“That’s fine, Princess. Let’s see. Did I ever tell about the first girl I ever ’ad?”
“Wasn’t that the caretaker’s daughter at the orphanage The one called Annie the Bang, that you won in a game of conkers?”
“Ah, I must ’ave told you. What about the second girl, Grace?” His words were leisurely now, and she could feel the tension slowly draining for him.
She said, “No. Grace is a new one.”
“Well … I met ’er when I was fifteen, and the orphanage put me out to learn a trade. There were two other lads in the workshop with me, and we used to call ’er Amazing Grace … she was about thirty, I suppose, married to a bloke much older who ran this radio and TV repair shop where we worked. She was plump and chirpy, with a pretty face and a two-track mind. No interest in anything except bed sports and watching television. Any television, from university stuff to kid’s stuff.”
He gave a sleepy chuckle. “No problem about the TV. She even ’ad one fixed on the wall in ’er bedroom. But the old chap, Arthur, he wasn’t interested in sex. Spent most days with his ’ead stuck inside TV sets, and I don’t think he cared what she did. Anyway, what she used to do twice a day was appear in the workshop and say that ’er television was acting up, and she wanted one of us to come and see to it. Soon as you got up there, she pounced, and then you were busy on the bed for the next ’alf hour, with ’er giggling and whispering and full of ideas. She could’ve opened a school for it, I reckon.”
Modesty smoothed a hand over his forehead. “Twice a day, Willie?”
“Regular as clockwork. Ten-thirty and five. The old chap must ’ave realised it was a farce, pretending her set was going wrong twice a day, but maybe he was grateful. And it suited us lads all right. We loved it. The five o’clock shift was best, because you got a cup of tea after, so we worked out a roster for the three of us, to make sure we took proper turns. The only thing that bothered us a bit was that she kept the TV set switched on all the time, and she kept an eye on it too, no matter which way up she was.”
Modesty felt laughter threatening to shake her, and struggled against it. There was growing drowsiness in his voice now as he went on, “… so you’d be going at it ’ammer and tongs, and suddenly there’d be some crucial bit in Crossroads, or whatever she was watching. Then she’d stop and ’old still till the crucial bit was over …”
His voice trailed to silence, but after several seconds he said sleepily, “What was I saying, Princess?”
“About Amazing Grace combining sex with watching television.”
“M’mm. Well … one day I ’ad an idea for a bit of a giggle. She was a good sport, see. Bit of a giggle. Nobby was on five o’clock shift. Next day, I mean. So we … Charlie Gravett and me … we ran a flex up to the speaker of the television set. The one on the wall of ’er bedroom. Ran a flex up … with a mike the other end … so we could …”
His voice became a mumble, then with a deep sigh he slept.
(The Xanadu Talisman, chapter 3)