Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chim Chim Cher-oo

‘I really think you should go for it! Make your own hours, meet people, niche market.
£50 a pop, 10 jobs on a good day. It’s a no-brainer.’

My nephew Lance had been listening in and his enthusiasm was a little startling. Lance is tall, like his uncle. His large hands were flailing wildly as he spoke and they seemed well within my personal space.

‘Would you do it?’

He stilled his hands.

‘Well no, obviously.’

An interesting array of possible careers has been assembled for me by the well-meaning.

Lenny has left his liveried Spectastic bicycle at my disposal. He insists that I wouldn’t even have to knock when delivering glasses: ‘the bags are so well padded, you could play football with them.’  

Family members:
Crawford phoned especially when he had the idea that pizza delivery would be ideal: ‘Sure, the kids would be fast asleep when the pizza trade really gets going. Curry too. Just a thought….’

‘It is a more ‘junior’ role in administration than what you have been doing. But it does have potential.’

‘It’s not so much a ‘junior role’ as an ‘office junior role’. I’m 46.’

‘As I said, it does have potential….’

Today was unusual. Today’s suggestion came from a complete stranger: a tradesman.

‘Seriously, it’s money for old rope. Bit of training, a van, yellow pages listing. You’re laughing. I used to be a nurse. I’m still helping people – but I don’t have to deal with all the backstabbing, politics and public sector gloom.’

I always try and engage tradesman in conversation. I am naturally curious about what it is like to be a plumber, or a kitchen fitter or a damp-proofer. I also believe that ‘it’s nice to be nice’ and cherish the hope that being nice to tradesmen might just result in affordable bills.

Most tradesman tolerate my chat and some even pass the time of day in Tesco.

Today was different. Today I was daunted by how well-received my chat was.

‘You could come out for a day with me any time you like. Just let me know. Get a feel for it.’

These were parting words. Lance was at my shoulder, eyebrows raised in anticipation of my conversion.

‘No Lance, I’m not sure I want to become a chimney sweep any time soon.’

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let There be Light

‘I’m totally with you,’ said Lenny.’ I hate the winter too. It’s cold and unforgiving - a bit like my ex-wife.’

Lenny is a friend and an optician. We’d got to know each other as members of the same quiz team.

Lenny was dropping off Maude’s new ‘geek chic’ glasses as a favour and the clocks had just gone back.

Shortly after he left, Lenny thoughtfully texted to me the details of a SAD lamp he’d seen in the Maplin’s brochure.

The lamp arrived within a couple of days. With a cupboard full of immune boosting vitamins, St 
John’s Wort and a fruit bowl full of bananas, we are truly winter-ready.

This evening felt pretty wintry and we remembered the lamp. The family gathered for the big ‘switch on’.

The lamp is VERY BRIGHT.

The kids disappeared behind the sofa. I thought of switching the hoover on to chivvy them all the way up the stairs for the night.

‘It’s scary Daddy. I can’t see Mummy.’

‘Don’t worry poppet. It’s meant to be a bit like sunlight, when there isn’t enough sunlight.’

The device illuminated the room with something close to the strength of the floodlights at a minor league football stadium.

‘Is Mummy on fire?’

‘I’m getting quite a headache,’ said Maude. ‘Beginning…… to feel……quite.... cross. I thought you’d read the manual’

‘Not yet, darling, and no, darling, Mummy isn’t on fire.’

‘For instance, how close should I be?’ asked Maude, as she persevered on the sofa, wincing a little.

Maude’s headache was worsening and I was feeling quite stressed as I rifled through the desk drawers for the instruction manual. It didn’t feel as though we were getting the optimum results from a device designed to create a sense of well-being.

The girls had disappeared momentarily and I could hear the familiar sound of one of their rooms being ransacked.

I found the booklet.  I read the ‘quickstart’ guide in the glare of the lamp. The guide was imprecise about recommended distance and I began to feel a dryness in my mouth and the onset of a stress-induced headache. For a moment it felt like the light was drawing me towards it – I thought I was having a near death experience.

Maude spoke and distracted me.

‘I think, perhaps, I should wear my prescription sunglasses.’

‘It does warn, darling, that headaches are possible during the first couple of sessions.’

The girls reappeared and joined Maude on the sofa. The girls were wearing their sunglasses.