A Dotty Day Out – Adventures With Branwell (Part 1)

 

Yesterday morning I was in a strange double mood, good because the weather was Spring-like, bad because I wanted to go to my MEMORIAL BENCH. I posted a post asking if someone would please lend me their TELEPORTER and I was so grateful and surprised by all the positive replies that I found my little going-out rucksack and filled it with the things I need for going out - Cumberland sausages, 5 bottles of laudanum, 4 packs of beta-blockers, bottle of Diet Coke, bottle of water, hairbrush, purse, Nokia Hard Bastard, and the little present that Scotty bought me. Then I opened the back door and sat down on the lino, as close to the outside as I could get, and I waited. I waited for a long, long time. A long, long, long, long time.

Nobody came.

 

 

I don’t know what time it was when I heard footsteps coming round the side of the house. I jumped up and nearly fell back down again - my right leg gave way, it must have gone to sleep because of how I’d been sitting (cross-legged like a Yogi). It was only Branwell though, happy for a change, so happy the smile almost skipped off his face.

“Dotty, sweet Dotty! What brings you such sadness on this glorious day of splendiferous sunshine?”

I burst into tears and told him.

“No, no, no, come along. Weep not, my chickling, for here am I, Branwell the Magnificent, come to your rescue, sans white charger but with love and friendship uncurbed. Off we go, off we go.”

And he took my keys out of the door, grabbed my hand and pulled me OUTSIDE before I realised what was happening, then he locked the door, took my hand again, and away we went.

 

 

The street was heaving with PEOPLE, shouting bickering squabbling laughing braying PEOPLE, a polarised muddle of the wealthy middle classes posturing and preening their way round the shops, and the dirty, thin and stinking poor. I couldn’t take it all in, there was too much bustle and noise – beggars called out for pennies; women argued with stall-holders, trying for a bargain that wouldn’t happen; scrappy, raggy children ran to and fro, ducking and dodging; a wool-worker coughed and hawked up a great glob of blackness from his lungs and spat it out right in front of me; barrows and carts clattered on the cobbles; horses whinnied and snorted; dogs barked; a handbell clanged and clanged - and Branwell whisked me through it all in seconds, the stench of sewage and sickness and cooked meat and rotten fruit and unwashed bodies so strong I could taste it.

“Hang on, where are we going?” I asked when we’d slowed to a trot and the sounds of the street weren’t so loud.

“Refreshments!”

“Eh?”

“A jar of cheering sweetness, my dear. Your face resembles the sad arse of a sow due for the slaughterhouse. O wretched maid of long torment, your smile would set my heart content. But woe is you and woe is me, diddly dum and fiddly fee. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

“Shut up, div. Tell me where we’re going.”

“There!”

And he pointed to the inn a few steps ahead of us.

“I’m not going in.” My heart was thumping.

“Yes, you are!”

And he pulled me to the door, kicked it open and dragged me inside.

It was so dull and smokey in there I had to blink loads of times before I could see. The room was small and dingy; brown walls, thick sawdust on the floor. A man with massive, black mutton chop whiskers stood behind the bar. Just two other people were there, an old man sitting in one corner of the bench seat that ran across the back wall and down one side of the room, and a boy collecting glasses from the tables.

“Dawson! Two jars!” Branwell shouted, though we couldn’t have been six feet away from the bar. He led me to a table next to the only window in the room but the panes of  glass were so thick I couldn’t see out.

“Sit, sit!” Branwell gestured at the bench with a grand sweep of his arm. He sat down next to me, took his little box of snuff from his coat pocket, opened it and offered it to me.

I shook my head, “Eeew, no thanks.”

He took a big pinch and sniffed it up one nostril then the other. Quick as you like, he whipped out his hanky and started sneezing into it. “That’s better,” he said, his eyes gleaming.

“That’s fucking disgusting.”

He laughed. “No worse than many things.”

The boy brought the drinks to us on a tray, two great tankards of beer. It tasted so strong I had to sip it. Branwell downed half of his in one go.

“What are we doing here, Branwell?”

“Being merry! Sup your porter and cheer up. Have you eaten yet? I am ravenous, starved, I could eat a scabby dog. Dawson!”

“Aye, sir?”

“What’s cooking?”

“Mutton, sir. Broth.”

“Two plates, then. And bread, but only if it is warm. I want none of your mould at my table.”

“Aye, sir.”

The broth was lovely, full of big chunks of fresh meat and veg. The bread was even lovelier, soft and springy and warm. I sneaked a handful of Cumberland sausages out of my rucksack and passed a couple to Branwell. I put mine in a slice of bread and had the best Cumberland sausage sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.

“How’s little Emily today?” I asked when we’d finished eating.

“Still weak. Although your medicine appears to have done the trick. She was up and about this morning, at her desk rummaging through papers. Charlotte scolded her.” He rolled his eyes, sucked in his cheeks, jumped out of his seat and stood in front of the table, his hands clasped together in front of him - “Sister, sister, what ARE you thinking? Shoo, shoo, back to bed!”

I couldn’t stop laughing. He sounded just like her. “She’s not that bad, is she?”

He sat down. “At times she is a terrible harridan, Dotty. Terrible. There are certain particulars that should be kept within the family but quite honestly, I am at my wits end with her antics.”

“Why, what has she done?”

“She burnt many of my writings. Onto the fire, cast into the flames as though they were words infernal, penned by the Devil himself.”

