When I go wrong, I put my back into it.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Comedy of Errors (and bonus assignment!).”

Image result for wiki Commons free pictures of fountains

I woke up.  First mistake.  Then I got up.  That was the second.  I should have stayed in bed.

We ran a small boat business, my husband and I, and he was away.  There were things to be done, people to meet, and my neck ached.  It ached badly.   I had recently  strode down an old wooden jetty searching for a boat, gazing into the distance.  I failed to notice a missing plank.

I marched resolutely down the hole.  The result was a whiplash injury.

But today I must deliver a message to that same old boatyard.  It was a long time ago, and ‘elf-n-safety was different then.  Missing altogether.  I got into our small black van; windowless except for one at the back, and set off.  I eventually drove down the alleyway at the back of the yard, climbed the steps to the office, delivered the note, yarned for a while, and left.

I failed to notice that in my absence a petrol tanker had arrived.  It was delivering fuel.  The armoured pipe went down a hatch in the ground to underground tanks.  They were under the canal path that ran along the back of the sheds.

I walked round the tanker to my parked van.  I started the engine, peered painfully round, and reversed.  There was a bump and a lurch.  Why?  My van was at an alarming angle.  I got out to investigate and went round the back.  I was met with what looked like the Trafalgar Square fountains, but smelling of petrol.  I had reversed into the open hatch, splitting the huge fuel pipe.

As I said.  I should have stayed in bed.

A man came running towards me – the tanker driver.

‘Turn your engine off, lady!

I hesitated.

‘Just… turn… it… off!’

I wanted to run away, but I went gingerly back to the van and complied.  By now the alarm had been raised and I could hear the sirens arriving.  I had brought the whole of ……..  (I still won’t tell you where,) to a halt.  I waited.

The police arrived.  Nobody could turn on their engines for fear of fire.  The drivers were stuck.  I stood on my own, with my bright red handbag.  Another mistake, believe me.  I could hear the whispers.It was ‘er over there with the red bag!

Hobo bags

A  policeman approached me.  I was looking as near aloof as I could.

‘Did you commit this heinous crime, then? ‘ He asked.

‘Afraid so.’ I said.

‘A thought for you,’ he said.  ‘There were no barricades round the hole.  If you had been blown sky high, your loved ones would be very rich.’

A happy thought.

I conveyed that message to the tanker driver.  He reckoned to have asked repeatedly for barricades that were never provided.

My back hurt now!

I never heard another word about the incident, and I didn’t go looking for trouble.

That was probably another mistake.

Employment in the Olden Days

Greyhound running.

Jobs ain’t wot they used to be!

When I was young jobs were plentiful, you could pick and choose.  When I left school at sixteen, I was up and running – from one unlikely job to another.

I was, by nature, daring. I was the one in our school who smoked Players Weights behind the bike sheds.  I didn’t know it could damage my health.  I thought it was smart to smoke.  I learned that it was not the only sin committed behind the bike sheds!

I graduated to Balkan Sobranie, Black Russian, with gold filters.  It got me noticed.

Aged eighteen I took off to Canada with a girl friend.  My boyfriend, a reliable type who played in a well known Jazz band, had broken my heart.  I wanted to forget him, and the best way was to get up to my neck in trouble.  So I did.

First I needed the fare.  I left my sensible job sorting cameras, and took a job in a factory.  I learned to make armatures for vacuum cleaners, operating one of a row of huge machines.  They had whirling struts that wound wire into slots in heavy spiked cylinders.  I once got too keen and pressed the ‘go’ button before the cylinder was safely in place.  It flew out of the machine, rocketed the length of the shed, and hit the metal walls at the end.  Boi-i-ing!….Thank God there was nobody in the way!  I locked another one in and prayed.  There would be an enquiry.  Who dunnit?  My mates knew, but nobody grassed.

I got an extra job on the Tote at a London dog track.  I was good looking then, and bad at maths, so they employed me.

I had one evening of training, and the next week I was on my own.  I had never seen a dog race in my life, (and still haven’t.)  There were all sorts of terms to remember, and odds to work out:  straight bets; four and six reverse, and ‘come on luv, you must know something.’   I gave up saying ‘I really don’t know,’ and instead proclaimed the virtues of four and six reverse.  On the occasions it came up I collected a bonus:  gamblers are often generous.

