Smorgasbord Odd Jobs and Characters – Some Jobs that were left out! – Advertising Sales and Aritificial Insemination Marketing!


Over the last few weeks I have been sharing some of the jobs that gave me the background to my novel, Just an Odd Job Girl. I did leave some of the jobs out of the book and over the next week or so I am going to share a couple of jobs that were memorable.

1984 – Advertising Sales and Artificial Insemination Marketing!

1984 turned out to be a year of two halves. As we headed into 1984 we both were settled into our jobs. I was doing more travelling with responsibility for two more shops in York and Nottingham as well as the retail marketing side of the crystal company in Ulverston. I was away a fair bit of the time but so was David as his career began to move towards the new entertainment possibilities of cable television. However we did manage to head off to Wales from time to time and headed up some of the amazing tracks on Snowdon.

One of his previous bosses took over the cable TV division and David moved with him. This meant a house move as well and we put our house in Southport on the market. With little equity and higher house prices further south in Tring, Hertfordshire we needed to downsize and bought a small three-bedroomed semi-detached house.

We were closer to my family in Portsmouth and so visits home were more frequent. I found myself a part-time job locally with the editor and owner of the Friesian Breeder’s Handbook. A farmer’s ‘must have’ if he kept a dairy herd of these beautiful black and white cows.

As you can imagine quite a change from retail marketing manager for cut class crystal but I soon settled into selling advertising, editing copy and on occasion accompanying my boss to the large agricultural shows around the country.

I really enjoyed these shows but this is where my retail experience took a slight change of direction. As well as running the handbook, my boss was also a broker for bull semen. Whilst he would be around the show taking photographs for the next edition and drumming up advertising, I as set up with a table in a stall between two of the exhibition Friesian dairy cows.

I had a front row seat and insight into the grooming required to prepare a supersized momma ready for the show ring, including liberal baby powdering of already creamy coloured udders. Pristine and pampered they would await their turn to be led away by the proud owner. Unfortunately, from time to time I also had a front row seat when nature took its course and the udders became less than creamy white!

If that was not educational enough; I also was expected to sell a certain number of straws of bull semen to the farmers that drifted in and out of this fragrant bower. I had some very interesting discussions with prospective buyers as we perused the stud book and discussed the attributes of each of the macho looking specimens pictured. I actually could be quite persuasive and I like to think that 30 odd years later there are some fine herds of Friesians who are the result of my matchmaking!

As you can imagine this led to some very interesting dinner party conversations and included one with my father who asked if I collected the samples myself! Thankfully that was done by more experienced hands than me and the straws were safely frozen and stored in a laboratory awaiting my order to send onto to the new owner. Not sure how impressed the cows were at this rather truncated mating ritual but they probably dreaded seeing he vet arrive with his cool bag and rolling up his sleeves.

As you can imagine I loved my job! However, fate was to take another hand in our lives and the new unit that my husband had moved to join was suddenly closed by the parent company leaving David redundant. With a large mortgage and not much coming in from my part-time job, we were facing a bleak run up to Christmas. One night the phone rang whilst I was in the bath. I heard mumbled talking and David was on the phone for several minutes. He then shouted up the stairs. ‘Do you want to go to Texas?’

His previous boss had offered him two years in Houston selling optical fibre to the telecommunications industry. Of course we said ‘Yes’ in a nanosecond.

We hurriedly put the house on the market, arranged to put our furniture in store for two years, piled both David’s parents, his uncle, my parents, and my brother in to our little house for a last snowy Christmas. We had a ball with two barrels of homemade beer, good wine and a cramped turkey dinner followed by charades.

The first week in January we packed two suitcases each and boarded a flight to Houston.

You can find the other posts in the Odd Jobs and Characters in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed… thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord – Odd Jobs and Characters – Car Crash and Crystal and meeting Sherlock Holmes by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode was kindly hosted last year by Olga Nunez Miret who is the author of several novels in both English and Spanish.. she is also a translator who did an amazing job for me when she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Car Crash and Crystal and meeting Sherlock Holmes by Sally Cronin

After I left the department store in the middle of Liverpool, I was appointed manager of a crystal and gift shop in Lord Street, Southport, which is where we had bought our first home.

It was at the north end of this mile long main street, and we sold high end gift items such as Moorcroft pottery, and our own cut glass crystal glassware from the factory in the Lake District. All the glass was classified as ‘seconds’, even though there would only perhaps be a small bubble in the glass, or the cut might not be completely standard. However, the prices were terrific, with at least 40% of the normal retail price. I still have some of the glasses that I bought 34 years ago, and I was lucky enough to get another 10% discount making them very affordable.

