VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
by John Morrison
76: The Monica Mouthwash
It's a sunny Sunday in Milltown. We're lucky to be enjoying one: every sunny day in September is like being in remission from that unavoidable malady called winter. Our Town Drunk staggers across the old packhorse bridge. He's kick-started his day with a sizeable dose of Night Nurse: not merely an effective treatment for colds and flu, but a damn fine aperitif to boot.
You wouldn't guess that he and Monica Lewinsky could possibly share a hobby. But they do: they both hoard semen-stained clothing. Town Drunk's soiled Y-fronts, carelessly tossed into the back of the wardrobe, are unlikely to prove as big a money-spinner as that infamous cocktail dress. But then he's never given Bill Clinton a blowjob, or, if he has, he certainly can't recall a damn thing about it.
The good folk of Milltown are nonplussed by what's happening in America, the land of the brave and the home of the free. Bill Clinton isn't, of course, the first incumbent to have besmirched the Office of the President of the United States. But few men have besmirched the Oval Office in quite such a literal way. The boys from forensic are busy checking out the White House, paying particular attention to those places where a careless President might have spilled his seed and made a half-hearted attempt to clean up. Curtains, cushion- covers, carpets (particularly under the footwell of the Presidential desk), table-cloths, pocket handkerchiefs, old T-shirts and the scummy tide-mark around the bath. By the time they've finished we'll be wondering not merely about the President's sexual pecadillos, but his manual dexterity too.
The American people, punch-drunk from months of tawdry sex scandals, are worried about their President's aims and intentions. Here in Milltown we just worry about his aim. Here's the leader of the Free World, with his finger on the button. The Cold War may be over, but nuclear annihilation is still just a heartbeat away. Yet the man to whom this awesome responsibility is entrusted can't even hit - from point-blank range - a target as warm, wet and willing as Monica Lewinsky's generously proportioned mouth. It's like hitting a barn door with a howitzer. No wonder he failed the draft all those years ago. ("Is that thing loaded, Bill? Oh my God..."). Those Vietnam conscripts were better off without him; in serious action he'd have just been a liability.
Are a handful of hurried liaisons really enough to depose a President? Probably not. But a quickie divorce? Well, that's another matter. Bill Clinton is, after all, a man who seems to harbour the illusion that fellatio is a non-sexual act, scarcely more intimate than shaking hands. If that's true we shudder to think what indignities are being perpetrated, around the globe, in the name of international diplomacy. The leaders of our two great nations used to congratulate one another about their 'special relationship', but friendship can be taken too far. We can only hope that Cherie Blair has enough presence of mind, on her next meeting with the President, to do no more than offer her cheek for a chaste peck. If he tries to fit her up with a pair of knee pads she should say, politely but firmly, "Thank you, Mr President, but no"
Hilary should throw her wayward husband out, change the locks and make him run the country from a motel room until he sees the error of his ways. Then she'll need to get some quotes, from Washington's more reputable dry-cleaning businesses, for fumigating all the soft furnishings in the White House, and making the place look presentable for the next President and his family. Though 'Gore in the Oval Office' sounds almost as unhygienic as the semen stains on Town Drunk's fetid underpants.
A solitary swallow dips and swoops over Milltown. A few people noticed the first swallow of summer: a sighting that quickened the pulse, briefly, back in April. But nobody realises that the bird they see today - stretching its wings and preparing for that long flight south - is the last we shall see this year.
The little square in the middle of town has been renamed St Bernard's Square - after the town's most celebrated son - to commemorate a lifetime's dedication to uninformed debate. This is the best place to be, if you want to nurse a pint or two through a balmy afternoon and watch the world go by. Wasps, drowsy and petulant, make a thorough nuisance of themselves. They know their days are numbered, just like the days of summer themselves. So they spend their last hours irritating alfresco drinkers, before ending it all with a kamikaze dive into a glass of warm beer.
What's the point of rushing about on a sunny day, getting stressed-out and fretful? In any case, if you sit here long enough, then everyone you know is likely to pass by sooner or later. Milltown's that kind of place.
Wounded Man observes the catwalk of alternative fashions with more than passing interest. All those sessions with the Milltown Men's Group seem to be working: he's developing a new appreciation of the scantily-clad female form. He may be just another guy with straggly grey hair (the living embodiment of Milltown Man), but when it comes to watching pretty girls go by, he seems to have taken Leslie Philips and Sid James as his new role models. If he had a waxed moustache, he'd be twirling it suggestively between finger and thumb and purring "Well, hello ..."
A sunny day offers the more nubile girls the last chance this year to put their belly-buttons on general display. Wounded Man, approaching his middle years, savours their youth, their energy and their joie de vivre. More to the point, pert nipples piercing thin fabric make a powerful impression on a man whose libido has lain dormant for far too long. Years of self-denial have taken their toll, but those days are over. Never again, when faced with the prospect of a sexual encounter, will he be tempted to take the easy way out and hire a stunt double.
Wounded Man salivates discreetly as Willow Woman arrives, as if on cue, to enjoy a lazy afternoon of conversation and conviviality. She's looking particularly gorgeous today, sporting the 'just-rogered' look that drives the men of Milltown to distraction. She looks like she last had a good time - a really good time - about twenty minutes ago. She really doesn't seem to be aware of the effect she's having on the male psyche, which makes her all the more beguiling.
Clothes are supposed to say a lot about the wearer, and one or two lasses are parading up and down in revealing dresses that seem to be saying "Just leave a tenner on the bedside table". But Willow Woman is lithe and lissom and delightfully ingenuous: she'll wear any old thing and make it look good. She wouldn't even think of saving a semen-stained dress for a rainy day. It would just be added, unceremoniously, to the pile of unwashed clothes that threatens to occupy every inch of floor-space in her little house in Hippy Street.
She falls in and out of love with startling suddenness. Sometimes the process can be over and done with in the course of a long weekend. But you'll hear not a word of complaint or recrimination from the men of Milltown. One or two may shake their heads a little sadly. Yet the consensus of opinion seems to be that sharing love, laughter and bodily fluids with Willow Woman is one experience that will remain a bright beacon of wistful remembrance for the rest of their days.
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