Tuesday 30 December 2008

Shop Girl New Year's Preparations

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be less messy and more organised.
I buy myself a half price calendar and a diary on my way to work.
That should do the trick, I think.
The shop also needs a New Year face lift. I set to work changing the ceiling display; this involves a lot of stretching, weight-lifting and going up and down the ladder.
I like being up the ladder. It gives me a feeling of being above it all.
That said, on the top rung, when you’re holding a heavy light in each hand, your hair caught on a string of crystal and you realise you’re about to sneeze, that perspective goes out the window.
“Do you need a hand?” Patrick, the retired street sweeper, calls up to me.
“No I’m fine!” I say.
I sneeze and nearly topple off the ladder.
“She’s an independent woman,” he says, to no one in particular.
I think he means stubborn.
Patrick has been popping in and out of the shop for years. He used to say a quick hello and give us a doughnut but since he lost his wife a couple of months ago, he’s taken to stopping by for longer. Mum helps him out with some of the forms he has to send off. He never wants tea, just a cup of water, the ‘good stuff’, he calls it.
He sits by the counter and comments on the world while I continue shifting light fittings around. It’s quite a work-out, which is why I’m not too bothered about adding ‘get fit’ to my list of resolutions.
To be honest, I haven’t really got a list of resolutions yet.
I’m an all or nothing sort of person and if I put pen to paper I’ll get depressed by the insurmountable challenges I’ll inevitably set myself.
I thought about New Year changes this morning as I grieved for the items I’d carelessly lost in a club on Saturday after I’d had one too many.
I sobbed into my coffee and thought, ‘Idiot.’
And I decided to give up drinking forever.
Then I thought six months was a more achievable target.
But then I thought it might get a bit dull for my friends and my date, so maybe I would give it up for just three months.
Or perhaps I would only drink on weekends.
But of course that would contradict the point of not drinking, which was to have mental clarity so I could write more on weekends.
I balance on one foot and do the ‘lunging tortoise’ yoga move, or whatever is it, to hang the lights onto the ceiling hooks. I pull my hair free and get down from the ladder.
Anthony, the local evangelical healer man is at the door and I let him in.
“Merry Christmas Princess Emma,” he says, beaming. “The Holy Spirit told me to come here and get white vinyl paint.”
“Vinyl paint? He should’ve sent you to the Builder’s Merchant,” I tell him.
He walks up to the counter to where my Mum is tidying up.
“Yes, but they are closed,” he says.
“I think the Holy Spirit should’ve got you up and out a bit earlier,” Mum says, looking at her watch.
But Mum being Mum, she goes upstairs and has a look anyway. And lo and behold, she finds a full pot of white vinyl paint, although she thinks it’s gone off and says it smells funny.
Anthony is delighted.
“Have a blessed and happy New Year!” he cries, as he leaves.
“You too,” I say, meaning it.
I go back up my ladder and my perspective changes once more; I give up all thoughts of punishing resolutions and carry on sorting out the ceiling.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Shop Girl at Christmas

I’m not going out tonight because I’m conserving energy.
It’s Christmas and you never know what’s going to happen.
This morning I walked into the shop and it was littered with reindeers.
They were all over the place; collapsed, decapitated and with their cables trailing between their legs.
They’d been delivered the night before.
It was a massacre.
We managed to force their heads in place and plug them in.
They were lovely lit up.
Mum sorted out their mechanisms so their heads moved up and down or side to side.
One of them fell over every time it looked left.
Another one seemed a bit arthritic and creaked every time it looked up from its grazing position.
They attracted a lot of love.
“This is what we need,” one woman said, after telling us that her bearded dragon had laid twenty three eggs, “Pets that plug in.”
By lunch time we’d sold them all.
On a normal Saturday I would’ve felt quite tired. But I hadn’t gone out dancing the night before as I’d planned to, even though my cousin and I had just got new dance shoes.
Our grandparents, avid dancers themselves, had given us extra money for Christmas on the understanding we bought proper shoes.
We’d gone to that specialist dance shop on the corner of St Martin’s Lane.
“Go in with attitude,” the local Salsa addict had warned us.
But the shop assistant wasn’t a snob and didn’t test us on our dancing abilities.
Neither did she mind us trying out all the shoes in the shop; although she might’ve stopped us if we’d asked for the ballet tutus.
We’d thought to buy an understated pair; perhaps some discreet black ones.
We walked out with sparkly, gold sandals.
Mine even has a diamante buckle on the front.
Our intention to go dancing was pretty strong.
But Christmas is unpredictable.
At 10pm we find ourselves in my local church.
My fingers are covered in gold paint because I’m rubbing stars onto a deep, blue sky that my brother helped put up with drawing pins.
They've used pins because all the faith in the world wouldn’t have kept the heavens up with double-sided tape on those damp walls.
We cut out huge silhouettes of famous London Monuments.
My brother’s girlfriend cuts out Tower Bridge and my neighbour does Big Ben.
It’s not what the parishioners are going to expect.
Some won’t know what to think when they see baby Jesus so near Canary Wharf.
But expectations are not supposed to be fulfilled so easily.
And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if there were no surprises.

