Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Eighteen – Some guests and their Foibles by Sally Cronin


This was my first novel written in 2001 and is loosely based on my various jobs. It is however the story of Imogen and her bounce back after her divorce and so is a mainly a work of fiction!

Previously Imogen is surprised by the initiative shown by two of her staff at the opening weekend party, but has to draw the line somewhere….

Chapter Eighteen – Some guests and their Foibles

A number of guests stand out in my memories of the two seasons that I stayed at Killbilly. We had many Americans staying with us, generally for one or two nights, during their tours of the West Country. They loved the faded charm of the hotel and took copious pictures of the high ceilinged rooms and the delightful grounds. And I have to say that everyone was a pleasure to serve as they were charming, polite and grateful for the old style service that we offered, even if it was delivered with an Australian accent. However, one particular American couple  were clearly used to a slightly different level of accommodation. Air conditioning, ice in the rooms and twenty-four-hour food service.

They were looking for something to criticise right from the moment they walked through the large wooden doors and into the reception area. They had probably had a miserable journey on a hot day in a car too small, with no air conditioning, and had no doubt got lost several times. That however was no excuse for the way they spoke to the receptionist when they arrived and so I decided to step in and ease them upstairs to their room. Michael took their bags, all ten of them, and I led the way to the guest elevator.

I have to say that they were both rather large, and it was a very tight squeeze for the three of us in the small lift. We were all a little hot and bothered by the time we arrived at their room and I stood aside as first the man and then the woman entered. It was one of our larger rooms with two double beds and a lovely view over the front garden. It was a very warm day and the window was open to allow a gentle breeze to waft through the room.

‘Oh my god, Elmer look at the bugs, there’s bugs in the room, I can’t stay here.’

Startled, I desperately tried to find these bugs that Madam was referring to. By the open window, I caught a quick glimpse of a couple of mayflies that had drifted in from the garden.

‘It’s okay, those are just little mayflies, they are completely harmless.’ I tried to reassure the hysterical woman.

Elmer glared at me.

‘Where’s the screens for the windows, get them fitted immediately.’

Screens? I can only assume that he was referring to mosquito netting, which would have been totally redundant in the depths of the Cornish countryside. I apologised, and explained that we did not get much call for them even in the height of summer. Elmer crossed to the window and slammed it shut, rattling the glass. He returned to his distraught wife and elbowed her out into the hall.

‘Get us a room without bugs! Otherwise, we will be leaving immediately.’

Tempting though this thought was, I felt I should make some effort to accommodate our two disgruntled guests, as they were booked for three nights and we really could not afford to lose the revenue.

‘Please wait here while I check to see if we have another superior room available, I won’t be long.’

With that I dashed downstairs to the reception area and checked our reservations. We were fully booked from tomorrow for several days, but by moving some guests around, I managed to free up another room for three nights.

I shot back up the stairs and showed the bristling couple into a room on the other side of the hotel. Luckily, because this one was not being used until the next day, the chambermaid had not opened the window, and as far as I could tell, without the aid of a microscope, it was relatively bug free. I was sorely tempted to mention mites that were probably infesting the room in their millions, but held my tongue. Thankfully, Elmer and his lovely bride deemed this room just about acceptable and I went in search of Michael and the luggage.

That evening, as was my practice, I stood at the entrance of the dining room and showed the guests to their designated table for the duration of their stay. During the meal I would circulate through the dining room, making sure that everything was in order and assisting the waiting staff if things got a little backed-up.

I had returned to the door, having just shown a particularly lovely couple to their table and happened to glance up the wide flight of stairs that led to the first floor rooms. I caught my breath! Coming down the stairs were Elmer and Mrs. Elmer. The two of them, side by side, completely filled the stairway. However, this was not what grabbed my immediate attention. It was rather the attire that they had chosen for the evening. They must have read a book on country house etiquette and dress code and had gone all out to comply with ‘regulations’. He was wearing full evening dress with a bright scarlet cummerbund and matching bow tie.

Compared to his lovely wife he was relatively subdued. She was wearing a full length taffeta evening dress in bright green, it had a wide flowing skirt that accentuated the width of her generous hips and had a very low cleavage that showed an ample bosom bedecked with every single piece of jewellery she owned.

The sight was breathtaking and I tried hard to keep a professional smile on my face as they glided towards me. Up close, I was almost blinded by the sparkling gems, including a tiara that perched precariously on top of her pink-blonde bouffant hairstyle. Behind me, in the dining room, were about forty people who were wearing smart casual clothing and who were going to be totally unprepared for the sight of their dinner companions. I had managed to restrain myself but could not guarantee the reaction of the assembled diners, or for that matter the Australian waiting staff.

I smiled and bade them good evening. They swept imperiously past me and entered the dining room. I managed to steer them across the room towards their table by the window. Of course, it had to be the table furthest from the door.

As we manoeuvred our way across the floor, all sound ceased. I could feel forty pairs of eyes tracking our progress, and prayed that there would be no snigger, or gasp, from the crowd.

My two guests however, took this silence as astounded appreciation of their turnout and actually turned to tables on their way to the window and gave little regal waves. I thought the room was going to explode any minute and desperately tried to seat Mr. and Mrs. Elmer and quickly as possible. I hurriedly put their menus in front of them and backed away as if in the presence of royalty.

The room let out a collective sigh and conversation resumed, although in hushed tones and whispers. I saw that many guests were smothering hysteria with a great deal of British backbone and thanked goodness that the Australians had held themselves in check. As I looked around, I realised that this was because there was not one member of the Australian waiting staff in the dining room. I went through to the kitchen, and the chef gestured with his knife towards the back door into the garden. There I found eight members of the down-under contingent in convulsions. Their laughter was infectious but I felt I ought to remind them that they had to get back to work and continue serving our dinner guests. I made them promise to behave themselves when serving Elmer and his wife and decided that perhaps one of the local girls would be a more reliable waitress. That settled we went about the evening’s business.

After eating their way through six instead of four courses, the couple squeezed into the lift and disappeared up to their room. I wondered what other outfits the ten pieces of luggage might hold. I was beginning to have serious doubts as to whether I would be able to keep a lid on things for two more nights.

I need not have worried. The next morning, Elmer ordered breakfast in their room. We normally only served a full cooked breakfast in the dining room, but Elmer insisted that they wanted the whole works delivered in ten minutes and we could keep that continental rubbish.

Anything for a quiet life!

Eventually, around midday, the couple appeared downstairs, ordered a packed lunch and disappeared in their car for an excursion. The chambermaid managed to get into their room and when I saw her half an hour later, she commented on how disgustingly the room had been left. I sympathised and said it was only for a couple of more days and returned to the office.

The excursion seemed to last only as long as it took to eat the packed lunch and then they were back. They went up to the room and within seconds the phone on my desk rang.

‘There’s bugs in the room again girlie. Whoever cleaned this room has left the window open. And another thing.’ He paused for breath and I wondered what was coming next.

‘My wife has a head cold and your maid put her toothbrush in the same glass as mine and I’m going to catch her germs. I want a rebate on the room rate.’

So, there we have it. Crunch time. Now, I firmly believe that the customer is always right, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. I knew that whatever we did in the next three days it would never be good enough for this demanding and unreasonable couple. Assuring Elmer that I would be upstairs within a few minutes with a solution to his problem, I replaced the receiver and got out my address book.

We had an ongoing rivalry with a hotel about five miles away. Patrick had taken me there for dinner shortly after my arrival to show me what the competition was like. An ex catering-corps major, who always referred to himself by rank, ran the hotel and I have never been in such a pretentious establishment in all my life. The staff were clearly terrified and we heard them being roared at, in the distance, as we ate a fairly mediocre but incredibly expensive meal.

Patrick confided that, for several years, Major Scott had been in the habit of ridiculing Killbilly and the way that both Patrick’s parents, and then he, had run the hotel. He was particularly scathing about the Australian staff and the relaxed way the establishment was run. It was time for pay-back and it was with this in mind that I rang the number of the Major’s hotel and got through to reception.

‘Good afternoon, this is Killbilly hotel here, I wonder if you could help us?’ There was a stunned silence on the other end.

‘Uh, yes, certainly, what can we do for you?’ I could sense a certain amount of suspicion in the hesitant voice on the end of the phone.

‘We are fully booked and we have an extremely wealthy American couple who require a superior room for the next two nights. Do you have one available at all?’ I could here rustling in the background and whispered conversation. The one thing that Major Scott could not do was whisper.

I smiled in anticipation, having set the bait.

‘Yes that will be absolutely fine, we have one of our best rooms available and if you can give us the name of the party we will expect them in the next hour or so.’

Perfect! Armed with this information I sped upstairs and knocked on Elmer’s door. He opened it and stood in the doorway quite clearly spoiling for a fight. I smiled sweetly and pushed past him into the room.

‘It is quite clear that we are unable to match your extremely high standards and so I am delighted to tell you that I have booked you a superior room at a very prestigious hotel in the next village.’ I paused for effect.

‘I will only charge you for dinner last night, which I noticed you both enjoyed immensely. In this case, I will not charge you for your room for the night. I trust that is acceptable? The hall porter will be here in half an hour to collect your luggage.’ With that, I swept out of the door and into the corridor.

Elmer was out after me like a shot, visions of very expensive hotel rooms looming in his mind.

‘There’s no need for that, just get rid of the bugs and tell that maid of yours to leave our toothbrushes alone in future. I’m sure we can work something out.’

‘Absolutely not.’ I insisted, shaking my head. ‘If we can’t supply the service that you expect then of course we must make every effort to find you somewhere that can. Michael will be with you shortly, may I respectfully suggest that you begin packing so that we can get you on your way.’

I’m afraid he did not stand a chance, and it was with much satisfaction that I deducted the hefty dinner bill from his credit card and waved the two of them off an hour later.

One of our local chambermaids had a cousin who worked for Major Scott, and a week later she regaled us with the details of the confrontation between Elmer and the Major. Apparently, there was a certain amount of property damage and a number of other guests left the establishment never to return again. When I told Patrick the story he was delighted and thought that after all these years of being put down by the Major it was worth losing a nights room-rate.

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Sep 13, 2016 Teresa Karlinski rated it Five Stars
At almost fifty, Imogen is shocked when her husband announces he’s met someone else. She gives up the marvelous home she’s lovingly made for her and her husband. The new wife loves love it. A deal is made, a sum paid to Imogen and she buys her own little house. After spending months sprucing up her new nest, she’s bored and decides she needs something to occupy her days. Her children have grown up and have lives of their own. Nobody and nothing needs her.
She finds a job ad in the newspaper for an agency which places mature candidates. Perfect. She’s given an unusual interview during which her story unfolds, from her first job as a teen through the various and many positions she holds during her youth. Imogen is a gutsy, entertaining personality, who though younger than some of the people she’s worked with and for, was not only a clear thinker with a good head on her shoulders, and fleet of foot but wise beyond her years. This is a rollicking read you won’t want to put down. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I promise Imogen is the type of character you cannot help but admire and enjoy. If you want a light, heartwarming read, this is for you.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again next weekend for the final two chapters about Imogen’s colourful work history.

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Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Seventeen – The Opening Weekend Party by Sally Cronin


This was my first novel written in 2001 and is loosely based on my various jobs. It is however the story of Imogen and her bounce back after her divorce and so is a mainly a work of fiction!

Previously Imogen gets settled in to her new job at Killbilly Hotel certain that with her Aussie staff, there will be some adventures ahead..

Chapter Seventeen – The Opening Weekend Party

As predicted, the next week was extremely busy with last minute cleaning, deliveries and smoothing off my Australian staffs’ rough edges. There was no problem with their attitude, to either work or to serving guests, but sometimes their language and standard of dress left something to be desired. For example, all the girls took the hems up on their uniform skirts, leaving vast expanses of exposed, tanned thighs. I have no doubt that our male guests might have appreciated the sight, especially when said females bent over to place trays on coffee tables, but I was sure that the females guests might not be so appreciative. Luckily, they had only tacked the hems up. This was fairly obvious as the large, red cotton stitches stood out from the black material of the skirts. After some persuasion, the hems came down but I dreaded to think about what other ‘enhancements’ would be made to the rest of the uniform over the season. I would have to deal with that when it happened.

The boys said that they were most uncomfortable in their uniforms of black trousers, white shirts and black bow ties. They were more at home in surfing shorts and T-shirts. Their regulation black lace-up shoes were a major problem. They were used to wearing sandals or going barefoot, and I winced in sympathy as I watched them breaking the shoes in over the first couple of weeks. Thankfully they were all good-natured and I did not anticipate too many problems with them. There were a number of occasions during that first season when I would have quite happily locked them in the attic and thrown away the key.

I did not have long to wait for the first major incident, and in fact, it was not the staff that caused the original problem but they certainly added their own unique touch to it.

