Where did my dad go?

On our recent visit to London to see Statto and Miss Effervecence, I was standing on the pavement with Skater, whilst our host and hostess made a few purchases from a store near to the station.  We were chatting about this and that when the peace was broken. Inside the shop a man was being abusive to a member of staff. His stream of abuse was uncalled for and a security man did his best to usher the man out onto the street. It didn’t take long for this man to return to the store only to be ejected once again. At this point a couple of obviously homeless people were passing and the woman persuaded the ejected man to follow them. Her partner was busy picking up dog ends from the pavement. (This action amazed Skater more than the abusive guy).

A few moments later Statto and Miss Effervecence emerged with their shopping. To my amazement Statto asked.

‘Where did my dad go?’

Now I know exactly what he was really saying. His dad was not in London at the time (as far as I am aware). However the abusive guy who was obviously drunk was behaving in a way that Statto had witnessed from his own father many times over the years. I had also recognised the paranoid behaviour of the drunk, believing that they were being insulted when they weren’t. It reminded me of one particular summer evening years ago.

I had dutifully collected my drunken husband from the local pub, bundled him into our car and driven him home. Our house was not situated directly beside a road, we had a public footpath to negotiate before reaching our own garden path. The public footpath ran along the side of my friends’ back garden. It was a hot summer evening and our friends were sat in their garden with other friends having a laugh. Considering that the garden in which this group of friends were enjoying their evening together, has a 6′ brick wall around it, they would not have been aware that we were passing by.

However on hearing laughter my husband in his drunken state believed that they were laughing at him. This led to his agitation, causing a string of curses and threats to beat up anyone who was laughing at him. Now I know for a fact that his presence had gone unnoticed by the group within the walled garden. Although I am sure that had they seen the way my husband was stumbling all over the place including falling into the rose bush at the side of their driveway, then they would certainly have laughed.

In his drunken state my husband was convinced that he was being insulted and was determined to punch anyone who was insulting him. No amount of cajoling could convince him that nobody was either laughing at him or wanting to fight him.

I have noticed over the years that it is not unusual for someone under the influence of drink to imagine that someone has insulted them. Now that I am aware of my current husband’s drink problem, I can see that this has been part of the problem when he has imagined insults by family and others, where no insult was intended.

Drink has a lot to answer to.

I am just grateful that my four sons have all grown up to be, not tea total, but moderate drinkers. They all enjoy a drink from time to time but none of them are heavy drinkers.

 

 

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Life in a mirror

Recently I did something that I couldn’t believe I was doing. It was a Wednesday evening and I had just arrived at a meeting of the Writers Circle that I now belong to. The meeting hadn’t yet begun, the last few stragglers were taking their seats. It was announced that due to personal reasons our Treasurer was resigning after 15 years. A request was made for a volunteer to take up the mantle.

That was when I heard it. It was my voice, and the words, not unfamiliar, were not what I expected to hear coming from my own mouth.

‘If nobody else wants to do it I will.’

It didn’t make me feel good, I had misgivings about this. Although I had done it before, twenty years ago I was the treasurer of our local Playgroup. I was worried about having other people’s cash in the house whilst we were struggling financially ourselves. Over the last couple of weeks since we sold our car, our own situation has become more relaxed. I began to feel better about my new role.

This weekend I called round to visit my predecessor for the handover of all the Treasurer’s paraphernalia. We chatted for several hours. We didn’t spend much time discussing the Writing group. Instead we talked about our own lives.

I had never imagined that I would meet another person whose life was such a mirror of my own life. She has lived my past, she has lived my current life. She is living my future.

It is strange but the revelations that came about through our conversation are both scary and at the same time comforting.

Hankeen Gabriel reply to Gumtree ad

About six weeks ago I wrote this post about the scams we had come across during our efforts to sell our car. The good news is that we have sold our car.

However I have noticed over the weeks that my post about the scams has been getting more traffic than more recent posts. Today I have had two separate comments from people who have been contacted by Hankeen Gabriel following ads being placed on gumtree.

I am sad that these people are being bothered by this person but I am glad that my post which mentioned his contact with us has helped others to avoid him. I don’t know how his scam works but I am sure it is just that.

I wonder how many people have been caught out by this person in the last couple of months since we had our message from them.

I am thinking now that perhaps we should all report them to Gumtree and perhaps the police before they can con someone innocent who doesn’t realise there is anything odd.

