Covert Cheryl

It's Sunday Scribblings time again! This weeks word is Covert .

I’ve got this friend called Cheryl. She’s got several jobs including one as a Special Needs teacher at my school. She also works behind the bar at the Bicycle Arms a couple of sessions a week, but the reason I’m telling you about her is that she also has a little job as a Mystery Shopper! You know, those sneaky covert people who walk into businesses pretending to be a customer when they are actually doing a secret appraisal of their hapless victim.

When she first told me about it I imagined her disguising herself by wearing a false beard and stuffing a cushion up her shirt in case she got recognised, but they usually send her far away from home so it can’t happen.

I thought she would get a voicemail which started "Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." But she doesn’t. She just gets phone call asking to go here or there and pretend she need a new cell phone or something.

She gets all manner of assignments. I get to go with her sometimes. The other day I went to a shoe shop with her and a few weeks ago we tried a restaurant! What A great job!

The funniest one was a weekend at an upmarket camp site. She had to take two friends with her for a whole weekend and stay in a holiday home which looked like a trailer but it didn’t have any wheels. Julie made up the three of us.

Soon after we got settled in Cheryl filled out her forms about the reception we got, the cleanliness of the home, what we thought of the bar and those sorts of things. Then it was time to party!

She popped down to the village and got some essential supplies. Cheryl came back with a take-out Chinese meal, chardonnay, champagne and chocolate (Gosh look at all those words beginning with ‘ch’! Ch ch ch ch ch - I sound like a steam train!)

A couple of hours later a party was in full swing. We turned the music up, (maybe a little too ‘up’) and that attracted a couple of guys who persuaded us to let them join in. Actually they were Australians and one of them was called Steve just like Whitesnake – you know, the bloke that leaves sarky comments at the bottom of my posts?

Anyway they brought some grog with them, a case of long necks, and in no time at all they were zonked. Then there was a bang on the door. Steve opened it and there was a sheila outside. She was a bit of a grizzle and told us to go bite our bums. Steve said she was bloody galah but probably bangs like a dunny door!

The upshot was that in the morning we were asked to leave the site. Not surprising really! I asked Cheryl if she’d get the sack, but she said of course not because the site owners thought she was a private customer. Between us we filled in the remaining forms, guessing about the standard of things like the entertainment, the swimming pool and the shop so her boss thought we'd stayed all weekend! How naughty! We had a ball and Cheryl got paid! Reeeeesult!


About Keithy's Big 500

Hey, have you seen Keith’s blog? He’s just published his 500th post! What? Unbelievable.

Mind you he does spend an awful lot of time hunched over his computer. Take my advise and don’t ever ring him when he’s being ‘creative’. You’ve probably heard him complaining about people who use swear words. ‘Pure laziness’ he says. ‘Shows a poor command of the English language’ he says. He certainly gets lazy if you ‘interrupt his thought processes’!

Oh, I must tell you what happened today. I felt a complete idiot. I was buying a ticket for the train, because I was meeting Keithy for lunch in Bexhill (because that’s where he lives) and whilst I was queuing I couldn’t help noticing that one of the guys behind the ticket counter was pretty cool. Well when I got to the front of the line that funny electronic voice screeched ‘please go to position five’. Guess what? It was Mr Cool’s position! He gave me a lovely smile and said ‘How may I help you?’ I decided against saying the first thing that came into my mind (it was a little rude) and told him I needed a ticket to Eastbourne. He pointed out that this was Eastbourne and chuckled. How embarrassing!
So I tried again and asked him for a ticket to Bexhill. Then he looked at me with that great big smile and said ‘Single?’

I thought ‘Wa-hey! I think he’s chatting me up’ so I looked him straight in the eye, moved my hand to where he could see I had no wedding ring, and half whispered ‘Yes, single’.

Then he went all serious and started tapping the keys on his machine and a ticket popped out. ‘£4.60 please’ he said. I said it was usually £6.20 and he said that £6.20 was the price of a return ticket. I said that I needed a return ticket so I could come home and he said ‘You asked for a single’. I felt a right prat, I can tell you!

Where was I, Oh yes, Keith’s big 500. That’s it really, not much else I can say about it except that he asked me to tell you that there is a glass of champagne for you if you care to join him in his celebrations. I said that was daft, nobody is going to travel half way around the world for a sip of bubbly. He raised his eyes to the ceiling (the way he does) and said he was joking. And anyway, he doesn’t have any champers. All I got was a bottle of luke warm beer.


