Dear Mr Hayes,
Allow me to introduce myself. I am the director of the Uckfield Conceptual Art Centre and, as such, am delighted to know that you and Mrs Hayes will be attending Mr. Mumbles’ exhibition.
Should you be lucky enough to come to the private view it will add immensely to the occasion. I know you are the former art critic of the Friday Ad and are familiar with exhibition protocols, but I will refresh your memory none the less.
First, although we have a dedicated car park, I would be grateful if you could park your Fordson Major a few blocks away. Please leave Lassie in the cab.
2. There is no strict dress code but we feel your Eddie the Milkman outfit, with it’s ill -fitting jacket and cut down boiler suit plus plastic galoshes would be out of place.
We understand Mrs Hayes will be wearing a little off- the- shoulder BHS crimplene number (c.1970) with matching handbag and gloves. How wonderful! Perhaps we might drop the mother- of- pearl tiara…a bit OTT.
3. Alcoholic refreshments will be provided but may I caution you against over indulgence? I happened to be at Mr. Ecclestones show of splendid renderings of wheel bearings, where, somewhat the worse for wear, you announced to all and sundry ‘This exhibition brings to a close 20 years of promise’. Yes, your credentials as a critic are well known, established by your magnum opus ‘portrait painting in Albania,1204-1205’, a splendid account of a somewhat overlooked period.
I am sure you and Mrs Hayes will mingle with the great and the good. I must point out (entre nous) that Mr Mumbles is of an uneven temperament and prone to bouts of nervous anxiety. This has been occasioned by a recent visit to Silverstone. It seems he was discovered in a somewhat compromising situation in a strangers tent.
This is a matter of some delicacy but the upshot was he had to be prised out of the inside of a tractor tyre. His guitar was turned into costume jewellery.
Anyway, that’s it, please make sure you get all the straw out of the tractor when you set off- it really clings to clothing!!
Jocaster Palfreman- Prideaux
Mumbles lobbed into M/Claire land. It was a kind of Late ECO/ early Mother Earth kiddie…loads of hay bales, p.c. Tractor tyres, bunches of sweet smelling plants, peace be with you exhortations and the tea was as herbal as herbal could be. Mumbles had been here the first time around. Never mind.
She gave Mumbles the once over. Seemed impressed. It was rather like an Elysian nymphette gazing at Mount Rushmore. She moved quickly on. ‘Do you need this, that or the other? No?’
‘OK. You do your stuff after the interval. Be half as good as when I heard you and you will slay this lot …don’t screw it up.’ Mumbles gave her the old Clint Eastwood lantern jawed green -eyed gaze… She backed off.
The first few sets gave Mumbles one over-riding feeling… that of calm confidence.
They were OK, but listening to them was rather like wading through freshly laid concrete, which slowly begins to set. Tofu and nuts and raw veg. followed.
An almighty chord on the big guitar announced the new kid on the block. He roared straight into ‘The Fair Dinkum Drongo’ Unexpurgated. Boy, did he pin their ears back.
Mumbles, totally given to his work, did not spot Paul who had slipped in at the back.
The bit about Banjo mistaking a Tassie Devil for a domestic cat and tickling the same had the audience begging for more. Howls of delight. He finished off with some sublime cadenza – like improvisations of all that had gone before… twisting, turning, and, 20 minutes later, resolved on a D major chord that produced a wondrous stunned silence.
The applause was deafening. Encore? You bet.
Paul wanted to catch the last episode of ‘The Stirling Moss story’ so set off, but he WAS impressed.
Mumbles, knackered, left soon after. His progress was slowed by a collision with a mountain of marshmallows. ‘God,’ the marshmallows whispered in unison as their grip became vice-like, ‘you were sensational!!’ Holy ****! It was Mrs. Crusher!! She read Mumbles mind.
‘Stay loose’, she said, He is off on a tractor tyre throwing competition… me tent is bigger than yours, fancy a nightcap?’
Paul bought Mumbles up to speed on his visitor and her proposal. Mumbles hesitated. ‘I know you have a terrific DVD lined up tonight… I think it was the history of in the shock absorber, but the idea of a paying gig sounds good… not to mention little Marie whatsit… I’ll get togged up and pop down to see her. She sounds a hell of a lot prettier than you.’
