Monday, 28 April 2008

The sharp dresser

I’m walking across the park and the undulating mounds of grass are being sculpted back into their glory by the council groundsmen. The smell of summer dances around the children kicking a football into the goal, the ground in front still marshy from the weekend’s delayed April showers. The trees are bursting into song with their young leaves and a female blackbird squawks at my passing. I should have followed the path; I need to keep my shoes clean but I’ve been lured away by the opportunity to hear the blades of grass swooshing with each stride forwards.

I’m wearing my favourite piece of clothing; a yellow blouse trimmed with black piping. I love it because it’s so versatile and only good things can happen when I put it on. And I need something good to happen. A job would be good. It’s not like I’m expecting a place on the Rich List although naturally, I wouldn’t pass up the chance to be there either.

Actually, it’s chillier than I expected. Maybe it’s the fear; I’m not very good at interviews. I feel as though every person I pass in the park knows where I’m going, stares at me and laughs, willing me to fail. I try to refocus. What was his name again? That’s it, Mr Price. I wonder if he’s the type of boss who looks for looks or brains? I’ll find out in a minute.

I can see the glass-cubed office building in front of me, the other side of the oak trees and I wonder how they got away with building it there; it sticks out like a snake in an avalanche . I walk into the reception, a minimalist void with a huge desk made of rock. I am politely asked to wait by the lady whose head is just about visible to me. The chairs are squishy but at least I am starting to warm up.

Mr Price arrives in the hexagonal glass lift and he’s a sharper dresser than I expected. He is standing in front of me and as I remove my briefcase from my lap to stand up and greet him, he smiles. So what’s wrong with his smile? I stop to think.

‘Miss Clements, I’m afraid you aren’t suitable for this position.’

‘But..we haven’t...’

‘I’m sorry, it would be a waste of time to go ahead with your interview. The Company places a high value on transparency but unfortunately, there are certain limitations. It would be quite inappropriate for you to be employed as my assistant.’

Unable to believe that I am being rejected yet again, I bow my head down so that he doesn’t see my flushing cheeks and the tears burning my eyes. At that moment, I notice my bare legs. How could I be so stupid as to forget my lucky skirt?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Desert Storm

I no longer feel the heat on my back; the heat that stung, tingled and dissolved into the sound of the ocean that wasn’t there. A wisp of my fringe blows in the fitful wind and I should feel the tickle as it dances across my cheek, carving spirals in the layer of sand deposited there. The grains of sand forced up my nostrils have clogged like sticky rice in a sieve and no air rushes to my head now. I am numb to the padding in my ears and there is no one to speak to me, to call me back. My skin is being eaten, melting into wells and becoming moats around the dunes. As I lay here, the trenches swallow me and the dunes become mountains that I will never climb. I am diminishing, my silent screams falling on deaf ears, being whisked into a whirlpool of regret and heat, forbidden from ever landing on top of the pile. Instead, I leave my corpse because it has become too cumbersome in this furnace; my limbs are baked, my heart charred and only my soul is light enough not to be reaped by the scythes of glass disguised as solid sand, dangling over me like icicles from the overhang of a precipice. I’m falling, falling, up into the sky and beneath me a snake traces SOS in the sand. The air is cooling, damp and I am calm, coming to rest on the finest wisp of cloud. I am no longer fighting for breath. I wonder; do I see camels crossing the desert with brightly coloured rugs slung over their backs? I wonder; what story will they tell when they find me? A sudden gust lays a blanket of dignity over my rancid carcass. They’ll never find me.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

An Experiment

Today’s posting is all about catching up. It’s been an extremely hectic week what with the dog attacking my mother and our dog, subsequent visits to the doctor and vet, school holidays, Jack’s birthday, Jack’s birthday party, Andy being ill, Andy laying floors in three bedrooms and the upheaval associated with that and the usual stress and strains of everyday life. Added to that, I found my Sussex Saturday quite hard going so I’ve not really felt like writing since. But I’m back. And I’m feeling a little experimental. I’ve missed writing responses to five prompts from Sarah Salway so I’m going to try and combine all of them in one AND try to keep it to three hundred words. Here goes ....

