THE MOPKINS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Most writers of books at times need to edit out portions of their story to keep the general flow of the thread. And sometimes those portions are omitted because they just don't sit correctly in the story.
This short story is based on a terrible family which I chose not to include in my silly novel Spigworth Pond because I grew to hate them and didn't want to include them in the finished book.. I never like to waste anything I have written, there may be at some time a use for it, I think this is that time. This story is truly for train-spotters who have bought and enjoyed Spigworth Pond. I hope you enjoy it.

Submitted: October 23, 2016

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Submitted: October 23, 2016

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THE MOPKINS

 

Fishing for most anglers is usually an intentionally lonely pastime, to be at one with nature and get away from the norm for a short period, just to chill out. However, some may go fishing with a friend occasionally, or regularly, and still obtain peace and quiet. The banks of Spigworth Pond were generally peaceful, that was if you didn’t include the antics of resident pseudo transvestites Jed Cleminson, Will Spring and Rick Western and the sonorous and flatulent bottom of Graham ‘Gruffer’ Wheeldon. Most anglers of the Spinfield Coarse Angling Club conducted themselves in a quiet and sedate manner. Apart from the hum of distant traffic, the only noises of Spigworth Pond one would encounter were of wildlife, the gentle plop of leads and floats hitting the surface of the pond, and the occasional buzz from the clutch of a very excited fixed spool reel as a specimen fish ripped line from it in desperation for survival. All this and more was shattered when the committee of Spinfield Coarse Angling Club, in their infinite wisdom, thought it a good idea to encourage families to go fishing by offering a discount ‘Family Members Ticket’. While this idea was with good intent, it was also to gain more capital to keep the club going. The club had suffered losses in membership due to competition from another club which offered a wider range of fisheries to fish from at a fraction of the price the Spinfield anglers were paying for their annual membership. Spigworth Pond was a notoriously difficult water to fish, the competitor offered fisheries which would suit all levels of skill, which made most anglers feel they were getting value for money. The competitor club was known as ‘The West Greed Anglers Association’; we won’t mention them again.

The first family to take advantage of the discounted membership was a fairly young family called the Mopkins. The Mopkins’ advantage very soon became a disadvantage to many of the Spinfield anglers. They were very noisy, that Mopkin family, almost every weekend was ruined for some poor angler trying to get a little peace and quiet, due to the inconsiderate and selfish behaviour of that awful family.

The Mopkin family were Pa Mopkin, Ma Mopkin, and their five sons. The eldest was 19-year-old Harry Mopkin, followed by the quiet one who just sat and watched all the trouble going on, 14-year-old Chris, 13-year-old Paul, 12-year-old Robert and the baby of the family 8-year-old Billy. Harry was known as ‘Hairy Mopkin’ to most. A typographical error on his birth certificate spawned a long line of legal documents with his name misspelt, even as far as the school register. I say typographical error, as his birth certificate was handwritten, I would class that as an act of complete carelessness. Hairy Mopkin grew quite weary of people asking him to sing ‘Those Were the Days’. Anyone not old enough to remember the talent show ‘Opportunity Knocks’ and its most sincere host Hughie Green will most likely not see the funny side of that. There was brief hope for Hairy when he read that the singer Mary Hopkin had married top record producer Tony Visconti and was to be known as Mary Visconti, but that hope was dashed as soon as he closed the newspaper he had gleaned that little nugget of info from. The joke lingered many more painful years for Hairy.

Pa Mopkin was the only member of the family who did actually behave himself. However, Pa Mopkin was a very weak and browbeaten man, and allowed his disruptive family to do just as they wished. The controller of the family of sorts, was Ma Mopkin, the only non-fishing member who was quite content to sit in her deck chair knitting and smoking her Meerschaum pipe full of a ready-rubbed shag called ‘Old Seadog’. She would regularly shout at the children when they were misbehaving. Ma’s shouting was heard in all the surrounding estates and villages, many of the populace believing that a football match with only one fan on the sideline was going on.

