Aunt Alice and Spot.

Hello there readers, Aunt Alice here again.

A great deal has been happening since we last spoke. The year 1872 is becoming a busy time for me. My presence has been requested at the launch of a ship named The Marie Celeste. A quaint enough name, if somewhat mysterious. It is to be sailed automatically, whatever that means.

I’ve been in a vibrant conversation with a young aspiring writer by the name of Tom Sawyer. He has written a book about a character who kisses girls and then believes he and the girls are engaged. Does it quite a lot apparently. What strange habits the young have. The title of the book is; Never The Twain Shall Meet. What an imaginative title. Do look out for it, do. He seemed a little on the shy side, mumbling a lot gibberish most of the time!

That leads me nicely into my favorite subject. I do so hope that you don’t believe I use that term in a domineering way, me being a Monarch or anything, it’s purely descriptive of whom I spend most of my time with nowadays…Spot! In our last communication he threatened to compose a poem about a…P. I do so pray that the poor child has forgotten, but if not, what is an agony Aunt for if not to suffer agony!

Now to matters at hand; my reply to the misunderstood child.

Pull up a chair, untangle the reading specs and STANDBY.

Dear Spot,

Ear muffs don’t qualify as clothes, so I don’t see how you could have crossed any lines! And your Mum’s white earmuffs sound useless so perhaps for Christmas you could purchase her a better pair. I regret to hear of the scandal your family has suffered. You are too innocent I think to grasp the tragedy but Mrs. Ellis has no business playing scramble in the bedroom with anyone other than Mr. Ellis! What a mess! I shall box your father’s ears if ever I meet him and give your stepmother the cut direct–in defense of my poor dear Spot!

YOU, of course, must remain respectful of your parents, whatever form they take….so leave the rest to me. I may be elderly but I still have enough snap in my step to take care of my friends! As for Mr. Kemp, let us be kind. You have after all, commandeered his equipment and borrowed his identity apparently…it is a wicked thing and he should be forgiven a bit of fussing. Just keep out of the man’s reach and wait until his face isn’t quite so red before attempting an apology…. Who knows? Mr. Kemp may become yet another friend and advisor. (So long as he has no relationship to the Dreaded Mrs. Ellis!)

I look forward to news of your camping but I have reservations about the poem. Ah well, there is always sherry I suppose.

With affection,

Aunt Alice

Dear Auntie Alice,

Doesn’t time just fly past when you are enjoying yourself. Do you find that being in a state of ‘suspended animation,’ as you are, your own years turn into minutes and your aeons into infinity?….There, you see I am getting quite clever, aren’t I?

I have been here, at camp, for a week now, although it seems like only yesterday that I was speaking to you. So much has happened since then. First though I must recite that wonderfully hilarious poem of mine. You will just love it I know. Here goes:

I love a cup to T…ea but then I must have a P…ee. I hope there isn’t a Q…ueue before I need a W…(ee). You don’t actually say…wee, just W.

There you are, amused aren’t you? Less frivolity and back to updates. (That dictionary thingy is useful, I must say)

The Australian National Women’s Basketball Team camped next door to us three days ago, and I have been showing-off to gain their attention. Did you know that their nickname is Opals. It is true Auntie Alice and I’m now obsessed with them. They are huge girls you know, in ever way! Yesterday, there were a few gathered around our fire, and everyone was singing, ‘gooey, gooey, watcha, ging, gang, goo,’ when I arrived.

I made quite an entrance. I was in a rubber tyre. It was a big one I must say, and so much fun. You see, earlier, some of the more playful lads here had suggested that there was no tyre in the entire world (good that, don’t you think) that would fit around my girth. Well, I knew of one! I had seen it on one of the excursions from the camp that I made whilst that ‘wind’ problem existed. It was gigantic. I just fitted inside of it.

They rolled me, and it, down the hill. All of them were shouting something as I rolled and I’m sure they were trying to stop it, but I do so love being popular. I came to an abrupt halt just in front of that roaring fire. The ‘ladies’ all screamed and then, standby Auntie….made quite a fuss of me. I felt very….exhilarated, slightly dizzy, but I soon got over it alright by falling into the lap of a bronzed beauty named Sheila.

As I say Auntie, I’m so obsessed with these Opals that all else has escaped my mind, even Danny Kemp and his ruddiness. Sounds a touch rude that, don’t you think? Anyway, that will have to do for now, as Sheila, I think it was the same one who’s lap I found so….exhilarating, wants to see if there is a basket big enough to fit me through. They all seem to be called Sheila, Auntie. Do you think that is because they want to share me? Spot.

Dear Spot,

I was overcome and felt a little faint on reading your poem. I would suggest you stop thinking in rhymes, could be bad for your health. In all honesty Spot I cannot see you making a career in poetry. That said, what an entrance you make! I’m sure there isn’t a Sheila who wouldn’t be entranced with a man willing to risk his life to roll into a campfire circle! But do control your impulses, dear boy. You cannot adopt the entire team and while Opals have a magic all their own, see that you don’t get blinded by the flash and color and land on your bottom. I don’t think sharing is recommended.

