A Packet of Polos
“I desire a packet of Polos.” I said to myself as I lay in the bath. I had just got in so it would have been daft to immediately jump out, towel myself and get dressed for the eponymous mint with the hole. I have this bath to enjoy first of all. I just can’t get that packet of Polos from my mind. Just a simple packet of Polos, a sweet you don’t eat in one go like a chocolate bar but gradually over a long period. I wonder what the longest period is. A month? A month to eat a packet of Polos? Two months? How does Polo stay in business? They’re as iconic as Coca Cola and yet one appears to be advertised more than the other. Coca Cola doesn’t need promoting. We all drink it. Coca Cola could give their advertising budget to Polo. Perhaps shoot a jokey commercial where the mints are used as a pizza topping. Place them upon salamis and mint leaves for example. Fruit Polo! I remember those. Those translucent crunchy sweets. The only time they went in one go. Can you still buy Fruit Polo? Would they be found tucked away in a Pakistani run convenience store? Hmmm, I feel like sucking on a Fruit Polo right now. Oh curse this foamy bath, I’m stressing over mints and the water is not relaxing me.
How many variations on Polo can you make? Variations. ‘Enigma Variations’. ‘Variations on a theme by Paganini’. ‘The Dog Breath Variations’. ‘Various Artists’. What a versatile group Various Artists is. Mm. “Polo, the mint with the hole.” They did sell the holes once. Never tried them. The advert was funny, saying the slogan without vowels. I think they sold Polo without the hole as a gimmick too. Did they come after the offer of a million if you found a Polo with blue writing on it? Never found the blue writing. Somebody told me if she found one, she’d eat it. I bet she did. Always the bridesmaid never the bride with me. In fact I’m not even a bridesmaid. I don’t think I’m the one who hands the carnations and pins at the front of the church door. In the general pecking order of life I’m well below the three year old girl running up and down the aisle only to stop in order to read her copy of ‘Clifford The Big Red Dog’. Why white for mint? Who came up with that? Wikipedia has an answer for everything. It has destroyed the wonder of wondering. Ooh this water is getting cold better put some hot in. “Ahhhhh.” Would people take mints seriously if they were as green as the leaves? Some are though, those soft ones and so are the internal organs of After Eights. How would they react to ice cream if it was black as vanilla pods? From childhood I associated vanilla with the colour yellow. Vanilla must be on the colour chart. “I’ll have vanilla with a hint of tractor rust for the bedroom.” Ooh, Polos. I better not fall asleep in this bath though. I yawned.
One of my many idiosyncrasies is to lie in the bath whilst the water runs through the plughole and from the depths of the pipes belches a friendly gurgling sound. Even when the water is gone I lie on the enamel for a bit and let myself drip dry. This is so I don’t get the towel too wet and when towelled I can get myself dressed toot sweet. After I dried myself I went to my airing cupboard to select some especially suitable mint purchasing attire. Silly thing to think, I could go out stark naked and it wouldn’t matter. My mother couldn’t live it down though if I was plastered on the front of the local paper. “Mint Buying Perv Arrested For Indecency”. Still, it’s a better way of obtaining fame than thematically based mass murder. Perhaps I should give it a go. No. Best not to. Not everybody cleans up after Lassie. I should dress up smart. A clean body deserves to be decorated in something crisp and presentable. Ah, these will do.
I walk down the creaky staircase ready to cross the opposite way over my threshold and buy those lovely Polos. Oh that company would pay me a mint for my thoughts. Mint! Do you get it? It’s a lovely word. Shame there isn’t a Mount Mint though. Plenty of peaks would qualify for the title. In France they’d call it Mont Mint, if their word for mint is the same as ours. Perhaps it came from France. Maybe from Germany. Are there any mints in Chaucer I wonder?
As one needs to exchange the appropriate money for a packet of mints I looked within my wallet to see if I had the correct money. Out of which arose a purple twenty pound note. Buggeration! The newsagent won’t be including me in his prayers for bringing that scrap of paper to his emporium. Not unless I buy a few magazines, a broadsheet and some bargain basement fizzy pop. Don’t desire those things though. I’ve too many magazines in my attic, most of them unread. Plus newspapers either fill me with anxiety or infuriation. A few seconds reading Charlie Brooker’s column means a few seconds less reading the London journals of James Boswell. Perhaps I could break the twenty at a supermarket and pick up the Polos near the counter. Have to make sure they have Polos at the counter. Goodness! What if the only brand of Polos they had were multipack ones? Either shrink-wrapped in threes or in a big bag marked “fun size” or even “snack size” to avoid pedantry. I might have to make do with biting on a freezing cold Polo Mint ice cream. I remember that Mars bar ice cream when it came out. The slogan went, “You can’t improve on a Mars but you can improve on an ice cream.” Then a year later Danny Baker appeared on my screen hawking new improved Mars with its slightly thinned caramel content. Git! Anyway I shall look around the kitchen to see if there is anything I need.
