by James Sykes
A family is experiencing hostility from the the local town because they are different.
|Funny business by James Sykes.
Part one the estate.
It is exactly fair to say that life had become a night-mare for the Ramsbottoms since they had moved to the Clifton council estate. Not a four star hotel but if you like lifts that stink of piss then this could be your kind of squalled like home. They had been subjected to constant attacks from the local community: bullying for the kids taunting by the locals who had made it their new source of entertainment to make their life as unbearable as possible for them.
Part two the police station.
"It's racism" Ronny Ramsbottom had said while giving his account to the local police officer in charge of overseeing the case."
Ronny looked up at the police officer with big brown watery eyes where a tear swelled and eventrally trickled down his cheek and landed on the desk with a plop. He reached in to his inside pocket and pulled out a yellow hankerchief and blew his nose with a honk.
The officer's eyes flicked from Ronny to the clock on the wall and leaned in holding his breath and trying not very hard to force atleast his aquired mininum of professional sympathy. "I know all this has been upsetting for you sir... you just have to understand that we are not used to urm well, people like you round here..." his voice trailled off as he skated expertly round the name of his family's kind. It was something to be pittied maybe even descusting and perhaps feared but not accepted no not here in this seaside town where jobs are hard enough to get and life isnt sometimes all that funny. No, we cant have their kind making a joke out of our way of life.
"It's a form of terrorism thats just it. we are just a family like anyother, my nerves are shot my wife's upset and the children are tromertised and you... you can't even say what we are. Why do we scare people so much? We are just a loving family!"
"Well, sir some people have a phobia of clowns!"
"That's just the kind of attitude i'm talking about. It's racism that's all just racism."
"I dont know if that's true sir In all accounts you did chose to be a... you know, clown." Officer clinton now subconciously began pulling at the coller of his shirt as if it was now becomming unbearably too small for him.
"I was borne funny that's all" He honked again and mopped at his eyes the hanky was now becoming too wet to be any real use at all.
"Its terrorism against our kind my kids are afraid to go back to school and my wife is too scared to go to the shops. Our car's been burnt and our windows bricked in. How am I suppossed to be reacting? I come here to report a crime and it's like people are laughing in my face!"
"Well sir you are a family of clowns...."
" It shouldn't matter. it's our way of life, our personal belief the herritage of our family. We pay our taxes, live respectable lives..."
"Well, that is a matter of oppinion...." Collar tightens and he tugs again to escape free, thinking after this it's my weeked I can go home. I supppose in all actual fact the local community ganging up on a ligiutimate family of clowns was a new kind of time wasting this pillar of the community had no time for.
part three The supermarket
The day before Ronny had been coming out of the local supermarket with his two trollies in tow, packed dangerously high with his weekly shopping. First day of the weekend and he had been batteling through the crowds by him self double buggies seemed to be everywhere pushed by tracksuit wearing teeange mums mostly with side pony-tails and bright plastic bangled wrists. He had decided to go alone as bringing the family would have just slowed the operation down. Pushing one trolly single handedly infron ant pulling the other behind he made it at last to the front of the checkout. where Ashlie the teenage checkout girl was sitting chewing loudly big hoopy earings winking brightly in the afternoon sun. "Hiya" she said with the most forced smille Ronny had ever seen in his life although her eyes avoided his momentarily until "you alright? came with a sneer that screamed with the hidden message If I wernt stuck behind this counter I'd gut you like a fish for stepping in my way. Ronny supposed that somebody somewhere was looking after her double buggy while she worked. She snapped her gum at him as she evaluated the convayor belt load of shopping. "Need a hand packing?"
"No thankyou Ive brought my own bags...." Ronny dragging them hadn't even finished speaking when Ashlie turned into robot machine express sending his shopping flying down towards him as he panicked to get them into his bags and back into the trollies. He was still packing five minuets after she had finished and looking down on him with the look of someone who had just accidently mistaken her piss sample for a tequila shot.