All the Mopkin children were naughty, and when Paul and Robert were up to no good and at their most inventive, they were an unrivalled nightmare. Paul and Robert, both skilled in the art of deception, theft and stealth, had a jolly good time of it at Spigworth Pond. Jed Cleminson and Will Spring had the experience of waking up in the morning after a night session, to find their bite alarms stolen and their rods laying on the ground. Paul and Robert were always under suspicion, but difficult to prove guilty. The terrible two would go home with bags full of angling swag most times they visited Spigworth Pond. Being stealthy, the boys were accomplished in creeping up on unsuspecting anglers and doing their dastardly deeds; they also enjoyed playing pranks on people. The angler to be pranked upon the most, was poor old Walter Wigmore. It wasn’t really all that difficult to play a prank on Walter, as he was often so intense in concentration, or deep in dreamland. There were many weekends when Walter would go home with disgusting objects such as Canada Goose or Swan faeces nestled in the brim of his Trilby. One time he went all the way home with a dead baby perch on top of his hat. As Walter was nearly always the first one to pack up and go, it’s rather odd that his fellow anglers didn’t alert him to the pranks as they bade farewell. Perhaps it was fear for the same thing happening to themselves which made them wary of dobbing on the Mopkin boys, or pure wickedness! Nevertheless, Walter went home completely perplexed each time he took his hat off; he never once suspected foul play. Paul and Robert did get their comeuppance one day, which put them off playing pranks for a little while. They had noticed the same man fishing in peg 9 every time they visited Spigworth Pond. As this particular man never seemed to move, they reckoned that he was asleep. Paul attempted to wake the sleeping angler by saying hello quietly, and pssst, pssst.

“He must be fast asleep.” Whispered Paul.

“Cor, he don’t half pong though don’t he?” said Robert with his nostrils pinched between thumb and forefinger.

“It’s gonna be easy to pinch gear off this old git.” Paul laughed.

“Yeah, I’ll go nick his buzzer.” Said Robert as he crawled on his hands and knees past the angler. Paul followed to help out.

Just before they administered their dastardly deed, Robert and Paul looked up to see if the angler was truly asleep. What they saw looking back at them was the corpse of long dead Bob Green, with a field mouse popping out of his right eye socket. The boys shrieked in horror and ran back to their Ma and Pa. Just deserts I’d say!

Hairy Mopkin wasn’t all that much trouble really, he was rather poor at angling, but did manage to fish a bit longer before he went over the threshold of boredom. Occasionally he would get up and pick a fight on another angler if he spied that that angler was catching too well. “Give us your bait before I beat you up!” he would snarl. Often the other angler, slightly intimidated, would give Hairy half of his tub of maggots, or ‘maggits’ as they were often called, just to make him go away. And if the bullied angler continued to catch well while Hairy failed to duplicate the success, there was going to be trouble. “When I said give us your bait, I meant all of it! Give it to me now or I’ll smash your nose in?” Hairy would demand. It was one of those ‘if I can’t catch anything, then neither can you’ situations. Hairy did make the mistake of picking a fight with Head Bailiff Mark Gosling one weekend though. “Give us your bait or I’ll beat you up!” he threatened. Mark was mildly amused that a slob like Hairy dared to do dalliance with the deadly Gosling fist.

“Here you are, have this.” said Mark as he handed Hairy four slices of fresh white bread.

“What’s this? I don’t want to make a sandwich, I said give us your bait!” Bellowed Hairy, showing his complete lack of knowledge that fish will eat more than maggits and worms.

“Look, you thick idiot, that bread is the bait I’m using and catching on at this very moment, and if you don’t clear off, I will beat you up!” snapped Mark.

“Go on then son try it?” retorted Hairy putting up his dukes, still clasping the bread.

Without warning, Marks ‘anvil like’ fist made contact with Hairy’s chin. Hairy fell over backwards with his eyeballs rolling around in their sockets. When Hairy came to, he burst into tears and ran back, still holding the bread, to Ma Mopkin to tell her what had happened. Then all Hell let loose. Ma Mopkin marched around the pond to Mark Gosling.

“Nobody hits my boys and gets away with it!” Ma screamed.

“Well I’m sorry, but perhaps if your son wasn’t trying to pick a fight with me, I wouldn’t have punched him. He deserved it, he needed to be taught a lesson.” Mark explained.

“My Harry isn’t a thug, he would never pick a fight with anyone, especially a big brute like you!” Ma shouted.

“Don’t make me laugh, he’s a little sod, just like the rest of your awful and widely despised family!” Mark shouted back.

