An Excerpt from the Thriller: LALA LAND by Malabar Cash

Cover page for LaLa Land
Cover page for LaLa Land

My new book, LaLa Land is now up on Amazon Scout and I’m hoping that all those who read the extract will nominate it for publication.  It’s a free download, so please click on https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/P23BFJR5NBZ3

It goes like this:

In London, Ellis Hudson knew the ropes. In Los Angeles he is finding his feet – and stepping on toes. A wannabe Philip Marlowe, his client fits the bill rather too well. She’s dark, delectable and definitely dangerous to know. Penny Alvarez believes in sell-by dates, after which she will strip a man down, make him purr, and let him die happy. She’s the client, but Ellis Hudson has to call in the cavalry. He needs all the help he can get!

I’ve added an excerpt about Penny Alvarez.  She is what Ellis Hudson is up against!

It was going great.  Tony’s knees had buckled slightly as he heaved the sail bag up across his back, but he rallied with a word or two from Penny.  Both bags were transferred to the waiting boat, and Penny breathed a sigh of relief.  It was another step completed.

Her heart was beating fast.  She had disposed of inconveniences before, various modus operandi, but basically they had all been the same.  This time was…. well, it was different.  This was a culmination.  It was the end of a very long road.

Tony gunned the engine.  It fired.  They had noted the mooring and the boat would be returned to the same place.  Who was to know, as long as they got it back, that it had ever been part of an adventure?

They kept the throttle low.  Nobody had shown any interest; there were indeed not many people about.

‘How far out?’  Penny asked.

‘Ten minutes should do it.’

‘Make it fifteen,’ she said.

At last they puttered to a stop.  Tony was straight into action, wanting this over as much as she did.  It was no easy matter.  Both bags were heavy.  One bag would remain heavy, but the other must be weighted down permanently, it must not surface as time went by.  During the journey out Tony had unscrewed the guard rails.  The bags were on the cabin roof.

Tony continued masterful and in charge.

‘Keep out of this until I say so.  It’s too damned easy to become attached and go over with the rest.  Many a fisherman….’  He was getting his message across.  Penny wished he had always been like this…  Perhaps he had – she had loved him once.

She perched a safe distance away and watched him tie the bags together, wind more chain round the outside, until finally he sat back, satisfied.

‘You ready for the big push?   He asked.

‘I am.’

‘Check yourself over, no loose cords; no strings attached?  He grinned.  He was actually enjoying this, and transferring the mood to her.

‘I’m loose.’  A quick smile.

She got into position, braced her legs, made sure her arms could be easily pulled free.  He checked her again:  he checked the bags.  He was ready.

‘Heave!’ he said.

By God they were heavy, but the bags moved from the cabin roof.  The first one snagged on the deck and they heaved again to keep it going.  The second bag came down and they put their backs into getting the momentum to push it over.

All of a sudden they were gone, with an almighty Whoosh and a clatter!  Surely it had woken the whole of the near-by marina?

All was silent.

They stared at each other, and then Tony opened his arms wide and she fell into the embrace.

‘It’s over.’  He buried his head in her hair and drew a deep breath.

‘It’s over.’  She savoured the smell of him.

They laughed in unison.  ‘It is over!’

‘Let’s go home,’ Penny said.

The boat was returned to its moorings.  Yes, there were drag marks on the deck, but that could have happened at any time, and for craft that had been neglected it was only to be expected.

All they needed to do was drive away.

‘How about we take the pretty way?’  Penny asked.  ‘The coast road:  over towards Los Palos Verdes?’

‘You’re a glutton for punishment!  I’ve had enough excitement for one night.’

‘I just thought we might find a little place to lay our heads – when the inns open.  We could make it a romantic week-end.’

‘That’s different.  Now you’re talking.  I’ll go for that!’

The road was winding.  They were cruising, taking their time.  No hurry now.