The first weekend of every season, a large insurance company took over the entire thirty bedrooms, from the Friday night to the Sunday morning. They were very easy going, wanted to show a good time to some of their major clients, and overlooked the fact that many of our staff were inexperienced, to say the least. It was an excellent opportunity to put the long hours of training into practice and with fingers crossed both Patrick and I greeted the guests who arrived by coach on Friday afternoon.

The new chef had settled in very quickly, but kept himself to himself. The kitchen was his domain, and his staff said that he seemed to be tough but fair when dealing with them. His name was Donal Flaherty and he and I were to have a meeting each week to discuss his daily menus and ordering requirements. Unlike other chefs that I have known, he did not seem temperamental, and having tasted some of his cooking in the week before we opened, I knew that the guests were going to eat extremely well during their visits. I popped my head around the kitchen door about seven to check all was well and was pleased to see that everything was busy, but calm. At least that was one department I didn’t need to worry about.

Michael was looking very smart, despite his protestations that his shoes were killing him. We had devised a system whereby he would put guests’ luggage into the service lift in the back hall, walk quickly up the stairs and collect the bags and take them to the allocated room. Nothing would persuade him to get in the lift himself, but we reasoned that as long as the luggage arrived promptly we would let him continue with this system. Of course, tonight was unusual because everyone arrived together, so we enlisted the assistance of two other lads to help him out. Thankfully that part went well and everyone retired to their rooms to dress for drinks before their special four-course dinner.

I changed into a long black dress for the evening, taking on the role of hostess and dining room manager. The tables looked wonderful, with crisp white table cloths and fine bone china. I had inspected the silverware earlier but made one last check before joining Patrick in greeting the guests in the bar. So far, things were going very smoothly and I turned and crossed the hall with my most warming smile in place, ready to be the gracious hostess. This was fun.

The evening was a resounding success, the dinner spectacular, with the staff on their best behaviour and fifty very happy guests. When they reached their brandies and speeches, I took the chance to slip out and make sure that the clearing up process, in the lounge and bar, was taking place.

I was no sooner out of the door when Michael appeared, walking backwards through the lounge door with two feet sticking out from under his armpits! For a moment I was taken aback and watched with fascination as Steven, another Australian, appeared, with his hands under the man’s shoulders. I shot across the hall and put my hand on Michael’s arm.
I looked down at the person they were carrying and recognised one of the more elderly of the insurance company’s guests. I had noticed that he had drunk quite a bit of sherry before dinner and had enjoyed several glasses of wine during the meal. I assumed that he was a little worse for wear but still could not work out why the boys were carrying him and where too.

‘What are you doing?’ I hissed at them.

Michael hefted his end up to stop the man touching the floor.

‘He’s dead.’ He whispered back.

‘We’re taking him up to his room so that he doesn’t spoil the party for the others. Nothing they can do for him now. Let the chambermaids find him in the morning.’

The two of them continued to struggle to the bottom of the stairs.

‘How do you know he’s dead and not drunk?’ I managed to splutter.

Michael looked at me as if I was some retarded child.

‘I’m a second year veterinary student I know how to tell the difference between dead and dead drunk.’ He was now slightly out of breath.

‘I gave him CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation but he’s definitely pegged it.’

I was not sure how much experience he had with intoxicated animals, but I was prepared to take his word for it, not having any medical experience, apart from my two years of dental nursing.

‘You still have to put him back, Michael. It’s a criminal offence to move a dead body.’

I was practically sure I was right on that one. He shrugged, and the two lads turned around and lugged the body back into the lounge. I rushed off to the office and called an ambulance, asking them to come as quickly as possible just in case Michael’s diagnosis was not correct. I was dreading a post-mortem indicating that the man had died from the revival attempts, and not before.

I dashed back to the lounge and got them to show me which chair the man had been sitting in and we placed him back in approximately the same position. Satisfied that he looked undisturbed, I told the boys to stay there, so that they could answer the inevitable official questions.

I returned to the dining room and found Patrick and the organiser of the weekend party enjoying a lively conversation at one of the tables. I motioned them both to come with me and with puzzled expressions, they followed me back into the hall.

‘I am afraid that one of your guests appears to have passed away in the lounge.’ I tried to be as gentle as possible with this traumatic news.

‘Passed out more like it.’ The organiser, a cheerful red head, laughed.

I didn’t respond to his hilarity and he realised by my expression that it was perhaps more serious than he thought.

‘Who the hell is it,’ he demanded, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand.

I had no idea who it was, and suggested that we go and find out. We tiptoed for some reason, into the lounge, as if we might disturb the corpse collapsed in one of the easy chairs.

The two boys were still standing guard and were looking suitably sombre.

‘Jesus Christ! It’s old Jarvis, our Chairman.’ Now he really did look worried.

‘His wife will kill me. He has a weak heart and I promised I wouldn’t let him drink too much, or get over excited.’

He looked at me pleadingly. ‘Are you sure he’s dead and not just drunk?’

I assured him that Michael, who in fact was a trained lifeguard as well as being a partly trained vet, had administered CPR to Mr. Jarvis and that he was more than capable to determining whether the person was dead or alive.

I asked if there was a doctor with the party, but our insurance friend said there was nobody with medical training with them. I made a mental note to make sure that more of our own staff were trained in resuscitation methods over the coming weeks. Patrick put an arm around the man’s shoulders. They had known each other for several years and they were obviously friends.

‘Come on Daniel, we need to get somebody official here to sort this out. I think it will probably be an end to the party for the weekend, so we need to let everyone know. You also need to contact his wife and let her know the score.’

‘Perhaps we could move him up to his bedroom and pretend we didn’t find him until the morning, that way his wife will never know he’s been drinking again?’ Daniel appealed to us all as we stood around the body.

Michael looked over at me and gave a wink and a shrug of his shoulders. I couldn’t believe it, here was this poor man, dead in a strange hotel lounge and all everyone wanted to do was put him out of the way and let some poor chambermaid find him stone cold in bed in the morning. Men!

At least Patrick was having none of it and asked me to call an ambulance. I assured him that one was already on its way, so that put paid to any idea of putting Mr. Jarvis to bed for another night’s sleep. Sure enough, on cue, we heard a siren coming up the driveway and we all went into the hall to wait for the ambulance crew to confirm the sorry state of Mr. Jarvis’ health.

I showed them into the lounge and we looked on as they made their examination.

‘I am afraid the gentleman is dead.’ One of the attendants announced redundantly.

‘We’ll take it from here, but we will need some details from you first.’

We all sighed with relief, and handed over the responsibility for the deceased to the professionals. Daniel meanwhile knocked back a large brandy before telephoning Mrs. Jarvis with the bad news. I hope he had plenty of insurance.

The next morning the party of fifty departed a day early. Not a terrific start to the season, but a dramatic one.

I had made no mention to anyone about Michael and his assistant’s efforts to remove the body, only that they had made heroic attempts to revive him. While they publicly polished their halos, I had strong words with them about the rights and wrongs of dealing with guests, dead or alive. I wondered if this event was going to set the scene for the rest of the season but, thankfully, on the whole, the next few months passed without losing any more guests in this way.

That is not to say that we did not have the odd moment when death was too good for some guests who seemed to think that paying for a room entitled them to attention far above and beyond the call of duty.

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Sep 13, 2016 Teresa Karlinski rated it Five Stars
At almost fifty, Imogen is shocked when her husband announces he’s met someone else. She gives up the marvelous home she’s lovingly made for her and her husband. The new wife loves love it. A deal is made, a sum paid to Imogen and she buys her own little house. After spending months sprucing up her new nest, she’s bored and decides she needs something to occupy her days. Her children have grown up and have lives of their own. Nobody and nothing needs her.
She finds a job ad in the newspaper for an agency which places mature candidates. Perfect. She’s given an unusual interview during which her story unfolds, from her first job as a teen through the various and many positions she holds during her youth. Imogen is a gutsy, entertaining personality, who though younger than some of the people she’s worked with and for, was not only a clear thinker with a good head on her shoulders, and fleet of foot but wise beyond her years. This is a rollicking read you won’t want to put down. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I promise Imogen is the type of character you cannot help but admire and enjoy. If you want a light, heartwarming read, this is for you.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another chapter in Imogen’s colourful work history.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Sixteen – The new job begins at the Killbilly Hotel – Sally Cronin


Previously  Imogen arrives at Killbilly Hotel in the dead of night to be greeted by an Australian surfer and a great deal of uncertainty…

Chapter Sixteen – The new job begins at the Killbilly Hotel

I was awakened the next morning, before my alarm, by slamming doors and raised voices. I had set my clock for six thirty and had planned to spend some time in the bathroom before breakfast. I threw on my dressing gown and poked my head out of the door and into the corridor. I could see a line of about five people outside what must have been the bathroom and the person at the head of the queue was banging on the door.

‘Come on Charlie, get a move on, we’re all desperate out here.’

This did not bode well for a leisurely bath before breakfast. I decided to give myself a sponge bath at the sink and hope that the water at least was hot. I was thankful that I had got up in the night to visit the facilities and was not as desperate as my co-workers seemed to be. There was a cheer from the hall. Charlie had obviously appeared, relinquishing possession of the bathroom. I washed and dressed and by the time I left my room the hall was deserted.

I decided to retrace my steps of the night before, and failing to find a lift anywhere in evidence on this floor, took the stairs. As I neared the reception area, I could hear voices coming from a door set into the panelling. I crossed the hall and pushed the door open, fascinated to see what the rest of the staff of this hotel looked like. Would I find everyone dressed for the beach and in my blue suit and white blouse, would I be very overdressed?

Inside what appeared to be a staff dining room were about ten people, some sitting at a large table and some helping themselves from a buffet on a sideboard against the wall.

Everybody stopped talking at once and stared in my direction. Oh well, in for a penny… as they say. I had dealt with the tartan army, and fifty school kids, and was not about to be intimidated by this little lot. I cleared my throat and entered the room.

‘Hi, I’m Imogen, nice to meet you.’

I waited expectantly, and looked from face to face. I saw Skip, now dressed in T-shirt and jeans, at the end of the table. He got up and came around to stand next to me.

‘Okay gang, this is the new under boss, just remember she will be doing the wages every Friday so you better be nice to the Sheila.’

Suddenly, people were standing and offering me their seats, someone offered to get me a bowl of cereal and Skip resumed his seat with a grin of satisfaction. He winked at me and I nodded my thanks. The ice was broken.

I spent the next fifteen minutes being introduced to everyone and, fielding questions about what I had done before, and how much experience I had in hotels. A couple of the males were more direct in their approach and wanted to know if I was single and available.

Most of the staff were Australian and not shy in coming forward. I wondered if the remoteness of this hotel, and their enforced stay for the whole season, had been explained to them when they took the job. I was evasive about my personal life too. I had never been one to talk about it much, not with strangers anyway, and I found it slightly uncomfortable to be under the microscope. I ate my cereal and drank a cup of tea that had been placed in front of me. I was just trying to decide how to answer a particularly personal question about how old I was, when the door opened and a tall man filled the doorway.

He was about forty, with greying wavy hair, slightly longer than one would expect for someone his age. He was at least six foot four and held himself very straight. I noticed a scar on his left cheek that he fingered as he surveyed the room.

‘Okay everyone, we open in one week! Let’s get cracking I want all the windows done today, not tomorrow.’

He had a very commanding air about him and I wondered if he was an ex-serviceman. There was some good natured grumbling from my breakfast companions, but they all stood up and filed past him at the doorway. I rose to follow, unsure of my role in the day’s activities.

‘Not you Miss Baxter.’

He extended his hand. He had a warm, firm grip and he smiled at me.

‘Welcome to Killbilly, I am Patrick Walsh. I hope that I can call you Imogen, we are rather informal here as you have probably noticed.’

I nodded.

‘Everybody seems very pleasant, but I was surprised to find so many Australians in such an isolated part of Cornwall.’

He laughed and ushered me out into the hall.

‘My brother has a sheep farm in Australia and he advertises for me every year.’

He led me across the hall and through another door in the panelling.

‘I find that they are cheerful and very good with the guests who seem to enjoy their relaxed attitude,’ he continued, indicating that I take an armchair in what was plainly his study.

‘The agreement is that they work for me for the season. I pay them well, and provided they stay until October, they get a very good bonus which enables them to travel through Europe for the remainder of their year away from Australia. It works for all of us.’

I hesitated to ask, but I was interested to find out why he had opted for an English assistant rather than an Australian one.

‘Very simple, I want some continuity from year to year. We are only shut now for two months of the year, and this year I plan to completely redecorate the hotel: This means that I need someone here to manage the project. I go to Australia every year, to my brother’s, so I am hoping that the person that I leave in charge will be you.’

