AUGUST 2017 TCWG

 

 

Ivy Trotter’s Adventure

 

 

‘Mum, I’ll take a day off next week and take you – please, just be patient!’ Carol forced out a dutiful daughter smile. Why did her Mum go on and on about that blessed wedding present? Julie and Sam’s wedding was a month away. Ivy sniffed, and decided that she did not care for her only daughter’s sloppy attitude. Ivy had been thrilled to hear the wedding announcement of her eldest Grandchild Julie. The months had flown by, and now the wedding was imminent. Ivy had set her heart upon buying a nice porcelain ornament for the happy couple. When she and Albert had married all those years ago, in the fifties – nice things like that were hard to come by. Ivy sat down by the window and sighed. They possessed so little in material things when first starting out, but were the richest of couples deeply in love. Albert had been gone nearly two years now, and she desperately missed him every waking moment.

Carol waved goodbye to her Mum sat with the net curtain pulled back to one side. ‘Damn damn damn’ she hissed as she ran down the driveway to her car. Two weeks ago she had promised Mum a shopping trip. Carol knew her mum was bitterly disappointed.   Grimly she drove home, promising to be a better daughter and take her out shopping. What would it take, maybe half a day and some lunch? Carol’s new boss was demanding, and always made her and the team feel guilty if they took annual leave. Carol vowed to go into work the following day and fight the ‘Wildebeest’ for some time off the treadmill.

 

Ivy slept fitfully that night, however by early morning, she came up with a solution to her current shopping woe. Ivy Trotter would go shopping on her own, and she would take a taxi! Leafing through the local village magazine, Ivy found an advertisement for the once a week community bus into Tautumn. Heart beating, Ivy picked up the telephone straight away, and shakily dialled the number before she changed her mind. How lucky was that, they had one space left for today! There was little time to waste. With best hat, coat and handbag, Ivy tore out of the bedroom, straight downstairs, and determinedly locked the front door. The community bus arrived promptly at nine thirty.   All of the hasty breakfast things would have to be cleared up later she guiltily thought to herself.

‘Will this suit you Mrs Trotter, the drop off point is right by House of Hazers?’ Ted the driver smiled as he helped his sparrow like passenger onto the pavement. ‘I’ll be back at four o’clock prompt’

Ivy smiled up at him and muttered ‘oh, I will have to see’ She had rather a lot of shopping to do, and was unsure if there would be enough time. At that moment a motorbike roared passed, so all Ted heard (or thought he heard) ‘I will have a taxi’. He saluted in acknowledgement, and drove off to the next drop off point.

 

Ivy returned a warm smile to the highly polished sales assistant. Her bronze name badge declared ‘Emily Devere, senior beauty consultant’. Stepping forward, she asked Ivy if she might show her the latest perfume that was on promotion?   Well, the red leather chair did look inviting, so Ivy flumped down immediately, and agreed to try out the latest foundation powder too. One hour later, Ivy Trotter looked stunning. She cocked her head from side to side as she looked into the mirror that Emily moved around. ‘Thank you dear, I almost look glam’. Emily’s heart softened, for this funny little lady looked just like her dear old Granny who lived miles away on the Isle of Skye. ‘No, there’s nothing to pay madam’ Emily heard herself say.  Ivy Trotter was astounded, for she now held a small and beautiful gift bag full of ‘beauty products’. ‘Thank you Emily, you have been most kind, and have made the start of my day so special’.

The day continued nicely. Oblivious of time, Ivy floated from one department to another. Eventually, feeling her poor toes throb, she made her way into the buzzing restaurant. A bored waitress perked up when she saw the smartly dressed elderly lady walk past. Ivy felt exhausted, and it showed through on her well made up face. Normally, this would be a self- service restaurant, however the waitress took pity and showed Ivy to a nearby and quiet corner. In next to no time, fish and chips were duly brought – along with a hot pot of English breakfast tea. Ivy sighed and wiggled her toes with pleasure, for they were now released from their cruel captive pair of court shoes.  Looking at her list, Ivy felt she was doing rather well. A frothy navy blue creation sat in a House of Hazers sturdy hat box. The hat made her want to giggle when she first set eyes upon it, for in the centre of all the frothiness, sat a small bird. Ivy blinked, thinking her new glasses were playing up, however the millinery assistant assured the amused customer this was ‘the latest fashion, created by Hugo Humerez’. Ivy was smitten and succumbed. Chewing her lip, she thought now a new dress may also be necessary as the lemon suit set aside at home would be just plain too garish.

The ladies cloakroom beckoned Ivy, so she hastily paid for her meal, and left a generous tip for the kindly waitress. Why on earth had she not done this years ago? Go shopping without her fussing daughter Carol, and be just a bit more adventurous! A harassed looking woman with two little girls hurtled through the cloakroom entrance, and luckily – the door remained open for Ivy, so she was able to walk through with her precious cargo of a hat. The sturdy octagonal hat box was unwieldly for Ivy. Oblivious of her actions, Ivy clipped one of the little girls on the ear. Screaming from the afflicted child ensued for what felt like eternity, so Ivy remained seated in the cubicle until all commotion ceased, and the trio departed. With a click-click, the store tannoy system boomed into action, making Ivy jump.   A silky and soporific voice announced closure of the store in ten minutes time. Customers were urged to make their final purchases and to then make their way out of the store.  ‘House of Hazers thank you for your custom today, and hope to see you again soon’.

A single tear rolled down Ivy’s lined cheek. She had a dress yet still to find, and a special porcelain wedding gift. Her heart beat fast as she sat there in panic, overwhelmed by the failure of her mission.

 

 

Gary the security guard clocked on for his usual stint of night duty at 8pm. By this time of the day, all shelves were replenished, and the House of Hazers store shone sparkly clean once again. Gary whistled as he sped up the now stationary escalator. Ten security screens mounted on a circular desk winked at him as he stepped through the ‘Private No Admission’ door. Hopefully this would be a quiet night as usual, for Gary had quite a list of things to do. Find cheap flights over to Dublin for a stag do he was organising, a birthday present for his eight year old nephew, and best of all – the cup final to watch on replay. Gary had forbidden any of his mates to give away the result, and had avoided all newspapers, along with the television at home. All in all, the ten hour shift would pass by in a flash. Feeling peckish, Gary unwrapped his giant foil pack of sandwiches, and smiled to see his favourite, ham and pickle. Good old Mum, she still fussed over him like a child, despite his twenty two years of age.

 

 

Carol felt shattered. The day had been gruelling, and her boss had been in a particularly foul mood. On this basis she had not dared to ask for a day off, in order to take her mum shopping. There was nothing for it, she would just have to use up a precious Saturday, when normally she caught up on chores. Driving past her mum’s house, she wondered if to call in? Seeing the bedroom light on, Carol decided her mum was going for an early night, so carried on home. A telephone call in the morning would have to do.