About Molly Sue's great performance

My friend Keithy has been trying to persuade me to join in Carry On Tuesday, so I thought I'd have a go. The prompt is the opening of Siegfried Sassoons poem entitled Everyone Sang - Everyone suddenly burst out singing, and I was filled with such delight ..

She was the smallest child in my class. Little Molly Sue was knee high to a grasshopper we used to say! But what she lacked in stature she made up for personality, and when she smiled she could light up the dullest day. Having said that, she never really said very much. She didn’t need to. Her personality spoke for her.

What makes us different from the other schools in the town is that we encourage the kids to throw themselves into art. Our register is to say the least multi-national, and art is a way to involve and integrate children from many different cultures. And performance art is one of the most popular parts of our curriculum.

Every year we have a school concert. Like most schools it used to be held in our assembly hall, but such was the reputation of the show that a decision was made a few years back to move the production into the towns largest theatre so that the audience could include members of the public as well as family and friends.

And this is where little Molly Sue comes into the story. Every year she found herself as one of the background singers or dancers. Somehow, no one ever thought to push her to the front. Until she joined our class!

It was her final year in our school. In a few months she would be joining hundreds of kids at the ‘big school’. I decided to give her a starring role in the finale And the song we thought suited her best would be Castle on a Cloud, the song from Les Miserable sung by the young Cosette.

Straight away we began rehearsing. Her little voice was perfect for the song, and in no time at all she had made it her own.

The big night arrived. Every act during the performance had the audience shouting for more. And then it was time for the big finish.

Behind the closed curtain all three hundred children squeezed themselves onto the stage. The curtain went up and there, kneeling in front of them, was Molly Sue in her ragamuffin clothes bathed in a pool of light.

The soundtrack started. Molly opened her mouth and.....nothing. I can still see her face now.

Two thousand people looked on in silence, and she stared back. Tears began trickling down her cheeks as she tried to see me amid that sea of faces. I got out of my seat and walked toward the stage, but before I got there, the children behind her realised what was needed! A few at a time they started singing and then a few of the audience started joining in. Then suddenly everyone burst out singing.

Molly Sue wiped the tears away with the sleeve of her shirt and began to beam. By now I was standing in the wings. The song finished and I decided to start the soundtrack again, and she started to sing.

It was like listening to the voice of an angel. I couldn’t see for tears. It was spellbinding; there was hardly a dry eye in the house. When she finished the crowd remained silent for a second or two whilst they got back their breath, then two thousand people stood as one. The applause was deafening. I was filled with such delight.

I don’t have any pictures or film of her singing that night, but I have found this video on YouTube which is so like her performance that it could be her! I hope you enjoy it.


Am I worried? Well, actually, yes.

On Sunday Scribblings this week we've been given the word Worry to write about.
' don't worry - be happy' by claudia alves on deviant art
I keep telling myself that I should worry more about the big things. I don’t mean elephants! (although perhaps I should because they are still being cruelly hunted) No, I mean big things like global warming and disappearing species and the global monetary crisis and poverty and emmisions and terrorism. Those sorts of things. But they all seem so much bigger than me. Does that make sense?

I get told to recycle things, use low voltage light bulbs, save water, use public transport, re-use my supermarket bags and ya-de-da-de-ya-de-da. I say “what difference can little ‘ole Rosey make?” and they say “if everyone took that attitude where would we be?” and I say “I suppose”, but I’m just not very good at being good.

Know what? I worry about not worrying enough about those great big things.

But I am a worrier (is that how you spell it? I’ll worry about that now!). If worrying was an Olympic sport I’d win gold for England! I worry about my nails, my clothes, my hair, and my makeup. When I go to bed I worry about oversleeping and being late for work in the morning. When I leave for work I worry in case I’ve left something turned on at home which should have been turned off. When I’m at work I worry about some of the children in my class when they seem upset about something. When I leave work I worry about whether or not I’ve done my job well enough, and when I get home I worry about eating the wrong food (bad food tastes so much better than good food)

Gosh, I sound a right misery-guts!

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a few words about worrying. I didn’t write it. You may have seen it before, I certainly remember it from years ago and it’s always remained in my mind (heck – what a clumsy sentence! Am I worried though? No!)

It’s called Two Things to Worry About.

There are only two things to worry about:
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well, there is nothing to worry about;
but if you are sick, there are two things to worry about:
either you will get well, or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about;
if you die, there are only two things to worry about:
either you will go to heaven or to hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.
But, if you go to hell you'll be so darned busy shaking hands with friends you won't have time to worry...