Going to work was very easy. I walked out of our gate, then a brisk five minutes down the road, and unlocked the shop door. I really enjoyed the next 18 months, but was then offered the opportunity to manage the three shops that had now been opened, with the other two being in York and Norwich. I would also spend time in the Lake District as marketing manager to oversee the running of the factory shop, and to develop a tour around the glass works for visitors. This meant that I was away most of the week in one capacity or another, and I was given a large estate car to carry stock between the various shops.

On one occasion I had brought down a consignment of crystal to the Southport shop, picking up David from home, with the intention of delivering stock to the York shop; then spending the weekend exploring that very old and lovely city. We had set off down the motorway, which was busy with a Friday getaway. Because there was a great deal of commercial traffic, I was in the centre lane doing a steady 60 miles an hour and overtaking the trucks. I was just in the process of passing a large articulated lorry, when it suddenly veered out into the middle lane without signalling, and hit my car.

I was being pushed out into the fast lane, where traffic was moving considerably faster and there was nowhere for me to go but forward. I hit the accelerator and managed to disconnect from cab of the truck and pull in front of it; then on to the hard shoulder, where I came to rest in a state of shock. It was only then that the driver realised what he had done, and he too pulled onto the shoulder behind me. Thankfully David was not hurt despite the passenger side door being badly damaged. Once I had established that, I was out of the car and heading back to the lorry where the driver was hanging onto his wheel, waiting equally white-faced for one very angry woman charging up the hard shoulder towards him.

It was probably just as well, the police arrived shortly afterwards to make sure none of us needed treatment, or that other road users were impacted. David by this time had managed to open his passenger door and join the discussion.

The car was still driveable, although only having had it a couple of weeks; I was not looking forward to having the upcoming telephone conversation with my boss. After we had exchanged insurance details, and given our statement, which to be fair the lorry driver corroborated, we continued on our journey. However, we could hear the tinkle of broken glass from the back of the car.  I knew it was going to be interesting unpacking several boxes of expensive glassware and removing it from its tissue paper wrapping. Thankfully it was insured, and we were unhurt, but it made me paranoid about overtaking trucks for a very long time.

I loved the job, especially in the summer months in the Lake District when I would tour most of the other tourist sites to deliver leaflets and take theirs to display in our own factory. The tour was now set up, and we were about to begin accepting visitors, when I got a phone call from a gentleman who requested a private tour of the factory. It was unusual, but since we were not officially open for a few days, I agreed, and he made an appointment the next day.

It was 1984 and a new series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes had been recently released on Granada Television, but I had not seen any of the episodes. However, I immediately recognised the man who arrived for the guided tour as the actor Jeremy Brett, because he had played Freddie in one of my favourite musicals… My Fair Lady.

We spent an hour watching glassware being blown, cut and put through the acid baths, before ending up in the crystal shop attached to the factory where he purchased one or two items. I could understand now why he wanted a private tour, as he was very well known and unlike today, stars tended to be a lot less keen to be photographed and approached by fans.

It was one of those encounters that you always remember, and I went on to watch several episodes of the series before we left to spend two years in Houston, Texas…Where I am ashamed to say I name-dropped shamelessly.

I have not as yet used Jeremy Brett as a character in one of my stories, but he is tucked away for a rainy day. As for the car crash… some events are better forgotten.

©SallyCronin 2016

About Olga Nunez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.

Olga has translated her own books into Spanish of course and she has also translated some excellent Spanish books into English and you can find out more here.

I can highly recommend Olga as she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish...http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/translationstraducciones/

Books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret

A review for Escaping Psychiatry 2: The Case of the Swapped Bodies.

A Jolly Good Read on March 22, 2017

As a doctor and a psychiatrist, the author knows well the workings of the human mind, and she brings this knowledge to the table in ‘The Case of the Swapped Bodies’.
When consulting psychiatrist Mary Miller receives an unusual document from an FBI contact, it sets in chain a puzzling series of events. As with all mystery novels, it is difficult to give a flavour of the story without spoilers. Suffice to say this is a complex, carefully structured tale involving an unusual murder, FBI-police rivalry, buried secrets, small-town gossip and innuendo, an on-off love affair, and a character who may be insane – or worse.

Olga Nunez Miret steers a careful line around the different narrative threads, and strews just enough red herrings in your path to keep you weaving back and forth between possible ‘solutions’ until the book’s closing stages. Logic and emotion interweave to keep the reader off-balance and anxious to see how resolution(s) will be achieved. You may never view American small-town life in quite the same way again.A jolly good read.