 

 

 

Ivy’s eyes were now well adjusted in the low lit dress department. It was a shame there were no helpful assistants around, but at 11 pm there was no alternative. Quickly she moved through the rack, and presently was rewarded with a smart navy dress with jacket. Pink piping, along with oversized pink buttons gave the whole outfit a rather jolly look. Ivy giggled to herself ‘this will go perfect with my little bird hat’. Sat in the ladies cloakroom earlier, Ivy Trotter had experienced what could only be described as an epiphany. No longer would she rely upon her dullard of a daughter, Carol. Since Albert’s passing, it felt to Ivy that she no longer had any say in her own life whatsoever. Carol ruled the roost on matters of food, clothing, Doctors appointments and other inane matters. If it were not for the fact she had two adorable Grandchildren, Ivy now felt she would rather like to kick her daughter into touch. Ivy smiled, thinking that’s a phrase her sixteen year old grandson Jamie would use. Blinking, Ivy realised time was getting on, and she felt absolutely exhausted. Carefully wrapping the outfit in layers of tissue paper, Ivy searched at length under the counter for a nice large carrier bag. Only the largest would do she thought to herself.

 

Gary smiled in smug success. Ten flights out to Dublin with Darrenair at only twenty pounds each was a steal! Quickly he paid, and almost immediately an email pinged into Gary’s mailbox to confirm the booking. Nearly half past eleven, Gary glanced over to the security screens. All seemed well, other than Womenswear seemed to have something odd sat by the central pay desk. Zooming in closer, he realised it was only a pile of tissue paper. Maybe House of Hazers was having yet another sale. Gary made a mental note to tell his mum in the morning, for she loved any chance to pick up a bargain.

 

Puffing from the exertion, Ivy popped back up from the counter, having found a suitably large carrier bag for her new outfit. Meticulously, she counted out one hundred and ten pounds. Finding a clear plastic envelope by the side of the till, Ivy carefully placed all of the money inside. Ivy was an honest woman, and despite her now unconventional shopping spree, she was determined to do the right thing and pay. Peering into the gloom, Ivy found the stairs down to the ground floor. In concentration she trod silently on each step, not knowing if she would encounter an angry security person. Breathing more deeply, thoughts of maybe an angry Alsatian troubled Ivy too.  Fortunately, the china department soon became a salve to Ivy’s troubled soul, for she loved beautiful ornaments. Before long, she found the Italian glassware section, one of her lifetime favourites. There it stood before her, the loveliest vision of a couple entwined in embrace. Carefully Ivy looked at the price label and nearly fainted. Sitting down on a nearby chair, Ivy looked into her vast handbag to see if she had enough money in cash to pay, or maybe find her chequebook.

 

Gary was enjoying the football match on playback. His favourite team were winning, and were four goals up. ‘Go on get in there’ he shouted. Supping a can of larger (against management rules) Gary was relaxed and enjoying the shift. This was the last one for a week, as he’d booked some time off to help his dad build some more wardrobe space at home. Peering at the screens, all seemed to be fine. The window display on west wing of the store looked great. The window dressers had cleverly created a pantomime scene, featuring Cinderella and her coach to the ball. It was school prom time, so House of Hazers would do very well in ball gown sales. He must tell mum to get down and have a look at all that – she loved glitzy clothing, and fancy shoes.

 

Ivy could not believe her luck, for she had just enough cash to pay for the Italian glassware ornament. This would leave her with just five pound coins rattling around in her purse. Julie and Sam would love this wedding gift. They were due to move into their new home shortly, and she knew they only had basics to survive on. The deposit had rendered them nigh on penniless. Getting into the swing of bubble wrap and tissue paper, Ivy deftly found the right sized carrier bag and was soon done. Again, she left the notes carefully tucked into a clear plastic envelope. Ivy by now felt utterly exhausted, but happy. Peering up at the huge face of a wall clock, she was amazed to see that it was 2 am already. What was she to do until morning?

 

 

Gary whooped at the final score, five nil. On a high, he went back onto his phone to search for a birthday present. Gary’s little nephew needed a cool present, what could he give him? In the end, he found just the thing. All the paperwork, and tickets for six visits would soon been winging their way to Gary. Adopting a cage of tigers at Brizzol zoo seemed a really cool thing for his animal mad nephew. Gary peered over at the security screens again whilst gently singing ‘five nil, five nil, five nil, five nil’ All seemed well in the store. He looked at the west wing window again, fascinated by the flamboyant coach and horse scene for Cinderella. Two large shopping bags were hung from one of the horses’ saddle. Those window dressers know a thing or two he thought to himself, clever to show Cinderella had been shopping at House of Hazers.

 

 

A bell rang in the distance, and Ivy moved her hand across to turn the alarm off. Albert would be late for work if she did not get up straight away and make him a nice cup of tea. Opening her eyes, she blinked in terror. This was not her bedroom, nor was Albert by her side. What was happening?   After a few moments, all came guiltily back to Ivy. She had been shopping through the night. Ivy had never ever slept in a coach with two horses before. Looking out of the coach window she saw people quickly walking past, on their way to work no doubt. A road sweeper lethargically swept the pavement outside, with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Looking up to take a puff, his eyes met those of Ivy peering out of the coach. She waved in a convincing regal manner. Shaking his head, the road sweeper moved on. Window display was incredible these days, no wonder everything was so bloomin’ expensive.

Ivy quickly recovered her composure and decided on a plan. The best thing to do, would be to stay put until the store became busy again – then she hopefully might step out of the window scene unnoticed. The plan worked well. Retrieving her two bags, Ivy walked slowly over to the beauty counter, and with the greatest of luck – caught the attention of beauty consultant Emily. ‘Hello dear’ Ivy said smiling. ‘I’ve been a bit daft, and seemed to have mislaid my hat box’. Emily picked up the department phone and telephoned lost property. Thankfully it had been retrieved from the ladies cloakroom the night before. Ivy was relieved, to lose that wonderful hat, without ever having worn it – would have been such a disappointment. Emily could not believe the fact, the store had only been open fifteen minutes or so, and yet this dear old lady had seemed to have done so much shopping! ‘Please, have a seat and I’m sure your hat will be here in a few moments’

Ivy gratefully sat down in that lovely red chair again. She was thrilled with all of her shopping, but best of all, thrilled that she had achieved it all on her on. If you want something doing, do it yourself she muttered under her breath. ‘Would you mind calling a taxi for me dear?’ Emily looked down and smiled at this gutsy little old lady. ‘Yes of course I will, with pleasure madam’.

Ivy could not wait to get back home with her spoils of the night. Just imagine the face of her grandson Jamie, when she told him of her House of Hazers adventure. Ivy was sure she’d heard him tell his mum about a mate who’d deliberately stayed overnight in some Swedish store just for a dare. Jamie would be amazed, maybe he would even put something on that social thingy about her. What’s it called, Twitface?

