MILKSHAKE DREAMBATH FOR MRS BUNKERTON
It was 5:33am and snuffling hedgehog snorts and whimpers emanated from Mrs Emily Bunkerton's bedroom…she was dreaming.
Mrs Bunkerton dreamt that she was soaking in a bath of gold top milk and Ribena. The magenta mix of dairy and concentrated blackcurrant syrup was a drink that Mrs Bunkerton's mother concocted for her so that she would drink milk to help build strong teeth and bones. Emily hated milk but loved Ribena; there were not many days when her mother didn't thank Dr Vernon Charley the inventor of blackcurrant syrup. Blackcurrants were abundant in the United Kingdom and very high in vitamin C. Thanks to the U-Boat campaign during the Second World War, other fruits high in vitamin C such as oranges were unavailable, so the humble little berries were an obvious choice as a supplement. Ribena was distributed free to children as a supplement, but without the brand name. When the taste of blackcurrant cordial became popular, business really took off with many people buying the Ribena brand. Unwittingly, it was a sort of free download to encourage people to buy the brand!
In Mrs Bunkerton's dream bath, pink candy fish bobbed to the surface to slurp on mini marshmallows floating on the surface. Chocolate frogs jumped from the sides of the bath, plopping loudly into the blackcurrant milkshake. Above Mrs Bunkerton's head, rice paper sherbet filled flying saucers circled as though to find the best place to land on their new home, the planet Emily.
Ken and Betty Griggs from Ye Olde Sweetie Shoppe of Vernham visited Mrs Bunkerton's dream to fill the toilet pan with jellybeans. Afterwards, Ken and Betty flushed the toilet so that they could fill the pan again, but this time with strawberry bonbons.
"No, No, not the strawberry bonbons, they're PC Sweetman's favourite and he'll give you what for if he finds out!" shouted Mrs Bunkerton.
Ken and Betty took no notice and flushed the strawberry bonbons away, to fill again with floral pips.
Eventually, with all sweets flushed away, Ken and Bettie left the bathroom, turning to look at Mrs Bunkerton, laughing at her.
"Thank goodness they didn't flush away my liquorice cream rock! I don't know how I'd explain it if the drains became blocked!" Mrs Bunkerton said to herself in her dream.
Familiar but muffled music filled the bathroom; it was the waltz that she danced with Robert Wells at her wedding reception. Emily's first boyfriend was Robert, her friend Patricia was going out with Gerald Bunkerton, but at some point, they chose to swap boyfriends. Emily married Gerald and Patricia married Robert. It is pure irony that later on in life, Robert and Gerald widowed both women on the same day as each other.
The waltz tune always reminds Mrs Bunkerton of that last dance she had with Robert, when he inappropriately asked her to elope with him. She was now married to Gerald, how could she? Nevertheless, the little candle she holds for Robert that still flickers in the dark corner of her heart at times burns so bright, it hurts! The heart of love is a hard drive, even when deleted, small fragments of memory are left behind. What would life have been like with Robert if they had eloped? Emily will never know.
The bathroom door opened gently and the music became clearer. Robert Wells walked into the bathroom dressed as a butler, holding a transistor radio in one hand and a stick of candyfloss (cotton candy) in the other.
Robert placed the transistor radio on the side of the bath and proceeded to scrub Emily's back with the candyfloss.
It mattered not a fig to Mrs Bunkerton that she was naked in Robert's presence, it felt right, apart from one nagging feeling.
"Robert, you look so young, but I am so very old now!" said Mrs Bunkerton to Robert.
Robert picked up a mirror, Gerald Bunkerton's favourite shaving mirror, and placed it in front of Mrs Bunkerton's face. The reflection in the mirror was of a teenage Emily looking back. Mrs Bunkerton looked at her arms and noticed that they were that of a young woman; she felt very happy.
Robert flipped the shaving mirror over to the magnifying side, the vision in the mirror was young Emily 'just married' Bunkerton dancing the waltz with Robert at her wedding reception. Mrs Bunkerton felt very sad.
Robert pointed to the surface of the Ribena milkshake bath; there was a miniature image of Robert and Patricia Wells enjoying themselves on a pedalo in Shark Bay, Western Australia, where they had emigrated to many years ago. They were blissfully unaware that a shoal of Tiger Shark was circling them. Patricia accidentally fell in to the sea, and the sharks fled for their lives. Even the sharks recognized Patricia as an adversary.
"Oh poor, poor Robert, I know Patricia could be beastly, but was she really that horrible to you?" asked Mrs Bunkerton.
Robert looked very sad and pointed at the shaving mirror, the scene changed from the wedding reception to Robert and Patricia's wedding night. Patricia was sitting on a bed in the honeymoon suite of a hotel they had booked into for a couple of nights. On the bed with Patricia was a suitcase full of One Pound notes, she looked very happy as she tossed the cash up into the air, as though she was releasing monetary butterflies to freedom. Except, money rarely left Patricia's grasp, she loved to collect it but hated to be parted from it.
"You mean she only married you for your money?" gasped Mrs Bunkerton.
Robert bowed his head in sadness and shame.
Suddenly, Gerald Bunkerton burst in through the bathroom door; he was staggering about without his spectacles, holding a bottle of single malt whisky. Gerald stepped into the toilet pan, stared at Emily and Robert, and waved at them as though to say goodbye.
Gerald pulled the toilet chain and flushed himself away.
This was very much the way Gerald Bunkerton operated his life, he drank heavily and eventually flushed it all away by suffering a massive heart attack shortly after leaving his spectacles in the ladies toilet in The Grummet and Nut pub.
Oddly, Mrs Bunkerton was unaware that Gerald was a heavy drinker even though the obvious telltale signs were there. Neither did she know how he would have obtained all the money to be able to drink so heavily. Truth to tell, she never knew what line of work it was that enabled Gerald to earn so much money; it wasn't that she wasn't interested, it's just that the conversation never came about. All Mrs Bunkerton knew was that Gerald left her wanting for nothing. Despite his great love of Scotch whisky, his greater love was always Emily.
"I feel now that perhaps I should have paid more attention to Gerald. We did have a very passionate marriage once, but it withered away slowly like beautiful flowers in a vase. So slowly that we didn't realise it was happening!" said Mrs Bunkerton woefully.
Mrs Bunkerton reached out to hold Robert's hand; he was wearing what felt like a glove. The glove was part of a deep-sea diver's outfit that he had swiftly changed into while she was reminiscing about Gerald.
Robert stepped into the lilac milk bath and slowly sunk beneath the surface until all that remained were bubbles forming froth on the surface, then eventually, nothing.
Mrs Bunkerton panicked and tried to grab Robert before he sank away to forever; it was too late.
Mrs Bunkerton put her face into the milkshake bath and called out to Gerald.
"Glib glob blib bleeb, blibe blee boo bi bebble!" she said.
Roughly translated that would have been "Goodbye my sweet, I'll see you in Heaven!"
Mrs Bunkerton pulled her face out from the milkshake, sat up in the bath, rudely startled as rock star Tricky Turnspike charged into the bathroom singing, "While you were snoring, you blew my mind!"
This raucousness roused Mrs Bunkerton from her slumber; it was the Radio/Alarm Clock/CD player that Tricky had given her to play his albums on. The alarm clock was set for 5:45am.
With a little yawn, Mrs Bunkerton switched off the CD player and walked to her bedroom window to open the curtains.
Her dream left a taste of sweet disappointment, but as she opened the curtains, she saw her beautiful garden bathed in early morning sunlight.
Yes, all was right with her world!
Emily, was still dreaming.