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Tales from Across the Street


This is Roger Lamballe, from across.  The older fellow, what's his name, was writing a journal during his lockdown and has mentioned me.  He has told, I think, that I am taking over his spot for a while now.  If my writing does not sound good in English, please excuse me.  I am bad at all languages equally. 

I wish only quickly to say a bit about myself in this first post.  My name Roger has two pronunciations - as in Thesaurus or as in Tennis.  I am at ease with both, but around here I am mostly called (Tennis) Roger.  I actually was driving down the motorway and saw Mr Federer in my rearview mirror.  Not in the backseat, no, but in the automobile behind me.  I put my hand out the window and waved in what I hoped would be interpreted as a friendly gesture, and he waved back.  More exciting things have, of course, happened to me, and perhaps I shall relate a few incidents in these pages. 

Everything my friend has written about me is quite accurate.  He mentioned my hair, what I call a quiff, which I had bleached for fun.  What he did not know was that I was copying the look of my childhood hero, Tintin.  Were one to inspect my wardrobe, the chances are high that one would find a plus-four or two, a Burberry mac, and a checked sleeveless jumper.  I wear a number 9 shoe.  But I think I might be giving up too much information.  Were we playing the game within the game, I would have been snookered by now. 

You have been introduced to Digo as well on this site.  Whilst not quite the Tintin type, I do have hopes for him becoming the adventurer on the block.  I suppose in a literary sense, he could best be described as young Jim Hawkins, of the Admiral Benbow Inn in Treasure Island.  I do hope you have read the book, Digo.  I shall have to ask, and if you have not, I shall lend you my copy.  Mind you!  Don't get it into your head to throw it.  If you must succumb to the book-tossing urges of youth, I have an unread copy of The da Vinci Code given me for Christmas several years ago by a lonely woman which you may merrily fling to the heavens (the book, I mean, not the woman, as the woman in question is not of lightweight material). 

I must press the pause button now.  I shall see you all soon.

Finally, it's Roger again!

I must relay an incident which Digo told me about.  What happened is absolutely true. 

Two boys in a nearby city found or were given some play money, not so obviously fake as Monopoly money, but certainly not meant to fool people.  We would call it here Carnival money - you know, the kind they shoot out of a cannon during a parade.

These boys, one 8, the other 12 years old - brothers, I think - went to a corner shop and asked the owner if they could spend the money there.  (I must add that local shops and the tourist office do issue their own 'currency' once in a while to encourage local buying.)

The owner, for whatever reason only he knew, called the police to report someone trying to pass counterfeit money.  The constabulary arrived, expecting rather more than what confronted them.  They explained to the boys the error of their ways and how in future etc. etc. The shopkeeper, as one would expect, got a right good telling off about common sense and - that most important of all virtues - PRUDENCE.

It was at this point that I mentioned stamp and coin collections to young Digo.  He could not believe that anyone these days actually still collected anything of no real value.  I asked him what he collected.  Football jerseys, he said.  He has a kit for every league team for every year he's been alive.  His father started him off with the very first ones, and Digo has been saving up to buy the latest ones ever since.  I asked him what he did with them - wear them?  Oh, NO!  He is afraid of getting them soiled.  Most are neatly folded away in plastic bags on shelves in his bedroom, whilst a few are displayed on hangers, in some sort of arcane juvenile rotation system. 

What were my favourite teams? Hm.  Well, I said, it's hard to say, there being so many.  I finally confessed having no great preference and treating the choice as an alphabetical lottery instead.  Now my team are Ajax.  Next, Arsenal.  Then there's probably one of those difficult Turkish team names to contend with.  What about Millwall?  Digo!  Have you been reading my mail? 

In all my 35 years of breathing, I have never liked the smell of the circus. Especially the smell of elephants.  In fact, I would rather smell a rat than an elephant.  I told the fellow across yesterday that I hated elephants, thinking I'd get a rise out of him, poor old codger.  He took it in, mulled it over, spat it out, muttered something about Babar, then told me a story about an old (even older) neighbour who had an elephant's foot umbrella stand in his hallway.  Thinking he had won the trick, I played my fantasy card.  I used to have, I told him, an elephant's tail flywhisk.  Ahh, he said, yes.  They tend to fall apart after a few decades.  His advice was to buy a synthetic whisk. 

Today I saw him at the window waving a stick at me.  Had Roger really upset the old codger so much?  Not at all, it turned out.  He was chasing a fly.  The stick was a whisk, of course, else I would not be mentioning it.  At the end was a bundle of long, thin red feathers.  Hoopoo feathers, as I later found out.  We shouted this conversation across the tarmac of our little road behind the main railway station, where the air smells of chocolate.  Not chocolate elephants, either.  But real quality chocolate beans, brought here for roasting and milling. 

I asked if I could get a photo of the hoopoo whisk.  So, as quick as gravy thickens, he had telephoned Digo to act as courier and over he came with the whisk for me to photograph.  Be careful with it!  Yes, Digo, I will.  Did the man tell you anything about it?  Never having seen Digo blush before, I was unsure whether he had suddenly had a heat stroke.  But he curled up laughing as silently as he could before breaking out into a gale of laughs.  Digo said that the old geezer had told him what they call it where he had bought it - a bum brusher.  Then he said - and do you know what they call it in America?  A fanny tickler!

I hope I was able to hold the camera steady enough for the photo, what with Digo and me laughing so hard.


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