“Right that’s it, no one insults my awful family, err family!” Ma shrieked as she prepared to do battle with Mark. In a matter of moments, Mark found himself being chased around the pond by Ma Mopkin, hitting him over the head with her Meerschaum pipe, and jabbing him in the buttocks with her knitting needles. Mark’s ordeal lasted until it was time for the Mopkins to pack up for tea.

“Ma, I’m hungry.” Whined Billy Mopkin.

“Okay my little precious, just let Ma stab this awful beast’s bum with my knitting needles one more time and we’ll be going home,” said Ma tenderly to her little cherub.

Poor Mark, the humiliation was all too much for him. He wasn’t able to sit down properly for a week or so, and his head was tender to the touch, not least because of the scorch mark on his crown where Ma had banged the smouldering tobacco out of her pipe. In reality, Ma should have reported Mark for punching her Harry, but as her family wasn’t governed by rules and laws, she didn’t realise that the club had rules to abide by. The anglers of Spigworth Pond had a good old laugh about Mark’s ordeal for years to come, not of course in Mark’s presence.

Pa Mopkin was completely different to the rest of his family. He was quiet and gentle, and an ideal fishing chum for Walter Wigmore if he was only allowed to be so. Pa Mopkin loved his fishing, and dearly yearned to be able to fish on his own in peace and quiet. Unfortunately, Pa was never allowed to fish on his own ever since he married Ma Mopkin. His oppression was due to Ma Mopkin’s jealousy and mistrust in him doing anything on his own. It all started when he was working in the factory he once worked in before Ma and Pa spliced the marital knot. Pa used to be a supervisor in the fabric cutting department in a sports accessory factory called Blowport Limited. In the offices, a young and pretty secretary girl named Wendy Skimpton, who had earned the nickname ‘Wendy Whoppers’ due to her, well you know what I mean, became very good friends with Pa, as they shared a great interest in Cary Grant films. One Friday in late November, Wendy offered Pa a lift home in her Hillman Imp, as his bicycle had been stolen at work; not just his bike, but every other employee who had padlocked their bikes to the bicycle rack. Mysteriously, to the shock of the bicycle owners, the bicycle rack also disappeared with the bikes, leading to the local rag publishing a headline in the following week’s paper.

‘BIKE RACK AND BIKES MYSTERIOUSLY VANISH FROM FACTORY…ALIEN ABDUCTION?’

It was rather odd how all the velocipedes and rack should go missing. This weird event spawned a spate of ridiculous headlines in the national papers, with faked photographs published with equally silly headlines.

‘MARTIAN SEEN CYCLING IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE’,

‘VENUSIAN BUYS A BICYCLE PUNCTURE REPAIR KIT FROM CYCLE SHOP’

‘A SPACEMAN PUSHED ME OFF MY BIKE AND STOLE MY BICYCLE PUMP!’

 Anyway, before I digress any further and lose the thread, Wendy kindly took Pa home in her car. Not accustomed to seatbelts, Pa had difficulty in unfastening his seatbelt. Wendy helped him unfasten the belt, otherwise they would have been there all night. Unbeknown to Pa, the future Mrs Ma Mopkin had been at his parent’s house all afternoon, waiting for him to come home. Ma was peering through a gap in the curtains and in the darkness, mistook Wendy’s helping hand for Pa as a good old snog. Ma ran outside seething with anger, hurt and jealousy.

“You keep your hands off my boyfriend you big bosomed beast!” Ma shouted.

Both Wendy and Pa tried to explain what happened, but Ma wouldn’t have any of it. She demanded that Pa handed his notice in at Blowport Limited and find a new job. Pa said he would hand his notice in if he could find another job, but needed to keep the money coming in if they were to be wed one day. Ma understood that Pa couldn’t just throw the towel in without another job, so she applied for a job at Blowport Ltd so she could keep an eye on the situation. She needn’t have worried, Wendy eventually left Blowport Ltd to become an air hostess, although even that caused complications for Pa. One of his hobbies was to visit London Airport to see the passenger jets and listen to the pilots talking to the control tower on his short-wave radio. Ma was suspicious that Pa would bump into Wendy, so she stopped him from doing that on his own as well. When Pa was eventually allowed to go plane watching, it was with Ma as his chaperone. They would only be at the airport for half an hour and Ma would start complaining ‘When are we going home?’, ‘Ooh the jets are too noisy, tell them to be a bit quieter!’ and ‘Look the other way, I think I’ve just seen Wendy Whoppers, oh no, it’s alright it’s a couple of windsocks!’ So, there you have the situation, Pa was doing whatever he loved, but with proviso and restriction. Apart from the noise and embarrassment Pa had to contend with, the disrespect he got from his children was also unbearable. Pa was an excellent angler who caught very little because of the incessant racket and disruption caused by his unruly family, always throwing bricks and stones into the pond.

“Here, let’s play ducks and drakes!” Paul would shout. Don’t worry, they hadn’t resorted to throwing wildfowl across the pond, not at that time anyway.

“There ain’t no flat stones ‘round here.” Robert replied.

“S’alright, I’ll use this brick!” said Paul with glee. SPLOOSH!

 What the horrid little blighters were doing of course was creating a rather eccentric gravel bar, which would later benefit future anglers looking for a firm bottom (wipe that smutty thought from your mind please?). The bottom, or bed of Spigworth Pond was very silty, in some areas a dirty black soup of two feet deep. Any angler who found this firm area to fish over in years to come would bag up big time. Anyway, back to Pa then. One rare occasion, Pa hooked into a mammoth tench which gave him battle for a very long time. All his children were very excited and were cheering Pa on as he counteracted every lunge and diversion the tench attempted. Then, just as Pa saw his prize and was about to net the tench, Ma took out her scissors from her sewing kit and snipped Pa’s nylon line between the reel and butt ring.

“Come on, it’s time to go home, we haven’t got time to mess around with that silly thing. Fish and Chips kids?” Said Ma cold bloodedly.

“HOORAY!” cheered the kids, not giving a damn for their poor Pa and his great loss, there was fish and chips on the cards after all.

The Mopkin fishing trip always ended the same, Ma and the kids would get up and leave Pa to do the packing up, litter picking, clearing up and tidying the general mess and damage around the swim. Ma and the kids would then wait and complain when poor old Pa eventually staggered back to the car with all the tackle and deckchairs. And Billy would always say, ‘Hurry up Pa, I’m starving!’ Pa very rarely stopped to talk to other anglers, he would just look straight ahead and struggle with the overload of rods, seats and tackle boxes. No eye contact would be made with any of his fellow anglers, mostly because of the embarrassment his family caused him. Except for one rainy Saturday when Head Bailiff Mark Gosling looked out from the safe cover of his fishing brolly to see what the clanging, puffing, panting and commotion was all about. Mark immediately took pity on Pa as he stumbled, slipped and fell in the rain soaked mud.

“Let me help you Pa?” offered Mark.

“Oh thank you, that would be very kind of you!” accepted Pa without persuasion.

“Sorry, I can’t keep calling you Pa. What is your name?” asked Mark.

“It’s Paul, my wife’s name is Mary, we’ve been nicknamed Ma and Pa for many years, even before we had children.” Pa explained.

“Really?” said Mark with puzzled look on his face.

“Yes our names begin with an M and A, and a P and A., so friends and family began to call us Ma and Pa.” said Pa.

“Oh I see, I think.” said Mark, still puzzled.

Mark talked with Pa as they made their way to the Mopkin’s car, parked illegally on double yellow lines because Ma said it was a good place to park. Pa opened up about his life of torture with Ma and the kids, and Mark felt very sad for him. Mark told him that it was why he was glad that he had never married, and that he was his own boss and did whatever, whenever he wanted. Of course, Mark’s principle would change in time to come when he would meet and wed Christine Blanchette, but for that moment it was his standard. Pa began to think about his life, how it was and how it could turn out. Mark told him that he was sorry, but couldn’t understand how anyone could allow themselves to be downtrodden like Pa, but admired him for his patience and faithfulness. Pa began to think more deeply, and every compressed regret and emotion began to expand inside his soul. Pa’s anger ascended to the point of explosion, yet still somehow he appeared to be calm on the outside. As Pa and Mark neared the parking ticket festooned car of the Mopkin family, with the children installed and fighting, Ma poked her head out through an open passenger window (it would of course have been more fun if the window was closed) and let rip with an outburst of wrath and ridicule.

