Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

We’ve had many visitors from other countries staying in our apartment and shared great times with them. Couples from the USA, Australia have enjoyed barbeques on the lawn; long boozy evenings of wine and slightly burned kebabs and steaks, of tall tales and laughter.  Visits to restaurants with people from France and Italy. Long walks and talks on the coastal paths with a couple from New Zealand that we’d met from there on holiday in Christ Church, followed by drinks in local pubs. We had a German man stay with us for three weeks who’d come to participate in the Iron Man Wales event. He’d worked hard for twelve months he told us and had to acclimatise himself to the course. Three days before the event he caught a chest infection and had to drop out. Despite his antibiotics he needed to join Husband in a double whisky that night.

Oh dear, I’m sensing a common theme here.

One year our last visitor for the season was a single man. We’ve had people come on holiday alone many times over the years and the apartment always seemed to suit them.

But when he arrived we quickly realised he could only speak a little English and we couldn’t speak his language at all.

hello-1502369__340

He hadn’t been in the apartment an hour before he came to the door brandished the empty bottle of washing up liquid.

’Oh, sorry,’ I said, ‘I thought there was plenty in it.’

‘Used it,’ he said.

 An hour later washing powder was asked for by a demonstration of vigorous scrubbing at a pair of underpants. I didn’t ask!!

‘There’s a box of washing powder under the sink.’

‘Used it.’ He shrugged.

Sunday brought him to the door twice.

First with the sugar bowl.

‘Used it.’

Then the salt cellar.

‘I thought I’d filled it—‘

‘Used it.’

“Used it” quickly became the watchword, whenever we were supplying tea bags, vinegar or handing over shoe polish

Monday he arrived with an empty tube of glue.

glue

‘Sorry, we don’t supply glue.’

He stands, smiling, waggling the tube. ‘Used it.’

Husband went into his Man Drawer and produced a tube of Super Glue. Scowling. Ears red. We never did find out what the man wanted it for, even though the following weekend Husband examined everything he could that would need to be stuck.

 Each day, at least once, the man came to the door to ask for something by waving the empty bottle, carton, container or label at us. Unlike most holiday- makers he didn’t knock on the back door but always came round to ring the doorbell at the front. In the end Husband and I would peer through the hall window.

‘It’s Mr Used It,’ one of us would say. ‘It’s your turn to go.’ Pushing at one another. ‘You see what he wants this time.’

 On the Thursday he arrived with a cardboard roll.

toilet-rolls

‘There are six more toilet rolls in the bathroom cabinet to the right of the hand basin,’ I offered, helpfully.

‘Used it.’

Seven rolls of toilet paper have always lasted a two people the whole week. I handed over three more

 ‘What’s happening in there,’ Husband grumbled. ‘Do-it-yourself colonic irrigation?’

On the Friday Husband produced a list. ’We should charge for this lot,’ he declared. ‘See?’

 It read like a shopping list: milk/salt/sugar/vinegar/butter/tea bags/ coffee/soap/soap powder/toilet paper/shampoo/glue/shoe polish. The writing became more indecipherable after that; think Husband was becoming exasperated… or  there was too much to put down.

‘Really?’ I said, even though I knew the chap had been a pest. ‘You’ve been keeping tabs on him?’

‘Too true.’ Husband was indignant. ‘We could even charge him for overuse of the battery in the doorbell.’

‘Except that it’s connected to the electricity.’

‘Even worse!’ Husband grumped off to His Shed.

Saturday morning came and the doorbell rang.  Smiling, the man put his suitcase down onto the ground and vigorously shook hands with both of us. He waved towards the apartment. ‘Used it,’ he said. ‘Very nice.’

 

Pattern of Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]

Changing PatternsLiving in the Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern of Shadows         Changing Patterns        Living in the Shadows

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A Hundred Tiny Threads

 

 

http://www.honno.co.uk/

 

 

My Review of Shadows by Thorne Moore #psychological crime

thorne

I received an ARC of Shadows from the author in return for an honest review. I gave the novel 5* out of  5*

Book Description:

A compelling blend of mystery and family drama with a gothic twist, by the Top Ten bestselling author of A Time for Silence

Kate Lawrence can sense the shadow of violent death, past and present. 

In her struggle to cope with her unwelcome gift, she has frozen people out of her life. 

Her marriage is on the rocks, her career is in chaos and she urgently needs to get a grip. 

So she decides to start again, by joining her effervescent cousin Sylvia and partner Michael in their mission to restore and revitalise Llys y Garn, an old mansion in the wilds of North Pembrokeshire.

It is certainly a new start, as she takes on Sylvia’s grandiose schemes, but it brings Kate to a place that is thick with the shadows of past deaths. 

