Monday, 14 May 2012

PIGY 2 – The Castle, the Wheelbarrow and the New Girl

“What are you looking at?”

“I’m not looking, I’m thinking.” I opened my eyes and started looking.

From up here, I could see along the prom in both directions. Up to the Leisure Centre to the right and past the Big Wheel (which really, nowadays, should be called the considerably-smaller-than-proper-BIG-wheels-like-the-London-Eye, wheel), to the left.

The murky-brown sea was slowly lapping its way inwards and beginning to tickle the barnacled ankles of the pier – I kept waiting for it to giggle but it didn’t – or at least I didn’t hear it. 

Children, like busy, little, non-stop ants, were running into the small waves, waving empty buckets to fill with murky-brown-seawater to pour in to the moats of their wonky sandcastles. Their parents stretched out on stiff, tense backs making the most of the rare sun on their faces and forcing themselves to try to relax.

Ally, and I, had hopped (literally in my case), onto a one carriage train that trundled us from Grimsby Station to Cleethorpes Station. It wasn’t far but I always had retained the same thrill, when chugging along the seafront, before pulling into the station and spilling out like excited children straight into the heady, noisy mix of the Amusement Arcades and Rock Shops. 

The pungent aromas of doughnuts, deep fried in ancient fat, were whipped away by, but immediately re-mingled with, the fresh, salt-tinged, sea air and it all reeked of Cleethorpes’ nostalgia. Exactly the same evocative smell from my own early experiences and memories.

We’d crossed the prom and leant on the railings, breathing in the fresh air and watching the seagulls noisily squabbling around discarded, squashed, chips on the pavement. 

Dragging ourselves away we walked up past the Pier and up through the Pier Gardens before snailing our way round, and up, Ross Castle to the top viewing level.

 Cleethorpes Beach Taken From The Pier            ©Tracey Edges 2012

Ross Castle is a spiral stone folly named after, Ernest Ross, the secretary of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, which, in the more Britain-positive Victorian era, brought the railway to Cleethorpes and thus kick-started a time of prosperity. Day trippers and tourists could easily flock to the seaside as respite from their industrial, smog-ridden Yorkshire, (mainly), lives.

“OUCH! OH GOD! My knee’s gone again.” I tentatively tried to put my left foot on the ground but couldn’t without screaming in agony. “Shit. What the hell do I do now?”
“Sit down,” suggested Ally. I looked at her with pained disgust.

“And how exactly would I ever get up again?” I looked at the rubbish which had blown into the corners. The cigarette wrappings, squashed boxes and stubbed out ends were prolific as well as discarded fast food, chocolate bar and crisp wrappers and several empty Stella cans. “Ugh. No way would I sit there anyway. Gross”.

Litter disgusts me. I’m always amazed how lazy people are. They always seem perfectly capable of carrying packets and bags full of food and drink but as soon as the packets etc are empty (and thus lighter, easier to carry and easily popped into a pocket or, gosh, what a concept, the bag they were brought in), they suddenly don’t seem to be able to manage to hold them. Do they suddenly get floppy fingers or something? 

You bring it out with you, if you can’t find a bin (and there were plenty around her so no excuse at all), you TAKE IT HOME. Bloody hell – appreciate your green and pleasant land even if the bit you happen to be in is grey and concrete. It still looks better without your lazy rubbish strewn all over it. Yes, that is another of my pet hates.

“YOOOOHOOOOO! BEN!” Ally, suddenly, and loudly, screeched, making me jump, wobble, connect foot with floor and emit my own loud screech. I glared at her while she, oblivious to my momentary wish to throw her off the top of Ross Castle, waved her arms around like crazy windmills, attracting the attention of everyone in the vicinity, except Ben. 

Ben was plugged into his iPod. You could tell as he, every few seconds, would wiggle his arse and then punch the air with his fist <Boom! Boom! Boom!>. I must remember to extract the urine out of him, later, about that. Idiot.

On his third arse wiggle/boom routine he happened to glance up as his eyes followed a hefty seagull which had swooped in front of him before heading in our direction. Maybe he was my guardian seagull trying to help me. Probably just a coincidence.

As Ben windmilled back to Ally, she thankfully stopped and I was able to stop singing “Tulips From Amsterdam” in my head – which, quite frankly, was a relief.
Ben ambled his way towards us but, when he was at the base of the castle, on the Gardens’ side, Ally leant over the wall and yelled:

“Tracey’s stuck. The silly old fart can’t walk!” Oh, great, thank you very much, Ally. I cringed, clinging on to the rough stone wall for support, as a gang of kids looked up and started laughing before, thankfully, moving along, en-masse, thumping and hugging each other as they went.

