Thursday, 30 January 2014

sausage surprise

Vol  14 sausage surprise


Newly qualified and over my head, I spent an interesting summer once teaching a life skills course to a small group of adults with learning difficulties.  Typically, they were a nice bunch who were to set about planning, financing and carrying out a range of activities such as a visit to somewhere, preparing a meal and other so ons of their choice, the idea of which was to hopefully increase their independence (and my experience).

This began and ended when everyone else was on holiday so the college, apart from the builders redesigning the refectory and the soon-to-be new and terribly enthusiastic principal, was pretty much deserted.

Very soon, I quickly adapted to some surprisingly frank questions and comments from my students.

“What do you weigh?  What’s your husband called?” enquired Anna earnestly.

“Your shoes are vile,” decided Karen and a shocked Malcolm would chide her later on the way to break.

Apart from Shirley’s chomping her way through the contents of the builders’ butty boxes in their entirety one break time as reported by Malcolm, keeper of all things moral, I was beginning to allow myself a growing confidence and would have pulled it off but for one idiotic moment on the car park on the penultimate day.

“Morning Wendy!” exhorted the new Principal, over-brightly I felt for 9am,  “All Going Well?” in the important tone reserved for principals and politicians.

“Oh yes,” I assured her, desperately searching for something constructive to say, “we’re making sausage surprise for lunch tomorrow.”

“Ooo Marvellous!  Can I bag an invite!”

Well what would you say???  C
Come on, I’d rather you not - Mrs new Principal  wasn’t really an option. 

The Friday morning found me close to hysterical.

My query “Have you brought the sausages Shirley?” was met with what sausage and I realised that I had seriously underestimated the multi-tasking severe that was required to ensure the health and safety of all concerned.  11am saw Malcolm began twisting black pepper into the casserole 11.01 saw Shirley enjoying a crafty double dip of the tomatoey concoction 11.04 saw Karen dampen the pastry with her own spit 11.05 heard me shriek, mortified to Malcolm to STOP IT WITH THE BLACK PEPPER.  It didn’t bode well.

  “Well this looks absolutely splendid!” the Principal announced not too long after, beaming round our little group, “so what’s the surprise Wendy?” she winked getting into her full stride despite my frantic, hard stare.

“there’s no sausage in it.” replied the disarmingly deadpan Karen, catching the Principal off guard and reducing her to uncharacteristic silence.

Eventually we began, studiously avoiding spontaneous combustion, to consume the eye-watering sausage surprise casserole, while a mounting furnace slowly spread outward incinerating our skin in its fiery wake.

“Phew,” said the Principal, energetically batting away an imaginary blast on the first of many occasions, “I think I’m having another one of my hot sweats.”




Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Vol 13 scan


I don’t know if I’m alone in this, coming to the mistake/s in a min, but I quite delight in pervishly peering at the interior of my body on a mini TV screen.  I don’t know what I expect to find in there.  Having said that, I once had a breast scan subsequently enduring a three day panic attack at the memory of my too small sparrow-like heart surely nowhere near big enough to do the job since, if you know me, I’m around, loosely around, ten stone. 

Anyway, one winter I needed a bowel scan, the kind where you have to progressively starve yourself for two weeks beforehand starting with denying yourself sweetcorn, which, though it never bothered you before, becomes an instant craving, culminating with you swallowing chalky white liquid which, though swelling your belly to the size of a ufo, you are urged to clench within until, when it’s all over, you can drink hot chocolate finally to speed its release.

During the ensuing two week period, while attending Skills for Life training at a charming hotel, queuing for the ubiquitous  buffet, I happened to mention, and also unfortunately the reason for it, that I’m on consomm√© only and found myself alone for the afternoon.

The scan itself proceeded normally albeit as a rising panic began to form as it became increasingly difficult to hang on to the white liquid and, before my consultant could finish his sentence, I wildly snatched the self-help sheet from him and legged it for the pub.

I barely noticed the bling adorned revellers within as I knocked back my chocolate before tearing, bug-eyed past the tinsel, to the bogs.

Free at last in the thankfully empty but equally echoey lavatory, I sat back, smiled and relaxed for a full five minutes, finally joyously releasing big, booming bucketbombs of air.

