LOCAL OF THE WEEK
by Malcolm Baxter, Invertary Standard Editor
Betty McLeod, 89, was born in Invertary. For many years she owned the town's only underwear shop—Betty's Knicker Emporium. When the business hit hard times, Betty sold it to Rainne Benson, but stayed on as the shop's resident "underwear mascot". (This was through a clause in the sale contract that gave her resident rights in the shop and building until her death. The Standard is still investigating whether this contract was valid.) The underwear shop is now closed and the building is owned by Lake Benson, Rainne's eldest brother. He has established a thriving security business out of the location. Betty still has resident rights in the building and spends her days working behind the counter in the sales part of Lake's business. The Standard has yet to establish if this arrangement is voluntary on Lake's part or if Betty has blackmailed her way into the position.
Invertary Standard: Betty, you have an interesting relationship with Lake Benson. Would you like to comment on it?
Betty: You make it sound dirty. (She cackles)
At this point, Betty put her false teeth back in her mouth and fished a paper bag out of her handbag. It contained a Scotch pie, which she munched throughout the rest of the interview.
Invertary Standard: During the lingerie war you stole a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Lake from his underwear shop.The town would like to know what you did with it.
NOTE: The Standard is unable to print the answer to this question due to legal reasons and common decency.
Invertary Standard: During the same lingerie war, you also stole underwear from Kirsty's shop. The lingerie was never recovered. What did you do with it?
Betty: Kirsty told you to ask that didn't she? It's been driving her crazy that she doesn't know what happened to all her precious knickers. She can't stand that I'm smarter than she is. She hates that I outwitted her.
Invertary Standard: Are you going to tell us what happened to the underwear or not?
Betty: What the hell. Why not? I donated it to the old folks home. I should have taken pictures of them wearing it. I could have put the pictures on the interweb. One look at old Gavin wearing a g-string and the war would have been over.
Invertary Standard: Is it true that you're responsible for Harry Boyle getting trapped in Invertary mine?
Betty: That boy is an idiot.
Invertary Standard: He has a genius IQ and runs his own business.
Betty: And he should have gullible tattooed to his forehead. I don't know why people are upset about the mine thing. It all worked out fine. He got the girl. Although why he'd want to go out with a lassie who looks like a vampire I don't know. But then, he's no catch either.
Invertary Standard: The people would like to know where you get your many tartan dresses. No one has seen them in the shops.
Betty: This interview is going down hill fast, son. Next question.
Invertary Standard: Let's talk about your family. You never had any children, were you ever married?
Betty: You know the answer to that. It would have been cruel to waste all of this on just one man. (She waves a hand at her body.) I was a believer in free love before the sixties made it fashionable. I'm the reason Morag McKay started her morality society. Although, I think it was more out of jealousy than about protesting the degeneration of society. I've had many a lover. Many. In fact, just last week I had a little how's-your-uncle with the vicar. He may be a grumpy old arse, but he still has it where it counts. In fact, he...
Invertary Standard: No! No. The people of Invertary don't need to hear that.
Betty: They might learn something. I can run rings around these young folks when it comes to sex. Sure, I'm not as limber as I used to be, but I make up for it with well practiced technique. Half of the young folk today don't have a clue what they're doing. Harry and Magenta are always having sex on their phones. I keep telling the boy, it works better when you're in the same room. And what's with writing notes on your phone anyway? Don't people know you can talk on the bloody things?
Invertary Standard: Aye, okay, I think we've talked enough about your sex life. A lot of our readers like to go through the paper over breakfast and we don't want anybody getting sick. The real question - the one everyone wants answered - is have you ever been in love?
At this point in the interview Betty's usual sarcastic smile faded and she got a faraway look in her eyes.
Betty: There was a boy, once...
Invertary Standard: And?
Betty: Keep your hair on, I'll get there! We were engaged. I was just a lass at the time.
Invertary Standard: What happened?
Betty: He ran off to Edinburgh with my sister. She was pregnant at the time. We don't talk. Although, I did get my nephew to help write up the contract for the shop sale.
Invertary Standard: So you talk to your nephew?
Betty: No. I blackmailed my nephew. I've found relationships are a lot easier to deal with if everyone knows who's in charge. It's me. I'm in charge. Don't you forget it.
Invertary Standard: Is that how you managed to convince Lake to let you act as best man for his upcoming wedding?
Betty: No. That was just common sense. I have more testosterone than all his namby pamby friends put together. You should hear those boys. They come through the shop all the time, whining about their women, worrying about their hair. What happened to real men? Men who hid their feelings, cut their own hair with a rusty blade and knew how to find a g-spot? I'll tell you what happened - the Beatles! They started that boy band craze and now women think men are sexy when they use hair gel and know more about makeup than how to skin a deer.
Invertary Standard: Okay... moving on. The headstone you commissioned. The one with the life-sized sculpture of you resting in the arms of Mel Gibson from Braveheart. Is it true you tried to pose nude for the sculptor but he refused to take the commission unless you were dressed?
Betty just laughed in reply until tears were streaming down her cheeks. The Standard was unable to verify whether this rumour is true or not.
Invertary Standard: Obviously if you're commissioning headstones you must be preparing for the last few years of your life. Do you have a bucket list?
Betty: Last few years? There's nothing wrong with me! I'll have you know, I'm in my prime. Just ask the vicar.
Invertary Standard: Aye, that's not going to happen. Do you have a bucket list or not?
Betty: Right now I'm thinking I should add "give the editor of the Invertary Standard a black eye" to my bucket list. I've got more than a few years left in me yet. My granny lived to 105.
Invertary Standard: Fine. You're nowhere near dying. So do you have anything you'd like to accomplish with the rest of your long, long life?
Betty: Don't think I can't tell when you're being sarcastic. I have a lot of things I still need to do. I've never done a striptease - well, in public anyway. I've never tortured a man - I mean for information. I've never started a war. Or been on TV. Or blown anything up. There's still a lot to experience.
Invertary Standard: God help us all.
Betty: Is that it? Are we done?
Invertary Standard: One last question. Do you have a favourite song?
Betty: Did you pick these questions randomly out of a hat? Is that what passes for journalism these days? Aye, I have a favourite song. It's called Devil Woman. It's my theme song.
At this point, Betty packed up her bag and waddled out of the interview. Leaving a half eaten Scotch pie on her chair.
Next week’s interview is with Reverend Morrison.
I hope you enjoyed this little taste of life in Invertary. You can find out more of what Betty's up to as Lake's best man in Here Comes The Rainne Again. If you think you can stomach it after reading this! :)