He wasn’t the worst looking man in the room. Second worst, maybe; the other one had already collapsed in the corner, snoring. The glitter ball rotating from the ceiling in the Working Men’s Club was throwing out blobs of silver, purple and gold but its axis reflected a beam of white light vertically down onto the top of the man’s head beneath. He too was gyrating, arms like windmill sails, revealing sweat patches under his arms, framed by the sleevelessness of his tank top. A procession of young girls sidled away, giggling behind their hands. The object of Sheila’s musings was temporarily alone in his space; a lull in the music as one track faded and a new one began and his reliance on a floor-filler to follow was looking likely to be met. It was ‘Stairway to Heaven’; too old for most in the room but the DJ always played at the end of the evening. No one would meet the man’s gaze, the bare floor surrounding him grew like the ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond. Only one person didn’t retreat. Sheila walked over to him. The outer circle of onlookers tightened. He had no escape.

‘Don’t worry, darling. Just hold on tight and you’re in for the ride of your life.’

He said nothing.

‘D’you know, when I was sixteen, I wanted the dream house, the tall dark, handsome man and two kids. Things never quite turn out how you think though do they?’

Still he said nothing. He was speechless as she took his hands and rested them on her hips after she’d wriggled up and sat atop her walking frame.

‘You’re never too old to be a rock chick.’

The caretaker was beginning to stack the chairs but the audience wasn’t going anywhere.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The story behind the scar

Once again, Monty has decided to write in response to Sarah's prompt. As I think he's feeling a little delicate still (and perhaps because I'm feeling a little bit guilty for some reason) it only seems right not to steal his limelight so I won't be writing my own today.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Everything looks different

Everything looks different. It’s a different day, I’m sure. Yesterday, I had spaghetti bolognaise and today, a lamb curry with apricots and a peshwari naan. So it is definitely a different day. I think it was sunny yesterday evening too. Tonight we can see the sun and the moon together, in the same sky, a bit like when my teenagers and toddlers actually make it to the same dinner table.

The dog’s in a better frame of mind than yesterday, less jumpy. He’s sniffing things less; definitely less nervous than he yesterday when he jumped at the slightest sound. And I had thought he was deaf; another one of my misjudgements. I wonder if he’s forgiven me for the other day yet? He won’t look me in the eye and I’m not sure if that’s out of respect for my status in his pack or out of contempt for me. His face is looking a little less swollen but his eyes are weary and the flesh on his injured cheek hangs lower than the other one. The dried blood is still visible under the stubble on his forehead and from certain angles he looks hard; from others, beaten up.

Still, he seems happy enough and we’re taking the same route as last night. I don’t make a point of walking him at a particular time each day but it’s often after dinner which in itself, is not always at regular times depending on various children’s activities. So I am surprised to pass the same man amongst the trickle of commuters presumably arriving back on the train from London. It was a man who looks uncomfortable in his position as city gent, who would be happier in more rural surroundings. He is bearded, wearing a green jacket and carrying a rucksack. I wonder what’s in it? Yesterday, he smiled because I moved onto the grass verge to allow him more space on the pavement. Today, I don’t notice because I am already wondering how I came to be in the same spot at the same time so accidentally. Maybe he didn’t smile. Maybe he had a bad day. Did I imagine he looked cross? I keep walking, past the school and I hear a young child crying. I saw it yesterday; a man in his thirties, herding two youngsters out of the front door of a house opposite, the smallest child crying, clutching a white cloth. I’d thought that they must have had tea at their Grandma’s and are sad to be leaving her. But two days running? And where’s the mother? And if it’s not Grandma’s, why is it so awful to be going home?

I preferred yesterday. I’m tired of today, tired of walking and seeing the same people who keep changing their stories. Tomorrow’s another day and I’ll take a different route.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Broken Dreams

Well, I think that Sarah’s prompts for the last two days have been spookily prophetic. What a couple of days we’ve had. There is not one iota of fiction in my tale that follows.

We’ve had our lovely dog, Monty, since he was eight years old. We’ve no idea of his history except that in his last home he was tied up outside all day in all weathers. He was only with them for four years so before that, who knows? He’s never said and it’s been a matter for speculation over the years.