Advertisements

July 2017 A crumb for the TCWG

HOLIDAY TIME!

Max and Lara were going away on holiday to the planet custard. They were both very excited as had not been to this planet before. Kooloo bear decided to join them right at the very last moment, for he had heard the custard cream biscuits were VERY good! Kooloo was rather a plump bear, and biscuits were his favourite snack at bedtime with a glass of milk.

Night before the holiday, and there was much excitement. Kooloo kept packing and unpacking his inflatable Duck. Max and Lara chose lots of stripy costumes to pack, as planet custard had great diving pools!

In the morning, a special space cart arrived to whisk them away on holiday. They had been zooming along for about five minutes, when all of a sudden – there was a VERY LOUD clonking noise. The space cart stopped. Oh dear! Something was wrong with the engine. Lara started to cry, thinking she would not be able to go on holiday after all.

Max to the rescue! He had a brilliant idea. Max had wisely packed a huge box of sausages for them to cook at supper time. He suddenly realised they may be able to help them get out of this pickle. They waited for the next space cart to come along, and as it approached, they all shouted STOP! A string of twenty sausages were unwound, and tied onto the back of the rescue space cart. What a BUMPY and LUMPY journey. Lara worried the sausages may burst, however in next to no time, they all arrived safely at Port Gloop.

Max, Lara and Kooloo stepped off the space cart to the jolly sound of drums and trumpets. The custard band played a welcome march. Hundreds of balloons rose high into the sky. They were on holiday at last! The sun shone, and pools of custard glistened bright yellow. Kooloo bear’s whiskers twitched, and his beady eyes shone bright – for there in front of him sat a HUGE mountain of custard creams!

 

Max, Lara and Kooloo bear slept well that first night of their holiday, dreaming of all the fun and adventures they would have together. Custard cream crumbs lay all over the bedroom rug. I wonder WHO made that mess…

 

June 2017 TCWG ENTRY

 

Alternative Therapy

 

Plans were coming along nicely. A pitch had been allocated to me in a busy footfall area of the show. This was going to be my fifth year of attendance at Dintchester county show, and after speaking with Susie Blom, manager of pitch placements, I was excited to think this promised to be my best year yet.

‘Dear girl’ she said, ‘ensure you have plentiful supplies of drums, bells, incense, or whatever it is you yoga people use’

I smiled to myself. Susie Blom was efficient up to a point, with her knowledge of tickets sold ahead of the three day show, however – Yoga was clearly a mystery to her. Maybe she imagined the Dali Llama would be coming along!

‘Thanks for the heads up Susie, I will err, make sure there’s a good supply of everything’

In fact, equipment was minimal for yoga, and that was almost the beauty of it all. Just exercise mats, and bolsters for support. Last year, I had the pleasure of seeing my first manual in print; ‘Yearn and Learn Basic Yoga’ by Katie Binns (that’s me!). Only yesterday, a delivery of two hundred volumes had thankfully arrived, so perfect for promotion at the show.

 

The sun was shining as I set off at dawn. The boot of my poor car jammed solid with mats and books (no bells). A good journey, with one short stop for petrol and coffee. Driving along, I mused of who I might bump into, and looked forward to catching up with acquaintances from previous years. A great bunch of tradespeople who helped each other out at the drop of a hat. We shared a common bond and passion for our pitches to do well, spreading enthusiasm and desire to learn more. Tom Gordon was a genius with his woodcarving skills, and to date had never experienced serious injury amongst his protégé.   Linda Bell drew massive crowds with her taster classes of meditation, a calm and quiet pitch for sure. My favourite was an Irish artist, Patrick O’Leary. His sing song charm of a voice spilled over into his paintings too. He produced dreamy watercolours of faraway places.

Susie Blom ticked arrivals off her clipboard whilst darting in and out of the exhibitors’ entrance gate. ‘Darling, there you are’ she puffed ‘I’ve had to move your pitch along a few spaces – you will be opposite Kara the clairvoyant’

Her brow was furrowed, and a certain look in her eye forbade me to argue with that. Can’t be helped I thought to myself, I’m sure Kara will be a pleasant enough neighbour for the show duration. Driving along the bumpy grass, I finally found my pitch 42, row B. The cream marquee looked simple in comparison to my neighbour, whose tent bore twin peaks with colourful bunting strung in-between. In two hours, I was fully set up with books displayed on one side, along with mats and bolsters for sale. Fifty chairs were set out for the short presentation I would give on the hour each morning. For those signing up, each afternoon would be a basic yoga class. Simple movements demonstrated like Dolphin and the Mountain pose. In my first year at the show, I had been far too ambitious for my pupils. Three mature ladies required tender ministrations of a first aider, for they nosedived after attempting a Warrior 3 pose.

Hearing a babble of voices outside of my tent, I decided a drink and something to eat was in order. Also, I was keen to acquaint myself with fellow exhibitors.  A woman dressed in long flowing black robes strode across, just as I nosed out into the fresh air.

‘I’m Brenda, Shamanic drummer extraordinaire’ she said. My mind rattled furiously, trying to think of any morsel I may know on shamanic drumming. I knew nothing. ‘Ah, hi Brenda, good to meet you’ I nervously continued. ‘I’m Katie, and looking forward to a long weekend of yoga’. Brenda stared at me unmoved. Shamanic drumming and yoga would not enjoy a meeting of minds I instinctively thought. ‘Have you met Kara’? Brenda asked.

‘She’s very good you know, the best clairvoyant in the West Country’ Brenda’s hands seemed to be defiantly placed on her hips, and they looked enormous, (her hands). In a perspiring moment of panic, all I could think of were Brenda’s two enormous hands frantically banging on shamanic drums, whilst I tried to run a yoga class. Not a great start. Already I was missing my fellow exhibitors.

 

In the event, I did not meet up with Kara until day two. She wore a long purple velvet dress, with an eclectic bright yellow cape. We bumped into each other at the breakfast café for exhibitors. ‘Oh God, can you budge up a bit, otherwise I’m going to drop these fried eggs’ she shouted. I jumped, but did as I was told. ‘Sorry about that’ she said. ‘I’m starving, and have got a list as long as your arm to get through today’. After demolishing her first fried egg on toast she then came up for air. ‘I’m Kara, and in the tent opposite from you’ she said grinning. I liked her straight away. You know that rightly or wrongly, sometimes in life you just meet someone- and make a decision on whether you like or dislike? Kara possessed an open face that radiated hope and sunshine;  her long blonde hair was scraped back into a no nonsense plait. We chatted for quite some time until we realised gates were opening again in five minutes. Laughing, we ran back to our prospective marquees.

