Blooming Hyacinths at the Polling Station

Lil hadn’t been in touch during the week which was just as well as work had been all-consuming. I’m happy that I get to work part-time but on occasion each working day’s hours are stretched to such a degree that they accumulate to a full-time equivalent. I do, however, take this rough with the smooth and enjoy each weekend starting from Wednesday evening.

I stood at my French doors looking out onto the garden which was starting to bloom and wondered whether Lil was busy bonding with Gisela, her new BFF. I laughed out loud at my forcing their introduction last week.

I appreciated that a rogue Delphinium had flourished early and provided a splash of azure blue amid the golden Marigolds and white Japonica.

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I realised I was still laughing out loud, however my neighbours were out and didn’t witness my solo laughing at my own funny thoughts. My sanity was generally in question and I didn’t need to add evidence to anyone’s dossier.

I eyed my voting card on the breakfast bar. I hadn’t decided whether to add my ballot. I wasn’t happy with any of the parties and they all seemed as ineffective as each other. I should be enthused to action by the growing interest in one of the more extreme groups, and add my support against them. This however would be a decision for later as it was 9.55 and I didn’t need to decide whether or not to be late for Lil.

She didn’t even notice me when I entered the café. She was standing, leaning on a table currently inhabited. What did she have on her head? Armando rolled his eyes from behind his counter.

I sat down at our table and she still hadn’t spotted me. She was releasing some kind of polite titter – a tee-hee. It wasn’t the cackle I was more accustomed to.

‘Morning Lil,’ I called from my seat.

‘Morning Wayne,’ Lil responded, ‘I’ll be with you directly.’

It looked like some kind of scarf on her head, and it was bright-red. Why would she need a head scarf? It wasn’t even slightly cold or windy. Perhaps she’d had another dodgy rinse.

‘I hope you’ve voted,’ Lil said as she sat down. ‘I’d spotted those folks earlier at the polling station,’ she added indicating towards the other patrons she was previously giggling with.

I was overwhelmed by the red tulips on Lil’s silk blouse.

‘Errrr – I’ll do it later. You look especially bright today,’ I said as Armando joined us with a hot pot. Brewed Assam tea was imminent.

‘Well make sure you do. And thank you. I like to make an effort on days like today in demonstration of my support for the party. Armando it’s a shame you can’t vote,’ said Lil.

‘But I can, and I have. I’m wearing my red underwear,’ said Armando and winked. The second sentence was delivered in a lowered, more discreet tone.

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‘Excellent – about the vote, and I’ll take your word about the pants,’ said Lil and let out one of her more familiar cackles. I’m not sure what her new friends would make of the changes in class of laugh or shrieking about undergarments in a public cafe. I did hope that Lil was succumbing to the hoity-toity types that she’d previously reviled. It would give me new bantering material.

Judith, one of the waitresses arrived to take our order. Lil ordered porridge with raspberries. She was taking the red symbolism a little far. When I ordered porridge with blueberries Lil didn’t look happy. I however, wasn’t being symbolic. It was just my breakfast of choice.

‘I do hope your berry colour is not representative of your political affiliations Boulevardier,’ said Lil with pursed lips. She folded her arms to add an additional outward validation of displeasure.

‘Lil, I’m not discussing politics with you, and before you suggest it, that wasn’t an evasive politician’s answer.’

To be honest I’m not particularly political and I try to get enthusiastic about it but it’s a struggle. I’m trying to work out their policy differences before I commit.

‘You’re like that bloody Bellamy woman. You should have seen her at the Polling Station this morning, a blue dress – ha, a blue hat with flowers – ha. She looked and behaved like Hyacinth Bucket. She was trotting around, putting on a posh accent.

“I’m surprised you follow the Tories Mavis,” I’d called across to her. “Morning Lillian,” she’d replied, “Of course I do. This lady is not for turning. I’d follow the late and great Baroness Thatcher to the grave.”

“She’s already there,” I’d replied. And then Mavis yakked on about Thatcher and house-buying schemes in the 80s. I pointed out that that hadn’t gone so well for her in her council flat. She soon scurried away, something about the tea urns apparently. Silly cow.’

‘Lil, you let her bother you too much,’ said Armando.

‘No one could doubt you Lil. You look like a Post Box,’ I said.

‘I’ll have you know that I’ve had my perm done hence the scarf, thank you very much. Shanika came in the week and re-did it. It is however incidental that today’s scarf is red.’ Lil looked serious as she tapped the scarf gently to emphasise her point.

We all three spontaneously exploded into cackles. Banter was back and it felt good.

‘Any news from Bill?’ I asked.

Lil instantly quietened.

‘Not sure. He has been behaving odd. He’s out of sorts. His daughter is coming up and taking him to the GP.’ Lil didn’t look as if she was enjoying filling her mouth with melted red raspberries and oats anymore.

I had no idea what was wrong with Bill or how Lil felt about it, so wracked my brain for something else to ask.

‘Have you been hanging out with Gisela?’ I asked.

‘I’ve seen her thank you Mr friend-matchmaker. She’s a nice lady. It’s someone to chat with at Age Club with Bill not up to it, and she’s not a fan of Hyacinth either.’

‘Who?’ said Armando.

‘Bloody Mavis,’ answered Lil.

‘Somebody call?’ said Mavis as she entered the café.

I did hope we weren’t planning the next full scale battle and picked up my teacup. Ah Assam, I thought and settled back into the repartee with my Breakfast Club chums.

And of course I headed to the polling station later in the day, dressed in white. The political parties may not have persuaded me to vote but I knew better than to get on the bad side of Lil and Mavis. I’d seen the consequences of their displeasure previously and didn’t fancy an encore.

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