Published: 04 February 2021
"Well that was quite tiring in the end don't you think Max".
Max limped to his basket, curled up and closed his eyes.
"Not my fault Max, I was not to know that the river bank was flooded. Anyway I thought you enjoyed going in the river, you could have swum the leg by the lagoons if the brambles were that hard to deal with."
"We could have turned back as suggested by the boys in blue or looked for an alternative route as was suggested by that delightful young lady." said Max.
"Policewoman Max, policewoman, they were all members of the constabulary, including the two in canoes."
"I doubt you're allowed to call her a policewoman" said Max "that is to suggest that her role is in someway different to that of a 'police man' besides which she may well self identify as being of the male gender or even of no gender at all."
"You called her a 'young lady' Max"
"My purpose in so doing" said Max "was to identify the appearance and character of one of the protagonists in your story for the benefit of your readership."
"Well then so was mine", I retorted. "How the bloody hell would the readership get an insight into the events of day if I called 'it' a 'policeperson'"
"No need to get all Hyson Green" said Max. "Regardless of gender and whether members of the constabulary or not, why could we not have taken them at their word, accepted that the path was impassible and gone back via terra ferma?"
"Well actually Max, if you recall the initial argument was that the 'incident' was the reason why we had to turn back, the unpassible route was introduced only after the original reason for the blockade was challenged."
"And" said Max rather provocatively.
"And nothing was more impossible than that I should retrace six miles of our walk to get back to Netherfield. As I pointed out to our concerned guardians of the law, incident or not it was unreasonable to expect a man of my age to complete such an adventure and also that striking out across unknown, unwaymarked, muddy fields, as recommended by your 'delightful young lady' could only lead to another ‘incident’. You wouldn't have enjoyed it Max. Look at you, without another dose of non-steroidal anti-inflamatories you are not going to have a very comfortable night."
Max ignored the reference to his recently acquired dependence on medication. "So your still convinced that forcing your way through overgrown willow trees, elder and brambles was the better option?"
"I concede Max, that the brambles were harder for you than they were for me but then you weren't, as the young policeman suggested, quite accurately in my case, bent double trying to force your way through the undergrowth."
"No." said Max, "I'm not even sure that it is possible for we of the canine persuasion to be bent double."
"And once we took to wading along the path in the river, progress was quite good and relatively comfortable?"
"Your assessment", said Max "is I think, predicated on the wearing of stout walking boots, which no doubt was also a feature of your 'progress' through the brambles."
"We made it though Max, we didn't have the humilation of retreat and in the end we could not have been delayed more than half an hour, whereas if we'd conceded to authority we might still be out there, blundering about in the dark without food, drink or the prospect of shelter."
"We did indeed make it but having made it, why in the name of all thats holy did we need to wander aimlessly all around Netherfield? Were you lost yet again?"
"Lost! I'm never lost Max, well not entirely. No. I was just indulging in a little sentimentality,` revisiting the town of my first romantic liason with Shirley."
"Your first romantic liason with Shirley? Did you have multiple romantic liasons with the poor girl?"
"No Max you mistake my meaning." I did wonder if he was deliberately so doing. "It was with Shirley that I had my first teenage romantic liason."
"You had pre teenage romantic liasons?"
Now I was sure he was deliberately being obtuse. "No Max... Well yes in way, but no, that's not what I meant as you full well know."
"We met on the way home after a dance at Digby College, well she and her friend were on the way home, me and Chris Bird were following them."
"You should surely be careful what you confess to" said Max.
"It was what is was Max. We were 15 or 16 and wanted to engage with two attractive girls we saw leaving the dance. Chris's favoured line was 'Where are we going? Not good at that sort of thing I just followed his lead."
"No 'duck' on the end there. As in 'Ay up wear we goin duck?" said Max rather sardonically.
"No Max we exercised no colloquial pretensions."
"And having been accosted by two long haired, boorish louts in the street, what was there response?"
"Unfair Max, we were two excited young boys trying to grapple with our inate shyness and social awkwardness to engage in conversation with two young women similarly afflicted."
"Chris Bird, shy?"
"I don't know what you've heard Max but this was way before your time, three hundred and seventy years in fact and I'm sure young Chris also had his own inhibitions."
"Just that no one noticed at the time?" said Max. "But you haven't said, did the girls call the police?"
"They would have needed to find a phone box first but no. I don't remember how the conversation went from there but it did end up with me arranging to meet Shirley the following week."
"Your natural good looks and enduring charm I suppose" said Max. "and was Mr Bird similarly engaged?
"I don't really recall. I think he and the other girl may have gone down a side street to snog. I do remember him saying at some point ‘I don’t like yours’ but then I think some blokes always said that, some kind of defensive mechanism I think, disquised as humour"
"Another tribute to his social diffidence no doubt" said Max. "what wonderfully evocative and charming word that is: snog, what I wonder is the derivation, old norse perhaps or Nottingham gutter? but ...
"There is a Norse derivation but it means means something quite different."
"You knew that or you just looked it up?"
"We should always use our access to the wealth of knowledge available on internet Max, to the best educative purpose."
"You just looked it up and it is just gutter slang" said Max which I thought was a little snobbish of him really. "but haven't we strayed rather from the streets of Netherfield."
