My friend Polly is going through a divorce at the moment. She's feeling understandably fragile; broken hearted at the break down of the marriage, uncertain about her future, and desperately worried about the effect the break-up is having on her seven year old twin girls. She works from 9-5 every day and cares for her elderly mother three evenings a week. Due to the fact that her Husband frequently changes his mind about looking after the twins at the last minute, she hasn't had any time to herself for ages.
When she came over for lunch the other day, I was shocked by how listless and defeated she looked. It transpired that she is the latest victim of TDGT (The Dorset Gossip Train.)
She wearily explained that someone has started a rumour that she has got four men on the go. Her Husband is consumed with jealous rage, and is too busy cracking his knuckles and issuing threats of violence, to recognize the absurdity of the allegation.
"I haven't got the time or energy for one boyfriend, let alone four!" she snorted crossly through a mouthful of chocolate cake.
"I'm so bloody knackered at night, it's as much as i can do to stay awake until Corrie's finished. I have been accused of snogging Fat Dave in the Pool Room of the Saracens Head last Saturday night. I never even go in to the bloody place, and i was at my Mother's overnight. And FAT DAVE - for Gods Sake!" she spluttered into her Rioja.
She gazed dismally at me. "That's not the worst of it. People think i'm a swinger too. Bex told me that she'd heard i've been having it away with Digger Pete."
I gawped at her. "As in the old guy with the string vest and the glass eye?"
She nodded grimly.
She has my utmost sympathy. When Jasper and I met out Hunting one January day in 2000, i knew that our subsequent courtship would be the source of Hunt Gossip for a while. After all, the arrival of a new comer into a close knit community is guaranteed to stir the jungle drums and pique the interest of the locals; particularly when the newcomer secures the affections of an erstwhile confirmed bachelor, and an eligible one to boot.
We fell madly in love, were blissfully happy, and everything was marvellous....until i realised that i had fallen foul of two delightful individuals who shall remain nameless. (They know who they are.) Suffice to say, they took it upon themselves to make my life as unpleasant as possible, and wasted no time in stoking the fires of TDGT with a succession of slanderous allegations, presumably in the hope that they would make me so unhappy that i would slink away, never to be seen again.
Exactly what i did to incur their wrath remains a mystery, although one theory is that they were put out by the fact that i had the audacity to take Jasper off the Market. (Who does she think she is? She wasn't even BORN here!")
This theory is substantiated by their reaction to our Engagement. Our happy news sent them into overdrive and their subsequent endeavours to blacken my character was almost comical. It is a miracle they didn't choke on their own venom.
I was, apparently, a voracious nymphomaniac with the sexual capacity of a rutting rhino. I boasted a mind bogglingly diverse repertoire of sexual acts, which i performed upon long distance truckers and squaddies, in the car park of a popular beauty spots. (I loved to be watched.) I had been spotted, several times, straddling a randy trucker in a bid to quench my insatiable appetite. It was common knowledge that i was so fond of administering blow jobs that i gave them for free! I had been reported to the Police for soliciting and performing sexual acts in a public place. When an Officer came to arrest me, i bribed him with fellatio.
I had also been in prison. Details of my crimes were many and varied, including drug smuggling, identity theft and prostitution (obviously). I was living under a false name. I had come to Dorset to escape my past. I was ON THE RUN!
I had a recurring nightmare in which my tormentors would hunt me down with a pack of hounds and drive me from the village. They hastened my ignominious departure by thrashing my bare buttocks with their whips, and deafening me with their hunting horns, forcing me onwards over the rutted plough, whilst they cackled triumphantly from atop their steeds, their snaggle toothed faces radiant with spite.
My cries of protest were in vain. The Dorset Gossip train was full speed ahead. Denying the charges seemed to fan the flames. I turned to a Young farmer "friend" one night, expecting her to be comfortingly outraged by the pernicious allegations.
She was unsympathetic. "Do you really expect people not to be suspicious that you're living in Dorset when you were born in Wales?" My spirits plummeted even further as i realised that she was deadly serious.
"Is there a law against moving to a different part of the country?" i asked gently.
She looked uncomfortable. "No one knows you. No one knows anything about you."
"No, they bloody well don't! " i shouted. "But who am i to spoil their fun? I just love being a nymphomaniac, drug smuggling hooker who shags truckers and blows off policemen on a hilltop."
I cursed my tormentors. I was eclipsed by the monstrous alter ego that they had created. My reluctant entrance into social gatherings was accompanied by palpitations and sweaty plams. I dared not smile at a man in case he thought i wanted to give him a blow job.
Their spite reached a crescendo during the month we married. (Poor Jasper throwing himself away on a gold digging hooker.)
They didn't even pull the gloves off when my Mother died suddenly and unexpectedly, two months after our Wedding day. They ploughed mercilessly on as i slid into an all consuming hell of grief and depression. One of them was overheard happily saying (and i quote) - "She's going down the swanny!" By that stage i was too heart broken to care any more.
Losing my Mother at such an early age, stripped me of my emotional armour and brought my feelings permanently to the fore. I cry at the drop of a hat now, but I've also toughened up. For example, I still cry watching Lassie, but I no longer shed tears over the laughable chunterings of a pair of morons.
I have just had a phone call from my friend Angie. "The new people in the Village are porn stars!" she hissed in a scandalized voice.
I sighed. "How do you know?"
"Well, when i dropped the Parish magazine off yesterday HE answered the door wearing nothing but a hand towel over his you know what and he was all glistening and shiny. "
"What do you mean 'glistening and shiny' " ? i snorted.
"He was covered in slippery stuff."
"And that makes him a porn star?"
"No, there's more! Steve saw HER in the Co-op and she was buying a cucumber and baby oil....."
Can anyone hear a train coming?