Paul twitched a bit. Old Mumbles was ok but not mentally terribly agile. Tended to speak first and get whacked later. There were ominous sounds coming from his tent. No, not booze, more the rustling of a profound costume change. Later, Paul looked up from his ‘Michelin Moments’ mag to be greeted by an incredible metamorphosis. OK, it could have been an oven- ready Crocodile Dundee, but this sight was impressive nonetheless.
Paul had seen the hard bitten cow hands in West Texas and West Queensland. The sweat stained hat, flayed jeans, filigree decorated boots (plus Spurs) leather jacket and a belt that would hold up Santa’s pants ….AND the guitar AND …he smelled so sweet!
‘Right,’ said Mumbles, ‘ready to roll.’
Paul was enjoying a cold beer from his well- stocked fridge. ‘Fancy a beer before you go?, he suggested. The look on Mumbles face was one of utter incredulity. ‘A BEER?’!
‘That stuff or any kind of stuff is a big no-no! Kiss of death. I have to work. Give all that rubbish the flick. Got any filtered water?’ Paul’s mouth opened and shut like a goldfish on speed. You learn something every day, he mused.
‘I’ll see you down there’, said Paul, I think Drop Dead Darling wants you to strut your stuff on the second half …’I hope she won’t be disappointed.’
‘Not bloody likely’, came the confident reply.
Paul has a visitor
Qualifying session full on. No quarter given. Live speeds 10 times what you get on TV. Noise sublime. Paul foraged for a mocha for Mumbles. Nectar. Teensy tribulations forgotten. Paul’s tactical expertise was invaluable, sometimes Mumbles could easily cope with being treated as a chop short of the barbie.
About mid afternoon they returned to tent land. Mumbles felt a zzzzz coming on, Paul suddenly got domesticated…..
Later. Paul was running the Dyson over his shag pile carpet, closely following the printed track of the Monaco street circuit. This was cleverly woven into the fabric.
Was that somebody calling to him? Turned off the Dyson, chucked his Fangio apron behind the Aspidistra and looked outside. This wasn’t any old somebody, this was a Drop Dead Darling and no mistake. ‘Hi’, she trilled, coming from a countenance that would launch a thousand battle cruisers. ‘Sorry to trouble you, my name is Marie Claire.
I came by this morning and heard some fab singing. I mean FAB. Who was this guy who did that old Tassie Classic, you know the one, ‘Banjo Barry, the bastard from the bush.’ … This was a revelation. He must be Tasmanian. Her doe- like eyes widened. ‘Was it you?’ Paul a bit thrown by this. ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘He’s a friend of mine’.
As he said that, he spotted an empty Islay single malt bottle poking out of the bottom of Mumbles tent. What happens if our boy emerged from his boudoir and tripped over the guy ropes yet AGAIN? Little Darling pressed on. ‘Look, I run the Frisco Folk Club down by the Eateries. We are doing our last gig tonight and my top of the bill have got a better offer. Can you friend help us out? What’s his name, by the way. Paul hesitated. He dumped the Mumbles. ‘Mojo Makepiece, Mojo for short. He is doing a bit of choir practice at the moment for tomorrow’s church service. Shall I send him down to you?’
‘PLEASE DO,’ she pleaded, ‘I would so love to meet him.’
The sweet smell of Givenchy wafted through the air as she headed off. ‘We will pay him’, she called back.
Paul finished the dusting, re- arranged the flowers, and settled down to read ‘The Complete Technical Guide to the maintenance of the F 1 gearbox’. Great stuff!
Next: Mumbles meets MC!
Mumbles’ mojo seemed to be working. Weary after a day’s racing he contemplated a good nights sleep in his ‘got you figured out’ cocoon.
And thus it proved. Almost. About seven in the morning, still pretty dark in the tent, he decided to investigate some small object that had been digging into his back. What the hell was it?
Now a tentophile of considerable organisational skills, he reached for his specs that he had hung on a ceiling hook. He grabbed handfuls of air. Strange. So he looked again at the object. A LENS. Terrific. Where was the rest of his eye-wear? Under the air bed! They now looked like mangled costume jewellery or those evil wire sculptures one sees in open studio exhibitions. Couldn’t see a bloody thing without them. A job for Paul.
Paul had three great skills. He was deeply intuitive, did not stand on ceremony and was not patronising …usually.