The house and grounds are full of mysteries that only she can sense, but she is determined to face them down – so determined that she fails to notice that ancient energies are not the only shadows threatening the seemingly idyllic world of Llys y Garn. 

The happy equilibrium is disrupted by the arrival of Sylvia’s sadistic and manipulative son, Christian – but just how dangerous is he? 

Then, once more, Kate senses that a violent death has occurred… 

Set in the majestic and magical Welsh countryside, Shadows is a haunting exploration of the dark side of people and landscape.

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Thorne Moore’s work and, for me, Shadows, yet again, proves what a brilliant tale teller she is.

The author’s ability to create an atmosphere is exceptional. In Shadows the descriptions of the rooms and spaces within  Llys y Garn provide an eerie, dark presence and a vaguely distant, though dangerous, affluence in its history. It’s a great  background for the novel. In contrast the narratives portraying the surrounding Welsh countryside underline the myths, the legends of the land, the beauty of the settings, to give a wonderful sense of place.

 The characters are excellent; believable and rounded they instil either empathy, dislike, or exasperation. I loved the protagonist, Kate, and found myself willing her to make the right choices; to stay safe. In contrast, the character of her ex-husband and even sometimes, the lovable cousin, Sylvia, frustrated me. And I despised the “sadistic and manipulative son, Christian” (even though I hadn’t read the book blurb at the time) – I suppose that’s a sign of as well portrayed, multi layered character. And there is one character who was a great disappointment for me… saying no more here

The book description gives a good outline of this steadily-paced plot; what it doesn’t say, obviously, is how the reader is drawn into the story from the onset and then, piece by piece, caught up in the twists and turns of the narrative.

This is  is a book I recommend, without hesitation.

 

Praise for Thorne Moore

‘Thorne Moore is a huge talent. Her writing is intensely unsettling and memorable.’ – Sally Spedding

Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University and the Open University. She set up a restaurant with her sister but now spends her time writing and making miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton. She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” including A Time For SilenceMotherlove and The Unravelling.

Links to Thorne:

 Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Amazon

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!#MondayBlogs

stock-vector-happy-holidays-hand-drawn-creative-calligraphy-and-brush-pen-lettering-design-for-holiday-526547452

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It  brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the Sports Fanatic.

Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts  (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country.  the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.

Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.

After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.

No red cabbage?’ I enquire.

‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there  was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’

I don’t argue… we are.

The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children.  All very  jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.

None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.

The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.

‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’

‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’

Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.

‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.

She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.

‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’

sports-mad

The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment. 

Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would  you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch.It really is a nuisance.’

Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..

‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’

Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.

‘In the loo?’I offered.

‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’

The implications of that suddenly struck us.

‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.

I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.

We searched around the apartment, then the garden.

‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.

Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.

We stood and looked at one another

Then, without an ounce of shame, he  said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’

sports-fanatic

And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.

Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning

 

 

 

 

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!#MondayBlogs

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It  brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the  Tai Chi Naturists.

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 They looked a fit couple in their seventies; Mr and Mrs Wilson from Wigan, (actually not a made up name but it’s so long ago they really wouldn’t remember their holiday here… would they?) when they sprang from their dilapidated Ford Anglia.

 ‘Would you mind if we practised our Tai Chi on the lawn?’ the wife asked right away.

 I sensed Husband’s tension and alarm. When I glanced at him I saw he was breathing rapidly and his eyes were bulging a bit. But his ears were still their usual pink; bright red is the ominous signal of him being overly upset.

‘Not at all,’ I said, intrigued. I’m a great people watcher and we’ve had some fascinating visitors over the years. Many have had picnics and parties on the lawn. Husband has accepted this… mainly. And we haven’t had any complaints from neighbours about noise; in fact some have joined in with the parties. We live off a small lane; there are only three more houses further along. A large bed filled with shrubs and a lilac tree and hedges all around the garden shelter the house from view. Which, sometimes has been a good thing!

We’d had many who’d stayed with us before and did various keep fit exercises on the front lawn. and even a couple who practised their judo . This latter was quite entertaining until the man did his back in (or should I say his wife did his back in for him with a particular enthusiastic throw). They’d had to leave early with the man lying across the lowered back seat with his feet pointing towards the boot and surrounded by suitcases.  ‘Good job it’s an estate car’ Husband said in a casual way turning back to tend to his lawn where the husband had made a large dent.

 I digress.

