Friday, January 21, 2005

The Adventures of Carlo

Episode 34

It is fortunate that Jonquil Skidmore, the woman Lee calls Crazy Horse, has not sought to resume her English lessons with Carlo, having presumably bridled at Lee's tactless interjections on her first visit. This has left Carlo free to embark on a frenzy of washing and cleaning around the house. I had thought this was early spring cleaning, induced by the unseasonably clement weather but today I discovered that it was to leave him free to follow the Michael Jackson trial which begins at the end of the month. I pointed out that the trial will not be televised but he's discovered that Sky are to broadcast nightly reconstructions using actors. It will be his revenge for having to sit through similar recontructions of the Hutton Inquiry last year.

The other day Carlo and I had bumped into Giles Humphries outside the Jewel in the Crown and Carlo's MICHAEL IS INNOCENT T shirt had prompted an angry tirade from Giles which featured both castration and the electric chair. When I pointed out that the latter would render the former superfluous and asked what had happened to the presumption of innocence, Giles snorted and said "Don't give me that Guardian rubbish."
Giles is one of the few local councillors not to have secured a place on the bench. His mistake, which he daily curses, was not to apply before psychological tests were introduced for aspiring members of the bigotocracy. The more rigorous screening procedure had made the government fearful that they could never build prisons fast enough to keep up with Giles' sentencing policy.

I usually suffer Giles' rantings in silence but I had called into the Rod and Mullet to sample their new winter ale while Carlo was doing the shopping. Emboldened by an alcohol by volume of 8.9%, I observed that in today's climate people might look askance at Baden-Powell.
"What?" said Giles.
"Well, he was sometimes observed stroking the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens."
"Nonsense!" said Giles angrily. "He was a happily married man."
"Did you know that on his honeymoon he took a sleeping bag on to the hotel balcony and slept alone under the stars?"
Giles' complexion was turning a rich burgundy colour and I noticed a vein pulsating in his neck.
"Michael loves Peter Pan", Carlo interjected. "Michael is the new Peter Pan!" he shouted, punching the air.
"Oh really! I can't stand here listening to this balderdash", said Giles. "My chapattis are getting cold."
As he stalked off I said "I hope they choke him."

Only then did I remember that Giles' son, the saintly Jamie, was a Queen's Scout and his wife Annabel was some kind of local Gauleiter in the Girl Guides. It had been a tactless line of argument. I probably now had as much chance of getting planning permission for my gazebo on the south lawn as of starting a fire by rubbing two damp sticks together.
As we were about to cross to the Post Office, there was a long blast from a car horn and a BMW roared past. We could just make out Giles' livid face through the smoked windows.
Carlo raised one finger and shouted "Jakolero!"
"What?" I said.
"It means wanker".
Carlo's English is coming on a treat, even without Jonquil's roleplay.
I waved my umbrella at the departing car and shouted "Jakolero!"
Then we both shouted it together: "Jakolero, jakolero!"
This made Carlo so delighted and excitable that he did a moonwalk outside the Post Office and an old lady threw some coins into his Co-op carrier bag.


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