Category Archives: Helping ladies

She murmured ‘I’m scared’

It had been a youth-club outing to somewhere or other – probably to a pop concert in one of the nearby towns.  We were to meet at the Village Hall.  I could easily walk there but others came by bike.  These were the days when you could leave your bike against a wall and it would still be there when you came back.

Off we went – 20/25 teenage kids and a couple of grown-up youth club helpers; we had a good time; and we got back quite late.  We all got off the coach and set about going home.  It was around 10.30pm.  Jamie and Christine lived in the same close as me – about a five minute walk from where the coach had dropped us off.  Rosemary lived about two miles away, in a smaller village – but she had come by bike so there was no problem there.  She walked with us the couple of hundred yards to the road junction where she would turn right and ride off home while we walked another 200 or so yards and went to bed.

This was the time to say good-night and go our separate ways.  I quite liked Rosemary and gave her a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek.  She clung to me and murmured ‘I’m scared’.

‘Why?’ I asked. ‘You’ll be OK.  You’ve ridden home before and it’s a nice night.’
‘No,’ she murmured, ‘I’ve ridden home in the light but dad has always picked me up when it’s dark – and he’s away on business this week.’

I looked at her, and then looked down the road.  It was only a couple of miles or so to her home but there were very few house between where we stood and there; and absolutely no street lights.  There was nothing for it but to escort her home.  It would mean that I had to walk two ways but what else could a fellow do?   Jamie and Christine had carried on walking when I had stopped with Rosemary and were now nowhere to be seen.  Never mind – a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

‘Don’t worry,’ I said to Rosemary, ‘I’ll walk home with you.’
‘Will you?  Really?  Oh thank you Ben – you’re an angel.’

We set off into the darkness; talking some of the time, keeping quiet at others.  It’s amazing how your eyes quickly adjust as you walk in the dark.  Quite soon it the road was clearly visible but the grass and the hedges on either side remained a dark mass.  Then the Moon broke through the clouds and we had a glimpse of the road edges.

Neither of us had a watch so we couldn’t check the time but it didn’t take us long, it seemed, to reach her small village.  Rosemary said that her house was just up the road, held her bike in one hand while she threw her other arm round my shoulder, gave me a kiss on the cheek, said ‘thank you so much’ and headed off to her home.

I stood there alone for a while, then turned round and walked back homeward.  The moon kept peeping through the clouds to watch over me and it didn’t seem too long before I reached the corner where this had all started.  I turned right, then right again into our cul-de-sac – all ten houses were in darkness; including mine!  No one was up and wondering where I had got to it seemed!

The back door was locked but I had a key and could let myself in. All was dark inside.  I turned on the kitchen light; locked the back door; took off my coat and shoes and looked up at the clock.

It showed a ‘Quarter to One’!  I looked at my watch – I could see it now – ‘yep, that was the time’!

It was a bit late for a 14 year old like me but I shrugged my shoulders, turned off the light and made my way, quietly, to bed.

In the morning my parents said just one thing – ‘How was it last night?’
I replied ‘Pretty good’ and that was the end of it!  Nothing more was said!

To this day I don’t know if they knew I was very late home but didn’t care or that they had both gone to sleep and didn’t care about anything else.

Me?  I never did that again – but I did one or two other things that were not too much different!  Maybe I’ll tell you about these some other time!

Julie tells Ian nothing

As Ian pulled into the parking spaces at the office he noticed Julie’s car there.  Everyone else seemed to have gone home.  He looked at his watch.  It was just after six.  ‘That answers that then’, he thought.

Julie was in her car but got out as Ian walked across the tarmac toward her.

‘I was hoping you’d be dropping in,’ she said.  ‘I have a problem and wondered if you would help me please.’ 

‘I will if I can’ he replied. ‘How?’

‘I was going to this Friday’s reception with Dave,’ she said, ‘but something has come up where he works and he can’t make it.  I know you don’t like these things but would you be a dear and come with me?  I just don’t like going to these things alone but I feel I must go to this one.  With this review going on it seems sensible to be visible at all times.’

