Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 16th – 22nd May 2022 – Hits 1995, Aretha Franklin, Stories, Podcast, Poetry, Guests, Reviews, Health and Humour


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

I hope you are well and have enjoyed your week as much as I have mine. The house is still a bit topsy turvey but the new dining room just needs a bit more work, and I am off to buy curtains tomorrow. We will be moving the furniture in there over next weekend and then spending a couple of days putting our office back together in the kitchen diner.

The last of the spring flowers need to be moved into one of the flower beds for next year and I will be heading to the garden centre for the more mature summer plants.

On the blog front

I am so pleased that the I Wish I Knew Then series is resulting in the sharing of so many memories, experiences and emotions. This week my guests are authors Alex Craigie, Terry Tyler and Dorothy Grover Read of New Vintage Kitchen

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1995 and for the first part of the series on Friday featuring the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies has been busy on her own blog this week as well as sharing some of the funnies she has collected during her browsing for the Laughter Lines.. Head over to enjoy her post on Scammers who infiltrate social media including groups for those who are grieving loved ones.. Also an excellent resource for bloggers and authors in her monthly Writers links on copyright, plagiarism etcand her Sunday book review for Why Didn’t They Leave by Eva Hnizdo

Debby is with us tomorrow with her Travel Column… and a visit to Curacao...slap on some sunscreen and join us..

Carol Taylor shares her musings on Monday.. and amazing recipe for Chicken Jalfrazi that will get you taste buds zinging..an exploration of the eclectic cuisine of Croatia, how you can make delicious meals from store cupboard basics such as pasta and noodles, couscous and polenta with a lovely recipe for Chicken and Prune Tagine.  For these and the rest of Carol’s terrific posts this week head over to check out her round up. This week on Cook From Scratch to prevent deficiency we will be looking at ways to include foods containing manganese in your diet.

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 15th -21st May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Surprise” is my one word prompt.

My thanks to you for your visits, shares and comments they mean a great deal…

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1995 Part One – Seal, Bon Jovi, Take That, Simply Red

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Early Years

progression-of-osteoporosis

The Dynamics of Change – Part One – Our Physical Being by Sally Cronin

#Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health by Sally Cronin

Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud!

Chapter Eleven – Christmas in the Funeral Home

Podcast – Tales from the Irish Garden – Jeremy the Donkey

#Etheree – Legacy by Sally Cronin

#Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

16th May 2022 – #Images Tofino Photography, Robbie Cheadle, Cindy Knoke, #Exploration Jennie Fitzkee, #Guest The Story Reading Ape, #Guest Marcia Meara

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Rebecca Budd

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Shortstory by Jacquie Biggar

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by D.L. Finn

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – #Writing, #Genres, #Indie Jacqui Murray

#Pre-order #Scifi #GeneticEngineering We are Saul by Richard Dee

– #Mystery #Crime Ticket to Ride by Winona Kent

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Evolution and Heavenly accommodation

Passing along the funnies – Boys vs. Girls and Legal Shenanigans

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the posts.. look forward to seeing you again.. Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Eleven – Christmas in 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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time  Imogen had to contend with cat burglars and a work to rule in and insurance company.

Chapter Eleven – Christmas in 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 Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time – Advertising telesales

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! 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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time Being a pub landlady and catering for hundreds came with some interesting customers at the weekend….

Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! by Sally Cronin

We found a lovely small flat in Southsea, a few roads back from the sea. It had a bedroom, bathroom, separate kitchen, and a combined living and dining room. It was nicely furnished and felt like our first real home. The only drawback was the three Spanish students who lived above us. They were used to staying out late and would arrive home about three in the morning and proceed to indulge in a spot of Flamenco dancing, or so it sounded. The tap of three pairs of high heels on wooden floors had a rhythm to it that was a little like a dripping tap. We would bury our heads under our pillows, but eventually we learnt to live with this minor inconvenience.

Not so their cat, a black and white tom with a distinct lack of regard for other people’s property, particularly of the edible kind. Over a period of some weeks, I became increasingly alarmed by the amount that Peter was eating. I got into the habit of cooking two meals at a time. This worked very well for stews, roasts, and pasta dishes. We would take one day’s portion and I would leave the remainder to cool on the kitchen table before putting in the refrigerator for the next day.

The one thing that Peter would do about the house, was to clear the empty plates away and wash up while he made us a cup of tea. We would then settle down on the sofa and watch our tiny television until it was time for us go to bed. I would take the empty cups out to the kitchen and put the next day’s dinner away. I began to notice a marked difference in the original amount and the quantity that I was putting in the refrigerator. At first, it was only a slight difference and I assumed that Peter was helping himself to an extra spoonful or two when he was making the tea.

After two or three weeks, it became more than a spoonful and in fact there was barely enough to feed one person the next night, let alone two. I decided to tackle the problem discreetly, as I knew what Peter could be like when he was criticised. He did not take kindly to having his actions questioned, which was another little sign I managed to ignore for twenty-five years.

‘Darling, you seem very hungry in the evenings, would you like me to do a few more potatoes and vegetables’ I thought that was diplomatic enough.

‘What do you mean, hungry.’ A belligerent look swept over his face.

‘There’s too much on the plate as it is, I am putting on weight and I have been meaning to talk to you about it.’

Was this self-denial? Here he was, helping himself to our next day’s dinner and having a go at me for feeding him too much and causing a weight problem.

Of course, a full-scale argument ensued and everything that had been stored and filed for future use came out into the open. I slept on the sofa that night, and Peter slammed around the flat until midnight. It did have an upside however, in the form of verbal abuse, hurled upwards to the occupants of the upstairs flat who unfortunately chose this night to hold a fiesta with much heel tapping and laughter at four in the morning. There was a deathly silence then giggling. We could hear bare feet slapping across the floors, as beds were sought and then quiet, which was to thankfully last until the girls moved out a month later. However, all hell was to break loose in our apartment before they left.

After the argument, we made up and I started making one meal at a time and cooking every day. We did have fish and chips on Saturday, after the pub and peace reigned in our little palace for a while.

I was doing temp work at the time and was moving around the place quite a lot. I was asked to work late one night, with an insurance company that was behind in paying its claims. The day before, I had made two dinners, as before, and put the half dish of lasagne on the table to cool. I had forgotten to put salt on the table and returned to the kitchen to get it – much to the surprise of the cat with it’s head buried in the béchamel and cheese sauce. It was so enraptured with my cooking that it did not even look up. I was so startled; I just stood at the kitchen door and screamed my head off. The cat leapt up with arched back and hissed at me. It looked pretty ridiculous really, with a ring of white sauce clinging to its whiskers and a piece of tomato hanging from his mouth.

Peter shot into the kitchen and the three of us stood in a frozen tableau. Peter was the first to move, grabbing a tea towel from the back of the door, he flung it at the cat. Obviously, my lasagne was a prize to hang on to. The cat actually grabbed another bite before leaping nimbly onto the sink and onto the windowsill. We rushed to the open window just in time to see the cat climbing up the ivy that covered the front of the house. With an arrogant backward glance, he gracefully slid into Spanish territory and we were left hanging out of our window, powerless to catch the cat burglar.

This solved the mystery of the missing food. The cat had looked very much at home, and it was obvious that this was not the first time it had helped itself to dinner at our expense. Short of causing an international incident, especially after we had introduced our neighbours to Anglo Saxon vocabulary, we decided to keep the window closed – to a level that allowed air, but not feline, entry.

I thought it was all very funny, but Peter was not amused. He was all for going down to the surgery immediately and having all sorts of tests conducted to find out if he had been infected with cat flu or similar. Of course, it was entirely my fault, for leaving food uncovered, and for not closing the window. I did point out that I had not expected to be burgled on the third floor of a building, but apparently this was not a permissible excuse.

Despite the increasingly volatile relationship between us, we stayed there for nearly a year. In that time I worked for a Temp agency and found myself using my rusty secretarial skills around the city. Most of the jobs were boring and repetitive but of course, being me, there were one or two incidents of note, even among the mundane tasks allotted to the transient temp.

I worked for two insurance companies in my first few weeks with the agency. My first assignment was in the typing pool, where I was expected to spend the entire day typing claim cheques. These were usually payments as a result of motor accidents, and some of the cheques were for several thousand pounds. You had to pay strict attention. I had an electronic typewriter that I was unused to, and in fact, looked on in envy by the girls pecking away on their manual versions. I learnt to master the beast that seemed to have a mind of its own. Keep your finger too long on a particular key and you ended up with a cheque for a million pounds instead of a hundred. All the cheques were numbered and any ruined ones had to be logged and given in at the end of the day to the accounts department. I did not get off to an auspicious start.

