'Tis The Season to be Jolly

Submitted into Contest #59 in response to: Write a story that feels lonely, despite being set in a packed city.... view prompt



Bloody buses! Why can they never be on time when you need them? Damn, and here comes the rain again. I’m going to catch my death here. Oh, at last, here’s one now.

“And just why are you so late, young man? I’ve been standing here for over twenty minutes waiting for you.”

“Oh, the traffic was bad, was it? Well, let me tell you, the waiting was even worse!”

Service! What bloody service? They turn up when they want – if they can be bothered, that is – and as often as not there’s not a seat to be had. And I’ve given up expecting some youngster to offer me theirs – far too busy twiddling their thumbs on their phones to even notice that there are other people around them. But my lucky day – there’s one near the back – I’ll squeeze in there.

“Morning. Thought I would have to walk into town this morning.”

No need to look at me like that! I’m only trying to make conversation, but please yourself. Well, this is going to be a fun twenty minutes, I can tell.

Oh Lord! Just look at the state of that – a definite case of ‘Not a Good Look’. What on earth makes her think that a red skirt up to her arse and ripped tights were ever in fashion? Or those tattoos on her face? She’ll regret it when she’s older.  And as for the Neanderthal she’s with – well, a hot bath, shave and haircut wouldn’t go amiss.

“Thank you, driver.”

Of what? Me? My cat? What am I supposed to ‘take care’ of, for goodness sake? Whatever happened to ‘You’re welcome’ or ‘Goodbye’? Is it me or is this world turning me into a modern-day Scrooge?

Anyway, I should post this package before I forget. Oh, and just look at the blooming queue!

“How much? Three pounds seventy-five?”

It’s daylight robbery, that’s what it is. Three seventy-five to send a small present fifty miles.

“Yes please, I’ll need a proof of postage.”

And there it is – the other mangling of the language I detest – ‘No problem’ – well, I hope it’s not – that’s what you’re paid to do, young lady. Now if I’d asked you to have it delivered by this afternoon, that would have been a problem, wouldn’t it? But pressing a button to print a receipt doesn’t require that much brain power, does it? No problem indeed!

“Thank you.”

Right, what’s next? Think, man, think. What was on the list? Post Office, Doctor – plenty of time for that – and what else? Library!

“Hello, Mrs. Jessop. How are you?”

If truth be told, you look like Death warmed up.

“Oh, that’s not good.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of it about this year. You taking something for it?”

Just don’t pass it on to me – I’ve enough of my own ailments, thank you.

“Yes, there is, actually. I reserved a couple of P.G. Wodehouse books last time I was in. Are they available?”

“Excellent – thank you.”

“No, that’s all, thank you.”

“Oh, yes, thank you – and, er, you too.”

Merry Christmas! I ask you – it’s only the 14th!  At least you don’t have that bloody music blaring out. Right, next? Oh yes, Birthday Card for Adam.

What was I saying about Christmas Music? How do these people put up with it all day, every day for weeks on end? It would drive me stir crazy listening to this Noddy Bloody Holder screaming at me endlessly.

Where the Hell are the Birthday cards hidden? Nothing but Christmas and Xmas cards – and I wonder who it was who first came up with the idea to replace Christ with the “unknown variable = x”? They should be lined up with all the other fanatics who want to change tradition – like “Wintermas” – what the Hell is that? – just more pampering to the minority classes, if you ask me. Won’t be long before we’re the minority class – those of us who try hanging on to what we were brought up with.

“Excuse me, Miss. Where can I find Birthday cards?”

Right at the back? 

Is this it? There’s normally a much better selection than this. And just look what’s on offer – cartoons, sports, jokes (if that’s what you find funny).

This will have to do – sorry Adam, but it’s the best on offer. That’ll teach you to be born in January!

“No thank you, I’ll just put it in with my books in this bag.”

No way I’m paying 5p for another plastic bag to clutter up the cupboards at home. And you are right, Missy – it was, indeed, ‘no problem’.

OK, next. Oh, yes, writing paper. W H Smith’s should have that.

Oh Lord! More bloody Christmas muzak – is there no escaping it?

Paper, paper, everywhere – not a sheet to write. Printer paper, tracing paper, photo paper, glossy paper, … Where’s the bloody Basildon Bond? Oh, there it is – thank God for that – at least some things in life go on.

