David Douce: PRONUNCIATION IN E3

Well, at first I thought we’d had a pigeon get in. All that flapping and banging, then the feathers. It wouldn’t be the first time. All it takes is someone to leave a window or a door open, and the little buggers get in, crapping on the furniture and banging around in both senses of the word.

Up to then it had been a normal day. I’d lost one of my new nails in the dog’s breakfast, but he seemed happy with the extra crunch in it. Tea, Rice Krispies, let Sparta out for a piss. Sparta’s half Staffie, half bloody Dingo if you ask me. Keeps the cats out of the garden though, apart from once or twice when the cats got in but never left, at least not under their own steam. But he’s a good guard dog, loves kiddies, except this time he just went and cringed under the stairs. I tried to tempt him out with a Twix, but he just lay low, whimpering. The only time I’d seen that before was when we got the settings wrong on that electric training collar, he’s still got the bald patch if you look.

So, anyway, like I was saying, there was this flapping and I could feel the rush of wind through the house. And there he was, right in front of me, great blue wings outstretched, and making this gesture at me with two fingers. Get a lot of that down Roman Road. Normally that’s with the back of the hand towards you, and the fingers not touching, but he did it the other way round, if you know what I mean. He was certainly good looking, I’ll give him that, even with the wings. I’d have obliged, even if he did it the other way round. Had these wonderful blue eyes, matched his wings, and long golden flowing hair. Very peaceful, after the flapping and banging.

I thought perhaps he had something written in biro on the back of his hand, like you do – you know, a mobile number or a reminder for the shopping. He looked at his hand, frowned a bit, and said

‘Erm, sorry to bother you, but how do you pronounce your name? I don’t think I’ve seen it before.’

I thought – well, where’ve you been matey. Half the girls round here.

So I said it carefully ‘Al-yesh-a’. Slow so he could pick it up.

‘Ah well’ he said ‘Mine is Gabriel. I am the angel Gabriel.’ I mean, he can be a bit sniffy about my name if he likes, he’s got a girl’s name. What’s that about.

‘Pleased to meet you Gabrielle. But how did you get in? We’ve got two Banhams on the front door, and the chain.’

‘Difficult to explain.’ Lovely smile he gave me.

‘Move in mysterious ways, do you?’ We both laughed. I thought – this is going rather well, just keep Sparta out of it, he could do those wings a bit of damage if he gets excited.

‘I am a messenger, sent with great news.’ Then he went quiet. It’s like on Strictly, or the Bake-Off, you know, when they are going to tell you who gets kicked off this week, they all do the long pause. I thought, he’s going to change that right hand, point at me, and say ‘You’re fired!’. I was waiting for the music, that sort of tense drumming or something like that, but instead there was this gentle sound of choirs and harps, then this little flying baby appeared with a trumpet. The Lottery, that must be it, Euro-Millions! I’m racking my brains to remember where I put the ticket. Buy me Mum a house, Range Rovers all round, I’ll be a VIP!

What a let down! He looks at me and says ‘You are with child by the Holy Ghost.’ Now, my JayDee – actually we call him JD because that’s where he lifts his clothes from – to the best of my knowledge has five kids by various young and not so young ladies dotted around Tower Hamlets. Five that are known to Social Services, put it that way. That’s why I made him have the snip. Otherwise he’d be on his way to a full first team by now. I wasn’t having none of that.

‘And he will be the Saviour of Mankind!’

So, I just sort of went ‘Naaah!’ and said ‘Oh no I’m not.’ And I thought, this is panto, those voices will stop singing and go ‘Oh yes you are.’ But he did another one of those little smiles – I kid you not, it was like watching Daniel Craig doing the James Bond pout – and said that I was a bless head amongst women. Leave that out, I thought, don’t know what he’s on about now.

Sparta was getting a bit fidgety by this time, I could hear the low growl that means trouble. I was thinking – dog bites messenger is the least of my problems, what’s JD going to say when he gets back? Me, expecting to give birth to the saviour of mankind. He’ll go ape. But it was like Gabrielle was reading my mind.

‘Be not afraid.’ He says.

‘Easy for you to say,’ I tell him ‘ You probably won’t be here when he gets back with a couple of new track suit bottoms. Can’t see you sticking around to tell him.’

Just as I thought, typical man, do a runner before the trouble starts. He says ‘Oh look, here’s the Host.’ Like he’s surprised. And I don’t know how many identical creatures with blue wings like his appeared around him, and with a few flaps they was off. Sparta tried to nip them in the air, like he does with the parakeets down on the park, but they just shot upwards. The ceiling didn’t seem to be a problem to them. Bit of a rattle from the chandelier, but JD never fixed that on properly.

That was it. Land, flap, thank you M’am. It’ll just be me, Sparta, JD if he sticks around, and the saviour of mankind. I shouted out after him – ‘Do we get a new buggy out of this? I want a new Maclaren!’ I mean, I think that’s the least you can expect. ‘What do I put on the birth certificate?’ Sparta was barking along with me by now. ‘Father’s occupation?’

So I sit down again, have a nice cup of tea and the Twix that Sparta didn’t finish. JD gets home and I tell him that I had a visitation from Angel Gabrielle and a host of slightly less important angels, and he just looks at me in that scary way he has and says – ‘You been smoking my stuff again?’

‘Naah, course not. Only a bit.’ I says.

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