Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – 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 Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously Imogen ends up running a pub on the Isle of Wight and ends up enforcing the rules with a pick axe handle.

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

One of the reviews for the book

Dec 04, 2015 Jo Robinson rated it it was amazing

Just an Odd Job Girl is the uplifting story of Imogen. Cast aside aged almost fifty by her husband who chooses a younger wife to replace her she faces beginning life all over again. A new and most cool phrase totally to me in this book – the fast tracker – a great name for those gorgeous young women who forego the whole long term working to succeed in life together as a couple in favour of swiping an already successful older man from the woman who has put in all the years to gain the success. Imogen’s self-confidence is low as it can be, but she heads off to a personnel agency that specializes in placing the more mature job seeker to see if they can help her find work in spite of her not obviously stellar curriculum vitae. Twenty four years of “only” housewife and mother. There she is interviewed by Andrew Jenkins, who rather than dismisses her on the basis of her tiny CV, encourages her to tell him what she liked or didn’t like about the few jobs she did have many years back before she stopped working in exchange for being a stay at home wife and mother. And then the fun begins!

I laughed so hard I almost cried a few times reading Imogen’s memories of former jobs and employers. She’s crazy in the most wonderfully inspiring way. Chasing thieves and fabulousness in a funeral parlour and dentists office to name only two of the places she showed her wonderful character and savvy in on her Odd Job Girl trip. The apprehending of the shoplifter just has to be read! In the telling of her own life, Imogen realizes her value though. While this book is a really fun romp, it’s also very poignant and touching. So many women around the globe really do get kicked to the kerb after years of thinking that they married their true love, and would be together forever. Generally they feel old and ugly, all used up and not much use for anyone or anything, let alone a meaningful career and life.

This is a book with a happy ending, and an inspirational happy ending at that. It shows that all is never lost until the very last breath that you take. It shows that everyone has fabulousness within us, and all it takes is to recognize it, grab it, and have a ball with the amazingly wonderful person that you are. It’s not all about age, it’s all about feisty and real. Five out of five stars and a very hearty one hundred percent recommendation. A nice one for the guys out there too – especially if you have ever been a target for a fast tracker. There’s a whole lot more to life than a little bit of nubile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just An Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Nine – The Isle of Wight Pub Life and Skinheads by Sally Cronin


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

Previously Imogen takes on the role of Assistant manager of a steak house and has a run in …literally with an unwanted visitor…

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

One of the reviews for the book

Dec 04, 2015 Jo Robinson rated it it was amazing

Just an Odd Job Girl is the uplifting story of Imogen. Cast aside aged almost fifty by her husband who chooses a younger wife to replace her she faces beginning life all over again. A new and most cool phrase totally to me in this book – the fast tracker – a great name for those gorgeous young women who forego the whole long term working to succeed in life together as a couple in favour of swiping an already successful older man from the woman who has put in all the years to gain the success. Imogen’s self-confidence is low as it can be, but she heads off to a personnel agency that specializes in placing the more mature job seeker to see if they can help her find work in spite of her not obviously stellar curriculum vitae. Twenty four years of “only” housewife and mother. There she is interviewed by Andrew Jenkins, who rather than dismisses her on the basis of her tiny CV, encourages her to tell him what she liked or didn’t like about the few jobs she did have many years back before she stopped working in exchange for being a stay at home wife and mother. And then the fun begins!

I laughed so hard I almost cried a few times reading Imogen’s memories of former jobs and employers. She’s crazy in the most wonderfully inspiring way. Chasing thieves and fabulousness in a funeral parlour and dentists office to name only two of the places she showed her wonderful character and savvy in on her Odd Job Girl trip. The apprehending of the shoplifter just has to be read! In the telling of her own life, Imogen realizes her value though. While this book is a really fun romp, it’s also very poignant and touching. So many women around the globe really do get kicked to the kerb after years of thinking that they married their true love, and would be together forever. Generally they feel old and ugly, all used up and not much use for anyone or anything, let alone a meaningful career and life.

This is a book with a happy ending, and an inspirational happy ending at that. It shows that all is never lost until the very last breath that you take. It shows that everyone has fabulousness within us, and all it takes is to recognize it, grab it, and have a ball with the amazingly wonderful person that you are. It’s not all about age, it’s all about feisty and real. Five out of five stars and a very hearty one hundred percent recommendation. A nice one for the guys out there too – especially if you have ever been a target for a fast tracker. There’s a whole lot more to life than a little bit of nubile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – 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 Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously  Working in the Cosmetic Department of Huntleys was not all about nail varnish and lipsticks, there were also fascinating social issues to be discovered and embraced.

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

One of the reviews for the book

Aug 02, 2018 Carol Taylor rated it Five Stars

Imogen was traded in at the age of 50 for a younger model or Fast Tracker in her words. I smiled and laughed out loud throughout as I could relate to much except my dress was made of tin foil and not red. Occupied at first by getting her new home in order Imogen then found herself eating and watching movies and of course piling on the pounds. Determined to make a change after seeing an advert in a local paper she took the plunge and went for an interview.

Andrew Jenkins was like no one Imogen had met and once he had put Imogen at her ease invited her to start at the beginning of her work history to put Imogen at her ease he explained that this would help him build a picture and enable him to find the perfect job for her. What followed was a joy to read and anyone who reads this is very likely to discover that they are not so very different to Imogen and the discoveries she made about herself and how it truly reflects the life story of so many women of a certain age.

The author has an easy going style which makes this story hard to put down as she goes through the many jobs she had Sally Cronin tells the tale of many and varied positions some being just downright funny. A story of a life before children and after they had flown the nest and Imogen had been discarded but how she rose like a phoenix from the flames a new woman. If you want a light-hearted read with a moral attached then this book is recommended and I will definitely be reading more from this author I loved it.
A light entertaining read with a powerful message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – 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 Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously Imogen had regaled Andrew with her antics as one of the team in the Ladies Fashion department at Huntleys, and her run in with shoplifters.

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

One of the reviews for the book

Aug 02, 2018 Carol Taylor rated it Five Stars

Imogen was traded in at the age of 50 for a younger model or Fast Tracker in her words. I smiled and laughed out loud throughout as I could relate to much except my dress was made of tin foil and not red. Occupied at first by getting her new home in order Imogen then found herself eating and watching movies and of course piling on the pounds. Determined to make a change after seeing an advert in a local paper she took the plunge and went for an interview.

Andrew Jenkins was like no one Imogen had met and once he had put Imogen at her ease invited her to start at the beginning of her work history to put Imogen at her ease he explained that this would help him build a picture and enable him to find the perfect job for her. What followed was a joy to read and anyone who reads this is very likely to discover that they are not so very different to Imogen and the discoveries she made about herself and how it truly reflects the life story of so many women of a certain age.

The author has an easy going style which makes this story hard to put down as she goes through the many jobs she had Sally Cronin tells the tale of many and varied positions some being just downright funny. A story of a life before children and after they had flown the nest and Imogen had been discarded but how she rose like a phoenix from the flames a new woman. If you want a light-hearted read with a moral attached then this book is recommended and I will definitely be reading more from this author I loved it.
A light entertaining read with a powerful message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Six – Ladies Fashions and shop lifters by Sally Cronin


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

Previously Imogen shares her experiences of working in the shoe department of Huntleys where both and staff revealed more than they intended…

Chapter Six – Ladies Fashions and shop lifters

I was invited to join the team working for a brand of ladies clothing, specifically made for petite, rounder women. I was a little out of place, being nearly six-foot tall, and rather younger than both the staff and the clientele. But, I had my uses. My experiences in chasing small boys with their stolen dirty postcards came in very handy.

Although we were a very upmarket department store, we still had our share of shoplifters. Unfortunately, the better quality, seasonal fashion clothing was a target, and we suffered quite significant losses as the beginning of each season. There was a wine-bar around the corner from the store. The unscrupulous would come in, view the new styles, and then go into the wine bar, locate the team leader of the gang of thieves, and put an order through for the size and colour required. I discovered all of this from one of the security guys who rather fancied me.

I did ask the obvious question. ‘Why doesn’t someone do something about it?’

My understanding was that the gang moved around a great deal, that there were too many of them and as one group were caught another took over and that it was an ongoing process.

The manager of the department used to tear her hair out when we did the weekly stock-take. However vigilant we were, there was always some stock missing and Head Office was beginning to be very difficult about the situation.