I was quite frankly amazed. I had never met this man before, not had an interview and yet he was planning to leave me in charge of his hotel for two months this winter and give me the responsibility for the renovating work. He could see that I looked a little sceptical.

‘Does Dermot Flanagan ring a bell?’ I looked at him in amazement. ‘When I received your application, I noticed that you had worked for Dermot before Christmas so I gave him a ring.

He was very flattering about you and said that you were extremely efficient and hard working. He was only sorry that you had not chosen to stay with them. He grinned at me.

‘Paddy sends his regards, by the way, I bet knowing my cousin as I do that he probably managed to grab a kiss under the mistletoe.’

So that was it. The Irish connection! I was delighted and so thankful that my misgivings of the night before were meaningless. As I looked across at Patrick Walsh, I already knew that my time at Killbilly would be special.

We then got down to the basics. My duties and responsibilities and the roles that Patrick wanted me to play, with both the staff, and the guests who would be arriving next week. The staff were willing, and all had catering experience, but Patrick felt that some of the rough edges needed to be smoothed off a little. Whilst the guests had always enjoyed the relaxed welcome and attitude they got from these friendly youngsters. Both of us were in agreement about surfing shorts and calling the female guests Sheila.

I made notes, and we continued throughout the morning, enjoying a cup of coffee together. Patrick showed me over the hotel, and because there were no guests for the present, I was able to take a look at all the bedrooms, each of which was individually furnished. There was an air of faded elegance about the whole building and I could understand why Patrick was keen to refurbish and bring it up to date. All the same, I could see why overseas visitors would find it charming, and put up with some of its less than modern facilities. Each bedroom, at least, had its own bathroom, and most had a stunning view across the grounds.

After lunch, Patrick suggested that I take a wander in the gardens and familiarise myself with the layout and the recreational areas. The hotel had a tennis court, croquet lawn and a nature trail that skirted the boundary of the property. This was before the days of spas and fitness centres but at least there was plenty of opportunity for a little healthy exercise to work off the generous meals available from breakfast time to late at night.

That evening at supper, I met the local staff who had come up to the hotel to meet their Australian co-workers. The housekeeper, head barmaid and the bookkeeper lived in the village of Killbilly and had worked at the hotel for the last twenty years. They looked at their brightly dressed colleagues with resigned tolerance and I guessed that, over the seasons, they had perhaps had reason to be a little cynical.

Three of the chambermaids, two waitresses and a barman were from the next village and together with their supervisors formed the year round staff of the hotel. The chef was new and would be arriving the next day. The previous chef, who had won the hotel many awards, had left at the end of the last season to open his own restaurant. The new man was Irish, especially recruited from a top hotel in Dublin, eager, apparently, for a quieter life in the country with an opportunity to run his own kitchen.

So that was the team. I felt a little uncomfortable at first; being in my early twenties, but Patrick stood up, introduced me with a glowing reference, and explained to the assembled company that I had his full authority. That reassured me a little, and I looked forward to working with this lively bunch of people. It had been a tiring day and, after supper, I took the opportunity to grab the bathroom for a long soak and an early night. The next week was going to be hectic; getting ready for the opening weekend and my mind was buzzing as I lay in bed listening to sounds of laughter drifting along the hall.

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Apr 10, 2018 Elizabeth Lloyd rated it Four Stars

Imogen has reached the milestone of 50, but her world has fallen apart. After over 20 years of marriage to Peter, he has abandoned her for a younger model. Thrown out of her lovely home, she has downsized and is hibernating. After turning to comfort eating, she has gained several pounds so has decided to make a new start by looking for a job. She hasn’t worked since marrying Peter, so she approaches an agency. There she meets Andrew who listens to her; something Peter never did.Talking to him about her work experiences unleashes a multitude of memories and we as readers are able to share in the variety of occupations of her youth. This isn’t a depressing story about loss or wasted years, it is a lively, amusing account of work in a hotel, funeral directors and the catering world. It shows a woman’s worth, gained from all the challenges of life experiences. By going back through her memories, Imogen rediscovers her confidence and is ready to face the world anew.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again next weekend for the another chapter in Imogen’s colourful work history.

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Obesity epidemic – Part Three– Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – 2 to 7 years old – Activity – Sally Cronin


In  part two of this series I looked at diet from two to seven years old with the emphasis on  developing a healthy immune system in a relatively short window of time. This week I look at declining activity levels for this age group.

In coming weeks I will be exploring the crucial elements of the different age groups, and also stages of life, such as puberty, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, menopause (male and female) and as we become more sedentary.

The saying – ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man‘  Aristotle and other wise menis also appropriate in the context of lifelong health.

These years are crucial for the development of the immune system, but also for brain function, bone density and healthy digestive and reproductive systems. Since this is one of the most critical periods in our development, I am now looking at the physical activity needed to build healthy bones and major organs in this age group and will follow that up with a post on the key deficiencies playing a major role in obesity and also child development next week.

It does depend where you live in the world, and access to the outdoors, but  I think it is safe to say, than any of us over 50 enjoyed more freedom as a child. I certainly was out the door and playing on our nearby beach, on a bombsite waiting to be cleared, and either riding my bike or racing up and down on the forecourt of our local garage on my roller skates. At the weekends I turned up for meals, hungry after several hours at the skate park or from cycling five miles or from swimming at the local pool. We walked to school and I did that from four years old until I was 16. We only had one car and my father took that to work, so it was the bus or save the fare to add to my pocket money.

I will put my violin away now and 60 year old memories and share some of the statistics for children today.

The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, which is 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school. Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. Furthermore, 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.” Gov.UK

Why at least an hour of physical activity per day (three is better) is so important for children to prevent obesity, and to improve mental and emotional well-being.

“Regular physical activity in children is associated with lower body mass , blood pressure, insulin levels and improved mental wellbeing . Despite its health benefits, many children and young people do not meet the current UK guidelines of an hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on most days of the week . Moreover, physical activity levels decline during childhood, with the end of primary school (10-11 years) being a critical stage of change. Preventing the decline in physical activity that occurs at this age is therefore a key public health target .” International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity

I appreciate that the outdoors is not always accessible for the 2 to 7 years old age group and it is understandable that they cannot go out these days without supervision, but if they are at kindergarten or primary school, they should be getting organised physical activity regularly during the day.

I have found a few videos to give you an idea of the exercises a baby and toddler can be enjoying in the home… and also more organised programmes that are likely to be available locally.

There are recommended exercises for babies up to two years old including tummy time to help strengthen neck, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Crawling in a safe space is a great activity especially if you have a personal trainer to hand. Uploaded by Caters Clips

Once a toddler is able to walk and until 7 years old,it is recommended that they have at least three hours of mixed activities over the day

And there are various training aids to help a baby walk.. including that personal trainer again.

Uploaded by Best Babies Youtube

And an extraordinary video that is so inspiring to watch and one of the best exercises for us all… swimming.  uploaded by ditto art

And finally in the toddlers section dancing…uploaded by Rumble Viral

And now something from toddler to 7 years old, which not only provides more than the recommended daily activity, but also develops the child’s mind and imagination. Begun in Europe for pre-school children..hence the word Kindergarten, it has spread around the world and you may be lucky enough to have near you or your grandchildren. Uploaded by Greater Chattanooga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or__q3VNq9o

This outdoor environment also has the added benefit of exposing children to sunlight, even on partly cloudy days. Even 15 to 20 minutes a day exposure can help prevent physical and mental developmental issues, obesity and promote health as an adult.

Next week a look at Vitamin D deficiency which is now reaching critical levels, and its role in obesity, physical development and autism, especially when other nutrients are deficient such as calcium.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction in ebooks you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Next week it is the turn of pre-teens whose puberty may have been compromised by hormones in our food chain and too much sugar in the diet.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share. best wishes Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – A Fairy Story, Evergreen, Chocolate, Health, New Books and Reviews oh and a lot of laughter..


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might of missed this week on Smorgasbord.

September 29th each year is a very special date for us… and I thought I would share with you a fairy story that explains its significance.

Once upon a time there was a red-headed girl who was assistant manager in a hotel in a small hamlet in Mid-Wales.  Bontddu ( the dd is th in Welsh and the u is ee so pronounced Bontthee) I mention this as my mother insisted on telling everyone that Sally was working in a hotel in Bonteedudu!

I had been there for 18 months and to be honest, the little time I had between shifts was spent either sleeping or walking (I had no car) to the two towns equal distance 5 miles each way. Dolgellau and Barmouth a delightful seaside resort with a long sandy beach.

I had been married before for seven years and that had foundered around the four year mark but dragged on for another three (I must have broken a mirror). I was quite determined that I was never getting married again after this experience, and to this end I still wore a wedding ring to deter any possible overtures I might have been lucky enough to receive.

On one sunny Snowdonia morning (rare at certain times of the year) I intercepted a phone call in reception from someone wishing to book two rooms for two weeks.  I will admit that I was quite taken with the soft Irish accent of the man on the other end of the phone, and having reserved the two rooms, I put the receiver down and turned to one of the receptionists and uttered the famous last words ” He sounds rather nice, I think I’ll marry him!”  Much hilarity ensued and a week went by.

On the day of the reservation I had been off for a few hours and returned to assume restaurant management duties.  In those days I was required to wear a long dress in the evenings at dinner and guests were formally accompanied to their tables.  It was not long before I identified the Irish accent as Room 40.  Tall, dark haired and very handsome, a veritable Prince Charming.  To be honest I was all of a twitter (not the 140 character kind) and during the course of my duties I enquired of room 40 if he had been given sufficient crackling….

To cut a short story even shorter.  I arranged a number of meetings and dinners for Room 40, and two weeks went by without so much of flicker of interest from said resident.  If not for the opportune intervention of a couple who were regular guests at the hotel it may well have remained a disappointing encounter.

They enquired, obviously in earshot of Room 40, if my divorce had been finalised.  I replied that I had received that particular gift on my birthday back in February, and that I was officially free again.  Well, talk about Speedy Gonzalez…. before I could say I was not that kind of girl, the next day I was taken out on my day off for lunch, treated to a Chinese Takeaway when I got off duty that night, and presented with a Celtic pendant for all my assistance..

There must have been more than MSG in the Chinese because I suddenly heard the words “I think there is only one thing for us to do, will you marry me”

I think my flabber must have been well and truly gasted because before I could laugh at this insane proposal, on our first date, barely past first name terms, I said yes.

That was 29th September 1980, 13 days after his arrival at the hotel and into my life. And forget the long engagement.  He found us a flat in Dolgellau, posted the bans at the local registry office and 39 years ago on November 15th, we were married on a wild and blustery Welsh morning.  Even more shocked than the bride where her parents, the groom’s parents and my boss.

After the proposal David left to get the flat organised whilst I went into the hotel for the normal busy Saturday.  My boss was enjoying his morning coffee with the local paper when I announced casually I was getting married… “Who the hell to”…was the response and mine ” Room 40″

We have travelled the world together, lived in 17 homes both temporary and permanent, worked side by side and on occasion in separate countries.  We have had our moments but they have been brief and usually down to me being a bit of a handful! We are best friends and have shared laughter, loss and humour, and somewhere I believe there is a very smug fairy godmother….

Time to get on with this week’s posts that you might have missed….

As always my thanks to contributors and guests who take the time to write such amazing posts, that are informative, entertaining and inspiring.  And to you for dropping in and being part of the week.