Monday 15 December 2008

Shop Girl Bling-a-Ling

My parents are doing the Christmas decorations.
I’m not talking about hanging baubles on the tree or stringing fairy lights across the curtains.
This isn’t about tinsel and little angels.
This is serious stuff.
Papa has been painting the living room all day.
Mum is about to drill holes in the wall to put up new wall lights.
We are finally putting a crystal chandelier in our house.
Bling Bling - go those sleigh bells.
“I bet you’ve got lovely lights in your house,” people say.
When you’re in the business, the lights in your own home are the last thing you worry about.
In the past we’ve taken lights off our walls to satisfy customers searching for a perfect match.
This is a new experience.
I’m very excited about getting our own bit of razzle-dazzle.
I’d be even more excited if mum turned off the electrics before she started drilling. But she won’t because then Papa won’t be able to see where he’s painting.
She knocks on the wall.
“Is it wood? Does that sound like wood?”
“Cardboard,” my dad said.
“I love you mum,” I say.
She starts drilling and my legs go funny.
I head into the kitchen and make tea for everyone.
I don’t need to ask if they want tea or coffee because I’ve already made coffee twice today.
Since my date gave me my coffee machine I’ve never been so enthusiastic about making anyone a drink in my life.
Neither have I bought so much milk in my life or made so much mess.
This morning I used three glasses, two mugs and a pile of spoons.
“Delicious,” Mum said.
“The bubbles are cold,” Papa said.
I whisked his cup away and made another one, using up a few more glasses, mugs and spoons.
“Interesting,” he said. “It’s cold on top and hot below.”
“That’s what latte’s are like,” Mum said, draining her mug.
Two cups of tea later, the chandelier frames are in place.
Mum and I nip to the shop to get the crystals. It feels strange to be in there on a Sunday doing something for ourselves.
We take the long route home scouting for Christmas trees but we don’t see any.
I used to feel like I was the only one who cared about putting up the Christmas trimmings.
It always felt a bit touch and go and each year I worried it would never happen.
“When I was little we didn’t put the decorations up until Christmas Eve,” Mum insists every year.
Rainbows spread across the wall as I hang the crystals on our new light.
My dad keeps on painting, occasionally checking the football scores.
I know we’ll get a tree and baubles and some little angels sooner or later.
Tomorrow we’ll put a crib in the shop window, complete with mini fire, chickens and a squirrel.
I don’t know why I always get so anxious; it always comes together in the end.
That’s the magic of Christmas.

