Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Fashion Department and Shoplifters by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin

After six months of sheep farming in Dolgellau, we returned to Liverpool to live. I needed to get back into full time employment if we were to save our deposit for our own home. David continued to go back and forth to Wales a couple of days a week, but we were now officially city dwellers.

David already had a flat that he rented, but his landlady told us that we would have to leave as it was single occupancy only. What she really meant was single sex occupancy, as she didn’t have a problem with the two girls living together in the top flat. But she assumed no doubt that the first thing we would do is to have a baby. Anyway, we were not going to argue, although there was nothing in the lease to indicate this condition of tenancy.

We found a flat in Tuebrook, which is a suburb of Liverpool, and closer to the city centre where I was applying for jobs. At this time we were pretty broke and the flat had seen better days. The fact that the corner shop protected its assistants behind security bars, should have been an indication of what we might expect. However, we reckoned that with me working we could be out of there in a year. Our lady was Chinese and charming, collecting the rent each Friday and also emptying the electric meter that we were convinced was rigged. It ate two shilling pieces as though they were chocolate buttons, and I was paranoid about running out of coins with us being plunged into darkness. Anyway, I always knew when she was coming up the bare uncarpeted stairs, as she had a wooden leg which was a bit of a giveaway.

I attended a couple of interviews and was offered the position of manager for an expensive women’s fashion brand, which rented space in a large department store in the city centre. I was only 27 and found myself responsible for a team that had been holding the fort for longer than I have been alive. Still they were very welcoming and happy to show me the ropes, although one aspect of the job I had not expected, was to be the only one young enough to chase shop lifters. If you have read my story of my first job along the seafront, you will know that this was actually listed as one of my skills!

Every three months we would receive the new season’s clothing range. This included skirts, tops, jackets, suits, dresses and coats that were the favourites of the shorter, middle-aged woman. They were classy, and we sold many outfits for the mothers of both bride and groom, and for the 1980s, they were quite expensive. This made them very popular with another kind of customer; the ones who were more interested in not paying anything for them.

There were a number of ways that our clothes were liberated from their hangers without detection. For example, a young mother with a child in a pushchair, would wend her way through the rails and then walk away seemingly empty handed. Except that the child in the push chair would somehow be now hanging over the front bars with its bum in the air. You have to be quick to grab a jacket off a hanger, fold it and tuck it under your baby or behind it.

Another way to shoplift merchandise required the assistance of the escalator up to the next floor. In their wisdom, the shop fitters had placed two rails along the wall beneath the escalator to hold jackets and suits. Three young males would get on the escalator with a couple of steps between them. The middle one would duck down, as the one at the back would grab a hanger with a suit on, throwing it to him to stuff in a black bin bag; the one in front acted as look out. Give them their due, they were well practiced at the manoeuvre; blink and you missed it.

Every morning the team and I would conduct a stock take of the garments on the racks and shelves, and again at the end of the day. We would then compare this against incoming stock and items sold. If there was a discrepancy, we would double check, but it usually meant we had been robbed.

You only lost so many items before head office was on your case, so we had to become smarter that the thieves, as we were sustaining quite big losses. The team would split up in the department; only one person would take payment for sold items at the cash desk, leaving as many staff on the floor as possible at all times. Women with babies in pushchairs were greeted and escorted until they left the department. Despite this increased vigilance we were still losing more items than we should. Until one day, when I was helping a lady on with a spring coat, and happened to look up to see three stooges on the escalator, helping themselves to one of the new suits.

With a rapid ‘excuse me’ to my customer; leaving her in the capable hands of one of my team. I legged it over to the escalator, running up the steps behind the thieves, who were busily stuffing my expensive suit into their bin bag. I think possibly it was my colourful language that alerted them to their pursuer, and they all turned to stare down at me as they reached the top of the moving staircase. By this time I was almost upon them, and as a distraction they threw the bag with its stolen suit at me. I caught it deftly, throwing it in turn to a member of store staff, approaching to see what the kerfuffle was about.

The lads rushed over and leapt onto the descending escalator, taking the steps two at a time. They were daft if they thought I was giving up. I shot after them and down the next escalator to the ground floor. They had to cross the expanse of the cosmetic department to make it to the outside and safety, but looking around, I couldn’t see any of the security staff to call on for assistance.

The customers who were busy shopping, looked up to see these three itinerants making their escape, pushing through the crowd, and also at an obviously irritated woman giving chase. I decided to make best use of the audience, and proceeded to announce in a loud voice that I was chasing shoplifters. The crowd began to laugh as the boys finally reached the exit, pushing through the swing doors with much blasphemy and red faces. What was quite interesting, was with my announcement, several other customers also made for the exits hastily!

I turned to find three store detectives standing behind me; arms crossed and disapproving looks on their faces. Apparently they wouldn’t apprehend groups of thieves, as they were usually armed with knives. My adrenaline was still up and I gave them a piece of my mind; after all it was not their jobs on the line when stock went missing. I approached the escalator to head up to the first floor and my department, only to find the general manager of the store at the top, waiting for me; also with his arms crossed.

Anyway, I of course was told off, mainly because for fears for my safety, but also for telling the customers we had a shop lifting problem. However, I did get the fixture changed next to the escalator by getting rid of the top rail, and word must have got around about the mad woman, as thefts from our department dropped dramatically.

©Sally Cronin

On Wednesday I swap fashion for cut glass crystal and nearly get a smashing start to the job……… and I meet Sherlock Holmes.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and .. and I hope you will join me on Wednesday for the next episode.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs -The Sheep Farm by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

 The Sheep Farm – Indignant Rams and Black Sheep by Sally Cronin.

When my husband and I were first married, we had to stay in Wales for another six months, whilst he completed a research project in the mountains. We needed somewhere to live and being November and out of season, he managed to find us a flat to move into on the hillside above Dolgellau. The flat was part of an old farmhouse owned by a couple who I knew as regular dinner guests to the hotel, and it was a great arrangement.