The cheques came in packs of fifty. They were joined together and had perforations between each cheque. On my first day, I managed to produce seventy acceptable cheques and thirty cancelled ones. The supervisor glared at me from behind her glasses and muttered something about temps and waste of time, I didn’t quite catch it all. I sidled out of the door vowing never to return. I half expected a call from the agency telling me that I was not welcome back anyway, but the reprieve never arrived.

The next day I found myself, once again, back in front of the gleaming monster. The curved keyboard reminded me of rows of teeth, determined to bite my fingers off at the first touch. However, for some reason, I started to get my eye in, and on the second day I produced ninety-five perfect specimens and only five rejects. By the fourth day, I was producing one hundred and fifty cheques a day with barely an error. The supervisor had thawed somewhat and the muttering under her breath had been silenced. This silence did not extend to the other temps that had been drafted in to clear this backlog of insurance claims.

Three of them cornered me in the ladies at coffee break, standing with arms crossed and grim expressions; I wondered what I had done to incur their displeasure and smiled sweetly in an effort to lighten the atmosphere.

A blonde, with deceptive baby blue eyes, leaned closer to me after assuring herself that the toilet stalls were empty.

‘What do you think you are doing?’ she hissed at me between clenched teeth.

‘We have been here for six weeks and they’ve been very pleased with our work.’ She continued, glancing at her companions for moral support.

‘We only produce seventy-five cheques a day. What are you trying to do, talk yourself out of a job, and ours along with it. The backlog should have kept us all here for the next six weeks until Christmas.’
She took a breath and imparted the final shot.

‘The supervisor has told us all to increase our cheques per day or she will have us replaced, you have to slow down now or there will be trouble.’

Right! Here I am, so desperate to get out of this place that I have perfected the art of cheque production, and these three bimbos want me to slow down so that they can stay here forever.

The problem with me is that I have never been much of a sheep and although I did not feel that a temporary job was worth getting into a fight over, I did have a problem with dishonesty.

Both the insurance company and the temp agency were getting fiddled here. These three girls were deliberately working slowly, taking three times as long to do the job as was necessary, and therefore taking three times more money than they should.

I pushed past them and returned to my desk. I carried on working at my normal speed and produced my one hundred and fifty cheques as usual. I also a produced a couple of other things. I earned glares and ostracism from my three temporary colleagues and my first genuine smile from the supervisor at the end of the day. I don’t think she missed much at all and I was proved correct when three replacement staff were drafted in to the department the following Monday.

I was given the task of bringing them up to speed and ensuring that an acceptable number of cheques were produced each day. The job was completed in three weeks and as my three erstwhile colleagues had predicted, we only had three weeks left until Christmas. Most offices did not take on temps at this time of year, and I was told by the agency that there would be some vacancies in department stores for the sales in January and that they might not be able to find me anything until then.

I adjusted my Christmas present list, which left Peter with a pair of socks, and my parents with a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers. My responsibility was to pay for the food each week, so I hurriedly rang around both sets of parents and siblings to wangle an invitation for Christmas lunch and Boxing Day. I was marginally successful, but it looked like fish and chips for New Year. Then I received a call from the Agency.

With just two weeks to go before Christmas, an unusual vacancy had come up. A receptionist–secretary for a ‘Funeral Director and Chauffeur Driven Limousine Service’. Not the most cheerful of occupations at Christmas time. But, beggars can’t be choosers. The thought of Peter’s face, when he opened his solitary Christmas gift, convinced me, and I duly arrived at Flanagan’s Funeral Directors on December 15th.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time – a memorable Christmas in the funeral home

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up 9th- 15th May 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, St. Thomas, Magnesium, Short Stories, Podcast, Health, Travel, Books, Reviews, Health and Humour


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

I hope you are doing well in your neck of the woods. In this one we have had some glorious weather this last week and I have taken advantage of the garden. Decorating is going well with the dining room now pearl grey and white woodwork.. Awaiting the floor to be sanded and I am off to buy new curtains during the week.

The young plants I potted a couple of weeks ago are beginning to flower and it is a bit of mystery as to the colours as I bought variety packs and in a week or two I will share the results.

On the blog front

I am delighted that I Wish I Knew Then series is being enjoyed and there are several more scheduled for the coming weeks and so grateful to those who are participating and sharing their stories. This week Jacquie Biggar, Rebecca Budd, Denise Finn and Jacqui Murray share their thoughts on the prompt.

As always I will be putting on a Summer Book Fair featuring all the authors that I have personally recommended who are on the Smorgasbord Bookshelf. In the first posts beginning in June, I will be sharing books that are the first in a series to encourage readers to start at the beginning and hopefully then read the following books. I will then continue with authors with stand alone novels, non-fiction, memoirs etc.  Look out for that from June 6th through to September.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1994 and for the last part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – On Friday William begins a new series about the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to St. Thomas this week on the Travel Column… and on her own blog shares her thoughts on being back in Toronto after her Mexican winter break and adjusting to the solitude again, weather and how grief plays its role in her perspective on life and the future. How Am I Doing?  Head over to her blog to catch up on her posts including her Sunday Book Review D.G. Writes

Carol Taylor shared some amazing recipes this week to ensure we are getting sufficient Magnesium in our diet… on her own blog she reminds us about animals waking up after hibernation in our gardens and in particular what to and not to feed hedgehogs in her Monday Musings,

In her ‘My Kitchen Post, she shares some store cupboard basics, in her Food Review what constitutes ‘processed food’ and in Saturday Snippets her prompt is Glass.

Head over to catch up on Carol’s posts this week: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 8th -14th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Glass” is my prompt.

Thanks to you for all the support, likes, comments and shares during the week and now on with the show….

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1994 Part Two – Celine Dion, Prince, Wet Wet Wet, Corona

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Five – Live Performances

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean Welcome to St. Thomas #Virgin Islands

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Magnesium – Coleslaw, Pumpkin Seeds, Tom Yum Soup, Morning Glory

#Olive Oil…keeps your body moving by Sally Cronin

Butterfly #Cinquain – Blossom by Sally Cronin

Chapter Eight – The Steak House by Sally Cronin

Chapter Nine – Pub Landlady and Skinhead invasions

Chapter Seven – The Magic Garden comes to life by Sally Cronin

#Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

#Western #Paranormal Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

#Romance – Love, Me – A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

#Romance – Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1) by Linda Bradley

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Burgers and more Weird Facts

– Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Cures and more Weird facts

 

Thanks so much for dropping in today and for your visits and support during the week.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and stay safe.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Nine – Pub Landlady and Skinhead invasions


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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time  Life in a busy steakhouse comes with some ghostly interference on Sunday nights.

Chapter Nine – The Isle of Wight Pub Life and Skinheads

I realised that I had reached the end of the particular path I had taken through the woods when I was faced with the main road. I had a choice, either go back the way I had come, or skirt the edge of the forest and return by another route. I wasn’t quite sure where I would end up. It was certainly going to be longer, but as I looked behind me, at the path I had already walked, I decided to continue on the new route. Perhaps it was symbolic of what was happening to me in my life. New paths, taking risks, uncertainty, were perhaps the way forward.

I continued on my journey, and my mind moved on to my next job.

* * *

Peter was going to be working in a bank in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, and as we were just coming into the Easter season, I thought that jobs should be easy enough to get hold of.

We found a small flat, some streets back from the harbour. Compact! That was how it was described to us by the letting agent. Quite! It was actually two rooms and a bathroom, with a separate entrance, in a house owned by two solicitors. The bedroom was small, just big enough for a double bed, wardrobe and a chair. Luckily we had very little in the way of personal belongings; I certainly would not have had room for my current wardrobe of clothes, despite the fact that most of them were too small to be of any use to me.

The other room was a lounge, dining room and kitchenette. However, you could only use it for one purpose at a time. The two armchairs had to be pushed under the window to enable the hinged table, which was attached to the wall, to be extended. With the table out you could not get into the kitchen area. We learnt to compromise and ate most of our meals off trays on our laps.

The bathroom was an altogether different kettle of fish. I use the word ‘fish’ for a specific reason, as there was so much damp on the walls that fish would have been quite at home there. When I pointed this out to the landlords, they shrugged, smiled and gave me a pot of magnolia paint and a brush and suggested that I paint the walls every few weeks. This meant that lying in the narrow bath one either suffocated from the smell of mildew or paint fumes.

What do we do in the name of love? This was our first home together, and with some posters covering the dampest patches on the walls, and a little imagination, it was a palace – and cheap with it.