I saw the sad side; desperate people hooked on a game of chance.  I caught on quickly to the gambling odds – I took in a packet and paid out a pittance.  It taught me a lesson for life.

I still didn’t have enough money, so I looked around for one more job.  My next was at a laundry, sorting roller towels.  The pay wasn’t bad but the pong was awful.  I can’t tell you what people did with roller towels…  Really.  I don’t want to tell you!

By a strange coincidence, many years later I was run over by the Managing Director of that same towel company.  We were both innocently involved in a fast motorway pile up and his Jaguar flattened my Mini.  I was in it.  Cars were smashing into cars everywhere and he was unable to stop.  I’m now two inches shorter, due to smashed vertebrae.  I do resent that.  I still think of myself as tall!

And so I found myself on the Empress of France, out of Liverpool and bound for Montreal.  I had twenty pounds, which was all you could take out of the country.  It was a long time ago and worth more – but twenty pounds was not much to see you through to finding a job and getting some wages paid.

We made friends on the boat and on arrival; five of us girls rented one room for a while, eating and sleeping.  We lived like the sardines we couldn’t afford.  Montreal was bi-lingual – French Canadian, which is nothing like French.  It ruled out waiting at tables.  We were all out of work for a number of weeks.  Our diet was rigid.  Toast and butter, or toast and jam, and tea – and fantastic adventures.

There were no cigarettes.  I had to weigh up once whether to buy an egg or an apple for dinner.  I decided on the egg.

The corner shop owner raised an eyebrow.  ‘You sure you wouldn’t like half an egg?’

‘My man,’ I told him.  ‘You are looking at someone who once smoked Black Russian Sobranies!’

I got a job in a prestigious hospital.  I was interviewed by the Chief Surgeon, and there was only one question.

‘Do you know the London Tube?’

‘Yes,’ I answered.  ‘I took the Northern Line every day.’

‘Tell me the stations,’ he said.

‘Edgware, Burnt Oak, Colindale, Hendon…’  I intoned while his eyes misted over… Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, Piccadilly.’  He shook his head and stopped me.

‘You’ve got the job’ he said. ‘Come in Monday.’

On Monday they discovered I couldn’t type, but I worked at it, and I stayed.

Later, two of us took a Greyhound bus to Toronto and worked in a bakery there.

cake

Slicing iced cakes into sections is messy, the icing gets up to your armpits.

When, after three years I came back to England, I reached London with exactly one shilling left, (five pence.)  I’d lived on the edge, had a great time, and learned a lot.

I don’t smoke now, but I do still like an adventure.  As the man said, you may have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up!

I like today’s generation.  They don’t have a huge range of jobs to choose from, but they’re an accommodating lot.  They cheerfully sort me out when my mobile won’t work.  They point me in the right direction when I’m lost.

I hope they dare to have fun while looking for employment.

Because…

Who dares – wins!

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LaLa Land by Malabar Cash is an ebook  for Kindle: available on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Am I a hypochondriac?

Searching for a hobby was giving me a headache!  I knew the usual pursuits – collecting beer mats and coasters.  I wanted miniatures – whisky, gin and rum, preferably full.

I needed a hobby to get my teeth into.  They ached quite often.  I gave it more thought, and there was that pain again.  I feared it might be serious!   I felt a flutter, a frisson of excitement.

With hobbies – hypochondria is King.  It concentrates my mind for most of the daylight hours.  At night I enjoy a spot of insomnia.

Most hobbies are expensive, golf springs to mind, deep sea diving, and hang gliding.  Even gentle pursuits like counted thread work cost a fortune and send you blind.  Hypochondria needs only a good medical dictionary, a wild imagination and the bus fare to the clinic.

How I used to suffer, leafing through my volume of illustrated ills.  When Google came along the world was my oyster.  (Now there’s an allergy!)  There are moments of terror, of course, as in horror novels and films, but I savour them.  Some folk pay good money to be frightened out of their wits.

I’ve dallied with most of the spine chilling complaints.  My breasts have had more lumps than a bowl of porridge, and, oh yes, my bowels have moved me!  Once, after downing pills donated by the National Health, I got thrombosis – well nearly!  Driving my new car caused the pain in my leg.  It took weeks of tantalizing anguish to find that out.

