Maggie’s Twilight Zone Messages


As a former model, my only simultaneously fictional and non-fictional friend Maggie Armitage has always known how to pose for a photo. I have no bad shots of her. Hair-raising, terrifying, yes; bad, no. This was taken just before chemo turned my hair white and made most of it fall out. Maggie is wearing a surrealist brooch designed by Salvador Dali, who was probably also responsible for her thought processes. She has since shrunk even further since this was taken, and could now be carried off by a labradoodle.

Maggie wrote me a note on Monday. It said, ‘Thank you so much for lunch yesterday. I wasn’t actually sick.’ Which I suppose is a compliment of some kind. Here are some of the other comments she has texted me over the past couple of weeks. I shall spare you her multiple spellings of ‘diarreargh‘.

‘I really want this ducking day over. Again you help and I just love to hear your voice. You are very funny. There was this really enormous slug at the front gate I wish they could talk.’

‘It was lovely to see Maurice he has Covid. My washing machine man came to help me with my fridge. He has unblocked it. I asked him if he wanted an apprentice. Anyway you have done this procedure. I will be do it rung grateful to the NHS. Most of my love.’

‘I refused to go to Victor (Lowndes) funeral as far too many ex-bunnys size you up and down. I was looking at pictures from the after-drinks party (this was a wake – ed) and I was the thinnest person there. And I had just eaten two sausages. Amber says she has got a job in Cairo. I really do not want her to go there as it is like a repeat of Kazakhstan. I am shaving my legs and applying fake tan while reading Hedder Gabler.’

‘I must not get maudlin what a funny word why Maud. I am reading Tom Wakefield’s The Variety Artists and it satisfies me. I have just seen a white mouse. I feel sorry for it. I find Virginia W incredibly pedantic so she goes back on the shelf. Made a West Indian chicken curry but nearly choked to death on the chillies. Tom Wakefield once told me that I was not chronological so 80 is the new 50.’

‘This is ridiculous I should be attacking my hundreds of mundane jobs and I am reading your book and underlining new sentences I will be looking more carefully at lampposts. (I’ve just realised which track her mind has skipped onto. We were talking about the huge summer moon and she went outside to see it more clearly. She spent the next ten minutes staring at a street lamp.)

‘Ray Davies from The Kinks had a crush on me. I was married but he was lovely. He is 77 now so that makes him a younger man. Amber signed up for microdermabrasion on her eyebrows. They cost £80 and she now looks like Groucho Marx. My hernia would not allow me to eat organic pasta. The dog was sick on the lawn but ate it all up again.’

‘Seven years ago I left my body to the British Medical Board for Research as I want to be useful. Poppy says nobody wants cadavers with Covid. She wants to be cremated in a woodland walk. If the anatomists will not take my cadaver we could have a bonfire in the back garden and help a fruit tree grow.

‘I got hair dye on all bathroom surfaces then slipped over but I am too vain for grab-rails. Hair is not what I expected. I am reading about coconut production. Dealt with a very hot Indian receptionist yesterday when handing in my faecal sample. Apparently I did not close the lid properly. I always thought when men talked about the prostate it meant lying on the ground.’

As I once wrote about Maggie, she’s like a Victorian Christmas tree, very sparkly but liable to burn the house down if left unattended. I’m going for a lie-down now.


21 comments on “Maggie’s Twilight Zone Messages”

  1. John Griffin says:

    Utterly bloody hilarious. You lucky man, knowing a real surrealist.

  2. Jo W says:

    Oh Chris,that has cheered me up no end! If only Maggie had her own daily blog. I need more.

  3. Stu-I-Am says:

    ‘Deep in the being of Mr. Polly, deep in that darkness, like a creature which has been beaten about the head and left for dead but still lives, crawled a persuasion that over and above the things that are jolly and “bits of all right,” there was beauty, there was delight; that somewhere – magically inaccessible perhaps, but still somewhere – were pure and easy and joyous states of body and mind.’― H.G. Wells, ‘The History of Mr. Polly’

  4. Helen+Martin says:

    Maggie makes me feel that there may be hope for humanity yet. Hang loose out there, folks.