We followed people around, as they browsed the clothes racks, constantly shadowing their every move. This, of course, annoyed many totally innocent shoppers, so much so that they went elsewhere for their new spring outfits and so takings were down as well.

One of the shoplifter’s favoured techniques used young women with pushchairs. They would slip a skirt or blouse under their toddler, or down the back of the pram and then walk out. This was before the days of security tagging, and short of stopping every woman with a buggy, catching them was very difficult.

Another method of ‘stock removal’ was used by a group of young men who would go up the escalator in threes. The one in the middle would lift two or three items off the rails by the side of the escalator and drop them into a black plastic bag while the boys in front and at the rear kept look out.

Then came the breakthrough. I was just assisting a rather large lady into a new spring coat, when I saw three lads get on the escalator. Sure enough, the middle one put his hand down and lifted three jackets off the rail and over the side quick as a flash. That was it, as far as I was concerned.

I shouted for the manager to call security, I dropped the coat on the floor, shouted ‘sorry’ to the startled lady, and set off in pursuit. I dashed up the escalator and the lads saw me coming and that I was big and mean. They dropped the black plastic bag, which held our stock, on the next floor up, and turned around empty handed to give me a victory sign – back to front.

They got on the down escalator, thinking that I would give up, now that I had recovered our jackets. Not a bit of it, my blood was up and several weeks of frustration brought me to the boil. I flung the bag with our garments at the nearest person who looked like a member of staff, who later turned out to be the General Manager, and hot-footed it down the escalator in pursuit.

The boys reached the ground floor, with me only a few feet behind them. They kept looking over their shoulders at me in disbelief. They had a good two hundred feet to go before they got to the safety of the exit onto the road and I decided that, as these guys were considerably larger than postcard thieves, a good slapping was probably out of the question. So, I improvised.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen.’ I shouted at the top of my voice. ‘This is what a thief looks like, and why your goods get more and more expensive!’

The culprits began to run, their faces red with anger and embarrassment. I followed them to the door, repeating my chant as we went. The funny thing was that, along with the three in front of me, several other shoppers made a dash for various exits.

Customers stood stock still in amazement, and then most of them started to laugh. One boy tripped over his shoelace that had come undone and he fell through the door into the street. All signs of dignity and bravado were now completely demolished. Satisfied that they were now off the premises, and unlikely to return in the short-term, I about-faced and headed back to my department.

Shoppers returned to their task and I received smiles and nods from most of the staff that I passed on the way to the escalator. At the bottom of the moving staircase stood the man that I had thrown the stolen stock to. My manager was with him clenching her hands nervously.

‘Miss Baxter’ the man said ominously. ‘My office immediately.’

Oops!

I received a verbal warning; more for my own safety than anything, as I believe Mr. Dempsey was concerned about possible repercussions.

In the following weeks our stock levels remained stable and although other departments were hit we were left alone.

After two months on the department, it became my job on a Saturday to parade through Mr. Dempsey’s office with the weekly figures. He used to give me a wry smile and always asked if I had managed to stay out of trouble this week. I know that, following the incident, the security department was given a shake up and the guy who fancied me left within a couple of weeks. Things definitely got a little tighter after that and it made our jobs much easier.

* * *

I looked at my watch and saw that it was nearly one o’clock.

‘Do you want me to go or shall we finish now’ I asked Andrew, who did not appear to be in any hurry to go anywhere.
‘Why don’t you finish off your time at Huntley’s, I’m quite frankly fascinated to find out what mayhem you managed to cause in the cosmetic department.’

He did smile as he said this and I knew that rather than the put-down I was used to, I was actually being teased.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Dec 04, 2015 Jo Robinson rated it Five Stars

Just an Odd Job Girl is the uplifting story of Imogen. Cast aside aged almost fifty by her husband who chooses a younger wife to replace her she faces beginning life all over again. A new and most cool phrase totally to me in this book – the fast tracker – a great name for those gorgeous young women who forego the whole long term working to succeed in life together as a couple in favour of swiping an already successful older man from the woman who has put in all the years to gain the success. Imogen’s self-confidence is low as it can be, but she heads off to a personnel agency that specializes in placing the more mature job seeker to see if they can help her find work in spite of her not obviously stellar curriculum vitae. Twenty four years of “only” housewife and mother. There she is interviewed by Andrew Jenkins, who rather than dismisses her on the basis of her tiny CV, encourages her to tell him what she liked or didn’t like about the few jobs she did have many years back before she stopped working in exchange for being a stay at home wife and mother. And then the fun begins!

I laughed so hard I almost cried a few times reading Imogen’s memories of former jobs and employers. She’s crazy in the most wonderfully inspiring way. Chasing thieves and fabulousness in a funeral parlour and dentists office to name only two of the places she showed her wonderful character and savvy in on her Odd Job Girl trip. The apprehending of the shoplifter just has to be read! In the telling of her own life, Imogen realizes her value though. While this book is a really fun romp, it’s also very poignant and touching. So many women around the globe really do get kicked to the kerb after years of thinking that they married their true love, and would be together forever. Generally they feel old and ugly, all used up and not much use for anyone or anything, let alone a meaningful career and life.

This is a book with a happy ending, and an inspirational happy ending at that. It shows that all is never lost until the very last breath that you take. It shows that everyone has fabulousness within us, and all it takes is to recognize it, grab it, and have a ball with the amazingly wonderful person that you are. It’s not all about age, it’s all about feisty and real. Five out of five stars and a very hearty one hundred percent recommendation. A nice one for the guys out there too – especially if you have ever been a target for a fast tracker. There’s a whole lot more to life than a little bit of nubile.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you will join me again next week for two more chapters in Imogen’s colourful work history.

 

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – 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 Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously: Imogen and Andrew had begun to go through her extensive work history and had reached a point where romance would influence her next career move.  She picks up the story…

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

One of the reviews for the book

Dec 04, 2015 Jo Robinson rated it Five Stars

Just an Odd Job Girl is the uplifting story of Imogen. Cast aside aged almost fifty by her husband who chooses a younger wife to replace her she faces beginning life all over again. A new and most cool phrase totally to me in this book – the fast tracker – a great name for those gorgeous young women who forego the whole long term working to succeed in life together as a couple in favour of swiping an already successful older man from the woman who has put in all the years to gain the success. Imogen’s self-confidence is low as it can be, but she heads off to a personnel agency that specializes in placing the more mature job seeker to see if they can help her find work in spite of her not obviously stellar curriculum vitae. Twenty four years of “only” housewife and mother. There she is interviewed by Andrew Jenkins, who rather than dismisses her on the basis of her tiny CV, encourages her to tell him what she liked or didn’t like about the few jobs she did have many years back before she stopped working in exchange for being a stay at home wife and mother. And then the fun begins!

I laughed so hard I almost cried a few times reading Imogen’s memories of former jobs and employers. She’s crazy in the most wonderfully inspiring way. Chasing thieves and fabulousness in a funeral parlour and dentists office to name only two of the places she showed her wonderful character and savvy in on her Odd Job Girl trip. The apprehending of the shoplifter just has to be read! In the telling of her own life, Imogen realizes her value though. While this book is a really fun romp, it’s also very poignant and touching. So many women around the globe really do get kicked to the kerb after years of thinking that they married their true love, and would be together forever. Generally they feel old and ugly, all used up and not much use for anyone or anything, let alone a meaningful career and life.

This is a book with a happy ending, and an inspirational happy ending at that. It shows that all is never lost until the very last breath that you take. It shows that everyone has fabulousness within us, and all it takes is to recognize it, grab it, and have a ball with the amazingly wonderful person that you are. It’s not all about age, it’s all about feisty and real. Five out of five stars and a very hearty one hundred percent recommendation. A nice one for the guys out there too – especially if you have ever been a target for a fast tracker. There’s a whole lot more to life than a little bit of nubile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Four – The Dental Practice – Sally Cronin


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

In  Chapter Three Imogen shares her tasks and adventures in her first job, age 14, along the seafront in a souvenir kiosk.

Chapter Four – The Dental Practice

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. I horrified my mother by suggesting that I make the seafront my career instead, and she patiently pointed out that things would get better as I gained experience.