“Leave it to me.” Ben boomed. He was tall and gangly but with a massively deep voice which made it hard to compute him, as a whole. It would be easy to laugh. (I did the first time I heard it and instantly felt ashamed as it turned out he was the nicest, sensitive guy you could ever hope to have as a friend and was deeply (sorry), conscious about his voice).

I was just wondering where he’d gone when we heard a strange eek-creak-eek-creak-eek-creak noise just before Ben appeared with a great big cat’s-got-the-cream smile and a, Heavens-To-Murgatroyd, wheelbarrow.

“UH OH. NO WAY.” I wailed. “No No NO!” I put my foot down. I screeched. I wanted to cry with the frustration of it all.  

“What have you done now?” boomed Ben.
“No idea.” I scowled. “Twisted my knee or something. It just gets better and I trip over something and nobble myself again. I’m not happy. Far too busy for this inconvenient crap.”

Ben, looked sympathetic.
“Shall we get you in then?”
“Oh, God. No.”

“Do you have a choice? How are you going to get down? Good job you saw me really. Wasn’t it?!” I frowned but knew, as pointed out to me, I didn’t really have a choice. Damnit. Just as I think my life can’t get worse. It does.

Getting in was a performance in its own right but between wiggles and screeches I made it. An undignified heap, in an undignified wheelbarrow, in a very undignified situation.

You would think that getting down a slope would be easy. Go on admit it you did, didn’t you? Not, however, when your weight wants to turn the wheelbarrow into a tea-tray on a Winter Olympics luge. 

Thankfully, gangly Ben’s strength matched his voice rather than his body and he worked out a long-winded zig-zag system down to the bottom. All quite smooth really, except when he pretended to let me go and I let out a bloodcurdling scream, or two. 

May as well have waved my hands in the air and pretended I was on a rollercoaster. My whole bloody life feels like it at times – may as well just walk around (when I can) doing that anyway.

So there we were at the bottom. Hmm – the bottom of some steps. Brilliant. Not exactly wheelchair/barrow friendly access was it? Actually...maybe that would not be such a great idea. 

You can just imagine the carnage caused by little old ladies not being able to hold their little old husbands on the way down. No one would be able to get past the step-blocking, upturned wheelchair mountain to become King of the Castle, ever again. Not that there would be the steps, if it were wheelchair friendly, but you get the point.

I waited until no one was about and then bummed my way up the steps, got hauled to my foot by Ben and Ally and manhandled to the nearest bench, by the road.

Ben rang for a taxi, while I bemoaned the lack of use of our return train tickets.

Waiting, the instructed 20 mins, gave us time to discuss what we needed next for PIGY.

“Clients.” I said
“Flyers” said Ben and Ally, at the same time. They also giggled at the same time. Oh God, I thought – here we go again. 

Ben and Ally had been not-going-out since school reception year when they were 5. Why? I never understood. They were my favourite people but never quite got past that really best mates, couldn’t do anything with anyone else, but, no, can’t go out with you stage. Just get a room. Get it over with. Have fun.

I groaned.

“I’ve got a pile already done but can’t exactly get out and about with them”, said Frustrated of Grimsby. I then noticed Ally, staring at Ben, staring at a tall blond girl on a very small bike. “Who’s that, Ben?”

“That’s Susie Todd. Her Dad owns the Newsagents down there,” he pointed along King’s Road. “She’s great. Really nice, I mean”, he added hastily as he saw Ally’s pouty lips tighten slightly. “I bet she’d help you, no problem – she’s always helping her Dad out when the paper boys don’t turn up.”HEY! HOT TODDY! OVER HERE!”

 She looked up, smiled, a perfect-teeth smile (I was quite surprised a ring didn’t PING around her sparkling mouth). She waved, wobbled precariously, nearly ending up under a number 9 bus. I would have taken bets that she had on clean designer-frilly-undies. Just for the in-case occasion.

“Any chance you could help Knackered Old Fart Tracey out? I audibly groaned before giving her a sheepish grin and shrugging my shoulders dramatically. I knew I needed someone fit and this vision of loveliness was fit personified. She looked like she had just left a Tennis Tour – all bronzed and Amazon-Barbied. I resolved never to look in another mirror ever again.

Five minutes later I had a new recruit. A damn good one, this time. She was having a gap year from, well, doing anything really. She was pretty well loaded so didn’t need paying, (yippee – thank God for that), she had run for the County and had even done a spell as a Special Constable for some work experience thing. Best of all she was bored and fancied a challenge.

Oh yes! Hot Toddy would do very nicely thank you. Things were looking up and PIGY had staff. Now we just needed a case...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

PIGY 1 – The Beginning

“You can’t call it that. No Noo Nooooo”.
“Why not?”
“Because you is Fat”, Ally Grace, pulled a face and did her impression of Richard Madeley doing his impression of Ali G. She liked having the same name. Why? It perplexed me.

