My dear wife Betty passed away on the 28th of April 2010 after a short illness. Don Lucking
Last Updated 5/5/10
It was typical July weather, the day of the beauty show,
Dull and damp and horrible, cold enough for snow.
The girls put on their cozzies under dark and dismal skies
And scurried across the platform in a flurry of purple thighs.
But the judges had their work cut out to find their beauty queen
From the rottenest rabble of lassies that they had ever seen.
There was Minnie the grocer`s daughter, with her teeth stuck out to dry,
Muriel, her sister with a face like a cottage pie.
There was Aggie Bone at nineteen stone with a nose built like a funnel,
Fanny Wise with bloodshot eyes and a gob like the Mersey Tunnel.
There was Elsie Squit from the butchers, with red and orange hair
All frizzed out and bristling like an angry teddy bear.
Twenty seven girls in all made up this motley crew
While the sick and saddened judges debated what to do.
The vicar put his glasses on, his face a frozen mask,
And Mrs Abercrombie`s fingers clutched her brandy flask.
"Let`s cancel it," said Mr Smith, "We`ll get `em back termorrer
And change it to auditions for the Hammer House of Horror."
Then suddenly, from nowhere, all dainty, sweet and cute
Came a cracking little redhead in a shiny bathing suit.
Well, the vicar grabbed the golden crown and plonked it on her head.
"Oh my prayers have all been answered in the shape of you," he said.
But coming to the kissing bit he wasn`t very keen,
She`d a brace of angry cold sores in a splodge of Germoline.
And then as fate would have it, she broke her shoulder strap
And out onto the platform flew a ball of Cosywrap.
From then on all was chaos as things began to sag,
Then her wig blew off revealing little paper boy in drag.
But, the judges over-anxious now to settle the whole thing
Ended up by crowning him the village beauty king.
Copyright: Betty Jean Weaver – Lucking 2002.
It was little Albert`s birthday and being all alone
He thought he`d have a little celebration of his own.
His wife had gone to visit friends, and rather than the pub,
He decided he would treat himself at Fanfare striptease club.
He`d never been inside the place but rumour had been rife
And he gathered it was not the sort of place you`d take the wife.
Furtively he stepped inside, a lady took his coat,
A gentleman relieved him of a hard earned ten pound note.
He bought himself a shandy and deliberately chose
A table near to where they would be taking off their clothes.
In quiet anticipation , his little cheeks aglow,
He sat and supped his shandy and waited for the show.
Eventually the lights were dimmed, the band all came to life,
And out into the spotlight stepped Penelope, his wife.
With tassels twirling madly she did three laps round the room
Before she noticed Albert sitting huddled in the gloom.
With feathers flying furiously she gave a mighty shout,
"What d`you think you`re doing here you dirty little lout?
"I`ll sort you out when we get home mate," roared the shining star,
"Now get yourself a bag of chips and eat them in the car."
But Albert, white with fury, for the first time in his life
Took his courage in his hands and stood up to his wife.
But Penny`s such a big girl, and at her spouse she flew,
Poor Albert didn`t stand a chance at eight stone four wet through.
She grabbed him by his ankles as the crowd began to roar
And spun him on his flat cap round and round the floor.
With graceful ease she stood him up, snatched him by his hand,
Whirled him round the audience and threw him at the band.
As Albert lay unconscious `mid the twang of a guitar,
The punters raised their glasses to this bright new shining star,
The manager ran over with a contract set to sign
And Penny put her little cross upon the dotted line.
Now Fanfare has a double act, the talk of all the town,
And every night poor Albert has to take it lying down
Copyright: Betty Jean Weaver-Lucking 2002. TOP
Arrangements for the pantomime were getting into swing
When the producer said she thought that we should have an elfin king.
And that`s how Arthur Peabody bamboozled by his wife
Got bullied into taking on his biggest role in life.
Reluctantly he learned his lines and paced the fairy ring,
He practised little gestures suited to an elfin king.
But as the fateful day approached we gathered to rehearse
His tantrums in the grotto got worse and worse and worse.
We thought that it was only "nerves" and said that on the night,
Tanked up with gin and tonic he`d be perfectly alright.
He`d pea green tights and dove grey blouse, producer had approved
His pixie hat with a little bell that tinkled when he moved.
He leapt into the spotlight, shook his little bell,
Looked out into the audience and mumbled "Flaming Norah."
For there below in the second row, their wicked eyes agleam
Sat half a dozen of his mates from the local rugby team.
