I’m at Costa, taking selfies (see below) and leafing through pictures of the wonderful cork my friends Sarah and Chris bought me for my last birthday (go to the end of the article to see this disgusting, but epic, piece of wine-stopping merchandise) when Scott arrives.
Let me tell you about Scott.
Selfie…at the Costa Westwood Drive Thru (best coffee house in Thanet). Occasionally, the sun shines onto my face and I feel all ‘Bejesus’ in that half-Irish way I have.
Scott always has interesting stuff for me to look at. He’s the one who originally found me the dude who marries his own toy dolls, and he only ever calls me to have a coffee with him when he either a) has something for the blog or b) needs a favour.
Fortunately for me, on this occasion it’s the former.
I look down at the letter. It’s written in meticulous handwriting without any punctuation, and it reads:
I dont want to panic you or cause any alarm but I saw two men going in and out of your house yesterday and Joan seemed to think you were at work just trying to be a good neighbour I can give the police a description if you need one.
When I finish reading the letter, I look up at Scott, who is apparently waiting for some sort of reaction from me. When I just shrug, he passes me another letter. This one reads:
Dear Miss Jessop
I hate being a gossip but I saw something yesterday and a few of the neighbours seem to think I have a responsibility to tell you about it Im afraid its your neighbour on the left side Mr Coombs who has been pulling up your rosebushes I think the dear man must be very unhappy in himself to do such terrible things as he looked very cross and frustrated with himself as he threw them up and down your front garden he even hurt his leg
When I look up this time, Scott has his arms folded. Before I can ask him anything, he immediately thrusts a third letter into my hand. This one is a bit mottled, and tattered at the edges. It reads:
Nobody blames you for what keeps happening at 43 but as your friends and neighbours we have a duty and a responsibility to warn you that people are watching if his wife finds out youll be tossed to the curb like so many others before you hes nothing but a rat b*stard.
(Note: I blocked out the swearing – Elsie didn’t)
“Okay,” I say, folding my arms. “I admit they’re getting worse. Who is she?”
Scott grins. “We found these in the attic of that place we cleared out over Canterbury way. A young couple lived there, left the place in a hell of a state: she must have lived there just before, or maybe even a long time ago. It can’t have been that long ago, though: the paper on some of these looks newer.”
“But she obviously never sent them! She wouldn’t have letters like this herself if she’d given them to people!”
“They’ve all got mistakes and crossings out on them, Dave! Look!”
He’s right: every letter has some sort of scribble or blot out mark on it, and notes in the margin lines that are scribbled in such tiny writing that even I can’t read it. They look like proofs, not finished copies.
He hands me a fourth letter. This one reads:
Dont you worry about him youre a good boy and he’s a no talent little s*it even his mother spits on the ground every time he walks past its a small wonder hes not in prison considering the fact that we all know he burned down the off licence a few drops of poison in his beer might give him something to think about
Now I’m paying attention, because she’s advocating the poisoning of someone she knows, a fact that immediately moves her from an interfering old gossip to a fully qualified Bitchfingers.
I ask for Scott to pass me the rest of the letters, and – boy – do they ever get worse. Most of them are spiteful, a few are funny….but towards the end, the name ‘Elsie’ disappears: she seems to become anonymous to the victims, and her letters just get straight-out offensive:
Theyre talking about you and none of its good a grandmother at your age you must be disgusted
the flower shop doesnt serve you anymore because nobody can wash the stink of Roger off your back
Lost your job again dont worry love you can’t be shit at everything theres always a toilet to clean in my house
every time a tile slides off your roof i cant stop laughing the next time a storm comes you might as well just go out in the garden and lie there on the ground in the mud on your back like the filthy cow you were when you were younger
I’m actually taken aback by the sheer power of the hatred that this woman managed to conjure in her writing. She obviously wasn’t particularly gifted with words, but she certainly had her own brand of flare that just brought stark, horrible life to everything she wrote. It’s a shame she didn’t turn her hand to fiction, as she might have made a lot of money with that strength of passion. Who knows: maybe she did.
When I look up again, Scott is staring at me expectantly.
“Is there a blog for you there?”
I shrug. “Maybe. I guess so. It’s pretty grim stuff, though…”
“Life is grim, mate.”
Scott heads over to the counter to get another latte, and I look out the window of Costa, wondering what’s wrong with the world and trying to ponder why it is that people get so twisted up inside. Then my eyes stumble across another letter at the bottom of the pile, and I can’t help picking it up.
what a beautiful cake that was you so deserved to win and it couldnt have happened to a nicer person can we go out for tea again on Friday I so enjoyed spending the day with you in Whitstable love and happiness to you and your family now and always
My gaze trails to the bottom of the page, where she’s written – in tiny writing – the words: ‘Ugly B*tch.’
I burst out laughing.
I just can’t help it.
That poor, poor woman.
I wonder what could have happened to make her so mean: I’m sure she was happy, once.
On a lighter note, here’s a couple of pictures of that cork I told you about:
Top Down (I call him Barry)
Barry again….in full stride.