‘See you for a drink in the bar later’ she shouted…

 

Day two went well. All my books nearly sold, just ten volumes left. Classes for day three were fully booked. Pitch costs were covered, along with a handsome profit. Genuinely, I enjoyed this show, and it was not just about the money aspect. Teaching yoga, had been a passion of mine for a long time, and participating in this show was like the icing on the cake really. Meeting different people, and making friends was what it was all about. The day had gone well, with a great bunch of people leaving my tent with a new interest in yoga. Hopefully they would follow it through as promised. One old chap refused to extinguish his pipe, and I feared he would set alight to himself. In the event, he had a choking fit, and staggered off halfway through. Maybe he nipped next door into Brenda’s marquee for a spot of shamanic drumming.

 

The bar was noisy and lively. I waved across to Patrick O’Leary, making a mental note to catch up later. Kara looked into her glass of wine morosely, and I sensed that she needed to talk. ‘How’s your day been Kara’? I attentively asked. ‘Been rubbish’ she said. Clearly we were in for the duration, and her sunny countenance had long gone. ‘The thing is, we were about to get married’ she said.

‘I will go and get us some more wine’ I shouted. Nipping off, I wondered just exactly what it was bothering Kara. An hour later, I was really none the wiser. Clearly she was in no mood to talk, as too upset. I felt completely inadequate, and yet really wanted to help my new friend. ‘Look, if there’s anything I can do to help, please ask me’ I said. Kara’s face brightened, and giving me a big hug, she disappeared out of the bar.

 

Day three, and the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky. All was well with my world until suddenly, a frantic Kara appeared in front of me. ‘Oh my God Katie, you’ve got to help me’ she yelped. Nonplussed I ushered her into my marquee. ‘Whatever is the matter, and of course I will help!’ I said whilst, steadying her shaking body. Looking back on this eventful day, I still cannot believe that I would promise, let alone conduct her first three clairvoyant readings, whilst she ran off to meet up with a man called Lester. I am a person of integrity, and absolutely hate lies in any shape or form. Like a rabbit caught up in philanthropic headlights, I agreed to help the charismatic Kara. Luckily, my yoga talk did not start until eleven am, so I was easily able to cover for her.

 

 

My first client to appear, was a nervous middle aged man called Ken. With heart pounding, I initially floundered around trying to give him a clairvoyant reading that would reassure. Part of me wanted to cry with the fear at what I was doing, and yet another part of me felt unnervingly happy. Kara had sat me down for twenty minutes prior, to give me helpful hints on how to conduct a reading. I took a deep breath and continued. ‘There’s a good person about to come into your life’ I said. Ken’s face relaxed a little. ‘Do you know a lady called Gwen?’ I asked. Silence for a moment, then he replied ‘I have a friend from work, whose wife is called Gwen’. The reading continued, and as each moment passed, I strangely felt more confident. Shifting in my seat, I silently cursed the purple boned dress that Kara had made me put on. It was hopelessly too small, and the neckline plunged too far for my liking. Ken’s eyes kept focusing on this, so I decided to bring the reading to a close. ‘I see happiness for you in the coming few months Ken, so hold steady, and all will be well’ stammering his thanks, he left the dimly lit tent looking calm and much happier.

The next client was a young girl called Poppy. Her high colouring matched her name. With intelligent green eyes, she sat perched on the edge of the mahogany high back chair. I felt more confident by this stage, and genuinely knew that I had a reading of integrity that would be of benefit to her.

‘I see travel for you on the horizon, but not alone’ I smiled, ‘do you have a friend called Simon?’

Poppy gasped, and then beamed from ear to ear. Like a story set out in a picture book, my mind raced with the information that I could see, and I desperately wanted to pass this all on to her. ‘You possibly think Simon will leave your side upon arrival in Australia’? Poppy nodded, and said nothing. ‘You must tread carefully, and make sure, there are enough funds to see you through’ quickly I also said ‘This will reassure your Mother who is desperately worried for you.’   Poppy looked like she was going to cry. Biting her bottom lip, she got up and said ‘Thank you Kara, thank you so much’. Momentarily, I was thrown by being called Kara, and I too felt like crying. Like a bolt out of the blue, with no doubt whatsoever, I possessed a certain clairvoyant gift. A bubbly feeling of wanting to laugh wildly at the absurdity and shock of it all needed to be stifled.

 

The last sitting however was not pleasurable. A dark mood fell as my last client entered the tent. Immediately, I saw the impending demise of an attractive woman. Elegantly she sat in front of me and said confidently, ‘my name’s Sandy, and I’ve come to sort out a few things bothering my muddled head’

Smiling I said ‘well, let’s see how we might unravel some of that.’

Vividly, a scene kept playing out in my mind of a red sports car turning over and over, and then finally bursting into flames. ‘Be careful of travel’ I said. ‘Be very careful of a red car, and maybe choose an alternative’. Sandy nodded and replied with a cynical laugh, ‘yes, I’m always warning Ed not to drink and drive, he’s a bloody lunatic.’ Leaning forward, she continued. ‘I’m going to leave him actually, he’s acquired another mistress, and that’s one mistress too many’.

We spoke of her grown up children. I saw two fine young men, and told her they would continue to achieve great things. ‘Your eldest son has some important news for you, possibly within this next week’ Continuing, and wanting to give her hope, I said ‘there is a very young child reaching out to you Sandy, and I see you will have so much love to give this child.’

We hugged each other, and then she quietly left. My emotions were all over the place. I was upset to think her life may be cruelly cut short. But on the other hand, was I certain it was actually her in the red sports car? Possibly, it was her husband’s current mistress?

 

 

All three sittings had flown by, and I felt drained. Somehow I went onto auto pilot, and gave my yoga talk afterwards. Kara returned later that morning all smiles. The ‘gorgeous Lester’ had returned from his travels, and proposed to her there and then. We needed to chat more fully, so agreed to meet up for a drink later at the exhibitors’ end of show party.

The rest of the day flew by, and soon we were in the party marquee. Grabbing my arm, she steered me into a quiet corner. ‘I knew you had the gift’ she said. Staring intently into my eyes she then asked ‘what are you going to do with it Katie, are you going to develop, or throw it all away’?

 

Five years on, Kara is happily married to the love of her life Lester, and they have delightfully unruly twin daughters.   I saw them all only last evening, to drop off some books that I had borrowed. Today, the sun is shining, and I am driving   over to the Dintchester county show. As I arrive, Susie Blom is standing by the exhibitors’ gate with her clipboard and scowling. ‘Darling, there you’ she puffs and continues. ‘I’m so sorry, your pitch has been changed, but you will be just fine’.

