The tele finally gave way last night. It’s been around a few years now, and well out of warranty then that did not still my tedious diatribe regarding the life of things electronic. Here where I stand and point out all the new clothes no one listens, and quite rightly else how would everyone find their way home without being able to play Yatzee on their phones? My beloved Q did her best tight-lipped and whilst she drove out to the world today (the shops in Tolly Maw close Sunday, and half-day Wednesday and Saturday) swearing on all I wished that yes, she would look first for replacement valves – then I had the sprouts.
It’s not been raining today so much as everything was already wet. Myself included, somehow. It’s all very fine for you townies on a Sunday with your ‘sandwiches’ and your ‘cinematic theatres’ but Tolly Maw boasts neither. Or at least it does, and both, but not for children. Of which for the day I was one, making us three, and in the market for wholesome family fun. A spinning top perhaps. Or a murder to be investigated with a floppy-eared dog. Fun with string at the very leasr. But alas my sprouts are modern children and having but recently discovered the Xbox (and the Lego versions of everything therefore) my suggestion that we skip stones on a lake was greeted with... well, not greeted at all. Besides which they throw like their Mum.
And what is there to do in Tolly Maw of a damp winter Sunday?
There is the miniature city. Or rather, the ‘Tolly Maw Of Marvels’ which is almost exactly as I remember miniature cities to have been when as a boy on holiday my parents likewise took me to see 1/6 scale cottages and ropey looking harbours. Boats just never look right at funny scales, not on water – which scales down surprisingly badly. I still find myself in Littlehampton, and Hastings, and Bognor – but only in those annoying dreams where the backgrounds are provided from childhood but not from real memories. And in those places are miniature towns, about which you wander, because there’s nothing else to do on rainy afternoons when you’ve got kids and the cinema only shows Hungarian Disney slasher movies, on video – Betamax.
My family was the last family in the world to get a VCR, my dad the last man to buckle, and even though it was already doomed, even then when the Video Shops had reduced Beta down to a single shelf, we got a Betamax. Because the quality was better. It almost certainly was. As long as you wanted to hire, the same, copy of the Blues Brothers, again.
There is a miniature city and it’s called the Tolly Maw Of Marvels, and we still went no matter how much I try and change the subject. And there with my young girls in summer dresses and wellies – because they dressed their selves – experience just a little of my childhood. Where we spent an hour walking about quite the largest miniature city I have ever encountered, acres of it, and all in ruins. Or half-built, or not really built at all. I turned to ask the owner which city this was, to be told it was Dresden. “Or Coventry,” he said, “Or Stalingrad,” he was easy on the matter. With his liquorice paper roll-up and his kazoo, dirty orange, on which he played ‘It’s A Small World’. Repeatedly. As jazz.
But it killed some time and ended at the cafe which was properly retro too, though spoiled by a more modern sign which proudly declared that the cafe was the cafe that sold ‘almost certainly the third best hot chocolate in Tolly Maw’.
So I don’t know what you did today but I spent a wet afternoon in Dresden, or Coventry, or Stalingrad with a mug of quite possibly the third best hot chocolate in Tolly Maw. And it was a bit cold (but not cold enough to not be uncomfortable when well wrapped up). And somewhat wet without the fun of actually raining - but it has given purpose to a very hot bath to come.
And it was still a lot better than whatever arse-water was on tele.