  5. Ian Mason says:

    @ John

    I used to know a real surrealist, one of the second wave, the English artist Conroy Maddox (1912 – 2005) . Maggie, god love her, is a real living *surrealism*, not quite the same thing. 🙂

  6. Peter+T says:

    Didn’t messages like Maggie’s that Neal Cassady sent to Jack Kerouac inspire him to write ‘On the Road’? Oh dear, how I’d love a long road trip.

  7. Brooke says:

    You’re a lucky man, living among such fashionistas as Ms. Armitage and your hubby with his well-tucked T-shirt.
    Is Ms. Armitage wearing an Etro scarf…the cashmere I’m been saving up for.. ballistic with envy.

  8. admin says:

    Brooke, perhaps when she decides to self-immolate under a fruit tree I can get her to leave it to you!

  9. Porl Cooper says:

    She is quite, quite superb !!!

  10. Brooke says:

    Thanks for the offer, Mr. Fowler. But no. I firmly believe that if you’re going to immolate–self or others–you should wear your best for the occasion. Etro scarf, pin and Chanel or perhaps Ferragamo.

    Lovely interview with the Guardian. But tear-making.

  11. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin Thoroughly confused (not unusual btw) and shocked. The ‘Guardian’ interview (link below) has you signing off B&M with ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down,’ yet in a recent blog you said: ‘If there’s any subject matter you feel that Bryant & May haven’t yet covered, something you’d like to see explored, just let me know.’ False hope then I suppose for at least one or two more ?

  12. Jan says:

    I think you’ve a right cheek blaming chemo for making the rest of that mohican type perm fall out …and I’m not even willing to further discuss this wild talk about the process turning the crowing glory white in colour. Ummm it seems certain chemicals and chemo clash!

  13. Brooke says:

    Checked Twitter to see what @Peculiar is up to. The Twitter algorithm popped up to recommend “follows”…Dolly Parton, birdwatching, knitting, David Tennant, the X-files, Travel United Kingdom,…does Ms. Armitage write the algorithms?

  14. admin says:

    If she did, Brooke, it would have added taxidermy and curry.

  15. admin says:

    Stu-I-Am –
    ‘The beauty of the human brain is its ability to hold several contradictory ideas at the same time.’

  16. Stu-I-Am says:

    @admin Fair dinkum. But if not full novels (complete with the usual bodies…), I selfishly expect B&M short stories. It’s the least you can do for me.

  17. I want to be Maggie Armitage when I grow up.

  18. Son of Sir Les Patterson says:

    Perhaps an entirely “unwoke” explication of Maggie’s mind might not pertain to “old men’s trousers” but rather “all over the place like a mad woman’s shit”, don’t ask me where that came from, Bedlam perhaps? As an Antipodean I can only quote an ex-Prime Minister Robert “Pig Iron Bob” Menzies upon meeting Queen Elizabeth in 1963: ‘I did but see her passing by and yet l love her till I die’. Rave on John Donne and Maggie Armitage….

  19. Helen+Martin says:

    @Son of Sir Les Peterson. I do not desire to flatten anyone brave enough to post in public but the poem in question was by Thomas Ford. We learned it as a song as 12 year olds and I have loved it ever since. (Why was Mr. Menzies called Pig Iron?)

  20. Son of Sir Les Patterson says:

    But of course @Helen+Martin it was indeed Thomas Ford, you may have thought that I was misattributing the poem to John Donne but I was referencing a line from Van Morrison’s eponymous song:

    “Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
    Down through the weeks of ages
    In the moss borne dark dank pools”

    Pig Iron Bob got his monniker after the 1938 union action to prevent the export of 300,000 tons of pig iron to Japan, Menzies was sent to remonstrate with the workers (who believed that the ore would be turned into bombs) and the epithet was hurled at him by a woman in the crowd.

  21. Helen+Martin says:

    Son of Sir Les – thank you. Those union lads weren’t so far wrong, though, were they?

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