Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Barington Encounter: Part Six


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What the aliens couldn’t have known before arriving on Earth - since it’s never mentioned in tourist brochures - is that while everyone on their planet would have looked alike to humans, to human eyes they were nevertheless abnormally beautiful... Even with blue skin and silver hair, which was far from a mainstream look even before they’d arrived, although greyish skin and blue hair was often quite popular in art schools. It turns out the Andromedans wouldn't have had to develop celebrity technology at all - in fact, could have saved themselves all the time and money and scandal and documentaries involved - since they already possessed the key (and some say only) necessary ingredient inherently...

First, they’re tall and thin; since most Earthlings, or Earthacacians as they are more commonly known, are either short or fat or both the lucky minority who are not are worshipped. Likewise, the Andromedan face is angular and without blemish, with perfectly symmetrical features and large, pale eyes. Not to mention the single-digit body mass index, sculpturally elegant buffness, and the sort of posture that could make a balletomane weep with joy. Oh, and super cute bottoms... Mustn’t forget those. (Providing you’re into that sort of thing, that is.)

It turns out these five had unwittingly arrived on Earth tailor-made to be worshipped, albeit entirely without the skills to handle such adoration, which is much the way it is with most celebrities, even the homegrown ones. Despite the fact that their programme was getting truly dismal ratings back on Andromeda (already, after less than two hours on the air) on Earth the Andromedans would become stars. Quality stars, too, for they had star quality.

All of which is intended to explain why Felicia Fripp acted as she did...

Mrs Fripp, you see, was originally the aptly named Miss Bland, from Newcastle; she'd come to London as a mere slip of a girl to work as a stenographer and ended up marrying a man who, by his accent alone, ought to have been quite posh, and who was also, it should be said, a handsome rogue in the Laurence Harvey mould.

Alas, Denis Fripp was anything but posh in reality and in addition to looking like Laurence Harvey, treated women like Laurence Harvey's movie characters did, which is to say, shittily. He was, in fact, also from Newcastle - truth be told, from a far worse neighbourhood than that from which Miss Bland herself had so recently scarpered - only he'd studied more than law at the London School of Economics; he'd got himself A levels in posh manners, posh accent, and all that posh bosh although only an O level in success and a U in ambition. He’d even pledged a fraternity - Alpha Rho Posh Epsilon - signified on jumpers by an A, an R, a $ and an E. Not that any of his fraternity brothers needed to wear their jumpers; then, as now, even in the most crowded place in London - Leicester Square on a Saturday night, say, or Russell Brand’s boudoir - one can inevitably spot an AR$E a kilometer off.

The sound of the alien’s plummy voice, then, had utterly melted Felicia Fripp, in a way that would tomorrow prove disconcerting to her laundress, in the same way that Denis Fripp's own voice in her ear had once cunningly done, in the back seat of what she later learned to her dismay was his best mate’s Alfa Romeo. Closing the door between herself and the alien in the unintentionally slapstick way she’d done, now she felt a clenching hatred forming in the remaining, nearly-vestigial cockles of her heart - the majority of which for once had nothing to do with her incipient embarrassment. Mostly, it was pent up hatred of her husband Denis. Then again most of the emotion on Earth (the majority of which is anger anyway) is misdirected - it’s something to do with sun spots. So, nothing unusual about that.

There, in the tatty foyer of her petit-bourgeois semi-detached house filled with second-hand reproduction furniture posing as antiques bought on hire-purchase, where dwelt a couple of sold out geordies awash in would-be middle-class smugness pretending to be soft southern bastards, the alien's voice and her husband's became the same. That’s when the implications of that voice began to highlight the disparity between her current situation and the one she'd hoped to find herself in by the age she'd attained, namely wallowing in privilege, reeking of gin, and possibly even Ladying it over a couple of servants. Once the cognitive dissonance had become more than she could bear, in the all-too-common parlance of the street where she grew up she ‘went fookin’ mental like’.

All she knew for sure at that moment was that if she didn’t do something drastic she’d have a bloody thrombo... In a fury, then, Felicia Fripp tore through her house to the kitchen, nearly pummeling the Hummels on the whatnot into dust in her all-too zealous zeal for revenge. After prising most of her prized collection of copper-bottomed pots off their custom built rack on the largest wall in her kitchen - and nearly prising the custom-built rack from the faux-brick wall along with them - she then tore up most of the cupboards in the imitation oak veneer kitchen island before finding the ancient cast-iron skillet her mum had always called ‘Big Ben’ - so named for the bonging sound it would make when colliding with her father's skull. It was with Big Ben that Mother Bland had once punished her family and neighbours for all their transgressions, however minor, and it was with Big Ben that she afterwards made them all a knees up in front of telly for tea by means of consolation - her favourite being plump pork sausages wrapped in bacon and fried in suet - or ‘cloggers’, as she called them.

Waving the heavy pan about like a veritable Boadicea on her way into battle, Mrs Fripp swiped pictures of her so-called friends and family off the walls in the front hall and up the stairs to the landing, yawping and gasping for air as she did. There she snatched her mother’s crucifix off the wall, the one that had been to Lourdes and dunked in the water there with Mother Bland’s very own hands. With these two mighty weapons, Felicia Fripp returned to the site of her previous abashment to engage her new enemy in battle, and a-bash him some herself.

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