Biro on canvas
Bloody hell, late as it is; don’t need this right now, stupid crowds. Forgot how much I hate public transport. How many people need a train at the same time for God’s sake? This group of girls in front of me – are they even doing anything, or just loitering? This is a train station, not a bloody youth club, get out of my way you stupid little- oh my Christ I’m gonna hit someone. I’m actually going to hit someone. Need to pick Patrick and Sophie up from school, go home, feed the kids; got a ton of washing to get through and a bloody PFA meeting at seven. That Angela woman better not be there, stupid cow. Made a complete show of me last week, she did. Well I don’t really think that suggestion is very realistic – who does she think she is? I’ll give you a suggestion, and it’ll be very realistic. Who are you Angela? With your one kid and your big house and your smug little smirk and your bloody light blue Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. Bet you’ve never slept on a sofa have you Angela? Never bought your shampoo from Home Bargains or let your aunty cut your hair? Have you Angela? Stupid phoney.
This would be so much easier if the car wasn’t going through its frigging MOT, can’t be doing this every- hold up, is that… what the – someone is pissing, pissing, in the middle of the train station. Not even against the wall or anything! Slap bang in the middle of the train station! Where’s a security guar-oh God he’s swaying, anyone, please?
What am I meant to do now? Train’s on Platform Six in three and a half minutes and I can’t get to the stairs without sloshing through some –engers boarding the 1506 TransPennine Express service to Plymouth please be aware of – ’s not me– without sloshing through some rancid tramp’s wee! He’s literally taking the piss, these are new shoes! Cost an arm and a leg these did: Clarks’ own! Oh bloody hell, not turning round is he- oh God that’s horrendous. Cover yourself up, for Pete’s sake! Where’s your decency?
I need to get past! Patrick and Sophie’ll work themselves into a panic if I’m not at the gates. Last thing I want is for them to end up in Mrs. Hulme’s office, especially with Pat’s nerves – He’s bound to cough up about their ASDA jumpers – Heaven knows how they expect us to afford YC Sports’ stuff – falls apart in two minutes! No, can’t have them near Mrs Hulme’s office. That’d fuel Angela’s fire, wouldn’t it just? Like that wouldn’t you? Bet little Kolton’s never been seen dead in Mrs Hulme’s office has he? Too good for that, is he? Got a YC Sports jumper, has he? Get over yourself Angela, no-one likes you.
I wish everyone would just shove out the way! I’ll have to go the long way round to Platform Six now; can’t bear to walk straight pa- oh my God is he following me? He’s following me! He’s dripping all over the place, sweet Jesus, where is a security guard?! You’d think these shoes would carry me faster, small fortune they cost – excruciating blisters I’ve got as well – ’s what you get for being rushed off your feet all day, being a bloody dogsbody for everyo- shove out of my way, you’re clagging up the hallway; what is this? Hop, skip, jump – weave – dawdlers- navigate, navigate- all with some pissing blockhead hot on my tail.
It’s no problem guys don’t worry, walk as slowly as you like, not as though I’m in a rush or anything – just here for the laugh really, stroll it out.
Fed up of this. Soph has her cello as well, that’s gonna be fun on the way back. Oh Christ, orchestra! Completely forgot she had orchestra! I’ve not organised a babysitter, Lu probably won’t be available at such short notice will she? Been up to my eyes all day, haven’t even had a chance to get to Morrisons’. It’ll have to be something quick for tea like beans on toast or ravioli or somethi- was that an announcement? –engers please note that the 1516 Arriva Trains Wales service to Bargoed, calling at Heath High Level, Llanishen, Caerphilly, Llanbradach and Bargoed has been delayed by ten minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Oh bloody heeeeell, Mrs Hulme’s office it is kids! Can already feel Angela’s smarmy little eyes all over them – oh children, is your mother running a little late? – get out of your own backside Angela! What kind of a name is Kolton anyway? What does she think he is, a hoover brand?
Can’t believe this, stressed just doesn’t even cover it. Platform six, train, pick up kids, home, tea, orchestra – Richard’s just gonna have to come and watch- drop the kids off at Nan’s for half hour, PFA meeting, home, ironing, bed. Which stairs are Platform Six’s? –ain now approaching Platform Three is the 1515 Arriva Trains Wales service to Swansea, calling at Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath and Swansea. Right. well that woman’s just yelped and belted it up these stairs, guessingshe’s Platform Three, so Six must be-Oh God Patrick has a school trip tomorrow doesn’t he? How much is it, a fiver? Do I have a fiver? Oh God I’m gonna have to get money out aren’t I? Such a pain in the arse, Christssake. Got an extra ten minutes I guess, still a massive rush - where’s the cash point? You’d think they’d make it a bit more obvious.
