In the small sleepy village of Middle Muggelton, something peculiar happened, something that would be talked about for years to come. A story to be handed down through generations, and in its telling grow in the imaginations of the folk that called Middle Muggelton Home.
Annie Armstrong dropped her washing basket when she heard Betty Bumford’s familiar shout. Hurrying over to her side of the corrugated iron fence, she stood in anticipation, as she waited for Betty’s latest gossip. Pleased that she had her attention, Betty Bumford nodded her head, which caused her triple chins to wobble over the neck of her canary yellow blouse.
Not far away in a little two bedroom bungalow, Simon Spyman scrubbed himself until his skin bled, and wished that he could start the day over. Simon had lived in Middle Muggleton all his life, and had been quite anonymous for most of his fifty-two years, that is, until he discovered the binoculars. Now, he was considered a pest, a pervert and a problematic Peeping Tom, along with other names that he cared not to dwell on.
The name calling had not deterred Simon. Neither had the stern lectures delivered from Peter Proper the Policeman, who predicted that the persistent use of the binoculars would certainly lead Simon into trouble.
The trouble had started this morning, when he used his binoculars to watch Flora Finnigan prune her pelargoniums by her front fence. And if he had known that her husband Fred was creeping up behind him, he would have run away. Unfortunately, Fred Finnigan had taken his temper out on Simon’s binoculars, throwing them on the footpath and jumping on them, until they were smashed to smithereens.
But is was what Simon did next that caused the problem. It just happened, that Jerry Jade owned a junk shop, and displayed in the window was an unusual pair of binoculars. Simon had seen the binoculars shining from the front window on his daily strolls and he greatly admired them. “I don’t know if these are any good,” Jerry had said when he passed them over the counter. “Apparently, they’re WWII American Airforce issue, made out of brass.” Simon’s eyes had shone as bright as the binoculars as he paid the twenty dollars asking price.
Later, as he strolled down the street, proudly displaying the brass binoculars, which bounced brilliantly around his neck, Simon bumped into big Betty Bumford.
Now, everyone who lived in Middle Muggelton knew that Betty Bumford was a terrible gossip. So at first Simon pretended not to notice her, which made him appear foolish, considering Betty’s bulk took up a large chunk of the footpath. But before she opened her mouth, to set her considerable chins wagging, Betty stood stock still and stared at Simon’s fingers. Looking down, Simon saw a strange shade of green travelling along his flesh. As he stood in total bewilderment, the green crept down onto his hands then quickly travelled up his arms.
“Well I never,” chuckled Betty, “for all the world it looks like you’re tarnished. It’s on your face now. Looks like it could be coming off them binoculars. I think you had better go home and try to wash it off.”
But no amount of scrubbing had removed the green stain which now covered Simon Spyman from head to foot.
Pleased with her latest episode of exceptional gossip, Betty Bumford threw back her head and roared with laughter. “So there you have it, the full story, and you’re the first I’ve told.”
“Dear me,” said Annie Armstrong. “It would be interesting to know if he’s managed to get it off.”
“Yes, I’ve been wondering that me self, but tell ya what, I’ve got a big can of Brasso in me kitchen cupboard, thought that I’d drop that around to him.”
Then wiping the tears of laughter from her round face she walked inside.
© Jan Weldon-Veitch 2016