A few hours later, they rolled into the campsite ‘Filey Sunny Farm’ someone had vandalised the sign and it now read ‘Filey Funny Farm’. It was filled mostly with caravans. Harold had bought the tent, he had seen it advertised on a card in the window of the corner shop. Mrs Ali had been very helpful. Being naturally nosy she was able to tell Harold that the tent had come from a ‘Very nice family’ it was going to be a special treat for Edith. The tent was like a big orange monster. Harold spread it out on the grass, Edith had to stand on it whilst Harold messed about with all the bits and pieces. The orange monster did not come with instructions, or an inner lining. The front of it had plastic see through windows. Harold and Edith could see out, and everyone could see in. To make matters worse, when Harold got the blow up mattress out of the car his face changed ‘Blast’ he said.
‘What’s up Harold? Come and sit on the deck chair and have a lemonade’ Edith was getting into the swing of it, she had her plastic sunglasses on. Harold did sit on the deckchair whilst he blew up the mattress. He was blue in the face. It did not take long however, because he had accidently brought the SINGLE blow up mattress.
Due to the pheasant incident, the loss of the anorak. The orange monster and the single blow up mattress. Harold had no choice but to take Edith out for a romantic evening meal. The local pub had a ‘buy one get one free’ offer on. If you wanted to take advantage of this, you had to order off a special menu. Edith did not mind though, Harold was taking her out on a date. She wore the bias cut silk floral dress, Harold’s anniversary present to her. Harold had his camping gear on, anorak and trousers and many zips. They sat in the back room of the pub. Babycham Barbara was a distant memory. There was not even a mention of a ‘how to become famous’ idea. Edith looked at Harold, they were married now and should have no secrets. No Clandestine ambitions hidden away under the stairs. It was going dark outside the barmaid came over lighting tea lights on the surrounding tables. Edith went for it and shared her secret ambition with Harold.
‘It’s not just our Edna that can draw you know. I have ideas of my own, Harold about how I can get into painting. I could paint the favourite part of a children’s book, you know for expectant mothers. Then the baby can have this hanging in their nursery.. with their mum’s favourite picture from her favourite book. You know, for the baby!’ Edith’s shoulders lifted in pride. There was a long, pompous pause. Edith worried she had said too many words for one sentence. Harold’s head started to wobble slowly, he was not saying anything. Edith went on to explain further.
‘I had a painting of a Chinese dragon on my bedroom wall when I was a little girl. I wouldn’t have had as many nightmares if it was a painting of Cinderella, or something’ Edith’s fingers played with her collarbone ‘That’s what gave me the idea’
‘You won’t be able to do that Edith, no! You’ll get done for copyright law’ Harold took a gulp from his pint glass ‘No no Edith, you can forget that one’.There you go again, Harold, pissing on Edith’s chips.
Edith, whilst finding Harold’s knowledge rather stifling stroked the side of her neck. ‘Oh’ she said ‘Well perhaps I will write off to some of those TV shows, and see if I can’t win me some money!’ Edith sipped her wine defiantly, she had not bargained that her painting venture was foolish. Harold’s head was wobbling out of control, he sniffed and swallowed.
‘Ha! No more wine for you Edith!’ Harold snatched Edith’s glass away from her and put it to the other side of him on the table ‘I don’t know what’s got into you!’ Harold was laughing out loud, laughing at Edith. Who was now deflated on the pub chair next to him.
‘Well, thank goodness I married you, Harold’ Edith said ‘I’d make a show of myself without you, stopping me from doing things’
The waitress, lighting a tea-light on the next table nearly burnt herself, because she was listening in to the way the two newlyweds were bickering like an old married couple. With it being the hottest summer on record, Britain was due a storm. Humidity wanted rain to shake things up a bit, sure enough, when Harold and Edith were ready to leave the pub, the heavens opened and the clouds burst. Edith was wet through, right to her floral knickers. Fortunately they had no trouble finding the tent. Moonlight and neighbouring caravan lights enabled them to manage the tent zip. Once inside the tent, they had the difficult task of unpeeling their rain soaked clothes, whilst trying not to get the bedding wet. Harold turned on the torch, this was the same torch belonging to Curmudgeon Avenue that he had swiped from the under-stairs cupboard. It would not turn off. Harold fiddled about with it, and it started flashing. It still would not switch off! Harold and Edith spent the first night of their honeymoon squashed on to the single blow up mattress, next to a pile of wet clothes waiting for the flashing torch to run out of batteries, in full view of their campsite neighbours on account of the transparent tent panels. At least neither of them were in the mood… Harold suggested sleeping ‘top to tail’ this was a difficult decision for Edith. Harold’s breath? Or Harold’s feet in her face? I should imagine they will probably be home before the week was out.