Read the reviews and buy the books Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/author/olganm

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

Read more reviews and follow Olga on Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

Audio bookshttp://authortranslatorolga.com/my-audiobooks/

Connect to Olga on social Media

Website –http://www.olganm.com/
Blog- http://authortranslatorolga.com/
Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret
Twitter- https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode in my colourful job history was originally shared by Jane Sturgeon on her blog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Jane Sturgeon

I started this blog seven years ago and it is a wonderful adventure. Being here in our Global Village has gifted treasured friendships, creative expression and woven a part of my authentic soul. I am grateful.

A new chapter is starting in my life as I have come to live by the sea. I have dreams and ideas floating up and I am sure they will find their way onto the page.

Connect to Jane

Blog: https://janesturgeon.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jslifetherapy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jane.sturgeon.505

Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to your comments. thanks Sally.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Smorgasbord – Odd Jobs and Characters – #Wales- The Sheep Farm – Indignant Rams and Black Sheep by Sally Cronin.


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode was originally posted by Adele Marie Park and more about her books after the post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Sally Cronin 2017

About Adele Marie Park

I love writing, it`s my passion. My genres include fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, and a mixture of all those. I love telling stories;period. I am married to my wonderful wife, who is my rock. Our daughter and our dog, german shepherd collie cross, are also my passions. To experience a moment of pure love is to experience the world.

Creativity is something I couldn`t live without.

I am also a Supernatural geek, and love my music. Punk, Goth, Rockabilly and visual Kei music from Japan.

The paranormal is my normal. oh, and I also totally believe in faeries.

About Wisp

Edra; a world where magic flourishes and where dark secrets are concealed by those who rule. Secrets which can get the innocent killed without a thought.

When the body of an elf is discovered in a treacherous area of the city, Wisp a young Law Enforcer is assigned the case. He soon realises the case is far from simple. As soon as he finds one thread another one leads him to unravel a tapestry woven from lies, secrets, corruption and evil. When friendship turns to love, Wisp`s life, as he knew it will completely change.

What started out as a murder case ends in a grisly battle which Wisp and his companions seem to have no chance of winning.

One of the reviews for Wisp on Goodreads

Colleen M. Chesebro rated it 5 Stars

Meet Wisp, a law enforcer in the land of Edra, where magic is encouraged to flourish and is often needed for sheer survival. A mages council rules Edra compared to the neighboring area of Finah, who prefers humans to control their resources. After a bloody civil war, many years ago, the two lands exist beside each other in a fragile peace.

Wisp is a marsh fairy (YES! Can you believe it?) with raven hair and pointy ears pierced with silver earrings. Marsh fairies are rare and possess special powers. Wisp keeps his real identity under wraps, known only to his superiors. Abandoned as a child, the “Senior” Law enforcement officer raised him ensuring his survival.

In a desolate area filled with putrefying rubbish, Wisp comes across the body of a High Elf, a member of the Thorns, who was a high-ranking council member found murdered in the circle. The elf’s throat had been brutally cut. Wisp sets out to solve the murder not realizing he is to play an integral part in solving the mystery.

Wisp meets Finn Redhaven, the lover of the murdered elf, Sammiel Thorn, and feels an immediate attraction to him. Wisp and Finn fall in love and discover a wealth of magical abilities enabled by their relationship. And, they are going to need all the help they can get to battle the evil that has descended on Edra.

As fantasy novels go, Wisp stands out to me in its originality and political intrigue. Ms. Park creates a world where love is considered to be one of the greatest powers of all. I enjoyed that the two main characters were male and embraced their love and desire for each other, which was a refreshing approach to solving a mystery in a magical land. The reader discovers along with Wisp the extent of his abilities which I anticipate will increase over time.

I’ve added Wisp to my list of favorite fantasy novels. I loved the story and the characters. The ending is a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait for the next volume to find out what happens to Wisp and Finn. Hopefully, Ms. Park won’t keep us in suspense for long

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wisp-Adele-Park-ebook/dp/B01MXYQ2E4

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Wisp-Adele-Park-ebook/dp/B01MXYQ2E4

Read reviews and follow Adele on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16214999.Adele_Marie_Park

Connect to Adele

Website: http://www.adelemariepark.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firefly.fly.14
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Binky567

Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to your comments. thanks Sally.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Smorgasbord Reblog – Odd Jobs and Characters – Odd Jobs and Characters – Hotel Assistant Manager – Swashbuckle and Romance #Wales #Snowdonia


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Last week I wrote about my cross country journey of many hours by train, to reach a hotel in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. My time there was filled with adventures, and in this post I would like to introduce you to a couple of memorable guests. To spice things up a little, and since I was the guest of an award-winning romance author, Lyn Horner, I included a little love interest.

