8. Walter’s Expectations

8. Walter’s Expectations

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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TALES FROM THE BOOKSHOP (8)

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Jennifer Dewberry, rosy cheeked and smiling, burst into the book shop where Mrs Bookworm was very carefully wiping her till with a yellow duster.

I need advice,” she giggled, “genuine advice from a lady of the world...”

Just a minute, my dear, I don’t know what kind of woman you think I am and Mr Bookworm, God bless his ashes and the urn they’re resting in, thought I had a bit of go about me, but really, a lady of the world?”

I’ve never been blessed in wedlock,” admitted Jennifer, “never had the joys of a man’s arms ready to greet me at the end of a working day, never felt the warmth of his embrace as we cuddle up in bed, slowly drifting off into our own lands of dreams… so, in a way I’m not really a woman of the world, but you might be.”

What might be troubling you then?” asked Mrs Bookworm deviously, because she had, of course, guessed. “Has it to do with doctor Flynn in that latest book I sold you? Has the mystery of the starting handle confused you? Or maybe the relevance of the turnip soup?”

Jennifer Dewberry shook her head with such vigour that her hair resembled a halo for a moment.

Not at all,” she said, “and the starting handle particularly appealed to me and I wished, when I read it, that there was a man at hand for me to try it on, but my problem is not with the world of fiction but with the world of fact. In truth, it’s Mr Archer.”

Ah, I feared that might be so,” nodded Mrs Bookworm.

You see,” continued Miss Dewberry, “I’ve not once made any suggestion regarding personal matters to him and the furthest I’ve gone so far is to suggest that he might learn to sew his trousers himself. It is, I told him, quite a manly thing to do and of invaluable assistance if he were to own a pair of trousers in need of adjustment, and no seamstress anywhere near.”

Ah, you gave him the book? The one the good vicar provided?”

Yes, of course I did, but I don’t mean exactly that,” replied Jennifer, “You see, I did invite him into my flat for a hot drink, tea it was, and he asked me about the toilet.”

He needed to go, Jennifer? Men do, you know, more often than we girls. It’s their plumbing, I believe.”

I thought that’s what he meant, so I showed him where it was, though it’s the mirror image of his own if the truth be told, the two flats being built like that. And he was gone for quite a few minutes before he reappeared and looked at me full in the face.

“’You keep it nice and antiseptic,’ he told me as if that was the most important thing in the world, ‘and clean as my Peggy used to be when she had a mind to do some scrubbing, but I’m at a loss as to know how to fit this cleaning device.’ And you won’t believe this, but he produced one of those little rubber prophylactic devices men fit on their naughty bits when they want to avoid complications in the worldly department. You know, like Doctor Flynn when he’s cavorting with nurse Elloways and the games they play while she, you know, fits it on him, and him giggling at the joy of it.”

I understand,” agreed Mrs Bookworm, warming to the conversation. Doctor Flynn had long been a favourite of hers.

Then he looks at me between my eyes as if I might have done something terribly wrong and says ‘I need to ensure nothing happens that shouldn’t happen, but I’m damned if I know how this fits on your lavatory seat.’”

Mrs Bookworm couldn’t help laughing at that, even though she’d been expecting something along those lines after her jolly conversation with Pharmacist Mr Jones.

So how did you react to that?” she asked.

“’Of all the cheek!’ I said to him, ‘what sort of woman do you think I am, to be so forward after hardly a word’s been said between us, and you waving one of those things as if we were always at it hammer and tongs?’

“’Oh,’ he said, ‘I trust your hygiene and bleaching skills, of course I do, but I have in my mind that there’s a layer of protection afforded by a condom that would make our mutual safety complete. And’, he added, ‘it’s lemon and I know you like lemon flavours.’”

It was at that point I asked him what he thought a condom was for, and as a result of a great deal of stammering and stuttering I gathered that he really had no idea but had somehow retained, from hygiene lessons when he’d been a lad at school, that they afforded some kind of protection, and all he could think of was of the toilet variety.”

But he’d been a married man!” exclaimed Mrs Bookworm, “and married men do certain things with their wives, begging your pardon. But they do! I’ve been a married woman and enjoyed many an hour of nuptials with Mr Bookworm before he surrendered to the inevitable! Your Mr Archer must have had a thorough training in such things as prophylactics. The, er, wearing of such a delight must have been foremost in his mind for decades!”

He said not,” sighed Jennifer, “he went on at great length explaining the opinions of his late wife, called, I discovered, Peggy. Apparently she had one solution for the prevention of pregnancy and that was avoiding any kind of physical contact with her husband at all, including separate bedrooms and being careful with the lavatory seat, except for the occasional boxing of his ears when he displeased her.”

The poor man!”

And as his knowledge of such matters was non-existent before he married her and because she maintained him in a high degree of ignorance throughout their marriage, all he had to think about when it came to matters of the flesh was an incorrectly remembered school lesson in which he associated condoms with protection but forgot protection from what! And pregnancy, he believed, was something that could accidentally be caught from toilet seats! So there we have the crux of his confusion and why he didn’t know what to do with the little rubber device given him by Mr Jones.”

The poor, poor, man!”

My thoughts exactly. So I decided that a bit of belated education might be appropriate. I mean, he’s got the condoms and he’s equipped with what they’re designed to protect...”

Oh, mercy me, you’re sure of that?”

Jennifer Dewberry smiled at her. “I did tell you that the first time I saw him he took his trousers off because he wanted them taken in at the waist?” she asked, “and that he had inadvertently neglected to wear any underwear at the time? Yes, he’s got the equipment, all right. I tried not to look but couldn’t help catching a glimpse. Oodles of it!”

Mrs Bookworm nodded her head and dusted her till again. “Then it would seem you have everything you need,” she said, “to have a happy and heart-warming life with the man.”

I hope so,” murmured Jennifer, “but I’m not as well informed as I might be and if it wasn’t for the misadventures of Doctor Flynn I might be just as ignorant as poor Mr Archer.”

There! I knew that reading was good for a person,” smiled Mrs Bookworm, “there’s no ending to what we can pick up between the pages of a really good book.”

Bearing on that subject, I was wondering, have you got a child’s guide to romance or what to do between the sheets or something like that?” asked Miss Dewberry, “for Mr Archer? And I hope he’s not too old to learn what his bits and pieces are for. After all, he’s in his sixties!”

Mrs Bookworm smiled again. “There’s bound to be something,” she murmured, “though in my experience there’s nothing like personal exploration to find the answers to most problems. Even, I would have thought, Mr Archer’s little difficulties. What I suppose he really needs is someone with the patience to unpick the brainwashing skilfully applied by the late Mrs Peggy Archer.”

I suppose so,” sighed Jennifer.

So let me know how you get on won’t you, dearie?”

And Mrs Bookworm’s eyes twinkled as she spoke.

© Peter Rogerson 30.06.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on June 30, 2020
Last Updated on June 30, 2020
Tags: Walter Archer, ignorance, hygiene, condoms


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing