Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Fifteenth Day of Advent - Plumbers and Drummers and Potatoes and Plums...and a Camel

Back at Much Malarkey Manor, Mrs Miggins was having trouble with her plumbing. It happens to all hens of a certain age and can usually be dealt with using a firm grip, a sturdy pair of rubber gloves and a poke in the right direction.

However, Mrs Miggins knew that THIS plumbing problem would require a more substantial intervention, and so she was on the phone to the best plumber in Titbury, one Sandie Piper who...

'Hang on one tickety-boo,' says Primrose. 'Would you care to define the phrase 'plumbing problem' more accurately, please? My eyes are beginning to water.'

'Certainly,' says I. 'Since donning her Winter drawers, on account on the weather suddenly becoming very cold, Mrs Miggins had been around the Manor checking all the radiators and the wood-burning stoves and having the chimneys swept because she didn't want the Malarkey guests feeling chilly over the festive season. And when she cranked up a couple of the radiators in the East Wing Art Deco and Art Garfunkel suites there was some very suspicious gurgling going on in the pipes. And so she thought it would be prudent to call in a plumber.'

'Right,' says Primrose. 'Thank you for clarifying that point.'

'You are welcome,' says I. 'And it also reminded her to make an appointment to see her gynaecologist because recently she's noticed that when she sneezes...'

'STOP!!' says Primrose. 'Too much information.'

'I want to speak to Mr Piper,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Yes...the plumber...Titbury 2468...can you put me through? It is rather a matter of emergency.'

The town of Titbury, it should be explained, though very progressive in many other ways, still had an old-fashioned telephone exchange. Any calls made both within the town and to beyond went through Mrs Bobbinflaxenfluff who, aside from being president of the Titbury Weavers' and Knitters' Guild, womanned the telephone exchange. Unfortunately, years of working with wool fibres and overly-loud looms had rendered her slightly hard of hearing, so occasionally a number or a name was misheard and hilarious consequences ensued. Not that this would happen now in this story, of course. Heaven forfend. 

'Yes...thank you...' said Mrs Miggins, rolling her eyes at Colin Bird and Turtle Dave whom she had set to work polishing the parquet flooring in the main hall before they brought in the Christmas Tree, for yes, Mrs Miggins was about to crack open her Christmas cupboard which she'd had prepared and ready to go since August 1st. 'Mr Piper?'s Laetitia Miggins, up at Much Malarkey Manor...'

'Hello, Mrs. M!' said Mr Piper. 'How can I help?'

And so Mrs Miggins explained the problem, and Mr Piper sucked air in through his teeth and muttered how it was a bit close to Christmas and his diary was really full, and Mrs Miggins said had he forgotten that sticky situation she'd got him out of at the Titbury Carnival, you know, when he'd got stuck in the you know what, and he said he hoped she wasn't trying to blackmail him, and she said he was very astute because that was exactly what she was doing, and he said he could pop round at 11.30 and she said that would be most obliging, thank you very much Mr Piper. 

And so, at 11.30 exactly, because when Mrs Miggins made an appointment you stuck to it to the second OR ELSE, the doorbell rang and there, on the doorstep, stood Sandie Piper the Plumber.

'This is my apprentice,' he said, as Mrs Miggins waved him through to the kitchen, off which stood the boiler room. 'Maris. Maris Piper.'

'Oh,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Any relation?'

'My nephew,' said Sandie. 'We calls 'im Mr Potato Head. Just as a bit of witty plumbing banter.'

'My,' said Mrs Miggins, 'how your days must fly by...'

Sandie took Maris through to the boiler room and Mrs Miggins was about to follow when there was another knock on the door.

Outside stood a camel. Like they do. And Mrs Miggins, being the sterling trooper that she is, did not bat an eyelid. 

'Morning,' said the camel, who was wearing the uniform of the Titbury Postal Service, hat and all. 'Delivery for you. Sign here, please,' and he held out his electronic signing device, you know, the ones that turn a perfectly acceptable signature into something that looks like it has been written by a chimpanzee using a cracked crayon. 

Mrs Miggins signed, and the camel handed her a parcel. 'Merry Christmas!' said the camel, turning to go.

'Can I just say,' said Mrs Miggins, 'that is most unusual to see a camel delivering the post.'

'Oh, this is just a Christmas job,' said the camel. 'My mum made me get it. She said I wasn't coming home from University for the Christmas break unless I got a part-time job.'

'I see,' said Mrs Miggins. 'So you're at university, then? What are you studying?'

'Philosophy and Ethics,' said the camel. 'I have aspirations.'

'Good for you!' said Miggins. 'Merry Christmas!' and she closed the door.

'What's in the parcel?' said Turtle Dave from somewhere behind a haze of beeswax floor polish.

Mrs Miggins opened the parcel. 'Plums,' she said. 'From a good friend in Hampshire.'

'Strange present,' said Colin Bird. 'Were you expecting them?'

'Oddly enough, yes,' said Mrs Miggins.

(Now, those of you who haven't been reading the comments page of the last few blogposts are likely to be scratching your heads over this last occurrence and thinking, 'Well, Denise has truly lost the plot now.' But those of you who HAVE read the comments will know exactly what is going on!)

Any hoooo....the plumbing problem was quickly solved - a stray sock in the lower flange pipe - and Mrs Miggins was so relieved she invited both Sandie and Maris Piper back to the Manor to join in the traditional Christmas Eve party.

'I'll bring the Missus,' said Sandie. 'She likes a bit o' festive flummery.'

Mrs Miggins saw the Pipers to the front door and who should arrive at that very moment but the third set of visitors that day.

'Who are you?' said Mrs Miggins.

'We,' said a small man with a large moustache, 'are the Drummers you ordered. We are from Turkey.'

'The Turkey Drummers?' said Mrs Miggins, who was beginning to think you couldn't make up the kind of morning she was having. 

'Indeed, good lady,' said the small man with the large moustache. 'All the way from Turkey. We arrived last night, and this morning we get our first drumming job. We are very excited! Where would you like us to set up for our performance?'

'I didn't order any drummers,' said Mrs Miggins, inwardly cursing Mrs Bobbinflaxenfluff and her inability to distinguish between the words 'plumber' and 'drummer.'

The small man with the large moustache looked immediately crestfallen. 'But we have travelled many, many miles to experience a Titbury Christmas,' he said. 'And we are paying for our holiday by bringing our Turkey Drummer skills to everyone. We are very good. Very, very good. Once you've sampled some Turkey Drummers, you will never look back.'

Mrs Miggins doubted this sentiment very much, but, she thought, it is Christmas after all and maybe it would be nice to have a full house this year. She sighed.

'How many of there are you?' she said.

'Including me,' said the small man with the large moustache, 'twelve.'

'Of course there are, ' said Mrs Miggins. 


Countryside Tales said...

Bravo! I do like this interactive story malarkey.
You can blame my dear husband for the aplomb/ plum connection -whenever aplombs are mentioned he always says plums in return (although, as I have just discovered, he was not aware, until I just pointed it out to him following the reading of your excellent story, that he does this).
Blimey! What an exhaustingly long comment.

Denise said...

I am glad to oblige! I think a bit of randomness adds to the magic of the story writing process. At least, that is what I keep telling myself! Xx

rusty duck said...

Ooh-er missus.
At least you won't be short of help for the washing up.

Denise said...

I can't help thinking that washing up duties are all relative i.e the more you have to dinner, the more washing up you have to do. Or, you cook for a load of relatives, then they all vanish when the time comes to wash up!