I am just fine too, in a smart cream twin peaked marquee. This year there’s barely any equipment required for me to set out, for all I need is a little round table, and two high backed chairs. Stretching, I run through a few yoga positions. This helps me tremendously to relax and clear my mind before giving client readings. In the distance, I hear Brenda’s shamanic drums rumbling, and I smile. There’s a long list of appointments already booked for today, and a few regulars are returning. First name on the list is Sandy…

 

May 2017 TCWG Entry

Betsy’s Purple Windsock

 

Chewing her lip, Betsy Bolshayne ordered another glass of wine. No choice really, Mike was nearly an hour late for lunch. The barman had glanced across every few moments, and Betsy felt jarred…

Everything felt strange. A new bedsit with little furniture, the prison service had efficiently arranged on a temporary basis for her. Betsy’s bank account on zero. Who’d have thought, a successful proprietor of Bolshayne dating agency would be a bigamist six times over? But she was, and had paid a heavy price in more ways than one. From the moment Mike Jefferson had stepped into the office of her dating agency five years ago, Betsy knew that for the first time she really was in love, and desired him for her own. They had such a good time in Venice. Mike proposed to her by the Bridge of Sighs, and she had readily accepted. All of this came crashing down when being a bigamist had finally caught up with her. The prison sentence shook Betsy to the very core. No smart suits, Chanel perfume, or designer footwear…

 

Sipping her drink slowly, Betsy surveyed the Clifton wine bar rapidly filling up. The barman’s curiosity of her now stifled as he frantically tried to serve all of the thirsty customers. Betsy relaxed a little as she thought of the man who had become her rock whilst she served five long and sad years in prison. Mike kindly volunteered to take over the running of the dating agency along with all of her finances. At the time she had felt grateful, and trusted him completely. Now, as she patiently sat waiting for her rock to arrive, she felt nervous. Their get -together felt like a first date. Prison visits from Mike were infrequent, the last one being well over a year ago. Betsy understood the business had kept him pretty busy, and felt reassured with his diligence.  Mike promised to bring along bank papers today for her to sign, and also up to date accounts of the dating agency. Betsy took a shopping list out of her shabby handbag, and read through all three pages, to make sure nothing was missed off her wish list. It would feel good to have money again and be able to buy some lovely outfits…

 

‘Would you have a phone I could use please?’ Betsy asked unsmiling.   The barman was taken aback, as he’d never been asked that question before. ‘Ah, run out of credit, it’s better to have a contract love’ Betsy’s hackles arose, fuelled by three large unaccustomed glasses of white wine. The barman pushed a dusty old grey phone onto the counter. Clearly she had been stood up he thought to himself, and looked ferocious. With a shaking hand, Betsy checked the number Mike had written in his last letter to her and redialled. A monotone voice informed her,  ‘This number is no longer available, please note you will not be charged for this call, goodbye’

 

Betsy’s head whirred with all sorts of thoughts. Maybe he forgot to tell me the number had changed? The barman now felt sorry for the woman tightly holding onto the bar, talking to herself. ‘Look, this is none of my business, but you look unwell – can I help, maybe order a taxi for you?’

Betsy walked out, unhearing the barman’s voice of kindness.  Squinting into the late afternoon sun, she contemplated on what to do next. With the uncertainty of her bank account being replenished, the solitary ten pound note would have to remain in her purse. Nothing for it but to make her way over to the dating agency on foot. Grimly she set off in the direction of Sneyd Park. Families were out in force on this sunny afternoon, a noisy queue for the zoo snaked around the corner until out of sight. Normally a walk like this would have soothed Betsy Bolshayne, however today her emotions were all over the place, and she badly wanted to cry. This was all going stupidly wrong, and she was falling apart…

Eventually, the familiar road came into sight and Betsy slowed down.   She wanted to savour the neat Victorian houses with their pretty coutyard gardens. It had been quite an achievement for her to buy the luxurious apartment in Sneyd Park, and friends were impressed with the speed of her success. Betsy felt becalmed as she walked into the familiar courtyard entrance. Disconcerted, she noticed how the wooden shutters had been replaced with heavy damask curtains. What an odd choice for Mike to make she thought to herself. Her eyes darted from one brass plaque to another, and breathing heavily she realised Bolshayne Dating Agency was nowhere to be seen…

 

A well-spoken female voice crackled over the apartment security phone. ‘Please come on up, and I will make a pot of tea’

Mrs Lawes was a kindly soul, and had taken pity on the distressed woman sobbing into her telephone downstairs. The deranged conversation between the two women took over an hour. ‘I bought this apartment from Mike Jefferson, let me see dear, it must be coming up to three years now’ Mrs Lawes hesitated as Betsy Bolshayne sat in the armchair opposite shaking. The nightmare refused to stop, as she unravelled Mike’s actions of the past few years whilst she served her time in prison. No apartment, or business for her to resume. Mrs Lawson quietly disappeared to find the completion of sale papers. Betsy barely took them in as they were spread out over the dining table. There was a photocopy of the transfer of deeds document Betsy had unwittingly signed. ‘I trusted him, he said he would look after everything for me, he was my rock’ Betsy trailed off, and sat back down. The Grandfather clock struck 7 o’clock. This brought Betsy back to the present. ‘Look, I won’t hold you up any longer, thank you for the tea, I must go now, must go…’

 

 

Clifton village bustled with couples and groups of students. Numbly, Betsy side stepped them all. At one point, she was nearly taken out by a courier on his sports bike. He swore at her in anger and fright. She cared not. With her last ten pounds she bought two cheap bottles of wine from a newsagents on the corner. Pinal Patel wrapped them up carefully for her, as if they were of rare vintage. Sensing she was deeply disturbed, he felt sorry for her. ‘Have these crisps on the house madam, with my compliments’

Tears sting at the back of her eyes with this single act of kindness. She stumbles out of the shop muttering her thanks. In her misty vision, Clifton suspension bridge moves gently. Large swathes are lit with bright lightbulbs, reminding her of Christmas at home when she was small, and her parents were alive. All of the nearby benches are empty this time of the evening. It will be very different later on after the pubs and bars are shut…

 

The two bottles are empty, and Betsy has been anaesthetised. Stumbling, she walks onto the bridge for a closer view of Avon Gorge. Traffic flows on the road below, like brightly lit toy cars she thinks. In the distance, flags flutter on The Matthew, the jewel in a shipping crown of Bristol.  Betsy stares down as she contemplates the mud swirling around on low tide…

 

John Betts falls into his low slung car, after a long session at the bar. Really annoying that three of his staff did not pitch up this evening for a busy Saturday shift and he hisses his annoyance.   ‘Uni students need shooting, no work ethos these days’ he mutters under his breath. Scrabbling for a pound, he slots it into the toll machine and drives onto the bridge. A moment later John Betts has slammed on his brakes and is running towards a figure teetering on a narrow ledge of the bridge. As he gets closer, he realises it’s the woman who was in his bar earlier. Her face is blank as she looks upwards towards the dark sky. She takes off like a graceful bird in flight. Her purple skirt billows in the wind, and her arms are outstretched. John’s throat has tightened, and he can barely swallow, let alone scream his horror. The moment is played out in slow motion, for the voluminous purple skirt cunningly becomes a purple parachute. Betsy is gently planted up to her waist in the mud flats of low tide. ‘nooooo not like this!’ she sobs…

**All characters set in this vibrant city of Bristol, are pure fiction, however…

My thanks for inspiration must surely go to a lady called Sarah Ann Henley; On May 8th, 1885 at the age of twenty two, she jumped off Clifton suspension bridge following a lover’s quarrel. Sarah’s skirts acted as a parachute as she landed into the mudflat, and so she survived. Happily she married and became Sarah Ann Lane, living to the age of eighty five.