Its easier with the legs disconnected!

It's Sunday Scribbling time again and I'm writing about disconnected legs
I walked past a store selling men’s suits today and it made me think about the fun I had when I worked for in a tailors shop for a few months after leaving my finishing school. It was called Frobisher, Purveyor of Gentlemen’s Attire. My Father was one of his customers, and I remember him telling me that his real name was Foster. He changed it to Frobisher because it sounded grander but no one was fooled!

I had to wear very dull clothes for work. It was during a stage in my life when I wore gear to shock, clashing colours, short skirts and enormous clomping shoes. At the shop I was in black and white with a tape measure around my neck.

Frobisher specialised in hand made suits. There was a workshop at the back which was run by Naylor. That's what he was called, not Mr Naylor or Nathaniel Naylor or anything like that. ‘Naylor the tailor could have been a sailor’ I remember saying one day. He had a couple of men sewing for him. I never spoke to them. They turned up at nine, quietly got on with the job then went at six. I’m not sure what their job title was. Seamstresses are ladies who make dresses, so perhaps they were seamen. No, perhaps not!

Part of my job was to measure the customers. Naylor stood next to me with a clipboard, and as I measured the clients arms and chests and things, he would lick his pencil (the way old people do) and write the figures down. The tape measure was a special one with the first six inches made rigid so I didn’t have to hold the top. This was so I could measure the inside leg without nudging ....... you know what!

Always when it became to this part, Naylor would say ‘Would Sir prefer to have a gentleman take this measurement?’ They usually said yes which was quite fortunate. I mean, the rigid part was only six inches long. I mentioned this to Naylor and he pointed out that most of our customers were elderly and shrinking, so six inches was more than sufficient! He thought that was funny and he said he was only pulling my leg.

Talking of pulling legs I didn’t realise that you could pull the legs off the dummies which stand in shop windows. We had four, two white, one black and one which was old and turning yellow and cracked. Actually I found them rather grim. They had no heads! They just stood there like victims of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre!

Anyway, I was told to change the suit on one of them. It felt odd standing in the window. It was like being on stage and everyone outside stared. I took off the tie, I left the shirt (Mr F said I could) and then I came to the trousers. I looked over my shoulder and noticed I had an audience of grinning young men. Well, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find inside the trousers. I loosened them, looked inside and found to my horror discovered that the dummy had no underwear on! ‘Be strong Rosey’ I thought, and with a flourish I yanked down the trousers. To my relief there was very little detail down there!

Then I had the job of putting the new trews on. As I said I didn’t know that the legs pulled off, so there I was with a virtually naked plastic man over my shoulder, heaving and pulling as hard as I could. Well, I came out in a sweat, I can tell you (actually ladies don’t sweat, they glow. It’s like they don’t fart, they let out love-puffs). When I eventually succeeded, I realised I’d put them on back to front! I thought that once the belt was on with the buckle facing forward, no one would notice. Wrong! Mr Frobisher was ‘not best pleased’ (one of his favourite expressions). He looked at me over his little half spectacles and said 'It's easier, Miss Pinkerton with the legs disconnected. He proceeded showed me how to take the dummy to pieces and from then on I never had a problem again. I tried to demonstrate my expertise at trouser removal in the pub one night, but I couldn’t find a volunteer!

Oh, I must tell you, one day we had a posh old lady enter the shop. ‘Girl’ she shouted ‘do you sell ladies intimate apparel?’ Well I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I glanced over to Tom, one of the assistants and he hissed ‘knickers’. I told him not to be rude to me, and then he whispered that the lady was asking if we sold knickers. Anyway, I told her that we only sold men’s clothes and I sent her on her way.

Tom told me a funny story about something he saw once when he had to hand some clothes to a man who in a changing room. The man was standing there in lacy knickers, stockings and suspenders! Honestly!

That reminds me, I once had a customer ask me if we sold suspenders. I said we didn’t, and that he needed to go to shop selling ‘ladies intimate apparel’ (my new favourite expression). 'Not for stockings my dear' he boomed, 'socks' He smiled then pulled up his trouser leg, and just below his knobbly knee he had a stretchy band with a strap attached which clipped onto his sock! ‘These are sock suspenders young’ lady he said. I’d never heard of such a thing. And guess what, Frobisher sold them! It’s amazing what secrets men keep hidden under their trousers!

