By Bread Alone
Oh, you off, Mrs. Scragg? Yes, very nice job you’ve made of the lounge for tonight, thank you.
Not quite six, is it? Just be a dear and do the potatoes while I finish the table. A dozen wretched napkins to fold yet. What a life. An afternoon under a hot dryer, out again tomorrow, dinner with the Frobishers, and then our big do on Saturday. All this rush and extra work. People just don’t know what a chore the social life is being married to someone who’s got on like my Bert, especially since he’s been on the Council. I mean, all this going out and entertaining important bodies, it’s such a bore. Do you know, I came straight in, worn out from the hairdressers, and straight away started arranging flowers? No time to sit down and do nothing, not like lucky old you, watching the tele every evening, I bet. I envy you, Mrs. Scragg.
Do you think you could drop something into the Dry Cleaners on your way along? I must have the long blue by Saturday. Oh, that’s a good idea – I’d forgotten you’re at the launderette tonight. Do it then. Be thankful you haven’t got your own machine, Mrs. Scragg. You know how often mine lets me down, and then all that waiting in for the man, though I know you sometimes stay late for him if I’m not back. You are good.
Oh, before you go – if you happen to see any sugar in the morning…I know, but – if you leave early and come by the shops. I don’t know, I really don’t think I can cope with all these shortages much longer. There’s Bert been asking me everyday, waiting to make his wine, and there’s me with all this entertaining and racking my poor brains for sugarless recipes. I mean, what next? All these shortages, all these strikes and things. I blame that Edward Heath. First the electricity and now the post. All these workers wanting more money all the time. They just want jam on it, if you ask me.
Oh, I forgot to get the strawberries out of the freezer. Could you just… thanks. Oh, no, they don’t know when they’re well off. These postmen have all got their own houses you know. All these strikes, all this trouble, decent people like me with their dustbins unemptied. They don’t know where their duty lies. It stands to reason; why do they always have to push for more? Mark my words, they`ve all got subsidised rents, paid for by people like my Bert. You should see how much tax he pays. Why, some of them even have cars! They probably only want more money for their silly pleasures, like bingo or drink. And they only make things worse for themselves, all this striking to get more. Months on strike pay, I’m not sorry for them. It’s their fault for not being satisfied with what they’ve got. As long as they have a roof over their heads and bread on the table, why can’t they be content? Just want a bigger slice of the cake, that’s all, and I don’t see why I should give them any of mine.
Oh, you are a good soul; all the vegetables for me while I’ve been going on. Oh, no, before you put your coat on, would you just pass me the tray of prawn cocktails from the fridge? They might as well go on the table. Oh, will you? Thank you. You really are a treasure, Mrs. Scragg, and you make the best of things, you do. After all, you’ve got your flat and your old man and a week looking after the grandchildren in your daughter’s nice little place in the country every summer. You never grumble. Pity more are not like you, know which side their bread is buttered, that’s all I can say. That tarted-up little Mrs.Weaver, who did for me before you, she wanted so much an hour if you please, that in the end she got a job in a supermarket. Said I did not pay the going rate. I ask you. I mean what sort of job is that? You would think anyone would appreciate working in a nice home atmosphere. I didn’t pay her enough to keep her in foreign holiday, if you please! But you get all my stale bread to make your nice bread pudding, don’t you Mrs. Scragg?
Off you go, then. Have a nice evening. Here’s my dry cleaning parcel. What? No, I don’t think it’s quite ten past. No, I’m sure you’ll catch it if you hurry. What? Is it? No, I’m sorry, I haven’t got one I could lend you. The only brolly I have now – keep losing them, silly me – is that one I had for Christmas, and it is rather special, you know. Here, have a polythene bag to put over your hat – I always like to help out where I can. Bye, bye, and be thankful you don’t drive, Mrs. Scragg. I’m always having little bangs in mine, naughty girl.
I’m just wondering. Saturday. You go to the shops don’t you, then you come up this way to your little club or church, or whatever it is? It wouldn’t be that much out of the way would it if you picked up our celebration cake?
Pamela Pickton‘s novel Neverland is on sale on amazon now, and on all good ebook websites, and read about her travails and worldly challenges in her Zitebooks collection of short stories, Reasons, which is also available to download from Amazon.