 

 

 

 

TCWG MARCH 2017 ENTRY

All Seeing

 

Never, ever have I been bored. Families, couples and singletons have all passed my way. Dogs and cats too, although amusingly wary of me.

Happiest of my days were with the Phipps family in beautiful Somerset. I experienced two house moves with them, spanning over fifty years. Each and every time they took good care of me, I was loved and looked after well.

We started off in a modern townhouse, just around the corner from the market square. Sally Phipps would grab the old wicker shopping basket, throw on her old college scarf and be off out the door in a flash. She never gave me a backward glance. Such a change from her adolescent years! In those heady days, when we were all together in her parents’ home, just outside the village of Pilton – Sally and I would be inseparable. Was her dress the right colour? Did the new haircut become her? Most important of all, would David Phipps from Young Farmers, be charmed with her well made up pretty face? He was, and shortly after they were married. What a picture she looked on her wedding day too. A beautiful dress, simple but elegant. Before leaving, Sally and her Father hesitated by the front door. Looking across to me, they both looked radiantly happy. He adjusted her veil, and she his tie. With no further ado – they disappeared out into the bright spring sunshine.

Life seemed to flash by for Sally and David in Wells. The first few weeks of moving in were quite hectic for the newlyweds, and Sally’s mother had been insistent that I join them.   The young couple would consult me first thing in the morning, David particularly so on the days that he met a client. He invariably chose a sensible check shirt, and sombre tie. Being an agent and auctioneer for farms with acreage seemed to take up much of his time. Sally would choose smart dresses and neat cardigans for her secretarial role in a solicitor’s office.

After a couple of years, the children started to arrive. A pretty little girl called Kitty, a boisterous boy called William, and finally – a rather haughty little madam called Flora. Sally had her work cut out looking after these three lively children. She would sometimes come to me looking exhausted. Tears would trickle down her face on occasion too. She had lost herself in a quagmire of motherhood. On the other hand, watching the children grow older was fascinating for me. William would bring all of his toy cars to me, and pretend I was a customer. What car would I like to buy today? Did I like the bright red racing car? Kitty would dance, pretending that she was in a West End show. Her blonde curls would fly as she twirled around. Once in her enthusiasm, she managed to knock me over! Flora on the other hand, was a difficult child. She would scream and shout at the slightest provocation. It was not unusual for her to vent her anger on me instead of her Mother. Flora would screw up her mean little eyes and spit at me. Saliva would then roll down, horrible. Once, she even kicked me. They may have come out of the same stable, but in every which way, they were different!

The next family home for the Phipps, was a pretty cottage with much land, just outside of Wells. A terrible mistake occurred on this moving in day, for I was allocated an attic bedroom by the hapless spotty removal boy called Jed. I had no choice but to remain there for nearly a day until Sally finally tracked me down. By then we were both dusty and jaded. This was a very happy home, with many parties. I certainly saw a thing or two there. One set of neighbours came over regularly for a Sunday morning tipple – Colonel Whitby and his wife Celia. The pair would invariably become merry, and with weak protestation,   stay for a most welcome roast lunch. The Colonel would sway in front of me and twirl his ginger moustache. Why did he never see the traces of his roast beef? Christmas time saw the home really come alive. Guinness and Porter, two black Labradors would balefully stay by my side, as hated all the noise and hullabaloo going on.

 

Years rolled by, and eventually, William went off to university to study mechanical engineering. Kitty left home at the first opportunity to follow her dreams in London. Flora? Flora just upped sticks one day, and took a flight to Australia. Sally and David took that badly. The family home became very quiet, too quiet. David looked at me one morning and said enough was enough. They would move on and find somewhere cosy for just the two of them. Impassively I listened, and helped him tidy the now grey and thinning hair. Sally looked sadly at me as she adjusted her coat buttons and smoothed down her flyaway hair. They were going to view a modern penthouse flat by the water somewhere in Bradford upon Avon.

 

This move went fast and very smooth. A strange removal day though. The removal men seemed to divide Sally and David’s furniture into two halves. Eventually I was carefully placed into a smaller van, well wrapped up. Off we went, out of the bumpy country lane, and on our way to Bradford upon Avon. This is where I cannot make sense of the story, for I am not in Sally and David’s new penthouse flat. I am not in Bradford upon Avon. Instead, I am in a large room with noisy wooden boards. It has been nearly a week now. People keep coming up to me and peering. One even had the audacity to try and rub off my blotchy spots. Flora’s fault, when she used to spit at me. The tag attached to me says:

Lot 135

Fine Edwardian Mahogany Cheval Mirror

Reserve: £675

 

TCWG FEBRUARY 2017 ENTRY

 

THE DOWNFALL OF NIT UPSAR

 

 

Since a small boy, Nito Upsar knew that he was destined to help others. Growing up in the hurly burly city of Birmingham was a trial for a sensitive child like himself. Well, his name for starters caused problems. Unsurprisingly, his first set of classmates nicknamed him ‘Nitty Nutty Nit’, thus the dye was set for the remainder of his school days.   Nito’s Father was a well respected professor at the nearby university, and Latin was his speciality. In wisdom, Nito’s father  named his first son after a Latin hero, Benito. At times the burden of such a name became almost too much for ‘Nit’ in the classroom, but survive he did. Upon reaching the age of eighteen, quietly spoken Nito informed his parents that he was off to a theological college in Manchester to follow his calling. The news was not taken terribly well, as his mother had high hopes of medical school. Nito was determined to fulfil his destiny of giving help and comfort to others so left immediately before any further discussion should knock him off course…

 

 

The Gribbleswick WI meeting was coming to an end. Guest of honour being a new vicar to the pretty Yorkshire parish. Several women fluttered around the new incumbent Nito Upsar, and he appeared not to be entirely displeased. Promising to visit them all the following day, Nito beat a retreat back to his new home. He felt very pleased with the first meeting of parishioners, so poured a large whisky into a plastic tumbler. Ruefully he eyed the receptacle and made a mental note to visit the nearest hardware store soonest. He liked the finer things in life, so decided to dip into last week’s collection.   If the congregation of Gribbleswick expected him to serve them all well – it was only right that he was sustained by way of single malt whisky, succulent joints of beef, and well matured pheasant. The shopping list became a dizzying length, to the point of Nito requiring a new cartridge in his delicate silver fountain pen (a gift from a grateful widow)…

