Frankie & Benny #4 – The Birthday

“It’s your birthday Frankie my friend, so you choose.  What should we do today?”
“Well now Benjamin, that’s a tricky one.  I mean the world is so full of opportunities, isn’t it?  We could take a cruise on our private yacht.  We could have lunch in our favourite restaurant in Paris, dip our toes in the water at St Tropez, perhaps fine wines and an evening with Barry Manilow in Las Vegas…   or we could perhaps walk a slow circuit of the park…”
“…Like we always do…”
“…drop in at the pub for a pie and a pint…
“…as ever…”
“…home for an afternoon snooze…”
“…the same as always…”
“…and then a film on the TV at yours or mine with a couple of cans of beer and a microwave chicken curry…”
“…just the same as every Saturday.”
“ Ay… we like it though, don’t we.”
“We do, but don’t you think that we should do something just a little bit different as it’s your birthday?
“Like what?”
“I don’t know, it’s your birthday, you choose.”
“Well ok.  We could… I can’t think of anything.”
“Oh come on.  Use your imagination.  We could go to the pictures.”
“The pictures, yes, that’s a grand idea.  The pictures.  We haven’t been to the pictures in years.  What’s on?”
“Erm, let’s see.  There’s ‘Nope’.”
“Is that the name of it?  Of the film?  What’s it about?”
“UFO’s I think.”
“Oh no.  I can’t be doing with all that pie-in-the-sky mularkey.  There are quite enough little green men in the pub of a Saturday night.  Isn’t there a Western on or something?”
“There’s ‘Where the Crawdads Sing.’”
“What’s a crawdad?”
“No idea?”
“Oh.  Well, who’s in it?”
“Erm, let me see here.  It says Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson and Garret Dillahunt…”
“How many people is that?”
“No idea.”
“Have you heard of any of them?”
“There must be something else.”
“Well, there’s the new Top Gun.”
“Ah, I saw the first one of those.”
“And did you like it?”
“Oh, we used to love the cinema though, didn’t we?  Back in the day.  You and me, two young ladies, a tanner each in the back row, a newsreel, a cartoon, a ‘B’ film and a main feature – a proper cowboy or cops and robbers…”
“A choc-ice at half time and ten minutes necking if you were lucky before the usherette turned her torch on you.”
“Ay, canoodling, you know.”
“I remember the choc ices.  The chocolate always fell off in the dark.  You always came out of the pictures looking like you’d shit yourself.”
“I never could be trusted with chocolate, Benny.  I think that’s why they invented the Milky Bar, so it didn’t show up so much on my beige loons.”
“Oh, you loved those loons.”
“And my brown suede Hush Puppy boots.”
“It used to be great, didn’t it, to get dressed up for a night out I mean?”
“Part of the fun, my friend: the matching shirt and tie, the drape coat…”
“…the tank tops and the cork-heeled shoes.”
“Perhaps that’s what we could do today, for my birthday: we could get dressed up, hit the town.  Maybe we could have a more sophisticated lunch…”
“A ploughman’s, perhaps.”
“King prawns in our curry and perhaps hire a DVD instead of watching whatever old tosh is on the telly.”
“Do you have anything to play a DVD on?”
“No, me neither.  It’s all Netflix isn’t it now.”
“Have you got that?”
“No.  I’ve got channel 4.”
“OK.  That’ll do.  We’ll watch ‘Bake Off’.”
“No, come on, let’s do it.  Let’s get dressed up and head out for town.  We might meet some ladies.”
“Oh, I’m not sure about that Benny.  I’m out of practice at all that.  I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Let’s not worry about that for now.  Let’s just get our glad rags on and promenade.”
“Glad rags?”
“Sunday togs.  Let’s do it.”
“I’m not sure.  I think my best cardigan might be in the wash.”
“Come on, let’s just make the effort.  Trousers without an elasticated waist, shoes without a tartan Velcro strap, you could take your vest off for a start.”
“I always wear a vest.”
“Over your shirt?”
“Oh, I must have got a little out of synch this morning.  I woke up needing to… you know.  I had to rush into my clothes.  It’s freezing in that bathroom.  I’ll move my vest under my shirt, change my trousers, put some shoes on, will that suit you?”
“Maybe gel your hair a little bit.  So you don’t look quite so much like you’ve just got out of bed.”
“Gel?  I don’t think I’ve got any gel.  I’ve got some Vaseline from when I had that rash.”
“That’ll do.  Instead of walking round the park and back to the pub, we’ll go straight through, maybe to that wine bar on the other side, and we can feed the ducks on the way.”
“Do they do pies?”
“The ducks?”
“The wine bar.  Do they do pies?”
“Oh no.  Sophisticated dining there, Francis my friend, couscous I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Couscous?  What the hell is couscous?”
“No idea, but I’m sure they’ll do it with chips.”
“And beer?”
“Lager.  Fancy lager.  In bottles…”
“Ah what the hell.  It’s my birthday.  Let’s give it a go.  I’ll go and get ready.”
“You’ll need a coat, mind.”
“It bucketing it down.”
“Oh, I’m not sure about my best shoes in that park when it’s raining: it’s a quagmire at the best of times.  Full of dog shit as well if you’ve not got your wits about you.”
“Yes, you’re right.  Maybe not your best shoes.”
“And trousers?”
“Elasticated ankles might be wise.”
“Perhaps we could just go straight to the pub.”
“It’s much nearer.”
“I’m not really over keen on ducks, truth be told.”
“No.  Quacking little bastards.”
“Our age, it’s much more sensible to get out of the rain as quick as we can.  We could catch our deaths.”
“We’ll do that then, and after that we’ll come back here for a cup of tea – I’ve got a pack of those Breakaway biscuits…”
“…and maybe a bit of a nap by the fire…”
“…chicken curry for tea and a couple of cans with the film on the telly.”
“Sounds great… I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday, old friend.”
“It’s always good to ring the changes.  Cup of tea and a Kit-Kat before we go?”
“Great.  Put the kettle on, I’ll go and change my vest and find a clean cardigan…”

These are my two favourite recurring characters, and a joy to write.  If you want to find more of them, you can catch them here: A Little Fiction – Frankie & Benny; A Little Fiction – Goodbyes – Frankie & Benny #2; A Little Fiction – The Night Before – Frankie & Benny #3


12 thoughts on “Frankie & Benny #4 – The Birthday

  1. Sounds like the conversation that goes on in my head when I need to talk my way out of something. Going to the “flicks has never been the same without the ice cream lady.

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