"Well Max I was trying to find sights that I might recognise, especially the local flicks, or the street in which Shirley lived."
"That's a rather ambitious quest is it not?" said Max "What I wonder were the chances of man who can't remember what he had for breakfast this morning, recognising something from 371 years ago, even supposing it was still there?"
"It's only fifty three years ago in human years Max, and I dare say you only remember what you had for breakfast because you have the same thing every bloody day and have done for eleven bloody years."
Max is of course right and I do worry about my short term memory loss but it is so annoying when others find cause to point it out.
"Seventy seven years" said Max "if we're back on that dog years thing and possibly longer as I don't recall ever having had anything different."
"Well you did. When you were a puppy you were fed proper puppy food, four times a day."
"But" said Max having spotted my dissembling, "you can't actually remember what it was you fed me as a pup?"
"I often have quite acute memories of the past as you well know Max and quite uncanny powers of recall with very little stimulous."
"Never-the-less" said Max, "I'm guessing, just guessing you understand, that it didn't work"
Irritatingly enough I felt obliged to confess, at least in part. "There was nothing specific in the built environment Max. Except possibly the level crossing, which seems oddly to have been moved to the other end of Victoria Road, but there was that vague sense of recognition generally, a sense, a feeling, a frizzon. I could feel the happy glow that I felt fifty odd years ago when we met off of the bus and I could smell her perfume, I could feel her warmth and hear her voice, although I could make out no words, I felt the excitement of going into the cinema and the cosiness and mystery of her parent's front room and I revelled in the embraces of yesteryear upon the sofa. And, and I felt again the thrill of hearing for the first time Elvis singing 'Fever'.
"But no street and no cinema? " said Max focusing, as he is wont to do, upon the least significant elements of my soliloquy
"I was in a reverie Max, the sights, sounds, the smells, the emmotions of fifty three years ago."
"The sights?" said Max doing that irritating thing he sometime does, arching one eyebrow.
"Ok, not the sights, well not the specific sights, I mean the streets of terraced housing were very evocative ..."
"Arn't all streets of terraced housing evocative?" said Max "Isn't it something to do with your first five years, like with me and small dog baskets?"
"Possibly Max, possibly but I'll swear there was something especially evocative about those Netherfield streets and I'm damn sure, that had the picture house been there, I would have recognised it instantly."
"Had the picture house been there?" said Max "not, had the picture house ‘still’ been there?"
"Hurumph! Ok not still been there." I had checked and apparently there was no cinema in Netherfield in 1968.
"You met off of the bus from Huntingdon Street, went to the cinema and then walked to Shirley's family home... but there was no cinema, picture house, flicks, call it what you will but it wasn't there, not today, not seven days ago not even three hundred and seventy one years ago."
"You talk as if it might not have happened at all Max but it did. It must have been the Ritz Carlton. Perhaps I got off of the bus in Carlton to meet Shirley quite close to the cinema and then after the film we would have walked to Netherfield and yes, yes that would be it, that would be why our journey took us across the level crossing at the wrong end of Victoria Road, well the right end as I now see it. We'd be walking down from Carlton not up from Colwick. And, and that was why I don't remember walking back home along the Colwick Road when I missed the bus back to town, I wouldn't even know that that was a shorter route. We didn't look at maps then."
"You don't look at maps now", said Max "least wise not to any useful purpose."
"I have never been lost Max" and my voice was somewhat raised "not last Sunday, not last week, not ever."
Beer and biscuits
- Banks' Bitter
- Loop Daddy
- A day without beer.
- Silver King
- Red Raven
- Manhattan Project
- Free beer.
- Netherfield Lagoons.
- Ludlow Blondes
- Ilkley Summer
- Midnight Owl
- Dancing Duck
- Bass in the Chestnut
- Harvest Pale
- Slap in the Face
- Elsie Mo
- Green King IPA
- The Famous Grouse
- Piffle Snonker
- Snowhite Pale
- Electric Dreams
- Theakston's Old Peculiar
- Bass - King's Head
- Speculation Ale
- Summer Storm
- Black Sheep
- Citra - The Embankment
- Butcombe Original
- Oakham Citra
- Catch the Rain
- Modern Love
- Postcode Envy
- Shipstones' Goldstar
- American IPA
- Brother Rabbit
- The Outrun - Amy Liptrot.
- The Enemy Within (4th Edition) - Seumas Milne 2014
- Tessa, The Trader's Wife - Louis Becke (1901)
- The End of the Tether - Conrad (1902)
- La Dame Aux Camilias - Alexandre Dumas
- Turn of the Screw - Henry James
- The Beast in the Jungle - Henry James (1903)
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Caroll 1807
- Man and Maid - Elinor Glyn (1922)
- The Hollow Needle - Maurice Leblanc = 1909
- Montpelier Parade - Karl Geary
- Five Run Away Together. - Enid Blyton
- Dracula - Bram Stoker - 1897
- Days Without End - Sebastion Barry (2016)
- The Witch Finders's Sister
- A Week in December - Sebastian Faulks
- The Devil and Miss Prym - Paul Coelho - 2000
- The Long and Winding Road - A Memoir (Alan Johnson 2016)
- William (Richmal Crompton 1929)