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Uncertain Sally.



Sally was in her bedroom staring into the dressing table mirror. I’m not sure this moustache suits me, she murmured. I think it’s rather becoming, said Sally’s reflection. You always say the nicest things, said Sally. You deserve the nicest things, reflection replied. There came a knock at the door. It was the Daddy of Sally. Are you ready to go, buddy? he asked through the wood panelling. It’s time we were off to ballet class. I can’t wait to show Madam Nikitin my chassé, he continued. I’ve been practising so much! Coming Daddy! called Sally. Out on the landing the Daddy of Sally twirled a twirl. Do you like my frock? he asked. I made it myself. Before Sally could answer, the Mummy of Sally yelled from the kitchen. If ya’s goin’ out can ya remember to pick up some beer? I’m runnin’ effin’ dry here! And some smokes! Get me some effin’ smokes! Then, You look lovely, said Sally to the Daddy. Your dressmaking skills are second to none. But Daddy, do you think this moustache suits me?


Sally was working on the car, which was raised on jacks and ramps. The coil springs were corroded and she was in the process of replacing them. A clicking of stiletto heels approached the vehicle. It was the Daddy of Sally. I’ve bought you a cold beverage, Sally old chap, he said. And it’s liberally loaded with ice. Plus there’s a selection of biscuits from which you can choose. But just the one! We have to watch our figures! Sally rolled out from under the car. Thank you, Daddy, she said. Sally took a long drink from the glass, and surveyed the choice of biscuits: a chocolate digestive, a hobnob, a bourbon, a jammie dodger, and a custard cream. This was going to take some thinking. about. While she was thinking, the Mummy of Sally swooped from out of nowhere and grabbed a handful of biscuits. I’m effin’ starvin’, she said. Is this all there is? And ain’t it time you was gettin’ dinner goin’? she snarled to the Daddy of Sally. Then she made off to her lair. I think I would have had the hobnob, Sally thought to herself. Or perhaps the custard cream.


Sally was visited in her room by her Fairy Godmother, who had sensed all was not well. I sense all is not well, said Fairy Godmother before taking a swig from a can of Carlsberg, then dragging deep and hard on a cheroot. With you or with me? asked Sally. With you. Well, I’m a little worried about a date I have coming up, said Sally. Tell me about it, said Fairy Godmother. It’s May 32nd, said Sally. I don’t think I like the sound of it, but on the other hand it has a mysterious  . . . .  Her voice trailed off thoughtfully. There came a shout from without. Who you talkin’ to in there? It was the Mummy of Sally. You ain’t gone an’ got one of them walkin’-talkins, have ya? Or smuggled an ’obo into the ’ouse? I was just reading aloud to myself, Sally called in reply. Talkin’ to ya’self’s first sign a madness, said the Mummy of Sally. An’ I should effin’ know. At that moment the Daddy of Sally came home from having his hair done, and bounded upstairs to Sally’s room to ask her what she thought of his new perm. As he burst into the room Fairy Godmother disappeared instantly into thin air. Well? asked the Daddy of Sally with eager anticipation. I’m not sure, said Sally.


Sally was playing with herself in her room. She had a decent number of toys but thought perhaps she might treat herself to a new one. I wonder, she wondered. Maybe the ones I have are perfectly adequate. Then she proceeded to put the finishing touches to a Meccano™ anti-tank gun and set it in place on a rather impressive model of a World War II battlefield. The Daddy of Sally knocked on her door and came in. I’ve just baked some fairy cakes, he said. Come on down to the kitchen and have one. The kettle’s on. In the kitchen the Mummy of Sally was slumped face-down at the table, surrounded by half a dozen empty beer cans. Your Mummy’s having her afternoon nap, said the Daddy of Sally. Keep the effin’ noise down! growled the Mummy of Sally, who was not asleep after all. I’m tryin’ to effin’ kip ’ere! Perhaps we should go into the living room, suggested Sally to her Daddy. Or to another country. But which one? There are so many from which to choose.


Sally was in the mood for some music and was browsing her record collection. She took out the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” of John Dunstaple, and also Blood Incantation’s “Hidden History of the Human Race”. It was a difficult choice because Sally had not quite figured out exactly what kind of music her mood for some music was in for. While she was pondering, the Daddy of Sally poked his head in the door. There’s a Perry Como special just starting on the television, he said. Do you feel like joining me on the sofa? I thought he was dead, said Sally. He’s one of the immortals, replied the Daddy. Plus he’s a real dish. A cry came from downstairs. It was the Mummy of Sally. Where’s the effin’ remote? I can’t find the effin’ remote! I wanna watch “The Effin’ Vicar of Effin’ Dibley”! The Daddy of Sally smiled. Perhaps we can just play Perry’s “Greatest Hits” LP instead, he said. I don’t think we have that, said Sally. Or do we?


Sally was up on the scaffolding busy re-pointing the brickwork. When that was done she would repaint the window frames and front door before tarmacking the drive and replacing the old garage door with a new remote-controlled up-and-over. Work of this kind gave her brain time to think. Today she was thinking about what she would do if she had a million pounds. She couldn’t choose between a mansion in the countryside or a villa on a sun-soaked island, and wondered if a million pounds would stretch to both. The Daddy of Sally called up to her from ground level. I’m off to get my nails done, he said. Do you want me to bring anything back? Maybe some sweets, or a comic? Before she could reply, the Mummy of Sally shouted from the garden where she was taking the sun and a few cold beers. Get this week’s effin’ lottery tickets! And a bottle of effin’ Grouse! I don’t know, Sally called down. She pondered, stroking her beard thoughtfully. Then, Maybe a comic, or some sweets?

MARTIN STANNARD lives in quiet retirement in Nottingham with his cat, Xiao Mei. His most recent collection of poetry is Reading Moby-Dick and Various Other Matters (Leafe Press, 2020). A long poem —Postcards to Ma—will be published as a chapbook by the same publisher in early 2023.

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