This hobby out puzzles Scrabble and Sudoku, (and I’d have to buy those games.)

A professor who examined me for bladder problems hooked me up to a catheter and a large tank of water.  You don’t get that playing contract bridge!  My innards took in a steady trickle.  ‘Tell me when you’re full,’ my tormentor said.

‘No problem yet,’ I responded to his first enquiry.

A while later: ‘I’m still comfortable,’ I said.

Still later:  ‘No trouble at all.’

‘Well, we have a problem,’ the boffin informed me – we’ve run out of water.  Your bladder rivals the capacity of the Aswan Dam.’

What a relief!   Oh!  It was worth it!

That’s the point, really.  I can’t tell you the euphoria that sweeps over me when I get the all-clear.  That lift of the spirits,tinged with regret, because I was rather enjoying it!  That high is rarely achieved by an aerobics fanatic going for the burn.

I wondered if there were fellow enthusiasts.  I found that there’s a great big world out there brimming with players.  Health is always in vogue – it’s the next most popular topic after the weather.

I am sought after for my specialist knowledge, and know that my physician finds me fascinating.

I get all this excitement for free: or at most, the cost of a good medical dictionary.  If I bought the right one, I might win a prize.  I could get chased down the road by a man with a prize draw cheque!

It would definitely make my heart race!

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LaLa Land by Malabar Cash is an ebook  for Kindle: available on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Phobias, big spiders and me.

Adventures on the Web.

I have spiders that live in my house.  I wish they wouldn’t.

I live alone now.  (I believe there is a black widow spider, so I suppose we have something in common.)  I knew that when October came around, there would be at least one spider the size of a soup plate.

I gave the problem some thought.  How should I deal with this?  Well, if I was in dire straits – suppose Hannibal Lecter was after me and there was an arachnid between me and the door – what would I do?  Well, I’d try flirting with Hannibal first – I’ve read the Silence of the Lambs, and he’s quite fun as long as he likes you.  If there was no Hannibal?  Well a spider is about an inch high, so I could vault over it.  I’d be out that door and legging it up the road like Usain Bolt.

So I was ready when Wincey arrived.  He was orangey-brown, spray-tanned probably, and he was a fan of Strictly come Dancing.  Come Saturday and Sunday nights Wincey was there, swaying in front of the television, (he liked the Argentine Tango, he had the legs for it.)  He came out during the week for updates, rather fancying Zoe Ball.  She only has two legs, of course, but she’s spindly, and may have spidery handwriting.

I used to say to Wincey:  ‘OK.  Here’s the deal.  You don’t come near my feet, and I won’t crush you.’  I then turned out all the lights and held a magazine up to the edge of my eyes, so I couldn’t see him in the light of the TV.  It rather curtailed my own dancing, and my floor exercises, but I didn’t want an eye to eye encounter with a brown recluse.

Wincey left shortly after the end of the series.  He didn’t stay for the Christmas edition, probably lured into Panto, as Daddy long legs.  I can’t say I missed him, but I had got used to him.

The following year Octavius took his place.  He isn’t exactly a tarantula, but he’s big and black and serious looking.  I call him Octavius, because he has eight legs, and is generally unattractive.

He was very well behaved at first, lying doggo in a corner and staying there while the light was on:  until I went away on holiday.  I was confident he would be gone by the time I came back.  Wrong!  He was not only there; he was a squatter, and not too amused at being disturbed. He takes off at a gallop now across the living room floor.  I ignore him, he’s just showing off.

I know Octavius is male, because he does exactly as he likes, regardless of what I tell him.

There was a time when I could call for help at sight of a spider and wait with eyes closed until it was removed.   Experts report that if you put them outside, ( because they have a right to live,) they just turn around and come back in when you’re not looking.

I talk to Octavius when I see him, and he looks back with soulful eyes under raised eyebrows.

When I meet him upstairs I admonish:  ‘What are you doing here?  Why don’t you go under a floorboard?’

‘Fat chance,’ he implies.  ‘It’s wall to wall carpeting.’  Fair point, I suppose.

‘Don’t go into my bedroom,’ I tell him. Spiders exhibit sexual dimorphism.  Is that similar to S and M, I wonder?