After a few weeks of idleness and enjoying being a new wife, I decided that perhaps there might be a way to pay our rent and get some exercise. The rent we saved would be put towards a deposit of our own home; very high on our priority list. I approached my friend and landlady, asking if I might help out on their hill farm, where they kept a flock of several hundred sheep. She was more accustomed to seeing me in long dresses and heels, showing guests to their tables in the hotel, than walking up Cader Idris, but after she stopped laughing, she agreed to give me a trial run.

I went out and bought suitable clothing, which bearing in mind the time of year, involved waterproof boots and fleeced wet weather gear. It was early December and snow was not unexpected, and you did not want to be caught up at altitude inadequately dressed. I will admit that the first two or three days left me breathless, resulting in me giving up cigarettes (no bad thing). It also served to remind me how unfit I was. However, by the second week, I was hitting my stride.

We could take the Land Rover almost as far as the sheep who had moved down from the top grazing to avoid the worst of the weather. By this time, and with some snow on the ground, they needed some additional feed, and we would carry the bales of hay from the vehicle up to them, spreading it out on the frozen ground. It was time nearly time to bring the flock down for a very important event.

Not the sheep of my day.. but you get the idea..

The rams in the flock were fitted with a special device that marked the backs of the female sheep as they impregnated them, each with its own specific colour. This told you which sheep had been covered and was likely to be pregnant, and also if a ram was disinclined to breed and therefore needed replacing (mutton). But now it was time to separate the rams from the flock as their job was done. To do this the entire herd was brought down the mountain with the help of one sheepdog, to a large barn which was separated into two areas. A large one and then a smaller part that was fenced off where the rams would be penned away from the rest of the flock. They having done sterling service they would be taken to another part of the farm, to a field where they would have to amuse themselves for the next six months.

My boss said she would head back to the main farm to collect the two other sheepdogs so they could help separating the rams from the flock, which numbered a couple of hundred sheep. I was left to twiddle my thumbs, but being keen to help and save time, I spotted the rams as they jostled amongst the ewes, and decided that I might as well get started. I did have the benefit of watching some Australian sheep shearing documentaries and using a technique I had observed, I managed to manhandle the rams out of the flock using their horns and a helping hand up their backsides (I was wearing gloves). In about an hour, rather sweaty and not a little exhausted, I had the rams safely barricaded in their own bachelor quarters.

A little while later my boss arrived with two very eager sheepdogs that stood with their owner, completely bemused by the fact that they were now redundant. Apparently, this was not the traditional way to split the rams from the flock, but by the look on the faces of the watching ewes, they found the spectacle more than satisfying.

I discovered a great deal more about sheep during the winter months and their tough lives on the Welsh mountainsides. With the snow down even on the lower slopes where the sheep remained, it was difficult to find them against the white ground covering. This is where the black sheep of the flock comes in handy. Not only is she an older and wiser matriarch who knows where the best grazing is to be found, she is also a beacon to locate her flock who always stayed close to her.

In the spring came the life-affirming task of lambing, and it certainly is a miracle of nature. To protect the newborn lambs from crows and foxes, we would mark their foreheads with a smear of tar; hoping its offensive smell would deter predators. This odd job of mine created some lovely memories and I used my experience in one of my short stories in my first collection.

©Sally Cronin 1999

On Monday I swap wellington boots for stilettos as I take on the job of running a women’s fashion department in Liverpool.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Oct 12, 2020 Gwendolyn Plano rated it it was amazing

Just An Odd Job Girl is an entrancing read. The spirited writing of Sally Cronin quickly captures readers and draws them to the utterly delightful character of Imogen. One challenge after another emerges, only to be surmounted by Imogen’s ingenuity and good luck.

I laughed through much of the book, shed a few tears, and otherwise enjoyed the literary ride. This is an inspirational novel, one that will warm your heart, resonate with past experiences, and bring you to the realization that all is possible, and all is purposeful.

At a time when chaos appears to rule our lives, this book shows us otherwise. I strongly recommend it

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and on onday I swap country life for the city back in Liverpool… and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Boarding School Housekeeper/Caterer by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared the adventures running a pub on the Isle of Wight for two years with skinheads enjoying their booze cruises…

Boarding School Housekeeper/Caterer

After a few unsuccessful attempts to keep our marriage together, my first husband and I finally split up. All our furniture and belongings were in storage, as our accommodation at the pub we ran was fully equipped. I headed off with two suitcases into a B&B for a few weeks and took some temporary jobs, as I looked for something more permanent. At the beginning of December, and now almost broke, I applied for the position of Housekeeper/Caterer at a public school in Sussex.

I went for the interview and my experience in steak house management, and also mass catering in the pub were very useful. Two days before Christmas I received a telegram asking me to report to the school on the 6th of January. My new living quarters were the ground floor of one of the farm cottages attached to the school, right opposite the pig sheds which infused my new home with an alluring aroma. The children were expected back on January 11th and my first job was to buy in the supplies to feed 120 children and 30 school and domestic staff.

I was lucky to walk into a brand new and purpose built dining hall and kitchen, which was a real bonus. I had one permanent assistant, and the housekeeping staff would also help at meal times. I spent the next few days ordering from the main dry goods supplier and local butcher and fish merchant. I also had to work out staffing rotas for the cleaning and maintenance of the residential areas of the main house and classrooms, which were my responsibility too. I planned the menus for the next four weeks so that I could buy certain foods in bulk which saved money. I also need to organise my own timetable, as I would be cooking four meals a day, seven days a week as well as checking on the housekeeping side twice a day. On Fridays one of my staff who had some cooking experience, would cook lunch, which to the delight of the children was always superb fish, chips and peas. That gave me some time to explore the local area and take a breather.

