Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Drive Right Through

Thumpety Tarp, on balance, took the view, in the end, that hanging about outside the school gates was something he really shouldn’t do. Especially not with all those parents and teachers watching.

But sure, gentle Thumpety, who meant no one no harm never, was persuaded by his social worker that his time might be better spent persuading others, of similar tides and fancies, to also stay away from gates and potential danger zones. Not just school gates you see. It was the gates was what it was - not the things they kept inside.

School gates though, and certain old factory gates, you can see them any time you like. Wrought iron arches and extravagant twists of delusion. They reach. The first lurch as they swing but always the drag. Those gates you have to push real hard. Go on now, Spider, give them big old gates a big old push!

Beneath the certainty of those gates, holes. And lost coins.

Thumpety Tarp, the kind of weirdo and spencer you see on the pavements in the daytime, was a Roly dressed in blue. In his inside pockets he carried a notebook and pen, a digital camera, a small tin of vaseline for his dry pink lips, and a butterball notion of red, yellow and blue. It was this last item, turned as it had since its long ago freshness, that provided Thumpety with the singular odour and peculiar hue that marked him out as a distinctive Roly of remarkably large proportions. He liked gates, this Thumpety, and he didn’t much care who knew it. Stay away or I’ll spray yer!

In some instances, when luck refused his side, Thumpety would come across the attentions of various narks, old soldiers and boxers who sentried those gates as foremen, janitors, box sitters, car park types and ruddy commissionaires. Upon sighting our hero, these old villains would rise from their chairs and wave, as instructed by the council, an impressive array of sticks, billy clubs, chains and thwippits. Gitaway there now, git yer!

They would trill.

Thumpety the weirdo, a squash of big flat foot, marched through town centres, cathedrals, shopping malls and railway stations. As he stepped there, the tide of crowds thrown back by the shape and the smell, his quick fat fistfuls would let drop, imperceptibly to the human eye, rolled pieces of finely floured bread to help him find his way home. But never, no matter how many times he did it, did Thumpety heed the lessons of the birdies. Which were:

  1. We see you from up here these rooftops mister. Your blob down there so easy to see. Where you think you’re going then mister that you can hide from us?
  2. We like bread hmm.
  3. We will eat it yes if we see it.
  4. We especially like your finely floured bread which stands apart from the dustballs that pass from the hands and shit mouths of other townspeople and that.
  5. Yum yum your bread.
  6. No disturbance either with your poowee and thing driving everyone away.
  7. Stand by the gates all you like and it won’t make no slightest difference no. We will peck and pull at you all the same.
  8. Where your bread now eh? Ha! Ha! Get home now then frosty!

Thumpety gets home by way of first being discovered in a doorway late at night by those thick-setted evil little fucks who enjoy the company of other men, in their outside shirts, and who also enjoy the spoils of weirdos. Poor Thumpety.

Then, when he’s cried himself to sleep and lit matches for his grandmother, he is woken by the police. Who cart him into the back of something and wrap a large blanket around him. Two large blankets around him.

His social worker, early in the morning, says: Oh Thumpety not again, and takes him back to his weirdo stinky flat. You can’t come in, he mumbles threateningly, you’re not coming in.

When the light breaks above the chimneys of Accleton Bakery, our special Thumpety can always be seen at the front of its gates, taking down its numbers as the sun shines up the brass polish of departments, telephone numbers and other old-fashioned factory exotica. Next, while the day is still in its flight, Thumpety lumbers his way to the St Fantos School where, if he’s just in time, he can avoid the disapproving tuts and swim, instead, in the glory of those curly rising curls of the quicker Catholic gates. And then, before it’s even time for breakfast, it’s a nonchalant hang about down at the old Victorian school where Thumpety himself once thumped its precious playground yards.

Gate One: Infant Boys.

Gate Two: Infant Girls.

Gate Three: Weirdos and birdies.

The rest of the day is Thumpety’s to do with as he pleases. A walk on the pavements maybe. A bit of staring in his weirdo stinky flat. A stroll through town centres, cathedrals, shopping malls and railway stations. The bread and the birdies. To right back where he started.

The endless cycle of gate shuffling tomfoolery. It goes on.

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