Ginny. Part 1. The Great Cup Diver
Ginny. Part 1. The Great Cup Diver.
Ginny’s father dived into a cup for a living. The cup itself was rather larger than the one that appeared on the mimeographed promotional fliers Ginny handed out in the Summer months to the hoards of day trippers descending in their droves upon Saltburn-by-the-Sea from Poulton-le-Fylde or one of the other nearby urban conglomerations.
On the fliers, upright, steadfast, Ginny’s father looked the spit of Cary Grant from the film Bringing Up Baby, black hair brilliatined, wearing a fur-lined bathrobe, chin as square as a Rubik’s cube.
In real life he was red-faced, wizened, as thin as one of the moray eels Ginny sometimes found out on the mudflats, wriggling and writhing in the brackish water on the windward side of the nuclear power plant works.
But despite this anomaly, between ‘as advertised’ and ‘in the flesh’, Ginny loved his father and was never prouder than when, time of show approaching, The Most Stupendous Cup-Diver Ever Known to Man etc etc pulled on his tight hand-knitted trunks, placed upon his nose the tiny streamlined goggles and ascended up the towering ladder, 1000 feet above the Naked Ground! to take his pre-dive pose above the cup.
What did it matter that this act, pure high theatrics, a big splash in a small pond, made Ginny a laughing stock at school?
What did those doofuses know?
Ginny’s father was a legend.
Didn’t his face, before EVANS bought out the canning factory and replaced the visage with his gurning own, use to appear on the side of all the locally sold corned beef hash tins?
Dive into a side of pure beef!
Ginny still had one of these, kept under his bed along with his other precious things, a scrimshaw tooth found on the beach, a post card with Jacques Brel’s autograph on the back, one of his dearly departed mother’s snowdrop pearl earrings.
Ginny and his father lived above the fishmongers on the seafront.
Prawns are our specialty! Caught daily!
As well as selling cockles and winkles from a pier-end handcart and giving lessons in fish prep for beginnersGinny’s mother had run the fishmongers until her death the year before.
For those last painful months Ginny had made his way daily to the hospital, passing first the many first and second floor gift shops, then the food franchises on the third, then the bowling alleys on the forth and fifth, then the music school on the sixth, before finding his mother on the seventh.
On that last day the doctor had informed Ginny there was a 5% discount for relatives of the recently departed in Flip Flops, the second floor gift shop that specialised in rubber shoes, free bowling shoe hire on level four, the lesser of the two alleys, and right throughout May, a 25% discount at the music school.
“Music is the great healer,” he said mournfully before catching himself in the reflection of a beeping machine and correcting himself.
“A great healer.”
The doctor himself had had a number of banjos and other stringed instruments fixed by straps across his body, each with a little price tag dangling from them like a Christmas tree bauble.
As the doctor reached across to close Ginny’s mother’s eyes for the last time, the instruments crashed together performing a mournful cacophony, the sound barely concealing Ginny’s sobs.
“That to be expected is expected,” said the doctor, then, placing a medicinal hand on Ginny’s shoulder, and as if he were reading the words from a card, advised there was a once in a lifetime discount on the musical instruments for the recently bereaved too.
A chance not to be missed.
Ginny had put his mother’s death down to fate, bad luck, the will of some superior being. This was life and that was how it was, rigid, structured, following a prescribed set of rules.
But it was two weeks to the day after his mother’s death when the news-hungry cub reporter, Chivers, had descended from Poulton-le-Fylde, a white-coated scientist in tow.
After a week of testing and talking the story appeared on the front page of The Town Crier.
FISH CONTAMINATED. POISSONS FULL OF POISON. FISHMONGER DIES!
The fishing fleet had been grounded, a number of cockle and winkle carts had been turned over, daubed with graffiti, and a petition presented to the Town Hall, ‘who’s infecting our fish? Make our seas pure again’.
That was when Ginny came to understand everything happened for a reason and the reason was not always a perfectly realised benefit.
Like his father having to get a second job now they no longer had his mother’s income.
Five nights a week Ginny’s father made his way down to the cemetery where he worked the night shift digging graves, the thick trousers and gloves a far cry from the miraculous outfit he wore for diving.
“Now you be good when I’m gone,” he would say to Ginny each night before he left, respectfully knocking and then poking his head around the door. “Don’t get up to stuff. A teenage boy alone, believe me, I know about these things.”
But how could he know this?
It was on the first night that his father had left, staying up late, still distraught from the loss of his mother, playing her Jacques Brel LPs over and over on repeat, that Ginny discovered that after a certain time of night he turned into a girl, dick gone, fanny appearing, breasts like mounds.
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