We recently registered our interest in taking in another rescue dog from the same organisation although apparently there has been some split between its organisers and one half takes in dogs from Ireland and the other doesn’t. Our contact belongs to the half who do.

Having worked out that Monty is fine with female dogs, we thought it would be nice for him to have doggy company. It wasn’t long before we had a phone call to say that an appropriate bitch had just arrived from Ireland and that we could go and meet her at the kennels. It was a long, long journey through torrential showers, thunder lightning. Our youngest child felt sick all the way there and my husband, all the way back. An omen, perhaps?

We had a choice between Sasha, a very nervous dog who had been under-nourished and ill-treated and Cassie who was happy, lively, confident and very friendly. Sasha obviously needed time to adjust to her new situation and a quiet home which ours certainly isn’t so it seemed sensible to choose Cassie. Aside from the weather, the journey home with her went well. We stopped off at the local pet store to buy a new collar, food dish and dog treats for her.

The introduction went well. Monty had a little snap at her out on a walk following which she seemed to avoid looking at him, meaning that he was still top dog. We knew that this might change at some point because the females are usually dominant. When they were taken out into the garden late at night, Cassie leapt on Monty for trying to get through the door back into the house before her; this was a sign that the tables were turning. The night passed peacefully with both dogs sharing the downstairs space without incident.

In the morning, I fed the dogs and took them out individually for walks. This was to be a busy week with my husband taking time off work to lay flooring upstairs and our youngest son’s birthday on Thursday; we had to go into town to buy his present. We were in Argos when my mobile rang and my husband joked ‘I wonder who the dog’s eaten?’. It was our second eldest son in a panic. My mother, who had been babysitting, had given a crust of bread to each dog. Monty had finished first and looked over to see if Cassie had finished hers. She went for him, clamping her jaws around Monty’s face. My mother tried to separate them, was bitten on both legs by Cassie and was knocked to the floor. She shouted for the two youngest children to fetch their older brother but they were too terrified to move. Eventually, he heard the noise and came running. He tried to pull Cassie off Monty but couldn’t do so without risking further injury to Monty’s face as she was gripping tight. In the end he had to hit Cassie to stun her into letting go. This worked and he threw her out into the garden. Unfortunately, this was the first time that she had been let out there off-lead and she took the opportunity to disappear through the hole the foxes have been making bigger. I went out into the street to see her running after the postman with her tail wagging. I called her and luckily, she came back to me. I hauled her into the house and shut her in the study.

I managed to persuade my mother who was obviously quite shaken, to let me take her to the Minor Injuries Unit. Her skin was too thin to stitch but they dressed the wounds and gave her antibiotics. She has to go back again today. I’m not sure I would have been as calm as she was by the end of yesterday.

I took Monty to the vet and they shaved part of his swollen head, gave him antibiotics and painkillers. He has to go back on Friday.

A lady from the organisation we got her from came to collect Cassie at 4.30pm. We bought fish and chips for dinner and I spent the evening sitting with Monty who looked very sorry for himself indeed. He will be writing his own account of this traumatic experience once he’s up to it.

As for getting another dog, we won’t be. At least, we won’t have two dogs at the same time if you get my meaning.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Bottled Up

She’s late. About thirty years late but she’s here now. Almost. The metal handle is cold under her palm and as she pulls it down, the perspiration causing her hand to slip; she wonders if she should just go with the instincts of her body, let go and run. But it’s too late. Much too late and she hears the soft and deep Irish accented voice of a man travelling through the void which has appeared and is yawning wider and wider between them through the open door. Her legs are numb and she wonders how they will carry her down that aisle of light from inside the room which floods the corridor through the doorway. But they do. Strange powers this man has, indeed. And so soon.

‘Maria? Pleased to meet you. Sit down there, won’t you?’

Her eyes adjust to the light and her mouth organises rehearsed responses to the formalities of introduction. He summarizes her case history and she listens from above. He seems kind, wears a brown jacket and has sandy hair. He leans sympathetically towards her and gazes directly into her eyes, searching. Because of who he is, she wonders if he knows that she is watching from up there, that her answers aren’t real, that she is somewhere else. She drifts off again.