Penny was running the caper over in her head:  no loose ends as Tony had said.  Nothing to trip them up.  They’d been way out to sea and nobody was watching them anyway.  Just tonight to organize now and that must be perfect.  She checked the road behind them in her rear view mirror.  No lights.  She drove around another bend, the road was climbing, and the view was fantastic.  Still no lights, they had the road to themselves.

‘Can you feel that?’  She asked, frowning, leaning towards him.

‘Like what?’

‘There’s something wrong, the car is wobbling.’

‘It’s the wind up here.’

‘It feels more like a puncture.’  She pulled the car to a halt against the cliff.  ‘You want to take a look?’

Tony sighed.  ‘I won’t be changing no wheels up here,’ he said.

‘I’m not asking you to do that, but I may have to call Triple A.  A wheel out of shape is dangerous.’

‘OK,’ he grumbled.

‘Make it quick.’  She said.

Tony got out.  ‘Front or back?’

‘It feels like the back.’

She waited, with the engine running.  She moved forward a little, causing him to shout.  ‘Hey!  Where are you going?’

She calmly put the Lexus into reverse, and hit him just enough to knock him over.

‘Hey!’ He shouted again – before she ran slowly over him.  Nothing dramatic!  Nothing had been enough to leave marks on her car.  In Drive she ran forward over him to make sure he was dead.  She wouldn’t put it past Tony to have survived!

She watched the road; still no lights.  The cars would come sooner or later.  Move fast now Penny – get away.  Your life may depend on it.

She had to reach the twenty-four hour car wash.  She would go through it twice.  There would be time to dispose of her overalls and definitely her shoes, somewhere up there.

Frankly, it had been a long night.  She would be glad to get home!

I really enjoyed writing this book.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Quite apart from nominations, if you would care to leave a comment here, I’d love to hear from you.

Catch Us if You Can!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.”

loaded busNepal trip 247

Nepal, October 2013.  We were in a truck, a big, blue, ugly job we called The Limo.  There were fifteen of us; the good, the bad and the nearly.   We had come down to the rice

fields of the Chitwan valley to help build part of a school.  It was for the lowest of the low, the Untouchables.  We were with a charity doing good works.

We had already done the plane and coach thing, having flown from England to Kathmandu and travelled by bone-shaking bus.  We had started our project at the school, had mixed sand and cement, plastered ceilings and fallen in love with the children, when we got the bad news.Nepal trip 150

The Maoists were being revolting.  As I understood it, there had been a recent election where the Maoist party had done rather well, so the government called for another election.  Simple.  My sympathies lay…….. Well, let’s not get into politics.

Now, the aggrieved called a general strike.  No buses, trucks, transport other than rickshaws could move, on pain of being set alight and turned to ashes.  Not our Limo?  Not with us in it?  A conference was held, and that was how we came to be sitting in the truck on the outskirts of a village, waiting for the motorbike to come back and tell us the score.  We went to the school by the back roads through the smaller villagRickshaw alone - Copyes, and the outrider checked each one before we went on.

Oddly, we were not afraid.  We were a tough bunch of nutters, and we discussed our plan of action should the worst happen and we were discovered.  We had among our number a fine looking woman called Pat.  Pat had a haughty beauty, and a way with unusual verse:  at the drop of a rucksack, she would quote great chunks of Kublai Khan and keep it up until your eyes glazed over and you drifted into sleep.

There was our strategy.  If our truck was discovered and we were arrested, we would send Pat down to negotiate.  In double quick time the Maoists would release us.  They would let us go, taking Pat out of their lives forever.  We had the ultimate deterrent.

We did this daily, conferring with our leaders and the locals to see which route we should take.  We finished the school, said goodbye to the very touchable Untouchables, and headed back to Kathmandu.  All except Pat.

Pat, in her mid seventies, hiked up to the Himalayas, intent on some skiing, and then bussed it over to India alone, against all advice.   She might have got to the Hindu Kush before making it back to England, where not long afterwards, she died.

Now, there’s a little part of heaven somewhere, which I shall avoid.  It knows an awful lot about the Kublai Khan.