Snodonia National Park, Wales

Snowdonia National Park; wikipedia creative commons; photo by Mike Peel

The hotel boasted an award winning restaurant which overlooked the Mawddach estuary. In the summer months in particular, guests could eat outside on sunny days and evenings, enjoying the spectacular mountains that dominated the landscape. This attracted international visitors as well as those closer to home, as well as the rich and famous. This included Denis Thatcher, husband to the newly appointed prime minister, Maggie Thatcher, and several actors and BBC television presenters who used our hotel as a base when filming in the area.

One lunch in particular stands out in my mind as it involved the head of one of the most prestigious Champagne houses.

One of my boss’s best friends was an importer and businessman in the area, and he would frequently drop in for lunch with his clients. Normally when my boss and his friends had lunch there was a fair amount of alcohol involved, and I would be kept busy bringing bottles of wine and spirits out to the table on the terrace. The guest that day was the head of one of the largest Champagne houses who was on a business trip to Wales. He had brought some bottles of the really good stuff with him. Pre-chilled and stored in a special case in the trunk of his car.

Wine flowed and the trio enjoyed lunch which included our specialty lobster dish. Our French guest left the table for about 5 minutes and arrived back with a sword in a very ornate scabbard. He asked me to line up the remaining two full Champagne bottles on the stone balustrade of the terrace. Bearing in mind the amount of alcohol consumed by this time, it was with some trepidation that I did as requested, and then stood back; well out of the way.

With a great deal of flourish, the sword was removed from the scabbard, and the hilt was clasped in two hands. It was announced that any further champagne would be drunk from bottles opened in the traditional way. With that the sword swept through the air missing the first bottle completely. Without missing a beat, a stance was taken again and silence fell upon the watchers as there was another wide sweep of the weapon. This time the neck of the bottle was removed and champagne cascaded all over the gravelled balcony. I do believe there was about half a bottle left to be consumed by the admiring lunch guests.

However, other guests made their mark in a more permanent manner. An Irishman booked a room by telephone, arriving a week later and was given the key to room 40. He caught the eye of more than one member of staff due to his good looks and his lovely accent, but apart from booking meeting rooms and business lunches or dinners, he kept mainly to himself. It was therefore quite a surprise on his last night when he asked me to join him for a drink when I finished for the evening. He apparently knew that I was off the next day and asked me out to lunch and then dinner. We did a lot of talking and perhaps a kiss or two! He was due to leave the next morning and came down to my flat to say goodbye; or so I thought. Instead he asked me to marry him.

Engagement photo on October 5th 1980.

 

I didn’t hesitate and said yes and we were married five weeks later in the small registry office in the nearby town. Just my parents and his parents attended and we had a small reception with lunch and champagne of course. However, swords were kept in their scabbards. As they have been for every anniversary since for the last thirty-seven years.

Wedding day November 15th 1980.

©sallycronin 2017

My thanks to Lyn Horner for hosting this post last year… and if you are looking for a wonderful series of romance novels…. look no further.

A selection of books by Lyn Horner

A recent review for Rescuing Lara

Living under an alias in Ireland to escape the Hell-hounds and their evil master who conspired the car crash that killed her uncle and scarred her physically and emotionally, Lara Stevens has been given the responsibility of following in her uncle’s footsteps in this amazing supernatural story by the fabulous Lyn Horner, that starts the Romancing the Guardians series that’s sure to be a winner!

As she guards the ancient family heirloom with only an old housekeeper/carer, Una, for company, Lara must seek out someone who can be a bodyguard and driver, until she recovers enough to fulfill the mission entrusted to her by the family, by the centuries-old Conhairle or Council of Elders, of which her Uncle Malcolm was the High Guardian of the Scrolls of Danu.

Who does she hire for the new position? How else does he help her? Why is he in Ireland and for how long? Where does he live when not working on the oil-rigs? What did he do in the US Army? What is special about his mother Josefina? What is found in the burned-out ruins of Uncle Malcolm’s property? Why is it important to Lara? Who is Dev? How does he help his old friend/now enemy – and why? Where is Lara pursued by the Hell-hounds? Who is Milo? When Lara finally reveals the truth of who she is and what her secret mission involves you’ll be thrilled and as excited as Lara’s lover and protector, to whom she is bound by love forever!

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y

Read more reviews and follow Lyn on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4639926.Lyn_Horner

Connect to Lyn via her website: http://lynhorner.com

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my romantic adventure..Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – Hotel Senior Receptionist – Ghostly arrival and a quick promotion!