"109.99 please" She demanded returning her attention to her baby pink nail varnish. Ronny didnt question the final bill of his shopping, In fact with the speed of the stuff as it went througfh the checkout scanner he wouldn't be surprised if some things had not even been charged at all. "I have seven bags and two vouchers." She snapped the vouchers out of his hand and scribbled on them with a pen she pulled out of her bra. tapped twice on her key pad and finally looek at him again with the same fuck you smile.
Service with a sneer Ronny thought as the automatic doors opened onto the enourmous carepark, his eyes scanned slowly from left to right and then began to do swirly little pirrouetes round the carpark after 15 minuets he began to panic dragging the two trollies behind him he spotted something up in the far right hand corner unrecognisable as his family's car.
"No oh no it can't be.... oh God!" His family car had been the victim of a bloody good toasting just two hours before, but no anouncement was made over the tanoy like they would for some inconsiderate prick decidng to park over two spaces or in a clearly marked dissabled spot. no those were serious offences that affected the lives of normal people. folks like him that had actedly decided toi live accentric colourful lives obviously just deserved what they got. car burnt out and still smoking he had cried as he called for a taxi.
Ring ring ring ring click "hello?"
Trying his best to sound calm and.... What? Normal? "Hello, this is Ro.... urm, Mister Ramsbottom at the clifftop supermarket requiring a taxi for 123 Clifftop court
There was a sigh on the other end of the line, a cough and then the answer that he was hopîng no, praying not to hear.
"We ain't got nothin' for two hours. Sir." A pause and the steal of cold contempt. three at least two hours, It is satterday so maybe even longer..."
"You see I have shopping baskets and well, my car. It's been vandilised"
"Oh deer..." there will be no pitty here
"It's just I have shopping..."
"Its satterday sir...."
"Well thanks a bloody lot..." Could this day get any worse? It started to rain.
Part four a family like any other
Wendy Ramsbottom Got on the bus 51 outside the cliffe view medical training centre where she had been attending a cenimar on berievement she had her handbag which was atleast three times larger than most womens bags it looked very much like a cross between Mary Poppins bag and the kind of bag doctors always carried around in television dramas. the bus arrived and pisssssed to a stop, it lowered its self and the doors opened. "Can i help you with those bags?" she said to a rosey cheeked dumpling shaped lady with a double bun dancing on top of her head. "Oh, no that's alright deery!" Chuckled the dumpling lady as they both put thier coins into the tray for the busdriver.
They both sat down at the two seats behind the driver and the rolly plumpling lady offered her hand in introduction "Pat!" she exclaimed letting out a sigh as she got seated as if her backside haddn't senn the luxury of a chair in a thousand years.
Wendy smiled she liked the smell of Pat dumpling and she seemed nice with an aire of chuckles and sweetie puddings about her.
"Wendy, Wendy Ramsbottom. Husband's got the car today, he's shopping."
"Oh I see you have him pretty well trained I'd say" Nudging Wendy and barely holding back more chuckles. "Does he work, your husband?" Pat asked chumily her eyes darting between Wendy and the chat magazine she was taking from one of her shopping bags.
"Indeed he does, he's a clown! We're kind of new around here."
"Oh I wouldn't like that clowns give me the creeps. Scared the living shit out of me as a child, I wouldn't go near one." With that just like a storm cloud suddenly apearing infront of the sun or as quickly as somebody switching off a light the chummy, rosey, rolly-polly friendlyness melted away to reveal a mountain of shit. The smile dissapered and the look on her face changed as if Wendy was the women personally responsable for the death of Pat's mother.
"Well he's a very lovely man..."
"Still has a creepy job, horrible scary things clowns are..." She shivered and sucked in her cheeks.
"Well, there are lots of different kinds of clowns you know. Some that make you laugh, some that make you think..."
"and some that stab you to death as soon as you back is turned, not a propper job in my oppinion no. I wouldn't stand for it. Mercy no."
Jesus christ so one guy dresses up as a clown goes crazy and kills a few people and people remember it for years. but perfectly 'normal' people do that every day and the news forgets them quickly. In my experience of life its the people that want everybody to know just how perfectly normal they are that you have to be extra careful of...