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I very much loved that experience.  I very much like writing, too.  My third novel,  LALA LAND by Malabar Cash is doing well on Amazon books for Kindle.  If you’re ready to fall in a heap with a good book after the holidays, it’s just a few clicks away.

Nepal trip 024

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

 

Apologies to Gene Kelly.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Singing in the rain.

If the rain is persisting, there is nothing I like better than to go with the flow. I get the gang round and set into a liquid lunch.  Gin and tonic, accompanied by chicken and water melon salad,  followed by Italian water ice.  Eau de vie to finish.

If singing is required, and it always is after Gin, Frankie Laine’s  ‘Cool, Clear Water’  is raucous and easy to belt out.  Bob Dylan’s ‘Spirit on the Water’ is only for the cognoscenti.

Since this is my party, we will concentrate on Frankie Laine.  What a nice guy, and what a fascinating career!  He was a kid living with his grandfather when his grandfather got shot dead by gangsters.  Now that is a bad start in life!

He had four or five career failures – World War two got in the way.  He was at one time sleeping on a bench in Central Park.  He said he got bodily thrown out of various New York hotels.  He would creep into empty rooms and sleep on the floor.

He finally made it to the big time with his rendition of ‘That’s My Desire’.  The day before the recording he owed more than seven thousand dollars.  Then his career really took off, and he paid off all his debts, except one.  His friend, Perry Como would not accept the money.  Como kidded him for years about the debt.

He was a supporter of the Civil Rights movement, and generously supported the Salvation Army among a lot of other good causes.  He was a good friend to Nat King Cole.  He boosted Cole’s career in those bad old days, by appearing as a guest on his show, not done before by a white entertainer.  Other stars followed suit, but not many.  Frankie Laine was a pall bearer at Nat King Cole’s funeral.

He had no delusions of grandeur and performed until well into his eighties for the fun of it.  His story about his first hair piece goes down well at  my parties.  He did a bad job of gluing it on.  In Chicago, the Windy City, it got whipped off his head and rolled down the road like Tumbleweed.  By the time he retrieved it, it had been run over several times.  It looked rather pathetic.

His first marriage lasted forty three years, until his wife’s death.  At aged eighty six he married again, a commitment that only ended at his own demise.

His ashes, along with those of his first wife were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.  Now, since we were talking about water, that is a significant stretch of the wet stuff.

The party’s over now.  I wish he could have been there in person.

Let’s raise a glass to Frankie Laine before we wander off home.  Of course, we’ll be singing in the rain!

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

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.”

I had a ‘million dollar question’ some time ago.  It was to do with a dream, it was:  ‘Would I ever wake up?

I was wet.  To say I was cold was an understatement.  I’d been walking for some time, and with every passing moment I went deeper into panic.

I had a problem in this foreign land where I didn’t know the language.  How would I say:  ‘I’m lost, and I don’t know where I live?’  They’d think I have dementia, and some-one would call the police and I’d find myself in a hospital ward, and not a soul would believe that I am fine.

I was fine this morning and this evening at dinner.  I was fine in this alien landscape visiting friends, until I had elected to go for a walk and have a little time to myself.

How easy it was!  ‘I’ll be OK,’ I’d told my friends, and they were happy for me to go.  They could relax and be themselves for a while. They could fall in a heap.  I needed time to myself to think about the past I had lost, and time if I wished to shed a tear.

There was no time for that now!

It had started so well.  They had given instructions.  ‘Follow that row of  houses, turn right at the bottom and right again by the church, and then take a longer edge and turn right again at the bottom to finish the square.’  Except that I’d gone wrong, and that’s where it all went to pot.  I saw a bus marked 5.  I had seen one from the window of my friends’ home, so with salvation at hand, I hailed it and got on.

I watched out the window. Once I saw the house again I’d get off the bus at the next stop and walk back.  Soon I realised it must be going the other way.  So I pressed the bell.  I was ready to cross the road and find the return bus stop – but now it was a one way street and I had to find another way.  I was hot now, sweating – and then I woke up!

I was home, in my usual bed, in my native land.  I know a million dollar moment when I see one.