I walk into the kitchen and turn on Radio 4. Oh it’s news, not till later, let’s try Radio 2. Oh it’s a complete wazzock. The radio is turned off and in complete silence save for the outside world creating a live-on-stage piece of musique concrete I look round for anything necessary or desirable that is lacking from my fridge, freezer or cupboards. Milk the basic ingredient for slightly livening up cornflakes. No, I have more than enough. Perhaps I don’t have cornflakes which explain why the milk isn’t reducing so quickly. If I just take care to look….No, I have cornflakes with a bit of muesli to spare. Um. Eggs (got those), cheese (I don’t need), spreadable condiments (jam, marmalade, peanut butter, butter, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera to quote ‘The King and I’, yes I have those), bacon (plenty), tea, coffee (one tenth of infinity). I give up! I’m King bloody Midas! What do you give the man who has everything? Something brand bloody new of course. You give him a packet of bloody Polo mints. I should give up and make a fucking cheese sandwich and shit it out during a commercial break when ‘The Alan Titchmarsh Show’ is on. No, best poo when they’re having their pleb pleasing debates. I could poo during ‘Loose Women’ but then again the turd won’t be fully formed by then. No! I must not weaken. My mind is already made up. A compromise could be reached but a “No Polos” compromise is out of the question. I settle to search for a few coins around the house. Where’s a likely place? I should stop thinking questions; my head is going to implode. The three piece suite is the best place to rummage.
I go through every seating with my legs kicking in the air and the entire length of my right arm right through the back, fiddling with broken crumbly bits and goodness knows what. I hope I don’t end up stroking a rat like Doris did once. Poor old Doris what a shock that was for her. Although why she was rummaging in the first place I’ll never know. Perhaps she wanted some minty sweeties. I’m not sure if I want minty sweeties myself now. Hold on, what’s this? Ah! All has not been in vain. I can feel a bit of metal. Now if I just use my left arm to pull my right arm out. Ouch, ouch, ouch. It’s a five pence piece. Not even a start, it’s a five pence piece before they got reduced to that fiddly easily lost size. And I lose this one, well it certainly says a lot about yours truly. No other coins within the entire three piece suite. This is certainly an uphill struggle. Now, come on! There must be some money around the house somewhere. If not I’ll have to think of some way of breaking this twenty.
I search around the house. Looking through every conceivable place (by the bed) and every inconceivable place (a bathroom cupboard). It was in an inconceivable place where I found some money, lots of it. Under the kitchen sink I forgot I had been keeping a light blue ice cream tub full of unwanted two pence and one pee coins. They won’t be overjoyed when I hand this lot over but they won’t be as miserable as they would be if I gave them a twenty. How much is a packet of Polos anyway? Better take a pound’s worth of two pence to be on the safe side. Right, time to put this lot on the kitchen table and start counting. There we go. Okay. Two, four, six, eight, ten. That’s ten pence. Two, four, six, eight, ten, two, four, six, eight, ten. Thirty so far. Surely that’s enough to be going on with. Knowing my luck I might be walking with a lumpy pocket and find that Polos only cost fifteen pence. They must do, they have to be cheap. A lot of work can’t have gone into them. Actually this counting is quite therapeutic. Two, four, six, eight, ten. Now I let it go again. Two, four, six, eight, ten. Oh I’ve had enough! There is no way, absolutely no way that a packet of Polos costs fifty pence. No way on this planet. They’re not going to be more costly than a Twix so I might as well stop there and then.
I pause and breathe out.
Two, four, six, eight, ten, two, four, six, eight, ten. O shit! Shit! Shit! Stop going onto automatic pilot you daft clump. I’ll count to a hundred; a pound’s worth of pennies might come into use. Two, four, six, eight, ten. Perhaps I might buy two packets. One for now and one for later on if ever the desire strikes me again. Two, four, six, eight, ten. I could take this little lot to the bank. Two, four, six, eight, ten. Done! One hundred pennies, one hundred pennies in a pound. One pounds worth of two pennies. Now there comes a dilemma. Shall I go to the bank and exchange it for a pound coin or shall I just pass them over in their natural state. Oh, this is so stressful! I want to break down and cry. Why was my indecisive sperm the fastest? Oh fuckity fuck. I shall step outside and perhaps the fresh air will massage cool my aching brain cells. That’s it I shall step outside.