After two weeks, I applied for, and was offered the position of assistant manager at a local harbour side pub. The owner, Tom, was a rather round man with a moustache that gave him the appearance of a walrus. He did have kind eyes though, with a twinkle in them, and told me that he expected his assistant managers to get on with their jobs and not bother him too much. When I began work, I soon realised that, from his almost permanent position at the end of the bar, he had a three hundred and sixty-degree view of the entire establishment and missed nothing.

The downside to the job was the hours. I would be expected to work until three in the afternoon, five days a week, and from six until eleven at night for five evenings. The bar work was no more than I expected, but I was warned that it would get very hectic once sailing, Cowes’ main claim-to-fame, got started.

I had plenty of experience of bar work, and had no problem adjusting to my duties. I wondered if I might get a little bored, but there were some interesting customers, and enough activity to keep me busy when on duty. As usual, I then got myself dropped into a different situation. The owner, Tom, had taken on a cook to run the snack bar for the season. After two weeks the cook was found pilfering the cigarette machine behind the bar, and was fired on the spot. It was very late to find a replacement, and before I could say fish and chips, I was dressed in check trousers, with a cap on my head and draped in an apron bearing the slogan ‘Sailors do it tied up’

Luckily, the menu was straightforward. Fish, chicken, and sausages, all with chips, and in wicker baskets. Sandwiches had to be prepared in advance, and were stacked neatly in two glass cabinets on either side of the snack bar. I had a very nice assistant called Daphne who had worked there every summer for the last ten years. She proved to be an invaluable guide to local gossip and the horrors of the summer season to come.

It was a slow start, but it gave me time to get to grips with the two temperamental deep-fat fryers, which had a tendency to switch themselves off, right in the middle of serving lunch. As everything was fried, with chips, it made life a little difficult on occasion, and my ability to use expletives improved rapidly in the first few weeks.

By the time the season really got under way, I had developed a routine that enabled me to cook over a hundred lunches, and twice that many dinners in the evenings. I now worked Monday to Saturday with Sunday off. A girl came in on Sunday and made toasted sandwiches and rolls, giving me a well-earned day of rest. The good thing was that, in my new job, I made an extra five pounds a week, which Peter and I badly needed.

We wanted to save enough to rent a larger flat when we moved from Cowes, and we hoarded every penny we could. Peter got a part-time bar job, to supplement his meagre pay from the bank, and we saw very little of each other. This was hard, but we reckoned that six months here would make life a lot easier for us in the future. I was so busy that I really didn’t have much time to think about our time apart, and when we were together, it was hard to stay awake. I am not sure how young love survives under those circumstances, but I suppose it was a test of our feelings for each other. I often think that we were at our happiest in that damp small bed-sit with so little time together.

My morning consisted of two hours of preparation and two hours of manic activity. I barely stopped to take a breath as I worked my way through the stack of orders. The majority of our customers were not from the island. Boats plied back and forth from Southampton to Cowes depositing several hundred people at a time. The day-trippers were happy to be on holiday and were easy to please. We had a large balcony in the front of the pub, which looked out onto the harbour entrance. It was a huge attraction in the summer and was usually packed. I, of course, saw very little of it, as I was either preparing food or cooking it. But there came a time, a couple of weeks into the season, when I began to see more of the bar area than I wished.

Tom had already suffered one heart attack, and started to feel ill about two months after Easter. We were already busy, and it was just the start of the summer season. He took me to one side at the start of my evening shift and told me that his doctor insisted that he take things easier. I was not sure how much easier Tom could actually take it. I don’t mean to be unkind, but apart from the occasional trip to the whisky optic, I had rarely seen him move from his corner of the bar. However, I nodded sympathetically and waited for the other shoe to drop.

I suddenly found that I was the Deputy Manager, with full responsibility for the bar, food stock ordering, the cleaning staff, and security. I wondered how I was going to fit all this into my already crowded day, when he introduced me to my new hours. I would now work eight until four, and then six to eleven thirty, Monday to Saturday. A pay rise of five pounds a week was considered adequate compensation for this and I found it quite acceptable, until I experienced the security aspect of the job. It was then that I realised that I should have asked for hazard pay as well. I also revised my impression of Tom’s previously unappreciated stress levels. This revolved around closing time.

Until now, I had finished serving food before closing time in the afternoon and at least an hour before we closed at night. I had often heard rowdy laughter in the bar and had gone home, blissfully unaware of the complexities surrounding ‘drinking-up time’. This was the ten minutes allowed, after official closing time, for everyone to finish their drinks and be off the premises. The problem was that the bell for last orders rang ten minutes before closing, and there was a mad dash for the bar to get the drinks in. The staff was frantically trying to serve everyone before the last bell. This meant that a large number of customers were left holding full pints of booze and only had ten minutes to drink it. Multiply that by a hundred and you have a recipe for disaster. The local police were very keen, and quick to jump in if they thought after-hours drinking was going on. And guess what my security job entailed? That’s right, I had to get everyone off the premises and the doors locked by a quarter past eleven at the very latest.

By ten I was already tired, having produced over a hundred basket meals. Now, I had to divest myself of my apron and check trousers, and assume the role of authority.
On the dot of eleven, I would move through the bar smiling and calling out in as pleasant a tone as possible.

‘Time ladies and gentlemen, please finish your drinks as quickly as possible, thank you.’

That would be the first pass through the main bar area. This would generally eliminate about half the drinkers. The rest would hold fast, clasping half finished pints possessively against their chests. Time for the second pass, this time with a little more attitude.

‘Come along ladies and gentlemen! We are past closing time, finish your drinks if you please and make your way to the exit. Thank you.’

Another wave of customers would wend their way across the greasy carpet to the exit. Obviously, the thought of returning to their bed-and-breakfasts was not as appealing as incurring my displeasure. This would continue for the ten minutes allotted drinking up time.

Finally, I would be left with about ten die-hard drinkers determined to push the system to the limits. My instructions were very clear. Remove the glasses forcibly if necessary and escort the offenders to the door myself. I must have been so naïve. I did this without any back up at all. Thankfully, I am a big girl and there were occasions when I had to resort to physical manipulation to assist some of the more stubborn customers to the door. After a week, I was quite practised in this role and Tom announced his satisfaction, and faith in my abilities to deal with my next challenge. This came under the heading of ‘Skinheads’.

At the height of the summer the ferry companies ran night-time excursions from Southampton to Cowes. Alcohol was served on the crossings and both ships and passengers steamed into the harbour at about eight each night. There would then be a torrent of shaven-headed, tartan clad, booted and spurred youths pouring down the high street. They would fall into the nearest pubs en-route, packing them within minutes. Those who were left out on the street continued their quest for the next pint until they reached us, at the end of the street. By this time alcohol deprivation must have set in, and their frustration levels reached new peaks. This wave of red and green plaid washed through the bar to the counter, and the staff hurried to fill their drink orders.

There is a law about serving both minors and those who have already consumed so much alcohol that they are legless. You try telling a five-foot skinhead, halfway across the bar, that you are not going to serve them. I think not. The one saving grace was that the boats returned by ten each night, so there would be a reverse flood back up the high street to catch the steamer before it left. It was not a wise move to be out on the streets at that time and the locals stayed safely out of the way.

After a few Friday and Saturday nights, I devised a plan of action. I invested in a pick axe handle and hung it over the food counter with a sign swinging beneath it which read ‘Attitude Adjuster’. Between cooking meals and leaving my assistant to cope as best she could, I would make frequent forays into the bar dressed in my cooking gear. With my sleeves rolled up and as mean an expression on my face as possible, I then exhibited a side of my nature never previously revealed. That of a protective Rottweiler.

Control was maintained, not through customer service, but by fear. I would walk with authority through the crowded bar and stare down anybody who got in my way. My calf length apron hid the fact that I was quaking in my shoes. This was not to say that I got away with just non-verbal communication. There were times when a show of force was essential to prevent a fight between rival factions of this tartan army, and I physically threw out a number of potential combatants by hand. This was not without danger, and on more than one occasion I was threatened with broken pint glasses and other veiled threats of violence.

I don’t know where I found the courage. It was certainly a far cry from chasing shoplifters through a department store, but the principal was the same. I objected to the few troublemakers who made life difficult for everyone else. To be fair, apart from the sheer mass of bodies that these excursions produced, and despite their ferocious looks, most of the skinheads just wanted to get as many pints in as possible before the ship sailed. It was a small minority that considered it his or her right to a punch up, as part of the evening’s entertainment, that spoilt it for everyone.