Poor Arthur froze, he couldn`t move no matter how he tried,
Rehearsals all forgotten now he stood there petrified.
Then all at once from down below there came a mighty cheer,
And cries of "Hello Sailor" echoed in his ear.
"Have you got a little toadstool?" shouted one enormous brute,
And "What about a tune then on your little fairy flute."
Enraged beyond all measure, and poised prepared to strike
He hurled abuse at his tormentors that was most unelfinlike.
He wrenched the throne from underneath the sobbing fairy queen
Creating devastation on the little woodland scene.
The cardboard trees fell thick and fast as Arthur blind with rage,
Intent upon destruction rampaged round and round the stage.
The audience sat spellbound by this violent affair
As toadstools elves and magic wands went flying through the air.
But when at last the curtain fell, the crowd all roared for more.
They`d never seen such goings on in fairyland before.
The write-up in the paper was the best we`d had by far,
"Mr Peabody`s performance outshone the brightest star,"
And though a bit unusual, the little woodland scene
Had proved, in their opinion, the best there`d ever been.
Copyright: Betty Jean Weaver-Lucking 2002 TOP
The day that our Lily got married brought us all degradation and shame.
I'll never forget the occasion when Lily took Archibald's name.
We all knew she'd married beneath her, though she'd had enough time to look round,
But when a poor girls pushing fifty fellas get a bit thin on the ground.
So she snapped up the first one who asked her, they were wedded according to plan,
The reception was held at The Horseshoe and that's when the trouble began.
His relatives turned up in hundreds, common as muck they were,
Our Lily was shocked to the marrow, I felt really sorry for her.
You've never seen anything like it. They sat round like pigs at a trough,
Ramming pork pies and doughnuts when our lot had all had enough.
His sister got drunk on Martini, his brother on vodka and gin,
His gran was awash with Guinness and the kids were all making a din.
His mam ordered Drambuie shandy, his aunties all wanted the same,
They didn't know what they were getting, they just liked the sound of the name.
The punch-up began with his cousin, the one with the cauliflower ear,
I knew he was looking for trouble when he dumped out his fag in Alf's beer.
Now Alf is a mild little person, not easily roused or upset,
But if cauliflower ear wanted bother, then bother was what he would get.
Alf cuffed him straight round his earhole, with a quick upper-cut to the chin,
From then on the place was in uproar with the heavy brigade moving in.
They consisted of Archibald's aunties, a formidable mountain of meat.
Inflamed with Drambuie shandy they wiped Alfie clean off his feet.
Well that was too much for our mother seeing Alfie all battered and brayed,
So armed with a syphon of soda she went for the heavy brigade.
Well they all turned on her in a body, so our dad entered into the fray,
He took off his cap and his wellies and thumped Archibald's auntie May.
Then somebody tipped up the table, you never did see such a mess,
Our Lily was bowled over with it with trifle all over her dress.
Her veil was festooned with red cabbage, and coleslaw all over the lace,
I saw her splayed out in a corner with wedding cake smashed in her face.
Our Bill dropped a crate of Best Bitter on one of the enemy's toes,
We found him next day in the bushes with a frankfurter shoved up his nose.
That place was just heaving with bodies, there was no-one who didn't join in,
They didn't know why they were fighting but they all were determined to win.
Some took off their jackets and waistcoats, and others kicked off their best shoes,
They slithered about in the shambles of trifle and teacakes and booze.
And entering into the spirit, even the kids had a go.
They rescued the last of the barm cakes and slung them at poor auntie Flo.
That battle, it raged for two hours, they broke all the tables and chairs.
There never has been such a punch-up as the one between our lot and theirs.
Now Horseshoe is closed for the moment, for repairs and replacement of glass.
The landlord is bringing an action against Archibald Plum and our lass.
The damage, he says must be paid for, we all had our fun on the day,
So we're having a punch-up tomorrow to determine who's going to pay.
Copywrite: Betty Weaver-Lucking 2002. TOP
Mercia Middleton today is built like a battleship – a far cry from the days she was known as the stick insect of Pemberton Close.
Mercia`s life has not been uneventful. Even at eleven years old she was at the centre of a dispute which rocked the school playground. Fortunately, as far as I know, she is still unaware of the drama that surrounded her all those years ago.
It started when she was spotted in the village shop by Doreen Ridley. Doreen was my best friend – well the best I could get anyway – so I was the first to hear the news.
Mercia Middleton had bought a bra.