I wondered how I would ever gain that experience. I went for about five interviews that, frankly, put me off the idea of working in an office, for life. All the women who conducted the interviews seemed dried up and humourless. I was used to the informality of the seafront, and the thought of sitting at a desk staring, at a wall, typing-up dictation all day terrified me. But then I saw the advert in the local evening paper.

RECEPTIONIST/SECRETARY REQUIRED
PRIVATE DENTAL PRACTICE
Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Seven pounds per week.

This was more like it! I rang the number and spoke to a very friendly girl who took some details and slotted me in for an interview the next day .

I sat in the waiting room with two or three nervous looking people whom I assumed were patients. There were three dentists in the practice, judging by the signs on the door, and I was to be interviewed by Mr. Forsythe-Brown. I felt as if I was about to have an extraction and wondered if I was doing the right thing.

I was ushered into the ground floor surgery and found myself sitting opposite a large, leather covered desk. On the other side was a man in his sixties. Hair slicked back, little half glasses perched on a large, beaky nose and hands crossed in front of him. His hands caught my attention immediately. They had a dry, scrubbed look with very white nails. He cleared his throat.

‘Miss Baxter. I am Mr. Forsythe-Brown the senior partner in this practice. You would be working solely for myself as my other partners have their own receptionists and dental nurses. Perhaps I can ask you some questions?’

The interview passed in a blur. Mr. Forsythe-Brown fired questions at me so rapidly that I only had time to tell the truth.

‘You are very young.’ He observed.

‘However, that means you may not have had time to learn shoddy habits, and I will have an opportunity to show you the correct manner of conducting yourself.’

Oops!

‘You can start on Monday. You will be paid seven pounds per week and be provided with two white coats to be worn at all times.’

Sounded familiar: I hoped that there would be no unidentified, dried, stains on these overalls, as I thought that, this time, they were unlikely to be ketchup.

I found myself uttering my acceptance, and before I could change my mind, the pleasant girl, whose name was Sandra, was showing me out of the door.

‘Are you leaving the job?’ I asked, hoping to establish if there had been any unsavoury behaviour on the part of my new employer.

‘No, I’m his dental nurse but we are so busy that I cannot cope anymore with the reception duties and the paperwork so we needed someone else.’ She smiled.

‘Don’t worry. His bark is worse than his bite. I’ll fill you in on him on Monday when you start, but do be on time, he hates people turning up late for appointments.’

With that, I returned home with the joyful news that I was in gainful employment and would be starting Monday. My parents were relieved that yet another daughter was successfully launched into the big bad world, and I enjoyed my last three days of freedom.

Monday morning arrived far too soon. Although I had worked for three years, this was my first full time job. I arrived fifteen minutes early and found Sandra in the small office off the hall.

‘Oh good you’re early.’ She smiled and sat me down in front of the typewriter.

‘We have this month’s accounts to prepare. As we deal with the private patients, we bill them after their appointments. The other dentists in the practice deal with all the National Health patients and they pay at the time.’

So started my introduction, and I have to say that I didn’t see Mr. Forsythe-Brown, or FB as he became known, until the end of the day.

‘Miss Baxter, could you come into the surgery please.’ He called through on the intercom on the desk.

Nervously, I entered the inner sanctum and found FB at the sink ferociously scrubbing his hands. He turned and nodded for me to sit at the desk. After a few more minutes of concentrated washing and drying he came and sat down.

‘Miss Smith tells me you are doing well for your first day. Tomorrow you will begin to make appointments under her guidance. I want you to go through all the patient files and familiarise yourself with their names and treatments so that when they ring for an appointment you know who you are talking to.’

Oh my God! I knew that there were at least four hundred patients. I was never going to learn all their names, let alone their treatments.

‘I expect you to have done this within the next month, by which time you will no longer require Mrs. Smith’s attention and she can spend more time in the surgery with me doing the job she is supposed to be doing.’

He looked at me for some acknowledgement that I concurred with this ultimatum. What else could I do but nod and say ‘Yes Sir.’

That set the tone for the first three months of my employment. I was learning so much that the time went very quickly, and I took pride in the fact that I did learn all the patients names, and in addition I produced all the monthly accounts on time and scheduled patients’ appointments correctly. After three months, FB gave me a pay rise of another ten shillings a week, and I bought the whole family a take-away to celebrate.

Then disaster struck, or so it seemed at the time. I had very little contact with FB himself. Sandra was the bearer of messages, and instructions, and apart from the occasional greeting, or request for a patient file, my dealings with him were limited.

I was completing that month’s accounts when I heard a thud from the surgery. Immediately, the door opened and FB stuck his head out.

‘Get in here quick Miss Baxter’

I rushed in, and found Sandra lying on the floor, a patient in the chair and FB standing with an instrument in one hand and a piece of plastic tubing in the other. I of course ran over to Sandra and began to kneel down.

‘No, no,’ he shouted. ‘She’ll be alright, get over here and hold this tube in the patient’s mouth immediately.’

I was too shocked to do anything but obey. I really had not come close to blood before, but there was no time to be squeamish. I placed the hooked tube back in the patient’s mouth, and started sucking up the saliva and water that was pooled under his tongue. I could see that a back tooth was exposed, and FB set to with his instruments and proceeded to extract it. It was a lengthy process as the root was curved. I was fascinated, and tried to follow FB’s instructions as promptly as possible. The job was finished and the patient gratefully leaving the chair when we both remembered poor Sandra.

She had revived and was sitting with her head between her knees on the chair in the corner. I ushered the patient out of the door, made a follow up appointment, and carried on with my accounts.

Luckily, we had no more patients that day and Sandra went home to make an appointment with her doctor. In seventeen years of working as a dental nurse, she had never fainted at the sight of blood before.

The next morning, when I arrived for work FB called me straight into the surgery, where I found Sandra sitting white-faced at the desk.

‘Sit down Miss Baxter.’ FB invited.

Oh dear. What was coming now? Was it somehow my fault, had I made a mess up of things when I stepped into the breach yesterday? I waited nervously.

It was Sandra who spoke first.

‘Imogen, I have been married for twenty years and we unfortunately have not had any children. We had given up hope but it turns out that I’m three months pregnant and that’s why I fainted yesterday.’

Although she was white-faced, I could see that she was radiant too.

FB took over.

‘Miss Baxter. I don’t like change. Mrs Smith has been with me for seventeen years and I am used to her ways. She was the one who persuaded me to take on extra assistance, and I must say you have been most helpful.’

He paused, and I waited for the axe to fall.

‘Mrs. Smith can no longer work in the surgery and so she will take over your duties outside until she leaves to have her baby and you will take her place in the surgery as my dental nurse.’

I sat there in stunned silence.

The very next day, I found myself standing at the doorway of the surgery about to embark on a completely unexpected career move. FB was not an easy man to please. He was a perfectionist, and young as I was, he gave me no leeway. I had to learn, and learn fast, and it was exciting and nerve-wracking. But, by the time Sandra left, three months later, I loved it. In fact, we decided that, with some juggling of appointments, we could leave Wednesday afternoons free for my paperwork and FB could go and play golf. This way we did not have to take anybody else on to act as receptionist. It was hectic but we managed, as there were times when it was not necessary for me to be in attendance in the surgery and I could get on with the administration work.

* * *

I paused and looked over at Andrew.

‘Go on. Tell me about some of the highlights during those two years. It sounds fascinating.’

There he went again. Fascinating was not a word I had associated with myself for years.

‘Andrew. I don’t mean to question your judgement. I love talking about myself, but is it usual to spend so much time with an applicant?’

‘No, it isn’t.’ He studied his hands for a moment. ‘You remind me of my wife. She died three years ago, and although you look nothing like her, you have the same spark, and I suppose I am being purely selfish by wanting to know more about you.’

He smiled, and I could tell he was a little embarrassed.

‘I had left today clear for paperwork, so you are in fact doing me a favour, but if you need to be somewhere else, then please tell me and we will cut this short.’

It was a long time since a man had paid me so much attention, and had listened to every word I said. What girl in her right mind was going to pass that up?

‘I have all the time in the world.’ I assured him. ‘But please let me know if it starts to get boring.’

* * *

Right. Highlights of my job with FB.

One of the problems we had to overcome was the age difference. FB was a retired Army Colonel who had served in the desert in the Second World War. On retirement from the Army, at fifty, he had gone into private practice. He was fifty years older than I was.