Monday 8 December 2008

Shop Girl Blogged Off

I won’t be a famous novelist because I’ll be delivering a light fitting.
We won’t charge for the delivery since we just want the customer to love us and not go to John Lewis. The customer won’t offer to pay for the delivery because they assume that’s what little shop people do on a Saturday night.
Mum and I will drive around in the dark listening to Magic FM, singing along to the good ones and imitating the husky presenter’s voice.
Please call in with your magic moment... she whispers.
But we’re not having a magic moment so we won’t call in.
My idea of a magic moment is sitting in the sun with a cold beer and a bag of crisps.
When that happens, I’ll call in.
Meanwhile I’ll grieve for the ‘night in’ that never happened.
Because I look forward to ‘nights in’ like kids look forward to Christmas.
Staying at home is my only hope to make it as a writer. Staying at home and chaining myself to the computer.
When the chance passes me by I’m overwhelmed with frustration.
I want to throw pens around and spill ink.
On Saturday night, I spill a cup of tea over a Christmas card I’ve spent ages making and go to bed.
But there’s still Sunday.
Mum bursts into my bedroom early morning.
“What have you done with my glove?”
“No,” I say, pulling my duvet over my nose.
“I’ve got lemon, fennel, normal...”
“No, I’ve got my coffee machine.”
“But don’t you want a hot drink first?”
I suppose an early start is always good.
After all, there are so many things I want to achieve today, apart from a novel, screen-play, short story and this blog.
For starters, I’m going to clean out my underwear drawer and reclaim the five minutes a-day wasted releasing my knickers from knotted tights.
Mum wheels her suitcase to the door and kisses me goodbye. She’s off to see my dad and I’ll have the whole day to potter about by myself.
After the door has slammed I wait for a knock.
She never leaves without coming back at least once to get something she’s forgotten.
When I think she’s not coming back, I run upstairs to the loo.
There’s a knock.
I groan and hurry back downstairs.
Mum is on the door step.
“I don’t know where my passport is!” she says.
I won’t be a famous novelist because I’ll be looking for a passport.
And when I stop looking for the passport, I’ll see my Mum still looking for the passport and I’ll start looking for it again.
Then when I finally find the passport, ten hours later, I’ll sit down at my laptop and grieve for my lost day.
And throwing pens about and spilling ink won’t help one bit.

(Poster compliments of The Independent - can be purchased from The Imperial War Museum)

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Shop Girl's Birthday Butterflies

An old boyfriend once said to me,
‘We are born with two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. The rest,’ he said, ‘are all learnt.’
There are a lot of things I haven’t learnt to fear, like spiders, blisters, flying and odd socks.
There are even more things that I have learnt to fear; gum disease, wet dogs, every horror film ever made, rats, fluffy hair, getting too drunk, failing to write and my birthday.
The last one is a bit silly but I’m an anxious sort of person. I jump each time my mobile rings even when I’m calling myself to find out where it is.
And every year as my birthday creeps nearer, my tummy fills with steel butterflies.
I think I have to prove something. I think I should’ve published a book by now.
I worry I’ll talk too much, drink too much, cry, fall over, start a fight and end up throwing my jewellery down the drain in protest against something or other.
Worse perhaps, I think everyone will forget.
On Saturday afternoon, the day before my birthday I get a surprise visit to my shop from my friend, the local salsa addict. He went to see Treasure Island last week. He brings me a birthday card, a salsa CD and the ingredients to make ‘grog’.
It’s such a treat.
Rum, cinnamon, lemonade and a dash of lime – the shop counter turns into a bar with old Cuban music playing in the background. There’s always time for a dance and even though Mum and I have a lot of work before we can leave, I feel happy.

A steel butterfly goes up in smoke.
After work I go to my Auntie’s party, who is re-celebrating her birthday, along with four other friends who’ve all had important birthdays that year.
I bring the date along.
My cousin is so much fun on the dance floor. He watches her and sees what I see.
“She’s brilliant,” he says.
We dance together and I don’t tread on his feet.
It’s nearly my birthday.
He gives me a coffee machine.
He’s wrapped it up.
I love unwrapping presents almost as much as I like getting them.
Bye bye another butterfly.
My old school mate and ex-fellow shop girl, is unfailingly reliable and arrives early to save a couch in the pub where we’re having a Sunday Lunch.
It’s a magic couch.
I feel so grateful to share it with everyone.
There are a lot of things I’ve learnt to fear.
But one of them won’t be my birthday anymore.
Cheers to you all.

