Bob couldn’t see the beach through the row of terraced houses that he lived behind. If he’d ever bothered to look out of the bay widow at the end of his caravan, though, he’d have had a fantastic view past the railway line over Borth Bog: Cors Fochno, two-hundred and sixty-four acres of raised peat mire. Bob kept those curtains drawn, couldn’t be bothered with the effort of opening them. It was, I’ll allow, a bit of a drag, literally. Formerly bright fuchsia pink, the curtains were sun-bleached and desiccated. The caravan itself wasn’t even registered as a shed. It had no permission at all.
When one of them remembered, Bob paid the woman who owned the garden in which his caravan slumped something by way of rent or towards the electricity bill. His ‘sort-of landlady’ lived in the three-storey house between Bob, the beach and the sea. Mad Alice, people called her, though she never did anything even slightly insane. Unless it was insane to own six dogs, all old, mostly crocked in some way, a leg missing here, a deaf ear or two there. These dogs she trailed daily along the beach, meeting most everyone in town, greeting all and sundry while they fussed over her charges, anyway the least malodorous of the pack. Her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Jason, moved like a spastic Jack-in-the-Box, trotting with its front legs while the rear caught up in a series of sporadic flea-hops. Strangely, people were particularly fond of Jason.
Mad Alice and Sticky Bob didn’t have a rental agreement or anything at all in writing. Most of the time, Bob just gave her the odd jar of produce or some promotional merchandise from ‘The Honey Factory’ where he worked, dispensing golden, amber and rich dark sweetness from around the world out of barrels into jars. Hence, Sticky Bob.
Bob drank at The Friendship Inn. Indeed, most of his wages ended up behind the bar in that quirksome pub, flaccid fivers lying in the till drawer smelling of mouldering clover or eucalyptus...
But I’m making Bob’s life sound seedy and it wasn’t, not particularly anyway. It was just a life like any other. A Borth life, true enough, so a tad offbeat, but not excessively disreputable and certainly not threatening, not in any way. Not then. There was a limited edition, locally produced T-shirt, popular among a coterie in the town, that petitioned ‘Keep Borth Weird!’ On the back was a fish, surfing a wave and smoking a joint. Bob just fit. Everyone in Borth had their story and everyone knew everyone else and all about them, though no-one had committed these fables to paper, or rather no-one admitted to that act.
It was in the Friendship that Sticky Bob first had the itch.
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