“Oh, so you couldn’t manage to carry all the gear back on your own then? You had to be helped out by that lumbering, child punching great brute of a bailiff. You’re weak, weak I say. Call yourself a man, well you’re not. You’re a feeble, weak and stupid man and I don’t know why I agreed to marry you!” shouted Ma.

That lit the touch paper of Pa’s emotional firework. He threw down the fishing tackle he was holding with a crash and splintering of fibreglass rods.

“RIGHT, THAT DOES IT! YOU DID NOT AGREE TO MARRY ME, YOU TOLD ME WE WERE GETTING MARRIED. YOU MARRIED ME BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT THAT IF YOU HAD ME, THEN WENDY COULDN’T. AND I WAS FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ACTUALLY LOVED ME, AND I WAS ALSO FOOLISH ENOUGH TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU. LOVE? LOVE? YOU DON’T KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORD. ONLY THE SELFISH NEED YOU HAVE WITHIN YOUR EVIL MIND. YOU WILL NEVER, EVER BULLY ME AGAIN, WE ARE FINISHED, OVER, KAPUTT!” Bellowed Pa, feeling very good about himself afterwards.

“Now, don’t be silly dear, you don’t mean that, you’re just a bit upset, tired, sickening for something even!” whimpered Ma as a woman who had never been spoken to like that before.

Mark Gosling put the rest of the tackle down gently, and melted away into the distance, feeling slightly responsible for Pa’s outburst.

“Hurry up Pa, I’m starving!” Billy demanded.

That was it, that did it for Pa. He ripped open the passenger door and dragged Ma out, and then dragged all the kids out kicking and screaming. Pa managed to get in the car and fought off the kids’ resistance, started the car up and drove off, never to be seen again.

Ma shrugged off the situation and said “Fish and Chips kids?”

“HOORAY!” they all shouted as they left all the fishing tackle by the roadside, trudging in the pouring rain with Ma, to arrive like drowned rats at the nearest Fish and Chip shop, 3 miles away, with Pa long forgotten.

Pa reinvented himself as a ruthless man, leaving the house and its contents to Ma and the family, and making it impossible for Ma to take any more money from him by transferring most of it from their joint account into another new bank account. He lived on a houseboat on the estuary of the River Ider in the seaside fishing village of Boreham for 6 months, where one day, his life took a happy turn in a small branch of F.W. Woolworth, oddly enough by the fishing tackle stall.

“I wouldn’t buy that Woolies’ line if I were you, it’s rubbish!” said a friendly female voice.

Pa turned around to see who it was. It was Wendy Whoppers!

“Hello Paul.” Smiled Wendy.

“Wendy! What are you doing here?” asked Pa, not noticing her Woolworth uniform.

“I work here.” said Wendy.

It transpired that Wendy’s love life had been just about as rubbish as Pa’s, who I will from now on refer to as Paul. Wendy met and married an Iranian air pilot called Afshin when she was working as an air hostess. They had a lovely family of three children. However, things began to sour shortly after Wendy tragically miscarried their fourth child. Afshin held Wendy to blame for their sad loss and took the children with him to Iran. She would never see Afshin or her children again.

Wendy and Paul rekindled their friendship, they would talk about the funny old days at Blowport Limited and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. The friendship turned to romance after one drunken night out, when Wendy confessed that she had always held a torch for Paul; they soon moved in together.

Back at the street where the Mopkins lived, Paul became known as that man who left his wife and children without a penny to their family name. Most of the neighbours said ‘Good for him!’ the other neighbours didn’t care. And then overnight, the Mopkin family disappeared without trace, and with many bills unpaid.

Wendy and Paul wed shortly after they’d moved in. And still in their mid-forties, young enough to give birth to a little girl called Wendy junior. Paul was at last loved by his wife and his little daughter. He was allowed to go fishing, plain spotting and even go for a pint on his own when the pub had football on telly, or just for a drink. The happy couple remained happy for the rest of their lives.

And just in case you were wondering, yes, they were whoppers, you filthy beasts, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. You would never catch me with naughty thoughts in my head like that, I only wrote the darn thing, it doesn’t mean to say that I am as depraved as you… blah, blah, drone drivel, fades into the distance with no one listening J

©John Saunders 2016

More silliness can be found here:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spigworth-Pond-John-Saunders/dp/1785077236/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462853719&sr=1-1&keywords=spigworth+pond


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