It was the sixties, and FB found the whole scene far too much. He did not approve of either the dress of the day, or the behaviour of the young. He would not tolerate lateness or any evidence of nights on the town, and it was hard for a seventeen-year-old to be in such a controlled environment. The up-side was that I learnt a great deal about self-discipline and work ethics, which stayed with me for the rest of my life.

I had much to learn. In those days, although dentistry was not as sophisticated as today it was still complicated enough.

Our equipment was not exactly state-of-the-art, and some of it actually had done service in the desert. For example, at that time, in the sixties, we had frequent power cuts. This of course meant that the electric, high-speed drill was non-operational. So, out would come the ‘squeeze-box’. This powered a drill attached to a pulley. I would pump up and down on a pedal and this provided enough energy to operate the drill at a painfully slow speed. Painful enough just watching, so I can only imagine what it was like for the patient.

On one occasion we had no electricity for two days and I developed cramp in my calf muscles from too much pumping. If you have ever tried to rub your head in one direction and your stomach in the other then you can imagine what it was like to be pumping away with your leg while handing over instruments, operating the sucker, also pump operated, and mixing amalgam.

Our other piece of outdated machinery was our X-ray unit. Definitely at least ten years old, if not more. It was huge and resided in one corner of the surgery. It had a flexible arm with a large wedge shaped unit on the end. There was a nozzle attached to it and this was placed against the patient’s cheek, the button pushed and the picture taken. We used to leave the room during the procedure but I was never convinced that the machine wasn’t leaking radiation all over the place.

Another of my jobs was to develop the X-rays, and on one occasion this led to a bit of a ‘miracle’. The developing was done in a small broom cupboard at the top of the stairs. It contained two tall, narrow, tanks, one for developing and one for fixing, and I had to wear elbow length rubber gloves to handle the chemicals.

For processing, the X-rays were clipped into a metal holder which had four metal clips each side of the main central shaft. A sticker was put on this shaft showing which patient each X-ray belonged to. On this particular occasion, when I was in a hurry, I inadvertently opened the clip at the top of the holder and released all eight X-rays into the fixer tank. You have to remember that I was operating in very subdued lighting and I had to fish around in the tank with my gloved hand to find these slippery little bits of film.

At last, I got them all out and because they were now developed and fixed, I could switch the main light on. But, whose X-ray was which? I did my best, and put all eight films back in the holder to dry.

Nothing happened for about two weeks. I was doing the accounts while FB was taking impressions for some dentures when I got the call.

‘Miss Baxter, could you come in here a moment?’

I recognised that oily, smooth tone of voice. I had done something wrong.

I entered the surgery to find a lovely lady in her seventies in the chair. She smiled at me revealing her pink gums and nothing else.

I turned to FB who was holding an X-ray up to the window and examining it closely.

‘Miss Baxter, we appear to have a bit of a miracle on our hands. Perhaps you could shed some light on it?’

I had already learnt that FB could be quite sarcastic when the mood took him and he was in full flood now.

‘Mrs James as you are aware, requires new dentures. On her last visit, I took an X-ray – as she was experiencing some pain beneath the gum – and I suspected that a root might have been left behind during her extractions several years ago.’

He paused for effect.

‘Imagine my extreme surprise to discover, on removing Mrs. James X-ray from her notes, that she has grown a complete set of new teeth and indeed has a whole jaw of second teeth to follow.’

Oh dear!

‘From this X-ray I would determine Mrs. James to be about eight years old.’

Thankfully, the correct X-ray was located in one of our younger patient’s notes, but from then on, I always checked the X-rays in the notes before handing them over for the appointment.

It was generally interesting work, and although FB was a tough boss he was also fair. I now earned eleven pounds a week for the two roles I was performing, which was a lot of money for someone of my age. I had recently turned eighteen and life was good. There were still the odd times when I wished I was anywhere else but in that surgery, but looking back, even those times were amusing.

Like the time we were removing an upper molar from a rather large man. I would place my hands, laced across the top of a patient’s head during an upper extraction. This would hold the patient steady and apply pressure downwards when FB was pushing upwards. Not very elegant but it worked. In this case, I discovered that the patient was wearing a hairpiece. I had just placed my hands on his head when his hair started moving alarmingly around his scalp.

‘Miss Baxter, would you hold the patient’s head steady.’ He hissed at me, between clenched teeth.

As FB was so close to the patient, he couldn’t really shout at me.

‘I am trying to.’

Obviously I sounded a little stressed, and FB raised his eyes to my level and stopped what he was doing.

I lifted my hand, and pointed downwards at the offending article now perched precariously over the patients right eyebrow.

A look of irritation crossed FB’s face. We were half way through the extraction and there was no going back. He jerked his head at me to replace my hands on the man’s head, which I did with some trepidation. I found that, if I applied a great deal of pressure, I could just about hold the toupee in place and provide the leverage necessary for FB to complete the procedure.

Thankfully the tooth was extracted and the patient sent on his way a relieved man. This probably lasted until he caught sight of his reflection somewhere on his journey home which would have revealed a rather large gap at the back of his head and a lot of hair lying low over his eyebrows.

I believe that was the first time I ever heard FB laugh out loud. He waited, of course, until I had left the surgery. My hand was on the doorknob, just about to return to collect a file when I heard the peals of laughter from inside.

Unfortunately, FB’s wife, who had been ill for some time, died, and he decided, at the age of sixty-nine to retire to the country. He was very generous to me, giving me a lump sum and a very good reference. I felt that I would like to take dental nursing further, and considered training as a State Registered Nurse. The Queen Alexandra Nursing Service was advertising for recruits at the time and the uniform was very attractive.

* * *

Andrew looked down at the C.V.

‘I can’t see anything here about you becoming a nurse, what happened?’

‘That is a whole different story, which has nothing to so with my employment history.’ It was also one of the more embarrassing episodes of my life and one that I had chosen to forget until now.

‘It sounds intriguing! Come on, spill the beans.’ I was obviously not going to get away with keeping this to myself. But, I was enjoying myself for the first time in ages and even if I didn’t get a job out of this, my self esteem was getting a terrific boost.

***

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Imogen has been rejected by her husband of 20 years. She discovers that he has been having an affair, that the woman has become pregnant and that he wants a divorce all in one go. It is devastating to Imogen who has devoted her life to building her home, raising her children and being a good wife and mother. Somehow, along the way, Imogen seems to have lost all her vitality and spunk and changed into another, less vivid, version of herself. Although she knows this, Imogen struggles to overcome her depression and feelings of inadequacy until she makes a impulsive decision to go for an interview with a placement agency for older women and find herself a job.

The man who interviews Imogen is interested in her and her past jobs and life. He spends time talking to her and draws her out of the shell she has crawled into. As Imogen starts to remember her previous challenges and triumphs in her jobs as a younger person, her resilient character and determination start to resurface. Imogen embarks on a wonderful make-over and shares her numerous entertaining jobs with the reader. They range from a young girl selling trinkets on the beach, to the resourceful manageress of a steakhouse and lastly, to the manageress of a hotel in Cornwall [which I have not been to but which sounded quite rural and remote to me and the thought of arriving on my own at such a place, by train and late in the evening, gave me the shivers], with many other interesting experiences in between. Things in Imogen’s varied roles don’t always go smoothly and her mishaps and slightly reckless decisions will have you howling with laughter.

I really enjoyed this book and reading all about the various odd jobs Imogen had in her youth. The ending is very satisfying and leaves you with a very happy and uplifted feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Three: The Interview – Sally Cronin


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

In Chapter Two Imogen had run through her C.V with the owner of the employment agency and was about to find out his reaction to her rather colourful job history……….

Chapter Three: The Interview

For a moment, there was an uneasy silence.

Mr. Jenkins smiled.

‘Why don’t you call me Andrew’ he said, quietly? ‘I know that it can be a little intimidating at first, but you strike me as being a smart, interesting woman who just needs a little encouragement to get back out into the working environment. Just relax and tell me in your own words about the jobs, and the things you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about each one.’

‘This process will help us decide what it is that you want and where it best fits into our client requirements.’

I took a deep breath and settled back into the chair.

‘Well, I had better start at the beginning then, although the fourteen year old who started work along the seafront seems like a completely different person to who I am today.’

