Word on a Whim

What began as a blog about writing and publishing has become a blog of whatever I feel like writing. Jules Lucton.

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

New Year’s Eve

Christmas had been a miserable time for Ella – searching frantically for her engagement ring yet trying to be discreet so Jim wouldn’t catch on that it was lost.  Well, it wasn’t lost – of course it wasn’t… it had to be somewhere…

The living room being so cold had done nothing to improve her mood but she couldn’t turn on the gas fire because a bird had come down the chimney on Christmas Eve.  Since then, its intermittent futile fluttering had become a fixation.

“At least we’re saving on the gas,” said Jim.  “Hey, turn it on if you’re cold.  The fumes will either kill the bugger or make it fly away.”

Ella had turned on him. “Don’t you think the poor thing would fly away if it could?  Anyway, the gas man’s coming some time today to take the fire out-”

“On New Year’s Eve!  How much is that going to cost?”

“I don’t know! It’s not like it’s a bank holiday. I just hope he manages to get here today.”

Hearing the tears in her voice, Jim left it.  Pre-wedding nerves, no doubt.  His own nerves were frayed only by worrying about how they were going to pay for the event.

Ella could remember taking off the ring to make mince pies…

“Lost something?”  Jim startled her as she knelt on the kitchen floor, yet again sweeping a runner-bean cane beneath the gas cooker.

“No… I just thought I dropped a sprout down here on Christmas Day – it will stink if I don’t shift it.”

Jim stooped to kiss her briefly.  “I’ll see you this evening.  I guess you’ll have to wait in for this gas man.”

The door clunked shut behind him and she slumped back against a kitchen unit and gave way to tears of frustration. She had succeeded in losing a little weight to look good on the wedding photos and the ring had become too loose.  It could be anywhere.  The bird fluttered again from behind the gas fire…

A van pulled up outside and she hurried to the door.  “I’d almost given up on you!”

“Oh? Sorry, it’s been a busy few days…”

“Look, I know I should have asked when I phoned you – but what do you charge, you know, for birds?”

“I do birds for free.”  Noticing her fleeting anxiety – a glance at her ringless finger, he hurried on, “I mean… we all have to do our bit in whatever way we can.  But I suggest you get a cowling, you know, over the top of the chimney.”

“Oh!  Yes, okay.  We’ll do that next year.”

He pulled out the gas fire and caught the bird easily; gently cupping his hands around its body to prevent it from flapping.

“A Magpie.  Poor thing. Shall we put it out in the garden – give it some water maybe?”

Ella sorted out the water and some fat off the ham in the fridge.

“Erm, if you don’t mind seeing to him it’ll give me a chance to clear out all that muck from behind the fire … before you put it back in place… thanks.”

From the kitchen window she watched as he placed the Magpie on the shed roof and then slowly retreated whilst it took a moment to gain its bearings then flew away.  Gas man clocked Ella’s smile, grinned back at her and returned to reinstall the gas fire.  Finally, she saw him out, handing him a litre bottle of Magpie.  “We had expected to pay you, but … well … we happened to have this.  Happy New Year!”

When Jim finally returned, she was kneeling by the fireplace smiling happily.  He stooped to kiss her but over-balanced and rolled over on the hearthrug, pulling her on top of him, laughing merrily as she told him about the Magpie and all the dirt she had cleared out from behind the fireplace.

Jim was about to kiss the engagement ring on her finger then hesitated with mock-disgust.

“I do hope you took this ring off before clearing out fifty year’s worth of bird shit!”

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

After a few weeks of ‘consultation’ I have today been given notice of redundancy from my job.  The consultation process has been a charade – a procedure that was necessary to safeguard the company from any possible litigation.  I believe they had already decided on the outcome, but we had to have meetings to put forward our ideas as to how the redundancy might be avoided.  The timing surprised me;  I was half-expecting it a few months ago when the legacy system I had developed and supported was finally laid to rest and I was struggling to learn the new programming languages, but this has happened just as I was starting to be useful.  There are a few of us going from IT and many old colleagues from other departments.  Budgets have been tightened and the company is cutting away some old wood.  The bugger of it is that I have to work twelve weeks’ notice, so I won’t finish until mid-March.  Traditionally in IT, anyone made redundant has their access to the systems revoked instantly and is escorted from the premises.  Unfortunately, that rule has just been changed here.  Maybe if I rant at my screen and say “delete” as people walk by they might let me go?

It has been a funny few weeks.   That initial meeting so suddenly called – and the first formal letter informing me that my job was “at risk” came out of the blue at a time when from my point of view we were particularly busy – so it came as a shock, followed later by a vague sense of bereavement at the thought of parting from my colleagues.  I have worked with some of them for almost thirteen years.  Now I am trying to focus on the things I won’t miss such as the bizarre heating system that blows hot air from the ceiling – drying out your eyes whilst your feet freeze beneath the desk …

I have been lucky with managers in that those I report to have always told me the truth as they saw it – but the truth has mutated with the passage of time and the failing economy.  Our project plans – all that future work – has suddenly lost its priority.

I have always believed that things happen for a reason, and was tentatively hopeful that my screenplay might make it through the BBC Writersroom and I would suddenly have loads of time to write scripts.  Not expecting to hear anything unless I was successful, I was surprised to find an email from them this morning – but it turned out to be a rejection.  By no means the first rejection I’ve ever had – it is something many writers get used to, and at least I know now, and I can knock that little fantasy on the head.  It means a lot to me to have dates and times, and to know what’s what.  I really wish it didn’t.  I wish I could be more laid back, and ‘take it as it comes’ but this is the way I am and yes, I know it is only a job, and losing it is way at the bottom of my list of the precious things in this life that I constantly worry about losing.  But yes, I was grateful to receive the email from work this afternoon.  I am on holiday this week – I was advised to use it!

So, what next?  Preferably something different – something that doesn’t necessitate sitting at a desk for hours on end … but what?  I am determined to be optimistic that this change is for the better.

Happy Christmas!

Love xxx

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