Thankfully, after about eight weekends of this, the excursions came to an end. The only other extraordinary event was Cowes week, which was frantically busy for the whole seven days. Culminating with Firework night. Tom had to partake on this occasion, as there were certain steps that had to be taken in preparation for this night. The first thing that happened was the removal of all furniture into storage, just for the day. This increased our capacity by about a hundred bodies. Then there was the employment of six burly bouncers. And where had they been when I needed them I asked? No food was to be served, except rolls and sandwiches, and all cutlery was removed and locked in the store cupboard for the night. Pictures were removed from the walls and all booze was served in plastic pint and half-pint glasses. This was all based on experience, so what does that tell you? It was a night to remember, or forget, whichever you prefer.

I have never seen the pub so full and the atmosphere was charged with energy and anticipation. Extra bar staff had been enlisted to assist, some of them booked since the previous year. Everyone was paid a premium rate, except for me, as I was management. Even I was behind the bar – the floor of which was soon running with beer slop and broken ice cubes.

As soon as the fireworks began there was a rush for the balcony. I am truly surprised that the whole building didn’t topple straight into the harbour. And then it was over. Four hours of non-stop serving passed in a blur and then they were gone, the whole thing over for another year. It was only the next morning, when clearing up the debris that we found plastic glasses in the most inaccessible places, including the roof.

So that was my season in Cowes, I have never worked so hard or been pushed into so many different situations. But I coped. My relationship survived and we planned to move on to Peter’s next job, which was back in the head office of his bank, in Portsmouth. I had no doubt after my experiences this summer that I would find something to keep me occupied for a few months and I decided that perhaps something non alcoholic and unrelated to food would be a good move.

What I had not bargained for was the change in my relationship with Peter. We began to argue, he felt that my summer in Cowes had hardened me and made me aggressive. I thought that I had just learnt to be more assertive. Dealing with the day to day situations that I had, had made me more confident in myself, and I had matured over the last few months. I think that Peter was worried that I no longer needed him. Well, that was the spin I put on it. In fact now I realise that it was a matter of control. Until now, I had always followed his lead, giving up family and jobs to move with him wherever he needed to go. I ignored the warning signals and settled for a quiet life.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time cat burglars and insurance fraud

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Eight – The Steak House 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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time  Imogen causes ructions in the cosmetic department as she meets a wonderful group of new clients looking for beauty enhancements.

Chapter Eight – The Steakhouse

My girdle was killing me and as soon as I arrived home I raced upstairs and removed the offending undergarment. My body did not return to its customary shape for about five minutes, which caused me some concern. However, I was soon sitting down to lunch and for some reason I was motivated to by-pass the French bread, mayonnaise and pate, and indulge in a wholemeal, tomato sandwich and a piece of fruit.

It was a while since I had felt attracted to another man but I recognised the signs. Incentive to lose weight had been sadly lacking of late, and had been the reason behind my constant failure to stick to a healthy lifestyle. I wasn’t sure where my relationship with Andrew was going to lead, perhaps nowhere, but if I could lose a stone in the process it would be a bonus.

After lunch, I looked out of the kitchen window to the back of the garden. The green gate that opened onto the forest had not been unlocked since my arrival in the house six months ago an I had to root around in the drawers in the dresser to unearth the key tag marked ‘G-gate’.

I put on a pair of sensible shoes and headed out of the back door, with my rolled-up CV in my pocket for reference. The key fitted, and although rusted, the gate opened with a protesting groan. The paths in the forest had been beckoning since I arrived, and for the first time, I succumbed to their invitation and set off through an avenue of trees.

Once I was into my stride, and my heart and breathing had slowed down a little, I reached back through the years to 1972.

* * *

There had been almighty ructions in the house over my decision to leave home and go to Eastbourne, although I imagine that the problem was more about my being with Peter than about my leaving home. Even the fact that I would be living-in at a job I had obtained through a catering magazine, and not with Peter, in digs, did nothing to persuade my parents that I was doing the right thing.

They were very disappointed that I had dropped the idea of nursing, and felt that I was taking a backward step by becoming a catering assistant. But I was in love, and nothing was going to stand in my way, not even my parent’s disapproval. With all my clothes jammed into two suitcases, I packed myself into Peter’s small car and off we headed into the wide blue yonder.

Peter was in his last year of study, so I was not looking for a career. However, I did need a job that would also gave me a roof over my head. When I saw my drab little home, in the attic of the steak house, for the first time, I realised that I was not going to be enjoying the home comforts that I was used to.

About ten feet square, the room arched into the roof space, where cobwebs had been gathering since the building was erected in 1812. A single bed was pressed against the wall and dingy blue curtains flapped at the small grimy window. I thought for a minute that the window was open but on investigation discovered that it was the draft around the badly fitting glass that was the source of the wind tunnel effect in the room. There was an old, oak wardrobe and dresser and a chair in the corner.

Down the hall was the bathroom – shared by the five staff who lived in. Strangely, none of them seemed to be able find the cleaning products under the sink, left there for the purpose of removing stains from toilets and baths. I thought longingly of my room at home and the pristine bathroom next to it. Oh well, there was always love – wasn’t there?

I unpacked my two cases and changed into the uniform that had been provided.

My training was to take four weeks in total, with a week in each of the four departments in the steak house: Bar, Restaurant, Kitchen and Stock Control.

Because of my previous experience with accounts and retail, I was classified as ‘Assistant to the Assistant Manager’. What this really meant was ‘General Dogsbody’. If anybody was off sick anywhere in the establishment, I got to fill in for them. Actually, I rather enjoyed the variety that this offered and I soon made friends with the other live-in staff and managed to get myself into and out of some trouble along the way.

Peter was studying hard, and working a part-time job too. We only really saw each other on my evening off, and one other day a week. If I had stayed at home we would not have seen each other more than a couple times during term, so we counted ourselves lucky to have that.

The departments that I spent most time in were the bar and restaurant. The building, as I have mentioned, was built in 1812, and had some additions to the rear of the property where the kitchen was housed. The downstairs bar and restaurant were decorated in red flock wallpaper with red velvet seats and brown carpet. The ceiling was an interesting, mottled, tan and yellow colour. I thought it rather unusual and mentioned it to my boss. He laughed and said it was ‘tint de nicotine’, which also explained the smell that pervaded the place, masked by some kind of antiseptic smelling deodoriser. At the end of each day, my clothes and hair would reek of tobacco smoke, that lay like a layer of smog about six feet off the ground in the bar. Being so tall had its disadvantages, and I began to walk with a stoop to keep below the contamination layer.

The bar work was hectic and wet. The steak house was busy, particularly at the weekends. Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday lunchtimes, were manic. We would sometimes have a waiting list of up to two hours on a Saturday night, and of course, this meant that every table in the bar was packed. Most of the men drank beer and the women wine or lager. We were not into designer cocktails, at the time, so life behind the bar consisted mainly of pulling pints and making liqueur coffees for the after dinner crowd. The floor used to become slick with overflow from the pumps. Add spilt cream, peanuts and bottle tops and you have a skating rink. I once ended up sliding from one end of the bar to the other on my backside and still managed not to spill the Irish coffee that I had just made. Apart from being dog-tired at the end of each shift, nothing spectacular ever happened in the bar. That was reserved for the restaurant and kitchen.

After eight weeks, and on the resignation of the deputy restaurant manager, I was promoted. I have no idea why; except that I always accepted whatever job I was given and got on with it, generally without complaining. I was given a pay rise of two pounds a week, which was most welcome, and was also given two long black skirts for evening wear in the restaurant.

My first week went smoothly enough. Lunchtimes and evenings were busy, but nice and steady. Then Friday night arrived. We were booked solid – three sittings, from six in the evening through to last orders, at ten. What I had failed to realise, when I accepted this new position, was the amount of juggling one had to do.

The menu was simple enough, with a choice of only three starters, soup, pate or juice. The main courses were steak (in various disguises), chicken in red wine or fish and chips. You could have an ice cream or sorbet for dessert and this was included in your meal. The wine list was short and young, and so were the waitresses. The grill chef was experienced and could rattle out the orders like a conveyor belt, at least when he could read the waitresses writing.

The customers had to be in and out in just over an hour to enable us to lay the table up again for the next booking. Everything had to be timed to perfection. But not, I’m afraid, on my first Friday.

As a perfect recipe for disaster, you need to take: an inexperienced assistant restaurant manager; three sick waitresses, leaving five disgruntled ones; a grill chef with a hangover from lunchtime; two hundred hungry customers; and a dead mouse!

