnaby in the “big chair”, and I was asking him about all these Chinese buying our agricultural land and all he could do was to tell me Irish jokes!…they just don’t take me seriously any more!” ..
Finally Ron had enough, he put the cloth down, the glass on the bar and looked Bazza direct in the eyes…
“Bazz…you’re a barber, not Parkinson…people come to you for a haircut, not a grilling on the economy..just do your job, charge your fee and be happy!”….Bazz blinked a couple of times, but Ron could see it was a wasted effort…the lights were on but nobody was home.
“Glad you reminded me, Ron…quick, give us another shot of that scotch..I got Tony in the chair this afternoon for a short back and sides…I wanna have a steady hand with the cut-throat !”
The old “Stardust” room of the Hackney Hotel was fast emptying, the party was almost over and only a few slouching hangers-on scraped their feet amongst the burst balloons and flattened streamers on the dance floor….The song : “Yellow River” warbled out of the disc-jockey’s amps just below a banner that had writ in red..: ” BEST WHISHES – NEW CAREER…..”TOOLMAN” ”
Two seasoned journo-hacks sat precariously on high-stools at a high round drinks-table awash with empty bottes and glasses…they both looked the kind of older males who’s doctor had told them to give up smoking for their health and deeply regretted it. one of them pushed and nudged half a salted peanut through beer-swill next his coaster. he half-heartedly grunted ;
” Well….He’s made the big leap!…..new career, new life”…
The other man looked in deep thought…which was far from the truth..
” At least he’ll have more security”…they both looked to each other and guffawed..it was a cynical guffaw.
“How’d he get this far in the company anyhow?” , the peanut pusher asked. ” I heard he WALKED in over Brissy’s presumed promotion when “Red” left !”
“NOT.. the action I would describe.” the other man sneered ” more like crawled !”…he paused frozen in his thought and then said something quite profound for a journalist ; “He’s a suck-hole”.
“So why the nick-name ; “Toolman”?
“Why do you reckon?..and it rhymes…say did you notice when he skulled that tequila and then sucked on the lemon after? Leigh said he even sucked that rind dry right through to the outside skin .. that’s what sets that fish’s-arse look to his mouth.. talk about perfection !”
“Oh well…his new career will give him a chance to do what he does best”.
“What?…playing the tough guy?…; the bully’s pimp?..” He looked about and spat into the greenery stand next to him ” Well, I suppose marching up and down the shopping mall as a security guard will give the little bastard many chances to try it on.”
” He’ll make a good security guard… was a shithouse news-reader !”