Jessica Norrie is exploring books that are set on the coastline in various places around the world. I love the sea and hope that when we buy our final house it has a view of the ocean and all its changing moods.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-the-literary-column-with-jessica-norrie-coasting-with-spies-and-criminals-1903-2018/

Today my guests is Abbie Johnson Taylor who shares her inspirations and writing with an excerpt from her latest release The Red Dress.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-sunday-author-interview-abbie-johnson-taylor-with-an-excerpt-from-the-red-dress/

The York Chocolate Series – Part Three – Chocolate in wartime Second Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902 – In 1899, war broke out for the second time between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics in South Africa. In advance of Christmas 1899, Queen Victoria asked Cadbury, which held a Royal Warrant as suppliers of cocoa and chocolate products, to produce tins of chocolate to send to the British men fighting in South Africa as a gift..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-robbie-cheadle-the-york-chocolate-series-part-three-chocolate-in-wartime-second-anglo-boer-war-1899-1902/

A combined post today with a new book promotion and my review for The Quest for Home, the second book in the Crossroads Trilogy by Jacqui Murray.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-and-review-the-quest-for-home/

Previously  Imogen takes a temporary job selling advertising for a local paper and ends up running a very interesting section … selling personal services! Chapter Thirteen – Makeover and the art of buying a car.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/28/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-thirteen-chapter-thirteen-makeover-and-the-art-of-buying-a-car/

Previously  Imogen went into Central London for a much needed makeover and shopping trip, which brought to mind her friends escapades when buying a new car. She now moves on to a private school where she finds more interesting characters. Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-fourteen-mayhew-school-for-boys-and-girls/

Time for this week’s response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 146 and this week we are tasked with finding synonyms for the words ‘Fall and Give‘.. and I have chosen ‘Drop and Gift’..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-tanka-challenge-double-etheree-a-celebration-by-sally-cronin/

This week on the  Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the challenge was to write a story in 99 words on the subject of someone unremembered…The Close Match

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-the-close-match-by-sally-cronin/

This week I am going to Facebook in relation to book marketing and also the benefits of joining an exclusive watering hole on social media platforms

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-marketing-online-watering-holes-for-authors-facebook-exclusive-watering-holes-by-sally-cronin/

This week a song that many of us remember and still love today.. Evergreen by Barbra Streisand from the 1976 film “A Star is Born

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/smorgasbord-music-column-my-favourite-songs-from-the-movies-barbra-streisand-evergreen-love-theme-from-a-star-is-born/

Linda Thompson’s first post is a wonderful, nostalgic look back through the years to special family dinners and how it is so important that our elderly parents are given the opportunity to still feel useful in our lives. A Place at the Table for All

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-a-place-at-the-table-for-all-on-aging-parents-by-linda-thompson/

This is the final post from educator and author Pete Springer .I think most of us who have finished our careers allegedly to retire, find there are elements of our jobs that are missed, and in this post, Pete shares the ones that he misses the most about teaching. What I Miss Most About Being a Teacher by Pete Springer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-what-i-miss-most-about-being-a-teacher-by-pete-springer/

This is the second post of Melanie Stewart, she is faced with a logistical nightmare to get on the road for a trip and deal with a sudden change to her 87 year old mother, Ginny’s cable set up. The Cable Debacle.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-bloggers-on-the-scene-melanie-m-stewart-the-cable-debacle-2019/

This is the second  post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David. I selected this post as we head into the late autumn and we get visitors both of the garden variety and field. Footprints in the Butter – Cheers Govanhill.

a collage of mice, all over the flat

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-footprints-in-the-butter-cheers-govanhill/

New books on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-fragments-of-a-dream-by-ruth-larrea/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-little-miss-history-travels-to-hyde-park-home-of-franklin-d-roosevelt-presidential-library-museumby-barbara-ann-mojica/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-pre-order-haunted-house-ghost-death-at-the-fall-festival-braxton-campus-mysteries-book-5-james-j-cudney/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-children-petra-pencil-pines-for-pizza-by-dawn-doig/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-three-ingredients-book-2-by-teagan-riordain-geneviene/

Author Updates – Reviews and offers.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-updates-reviews-janice-spina-marian-beaman-and-marcia-meara/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-mike-biles-harmony-kent-jean-lee-offer-from-andrew-joyce/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-tuesday-24th-september-2019-miriam-hurdle-norah-colvin-and-cynthia-reyes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-september-25th-2019-john-maberry-third-age-patricia-furstenberg-southafrica-sandra-j-jackson-authorinterview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-thursday-26th-september-2019-jane-risdon-interview-olga-nunez-miret-and-amy-m-reade-reviewing-books/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-friday-september-27th-2019-d-g-kaye-interviews-stevie-turner-carol-taylor-pies-paddy-cummins-guinness/

The major organs and systems of the body – The female reproductive system, the endocrine system and hormones.

Main-parts-of-the-Brain-72dpi

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/smorgasbord-health-column-major-organs-and-systems-of-the-body-the-female-and-male-reproductive-system-endocrine-system-and-hormones/

The obesity epidemic and finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – this week the diet of two to seven year olds, can determine their health in adulthood.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/smorgasbord-health-column-the-obesity-epidemic-part-two-finding-a-point-to-intervene-in-the-life-cycle-2-to-7-years-old-diet-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/24/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-6/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-7/

 

Thank you so much for being part of the week here on Smorgasbord, and I hope you have enjoyed your visit.. please pop in again next week.. thanks Sally.

 

 

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls.


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was Just an Odd Job Girl

Previously  Imogen went into Central London for a much needed makeover and shopping trip, which brought to mind her friends escapades when buying a new car.

Chapter Fourteen – Mayhew School for Boys and Girls.

Miss Mayhew was a rather tall, angular, woman of indeterminate age. Her grey hair was pulled into a bun at the back of her head and metal rimmed glasses perched on the end of a beaky nose. For the entire six weeks that I worked at the school, I racked my brains to discover whom it was she reminded me of. It actually came to me some years later when I was on holiday in Malta and toured the film village where they had made Popeye. I was suddenly confronted with large, cardboard cut-out of Miss Mayhew in the disguise of Olive Oyl.

The school catered to boys and girls between the ages of five and eleven. There were fifty of these children and five teachers, which I suppose, gave a really good teacher to student ratio.

All the children appeared to have double-barrelled names, and a problem with their nasal passages. Their accents even at five years old had been cultivated in a greenhouse without the benefit of any contamination by your ‘common types’ and all of them could easily have become television newsreaders. The children were weekly boarders, and my job was to cook breakfast for them each morning and assist the head cook with lunches. She would then prepare their high tea and the teachers’ suppers.

I arrived at the school on my first morning at ten o’clock, as instructed. From the next day, I would be working from six in the morning until two in the afternoon. This suited me as it gave me an opportunity to spend the rest of the day in other pursuits. As my social life at the time was absolutely dead and buried, I was not bothered about getting into bed at nine each night and catching up with my reading.

On this first morning, the school secretary, a plump, motherly woman who introduced herself as Angela, took me upstairs to the Headmistress’s study. She in no way prepared me for Miss Mayhew or her uncanny resemblance to Olive Oyl. I passed through a dark passage with low lighting, and two benches, either side of a wooden door. Angela indicated that I take a seat on one of the seats, knocked, and entered the study. I heard murmured voices and after a couple of minutes Angela reappeared and opened the door wide.

‘Miss Mayhew will see you now dear.’

She slipped past me and returned down the corridor. I entered and found myself standing on a dark red carpet in front of a very large and imposing desk. The thin figure uncoiled itself from behind this monstrosity, and I can only imagine the terror she would have inspired in a five-year-old summoned to this dark and forbidding lair.

‘Good morning, I am Imogen Baxter your temporary cook.’

I stretched out my hand politely. Miss Mayhew looked at it as if it contained enough germs to start an epidemic and made no effort to shake it. Don’t you feel stupid when people do that to you? I withdrew my hand and stood with it firmly by my side.

‘I am well aware of who you are Miss Baxter and please note that we do not use first names at the school. The staff and all the children are referred to by their surnames.’

This was a good start! Six weeks was beginning to look like a lifetime. What about the poor little souls who arrived here at five years of age, and had to stay for six years?

‘We do not normally employ temporary staff but our assistant cook had to go and look after her mother, who has had an operation.’ She continued, without any hint of sympathy in her voice. It obviously had been most inconvenient.

‘I am assured by your agency that you are punctual, neat and conscientious. so in this instance I have relented, but I want you to know that I will be monitoring you very closely.’

With that, she rang a hand bell on her desk and went back to her paperwork. I stood there feeling a complete idiot and was about to say something when the door opened and Angela bustled in. Gratefully, I turned around and followed her back downstairs. I didn’t like to say anything too derogatory on my first day and I bit my tongue as we crossed a windy courtyard and entered a large hall.

At the back of the hall were two doors. Angela held open the right hand one and waved me through. I entered a gleaming, stainless steel, kitchen filled with the sound of clanging pots and the rumble of a food processor.

‘Cook will be here in a moment she is just in the store room I expect.’ With that Angela bustled back through the door and I was left standing in the middle of the kitchen.

I didn’t have long to wait, as a swing door banged against the back wall and a round little figure appeared. Dressed in white from top to toe, with a hat perched on the back of her head, stood the cook. She was puffing and red faced and obviously in a state about something.

‘Are you my assistant?’ she demanded in a shrill voice.

I nodded hurriedly not wishing to incur her wrath on my first day.

‘Good! Get the bloody kettle on. I’m parched.’

She grinned from ear to ear. ‘Bet you could use something a bit stronger having met the boss, but tea it will have to be.’

What a relief, I smiled weakly and looked around for the kettle. Within minutes, we were sitting in the little staff room at the back of the kitchen and I was filled in on the ins and outs of the school, Miss Mayhew and the staff. Jessie Brown had been cook at the school for ten years and said in that time Miss Mayhew had never called her anything but Brown. She thought we sounded a bit like a double-act – ‘Baxter and Brown’ – and she said that she was looking forward to working with an outsider for a few weeks.

We returned to the kitchen and Jessie handed me a set of whites that had to be worn at all times. I went back into the staff room and changed into my new attire. My hair was tied back and tucked into my round white cap. Catching sight of myself in the mirror, I decided that it was definitely not the most flattering outfit I had ever owned. I went back into the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves and asked Jessie for my instructions.

She took me through the week’s menus for the children and staff, and the first thing I noticed was that there was no meat on the menu. When I questioned Jessie about this she shrugged her shoulders and told me that Miss Mayhew had been a vegetarian all her life and insisted that the children were too. Jessie was in no doubt that the children all indulged in carnivorous activities during the weekends at home with their parents, who apparently made no objection to their offspring’s Monday to Friday eating habits.

Personally, I did not think that it was particularly healthy for children of this age to be deprived of a complete food group but Jessie, sensing my unease, assured me that she made sure that they all had a balanced diet.

She winked.

‘Don’t worry love. They get plenty of good food, and they love my sauces and the special cakes I make for their tea.’

Somewhat reassured, I began to help prepare lunch. On the menu today was vegetable pie, mashed potatoes and peas, with treacle sponge and custard for dessert. I have to admit that Jessie was a very good cook, and soon appetising smells were filling the kitchen. Before I knew it, it was time for the children to come in for lunch. Jessie went and pinned back the two doors into the kitchen against the wall and came and joined me behind the serving counter.

‘I like to make sure that children get a plate of food, so we serve each of them from behind here.’ She explained.

‘When I first came here ten years ago, portions were put on each table of ten. But I discovered that the older children were taking the best bits, and leaving the younger children with very little.’

I realised that this little woman was very much in charge of her kitchen, and I bet even old Mayhew thought twice about crossing her. There was no more time for reflection as the thunder of a hundred feet pounded across the dining room floor. A line of children appeared in the doorway, held back by an older boy of about eleven.

‘Okay wait your turn there, Brown will give the word when she’s ready.’

Every word clearly enunciated and definitely delivered with a stiff upper lip. I am sure that is where the expression comes from. Have you ever tried to talk and keep your top lip completely still? You too can sound like a 1960s radio announcer, or a member of the aristocracy.

Anyway, there is this line of fifty children and fifteen staff. Ten teachers and five matrons who looked after the children after school hours. They stood patiently and I have never seen so many children so well behaved, it simply didn’t seem natural. It lasted for about five seconds.

‘Come and get it!’

I nearly jumped out of my skin as Jessie roared into life beside me. There was a stampede as the children rushed in, grabbed a plate and held it up to have their lunch served. There was no nonsense about not eating vegetables or anything else on offer. Everyone got a healthy portion on his or her plates and they trotted off to sit at one of the ten tables laid out in the dining room. I had expected that the children would have to eat in silence, but it was mayhem, with laughter and talking, and I could see through one of the doors that plates were being cleaned enthusiastically.

‘Where is Miss Mayhew?’ I asked, puzzled that the austere woman was not in the dining-room keeping control.

‘She always has a tray in her study with a salad at lunchtime.’ Jessie smiled smugly.

‘We came to an agreement, when I said I would take care of the cooking, that this dining room and kitchen would be my responsibility, and provided I don’t serve meat, she leaves me alone.’

I quite frankly found it difficult to believe, and it was obvious to Jessie.

‘You won’t have found out yet, but Mary Mayhew is my daughter.’

I gaped at Jessie, and she laughed.

‘I was married in the war to a young pilot. He was killed just before I had Mary. I remarried twenty years ago to my Bill, but I like to keep close to Mary and this works very well.’

So that was how Jessie got away with so much. It just goes to show that you can easily misread situations, and I wondered what else I would discover in the next few weeks.

We had no more time for idle chatter, as the monitor for each table was bringing back the empty plates, and sliding them through a special hatch in the wall onto a counter next to a large dish-washing machine. They then came into the kitchen and collected pudding. They each brought with them the youngest member of their table who proudly carried back the china jug of custard. There were oohs… and aahs… as the treacle pudding, already sliced, was placed on the table. The monitors had the job of serving up this course and I could see from where I was standing that they were scrupulously fair.

By two, I had finished my clearing up duties and I left for home. Jessie was going to cook breakfasts with me for the first few days and I was glad of her help. On the menu the next morning was porridge and beans on toast. If there is one thing I have never been able to cook it is porridge and I was going to have to produce it for sixty people tomorrow morning.

