Saturday, July 07, 2012

Alf Currier


Alf Currier was an idiot. Literally, he was mentally defective. He was also physically handicapped, a misshapen body and one leg much shorter than the other, which gave him a rolling gait and the appearance of a disintegrating troll. His voice was gravelly, probably the result of smoking sixty or more Woodbines a day, and most of what he said was unintelligible. In all, Alf Currier was not a lovable fellow, and the fact that he never washed meant that you could smell him from a long way off. People tended to stay a long way off when Alf hove into view.
He was not without work, though. Through the kindness of Ernie Austin, owner of the village newsagent's and tobacconist's, Alf had a job delivering newspapers and other goods around the village for Ernie Austin. I also had a paper round, so I often bumped into Alf when he and I happened to return to the shop at the same time. For all his faults and deficiencies, Alf was a good man, well-disposed towards an indifferent humanity, and always had a ready smile and an incomprehensible growl for anyone who got close enough. He and I became mates in a way and I didn't mind the BO because I was a bit of a scruff myself.
Then, one day, or rather one night, Alf Currier set fire to himself. Not deliberately, he was drunk, he was smoking in bed, he fell asleep and the lighted cigarette slipped from his fingers and somehow the bedding caught fire.
I never knew where Alf originated from until he died, when it emerged that he was the illegitimate son of an old crone in the village called Hannah, who "did" for various ladies. Hannah was uglier than Alf, which in itself was quite an achievement. I liked Alf Currier and made a point of saying hello to Hannah the next time I passed her in the street. She didn't respond, but that was ok. I wasn't really saying hello to her, I was saying goodbye to her son.

2 comments:

Mike and Ann said...

There seems to have been a good deal of setting fire to things in your village. Two in as many blog entries, although I don't suppose Hannah got any insurance pay out?

Jake Allsop said...

I have no idea, but she was illiterate and also simple-minded (people said), so probably not.
I can only remember one other fire incident in the village, and that was when Deggy Davies set fire to the cardboard boxes behind Jack Evans's shop, a deed of which I approved given that the greengrocer was such a miserable sod, may he rest in peace.