Ice cold in Nitherley

13 Jan

THE Leek Man is absolutely full of cold. During the course of the evening he has surrounded himself with piles of screwed-up Lemsip sachets. Now tomorrow’s edition is on the press, he begins to tidy the mess before departing into the icy Nitherley night.

Leek Man: “God, I feel like I’m running through sand.”

The Misfit is sitting opposite, doing something to an orange. She doesn’t look up.

Leek Man: “Running through sand with a desert sun burning down on the back of my neck and no water within a hundred miles.”

The Misfit continues to fiddle with the orange, almost flattening the fruit before splitting the skin.

Leek Man: “All the time trying to avoid landmines and barbed wire. And there’s always this nagging feeling that at any time now a German half-track will come roaring over the nearest dune in a cloud of dust and add to my misfortune.”

The Misfit dismembers the orange and places rough chunks on a tissue, oblivious to the one-sided conversation. If, indeed, there is such a thing as a one-sided conversation.

Big Bernard, on the newsdesk: “Hey. Why is it that those German half-track drivers always have blond hair?”

Leek Man: “And always wear a silk scarf.”

Big Bernard: “Yeh, and they always have those really smart peaked caps to keep the sun out of their eyes – whereas we Brits have to make do with bloody silly berets, which is all right if you’re fuckin’ Monty and you can shut yer tank lid to keep the sand out.”

Leek Man: “Yeh. Why is that?”

Big Bernard: “Having said that, we’ve got the fuckin’ brains though, haven’t we? The Germans might have the snazzy gear, but we’ve got the brains. I mean, could your average Gerry pick his way through a minefield with a bayonet without blowing himself up?”

Leek Man: “Or crank a military ambulance backwards up a sand-dune using the starting handle?”

Big Bernard: “Exactly. Bloody British resourcefulness. Baggy shorts, strong tea and resourcefulness.”

The Misfit screws up the remains of her orange in the tissue and drops it in a bin. “Fuck that,” she says.

Leek Man: “To tell you the truth, Bernard. I feel so rough I don’t think I’d have the strength to throw Sylvia Syms over my shoulder.”

Big Bernard: “That is rough. If I were you I’d get myself home to bed.”

Leek Man: “That’s exactly where I’m going. Goodnight.”

The Leek Man drives home. There’s a steaming Lemsip waiting for him on the kitchen table. It’s standing there in a tall glass.

Harry Andrews: “Look at that. It’s a vision.”

Anthony Quayle: “Just what the doctor ordered, boss.”

Leek Man: “Worth waiting for. Come on, drink up lads, we’ve deserved it.”

Sylvia Syms: “I really do think you’ve had far too many already.”

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