A new bedin Anything that's not Eriba-related. Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:36 pm
by Pepé Le Pew • | 2.720 Posts
I know Mr Milkman won't like this, but do I care?
Do I buggery...
“Charles! Fetch the Alvis! We’re going into town!”
The insistent tone in Mrs Pargeter’s stentorian bellow was enough to bring me rushing to the surface of the copy of ‘Balloon Animals for the Hard of Hearing’ in which I was obliviously immersed.
We were, apparently, going to purchase a bed. Since getting married forty-two years ago, Mrs Pargeter and I had slept in two austere grey-painted metal single beds, which we had purchased at auction the day the Institution closed down. We paid three shillings for both of them. We could have had the pillows as well, but Mrs Pargeter had pulled the most frightful face, and hissed “Charles! They’re stained! It’s probably lunatic dribble!”
We were about to purchase a double bed because Mrs Pargeter had, it seems, been talking to some of the more ostentatious members of her canasta circle. They had convinced her she ought to have one, though I suspect that Lusitania Constantine (a lady whose inclination towards the horizontal, occasionally workmanlike language and provocatively cosmopolitan dress sense suggested she had spent a considerable portion of her rather lurid past in a double bed) had exerted a degree of unwelcome influence.
“Why, they are all the rage, Dorothy Dear…”
Mrs Pargeter blustered into the town’s bed emporium with a purposeful air and at a brisk walk. Recognising us from the rather unsavoury incident at the fete’s bran tub stall earlier in the summer, Maurice - the salesman - self-consciously adjusted his bow tie, tugged at his waistcoat, and fairly raced over to help.
Some time later, we had chosen a bed. And a particularly fine bed it was, too. It had a sturdy cast-iron chassis, assembled, Maurice assured us, with 517 rivets hand-peened by artisans in a small factory in Baldock; a factory that was established in 1783, and had a Royal Warrant, no less.
The bed was a Pompadour Panjandrum, the pinnacle of the bedmaker’s art. The ticket dangling from the nearside rear post had four hundred guineas hand-written on it.
Mrs Pargeter was about to launch into negotiations with Maurice regarding the purchase price of this two-ton edifice when her head was turned by a picture in the instruction manual of the Pompadour Panjandrum Pachyderm Plus, which featured brass facsimiles of elephants’ feet for support, and a small intricately cast howdah on top of each of the bedposts.
Mrs Pargeter fixed Maurice with a gimlet stare, and raised one of her eyebrows minutely.
He wilted, knowing he was a beaten man before so much as a single word had been uttered. Moments later we had settled on three hundred and seventy-five guineas for the superior model.
Maurice then directed us to the mattress department with a slightly crestfallen wave of his slender and rather effeminate hand, suggesting that we have a look around for something suitable while he attended to a telephone call. “Please feel free to try one or two,” he muttered over his shoulder as he disappeared.
Mrs Pargeter needed no further encouragement.
In all the time I have known her, I have never before witnessed the look of wild excitement which appeared on that familiar ruddy face.
No sooner had Maurice gone, she removed her hatpin, then her hat, and passed them to me. She took off her tweed coat, and folding it neatly, hung it over my outstretched arm. Before I could say anything sensible, she had hitched her skirt around her stout thighs, and sprinted across the showroom.
This was no brisk trot. She was at full tilt.
I stood there with my mouth agape as she thundered over the floor, and for those few seconds I was held rapt, overcome with a heady mixture of admiration, pride, and a sense of impending catastrophe which rendered me immobile.
She was heading directly towards a particularly luxurious bed in corner of the showroom at a speed I estimate to have been very nearly thirty miles an hour, when something quite extraordinary happened.
She stopped running in mid-stride and launched herself towards the bed from a distance of at least ten feet, executing an immaculate swan dive that would have embarrassed a considerable number of diving swans.
There was a loud 'ploof' as she landed on the mattress, leaving only her ample hindquarters and the soles of her tan brogues in view.
I was astonished. I dropped her hat and hurried over, only to find her giggling like a schoolgirl as she struggled to extricate herself from the mattress’s embrace. She was bright red in the face, and as I tried to help her up, she broke wind exuberantly.
This served only to make her laugh even more.
She finally regained her composure just as Maurice reappeared. As the three of us stood by the bed, a small white feather drifted down past the end of Maurice’s nose.
We settled on a Mountbatten Montmorency mattress in the end, the most luxurious model available. It had a stuffing of a 50-50 mixture of horsehair and Dartford warbler feathers, and a written guarantee that promised 25 years of uninterrupted sleep.
It was a bargain at seven hundred and sixteen guineas.
I glanced at Mrs Pargeter’s face as she strode triumphantly towards the exit.
She had a twinkle in her eye.
RE: A new bedin Anything that's not Eriba-related. Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:47 pm
by Aaron Calder • | 3.732 Posts