“Yeah, well. Sod that – it works and unless you can think of anything better; That  Is What  It  Is. We need to get down to it and not waste any more time. Do you have any money? No? Neither do I.” Ally pulled another face and went to let Capt. PUGwash out for his millionth wee of the day and put the kettle on, also for the millionth time that day.

I reached for a fine-liner and started doodling different versions of our logo. Not too sure which way to go but soon plumped for simplicity with the Dock Tower as the letter ‘I’. I had done a painting called Dock Tower Plaza so it would be easy to use that and add some lettering. I had taken the photograph of the Dock Tower myself so no copyright issues there.

"DOCK TOWER PLAZA" 76x76cm Mixed media on stretched cotton canvas

It had started off as a joke on Facebook. I was bored and suddenly in need of a job and also been reading too many books; the latest being about a Private Investigator based in Hull. Hull is north of the River Humber and Grimsby is below it. It used to be fun travelling between the two via one of the two ferries rolling their lumbering way across the brown river that looked like home-made beer with scum on it. The ferries sometimes used to get stuck on a sandbank which was great fun if you were a kid but somehow annoying if you were an adult. I was a kid then so it was always an adventure.

Anyway, back to Grimsby. I now live there but I was born and brought up in Cleethorpes. Sometimes I say I’m from one place and sometimes the other. It doesn’t really matter as they are just two halves of the same sprawling splodge with no discernible gap in-between. Many roads have one side in one town and the other side in the other town. You could easily stand with a foot in both towns but you would risk death so probably not really worth it.

From the M180 coming into Grimsby you carry on straight down Cleethorpe Road (in Grimsby) – no idea why the  ‘s’ was missing off the end – maybe the original sign wasn’t long enough – who knows. It then suddenly turns into Grimsby Road which is in Cleethorpes (which does still have its ‘s’, lucky thing). Grimsby used to have a thriving fishing industry and docks but that is mostly gone now leaving dereliction, chavs and apathy in its wake. Cleethorpes is a typical British seaside resort. It came to prominence when the Victorians built the railways. It’s a good place to travel to on a train as if you fall asleep you can’t go too far. Cleethorpes is at the end of the line. It is also now very faded compared to the pre-era of cheap package holidays abroad. It does have plenty of great beaches for dog walks though.

I can remember the beach and prom heaving with people but now you mainly get boy-racers who think it’s a big deal to rev and race their boy-racer cars like mad between the speed bumps. For Godssake – if you’re going to go for it – GO FOR IT and fly over the bloody bumps don’t prissy out in case you take your low front bumper out. YOU LOOK SILLY and are annoying in your silliness. Bit of a pet hate there – you may be able to tell.

It suddenly struck me that I would quite like to be a Private Investigator. You’re not stuck in an office all day. Each day should have an element of difference. You’re your own boss and you’ll get to meet loads of different people. Oh, yes – and I’m quite nosey too.

Back to the name. For this purpose I come from Grimsby and I am going to call my agency: PIGY which stands for Private Investigations Grimsby. PICLPS (Private Investigations Cleethorpes) doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so smoothly and I couldn’t really use the Grimsby Dock Tower as the ‘I’. I could use the Cleethorpes Pier as the ‘P’, I suppose, but let’s keep it as simple as possible. My house is in Grimsby and I can’t afford a separate office so that is that. PIGY it is (but please say it as individual letters in a drawling American accent).

I probably can’t run this agency on my own. Can’t afford to pay anyone either. I’ll have to work out some commission basis and a bit of ‘I’ll help you paint your sitting room if you’ll give me some free hours’. I can see me doing a lot of decorating...
Ally, is my first member of staff and, although a tad on the bananas-for-brains side of the intellectual fence, she is lovely and doesn’t mind answering the phone; which I don’t really like doing. Give me email any day. I suppose I picture myself as Sandra Bullock’s character in the film ‘The Net’ – well, apart from the looks and the equipment. (Just let me fantasise a little).

My second member of staff is, Heaven forbid, my Mother. I just didn’t have the heart to say no when she got all excited at the thought. She always wanted to be a policewoman but only grew to 5’2”, in the days where size mattered. She’s 70 and pretty well knackered. Bad back, always falling over (so that’s where i get that one from – cheers Mother), and couldn’t run for a bus never mind after a suspect. Come to that I probably wouldn’t be that much better. I better look out for someone fit.

After seeing her back her little car out of my drive, (good grief, is this really a good idea?), I heard her trying out names through her open window. June Cagney...Hotlips Hopkins....Mrs. Marples (after the Teashop down Seaview Street, nothing to do with Agatha Christie)...Mother Hari.... Thankfully she was soon out of hearing for any other suggestions she may be concocting.