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illustration by jonny voss

 

ETHEL AND THE FLYING BAGS

b y   A l a n   M c C o r m i c k

 

 

 




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Crackhead (he had a crack on his head) Petyr, A Dutch sandwich cyclist (he was Dutch and delivered sandwiches to other cyclists on his bicycle), was busy with his favourite hobby, throwing plastic shopping bags in the air, when an unusually strong gust of wind arrived and carried the bags very high into the sky. They twisted and swirled in crazy kite-like flight paths, in and out of each other, making rubbish patterns against the puffy, cloudy sky. High above the acrobating bags, a flying kitten called Keith was making distress signals like a frightened goose.

All this was being watched by zimmering Ethel, an old lady from the local flats.

‘Ere, what you doin’ with those baggy things, they shouldn’t be in the sky, they should be in binithingies,’ said Ethel to Crackhead Petyr.

Crackhead Petyr looked at her and laughed in a very sarcastic Dutch way.

‘Don’t laugh at me, you . . . you . . . your laugh don’t belong here,’ said Ethel.

‘Old lady,’ said Crackhead Petyr. ‘Just cool your heat, and enjoy the spectacle.’

Ethel started zimmering towards Crackhead Petyr, to give him a piece of her mind, when she saw Keith falling from the sky directly towards him.

‘Ooh, look out, you . . . look out.’

Before she could be more precise in her warning and instruction, Keith landed claws first into the crack on Crackhead Petyr’s head. There was blood everywhere, and Keith, stapled by his claws, lodged himself further into the crack on Crackhead Petyr’s head. Crackhead Petyr looked like he was wearing a fur tea cosy or a monstrous moggy toupee, and this made Ethel laugh.

Keith stopped his upset goose noises and grinned charmingly at her as if he was pleased to be the cause of such mirth. Crackhead Petyr was not laughing or smiling though; he was in a great deal of pain and was worrying how life was going to turn out with a kitten called Keith stuck into the crack on his head.

Just then a real low flying goose, making upset kitten noises, passed overhead and deposited a large egg into Ethel’s hand.

‘I can make an oml, an omell, omli . . . I can fry this in lard for my tea,’ announced Ethel cheerfully. And with that she zimmered away, leaving Keith waving goodbye from the crack on Crackhead Petyr’s head.

Before she was out of range, Crackhead Petyr called after her:

‘Old woman, you should make a goose egg sandwich with that.’

Ethel waved back; she had no idea what he’d said.