He shows her a room. It’s the one she’s been avoiding. He takes her hand in his and it is just the right temperature – tepid – and it is square and firm. She can feel by its smoothness that he is hardly older than her but that he is strong. He is there. And that’s the last time she thinks about him because she is looking at the shelves around the room.

There are tears, bottled and labelled, going right back to when she was a little girl. The first time she fell off her tricycle. The first day at school. When she couldn’t learn her French verbs. When she lost her first boyfriend. When she lost her father. Her husband. Her cat. They were all there. They looked neat, all facing the same way, ordered. About half the way along, the bottles were empty and clean, sparkling and waiting to be filled with laughter.

There is another shelf underneath, in the shadow of the one above. It, too, is home to a line of bottles. She has to squint with her eyes to read the smudged labels. They look as though they have been fingered, opened too regularly. The insides of the glass in each one are stained and dark. Instinctively, she knows she has been there before, that there is no need to look inside them now. She sees that this shelf is full.


‘Yes?’ and she returns his gaze and smiles.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Night Train

Please see Monty's blog for today's response. It's more his thing than mine.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Museum of Love

There is no entrance fee for The Museum of love although a generous donation is warmly appreciated. Once you’re in there, there’s no going back so it’s best not to go in until you’re sure you’re ready. You will, no doubt, see others milling around. You may even exchange knowing glances as you linger in front of the exhibits. You may find it useful to talk to them about what you see but it’s better to leave it until the end or it will spoil your enjoyment of the present. Make sure you sit down on the benches provided and above all, take your time. There’s no need to rush, it’s open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can even get a season ticket; this is what most people do in the end. There is no guide to the museum. It is more important for you to find your own way around. However, be warned; many cases of people claiming to offer guides which are, in fact, useless. If you need a break whilst you’re browsing, do so. There will be plenty of others doing the same and even if there aren’t, enjoy your own company for a while. On warmer days, it is recommended that you bring refreshments with you provided that you consume them away from the exhibits. It can become extremely hot in the museum at times and consequently, we do not recommend it as a suitable place for children under the age of sixteen. Occasionally, the museum showcases exhibits that are of particular relevance and interest to the viewing public. Details of these will be advertised in the national press. We hope that you enjoy your visit and look forward to seeing you again in the not too distant future.

The Eighth Deadly Sin

I have my own science. If you look up into the sky, you will see masses of cotton wool hanging there. Now, you might be wondering how it stays there. The answer is that it is attached to fine threads, so fine that sometimes pilots can’t see them and they break them with their wings. Anyway, up to one hundred threads may be holding the cotton wool in place. The other end of each piece of thread is tied to the moon. Obviously, the moon moves around and takes the cotton wood from one side of the world to another. The consequence of this is that eventually, the cotton wool disintegrates through wear and tear. It becomes especially brittle in the winter months. At this time, it also takes on a greyish tinge. But this is only an illusion; when it finally breaks down to the extent that the threads can no longer support its weight, gravity (see my forthcoming paper on this subject), small pieces – ‘flakes’, although I’m not entirely happy with this terminology – fall from the sky and land on the ground. If you want to carry out your own research on these occasions, I would suggest that the following apparatus would be useful: a piece of coal, a carrot, a woolly hat and a scarf. It is advisable, in the interests of health and safety, to wear thick rubber boots and a pair of gloves. You see, even though the cotton wool has broken down, when you try to roll it up into a ball, some of its properties will remain such as absorbing dog poo from the grass. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to feel the cotton wool through the boots; you will, especially when it has freshly fallen and that unique squeakiness when compressed by a weight will still be in evidence. You see, evidence is crucial otherwise we fall into the realms of creativity. Creativity, the eighth deadly sin; not being able to see things for what they are.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

It's a dog's life

Sarah's prompt for today is Wild animals I have known and Monty seems to be bursting with ideas. Personally, I'm pretty shattered so I'll leave it up to him for today.