Funnily enough, I was quite looking forward to it.

Apart from a couple of mishaps over the next six weeks, I learnt some valuable life lessons.

For one thing, I can now cook sixty fried eggs at a time, along with sixty pieces of toast. I can cook porridge without burning it, and I can scramble a hundred eggs at a time. Jessie was a good teacher, and endlessly patient with the children. After a time I forgot their accents and rather mature ways and realised that they were still children. The youngest of them were only five, and homesick for their mothers. Sometimes I stayed behind to help with the teas and often two or three young assistants would be helping Jessie make scones, cake or flapjacks.

Not once did I see Miss Mayhew in the dining room or the kitchen, but I know that Jessie went up to her study each afternoon with a plate of cakes and a pot of tea. I never got to know Miss Mayhew, and to this day, I cannot see any resemblance between her and Jessie. It’s a strange world.

One thing that did make me chuckle was the spaghetti incident. We were having pasta and tomato sauce for lunch, and an enormous pot of water was duly brought to the boil and ten packets of spaghetti emptied into it. When the spaghetti was cooked, it took two of us to lift the pot and take it over to the draining board. A catering sized colander was placed into the sink and the pot tipped over carefully until the spaghetti had drained out with the water.

On this particular occasion, Jessie had been called out to the dining room to sort out a dispute between the two boys putting water jugs around the tables. It was my first week and my first pasta lunch but Jessie had gone over the process with me and I was ready. Being a strong girl, I thought that I could manage to get the pot over to the sink by myself and drain off the spaghetti into the colander.

I struggled gingerly across the floor with my scalding burden and laid it on the drainer. Grabbing both handles I tipped it carefully, and watched the boiling water and the spaghetti slide into the sink and into the waiting colander. By the time that I had established that I had forgotten to put the colander in the sink, most of the pot of pasta had disappeared down the large plug-hole. There was no way that I could prevent the slippery mass from gushing out of the pot as it hung suspended over the sink and I watched in growing horror as lunch went down the drain.

Jessie came back into the kitchen just as I managed to right the pot and turn towards her. I put my hands up to my mouth and stared at her. She walked up to the sink and looked down at the one or two strands of spaghetti that lingered arrogantly on the lip of the plug-hole.

‘Looks like instant mash potato for lunch then.’ With a pat on my arm, she hurried off to the storeroom and appeared with a large tin of potato powder.

‘Don’t like the stuff, but it’s great for emergencies.’ She put the tin down and began to boil some water in two large saucepans.

‘Hope you have a good strong arm,’ she said, as she reached to a rack of utensils on the wall and handed me a giant whisk.

‘You get to make it, not me.’

That was all she said, and over the next six weeks, I never saw her lose her temper with the children or me. She did sometimes get a little hot under the collar and flushed, like the first day I saw her, but usually it was because she spent her entire time rushing around making sure that everyone was fed well.

At the end of my six weeks, I again felt sorry to be moving on. On the last day I was summoned to Miss Mayhew’s study and uninviting though the prospect seemed, I went upstairs and through the gloomy corridor. I knocked on the door and was told to enter. Miss Mayhew seemed to be wearing the exact same outfit that she had worn six weeks ago and again she greeted me from behind her large desk. This time she invited me to sit down, which I did slightly nervously. She had said at the beginning she would be keeping an eye on me and I wondered if there was any other misdemeanour other than losing all the spaghetti that she had discovered.

‘I understand from Brown that you have been very helpful and I wanted you to know that I have reported that fact to your agency.’

Surprise, surprise, but why could she not have referred to Jessie as her mother. A thin hand stretched across the table and I saw a bar of chocolate being pushed towards me.

‘It’s my favourite.’ I swear that she almost smiled.

‘Mine too,’ I uttered, astonished that we actually had something in common.

‘Well I won’t keep you. I am sure that you wish to get on.’

So, I was dismissed. I muttered my thanks and left the office, clasping my bar of chocolate in my hand. Well it takes all sorts as they say.

During the previous couple of weeks, I had been checking out the advertisements in the some of the catering magazines. I felt like a change, and perhaps this time I would look at something a little more permanent. Peter had tried to contact me twice, recently, and although I still thought about him a great deal, I felt that perhaps some distance between us would be a good idea. One advertisement in particular had caught my eye. It was for an assistant manager in a Victorian hotel in Cornwall. They had asked for details of past experience and a current photograph, and I had sent a letter containing these, just last week.

When I got back to my digs that afternoon a reply was waiting for me. Without even an interview they had accepted me for the season, beginning at Easter, and included travel instructions for my journey. They told me that the cost of this would be reimbursed on my arrival, and they expected a letter, by return, confirming my acceptance.

Here we go again.

* * *

However, before reminiscing further, it was time for bed in the here and now.

I was due to see Andrew tomorrow, at midday, and I planned my outfit in my head as I drifted off to sleep. I wondered what his reaction would be to the make-over that I had treated myself to. With that happy thought, I slept, dreaming of spaghetti and treacle pudding.

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Jul 17, 2017 Judy Martin rated it it was amazing  · A Real Tonic!

Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. Imogen feels betrayed, fat and useless when her husband leaves her. She has to find herself a new job after being out of the workforce for twenty odd years whilst bringing up her children and being a dutiful housewife.
Imogen has an opportunity to reflect on the jobs that she had before her marriage and this is where the fun starts.
Sally is such a wonderful story teller who had me spluttering with laughter and cringing with embarrassment at some of the situations that Imogen finds herself in. The characters in the story are some that you would love to meet or love to hate, so realisticlally are they portrayed.i enjoyed this book immensely.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again next week for the next chapter in Imogen’s colourful work history.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Major Organs and systems of the body – The Female and Male Reproductive system – Endocrine System and hormones


Last week I looked at the various organs that make up the female reproductive system and this week one of the systems that controls its function throughout our lives and that of the male reproductive system. For this post …. both need to come together.

The endocrine system and hormones.

Baby girls are born with over 400,000 eggs in their ovaries and over the next 10 to 12 years their endocrine system will mature and various physical, mental and emotional changes will take place. Before I cover some of the health issues later in the series, I want to cover the system that manages our reproductive system and hormones.

Hormones are vital not just to an efficient reproductive system but to our health in general.. Their protection is essential and maintaining adequate levels throughout our lifetime can be a challenge. And it is not helped by pronouncements by ‘experts’ on the food we eat and the medication that they prescribe to reduce one of the key elements of our hormone production which is cholesterol.

The Endocrine system not only produces the sex hormones but also the other hormones necessary for the healthy growth and development of every cell, organ and function within our bodies. Usually responsible for the slower processes such as cell growth the endocrine glands and hormones will also work with other systems such as the nervous system to ensure the smooth running of processes like breathing and movement.

Glands

A gland is a group of cells that produce and secretes chemicals from materials that it has selected from the blood stream. It processes these raw materials and either secretes the end product in specific areas, such as the salivary glands or sweat glands in the case of the exocrine glands, or directly back into the bloodstream from the endocrine system.

The main glands that make up the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary (master gland), thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal, ovaries and testes.

The pancreas is also part of the endocrine system but is associated more with the digestive system and digestive enzymes and I covered this gland earlier.

A healthy reproductive system for men or women begins in the brain.

Main-parts-of-the-Brain-72dpiThe Hypothalamus

The other name of the hypothalamus is actually the word homeostasis, which means balance, which is very appropriate. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain and is connected to the pituitary lobes, which form the most important gland in the body and is often referred to as the Master Gland.

The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, blood sugar, water balance, fat metabolism, appetite, body weight, sensory input like taste and smell and sight, sleep, sexual behaviour, emotions, hormone productions, menstrual cycle regulation and the automatic nervous system that controls automatic functions such as breathing and the heart muscle.

The Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland has an anterior and posterior lobe. The anterior lobe regulates the activity of the thyroid, adrenals and the reproductive glands producing a number of hormones.

  • Growth hormone stimulates the growth of bone and body tissues and plays a part in the metabolism of nutrients and minerals.
  • Prolactin, which activates milk production in mothers who are breast-feeding.
  • Thyrotropin which stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones.
  • Corticotrophin which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce its hormones.
  • Gonadotrophs are cells that secret the two hormones that stimulate hormone production in the ovaries and testes. These are called luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and whilst not essential to life are essential to reproduction.

The pituitary gland also secretes endorphins, which act as natural pain relief within the nervous system. It is also the gland that releases hormones that signal the ovaries and testes to make the sex hormones and controls the ovulation and menstrual cycle.

The posterior lobe of the pituitary has two main functions one of which is the release of a hormone to control water balance through its effect on the kidneys and urine output. The second is the release of oxytocin the trigger for contractions of the womb during labour.

The Thyroid

The thyroid is located in the front of the lower neck and is shaped like a bow tie. It produces the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine which are responsible for the speed with which cells burn fuel to provide energy. This is our metabolism or the speed at which we operate. The production and release of these two hormones is controlled by Thyrotropin, which is secreted by the pituitary gland.

The thyroid needs iodine and selenium to produce an enzyme, which converts the amino acid tyrosine into thyroxine. If thyroxine is at a less than optimum level there will be weight gain, fatigue, intestinal problems and thickening skin.

The Parathyroids

Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands that release parathyroid hormone that is responsible with calcitonin also produced in the thyroid for calcium balance between blood and bones. If this is not working then too much calcium is leached from the bones leaving them vulnerable to osteoporosis

The Adrenal glands

The Adrenal glands are actually situated on top of each kidney and comprise two parts. The first is the cortex, which produces hormones called corticosteroids, which determine male characteristics, sex drive, stress response, metabolism and the excretion of sodium and potassium from the kidneys.

The second part of the gland is the medulla, which produces catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) to increase blood pressure and heart rate in times of danger or stress.

If your stress levels remain high for long periods of time there will be an effect on the rest of your body. The body slows down digestion, maintenance and repair so that it is ready to run at any moment. It definitely speeds up the ageing process because like anything that is not maintained it slowly deteriorates. It will have a very big impact on all the rest of the hormones in the body including your sex drive, which is why stress plays a very important role in problems such as impotence and infertility.

The Pineal gland

This gland is located in the middle of the brain and secretes melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Being tired all the time will certainly not help maintain a healthy hormone balance.

Ovaries and Testes

These two glands are known as the gonads and are the main source for the sexual hormones. In the female these are the ovaries which I described in the previous post. They secrete oestrogen and progesterone as needed, particularly in girls who have reached puberty and are developing breasts and layers of fat around the hips and thighs that would be used primarily to nourish a foetus during pregnancy. Both hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, which is why an imbalance can cause irregular periods or infertility.

Oestrogen hormones include estradiol, estrone and estriol and as well as their role in the developing female they also have important effects on organs outside of the reproductive system. In fact they have an effect on over 300 different tissues throughout a woman’s body including in the central nervous system, liver and the urinary tract. One of their functions is in maintaining bone mass as a woman ages, particularly after the menopause. They also have a positive effect on blood fat and therefore help prevent atherosclerosis and possible heart disease. As we age our skin tends to thicken and oestrogen hormones help preserve the elasticity of the skin as well as promote a sense of general wellbeing.

Progesterone also has duties outside of its reproductive remit and that is its influence on body temperature. This is why taking your temperature every morning during the month can help you pinpoint when you might be ovulating.

As these hormones diminish so does the activity within the ovaries. They become smaller and lighter and the blood vessels that supply them atrophy. The follicles decrease in number and fewer and fewer eggs are produced sometimes skipping several months at a time resulting in irregular periods. Eventually egg production ceases completely, as does menstruation, and after twelve months you are usually unlikely to conceive but it is recommended that you still practice birth control for up to two years after completely finishing your periods.

More about Hormones

Hormones are some of the most powerful chemical messengers found in the body and are secreted by glands that transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. They circulate throughout the body but will only affect those cells that have been programmed to respond to their specific message. All hormone levels can be influenced by our general health, stress levels and the balance of fluid and minerals such as salt in the blood stream. This is the reason that it is necessary to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle and diet to ensure the reproductive system is functioning, as it should.

Most of us, when we talk about hormones, are usually referring to the reproductive ones such as testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen. We all know that as we get older our reproductive hormones decrease and both men and women go through a menopause. Women are more affected by this obviously, but men too experience a decrease in testosterone levels and the changes that this brings about.

However, our sex hormones are just three of the many hormones that are produced in our bodies and even though our reproductive abilities may decrease as we get older, the hormones involved are still active within our body. If they and our other hormones are looked after they will contribute to a healthy, energetic and youthful appearance. Sex does not stop when we get middle aged and maintaining a good diet and active lifestyle influence a healthy and functioning reproductive system.

Each gland within the endocrine system may produce one or more different hormone to affect a process in the body. For example the pancreas secretes Insulin, glucagon and Stomostatin. Insulin and glucagon are secreted according to the level of blood sugar and Stomostatin is the referee to ensure that not too much of either is secreted and therefore blood sugar levels remain balanced.