Monday 24 November 2008

Shop Girl Visits the Dentist

I’m not a hypochondriac; I just occasionally think I’m dying.
Lately, I’ve been dying of scurvy.
Scurvy was common among 15th century sailors who didn’t have access to oranges.
I must have it because my gums bleed and I haven’t had an orange in ages.
When I brush my teeth I look like a Vampire.
I consulted a regular customer about it.
“Oh you can’t do anything,” he said, “all gums bleed.”
I told another and she became really serious.
“That’s terrible! You must go for a check up.”
But I can’t stand going to the dentists. I’d rather hope for the best.
I thought about going though. I thought about buying mouthwash too and those mini brushes that my dad leaves around the sink.
Then one morning I saw a bloody patch on my pillow.
This was serious.
“Papa, I think I’m dying,” I said.
He pulled me over to the light and looked into my mouth.
“Yes,” he said. “You have receding gums.”
I was horrified. Half an hour later I’d booked to see the dentist.
It must’ve been the way I walked in.
“You’ve got gum disease,” she said, before I’d even opened my mouth.
I felt confused. Numb even.
“Open wide,” she said, making no attempt to reassure me.
My mind went on overdrive.
I thought about my date who was soon leaving England to visit his family he hadn’t seen for ages. Would he give up his trip to stay by my bedside while I fought to save my gums?
And how would my mum survive in the shop on her own? She didn’t know where anything was anymore.
The dentist began to examine my teeth, calling out my failings in a sharp voice.
“6 missing, amalgam needed, 3, 2, amalgam needed, 4 missing...”
How had I done so badly?
It sounded like I was going to need a mouth transplant. Or at least dentures.
“It all looks fine apart from that,” she said, at last.
I was stunned. How could I be fine apart from being diseased?
She said she’d give me a filling and do as much cleaning as the NHS let her for free.
I closed my eyes as she emptied her tool box into my mouth.
At one point I peaked and saw a syringe.
I squeezed my eyes shut again.
Something cold slid across my neck.
“How do you brush your teeth?” she asked.
“Ugh,” I replied, gagging on all the appliances she’d left in my mouth.
“To counter act the disease you need to...”
Then she started with the cleaning drill and I froze up.
I couldn’t hear a thing.
Ten minutes later I was back in my shop, more than 70 quid worse off, still with gum disease and no idea how to cure it.
I don’t know what had actually happened.
But at least I wasn’t dying anymore.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Shop Girl Caught Out

“I’ll come in a cab next week and collect my stuff,” Mr Roberts had said. “Don’t panic, I’ll give you warning.”
I was relying on the warning because Mum had inadvertently sold one of his wall brackets and I still hadn’t secured a replacement.
Monday morning I make myself a tea, ignore the flashing of the dying fluorescent tube and settle in front of my laptop.
I think I have time...
I switch on....
Mr Roberts storms through the door.
I jump up.
He's on a mission and stinking of booze.
“You haven’t come to collect everything, have you?” I squeak.
“Yes, come on, I told you I was coming.”
A pale-faced man in a flat cap walks in behind him. He’s evidently the cabbie.
I feel the panic rising inside.
“You have done those wall brackets, haven’t you? Here’s what I owe you.”
He starts counting out twenty seven pounds on the counter.
“I... uh... the wall brackets... they...uh... they broke!”
Mr Roberts stops counting and looks at me.
“The...uh...” I’m struggling to get a grip with my story. “The lamp holder... was faulty... we’ve sent them back to the factory.”
“Oh come off it!” Mr Roberts spits.
He isn’t the jolly man he was last week. He doesn’t want to play ‘granny went to market’.
“Look,” I point to a different wall bracket. “I could make two of these.”
“Alright I’ll take them.”
“But I need to put the crystal on them,” I stammer. “Mum could drop them into you.”
“You see this is my mate Danny,” he says, nodding at the man behind him, “and he’s doing me a favour coming down here. I don’t want to mess him about.”
Danny, in the flat cap, stares at me with watery blue eyes.
“Give them to me as they are,” Mr Roberts says. Then he leans in, his breath sticky with drink. “You could come over and put the crystal on for me couldn’t you? You’d do that for me, wouldn’t you?”
The idea of being alone with him in his flat, drunk as he is.... it doesn’t bare thinking about.
“I think the girl will be happier doing them here,” Danny says.
Danny convinces him and carries everything but the bare wall brackets to the car parked outside.
Mr Roberts lingers a little longer.
“If I’m not too drunk later on, I’ll ring you to let you know when Danny is coming.”
“Oh,” I say and before I can stop myself, “are you celebrating something?”
He steadies himself and looks me in the eye.
“I drink every day. I suppose you’d say I’m an alcoholic.”
“I’m not one of those dirty ones who lie about on benches. I shower every day.”
“No, of course...”
“All genius’ are drug addicts or alcoholics. You know why? It’s because genius and logic don’t go together.”
“Uh yeah...Hemingway.”
I’ve never read Hemingway but I think there are lots of bars named after him.
“Genius and logic just don’t go,” he insists. “That’s why. Do you see?”
“Yeah yeah... ” I say, nodding.
He leaves me to ponder that thought under the flashing glare of the dying fluorescent tube.
And I come to the conclusion I’ve never done anything remotely clever, let alone genius, after a bottle of wine.
Unless you count my sudden ability to speak French.
Which is something, I suppose.