Doreen dropped this bombshell on our way to school one Monday morning, swearing she had witnessed the transaction the previous Saturday afternoon. With her nose pressed flat against Miss Simpkins` window she could see right through to the shop. Mercia was in there with her mother, and as Doreen watched, riveted, Miss Simpkins had picked up her frayed tape measure and wrapped it round Mercias chest. More significant was the box of bras on the counter. Mercia, her mother, Miss Simpkins and the box had then disappeared behind a rail of melton cloth school coats, so Doreen could only assume they were heading for the stuffy cupboard which served as a fitting room.
“What does she want a bra for?” I asked. “She`s got nothing to put in it.”
“Neither have you,” observed Doreen, deftly unwinding a liquorice whirl.
“I didn`t buy the bra,” I retorted swiftly, “”and you wont need one for ages.”
Already the stick insects advancement was beginning to rankle.
That day Doreen and I were punished for not paying attention in class. The urge to turn round and study Mercia was strong and took precedence over vital information on the blackboard. Mercia hadn`t changed. Her brown hair was the same, with one side a fraction longer than the other thanks to the poor eyesight of the village hairdresser. She wore the same clothes and there was no sign of life under the gym slip.
“I can`t see anything,” admitted Doreen.
“You`re not supposed to,” I said knowingly. “That’s what the thing is for – to stop people seeing anything.”
Convinced that Mercia Middleton was well and truly battened down, we decided that in the fullness of time something would burst forth to confirm our suspicions.
News of Mercia`s ripening spread like wildfire. Doreen told five people in as many minutes and once the information had been released I saw no point in keeping it to myself.
“I`ve suspected for ages,” I boasted.
“Why didn`t you tell us?”
A gaggle of girls had gathered round me.
“She`s the smallest girl in the class,” observed Maureen Hopkins. “I don`t believe you.”
“It`s true,” I said confidently.” Doreen saw everything.”
As arguments raged over Mercia`s bra and it`s contents, the only person left in ignorance was Mercia herself who sailed through it all completely untrammelled by the gossip.
All eyes focussed on Mercia but as the weeks went by interest began to wane and only Doreen and I as perpetrators of the story continued to monitor her. However after a month even I began to have my doubts.
“Are you sure you saw what you said you saw Doreen?”
“Yes. They were in the shop, she was getting measured.”
“Perhaps she was getting measured for something else.”
“You don`t get measured like that for anything else. You just try things on.”
I had to agree.
“Anyway, it`s the school play next week so when get changed into our costumes we`ll have a proper look.”
I hadn`t thought of that. Doreen went up a notch in my estimation.
For the first time ever we looked forward to the school play. All three of us, Doreen, Mercia and myself were to fill in again as fairies. Our school plays were always very rich in non-speaking fairies and bees. It was a way of fitting everyone in, even the duffers.
The day dawned, and in the classroom doubling as a dressing room Doreen and I positioned ourselves as close as possible to Mercia. We were fending for ourselves but Mercia`s mother was dancing attendence, helping her change and dabbing at an angry cold sore that had sprung up overnight.
I nudged Doreen. Within seconds we would know.
Doreen giggled then stared in disbelief as chubby Mrs Middleton whipped off Mercia`s jumper to reveal nothing more than the standard liberty bodice over a pristine interlock vest.
I wasn`t surprised. My faith in Doreen`s powers of observation had begun to crumble anyway.
The fairy dress suitably in place on the stick insect, her mother turned and opened a box which lay on a bench. We watched, fascinated as she lifted out the most magnificent glittering pair of wings we had ever seen. They were stiffened and attached to a wide band of silvery material which fitted snugly round Marcia`s chest. As Mrs Middleton turned the box round, there, emblazoned across the side were the words, SIMPKINS DRAPERS.
“I didn`t know Simpkins sold wings,” whispered Doreen.
“Nor me. I`ve never seen any wings in there.”
“The`ve been specially made.”
A final dab at the cold sore, then Marcia, glasses glinting and wings aloft, swept past us to take up her position on the stage.
Our wings couldn`t hold a candle to Mercia`s but we did our best to gather together the bits of curtain net that served the purpose as we headed for the main hall.
It was a blow to find Mercia in my place at the front of the stage.
“Pop into Mercia`s old place at the back,” said the teacher, glancing admiringly at the silver wings.
As Mercia posed resplendent on the edge of the platform I was tempted to topple her, wings and all into the audience below. I fought this, bearing in mind the repercussions my indulgence would have.
So Mercia Middleton had her moment of glory.
Now, forty years on Mercia`s wings have been well and truly clipped.