At last I emerged, decidedly triumphant though vaguely exhausted, from the toilet and immediately met the cold, hard stares of the office Christmas party queuing silently at the till, doubtless mightily unimpressed with my explosive punctuations.


Monday, 27 January 2014

vol 12 - Gas oven

How not to make mistakes

Vol 12 - Gas oven

This is a proper mistake, no seriously it is, it could have been so much worse but, as it was, it was bad enough. 

When I was a medium sized kid we lived in a shop.  Oh the pain when I was wrenched, completely unannounced from my lovely drowsy semi-rural miniature town with cousins, grass, gooseberries and equally drowsy playmates to the vast concrete sprawling metropolis that is Warrington,  my heart moreover bleeding the day my father filled in the last two-by-one precious square of dirt left in our yard.  I was a sentimental sort.

I reckon I’d got to about nearly eleven by now and being fully conversant with art of counting out change, was sometimes left to serve the menagerie of customers who couldn’t afford the bus fare to Tesco.

On this particular Tuesday afternoon, it was Mrs Sumner, who lived a couple of doors away.  Mrs Sumner was seriously old, I’m pretty sure she’s no longer with us but I wouldn’t risk a fiver on it.  Her son, Sonny (honest)  was in his seventies and still lived at home with his mum presumably because his semblance to Steptoe disinclined the local beauties to take him on.
So, the bell went and, eyes to the skies, I tore myself away from Junior Showtime to see to Mrs Sumner clad in nylon nightgown, floral overall and furry boots for all the world looking like the granny off Beverly Hillbillies.

“I need to get something for our Sonny’s tea,” she explained.

Mmmm interesting, I thought, spotting an opportunity to enlighten Mrs Sumner (bloody hell, did I ever stop) and bring her right up to speed with 1970’s revolutionary cuisine.

“What about one of these new TV dinners – maybe a Bird's Eye Roast Beef Dinner?”

“Ooooh I don’t know.” She frowned I think, it was hard to tell, “Is it complicated?”

“Nah, you just pull the cardboard off the top and stick it in the oven for half an hour.  Shazam done!”

“Will it do in the gas oven?”

“Course.” (No blue sky thinking from me for at least three decades to come)

Mrs Sumner was sold and, parting with seventeen and a half pee, left me once again to Junior Showtime. 

After five minutes the bell interrupted Lena Zavaroni in a very fetching yellow frock, and I joined in growling tunefully Ma, he’s makin’ eyes at me …  as I trotted back to the shop to find Mrs Sumner again waiting.


“Box of cook’s matches.” She said, the transaction  complete, and wandered amiably out.


I had barely parked my bum before the bell sounded urgently this time amid a commotion and I rushed to the scene. 

Mrs Sumner minus eyebrows, minus hair, panting, still clutching the open box of cook’s matches …

Sunday, 26 January 2014

vol 11 - on stage

How not to make mistakes

Vol 11 on stage


I bet there are plenty of folks who have been volunteered by some maestro/magician/comedian etc. to join them up on stage but I wonder, of those, how many were daft enough to actually volunteer themself? 

Picture this.   – Ffordd Penrhwylfa Caravan Holiday Park -  winner of WALES IN BLOOM! 1969, Lighthouse Cabaret bar, Rhyl around half nine at night and my parents have consumed enough alcohol to have loosed their grip on my activities.   The compere, an our Albert from Steptoe lookalike,, and presumably having outsung his song sheet or possibly covering for an as yet absent act, was practically pleading for a volunteer to sing on stage.  Resist I could not.

“Ah, what’s your name, lovey,” said Albert, bending to stick the mic in my face, “WENDY!  I inadvertently boomed.

“Aw, and what are you going to sing for us tonight Wendy?”

“I’m not singin’, I’m doin’ the can can.”