The children started the day with juice, cereal or porridge, and a cooked breakfast with a piece of toast with tea or milk. Let me tell you how daunting it is on your first day in the job to fry 150 eggs rotating through six large frying pans, watch flats with bacon in three ovens whilst toasting 150 slices of bread both sides, without burning, on two large wall-mounted grills which took 30 slices at a time. All dished up by 8.15 when juice, porridge or cereal was finished.

Table prefects would come and collect the serving platters and toast racks, allowing me to start my rounds of the dining-hall to make sure that each child ate all their breakfast. Twice a week, I would start half an hour earlier at 6a.m, so that I could crack 140 eggs into a giant Bain Marie to gently scramble. I would say the overall favourite breakfast was sausages and beans and fried bread, which disappeared in a heartbeat.

No sooner had the kitchen been cleaned and the crockery and cutlery sent through the washer, and it was time to do the lunch preparation. Even back then, I cooked food from scratch, instead of relying on the frozen entrees that were available for mass catering. The boys and handful of girls at the school soon became accustomed to eating Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Lasagne as well as roast dinners with all the trimmings. There was always rice, potatoes or pasta and at least two vegetables. Dessert might be Apple Charlotte, Cherry Pie, Rhubarb Crumble, Spotted Dick all served with custard.

I did use frozen vegetables at times, but I did a deal with local farmers to take their odd shaped vegetables and fruit, and found a free range egg farmer who delivered stacks of eggs at the beginning of the week. Fresh fish was delivered every Friday to be coated in crispy batter with home-made chips.

Before I arrived all the main meals would be delivered to the tables in serving dishes and the table prefect would dish up. I was not sure that every child was eating a balanced diet so I changed the process. All the children would line up with a plate, and three of us would fill the plate with a portion of every item. Once they were all seated I would walk around the dining-room chatting to them and making sure that it was all being eaten.

There was short break in the afternoon as High Tea was served at 6pm, which might be beans on toast, egg or cheese and tomato sandwiches, homemade beef burgers, cake and a piece of fruit, with tea or a glass of milk.

Wednesday and Saturdays when we have visiting teams from neighbouring schools for cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter, there would be a games tea at 4.00pm. A variety of sandwiches and cake with milk or squash would keep them going until the official tea time.

My last cooking for the day was for the teaching staff which usually involved preparing a quiche and salad, risotto or chicken pie and potatoes and vegetables with fresh fruit salad. My working day finished at around 9.00p.m as the last plate went into the dishwasher.

Although during term time that was a heavy workload, over half-term and holidays I usually stayed in my cottage, and apart from making sure the housekeeping and grounds were maintained, I had plenty of time off. Most half-terms, a handful of children, whose parents lived abroad, stayed at school and we would go on outings and have picnics in the grounds. Meal times were much more relaxed and we would eat together with treats such as ice-cream.

I also had the company of Erin the goat, the school mascot who had the freedom of my garden every day. I would sit on a bench reading a book and he would pop over from time to time for a treat. On one occasion I had gone in to make a cup of tea and came back to find he had eaten half my book. The half I had not read yet!

There was not much time for a social life outside of school, but at the time, it was just what I needed to get back on my feet again. I became close friends with some of the live-in teaching staff and the matrons, and that too was something that eased the heartbreak I had been through.

It was a different time forty years ago in the public school system and despite some of the evidence that has come to light of ill-treatment or abuse I did not witness any of that. I have to say that every effort was made to feel that the children were living in a homely and warm environment. Most of the children thrived and for those who had just arrived and were feeling homesick, there were pancake making classes and they were appointed as pea and vegetables dispensers at lunchtime.

My time in the school and some of the characters I met there have been included in one of my books.

I might have exaggerated when I said it felt like feeding the 5,000… But I did cook over 3,000 meals a week, which in a school year amounts to 120,000 plates of food.

After 18 months, things were not going well on the divorce front, with some disturbing threats  being made, I decided to get as far away as possible. I applied for the job of senior receptionist in a luxury hotel in Mid-Wales in the Snowdonia National Park.

©Sally Cronin 2020

On Monday after 18 months in the Sussex countryside I travel to the far side of the UK to a hotel in Wales.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Monday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Pub Landlady – Cowes – Isle of Wight by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared the ghostly happenings in the Victorian restaurant that were associated with a gruesome secret.

Pub Landlady – Saturday Night Shenanigans #Cowes

Following my management training with a well-known steak house chain and six months as assistant manager at one of their branches in Eastbourne, we were appointed as managers of a pub at the entrance to Cowes Harbour. A yachting centre and home to the Cowes Week regatta each year. I was twenty-three and eager for the challenge.

It does amuse me slightly when people tell me that they dream of retiring and running a pub in the country. This is not a job for the faint-hearted and I am afraid the hours you need to put in are far longer than opening times. It is seven days a week and most pubs now are expected to serve food at lunchtimes and evenings, with drinking habits changing considerably over the last couple of decades. It is hard work and with increasing regulations to comply with, it can also be daunting. Not all customers are going to pop in for a quiet pint and go quietly on their way, and in some cases it can turn nasty within a few minutes.

The pub that we were appointed to in Cowes had been run for thirty years by the previous tenants. The clientele out of season, October to June, were the regular yacht crowd and a slightly older generation who came in for half of beer and a sandwich. We took over before Easter and my responsibility was to cook bar snacks at lunchtime and in the evening. I paid the brewery rent, running it as my own business, so had a certain amount of leeway. Having found the formula and tight portion control effective during my time with the steak house, I applied myself to creating a tasty but profitable menu.

Weekends were the busiest times as we had two large balconies that looked over the entrance to the harbour and out into the Solent. As we got into our stride and the summer season began, I could be serving 100 lunchtime snacks from my small kitchen and in the evenings, even more chicken, scampi and sausage and chips in a basket, flew out of the serving hatch from opening to closing time.