I am now outside, I shall walk down my pathway. Still haven’t made a decision yet but I shall walk one in soon. Just go to where my legs take me. Interesting, I seem to be heading in the direction of the…Wait! Oh crappity excrement! I’ve. I’ve locked myself out! Only one thing for it and that is to run back to the house. Quickly! Quickly! ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! Of course running back to my house after discovering I went out sans front door key is not necessarily going to solve problems, but it’s a start. I walk round the house.
Now think carefully, what would Jesus do in such a situation? Would he look for a locksmith or go to the police? Would he break into his own home? No he wouldn’t because he’s Jesus. Besides their homes didn’t have any locks. Or didn’t they? A crude stick acting as a bar bolt methinks. I could break into my house but I’d be spotted. The police could come round and I’d have to panic and say, “No, no officer. It is my house. Look at the photographs, letters and driving license.” I’d either be had up for wasting police time or worse still be a laughing stock at the station. Crime would drop to nought if humiliation replaced jail sentences. Good God, I sound right wing. Yes, what would Jesus do in this situation? “Love thy neighbour.” That’s it, he would ask his neighbour to help and in return the neighbour would obtain salvation.
My neighbour is a cordial old woman. Very short, this can cause a spinal injury when you greet the dear one with a hug. Nevertheless she is good company, sympathetic and above all knows the right people. What goes on under that pearly smile? Is there deep sadness. She has photographs of her late husband everywhere. Perhaps she has spiritual hope. I wish I was that naïve. No! No. I shouldn’t insult the dear woman. She might know something that I don’t.
I walk up my neighbour’s driveway. Hoping, just hoping that she hasn’t gone to a tea dance or to pick up her pension at the Post Office. I rat-a-tat on her door with the black cast-iron door knocker
“Oh, hello love.”
“Hello. I’m in a jar of Branston. I’ve gone out to buy a packet of Polos and forgot my key.”
“And now you’ve locked yourself out. Well come in and I’ll brew you a fresh pot of tea. It’s hard to think up a solution when you’re in knots.”
“You’re a kind woman, Mrs…”
“You know me enough to call me Imogen. If you just step into the kitchen with me. Did you get the packet of Polos?”
“Not yet. I was on my way when I realised that…”
“You’d forgotten your key. Oh dear me, what is our security is also our millstone. Same with my mother.”
“It’s okay, you can sit there. Ah, the cat likes you, I can tell.”
“He’s very orange.”
“I call him Mister Hayworth after Rita. I presume you’ve never seen ‘Gilda’.”
“I’ve never heard of ‘Gilda’.”
“Shame on you. She’s quite a sensuous one in that film. ‘I hate you. I hate you so much, I think I’m going to die from it. Darling!’ Ah, the kettle’s boiled.”
“Sounds an interesting film, when was it made?”
“After the war, 1946 I think. Yes it was 1946. Quite a sensation.”
“So I’m unable to get into my house and I don’t know how I…Oh, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Would you like some biscuits?”
“I wouldn’t decline.”
“Here you are.”
“Ooh, a tin.”
“Some are a bit broken, but the rest are fine.”
“I’ll think I’ll choose this one.”
“Hold on, I’ll get you a plate.”
“Ahhhh. Imogen you know how to make a good cup of tea.”
“I’m sorry, is the radio disturbing you?”
“Not at all. Is this Classic FM?”
“I don’t know. It sounded lovely so I left it on. They don’t play Robbie Williams on that station do they?”
“No they don’t.”
“Tell me what does FM stand for?”
“I’m not sure. I think it stands for frequency modulation.”
“Goodness me. I don’t know what that means. I’m stuck in the stone age with the Home Service and the Light Programme.”
“Yes they are. Well you just sit there and have your tea and biscuits and I’ll look for a packet of Polos for you.”
And before I could object she left the room.
Imogen didn’t have a packet of Polos and neither could she get me into my house. All she had was a suggestion. Go to the police station and explain the whole thing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that thought had already drifted into my mind. I was banking on her giving me a hairpin. She knew what I wanted, the bitch. To the police station it is then. Off to the local police station in the pouring rain. Without an umbrella. I really should have checked the weather before going out. Doesn’t take too long to look it up on the internet. Sigh! It all seemed so simple. Walk down to the shops, buy a packet of Polos and go home.
I’ve just been to the police station. What an annoyingly frustrating experience that was. It was my fault though for also leaving my wallet in the house with everything to identify myself. Daft sod. That man at their reception though was a bit odd. He had an old style hearing aid. Not an ear trumpet but something like a light beige Sony Walkman. I liked the fireman. He was sympathetic. Said it happened to him. Well…“said”, you don’t really know. It’s probably part of their banter. Part of their training I shouldn’t wonder. Well I’m in my house now. More alert in terms of doing things properly. It’s nearly dark now. I don’t like these winter evenings. Now, where’s that umbrella? There it is. Keys? There they are, straight in my pocket they go.
