It is Friday June 12th 1987. Tom and Liz have finally escaped the city and are moving to a small country village of narrow lanes and mellow stone houses and cottages just like the one they have bought. Their happiness is muted: it’s also the day after the Tories were re-elected with a majority of one hundred and two. Worse than this, Margaret Thatcher is still Prime Minister.Continue reading
Edsel is ten years old and visiting his seventy year old grandfather, Hans, in his dilapidated apartment in Berlin. Edsel likes doing this; Hans is full of stories about when THE wall divided Berlin. It’s hard to grasp there was an East and a West and the people in the West were free and those in the East imprisoned, or at least, that’s what his parents have told him. Edsel regrets that his parents work so hard to afford what they call ‘the good things of life’; the benefit is that he spends lots of time with his Grandpa Hanspa.Continue reading
Cheryl’s mother, Joan, is determined to get as many of the Grimaldi family together for her daughter’s wedding as possible. Five months before the wedding she finally tracks down the oldest living member of the family, great uncle Lionel, living in Delaware, and their correspondence begins. As Cheryl’s father is dead, her brother, Richie, will ‘give her away’. But Joan has a problem: who will make the first speech at the wedding reception in lieu of her dead husband? Maybe uncle Lionel? She writes to ask and he agrees.
The wedding goes exactly to plan: the sun shines, birds sing, promises are made, books signed, confetti thrown and photographs taken.
The wedding reception begins.
Uncle Li, in black tuxedo, black trousers and frilly white shirt, stands, and the catering manager hands him a microphone.
The videographer starts recording.
Hi folks. Well, here I am back in Cardiff for the first time in seventy-one years. But hell, this ain’t about me. It’s about the bride. I’m a great judge of character, you have to be selling insurance, so I know what I’m talking about and it’s the bride …. Seldom, in one person, in one woman, does one find such a combination of beauty … intelligence … sensitivity … compassion … fun-lovingness … Godliness … humility … motherliness … and great style.
Cheryl dabs at her tears. The groom, Stu, sits open-mouthed; how will his speech go down with his new wife and her mother?
Uncle Li continues, I ain’t overcooking the eggs, hyperbolizing, or making much ado about something right special – well I am. This girl is beyond compare, someone who’d make her dead daddy real proud if he was here today, and I’m real sorry he ain’t. So, be upstanding, raise your glasses … to the bride, Cheryl! Cheryl!
Food and much drink are taken until it comes to the time for Stu’s speech.
A year passes. It’s half past four and Cheryl is at home – the salon is closed on a Wednesday afternoon. She’s watching the video of their wedding when she hears the front door slam. She pauses ‘play’ as Stu enters their front room.
Uncle Li is frozen on screen.
You’re early, love, she says.
What are you doing home?
It’s Wednesday, my half day off work.
You call doing some old bird’s nails work? You must be fucking joking.
There’s no need to swear at me. I’ve done nothing wrong.
You’re watching that fucking old shit Li again, aren’t you?
What’s wrong with you?
All that bollocks, fucking lies, all of it. Beauty? Huh. Intelligence? Really. Fun-lovingness, crap. You wouldn’t know what fun was if it hit you in the face. Motherliness, you don’t get to be a mother if you don’t fuck, Mrs Bolton.
I just don’t want to do it every night.
Fuck Uncle Li, Stu shouts as he presses ‘eject’.
Cheryl weeps as he rips the tape from the VHS cassette.
Fucking speech! You bloody laughed at mine. Bitch. Humiliated me.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
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The minister’s decision to meet at Runnymede at Hew Locke’s artwork ‘The Jurors’ is perhaps from a sense of irony, or, more likely, because of her disdain for key moments in the struggle for freedom, the rule of law, equal rights and justice as represented in Locke’s twelve bronze chairs. If I have to hear another lecture about Saint Nelson bloody Mandela I’ll scream, she thinks and gives a little grunt of disgust. And as for Black Lives Matter, do me a favour; I’m a British Asian after all and I should know. Her certainty that the location will be deserted at three o’clock in the morning is the only thing that allows her to put up with Locke’s work.Continue reading
Hefin is driving an enormous stolen bronze convertible Cadillac de Ville going north on the ‘5’. It’s late afternoon and the surf is up. The roof is down and he’s making good time. The car is beat up and the red leather seats have a patina created by 160,000+ miles of arses rubbing up and down or, looking at the state of the back seat, something more intimate. He leaves the freeway just after Elijo Lagoon, taking Manchester Avenue towards the coast and sees the big sign ‘Cardiff by the Sea’. He laughs; his hometown was never like this. He thinks of Springsteen’s ‘My Home Town’ as he arrives at his destination, the joint in Encinitas called ‘Lave sus Manos’.
Jermaine has two loves: cars and cats. He is married to Eunice that he rhymes with pumice. They are both in their mid fifties. He is tall, rangy, as he thinks of himself. She is round; he thinks of her as a wrecking ball. He is the head of Fine Art at the Art School. They are both wealthy in their own right. Jermaine is a dilettante for whom making art is not much more than a hobby, whereas Eunice has made a vocation out of baking cakes, making needlework samplers and growing roses – her hobby is to speak of her husband with utter contempt when she meets her be-hatted friends. He is only allowed one cat, Ruskin, named after the Victorian aesthete, to whom Jermaine thinks the cat bears some comparison. They sleep in separate bedrooms: Jermaine with Ruskin and Eunice with her handbag collection. They live in a large semi-detached three-storey house in an area of fading Victorian grandeur with a large rear garden, side drive and a wooden garage. She drives a 1969 green Austin Mini Countryman (with ash wood trim) that he thinks of as little more than a shoe box on wheels, aka, a piece of shit.