OK, it’s kind of ready. But only one chapter at a time as I get the feeling I’m gonna get sliiiiiightly stuck somewhere in the middle. And posts might not happen every day. At least I’ve learnt some formatting lessons this time and don’t fart about no more with big chapter headings. Here goes:
SHARDONNAY AND THE BIG JOB
I had to fill in a form today at the Employment Agency. It did make me laugh. I put me name in capitals. ‘SHARDONNAY.’ I stared at it for a while in satisfaction. It’s well good having a punchy name. Me mum did good there. She always says, ‘There’s only one Shardonnay,’ and she’s right there. There is only one of me. I am truly one of a kind.
On the form there were one question which said ‘Last job held.’ I thought for a minute, then, rather proudly, I put ‘Manager of Factry,’ still thinking to meself: ‘Ooh! Manager! Fancy that!’ The next question were harder. ‘Details of duties’ it said, with a little box about five centimetres by five centimetres to put your answer in! LOL. I thought back to all the stuff what went on with that job and I din’t really know what to put. Then I wrote in the little box, I wrote ‘There ain’t enough space in this here box to tell you just how much I used to …’ then I ran out of space. I know me handwritin ain’t small but God, this were just hopeless. Then I spotted some small print under the box. It said, ‘Continue on a separate sheet if necessary.’ I just sat there and had a little laugh to meself, then I walked out. Now I’m home I’m still thinking about how to answer that bloody question. One thing’s for sure, though, could I describe that bloody job in one titchy box? Nah.. I tell you, I’d have to write a bloody book to get all that in. I don’t need meself a ‘separate sheet’, I’d need like unlimited amounts of space, like as big as the universe just about. So I went and bought meself a big big padda paper and some felt tips. And I’m gonna give it a go.
Details of duties: OK then, here goes.
1. Sort The Bloody Hippies Out. They din’t have no clue! I had to clear up the whole factry. I had to make that blinkin dirty tip hygienic! Otherwise people woulda started dyin of germs, honest, it were that bad. No one took the compost bucket out for a start, it were always overflowin with teabags and manky rottin veg. No one made sure there were any toilet paper. I mean, come on, this is basic stuff right? No one even made sure there were soap and clean towels. No one changed the dish-cloths nor put any in the wash for the next day. No one even wiped the surfaces down. No one swept the bloody floor. They was all in another world where practicalities din’t get a look-in.
I’ll tell you what they did do that lot a layabouts. They rolled up spliffs, they smoked em, they sat around gigglin and talkin absolute gibberish, and made these godawful stews with lentils in what smelt like shit. That’s about it. So that were what I walked into. And I’m telling you the truth. I am tellin it as it is. I am not exaggeratin. It were that bad, honest to God.
Yeah, thinking about it, it were a job and a half, my job.
I only took it on in the first place because Pat over the road she says to me, she says, ‘Shardie, now that Nick’s gone off again, don’t you find life a bit quiet?’
And I thought to meself suddenly, I thought, ‘Yes, I do. I do find it a bit quiet.’ Cos Nick and Gloria have not only gone off to Paris or somewhere easy to get to, they’ve only gone off to bloody Australia! And for four years I were lookin after Nick, when he were palarysed, solid, it were a full-time job, so now, I were at a bit of a loss to tell you the truth. And the job I had before that, which basically consisted of three blowies a day and passin the spunk over the road, (OK, I’m the first to admit it weren’t like that hard), kind of petered out a bit, well, OK, stopped completely is more like it, after me husband found out I’d been sellin his sperm. And you got to understand, I am a girl what likes to keep busy. I don’t like too much time to meself. It’s better to be doin things otherwise you get to thinkin too much! And no one wants too mucha that. Start goin round in circles you do, if you got too much time to do it in.
Oh, I’ve got through one felt tip pen already! Blimey, they don’t last long! Chuck it in the bin. I’ll change colour.
So then Pat she says to me, ‘Shardie, my friend out in that village, whassisname, Debden is it? No, Nebden, that’s it! She wants someone to help her with her factry.’
And I’m like, ‘What sort of factry, Pat?’
She don’t answer that one. She just says, ‘Lovely lady, Hetty. Scatty as hell though. Piles of shit all over the place. Needs someone like you, Shardie, to sort her out.’ Thinkin about it later, I saw she never answered me question! Of course, later on, quite a few things made sense. But at the time, I din’t get it. No, but you don’t do you? You don’t get it even if it’s quite obvious, cos you’re like not lookin for trouble are you?
Anyway, she took me out there the very next day to meet her friend. I could see like straight away why the poor woman needed help. For starters, she answered the door of her massive farmhouse with a big fat baby on her hip and a tiny kid clutchin onto her leg standin on her shoe. You will not believe this but the baby, he had one hand up her t-shirt and were tweakin her nipple! Cheeky little chap. People shouldn’t let kids do stuff like that. It’s rude. They should keep em under control more. But then I thought about when Nick were little and thought, yeah, it’s not that easy is it though, Shardie? It’s not that easy. They got attitude, they have, little kids. And they learn to control you. Even if you say it’s not gonna happen to you, it does, oh, yeah, it does.
