Due to my lengthy absence, Sebastian had joined the local Abba tribute band in a concerted effort to dampen his despair at losing a witty, intelligent, modest and humble friend. Most evenings he could be found posturising in The Mogwash Arms, dressed in a chest flaunting white ruffled blouse teamed with black lycra bell bottoms and surrounded by fellow members of the used tea-bag Collectors Club in similar attire. After a few slugs of Campari he would impress onlookers with a range of ambitious oscillations including an inventive interpretation of a traditional Cossack dance, the climax of this routine being an impressively well rehearsed hand jive.
Reactions to my return were somewhat muted, indeed my first venture into the Mogwash Arms was greeted with hushed voices, muffled murmurs and the odd snigger. I was bewildered, hurt, confused, perplexed, and lots of other words that describe being baffled. Feigning kindness, Sebastian took me to one side and, possessed with the spirit of a pantomime villain, he slurred into my ear….
‘I knowww wherrr-ya-bittle-fortune’sss-burried… [dramatic pause as he swayed and dribbled a bit]…..I’m-gonna-put-ann-end t’all this flippin’ nonsense.’ He threw back his head and laughed with what can only be described as psychotic relish.
It was only when I arrived home that I realised what was behind his errant behaviour; Bottled Truth had been broken, shards of glass shivered in the fire place, the contents replaced with what appeared to be a brown, washed and pressed tea-bag of the Earl Grey variety….
10 November 2006
My arrival in the village of Luddley-cum-Mogwash was greeted with general indifference from the local community, I tried to join village societies but more often than not the help I offered was firmly rejected. I secretly hoped that this was because I was more Top-Shop Treacle Tart in a clapped out Peugeot than Boden Yummy Mummy in a Sherman Tank, but, in fairness, I think it had more to do with me being a complete outsider and interloper. Indeed, because of my lowly status it had become something of a village sport to avoid all forms of communication with me; maximum points were awarded to those who could tease me with overtures of friendship, luring me into the trap of leaving never to be returned messages on answering machines.
One neighbour however, had noticed my plight. Sebastian St. Johnson, a lentil munching, idealistic sociology graduate adopted me as his ‘good cause’. Believing that I was from Essex, he had taken it upon himself to extend the breadth of my general knowledge. Speaking deliberately slowly and dropping the odd ‘aitch so as not to intimidate me, he explained to me complicated concepts such as ‘democracy’, ’social identity’ and the cultural relevance of ‘The Archers’.
Sebastian was a newcomer himself, blessed with boyish good looks and considerable charm; it was with envy that I witnessed his meteoric rise through the echelons of village power. Within six months of his arrival he had taken control of several important committees including: The Used T-bag Collectors Club, The Mogwash Mimers and the Watercolourists by Moonlight Society. All this, it later transpired, so that he could gain a seat on the parish council, his first step on the political rung to possible World domination.
I considered my position and realised my predicament… it was highly likely that I would be a good six foot under before being clasped to the bosom of the Mogwash community… presuming that they would allow me into the cemetery….