Just thinking back to those early spring months of 1967 made me smile. I had pestered my mother and father for months to let me get a part-time job. I didn’t want a paper round as getting up at an ungodly hour before school every morning, including Sunday, held little appeal. Also, my parents were concerned that my schoolwork would suffer so we compromised on a weekend and holiday job.

Just before Easter, I saw an advertisement in the local evening paper for staff for the council run operations along the seafront. The minimum age was fourteen years and three months, which I had just passed, and there was an address to apply for an application form.
Without telling my mother, I sent off for the form, which duly arrived. Being a council application form it covered three pages and virtually asked for weight and number of teeth. I was proud of my efforts, and presented the completed and signed form to my mother who also had to sign the form because of my age.

My mother’s idea of employment for me was slightly different to mine. I think that she saw me serving tea to ‘hatted ladies’ in some up-market restaurant in one of the big department stores. Working along the seafront seemed to conjure up horrendous pictures of loutish behaviour and dirty postcards. She was actually not far off the mark there, and she was very resistant to the idea in the beginning.

One of the genetic traits that I have inherited from my mother is the ability to nag successfully. One must be neither too forceful, nor direct. It requires subtle insinuations into conversation, usually at crucial times, such as when someone is lifting a fork of food to their mouths or is in the middle of a television programme that requires absolute attention. It is a little like drops of water on stone, gradually it is worn down to the desired path. My mother was very good at getting her own way and always one to emulate success I used her own methods against her.

My mother used to wear a foundation garment that was the forerunner of my own current all-in-one girdle. My mother’s girdle had bones in strategic places throughout the garment that not only lifted but held the body in much the same way as scaffolding around a building. The timing of the nag was critical. Just as my mother had struggled, naked, into the legs of the girdle and was inching it painfully over her hips with everything hanging over the top, I would poke my head around the bedroom door.

‘Mummy, would you believe that the job on the seafront pays two shillings an hour and that means you wouldn’t have to pay me any more pocket money?’

My mother never had a chance. After a campaign which only lasted two weeks, my form was signed, returned and a call received from the council asking both my mother and I to attend for an interview at the main café on the front.

This was my first job interview, and I illustrated another genetic trait I had inherited from my mother. This is the gene which governs what you wear and how many times you will change your outfit before an important event. You have to remember that this was the sixties and I was fourteen, going on thirty. I had two older sisters and their wardrobes were rummaged through until I had assembled what I considered to be suitable attire for the all-important first impression.

It was a campaign that I lost. No amount of nagging was going to allow my mother to be seen dead accompanying me in my chosen outfit. I, of course, thought it looked sophisticated, professional and very adult. The make-up that I had applied gave me a certain ‘gothic’ air, and on my arrival in the kitchen, ten minutes before we were due to leave for the interview, I was mortified to be met with laughter from my younger brother and horrified glares from my mother. Ten minutes later, with face scrubbed, and in my school uniform, we left.

Andrew laughed.

‘You got the job, so perhaps your mother was right about the outfit’

‘You could say that.’ I admitted.

‘When we got to the café, there were about ten other girls of my age, with their mothers, waiting in the serving area.’

The moment came back to me as if it was yesterday. The place was not due to open for another two weeks so we all sat around the tables and tried not to stare at each other. There was only one other girl in school uniform and we looked at each other in sympathy, while the two mothers smiled smugly at each other. All the other girls were wearing much the same as my original outfit and they in turn smiled smugly at the two of us in our basic grey and navy blue.

‘I can’t remember what the interviewer was like, my mother answered questions about my school work and home environment and then the man asked me why I wanted to go to work.’

At fourteen, you have not perfected the art of lying in interviews and you certainly do not prepare stock answers in advance. The man got an honest answer.

‘My friend Mary gets two pounds a week pocket money and I only get five shillings. My parents say that they cannot afford to give me any more.’

I looked across to my mother’s horrified face. I could see that she was about to interrupt.

‘I am going to give my parents some of my earnings to help them out.’

The man looked sympathetically at my mother, assuming that we were near the poverty line. I had a nasty feeling that once out of the safety of the interview room, I was going to be in trouble. Luckily, before she could refute this silent allegation, the man had risen and was ushering us out of the door.

‘We will be in touch in a few days Mrs. Baxter.’

He shook my mother’s hand.

We walked past the remaining applicants, who searched our faces for some clues to the ordeal ahead. My mother marched straight past with a firm grip on my elbow and I resigned myself to a long, ‘verbal’ walk home.

Three days later a letter arrived stating that I would be employed for the summer season. I would work for a maximum of six hours a day, at an hourly rate of two shillings an hour. I was rich and my mother was vindicated. I later found out that the only applicants to be offered a job were the two in school uniforms. Confirming the age-old belief that mothers are always right.

‘So, you got the job and you’re in the money, what did you have to do for it?’ Andrew poured himself another cup of tea and settled back in his chair.

It is amazing how many events and people you can remember after thirty-five years. I suppose the memories are stored away in a filing cabinet, and are kept as fresh as the day they were made. My first day on the job came back as clear as if it were yesterday.

I arrived in my school uniform and black lace-up shoes. I was greeted by the manageress. She was a plump, motherly looking woman, who later revealed the temperament of a Rottweiler. She led me into the staff room and indicated a locker against the wall.

‘This is yours. Remember the number, thirteen. No-one else wants it for obvious reasons, but, since you are the newest member of staff, you get it.’

An auspicious start to my first job!

‘These two overalls are to be washed by you and you will be charged five shillings if you lose one.’

It was beginning to sound a bit like school.

‘You will clock-in with this card and clock-out at the end of each shift, and the card will be sent to the council who will send down your wages each Friday.’

She smiled maliciously.

‘You work a week in hand here.’

I had no idea what that meant and clearly my face reflected my confusion.

‘That means you won’t get paid until the second week, and you will get two weeks money at the end of the season.’

Great! Now I was going to be working for nothing for my first week, or so it seemed. I looked at the two grey nylon overalls with faded, unidentified stains down the front of them. Not exactly the height of sixties fashion! Now I dreaded the prospect that some of my school friends might come upon me in this garb.

‘I am giving you to Betty.’

The manageress turned and walked through the door.

‘Hurry up girl, you’ve got a lot to learn and we haven’t got all day.’

A paper round, even with early mornings, began to look rather more attractive as I anticipated what was to come. I assumed that all the women in this place were of the same type as the battle-axe walking in front of me and I was pleasantly surprised to be handed over to a tiny, round, beaming woman who had been waiting for me outside the back door of the café.

‘Hello. She smiled at me. I’m Betty.’

She was wearing the highest pair of stiletto shoes I had ever seen. She must have been under five-foot in height and quite plump, and I had no idea how she managed to stay upright on these thin, three-inch heels. I am nearly six foot and I looked down on my diminutive new companion, wondering how she was going to boss me around. I was soon to find out that looks could be deceiving!

Where were we going? I had thought that I was going to be working in the café. Had I been fired already? About twenty feet from the restaurant there was a small round building. Little did I know at the time, but apart from occasional relief duties in the main café, this was going to be my work place for the next three seasons. Betty opened a door at the back of the structure.

‘In you go youngster’ she said, holding the door for me.

I stepped through into the dark and stood for a moment on the threshold of a new life. The lights snapped on and I looked around me.

‘Now.’ She said firmly. ‘I don’t stand any nonsense, we can have a good time in here away from everyone else but you have to follow the rules, okay.’
I nodded my head.

‘What’s your name and how old are you?’

She busied herself around the old fashioned till perched on the wooden shelf. No mean feat as it stood four feet off the ground and she could barely see over the top of the counter. Obviously, I could now see the reasoning behind the three-inch heels.

‘My name is Imogen and I am fourteen and three months old.’ I replied.

‘Good for you.’ She said, with her head buried under the counter. ‘You sound a bit like a light bulb, bless you.’

You know, I had always thought that about my name too.

Betty stood up and looked me up and down. Being a large girl, the overall was a bit of a tight fit and my black lace up shoes did nothing for my image as a swinging sixties chick.

‘Got any plimsolls that you can run in?’ she asked.

‘Yes I have my school gym shoes at home.’ I replied, slightly bemused as to why I would need running shoes in this tiny round building.

‘Good. Wear them tomorrow, with trousers.’

The plot thickened!