‘Alright, what have you done now?’ (He could also be long suffering and non- judgmental at the same time.) He studied the evidence.
‘Did you leave these in the pit lane?’ Convulsed at his own wit, his shoulders shook.
He then glided to the boot of his car, snapped it open and produced on of those Mega telescopic tool boxes, about 2 metres high at full stretch. Socket spinners, ring spanners, adjustable….and on and on and on. With this kit he could do anything from changing a gearbox to a hysterectomy. Mumbles hovered. Paul decisive.
‘Look sweetie,’ said Paul, ‘why don’t you go and sit over there, put on your ‘howdy folks, I’m aimin to sing’ hat, get out your guitar and the rest of your microwave stash and stay really loose?’ That came to pass. Mumbles drifted Into his world, Paul stayed four square in his. Later…..
Mumbles hit the final chord on his Tassie Troubadour set and felt good. He then glanced down and saw his re-built specs. ‘No problem’, said Paul ‘thank God I had some 5 amp fuse wire.’ While I was about it, he went on, I changed the brake pads and a wheel bearing on our limo. A CVJ looked dodgy but will get us home. My welding kit is giving me grief’ Mumbles had no grasp of this language whatsoever.
‘Qualifying starts soon, let’s go.’ Said Paul. ‘Don’t forget your specs.’
Episode 8: Paul has a visitor.
The campground was bedecked with recognition flags, a sort of pre-dawn Agincourt.
Mumbles took careful note of the nearest markers as this trip was now attended by some urgency. After an eternity he spotted 2×200 metre queues in the distance.
‘Early birds for the racetrack’, he thought. Quick re-think. Why are they all carrying wash bags and towels? He pressed the distraction therapy button as he joined the queue.
The woman in front made Rubens’ females look anorexic. Boy, was she a bonny baby.
He gazed down at her equally huge washing-up bowl. Hmmm… muesli, porridge, full English, toast, muffins, marmalade, tea, coffee, milkshakes and loads more. Lucky them. They chatted.
During the course of this, Mumbles remembered that his dwelling was described as a two person tent. He fancy – flew again. What would happen if he and mega- cuddles got a bit pally and decided to have a coming together? His little tent would become a geodesic dome or a kind of vast jelly mould which bounced around quite a lot. Such was his amusement at this image he laughed out loud. ‘Sorry, hay fever’, he explained to his concerned new best friend.
What also hastened the departure of his amusement was the awareness of a look- alike Sumo wrestler beside him. Said wrestler’s tattoo display would rival that of any Maori chief.
His bling bracelets and bangles was topped off with a little diamond skull which held his pony tail in place. ‘Meet Crusher’, said cuddles, ‘a gentle giant’.
The amenities block turned out to be a model of efficiency. Staffed entirely by non- Brexit people , it was in a constant cleansing mode. Marshals directed traffic and wash- bag wounding non existent. Refreshed and relieved, Mumbles began the long journey home.
And then he heard it, them,….a load of 600 Hp engines splitting the morning air…
Mumbles head filled with keen anticipation… up to his point, a truly endangered species.
Episode 6. Breakfast at Paul’s,..racing!!!!
Evening meal and so to bed…
Time for some food! In one of his epistles to the Ecclestones, St Paul outlined the cosmopolitan nature of the Silverstone cuisine. It seemed to mirror exactly the range of food available in Collins Street, Melbourne. Alas, Dodge City would cover it. Still, the food was hot and, deepest joy, the beer was cold. Mumbles would have settled for a couple of glasses of sandwiches. Back now for a good night’s sleep.
Mumbles air bed was perhaps a tad over-inflated. Any sudden movement would result in the occupant being catapulted on to the floor. This was compounded by contour problems. The air bed ridging was identical to that of a frozen deeply ploughed field in February – and about as hard. If you got stuck in the ridges, move v e r y s l o w l y .
After a while and a fair bit of bruising, the mantle of sleep started to weave a magic…then…O MY GOD!! Please say it’s not happening to me!
It was four to the floor Migraine Music, conveyed through a Nuremberg sound system. Mumbles needed a fix. AAAAAGGGHH! It was in Paul’s microwave, drying off.
Music died at about midnight, but with sublime synchronisation it blended into a raging storm. Rain hurtled down. Tent kept dry…but!