The next morning, the rain had stopped and sure enough, the sun was drying the nylon fabric of the orange monster. The sky was blue. It was about 5.30am. Edith skipped off to the shower cubicles. Harold did not need to walk to the facilities, he had used a plastic carrier bag instead of the toilet. ‘Don’t tell Edith!’ he chuckled to himself, when he tied up the most disgusting poo bag known to man… ‘Flippin’ ‘eck! How big’s your dog?!’ Someone said, when Harold put it in the bin, he turned away without answering, disgusting AND rude, well done Harold. When Edith returned she was dressed in her hot pink hot pants. Harold was now sat in one of the deck chairs. ‘Blimey!’ he said winking at Edith. She’s a bit past towelling knickers he thought to himself. Harold fiddled about with the camping stove. Eventually he managed to get one single flame. ‘Ow!’ Harold jumped back in his deckchair. ‘We’re cooking on gas now, Edith! You leave it to Harold!’ The flame reminded Edith of the Bunsen burners in the science class at school. A girl in the year before her, Dorothy Hillcock had badly singed her hair, just on one side. The sight of flame coloured hair, the smell of singed human, had haunted the chemistry master for years. He was very strict after that incident, Edith remained fearful of anything that involved flames. Therefore for the duration of the camping honeymoon, Edith could only have a cup of tea when Harold wanted to make her one. This was not very often, but thank goodness for Harold protecting her from the dangerous camping stove. Edith made herself busy by hanging the previous night’s damp clothes on a makeshift washing line strung between the car and the tent, as all good camping holiday makers know how. Harold’s socks, however, were not only damp with rain.
A few hours into the morning, people started to come out of their caravans to the smell of bacon, and the sound of wood pigeons and children screaming at each other. The couple in the campervan opposite were the last to surface. A smell more from Ricky Ricketts’ world than Harold and Edith’s permeated the surrounding area, along with the sound of heavy metal music. A slim woman who appeared twenty years younger than the man playfully poked him out of the way and skipped off to the shower block. This was all under the watchful eye of the deck chaired Harold and Edith. The man nodded over in their direction. ‘Mornin.’ Edith mouthed a ‘Hello’ she waved, and whispered to Harold ‘What did he say?’The man popped inside his vanand turned his speaker down. Harold had already shook out yesterday’s newspaper and was holding it in front of his face. Edith had forgotten her book, and had nothing to do but people watch. She could not think of anything to say to the man, who was wearing a faded muscle vest with a skull and crossbones printed on it. Edith was finding the silence difficult. Fortunately the woman returned from the shower block. She was wearing a denim skirt, a cowboy hat and had a tattoo of flowers and butterflies that climbed from her big toe, up her foot, around her knee and disappeared under her skirt. All under the watchful eye of Edith’s plastic sunglasses, and, underneath Harold’s newspaper that he now raised higher than his head. He flicked the left corner of the paper to get Edith’s attention, he whispered ‘People shouldn’t wear cowboy hats, not unless they’re a bloody cowboy!’
The caravan couple could be heard sharing their merriment, apparently Bill had forgotten to remind Denise to wear her wellington boots to the shower block. And as a result her feet were all muddy, even though she had just had a shower… ‘Amateurs!’ Harold huffed.
‘Well, they don’t look like amateurs, Harold, look at the size of their campervan!’
After half an hour of boredom, Harold decided to treat Edith to a walk along the front. They had an ice-cream cone each. Then it happened. A passing seagull took a shine to Edith’s 99 cone and tried to swipe it from her hand. Harold, being Harold scooped Edith’s ice-cream away, eating both their cones in one mouthful. Then, it what appeared to be revenge, the seagull made a mess on Edith’s blouse. Harold spat on a tissue and tried to wipe it off, but it was no good. Edith’s blouse was ruined, just like her wedding dress had been after the champagne flute incident.
‘Muck for luck’ the woman in the souvenir shop said. As Edith tried on a replacement tourist t-shirt. Harold had said exactly the same thing. Edith did not feel lucky however, Harold had forgotten his wallet. So Edith had to pay for everything. Harold said it ‘made no difference because they were married now’, what have you done Edith! She hoped they would be home before the week was out. On the way back to their tent, Edith popped to the toilets. She bumped into the campervan woman, Denise.
‘Oh hiya! I hope we weren’t making too much noise for you last night!’ The woman was drying her hands on about twenty paper towels ‘I think it’s my Bill going deaf in his old age’ Denise winked at Edith, and for her the conversation was over. She was simply passing pleasantries. But for Edith, who liked to talk, this was an open invitation to chat.
‘OOh I like your tattoos’ Edith lied, she was now following Denise out of the prefabricated bathroom ‘Aren’t you worried you’ll look silly in your old age though?’
Denise raised an eyebrow, and looked Edith up and down. To her Edith was the silly looking one in her plastic sunglasses, hot pink hot pants and Filey t-shirt. Denise smiled underneath her cowboy hat.