Monday, 7 April 2008

My First Bedroom

I can’t remember my first bedroom. I can’t remember my first house. I can remember random bits of goings on. A goldfish which died and floated on its side, eating fish fingers. A small black and white television, Opportunity Knocks, The Generation Game and way, way back, something hosted by Cliff Richard and Sandy Shaw on the Eurovision Song Contest. There was the Beatles’ All You Need is Love and a very floppy 45 record my sister had which probably came out of a comic. She went to Brampton Down School for Girls where they wore straw hats and had tuck boxes. I went to a nursery where I won a pop-up puppet for my eggs in a basket made out of Plasticine and then I went to another school on the corner where we played British Bulldog at breaktime and sang Morning Has Broken in a sunny room to someone playing an upright piano. I remember my nanny and a French lady called Francoise. I remember the Red Arrows flying over, going to see a hovercraft at the airport and being sent home to build igloos in the garden when it snowed heavily. I remember lying across the red leather seat of our Triumph 2000, the lines of stitching making lines on my cheeks as we went along the roads through the flat marshes on a Sunday listening to Sing Something Simple on the radio. I remember a French onion seller on a bike, my red tricycle with the yellow wheels, bonfires in the garden in autumn and Alfie the collie dog next door at the vicarage.

This evening I’ve been for a walk with a 91-year-old dog who tries to bite every other male dog he meets, a 5-year-old on her first outing with an iPod in her pocket (her last, I’ve decided) and a 3-year-old who insisted on coming even though he was obviously far too tired, moaned, pulled me in the opposite direction to the dog, needed to go to the toilet in a bush, tried pull the head off someone’s pampas grass and at one point clung onto some railings firmly and refused to move. Next time, I’m going on my own. At the time of writing, I’m talking to my eldest son on MSN about the effects of a Pepper Passion Pizza he ate at the weekend, which guitar he should buy, negotiating the price of said guitar with his grandmother, fielding sales calls from people who want to give me a free kitchen and trying to think what I have got to do for tomorrow. Oh, and I’m trying to remember my first bedroom.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Applcant

CECIL Hello, Bert, good to meet you. I’m Cecil Longfellow, Managing Director of Lifeline Bus Company. It’s a family business, started by my father although now we grown and employ forty people. My colleague here is Bill Trowthorpe, he was a driver for us for thirty years who has recently been, er, retired. Please take a seat.

BILL If you wouldn’t mind, that one there would be better. We’re saving that one for disabled interviewees and people with young children.

CECIL First of all, let me explain the direction this interview is going to take. We’ll start by asking you a few questions about your employment history, about yourself, we’ll discuss the role, its benefits etc and then there’ll be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have.

BERT Right.

BILL Would you mind just tucking your bag under the seat there please? Thank you.

CECIL Can you just give us an overview of your previous jobs, Bert?

BERT Well, when I left school, I worked down at the timber yard. I started off just tidying up, stacking and things and then they trained me up to go on the till. Customer service and all that, you know. I was there for about three years and by the end, I was made Acting Supervisor on Saturdays.

BILL Can we see your ticket?

BERT Ticket?

CECIL I think he means certificate. We can leave that part until the end. Go on.

BERT I left there when they had to lay some of us off. Recession, like. Got a job helping out at the fruit and veg stall at the market. They said I was good at the selling bit. You know, ‘Six bananas for a pound! Git your bananas ‘ere! Six bananas for a pound! Or apples and pears ....’

BILL Stairs!


CECIL (coughs) So, how long were you at the market?

BERT Well, the boss went up to collect the stuff and then we’d start set-up at about eight. It gave us time to ‘ave a full English before the punters...

CECIL No, no, I think you misunderstood. I meant, how many years did you work there?

BERT Oh, none, it was six weeks.

CECIL So it was quite short then?

BERT Six weeks.

BILL Seat squeaks. Damn potholes.

CECIL And what was your next job?

BERT Well, I had a bit of time just doing this an’ that.

BILL Miss the cat, missed the cat! Ding!

BERT An’ then I got a job cleaning in the mall.

CECIL And did you enjoy that?

BERT Yeah, it was good. People always stopped to ‘ave a chat.

CECIL So you had lots of experience of interacting with the public then?

BERT Yeah, right.

CECIL And how long were you there for? I mean, how long were you employed as a cleaner?

