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A Man, You 'n' Sis*

[*Really, Dirtbert, not a coyly-implied Human Triskele. Soap well thy mind, pray!] …Amanuensis, dearest! I Am One…! That is to say, I have lately fulfilled a long-held ambition - been paid to type up a manuscript for an author. My author is an eccentric, voluble Welsh fellow who comes into the shop fairly often. He is a mine of stories, and quite the namedropper. Now he is composing his Memoirs of a Welsh Childhood, and on learning that I am an accomplished typist (and liking me as being the Right Sort of Fellow), engaged me on the spot to take care of the tippy-typing. We agreed a price for my labours, he wrote me out a cheque and off I went with the manuscript in its purple folder. Today I returned the purple folder, along with a blue one containing a crisp and lovely typescript, and a memory stick containing All the Wordses.

I must say, the man is quite certifiably commaholic. (Myself I am rather moderate when it comes to the little legless creatures - I do not like to see them swarming all over the page like an attack of textually-transmitted mites. Remember, the comma is for punctuation, not decoration!) But there is much of interest in his stories, and he has an editor ready and waiting, champing at the blue pencil, so to speak. I am sure she will lick the raw and unwieldy emergent prose into more elegant shape. Besides, I adore copy typing and hardly ever get to do it any more. I will be quite happy to take on more work if asked.

I have already spent my pocket money - I was going to buy myself a Christmas present (a lovely thing I had seen) - but was then faced with the necessity of buying a new laptop. Frivolous trinkets needs must shuffle to the back of the queue, there to await flusher times. But my typing-fee covers well the thing I had hoped originally to buy, so I hath boughten it. I'll share it with you when it is with me; it is at present being made to my specifications.

Another of our regular Thursday morning customers is a lady who, amongst other things, interests herself in Hungarian literature and yarn crafts. (Never say that our patrons are not eclectic in their obsessions!) She did not buy anything today, but did remark one of our popular sloganned postcards.

"'You Can't Fall Off The Floor'," she read aloud. "Dear me! How sad! Oscar Wilde would've liked that one."

"Ah, but you can perhaps roll out of the gutter," I could not help but riposte. My scanty wit rose with faltering frailty to the occasion, and got a whole shopful of laughs. What with this, typing 75wpm and managing to pull together three distinct kinds of plaid into one grammatically-'n'-syntactically audacious-but-auspicious outfit*, there can be no stopping young Cosmé's comet-like progress! [*I would have shown you a photograph, but I am in a feeble condition today and have re-attired my precious corpse in a pair of excellent pyjamas. Languishing may thus be achieved more comfortably, but I don't want to litter the aether with snaps of myself in night attire and a feeble condition.]

Meanwhile, on the massive piles o'cash front, I took a vast sack of coin of the realm to the bank this morning. Some kind soul had donated over one hundred pounds in assorted small change, in aid of the Typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines. He had tried to donate it to DEC via his bank, but because it wasn't in little bankers' cash bags the teller refused to accept it. As the gentleman had already counted it all and separated it out by denomination, I can't imagine why the banking-moron didn't simply hand over a sheaf of cash bags and ask the man to fill 'em up. Well, never mind - our manager was happy to accept the loot*, and we had lots of cash bags to put it all in. The man's generosity and persistence paid off in the end! [*Permit me to reassure you that it is a charity bookshop. The donor has not merely dumped his coinage at random or gone on a peevish shopping-spree in response to the banking-moron's rebuff.]

Today we also sold a £75 book. A large and twinkly old gentleman (yet another Thursday regular) spotted it in the cabinet (where Expensive Rarities are kept locked away from sticky fingers). It was a bound volume of ladies' magazines from the 1870s. Inside were sundry articles, serials and illustrative lithographs. Having decided to have it (he will now be well versed in tea-table etiquette, episodic melodrama and the latest fashion in bustles), he produced £75 in treasury notes right then and there. I have to admit, cash in large quantity appals me - it has done all my life. I never quite like to have more than about £10 in my wallet at any time. (Two experiences in particular have sharpened this sensation: my mother's wallet was skilfully half-inched from her handbag on the Tube once; there was not much cash in it - £30-odd - but it was still irksome to lose it; and once I was given £70 at Christmas, which was stolen from my bag on the train back to Bristol.) The idea of anyone, but especially anyone old and vulnerable, wandering at large with £75 stowed within easy reach astounds me. I was rather relieved in a way that he handed this dangerous commodity over to us, exchanging it for a book (something far less likely to get ripped off by opportunistic goons). I am not entirely sure why the gentleman was so keen to have that particular book, but I am always glad when someone is able to indulge a fleeting whim of that kind in such a thoughtless fashion. It would cause me less nervous excitement, however, were the transaction to involve one of our modern unromantic plastic oblongs.