Albert spluttered, wild-eyed taking in the dining table sized stage already housing my shocked backing trio.  After a panicked conflab, the mustachiod guitarist, equally hairy keyboard and deadpan drummer began a tune of sorts, though it was unequivocally unrelated to anything resembling the can can.  I began my routine nonetheless, clad in floral bellbottoms, sailor top, pony tail and glasses, the very epitome of Parisienne va va voom.  Given the circumstances, twirling and thrusting with gusto, some random kicks and the loss of a jesus sandal in a perfect arc en route to mustachio, it was going reasonably well until it became clear that my band, having no idea of the tune, were unable to spy an ending to it and stop bloody playing.  And so on and on and on interminably I danced, sweating, eyes bulging, chest heaving, legs like elastic and tachycardic.

I should have sung Lily the pink.

It would be three years before I began ballet lessons proper with Miss Ruby Clarke.

It would be three years more before Miss Ruby Clarke would refer to me as Wendy Wobbleyou and my dancing career would be almost over. 


Saturday, 25 January 2014

How not to make mistakes 

Vol 10 harvest festival


As happens with some, this mistake ended up something of a happy accident but, if the powers that be were out to punish me, they got it in first so by the time it came, I had thoroughly earned the final pay off.

We were on our way, me and the twins, my inseparable soul mates, Lorraine, (blonde and willowy) and Donna (dark and squat); except in miniature, they were not too dissimilar to the Birds of a Feather girls now I think of it.

Arm in arm, it was far, far, far too delightful of a day to be on our way to harvest festival rehearsal at Sunday school.  We had exchanged blood the previous night, united forever, when I’d slept at theirs and we smiled contentedly as we ambled through the streets and I picked at the bit of skin marking the prick. 

Suddenly out of nowhere, a fat bee flew drunkenly into this idyllic scene and the hitherto sworn lifelong loyal duo instantly scarpered.

Ever faithful to my mother’s advice, I stood still as a statue (my own advice on such an occasion since is bugger off as fast as possible).  As it became apparent that the damn bee was only interested in an apparently complicit victim – me – the twins returned to sidle up just close enough to witness with growing smug horror as the bee made its way inside my glasses and I had no option but to stare, terrified of blinking, at its hairy passage.

“Jaysus,” said Donna helpfully, “it’s as big as a jubbly.”

“If it stings her she’ll be blinded or she’ll die,” agreed Lorraine a tad eagerly.

Perhaps because of, or in spite of our destination, neither happened and, not a second too soon, shaking marginally but glad of a purpose now, we arrived closing the door on the sunshine, at Twelve Apostles Community Church harvest festival rehearsal.

To we three, there was far too much sweaty gravitas in the aforesaid festival and not enough jubilation.

“It’s boiling.” Lorraine whined.

“It’s bloody well boring,” complained Donna.

As is my calling in life, it seems, it wasn’t long before I had an idea.  Spying an opportunity to spice up the interminably dismal afternoon, hand over mouth, I proposed to feign a faint which ought to be well received since it was well known I’d drop to the floor in the event of, well anything.

“If they give her some altar wine,” Lorraine brightened, “she might be struck dead.”

“Nah, she’ll be rat-arsed,” from Donna a more amusing option.   

We didn’t have health and safety in those days and my, alarmingly realistic, I feel, faint brought about a minor panic culminating in Mrs-in-charge- of-tambourines lady emptying the flowers from a vase and pouring the slimy unholy water over my head.

Suffice to say my recovery was swift.

“Make sure you take her straight home,” commanded her Apostolic Majesty.

“Swear on our very blood,” promised Donna with a saintly smile and we three jostled back, alternately snorting and laughing, out onto the mercifully bee-free street.


Friday, 24 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

Vol 9 First time sex

Note to offspring:  Best not to read this

First off, to clarify, this was not my first time but I hoped it was to be our first time. 

The object of my affection, read lust, was my boss, an affable, kind man who elicited no work whatsoever out of his team since my arrival in it.  Rather, I would sit around Manchester Airport looking somewhat, I imagined Cinderella-esque, with a cloth in my hand, protesting innocently that I had, once again forgotten my sandwiches whereupon said boss would instantly whip out two beautifully crafted tuna barms.  Ah bliss.