We suffered an evening of overbooking, wrong orders, meals taking twice as long to get to the customers, and a broken dish-washer that ate the cutlery.

By ten o’clock that night, I was running on adrenaline. I was clearing tables, and laying them up again, serving wine, replacing undercooked steaks, and seeing customers to their tables. I was perspiring. My feet hurt, and I thought that the evening would never end. The eating was at its peak – a frenzy of steak, fish, chips and ice cream. I paused by the entrance before using the microphone to call the next group of diners forward. I glanced down the aisle of tables and noticed that a customer was bent over retrieving his serviette from under the table.

His hand re-appeared not holding the red paper napkin as expected but a mouse, by its tail.
I do not remember consciously thinking about my next move. I dashed down the aisle with my hand outstretched. Just as the man went to stand up and wave his unexpected find around the room for all to see, and just before he opened his mouth to shout the news, I grabbed the mouse in mid stride and shot into the kitchen. I threw the offending creature into the nearest bin and shot back out again. The customer was still staring at his hand in mystification. The light had been dim, and my reaction fast. Could I get away with it? Adrenaline still pumping I walked calmly over to him.

‘Oh thank you so much for finding that stuffed mouse. The manager’s daughter was playing in here today, and would not go to sleep until we found Mickey.’

I could see that there was some slight hesitancy about accepting my fulsome approach.
‘Please have a liqueur coffee on the house as a thank you.’

That clinched it. He sat down, looked up and smiled.

‘That’s one for me and the rest of my party isn’t it?’ At least we had an understanding.

At the end of the night I collapsed in a heap, into a bath of lukewarm water, and wished myself a thousand miles away. No other night would be as bad, but I have never worked so hard as I did in that restaurant.

The mouse, unfortunately, had more work to do. The next day a waitress, who had spurned the attentions of the under chef, found Mickey served up, with chips and peas, on a plate in the warmer. The under chef was sporting a black eye for dinner that night.

We had fun too. Most of the customers just wanted a night out, with good food at a reasonable price. They were not looking for a posh restaurant, with fancy wine and snooty waiters. They enjoyed the bustle, and cracked jokes with the staff as they downed their steak and ice cream, and very few gave us trouble. Sometimes they got a little loud, especially if there was a delay in getting to their table. We did not give specific times at the weekend, we used a first-come-first-served basis. So they could be waiting for up to three hours for their turn. This could mean several pints and glasses of wine, and trouble. Most of it was easy to diffuse but we occasionally had to call to the kitchen for assistance. There is not much to match the sight of the large Irish chef, Paddy, and his two kitchen porters, Dave and Pete, in full riot gear charging up the restaurant rolling up their sleeves. One sight of the rescue team and peace was normally restored. I got quite philosophical about it in the end and little did I realise how this would stand me in good stead in my next job.

In my time at O’Ryan’s, there was only one job that I really did not like. On Sunday nights we did a stock take of the food. The business was successful because it provided good quality food at a very reasonable cost. This meant very strict portion control, down to the last pea. My job was to count everything that was left, on Sunday night, taking into account deliveries during the week, and then work out what had been sold, and how much wastage there had been. That was straightforward enough, but it was the physical counting of every item including the weighing of the bags of frozen peas that I found tedious.

What I found terrifying was the two hours at the end of the stock-take, where I sat in the office in the furthest end of the attic. I was not terrified because of the task in hand, but because for some strange reason, I would be covered in goose-bumps, and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. I kept on thinking that there was someone in the room with me and I would look over my shoulder, constantly, at the blank wall behind me.

This went on for several weeks, until one day I happened to be talking to an old boy that came in every day for his schooner of sherry. He was about ninety, and loved to spend a few minutes chatting with the girls. My break coincided with his second glass of sherry, and I would often sit with him and listen to his tales of his time up the Kyber Pass on his motorbike.

I asked him one day if he knew the history of the building. He smiled, and looked up at me from under bushy eyebrows.

‘Seen her have you?’ He whispered.

‘Seen who.’ I whispered back.

‘His wife, she haunts the place you know.’ He looked around him to ensure that no one else was within earshot.

‘Don’t want to scare the customers away do we?’ He cackled away into his sherry while I tried to decide if he was having a joke at my expense.

‘The man who built this place was a rich merchant.’ He continued swiftly.
‘After a few years he fell in love with a widow and tried to get his wife to leave him.’
He paused for effect.‘When she refused, he locked into the room at the end of the attic and starved her to death, then married the other one.’

Looking across the bar he swayed slightly in his seat and went quiet. I checked to see if he was still breathing. ‘Never forgave him, she didn’t, and has been haunting upstairs ever since. Must have annoyed her something rotten having starved to death and then them turn it into a bleeding steak house.’

He was laughing his head off and kept patting my hand as he rocked back and forth.

I still don’t know all the truth, but from that time on I would never sit in the office on my own at night, and bribed one of the other assistants to always sit with me.

Peter was not helpful, and thought that the whole thing was an elaborate story that the old boy made up to frighten us young girls in the restaurant. I should have realised at that point what a miserable imagination he had. But then he asked me to marry him – out of the blue – and all notions of ghosts and starvation were banished to the back of my mind.

He was coming to the end of his studies in Eastbourne, and had been offered a job, for six months, in a bank on the Isle of Wight. He wanted us to get engaged, and for us to live together before getting married, in a year or so. More disapproval on the horizon from certain parental quarters, of that I was sure. It would mean another job change, but that was okay. I had ceased to find the adrenaline rush at the weekends exciting and quite looked forward to a change of pace. What I did not expect was for it to get faster.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

Chapter Nine next time….a move to the Isle of Wight and the skinhead invasions.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – May 2nd – 8th 2022 – Voice of Indie, Hits 1994, Ella Fitzgerald, Guest Posts, Short Stories, Poetry, Health and Humour


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

A slightly different location for this week’s round up as I am set up in the kitchen whilst our office (that is the official dining room) is given a full makeover. Because we set up our computers in there six years ago it has not been decorated as part of the renovation so a big job ahead for David. We plan to move all our dining room furniture in there and make the kitchen diner our office going forward, as we think it is important when the house goes on the market there is another fully functional reception room. So we are making progress and another job ticked off the list…

There are boxes everywhere, some already packed up to be taken away as we declutter and the next few weeks will be a bit chaotic, but it is exciting to be getting on with something we planned to do before Covid.

Apart from that, we now have a few sunny days and I am taking full advantage of the garden. Sitting in the back of the house I am treated to a revue show put on by the crows, starlings, blue tits, sparrows and the resident robin as they enjoy breakfast, lunch and high tea before they go to bed. There is a large swimming pool that is well utilised, and whilst the starlings love to get in there and splash around, the other birds often join in and it is as wild as any pool party I have ever gone to. Very entertaining and distracting, and if I sit quite still, they forget I’m there and get up close and personal.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on Monday to share his thoughts on I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now about his love of Tap Dancing. The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1994 and for the next part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies has had another busy week on her blog D.G. Writes with a book review for the latest collection of poetry by Frank Prem – The Garden BlackA post on the ending of the positive blog series Goodbye We Are The World Blogfest And a powerful poem as part of Colleen Chesebro’s weekly challenge on Women’s Rights Taste the Rainbow Senyru

Debby will be taking us to St. Thomas this week in the Travel Column...and I hope you will join us for some sunshine and sparkling blue waters.

Carol Taylor has been to Cyprus this week to explore the wonderful fusion cuisine, shares a wonderful Chicken Pasanda recipe and one for pull apart garlic bread – do not eat all on your own…a food review on Ramen Noodles and should you be eating them…Monday Musings and Saturday Snippets featuring the word ‘candle’. You can catch up with all her posts by following the link to her Weekly Round Up. Carol will be with us on Wednesday with recipes to ensure you are getting sufficient magnesium

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 1st -7th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Candle” is my prompt.

On Wednesday I was the guest on the Voice of Indie podcast with presenters Beem Weeks and Gary “Stephen Geez” great to talk about life, books and publishing. You can listen on Blog Talk Radio Voice of Indie Episode 92 – Sally Cronin and you can comment on Twitter @VoiceOfIndie – You can also listen to the podcast and the other editions and comment on Voice of Indie Youtube episode 92 – And Spotify

If you would like to get in touch with the team Website/Blog: Beem Weeks – And: Stephen Geez

On with the show…..