She looked so woebegone as she stood there that Ian found himself agreeing before he had really thought about it.

‘You’re an angel’ she said. ‘Thanks.  It’s smart casual clothes.  I’ll pick you up, if you like.  About half seven at your place?’  Her relief was obvious and Ian just nodded.

‘OK’ he said as Julie got back into her car with a quick ‘Must rush’ as her farewell.

On the Friday Julie arrived dead on 7.30 outside Ian’s flat and tooted her car’s horn.  Ian appeared, reluctantly it seemed, and walked across to her. “Have you got your ticket?” she asked.

“No.”

“You’ll need it.”

With a sigh Ian went back indoors and returned with the envelope, un-read invitation inside. “What’s this all about”, he asked. “Telling us money is tight and we have to be more careful, or not spend so much time with our people.”

“’S’pose we’ll find out soon enough” was her non-committal reply.

A cold wet cheerless Wednesday

Wednesday morning was wet, cold and cheerless.  The sort of day that was easy to feel depressed about.  For Ian it was his ‘very nice’ day because it took him out of the town into the surrounding villages.  There were six visits to make and all were to nice, lovely, welcoming people.  All had challenges in their life that could have made them bitter, grumpy, rude or abusive.  But everyone had a smile that lit up the room when he arrived.  Tea would be offered at every visit and woe-betide him if he refused or said he would make it.  They all insisted on doing it while he ‘got on with his work’.  He had long since given up any challenge.

His work was indeterminate but vital to each.  He helped Caroline make sense of any ‘official’ letters she had received and usually had an entertaining conversation about EastEnders and Coronation Street.  ‘Things were never like that in my day’ was a guaranteed comment about something or other.

Wilf made a strong cuppa and talked proudly about his window box.  As a younger man he had always been out in the garden but now a man came to do it – under Wilf’s strict guidance – while he created miracles in the boxes.  Ian often brought him seed or plants – many of them from Mrs Williams down the street.  Ian was sure she had a soft spot for Wilf because she was always talking about him.  Ian often thought that they would make a lovely couple and at times mentioned the thought to Wilf.  It always provoked a snort of indignation but today, Wilf smiled a little and said ‘You never know young man.’

As Ian finished the visits and headed back to town he felt at peace with the world.  Everyone today had told him how much they looked forward to his visits, and wouldn’t it be nice if he could come twice a week.  It would be nice, he thought, but there were too many people in need of visits and care, and too little time.  That jolted him back to reality.  Instead of increasing the number of visits it was quite probable that they would be decreased, or at least shortened.  He knew it would be hard to tell them this but time, people resources and funding pressures were already biting into the work they did.

‘I bet that’s what that invitation’s about’ suddenly came into his mind.  ‘A softening up before the crunch, or maybe both would arrive at the same time.  Damn the world.’

As he pulled into the parking spaces at the office he noticed Julie’s car there.  Everyone else seemed to have gone home.  He looked at his watch.  It was just after six.  ‘That answers that then’, he thought.

Are you coming Friday evening?

On Tuesday morning Ian bumped into Julie at Cyma Tower – the 22 story relict of 1970s modernity that was hell to live in – just as she was leaving.  “Are you coming Friday evening?” she asked in her bright and cheerful ‘Julie’ manner.  She was probably the longest serving member of what had become a great team to work with.  Her enthusiasm and compassion appeared to be boundless – and was most definitely contagious.

“What’s happening on Friday?”

“It’s on the invitation.  It’s a reception at ‘The Bull’s Head’ and most of us are going.  You’ve got to come along.”

“You know I don’t like things like that.  I’ve got better things to do with my time than stand around exchanging pointless conversation with people as they become more and more childish under the influence of whatever they are drinking”.  There was an edge to his voice that made Julie mentally back off.