With that, my training began. I discovered that I was going to be assistant manager of the souvenir kiosk. A very important job, she said. I would be left in charge during lunch times and during the holidays when I would be working longer hours. And, I would be entrusted with the kiosk on her day off. A far cry from clearing tables in the café, but an unexpected pleasant surprise. I would be out in the fresh air everyday and I had already taken a liking to Betty.

First, we went back outside and opened the metal shutters. As they opened, the souvenirs were revealed in tidy rows on the downward sloping wooden counter. There were leather goods; purses, wallets, comb holders and manicure sets, all of which had the city crest, emblazoned in bright colours on the front. There was a whole section of different coloured sticks of rock, with the lettering running through it, and heart-shaped lollipops proudly bearing our town’s name.

Around the inside of the kiosk hung cards with little ivory name badges, hair slides and combs. For the life of me, I cannot imagine wanting to receive a pair of hair slides with Portsmouth & Southsea engraved on them, let alone wear them. However, I was to discover that they were a popular item for our holidaymakers.

‘Right dear, grab the end of this stand will you ducks.’

Betty had already decided that she was not going to call me by my given name, and did not until the day I left three years later. Can’t say I blame her.

Against the counter, at the back, was a large wooden easel. We dragged it through the back door and out to the front of the kiosk. When we got it into the sunlight, I saw that it held row upon row of postcards, all neatly stacked in their own wooden slots, on both sides of the stand. There were views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight. Pictures of the hovercraft that went between the island and us, and of course, on the top three rows, the obligatory dirty postcards. I knew they were dirty because my mother always grabbed me away whenever she caught me eyeing them during walks along the seafront. Betty, also, was not allowing time for viewing, and taking my elbow pulled me back into the kiosk.

My training began. It was completed on the job because as soon as we got back inside we had our first customer and we were busy all day. It was great fun and I discovered a flair for selling, that must have been hidden in my genes along with my nagging skills. Same sort of idea really. Betty was very proud of the fact that I could persuade people that they really needed a comb to go with the purse, and that two sticks of rock would be better than one.

The one job that I really enjoyed, however, involved the gym shoes. I wore them, as instructed, on my second day. Betty explained that there were three boys of about ten or eleven who were coming along each day and stealing handfuls of dirty postcards. She couldn’t leave the kiosk and chase them, and anyway her stilettos would never have allowed her to catch up with them.

My job was to conceal myself behind the postcard stand, when Betty spotted them coming, and to give chase.

‘What do I do with them when I catch up with them?’ I asked innocently.

‘Got a younger brother have you?’ She asked.

‘Yes, I have.’ I replied, mystified.

‘Well, if he took something of yours without asking and you caught him at it, what would you do?’ She smiled grimly.

I waited patiently behind the postcard stand, just out of sight at the allotted time. Sure enough, as predicted, the three boys ran up, grabbed a handful of cards and raced off down the promenade.

They never knew what hit them. They were not aware that I was sprint champion at school, or had dealings with a younger brother. You have to remember that these were the days before ‘Positive Parenting’. So the slaps I administered to these three shoplifter’s behinds, while regaining possession of the stolen articles, were both legal and satisfying.

I arrived back at the kiosk to find a beaming Betty, accompanied by the manageress of the café standing with her arms crossed and with a grim expression on her maternal face.

Apparently, she had been serving a customer, with a whipped ice-cream cone, at the outside window when she had seen me streaking past, yelling mild obscenities, after the three robbers.

I thought I was just about to be fired from my first job on my second day.

The Rottweiler nodded at Betty.

‘She’ll do,’ and with that she turned on her heel and went back to her domain.

‘Well done ducks.’ Betty patted my arm.

‘That’s the last we’ll see of those little buggers.’

I realised that my education over the next few years was probably going to be broadened in ways my mother would possibly not approve of. But I was here to stay, and I was now, officially, part of the team.

In time, I did clear tables, serve behind the hot counter and sample the whipped ice-cream between customers. Mostly, though, I stayed in the kiosk and learnt about life and the art of ‘selling-up’ from the first really committed teacher I had ever known.

* * *

I looked nervously across at Andrew. ‘Was that too much information? I’m not sure what exactly you’re looking for.’

He smiled reassuringly.
‘I know that it was your first job but it covered three years, and it indicated a few interesting things to me.’ He paused for a moment.

‘You obviously have an excellent memory. I can’t remember much of what happened last week, and you are adaptable to different situations, enjoy meeting people and you can sell both yourself and your products.’

He laughed.

‘You would also appear to be quick off the mark if the occasion calls for it.’

I looked at my watch and was amazed to find that I had only been in the office for half an hour.

‘Are you sure that you want me to go through all my jobs,’ I asked, secretly hoping that he did want to spend more time with me.

‘Absolutely, you have my undivided attention.’

Well that was something I had not been given for a while, so I might as well make the most of it.

***

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Imogen has been rejected by her husband of 20 years. She discovers that he has been having an affair, that the woman has become pregnant and that he wants a divorce all in one go. It is devastating to Imogen who has devoted her life to building her home, raising her children and being a good wife and mother. Somehow, along the way, Imogen seems to have lost all her vitality and spunk and changed into another, less vivid, version of herself. Although she knows this, Imogen struggles to overcome her depression and feelings of inadequacy until she makes a impulsive decision to go for an interview with a placement agency for older women and find herself a job.

The man who interviews Imogen is interested in her and her past jobs and life. He spends time talking to her and draws her out of the shell she has crawled into. As Imogen starts to remember her previous challenges and triumphs in her jobs as a younger person, her resilient character and determination start to resurface. Imogen embarks on a wonderful make-over and shares her numerous entertaining jobs with the reader. They range from a young girl selling trinkets on the beach, to the resourceful manageress of a steakhouse and lastly, to the manageress of a hotel in Cornwall [which I have not been to but which sounded quite rural and remote to me and the thought of arriving on my own at such a place, by train and late in the evening, gave me the shivers], with many other interesting experiences in between. Things in Imogen’s varied roles don’t always go smoothly and her mishaps and slightly reckless decisions will have you howling with laughter.

I really enjoyed this book and reading all about the various odd jobs Imogen had in her youth. The ending is very satisfying and leaves you with a very happy and uplifted feeling.

If you would like to browse my other books.. 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.

Tomorrow – Chapter Four… Imogen’s first full time job in a private dental practice with a surprising outcome

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Two – The Curriculum Vitae – Sally Cronin


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

In Chapter One we met Imogen whose husband has left her for what she calls a ‘Fast Tracker’ a young ambitious woman who prefers a man who is well established and has already been trained.  Imogen is finding it rather difficult to adjust to the new situation, relying heavily on films and ice-cream to relieve the stress

Chapter Two – The Curriculum Vitae

Over the last few months, I had begun to amuse myself by imagining people that I met as animals. Not very kind perhaps, but it gave me a sort of perverse pleasure and satisfaction to match the person to the animal as closely as possible. It had almost become a fixation. For example, my husband’s features morphed into those of a mangy, flea ridden alley cat whilst the Fast Tracker had assumed the features of a sharp-snouted rat, scavenging around for other’s leavings. My feelings, as a cornered rabbit, were probably a reflection of the current low esteem these two predators had forced on me, and was something else that had to be dealt with, along with my expanding waistline.

‘Good morning, how may I help you?’ The lady behind the desk had the look of a well fed Cheshire cat. Wide smile and fluffy hair.

‘Good morning. My name is Imogen Smythe. I am here to see Mr. Jenkins.’

‘Of course, we’re expecting you, do take a seat and he won’t keep you a moment.’

I settled down into a comfortable chair and was pleasantly surprised to see that the magazine was this month’s edition. I read my horoscope with some relief, as it said that I was about to be pleasantly surprised by a new acquaintance and that I should grab that romantic opportunity with both hands. I was a little dubious about that last one, as I was not sure what I should grab with both hands. I was relieved because, in the dentist’s last week, I had picked up a magazine which had a disastrous prediction for me, only to discover the magazine was two year’s old. Perhaps if I had read that issue then, I would have had some warning about Peter and the fast tracker, as I seem to remember it mentioned rats deserting a sinking ship.

I was nervously reading the horoscopes for everyone else in the family, when the door to the inner office opened and a giant of a man stood in the doorway.

‘Mrs. Smythe, won’t you come in.’ A deep voice echoed around the small reception area.