Monday 10 November 2008

Shop Girl Does It Old School

My Shop is like a village shop.
We do village things, like chat with the postman and make tea for upset locals.
In the upmarket estate agents where I once worked, such things were not tolerated.
I used to exasperate my boss because I was too friendly to the telesales callers. She once sat me down and tried to give me a lesson in being abrupt. The lesson was interrupted by a lost elderly tourist.
“Turn left,” my boss barked, not even looking at him.
“There,” she said, once he’d gone. “You see how I dealt with that.”
“Wasn’t it right?” I mumbled.
“You said left. Didn’t he need to turn right?”
She looked like she wanted to hit me.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s left or right! The point is you must block out any interruption!”
It soon dawned on me that Life is made of up of so many interruptions and fighting them all day was making me miserable.
I didn’t want to feel I could only smile if I was getting paid for it so I handed in my notice and went back to the shop.
The shop isn’t anything as efficient as the estate agents.
We’re old school. We let customers pay off for things and keep count on a handwritten receipt.
Mr Roberts keeps adding items to his; it gets so messy we have to start a new one.
“Now come on, what do I owe you?” he says.
“I’m not sure anymore,” I say.
“If you don’t know how am I supposed to know?”
“Don’t you have your receipt?”
“I don’t know but I’m here now.” He takes a wodge of cash out of his pocket. “Come on, what have I got to give you?”
I fumble through a drawer in search of a carbon copy.
Another regular customer comes in for a bulb. Mum jumps up to help him and lets him in on her low-energy lighting conspiracy theory, for free.
“It says sixty,” I say, when I find the copy. “But then you transferred your wife’s deposit.”
“So what is it now?”
“Thirty,” I say, scribbling the amount in.
“But I want another picture frame.”
“So it’s forty two.”
“For my cat.”
“The picture frame is for my cat.”
“So tell me what I’ve bought.”
I run my finger down the page.
“A brass bell, a coal skuttle, two picture frames and two wall brackets.”
“Have you counted the other picture frame?”
“Oh, no...”
“Start again then.”
My mum’s customer is visibly amused by our retail version of ‘granny went to market...’
“A brass bell, a coal skuttle, THREE picture frames and two wall brackets.”
Mr Roberts frowns.
“Is that all?”
“And you’ve got the chandelier.”
“I don’t have it.”
“I mean I’ve got it but you’ve paid for it.”
“So who’s got it?”
“I have.”
“Right...So, start again, what have I got?”
Mum and her customer are now both laughing out loud.
“See him,” Mr Roberts says, nodding in their direction, “he was miserable before he came in here.”
In which case, I’m glad I didn’t learn my lesson in abruptness.
It wouldn’t have had the same effect.