I have now emailed gumtree and had an automated response saying they will look into it and get back to me within 6 hours.

I will keep you posted.

 

Here is the reply I received last night.

Thank you for your email reporting this to us – we take reports of this nature and the safety of our users very seriously and use information such as this to help improve the site experience for everyone.

The information you have shared with us does, in our experience, show patterns commonly associated with fraudulent activity.  For these reasons, I strongly advise you not to pursue contact with this person. We will use the information you have provided to further investigate this user’s activity on Gumtree.

I am very sorry that you had to come across this. We try our best to prevent these situations from happening and have a dedicated team of Customer Service agents on hand 24/7, 365 days a year who are available to assist with reports of this nature.  You may wish to re-visit our Safety tips and read up on what we’re working on at the moment at the following link: http://help.gumtree.com/knowledgeSafe

If you have any other information that you feel would be useful to stop this individual or others acting in a similar way, please let me know; you can reply to this email or use the “Report this Ad” function which can be found at the top of every Ad.

I thank you very much for taking the time to report this to us so that we can take action to protect others. If you have any further concerns about any personal information you have shared with this user, please do get back in touch at this email address.

Kind regards,

Andrew
Gumtree Community Team
www.gumtree.com

There’s a space

Looking out of our window there is a space where there should be a smart blue Holden Monaro. It is now 10.30am on Sunday, half an hour ago two men appeared on our drive. I knew as soon as I saw them, why they were here. They had come to take my baby away. After months of reluctantly trying to sell our V8 car with the Chevy short block engine, I had a call on Tuesday from a man in Norwich who has been looking for one of these cars since 2003. He was so keen to buy it that he had transferred the money into my bank on Wednesday. I find it very odd that someone would part with that amount of money on a car he hadn’t even seen. He still hasn’t seen it as he sent a friend to collect it. So now we have a space where my car has sat for the last 16 months. Yes I am sad that I shall never get to drive it again. Owl is sad that he shall never get to hear the roar of the engine when it starts up.

Owl is now going to apply to get his driving licence back after a year of not driving. Once he gets his licence we shall buy him a cheap run around car maybe something like a Nissan micra but more likely a peugeot or something similar. Insurance is not going to be cheap since his drink driving ban.

On a brighter note, last night the two of us went to see a firework display. One that is reputed to be the best in the area every year. It was a lovely evening, although as we set off from home the rain began. It had been dry all day, but we were not put off. When we arrived it was still spitting but it wasn’t enough to dampen the atmosphere. I don’t have a clue what the turn out was but it was busy without being over crowded which was good. Whilst we waited for the fireworks to begin we each had a hotdog from one of the stalls set up among the funfair rides. The fireworks were fantastic, all set to music. I took several videos as well as photos. IMG_2156  IMG_2155  IMG_2162

It was a great evening for us especially as we don’t often go anywhere together these days.

Positive

Most days being positive comes easily to me. It has become second nature, putting on a smile and laughing when others are being negative.

Most days being positive isn’t something I even have to think about, I can generally find something positive in everything.

However there are days like today when being positive is much harder.

The hardest days of all are those where I am surrounded by people who just don’t think.

Some people just don’t get the severity of a situation and carry on as though they can do as they please when they please and there will be no consequences. They don’t worry so don’t understand that I might be extremely concerned.

There are others who have never been in the same situation and have no understanding that sometimes it is tactless to go on about spending hundreds of £s on christmas presents or trips abroad over New Year when others just can’t afford to live, let alone think about those things.

It is difficult enough having to struggle day by day trying to pay the bills. Never knowing if you can afford to spend money on food let alone any luxuries, but when someone who is fully aware of how things are, prattles on about how many hundreds of  pounds to spend on presents from Boots this year or should they spend it elsewhere, it kind of feels like they are rubbing your nose in it that you have nothing.

However looking on the bright side, I may be feeling depressed today but I know that will pass and I will get back to being positive unlike some.

 

Family history

‘I don’t want my Grannie to die, I would miss her too much.’

I was holding an ageing folder with the name ‘Mother’ emblazoned on the front in red felt tip capitals. Skater had asked me what I was carrying. I told him it was some of my Grannie’s writing. He gets a tad confused when I mention my older relatives. He asked was she Bill’s daughter. No she was Bill’s wife, my mother’s mother. My Grannie Pat, died aged 67 when I was just 21. This is what prompted my son to utter those words.