This was great, and we congratulated ourselves on our luck of landing such a great pub and its position. Then the summer cruises from Southampton began in the June and we found out what the locals had meant when they said…. ‘Just you wait!’

The trouble actually began on board these cruises as alcohol flowed cheaply and in great quantities. By the time the passengers arrived in Cowes an hour later, most were well inebriated and wanted to continue the spree. They landed at the far end of the high street from us and yet the flood ran unabated the entire length. The first Saturday we experienced this, we had wondered why our regulars, who would come in for their supper and pint were all missing. Then we heard a rumbling roar as if a tidal wave was about to pour through the double doors. Which it did as 200 or so skinheads swept into the bar; lining up noisily to be served more booze.

Luckily we tended to have more staff on for Saturday nights but clearly we were overwhelmed. Our new customers were not in the mood to eat, just to drink, and I went behind the bar to help out. They had about 90 minutes drinking time before embarking on their return cruise, and they had little interest in going out on the balcony to admire the sunset over the Solent. We served beer as quickly as possible, but no sooner had you cleared one wave, there was another shouting and swearing behind them. That first week they came and went without incident but we were not so lucky in following weeks.

Of course not all skinheads were out for a grand finale to the night with a good punch up. However, some were intent on getting drunk as quickly as possible, and things could kick off in an instant. Even then there were strict laws about serving drinks to minors and those who were already legless. The local police were out in force on Saturday nights in the high street, but even they would have found it difficult to determine the age of some of these lads and their ladies, let alone convince one of them that you were not going to serve them any more alcohol. We were legally obliged to be open for business because we belonged to a brewery who expected us to maximise takings. We had little option but to manage staff and security levels to ensure a smooth running operation.

Things came to a head about four weeks in, when the dreaded influx fell into the bar. I had bought a pick axe handle and it was displayed over the entrance to my kitchen in full view. Underneath were the immortal words. Attitude Adjuster. That night a fight broke out in the centre of the bar area and it was mayhem. I grabbed my attitude adjuster and shoved my way into the arena, where all the action was taking place, and managed to get a few of the combatants’ attention by shouting at the top of my voice. All went quiet as they were confronted by a very angry woman circling a pick axe handle around her head slowly but with intent! No doubt today I would be arrested for being in possession of a lethal weapon…but to be honest at the time, I really didn’t care.

In fact after that, word must have got out, that bad behaviour would not be tolerated and things quietened down somewhat. But, over that summer I was threatened by broken beer bottles, a good kicking and other repercussions. The police actually did us a favour by parking their vans outside our pub in the street, which deterred the more belligerent, and my kitchen after hours was used as a tea and sandwich spot for those going off duty.

Cowes Week was another highlight of the year, and we were warned that although the customers during that seven days were of a different age and temperament, that it would at times get very busy and difficult to manage. Firework Night in particular drew a huge crowd because of the two big balconies where you could view all the action. In preparation we had all the furniture taken out, plastic glasses for drinks and the only food served was sandwiches without any potentially hazardous cutlery. All week we had employed bouncers for the door, who were moonlighting wardens from Parkhurst top security prison, and doubled this up on Firework Night. Thankfully the two such celebrations during our time running the pub, passed off without major commotions.

I fictionalised this time in the pub in Just an Odd Job Girl along with some of the characters that I met. Looking back at myself at twenty-three years old, I wondered at my ability to accept the summer shenanigans in my stride. Despite these incidents most of our days were unadventurous and wonderful experience for my future jobs, where I needed to be able to adapt and react quickly.

However, perhaps you can understand my amusement when people say that they dream of retiring and running a pub. Anywhere where people and booze come together has the potential to become interesting very quickly, even in a sleepy county village.

©SallyCronin 2020

On Friday after three years in Cowes I arrive in the Sussex countryside as the Housekeeper/caterer in a boarding school.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Friday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Steak House Part Two by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

Last time I shared my first few months of training an assistant manager for a steak house chain in the 1970s and my encounter with a furry individual that was a gift that kept giving.

The Steak House Part Two – Counting Peas and a Ghost Story

The steak house I was working in, as I pointed out in my previous post, was cheap and cheerful. You could go out as a family on a Saturday night, and if I remember correctly you would get a prawn cocktail, steak, chips and peas and an ice-cream for under £5.00.

Portion control was ferociously maintained with specifically sized scoops for the chips and peas, ensuring that every portion that went out was identical. This was the only way to protect the slender profit margins, although because we made guests wait for an hour at least, during peak times, we made it up on sherry and beer sales.

As a trainee manager, one of my jobs was the weekly stock take. I would begin after the last orders had been served from the kitchens at 9.30pm, heading into the large walk in coolers that held the fresh produce before checking the upright freezers. Every steak was exactly the same weight, as were the chicken halves. Large bags of prawns, frozen chips and peas that had already been opened, had to be weighed and noted in my large A3 stocktaking book. I also had to count the number of sauce bottles, salt and other condiments, as well as noting rejected food that had been returned.

After stock checking in the kitchens, I would head down to the cellars, where our back up stocks were kept in freezers and shelves, and count every packet and box.

I would then climb up three flights of stairs to the office in the attic of this 1820’s building; leaving the other staff to clear up the bars and restaurants, I would gather all the collected food receipts from the week and tally the number of meals for each course we had served. For example: the most popular meal of rump steak, chips and peas.

I would use the stock take totals from the week before, adding in deliveries of the various ingredients during the week; giving me a starting balance. I would then deduct the number of steaks, chicken or fish meals that had been served, which should leave me with same amount I had just counted.

If that figure was out by even one steak, half a chicken or piece of battered cod, I would need to go back downstairs and check.