Anyway, Hetty had four kids runnin about from like eleven down to one, a dozen cows and a coupla horses out the back, a bloody pack of mangy dogs, several flea-ridden cats, a load of chickens what kept tryin to come in the back door….oh my lord, I could go on! The poor woman she’s tryina run this fuckin factry but she ain’t got a clue about keepin it together. It soon became clear to me that she is a fuckin fruitcake n all. Nice, a kind lady, but litrally on another planet. And not a clue in hell about lookin her best! No, she ties back her hair with string! Yeah, litrally. String what comes on a bale of straw.
She says to me, she says, ‘The job is basically to get the team preparin eight different meals for fifty people twice a day.’
I looked around the big kitchen with its pilesa pans piled up in the sink, the greasy work surfaces, the conjeeled stove and I thought Okaaaaaay! But God, did me fingers ever start itchin. ‘Hetty,’ I says to the woman, ‘Hetty. Listen to me!’ She were tryin to run off and chat to someone. I grabbed her arm. ‘No, listen! You need to get this mess sorted out. You can’t go on like this. You need someone to help get things in order.’
‘Well, I do have my team,’ she says in a bit of a harrassed way, draggin her hair out of her eyes and gesticulin to a bunch of crusties sittin out on a bench in the courtyard. You can see she’s exhausted. She’s droopin at the seams.
I take a good look at her team. Oh my Lord, no wonder the place is in a state. You would not believe these people. They ain’t from the real world. They look as if they have come out of twenty Glastonberry festivals back to back. Looks like they ain’t never been to a hairdresser, I bet they don’t even know what one is! I turn back to Hetty, I says to her, I says, ‘Hetty, I can come back here tomorrow with me Marigolds, and get that lazy teama yours workin. They need someone to tell em what to do.’
‘I do try to tell them,’ she sighed.
‘Yeah, but Hetty!’ I says. ‘You is not getting through to em! They need someone what’s gonna boss em around. And that is one thing I am very very good at, bossin people around.’
She smiled. This were when she told me I could be Manager. ‘OK, you can be the Manager then,’ she says.
I laughed. I were really chuffed. ‘Now yer talkin, ‘Manager’, I like it!’ I says.
‘I’ll take you down the factory,’ she says.
She took me down the main room of the farmhouse and through a door into like a long polythene tent tunnel thing. It were rainin outside. You could hear the rain spatterin on the outside of the polythene. The mess weren’t no better down there. There was plates and forks and cups all over the place. Plants was ramblin about all out of control. There was like ten sofas, with their cushions all over the place and crumbs and spills. I trod on somethin and looked down and it were half of a dead mouse, with its guts on the outside! I were goin spare cos I am the type of girl what can’t see mess like that without wantin to clean it up.
I made me mind up there and then. ‘Hetty, I’m comin over tomorrow, to get stuck in,’ I told her. ‘Don’t you worry, your worries are at an end. This lot is gonna get cleaned up. All this shit,’ I looked around at it all, ‘is gonna be sorted out.’
On the way back up to the kitchen, I asked her what sort of factry it were. There were a little pause. ‘Didn’t Pat tell you?’ she asked.
‘No, she din’t say nothin about it,’ I answered.
‘Well, Shardonnay,’ she said, with a little smile, ‘We’re making….’ she mumbled a bit here, ‘erm…like, Special Juice.’
‘Special Juice?’ I asked. You could hear them bloody capitals.
‘Yeah, you know, erm..Healthy Drinks.’ She carried on quickly: ‘I think you’re gonna fit in here, Shardonnay. You’ll soon lick that team into shape.’
‘I will that,’ I says, ‘I just wanna get stuck in and make sure you lot is hygienic, before we start cookin all that food!’ I looked at her. ‘So long as it’s got nothin to do with sperm!’ I cackled, ‘cos me an sperm, we don’t mix no more!’
‘No, Shardonnay, I can give you my word, it’s got nothing at all to do with sperm,’ she said, smilin. I think Pat had filled her in on most of me story.
I run me finger along the greasy table edge probably with disgust on me face, I’m tellin ya with the grime in there it were difficult not to grimance wherever you looked.. There ain’t no other word for it all, it were disgustin. The disgustingness of it distracted me from the fact that I still din’t know what that factry really did..I walked off thinkin it must be makin apple juice and that from the fruit trees on the farm.
I probably should of insisted on findin out exactly what it were. Cos if I’d of known what were really goin on, I probly would of backed off right there and then. When I got all that hassle with the consequences of the sperm thing and all, I learnt me lesson. I bloody learnt what that bloody word consequences meant and all, din’t I? You might not know what it means. I’ll tell you because it is a useful thing to know. It means ‘things what happen due to what you done, and it ain’t always good.’ Yeah, that about sums it up. So, the truth of it is that I would never of got involved in something dodgy again, would I, if I’d of known? No, because if you learn your lesson, then the next time, you’re more careful. If I’d of known what that factry did I would never of taken on the job. But by the time I got to know, it were too late, I’d already gone and got meself sucked in.
Thing is though, that loada druggy hippies needed me, that were stickin out a mile high, they really really needed me. I told me mum all about it and she said, ‘Shardonnay, if they need you, they need you.’ And I thought, yeah, poor buggers, I can’t let em carry on the way they’re carryin on. That would be cruelty to druggy hippies and I am not a cruel person, I am a kind person.