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

Last week  I shared stories about my job in the boarding school as housekeeper/caterer and how I cooked over 3000 meals a week during term time.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

The story continues as I move across the country to take up the role of senior receptionist at a gothic hotel in the middle of the Snowdonia national park.

 

Hotel Senior Receptionist – Ghostly arrival and a quick promotion!

I received a phone call from some old friends on the Isle of Wight that gave me cause for concern. You have probably gathered by now that my separation and divorce proceedings were not always amicable and in fact they now became downright hostile. My friends ran a pub on the island, and my former husband had been in, having had rather a lot to drink, had demanded they tell him where I was. He told the assembled company that he was planning on tracking me down and having a confrontation. I was not unduly concerned and  my friends assured me that they had not revealed my whereabouts. However, I was in a school with 140 children and staff and lived in the grounds, and had no desire to involve them in my personal circumstances. I gave my notice that day; grabbed the nearest copy of The Lady Magazine, and looked for a job as far away from the south of England as I could get.

I found an advertisement for a senior receptionist for a seasonal hotel in Wales that was just about to open for Easter. I sent my details, and the requested photograph, and waited to see if I would get an interview. Instead, within a week, I had a letter offering me the position with a start date three days after the end of term. I packed up my belongings into a couple of suitcases and got rid of anything that I couldn’t carry. I then prepared to go up to London by train and head off across the country for nearly 300 miles.

In those days of no Internet, and a long haul by road, I reckoned that I was probably going to be fairly safe from repercussions, especially as only my family and solicitor knew where I was.

I had been given a timetable for the trains showing the changes I would have to make in order to reach my destination, and I was glad that my two bags were not too heavy. Four trains later, I sat on the platform of a country station, waiting for my last connection. The train was late, and it was already dark before it shunted alongside the platform. I struggled into a carriage that I presume had been in service since the war, possibly not the last one, and sat on the worn, velvet covered seat waiting for departure. I waited and waited, and was about to stick my head out of the carriage door, when we chugged into motion. It was now ten at night and I was concerned that the promised taxi that was supposed to collect me at Barmouth, and take me to the hotel, would not be waiting for me.

Half an hour later we pulled into what can only be described as a halt. It consisted of a wooden platform about ten inches off the ground and a leap of faith was required to exit the carriage with two suitcases, and no injuries. I must have been the only passenger for Barmouth, for no sooner had I slammed the door of the train behind me, than it was off, lurching into the darkness.  I had apparently arrived at my destination, but was alone, and in the dark, with absolutely no idea where I was going or who I was going too.

Those were the days before mobile telephones, and to be honest, from what little I could see around me, there was little evidence that even the telegraph had reached this remote spot. I sat down on the sturdier of my two cases and ran through some basic Girl Guide survival tactics. As I had been drummed out of the brownies at the age of seven (for jumping out at boy cubs from behind gravestones) my knowledge of field crafts was sadly lacking, so I decided to stay in place for a while and see what transpired. After all where else was I going to go? I shivered despite the warm overcoat I was wearing. The night was cold, and a thin mist was swirling around the end of the platform. All the books I had read about North Wales had been based on the 5th century with tribal raiding parties and witchcraft. All the tales now came back to me; I clasped my arms around my body anxiously; on the verge of panic.

This feeling of impending doom was given a boost when suddenly out of the mist an apparition appeared. At least seven feet tall, and dressed in a black cloak, it swirled towards me rapidly. I shot up and backed behind my cases; despite the fact they would have been of little protection against a werewolf. A deep voice suddenly cut through my fanciful imagination.

‘You’re late girl, I’ve been waiting hours, where have you been for goodness sake?’

I could not tell if the booming voice was male or female. On closer examination, I realised that my original estimate of the figure being seven foot high was a slight exaggeration, but not by much. A scarf was unwound from around the throat of my new acquaintance, and I saw that it was indeed a woman; with very stern looking features.

Before I could utter a word my suitcases were whipped up, one in each of her hands, and she set of marching into the darkness. I had very little choice but to follow as I watched my worldly possessions disappearing into the night.

I found myself in a car park next to a taxi, and my bags were thrown unceremoniously into the back; my companion disappearing around to the driver’s side. I gingerly opened the passenger door, wondering what I had let myself in for. At least the interior of the vehicle was warm, and I was grateful when the engine started first time. My driver announced that it would take about 15 minutes to get to the hotel, and with that, we were off, quite smoothly too, much to my pleasant surprise.

