Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another Strange Neighbour

Apart from the nutty Mr Hall who spent all of his waking hours staring into our glass fronted living room and apart from the bone idle deaf couple next door, we had another strange neighbour at Wrenbury Avenue.

And here is where I will have to be careful, for he is still alive and easily identified, I've already identified the street where he lives, if I tell you his name is Mr Anthony Cook then I'll blow his identity completely.

So instead we will use the name that us cheeky young scamps used to call him by, Mr Puff, the word "puff" being a 1960's British vernacular for "homosexual", that being what we suspected Mr Puff of being to our 11 year old eyes and ears.

Mr Puff was a respected music teacher at a very respected senior boys school in the City of Leeds, in fact it would be fair to say that it was the most respected senior boys Grammer School in the City of Leeds, but for the same reasons that I can't tell you Mr Puff's real name I can't tell you the name of the school for some people would easily put two and two together and re-arrange the bold words in this sentence to make the name of the school where he worked, and that might get me into trouble, and Lord knows I have enough trouble within my own family without the lawyers from Leeds Grammer School to cope with as well.

Anyway, he's retired from there now so anyone with a son at the very prestigious and well respected educational establishment can relax and hope that they have tightened up on their employment procedures now.

You see Mr Puff liked to dress up in his spare time.
Actually thats not quite true, Mr Puff liked to invite young boys into his home in order for them to dress up.

"Weirdo !" I hear you exclaim.
"Well yes" I counteract, "but this was the 1960's and we young boys, I mean those young boys knew no better"

Oh bugger it, yes I admit, it was our gang that he used to invite into his home to dress up in, erm, unusual costumes.

You see he explained that as head of music at the very prestigious and very well respected seat of education in our fine city he also got to be involved with the dramatic society and their various productions, and with it being an all-boy very prestigious seat of education, the boys sometimes had to dress up as girls, so theres nothing that sounds too wrong about that then is there, it all makes perfect sense...

So we'd be playing football or rugby out on the street of a summers evening and suddenly Mr Puff's voice would call out from over the road asking if we'd all like a drink of orange, it being a warm summers evening and all, and what with a drink of orange being something of a luxury to us impoverished lads we'd gratefully accept, whispering to each other that we wouldn't actually go in his house this time...

Five minutes later one of us would be stood there in Mr Puffs kitchen dressed from head to toe in a rubber scuba divers outfit complete with marigold washing up gloves (as he'd lost the proper scuba divers gloves) - a scuba divers mask and snorkel completed the outfit - and then he'd take photographs of us...

Yes, yes, yes, stop laughing, we all know now that he was a pervert, don't you think that every time we gather together in pubs we talk about Mr Puff and wonder how the hell he's managed to avoid conviction all these years ? We know now that he was, how shall we say, strange, but in the 1960's he was just, how shall we say, a little eccentric with his holiday snaps.

It wasn't always the scuba divers outfit, although that one seemed to be ever-present, sometimes it was a sailors outfit (yes, I know...), and a motorcycle riders leather suit complete with helmet and marigold gloves (again) also made it onto several photographs, yes, yes, yes, its obvious with hindsight, lets just say you had to be there though.

Occasionally theatrical clothing from the very well respected all-boys Grammar School arrived back at his house and from this we deduced that nautical themed plays must have been very popular at said well respected all-boys school, matelot and admiral combinations seemed to be ever-present, maybe they spent a lot of time rehearsing HMS Pinafore or something.

He offered to teach me to play the piano for free and often invited me to sit on the piano stool with him while he showed me where to put my fingers, but our mum thought it was not such a good idea when I told her as we'd need to have a piano in our house to practice on and there was no room what with all the junk furniture we already had - or maybe our mum had her suspicions about Mr Puff all along.

We knew Mr Puff was a puff because he had a "gentleman friend" who called around for him on a weekend on his motorbike and off they'd roar, Mr Puff astride the pillion of the old Triumph clad in the very same all-leather motorcycle riders gear that he'd photographed us all in, even down to the yellow marigolds which he used to gather a good grip around the girth of his boyfriend, erm, gentleman friend on the bike.

30 years later was the last time we saw Mr Puff on the day that Ned and I spent clearing out our dads bungalow after he had died - I really must write of that day soon, it was hilarious - as we were getting in our car one of the neighbour's came out to express their condolences and then out of the corner of his mouth I heard Ned whisper "Mr Puffs here" and suddenly there he was right in front of the pair of us explaining that he too wished to express his condolences...

Neither of us could look him in the eye, nor could we look at each other, as Neds brother I know when he is on the verge of hilarity and he me too (does that make sense), we were dying to crack out laughing and ask for a glass of orange so we mumbled something about being in a hurry, jumped in the car and sped off leaving him to view our hysterical laughter in the rear view mirror - he must have thought that we had a very strange way of handling grief.


grannymar said...

I was about to wash some dishes, but my gloves are stopping me. Can I send you several pairs of now redundant Marigolds?

Zoe's Dad said...


I can't wait until you make it really big. Then we'll all get to see those pictures as they have a way of resurfacing whenever someone least needs them to.

Gary said...

I too have a phobia of Marigolds now but can't understand why motorcyclists dont use them anymore.

The photographic evidence is safe at home, just in case I start to recieve lawyers letters next week :)

Anonymous said...

You really have started the year off Queer :)

Do you watch 'Click Online?' BBC!

Sam said...

I was going to ask of the whereabouts of the photos too.

Did you do that thing where you had called him Mr Puff for so many years that you used it to his face when you met him again?

Gary said...

Sam : Its really difficult not to do so especially when you see him in the street and your brain tells you its Mr Puff and you have to wait for the PC section of your brain to pick up the reference and correct yourself.