Friday, 11 May 2007

Chintz and Knick-Knacks

Our new neighbours, Frank and Marjorie Stewart, are what is known as “the life and soul”. They’ve already joined the Residents Association (such as it is, monthly meetings at Ruby’s house for a bitch about old Mrs Winnie and her arthritic Labrador Marty that leaves puddles and mess everywhere that she herself can’t pick up because of her back) and are urging us all to consider a summer street party. “It’s a piece of piddle to organise!” Frank boomed at me this morning as we both watched Marjorie struggle into her house with a nest of tables. “We did one every summer in Mermaid Court, police permission needed to shut off the road, council permission to make noise after 11pm, £30 from each household for food and booze, few willing helpers and bosh! One party!”

Frank is a very tall, very loud man given to wearing clashing clothing. Today he’s wearing green cords and a bright pink polo shirt. He’s constantly got a packet of Polo’s on the go and is always sporting some sort of facial hair. He’s got the beginnings of a moustache because somebody told him at Lydia’s do that he’d suit one. He calls his wife “wench” and has an alarming habit of stroking the arm of the person he’s talking to.

Marjorie is very round and jolly – she looks like a Beryl Cook lady, all bubble perm and red lipstick. She refers to Frank as “master” and giggles like a loon at everything he says. Saskia, at Lydia’s do last Friday, asked me if I thought they had a full sex life. I was very nearly sick over Bea’s citronella candles.

Lydia has told them that they could do what they liked with the garden but asked them not to decorate. Frank has already expressed his displeasure at Lydia’s choice of interior design. “Everything’s white, looks like a bleeding operating theatre” he said as Marjorie puffed past with an ashtray stand. “Still, once we’ve got it sorted out, you must come in for a coffee”. That’s the curse of the stay-at-home mum – everyone thinks you’re available for coffee/last minute child minding/dog walking/random distractions.

Marjorie rang for me just as I was finishing off confirming the latest batch of sponsors for The Wedding. Unbelievably, we’ve got press interest. Well, the church magazine is sending a reporter and photographer. Janey is beside herself and is now thinking about writing to Heat and OK to see if they’d be interested as well. No, she’s serious.

The house is certainly unusual. Lydia’s sleek and clutter free kitchen has been covered in bits and pieces. A ancient ginormous food processor dominates the granite butchers block and the serving hatch is open and has a dried flower arrangement in it. It’s all very…..dated. Lots of brown and green and cream stuff. And what my mother would call “knick knacks” dotted on every available surface. Lydia’s IKEA sofa and chairs have been replaced by a giant leather sofa (green) and two (brown) recliner chairs. A fluffy rug is laid in front of the cutting edge fire place and the blinds have been replaced by floral, lined curtains that clash with the pictures on the wall. The bedroom is no longer Lydia’s favoured black, white and green but extremely chintzy with teddies wearing jumpers saying “I heart you” sitting on the bed. Doillies abound everywhere, antimacassars lurk on the back of every bit of furniture, the bathroom floor has been covered in various mats all in clashing colours “Frank doesn’t like cold feet when he’s having a pee” Marjorie informed me as she whisked me downstairs for a coffee.

Frank is a retired policeman and proudly stated that he never “rose above the rank of ordinary Bobby. I pounded that beat until I could pound it no more.” Marjorie has never worked “Married at 17, up the duff at 18!” she giggled as she heaped sugar into her coffee. Frank winked at her and turned to the many photographs of their children on the wall. Michael is the eldest and the only child living in London. The two girls are “back in Sussex, breaking hearts and in no danger of settling down!” Michael looks like a younger version of Frank and Fiona and Evie look exactly like their mother. “Evie’s one of them lesbians” Marjorie reported as she dunked a bourbon in her coffee. “Fair took me a while to get used to it all” said Frank “Couldn’t get it out of my head – what do two women actually do?”

I brazened this out by feigning an interest in a pile of photograph albums. I opened the first one and was confronted by a near naked Marjorie on a beach with two equally near naked ladies either side of her, all three grinning at the camera. “Oh yes, Lloret De Mar last summer that was” Marjorie sighed wistfully. “Hardly had any clothes on that week I tell you!” she giggled and bowed her head at Frank. What the hell had I stumbled into? Frank was licking his lips lasciviously while Marjorie simpered and flapped her hands in front of her face. “Not now, we’ve got a visitor!” she stage whispered.

I suddenly had an urge to be elsewhere – I bid a grateful farewell to the Stewarts as they climbed the stairs to their love nest and shot back to my blameless house.

Whatever will the neighbours say?!


mutterings and meanderings said...

They sound like the caravanning couple on Jeremy Vine today. Oh. My. God!

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Didn't see it......tell me more!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Twas on Radio 2 at lunchtime. I don't allude to the nearly nakedness and wherever that may (or may not) lead .. but to the way they spoke and were. I wanted to reach throught the ether and smack 'em! (But I am not a fan of caravans ...)

antarctichousehusband said...

I've a feeling their street party will involve everyone putting their keys in a out!

dulwichmum said...

Yes darling, keep your car keys in your pocket!


Nunhead Mum of One said...

Sorry M&M, when you said Jeremy Vine, I thought you meant Jeremy Kyle (you can see the level of my television viewing)!

Yes, car keys are staying in my pocket. Saskia said something about Pampas Grass in your front garden means you're advertising you're a swinger. Does anyone know if that's true? Only, The Stewarts are off to the garden centre tomorrow!

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.