Farty's Fortunes

Thursday, 12 July 2007


I once knew a girl called Dougal. No, really. That wasn't her real name, obviously, but it's what she got called. She reckoned it was because of her long, uncontrollable, frizzy hair - like the dog in the Magic Roundabout. People can be so cruel...

One year The Discworld came to Embra. Again. I'd seen a production of Wyrd Sisters that made me Laff My Arse Off, as they say on t'internet, so when I heard that Guards! Guards! was to be staged with Paul Darrow (Avon off Blake's Seven) as Captain Vimes, I was sold. Mrs Farty wasn't interested in "that sci-fi stuff", so I asked around and Dougal said she'd quite like to go.

The first act has gone well, with several in-jokes for people who have read the books but also a good storyline for first-timers. Vimes, I have to say, was pure dead brilliant. Then comes the interval and off we go to the bar to discuss our thoughts on the play so far.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Dougal fidgeting uncomfortably with her drink. I glance down and notice, for the first time, that the fingers on her right hand are, er, missing. She just has little stumps where they ought to be. Still, she seems to be coping ok, so I figure she must be used to it and carry on chatting. Then the bell rings for the second act and in we go...

Cut to two or three weeks later. I bump into Dougal again and she tells me she's hooked up with a bloke she's met off t'internet. From her description he seems to be quite a nice chap, despite being French. She's going over to visit him in person, as you do. And it's only now, when she's waving her hands about in excitement, that I notice her finger stubs again. Hang on - that's her left hand. Double-check - oh. Both hands. Well done. 2/10 for observation, Farty.

Fast forward six months. I've met Jean-Paul, and yes, he really is a very, very nice man. If it wasn't for the accent, you'd almost think he was Scotch. Dougal tells me he's proposed and shows me the ring. It is beautiful - a simple band of gold with a diamond inset. Except that it's a bracelet, of course. They're getting married in France and going to live in Romantic Paris.

Two years later. "Coo-ee! Farty!" It's Dougal. And Jean-Paul. In Safeway's. Embra. They have a buggy. I peer inside. A little person peers back at me. "This is Fifi. Isn't she lovely?"

I can't help it. I check the fingers. Ten. "Yes, she is. Cute." But she would still be lovely if she had taken after her mum. "So what happened to Paris?"

"It was horrible, just horrible. We really couldn't stand it. We stuck it out for as long as we could, but in the end we just gave up and came back home to Embra."

"Yes, but what exactly was wrong with Paris?"

"It was full of bloody Parisians. Even Jean-Paul hated it, and he's French!" We all laugh. It's a funny old world, innit?

I never did have the heart to tell her about where she really got her name, but I sometimes wonder if she knew all along?

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