I lock eyes.  ‘If I meet you on my pillow, boyo, you’ll be straight up the vacuum cleaner!’

He shrugs:  resignation? Or disdain?  Spider’s blood is pale blue, of course:  I expect that’s where they get their lofty notions.

So far, he’s kept the bargain, hasn’t spun out of control.

I expect that soon he will want to find a mate, and spin her a line.  Well, do it outside of my house.  I want him to be happy, but there is a limit!

I’m not sure whether spiders have extra sensory perception – but I think he’s got the message.

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LaLa Land by Malabar Cash is an ebook  for Kindle: available on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Showers, Campsites, France and Me

Ordeal by Water

I seem to have trouble with water.  Well, bathrooms, kitchen taps; definitely showers and anything remotely wet.

It seems to happen mostly in France.  We all know about the French; lovely people, but definitely not too bothered about sanitation.  At the drop of a zip they’ll be off watering the verges and not being shy about it.

Camping sites are notorious for trouble with water.  It runs everywhere, erratically.  The quickest way to get it is to give up and go away.  Look back – and see it showering an empty cubicle.  Within moments of entering a shower you can be sure your clothes will be wet – the spray goes everywhere and your shoes will be full to the brim.

Campsites in France.

It was in France that a trip that had started so well went awry!  After a fair night’s sleep, I sashayed across to the campsite shower block attired in a seventies shell suit.  It covers everything and nobody knows or cares, that it’s your pajamas.

I found an empty cubicle, tied my clothes into a ball, hung them safely over the outside of the door and got au naturel.  I looked at the money machine and read the notice.  Mettez le jeton doucement!  So I put the metal disc gently into the slot – and nothing happened.  I tried again, gently but firmly, with no result.  For my third attempt I rammed it in hard and banged heavily on the machine, convulsing all the cubicles near to mine.  I got nowhere.

I decided to try the other side of the shed:  I had heard people showering over there.  I could leave my clothes, I decided, and dash across with my rather tiny towel, since there was nobody about.

I set off.  When I was mid way, and fully exposed, the campsite manager arrived.

‘Do you ‘ave a prob-lem Madame?’

I stayed where I was, clutching my hand towel:  should I arrange it ‘up’ or ‘down’?

Unknown to me some busybody had alerted the management, but Monsieur le proprieteur was not at all phased.  I’ll give him his due he was a gentleman; he kept his eyes strictly on mine as we discussed the situation.

He asked for the jeton, and I leaned carefully towards him.  He went back to my shower, placed the coin gently in the slot – and the water gushed out!  I nodded imperiously, to hide my embarrassment, made no further comment, and made my way back.

Nobody, but nobody, had been able to get water out of that shower except him, and now it had built up.  I found it wouldn’t stop, and I was in danger of drowning as well as flooding the place.  I collected my clothes, forced my wet body into the shell suit and left the building to its fate.

Old London town.

Even in London I am not immune.  I once got an urgent call for assistance when I was rinsing shirts at a  sink.  Our flat was above the shops in the High Street, above the bakery and sandwiched between the wet fish shop and the funeral director.

So I set off like Wonder woman but inadvertently left the taps full on.  Whilst I was sorting somebody else out, a shirt got sucked into the sink outlet at home, then another, and then one more.  The sink became blocked and the water overflowed to the floor.

On my return I was faced with paddling around trying to clear up the mess.  Many buckets were emptied before I was done:  (home and dry.)  I decided on fried chicken for supper, always a treat, and oddly it came from the fish shop beneath us.

‘Can’t be done, luv,’ I was told with regret.  ‘No electrics – the lot’s gorn, even the stiffs in the Chapel of Rest are getting warm, so they tell me!’

I blanched!  Was I to blame?  Definitely!  Should I confess?  Not unless I had to.  So I didn’t.

Horoscopes?

Why is it, I ask myself, that where water is concerned, I am always in the hot stuff?  Maybe it’s because I was born in the wet month of February.  A Pisces rule decrees:  ‘You will always be happiest surrounded by water!’

I live on the Isle of Wight now.

I am happy…  but I do check up each morning…  In case it has  floated away.

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LaLa Land by Malabar Cash is an ebook  for Kindle: available on Amazon.  Enjoy!