Oof, sorry, ow. This is ridiculous, why are people so rude? Still gonna miss the train at this rate, cash point queue is outrageous. Come on, come ooon, how long does it take to type in a few numbers and grab a sheet of paper? I’ll be wh- what is this? The tramp. The tramp is next to me. Don’t look at him, don’t look at him, stare straight ahead, don’t look at him. He’s given an ‘ello love already, don’t encourage him. He stinks of piss and sweat and beer and probably a number of other things I’d rather not think about. Flaming Nora, hope this car passes its bloody MOT, can’t be doing this on a regular basis. Why does a trip to the park cost a fiver anyway? Could take them all to the park myself if they’d allow it – God knows the kids’d have a better time. Absolutely unbelievable. Miss Drury’s input, that is; Gove’s dream, she is. School’s gone to the dogs since she turned up, I tell you. Charge me to step through the doors if she could.
Finally. See, doesn’t take an eternity to get some money out of a machine. Urgh, have to side step the sodding tramp again - rush up the stairs to the train. Don’t make eye contact. Can feel his eyes slopping in my direction. ‘ello love. Disgusting.
Move, shove aside, hurry up, shift. Why won’t people learn to walk to the left? If everyone just walked to the left this would be so much easier. Give me strength. If you want a natter, why pick the stairs of all places? What’s the time, 1525? Pat and Soph’ll be on their way out now. Here’s hoping Angela’s not on the prowl yet. Come on, move, seriously. Some of us have things to do.
Right, there’s a train. Is it mine? Pray to God it’s mine. Don’t want any more faff now, don’t have time. What’s the number on i- Christ, my eyesight’s getting worse. Everyone’s moving forward, is this the one? Watch me get on the wrong train now, that’d be convenient.
The train now approaching Platform Six is the delayed 1516 Arriva Trains Wales service to Bargoed, calling at Heath High Level, Llanishen, Caerphilly, Llanbradach and Bargoed.
Well thank God for that.
Shove. My. Way. Onto. This. Bloody. Train. Jesus. Wept. Ow. Don’t tell me there are no seats. All this palava just to have to stand the whole way the-‘scuse me love there’s a spare seat down b’there. Oh thank God for that, thanks, thanks. Didn’t make these aisles for the hefty legged, did they? Can see the seat now, ridiculous hair clip on the woman in the nex- hold on, I know that clip. It can’t be. Oh please no. No no no no no. Oh it’s got that little clasp and the stupid little flower. No no no. Can’t go back now, she’s seen me, someone phone me or something ple- Oh hiii daaarling! Just off to watch little Kolton’s rugby tournament, starts at four. Dave’s gone ahead with the car but I was getting my nails done. Girl has to do what a girl has to do- need to look after ourselves us women, don’t you agree? Didn’t know Patrick played? Where’s Sophie?
This wouldn’t have happened if my name was Charlotte Davies. If my name was Charlotte Davies, I’d write it in Play-doh from my thing that you put Play-doh in and turn the handle round like a fancy sharpener and spaghetti Play-doh pieces come out. I think it’s kind of funny how the Play-doh name could be so mouldable whereas your real name can’t. I know my name means ‘grace’ and that’s weird because I have a friend called Grace and she’s nothing like me.
Sometimes if I think long and hard enough, I can convince myself that my name is Charlotte Davies. And in my long and hard thinking I go to badminton and clarinet practice and everyone calls me Charlotte Davies because they know it to be my name. And in my clarinet lesson in my head I play the clarinet like Charlotte Davies, and I don’t puff my cheeks out any more or spit into the clarinet and make that awful dribbling noise like Connor Peters does because he never cleans his clarinet. No, I play like Charlotte Davies.
And when I walk into the year 5 and 6 toilets and there are three girls in one and I say, who’s there, and they say, it’s Hannah O’Brien, and they laugh, I won’t mind that so much because I know in my heart that I’m Charlotte Davies really. And when Mrs. Gray calls out the names I won’t be shy and I won’t be embarrassed. I’ll just answer that yes, I am Charlotte Davies.
Based on my experiences of working in a supermarket over Christmas
So my manager says, ‘overtime, Christmas Eve?
Want an 8-6 day shift with Paula and Steve?’
'Why not?' I reply, 'I'm not being funny,
ask Santa, he’ll tell you, I could do with the money.’
So my name’s on the rota; Steve and Paula’s come next,
My ten hours await, I know what to expect.
I’ve done this before, so take it from me,
On a one-to-ten scale, this shift hits a three.
Tilling I am, and alas, soon enough,
despite positive hopes, things begin to get tough.
It’s like famishing fish are fighting for bait,
there’s pushing and shoving, I’m getting irate.
