Printed from WriteWords -


by  TeeFoley

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2004
Word Count: 915
Summary: Not very well written, however, a true story I wrote whilst looking through a scruffy old book I had as a teenager. God, was I mad or what !!


Loved my Saturday lunch times with the girls. Eighteen years of age without a care in the world. A few beers, plenty of laughs but most of all….. friendship. We spent very little on clothes, as it was far more stylish to go with the nostalgic theme of fashion. We frequented second hands shops, car boot sales and rag markets to see who could create the most individual look. There was nothing more satisfying than walking down the busy streets of Birmingham linking arms, all dressed like total freaks, but at the time we were decadent. We made our own personal statements and the more people stared the better.
Vicky, (one of the gang) popped in to our local wine bar during her lunch hour, informing us that the retro clothing stall that was usually outdoors, had opened on a temporary basis as Beatties had bought the former hairdresser's to extend their ladies department. Beatties being a large store situated in Solihull. Therefore whilst the shop was empty, awaiting a revamp, her boss was able to use the lease, provided he gave 50% of the profit to a charitable cause.
Finishing our lagers (remember these were pre-wine days,) we decided to save what little money we had to find something outlandish for our Saturday night bash in the city.
The shop was a haven of memorabilia. A distinct smell of dampness combined with mothballs made us get tingles of excitement deep within our stomachs.
‘The Joys of Mooching.’
“Go upstairs. All of the crocheted stuff is up there, crimpeline blouses the lot!”
Taking Vicky’s advice, we made our way to the top floor. Sarah trying on a tweed jacket that looked so ridiculous we couldn’t stop laughing. We had the entire room to ourselves so proceeded to have our very own fashion show. We were hysterical. I recall on many occasion having to get a grip and take deep breaths as to quite literally avoid peeing my pants.
Suddenly we all became aware of a sudden drop in temperature.
Sniffing, I said, “Yuck, can you smell that. It’s really strong?”
The air filled with a cold, musky vapour and the smell of what I can only describe as damp, earthy stone seemed to take over the atmosphere. It was a warm day but there was no sun on the room so I assumed it was just the old clothing combined with no heater?
“Sssshhhh someone coming!” Whispered Sarah whilst still giggling as Joanne was trying on a pair of velvet peddle-pushers, (complete with gold seams.)
Sarah fell about laughing as we ushered her into the changing room. A man came upstairs. (Obviously into nostalgia clothing himself, as he was dressed as a Morris dancer.) He was about 5ft 10” with soft brown curly hair framing his face, green eyes, moustache and beard. The first thing I noticed where his shoes, they looked handmade in gold and green thick fabric with bells on the end. They were lightweight, almost like slippers and appeared to have fabric soles. He also had bells around his cuffs and waist. Small, golden Scandinavian style bells attached to his garments by frayed, red cotton ribbon.
Joanne reappeared from the changing room and was somewhat astounded by the stranger. The temperature dropped once more as he walked swiftly towards Sarah. He didn’t seem to be aware of Joanne and me. Sarah totally focused on him as he gave a bow, almost like she was the only other person in the room. He said something but we didn’t understand what but he was smiling with a dazed look of gentleness in his eyes. Sarah actually looked quite smitten whilst blushing profusely. (Well its not every day a man bows to a stranger like that!) He walked into the changing room,well, an old velvet curtain that had portioned off a former broom cupboard. The jingling of bells immediately stopped.
“WOW! He was strange?” Said Sarah, obviously flustered.
Joanne adding,” Well he certainly seemed to like you!”
We all selected something gorgeous to wear for our evening out. ‘Me a blouse, Sarah a jacket and Joanne a waistcoat.’ ‘Each of us choosing a hideous plastic belt to accessorise before making our way to Vicky to pay for our treasures.’
“Hey Vick, Did you see that bloke come upstairs. The Morris Dancer?”
“Had he got bells on his feet…?” Vicky replied in disbelief.
She continued,“ you’ve just seen the ghost, lots of people see him. Apparantly, he is a Court Jester!”
Well he must have been something other than human as he didn’t come downstairs and nobody saw him go up. We had all just seen a ghost and had it not been for the period dress, he would have looked no different in human form to that of the living? It is rumoured that many centuries ago there used to be a courtyard in exactly that place. Maybe we had become acquainted with one of its entertainers?
‘I wondered how many ghosts we pass in the street without realising they are no longer with us?’
I never did throw that old blouse away and can still smells the mothballs when I rummage through my past. I must remember to tell my children this story so that they know why I have a bin liner in the loft, full of old clothes. ‘My days of youth in a plastic bag.’ Wonder if a part of him is still in there?