That in itself was not such a problem, but the same applied to the chips and the peas. Each scoop of peas served to a customer weighed 2 ounces. I would calculate the number of meals served (virtually all of them), multiplying that number by 2 ounces to reach the total weight of peas used during the week. Being peas rather than the more expensive main ingredient options, there was a little more latitude in the discrepancy, but more than 16 ounces, and I would have to go and investigate further.

As you can imagine, doing all this manually was a mammoth task. It was a Sunday night getting on for midnight, after a very long week of fourteen to sixteen hour days. I was already tired and it was easy to miss a handful of peas or chips!

The office in the attic was not very welcoming; being rather grim and chilly. After a few weeks, I began to notice that about an hour into my calculations, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. Even more disconcerting was that I felt I was being watched.

I tried not to be a baby about it and put it down to drafts in the roof and through old windows. But I really began to dread that Sunday night chore that left me alone in the office.

One of our regular customers at lunchtime was an old soldier of ninety, who interestingly, had been one of the first men up the Khyber Pass on a motorbike. (As you can guess he has featured as a character in one of my stories). He used to potter in around mid-day and have a large schooner of medium sherry. I was due my break around that time, and I would often join him with my coffee and listen to his war stories. He had some fabulous tales to tell, and one day I asked him if he knew the history of the house as he had been living in the area most of his life. The conversation went something like this.

‘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 her 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 if this was the truth, but from that time on I would never sit in the office on my own on a Sunday night, bribing one of the other assistants to sit with me. Interestingly, after a couple of weeks they said the place must be very drafty as they got the shivers, and the hair stood up on the back of their neck!

©Sally Cronin 2020

On Wednesday – Pub Landlady – Saturday Night Shenanigans in Cowes on the Isle of Wight

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Wednesday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Steak House Part One – Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

To set the scene I am going to repeat my series from early 2018 which shared the background to the stories in the book that I elaborated on and fictionalised. As a bonus I will also be including some other jobs that were not in the book that might also be considered a bit different. For example, flogging bull semen at agricultural shows to selling ‘similar’ top end perfumes in the East End of London. I think you get the idea about how odd some of these jobs might have been.

Anyway back to my odd jobs and my time in The Cosmetic Department came to an end and I decided at that point I would not join the Royal Navy, and instead went to work for my sister for two years at a management training centre. Then I married and I worked for an estate agent for two years before starting my training as a manager for a well known steak house chain.

The Steak House Part One

I began my training as an assistant manager in a steak house in Kent in 1974. For the six months, I would rotate around through the two bars and two restaurants that served a simple menu of steak, chicken, and fish. Most dishes came with either French fries (chips) and peas. For the more health conscious there was a jacket potato option, but by the time several pats of butter had been added, it was as fattening as the fries. Dessert options were ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkled nuts, or apple pie and cream. The wine menu was short and featured the German white wines so popular at the time, with much touting of the young French red wines with alleged body and clarity.

However, despite not being a Michelin starred establishment, the training was considered to be one of the best in that particular area of the hospitality industry. It was certainly intensive, and when you consider the hours we worked daily, six days a week, the six months training was actually something you would normally complete in twelve months.

The building itself had been built in 1812 and sported the red flocked wallpaper so fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s. Smoking was still in its hey day and the ceiling was a curious shade of tobacco after 150 years of nicotine exhalation. The smell that greeted you in the morning was ‘eau de tabac’ laced with beer overtones. When you had been working until after midnight, had barely six hours sleep, you found yourself declining anything but black coffee until lunchtime.

I have to say that I loved it, despite the hard work and long hours. We had some very interesting regulars, and the locals embraced the concept of the steak house with gusto. It was cheap and cheerful, and as music blared out on a Friday and Saturday night, both downstairs and upstairs bars and restaurants were packed. The waiting list for a table could be an hour or more, but beer and schooners of sherry (lethal), dulled the senses sufficiently for the wait to be quite jovial.

During the day, only the downstairs restaurant was in use and was consistently busy. This offered the assistant managers time to do the usual administrative work needed to run the steak house, such as ordering food and spirits and cleaning the bars after the night before.

In the evenings it was my job to run the upstairs restaurant, with a team of waitresses waiting on the tables, and two bar staff, who alternated between serving pre-dinner drinks and after dinner liqueur coffees with assorted spirits (this is pre-drink-driving laws!).

The waitresses were rushed off their feet as they juggled three or four large plates laden with steak, chicken, and sides. My job to help in reducing the waiting list was to clear the tables as soon as the diners had paid, and re-equip with cutlery, glasses, and napkins as rapidly as possible. I would then dash back to the bar and announce the name of the lucky party over the tannoy system, who could now stagger after me into the restaurant.

One Saturday night in the middle of a very busy service, I had to handle a potentially difficult situation that could have ended up in the papers (thank goodness there were no mobile phones in those days). As you will remember this building was old, and there were dark recesses within the walls and ceilings, that you would have been wise to avoid for what might reside there.

I was checking the state of play on progress at a number of tables where the patrons were wiping away the evidence of their chocolate sundae. I noticed a man at a table with a party of six, bend down to retrieve his napkin. Instead, he came up with something smaller and definitely furrier than the paper serviette. I suspect that as a natural reflex, he stood with his arm held straight out from his body, clearly amazed at his catch. From my vantage point at the entrance to the restaurant, I identified the rotating body of a dead mouse.

There is a split second between shocked discovery and the public announcement of the find. Although never great at school at the 100 metre dash, I now excelled myself. Dropping the waiting list on the bar, I rushed through the restaurant and snatched the unfortunate deceased rodent from its captor, continuing on to the kitchen at warp speed. I deposited the mouse in the bin and turned and raced back the other way to find the patron staring at his hand and looking around in confusion.