Chart Hits 1994 Part One – Collective Soul, The Cranberries, Bruce Springsteen, MC Sar & The Real McCoy

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Four – The Collaborations

Chapter Six – Ladies Fashions and shop lifters

Chapter Seven – The Cosmetic Department

#MirrorCinguain -Storm Front by Sally Cronin Posted on May 7, 2022

Tales from the Irish Garden.. The Dapperman

#Action #Supernatural #AncientEgypt She who comes forth by Audrey Driscoll

Food Therapy – #Mushrooms – The Egyptians believed they granted immortality

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Darlene Foster

#Tapdancing by Jazz singer and composer William Price King

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Gwen M. Plano

#Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

#Poetry #Memoir – More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose by Lauren Scott

#Fantasy The Prince’s Heir (The Five Kingdoms Book 4) by Deborah Jay

May 4th 2022 – #Spotlights Winona Kent with The Story Reading Ape, Marcia Meara with John W. Howell, Robbie Cheadle with Colleen Chesebro, #Poetry Elizabeth Gauffreau

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin -Bathtub test and more Weird Facts

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Age and more Weird Facts

 

Thanks very much for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week.. Stay safe.. Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Seven – The Cosmetic Department – 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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time Imogen moves to ladies fashion and encounters some persistent shop lifters.

Chapter Seven – The Cosmetic Department.

The time I enjoyed most during my days at Huntley’s was my time in the cosmetic department.

I was nineteen, and into make-up, as most of my generation was at the time. This offered me the opportunity to sample anything that I wanted, within reason, as I was appointed ‘roving consultant’. This meant that I would be trained by the different cosmetic houses in their individual products, and on their regular consultant’s day off, I would take her place.

For example, one of the cosmetic firms offered a powder blending service to its customers. This involved checking the skin tones of the client and then mixing a specific blend of powders for their complexion. There was a base powder and about twelve different shades that could be added. We used a giant spatula to whisk the powder over the tissue paper with little pinches of the different shades added until the perfect blend had been achieved.

The combination was noted on the client card, and would then be made up to that recipe each time the customer needed it. The variety in my new position made my life much more interesting and I loved working with cosmetics and perfume.

The three months I spent there were very happy, and relatively uneventful except for one rather unexpected development.

I had been in the position about four weeks, and was practising my powder blending technique when a rather large, red, hand stretched across the counter towards me.

‘Have you something that might tone this down a little please?’ said a rather deep voice.

I looked up, a little startled by the depth of this female voice, to be confronted with rather a bizarre sight. She was very tall with broad shoulders that were draped with long blonde hair. She also sported a five o’clock shadow. I was rather taken aback, as this anomaly was something I had not previously encountered. My upbringing took, over and I stopped staring directly at her face and concentrated on the hand still being proffered to me.

‘I think that we might have a foundation that would tone down the redness,’ I offered.
‘I can then blend you a powder to ensure that it lasts all day if that would help?’

She smiled at me and perched on the little round stool the other side of the counter. The following half-hour was both informative and enjoyable. My new customer was funny and totally unconcerned by her strange appearance. She introduced herself as Dolly and regaled me with her recent escapades.

One of these escapades involved total hair removal from most parts of her anatomy. I had just seen her hands, which were red, and raw looking, from the treatment. I hazarded a guess as to the painful nature of the removal from the rest of her body. She was very frank about the five o’clock shadow and we discussed various methods of concealing this. As I came to the end of her particular powder blend, she leant across the counter and motioned for me to come closer.

Slightly reluctantly, I leant forward until I was staring at large eyes, below rather bushy eyebrows that were considerably darker than the cascade of blonde hair.

‘My real name is Arthur’ she whispered quietly. ‘I have to dress and live like this for a year before my operation.’

He moved back and looked at me expectantly. Looking back, he was obviously looking for the usual distaste and rejection of his circumstances, but I was too young and naïve to even understand what he meant by operation. At the time, I just felt sorry for him and he looked so pleased when we applied the new foundation and powder that I only felt satisfaction.

He paid his bill and left, and when I turned back from the counter, I found five or six other consultants looking on with bemused expressions. Some were shaking their heads and muttering something about ‘they won’t like that upstairs.’ I was pleased with a very good sale and really did not think too much more about it, until the next day that is.

I was stocking a shelf at the back of the department when one of the women came racing around the corner.

‘Imogen, Imogen, come quickly you’re wanted at the counter.’

I hurried across to where the manageress of the department was standing with arms crossed and a severe look on her face.

‘Deal with it Miss Baxter and get rid of them before our other clients see them.’ She hissed at me as I arrived panting at her side.

I glanced around her shoulder at the powder blending section and caught my breath. Standing tall and proud were too extremely elegantly dressed ladies. Unlike my previous customer, these two ladies were really only remarkable in their height and breadth of shoulder. On closer inspection, I could see that their legs, finely covered in sheer nylon, were rather on the chunky side. Large hands with long, lacquered fingernails were clasped in front of them as they waited patiently for attention.

The manageress was still glaring at me, and I realised that it was all down to me. I moved behind the counter and approached the expectant pair who smiled warmly at me.

‘Are you Imogen?’ the younger of the two asked. I nodded my head.

‘Our friend Dolly recommended you for all our cosmetic requirements and told us that you were very kind and helpful yesterday.’

I could feel a distinct coolness behind me, and guessed that my every move was being watched. It was decision time. I could either be rude, and turn these customers away, or do my job, which was to sell cosmetics. I chose to do my job, and fifty pounds later had reached my weekly target in just half an hour.

As I had started to serve my new customers, I had heard the sharp intake of breath behind me. There was a further gasp, as the two ‘ladies’ departed, vowing to tell everyone to come and see me, and that they would be back every month for their own requirements.

An hour later and I was upstairs in the General Manager’s office. My manageress had already been ensconced with Mr. Baxter for some time and she sat smugly in the corner as I stood before the desk.

‘Ah, Miss Baxter. We meet again.’ Mr. Dempsey looked up from some figures on his desk.’

‘I understand from Miss Fraser that you have been cultivating a rather interesting new clientele recently.’

I wasn’t sure if this was a question or a statement so waited to see what would come next.

‘Miss Fraser is concerned that it may affect our figures, as other clients may not feel comfortable being served in the same department as these, how shall I put it,’ he paused, ‘unusual customers.’

He looked directly at me.

‘What is your opinion Miss Baxter?’

I must be a magnet for trouble. There were staff in Huntley’s who had been there for thirty years and never even met the General Manager let alone been reprimanded twice in as many months.

What did I have to lose? I only had two months left; I could always go temping if necessary. I had never actually been fired before and I was always open to new experiences.

‘Mr Dempsey,’ I began my unprepared speech. ‘These customers are spending a great deal of money, it would not be good business to turn them away.’

I looked across the table to determine the reaction so far. Mr. Dempsey nodded slightly, and waited for me to continue. I thought quickly before opening my mouth again.

‘How about we set up the counter at the back of the department, near the side entrance, with all the usual products that these customers require. Then I could tell them that Huntley’s has done this so that we can provide a discreet service for them, offering a private consultation area.’

I waited while my proposal sank in. I could see, out of the corner of my eye that Miss Fraser was not exactly enamoured of the idea. If looks could kill, I would have been dead and gone.

‘Interesting Miss Baxter.’ Mr. Dempsey looked back down at the figures in front of him.

‘I would certainly be reluctant to turn away such good business, but at the same time it should not be at the expense of our regular customers.’

He continued, smiling slightly. ‘Very well, we will adopt your idea for a month and review the situation at that time. I will leave it to you to persuade these customers to be discreet and I will be keeping a close eye on the department on a regular basis.’

Further sharp intake of breath from the corner.

‘That is alright with you isn’t it Miss Fraser?’ Mr. Dempsey looked over at the rigid form to his left. Somehow, his tone brooked no argument, and I knew that the prospect of my new customers and constant surveillance by the General Manager was not the outcome Miss Fraser had hoped for. That stress was no doubt going to be passed onto me, in spades, during my remaining two months, but somehow, I didn’t care. Perhaps this stuffy environment could be changed after all, which would make the store a much more enjoyable place to work.

I was right, Miss Fraser took delight in criticising me on a constant basis. Tapping her watch if I arrived thirty seconds late, insisting on counter signing any cheques I took, implying to customers that I was very much the junior, and generally making my life as difficult as possible.

On the plus side, my little department did roaring business. My ‘ladies’ used the side entrance and would perch on the three bar stools on the other side of the counter while I concocted and experimented with various products to enhance their complexions. They completed my education in the ways of their alternate lifestyle.

* * *

Two months later and my appointment with nursing was just around the corner. I have mentioned that I had met Peter during the nine months I was at Huntley’s, and he was constantly nagging me to give up the idea of nursing, as he did not want me to go away for the next three years.

