Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Parp Station

Of course. Of course.

When we were quite young, my two brothers and I shared a bedroom. I remember once, the wallpaper being stripped off in readiness for decorating. In the meantime, we were allowed to graffito upon the bare walls unpunished. Oddly though as with most things in life, without any guilty thrill to nurture, the novelty began to wear off. Until, that is, second eldest Steve (I'm the eldest) hit upon the idea of the pioneering 'parp underground'.

It started life as a large-ish circle with 'Parp Station' written in the centre. Mum was surprised and pleased to find us asking for seconds of ribs and boiled green cabbage, spinach and broad beans. But of course, by the time beddy-byes came around, our bellies were fermenting with unreleased flatulence. Upon retiring, 'up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire', with a saintly peck from ma and pa, we would proceed directly to the Parp Station, where we then took turns to drop our jimmies and splay our buttocks to the cool wall. The acoustics of this unpapered room, together with the sheer range of ringpiece harmonics exploitable by the 'washboard' effect of the wall's rough surface led to some legendary performances.

Andy, youngest and most 'sopranic' of guffers could manage long, wondrous harmonica riffs on some nights, with vegetative aroma for accompaniment. By twisting this way and that, even a kind of rectal 'wah-wah' trombone effect could be achieved. You can only imagine the amount of laughter-restraining headboard biting (in the most innocent sense possible) that went on as we tried to conceal our new-found hobby. Often, long into the night we could be heard stifling giggles at the recollection of some anal snatch of improvised jazz, or a virtuoso bass overture by yours truly. It's fair to say that, by morning, our innards felt vacuum-packed by all the sustained effort of expelling air in the name of entertainment.

Sniff up lady. That's Green Eggs and Ham.
Next day, while we replenished our instruments, so to speak, with as many pulses and legumes as recessive 70s Britain would allow, we reviewed the fruits of our labour with gourmet sniffing sessions of the (by now bustling and industrious) 'Parp Station'. "You can still smell it!" - "That's mine, right there," and "Eww, someone's followed through on that bit" could no doubt be heard in muffled tones through our bedroom door. Thankfully it was the school holidays. Mum and dad were at work and younger sister Michelle was probably busy biroing "I luv Michul Kilburn" on the foreheads of her dollies.

The only problem was that these unique aromas could not be separated for individual accolades and there were arguments as to whose the most pungent and long-lasting might be. So that very day, the chewed bit of pencil was retrieved and the Parp Station duly expanded. In came such edifications as 'Parpadilly' and 'Parpham Junction' and... ooh, I dunno, 'You-stunk station'. You get the idea. We became the station masters of our own platforms, and took great care of them, in the way an obsessive Jobsworth might nurture his beat, or an assiduous Neanderthal his own crude daubing in a sweaty cave.

There were no TVs in bedrooms those days; not even so much as a wireless radio, so the parp underground soon occupied the entire wall. There were elaborate switchbacks and embankments, viaducts and level crossings. Steve wasn't playing games now; a fire of creativity burned, Da Vinci-like, within his seven-year-old mind. Before long, we had a full-on magnum opus on our hands.

Oh, the delight! The sheer anticipation! The thumping rush of footfalls up the stairs as we waited anxiously for Andy, the sprout scout and cauliflower commander to herald the news. Then, that after-dinner stampede, casual upheaval of subbuteo pitch and careless paraplegy of Action men as we crammed into our carriages for the nightly commute on the parp underground.

They were heady days, but in spite of our most ardent pleas the decorating finally had to be done. To cover all that fine artistry with Super bloody Fresco. The agony!

Take your 'easy hang' and shove it.
Fast forward at least a dozen years and I'm helping to decorate that same room, now a spare room. The brothers have gone their separate ways, to work and forage for themselves, our infant shenanigans quite forgotten. That first uncovering of the faded legend: 'Parp Station' and imaginary waft of residual stink rising from its centre splits my face wide with pleasure. Not so imaginary, actually. Damned if there isn't a faint musk of methane there. Damned if I can't hear some plangent, oboesque refrain of "Parpsody in Blue" wafting on the breeze, causing a tear of nostalgia to spring to my eye. Ahh, those special nights of butterbeans, broccoli and woodwind hilarity. Why did we have to grow up?

Then mum comes in and says, "Telly's on the blink again. What did we ever do before eh?"

What indeed.

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