I had it all mapped out…my life that is. Left school at fifteen and wanted to work with animals but my school’s Careers Advisor, listening intently to my wishes said,
‘Yes, yes, of course you do, dear. But in the meantime there’s a nice little Office Junior job going in Blackfriars. You have an interview on Monday at nine-thirty so don’t be late and be sure to go smartly dressed.’
Anyway, come Monday morning, I presented myself at the office in Blackfriars and the people there took one look at me and I could see by the expressions on their faces that they thought they had been sent another Dagenham undesirable. I do love people who make assumptions about a person based on how they are dressed.
Actually I wasn’t really wearing a dress more like a khaki overall. Well, it would have been ideally suited if they had wanted me to do a spot of motor repair work or similar. Unfortunately, they wanted a junior who could double up as a receptionist. The only doubling up I could do was when I had eaten one of Mums delicious meals. Then I could do it with no difficulty at all. I hardly know how to tell you this as I think it will come as something of a shock to you, the reader, as it did to me, the interviewee, when I tell you that I didn’t get the job.
Okay so, there was nothing for it but to happily revert to Plan A. The details of Plan A were that my friend, Janice, and I would go and live in a caravan in the New Forest and get lots of pets and feed all the wild animals that would flock to our caravan door once they knew we could be trusted.
But how would we get to the New Forest? And, where the hell was the New Forest anyway?
‘Ha Ha!’ I said to Janice, ‘I know, we’ll get a map.’
Janice very quickly coughed up the money for the map so our plan was making steady progress. Now we had the map, working out a route would be no problem to two ex girl guides as we had badges. Janice had one for sewing and I had one for knots so we were well equipped to deal with finding a route to the New Forest. Janice, however, had not bought a map but rather a map book, unfortunately, one with a lot of pages and try as we might we couldn’t seem to locate the New Forest. We couldn’t even find the Old Forest.
Do you know if it has it been cut down? One hears a lot about trees being cut down. I think it’s McDonalds. I’m sure I read somewhere that they were responsible for something called de-forestation. I don’t think that can be right though. I’ve never seen or heard of a burger called a de-forestation burgher but then, I’m not a person who patronizes their numerous outlets as I only ever go in for a McFlurry.
Then Janice said she had changed her mind and she wasn’t going to live in the New Forest after all. She said that now she had a boyfriend she didn’t want to leave him. I’d met this so called boyfriend. What a drip! His name was Ron but she had to call him Keef and he insisted on calling her Candice Marie after a play he’d seen on the television. Now what was it called…I know, something like Gathering Nuts in May. That sounds about right. She had certainly gathered a nut when she gathered Keef! Whether or not it was in May I cannot say.
And then she said she wanted the map book back because Keef wanted to take her on a camping holiday. Cheapskate as if he couldn’t have put his hand in his pocket and bought a new map book. So that was me scuppered. I could feel Blackfriars beckoning again. But Blackfriars was not an option I would consider. So, it looks like I’ll just have to revert to Plan B only there was no plan B. Then I had a brainwave so I said to Janice,
‘What if I come with you on this holiday?’ Janice seemed dead keen and said,
‘I’ll ask Keef.’
But I felt sure Keef would not go for it and I was right.
When I saw them again Janice said, looking first at me and then at Keef,
‘I’m sorry but Keef doesn’t think it’s a good idea.’
‘Okay,’ I said, ‘I just thought it would split the cost three ways and so be cheaper for everyone.’
Well, at the mention of it being cheaper his face lit up like Blackpool illuminations and he almost shook my hand off as he said,
‘It’s a deal!’
Anyway, it was decided we would leave for this holiday the following Tuesday. Campsites are, apparently, cheaper if one goes mid-week. Imagine my surprise when I found that we were going to our original destination, the New Forest.
The journey down was a nightmare because Keef would stop every so often to read the map but Candice Marie, as I also had, apparently, to call her, wanted to read the map. Not surprising really; it was her map. But no, our esteemed leader, Keef, would not hear of it. He said that he had already given Candice Marie a very important job and that he, as the man, was responsible for the map. In fact it looked very much like he thought only a man could read the thing. Something I thought was insulting and absolutely absurd. Once a Guide always a Guide and haven’t I said …we had badges? Then Candice Marie said,
‘What important job, Keef?’
Whey hey, things were hotting up I observed from the back seat. Go on, Candice Marie, now you’ve opened up a confrontation dialogue, sock it to him!
Keef explained in his most patient voice as if speaking to a five year old child.
‘Candice Marie, have you forgotten already? I asked you to look out for a toilet for yourself as well as for me?’
Well, as you can imagine I bristled at this but Candice Marie seemed to be almost grateful to be given such an ‘important job.’ and she carried out her task to the letter but once back in the vehicle she again asked Keef to be allowed to read the map.
Then he got really angry and said,
‘Candice Marie if you ask to read the map just one more time I will turn the car round and head back home.’
By this time we were moving again but I thought it was time for me to mediate so I said ‘Keef, perhaps if you let Candice Marie read the map for a little while she would stop asking.’
Well, that set the cat amongst the pigeons and no mistake because next thing he stops the car and says,
‘If you are going to interfere then you can just get out of this car right now.’
I looked at Candice Marie but her face was totally impassive. Okay, so that’s how it is, is it? Well, you can just sod right off, Candice Marie, and I hope you get married to the drip driving this car whom you’ve become so attached to, like a limpet, because you deserve each other.
It was pitch black and pouring with rain when we reached the camp site but I was just glad to get out of the car and be able to stretch my legs even though I was getting soaked doing it. The wind was howling and the rain was sheeting it down but I thought putting up tents in weather like this was quite definitely a man’s job. So I went in search of shelter safe in the knowledge that the erection was in capable hands. I thought it would be up in no time but it was six the following sunlit morning when we finally got inside the wretched thing and laid out our sleeping bags and wearily climbed into what was going to pass as our beds for the coming week.
It was some hours later that I awoke to find Keef’s head nestling comfortably against my bosom. I let out a scream that might have been heard back in Dagenham or might even have disturbed the good people of Blackfriars and confirmed to those good folk that they had made the correct decision concerning that low life applicant for the coveted Office Junior job. Anyway, whatever, the result was that Candice Marie, my friend since the age of five, my confidante, and my animal loving soul mate decided I was a cuckoo in the nest and promptly told me to pack my bags.
Well, if I was going to wake up every morning to Keefie’s head nestling comfortably against my bosooms then I was pleased to go. Of course, now that Keefie boy had become acquainted with my bosooms, which I might allow are in themselves quite exceptional, I found he was, surprisingly, my greatest advocate and pleaded with Candice Marie on my behalf
‘Candice Marie, you are being a very silly person, I was asleep when perchance my head became nestled in your friend’s bosom. You know I love your bosom so why would I be interested in your friends when I behold and look forward to gaining closer acquaintance to the glory that is yours!’
But she would have none of it. So what little I had to use as spending money for the week now had to be used to pay for a rail ticket back home.
So there I was in the kitchen making sandwiches and thinking to myself what was it that had sparked the memory of that holiday? Then I looked down and saw what it was I had put in the sandwiches and this must have been what had made the subconscious connection because what I had used for the filling came from a tin labelled SPAM!