If I were to label Mr. Jenkins as an animal, I would have to liken him to a grizzly bear with kind eyes. As I rose to walk towards him, I had little time for reflection but I was struck by a comfortable feeling of security, which was reinforced by the huge hand that came out to clasp mine. The dark, slightly rumpled suit and the greying brown hair, just touching the collar of his cream shirt, completed the picture.

‘Take a seat, won’t you.’ He said in his deep brown voice.

I sat in the chair that he indicated, and rather than go around the large desk to take a seat, he instead sat opposite me and crossed his long legs.

‘I understand that you are looking to go back to work after a bit of a break, is that correct?’

‘Well, I had hoped that perhaps I could find something. It isn’t the money, but I am getting rather bored now that the family has grown up and left home.’ He looked at me for a moment, and I could feel his eyes sweeping up from the floor, pausing briefly at my cleavage (possibly wishful thinking) and then moving on to meet my hesitant gaze.

‘It can be a little daunting, returning to work after such a long time, and it is important that we spend time now to understand your skills and preferences. We don’t want to place you in a position where you are not suited. It would only disappoint you, and our client. Both the client and our staff are very important to us and I have to tell you that we will only place people in positions if we feel that they are capable of the tasks necessary. Does that sound fair enough to you?’

‘Oh yes.’ I uttered quietly. Thinking to myself; chance will be a fine thing. Even this nice man is never going to find something I can do.

‘Perhaps you could let me have your C.V. so that I can get some idea of your work experience in the past?’

I handed the slightly rumpled piece of paper across to him and he glanced down. His index finger tapped gently on his upper lip and I nervously watched his eyes running down the two pages of type-written script.

He smiled and then called through the open door to the receptionist.

‘Elizabeth, would you kindly bring in a pot of tea and some biscuits for myself and Mrs. Smythe? I think we might be here for a while.’

That was encouraging, at least he wasn’t throwing me straight out of the door.

‘You have had rather a lot of jobs in the past haven’t you Mrs. Smythe?’ He glanced up from the paper and looked directly at me.

‘A lot of variety too. Catering, retail, advertising, hotels, but quite a bit of movement. I see that some of these were temporary.’

I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

‘Absolutely, I moved around quite a bit with my future husband – which accounts for many of the changes.

I tried to look at Mr. Jenkins confidently, but felt somehow that he had not been fooled at all.

‘Well, I think the best thing to do is to talk about all your jobs, including the ones when you were at school and college. This will give me a much better feel for your abilities and the sort of positions that you would enjoy, as well as being suited for.

‘All of them?’ I looked at my watch, not that I had anywhere other than a sofa to go to. ‘Won’t that take up far too much of your time?’

‘No, absolutely not’, he smiled encouragingly. ‘I spend as much time as necessary with every new applicant and I have nothing else scheduled for this morning.’

This was it then. I knew that close scrutiny of some of the positions I had listed would reveal flaws of a very personal nature and that if I were to come out of this positively, it would be necessary to stretch my acting abilities to the limit. I called upon every ounce of backbone I possessed, and sipping the piping hot tea that had arrived I marshalled my thoughts.

Mr. Jenkins left the room and appeared a few minutes later with my original C.V. and a photocopy.

‘Perhaps it might help if you have the C.V. in front of you to jog your memory?’ He smiled and handed me back the instrument of my downfall.

‘In your own time’ he prompted me.

Okay here goes.

CURRICULUM VITAE

NAME: Imogen Smythe  D.O.B.: 10th January 1953   ADDRESS:  65 Blackrock Road,  South Woodford, London E18

O’LEVEL PASSES:
History, Mathematics, English Language,
English Literature and Biology.

COLLEGE EDUCATION:
One-year secretarial course Bankhurst Secretarial College. Shorthand 100 w.p.m. and RSA Stage II typewriting.

WORK EXPERIENCE
1967 – 1969
Seafront restaurant and giftware complex. Weekends/holidays.
Duties: Varied. Souvenir kiosk, ice-cream machine, table clearing, waitress.

1969 – 1971                       Dental nurse/Receptionist/Secretary.
Mr. Forsythe-Brown – 13 Broadstairs Street. Portsmouth.
Duties: Chairside assistant, X-ray technician, reception, accounts, secretarial.

1971 – 1972                       Shop assistant
Huntley’s Department Store.
Duties: Sales assistant: Shoes, Ladies clothing, Cosmetics.

1972 – 1973                       Catering assistant
O’Ryan’s Steak House – Eastbourne, Sussex.
Duties: Bar, Restaurant management, waitressing, stock control, security.

1973 – 1974                       Public House assistant manager
The Quayside Public House, Isle of Wight.
Duties: Bar meals, bar, cleaning, stock control, security.

1974 – 1975                       Temporary Positions
Two insurance companies; Funeral Directors; Boy’s School; Free Newspaper.
Duties: Varied.

1975 – 1977                       Hotel Assistant Manager.
Killbilly Country House hotel. Killbilly, cornwall.
General duties:- Including reservations, restaurant and bar management, training, Public Relations, stock control and accounts.

1977 – 2001                       Housewife and mother.

Chapter three next Saturday, and Imogen begins to relate the stories associated with all the jobs that she had undertaken and also more about her life and marriage.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Feb 24, 2019 Colleen M. Chesebro rated it it was amazing

When fifty-year-old Imogen Smythe (Baxter) is replaced by another woman (a fast-tracker), the reality of her divorce to Peter sends her life into a tailspin. For the last twenty years or so, this middle-aged woman has dedicated her life to raising her family.

After the divorce, Imogen’s left with too much time on her hands. After all, how many cartons of ice cream can one woman wallow in? Don’t answer that question!

An industrious sort, the divorcee decides to get a job, even though her resume shows she hasn’t worked in years. She visits a temp agency and proceeds to fill out her resume which sends the reader on a hilarious romp into Imogene’s past employment history. I’m a night reader and a few times I laughed so hard I woke up my husband!

At the office, Andrew, a placement agent, is charmed by Imogene’s pleasant personality as she details the jobs, locations, her bosses, and many of the customers she took care of. This journey into her past causes her self-worth to skyrocket and her confidence blooms. Not only does Imogene find herself, but she also finds true happiness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The author is a consummate storyteller and her writing skills are evident. The premise was brilliant and from start, to finish, the story is told with enough pathos and humor to make Imogen a role model for all middle-aged women who find themselves starting over from scratch.

I did receive this story as a gift. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share my thoughts.
MY RATING:

Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5  Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Fairies

If you would like to browse my other books.. 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.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter One- Reflections on the Past – Sally Cronin


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

About Just an Odd Job Girl.

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.

Chapter One – Reflections on the Past

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who is the daftest of them all?
Imogen is!’

I’m nearly fifty years old and suddenly alone. I’d often sympathised with others, over the state of newly divorced forty and fifty-something’s, never really believing that it could ever happen to me. One never does. I was sideswiped by what I call a ‘Fast Tracker’ and never knew what hit me.

My husband Peter is a banker, that’s banker with a B! We had been married for just over twenty-five years when he suddenly announced that he had met someone else.

We had actually been together from the age of twenty and had shared so much over the years that I genuinely thought he was my best friend. We’d met when Peter was at college and we were broke for much of the first ten years. It didn’t seem to matter. We were in love and even when the children came along, Elizabeth, Andrew and Kate, we still managed to have fun with the little money we had to spare. Peter worked long hours to provide for us and I felt we were a team. He was now a highly successful merchant banker and we had been enjoying the good life for the last fifteen years.

Then one day, suddenly, out of the blue, it was over. I’ll spare you the hours, days, weeks of recriminations, crying, begging and generally demeaning behaviour that accompanies such an announcement since I’ve already been through the process and have no wish to repeat it. But I will share with you my definition of a Fast Tracker.

A Fast Tracker is a girl in her late twenties or early thirties, who is on the lookout for a middle-aged, successful, wealthy, powerful man. This girl has no interest in going through the early years of poverty, screaming babies, mortgages and doing without. She has no desire to train a man into being the perfect husband; she wants one that someone prepared earlier. My husband was ripe for the picking. He was all that a Fast Tracker could desire, and being of an age that is easily flattered by a younger, toned, available female, he fell – hook, line and sinker. Incidentally, something he swore would never happen to him.

