@MattAbbottPoet

@MattAbbottPoet
Image © Copyright Amy Charles Media 2014

22 Jul 2013

The Ballad Of Babs in 13B


Peter, the slimy but devilishly handsome rogue, has cheated on Leanne. Again.
"Poor, gullible, defenceless girl," thinks the archetypal sympathetic soap fan.
"I don't know what he bloody sees in her, myself," thinks Barbara.
"We return to Coronation Street, in half an hour."

As she bends over to scratch her knee through a hole that's emerged in her tights,
Barbara hears an advert on the telly.
She pays no notice whatsoever to the product that's being advertised;
instead, she closes her eyes, cocks her head slightly, and listens in adoration.

'When A Man Loves A Woman' by Percy Sledge.
"They dunt mek 'em like that anymore."
She can remember buying the 7" in a charity shop in Whitley Bay on her 5th wedding anniversary.
Her dad used to tell her how it was Number One in the pop charts when she was born.

Sometimes he'd sing it to her,
tuneless, but wonderfully tender:
she liked being called a woman,
even when she was still at school.

And as for the vinyl, well...
She's adamant that her ex-husband sold it by mistake at a car boot sale a couple of years back;
as much as he denies it, the useless bleeding sod.
Didn't accidentally sell his original Bowie though, did he?

She'd always known he was a good for nothing tosser,
ever since Paul caught him ogling that stripper in Heppy's one Friday afternoon.
"Fish and Strips" they used to call it;
a greasy chip butty and a good old glare at a pair of pasty arse cheeks.

Then again, all men are the same.
After all, if Paul was so honourable, then what was he doing there in the first place?
Bet he never quite managed to tell his Debbie where it was that he'd spotted Colin.
It's a wonder anybody holds down a semi-successful marriage these days.

Barbara sits back, sighs and contemplates giving Mandy a ring.
Mandy always used to nip down to Mecca for the Monday session,
but since Terry stopped working overtime she can't afford to get lucky.
Then again, what price can you put on pleasure these days?

And as the Avon lady peels apart the Customer Receipt,
Barbara shuffles awkwardly enough.
Silently she curses at the slippers on her feet;
depositing those wretched specks of fluff.

There's a wedding photo propped upon the mantelpiece.
She's watched her beauty fade from recognition.
With her arm wrapped 'round a man who's now a stranger;
two decades of the missionary position.

Barbara stands to make them both a brew,
whilst biscuits twist her arm in stacks of three.
She stumbles on a Facebook Group; The Class of '82.
It's heaven; Monday night in 13B.

And the pimpled Queens of Scarborough Comprehensive,
remind her of a girl she used to know;
those afternoons of innocence, spent dangling from the Pier.
She fondly reminisces with a tear.

And it wasn't too long after she'd ditched that fraying blue blazer
in favour of her garish disco threads
that Barbara found love for the very first time;
and not just Phil Oakey; this one was for real:

Malcolm Edward Norton.

He made Barbara feel important, but not only that;
he made all the other girls in her virginal vicinity despise her,
and that, Barbara thought,
was the highest compliment that you could possibly receive as a woman.

She's recently discovered that Malcolm lives in Morecambe with Michelle;
the fat girl who'd borrow Barbara's mascara,
and then leave the top of the bottle all gammy whenever she gave it back.
Typical; the mucky cow.

Barbara clicks through the recently scanned wedding photos.
She grimaces; scrutinising and analysing as she puffs her way down a menthol cigarette.
Michelle's dress was beautiful, she concedes; choking as she does so and reaching out for the ashtray;
the Yorkshire Bitter ashtray that she'd salvaged from her now deceased local.

Oh; the life she used to live between those walls.
Nowadays of course she only rarely finds mischief in bed on a Sunday morning.
Occasional flakes of pastry from her Sainsbury's Taste Good pain au chocolat;
maybe the odd smudge of chocolate on the pillow.

Except for that one weekend, of course.
A twenty minute fumble on the living room floor, or the look on Colin's face in the morning:
both equally as pleasurable, thinks Barbara.
Crikey; it'll be back on in a minute.

Best nip to the loo before it starts.
They always start the second episode in the same scene that the first one finished on,
and this scene is not one to be missed.
She'll text Mandy in the ad break; find out what she makes of the general state of affairs.

Malcolm must have had a quick flick through her pics when clicked to accept her friend request.
After all, he must've at least been curious.
Maybe even the magnificent Michelle...
But then again, maybe neither of them were altogether that fussed.

She sits beneath the Artex ceiling's Nicotine complexion,
with Mustard swirls and a plastic chandelier.
A dimmer switch that hides her imperfections;
a centimetre's slip to yesteryear.

Last weekend, Barbara's brother came to see her,
with slip-on shoes, and a half-price Houndstooth scarf,
and the all-too-perfect perma-tanned Maria,
who's fourteen's more a fourteen-and-a-half.

And as boredom heads to the king-sized bed she seldom gets to share,
there's a chiffon quilt with an old Parisian print.
From a Summer Sale at Debenhams; discount debonair.
It almost looks expensive if you squint.

And it's not exactly Cleopatra's Palace,
with a urine-scented staircase, and a battery-powered phallus,
but it's close to work, and they're easy on the rent:
Just a shame for Barbara;
time's the only fortune that she's spent.

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