‘Tai Chi links deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. See… ‘ the wife explained, taking in one long breath that made her nostrils flare alarmingly as, at the same time, she stretched out both arms. She felled Mr Wilson with one blow. I remember thinking at the time when her husband was smacked on the nose, that he should have known better than to stand so close. After all, from the way her nose whistled when she was taking in all that air, he must have realised she was going to demonstrate. ‘It’s a health-promoting form of exercise,’ Mrs Wilson said, cheerfully, as we all helped her husband back on his feet. ‘Sorry, love.’ She dusted him down. ‘It’s like a form of meditation, you know, exercises the whole of you, not just your body. Helps you to stay calm and gives you peace of mind, like.’

‘You didn’t do it right,’ Mr Wilson muttered.

 She ignored him. ‘We only took it up a month or two back,’ she said to us.

Husband carried their two small suitcases into the apartment, his shoulders shaking.

I clamped my teeth together. When I spoke I knew my voice was a couple of pitches higher than normal but there was nothing I could do about that.  ‘Is that all you’ve brought?’ I peered into the boot of the car, hiding the grin.

‘Oh, yes, just the two bags. ‘Mrs Wilson linked her husband’s arm. ‘We travel light, don’t we Sidney?’

He nodded but said nothing.

There are two things I should mention at this point.

One, my mother was staying with us that week and her bedroom window looked out onto the front lawn.

 And two, we quickly discovered that this elderly couple were Naturists.

 On the second morning after they’d arrived I drew back the curtains of my mother’s bedroom to see the two of them on the lawn, practising their Tai Chi.  Despite their years their movements were graceful, there was no doubt about that. They moved forward in one continuous action, their hands held out in front of them.  But it wasn’t with admiration but in alarm that I watched them; both because they were completely naked, and because I was standing side by side with my mother. And Mum had a wicked sense of inappropriate humour and ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome. She’d be sure to offend them by one of her ‘funny’ jokes. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to keep her away Mr and Mrs Wilson for the next seven days.

 It was when he turned towards the house, bent his knees and squatted that my mother made a choking noise and fell back onto the bed. Laughing!

 Now I know this is totally out of context and misquoted (and I do apologise wholeheartedly to Shakespeare and Cleopatra) … but the words that sprang to mind when I gazed at him, were “Age cannot wither……”

Well it was a very warm morning.

My Review of Moments of Consequence – Short Stories by Thorne Moore #TuesdayBookBlog

 

moments-of-consequences

The Blurb:

A collection of short stories by the author of A Time For Silence, Motherlove and The Unravelling.
The collection includes comedies, tragedies and histories. What is the true value of an old tea pot? (The Accountant). What happened on an uneventful day in Gloucestershire (It Was Late June). Has anyone stopped to look at a monument in the middle of Haverfordwest? (Dances On The Head Of A Pin). What lies behind the torn wallpaper of an old cottage? (Footprints).
The collection also includes three tales that add a little extra colour to the novels of Thorne Moore.

 

My Review:

 Okay, where to start? True to form I think I’ll work backwards; the short stories linked to Thorne Moore’s novels.

It’s no secret  that I am a great fan of this author’s work.  (I think I’ve been telling everyone that The Unravelling is one of the best books I’ve read this year. My Review on Amazon:http://amzn.to/2h4HJTC ) The short story that adds background to the book in this collection, Green Fingers, Black Back, is an internal monologue written in the present tense. Through the meandering thoughts of John, the protagonist, the characters spring from the page and reminded me instantly of the plot..

The short story that accompanieMotherlove (My review for Motherlove is on my blog here: http://bit.ly/2hB7AkZ  ) is entitled Hush Hush, a poignant tale of the street artist,.Jimmy Crowe, who lives in his own world with a family background that, as the author has written it, could sometimes almost rings true in parts… however far fetched.

A Time To Cast Away is the title of the short story (which made me cry) that adds another layer to A Time For Silence ( My review for this book on Amazon here:  http://amzn.to/2hB3HwE )

Part 2 of the book is a introduction, a few reviews and a summary of each of Thorne Moore’s novels. And then a brief introduction to Thorne Moore. I always find it interesting to learn about the authors.

And so to the eight short stories…

All are exceptional but  I think my favourites were The Accountant (giving away no spoilers, this sent a satisfactory shiver up my spine), Reason, Truth and God Knows What, which shouldn’t be read in the night (perhaps I’m just in ther mood for all things ghostly at the moment!). But there again I loved Footprints which reminded me of the background for  A Time For Silence. Footprints is written in an unusual format and is nostalgic story of people and ‘home’

 

The Food of Love is a sensuous take on food and its consequences.

 The Only Thing To Fear; a psychological chiller that had me holding my breath.

It Was Late June is a comedic story of a village. This one made me laugh out loud. 