You must simply limit your pursuits to one girl at a time. If only because your poor Aunt Alice can’t keep up with all these escapades otherwise… Just between us, it is my understanding that Australian women are particularly robust, healthy and independent. Perhaps this game of basketball will be good for one thing…it will definitely help you get into better shape.

All the best,

Aunt Alice

PS Don’t get too clever. No one loves a smart ass.

Dear blessed Auntie Alice,

My path through life has been shown to me. I am to enter a monastery and abstain from all women other than you. Our relationship will have to remain metaphysical of course as you are so ancient and I am so young. Wow, now that is a great word. I’m so pleased with the M’s in the dictionary!

You were right about ‘Sheila’s,’ very robust and rough! They suggested that by throwing basketballs at my belly it would become smaller, it didn’t; but it gave me hiccups. They then laughed at me as I couldn’t see what I was doing and I fell into the river. I can’t swim, but my rotundness saved the day, I floated you see. First one, then another, grabbed poles from the tents and pushed me midstream and I was carried away. After hours of being carted along by the current, I finally made land at a strange place called Lllanfiarwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrd (almost finished) drobwllllantysidgogogogoch.

I bet you are pleased that I copied that down aren’t you? Anyway the thing is, my trousers and I had parted company, but my size once again rescued me. I managed to pull my sweater up my legs as make-do trousers and used my shirt, folded around my waist, as a belt.

You certainly can foresee the future Auntie, as now my ass does smart! You are so clever.

All the saucepan lids here (that’s cockney rhyming slang for kids, by the way) are smacking my bum with leeks and daffodils. I’m in Wales apparently, as no doubt you guessed by that stupid name. When I floated passed our camp, I did hear someone shout…’don’t hurry back,’ but I’m sure they didn’t mean that and were just joking. They wouldn’t have meant it Auntie would they? I have six miles to walk and just hope there is a roaring fire when I return.

Do you think that dieting would not be such a good idea, in case the same things happen again? One good point came from it all though, I am not longer obsessed with Opals that’s for sure!

Spot.

Auntie Alice,

Help, they have all gone. There are no Boys Brigade, no fire and no Sheila’s. Spot is all alone and about to cry. Help me………

Spot.

Dear Spot,

You poor thing! What an adventure you’ve had! I know it was miserable but do try to remember that every hero experiences a bit of misery before he can triumph. Perhaps you will be a better Spot for all your troubles. But look at you! Escaping the wilds of Wales intact!!

Not everyone is so lucky! I’m sorry that the Opals were cruel, as I guessed they would be. Good riddance! Even a temporary vow of abstinence is not a bad thing–at least until you can gather your courage and better manage the dangerous turns of the game.

NOW, find some dry clothes, see if you cannot light a fire of your very own and locate the stores for the kitchen. Take a deep breath and then make sure you address your sleeping arrangements. Find shelter and make sure you have what you need for a warm night. And then make the most of whatever you do have!!

I say, make a party of one. And then imagine that I am there, in spirit… I shall insist on a comfortable place to sit and I will bring my own supplies in this imaginary world…so no fears.

Please don’t cry, Spot. You are braver than you know and by the time the Brigade of Boys return, you will be much closer to being a Man than they…. for your character will carry you through.

All my love,

Aunt Alice

Dearest Auntie,

All knowledgeable, Alice, how lucky am I to have found you. You are a veritable fountain of wisdom even though you have the disadvantage of being a maven. Does that long hooked beak get in the way when using a mobile phone? I guess it must, but never mind, eh.

Now then, down to practicalities; creature comfort. I had a good rummage around. What a lovely evocative word; rummage. I do like that word. I will, when I find something else to have a lovely and satisfying rummage with, use it again! By ‘rummaging’ I found some clothes. The only trouble is, they belonged to those horrible Sheila’s.

There were enough skirts (those short frilly things that they wore when playing baskets. I feel all shivery now, just thinking about that. Oh well) to make into one big one. One fits adequately around my ample, but life saving, waist. I found some safety-pins too. I’m decent, well, if I’m careful and do not have the necessity to run.

I have built a huge fire. I found some petrol and I was just about to throw it on when I thought of you Auntie dear one. I have postponed the event until I have reassured you that all is well. It really is you know, this will be the making of me.

Oh, one other thing before I go and roast myself. I found food, and I’m lucky again. I simply LOVE prunes and guess what? Well, too late, I suppose I’ve given the game away somewhat haven’t I? Yes, of course you’ve guessed; a dozen tins…and custard as well. Oh HEAVEN!

Yours forever

Spot.

How can Aunt Alice, even with sherry beside her, help poor abandoned Spot? Tune into Female First next week to see if it’s possible. Heaven Help Us All!

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About Danny Kemp

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to St Thomas' Hospital and kept in for a while, but it was not only the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was also mental ones. I had lost confidence in myself let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from. On good days, I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin and that's when the anxiety attacks would start. I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly, but I wasn't. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it. Somehow or other with the help of my wife and medical professionals, I managed to survive and ever so slowly rebuild my self-esteem. It took almost four years to fully recover, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write. My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless, it was there. His advice was to write another story and that I'm delighted to say, I did. The success of that debut novel, The Desolate Garden, was down to sheer hard work, luck, and of course, meeting a film producer.
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