I liked him as a friend for a long time before my attention wandered to his crotch.  Lying in an airport storage cupboard one afternoon, carrying something or other, he urged me to retrieve a key from his pocket, during which procedure he elicited several loud, long mock groans and wriggled around fairly convincingly.  I was hooked and filed him in quite a different cabinet in my brain.   

Now, the boss, being of a different generation, was, for me a child of the sixties, somewhat slow on the uptake and I resorted to fantasizing about him daily for the ensuing weeks all the while plotting his inevitable seduction.

Finally, he called round to the flat with my pay packet and I seized the opportunity, offering him in for a Stella and a chat. 

Two hours later and bloated with beer, found me suggesting somewhat desperately but eager to move things on (the shame) – an arm wrestle.  Affable as he was, he concurred and it went remarkably well with a fair amount of merriment … but no moves.  Hmm.  Quite determined and feigning excess heat from arm wrestling, I left to change into an outfit that in my world at least, would finally seal the deal.

And so, I flung open the lounge door, clad in sheer barely-there fabric and tossed my now loose, freshly sprayed locks and, with a sultry wink for full effect, took a step toward him whereupon instantly a resounding rasp announced itself stridently from my backside.  Please God that didn’t really happen.  I stood for what seemed an eternity to gather myself.   Puce now, I took a deep breath and three more small pin steps forwards and mother of all horrors three tight staccato squeaks ricocheted accordingly from behind.  We locked eyes for one utterly humiliating moment before I turned and ran for it, fiendish farts marking out every single stride. 


Thursday, 23 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

Vol 8 tie

Cheers for sticking with me and my mistakes so far.  This one can probably be filed under Trying Too Hard, again.  It’s not at all rude but it does have a slightly dubious word – not mine this time - just to mix it up a bit.

All mothers, perhaps rightly, but mostly not, believe something, or someone, at some stage, is not good enough for their daughter and I was no different, albeit around ten years early.

So, after one singularly harrowing (they all were to be fair) parents’ evening where Miss Ball informed me that my daughter was; “on the table, under the table, wrapped around the table leg, anywhere but at the table doing some work”, I decided that this school (I know, I know) wasn’t meeting my expectations and that’s how we found ourselves sitting in the oak laden office of Mr Booth, Headmaster of the splendid St Mary’s Infants and Junior School.

“The thing is, Mr Booth, she’s a little delicate, more leaning toward an education set against the backdrop of a supportive church like St Mary’s.”

“I’m certainly not saying her current school is rough or anything, she’s just, well … of a more sensitive countenance.”

I smile benignly down at her five year old face, to my mind the quintessential innocent.

“She’s always struck me as an other-worldly sort of child,"  thoughtfully, "a little ethereal, she simply isn’t at home in a non-denominational.”

After not too many more minutes of this and suchlike, Mr Booth is convinced at last and seals the deal with the St Mary’s tie which he fastens round her neck with a flourish.

“There we are, young lady, how’s that?” he asks beaming.

“Well” she declares, feet planted firmly astride, hands on hips,


… at that particular moment, a sentiment with which I am not inclined to disagree.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

Vol 7 white cider

I don’t want to mislead you, my Grandma didn’t like white cider, we’ll come to that in a sec. 
Grandma’s are fab aren’t they.  My Grandma was typical of her day, short, generously upholstered, grey, short-sighted, deaf when necessary, emitting a lackadaisical pump on occasion and a true matriarch; we all loved and love her still.  Here’s an episode that includes her and of, course, my inevitable mistake.

Here we are then on this particular evening, me, Muttley, the kids and Grandma, finally cosily ensconced in a caravan in Scarborough circa 1989. 

We hated Bingo.  Grandma loved Bingo and so it was that me and Muttley were off to play Bingo by proxy.  So far, so good.   Bear with me a minute here, we’ll be back to the Bingo in no time.  Now in those days I liked a drink, cider being a relic of our send-the-tallest-to-the-offy-for- a-bottle-of-Woodpecker days.  So far, that is because tonight, in the red and black dralon-clad Maxime’s Show Bar, I faced a novel conundrum;

“… a bottle of white cider?”

White cider? White? Really?  Okay why not.  (Why not?  It was double and then some, the proof I was used to)  I’m not justifying my actions here look, I do REALLY hate Bingo, so I swiftly ingested two or three (it was three) bottles, and, in a flash, the bloody Bingo was over.