Our journey was silent. I did make an attempt at small talk but only received grunts in reply. Eventually, I gave up and concentrated instead on hanging onto both dashboard and armrests as we careered around narrow country lanes. Sure enough, fifteen minutes later the taxi drove through two large pillars and up a slope. In the dim glow of the headlights, I could just make out a building looming out of the mist, and we came to a stop outside what appeared to be the main entrance. I let out my breath, which it seemed I had been holding since we left the railway station, and hurriedly opened the door, before we could take off again.

My driver got out and deposited my two suitcases by the door and then left me standing in the mist as she drove off into the night.

There were some lights either side of the entrance, and by their dim glow, I could make out double wooden doors. By now I was three hours late, and it looked like everyone had gone to bed. I had little choice. It was either stay out here in the freezing cold or ring the bell that hung on the wall at the side of the doors. I crunched across the gravel and up the stone steps, summoning what little courage I had left. I pulled the rope hanging beneath the bell and swung it from side to side. I nearly jumped out of my skin as a loud clanging rang through the night. It was loud enough to waken the dead! Sure enough, within seconds, lights went on in the hall. They reflected through the glass at the top of the door and, if anything, added even more gloom to the atmosphere.

The door creaked open slowly and my mouth went dry. By this time, I was fully convinced that Frankenstein’s monster was going to loom into view and carry me off to some attic, never to be seen again.

In fact I was greeted by the warm smile of the manager of the hotel who had kindly stayed behind to make sure that I arrived safely. He carried my suitcase down the side of the hotel to a small flat that was already occupied the new assistant manager who had come down from the Lake District a couple of days earlier. With arrangements to meet in the morning to go over my duties, the manager left and I sat down with a welcome cup of tea and made my first friend in the new job.

Sadly, after a few weeks, she felt that the job and the location were not for her and she returned to the Lake District where she opened a very successful B&B. Whilst I was very sad to see her go, I found myself promoted to Assistant Manager and so began my adventures in the depths of one of the most stunning national parks in the UK. It was hard work, but great fun, and I have never been so skinny with the long hours and my new pursuit of hiking on my days off (perhaps I should apply for a similar job again!).

And, down the road, my work would lead to me meeting a very special man who swept me off my feet.

©Sally Cronin 2017

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed my adventure. As always your feedback is much appreciated.

You can find all of my books at these links:

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

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

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

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

Smorgasbord – Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Department Store – Part Two – The Cosmetic Department.


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find the previous odd jobs here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This post in the series was kindly hosted by author  D.Wallace Peach  and you can find out more about her books at the end of the post…

The Department Store – Part Two – The Cosmetic Department.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I think that we might have a foundation that would tone down the redness,’ I offered.

‘I can then blend you a powder to ensure that it lasts all day if that would help?’

She smiled at me and perched on the little round stool the other side of the counter. The following half-hour was both informative and enjoyable. My new customer was funny and totally unconcerned by her strange appearance. She introduced herself as Dolly and regaled me with her recent escapades on her path to becoming the woman she wished to be. One of these being the removal of hair on the backs of her hands and lower arms. Hence the reddened skin on show.

As I came to the end of her particular powder blend, she leant across the counter and motioned for me to come closer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Sally Cronin – 2017

Next week the Steak House originally hosted by John W. Howell.

Short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

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

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

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

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

My thanks to Diana Peach for hosting me last year and whilst I am sure you are familiar with her fantastic books here is a reminder.

About D. Wallace Peach

I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.

I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.

D.Wallace Peach has just released her first children’s book, Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters. Not only written by Diana but illustrated by her too. An amazing amount of work but as you will see from the cover it is fantastic. Available in print only in US, UK and Canada.

A selection of books by D. Wallace Peach

A recent review for Myths of the Mirror.

on April 4, 2018

After I finished reading D. Wallace Peach’s The Rose Shield Series, I found myself bereft, desiring more of her storying. A visit to her Amazon Author page gave me everything I needed. I was thrilled to find her first series, Dragon Soul Quartet and couldn’t wait to dive right in.

The Myths of the Mirror, Book One, is a haunting tale of resplendent dragons, exhilarating magic, and how the myths of the people from Taran Leigh and the Mirror intertwine and intersect. Their myths become the allegory from where ancient enlightenment springs.

Far from the village of Taran Leigh is a spot in the wilderness where a bowl-shaped lake, called the Mirror, hosts a civilization of people who ride the bejeweled dragons in the Old Way communicating with their souls as they become one with the dragon’s spirit. This merging of man and dragon comes by invitation from the dragon, signifying a magical union like no other.

