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A Short Bulletin from the Dark Heart of Suburbia

Published on November 24th 2005.

Pineapples, two for the price of one at Sainsbury’s. If tempted, don’t bother. I butchered pineapple number one, made a sticky mess, then braced myself for the tropical tang of a healthy breakfast. But life is full of disappointment, because the damn thing tasted like an onion. Fraudulent fruit, you see. Flashy and perfect on the outside but without a fraction of the taste and integrity of an ordinary English apple.

Then I went to the hardware shop in Hale village, having decided to treat myself to a new bath plug.

Speaking of fraudulent fruit, here are some of the things I saw:

1. A pug dog in a pill-box hat, set at a jaunty angle.

2. A footballer in a nice car; or perhaps a car-jacker.

3. A shiny Bentley driven by a butternut squash who could barely see over the steering wheel. My friend Danny says Bentley’s are commonplace. He traded his in for fear of embarrassment and now has an Aston Martin. Pity the fool who drives around Hale in a Bentley, thinking he looks suave.

4. Two lady athletes, wearing juicy couture track suits and Burberry scarves. I was transfixed by the heroic antics of their bottoms as they power-walked along.

5. Two ex-lovers, one from either group. My lovers are insane or insolvent, and very often both. This is not as bad as it sounds because madness is a blessed state and bankruptcy only lasts a year these days. After proving themselves to be insane or insolvent, the men in my life divide into two main groups:

a) Queasymen. Being men who frequently feel queasy.b) Sleazymen. Being men who frequently feel sleazy.

6. A leading light in the local synagogue staring wistfully at the peerless sausage rolls in Hills the Bakers.

7. A man with a face like a monkey’s bottom standing outside The Railway. This is the place if you want a proper drink in a proper pub, or a pickled egg; but the swirls on the carpet can easily make you feel dizzy. The Railway is full of charmingly understated millionaires disguised as farmers from Connemara and snaggletoothed village idiots. And those clever chaps do it to conceal themselves from the avaricious blondes with eyes like flint who prowl the streets outside.I’m told the drinks are cheaper in The Cheshire Midland, but there aren’t as many millionaires. I sat outside The Cheshire Midland one summer’s evening and remember a convivial place, full of poets and philosophers. I later found out a man with a large biscuit tin had been handing out space cake all afternoon. (Unknown to the excellent landlord of course.)

8. I myself am too old and too poor to enter Odyssey. But on my way to the off-licence for a quarter bottle of gin I saw a savage hen party from Partington heading there, eager to bag Rio Ferdinand. Bird-flu could be Rio’s only hope. I hope the girls have more luck with Rio than I did with the pineapple.

Next week, Didsbury perhaps.

Carol Keller

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