“You go back to the kids and Grandma, I’ll go the chippy.” I offered.

It started to happen as I reached the front of the queue.  An alarming warmth began in my neck and spread rapidly through my core and it suddenly hit me that my legs were pissed while my brain was still startlingly alert and cruelly and efficiently registering my embarrassment.  Bemused holidaymakers sniggered past as, clutching my pungent packages, I listed crab-like in a never ending zed fashion to the interminably far away caravan.      

It doesn’t even end there.  An hour or so later, the insidious white cider eventually also laid claim to my brain and had me wailing with laughter, tears coursing down my face in the tiny tin bedroom while no. 1 son hammered on the adjoining wall pleading;

“MUMMMM!  Pleeease shut up!  Will you shaddap!  This is RIDICULOUS!”

and thereby guaranteeing fresh, shuddering paroxisms of mirth. 

And yet another hour later, and not remembering precisely how it happened, somehow Muttley was blasted, canon-like, off the bed, through the unlockable door and into the corridor beyond in all his naked glory in full view of The Grandma, gales of laughter from me accompanying his journey.

The next morning saw me fronting it out brightly.

“Cornflakes is it?”

Grandma raised a knowing eyebrow.

“Jolly windy night wasn’t it.”


How not to make mistakes

vol 6 saying grace

I lived and worked in America for a spell in the early twenties, more specifically Texas.  If you’ve been, or indeed habite it yourself, you’ll know it is, in the words of Shirley Bassey, its own special creation.  On the (worrying small) plane over, we were ominously warned ‘don’t judge the rest of America by Texas’ but, being a sort of special creation ourselves, we loved it.    

Anyway, I’m sure you know that herein lies the heart of the bible belt – a fact which we had curiously forgotten on this particular afternoon.  Feeling pretty gung ho at the time, we’d become fairly au fait with the culture and had managed to cultivate a couple of friends, namely Kirt and April and had even attracted an old friend, Hazel, to fly 7000 miles from home to spend a week with us in good old TX.

The five of us had worked up a mighty appetite target shooting, taking a tour of the Dr Pepper museum and detouring to pick up Kirt and April’s friend, Parson something or other and his son, ready for an early dinner or late lunch depending which side of Birmingham (erring on the side of specificity - Black Country, not Alabama) you hail from.

Sitting in The Cotton Patch restaurant we, now seven, placed our homely home cooked food orders and chatted politely if not quite cheerfully; we didn’t know man and son after all, and pretty soon the food arrived.  Mmmmm smelt delicious and, noting zealously that the pork didn’t even require a knife, we tucked in exceedingly enthusiastically.  I say ‘we’ very loosely here because what happened next is a frozen tableau fixed in the very highest HD in my mind.   

It seemed that with a foul synchronicity, we three Brits looked up as a hush descended over the table and Mr Pastor continued;

“ … and so we come to thank you, Jesus, for these, your blessi …”

Oh the eye watering panic as my eyes darted from face to face taking in first Hazel, hamster-like, cheeks bulging and eyes streaming from the effort of not chewing to Muttley’s, one side of his face distorted with a particularly (as is their wont) massive piece of meatloaf and imagining mine as I examine our options of risking a potentially death-inducing swallow, feigning a faint or bursting out laughing and spraying Mr Pastor and son with The Cotton Patch’s perfectly executed and exquisite pork.


Monday, 20 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

 volume 5 – sneeze

I suspect that this might be fairly common, so if this has already been one of your mistakes, then my apologies and commiserations, if not, then damn, it’s only me. 

I was eight I think and in Mrs Mercer’s class – English just before playtime.  Jean Arnold had just leaned over and asked how you spell ‘poorly’ - “forget it” she snarled no doubt quickly weighing up my patient (It might have been smug in retrospect) expression, “I’ll put ill.”  Then it happened. 

