They met on Blackpool beach. She in a tight-fitting black and purple costume. He in a red-and-white striped tent. “That’s the way to do it”, he said. And they did.
She called the baby Judy and visited Blackpool every summer for fifteen years, but she never saw him again.
After Judy left home, she turned to drink. Red, white, red, white, red – until she was Punch-drunk with self-pity.
Not to be beaten, she scoured the local papers for puppeteer conventions in the North West of England and eventually found him listed as a participant.
She stopped drinking for two days and dolled herself up to attend, but there was no-one there she recognised. Nor did any of the puppet-masters greet her as a long-lost lover.
That night she wept as she drank. Red, white, red, white, red. In the morning, her head felt as if it had been hammered with a wooden stave.
On Sunday morning, Judy phoned as usual.
“You must stop drinking, mum. Please. It’s killing you, and you know it upsets me to hear you like this”, she sobbed. “Are you alright, mum? You sound a bit…”
“No. Of course I’m not alright. I’m all on my own up here, and I’ve wasted my life looking after you. I’m a fuckin’ dummy, aren’t I? Just leave me alone to die. I’m sick of your crocodile tears.”
© Gerry Webber 2013