Hormones are manufactured from components of food, which means that the type of diet you follow has a major impact on keeping hormone levels in balance. Hormones are either protein-like as in insulin, or fat like as in steroid hormones.

An vital element of hormone production is cholesterol. Yes that demon that in the 80s and 90s was banished from our diet in the form of healthy fats and foods such as eggs! We were all recommended to follow a high carbohydrate, low fat diet and of course now we have done a complete U-turn. Not surprisingly this has had a huge impact on our health including increasing rates of obesity, cancer and dementia. Healthy fats and all cholesterol are essential for healthy hormone production, brain and heart health. It is only when the Low Density cholesterol or LDL is oxidised by poor diet, including too many sugars that it can become a health issue.

You will find myth busting facts about cholesterol in this Cholesterol and it is important to include sufficient amounts in your diet to keep the stores adequate for your hormone production.

Whatever the level of hormones produced by particular glands, if they are not communicating when they get to their destination – such as the thyroid gland, kidneys or ovaries – they will not be effective and the ongoing functions they are supposed to stimulate will not be completed. This includes the reproductive process which requires the balance of all most of the hormones for successful production, fertilisation and then development of the egg by a sperm.

How do we create the perfect environment to produce and maintain our hormones.

You cannot go far wrong by eating an 80% natural diet with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, wholegrain carbohydrates and fruits. Having healthy hormones is more about what you don’t eat, and the one food that it is a good idea to cut right back is sugars. This is not to say that you should go sugar free especially when the sugar comes from natural sources such as fruits. I do mean the chemically engineered additives in most industrial foods (ie. If it comes in a packet, can or jar). There are certain health benefits to be found in dark chocolate over 52% for example but eating 100gms at a time will just make you fat! A couple of squares a day should do the trick.

What is very important in your diet.

Omega 3sOne of the most important food sources is essential fatty acids which are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids). The body must have these essential fatty acids, yet cannot make them itself. One of the main functions of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. They basically control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis by acting as interpreters between the hormones and the cells they are being delivered too. They are required for energy production, increasing oxidation in the body and metabolic rates. Omega 3 in particular is considered to provide protection against certain cancers including breast cancer.

They are particularly important in balancing all hormones, including the reproductive ones, and the brain does not function without essential fatty acids.

Monounsaturated fats are also important as both these types of fats protect brain cells and the membranes and ensure effective passing of nutrients within the brain. This is particularly important with regard to the health of the hypothalamus which is our master controller.

What part do amino acids play in hormone production?

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up protein, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present. Amino acids are either classified as essential or non-essential. The “non-essential” ones can be manufactured in our bodies but the “essential” amino acids have to be obtained from food.

All hormones require amino acids for their production. For example L-Arginine encourages growth hormones and constitutes 80% of semen, which is why a deficiency causes sterility, and having sufficient of this amino acid can help with prostate problems. L-Tryptophan helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin and assists in the balance of our emotional behaviour. L-Glutamine is helpful for thyroid gland function. Taurine is used for hyperactivity and poor brain function.

What about the health of the other hormone producing glands?

Most of the above applies throughout the body. A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C and E and essential fatty acids and amino acids will promote health everywhere.

Having created a near perfect working environment for the bosses (the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary), we can turn our attention to the health of the others:

  • Thyroid (metabolism, energy and growth)
  • Adrenal Gland (sex drive, stress response and metabolism) and
  • Pancreas (Blood sugar levels).

If these organs are producing the hormones they are supposed to, in the right quantities, many of problems we associate with old age would be much more manageable. Including energy and the ability to process our nutrients efficiently keeping us away from degenerative disease such as arthritis.

Thyroid image http://www.medicinenet.com

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction in ebooks you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Next week an overview of some of the health issues associated with the female reproductive system.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or share. best wishes Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Jazz, Winter Soups, Chocolate, New books, reviews and funnies


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts the you might have missed during the week on Smorgasbord blog Magazine.

You might have noticed that the round up has a new header. Apart from looking to give the post a bit of a freshen up, I also wanted to emphasise the theme that I have developed over the last seven years, of a magazine style blog with a wide range of subjects. You will see from this round up that there are a number of regular contributors and guest writers.

Currently on a fortnightly or monthly basis I am lucky enough to have William Price King (music column), Carol Taylor (Food and Cookery Column), D.G. Kaye (Travel Column), Annette Rochelle Aben (Numerology) and Silvia Todesco (Italian Cookery) and I write the (Health Column). Jessica Norrie wrote a wonderful (Literary Column) last year which I am currently repeating.

Do you have an area of expertise that you would like to share and promote your blog or books at the same time?

If  you have an area of expertise that you would like to share here on Smorgasbord and can write a column of between 1000 to 1500 word every two weeks or once a month, then please get in touch. It could be care of elderly parents, Cooking by nationality – French, Indian, Chinese etc, Writing or Editing guidance, History of where you live etc.. contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com so we can chat about it..

If you do not have the time to commit to a monthly column, perhaps like baking, chocolate expert and author Robbie Cheadle, you might like to do a short series of guest posts.. Check Robbie’s latest post on The York Chocolate Story later on in the round up and get in touch if you would be interested in doing something similar @sally.cronin@moyhill.com

From sun tan to wellies

We have had a wonderful week weather wise and we were lulled into a false sense of security. I checked the ten day forecast which predicted rain for until after October 5th and beyond so exchanging my bikini (thank goodness there are no drones in the area) I legged it to the garden centre and bought all my wintering flowering plants, some new potting compost and dashed back to spend the afternoon changing out all the pots.

This may be the last recorded sunshine of the year!  So this week I am just going to share this special moment, and the new mini cyclamens and winter flowering pansies.

Now on to the posts from the week, and as always a huge thank you to the contributors, this week William Price King, Carol Taylor and Robbie Cheadle with some special mentions.  And also for your support every week and generosity.

And a special thank you to D.G. Kaye who devoted her regular Writers Tips post to all the three Cafe and Bookstore book marketing posts so far…What an amazing thing to do. Debby has been part of the support team for the blog for five years and every night, even when she is on her winter break in Mexico she comments shares all my posts from the day across her social media. Thanks Debby and sorry they are not real…

You can find Debby’s Writing Tips: https://dgkayewriter.com/writers-tips-special-edition-author-tips-for-promoting-your-books-by-sally-cronin/

This week William Price King celebrates the life and music of Mary Lou Williams – American Jazz Pianist, Arranger and Composer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-mary-lou-williams-american-jazz-pianist-arranger-and-composer/

Carol Taylor shares the joys of soup which can be eaten whatever the weather as a starter or as a snack even as a main meal if it is a substantial one served with lots of fresh crusty bread or with the addition of rice or noodles as it is served here

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-soups-in-25-minutes-smoked-mackerel-and-tomato-and-cannellini-bean-with-cavolo-nero/

Carol Taylor is another friend that I owe a bouquet of flowers to. Not just for the wonderful posts that she brings us throughout the year but also the support she offers every week by sharing my posts on her eclectic and fascinating blog. Healthy eating, conservation, Thai foods and cookery and down to earth commonsense.  Next month it will be the second anniversary of the food column and I am very grateful for her generous contribution. Thank you Carol.

Here is the link to Carol’s own roundup this week and please follow if you are not already doing so: https://carolcooks2.com/2019/09/22/carolcooks2-weekly-roundup-health-recipes-and-more-so-much-more/

Part two of The York Chocolate Story from Robbie Cheadle.. not sure how much more temptation I can take lol.. find out more about The Terrys and the Cravens.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-robbie-cheadle-the-york-chocolate-story-part-two-terrys-of-york-and-cravens/

My guest this week is regular guest to the blog, author Darlene Foster who has recently released another book in her successful Amanda Travel Series. Later in the post she shares an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/22/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-sunday-author-interview-darlene-foster-and-an-excerpt-from-amanda-in-holland-missing-in-action/

Delighted to share my review of the third book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Flower Power Trip.. by James J. Cudney

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/smorgasbord-book-reviews-braxton-campus-mysteries-book-3-flower-power-trip-by-james-j-cudney/

Twitter – New look and and step by step guide to Book Marketing useful functions.

As an author with books to market, getting as storefront on Twitter is important. It is a networking site and whilst you may not want to use for social media, it is great for connecting with other authors, reviewers, bloggers, all of whom are likely to be readers too. Here is a step by step guide to getting your books front and centre.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-marketing-online-watering-holes-for-authors-twitter-step-by-step-set-up-for-authors-sally-cronin/

Chapter Eleven – Imogen spends the week before Christmas working in a funeral home, with a very dishy funeral director....

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/just-an-odd-job-serialisation-chapter-eleven-the-funeral-home-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter Twelve sees Imogen join an advertising sales team for a local newspaper and responsibility for one of the more cash only columns!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/22/just-and-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-twelve-advertising-sales-by-sally-cronin/

For this week’s Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 145 Colleen Chesebro has provided us with a photo prompt.. in a new twist the previous month’s poet of the week for the photo prompt gets to choose the image..This month that honour falls to Jane Dougherty. I have selected a #Tanka for this week’s challenge…Adrift

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-tanka-challenge-tanka-adrift-by-sally-cronin/

This week the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills prompts us to write in 99 words, no more, no less… a story about ‘an interlude’ – mine is A Musical Interlude

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-a-musical-interlude-by-sally-cronin/

This is the final post from the archives of author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg who as you can tell from some of her books is a dog lover. Children and pets can be magical and bonds are formed that ensure a child never feels unsafe or alone throughout their early years. In this post Patricia explores this in more details. Pets — Understanding Your Child’s Affinity Towards Animals (2018) by Patricia Furstenberg

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-pets-understanding-your-childs-affinity-towards-animals-2018-by-patricia-furstenberg/

This is the final post from the archives of author, fitness advocate and photographer Terri Webster Schrandt. In her post Terri offers four reasons to attend the next one you are invited to. Four Reasons to Attend a Blogging Conference (2017) by Terri Webster Schrandt

Four Reason to Attend a Blogging Conference

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-four-reasons-to-attend-a-blogging-conference-2017-by-terri-webster-schrandt/

This is the final post from the archives of Jim Borden who blogs on ‘Borden’s Blather’ across a variety of topics. I know that my computer can be funny weird… frequently but have not so far seen it be funny ha ha!  So I decided to end Jim’s short series for this season with this post. Can Computers be Funny? (2018) by Jim Borden

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-can-computers-be-funny-2018-by-jim-borden/

This is the third post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project.  Pete shares some incidents that could have been a lot worse if laughter had not been the outcome.. and there there is the mystery of the knocking in the pipes! The Importance of a Good Sense of Humor by Pete Springer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-the-importance-of-a-good-sense-of-humor-by-pete-springer/

Delighted to welcome Melanie Stewart to the series.. In Melanie’s first post she shares some of the wisdom she picked up from author Judith Viorst who is almost 90 years old and the joy that her mother who is in her 80s, has found in following Tiger Woods…. Finding Joy in your 80s and 90s (2018)

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/smorgasbord-blogs-from-your-archives-new-bloggers-on-the-scene-melanie-m-stewart-finding-joy-in-your-80s-and-90s-2019/

This is the first post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David…I thought in this first post I would let Peter introduce Govanhill to you to set the scene for the other posts Thou shalt buy thy round

Photo of the mural at the Clutha bar, with Glasgow people including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Billy Connolly, Alex Harvey, Gerry Rafferty and Frankie Miller

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-thou-shalt-buy-thy-round-cheers-govanhill/

New Book on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-memoir-mennonite-daughter-the-story-of-a-plain-girl-by-marian-longenecker-beaman/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-a-bit-about-britains-history-by-mike-biles/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-love-on-track-rivals-in-love-book-three-p-c-zick/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-childrens-a-tractor-named-wilbur-by-deanie-humphrys-dunne/

Author updates – Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-c-s-boyack-lizzie-chantree-and-mae-clair/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-updates-reviews-amy-m-reade-tony-riches-and-barbara-silkstone/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/18/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-18th-september-2019-sue-vincent-ellen-hawley-and-stevie-turner/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-thursday-19th-september-2019-bette-a-stevens-d-wallace-peach-and-gloria-smud/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-friday-20th-september-2019-brigid-p-gallagher-john-rieber-and-carol-taylor/

I repeat this series in particular every year, in the hopes that those who are new to the blog will find it interesting and useful. I worked with couples who were planning on getting pregnant and it was important that both understood how each other’s reproductive systems worked. Also if you know your body well, if something is even slightly different from the norm, it encourages you to have it checked out. The Female Reproductive System.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/smorgasbord-health-column-major-organs-and-systems-of-the-body-the-female-reproductive-system-part-one-sally-cronin/

After 45 years of working in the food industry and then in the last twenty as a nutritional therapist, I explore where in the life cycle we can intervene to prevent the current obesity crisis.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/smorgasbord-health-column-creating-tthe-obesity-epidemic-part-one-finding-a-point-in-the-life-cycle-to-intervene-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residenced-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-11/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-5/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your support.. it is much appreciated.. Thanks Sally.

