Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Once Upon A Time

There’s an expression and I think it might be a bit of a Midlands thing, but I’m not entirely sure: To be on your tod. As in: “My ex-girlfriend spent the weekend in what was once our house gathering up her possessions and now she’s gone away again, leaving me sitting, amongst half-empty shelves and cupboards on my tod.”

I.E: alone.

Anyway, I’m going to tell you a little story:

“Once upon a time there was a young couple who loved each other very much. In public they were rarely all over each other, never seeming to just have eyes for each other, but in private they occasionally bordered on the nauseating. They had cutesy names for each other (albeit with a hint of the surreal – ‘My little sweet potato,’ ‘angel-toast’ etc, etc.) The man would often make inanimate objects, like vacuum cleaners, talk to the woman. He’d spin elaborate tales about endearing trees marooned on mountainsides. In short, he’d be very silly to make her laugh and then he’d laugh too and they’d look at each other and think about how much they were in love.

Despite how happy they were together occasionally one would have to go and leave the other behind. One of them would have to go away for work, or to see family or friends when the other had to stay at home for some reason and they were both a bit silly and overly melodramatic about being abandoned, but really they didn’t mind because they knew the other would be coming back.

Plus, they’d be on their tod.

Don’t you know what a tod is?

Well: A tod is a creature about the size of a Shetland pony. They are very furry (and a little smelly to be honest, but in an oddly enchanting way) with a big bushy tail, long droopy ears (like a donkey) and a bit trunk (like an elephant) and they have kind eyes and a wry grin.

Oh and they can fly, which makes solo international travel quite cheap, if a little chilly at eight thousand feet.

Whenever the man and the woman were forced to separate for prolonged periods of time then their tod would be there. Often they’d sit on the tod, but that was for convenience because the lounge in their flat wasn’t very big and the tod would inadvertently obscure the TV screen.

And the tods would be very considerate to their owners who missed their beloved enormously. The tods would comfort them with cups of tea (sometimes with a chocolate digestive or a custard cream) and smiles of encouragement.

When the couple were together the tods lived in the cupboard under the stairs, but they were quite happy. They had bales of straw to sleep upon and plenty of sausages and mash (their favourite) to eat. And every so often the tods would be able to help their owners even when they weren’t alone. The tods weren’t supposed to do this. Tod law was very strict about it, but these two particular tods were exceptionally fond of their owners and keen to please.

“What shall we have for tea tonight?” the couple would ask. (Invariably the answer to this would be sausages and mash, but then the couple liked that too.)

“Which dress shall I wear?” the woman would wonder. (Often the tods would recommend the purple one which flared out at the bottom because that was their favourite.)

“Where are my car keys?” the man would question. (Usually where he’d left them and the tods would dutifully pick them up with the long trunks).

The couple thought that they had a tod each, but since they were identical, only identified by the colour of their hats (one lime-green, the other lilac) they’d often play a joke on the couple and swap hats for both the tods loved the man and woman equally.

Then one day, quite unexpectedly, the woman announced that she no longer loved the man and was running away to the seaside. The man was surprised and upset and they exchanged cross words until the woman went around to a friend’s house for a cup of tea. The man clambered into the cupboard under the stairs and sat down on the warm straw and said:

“Well, old tod, it looks like it’ll be you and me a bit more than usual now.”

The tods looked very sad and nuzzled the man affectionately, breathing their warm sweaty breath into his ear as they knew he liked.

After a while the man went off to find some whisky to drink and the tods looked at each other and made distressed little whinnying noises.

For not only did the tods love both the man and the woman equally, and had both long ago forgotten which they originally belonged to, but the tods also loved each other. Whilst they didn’t want to abandon either the man or the woman in their hour of need they couldn’t bear the idea of being separated from each other.


The tods spent all night thinking hard, trying to come up with a solution, a way to get the woman to love the man again.

But they couldn’t.

So, in the morning when the man and woman sat down to an awkward breakfast the tods shuffled towards the table in unison and spoke up.

They explained how they’d fallen in love and now they wanted to elope to Gretna Green on a tandem and get married.

First the man and the woman were surprised and then they were upset. They hadn’t expected to lose their tods as well as each other. Now they really would be alone. But after a while they decided that it would be unfair to split the tods up after so
long together.

So the woman made the tods some tuna sandwiches for the journey and the man checked that the tyres were properly inflated on the tods’ tandem and then they waved the tods off as they cycled away, bound for Scotland.

“Maybe they’ll find another couple to help,” said the man.

“I hope so,” said the woman. “That’d be nice.”

And they looked at each other, both wondering how it had come to this. Neither broke their gaze until eventually the man smiled ever so slightly and then the woman turned away and went back inside the house.

The end.”

Trail run for possible alternative career as deranged children’s writer. Normal service, of a sort, resumes shortly.

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