 Piggy in the Middle is a different take on the Bennett family in Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s ironic point of view. Great fun.

 Dances On The Head Of A Pin. Hmm… set both in the present and the past this is a clever, casual approach to perceived religious transgressions and religious ignorance.

 Buying links:

 Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2hPbG7e

 Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2h5JKND

 

Christmas Spirit by Maggie Himsworth #Humour #Christmas #MondayBlogs

This is a festive poem from Maggie Himsworth, one of my adult students.  You’ve read some of her work before… slightly different  and fascinating. See: Fascinating slants on Shakespeare’s minor characters.  The Maid’s Account:  http://bit.ly/1NOYbSJ.  Of course you’ll know the play … won’t you!And  The Eunoch’s Voice http://bit.ly/2hfEKUl  in Antony and Cleopatra. Mardian, the head eunuch. is given a voice.

But now for something completely different…

owl

 Christmas Spirit

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

It was totally bedlam,

Thanks to the mouse.

Rat, Mouse, Cheese, Animal, Mammal

He’d nibbled the chocolate

And eaten the cheese

So at midnight that night

I was down on my knees

Praying for Santa

To put it all right,

To give us a Christmas

Not totally shite.

The fairy was frowning,

Well, it can’t be much fun

With Christmas tree needles

Stuck up your bum.

Angel, Angel Doll, Angel With Wings

But hark, who is this

Who creeps in the dark?

A shepherd or two

Out for a lark?

Or a king bearing gifts

Gold, incense or myrrh?

Not bloody likely,

It’s something with fur.

Clipart, Fox, Drawing, Design, Artwork

A fox in the garden

Dragging at bins

Pulling out rubbish

Rattling the tins.

That’s all I need

Where’s my Christmas cheer?

I look to the sky

Where are those reindeer?

Binoculars, Search, See, To Find, Watch

And that’s when I see them

Dusted lightly with snow

Rudolf the leader

His nose all aglow.

Christmas, Reindeer, Rudolph, Snowflakes

They land in my garden

The fox dashes off

I say ‘Hello Santa’

He looks quite a toff.

Christmas, Santa, Santa Claus

`He puts his arm round me

Hmm, things are improving

But then he says

‘Sorry, got to keep moving.

I know it’s been tough

I know it’s been rotten

You’ve had a bad year

And maybe you’ve gotten

Woman, Blonde, Sad, Miserable

A little bit bitter

And very upset

But think of it this way

How bad can it get?

A lot worse than this

I’ve got to say

So for God’s sake cheer up

It’s now Christmas Day.

Christmas, Merry Christmas, Dad

And with that he was off

All in a flurry

Less incense and myrrh

More a slight smell of curry.

Christmas, Comic Characters, Father

I went back inside

To hell with the fox

And that’s when I saw it

A bloody great box.

Gift, Christmas, Xmas, Present, Birthday

Things for the kids

And something for me

I took them all out

To put under the tree.

Christmas, Map, Christmas Tree, Green

©.Maggie Himsworth 2016

A Clean Sweep by Alan Roberts

Another hilarious gem from Alan Roberts, student of one of my creative writing classes. His first two posts were here: http://bit.ly/29u7vui.  and here:  http://bit.ly/20Gvbh6..

 His last post was rather more thought provoking:  http://bit.ly/2gJtDae

But here he  gives us an insight to what he was like as a lad in school.

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If there had been such a category in world sports then I’m as certain as I can be without actually taking part in any competition that I could have been a world champion and/or an Olympic gold medallist.  Not now of course, as in my seventies my upper body strength has sadly diminished and although I still maintain the technique, it is that combination that is required by someone to become a world or Olympic champion.  I know I’m blowing my own trumpet and you, my dear friends, have no way of knowing whether what I’m telling you is true or a whopping great porky but I’m convinced that even twenty years ago I could have challenged the world’s best and beaten them hands down (a bit of an unintentional pun!).

I’d mastered this skill due to an accident although, at the time, I was accused of breaking the cloakroom window deliberately.

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‘No,’ I’d said,’ I hadn’t.’

‘Yes you did,’ they’d said, holding aloft the evidence of the mud caked dap* still lying amongst the glass shards on the inner windowsill.  They grabbed me and made me stand outside the headmaster’s study.  The prefects were bastards, worse than any of the teachers. Gestapo, we called them.  Anyway, with the window smashed the head, known to us pupils as “Bonge” (don’t ask me, I have no idea why), was summoned and he told me to measure the broken window, visit the local glaziers, buy a new pane of glass and sufficient putty and then return and with the assistance of a flea-bitten old chisel that he left for me to collect from the school secretary, I spent the afternoon replacing the glass and its putty.  However, this wasn’t sufficient retribution for my ‘crass action’ so I was additionally ‘sentenced’ to a week’s after school detention and as the breaking of the window happened on a Monday I was to be detained for the whole week.  The hour’s detention every night would mean my customers would receive their evening papers far later than normal. I knew they would not be happy and neither was I.  But neither the head nor the gestapo cared about them and certainly not about me.

