This is the prompt on Fiction Friday this week ‘A man is given the ability to go back in time and change one event in his life’. Well, ever the rebel, I’m going to change it! My piece will be fact not fiction, and about a woman not a man – moi in fact! I won’t be changing an event, but I’ll tell you about an event I wish I could change because it cost me money!
It was a few years ago, and I was wandering down the street with some loose change in my hand and somehow I dropped a penny on the pavement. As it was falling I thought ‘it’s only a penny, I’ll leave it’. And then I heard my grandmothers voice in my ear (not literally, she’d been dead ten years). ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. In retrospect I thought an awful lot in the few seconds it took for the penny to hit the ground!
So, heeding Gran’s words I bent down to pick it up. Okay, so I did stop rather suddenly, but even so the woman behind me with a baby buggy shouldn’t have been following that close. She ran into my bum with a bump and knocked me head first onto a lamp post. ‘Ouch’ I said (actually that was not exactly what I said!)
And then I saw stars. Now I’m used to seeing stars at night, but not on a sunny summer’s day. Clearly all was not well. I also felt something wet and warm trickling down my chin. Last time that happened it was chocolate fondue but it didn’t taste like melted Cadbury’s so I figured it must be bloooood!
Next thing I know I’m sitting on a wheelie bed thing in Accident & Emergency at the hospital. To cut a tediously long story shorter, all I’ll say is that I was not terminally injured (obviously) and in no time at all I was sitting up wondering how the hell I was going to get home!
Then it happened. An extremely good looking young man smiled at me! I smiled back, you would have too. He stopped and asked me if I was alright (my eyes had glazed over again!). I said I was fine considering my ordeal, and explained my predicament i.e. I was miles from home with no means of transport. He told me that he’d just visited his friend. My hint worked and in no time at all I was in his Merc heading towards town. (I noticed a sticker on his car which said he’d bought it from my father’s car dealership)
So that’s how I met Samuel. We became an item and it was nice.
We had a great time. I remember once he took me to a concert, but we didn’t stand in the auditorium because he was friend of the star and we stood in the wings (why do they call the side bits of a stage ‘wings’?). He was obviously very famous. I have to admit that when choosing a CD to play, I like Liberace best and find Ludacris ludicrous so I had no idea who he was.
In fact I’ve forgotten again! You must know him. He’s tall, black, has a gold front tooth and loads of bracelets. He doesn’t sing, he’s a rapper and he sort of talks in a jerky way to loud backing music and says ‘man’ a lot.
We went to a backstage party afterwards and I expected a sordid and debauched affair, but it was all very respectable. People wandered around with glasses of champagne and talked about the performance as if it had been fine art!
I got to know his parents quite well. His father knew my father, they both belonged to Rotary. He was an accountant (probably still is) and I remember thinking he didn’t look boring enough to sit looking at numbers all day. I told him it didn’t add up! Well I thought it was funny. Anyway, his family were clearly very high up the social scale because they had been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace as guests of Mr and Mrs Queen. I was invited too! How about that?
It was nice. We had little tiny sandwiches and bite size cakes. You could have a cup of tea or a glass of wine. I had wine. They didn’t have any of my favourite supermarket chardonnay, so I made do with a drop of Berrys' Chablis, Domaine du Colombier, Premier Cru 2006, a cheeky little number with a smooth texture and aromatic bouquet I was told. Sam said it was made from chardonnay grapes so I said I’d make do with it.
There was press photographer wandering around and he took a picture of me! Great I thought, Hello Magazine here I come!
I love to boast that I’ve met the Queen. Actually that’s not strictly accurate, because there were hundreds of people there I only saw the queen. At least I think I did. She was a long way off and from a distance one old lady in a hat covered with ribbons and bows looks very much like another!
As my friends know, Samuel and I didn’t last long. My fault, I’m not the settling down type. And I didn’t make the front cover of Hello, but a picture of me at Buck House did pop up in a minor national newspaper. By an amazing co-incidence an old school friend spotted it and managed to track me down. Sheila was her name. She was living in Ireland and she was about to get engaged to someone who was ‘in horses’. She insisted I jump on a plane (jump in a plane I think that should be) and go to the party, so I did.
We were in a big manor house with a classical string quintet playing in the corner. There were loads of people there all making idle small talk. Actually it was little boring, although I’ve never said as much to Sheila.
Well, there I was giggling over my glass of champers when I felt a tap on my shoulder (makes me sound like a sink!). I spun round spraying a bit of the bubbly stuff on some old fellows shoes, and there behind me stood Sheila with her parents. They didn’t remember me from our childhood, but then I didn’t remember then either! They did look a bit stuffy. Then Sheila said she wanted me to meet her fiancé Michael. I looked around expecting to see a wealthy horse trainer striding toward me, but I saw no one. Then I felt a kick on my shin. I looked down and there was Michael! ‘Oh’ I stammered. ‘Michael, you must he a jockey’ (it was the first thing that come into my head)
‘Oy am, ello dare’ he said (quick tip, if you read those words phonetically they should sound Irish for ‘I am, hello there’) I thought I’d lighten the occasion by cracking a couple of jokes ‘Well jockey Michael’ I said ‘You’ll soon be trotting down the aisle. Sheila getting married, I canter believe it!’ They didn’t get much of a reaction so I went for the big one. ‘So Michael, bet you can’t wait for your wedding night – you’ll have the ride of your life then!’
It got a mixed reaction. Sheila’s father looked down at the floor hoping no one would see his grin, Michael laughed, Sheila looked embarrassed and her mother’s mouth dropped open!
A little later I asked little Michael if he could give me any betting tips for the races the next day. I like a bet now and again. He said he was feeling lucky (I looked at him and agreed!). He told me he was putting some money on a horse called Wedded Bliss in the 3.20 at Newmarket. I said I’d do the same.
Well, I handed the bookie my £10 stake. I lost the bet. Wedded Bliss did win, but when I went to place my bet I saw that there was another horse in the same race called Chardonnay, so I bet on him instead. He fell in the final furlong.
You probably thought I’d forgotten the subject of this piece. Well I haven’t and there is a moral to my tale. If your granny ever tells you to look after your pennies so the pounds will look after themselves, don’t believe her.
And if I could turn back the clock I wouldn’t have picked up that penny, and right now I’d be £9.99 better off.