Monday 3 November 2008

Shop Girl and her MaAAH

I wouldn’t have put a light bulb in any other vegetable. Perhaps I trusted in the spirit of Halloween; the same spirit who tells you it’s alright to open the door to a local hoodie carrying a plastic axe.
After one glowing night in the shop window, I discover the pumpkins are half-cooked.
The fiercer of the pumpkins has morphed into a toothless old man.
Another night and they'd have been puddles of soup.
I have no choice but to send them to landfill.
I put them in a plastic bag, jump on the bag and stuff it in the bin outside.
Halloween is, as ever, just another normal day.
A regular comes in wearing orange eye shadow.
“That’s an interesting colour,” my Mum says.
“Yes, everyone says that. They don’t do it anymore.”
Veronica always comes in on a Friday because she visits the antique market up the road.
I don’t really understand what people get out of buying old broken things that anywhere else they’d expect a refund for. People bring lamps in here for re-wiring. Vintage, they say. Yes, I want to tell them, Vintage Ikea.
Veronica wants to sell us second hand jewellery. She holds up a necklace; it looks like a glittery thong.
“It’s very you,” she tells my Mum.
My mum holds it tentatively around her neck. It doesn’t matter if she wants the thong or not, Veronica has closed in on her and there’s no escape. She’s like a human headphone the way she presses in so closely to talk to you.
A familiar couple come in and I make a move to help them. But I can’t get away from Veronica’s voice.
“It was a heart necklace with a green stone in the middle,” she says, “You know, like an emerald but not an emerald, but like an emerald. And I thought, do I want a heart necklace? I already have one heart necklace, but then I thought well, if they have little heart earrings to match, you know...”
More customers come in and it’s feeling quite busy. Mum makes no attempt to dash past Veronica and I feel irritated.
“Do you think I should've bought it?” Veronica is saying. “Maybe I should've waited, or maybe I should've bought a different shape, they had some little silver dogs, you know, like dogs but not quite dogs...like wolves.”
The husband and wife decide on a chandelier and I bring it over to the counter to pack up.
Veronica isn’t too happy when my Mum switches her attention to the wife, who yesterday slipped on a half-eaten sandwich in Tesco and now has a stiff neck.
“I bet that really hurt,” Mum says.
“I fell once,” Veronica says.
“I’m all bruised down one side,” the wife says.
Veronica homes in on the wife’s neck. “Oh I was much worse than that.”
The couple don’t stay around long, unlike Veronica.
My mum is so patient.
Like a saint, I think.
At the end of the day we link arms and make our way home in the cold and dark.
Mum’s puffa jacket looks like a king size duvet; her huge rucksack only just fits over her arms when she wears it.
Ahead of us a group of face-painted teenagers stand at the corner preparing to pounce on some unsuspecting passer-by.
As we approach Mum suddenly lifts her arms up and runs at them.
“AAAAAAH,” she cries.
By the time they’ve got over their shock and screamed back, we’re a good few steps away giggling our heads off.
My mum’s like that. Like a saint but not quite.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Shop Girl Hollowed Out

Perhaps because I dropped out of university I think there’s something I don’t know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know or if I’ll ever know.
At university the other students spoke in tongues. They used words like ‘dichotomy’ and ‘contentious’ on a normal day-to-day basis. They could be buying a cucumber in a supermarket or queuing for the loo in a pub.
Those words still won’t come out of my mouth.
Not knowing words makes me uncomfortable.
Being Spanglish makes the hole of missing words even bigger.
In the shop I get lots of Spanish speakers and there are things I don’t know how to say.
For instance, ‘you need to tighten it up with an allen key mate’.
How do you say that in Spanish?
I suppose if I hadn’t been around the shop so much maybe I wouldn’t be able to say that in English either.
Is it Allen or Alan? And more to the point, who is Alan?
Then I feel like a fraud; I’m not Spanglish after all. I’m just a Brit who likes chorizo and has a lisp.
I wish it wasn’t so important but I can’t help it.
When I lost my Spanish ID in a club last Friday I mourned my lost identity for two hours. And then someone handed my wallet in to the bouncer and I felt complete again.
But I actually meant to write a Halloween blog.
Mainly so I could show off the pumpkins me and the date hollowed out on the weekend. It’s the first pumpkin I’ve ever done and I’m proud of it.
It’s not exactly a family tradition; my grandma gave my mum a swede when she was little.
“It was like carving out a carrot,” my mum says.
I light the pumpkins and put them in the shop window. A group of scruffy school kids press their faces up against the glass to get a better look; it’s the scariest thing to happen all day.
That is, until about 4 o’clock.
I know the woman. She’s already put a deposit on a big crystal chandelier.
She comes in and stares up at it.
It’s crystal with silver details.
“Everything in my house is gold,” she says. “It won’t match, will it?”
I don’t want to lose the deposit but this light is definitely not gold.
“I’ve got gold curtains, gold door handles, a gold mirror...” Midas continues.
“Well,” I say,“in our house we’ve got a bit of everything. We’ve got gold wall lights, a chrome floor lamp, a bit of antique brass...”
“Oh,” she says, nodding. “That’ll be alright then.”
I didn’t say our house looked good.
Her husband, who has been lingering on the door step, stubs out his cigarette and comes in with their pit bull.
“There’s not much silver on that,” he says, “It’ll be fine, love.”
The dog disagrees and vomits over the floor.
“Oh, that’s not like him," the woman says, bending down to stroke him. "Are you alright Tel boy?”
My stomach is convulsing. I cover my mouth to smother the awful retching noises I'm making.
The woman turns to me.
“Have you got a tissue darlin’?”
I can’t even look in her direction. I run off, still retching, to get some kitchen roll. She wipes up the orange mess. They must’ve been feeding him Chicken Tikka.
Then I catch sight of my glowing pumpkin.
It couldn’t have, could it?