I walk straight towards the newsagent when I became dazzled by the headlights of an oncoming Land Rover and I am….drenched. Drenched to the soles of my shoes by a ruddy tidal wave caused by a ruddy Land Rover galloping through a ruddy puddle. Oh things cannot get any worse can they? Oh yes they can, I forget to take the money with me. When I got home I automatically took the coins out of my pocket and placed it on the kitchen island. Arse! Oh well back to the house I go.
I beat the kitchen island with my fists and begin cursing. Oh why! Oh why! Oh why! I must get out of these clothes I’m soaked to the skin. I walk upstairs and remove my clothing. I dry myself with a used towel and feeling cold my immediate reaction is to dive under the covers. Oooh. That’s lovely. So gorgeous. I feel like a caterpillar in its cocoon. Aaaaaah.
I feel I must have dozed off. Big yawn now. I think I needed those forty winks. I was feeling quite stressed over a simple packet of Polos. I better buy those Polos, I feel indebted to Imogen, the police force and the fire brigade. The shop will be shut though. I’ll have to go up to the supermarket and buy a packet. Make do with a packet of three. Ironically by now they’ll be happy to break my twenty. What a waste of time that was. Shall I take my car? No, I’ll walk up the hill. Do I still feel like a packet of Polos? Am I having doubts? No, no. I would like a packet of Polos. I will not let fate defeat me. Feel a bit hungry. Sorry stomach, Polos first food later. I shall bung any old clothes on. As it is dark nothing shall matter. Underpants, socks, this pair of jeans will do here. “Cuba”. Don’t recall buying a zippy-up top with ‘Cuba’ on it. Bit outdated, nowadays it’s ‘Abercrombie’. What next? Oh, I can’t think of a sharp witticism. Still, it does the job. Better look out the window first. Pitch black outside but there are no fresh spots of rain emerging on the window so no need for the brolly. Downstairs I go.
After making sure I have the keys in my pocket I decide to pay for the Polos entirely in tuppences in case they do sell them in ones. Before leaving I check the time. Half seven. Good. Only half an hour before closing time. I step outside. Ooh, it’s still cold. Let’s stroll up to the supermarket. Plenty of time, enjoy the journey. Who’s that girl under the amber streetlight and why has she suddenly stopped still?
Who is this?
Oh my God! Why now?
“Nice to see you’re still wearing the present I gave you.”
“Yes, ‘Health to you’ too. It’s nice to see a person who tore your heart in two and stamped on it repeatedly that you have to see a counsellor. It’s nice to see that person wear the top that you bought them when you were under the impression that they loved you and that you were their precious one.”
“I’m. I’m very sorry.”
Can I go now?
“I’m sure you are but you haven’t paid penance yet.”
“Penance is what you’re going to pay for making me an insecure wreck. Wearing that ‘Cuba’ top is like boring a hole in my heart with a dagger and twisting it. Twisting! Twisting! My friend was going to take me to see a revival of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ but now I better not as it’ll bring up memories by association.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think that all those years ago you’d still be affected.”
“I am. I’m okay, most of the time I’m frightened. I’m so frightened I cannot think of a poetic metaphor.”
Poor thing. I feel a little bit guilty now.
“I’m really sorry.” I stroke my ex’s forelocks.
“You do have some feelings for me!”
“Hold me. Ohhh, you feel so nice.”
Let me go. Let me go. Let me go.
“I’m. I’m sorry.”
“I’m. I’m…I’m married.”
“Don’t care. We can be secret lovers. No ties. I find it exciting, but I’ll be seething with jealousy thinking about you with your spouse.”
“I’m sorry, I lied. I left you for a reason and that reason has become particularly apparent again.”
“I see.” Run! Run, run, run!
“I’m very sorry. You’ll find somebody.”
I push her aside and hot foot it to the supermarket.
“Scumbag! I hope you die! Go fuck your mother! Dig her up and fuck her! Dig up her corpse and fuck her! Fuck her! Fuck her! Fuck her!”
I was thwarted again. I didn’t have long until closing time and the supermarket ran out of Polos. Sold out.
“Yes sir. They’ve become popular for no apparent reason. Must be one of those up things you see in The Sunday Times ‘Style’ supplement.”
Didn’t have the common courtesy to check round the back if they had any in stock.
“I’m sorry sir. We have to shut up shop.”
So I decide to get in my car and drive to the nearest twenty four hour garage.
“Start won’t you? Just why won’t you start? Start you bastard! Start! Start! Or I’ll headbutt you again! Why? Why? Why God? Why God? Hast thou forsaken me? I just want a simple packet of Polos. Polos is what I want. Why????”
I’m a mess.
© 2009 Clinton Morgan