BERT Two weeks.

BILL Tweet, tweet, let’s see if we can take out a birds nest. Everyone one on the top deck, duck! Oh, f***, that was a big branch.

CECIL And after that?

BERT Well, I went on a bit of a holiday with the missus. Needed a break. Very stressful cleaning, you know.


BERT After that, I managed to get some work with a mate of mine. Just helping out. You know, labouring on site.

CECIL Which site was that then?

BERT His nan’s garden. She had a lot of weeds needed pulling. She’s getting on a bit.

BILL All aboard!

CECIL Lots of weeds?

BILL Tickets please!

BERT Er, yeah. Since then I haven’t had a look-in.

BILL Book him! Ten pounds penalty.

CECIL So you haven’t worked since then?

BERT No. But it’s not that I don’t want to.

CECIL Can I just ask, what attracted you to the idea of being a bus driver?

BERT Well, I get on well wiv people and I like to keep movin’ so I reckon I’m well suited.

CECIL And how do you think you would cope with the stress of an angry passenger who has missed an appointment because you’re late due to an accident or roadworks?

BERT I wouldn’t be bovvered at all.

CECIL Good. I think that’s everything from our end. Can I just check the spelling of your surname? Should it be 'Harris'?

BERT H A R R S. Like my old boss was always saying, ‘There’s no I in team’.

CECIL Right. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask us? (Looks sideways at Bill, who’s nodded off. He slaps him across the back of the head. He wakes up with a jolt and falls off his chair.)

BILL Sorry, officer, I was distracted by a passenger.

BERT No, except what day d’you get paid?

CECIL We pay our drivers on Fridays. Unless there’s a problem in the office and then you get two pays at once.


CECIL Well then, if there’s nothing else then that concludes everything and we’ll be in touch shortly.

BERT Any idea when?

CECIL Not exactly. We’ll send a letter out tomorrow but when you get it depends on the post. It’s out of our hands, really. It’ll come when it comes.

BERT Like driving a bus! Bye then! (Gets up to leave) Which way did I come in? (Tries the cleaning cupboard door and then the correct one. He exits.)

CECIL Well then, Bert, what do you think? Do you think he’s the man for the job?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Floating away

At around 11 o’clock, my husband slips my glasses off my face because I have fallen asleep in bed watching television. I have fallen into a black abyss where tides roll repeatedly onto deeply shelving beaches, racing towards ramshackle timber cafes. I run from one cafe to another to escape the wave, the one that’s always on the horizon. I slip into a black hole and a different scene, a watery bed of sea, thigh deep and I wade out for miles and miles, dodging sharks fins and exotic tanned men on lilos sipping cocktails. I sail into a lagoon with water tumbling over a cliff face, refreshing the plunging indigo depths with billions of air bubbles. A yacht drifts by and on it are small children, too young to be in the water. There are parrots and it is desperately hot. Everyone’s wearing white. There’s a hotel up above with arches and bougainvillea trailing down its whitewashed walls. A dirt track leads away from its reception up a hill to a car hire office. I’ve forgotten my licence. I need a car to get back to the airport so that I make the plane home to meet my husband. They only speak Greek. I get a bus to the airport and it follows the coastal road. The terminal is full of queuing people. I need a drink of water. I don’t remember the flight. I wonder if I made it this time around.

At around 7 o’clock, I slip my glasses on and go downstairs to feed the cats. I can see exactly where I’m going; my view of the world is framed by a pair of reddish brown boxes. It’s a lot easier when you’re awake, there’s less to deal with. It all looks smaller in the day.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Twitchy Woman

There’s a woman. I first saw her sitting opposite me at a desk on the other side of the room at an evening class. But she never stayed long. She has bobbed straight hair, a perfect small nose and eyes which look simultaneously angry, scared and immensely sad. She has a long white neck so that when she flicks her head – which she does, often – her mousey hair swings neatly before falling back into place. Because she’s so lean, the structure of her neck is visible with every turn of her head. Her cheekbones are perfectly symmetrical and the gentle hollows beneath each one chiselled like chalk pits. She wears little make-up although She’s elegant but her clothes are unremarkable. Jeans, probably. But they’re neat. Shoes? I know she always wears flat heels, possibly because she’s so tall. Taller than me, that’s for sure and I’m not short, even for a man; I can see that much from a distance, see that her legs are long and graceful but obviously I can’t get that close or she’ll start to notice that I’m watching.