Her first husband was a womaniser, her second a wastrel, and her third tormentor absconded to Leeds with a Gaelic nymphet. This left Mercia free to indulge herself with money from the sale of his belongings.
As she herself so delicately put it, “I`ve flogged his old record player and his rotten `Moon River` with it.” His vintage motor bike had gone for a song together with a five year build up of motoring magazines. Nothing was spared. His exercise bike went under the hammer and a brace of Toby Jugs which had plagued her for years went for the high jump. She raised a small fortune on his stamp collection and pillaged their bank account while he was still in a state of euphoria over the maiden.
The wings re-surfaced as Mercia rampaged through the loft conversion in search of his chess set. They were displayed at the village jumble sale nestling against a chipped chamber pot which some enthusiast had festooned with artificial flowers.
No one bought the wings – not even for twenty pence. They looked pathetic somehow. Battered and grubby, they reflected the state of Mercia`s life. They were last seen fluttering bravely on the back of a rubbish wagon as it lurched down the village street. A taxi carrying Mercia followed behind and as the wagon turned right for the rubbish tip the taxi turned left for the airport.
“Those wings have seen better days.” Doreen and I were leaning against the school gates waiting for our grandchildren.
“So has Mercia,” I replied.
“She`s gone to Spain. Says she needs to wind down and empty her mind."
“That shouldn`t take long. Poor old Merc.”
The new man in Mercia`s life surfaced soon after her return.
“She`s on the boil again,” remarked Doreen over our morning coffee.
“Where did she meet this one?”
“Got him from the old folks home.”
“The retirement home where she worked,” said Doreen, dunking her third custard cream. “Nobody`s seen him yet but from what I`ve heard she`s well pleased. He`s got money coming out of his ears.”
“Oh yes. He was only in the home because he`s got no family. Mercia couldn`t bear to see him frittering his money away on that place so she snapped him up. What`s more, this one won`t get away. He can`t do much womanising from a wheelchair.”
I was intrigued. “How old is he?”
“Eighty two. Apparently he was on the blink but Mercia`s given him a new lease of life.”
“Well good for her.”
Mercia blossomed. For the first time in her life she felt needed rather than used, appreciated instead of taken for granted. She wanted for nothing. That is, until the old man died two years later.
I telephoned Doreen.
“Mercia`s slipped up again.”
“What did she do?”
“It`s what she didn`t do”
“Go on.” Doreen was impatient.
“She forgot to make him change his will. His fortune`s gone to the old folks` home."
Copywrite:- Betty Weaver-Lucking 2002 TOP
By special request, a look back at my hotel days.
The first priority and indeed the duty of an hotelier is to compile a list of interpretations. Not difficult! You learn that what guests say and what they mean are two different things.
I could go on, but I won`t. Instead, when I come back to this I will tell you about some of our guests.
Copywrite:- Betty Weaver-Lucking 2003 TOP
Anita wore a little red beret at all times. It was part of the bait, for Anita was a predator from New York.
She arrived at the hotel with her fourth husband in tow. Harry at sixty eight was thirty years her senior and living in a permanent state of exhaustion. Anita, tiny as she was had the stamina of ten men and seemed blind to Harry`s need for rest. He was prised out of bed at dawn and kept on the hop till midnight while following his wife`s punishing schedule of swimming, golf, horse riding, hiking and insatiable appetite for dancing. All this when what he really needed was 6 months in intensive care. Anita confided in me. If Harry didn`t go along with her demands she would withdraw certain privileges. If she meant what I thought she meant it occurred to me that this could be the kindest thing that could happen. At least he would be spared one debilitating task.
She glided into the bar, little red beret at a jaunty angle and half a pint of Max Factor streaming down her face. My husband was at his post behind the bar. “Your husband’s not bad looking,” she remarked, glancing at him and searching his face for defects. “I’m sure I could attract him,” “Be my guest,” I said thinking this could be an interesting experiment. Anita leaned forward on her stool and fluttered her eyelashes as he mixed her drink. She grabbed his hand and whispered something in his ear. I don’t know what she said, but it brought the colour to his cheeks. He glanced nervously at me. I remember thinking at any minute he would be going into shock.
Where was Harry? What had she done with him? It later transpired that Harry had fallen asleep in the bath. If the truth be known, the bathroom was probably the last bastion, his ablutions being the only area of his life as yet unviolated.
Harry appeared looking more refreshed having slumbered through the whole charade. “Harry gets tired very quickly these days,” sighed Anita.
I suspected she was already toying with the idea of trading him in.
I wasn’t far wrong.
The following Christmas we got a card from Anita and Jack.