I am well aware that my mother is now 71, I assured Skater that his Grannie is going to live longer than his 21st year. Talking to my mother this morning I mentioned this conversation to her.

‘Tell Skater that I take better care of my health than my mother did,’ she told me.

Last night I was reading some of Pat’s work. There was a tale of a holiday taken with her husband and son on a narrow boat. She described the galley and how being of a round build she had to step out of the galley each time she needed to turn around, unlike the two males who were ‘beanpolish’.

This brought back memories of my favourite woman (after my mummy, that was). Throughout my life I have seen photos of my Grannie as a stunning young woman. A slender brunette, both as a bride and young mother.IMG_2045

However my memories are all of a short, cuddly, grey haired smiling woman whom I loved so much. I remember family walks with her and her much loved labrador cross (Candy), hours at her kitchen table making or drawing things. I remember the dresses she made for me. I remember the many friends she had in their small Essex village. The flowers that she arranged in the church when it was all quiet.

I  don’t have memories of her sitting writing, although I realise that this would have been something she did when we were not there. I don’t know when I first became aware that my Grannie was a prolific writer, both for the WI of which she was an active member, but also for magazines. I don’t think I ever read anything she had written. In my late teens I started writing too, nothing much, just for my own pleasure. When my Grannie died so did my desire to write. I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything, until about 2007 that is.

Today as I began to read some of my Grannie’s writing, I could picture myself in the places she described, whether it was a tale of a fox being hunted or the joy of her faithful dog when she knew they were going out walking. Those childhood walks on the common or along the tracks beside the farms close by, all came flooding back from that time more than 40 years ago when life was so much simpler for us children.

My Grannie loved life, it is just such a pity that her love of life didn’t include taking care of her own health. I remember that for some time she suffered from Angina which in those days was quite common amongst people who I realise were in the age group that I have now joined. She died in her sleep, after having a massive heart attack. I will never forget that morning when my grandfather phoned to speak to my mother at the crack of dawn on a Sunday.  Having answered the phone and called my mother, I sat on the stairs and just cried, I didn’t need to be told the news, I knew it in my heart that I had lost my adored Grannie.

I dressed and set out walking through the town inconsolable. Not only had I lost a beloved relative but I had also lost one of my greatest allies, my confidante.

Although my life has been without her in it, for far longer than she was in it, she has been one of my greatest influences and I shall never ever forget her.

Evelyn Patricia King always in my thoughts, I love you

Valerie has got a secret

Earlier this week I was at our local writing circle, it was ‘Manuscript night.’ I am not in the middle of writing a novel, I have not written any short stories lately. What should I take with me? I could cheat and take along the folder that my mother had recently lent me. It contains stories that her mother had written.

My Grannie was my idol when I was growing up. I hadn’t read much of her work before she died way back in 1983 at the young age of 67. Before she died I had dabbled in writing short stories for children. After her demise I found it very difficult to continue writing. That is until about 8 years ago.  A month or so ago my mother handed me his folder containing some of her writing, much of it had won writing competitions in the WI, some had been included in women’s magazines over the years. I had brought the folder home anxious to delve in and read the gems within. Somehow I just have not been able to find the quiet time to devote to this. I don’t want to be rushed or interrupted while I handle the delicate sheets of paper, mostly typed but some handwritten.

I could take the file with me but firstly it wouldn’t be my work, secondly until I have looked through the pieces properly how can I choose which to read. Instead I picked up my hard backed A4 notebook that I had used during my creative writing classes with June Hampson 7 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since those classes. Among the worksheets and advice sheets were a couple of my old stories. I selected  ‘The New Receptionist’s secret.’ I hadn’t looked at it for years, this would do.

So having listened with interest to some of the other short stories that were read out, taken on board some of the comments it was now my turn. I must admit that although nervous and I could feel the heat in my face and my eyes did begin to water from time to time, I did find it easier now than I had done previously at the classes.

The comments I received were positive, although it was suggested that I should perhaps try writing it in the first person and maybe set it as a retro piece.

Today I have edited my story slightly, I might develop Valerie’s story further just to see where she takes me.

I wanted you to be the first people to meet Valerie. Tell me what you think I should do with this, even if it is just put it back in a box and forget it.