Lighting in the restaurants was provided by dim wall lights in order to provide a romantic and intimate feel to the experience. It also served to conceal the tobacco infused ceiling and rather dodgy carpet. It also thankfully managed to befuddle the diner, who thankfully had not only consumed four pints of beer in the bar beforehand, but also a bottle of our best Liebfraumilch. I added to the befuddlement, by handing him his fallen napkin, and asking if the party would be interested in some liqueur coffees on the house, to compensate them for their long wait before dining.

An exterminator was called the next day and traps were hidden in all the usual haunts. But there was a postscript to this story.

One of the waitresses was a bit of a madam and was always giving the chef grief. As part of the staff’s pay, supper was included before the restaurants opened in the evening. The day after the incident, this particular waitress retrieved her indicated supper from the hot plate, and on sitting down, removed the cover. She issued a piercing scream that probably cleared the rodents from the building far more effectively than the traps. I came over to find out what the problem was, to discover her staring at her plate of battered mouse, French fries, and peas.

©Sally Cronin 1999

Next Monday ghosts in the Steak House Part Two.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Monday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Cosmetic Department – Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

To set the scene I am going to repeat my series from early 2018 which shared the background to the stories in the book that I elaborated on and fictionalised. As a bonus I will also be including some other jobs that were not in the book that might also be considered a bit different. For example, flogging bull semen at agricultural shows to selling ‘similar’ top end perfumes in the East End of London. I think you get the idea about how odd some of these jobs might have been.

Anyway back to my odd jobs and my role in the shoe department  came to an end but the store kept me on as a consultant in the cosmetic department.

The Department Store – Part Two – The Cosmetic Department.

I had been working in one of our large local department stores as I waited to begin my training in the Royal Alexandra Nursing Service.

Following on from my six weeks over Christmas and New Year in the shoe department of the store, I moved downstairs to 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 formula 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.

I had been in the position about four weeks, and was practicing my powder blending technique, when a rather large, reddened 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 an arresting 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 training and 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 on her path to becoming the woman she wished to be. One of these being the removal of hair on the backs of her hands and lower arms. Hence the reddened skin on show.

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 edged forward until I was staring into large blue 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  I undergo more treatment.’

This encounter was to lead to a rise in takings for the cosmetic department, as we became the best place to go for advice and products to enhance feminine beauty, for anyone who needed it.

Dolly became our unofficial PR agent, and I was invited to a party in a pub one night, where I was delighted to see all our advice and products being used to their full advantage.

What a lovely bunch of ladies and they taught a young woman much with their bravery and support for one another.

Dolly went on to star in my book Just an Odd Job Girl with some creative embellishments.

©Sally Cronin – 1999

On Friday I begin my management training in a Steak House.  

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Friday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – The Shoe Department – Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

To set the scene I am going to repeat my series from early 2018 which shared the background to the stories in the book that I elaborated on and fictionalised. As a bonus I will also be including some other jobs that were not in the book that might also be considered a bit different. For example, flogging bull semen at agricultural shows to selling ‘similar’ top end perfumes in the East End of London. I think you get the idea about how odd some of these jobs might have been.

Anyway back to my odd jobs and my role at the Dental Surgery was over and I had moved on to a local department store.

The Shoe Department – Cheating and surprises

I loved working in the dental surgery, but I felt that I would like to take the medical side of my training further. I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and join the Royal Navy as a nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Service. I applied and was accepted for an interview which I attended at Haslar Naval Hospital. It was a bit of an ordeal as it involved a written exam, physical exam and an interview with senior nursing and naval officers. I returned home and waited for the outcome. A letter arrived a week later, to say that I had been accepted, but not for another eighteen months.

This left me in a quandary, and being the age I was, I felt that before I joined up I should see a little more of life. I handed in my notice at the dental surgery, applying to the local department store for a temporary job whilst I decided on my strategy for the next year or so.

I have to point out that I am one of three sisters, with a mother who loved shoes and handbags, and it appeared that she had passed those particular genes onto us. I can remember at a very early age spending many happy hours in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe, rummaging through her high heeled dancing shoes and trying them out for size. Not very elegant at five years old, but habit forming.

When I was offered a temporary post over Christmas, in the shoe department of Handley’s Department store in Southsea, I was obviously more than excited. Little did I know that I would experience petty theft, a rather revealing encounter and potentially dangerous equipment!

The shoe department was staffed by a manager and a number of assistants, one of which had been there for donkey’s years. She was a spinster lady, who seemed ancient to me at the time, but was probably only in her fifties. She was designated to show me the ropes and duly took me under her wing. One of the bonuses of working in the shoe department was that you received commission on every pair of shoes you sold. You would cut out the front of the shoe box and write your name on it, saving these up until the Thursday and handing them to the manager to be sent up to the accounts department. It didn’t add a fortune to your weekly pay, but a few extra shillings a week was not to be sniffed at.

My mentor told me not to worry the first week, as she would make sure that the box ends were collected and handed to the manager. I kept a record of my sales and was surprised to find that I was missing half my commission on the Friday. I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat, but I obviously looked after my own box ends after that. I later found out that one of the other girls had encountered the same problem when she started. We had a couple more assistants arrive to help over the Christmas rush and we made sure took them under our wings!

Come the sales in January and we were rushed off our feet with high end shoes reduced considerably. I also got staff discount and was in seventh heaven, spending my lunch hours in the stock room trying on everything in my size. One day a very smart middle-aged customer arrived and pointed out several pairs of shoes that she wished to try on. Delighted by my luck in finding a big spender, I set about gathering my wares.

We had short-legged stools with a sloping rubber covered surface on which a foot was guided into shoes with a shoe horn, and if needed a gentle shove. As I helped madam into her first shoe, I looked up to see if she approved, to find her skirt had slid upward to above the knee. She was wearing no knickers, and I have to say that for a moment I had no idea where to look. The customer was completely unconcerned and not wishing to cause embarrassment, I tried to keep my focus on the number of box ends I would be submitting at the end of the week.

