I’ve actually read this one at Crosswords Open Mic in Nottingham. I loved it but it had two problems. One was that it was just to much of a transgression from the main story, although it does give more background on CC’s wife’s scary family. The other problem is that a TV show came on after I’d written this and was a comedy about Bracknell, suddenly it made mine look like a copy. It is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. I had a performance monologue called “They never bomb Scotland” and then guess what!
Anyway this is pretty much just my experience, word for word, of visiting that fine town plus a nice little poem I made up about it. Plus there’s another mention of Pizza…
I remember Bracknell
It was my first true love.
No better place than Bracknell
When push comes to shove
The curves of the buildings
The sweep of green hills
The ancient monuments
The old brick mills
Like a faraway fairy land
Such a magical place
Even its people move
With panache and grace.
I fell in love so hard
Not for day time sights
But the prettiest eyes
And the twinkling of lights.
Bracknell oh Bracknell
Where are you now?
If only you were with me
Oh wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW!
CC was rather pleased with his improvised poem, his ode to Bracknell. He almost shouted it as it got to the finale. He would have liked to have written it down but he never did get round to such things. It rhymed and that was important. It had a big finish too. Not many poets would risk finishing which a bunch of wow’s like that. Not many would be that brave.
Bracknell was of course not his first true love, or his second or third or any love at all. More first true hate. It was a terrible place with almost no redeeming features. It was close to London, and that was probably all it had going for it. It was also close to Legoland but that turned out not to be a plus either.
The Grange Hotel, Bracknell, dominated the city, squeezing its self between the multi-storey car-park and the open air pedestrianised, shopping centre. From there it grew colossus, to probably a hundred floors; the top usually shrouded in a dense smog. The first night they had been on only the second floor. Apparently to escape berating parents and the sound of bouncing children you had to be on the twentieth floor. The second night they were on the twentieth floor.
At breakfast the restaurant would be dotted with Legoland anticipating powered up energy kids, vomiting into their breakfasts at the excitement of it all, punching their parents and shouting “penis!”. As a child CC could never remember shouting penis, vagina or any other rude word in a restaurant. He never went to a restaurant as a kid this is true, but he never shouted such things like that with his parents on hand, and kids, he concluded, should never ever eat out. The only plus to the whole experience was his new wife didn’t mention the possibility of having children again for at least five years. They were both scarred by breakfast.
He had once loved Lego. When CC knew he was going to have to visit Bracknell he had even suggested they go to Legoland themselves but now Lego bricks do something strange to his lips and for a long time nightmares consisted of fixed smiled Lego men forcing him to build his own Lego prison from the inside. It spoilt Lego for him a bit, it has to be said.
Apart from visiting Legoland why would anyone go to Bracknell? Well it was where his wife had grown up and her family all still lived there.
“I’m not paying these prices.”
“It doesn’t matter,” his wife replied, “It really doesn’t, order it, pay it. We can afford it. Just phone down and ask for a pizza.”
“I don’t fancy pizza I’d rather get an Indian.”
“You won’t find one.”
“Or a Chinese.”
“You won’t find one. Just get them to bring a pizza up, it’s not that expensive, quick before they stop serving.”
“No I’ll find something. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Ninety minutes past before he re-entered the hotel room; with a pizza.
“Want me to describe Bracknell for you?”
“I know it well dear. I tried to tell you.”
“So you know then that it’s pretty much dead at night, but for a few harmless hoodies and isolated islands of pub, bursting with silly drunken noise and surrounded by dressed up idiots?”
“That’s my youth you’re insulting!”
“And that as far as food goes there are three pizza places all next to each other. No Indian. No Chinese. No burger even. Kebab no more! I only pizza.”
She spat out her diet coke. “You’re making me laugh. I did tell you. Let’s at least eat this common as muck pizza before it gets cold.”
As they tucked in he finished his story. “So I asked a middle aged Irish couple and they told me there was an Indian by the train station. He asked if I was from round here. He said he was pleased for me that I wasn’t from round here. Well he wasn’t either, obviously, he’d just ended up here somehow. I didn’t ask why he’d never left again if he hated it so much, but I really wanted to know. At the train station I couldn’t find an Indian so I tried to ask someone else. A young guy walked up to me surrounded by his loud mates and held up his hand for a high five. I obliged and was about to ask him my question when he said. “Arrrite Blood!” I didn’t bother. A bloke in a wheel chair was just picking up speed over the brow of the hill so I started running to catch him up. Is there an Indian take away round here? No? Oh. “You’d have to go into the estates.” He said. “But that’s half an hour’s walk sorry.” Bracknell’s big enough to have estates! “Is it true the wheel chair marathon is much faster than the real marathon?” He didn’t know. He doesn’t follow sport. I thought he’d know. So then I had to go all the way back to the three pizza places. That was a tricky choice. I didn’t say anything about the marathon actually, but that’s the only bit I made up.”