“Yes, I can put it in with my other things, thank you.”

That green elf hat does nothing for you, my lad, nor the tinsel round your neck. But at least it’s not as bad as your colleague’s Snow Queen costume – doesn’t the Manager realise that Hallowe’en was over with weeks ago?

One penny change from £5 – may as well drop it in the charity tin. No need to look at me like that, sonny, I may be Scottish, and I may be careful with my money, but I do donate to my favourite charities – not that I suppose you do.

Right, what time is it? Twenty to twelve. Good, plenty of time to get round to the surgery.

“Good morning. I have an appointment with Doctor Goodfellow at 12:15. Is he running on time?”

“Twenty minutes over? Well, not too bad, I suppose. Thank you.”

Another twenty minutes of my life I’ll never get back. At least there’s a seat by the radiator.

“Oh, hello Jim. You waiting to see Doctor Goodfellow as well?”

“Oh, the new one? Is he any good?”

“A ‘she’? Well, is she any good?”

Jeez! A simple yes or no would have done. I don’t need to hear all the gory details about your wonky digestive system.

“Yes, staying put, this year.”

“No, just me.”

“No, I don’t mind my own company. And you? What are your plans?”

Stupid, stupid! I should have known better than to ask! Here we go… What a wonderful cook his daughter is, how excited the grandchildren get, how great a time they all have, …

“That’s nice.”

I don’t suppose he latched on to that put-down proffered by TV’s Mrs. Brown. Way over his head.

At least there’s no music in here – you can actually hear yourself think.

I wonder how often they change the posters in here? I’m sure that flu jab one is on its third winter. And the ‘five-a-day’ nagging one has been around for a while as well. Do chestnuts count as one of your five on Christmas Day?

Oh, here we go. My turn now.

“Hello doctor.”

“Not too bad, thank you. I just need my repeat prescription, please.”

“Oh, OK.”

“…and what’s 92 kilos in real money?”

Fourteen and a half stones. That’s OK.

“…and 130 over 90? Is that OK?”

A ‘bit’ on the high side, eh? I’m not surprised. You would have it too if you took time to see what goes on round about you every day.

“Should I worry about it?”

What? Drink less alcohol? Take more exercise? Eat more fruit and veg? You’re a real killjoy, aren’t you?

“OK, I’ll try.”

Maybe I should have come in first thing in the morning before everything started to wind me up.

“Well, thank you, Doctor. No promises, but I’ll see what I can do.”

“Yes, thank you, you too.”

Have a ‘Merry Christmas’ my foot! With your instructions to ruin it? 

Right – nothing else on the list. Job done, so back home. At least the rain has stopped and, good, here comes the bus – right on time. And would you believe it, the same driver – let’s see if I can wind him up.

“Hello again. And thank you for your concern – I was very careful – thank you for the advice.”

Love it! He hadn’t a clue what I was going on about.

Ha! And there’s the floozy with the mini skirt – on her own this time. Let’s see if a smile does anything.

Well, what do you know? She smiled back and she’s actually quite pretty when she smiles. Oops! She’s dropped her mobile.

“No problem!”

I can’t believe it! I said ‘THAT’.

“Sorry? No, no. I’m not laughing because you dropped your phone, but at what I said.”

“I know it wasn’t a problem to pick it up, but I can’t believe that I actually said that.”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter – it’s just me.”

Good, the heating has come on. Kettle on and Ginger Snaps at the ready.

There’s a lot to be said for a comfy armchair – it almost cuddles you, wrapping its comforting arms around you. Yes, I’m alone but I’m not lonely. Why should I be? I love Christmas, just not the modern chaos of it. Look at my decorations – old-fashioned crepe paper ribbons, honeycomb balls and bells, a real fir tree with Dad’s old coloured lights – only two spare bulbs left now. I hope they last a few more years.

Let’s put some carols on the record player – I wonder if Noddy Holder’s available on LP? I hope not!

That reminds me – I need to look out the mince pie recipe Dorothy always used.

The cake is coming on well, I think. Another couple of brandy injections should see it ready for icing.

Christmas! Bring it on, I say!

Scrooge? Bah, Humbug! No, not me!

September 11, 2020 15:07

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