Terry and Terri and Colin Who's Almost Normal
I was getting out of my car when we lived in the old house when I noticed this little motor driving slowly down the street. At the time we lived in a cul-de-sac so any car was immediately conspicuous.
Now I’m not a car man at all. People talk such bollocks. “I used to drive a Peugeot.”
“Oh, yeah? The TT 1.8 T Quattro two door.”
“That’s it, yeah, my dad had an SE (i-CTDi) 2.2 five door.”
“Nice car. My favourite motor is the MX-5 1.8i Artic. There’s no comparison between that and the Nemesis Coupe Special Edition 1.3.”
“No way. Give me a Citroen any day. Have you driven the Double Cab Limited 3.2TDCi 2OOPS?”
“I have, but talking about Citroens. I prefer the 1.6 Zetec.”
“When all’s said and done you can’t beat the Ford Focus 1.6 Cooper 02 Reg.
“No no no, you can’t beat the Mini X-Type 2.0d SE diesel saloon.
“Well, if you’re going to drive a Mini, you want the Impreza 2000 4WD four door saloon 2.0.”
“I know the one. My mate had a Mini Boxster 3.2 S Tiptronic S Roadster.”
And so on. I look at a car and all I want is that it gets me from A to B. I check the tyres, “Yep, there are four of them,” make sure the radio’s working, and that’s about all I need to know. If I have a choice of colour such as Elephant’s Breath, North Dakota Wild Prairie Rose, Blue Mayhem, Frosted Lemon, New York Chile Pepper Red or Amber Waves of Grain I’ll let Sue choose.
So I see this car drive down our street and look at the driver. This bloke had the grotesque features of an old pug. Some old boxer’s faces, ravished by encounters, hold their own kind of elegance. Not so this person. His face appeared as if the repetitive trauma of being punched several times had left a bulky mass of fibrous scar tissue over the eyes. The deformed and crooked nose completed the look. He looked like he was an associate of the Kray twins and I thought, “Blimey, what’s a hard nut like this doing in our street?”
Then I realised it wasn’t a bloke at all. It was Terri who lived opposite. Terry, her husband, looked like a toad and you were never going to find yourself awed by the strikingly pale blue eyes, blood red plump lips and mysterious beauty of Terri.
They were an odd couple. Fucking miserable really. Always bitching about something or other. They considered us outsiders because they’d been brought up in the area. But here’s the strange thing, they built an extension – I think the builders used Terri as a hod carrier - and where according to planning permission they were supposed to plant bushes they didn’t bother at all. They just threw a bunch of white stones down. Their house was right opposite ours and we had to walk past it to get to ours, but I couldn’t be arsed to complain.
However, they did stick one bush there, but after a rainstorm it smelled like shit. I don’t mean it smelled horrible, which it did, but it smelled exactly as if Terry or Terri or Colin who was almost normal had taken a huge, satisfying dump at the end of their driveway.
Why, when buying their solitary bush, did they choose one that stank like shit? “That’s nice,” Terri must have said, “It smells like shit.”
“Hmmm Terri,” Terry probably answered, “I was hoping to find a bush that stank of decaying, gangrenous flesh and sewer gas. I suppose this will have to do.”
Either that or it hadn’t been raining when they bought it. But then surely the first time it rained they’d have noticed! However, with Terri smelling like an old toilet brush herself, Terry probably likes it. Certainly neither of them appeared to be bothered by it.
One Bonfire Night they were out in the garden lighting fireworks and eating baked potatoes, hot-dogs and toffee apples when a rocket from a couple of streets over landed on Terri’s head. As I understand it the rocket was still whooshing away and, with silver tail and blue stars, was quite stunning on descent until Terri got her head in the way.
They had a son whose name was Colin (probably still is) and a daughter called Dopey Dawn. They lived next door to D.I.Y. Dan, so you can tell alliteration was strong in our street. Colin was almost normal, although Dopey Dawn wasn’t. Nutty Nigel lived down the road. “Alright Dave,” he used to say to me, “How’s the missus? Is she better now?” I never bothered to tell him that Sue hadn’t been ill or that my name wasn’t Dave.
He’d go on to tell me about a fight some teenagers had got into in the park, acting as if I should know them. “You know Nicky Finlay?”
“Never heard of him.”
“Of course you do. Nicky Finlay. You know him. Hangs around with Ralphie Johnson and Flapper.”
“Nope. Don’t know ‘em. Sound like wankers.”
“Wankers! You don’t want to let them hear you say that!”
“How old they? Nicky Finley and Crapper?”
“Flapper. His name’s Flapper.”
“Flapper then, how old is he?”
“He’s just left school. Works in the garage.”
“Just left school? How would I know some little wanker who’s just left school?”
“You must know him. Everyone knows him.”
“Not me. Don’t want to either. Sounds like a wanker.” And this would be about as far as our discourse would stretch before we both got tired. I never learned anything of value from talking to Nutty Nigel.