 

‘What do you think of the new vicar then Celia?’ Mrs Petty eyed Celia through the post office grill awaiting an answer. Celia seemed to be struggling to find the right words, and was acutely aware of several sets of ears behind her. ‘Um, he’s a tad unusual don’t you think?’ Celia blushed as the words tumbled out, for she heard Mrs Petty’s sharp intake of breath. The stamps were thrust across the counter. ‘Five pounds forty’ snapped Mrs Petty. The day before, Nito had practically charmed the pinny off the postmistress. A brief encounter with him kept replaying in her head. Nito was utterly charming, and more importantly, had a luxuriant long dark beard she was desperate to stroke. ‘First Class parcel to London’ Colonel Drinkwater barked his order through the grill. It was abundantly clear to him the post mistress was  losing it these days. In fact, the Colonel harboured a belief most of the village were ‘idiots’, and if it were not for him the parish council and village ‘would not survive’.

 

 

Life trundled on in Gribbleswick, old life departed, and new life arrived. Reverend Upsar caused great consternation with his off the wall Sunday sermons, and unconventional ceremonies. The most troubling perhaps when he introduced a new aspect to ‘you may now kiss the bride’. Reverend Upsar took it upon himself to also kiss the bride, along with the three ‘luscious’ bridesmaids. A queue formed at the church door shortly after the service, and it was apparent  the new vicar enjoyed kissing all of the female congregation. Aggrieved husbands later conferred over their pints at The Rose and Crown. General feeling being, there was more than just something ‘unusual’ about the new vicar. Colonel Drinkwater had tolerated Upsar long enough, and was determined to eject him out of the role as village priest. He felt utter rage after hearing an account from a member of the church choir. Seemingly, Upsar had been heard to say ‘hup hup in you go’ as a coffin was gently lowered into its final resting place. The Colonel decided to visit York Diocese soonest. The speculation of the new village priest being ‘avant-garde’ was way off the mark, and Colonel Drinkwater smelt a rat.

 

 

Nito Upsar, oblivious to the uprising of Gribbleswick, flash fried his fillet steak, and poured out another generous glass of communion wine. Suddenly, a thump on the cottage door brought him out of a smiling reverie, and pitched him instead into a most un-Godly oath. Thump thump again, the perpetrator of Upsar’s ruined evening was Mrs Petty. ‘Oh good evening Reverend, err, sorry to interrupt your evening’ she beamed, looking most unapologetic. Nito Upsar stepped back from the doorway feeling nauseous as Mrs Petty’s Eau de Grassymare reached his nostrils. Mrs Petty took this to be an invitation to step inside the cosy front room, and wasted no time to plant herself in the nearest armchair. Oblivious to his ruined supper, Mrs Petty unfurled a plea for the reverend to accompany her over to the Rose and Crown where her distressed brother was currently a guest. ‘We must be discreet’ she murmured. ‘The thing is, he is having trouble with the demon drink’ I cannot make much sense from his garbled telephone message’ Pausing for breath she continued. Nito Upsar irritably interrupted her after ten minutes of wittering. Grabbing his coat he beckoned his unwelcome guest to follow.

 

They arrived at the pub within minutes, and after a short conversation with the monosyllabic barman, established Victor Leadbetter was in room ten. Victor answered the door immediately, thinking it was room service with his triple beef burger, and two pints of best bitter. Instead, his sister with a man of the cloth stood before him. The two men stared at each other, and possibly ten seconds passed before Victor Leadbetter shrieked ‘Good God its Nitty Nutty Nit!’ Nito Upsar’s eyes widened in disbelief. Whilst climbing the stairs up to room ten, he had been racking his brain as to where he’d heard the name Victor Leadbetter. With a heavy heart he realised this overweight man with a nasaloid accent, was his tormentor from senior school days in Birmingham. They stepped into the small guest room and closed the door. Mrs Petty gawked as an uneasy conversation faltered between the two men. Sniffing whilst perched on a dressing table chair, she pondered upon the name of Nitty Nutty Nit. This was not what she had expected from the evening. Far from it.

 

A further knock on the door shortly after, was at last the triple burger with two pints of best bitter. Victor looked sheepishly at his unexpected room guests. The waiter shuffled past them all to the optimistically described ‘office work station’ (the pub brochure called this the ‘executive suite’). They all jumped when there came another thump on the guest room door. The waiter trod on Mrs Petty’s right foot as he shuffled back across to open the door in attentive staff mode. Colonel Drinkwater pushed the poor confused waiter to one side and bellowed ‘Upsar you are a charlatan and a despicable liar!’ Drawing breath the Colonel tried to continue his tirade, but was interrupted by Victor Leadbetter. ‘I say Nutty Nitty Nit, what you have been up to this time!’  All eyes were upon Nito Upsar. The guest room door quietly closed, with the new waiter barely breathing. He had only taken on the job last week, and already it was proving to be a right old laugh. The Colonel boomed on in military tone; ‘You are no ecclesiastical gentleman, and by stealth you were mistakenly given this parish of Gribbleswick. Mrs Petty scrabbled around in her handbag for smelling salts, and the Colonel continued. ‘You failed college didn’t you, could not cope without women wine and song, you…you scum’.

Nit Upsar fell to his knees, and gave his head a nasty bang on the executive room wardrobe, whilst Victor Leadbetter surreptitiously ate his burger and chips, clearly this was going to be a long night…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY ENTRY 2017 CWG

Bit of a Card

 

Kate stared into space, tapping a pencil on her two neat front teeth. Frowning, she willed an answer to neatly formulate itself. Since a child, Kate had been methodical, and obsessed with order. If anything jumped out in front of her determined path, it was immediately dispatched, so her life may continue smoothly. Yesterday had certainly been an unpleasant interlude…

‘You have to help me Kate – I can’t keep going into Dad morning noon and night!’ Chalk and cheese would best describe Kate and her sister Lou. Constant friction seeped into every corner of their relationship, since Lou had been born – thus knocking Kate off her ten year solitary perch as an only child. This situation with care of their Dad was rapidly coming to the boil, and threatening to scald everyone. Lou picked up her overfull shopping bag and prepared to leave. ‘I have to have my varicose vein sorted – otherwise I won’t be able to hold my job down at the post office.’ Flinging a piece of paper down on the kitchen table, Lou puffed along the hallway, narrowly missing Kate’s favourite china dog. Kate’s hand steadied the balefully eyed cocker spaniel as the front door slammed shut…

