“Have you had any interesting jobs Charlie?”

“Depends what you call interesting Stan.”

“You know……like a job out of the norm……a bit like me when I took the step up the social ladder from dustman to postman. Stuff like that.”

“Dustman to postman – that’s hardly interesting yet as it happens back in the day I was Marlene Dietrich’s personal chauffeur.”

“You’re not pulling my plonker are you? The legendary Marlene her very self – crikey I bet you’ve got some stories to tell.”

“Certainly have Stan. For instance I bet you didn’t know Marlene besides being a girl who liked to swing both ways…..”

“Sorry to interrupt Charlie are you telling me she was bisexual like my missus is?”

“Yes I am Stan although I never had your Ada marked down as bisexual though.”

“Oh she certainly is as I only get to have me leg across twice a year.”

“Fuck me you really know nothing…….anyway where was I……yes, her sexual preferences aside she had a passion for whelks, indeed not just ginormous whelks but any other marine gastropod mollusc species she could lay her hands on. She used to send me out any time of the day or night to mobile vans outside the bars of Berlin to buy them on her behalf – the one at the Rudolf Nelson revue bar was her particular favourite for what that is worth.”

“Well blow me down I never knew that. I just thought she did a bit of acting and sung a couple of songs.”

“Shows how little you know Stan. The poor girl got terrible stage fright and swore a plate of whelks calmed her before a performance. Mind you sometimes she over did it on the whelk front for they made her belch something chronic if she scoffed too many. One time I recall she must have stuffed herself with at least two dozen in the back of the motor on the way to the theatre – she liked them garnished in vinegar with a good pinch of white pepper in the traditional way – and the burps came upon her first, then a few hiccups, then those fucking great belches. Like an Irish navvy after a belly full of Guinness I can tell you.”

“Poor kid – what a terrible affliction.”

“Too true mate. Moving on though she taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘Charlie whatever will become of me for there is an agent from New York who has flown over to see my act tonight and the last thing I need is to emit audio akin to the fog horn on a cross-channel ferry. Charlie dearest Charlie save me in my hour of need.’ Frankly Stan I hadn’t a blind clue what to do but you know me always thinking on me feet so I says to Marlene, ‘You’re welcome to my small portion of cockles what I picked up when in the very act of purchasing whelks on your behalf luv. You know if you top yourself up good and proper with these there may not be a sufficiency of space within your gastric domain to allow for perpetual belching.’ Marlene then says to me, ‘I’ll have your portion then if I may’ and that was that.

“What a clever bastard you are Charlie – I’ve always said that about you. Did she……you know….did she have a nibble at your portion?”

“I’ll say she did. She was swallowing my little snack whole like there was no tomorrow.”

“Did it work though? What happened on stage that night? Did she get the gig with the New York agent?”

“Hold up there Stan – one question at a time. Right I dropped her off at the stage door and carried her costume bags and other gubbins in for her then stood back stage so as to cop a listen to her dulcet tones in that smoky and world-weary singing voice of hers that I found so sexually arousing. Eventually her time had arrived and she entered stage left. The band piped up the opening bars of her classic and personal favourite of mine, ‘Lili Marlene’ and there she is all lovely like fairly belting out that opening verse, ‘Underneath the lantern, By the barrack gate, Darling I remember, The way you used to……….’ And that’s where it all went so horribly wrong for instead of saying the crucial word ‘wait’ she sung ‘I’d rather whelks than skate.’ Of course the whole audience drifted into an embarrassed melancholy silence and from the orchestra pit the music fizzled out yet what happened next revealed the full measure of this great performer for putting her hands on her hips and standing up straight and proud, Germanic chin in the air she let out the loudest and biggest belch of any woman, anywhere, at any time in the history of womankind. It’ll never be beaten. After that she started again and ended up getting a standing ovation plus the gig in the States which was to be the very making of her.”

“Nice it had a happy ending Charlie. It’s gratifying to know that through the act of eating whole the small portion you had on offer saved Marlene’s embryonic career and redeemed her on the belching front at least.”

“True Stan, I’ve always been so very proud in the part I played in pushing her toward international stardom still I must get on – catch you later.”




    1. Cheers – by the way cross Stonehenge off your list. Its mystical history aside it is nothing special to look at. Very tourists and lots of Jonny Foreigners snapping away aplenty. Also much smaller than most think.

      1. That should of course be Think not thin in me previous comment Mike. It were me deliberate mistake to see if you noticed… or not, maybe, perhaps… TTFN

    1. There was me thinking you to young to have heard of Marlene yet it was the humble ‘whelk’ you didn’t know young Rachel! My dad lived on the bloody horrible things – look like giant nose pickings!

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