That reminds me we also sold trouser braces in lots of colours and patterns. I didn’t realise people still wore them. Actually my friend Keith does now and again. He’s got a red pair which he loves. Once I couldn’t resist the urge to ping them! ‘Ouch’ he shouted. I told him that if he didn’t have those man-boobs he wouldn’t have felt a thing! We also sold bow ties which you had to tie yourself, not the ready made ones. But we didn’t sell spinning bow ties or those fabulous ones which squirt water!

We specialised in formal wear, morning suits which people wore to weddings (even in the afternoon) and dress suits. That’s an odd name. You’d expect a ‘dress’ suit to have a skirt! As far as I’m aware the only skirts men wear are those kilts. Did you know, men don’t wear anything under kilts? There was a shop which sold kilts just up the mall. I was thinking how embarrassing it would be if a man was trying one on and the curtains in the changing room weren’t quite closed. I asked if they had any jobs but they didn’t! Only joking!

One day an old fellow came in and said he needed a wescott.

‘A what-cott?’ I said.

‘A wescott’ he said ‘a white wescott’

‘Weally,a white wescot. Well, I’ll encwire’ I said (I didn’t really, I just made that up!)
I had no idea what he was talking about (again!) so I explained that I needed to ask Mr Frobisher. He told me that wescott is the correct pronunciation of waistcoat. How about that?

There is so much more I could tell you but I’ve taken up enough of your time already. I only stayed at Frobisher for a few months, but boy, I had fun!
PS. It occurred to me whilst writing this that my friends overseas may become a little confused by some of my terminology. For instance, suspenders in the UK are devices for holding up stockings (and socks!) and nothing else. Those stretchy things which stop men's trousers falling down are braces, and what Americans call pants, we call trousers. Pants to us are men's underwear. Its like US purses are our handbags and our our purses are those little chaps you put your money in. Confusing or what?!


If I could turn back time

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 fiancĂ© 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.


Time to own up!

This week's word on Sunday Scribblings is Confessions

Do your eyes sometimes see what you want them to see? When I first read this week’s prompt, I thought it said confection! Yum yum I thought, I’ll have a great time with this. I’ll write 400 words about chocolate.

And then I put my specs on. Confessions it read. Oh well, never mind.

By the way, I bet you didn’t know I wore glasses! I have to admit that I don’t wear them that often. They make me look a bit geeky if you know what I mean. Years ago I thought that wearing glasses would make me look intelligent. I once wore a pair when I went for a job interview. I actually bought them from an up-market charity shop. They had designer frames, Chanel I think.

Trouble was they had very strong lenses. They were as thick as coke bottle bottoms! Everything I looked at through them took on a strange shape and they made me feel a little dizzy. Not just that, but when people looked at me close to, I looked like a bug-eyed frog!

Anyway I was called in for my interview and I was horrified to see not one, but four people sitting behind a long desk all staring in my direction. An interview panel I thought. I wasn’t expecting that! They were all wearing red blouses. I assumed it must have been a company uniform. As red’s never really suited me, I remember hoping they also supplied them in pink! But then as I walked towards them they blended into each other, and when I suddenly and unexpectedly bumped into the desk I realised my glasses had been playing tricks with me and there was actually only one lady sitting there. I won’t bore you with what happened next, but suffice to say I didn’t get the job.

Listen to me rambling on. I suppose I aught enter into the spirit of the prompt and confess something. Where do I start!! Well there was the time I was left to look after my aunt’s budgerigar when she went on holiday. I’m sure you have already guessed what I’m going to confess to. You are right; it snuffed it, literally dropped off its perch. And like hundreds of people in similar situations have done before, I replaced it with another identical one before she came home.

At first I didn’t think I’d get away with it, because the original bird could sing the national anthem whilst standing on one leg, and swear like a trooper. The replacement was virtually mute! But my aunt decided this sudden silence was due to the distress caused by her going away for a month. She wasn’t too disappointed though, because the original’s foul mouth regularly caused her embarrassment when the vicar called round!

But the funniest thing is that she now thinks she has the oldest budgie in existence! The one that died was already due to meet its maker and one I replaced it with was very young. Imagine how awkward I felt when I saw an article a couple of months ago in my local paper about this amazing bird that seems to be living forever!
Gosh, there are so many things I could confess to. Being accident prone means I often do things which need a little covering up. If Keith knew what actually happened to his......no, forget it!
Suffice to say I’m something of an expert at papering over cracks and I think I’d be wise right now to keep my cracks covered up (oh my goodness, that sounds terrible!)

I think I’ll stick to confections!