This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen! From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.
If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.
Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.
You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/
This episode was kindly hosted last year by Olga Nunez Miret who is the author of several novels in both English and Spanish.. she is also a translator who did an amazing job for me when she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish.
Odd Jobs and Characters – Car Crash and Crystal and meeting Sherlock Holmes by Sally Cronin
After I left the department store in the middle of Liverpool, I was appointed manager of a crystal and gift shop in Lord Street, Southport, which is where we had bought our first home.
It was at the north end of this mile long main street, and we sold high end gift items such as Moorcroft pottery, and our own cut glass crystal glassware from the factory in the Lake District. All the glass was classified as ‘seconds’, even though there would only perhaps be a small bubble in the glass, or the cut might not be completely standard. However, the prices were terrific, with at least 40% of the normal retail price. I still have some of the glasses that I bought 34 years ago, and I was lucky enough to get another 10% discount making them very affordable.
Going to work was very easy. I walked out of our gate, then a brisk five minutes down the road, and unlocked the shop door. I really enjoyed the next 18 months, but was then offered the opportunity to manage the three shops that had now been opened, with the other two being in York and Norwich. I would also spend time in the Lake District as marketing manager to oversee the running of the factory shop, and to develop a tour around the glass works for visitors. This meant that I was away most of the week in one capacity or another, and I was given a large estate car to carry stock between the various shops.
On one occasion I had brought down a consignment of crystal to the Southport shop, picking up David from home, with the intention of delivering stock to the York shop; then spending the weekend exploring that very old and lovely city. We had set off down the motorway, which was busy with a Friday getaway. Because there was a great deal of commercial traffic, I was in the centre lane doing a steady 60 miles an hour and overtaking the trucks. I was just in the process of passing a large articulated lorry, when it suddenly veered out into the middle lane without signalling, and hit my car.
I was being pushed out into the fast lane, where traffic was moving considerably faster and there was nowhere for me to go but forward. I hit the accelerator and managed to disconnect from cab of the truck and pull in front of it; then on to the hard shoulder, where I came to rest in a state of shock. It was only then that the driver realised what he had done, and he too pulled onto the shoulder behind me. Thankfully David was not hurt despite the passenger side door being badly damaged. Once I had established that, I was out of the car and heading back to the lorry where the driver was hanging onto his wheel, waiting equally white-faced for one very angry woman charging up the hard shoulder towards him.
It was probably just as well, the police arrived shortly afterwards to make sure none of us needed treatment, or that other road users were impacted. David by this time had managed to open his passenger door and join the discussion.
The car was still driveable, although only having had it a couple of weeks; I was not looking forward to having the upcoming telephone conversation with my boss. After we had exchanged insurance details, and given our statement, which to be fair the lorry driver corroborated, we continued on our journey. However, we could hear the tinkle of broken glass from the back of the car. I knew it was going to be interesting unpacking several boxes of expensive glassware and removing it from its tissue paper wrapping. Thankfully it was insured, and we were unhurt, but it made me paranoid about overtaking trucks for a very long time.
I loved the job, especially in the summer months in the Lake District when I would tour most of the other tourist sites to deliver leaflets and take theirs to display in our own factory. The tour was now set up, and we were about to begin accepting visitors, when I got a phone call from a gentleman who requested a private tour of the factory. It was unusual, but since we were not officially open for a few days, I agreed, and he made an appointment the next day.
It was 1984 and a new series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes had been recently released on Granada Television, but I had not seen any of the episodes. However, I immediately recognised the man who arrived for the guided tour as the actor Jeremy Brett, because he had played Freddie in one of my favourite musicals… My Fair Lady.
We spent an hour watching glassware being blown, cut and put through the acid baths, before ending up in the crystal shop attached to the factory where he purchased one or two items. I could understand now why he wanted a private tour, as he was very well known and unlike today, stars tended to be a lot less keen to be photographed and approached by fans.
It was one of those encounters that you always remember, and I went on to watch several episodes of the series before we left to spend two years in Houston, Texas…Where I am ashamed to say I name-dropped shamelessly.
I have not as yet used Jeremy Brett as a character in one of my stories, but he is tucked away for a rainy day. As for the car crash… some events are better forgotten.
Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.
Olga has translated her own books into Spanish of course and she has also translated some excellent Spanish books into English and you can find out more here.
I can highly recommend Olga as she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish...http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/translationstraducciones/
Books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret
A review for Escaping Psychiatry 2: The Case of the Swapped Bodies.
As a doctor and a psychiatrist, the author knows well the workings of the human mind, and she brings this knowledge to the table in ‘The Case of the Swapped Bodies’.
When consulting psychiatrist Mary Miller receives an unusual document from an FBI contact, it sets in chain a puzzling series of events. As with all mystery novels, it is difficult to give a flavour of the story without spoilers. Suffice to say this is a complex, carefully structured tale involving an unusual murder, FBI-police rivalry, buried secrets, small-town gossip and innuendo, an on-off love affair, and a character who may be insane – or worse.
Olga Nunez Miret steers a careful line around the different narrative threads, and strews just enough red herrings in your path to keep you weaving back and forth between possible ‘solutions’ until the book’s closing stages. Logic and emotion interweave to keep the reader off-balance and anxious to see how resolution(s) will be achieved. You may never view American small-town life in quite the same way again.A jolly good read.
Read the reviews and buy the books Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/olganm
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0
Read more reviews and follow Olga on Goodreads –http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret
Audio books – http://authortranslatorolga.com/my-audiobooks/
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