He was moving to Sussex to finish his studies and wanted me to go with him. I wavered, and in the end love won out. I had to figure a way of telling my parents of my decision. They would not be happy, but at nineteen you know it all and dive straight in where angels fear to tread.

Before I left Huntley’s I had one more brush with Mr. Dempsey. He had got into the habit of visiting the department two or three times a week. But once he was satisfied that our new programme was working, and that our other business was not being effected, he cut down his visits. Friday afternoon was his walkabout day and he usually ended up in our department around three in the afternoon.

On my last day, the girls, who had become friendlier over the last couple of months, took me out at lunchtime and plied me with drinks – perhaps they we hoping to be chosen to take over my lucrative business empire when I left?

I have never been able to drink at lunchtime and was well and truly under the weather by the time I returned to work. Miss Fraser was on holiday and her deputy, a decidedly warmer individual, decided that I perhaps should be occupied away from customers. She suggested that I might dress the three glass counters that contained our perfume and cosmetic displays. I was thrilled at the prospect of showing off my artistic ability and headed off downstairs to the basement where our window dressers lived.

I was left to my own devices and by three, I was finished. Mr. Dempsey entered the department and began his tour of inspection. He ended up standing next to me as I surveyed my handiwork.

In each of the three glass counters lay a solitary, replica, tree branch. Scattered across the bottom of the counter were handfuls of artificial rose petals. There was only one cosmetic item per display. A lipstick in one, open and on its side, a bottle of perfume with the cap off and a glass bottle of hand cream leaking its contents over the felt lining of the counter. But this wasn’t the best bit. Under each tree branch lay a stuffed dove, toes up and lifeless. I thought it was hysterical and tried vainly to keep this under control.

Mr Dempsey took in the three artistic offerings and finally turned to me.

‘I understand that you are leaving us today Miss Baxter.’

Looking up at his unsmiling face, I nodded, trying hard not to breathe alcoholic fumes directly into his face.

‘I extend my heartfelt good wishes to your next employer.’ He shook his head slightly.

‘We shall certainly miss your presence at Huntley’s.’ With that he turned and left the department and I had the distinct feeling that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

* * *

Andrew was laughing, and so was I. I had forgotten about the doves, and my efforts to interpret the atmosphere of that stuffy place, but looking back I also felt pride that I had stood up to the establishment and won some small victories.

‘It’s time for lunch and I have to get on with this damn paperwork or Elizabeth will want my hide.’ Andrew stood up.

‘I have some ideas about the sort of position that would be interesting for you and would offer you the opportunity to slip back into the work environment.’ He paused for a moment.
‘How about we get together on Friday, at midday to discuss the options?’

I was thrilled. Not only was there the prospect of a job, but I would get to see this man again. I wasn’t sure what was making my heart beat a little faster but I suspect it was not the thought of going back out to work.

He helped me on with my coat.

‘This has been a valuable exercise and I would like you to continue with the process over the next couple of days. Go through all the jobs that you held and look at them closely.’

He looked at me intently.
‘You need to understand both your abilities, and what you achieved because of them. You did a great thing for those transvestites at a time when public opinion was much more unforgiving.’

He smiled and took my hand.

‘I wish I had known that nineteen year old, she sounded like fun.’

Did that mean that he did not think that I was fun now? Somehow, the thought made me realise that it was stupid of me to think of him in any other way than as a person who would find me a job. After all, what an earth would an attractive man like him see in this middle-aged, overweight and frumpy person?

I turned towards the door.

‘I’ll look forward to seeing you on Friday.’ He opened the door and touched me gently on the shoulder.

‘Don’t forget be kind to yourself.’

Had he been reading my thoughts?

I smiled and headed out, past Elizabeth, and into the bustling high street.

I was hungry, but with new-found determination, I passed by the tantalising aroma of fish and chips wafting from the shop on the corner, and headed straight home. I was actually excited about this project and I couldn’t wait to re-live more good memories

The next position after Huntley’s beckoned. Catering Assistant at O’Ryan’s Steak House, near Peter’s college, in Sussex. First, however, there was something I needed to do.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

Chapter Eight next time….the fun of a busy steak house

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – April 25th – May 1st 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, Chart hits 1993, St. Kitts, Calcium, Poetry, Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Health and Humour


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

I hope all is well with you and in your neck of the woods.. Still busy in the house and garden and all the potting done now the frosts seem to have finished. This week I get moved out into the dining room as David gives our office a facelift… Luckily he has networked through the house so it does not cause too much of an upheaval.

We are still having issues with the Internet, and it is not giving us the speeds it should and dropped out completely at the beginning of the week. Because I schedule well ahead the posts are not impacted but fingers crossed it behaves better this coming week.

I have been invited to join the hosts Beem Weeks and Stephen Geez on Wednesday on the popular Voice of Indie Podcast and I am looking forward to meeting them both.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1993 and for the next part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies is recovering from Covid thankfully, but you know that it wasn’t going to stop her sharing so many of our posts on social media, and also publishing her own posts, including the third part of her adventures over the winter months.  If you are heading to Mexico for a vacation and in particular Puerto Vallarta, let Debby Gies​ be your guide.. in the last of her posts on her latest excursion, she shares how to get the best for your money in stores, trading at the beach, in the supermarkets and at the bar.

Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico Part 3, Fun, Sun, Shopping and Friends

Debby also took us to St. Kitts this week in the Travel Column... and if you head over you can also catch up with Debby’s other posts during the week .D.G. Writes

Carol Taylor shared her amazing recipes this week to ensure we are getting sufficient amounts of the vital mineral calcium, and she also shares some amazing Salmon recipes to complement the food therapy post this week.  As always Carol has been very busy on her own blog and you can catch up with all the action in her weekly round up including Food reviews, thoughts on what is going on in the world, recipes and health.

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 24th -30th April 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Salmon” and Saturday Snippets where “Blue” is my prompt.

As always my thanks to you for your visits, comments and sharing of posts to social media.. it is appreciated.. ♥

On with the show

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1993 Part Two – UB40, Mariah Carey, Meatloaf, The Proclaimers

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Three – The Eight Songbooks

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – Welcome to Saint Kitts #Caribbean

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Calcium the most abundant mineral in the body

Chapter Four – The Dental Practice

Chapter Five – Hair Pieces and The Shoe Department

Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge – #Choka – Origins

ales from the Irish Garden – Chapter Five – The First Banquet in the new Palace

Food Therapy Rewind- Salmon – Omega 3 on a Plate by Sally Cronin

#Crime #Thriller – Wings of Mayhem: The Mayhem Series: #1 by Sue Coletta

Book Reviews Round Up – April 2022 – #Psychological #Thriller Terry Tyler, #Biography S. Bavey, #1920s #Jazz Beem Weeks, #Shortstories Simon Van Der Velde, #Crime Sue Coletta

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Christopher Graham – The Story Reading Ape

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Toni Pike

#Children’s – Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam Hurdle

Host Malcolm Allen – Street Golf and Shopping

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Funnies and Weird Facts Part One.

 

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you will join me again next week… Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Five – Hair Pieces and The Shoe Department 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 the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time Imogen finds her job as a dental nurse has some interesting adventures involving missing teeth in x-rays.

Chapter Five – Hair Pieces and The Shoe Department by Sally Cronin

I lived in a naval town and it was inevitable that socially I would meet and go out with young naval officers. I was at a party one Saturday, when I was introduced to this very tall, good-looking guy. I was now nineteen and felt I looked stunning, in a new outfit that I had just bought. This included a false half-wig on a black velvet band. It was ash blonde, and if you pulled the band far enough forward it hid the true colour of your hair. It hung seductively down my back and swung with a very satisfying swish when I walked or danced. Combined with a short black velvet dress and knee-high black boots, I was ready to rock and roll.

He was a wonderful dancer. He threw me around the floor to the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart and held me close when slow music was playing. He was gorgeous and I could see all my girlfriends looking on in envy as I strutted my stuff. This was living! My fertile imagination went into overtime. I had just got to the bit where I stunned my parents by taking this Adonis home to meet them when my favourite Rolling Stones song blared out from the speakers. Brown Sugar. If ever there was a song to dance to this was it. I was flying, and it took several minutes for it to register that not only my partner but also several people around us had stopped dancing. Assuming that they were so stunned by my gyrations and flexible interpretations of the music that they had stopped to watch, I carried on playing up to my audience.

There were a number of poles supporting the roof of the dance floor. One was quite close by, and I avoided hitting it as I twirled on the spangled floor. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something hanging halfway up the pole, but I was busy and didn’t take much notice of it. By now about two dozen people were watching the performance and I was too intent on keeping them entertained. I whirled faster, got closer to the pole, and only then realised that the object hanging limply from a hook was my ash-blonde hairpiece.