Decision made. Kate stopped pacing, and picked up her office phone. Scowling at the scrunched up piece of paper, she deciphered Lou’s untidy handwriting. Blooming Care agency seemed efficient and Kate’s probing questions were met with confident and soothing answers. Sorted. Mr Bird was going to be kept company, and have his needs administered by ‘one of the best nurses on our books.’ Kate grimaced at the hourly rate, but tempered that with the thought, he would be safe and properly cared for each and every night…

Not for the first time, Di Bloom thought of how utterly bloody clever she had been to come up with the idea of Blooming Care agency. Completing the community service five years ago had been tough on her in many ways, emotionally and financially. This inspiration had come through in the nick of time to solve all of her woes; Ed’s final pension upon an early and unexpected death – had been sparse, and her best friend Carol no longer telephoned to ask if she would like to go out shopping. All because she ‘went a bit silly.’ Di Bloom’s words, not Judge Dunkley’s – his were of sterner stuff. ‘You have done irreparable damage to this innocent and unsuspecting young man, whose misfortune was to deliverer your groceries at least twice a week.’   Di thought she would never be able to stop crying, as she stood in dock listening to Judge Dunkley’s summing up. He took a dim view of her imprisoning a Bocato driver for two days at home. Luckily for Di Bloom, she had chosen wise counsel. Barrister Ed Golightly had quite a sense of humour, so relished taking this case on as it was so unusual and off the wall. Well, who on earth would stack tins of treacle sponge pudding, along with crates of cat food in a garage until it overflowed?  With a strong recommendation of leniency for the ‘recently bereaved and desperately lonely woman,’ Ed Golightly managed to secure a probationary sentence of three years, along with eighteen months community service…

Reggie Bird sat in his upright armchair by the window, and watched as Kate’s small car nosed its way into the narrow driveway. He was perplexed at the visit, for she only visited at the weekend, and today was Tuesday. Letting herself into the neatly kept semi, she called out ‘Hi Dad, it’s only me.’

What an absurd thing to say Reggie thought to himself, she knew he sat by the window – and would have seen the car arrive. He turned his face for a dutiful peck and tartly asked ‘is there an emergency that I should know about?’

Kate sat opposite him and nervously twisted her handbag strap. Reggie Bird had always lived up to his name, so never missed a thing. Sharp eyes and ears observing. This had served him well as Deputy chief constable in years gone by. Sadly, he was now reduced to a half existence in retirement, riddled with arthritis.

Kate did her best to explain how Lou could not manage visits quite the same – now she was finally having the repeatedly put off operation to alleviate the varicose vein. Clumsily Kate explained that night times were a worry for her, at this point Reggie lost patience with his eldest Daughter.

‘A worry for you!’ He exploded – ‘how do you think I feel staggering around to make a cup of tea in the night, and then trying to find the bloody bathroom!’

Kate stood up, she’d had enough of her Dad’s sharpness for one day. Laying an envelope on his side table, she carefully put her coat on and said, ‘sorry Dad, I have to go now, please look at the details I’ve arranged for you.’

Standing in the doorway Kate did her best to smile, but it appeared crooked. Reggie knew he had been a bit too brusque with her yet again. ‘Alright Kate, see you at the weekend?’ His eyes pleaded with her to understand how hard it was for him to accept her and Lou’s help, let alone a stranger’s from an agency…

Di Bloom had taken care to carefully apply her make up, and wear her newest uniform. A Navy blue tunic, with white piping on the collar. Skirt plain, and not too tight on the hips, thus practical and professional. A stroke of luck in the local charity shop had provided Di Bloom with a fob watch, and Registered Nurse badge. First night nerves as usual, she checked her hair again – making sure it was neatly tied back. Driving over to her new client, she repeatedly whispered a mantra like plea ‘Mr Bird please be a lamb, then maybe we shall be just fine’

Reggie looked at his watch and scowled, the blessed woman was late, his dastardly thoughts entertained the idea – she may perhaps have been involved in a traffic accident. Mrs Bloom had not of course, and duly arrived a few minutes later in her bright red Mini. The nippy little car screeched to a halt right beside his beloved bed of roses. Despite the inauspicious start of the first shift, both Reggie Bird and Di Bloom seemed to hit it off. Respectfully, Di Bloom apologised and said it would not happen again – now she knew where ‘Holly Trees was on The Avenue. The first night passed quickly, with a mixture of politeness and a few giggles. Reggie became to realise that he missed having a laugh about daft things. On the third night, he deliberately put his slippers on the wrong feet, and combed his sparse grey hair to stand up on end. Di Bloom stifled a laugh initially, but in seconds they were both shrieking with laughter as Reggie flapped his tartan slipper to make the tufted green bobble wobble…

Lou decided to ring Kate, she couldn’t possibly put it off any longer. ‘The thing is, he keep’s demanding more clothes to be bought – pyjamas, scarves, socks, a woolly hat, and another dressing gown!’ Lou continued ‘I’ve checked to make sure that new carer is not pinching them – but everything’s there!’

Kate paused to think. Did it really matter their Dad wanted a pile of new clothing? Maybe he was feeling the cold more? Lou started up again –

‘All this money, I ask you!’ sniff … ‘it’s not as if he need’s any more stuff’

The phone call ended abruptly by Kate instructing Lou to just accept it was ‘Dad’s decision and money at the end of the day.’

Di Bloom was truly enjoying the care of her latest client, Reggie Bird. They both had the same sense of humour, and when not laughing had long serious conversations too. A couple of weeks passed, when she realised Reggie did not actually require much sleep. It was not a problem for her as after all that is what she was employed for, to cover the night shift. She duly produced a pack of playing cards, and proceeded to teach Reggie card games he had never encountered before. Reggie was brought up by strict parents, who believed ‘cards were the Devil’s very own work.’ Certainly, he had never encountered Poker- but all the same, was quick to pick up the rules and tricks of the game.

A month down the line one Thursday early morning, the unlikely couple were having as usual a hilarious game of Poker. If you had cared to walk past ‘Holly Trees’ (just on The Avenue) at that moment in time, you would have heard much laughter, and maybe felt envious. Reggie Bird had become a wise owl the evening of their last card game. He had dressed for the night in two pairs of pyjamas, four socks each foot, two dressing gowns and a woolly hat. He could barely move, and looked like he had suddenly acquired twenty stone in weight. Di Bloom could barely breathe when the vision of Reggie sat tucked up in bed like a puff ball met her eyes. She was a good sport though, and played another game of strip Poker accordingly. Poor woman could hardly compete with just a tunic, skirt, chemise and stockings…

Kate and Lou were devastated at the sudden loss of their Dad. He had seemed so happy and healthy, other than suddenly feeling the cold, needing to wear so much clothing at night. Di Bloom missed her old client Reggie but that was life,   she should be used to that by now, after all – he wasn’t the first to pass over playing cards with her…