The rabble’s arrived, madness has ensued,
'Excuse me,' I beg them, 'please form a neat queue!'
But my pleas go unanswered, as out from the crowd,
slides veteran shopper, Mrs O’Dowd.
As if ‘Festive Priority’ is stamped onto her head,
she sidesteps the queue and my heart fills with dread.
"Excuse me young child,’ she asks with a growl,
"but where is my order of seasonal fowl?"
'I'm sorry Madam but there's others here too,
could you please join the wait at the back of the queue?’
The contempt in her eyes I can barely digest,
she can see that it’s busy, I’m doing my best!
Anyway, she’s off, to take her due place,
there’ll be no head starts in this Yuletide rat race.
Stopping at nothing to reach festive goals,
over rushed shoes are worn down to the soles.
The queue trundles on and the problems get stranger.
I thought stubborn mules belonged by the manger?
With bickering brats my till seems to heave,
you don’t see these tantrums at Paula’s or Steve’s!
As gift geared grumbles and groans reach a high,
lingering menacingly in my mind’s eye,
with reddening face and furrowing brow,
is ever-approaching, grumpy, O’Dowd.
A heartbeat elapses, she’s back at my till,
'Child!' she exclaims in tones piercingly shrill,
'that seasonal fowl to which I referred,
would you please do me kindly and fetch the old bird?’
So I trot to the stockroom but to my dismay,
the shift takes a turn for the worse shall I say?
I’ve weaved through the commotion only to find
O’Dowd’s Christmas turkey has been left behind!
How shall I tell her? What on earth shall I say?!
She ordered online, her deposit is paid!
I recheck her form - ‘butter basted, organic’,
but I know it’s not here and I’m starting to panic.
I trudge back, dejected, O’Dowd in my view,
and Steve and Paula, like wisemen one and two,
Handing out turkeys like they’re frankincense and gold,
O’Dowd doesn’t seem the myrrh type truth be told.
I make the approach with a sorrowful smile,
If this ends in tears I’m running a mile.
As the knot is untied and the news is let loose,
O’Dowds anger spirals into full on abuse:
'Heaven's above child! My turkey's not ready?!
What in God’s name will I feed little Freddie?!
(He’s my youngest grandchild, I’ve a total of nine)
No turkey at Christmas and the fault will be mine!
Wait, what am I saying?! The fault will be yours!
My Christmas is ruined and you are the cause!
I’ve already purchase this cranberry sauce,
what use is it now without the main course?!’
It’s a clerical error, I try to explain,
from indignant remarks I attempt to refrain.
They’re sat on my tongue but held back with a bite
but it seems it’s just me who wants a silent night.
'No turkey? NO TURKEY?! This just will not do.
How this could be worse, I just haven’t a clue!
My seasonal fowl, it could have been missed,
so make like Santa Claus is to his list
and check it again! I demand that you do!
Be thorough about it now, check through and through!’
Bound by contractual work obligation,
I go, fearing O’Dowd’s potential probation.
I arrive and alas, it is just as I thought,
there’s a serious lacking of turkeys pre-bought.
I debate, should I give her another’s Yule game?
But surely a quandary would evolve just the same?
I cast my sight to the attributed labels
and a curious factor is brought to the table.
Two remaining turkeys are branded ‘E.Scrooge’,
that both should be named this, the chance isn’t huge.
Two people can’t bear this unfestive a name,
surely a glitch in the system’s to blame?
I debate with myself and I twist my own arm
as potential success outweighs potential harm.
I hustle the turkey, the shift’s turning shifty,
dart back to O’Dowd and I’m feeling quite nifty.
With confident manner and no hint of shame,
I tell her that this turkey is hers to claim.
'Thank gosh, I was starting to get really quite miffed,
fearing my family’s turkeyless rift,
but all is resolved so I bid you goodbye,
to sit by the hearth and enjoy a mince pie!’
Needless to say, my relief highly piles,
but is tainted with visions of fit to burst aisles.
The ratio of potential E.Scrooge to person
is looking unpromising, my mood starts to worsen.
A Miss Eleanor Scrooge approaches my till,
I turkey her and down my spine runs a chill.
One down and yet hopefully not one to go,
I gravely hope E. Scrooge mark 2’s a no show.
I settle my fretting, It’s completely absurd,
two grinchly named people can’t require Christmas birds.
it just would not happen, the name is too rare,
I get on with my job and forget my despair.
An hour goes by and it seems I’m in luck,
there’s no sign at all of the ill-fated schmuck.
But just as I gladden and am feeling quite swell,
there’s a loathsome addition to my clientèle.
"Hello my dear, Edward Scrooge is the name,
turkey collection’s the reason I came.”
I sigh in exhaustion and place a mind’s bet
that this will be the longest Christmas Eve yet…