“Fine”, she said as she shrugged her shoulders.  “Oh, by the way, the lift won’t go above the 19th floor.  An engineer has been called the notice says.   Take care.” 

With that she went on her way while Ian mentally fumed about the lift.  Mrs Peterson had enough difficulty with her claustrophobia in the lift without the added problem of two flights of stairs.  With that he mentally straightened his back and got on with his life.

‘I’ll make her a cup of tea when I get up there,’ he thought, ‘then we’ll look out of the window across the town where she has lived all her life.’  That’s a big plus for her living up here.  She can see for miles and loves talking about her childhood beyond the town centre in the Wellworth area.  From this height it appears to have hardly changed but down at ground level it is a real problem area – but there is no reason to upset her memories with modern-day truths.

The ‘lady’ takes charge

Hello folks

Just a quick note.

Would you believe it?  We’ve got new frilly, flowered, curtains up in all of the windows now.  There are also vases of flowers all over the place and everyone is now a non-smoker – Janine does not approve.

Oh, that’s her name by the way.  Nice name really, isn’t it?

One thing you’ll be pleased to hear Mum, I’ve just had clean sheets on my bed for the third week running.

Well, must close now – it’s my turn to lay the table for supper.

I don’t know what we’re eating but it certainly smells nice.   Bye..

Love

Albert

xxxxx

Rubbish

He was NOT happy. ‘Have you seen that rubbish down the road? It’s disgusting – and what’s the bloody council doing about it? Nothing! Not one bloody thing.’

‘Don’t worry Jim, it’ll be all gone by the time you get back from your golf.’

‘Who’s going to do that then? You I suppose. You’re daft – all of you. Stupid, daft women with nothing better to do than do the council’s dirty work – for nothing.’ With that he picked up his golf bag and left – slamming the door behind him.

‘Men,’ murmured Rosemary to herself as she cleared away the breakfast things. ‘It’s a good job there are women in this world.’

The telephone rang. ‘Mrs Bradshaw?’ a voice asked.     ‘Speaking.’

‘Rosemary?’     ‘Yes Peter.’

‘All ready for today?’     ‘Of course.’

‘One o’clock at the recycling plant then?’     ‘Certainly; I’ll be there.’

The line went dead and she replaced the handset.  ‘Right Rosemary; let’s get this show on the road’ she chuckled.

Half an hour later she and three other ladies were busily picking up the roadside rubbish that so annoyed Jim. The council provided bags were soon filled as the four worked their way along ‘Rosemary’s’ road. That done, they repeated the exercise along four more roads before stopping for a break.

Back in Rosemary’s kitchen the conversation was on just one subject – the rubbish they had just bagged up.  ‘We agreed with the council that we would gather the bags for each road into piles at convenient places for the men to collect them. Are we still happy with this?’  There was total agreement.

‘Right ladies, let’s get it finished and ready for them.’
It didn’t take long, and the four were soon standing admiring their work.  ‘Thank you very much ladies, your help has been great. I’ve got all the paperwork so I’ll take that down to the recycling centre later this morning. Have a nice day.’
Rosemary’s three helpers headed for home but she had one more job to do before setting off to the recycling centre. The job took her a quarter of an hour or so and, with that done, she gathered together various other things she needed; left a brief note for Jim and headed off to the recycling centre.

Peter was at his desk. Rosemary handed over the ‘Ladies Tidy Campaign’ papers.  ‘Looks good,’ he said. ‘The lads have called in and reported that the bags have been picked up as planned, and the whole area looks great. Everyone on those roads will be very pleased with what you have done. May I buy you some lunch? You deserve it.’
‘Well thank you kind sir; I accept your invitation. Shall we go in my car?’
‘Yes please. The council gets annoyed when their cars are used for social purposes. Is there room for my case?’

As they drove out of the council gates Jim was arriving home from his golf.  He was not happy with the pile of full rubbish bags blocking his drive.

He was even less happy with Rosemary’s note saying ‘Goodbye’!