An English In Kentucky


















Monday January 14th 2019Tim Candler9


     Don't envy anyone who has to work the outdoors, particularly on winter's days such as these last few days. There's an element out there of damp in a light drizzle that slowly gets into the bones, and if you don't have the right clothes, can't get warm and dry at the end of the day at home or in the snug of barroom that damp stays with you and slowly it builds in a painful kind of way until sunshine returns to warm your back, which in some parts of the world can mean waiting months. My own thin blood, weak character and elegant wrists preferred a barroom and a change of subject. Not all barrooms were the same and in those days in that city there were many more barrooms than churches, so there was plenty of choice for places to forget. The other thing about barrooms, like churches, each creates an orbit around which like minds might gather, and you could often get a sense of the clientele by the content of the ashtrays, unfiltered cigarette butts were sure sign of wholesomeness, no showing off with the lardydar filtered brands. And it was in such a bar that I shared many a conversation with an old man who'd been railway worker. He was a Scotsman from Glasgow, his accent as powerful as a foreign tongue, his vocabulary would have challenged a dictionary and when he said, with a glitter in his eye, that he had a new boggle at home, I was mystified, but in keeping with the masculine nature of unfiltered cigarettes I reasonably assumed he'd remarried, or maybe he had a new girlfriend.



     Either way, the new boggle was the joy of his life, beautifully dressed in red, well made hands, little boots, had a wonderful hat, he was very lucky to have found her and he was having a hard time wondering where to keep her. This was a problem which would easily be solved if Cathod did the right thing and got himself run over by a bus. My own polite suggestion was that Cathod sounded like a bit of a trouble maker. And indeed he was, Cathod apparently had poor habits. My friend didn't use the words poor habits, he used another word, which I still blush to think about, and which covers anything from being a little untidy around bed making through vomiting all over a kitchen table, and onward toward unspeakable acts of depravity such as crossing a picket line. When my friend noticed a confusion in me, he became professorial and in some detail, with great patience, explained how the urine of an overly passionate male cat damages precious paintwork and then he went on a bit about the trouble they'd had with cats when he worked the railway yards. It was many weeks later, I was working an unfamiliar milk route, rounding up the debts on the weekend, Thatcher and her Tories had begun the pogroms that ravaged the safety nets to make the world even safer for billionaires. And lo, I bumped into my friend, he was way behind on his payments, he could manage a shilling or two, and he showed me his Boggles. He lived alone in a row house, to get to the walled backyard you had to go through his home. Boggle is an old Scottish word for elves and sprites, some angelic, mostly evil. My friend's boggles were little painted gnomes, hundreds of them. 

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