scribbles tagged ‘1989’

Smoking reflections

Friday, July 13th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Retail manager (1989-1991) aka ‘Saturday girl’

This job helped to top-up my PhD grant while I was studying full time. I was the only employee of an antiques clothes shop. Having a Saturday girl meant that Val, the owner, could have a day off.

My Saturdays were spent ironing, mending and making adjustments to antique clothes, then doing the weekly accounts at the end of the day. We didn’t have a till. We had a metal box with a key. I used a paper pad with a pen and a ruler to list items sold and write and sign receipts.  Despite the overhead of all this writing at the point of sale, cashing up didn’t take long. There weren’t many sales. Look how neat the shop rails are – a sure sign of very few customers!:

MerchandiseIt was fun when we had a customer!

They would see my genuine joy when they came into the tiny shop.  I’d look up from the sewing machine or ironing board, welcome them, offer them a cup of tea, then go back to whatever I was doing – if they clearly wanted to browse alone.

Some people would happily chat about the styles and period clothes they liked, asking questions about the clothes and the business. Some customers asked for jobs – as I had once done. All our few customers stayed a long time browsing. Some customers would travel long distances, over 50 miles, to visit us because of our unique and interesting stock. I like to think our friendly style also helped.

If customers were actually thinking of buying something, and it didn’t fit, I’d fit them for adjustments – pin the clothes – agree a price. I could make the changes on the spot in the shop while they browsed further and drank tea. Lovely. I loved the shop and the job. We had some customers that came in every Saturday, they were more like friends. I’d been a Saturday customer before I got the job.  It was having tea with Val and talking to her about her stock and business that had lead to my getting the job, I’d persuaded Val to employ me.

Cashing upAt 5.15pm Val would roll in to cash up for the week and get the weeks takings to the bank. She’d pour two large glasses of white wine, bring out an ash tray, and light a  cigarette. That’s Val sat infront of the sewing machine waving her fag at me.

With the shop closed I’d do the paper accounts for the weeks takings in the notebook. Not part of my job, but Val said she wasn’t very good at adding-up numbers which was all that I had to do. Easy.

As I counted the cash and checked it against the notes for the week Val would enlighten a 26 year old me with her 36 years of life wisdom. This wisdom mainly involved different ways of taking revenge against the married men she’d had affairs with. They were juicey stories and quite shocking to think she actually did those things. She explained that these men were responsible for ruining her life by lying to her about their intentions to leave their wives, that kind of behaviour needed severe punishment and she delivered it.

I made a couple of mental notes:

  1. Know lovers for who they are, rather than what I want them to be….
  2. Don’t upset Val, she’s capable of pure evil
Smoking reflections
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Monday, April 11th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

I do enjoy a good brass section in a pop song. Enjoy

Swing out Sister sang Breakout

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the usual please

Sunday, November 21st, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Pub frameAs we walked into the Robin Hood the landlady caught my eye and smiled. She had one pint pulled before we’d even reached the bar. With a smile for Sue you took the pint and walked off into the smoke . Sue and I exchanged pleasantries while she pulled my usual. Moving out of your home might mean this would cease to be my local pub, my usual pint, my friendly landlady.

Sue’s son was due out of prison soon. Sue was nervous about him coming back home. Would he be able to stay off the drugs, stop thieving, stop tearing her life apart. Taking a long, slow, sup from the first of what might be more than my usual 2 pints, I listened to Sue unburden her worries. My face would have shown the wear of my thoughts, looking like concern for her troubles. The reversal of tradtitional roles pulled a smile in the darkness, the customer listening to the woes of the publican. My burden was light by comparison to hers. I didn’t particularly relish the thought of meeting Sue’s son.

Peering through the smoke I watch you cheerfully chatting with a local school teacher. I’m in no hurrry to join you, everything I want to ask or say can be left unsaid in this very public place. . But some things will need sorting before bedtime. Bedtime stories that are bound to bring sleeplessness. I blamed the tears on the smoke in the pub.

Previous paragraphs in this story:
  1. The begining of the end
  2. Send in the helicopters


the usual please
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international humanitarian crisis

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

I hate French men, they’re all animals

puddingSpoken by anyone other than Jane this might not have seemed so suprising. Jane adored France. Studying business studies in French, recently returned from a year’s work experience in Paris. I listened, hoping my silence would draw out answers to the whirlwind of questions running through my mind.

Jane is one of the most beautiful young girls I know, palest china skin, amber glowing eyes, natural ring-curls, high cheekbones and a ski-jump nose. Even in this anger she maintailed a doll-like beauty. Our silence continued. Jane clearly had something to say about French men, but didn’t know how to continue

Do you want to talk about it?

Tears fell. Even for the most skilled coordinating crying, breathing, nose-blowing and conversation, is a tricky operation. Jane was skilled.  I listened.

I was raped

it wasn’t my fault

he was an animal

I didn’t report it

I’d invited him into my flat for a coffee

who’d believe the foriegn girl

french police are men too

they’re all animals

The only real suprise to me was her bounding this experience to focus on French men. Alas, she’ll learn that rape’s internationalised without me pointing it out.

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Paris mourning

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

New year really started in the bathroom of a 3 star hotel 45 minutes walk from Notre Dame. Not midnight amongst the Europeans singing, hugging, kissing and drinking. A houseparty of strangers. A strange flavour of tonic water.

It wasn’t raining, but the clouds seemed to crowd right into the bathroom mixing with the steam where the taps ran water into the bath as quickly as it ran out the plug hole.  I’d tired of scrubbing. Red and wrinkled skin from hours of soaking, foaming.  Sometimes if was difficult to tell if this was real or a dream.

The effects of the spiked gin and salty tears were gradually wearing off, being replaced by a profound silence and a kind of numbness I’d never known before or since. I drank more water. Sometime I would have to leave this room, through the one door back to the bedroom. Have to look into his eyes and see all that had happened the night before reflected there. All his questions and apologies, all his needs and regrets had to be faced.  There wasn’t enough room for me to run with the water down the plug hole.  Watching the water spiral down I wished as hard as I could to either wake from this dream or slide out with the water.

Slowly, precisely and with the conviction normally reserved for reprimanding criminals I turned the taps off, rose, dried and dressed myself. Blew my nose. Drank more water.  Closed the window. Composed, upright, dry faced.  In the privacy of my mind I could hear the applause and cheering for a well excecuted restoration job.

 I walked out of the bathroom


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access rights

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

young boy: but I love you, please.. …if you wont even give me a chance to prove how good a boyfriend I’d be for you, I might as well kill myself now

young girl: OH  P’Lease, grow up, I dont negotiate with emotional terrorists

Within 3 hours he had  written-off £4K of boy-racer Suzuki motorcycle to keep his threat promise.  He gave her name and address as hss next of kin.    She hadn’t had the chance to enjoy freedom from his persistent lobbying for access rights  when the police notified her of the accident.  They certainly added dramatic effect. Raised the terror levels.   How long before his capacity for violence, obsession with her, will put her in hospital?

access rights
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