I sneezed. 
Not a problem you might think but on the general scale, if there is such a thing, it was a very productive sneeze indeed.  On the one hand, success, I had caught it – on the other hand, disaster, what to do with the elastic handsfull.  I glanced surreptitiously round and no-one seemed to be staring so I was able to transfer it all to my right hand fairly easily.  Okay, again a two edged sword, my slimy evacuation was now contained solely in my right hand but I’m right handed and couldn’t continue with my English workbook.  Hair helpfully flopping forward, I put my head down and considered my options as the minutes ticked painfully by … wipe it on Lorraine Addison in front of me (she’d no doubt belt me after) … wipe it on my own velvet dress (worse to encounter she- who- must- be- obeyed at home with slime down her favourite frock) … wipe it under the desk … the least bad of the options but likely to also be the least successful since the wood was hard and the snot was slippy.  Panic was setting in.  It was now twenty minutes since the incident.

Jean Arnold begins to cry at the side of me and it transpires that Jean is upset at her lack of natural spelling ability.  Good a distraction.  The bell goes.  Bingo.  I get up from my desk and sneak a look down at my right hand.  Amazing, it’s disappeared (the snot not the hand), no doubt merging seamlessly with the general sweat, crayon and Nesquik already residing in my pores.  Happy days, and I troll out the classroom with Mrs Mercer’s words trilling in my ears, “Never mind about your spelling, Jean, Wendy’ll never be able to clear the high jump like you.”


Sunday, 19 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

Volume 4 – boats

I completely loathe boats which is fine except that it’s taken me around thirty years to consciously realize this. My husband clocked it a long time ago which explains why he sniggered like Muttley heading for a hernia each time at the booking office. I’m ever the optimist, though, and the romantic scenario that plays out in my brain – the very gentle swell (or better still, the glare of the sun off the flat as a bowl of soup sea), the fresh smell of the open ocean, the sweet breeze caressing the hair, the charmingly attentive Captain … apologies - forgot myself for a sec … compares as favourably only as do Enid Blyton and The Exorcist. 

I have lain prone for hours under my parasol, on a hopefully unsaggy bottomed sunbed gazing at a not too small boat puttering out to sea, while time and again waving lazily back in a sun drenched stupor to its excited human cargo.

Looks good eh?” enquires Muttley slyly, flat out in the full onslaught of the relentless sun, desperate to outdo my- tan- to- be, “nice gentle pootle round the coves, pleasantly relaxing,” and before I know it, we are paid up, booked and aboard The Crazy Lady. (I know, I know I’m an idiot.) 

Sure enough, she pootles gently out toward the harbour gates whereupon the Captain immediately gives full rip to the throttle and the damn boat’s back end instantly drops a good five feet as its front end ups and rises to match and we are off like the bloody Grand National a-smacking the waves full frontal. Eyes wild, hair whipping eyes and gasping mouth, my arse is vaulting four feet off the seat and I haven’t got enough hands to grasp the silver rail, hold down the beach bag and force my boobs back inside their ludicrously inadequate bikini top.

What seems like a lifetime later, alighting the boat, shaking and panting not so slightly, I catch Muttley’s guilty eye. 


Saturday, 18 January 2014

vol 3 swimming

How not to make mistakes

Vol 3 - swimming

So far, I’m of the opinion that all of my mistakes have been my own fault whether through plain stupidity or otherwise and this one’s no different. It’s the second teaching one so happily we can get the t word out of the way early on.

Newly qualified in ‘special needs’ teaching and as daft as they come, I correctly believed that no-one would give me a proper job so put my name on the register for emergency cover. Amazingly, a couple of weeks later, I got a phone call from an actual head teacher. Mrs Bent was patient, encouraging - and desperate. Could I provide cover for two days? Thursday and Friday? Wow, you betchya!

One more thing, don’t forget your swimming costume, dear.” She said.
Ha! Cheers!” I joked back.

Tearing upstairs to prepare lesson plans, my heart beat excitedly - someone was actually going to let me into this profession. Unbelievable. Round about Wednesday teatime, I briefly considered Mrs Bent’s words before dismissing them – no, absolutely NONE of my teachers had ever showed up in a swimming costume even to help fill Blue Peter’s totaliser for Ethiopia, much less cast themselves into the water with us. Nah forget it, now to switch on the shiny new Hewlett Packard and start preparing lessons …

My arrival at Three Sister’s special school saw me more than excited, the thoughtful head had even allocated me my own parking space. “Good morning Wendy!” she beamed charitably, “got your costume?” What a sweetheart. “Ahaha, ‘fraid not, left it in Benidorm!” I winked back conspiratorially.