Just an Odd Job – Serialisation – Chapter Eleven – The Funeral Home by Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously  Imogen has to tackle a cat burglar and insurance fraud!

Chapter Eleven – The Funeral Home

I found myself at the gate at the back of my garden. I had been walking for over two hours. Probably the longest walk I had completed for many years. I felt surprisingly refreshed and excited. Suddenly, life did not seem quite so bleak and as I walked through my garden, I visualised how it could look next spring, if I paid some serious attention to it now.

I had spent the last six months decorating the house and making curtains, and I have to say it was looking lovely. Perhaps it was time to ask some of my friends from my previous neighbourhood for lunch.

There were about half a dozen girlfriends who had taken the trouble to call me after Peter and I split up, and although I felt that some of them were after the dirt, I should maybe give them the benefit of the doubt. I now had something to look forward to, and of course, there was my meeting with Andrew on Friday. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but it was so long since I had ever considered another man, that the feelings I was experiencing felt slightly uncomfortable. Almost guilty. Stupid really! After all, I was not the one who had committed adultery for the last year of my marriage.

I did not really want to visit that old baggage again and I tried to regain my newly found anticipation instead. I went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. Managing to ignore the packet of biscuits and the large bar of chocolate, I settled for the chicken and vegetables that I knew were in the refrigerator. If I was going to change some aspects in my life, I might as well have a good crack at my body while I was at it. I was only fifty years old and I could live for another thirty or even forty years. Did I really want to live it like this, alone and depressed with an ever decreasing wardrobe. Absolutely not! Time to show Peter that life did not end when our marriage did, and that I could rise from the ashes.

First, I would have to finish my journey into the past. Already some of the old Imogen, that had been buried under the weight of duty and responsibility, was beginning to surface. But I had to find all of her – even the less than desirable bits – if I was to go forward, strong in mind and spirit.

I put my chicken into the pre-heated oven and smiled to myself. Anymore of this and I would be sounding like one of those self-help books. One of my friends had been on a weekend seminar a couple of years back and had walked across burning coals without a single singe to the soles of her feet. She said that it was all about your state of mind, and that once you had accomplished this, nothing would ever seem impossible. Yes, well I think that I had dealt with enough hazards in the last year to qualify for that one.

I sat down on the sofa, with a glass of whisky and water, closed my eyes and took myself back in time.

* * *

Although our relationship was okay after the cat incident, things were not as good as they might have been. More often than not, we would both turn away from each other in bed at night and Peter was staying out later and later with the lads from the bank on a Friday night.

The last thing I needed, just before Christmas, was to work in an undertakers. But, as I have already stressed, it was that or socks for Peter and beans on toast for New Year.

So, there I was, outside Flanagan’s Funeral Directors, looking at their bright green door, which looked slightly out of place for an undertaker. I rang the bell and waited in the cold sleet that had started earlier in the day. After a couple of minutes, the door opened, and there stood a leprechaun. At least I think it must have been as it was the tiniest man that I think I have ever seen.

‘Hello, and what may I do for you my dear?’

His accent was hard to place; it seemed to be a mixture of Irish with a tinge of Welsh lilt. He smiled, showing little white teeth and a great deal of gum.

‘May we be of assistance in a bereavement?’ He opened the door wide, enabling me to see a dark and sombre hall inside.

‘No. I am Imogen, the temp you asked for until Christmas.’

I felt like slouching, as it seemed that I was a good two feet taller than my new acquaintance. If anything, he exposed even more gum and ushered me through the door.

He scurried in front of me, waving me forward with his tiny arm. I followed with a certain amount of trepidation, unsure if I was about to be faced with a line of corpses ready for embalming. Instead, he showed me into a bright waiting room.

There were chairs lined up against two of the walls, a large table in the middle of the room, with magazines on it, and a coffee machine in the corner. We crossed the room and through a door marked Private, and I found myself in a light and airy office with three desks: one with a typewriter and switchboard, obviously for receptionist duties. My guide held back the chair at this desk and indicated that I should sit down. We were now the same height and I found myself looking into his startlingly blue eyes. He winked at me, patted my shoulder and moved away, saying over his shoulder.

‘The boss will be with you in a minute dear, I have to go now as I am in the middle of Mrs. Jenkins.’

That was a little more information than I required, and I waited with macabre fascination for the appearance of the boss.

I sat there for five minutes with my imagination running riot. However vivid my fantasies might have been, it certainly did not prepare me for the vision that appeared at the door of the office. I caught my breath and stared in wonder. Before me stood a six-foot, blonde, good-looking, young man in a dark suit.

‘Hi.’ He said cheerily. ‘I am Dermot Flanagan, welcome to the business, I understand that you are going to be helping us out for a couple of weeks.’

I managed to close my mouth and resume a semi-professional air as I stared at the apparition before me.

‘Yes,’ I stuttered. ‘My name is Imogen and I am very pleased to meet you.’ That was a slight understatement as all thoughts of Peter had flown out the window and I blushed madly and visibly.

He smiled, showing a lot more teeth and a lot less gum than the leprechaun, and pulled up a chair beside me. He then proceeded to run through my duties. I listened with one ear while I sat mesmerised with infatuation. After about twenty minutes he stood up and left the room, on his way to the first funeral of the day. He also mentioned something about me being in charge, and not to mix up the mourners in the waiting room. As if I would – how could one possibly do that?

The work itself was pretty much routine. I found a Dictaphone and listened happily to Dermot’s voice in my ear, as it rattled off a number of letters for typing. He had a slight lilt, which was hardly an accent, yet sounded mysterious and romantic. I dreamily worked through the entire tape before returning to the first letter and beginning typing. I was determined that each letter would be perfect and I applied myself with a great deal more enthusiasm than I had exhibited when entering this establishment.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang and I went into the hall and answered the door. What appeared to be a mob crowded onto the doorstep. Headed by a portly, florid man in a check suit, the entire group filed into the hall.

‘Mr. Jenkins, love. Come to see me wife. Brought the family to say goodbye. Where is she then.’

Okay! Think fast about this one.

I knew that the leprechaun was in the middle of Mrs. Jenkins an hour ago but was unsure about his whereabouts at this exact moment. The waiting room seemed a good option and I ushered the tribe through with what I hoped was a dutifully sombre air.

I was now stuck. I was not sure where I might find Mrs. Jenkins. I cast about the room and saw a bell on the wall next to the door marked private. I rang it and hoped that I was not summoning myself. I poked my head around the door and was very relieved to see a man coming down the passage. He was dressed in a white coat and rubber boots and had carrot red hair standing up on top of his head. He grinned at me as he reached the door.

‘Hi I’m Paddy Flanagan, you must be the Imogen that Nobby has been so excited about.’

Nobby? Who was he?

Paddy could see my obvious confusion.

‘He’s my uncle. Little chap. Looks like a leprechaun.’

Oh that Nobby! I smiled with relief, now that help was at hand, and explained about Mr. Jenkins.

‘That’s grand love.’

Paddy turned to go back down the hall.

‘I’ll just get out of this gear and come back and take them down to the viewing room, you better come too, so that you can do this in the future.’

He looked over his shoulder with a slightly wicked grin.

‘Have you ever seen a dead person before then?’

I shook my head in disbelief, and went white.

‘You’ll get used to it.’

With that, he was gone into the bowels of the building, leaving me in a state of shock and horror.

A few minutes later, Paddy was back and entered the waiting room. He was smartly dressed in a black suit and his hair had been slicked down, giving him a very professional, and suitably subdued look.

He gently took the arm of Mr. Jenkins and with the entire family, and me trailing hesitantly at the back, we proceeded down the corridor to an open door.

The room was large and windowless. Dim lighting, and the sound of choral music increased the air of solemnity. I stood to one side with my eyes shut as the family filed past an open coffin.

Eventually, I had to look up and I caught a glimpse of the deceased Mrs. Jenkins face. I have never seen anything so serene; it was as though she was sleeping. There was nothing macabre or distressing about it, although there were a great many tears from Mr. Jenkins and his family. It was clear that they took a lot of comfort from this last goodbye. I was moved, and quite tearful myself, as we filed out of the room and back to the waiting room.

I heard Paddy telling the family about the arrangements and then ushered them all into the hall and out of the front door. As Mr. Jenkins went past me, he suddenly grabbed me in a huge hug.

‘Thank you so much for taking such good care of my Dolly, love, you’ve made her look so pretty.’

With that, he was gone, leaving me feeling humble and even more tearful.

I returned to my desk in the office and dried my eyes. These next few weeks were going to be emotionally challenging, that was certain. On one hand, I had to deal with grieving relatives and on the other the heart thumping attraction to the boss. I would be a wreck before Christmas.

* * *

Suddenly, I smelt roast chicken and realised how hungry I was. As I sat, with my dinner in front of me on the kitchen table and one glass of white wine, I realised how lonely this was. I had been so immersed in my misery for the last few months that I had not noticed the solitude. I had just wanted time to lick my wounds, and had shut everyone out except for the children. I could see now, that the only loser in this was myself. No! That wasn’t right.

Thinking back over the last twenty-four hours, and the recollections of twenty-five years ago, reminded me of what a huge amount I had done and seen in a very short space of time. I was very capable, adaptable and efficient. I had never been afraid of anything new – only apprehensive. It had never stopped me from trying. What had happened to me? Where did I go? Some alien planet where all self will was abandoned and subjected to the whims of some dominant ruler. No! I had done this to myself. The first time I decided to keep silent for the sake of a quiet life, I had handed over control.

Well, the time for recriminations was over. What is past is past and I can do nothing about it, but I can change the present and the future and that is exactly what I was going to do.

First a bath, a little more pleasant recollection, an early night and then tomorrow I was going out to buy some decent, bright clothes, that fitted. If I was clever, I could get outfits that would still fit when I lost the rest of my excess weight. Shopping had always lifted my mood, and a little retail therapy was exactly what was needed.

Satisfied with my decisions, I ran a hot, scented, bath and relaxed into it. Thinking about the lovely Dermot Flanagan felt deliciously sinful and I was quite embarrassed at the fact that I was lying naked in the bath while indulging in this particular fantasy. Unfortunately, fantasy was all it was.

* * *

I behaved like a star struck teenager for the first week of the job. I made every effort to be noticed. Make-up, new outfits, and efficiency in everything I was asked to do. By Friday I was in agony, the thought of not seeing him for an entire weekend filled me with despair. Forget Peter, who would probably not be home until the early hours of Saturday morning, or the fact that I was even living with someone else, I was besotted!

However, I had a rude awakening on the Friday evening. There was a tradition in the firm, where all the staff came into the office and each was given a shot of Irish Whisky along with their pay packets. The agency would post my cheque to me the following week, but I was handed a glass of the amber coloured liquor and told to get it down me. I was desperate to receive some acknowledgement that I would be required the following week, and waited to have a quiet word with Dermot. I plucked up my courage eventually and sidled up to him.

Before I could say a word, he put his empty glass down and moved towards the door.

‘Night everyone. Just off to pick Jenny up, I’m taking her to Paris as an early Christmas present’.

He looked in my direction.

‘Well done Imogen, you are doing a good job, see you next week.’

And with that, he was gone.

I stood, staring at the door, as it swung shut behind him. I felt an arm around my shoulders and turned to see Paddy smiling at me gently.
‘Jenny is his wife, they have been married two years and are expecting their first baby in six months’ time.’

It could not get any worse. He squeezed my shoulder and topped up my glass with whisky. I knocked it back, and not being accustomed to drinking spirits, either straight or in that quantity, was immediately legless. I barely remember Paddy giving me a lift home or falling into bed and crying myself to sleep. I did stir when Peter came home, smelling of beer at two in the morning, and cried some more, quietly into my pillow. I was so embarrassed. Paddy was obviously aware of my infatuation, so I had to assume that Dermot was too. How could I go back next week and face them all? The answer is money. I knew that the agency would not be able to find someone for the four days left before Christmas and would probably not employ me again if I let them down.

Thankfully, Dermot was on a long weekend and did not appear until my last day. By this time I was accustomed to showing families into the viewing room, and although not as affected as the first time, I still found it very moving. Paddy was a great help and I liked his open, cheery nature. While not as devastatingly good looking as his brother, he had a great deal of charm, which I am sure he used to great advantage with the girls.

On my final day, it snowed. It was Christmas Eve, and although I felt very uncertain about many things, including my relationship with Peter, I loved this time of year.

