Need to Wash


I blame this corruption of my usually pristine thought processes on the CI5 List's discussion of The Lads' personal hygiene.

"Better get cleaned up. What are you making those faces for?" Doyle heaved up onto one elbow and looked down with concern at his grimacing partner. "Didn't hurt you, did I?"

"You and whose drug squad? Belt up a minute, I'm trying to think."

"I'll go and have a bath, then -- time for a nice long soak before you've got your brain cell revved up."

"No, hang about." Bodie's lips moved silently. "Ah!"

"Bloody 'ell!"

"You can say that again," agreed the small being which had manifested in a puff of blue smoke. It turned an inimical glare upon its summoner. "Who told you the invocation, then?"

Bodie ignored the question. "Ray, meet the Emergency Elf."

"Er -- hello, mate," Doyle responded, dredging up a modicum of aplomb. "What emergency's that, then?"

"Hygiene," the elf said morosely. "Babies in sanitary distress is what we're supposed to take care of, not great hulking layabouts too bone idle to get out of bed for a rinse between shags."

"Usually keep a damp towel handy," Doyle apologized, "but we got a bit carried away."

"Well, it's not going to work again. I'll sort you out this once, seeing it's a slow night, but the summons you used is inactivated forthwith. And if the poor overworked mum you nicked it off is relying on it, you'd best pass the word along so she can make other arrangements."

"Wasn't anyone's mum," Bodie protested. "It was that nanny, Gerda. That one wandering round Kent in her underwear, when my arm got broken."

"Right," Doyle recalled. "You went round tellin' the world you were ambidextrous and they all looked at ME sideways."

"Whatever." The elf was less than enthralled. "Where's my buckets gone?" A snap of tiny fingers produced two little pails. "All right, this one's rosewater and this -- hmm, lavender water tinged with pink. Somebody in supplies being apposite, eh? Now, where did I put the scrubbing brush?"

"You never used a scrubbing brush on that kid," Bodie accused. "What happened to the thistledown swabs? You're just trying it on!"

"Look," said Doyle hastily, cupping his hands protectively over delicate anatomical features for whose safety he feared, "I'd rather just have a regular wash, thanks all the same. And watch it, don't slop that scented stuff all over my bed. Rita at the launderette looks forward to her weekly whiff of authentic masculine essences when she heaves the sheets into the machine."

"I could sprinkle on some extra talc before I do the clean nappy," the elf offered, sensing it was in the clear. "Got some nice soothing lotion. Looks like a bit of a rash on the lower right cheek. "

"That'd be my blue-eyed boy not having time for a shave." Doyle climbed off the bed and swathed himself in the decent concealment of his dressing gown. "Fancy a cup of tea before you go? I've got a thimble somewhere would just about do. Or a drop of Glenlivet?"

"Ah, well now. Not allowed to raise the subject, but I wouldn't say no to a wee dram if you insist." The elf put the buckets down carefully on the bedside table. "Might even have a very nice offer for you."

"Well," Doyle said contentedly an hour later. "Not a bad bargain, that: two little buckets filled with Glenlivet for the whole kitchen and bathroom scrubbed out, and the washing-up done. Fancy a regular weekly stint, then?"

"I'll think about it," the elf promised. "The union's not keen, mind, but the shop steward's a bit of a souse, so we can work something out. I happen to know he's got the same general arrangement with your boss."

"What, Cowley?"

"Mr Cowley, yes. He quite enjoys the scrubbing brush, though he insists on a drop of carbolic in his bucket. It's his lady friend gets the perfume and thistledown. Very generous with the Glenfiddich, Miss Walsh," the elf added approvingly. "Bit long in the tooth, those two, but they can't half go."

"Only trouble is," said Bodie when they were alone again, "now the whole flat smells ever so slightly of roses and lavender."

"I can put up with that," Doyle said. "I just hope we don't get nicked for defrauding the National Elf Service."

[Not a moment too soon: THE END. ]

November 28, 1999

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