A Country Practice

Once again, whilst I were left to grapple with our bags Sandra muscled her way to the front of the queue and asked the lovely lady behind the bulletproof glass for our tickets. First class, I demanded. Nothing can unfasten the stain of indignant stares from the travelling masses when someone as loud, both in dress and demeanour, bellowing and flailing in motion and indigence pushes forth with an exaggerated view of one’s self importance and public convenience journey. The lady behind her bulletproof glass witnessed Sandra’s public display and reactions from the public. This is why I believe we find ourselves in third class steerage. 

I’m uncertain if my uncontrollable involuntary intake of breath is from the acidic stench exuding from the seats in common class of this public convenience or my instilled fear from last year’s accidental adventure into the countryside, but the audible sounds of a distressed large gregarious double-tusked marine mammal emits from my distended throat and into the general population of the great unwashed. 

There could only be one last resort to wash away the public stain of shame and drown out the stench, if not to calm my nerves as the outside view dramatically changed from terraced houses to cows and sheep. A little chilled tin, or two, of gin and tonic. I’m not sure if the lady with the travelling trolley would discover our position in third class steerage. Without a doubt our journey were not to be a pleasant one. Strangely, I found myself longing for the company of the old flat capped toothless urchin.

Sandra, with all her glamorous parties and shiny friends came up short in this adventure to visit her sister. Why I listened to her inane babble and why I didn’t stop myself from agreeing to this outlandish journey into the unknown, is something I shall ponder until the end of time. 

“You will love her children. They are talented beyond belief. The eldest boy is destined to attend the Royal College of Music. He plays the bassoon, french horn, trumpet and piano. He taught himself to play the guitar and only last week he took up the Ukulele.”

Love Sandra like a sister, but I thought of multiple places where I’d like to  place that Ukulele. I’m not sure what a Ukulele is, but I’m sure it is quite painful. 

As I wish-away my uses of a french horn, Sandra pushes my arm to bring me back to the present and announces with great shrill, “We’re here. Grab my bags, I’ll find my sister.” And before I could form a multitude of unlady-like words which shot across the front of my mind, she was gone.

Draping in the finest luggage, I found myself swaying in time to the movement of the public convenience as it departed the station platform. I’d be forgiven to think Sandra has an identical twin sister. Alas, she is a few years older, but similar in volume, appearance and stature. 

Standing beside this woman where two smaller, yet languishing persons of similar facial distinction looking either vacant, disinterested of under duress; I couldn’t determine which. And standing in the distance were another adult with as much lack of occupation were what I immediately assumed were the father of the children. When I gained my senes and smiled, a similar shrilled voice bellowed, “You must be, Hilary”.

Sandra corrected her sister with matching colour and vibrance, not only proudly stating my name to be Harriet, not Hilary, she also blurted out the names of her niece and nephew and then began to wave at the mouse in the distance. With a look of uncertainty he returned the wave. He gave a distinct impression he wasn’t allowed to interact, little-lone exist. 

Sandra’s sister turned her back and faced the little man in the distance. In an exact copy of Sandra’s performance at the train station in front of our fellow passengers, she bellowed out instructions to lift and carry our suitcases.  

When the man was in close proximity, liberating the suitcases from my hands, I wasn’t sure of the words he muttered in my ear to be, “run” or just an involuntary noise as he lifted Sandra’s suitcase. 

Upon approaching the children, I reintroduced myself, with my hand extended. The boy, Jules, seventeen years-old, showed little interest. Mariam, a vibrant fourteen-year old girl shone towards the slightest interest I showed. My first impressions of the children where to be that of typical teenagers of today, but there was something not quite right.

Sandra returned to my side as her sister continued to bellow instructors at her brow-beaten man. “He’s the local doctor.” I’m not sure what her admission was meant to instil in my opinion of her extended family, but to look upon him as a man to give comfort in a time of need left me pondering, maybe a doctor in the veterinary practices. I didn’t wish to come across as inappropriate.

We piled into the cramp family car and drove away from the only known place where I could make my escape, should I need to take the good doctor’s advice.

– Harriet

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