"Well you never know when you might be sat next to one!"
"Do you consider yourself a stupid clown too?"
"Stupid no. I'm a doctor that does hopital visits as a clown for a charitiy for terminally ill children."
"Sick kids? Scaring the life out of them more likely I should think the last thing a dieing child needs is some horrible clown lurking over their death bed... " Her peice was said and with That did it the plumpling Pat scooped up her shopping bags and raised her nose in the air with a snort of disgust and got off the bus. She was still shaking her head as the bus pulled of leaving Wendy in a stupified daze.
In college Wendy had seen Ronny from afar at first but there was something intreaguing about him in his total lack of concern about what others thought about him and the whispering behind his back the cupped hands and pointing fingers unconcerned and compleatly unaweare. He was clumbsy and shy and people all around him took an instant disslike towards him for absolutly no reason whatsoever. One day she had discovred him behind the sheds head in his hands crying because the other boys hall all pissed in his sports bag, one generous member of the group even taken a dump. But Wendy had seen something in his eyes behind the akwardness and hurt there was something pure, honest and kind.
She was studying medicine and him the media with dreams on becoming a film producer of comedies. His family had been in the indistry for generations and could be traced back to atleast two hundred years and he had heard stories of it going back even further the wise fool in a noble's court the singing minstrel favored buy the local village the singing dancing surgeon who would pull teeth do a dance tell a few jokes before moving on to an amputation then the traveling Circus and lastly music hall. So as far as clowns go Ronny Ramsbottom was as good as royalty.
Ronny's farther was a celebrated seaside entertainer and comedy magician who also performed traditional Punch and Judy shows on the beach always to very eager cheering crowds of happy children and adults. What made his show really magic was the fast manipulation a hilarious jokes and slapstick comedy that could have been inspired by Chaplin him self. Ronny had many happy years helping his old dad out by ringing the bell to anounce the show and collecting the money while his dad performed. It was a wonderful summer job and it taught him a great deal about the fundamental workings about profesional show business and people relations. To earn enough money to fund his studies Ronny had done the some entertainint at children's birthday parties and had quickly got so popular it took over from his film making. He was offered parts in the local pantomimes which were great jobs that with the christmas parties for schools and companies wanting to get one up on theis competetors by throwing the most expensive an elabourate functions, these paid nicely and the money was building up in bank account. Over the past few months of college Wendy and Ronny had become friends then close friends and finally lovers the world for the two of them would never be the same and neither of them would ever be lonely again. so after four years of dating they got married, In a church with lots of Ronny's fellow clown friends present in costume It was in the papers and when asked what the fundemental strength was that keeps the relationship going Wendy answered hontstly "He makes me smile."
Wendy finished her medical studdies being supportded by Ronny they had thier first baby Nino and Wendy began practicing as a general practicioner, life was perfect and was just about to get better. About a year after Nino was borne Wendy had a little girl. Harriot.
Wendy loved her job and had an excelent reputation with her patients until one day something happned that would change her life forever.
A few days before her daughters first birthday I noticed she was acting different not sleeping much and seeming uncomfortable during the day after having just gone through a normal firstr year with Nino something just didnt seem right after going sevral times to the family doctor who assured the blood tests were fine and every thing was normal Wendy still had this feeling that something was wrong. After one parcitularly bad weekend we called the doctor again who did seem very concerned and told us to take Harriot to hospital.
Once at the hospital they found out that her reflexes wern't working properly. They didn't say that right away, but they knew something was wrong. After monitoring her, a neurologist thought there might be something growing on her spinal coloumn. they did an MRI and saw that she had a tumor whic was later found to be cancerous oin the spine. Harriot had surgery the next day and then started with chemotherapy treatments.
Practicing medicine herself her first feeling was to trust the word of her doctor, and thought that as a parentshe was just worrying and over worrying but the feeling persisted she was sure her child was not getting better so after asking other doctors opinions she still had this feeling swimming in her guts.
