Cleaned myself: 0
Monkey see, monkey do: 1 large
Believe in God? NYN
I’ve got meself a pair of leggings. It was probably more about Mrs Lindsay than it was winter coming, but I must stress, mine are more unisex underwear than they are male-sports. I saw her playing tennis yesterday, and she does this thing where she hoists up her skirt then pushes the spare ball down inside the leggings; though the best part is when she misses her first serve and has to get it out again. ‘Hi Dickie,’ she shouted through the fence as I walked by, ‘fancy a bit of ball-boying?’ and she hitched up the side of her skirt to show the ball shape underneath, and did this hip-bump thing with the air. It called for a witty riposte, which I didn’t have, so I just returned her laugh and said, ‘I keep mine there too.’ I don’t know whether I’ve imagined it since, but I can see her going, ‘mmmh,’ like she was contemplating things.
I’ll tell you honestly, I had a very good think about it all later at home in the shower. The Aged-Ps were out shopping, and I’ve learnt to take my chances where I can for ablutions – oh yes, I’ve been stood down from shopping now that it’s no longer potentially fatal. Had I been sent, I’d have gone to Aldi – where you might find a legging in the middle aisle, with perhaps a sports/work angle going on. Since opting in I find myself wondering constantly how hardwearing mine are going to be – vis-a-vis the Mrs Linday’s, and whether perhaps they were something of a false economy. I imagine on Strictly that they sew a material into the underparts of leotards akin to pelvic mesh, you know, just in case, and that good leggings are built on similar principles. If they aren’t, someone enterprising should look into registering the patent – once furlough unwinds it’s going to be every man for himself.
Anny hoo, fresh out of the shower, whose car comes down the drive but Mrs Lindsay’s? Her house is a mile or so to walk but her garden backs onto ours in the corner. With idle thoughts, that had grown to expectations by the time I reached the bottom of the stairs, I throw on a T-shirt and the leggings, and open the door to hear her proposal to construct a secret lover’s gate behind my shed.
But she didn’t – though she did want to talk about the shed. Her plea being that my extension to it has brought it too close to hers and will cause the wood in her fence to rot. She’s looked it up on Google apparently. I tell her that those rules concern the permitted height of a building in relation to its proximity to the neighbouring property, making the point that her own shed is closer and higher than ours, to which she replies, ‘yes, but it’s my fence.’
What can I say? In those few words, she went from a local version of Julia Louis Dreyfuss into the sort of damaged biddy who sends rhyming poems to the local paper to reflect the national conversation.
The parents arrived home on the tenth lap of the same unresolved point, which my father dealt with by saying no more than, ‘I’ll look it up on Google, to see what it says.’ That was all it took, and for a moment I look at him in a different light – someone whose intense determination never to concede a point makes him a sort of gifted and diplomatic negotiator. I go into the house with them expecting us to enjoy a new détente and laugh together about the peasants outside our circle, but the opposite happens. He looks at me in the eye, but points down towards my midriff and says, ‘you’ve been convening with a valued lady neighbour dressed like that?’
To cut a long story short, I now lodge in the village hall, with occasional access (on shopping days) to the shed.
To the Editor, letters page.
It’s all very well for those who can boast,
A reinforced gusset when they need it most.
But sympathise for those who must
With a single layer of fabric thrust
Their privates out and into plain view.
They didn’t know what you already knew;
You ought never to show her
A profile of boner.
For the legging’s no long-john,
They’re almost see-through.