At the end of Monday’s normal school day I strolled from my window repairing workshop and went to the assembly hall to await instruction on what I was to complete during that first afternoon’s detention.  Five minutes later Bonge appeared and said I was to sweep the huge hall floor.  He produced a wide, wooden, soft bristle floor brush and started to demonstrate how he wanted me to use it.  He declared he had been in the Royal Navy and there had learnt the skills necessary to use the brush properly but with economic effort.   He first demonstrated how I should hold the brush handle then how to sweep with the brush held in front and then drawn behind.  Off he started, with me following close behind, him using precise movements to effectively collect and retain the floor’s detritus in the path of the bristles.  After a few moments he stopped his efforts, turned and asked,

‘Got that, Roberts?’

‘Not quite, Sir,’ I quickly responded, ‘I didn’t see how I should hold the brush on its forward path.’

‘Come closer,’ he instructed and as I moved alongside he repeated his demonstration of where the hands must be placed and set off once again, pushing the brush firmly before him.  I decided to bull-up his brushing skill, which considering he was a tall, large, elderly man was most impressive, saying,

‘That’s brilliant Sir, I can see how the dust is held in its place as you push the brush forward but what about when the brush is used in reverse, I didn’t quite get how you managed to keep the fluff in its place.’  Suitably flattered, he set off again, going down the length of the hall, first pushing the brush and then drawing it behind him with the growing mound of dust and fluff held firmly in its place.

‘Right, Roberts, now you try.’

I deliberately messed up the hand holds and so he came behind me and took hold of each of my hands and placed them where he wanted them on the wooden handle.

‘Hold on firmly but you must allow your wrists to be supple.  The skill is in the proper manoeuvrability of the wrists.  Try pushing forward.’

I pushed on the handle but again deliberately held my feet in place so ended up forming a triangle between me and the broom.

‘No, no, no,’ he called, ‘move your feet, boy.  Left, right, left, right.  Start again.’

I pushed myself upright, re-gripped the handle and set off – right, left, right, left.

‘Roberts, you’re the most awkward sweeper I’ve ever seen.  Your feet must move like you’re marching – left, right, left, right.  Got that?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘Right start again.  Forward, that’s it – left, right, left, right.  No, no, no – look where all the dust is going – back over the floor.  We’ll be here all night at this pace.  Right, let me demonstrate again.’

He snatched the broom, carefully placed his hands and set off back up the hall floor.

‘See, Roberts, correct hold, keep the wrists supple, feet moving left, right, left, right, note the bristles always corralling the floor dust.  Keep up, boy.  Brush in front, turn and draw the brush behind, turn to its front.  Up, down – all dust held in place.  Left, right, left, right.’

He began to quietly whistle and it was evident that he thought he was back on the deck of his ship, having momentarily forgotten that I and not he should be brushing.  He again reached the bottom of the hall and suddenly realised that I was no longer following him.  He shouted,

‘Roberts, quickly go and find Mrs Davies and ask to borrow her dustpan.  Hurry, there’s a good chap.’

He continued brushing as I sloped off to try to find Mrs Davies.  Returning with the cleaner, we both gawped to see Bonge finish brushing the last length of the hall, smiling happily at the pile of floor debris still held in place by the bristles. He turned to look at us.

‘Come on, Roberts, put the dustpan in front while I sweep the dust in.  That’s it.  Well done.  Right, have ten minute practice up and down the hall.’

He passed the brush and I set off as he had demonstrated.

‘Good, good – that’s it – forward – turn the brush – draw towards you, turn again, push forward.  Good – left, right, left, right.  Well done, Roberts.  That’s enough for this afternoon.  Be back here tomorrow at the end of class and I’ll watch as you sweep. Every night this week – make a sweeper of you yet, Roberts.  At least you’ll have a skill when you leave us.eh?  Goodnight, Mrs Davies.’

 

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With that he strode back to his study whilst Mrs Davies and I looked at one another and smiled.

 

By Friday night I had completely mastered the brush and the floor dust remained in place before the bristles and thanks to Bonge I have never lost the skill that he patiently taught me.  Betty, my wife, too, is delighted!

  • Trainer, gym shoe,plimsoll

 

 

 

‘Clean Sweep’             by       Alan A Roberts.          Summer 2016