‘Well, a lot of people have tattoos nowadays. And anyway, I’ll probably be wearing long trousers when I’m older’ Denise had made Edith glance down at her own cerise coloured shorts.
When the two women reached their respective locations they found Harold and Bill bonding over Harold’s Bunsen burner stove. Harold was treating Bill to an unnecessary lecture in camping snobbery. Bill winked at Denise.
‘I’ve invited Harold and his missus to us tonight for a barbeque’ Bill said to Denise ‘You don’t mind do you love?’
‘No I suppose that’s ok’ Edith answered. Bill was not asking Edith, and shared a secret laugh with Denise. Harold gave Edith his smug ‘free food’ eyebrow wiggle face. ‘Oh Harold! Where are your socks?’ Edith berated ‘Oh, he does make a show of me sometimes!’ Edith turned to Denise, in a weird kind of ‘we girls must stick together against our smelly footed menfolk’ kind of way. Denise didn’t know what to do with this information, she knew that ‘anything goes in Filey’ but this bloke Harold’s feet stunk! There was only one thing for it, ‘Well, we might as well start now, nothing better than a drink in the afternoon, eh?’ Denise nudged Edith. She cracked open a can of cider and poured some in a plastic tumbler for Edith, drinking the rest straight out of the can in two gulps herself, you can hardly blame her, with all that foot odour about. Speaking of which, a long-haired dachshund was zooming towards Harold’s feet as fast as its little legs could carry it, followed by its Jack Russell friend, who appeared to be aiming straight for Edith’s makeshift washing line. ‘BISCUIT! BISCUIT!’ A teenage girl was shouting at both dogs, but it was too late, they ignored her and before Harold could protect himself, the dachshund was licking Harold’s feet (and sniffing his crotch), and the Jack Russell had pulled both of his socks from the washing line. ‘Hey!’ Harold jumped up, knocking cans of beer over whilst Edith fussed around trying to retrieve the smelly socks. But there was no escape, Harold fell over and both dogs were licking his feet as though their life depended on it. Bill and Denise sat their calmly, as the teenage girl caught up with the scene, her dad was not far behind. ‘Are both your dogs called biscuit then?’ Bill said to the out of breath man – teenage girl had joined in with Harold, Edith and the dogs. ‘No, but they re-call to ‘biscuit’, usually, unless something really pungent catches their nose’
‘Pardon?’ Said Harold, returning to his original deckchair, with one dog in-situ on his left foot, and one hole filled sock in his hand. ‘Please call your dog off, sir!’
Denise and Bill were laughing their heads off.
‘Come here girl, what’s your problem mate, they weren’t doing any harm!’ Out of breath man said.
‘I’m sorry, I just had a bad experience with a dog once, ended up getting me the sack, it did!’
‘Well, where’s your dog?’
‘We haven’t got a dog’
‘Are you sure, I saw you putting that massive poo-bag in the dog bin this morning’
Bill and Denise’s heads were rotating back and forth like tennis spectators, ending in Harold’s direction, who could do nothing but ignore this accusation of massive poo-bag dumping. Those poor dog lovers would always have the memory of their two adored pooches licking Harold’s smelly feet in Filey.
The rest of that afternoon and following evening could have been named ‘When Harold and Edith got stoned’ but they had no idea what happened to them for the next few hours. Bill and Denise certainly knew how to loosen people up. With their heavy metal music, their caravan barbeque. Their endless supply of warm cider and conversation. Before Harold and Edith knew it, they were sampling Bill’s ‘funny fags’
‘Just a little bit’ Denise persuaded ‘You might as well, you’re on your honeymoon!’
‘Don’t mind if I do!’ said Edith who thought she could get away with anything in Filey ‘Smells just like my son and his girlfriend!’ And not wanting to be out done by his bride, Harold also accepted the hospitality. Harold and Edith could not remember much about the next few hours. Edith was telling Denise about her paintings for nursery’s idea. Denise thought it was brilliant, and that Edith should do it immediately. Edith made Denise promise not to tell anyone in case they stole the idea. Harold was telling Bill about the Road kill incident. Harold became great friends with Bill very quickly that afternoon. They spoke about miscarriages of justice, unlawful dismissal, and black pudding throwing competitions. Between them, Harold and Bill had some great ideas on ‘how to become famous’ Harold should have written them down at the time. The following morning, it was Bill and Denise’s time to go home. With foggy heads, Harold and Edith waved them off. Phone numbers and promises to visit had been exchanged.
Harold and Edith never saw Bill and Denise again.
copyright Samantha Henthorn 2018
Chapter from the forthcoming Harold and Edith Adventures (Curmudgeon Avenue Book two).
Book one ‘Curmudgeon Avenue: The Terraced House Diaries’ available Here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FQXFV6R