In comparison, the dragons of Taran Leigh are imprisoned, forced to live in a stone lair, and brutalized by their captors, all the while compelled to perform for “coin.” Years ago, the greedy governors tricked the skyriders into believing their lies, looking only for ways to line their own pockets. The people of Taran Leigh have lost their connection to the old ways.

It takes a calamity greater than Terasa and Conall have ever known to teach them the myths of their people. Conall faces his demons while Terasa learns the myths of her father and those of the magical dragons who teach the lessons of “the tie” and of “the belonging.”

I know I’ve written before how I feel like a silly fan gushing over Diana Peach’s work. But, I must share with you that this book touched me in ways I have never experienced before. It was as if I had my own epiphany, at one with the divine truths the author penned in this tome. I can only say that my reading was akin to a spiritual encounter. The entire reason I read is for that magical connection, and The Myths of the Mirror delivers that and more.

I loved this first book so much, I’ve bought the entire series! ❤ Myths of the Mirror (Dragon Soul Quartet Book 1)

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5  Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5  Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

To discover all the books and read the reviews and buy: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Read more reviews and follow Diana on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068749.D_Wallace_Peach

Connect to D. Wallace Peach 

Website/Blog: http://www.mythsofthemirror.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dianapeach33/pins/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/activities/d-wallace-peach+0_2F1UmSg–qRIqYJlk2W1Q_?trk=nav_responsive_sub_nav_yourupdates
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101899993447765818692/posts

Thank you for dropping in and look forward to seeing you again soon. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Posts from MY Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Shoe Department by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. Where this is the case I will of course provide you with the links to their post.

You can find the previous odd jobs here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This post in the series was hosted by my lovely friend and non-fiction author D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies and you can find out about her books at the end of the post.

Odd Jobs and Characters – The Shoe Department – Cheating and Surprises by Sally Cronin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©sallycronin 2017

Next week the Cosmetic Department and more surprises

Short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

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

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

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

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

My thanks again to Debby for being part of the original tour and here is more about this amazing supporter of Indie authors.

 

Books by D.G. Kaye

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

Connect to Debby Gies through her bloghttp://www.dgkayewriter.com

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Dental Surgery Part Two by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. Where this is the case I will of course provide you with the links to their post.

You can find the previous odd jobs here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

The Dental Surgery Part Two.

Previously…..

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

I was now 18 years old and have been studying the dental nurse course at home and in quiet periods in the surgery. I had also been getting practical experience on the basic tasks required by a chairside assistant, and having done a first aid course I found that I slipped into this role quite quickly.  In those days on job training was common, and because there was not such a wide range of procedures carried out, it was intensive but thorough. Also in those days there were not the technical aspects to the profession to contend with. Poor patients were lucky to get an anaesthetic for minor fillings!

By this time Roland was 68 and he was a tough boss. He had been in the army during the second world war and after retiring at 50 had gone into private practice. He did rather treat me as a squaddie and this extended to the daily deep cleaning of the surgery. Apart from washing down all the surfaces with anteseptic wash, including chair and its attachments I was expected to sterilise all instruments after each patient in a temperamental boiler. I was also equipped with a toothbrush, and all cracks and seams on the chair and the cabinet that contained the instruments and drugs had to be cleaned with hot water and soap each Wednesday afternoon when Roland went out sailing.

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 during the miners strikes. 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. Roland would pump up and down on a pedal and this provided enough energy to operate the drill at a painfully slow speed. I operated another squeeze box that powered the suction pipe. Painful enough just watching, so I can only imagine what it was like for the patient.

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 Roland was taking impressions for some dentures when I got the call. 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 my boss who was holding an X-ray up to the window and examining it closely.

‘Imagine my extreme surprise to discover, on removing this patient’s  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.’  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.

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.

During an upper tooth extraction I would place two clasped hands over the patient’s head to keep it nice and steady whilst Roland applied pressure to the tooth before removing. On one occasion as I applied the necessary force, I felt the patient’s hair begin to move. I was terrified that I had scalped him but then realised it was a toupee. It slipped back and forth during the procedure and unfortunately the patient left with it askew as I was unable to get it back in its proper position. Do you know how hard it is for an 19 year old not to giggle in that situation!

After two years I felt that I would like to take my training 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. However, fate was to take yet another hand in my destiny!

Some of the more memorable patients have appeared in my short stories... and next week – The Shoe Department – Cheating and Surprises.

Short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

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

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

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

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

Smorgasbord Invitation Review 2017 – Top Personal Post 2017 – Behind the scenes of Just an Odd Job Girl


Back in the summer I asked for volunteers to host a series of posts on the background to the jobs I featured in Just an Odd Job Girl which was the first novel I wrote.