 

 

It’s nearly 5.30pm and I know it won’t be long before I’m released for the evening. Bringing myself back to the here and now, Julie is explaining how to turn off the switchboard at the end of the day, yes this Company is still operating in the past. Tomorrow I will be on my own. I had started this new job as receptionist at the Surveyor’s office a day early so that Julie could show me the ropes. Julie was leaving to have a baby. As we were putting on our coats we wished each other ‘good luck’ I’m not sure which of us will need it most.

I had done this kind of work before, but not in an office this size. Usually I preferred to work in a busy office where I wouldn’t have time to think. It’s good to have enough work to keep my mind active and my hands busy. You learn more when you are in a busy environment and I liked to treat each day as an opportunity to learn. But this time I know that I am not likely be busy in this office. There would not be many visitors and phone calls through the switchboard would be minimal. I knew a little about the Company before I got here. There are two senior surveyors, Conrad Jasper and Marcus Bentley, between them they own the majority of shares in the Company. Then there are the other surveyors, Davies, Wheeler, Thompson, Taylor and Cartwright. There are others but as yet I haven’t worked out what they all do. Oh well I will soon learn who they all are. One person I had come across very early in the day was Cora Baker. Cora was PA to both Marcus and Conrad, she was very protective of her two bosses and you crossed her at your peril. Julie had told me Cora has been here all her working life.
I had taken this job partly because I need the money to bring up sons Jamie and Tom, but it would also give me time to keep up with my studying during the quiet periods throughout the day. I have recently begun a proof reading course in the hope of increasing my income. There is another reason for taking this job in this particular office, but this is my secret.
Earlier in the day I had been in the post room sorting through the day’s outgoing post ready for collection. I had heard two male voices the other side of the screen separating the post room from the open plan office behind it. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I heard these two, as yet unidentified voices in hushed whispers. The younger voice was telling the other that he thought  

‘The new receptionist is hot. Those legs! Surely, they must be in stockings, not tights under that tight pinstripe skirt and those heels made her legs appear to go on forever.’

The other man, he had a much older voice told his friend.

‘You’re wrong, women in their forties don’t wear stockings to work. Anyway’

He told his younger colleague.

‘You don’t know much about women, it isn’t the legs you look at, you need to check out her breasts and if I’m not mistaken the new receptionist is all woman. Curvy in all the right places and those boobies straining against the buttons of her white blouse have just got to be fabbie dabbie.’

I cringed inside, I can’t abide words/phrases like ‘boobies’ and ‘fabbie dabbie’, they make me think of adolescent public school boys. Which I am sure Marcus was, still is in a way.

I am brought back from my wondering thoughts when I hear the younger man ask.
‘Marcus, whatever is the matter with Cora today? Did you see the looks she gave the new receptionist, Val, Valerie or whatever her name is, when she came in with the coffee this morning? That’s not like her.’

‘Oh you know Cora, how she feels she has to protect me and Conrad. She’s worried I will run off with the new gal, thinks my eye was on her too much, not like Conrad he hardly noticed her at all. Funny that, she is about his age. I guess he is settled at home, although I was worried about him a few months ago.’

‘Why were you worried about Conrad?’
‘Oh, you know when he sent all the staff a text wishing everyone a happy new year? He had got himself in to a right muddle, sent some of us the wrong message, including Cora. Upset her I can tell you. It would appear that our Conrad is not exactly all he seems to be. He had been having a steamy affair an accidentally sent us a text that should have gone to his mystery woman. Cora vowed to get to the bottom of it.’

I can’t help smiling to myself as I slide the crisp white envelopes into the sack ready for the post man to collect.

That’s day one in the new job over, this could be interesting I tell myself as I climb behind the wheel of my aging black Ford Focus and start the engine. In ten minutes I will be through the door of our new flat. I should just about have time for a shower and put on my favourite new sexy, pale pink lingerie before he arrives.

Standing in front of the mirror I can’t help grinning to myself, I had known as soon as I heard the voice this morning that it had been Cora who had called anonymously last week with her veiled threats.

Well Cora will not get intimidate me. After all Conrad is not Cora’s husband but he is my lover.

On other news I have seen Robin a few times today but not close up, I have been busy pretending to be domestic.

We also have yet another person interested in our car, we now have to wait until after work tomorrow to see if he actually turns up to have a look at it.