At five o’clock we all gathered in the office and a number of bottles of whisky were in evidence, along with the more traditional mince pies and sausage rolls. All six of the staff were there, and I felt relaxed and festive. Having learnt my lesson with the whisky on the last occasion, I had a sherry and then a soft drink. Carols were playing on the old radio in the corner and we were all laughing and joking with one another. The doorbell rang and I put down my sherry glass and went to the front door.

On the doorstep stood an elderly man. Stooped, and rail thin, he shivered in the cold evening air. I gestured for him to come inside into the warm hall and he slowly and painfully edged over the doorstep. A gnarled hand, blue with cold, closed over mine. I looked into a pair of faded rheumy eyes and saw the tears pouring down his face.

‘Could you bury my wife love? She just died, in the hospital, and they told me to come here. Is it too late? I don’t want to leave her there you see.’

I laid my hand over his cold one and led him gently into the waiting room. I really did not want to leave him alone, but assuring him that I would be right back, I left and went to get Paddy.

I pulled him away from the party, into the relative quiet of the hall, and explained the situation to him. He immediately stuck his head around the office door and it went quiet. He patted my arm and headed off to the waiting room and I heard murmured voices as he introduced himself. Dermot came out along with Nobby and the rest of the staff. They all headed off back into the preparation rooms at the rear of the building and Dermot picked up the keys to the hearse that were lying on the hall table.

A few minutes later he and the elderly gentlemen left to return to the hospital and Paddy drew me into the office.

‘We’ll deal with this Imogen, you get yourself home. But before you do, we wondered if you would like to work for us permanently in the New Year? You are one of the best receptionists we have ever had.’

I was stunned, and very flattered, and promised to think about it over Christmas. I think I knew in my heart that the answer would be negative. They were great people, doing a wonderful job. Look how they immediately switched from party mood to sympathetic and helpful. The problem was, it broke my heart every-time someone like the old man came to the door.

Helping was not sufficient, I am afraid I felt too much emotion to ever become detached enough. Combined with my general uncertainty about my future with Peter, it made me hesitant to accept any permanent position at the moment.

Paddy must have sensed my hesitancy, but smiled and led me down the hall. He had his hand behind his back and just before he opened the door he whipped it around and held it above my head.

He had an enormous bunch of mistletoe. Putting his hand around my shoulders he pulled me into him and gave me a five-minute introduction to the art of Irish kissing. It was both thorough and intense with more than a slight hint of smoky Irish whisky. When I eventually came up for air, he grinned wickedly at me and said.

‘Just wanted you to know that redheads are better than blondes for some things.’

I blushed at the reference to my crush on his brother, but acknowledged that, comparisons not withstanding, Paddy certainly had kissing down to a fine art. Slightly dazed I exited into the dark and snowy evening.

As I headed down the street toward the bus stop, I turned back and saw Paddy standing on the doorstep. He raised his hand and waved somewhat sadly, and I knew that he realised that I would not be back after Christmas.

* * *

Shivering, I became aware that the bath water had gone cold and I climbed out and wrapped myself in a large warm towel. I got into bed, and no sooner had my head touched the pillow than I was asleep. My dreams were vivid, filled with people I had known all those years ago. They were still young and so was I.

I remember feeling light and happy, a feeling that persisted when I woke in the morning to sunlight shining through the open curtains. Today was truly the first day of the rest of my life. I had a few hours before the shops opened and decided to finish off this chapter in my life.

* * *

Christmas had not been a happy time that year and I plucked up the courage to do something about it in the New Year. I moved out of the flat and into a tiny bed-sit across town.

The agency promised me that, based on my performance in the last six weeks, they would have no problem placing me as long as I was prepared to be flexible about both the type of work and its location. I assured them that I would be happy to accept anything on their books.

I was lucky; they found me two longer-term positions for six weeks each that gave me some comfort that I could pay my bills. Peter tried to contact me several times in the first days of the New Year, but as there was only a pay phone in my building, it was easy to avoid him. I missed him dreadfully. We had been together for nearly two years and there was a giant hole in my life. I avoided telling my parents; reluctant to let them know that they had been right all the time. Still, with contact between us restricted to a weekly telephone call, this was not too difficult.

The first position that the agency found for me was with a local free newspaper that needed telephone sales assistants, for a six-week promotion, on the Cars and Property section. I duly presented myself, in the first week of January, for a two-day training course on selling advertising. Oh yeah!

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

TALENTED AUTHOR
This book is a light, easy read following the story of a young girl coping with a wide range of temporary jobs with lots of humorous moments. It was an especially heart warming tale – told in retrospect when in middle age her husband of many years, walks out on her supplanting her with a Fast Tracker (loved that). She has subjugated her desires for a husband who took her for granted and it’s only when she reflects on her past achievements that she realises that she is indeed a very capable and resourceful person. A book with a hopeful message from a very talented author.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again tomorrow for the next chapter in Imogen’s colourful work history.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round-Up – 9th-15th September 2019 –


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Things have been relatively quiet around here which I am grateful for. We have had some lovey sunny days and I have taken advantage of those. We both have some projects that are nearing completion so that has taken up a fair amount of time.

Coming up next week

  • Robbie Cheadle with the second part of The York Chocolate Story on Monday
  • Tuesday William Price King shares the life and music of Mary Lou Williams – American Jazz pianists, arranger and composer.
  • Carol Taylor’s food and cookery Column on Wednesday
  • The regulars will be here with book reviews and new releases for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore, The health column, funnies and afternoon video..
  • The health column continues with the major organs and systems in the body with the start of a series on the female reproductive system.
  • Some new bloggers who have been writing for under a year start their new series from the archives and some great posts to showcase.
  • The book marketing series on Saturday covers more of the online watering holes that are useful elements in promoting your work.
  • Just an Odd Job Girl with two more chapters Saturday and Sunday.
  • My guest next Sunday in the author interview is Darlene Foster.
  • And through the week the Blogger Daily will share some exceptional posts from the blogging community
  • And there will be some responses to poetry and flash challenges.

Just a reminder if you are in the Cafe and Bookstore and are planning to put any of your books on offer in coming weeks to let me know so that I can include in the updates. You can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com or leave a message on Facebook.

On with the posts this week

As always a huge thanks to those who contribute with guest posts and columns…. as well as to you for dropping to read them.

My guest this week is author and proofreader Jo Elizabeth Pinto who has recently released her latest book Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark. Jo Elizabeth shares the inspiration behind her love of books and her own writing and lets us peek into her latest book with a humour filled extract that definitely entices you to read more.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-sunday-author-interview-jo-elizabeth-pinto-with-an-extract-from-daddy-wont-let-mom-drive-the-car-true-tales-of-parenting-in-the-dark/

Jessica Norrie explores the legendary first lines of books we have read….Authors need a rocket, or at least a hook, right at the start. Dickens has the best opening line ever: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities). What scope he gives himself, with that, for anything at all to happen, in any possible way

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-the-literary-column-with-jessica-norrie-blast-off-opening-lines/

Delighted that over the next five weeks, author Robbie Cheadle will be sharing the The York Chocolate story with us, following her recent trip to the UK..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-robbie-cheadle-the-york-chocolate-storypart-one/

Chapter Nine – The Isle of Wight pub life and Skinheads prove to be both interesting and at times dangerous…Imogen recalls her adventures..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/14/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-nine-the-isle-of-wight-pub-life-and-skinheads-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter Ten – Imogen and Peter’s relationship hits a bad patch and a cat burglar does not help matters.. and then there is the matter of the insurances cheques.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-ten-cat-burglars-and-insurance-fraud-by-sally-cronin/

A new series of the top songs from the movies in my book at least…..and the first song is Shaft by Isaac Hayes.. a blast from the past.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/smorgasbord-music-column-my-favourite-songs-from-the-movies-shaft-by-isaac-haynes/

This week the importance your blog has as part of your book marketing strategy. And a checklist to make sure you have certain elements in place to be effective.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-marketing-online-watering-holes-for-authors-part-one-your-blog-sally-cronin/

I was born on Friday 13th (February) and it has always been lucky for me… there are a number of variations, including Tuesday 13th and Thursday 13th, on the theme around the world and for various reasons..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/smorgasbord-something-to-think-about-paraskevidekatriaphobics-have-no-fear-friday-13th-is-lucky-for-some-sally-cronin/

This week, Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills was to create a story in 99 words not more, no less about the greatest gift of some kind… here is my response.. Life’s Greatest Gift….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/smorgasbord-short-stories-the-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-challenge-lifes-greatest-gift-by-sally-cronin/

This week’s prompt words for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 144 were ‘Enchant and Fly and I have used the synonyms Charm and Soar for my double etheree

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-tanka-challenge-no-144-double-etheree-the-charm-of-fairies-by-sally-cronin/

This is the third post from the archives of author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg . I love medical conditions.. not necessarily when afflicting me personally, but the causes, symptoms and treatments.. I know I need to get a life. However, some conditions have a literary origin…. 5 Medical Symptoms Named After Literary Characters (2017) by Patricia Furstenberg

Sleeping Beauty painting by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-5-medical-symptoms-named-after-literary-characters-2017-by-patricia-furstenberg/

This is the third post from the archives of author, fitness advocate and photographer Terri Webster Schrandt. I could not share some of Terri’s posts without including a photograph…. so whilst short this is also sweet, particularly as that is the favourite taste sensation of the subjects of the photograph. Photography – Never Ending Quest for Food (2016) by Terri Webster Schrandt

Male hummer finding food

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-photography-never-ending-quest-for-food-2016-by-terri-webster-schrandt/

This is the third post from the archives of Jim Borden who blogs on ‘Borden’s Blather across a variety of topics. This post from Jim reminds us all of what there is to life we might be missing out on. The Benefits of Having a Purpose in Life (2017) by Jim Borden

(copyright World Economic Forum),

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-the-benefits-of-having-a-purpose-in-life-2017-by-jim-borden/

This is the final post from the archives of the eclectic blog of writer Marilyn Armstrong and I have selected this one from a series of posts in 2015 – Sharing my World..Hugging the Dogs: Sharing My World 2015- Week 2 by Marilyn Armstrong

Bishop

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-the-archives-potluck-hugging-the-dogs-sharing-my-world-2015-week-2-by-marilyn-armstrong/

This is the final post of author Antoinette Truglio Martin who began blogging in 2018.. I am going to share four posts from her archives that were part of her A-Z challenge last year.  Pasta is a favourite in our household.. and Antoinette has a story about Pastina…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-blogging-a-z-challenge-2018-antoinette-truglio-martin-p-is-for-pastina/

This is the final post from the archives of Anne Copeland, writer of nonfiction articles, books, and poetry, as well as a mixed media and fiber artist. This post is a poem that sums up how I feel about the world at times. Weltschmerz (2018)

pexels-Statue of Liberty

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-poetry-weltschmerz-by-anne-copeland/

This is the final post from author and designer, Valentina Cirasola I have chosen this post because my mother was a Libra born on October 5th and I am sure several of you will have your birthdays in the coming month. #Astrology Born A Libra Under Venus (2018)

(Photo: https://www.123rf.com/clipart – Artist: Kisslilly)

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-astrology-born-a-libra-under-venus-valentina-cirasola-interior-designer/

This is the final post of author Ellen Hawley who has enjoyed a wonderfully varied career before leaving the United States to settle in Cornwall. The opioid crisis in the USA and increasingly in the UK and other countries is not the first time in history that an addictive substance has become concerning. In this post Ellen explores Tea and opium.. care of The East India Company. History – Tea, opium, and the East India Company (2018)

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-potluck-history-tea-opium-and-the-east-india-company-2018-by-ellen-hawley/

This is the second post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project. I know how many of you are dog lovers, and this one is for you… My Buddies by Pete Springer

Jake and Lulu

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-doglovers-my-buddies-by-pete-springer/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-11th-september-2019-m-j-mallon-with-frank-prem-bette-a-stevens-amy-reade-with-andi-cumbo-floyd/

New Books on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-childrens-space-dust-by-eloise-de-sousa/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-memoir-gardening-twigs-in-my-hair-by-cynthia-reyes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-abby-holly-series-book-3-secrets-of-the-trunk-by-janice-spina/

Author update – Reviews and books on offer

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-m-j-mallon-mary-adler-jacquie-biggar-and-deborah-jay/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-darlene-foster-jan-sikes-teagan-riordian-geneviene-and-jack-eason/

I wanted to describe the passage of a very common and tasty snack that many of us enjoy. Usually with only one thing in mind. The taste.. However, perhaps after following this chicken sandwich through your digestive tract you might think about it in a different way.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/smorgasbord-health-column-major-organs-and-systems-of-the-body-the-digestive-system-the-immune-system-and-a-chicken-sandwich/

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-2-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-10/

Thank you for all your support this week and look forward to seeing you soon. Thanks Sally.