Every year they go to some old city around Europe, and once every 4 years or so they go away for a week to some well proper abroad place - like Egypt. I had a postcard from there that read:
Jolly, jolly hot. Indigenous pop. wear far too many clothes. No women here, bar tourists - poss. accounts for warfare (as many women in Israel). Feel donkeys are undervalued. Much dust.
Anyhow, this year they trolled orf to Amsterdam. They stayed at a dead swanky hotel (that had Marmalade, thank heaven cos any jams e.g. strawberry or raspberry annoy the 4 ladies immensely, cos the pips get stuck in their teeth.) As Marjorie says: 'It cannot be beyond the wit of man to strain boiled fruits,' - and fair enough.
Well, they went some art museum but nothing conceptual, of course, cos as my sister Ro says:
'I have a perfectly good idea of concepts without having to have them explained to me via a pile of coat hangers.'
Then, they went to the Anne Frank hiding place museum; which upset them all greatly and they had to retire to a teashop.
Anyhow, across the road from this teashop was this (acc. to them) 'somewhat down at heel' coffee shop. Everyone appeared to having a rather jolly time, however and many of them were smoking. But as Belinda noted:
'Obviously, girls, there is more poverty in Holland than I had imagined; most of those poor souls are having to share cigarettes.'
Then - ding, ding all aboard, ladies - my sister suddenly realises that they are viewing the Dutch experiment in the legalisation of marajuana (dunno how you spell it).
'I say,' says Ro, 'I do believe we are witnessing the partaking of a class C substance!'
And then there was some verbal to and fro, regarding whether marajuana is class C or class B.
However, mebbes the fumes from the joints were wafting across to their teashop or mebbes they all had a mid-life crisis at the same time but, the 4 Joyce Grenfells decided that they should take advantage of narcotics within an entirely legal framework.
Well, they trundle into the coffee shop, looking like the most unlikely of customers (all in floral dress ala Norman Hartnell, all with short permed greying hair and pearl earrings - you get the picture: I'm so not making this up).
They huddle together as they make their way towards the counter, they get a few stares (prob. cos they were acting like 4 anaphalactics in a peanut factory) and the man says:
'Good morning, ladies. Can I help you?'
They were all a little flustered (prob. expecting a bit more cor blimey guvnor type of person) and not entirely sure how to go about such a transaction. So my sister, Ro, being a bit 'let me through, coming through, Englishwoman coming through, my your backs type person' folds her hands (in most lady-like fashion) across her middle, smiles at the coffee shop blokes and says:
'Four of your finest marujuana cigarettes, please.'
No going back now.
The blokes says: 'Of course, ladies, which type?' Which, of course, had 'em all completely foxed and all a twitter. So Marjorie says:
'The type that alters consciousness, please.'
The bloke smiled and said: 'They will all do that my dear ladies. Can I take it you have never indulged in the pleasures of marujuana before?'
'God Lord, of course not,' says Ro, 'We're English.'
I dunno how the bloke kept a straight face. He explains to them that there are many kinds, in different strengths etc etc and recommends something for absolute beginners.
So, they get four coffees, four joints and sit themselves down at a table. Now, my sister Ro, who used to smoke in her salad days, lit up first and took a puff. Belinda, Marjorie and Babs all watched her.
'How is it, dear?' asks Babs.
'Quite unpleasant,' says Ro, and then she pauses and says: 'Hang on, I feel a little light headed. Perhaps we should refrain from continuance.'
Now, Marjorie (who has never smoked in her life) gets all Ghengis Khan about the whole business, lights up her joint, takes the biggest lug ever and starts coughing and spluttering.
Then, Belinda and Babs become a little miffed at what they see as 'shilly shallying'.
Belinda says: 'A million rastafarians cannot be wrong.' She lights up and takes a puff, inhales, leans back and her chair and goes: 'Aahhh!' Babs is now well miffed, she says: 'Belinda! I do believe you have done 'this sort of thing' before.'
Belinda says: 'Not this, dear but I am very keen on a good cigar.' Which is a bit of a relevation to the rest of 'em, esp. to Babs who is very often feeling a little left out of 'things' - what with being a Catholic and all and completely bemused by all argot after 'U and non-U'.
'Well,' says Babs, all pursey mouthed, 'I realise you all consider me rather a puss-kins, but I tell you, girls, I am made of sterner stuff.' She lights up, takes a lug, has a bit of a cough, says: 'What fun!'
Meanwhile, my sister has put her joint out, Marjorie still can't stop coughing, Belinda has a few more lugs and puts her joint out. And as Belinda and Ro are patting (whacking) Marj on the back, getting out handkerchief to stop her eyes and nose from running, what they don't notice is that Babs is going thru the joint, like it's the last one on earth. She gets to the end of it, somehow manages to stub it out in the ashtray and says to the others: 'I simply cannot see the fuss about the whole....oh my heavens...' She tries to stand up but her legs have gone all wobbly but a nice beardy bloke grabs her before she lands on the fall like spillikins (a very, very thin woman old Babs).
So, the other 3 Joyce Grenfells grab Babs up between 'em and drag from the shop. The shop bloke calls out: 'Are you ladies feeling ok?'
My sister calls back: 'Yes, thank you. A most interesting experience.'
They get old Babs out on the pavement, walk along a few feet and tell her to do a bit of deep breathing (thinking it might get the stuff out of her system quicker), but poor old Babs can't hardly put one foot in front of the other, and even tho' she might weigh perhaps 6 stones (and that, after a Mars bar), she turns into a dead weight.
'She has become a leaden octopus,' says Marjorie.
'I do not favour the outcome,' says Belinda (who's a much bigger girl, about a size 18 - used to compete in the decathlon as a girl), 'See here, ladies, if I lean over a little you can load her onto my back, hang onto her and I think we can make it back to the hotel.'
Never, never give old girls any puff - I'm surprised it's not some Roman epigram.
So, they load old Babs onto Belinda's back; Ro holds onto Babs arms and Marj tries to wrangle her legs. It goes fine for a few staggering feet then, suddenly Babs (who hasn't said anything for ages) goes: 'I feel nauseous,' and proceeds to chuck up all over Belinda's head, and then chucks up all over her shoulder. Belinda's like: 'Dear heavens, quickly girls, some of the vomitus is trickling into my eye.'
So Ro, reaches up to wipe it out of Belinda's eye whilst poor old Marj is now in sole charge of all Bab's limbs. Unfortu, Ro only just wipes one bit of vomitus off Belinda's forehead before Bab's chucks up again and now it's in Bab's eyes and on Ro's head; Marjorie just can't keep control of Bab's limbs that are flailing about as she cries:
'Let me off the tram, I am unwell!'
And poor old Belind, dear christ, she's staggering about the pavement like cyclops and she backs into a shop, saying:
'I can't see a blessed thing, what's happening? Dear god almighty, what a pass!'
So, Belinda , with Babs sill on her back slumps backwards against this shop front and they both slide down to the floor. Babs falls over onto her side, passed out. Ro and Marj are busy in the near hopeless effort of wiping a gallon of sick off a civil servant with only a few Kleenex.
The lady in said shop, comes running out saying: 'Has someone had a heart attack? Shall I call the ambulance?' Ro says: 'No thank you dear, just a minor misadventure.' Then Belinda says: 'Where am I?' And Marjorie looks at the shop window, has to squink at it a bit and then says:
'I believe you are collapsed outside a novelty condom shop, dear.'
p.s. the above was all totally true except for names