I stood there, with my own hair pinned on top of my head covered by a stocking that held it firmly in place. I looked over at my Adonis to find a look of horrified fascination on his face. I grabbed the hair and dashed for the stairs, and the ladies.

I was wearing a little shoulder bag and had no coat, so a speedy retreat was possible. I ripped the stocking and pins from my own hair and legged it out the door and into a taxi home. I have never been so mortified in my life. Today I would have laughed it off and carried on, but at nineteen it was the end of my world and the stunning future I had envisioned for myself with Mr. Fantastic. I hadn’t even got his name, but thankfully he hadn’t got mine either.

Two days later, still squirming from my ordeal, I attended my interview for acceptance into the Queen Alexandra Nursing Service. It was held over in Gosport, at the naval hospital, and along with twenty other hopefuls, I undertook a day of testing and medical examinations.

Eye tests, weight, blood pressure, heart and lungs all checked out. This was conducted by a very severe looking nursing sister and then we were passed on to a doctor for a full medical.

At nineteen, I was not sure what this entailed, and was rather concerned to be asked to remove all my clothing and don a backless hospital gown.

Holding this gown in place with one hand behind my back, I was led, nervously, into the examining room. A head was bent over some notes and I was escorted behind a screen and told to hop up on the examining couch. The nurse loosened the ties behind the neck of the gown and stood at the head of the couch. The curtains parted and the doctor entered. Now I know what a rabbit feels like, paralysed in the glare of the headlights. There before me in a white coat with stethoscope at the ready was my Adonis.

I seem to have blocked out much of the next twenty minutes. The experience was so traumatic that I can only barely remember being escorted out of the door and being told to get dressed. I have no doubt that the examination had been carried out very professionally and in accordance with medical guidelines, but to this day, when I am faced with the same situation, I need a stiff drink to get me into the surgery.

Despite my trauma, I was accepted for training. Unfortunately, the next intake was not for eighteen months, so in the meantime I had to find a job to earn my living.

Huntley’s Department Store, in the next town was looking for staff for Christmas and I decided that I would do some temporary work until it was time to enrol for training. Looking back, I think that perhaps I was actually looking for an excuse not to go ahead with the nursing, certainly with the Navy. The whole experience had been so humiliating that I kept re-playing it in my mind, over and over again. It did not improve with time.

Then fate took a hand, and three months later I met Peter and plans changed. I fell in love and he persuaded me not to tie myself down to three years training, as we would not be able to see each other very often.

Despite my feelings of utter humiliation at the time, I have often regretted not going ahead with my nursing. It was not the first, nor the last time that I allowed Peter to take control of my life and perhaps if I had stuck to my guns then, I would not now be in this situation.

* * *

I think that Andrew could sense that I was about to get maudlin and he got up and went to the door of the office.

‘Elizabeth, can you organise another pot of tea for us please, and give me a shout when you are going for lunch?’

He came back and sat down opposite me.

‘Look, Imogen, I think that this exercise is very valuable and that we should talk about your time at Huntley’s and then call it a day.’

He smiled at me reassuringly.

‘I have a fair idea, after spending the last couple of hours with you, what kind of person you are. I have a few options that I would like to explore, but I need a couple of days to sort them out. How about we finish up in half an hour or so and get together on Friday morning.’

Of course, I said yes. In the space of two hours, this man had made me look at myself in a new way. For far too long, I had allowed Peter and the children, to take over my life, and I had forgotten who I was. Talking about the past brought back memories which had been buried under the day-to-day demands of family and house. I was excited, for first time in years, about what prospects lay ahead.

The tea arrived and we sipped it in companionable silence for a few moments, while I collected my thoughts. I had served in three departments in the nine months that I had been at Huntley’s.

When I completed my initial two-day training course – learning about cash handling, and the store rules, I was sent straight to the Shoe department. Later I moved on to Ladies Clothing and then to Cosmetics, and I can tell you that if anyone assumes that serving in a department store is boring, they need to think again.

As I thought back, incidents long buried came to the surface.

When I arrived in large shoe department on the top floor I met the manageress and three other staff. The staff had been Huntley employees for at least a hundred years by the look of them. Thankfully, I had the experience of working with FB, who was fifty years older than me, but that still did not prepare me for my initiation.

One particular lady was a spinster. From my nineteen-year-old perspective, she looked ancient. On reflection, she was probably only about fifty, but had not worn well. I remember her hair especially, as the poor woman suffered from hair loss – and, like many men with the same problem, combed some long strands across the top of her head. She was very unfortunate in being very tall, almost my height, and rather bird like. I don’t mean sparrow; more ostrich-like with a slightly bulgy-eyed, startled, look. When I was introduced to her, she sniffed and said begrudgingly.

‘Pleased to meet you, I’m sure.’ Not in the most sincere tones.

My worst fears were realised when the manageress teamed me up with ostrich for my further training in shoe salesmanship. Believe it or not, there is quite a bit of technical knowledge required to sell shoes effectively. Apart from the adult sizes with their different width fittings, we also sold a brand of children’s shoes that came with its own X-ray machine. I kid you not; we must have irradiated half the child population of the town. The machine stood waist high and you placed your feet in a slot set into the metal casing. You then looked into an eyepiece and you could see the bones in your feet. This enabled you to check that the child was not squeezed into their new shoes and that there was plenty of room for growth. I assume that these machines were checked for safety, but it is funny how you don’t see them around anymore.

Apart from the technical aspects of the job, Ostrich was also instructed to introduce me to the commission system. She did this with far more glee than she approached other aspects of my training, which should have made me suspicious.

Apparently, when you sold a pair of shoes, you cut out the front of the box they came in, put your initials on the front and gave it in at the end of the week to the wages department.

My sales training from the seafront came in very handy and I was delighted to sell six pairs of shoes my first week. Ostrich kindly offered to hand my box ends on the Saturday, along with her own. This would have meant two shillings a pair, which would have given me twelve shillings extra on top of my eight-pound basic wage. The commission did not appear but ostrich assured me that this was because it was paid a week in arrears.

The second week, I sold twelve pairs of shoes and so earned a commission of twenty-four shillings. Again Ostrich handed over our box ends and when I checked my pay slip, I saw that I had the twelve shillings from the last week. The next week the Ostrich was off sick and surprise, surprise when I checked my pay slip, I saw that in fact I was paid commission for that week, not in arrears at all.

I worked out that the Ostrich had changed the initials on the first week’s sales and on six of the second. If she had not been sick, I would never have noticed the deception until my last pay packet when it would have been too late to do anything about it.

The Ostrich had been there in the shoe department for sixteen years. Who was going to believe a junior assistant who had only been there two weeks? When she returned to work, I said nothing, but from then on, I handed my own box ends into the manageress on Saturdays.

I wondered how many other juniors had been caught by that little scam and decided that on my last day, whenever that might be, I would put things right. Fortunately, before I had to take action, the Ostrich left for some ‘undisclosed’ reason!

Apart from the Ostrich, I enjoyed my job. I liked meeting different people every day, and selling them shoes that made them feel good.

Most customers were pleasant and polite. The odd one who was grumpy was a challenge, firstly to cheer up and then to send away with the most expensive pair of shoes I could get away with.

There was one customer, in particular, however, who was in a league of her own. Very elegant, beautifully dressed, hair immaculate and already wearing very expensive shoes. She indicated two or three pairs of shoes that she wished to try on and sat down and removed one of her own shoes. She lifted one slim stockinged leg onto the sloped footstool and then lifted her foot into the first shoe I had brought out. I carefully shoehorned her foot into the shoe. I glanced up and noticed that her skirt had ridden up over her knees and that she was rather exposed. And I do mean exposed; she was wearing no knickers. I was totally shocked.

How could anyone go out without any knickers, had she forgotten? She lifted the other foot, placed it in the matching shoe, and stood up. I prayed that she would choose them and not want to try anymore on, but no, she tried on five more pairs before choosing three of them. I kept a smile plastered in place but knew that I was bright red with embarrassment. How she didn’t notice I have no idea. Perhaps she did, and enjoyed it immensely, and I wonder now if, in her seventies, she still goes knickerless to embarrass shoe shop assistants.

At the end of three months, I was asked if I would like to stay on for an extra six months, and work in the ladies fashion department. I was still in two minds about going into nursing as planned, so I decided that this was as good as any place to work in the meantime.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

Chapter six next time with Ladies Fashions and shop lifters

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022