Bon Voyage Jingle Bells

On Bank Holiday weekend Dad and I had made arrangements to spend a few hours tidying up the allotment; Dad as the Director of Operations and me as the general labourer. Now some of you may already know that my Dad’s allotment shed is the luxury hotel version and it has always been a bone of contention with us, that my Dad insists on leaving the shed key under one of the plant pots. Over the past few years a “gentleman of the road” and his Lurcher has had the odd overnight stay there during some of our harsh winters. Many years ago he was one of the migrant seasonal workers that helped out as a farm hand but still continues to roam the county eking out a living doing odd jobs for a meal or a few pounds. Both he and my Dad were born in an age when a handshake was as good as a signed contract and whilst I don’t think they’ve exchanged more than the odd word, they acknowledge each other with a nod of the head which is enough for the old fella. His guest is always long gone before any of the other gardeners arrive and everything is left as tidy as he found it. To be fair Dad has enjoyed playing host ensuring there’s plenty of gas for the stove, batteries in the radio and my mum had grudgingly allowed him to launder a couple of old blankets in her precious new washing machine. He’s left the odd flask of tea and packed lunch there and I also suspect his part-time tenant is one of the few that truly appreciate his homemade wine.

As we pitched up for a spot of weeding, it was apparent that someone was still in residence and my father fearing the worst asked me whether I’d brought my mobile phone with me but we needn’t have worried as it was a different guest altogether. My eccentric uncle Bill, or Jingle Bells as my nieces had called him when they were very young, was holding his own pyjama party. Apparently my long-suffering aunt had had enough and thrown him out. He’d clearly spent a few nights sleeping rough in the shed and as his biting sarcasm rubbed others the wrong way it was unlikely that many would be laying out the welcome mat for him, my mother included.

As is the Dyson way, tea was brewed before a conversation started in earnest and as my Dad poured it out into three mugs my uncle proudly revealed that he had sold his estate car without consultation and invested their savings in a beast of a motorbike which had left my aunt less than impressed. To be fair his children had long ago grown up and moved away so a family size car was no longer an essential but not to include his wife in the decision-making process was a big mistake and one that he was currently paying for.

I couldn’t help but notice as my vest-attired Uncle finished his shave in an old hand-mirror that he appeared to sporting a new and very sore looking tattoo proclaiming “King of the Rode”. When I pointed out the misspelling, my uncle, always quick to save a few quid, explained that he’d had it done cheap by a Romanian tattooist; clearly a wise move! He quickly remarked that he was going to have it amended to say rodeo at which point I enquired whether he would be trading in the motorbike for a mustang. I was also pretty sure that whilst this wasn’t my uncle’s first rodeo I suspected it would be his first and last tattoo.

“Well, she’s got another thing coming if she thinks I’ll go crawling back and now that I‘ll be able to entertain the honeys in my new love shack…”. As we surveyed the “love shack” which currently included a make shift wardrobe and a small television with set-top aerial hooked up to an old car battery, I pondered whether insanity was hereditary. In view of the fact that he had also been married for the past thirty years one wondered if there were many women out there who were equally as mad as a box of frogs and would be happy to be romanced a la allotment style.

“In fact, as I am so contented here” he said surveying his surroundings “that when I go don’t bother burying me, just nail up the door and torch it” as that had been my Dad’s backup plan, I knew that this situation would now be resolved with lightning speed. Before the sun had settled over the yard-arm that day, my Dad acting as a go-between had negotiated a temporary stay of execution and my uncle resumed residence at the family home.

I have since been reliably informed that a compromise has been reached and a customised camper van named Priscilla, has been purchased for a round Europe road trip a deux.

The open road is the school of doubt in which man learns faith in man
Pico Iyer


30 thoughts on “Bon Voyage Jingle Bells

  1. LOL, great story Tink and as soon as I read your Uncle’s declaration of being nailed in and burnt up in your Dad’s Taj Mahal…I KNEW he’d not stand for any such thing! Good for you Dad Dyson! You saved a castle, a marriage, a Romanian tattooist, and Lord knows how many unsuspecting honeys in one fell swoop! Not a bad day’s work 🙂


  2. I my lord in all the heavens, have you ever perused those sites ‘bad tattoos’ your uncle could submit his. Maybe someone would offer to fix his! As a collector of body art I just had to laugh at that one.

    I am always so happy to see you come through my e-mail, knowing I will be in for another fabulous ramble through your world and the characters that inhabit it. Once again, not a disappointment.


    • His body art was no oil painting if you get what I mean and I suspect yours are substantially more artistic than the one and only tattoo that he now sports. Thank you Val, but I think the real credit goes to all the “crazies” in my life that inspire me


  3. “Mad as a box of frogs” hahaha love that expression and I will be using it from now on. I am glad your uncle and your aunt made up and now get to go on a round the continent trip in a new camper. You have quite the cast of characters in your family!


    • Please feel free to use it to your heart’s content and I can confirm each time you say it, it will make you smile. I remember reprimanding my youngest niece one day for being unkind to her sister and asked if she could say anything nice and she replied quick as a flash, “yeah, you’re adopted”! My eldest niece responded even quicker “great cos I won’t have to be admitted to an asylum like the rest of you”! So maybe I’ve escaped the curse as well …..


  4. Always such a pleasure to get one of your posts! Sounds like your dad might just be feeling a touch better if he’s back to the allotment. I sure hope so! Hugs to y’all… 😀


  5. So glad to hear that your dad is able to go back to his allotment. Thanks for the wonderful saga of uncle Jingle Bells. He sounds like a real character, and that tattoo is hilarious. Men do very strange things during their mid-life crisis, don’t they. 🙂


  6. Your Dad is one of life’s angels, how sweet of him to accommodate his “guest” and provide some refreshment and home comforts. As for Uncle Jingle Bells, he might have had his moment of rebellion but thanks to your Dad he is properly on the straight and narrow again. Hope he and your aunt collect many happy memories on their European adventure.


    • My Dad comes from a gentler age and a large family who didn’t have very much so feels a natural empathy with others in the same situation. I’m hoping my uncle isn’t kidnapped on his travels as I don’t think we’d raise much of a ransom for him


    • I’ve seen some fab sheds recently, I’d quite like him to have a Moroccan theme and serve tea like the pics on your last post or one of Maggie’s china tea sets, but sadly its packed with my Dad’s paraphernalia and overflowing with dubious home-made wine. If it ever catches fire they’ll see the bonfire in the next county


    • After what can only be described as a truly awful day in my working life (which is the commercial equivalent of Game of Thrones) this made me shed a quick tear. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this lovely comment


      • Aw, sorry about your day, lady! Hopefully you have a badass midget friend at work? Or a small dragon buddy? Or you could always kill’em all, HAHAHA!
        PS if it were a Jane Austen, I have to admit, your dad is my favourite character lol. Give him a hug from the internet!


  7. Oh, that made me laugh! You have a way with words such that I can actually see the scene playing in front of me! You have got to start making this your day job! Hope all is well 🙂


  8. He he he, seems like we haven’t heard the last of uncle Jingle Bells! 😀 One for that book Dallas. Happy your dad is is well enough to potter around in the allotment.


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