12 Bloggers very kindly invited me over and I was delighted with the response. This was the first post that I featured on my blog.. and later in 2018 I will feature the other 12 again as well in case you missed.

Writing Short Stories – Odd Jobs and Characters by Sally Cronin Series.

So far I have published over 60 short stories in collections and the one drawback to this is the amount of diverse characters required to star in a wide variety of situations.

Luckily, I have a retentive memory stretching back to around the age of three, of the people, places and events in my life. Thankfully the majority of those memories are happy, but there have also been one or two life threatening occasions as well as times when the world seemed very dark. Although over time they were resolved, they too have become very useful for creating plots in stories and providing emotional context.

I was always imaginative as a child… my mother I seem to remember, called it ‘telling fibs’. For me as we travelled around to various countries, my imaginary friends were a comfort and helped me gain confidence as I made real friends. They were eventually replaced with the real life counterparts and very precious they are too.

Fifty years ago I started work on a part-time basis as soon as it was legally possible. I was fourteen years old, and even though I have had periods when not officially employed, I have been working ever since. My intention is to be dragged kicking and screaming into the next world with my keyboard in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

This new series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Souvenir and ice-cream seller along the seafront 1967 – 1971

Just thinking back to those early spring months of 1967 make 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 your 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 had to accompany me to the interview and she made me wear my school uniform to encourage a belief that I might be a worthy candidate! The interviewer was a nice man and I remember that he had a deep voice and seemed genuinely interested in what this fourteen year old had to say… which was pretty rare!

Three days later a letter arrived stating that I would be employed for the summer season, and weekends once I was back at school, at a cafe and souvenir kiosk by South Parade Pier. I would work for a maximum of six hours a day, at an hourly rate of two shillings an hour. I was rich.

I arrived excited, but understandably nervous, and was greeted by a rather austere cafe manageress. She issued me a nylon overall and so many rules and regulations that I forgot them immediately.. Thankfully she then uttered the words…..‘I am giving you to Betty.’

I was pleasantly surprised to be handed over to a tiny, beaming woman who had been waiting for me outside the back door of the café.

She was wearing the highest pair of stiletto shoes I had ever seen. She must have been under five-foot in height and nicely plump; 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!

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.
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. It was filled to bursting with leather and plastic souvenirs and beach games, and stored for security reasons, a large double-sided postcard stand that needed to be taken outside to make room for the occupants.

After carrying that outside between us, Betty busied herself at 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.  I could now see the reasoning behind the three-inch heels.

Betty then proceeded to introduce me to the world of selling souvenirs which ranged from combs, purses, heart shaped badges and other small items. They either bore the coat of arms for Portsmouth and Southsea or with a male of female name. Good luck if you had been called something exotic!

She was a very patient and lovely woman, who not only showed me a management style that became a benchmark for me in my later career, but also became my friend. Her on job training was second to none, and by the second weekend she pronounced me Assistant Manager of the kiosk.  I was solely responsible for stocking, selling to our many customers and cash management when she took her lunch breaks and for her days off.

Betty has featured in several of my stories in one disguise or another and even after 50 years, her influence on my work ethic, management style and sense of responsibility makes me grateful for having her in my life.

As well as providing me with some wonderful characters in addition to Betty, my time  along the seafront provided me with plenty of material for future stories. These included her request for me to wear sneakers one weekend so that I could chase down and capture a couple of lads who had been pinching the saucy postcards on a regular basis; a mission that I completed to her satisfaction if not to the suitably berated offenders.

In my third year at the cafe, I was promoted to the front of house where whipped ice-cream was dispensed. I eventually got the knack of creating perfect whirls topped with a chocolate flake, but I am afraid that I consumed the evidence of my early failures which resulted in a need for a larger overall.

The next post in this series will appear on author D.G. Kaye’s blog on August 18th and follows my efforts in my first full time job working in a private dental practice at the age of seventeen (part one).

Several bloggers have invited me to guest on their blogs in coming weeks but I have one or two weeks left if you feel you would be happy to participate. I will send everything over that you need in a word document with any images attached.

 

About Sally Cronin.

After working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 19 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition. I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released ten others as part of our own self-publishing company, Moyhill. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.

My latest book – What’s in a Name – Volume Two.

Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them.

Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.In one way or another all these characters will be remembered by those whose lives they have touched.

There is also a bonus story introducing a new collection The Village Square to be published in 2018.

You can buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Stories-Life-Romance-ebook/dp/B0748MLZ1W

My other books

I hope you enjoyed this chapter in my varied career and as I mentioned earlier I will be featuring the other jobs again. Thanks Sally