Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year?

Well, let's see......

As expected, the wastrel drug addicted, alcoholic cousin died - his funeral was in October. His pond scum friends (all with thick Eastenders accents), all unused to the length of Catholic masses, complained loudly and left the service in dribs and drabs to have a smoke. Charming.

At the grave side, after the interment service, one of his pals set up a cd player and it kicked off with "Going Underground" by The Jam. Very funny. The cemetery is on the flight path to Heathrow - so most people didn't hear a thing.

My Dad's health is declining so rapidly that he's in a real hurry to get up and finish my house before it's too late to see it. He's still not seeing a doctor regularly, abuses anyone who attempts to give him advice or treatment and is still waiting to hear something from the Criminal Injuries Board about the attack that left him half blind in Spring 2006.

He won't visit MwK even though he only lives around the corner (rent free in Dad's flat) and see his grandkids because he'd sooner visit me (hundreds of miles form London in Wolverhampton) as he gets more respect. Hmmmmmn.

He's doing nothing at all to help himself. His mobility is severely impaired, he's almost completely blind, his balance is rubbish, he can't follow a conversation, has trouble comprehending quiz shows, newspaper articles and television programmes and, yet, not only will he not apply for any help that he may be entitled to, he's loudly abuses anyone who tries to help him.

His remaining sister (widowed after her husband, a maternal uncle, took a pneumatic drill to an electric cable) has found out she is terminally ill. Lung cancer.

Just like Mum, she ignored all the lung cancer-ish symptoms. Unlike Mum who developed secondary bone cancers, Auntie Godmother started to suffer confusion and memory loss and needed to be rescued from different parts of London after she attempted trips out and couldn't remember where she was going or where home was.

She was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours just before Christmas. Great. That's going to be another funeral to go to.

I was saddened to see Woolworth's closing down.

Back in 1983, Woolworth's gave me my first job. I was a Saturday girl in the Hammersmith branch (long since shut down) when there were half pennies, pound notes and old fashioned tills that were basically adding machines with a cash drawer.

The prices had to be punched in on big round buttons divided into pounds and pence on the till board, there was a subtotal button the size of a chocolate bar that was so large and heavy, that I had to virtually karate chop at the thing to depress it, the accumulating amounts in pounds, pence and halves popped up in the glass compartment in the top, there were two tensioned till rolls to keep an eye on (one for the cash office and one for the customer), smudgy purple ink and the cashier had to calculate the change from memory.

You can guess how I managed with that. Most of the time, my till was down at the end of the day.

Eventually, I was put on the Delicatessen counter where there was no till. There were what we thought were snazzy scales that we could put the price per kilo and it would print off a price label for the cashier to read. No barcodes, of course, only prices which we had to check were clearly printed before handing the packages over to the customers.

Now, no one believes me, but once upon a time, as well as the Winfield brand, Chevron records and any zip you wanted, Woolworth's sold food.

We had a small dried and tinned goods section towards the back of the shop, regular bread deliveries, fridges for dairy, meat and drinks and an entire Delicatessen island which sold cooked and uncooked meats, pates, cheeses and salads which we scooped into little polystyrene pots.

The place was a minefield of cultural faux pas'. There was a large Caribbean community and a large Jewish community. For some reason, many West Indians don't eat pork. Of, course the Jewish people didn't either.

Admittedly, we didn't operate under kosher laws, but a large number of Jewish and West Indian housewives (in those days, it was mainly women doing the grocery shopping) all queued up every Saturday, demanding that we washed our hands and utensils between serving them, the previous customer and the different meats.

One Jewish regular always had her kids with her. One carried the dairy and one carried the beef.

The place stank. Smelly Deli was where you went if you couldn't operate the tills. The customers didn't know, but Smelly Deli was the equivalent of the Remedial Class at school. No one wanted to work there.

The food was prepared up in the storage fridges on the first floor. The first floor was a dark windowless hangar of a space which was crammed with shelves packed with all the goods for the shop floor. There, towards the back, like two alien spacecraft, were two white walk in refridgerators where all our goods were delivered to and stored.

During the Saturday rush there were numerous trips up and down in the lift for more stuff. Corned beef was very popular, as was the best back bacon, and the ham on the bone.

I went to Woolworth's in the Mander Centre before Christmas and it was dreadful. The shelves had been picked clean and goods from the back of the store were being randomly thrown into crates which were then heaved onto the shelves.

Toiletries - do you remember when Woolworth's sold bath foam, sun cream and bath salts? One entire section previously given over to children's clothing had nothing but black plimsolls held together with elastic bands.

It was very sad.

2009 is shaping up very nicely. Not.