The news hit her like vertigo and the panic was overwelming Wendy panicked about everything and wondered would her baby survive, would she make it through the bprocedures, how would She and Ronny be able to tace care of Nino during all of this.
Then after her first surgery we got more devistating news the doctors said that Harriot was paralyzed thank goodness for the support from Ronny and Wendy just thought I'm going to be strong back for him and Nino. They visited the hospital in shifts.
the sudden reality of the situation was now opening up the door and WEndy had never felt so utterly helpless in her life. the unjustified desperation could splitt her mind if she dwelt upon it for one second so she was absolutely deperate to keep her family around her and give the world a smbelance of.... what? normality? she couldn' even uter the words. If she did it would surely break her heart.
people go into carears for all kinds of descions: police whant to bully in place of campaigning for peace and some doctors want to have life and death situations in their hands in place of helping the sick. Wendy now just wanted to help people who were faced with the unbearable reality of loosing a child like she did. and so althougfh she would have never of thought it years before the death of her only daughter she found clowning the way some people would find religion to help and heal sick childnren and families in the nightmare of terminal illness. Ofcourse this experience inspired Wendy to become a hospital visiting clown herself, in place of falling apart she now started to leanr the art of listening and compassion.
Nino was a fantastic child he was always beautiful and very talented at gymnastics he had his mother's compassion and his dad's natural gift for performing and entertaining. His circus skills were phonominal surely he could do most skills he put his mind to and he trainned him self with utter dicapline. Ninos favourate activity was uniceling he went everywhere on his unicycle and for special ocasions he had a tall 5 foot and for even more spical occasions he had his super girafe 10 foot giant!
He was coming back and Wendy was so excited he had been away for a year training with a russian company of arial artists learning the suspended silks yat another beautiful art to add to his already impressive box of tricks.
Watching the clock Wendy would be expecting him to ring the bell of the falt any minuit and it felt to her like monkies were trampolining in her stomach. Buzz. "Nino! My darling boy" She raced to the interphone to open the door so he could come up. She opened the front door and watched the numbers rise in the lift as it climeb the 14 floors the doors slowly started to open and Wendy realised with horror what was inside. CLOWN BITCH BABY KILLER Was suspended on a note from an old fashioned prambula inside was a half burnt baby doll painted in clown make up and dressed in a dirty costume. "No!" the scram scraped it's way out of her throat like shards of glass smoke was rising out of the pramb and a thick smell of human shit was choaking in trhe air, Wendy fainted.
She woke up in the arms of her 24 year old son Nino "It's okay mum I'm here, I'm home." Her eyes rolled into focus and a faint smile formed on her lips. "Nino? Is it gone?"
"Yes mum. It's gone now."
"Yes mum. It's gone now. Don't worry I'm here."
"Oh Nino I've missed you so much please tell me you're staying for a while!"
Yes I have a three month break before starting ruhursals for the new show, so i just thought I'd come home for a little while. What's been going on here mum? Only his eyes searched her face for answers but Wendy just held him close pushing her face deep into his chest.. "Nothing, just stupid local children."
Okay mum, If you say so."
Last name: Ramsbottom. Recorded in many forms including Ramsbottom, Ramsbotham, Ramsbottam and Ramsbotton, this is a famous English and Lancashire surname. It is locational from the town of Ramsbottom, described by the famous etymologist canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880, as 'a populous village in the township of Tottington-Lower-End in the ancient parish of Bury'. The name has nothing to to do with 'rams' in any form, the derivation being from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'hramsa' meaning garlic and 'bopm', which strictly speaking means land at the bottom of a valley suitable for agriculture. It has to be assumed that the weather fifteen hundred years ago must have been much warmer for garlic to grow so far north in England. The surname is locational which means that it was probably a 'from' name. That is to say a name given to a person after he or she had left Ramsbottom and moved somewhere else. The easiest way in ancient times to identfy strangers was to call them by the bname from whence they came. In this case an early recording is that of Adam Ramsbotham of Rossendale who appears in the Wills List of the city of Chester in 1556, whilst William Romesbotham appears in the list of members of the famous Preston Guilds in 1602.