That morning, producing a good few gallons of adrenaline as, along with my temporary pupils, I attempted to ‘take charge’ of an army of professionals – physiotherapists, speech therapists, social workers and the like - fortunately much more at ease with their station than their ill prepared but fronting- it- out colleague. With a some sidelong glances and a few blind eyes turned, while struggling to maintain my credibility, I made it to the bell and tumbled into Mrs Bent on the corridor.

Ah dear, there you are, took a bit of time but we’ve come up with one out of the lost property box, here you are,” she smiled benignly waving what looked like a small, dead shiny black pigeon, “the coach will be here for the baths after break!” I detected no hint of a glint in her knowing eyes.

A cold iron sliver of fear seized me as I examined the costume – age ten – it said on the frayed label. I don’t need to tell you that the journey to the local swimming baths found me with glazed eyes, silently working out the last time I’d picked up a razor – circa 1997 I calculated - and playing out the very public humiliation to come.

All too soon, I sidled out of my changing room, face burning, to an already wet audience of pupils and professionals, begging inwardly for extra arms and hands to cover my abundant lady-garden, crazed alfalfa sprouting generously either side of the teeny costume’s crotch, and my nipples, each painfully torn in two by the twin, thin unforgiving straps.  Not to mention my bum … 


Friday, 17 January 2014

How not to make mistakes

Vol  2 – syllables

I’m pretty certain that most, if not all of us, have found ourselves in the presence of a particularly intimidating persona be it The Pope, Mohammed Ali, our dentist and so on.  In my own case, nauseatingly, the intimidating recipient of the next mistake was my boss.

First, I need to let you into a little peculiarity of mine.  I think in syllables.  That is, my brain categorises things in respect of how many sounds a word produces so, for example, if you are called Martin (and why not?) or May, I will remember that your name has two syllables, or one, and proceed from there.  Strange as this may seem, it’s fairly useful especially in the spelling dept.

Back to my boss, let’s call her Margaret.  She was a terrier, a small woman who made up for her lack of height with a spine shuddering imperiousness.  Anyway, I was ambling along at work one Tuesday morning when I heard it.  Sharp, urgent footsteps resounding round the corridor like the grim reaper rat tat tatting on your back door in the middle of a storm.  Please don’t let it be me I prayed.   

“Wendy!” Margaret announced triumphant.  I carried on ambling, silently indignant, it was only ten to nine for God’s sake.

“WENDY!  TDLB!”  What????  My poor half-awake brain scrambled for any scrap of information relating to the offending capitals.  Margaret had my lanky frame backed against the wall shrieking TDLB over and over up into my face.  Now any sane person would have couched this in other terms to allow the other person to catch up but such is the world of the intimidati.

It transpires that TDLB refers to some training that I am to undertake that afternoon of which Margaret will also be a candidate.  During the day, I remember my mother’s advice – imagine her sitting on the toilet – but it’s impossible and I simply cannot.  Instead, I resolve to try to be friendly if not friends.

In the training room, Margaret (and I) completes the paired exercises in record time as befits a brain on a (albeit short) stick and an awkward silence ensues.

“Er … your hair’s nice”  I venture, squirming.

“Mmm,” Margaret replies absently, “my hairdresser’s got a job on a cruise ship, she leaves on Friday.”

“Oh, nice, er no, not for you,”  suddenly spotting an opportunity to be helpful, “my daughter’s at beauty college.”  I brighten and Margaret rewards me with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, she’s been there six months but she’s already really good at blow jobs,”

“She did me this morning [proudly] … she’s definitely improving her blow jobs. “

Though I notice Margaret’s grey eyes widen, I persist

 “Yes, she’s reasonably cheap too, I’m sure she’ll do you a great blow job.”

“Wendy,” Margaret enquires through her teeth,  “do you realise you’re not saying blow dry