Friday, 22 June 2012

At 3:45 am. the birds were singing this morning.  The light has been so bright the last two nights, hardly what you would call night at all.  The sky flushed with that blue-grey of early summer, late spring.  This time next week we will be in the thick of summer, all the lawns are taking off with growth, at the front of the house it's a jungle for the neighbourhood cats to hide in.

Speaking of the 'wages round' earlier this week reminded me of a funny story.  Our wages office at work housed two elderly ladies of twin-set and pearls, tightly permed hair and sober disposition.  In their brightly lit office they would drink endless cups of tea, not coffee and constantly there was a sound of the scrunch-crunch and rolling ratchet-rattle of old fashioned comptometers or adding-machines, which was how calculations were done in the modern world of 1967.
How did we ever get things done before calculators and computers?  Yet, even then a few miles further on into Manchester, the boffins were improving and tinkering with the humongous invention that has transformed the lives of humanity...the computer.
Mrs T and Mrs K bumbled plumply into each of the surrounding office departments on a Friday around lunch-time, handing out wage packets much like the Queen Mother did the Maundy money on Maundy-Thursday.  Munificently, as though it was money from their own coffers they were doling-out gracefully.  Mrs T was the senior employee, way past retiring age or so she appeared to me as I was then, a slim unwritten upon maiden of seventeen.  She did seem to get distracted and kerfuffled,  disarmingly she'd drift off somewhere never finishing a sentence she started.   This particular day she put her comptometer to sleep at 5:30 as was her routine.  Routines were to be adhered to especially in the most important office of the company, everything had a place or a moment for doing it otherwise the whole creation might collapse about our ears.  Therefore the wages department was put to bed for the night and Mrs T having said her farewells to colleagues made her way outside to the bus-stop.  Some moments later our manager deciding an important letter needed to catch the evening post and therefore needing a postage-stamp used his pass-key to open up the wages office door and then the safe where all the stamps were placed overnight, only to find Mrs T's handbag cosily bunged inside the safe, squashed in 'fatly' with the stamp-book and other safe-keep-ables.
"What the.....??" he must have thought to himself.
Quick as a rat up a drainpipe he was out of the office door, down the steps outside the building and sprinting to the local bus-stop where stood Mrs T with the cash box tucked into her shopping bag apparently, blithely unaware anything was amiss.
The story goes she had been on automatic-pilot and absent-mindedly put the bag instead of the cash box into the safe.  Well that's the way the rest of us had it explained to us, but I can't help thinking if after forty years she'd finally 'had enough' and decided to go AWOL for a final fling somewhere in Acapulco!

7 comments:

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

So did tj
hey ever catch up with Mrs. T? A very entertaining tale indeed.
So the rain has finally come to an end over there.Hopefully plenty of sunshine is to follow.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Susan x

Nan said...

Now the first thought might be Alzheimer's, don't you think?

Do those sorts of women still exist? Women who were self-contained, contented in a way that outsiders couldn't understand. Or have they gone the way of house dresses and antimacassars and sensible shoes?

I wanted to tell you about a book I just heard of.

Love and Fatigue in America by Roger King.

http://rogerking.org/novels/love-and-fatigue-in-america/

Debra said...

Oh Jane, I hear those same birds at 3:45, practicing the same trill over and over, warming up for the day ahead. Even before light blooms, the birds are chirping their songs. I love the way you open with a picture of spring’s end, summer’s debut.

What a description of the ladies and you! “… a slim unwritten upon maiden of seventeen.” Uniquely spoken. “

…everything had a place or a moment for doing it otherwise the whole creation might collapse about our ears.” Powerful description!

“Quick as a rat up a drainpipe he was out of the office door.” One of the best similes I’ve read in a long time!

What a fun story ;-) I could see everything crystal clear. Your literary style is among the best in the blogosphere. In fact, I’ll use this as a sample of writing par excellence with my writing students nn Thursday. What better way than to SHOW. A modern writer with such a gift – rare as polar bears in the jungle!

WOL said...

Sometimes a young mockingbird swain will hang out in the ornamental pear tree across the street and carry on all night long. Mockingbirds do not have a song of their own. They mimic the songs of the other species of birds around them, as well as other sounds like squeaky gates or car alarms. It's not unusual to hear a male mocking bird run through his repertoire of 15 or 20 birdsongs, one right after another.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMpe34Aign4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNNX3f3_svo&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zd6Iy4JuGk&feature=related
And a male red-winged blackbird strutting his stuff for the ladies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3QicOAiBXk&feature=related
And the Western Meadolark.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvAUgFb1cLY&feature=related
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=3o0FC7aqg94
The ones we have around here are not so brightly colored, as their brilliant yellow breast feathers tend to sunbleach in the summer sun

Debra said...

Cyna, my student, says that “kerfuffle” is now her favorite word.
We enjoyed reading your post together, and she says you have a friendly writing style ;-)

Ann Nichols said...

What a great story! Reminds me of something that might happen in a Miss Marple story...
I go with her really not realizing that she took the wrong item... it has been known to happen! :)
Thanks for your congrats about the book... I'm thrilled and will post more about it in the future (when it comes out!).
Blessings to you!
Ann
P.S. Always so happy to visit here with you!

Ann Nichols said...

What a great story! Reminds me of something that might happen in a Miss Marple story...
I go with her really not realizing that she took the wrong item... it has been known to happen! :)
Thanks for your congrats about the book... I'm thrilled and will post more about it in the future (when it comes out!).
Blessings to you!