One day, she’d been crying, looked more twitchy than usual and never came back after a coffee break. I wondered what had happened to make her so sad, so on edge. One day, I saw her in the doctor’s surgery. She slipped into the waiting room wearing black gloves and she sat on a chair which she shifted so that her back was into the corner; her head was lowered and she shoved her hands into the gap between her thighs. She would not look up, just twitched and sighed and looked scared. Another time, I saw her in the DIY store. She was hugging a colour chart to her chest and fingering a paint pots as if divining their contents. Years had now passed since our first encounter yet she still had the same hairstyle, still walked like a haunted model, twitching. I was still worried for her, curious, yet glad that she might get some pleasure from choosing paint. Life couldn’t be all that bad. I wondered when I’d see her again.

There’s this man. At first, I wasn’t interested; my head was still too messed up. In fact, I would have had him down as the same sort who hung around outside the dressing rooms at the shows, hoping for a glimpse of bare flesh. But I was wrong. One night at evening class, I was in such a state that I couldn’t even get the coffee machine in the refectory to work, my fingers were shaking so much that I kept missing the slot. He came up to me, took my change and got it going first time and even made a joke about his magic touch. I was so grateful. More than I could have ever predicted. You see, it was the first act of kindness shown to me by another in a long time and I wept in the toilets for half an hour afterwards. I couldn’t face going back in, didn’t want him to see my blotchy face but at least he’d given me a reason to get better. I went to the doctor and he was there for me too and I just knew that I’d been right about him. I even saw him one day when I was out choosing paint for my new house; I was having trouble so it was no surprise that he should appear to me. I really can’t believe my luck. I can’t believe my luck can last so I’m not leaving it to chance. He doesn’t know I follow him. He doesn’t know how important he is to me.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Exploring Somewhere You Know Well

Once again, Monty has stolen my thunder (only metaphorically because as we have already established, he doesn't like loud noises) so I don't want to step on his toes and go over old ground. You know what these creative types are like! If you'd like to read his ramblings then please click on the title or here.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Getting The Star Treatment

She works in the local garden centre. If you met her elsewhere, you probably wouldn’t imagine her either amongst the plants or in the coffee shop where she actually works. She has long, straightened, highlighted blonde hair pinned up in a slide in a girlish way so that the rear view of her is almost pleasant but her hard, liner-rimmed blue eyes and angular facial features offer a clue to the way in which she is likely to treat you if you have the nerve to turn up expecting to be served. There is a tattoo on the inside her wrist; a star and some writing that is impossible to decipher perhaps because of its unskilful execution or maybe even that her manner is so abrupt that she never lingers long enough in one place for fear of engagement with her customers.

I didn’t have much choice, really. Went down the Job Centre and it was either cleaning at a hotel or here, serving up coffee to stuck-up old people too sad to have a life of their own. We have a laugh in the kitchen alright and you get a free lunch and it’s not bad either. But you wouldn’t believe the people what come in ‘ere. There’s a couple of old bags that come every 2 weeks. I mean, they turn up about half-nine on Tuesdays before I’ve even got the stuff out. One of ‘em always has tea and the other asks for a decaf latte which is a real pain in the arse. What’s the point of that, anyway? I bet they’re not short of a bob or two but they’re so tight they always share a cake. They spend ages standing there deciding which one they want which really winds me up. Then, the other day, they both came in with vouchers for half price cake and guess what? Yeah, right, they both had a cake. Funny, isn’t it? Just proves how tight they are. I heard them slagging me off after they’d paid. Something about ‘having a really bad attitude’. What they don’t realise is that I’m rude, not deaf. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the job or anything. After all, I need the cash but you do lose your sense of humour in ‘ere. Can’t wait to get out. Back to my old job. I’d love them come to see me then. Get my own back. Just waiting for the phone call and I’m off. Back to being a stand-up comedienne; I’m gonna be a star, you know.