He was most generous, as he kept reminding me. Although I hadn’t worked during our married life, he conceded graciously that I’d brought up the three children more or less single-handedly and had done a fair job of it. He also appreciated my efforts around the home and the fact that his shirts had always been ironed, his cleaning collected and his meals cooked.

The subject of sex was not mentioned, although I was tempted to point out that it was usually he who suffered the headaches after a long difficult day at the office. By the time he had outlined my leaving package, I felt like a redundant executive who, whilst applauded for past efforts, should really throw himself on his sword for the good of the company.

It all came as rather a surprise to me, which made me feel exceedingly stupid. How could I have missed the signs? Basically, there were none. He had been getting his cake and eating it too. Life at home had been no different including our Saturday night lovemaking. He’d been as ardent as ever. How could I have been married to someone for twenty-five years and not known him at all. Apparently, he had been seeing this girl for over a year. I suppose, in hindsight, that it could have gone on for years, except that she had got pregnant. Completely by accident, of course.

Would I be cynical in suggesting that it was all part of the grand design, and a determination to get her man won the day? She should have been a Mountie. She wanted the house, of course. It was beautiful and I had spent the fifteen years since we’d moved in, making it the house of my dreams. It became a nightmare instead. I had no independent means of support. Peter agreed to pay me a one-off sum to enable me to buy a home and still have an adequate income.

The children had left home, and were now independent, so it left just me. He said that if I were difficult that he would simply sell the house and give me half the proceeds, so I would lose it anyway. In the end, for a quiet life, I agreed. It broke my heart, but I did manage to negotiate for most of the furniture and household appliances, as the Fast Tracker had decided that she wanted all new accessories for her recently acquired home. She didn’t mind a used husband but she was not into second hand furniture.

I managed to find a very pleasant little house, backing onto Epping Forest, in a suburb of Northwest London. The central line station was only a few minutes walk away and I was half an hour from my old neighbourhood and friends.

For the first six months though, I filled my days with decorating and transforming my new home into a haven. I had no wish to see anyone from the past as it reminded me so much of what I’d lost, but gradually, I began to pick up the pieces and face life as a middle-aged single woman.

The children were angry, confused, bitter and then resentful in turn. Much of their negative feelings were directed at me. Why had I driven him away? What had I done to upset him? It must be my fault that he turned to another woman. After a few months of recriminations, I snapped and told them that they could think what they liked. This surprised them as I had followed a very conciliatory line of parenting with them. Always reasoning problems out and hopefully dealing with them fairly when they went through the inevitable stages of teens and early adulthood.

They were as shocked as I was, and after a few months of spending time with both their father and Stephanie (the Fast Tracker), and myself in my new home, I believe that they began to appreciate that there had been an external, unstoppable force at work that had simply cast aside the complacency that accompanies all those years together. This was combined with the fact that when they did visit their father he was usually busy changing nappies and feeding their new half-brother called Adam.

I must say that, not having received any help in that department during our own children’s infancy, I was very surprised to hear of his current involvement. Stephanie obviously possessed far stronger powers of persuasion than I did, and in more departments than I had thought. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during the first nappy sessions; I sincerely hope that he did not come out of the experience unstained.

Thankfully, my children are sensible, bright individuals and have their own lives to lead. They rang me and visited me in my new home frequently, and I was thankful that our love survived. Peter tended to throw money at them, in an effort to overcome the guilt he felt, and being practical they took it, but with a knowing smile.

After six months of decorating and curtain making and now being well ensconced in my bright little haven, I started to get bored. With only myself to look after, there were long hours to fill. This is where the comfort eating comes in!

I had satellite television installed and sat in front of the movie channels for several, unhealthy hours a day. I worked my way through multi-packs of chocolate bars and the large tubs of rich ice cream that tasted sinful. As this was the nearest I was ever likely to get to sin again in my life I decided to take it to extremes, with devastating effects on my body and morale. The forest beckoned, offering long walks through its leafy paths but it was ignored. My hips spread and gravity began to pull my body down along with my spirits. Eventually when the last of my skirts failed to fasten, and not wanting to spend my limited capital on completely replenishing my wardrobe, I decided that action was required. I would get a job.

I had avoided the thought like the plague. The main reason that I had not worked for the past twenty-five years was because Peter felt that I should be at home with the children. A pity he had not been quite so conservative when it came to infidelity.

I had no idea where to start, so I rang my eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who was a legal secretary in the centre of London. She suggested that I go to the local temp agency and see if I could find something that did not require modern technology, just plain old-fashioned common sense – such as filing.

The whole prospect was terrifying, after all this time; I wasn’t even sure if I even had any common sense. It was certainly something Peter always assumed I was lacking. I went back to my daily movies and popcorn and put the whole subject ‘on the long finger’, as my Irish friend Mollie says.

A few weeks later and I was down to the last two items in my wardrobe. I was going to have to find some common sense from somewhere and pretty quick. Thankfully some arrived in the form of the local free newspaper, and instead of throwing it straight in the bin, and not having visited the video shop that afternoon, I sat down and read it from cover to cover.
There, in the appointments section, was a small advertisement:

JENKINS TEMPORARY AGENCY
Specialising in the mature applicant.
Call for an appointment today.
Free consultation and no fees.

I called the number listed and got a very nice woman who told me to put a C.V. together, and to come in on Thursday for an appointment with Mr. Jenkins himself.

The next day, I let out the waistband of my last remaining decent skirt, unearthed a jacket that only just met across my middle, and forced myself into a body shaping girdle – their words, not mine! Unfortunately, the body shape it achieved was not quite what was on the packet, it pushed most of the problem areas upward into the bra cups, and I had difficulty breathing.

However, it was the first time in my life that I actually had a cleavage. At least I could button my blouse without leaving gaps, and popping the buttons. With any luck, Mr. Jenkins would be so entranced with my new womanly shape that he would not notice the rest of the outfit.

Wednesday evening was spent writing out my record of previous work. I had never sat down and really thought about all the jobs that I had undertaken before the children came along, and I was honestly surprised to see how many different positions I had held. I included the weekend and holiday jobs that I had when at school, and college, because they were all experience. Right?

My parents had insisted that I go to secretarial college, so that I would always have something to fall back on. I obtained my typing and shorthand qualifications at the end of the year – although in those days we only had manual typewriters, so our speeds were not great.
After college, I really was not sure what I wanted to do. I had applied for a number of positions in offices, and remembering those early interviews made me smile for the first time in ages. I seemed to have had a new job every nine months or so. It might not look too good to a prospective employer, but I reasoned that the temp agency would want to know everything I had ever done, so that they could accurately assess where to place me. So, I wrote down everything, even the jobs I had been fired from. With any luck, if they did take up references, there would not be anyone there who remembered me.

Thursday morning arrived. I dressed, applied my make-up and practiced smiling in front of the mirror. I looked like a cornered rabbit, with a nervous tick, rather than the sophisticated mature woman looking to return to useful employment. I just hoped that Mr. Jenkins would see the raw potential underneath.

©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

Tomorrow the appointment at the Temp agency and the Curriculum Vitae…

One of the reviews for the book

Feb 24, 2019 Colleen M. Chesebro rated it it was amazing

When fifty-year-old Imogen Smythe (Baxter) is replaced by another woman (a fast-tracker), the reality of her divorce to Peter sends her life into a tailspin. For the last twenty years or so, this middle-aged woman has dedicated her life to raising her family.

After the divorce, Imogen’s left with too much time on her hands. After all, how many cartons of ice cream can one woman wallow in? Don’t answer that question!

An industrious sort, the divorcee decides to get a job, even though her resume shows she hasn’t worked in years. She visits a temp agency and proceeds to fill out her resume which sends the reader on a hilarious romp into Imogene’s past employment history. I’m a night reader and a few times I laughed so hard I woke up my husband!

At the office, Andrew, a placement agent, is charmed by Imogene’s pleasant personality as she details the jobs, locations, her bosses, and many of the customers she took care of. This journey into her past causes her self-worth to skyrocket and her confidence blooms. Not only does Imogene find herself, but she also finds true happiness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The author is a consummate storyteller and her writing skills are evident. The premise was brilliant and from start, to finish, the story is told with enough pathos and humor to make Imogen a role model for all middle-aged women who find themselves starting over from scratch.

I did receive this story as a gift. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share my thoughts.
MY RATING:

Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5  Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Fairies

If you would like to browse my other books.. 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.