What?  ‘To blog, or not to blog,’ was that the question? Have I wasted my time? ……….?

In that case let me blog about my book, an unashamed bid for fame and fortune!  At midnight on Monday, ninth of November I will hear if LaLa Land by Malabar Cash has attracted enough votes to win a publishing contract with Amazon Scout.  It’s a Million Dollar Question. It hangs by a thread.

You could click on the url  https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/P23BFJR5NBZ3                          and then read four chapters of my racy thriller, and if you wish, vote for it to be published.

If at midnight I get the good news, you will have granted me my own Million Dollar Moment.

Watch this space.

George Orwell, Oceania and 1984

George Orwell and 1984?  What was the matter with the man.  We’ve been there, done that, and it simply didn’t happen.  He even called his world Oceania, and that sounds rather wonderful to me.  Big fish, little fish, colourful little fishlets roaming round in shoals looking twee.

Then there’s the hero, Winston.  Now I was told that Winston Churchill was famous because he was the only white man in England ever called Winston, so I’m assuming Winston is black.  From what I’ve read, Winston has a nasty time of it.  He falls in love, conducts his affair above a shop, and is caught ‘in flagrante’, and ‘tortured’ with rats.  Now I like rats, that wouldn’t bother me at all, but a box of spiders would grab my attention.

Some of Oceania’s rules were awful.  ‘Thinking of sex was banned.’  Now that is taking liberties!  They say men think of sex every three and a half minutes.  How are you going to keep up with that?

I know how I would get arrested, and it would be watching the hunks on Strictly Come Dancing.  Not Gleb the Russian, he’s too pretty, but maybe Georgio the Italian.  I don’t like beards at all, but I’d make an exception for him!  That’s if the surveillance mob don’t come crashing through my front door, having twigged that I have Googled ‘How long does it take for a body to decompose?’  And:  ‘How does one make Crack Cocaine? ‘

I write books, for goodness sake, and I need to know this stuff.  I researched both for LaLa Land, (soon to be available in bookshops and the web.)  So I know what I’m talking about.

Would I succumb in Room 101, and grass on some-one else to save my skin?  Oh, I should think so.  I’m doing just that for a character in the sequel.

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

A Boston Bar named Cheers!

Blue whale

It May Sound Fishy, but…I might once have met

Sam Malone, from Cheers!

We went to Martha’s Vineyard, near Boston, USA.  They let us buy a coach trip to the island, home of many stars and celebrities.  They didn’t say that we would not be allowed to leave the bus:  we found that out later.  The people of that island didn’t want to meet us, which was a blow. I’m not saying the coach was locked, but the driver was jangling the keys.

We were picked up at the ferry and dropped back, right on time.  There was one short stop, at an out of the way café, but otherwise the bus doors remained closed.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s words came to mind: ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’  I’ll go for that!

We saw the gates of some famous people – the homes were way back up leafy lanes and completely out of sight.  I heard Ted Danson mentioned.  I perked up; we’d laughed so often watching Cheers on TV!  (We didn’t get to see his place, either.)

Once liberated from our outing, we took the ferry back to Rhode Island, nearest land to the clannish vineyard, and went back to our timeshare to recuperate.

Next day we huddled in a fine mist on an almost deserted beach.  We watched a couple of men replete with rod and line, catch… sod all!   My husband went exploring.  He was soon back.

‘A man down there is catching so many fish he can’t reel them in fast enough.’ He grinned.  ‘Do you want to take a look?  I think it’s Ted Danson.’  I was off like a bat out of hell.

How was I to be sure?  I craned for a better look.  The man had his back towards me, but he did have a couple of glamorous girls with him.  On closer inspection they seemed more like daughters than groupies, so this might be just a family man.  As I wondered which way this cookie might crumble, he turned and caught me watching him.

‘Excuse me,’ I stammered.  ‘I was wondering how you do it, the fishing, I mean. There are men up the beach who can’t get a bite.’

‘Sam Malone’ turned away.  He had two big fishing chairs anchored on the sand, each with a long rod attached:  one of the rods was quivering.  I stayed and watched.