This brings me to the piece of equipment that was in my opinion highly unsuitable for use in a department store. Particularly as it was primarily used to identify if a child had sufficient room in their new shoes for their feet to grow. You placed the customer’s feet on a platform underneath the housing of the machine, looking through a viewfinder to see the x-ray. Having worked in a dental surgery with stringent precautions when using an x-ray machine, I was astonished to find one in use in public. I am afraid that after my introduction to this equipment I relied on the safer, tried and tested method of determining fit, by pressing my thumb all around the child’s foot in the new shoe to check for the necessary growing room. These shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were subsequently banned in the mid-1970s in the USA and Europe, and thankfully I only had minimal exposure. There were however grave concerns over the long-term effects on sales personnel who had used the machines over many years.

However, I did enjoy my time in the shoe department and also being in a sales environment. I had made friends amongst the staff (except for one) and asked if I could stay on. They no longer needed me in the shoe department, but I was asked if I would like to be a powder blender and roving consultant in the cosmetic department. My favourite items after shoes…

More adventures on the horizon.

©sallycronin 1999

On Wednesday – The Cosmetic  Department – and some powder blending.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Wednesday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – 20th Anniversary #Free Book and Some of my Very Odd Jobs – Dental Surgery Part One by Sally Cronin


It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks. Particularly as I am in the middle of editing my next collection due out in November.

As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.

To set the scene I am going to repeat my series from early 2018 which shared the background to the stories in the book that I elaborated on and fictionalised. As a bonus I will also be including some other jobs that were not in the book that might also be considered a bit different. For example, flogging bull semen at agricultural shows to selling ‘similar’ top end perfumes in the East End of London. I think you get the idea about how odd some of these jobs might have been.

Anyway back to my odd jobs…I continued to work along the seafront through college at weekends and during holidays but in 1970 age seventeen I enter the full time job market

The Dental Surgery Part One

Following a year at secretarial college, and having gained my passes in shorthand and typing, I entered the full-time job market.

My experience along the seafront had at least prepared me for working life. I was usually punctual and didn’t take liberties with my lunch hour. I had even had my first managerial position, you could say, as I had been left in charge of my kiosk during Betty’s days off and holidays. Unfortunately this had not prepared me for the interviews that I attended and I was sorely disappointed to discover that the only job that was open, to a newly qualified secretary, was that of the lowly office junior.

I had earned two and six an hour along the seafront and at sixteen worked a forty-hour week. This gave me five pounds a week, plus tips, which were divided between all the staff. Because I was a student I did not pay tax and so I usually had at least seven pounds a week in my hand. I soon discovered that office juniors were lucky to get six pounds a week and that would be taxed.

Then fate took a hand. Smack bang in the middle of the job section of the local newspaper was an advertisement for a Dental Receptionist for a local private practice in Southsea. I will admit that the starting salary at £7 a week was an improvement on the other jobs I had chased, and the thought of a crisp white overall rather than the blue nylon one at the cafe on the seafront also appealed.

I went for the interview with Roland Phillips who at 67 was 50 years older than me. He wore half glasses and his hair was slicked back from rather an austere face. He sat behind his desk with his hands clasped in front of them and I remember thinking how dry they looked with very white nails. (I later discovered that my boss was fanatical about cleanliness which he needed to be with his hands in mouths all day.

It transpired that his dental nurse also doubled as his secretary and receptionist but the practice was far too busy for her to cope. My secretarial qualifications were acceptable but apparently I also got the job because of my accent on the phone… go with the flow I say.

I arrived on my first Monday and in between patients the very patient dental nurse took me through my duties. My new boss expected me to read every file for all the 400 patients; acquainting myself with their previous treatments and also upcoming appointments.

I would answer the phone and make appointments. I had to prepare daily lists of patients, extract their files and greet them when they arrived and show them to the waiting room. Following their appointment I would collect their file, decipher Roland’s summary and charges and prepare a bill to be sent out at the end of each month. I was also expected to manage the inventory of all equipment, drugs and other supplies and order as necessary, which proved to be very useful later on in the job.

I was expected to learn very quickly so that Miss Smith could return to her chairside duties full time, and it was quite a tough assignment. However, I did enjoy the job very much and looked forward to 9.00 each morning.

As I became more proficient, so my duties increased in responsibility, and when busy, I would be drafted in to help in the surgery with tasks such as mixing amalgam for fillings and developing x-rays. I was given the dental nurse training course to follow at home and I found myself spending my spare time on the project. Things were going along swimmingly for the first three months when an incident occurred that was to bring about huge changes.

I was preparing the end of month accounts when I heard a heavy thud from the surgery. Thinking that a patient or even Mr. Phillips might have fallen I rushed in to find Miss Smith had collapsed. They had been in the middle of a delicate operation to remove a remaining root from a tooth that had just been extracted. This was a two-person job and one of those was now sitting shakily on one of the surgery chairs. Before I knew it I was wearing surgical gloves, keeping the patient’s mouth clear of fluids and handing the correct instruments to my boss.

After many years of not being able to have a baby… Miss Smith was pregnant and could not stand the sight of blood! So began a very intensive training course and my career took a very different path.

Mr. Roland Phillips was the inspiration for the dentist in Just an Odd Job Girl… a character I will never forget.

Next time – Xray mix ups – toupees and the miners strike.

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.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Feb 08, 2020 Pete Springer rated it Five stars it was amazing

Sally Cronin has written a delightful book with Just an Odd Job Girl. The central character, Imogen, is most likable and must return to the workforce after her husband, Peter, falls for a much younger woman. At age fifty, Imogen has not only lost her husband but faces the reality that she must find a job after more than two decades. What Imogen has going for her is a rich and varied employment history from when she first became employed at age fourteen.