Mumbles off into a fitful sleep. CRAMP! At 3 in the morning. Involuntary spasm. Catapulted to the floor. Hits the side of the tent. That’s when a tent sheds water…on the inside. It runs down your neck and back. Jump to the other side to avoid it and it runs down your front. ‘Why did I skip RE classes’? mused Mumbles.
Grey morning arrived at last. Mumbles final labour presents itself. How to get fully dressed in a sitting position without touching the top or sides of the tent.
Seventy something bones and muscles have serious articulation problems. Back howls in protest. Eventually emerges from his cozy chrysalis. Grabs his rain soaked towel and sets off to THE FACILITIES!
The Journey to Silvers
Day dawns bright and clear. Car packed and ready. Sat nav set to Siverstone.
Paul and mumbles set off. Mumbles a bit weary and drifts off into a dreamy vision of their destination. Sort of gospel according to Saint Paul.
Images jostle for position …A bucolic scene of soft greens, a few tents under the spreading chestnut trees, Miss Marple chatting to Dixon of Dock Green outside Mrs Miggins tea rooms. A leafy Twitten winds around past the vicarage and leads to a wonderful vantage point affording a splendid view of the racetrack. Birdsong abounds. Sheep safely grazing.
Somewhere north of the M40/A279/ B something , Mumbles wakes up and glances out the window. ‘HOLY ****!!! Were their refugee camps in England? The sight that met his gaze would rival anything in Lebanon or Syria. Tents as far as the eye could see.
‘Glad we got here early’, said Paul, ‘the real influx will be tomorrow. ‘I think I can see a space a kilometre or so on the right.’ Mumbles blinking with incomprehension.
It started to rain. Mumbles needed a jab. Paul brisk, efficient.
‘Right, let’s get these tents up’, he commanded. In so doing, he produced his tent which was a combined ranch- style/ Winnebago hybrid. It was graced with Greek columns (Doric capitals) and Baroque acanthus leaves. Ample furnishings were installed inside.
Mumbles accommodation was the bog standard bottom end of the Halfords Glastonbury range. There was not a flicker of interest from a passing rabbit. In went the air bed and other sad, soggy possessions. Paul struggled with the standard lamp and the cinema sized TV. Rain hosed down.
‘What about the facilities’? Asked Mumbles. Paul rummaged in his wardrobe and produced a set of Jack Hawkins binoculars.
‘You will just be able to see them if you use these’, he said. Mumbles started to panic. ‘What happens if you have rebellious Indian curry for supper which has a 5 hour fuse?’
Paul’s answer was drowned in a ear spitting thunderclap. Torrential rain.
Episode 4 : evening meal and so to bed……
Good old mojo mumbles has left London Bridge and after a couple of belts of Jack Daniels sets off for Padders. Echoes of distant applause rings in his ears.
Tube train glides into Padders and keeps gliding. Helpful announcement says Padders is closed on this line so you can go to the next stop and walk back. Make that run in the sun,in this case. O joy! Loosely wrapped rucksack sheds bits. Dubious personal items litter the footpath.Dogs growl.
Arrive at platform 300 to just get on the Totnes train in the nick of. Thrown out of first class. At last ,dump sack in the right carriage. This triggers an astonishing train (!) of events. At the precise moment the bag hits the floor there is a piercing alarm siren, somewhere between an air raid warning and a car alarm. Fellow passengers nervous. Even more nervous when they notice that the front of mumbles jacket was rather lumpy AND his infrequent visits to the shower or bathroom gave him a middle eastern appearance. Fellow travellers eyes were almost as white as their knuckles.
What to do? Mumbles blocks the doorway. Worse , he starts rummaging in the sack to find the offending alarm clock.Garments were produced that hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine since Woodstock. Underwear the worst culprit. 50 999 calls were made simultaneously. Mumbles shuts off the noisy alarm clock, takes his spare socks from inside his jacket, produces a copy of Good Housekeeping ,tunes his IPod into Woman’s Hour and settles down to read as a fully armed riot squad whacked the carriage next door. Nobody had seen him do a discreet re- direct as they approached.
Wonderful piece in Good Housekeeping on how to train (!) men to see the error of their ways, WITHOUT making lists!!! Great reading all the way to Totnes.Time for another rinse or three and a spliff. He needed that. His buddy Paul a teensy bit prim….never mind..
Episode 3. To come….Journey to Silvers….wait for it…