What could I say to that? I knew she’d done some burning - after little Emily died she burnt loads of her poems and edited loads of others (little Emily told me), but I didn’t know she’d burnt Branwell’s stuff too. Before I could think what to say he said,

“They take me for a fool. The Great Published Brotherhood of Whispering Bells. They think I am blind to their secret.”

“What secret?”

He picked up his tankard but he’d emptied it. He banged it down on the table. “Published! They are published and yet they lie to me that they are not, and they continue in their lies day after day. I am not to be told their news for fear it will send me far into a mad wretchedness of mental agonies from which I shall not return.”

I stayed silent. So did he, after he’d shouted for the boy to bring him a refill. I took my Nokia Hard Bastard out to see what time it was but it wouldn’t turn on properly, no signal.

After a while he let out a big sigh. He sat up straight and turned to me.

“Accept my heartfelt apologies, Dotty, my friend. I am a ranting dolt, an angered berk who should know better. I promise I shall not allow our day to be further marred by talk or thoughts of my own grievances when my intentions are to bring a smidge of light and happiness to us both. We, the soul-sick, mired in woe…”

“Shut up, you rhyming twat.” I gave him a punch on the arm.

“Are you ready to move on to the next stage of our adventure?” he asked.

“What is it?”

He smiled, a great big beamy smile, and then he tapped me on the nose with his finger. “Wait and see. Wait and see.”

 

 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

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49 Comments

  1. Dorothy

     /  May 1, 2012

    Dear Dotty,
    A bigger adventure than I’ve had! Can’t wait to see what happens in the continuation. I, unfortunately will be seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow…….fun, fun, fun. Can we trade places? He doesn’t wear yellow ties!
    Love Dorothy

    Reply
    • Dear Dorothy,

      No, sorry, we can’t trade places. Knowing my luck he’ll have been shopping and bought a yellow suit!

      Love Dotty xxx

      Reply
      • Dorothy

         /  May 1, 2012

        LOL…..I wish you knew him better!! Now I can’t stop laughing!

      • Dear Dorothy,

        A yellow jumper, then? Hand-knitted? With PSYCH written across the front?

        Love Dotty xxx

      • Dorothy

         /  May 2, 2012

        Ok…you’ve got me. The day he wears anything hand-knitted and yellow is the day I have a serious talk with HIM. (Orderlies take him away!)

      • Dear Dorothy,
        :-)

        Love Dotty xxx

  2. I love your stories, I think we should write a graphic novel together…you write, I draw.

    Reply
    • Dear Krista,

      I’ve never read a graphic novel so I had a look at the link on your latest post and one of the examples is by one of my favourite authors, Paul Auster – I have all his books but I didn’t know he’d done one of these.

      Love Dotty xxx

      Reply
  3. Sounds like he led you into a Hogarth print.
    Nasty, that.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Hogarth_-_Gin_Lane.jpg

    Reply
  4. Dear Dotty,
    You went OUT……? You WENT out……? YOU WENT OUT?? YOU WENT OUT WITH NO HAND SANITISER????!! This is un believable. How could you go out with no hand sanitiser packed in your going out rucksack?
    Love HS xox

    Reply
  5. I love it! Such fine adventure

    Reply
  6. The first of May!
    The first of May!
    Outdoor fucking
    Begins today!

    Reply
  7. Dear Dotty,
    I cannot wait for the next installment of your adventures with Branwell. I do hope you made it to your memorial bench at some point.

    Love,
    -the howler and me

    Reply
  8. I DON’T THINK THAT I CAN WAIT! Whatever shall I do? I think I’ll have a drink.

    Reply
  9. Dear Dotty,

    Such an inordinately droll and pleasant gentleman Branwell seems to be. I’m glad that the two of you were able to share a jar and a meal, and a laugh. A very nice day.

    Love,

    Judith

    Reply
  10. I am sorry you had to see ‘people’, if that is indeed their real name…
    This was a real page-turner… or scroller… or whatever.

    Reply
  11. Dear Dotty,

    Branwell really is quite charming,isn’t he. But you’re cruel to make us wait until tomorrow for Part 2. Why do you torment us??

    xoxo Mme Weebles

    Reply
  12. I can not wait!

    Reply
  13. OK, your award is up on my page!

    Reply
  14. kzackuslheureux

     /  May 5, 2012

    A jar of cheering sweetness, my dear. Your face resembles the sad arse of a sow due for the slaughterhouse. O wretched maid of long torment, your smile would set my heart content. But woe is you and woe is me, diddly dum and fiddly fee. Ha ha ha ha ha…..
    Dear Dotty, I fucking love you!
    Love, Alphabet

    Reply
  15. KC

     /  May 8, 2012

    Awesomeness squared and squared again until it turns into a black hole and eats the earth cause who needs it anyway silly little planet and who ever heard of naming their planet dirt? Hmmm? Oh, and also, the coop want some friends like yours too…all we have is one flea-ridden draggle-tailed (yes, all 3 of them) bad poet of a fox-spirit-type-thing. Who is currently gnawing at my calf whilst reciting Shel Silverstein poems improperly in order to punish me/us for the previous description which he really doesn’t deserve except sometimes when he’s been out in the rain and he smells like wet dog.

    Reply
    • Dear KC,

      My meeting little Emily (and Branwell and the rest of her family) was accidental, a stroke of good fortune – I was in the right place at the right time but I live near her so it was only a matter of time before we bumped into each other.

      Love Dotty xxx

      Reply
  1. I Got Yer Freakin’ Award Right Here! « Someone Fat Happened

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