What follows is extreme hilarity as Cronin skillfully recaps all of Imogen’s unexpected employment adventures. From chasing after shoplifters to unexpectedly filling in as a dental assistant when the regular hygenist faints, there are plenty of laughs. Every employment opportunity forces Imogen to acquire new skills with the most entertaining stint as a hotel assistant manager. Along the way, Imogen realizes that she can tackle any problem or situation that life throws her way. The ending is most satisfying, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK  –  Follow:Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58

Thanks for dropping in and more odd jobs on Friday and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Final Chapter – A new life by Sally Cronin


I had a senior moment and scheduled the final part of Just an Odd Job Girl a day early….so hope you don’t mind a double dose…

Just an Odd Job Girl was a novel that I wrote in 2001 and is loosely based on the many jobs I enjoyed between the ages of 14 and 28. It is a work of fiction and thankfully my personal life was not quite so chaotic as Imogen’s.. She narrates her own story and I hope you enjoy the last two chapters this weekend.

Previously  Imogen connects with Peter again and he persuades her that he is a changed man asks her to marry him…

The Final Chapter – A New Life.

I arrived punctually for my appointment with Andrew, and was shown straight in by Elizabeth. She gave me a great boost by complimenting me on my hair and clothes and I was visibly preening as I entered Andrew’s office. I found him with another man in deep conversation, which came to an abrupt halt as I entered.

‘Imogen, good to see you again and may I say how wonderful you are looking.’

You may, I thought smugly, carefully putting the cost of the transformation to the back of my mind.

‘I would like to introduce you to a very good friend of mine. Jack Doyle, meet Imogen Smythe.’

I wasn’t sure if I was interrupting something, but Andrew invited me to sit down.

‘Well Imogen, after we spoke the other day, I passed your C.V. on to Jack. He runs a counselling service for young men and women who are having problems finding jobs – or keeping them – and is looking for an assistant for both the office and ‘after training’ to help with the interviewing. I thought that, with all your varied work experience, and being a mother as well, you could be of great benefit to Jack’s organisation.’

I couldn’t believe it. There was I thinking that my work track record indicated a fly-by-night approach to earning a living, and it was now being turned into an asset. I turned to Jack who smiled encouragingly at me.

He then began to tell me about his organisation, and its aims, and how they needed someone who was efficient, flexible and adaptable to keep him and two other counsellors in order. The pay was not marvellous and I would need to do a training course one day a week for the next six months to enable me to assist in the interviews. But, if I was interested, he was happy to take Andrew’s recommendation and offer me the position. Would I be interested? Of course I would, I was thrilled and accepted delightedly.

‘I think that calls for a celebration.’ Andrew got up and shook my hand.

‘Let’s all go up to Pings in the high-street for some Sake and crispy duck.’

Oh good! My favourite. I happily left the office between Jack and Andrew and over some grilled dumplings and crispy duck, I regaled them with some of the highlights of my reminiscences. I haven’t laughed as much for a long time and as we parted company with Jack on the pavement outside the restaurant, I knew that there were some great times ahead.

I was right. Six months later found me fully trained, and an official member of Jack’s team. I was also going out with Andrew, who had rung me the week I started work and asked me out for dinner on the Friday. We began seeing each other two or three times a week, going to the theatre, dinner and the movies. After a couple of weeks he came to dinner one Friday night and didn’t leave until Sunday. It was lovely, and I felt young and sexy, and desired.

We are getting married next month in a small ceremony, with just my children and Jack. We have booked our honeymoon hotel in Killbilly! I found out that Patrick is still running the place, and was absolutely thrilled that I was coming to stay.

Finally, the icing on the cake. One Friday night, just as I was getting into bed I received a frantic call from Peter.

‘Imogen, please, you have to come over, we are at the end of our tether, the baby won’t stop crying, the doctor has said that there is nothing he can do. You were so good with the children, please we are desperate.

‘How could I refuse? I dressed got in my car and drove down familiar roads until I reached my old home. The gates swung open, and as I made my way up the drive, the front door was flung open. There was my ex husband and the ‘fast tracker’ looking dishevelled, worn and rather grubby. She was awkwardly holding a squalling baby, as it squirmed in her arms. Peter grabbed me gratefully, and rescuing the child from its mother’s arms, he thrust it at me.

The baby looked up at me tearfully as I gently rocked it back and forth. I smiled down at him and saw a likeness to my children. The tears stopped and he gurgled up at me, smiling and chortling. Peter and the fast tracker stared at one another and then at the baby and me. I looked up to see Peter eyeing me from top to toe and I was delighted that despite having thrown everything on in a hurry I still looked pretty good. Was that a hint of regret that I saw on his face, I did hope so? Oh sweet revenge!

I left them an hour later with my mother’s recipe for teething babies and some advice to Peter on where to find a good nanny. I think outside help was the kindest thing for the baby, and I think Peter realised it would be best for the health of his new marriage too.

I drove home, thinking about Andrew, the wedding and my children, realising just how great life can be – certainly not too bad for just an odd job girl

©Sally Cronin

One of the reviews for the book on Goodreads.

Mar 03, 2016 Christina Steiner rated it it was amazing

Just an Odd Girl Job by Sally Georgina Cronin is a delightful book. Imogen at 50 and after a 25 year marriage is replaced by a younger model, what she calls a Fast Tracker. Depression follows and is nurtured by an abundance of food and an ever expanding waist line until one day Imogen decided to take her life back. After 25 years of absence in the job market, she’s unsure of her qualification. At the request of a temporary job agency she list the job of her youth.

The interview at the agency is a new beginning for her. With a lot of humor she retells her experience as a young, entrepreneurial Imogen and the variety of sometimes odd jobs she mastered.

Cronin writes the character of Imogen with humor. The book is a quick read. It shows that self esteem can be recaptured even if it was put on hold for 25 years.

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

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

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

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

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