He turned back.  ‘Give me a hand?’

Those girls weren’t helping, so I went down.

‘Take the other line, and yell if you feel it twitch.’  He was masterful.

There was no time to wonder whether he pulled pints up the road in Boston.  He fitted me into the chair.  I grabbed the rod, leaned back, and said:  ‘it’s twitching.’

‘I told you,’ he said:  ‘to yell WHEN it’s twitching!’

It is twitching,’ I yelled.  ‘Right now – it’s TWITCHING!!!

He got the message.  We started the winding in.  On his line he soon had another big blue specimen to add to his bag, while on mine I was looking at the biggest fish I’ve ever seen in my life.

‘What is it?’  I gasped.

‘King mackerel,’ he said.

It was not like any mackerel I’d ever seen; this was more like a Blue Whale!  It was beautiful with an iridescent sheen of green and blue along its sides and a silvery underbelly.

‘Do you want it?’ he asked.

‘No thank you.’  I thought of the fridge at our self-catering unit. ‘Can my husband take a picture?’

He turned, to see my man looking sheepish in the background.   ‘Come on down,’ he called.

He wasn’t exactly chatty, but he was friendly.  But was he Ted Danson?  Right age, not so much hair, but then… (didn’t Sam Malone wear a wig?)

‘What is your name?’  I was dying to ask, but the words I needed wouldn’t come – it wasn’t polite!

‘How do you catch the fish?’  I asked instead.

‘I do it right,’ he said; showing all the humility one would expect from the manager of that Boston bar.

And so I got my picture taken with a fish half my size, and a lot better looking.  Ted got to eat the fish and think of me.  Oh sure!  It was never ascertained if he was – or was not, for that matter – Ted Danson!

We went back to jolly old England.

As this was back when you got film developed, we consigned it to the dark room at BOOTS the chemist, and waited impatiently.  The picture was a beauty, and I sent our print to American friends.  New Yorkers.

‘That don’t look like him to me,’ they opined – and kept the picture!

All these years later I’ve remembered it.  I don’t have the negative; that went in the bin when I was downsizing, years ago.  Maybe the New Yorkers still have it – if only I could find them!

I don’t know if I met Ted Danson.  I think I did.  I should have asked those girls.  He was bossy enough to be Sam Malone of Cheers.  He was not snooty enough to have had much to do with Martha’s Vineyard.

Whoever he was, he was kind.  He gave me something to remember always – a glorious keepsake for when I’m buying small dull mackerel from a dreary store!

‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’’

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

What are Friends for?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.

We all need somebody to blame when we’re caught in the hot stuff.  In times of yore, Princes had whipping boys – Now settle down, it’s nothing to do with S and M, but it is nearly as painful.  (So they tell me!)

I had one of those; he took the blame for everything.  I called him ‘boy.’   He was miffed.

‘I do have a name, you know!’

’‘What is it?’

‘George.’

So I called him Boy George.

I had an Aunt Laura, my favourite Aunt.  She would come to our house at weekends and chat to my parents while I waited impatiently.  When they had done, Auntie would take me for a walk and we would stroll in the park, and chase the ducks at the pond, and then always on the way home, we had an ice cream.  I really liked Auntie.

Then my brother got born.  That was really annoying.  Why does one need a brother?  They don’t dress dolls, they can’t knit, and they are quite useless at applying lipstick and nail stuff.  Anyway, he was there, and suddenly he had to come with us. In his pram!  Aarrrgh!

I was inclined to be bossy, and devious.  The next time Auntie came, I went into the bedroom and stripped my brother.  Every last stitch, and then I hid all his clothes.

‘John can’t come.’ I said.  ‘He’s lost his trousers.’

‘How did that happen?’  Mother asked.

‘Boy George did it,’ I said.

Well, he had.  He’d rushed in with his guitar, hung his hat on the banisters, and borrowed the clothes.

So!  My brother couldn’t come!  Obviously.  He’d be too cold!

It may explain why we never really got along.

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

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!