Just now, a coda to my typological adventures: a worried phone call from the Welsh raconteur, bewailing a calamity. O woe, for the stick of memory had wriggled free of the plastic carrier-bag in which it and its papery twins had been confined. I was able to apply instant balm to the agony - all the wordses are saved on my computer. Later I shall be supplied with the email address of Ms Editor, and shall bung them over to her. Phew.

I bought a book today. (Oh dear, it is a habit; though it is a cheap and healthy one, unlikely to chase the bloom of youth from off thy blushing cheek - and yet reading, as we all know, ripens the brain like to a fine cheese… It seems not, if this paragraph is anything to go by, to help one avoid the pitfalls of mixed metaphor, but I hope you'll agree that disharmony is better than banality.) It is a novel, by one Michael Bracewell, an author I haven't come across before. It was the title that attracted my notice - 'The Conclave'. I wondered if it might refer literally to the book's matter - perhaps a tense literary thriller set during a papal election? (That could make for a most entertaining story. I wonder if it's been done?) Well, it's got nothing at all to do with the Vatican's backstage area, but it concerns a 'suburban dilettante' and is set partly in the 'nice part of Bristol'. And with a blurb that goes "Beginning with the proposition that 'at thirty, you've got the face you deserve'…" - well, how could I resist it, really? I began to read it on the train home, and so far the writing is really punishingly good. The writer is obviously a meticulous chooser of words - not in that way that has you picturing him arranging kitschy knick-knacks on a mantel shelf, but in the way that has you imagining him standing before a Japanese garden, pondering for hours the correct exquisite placement of an important bit of rock. 'Leaving enough out and keeping enough in' is the trickiest skill in writing. I think I'm going to enjoy watching Mr Bracewell show me how it's done.

And on that note, let me demonstrate that I know at least when to stop. Lo: I stop. Auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, ciao, toodles, darling heart.


( 5 confidences — Confide in me... )
Nov. 15th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
What a fun entry to find when trying out the Livejournal app on my new phone for the first time!

Anyway, are there really still people who pay others to type for them, in this era of word processors and voice recognition software?

If so, and you met one, and you like to type, what good fortune!

Nov. 16th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Well, this fellow is of the generation that is not always au fait with technology (and now I fall to wondering how well voice recognition would cope with a Welsh accent!).

Good fortune indeed! :-)
Nov. 23rd, 2013 08:13 am (UTC)
Good point about the accent. I'm quite impressed at how well voice recognition works for my accent (US Great Plains urban – the most favored accent for US broadcast news) and my wife's (Maine, somewhat similar to that of President Kennedy), but there's a lot more diversity of accents within the UK than the US.
Nov. 15th, 2013 09:49 am (UTC)
It is bank policy to be as obstructive as possible in all matters. In the past, we have had coins divided out into said coin bags correctly, and then packed into the larger pay-in cash bag, only to be told that they would not accept said larger cash bag, as it was too heavy. Naturally I inquired as to how heavy it must be to gain acceptance, and was informed that they did not know, but that this was definitely above it. Kafka probably went to the bank a lot.

Old people and cash are a great concern of mine since my grandfather a few years ago excitedly announced to my mother and aunt that he had purchased gifts for all the family. A gentleman had come to his door the previous night selling Italian jackets, of the finest quality! There were several of these, and he could have them all for £300. Tragedy had seemed to strike when my grandfather said he did not have such cash in the house, but what fortune - the man had offered to drive him to the cash machine right there and then to complete the sale! Actual value of items... around £50.
Nov. 16th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Bank policy - it does seem that way sometimes! Although I've found it can vary depending on interpretation. There's one cashier at the bank where I take the shop takings who is known to all and sundry as 'Jobsworth', for obvious reasons. Not only does he always tell you off for requesting change if you haven't phoned ahead to order it (really, kind of OTT when you only want £20 worth!), he has on several occasions found my addition wanting and marked down the amount for paying in (despite it having been counted at least twice by separate people in the shop). I don't quite like to say that he's dishonest (there can't be much satisfaction in it, for sake of the odd £1 deducted from the takings of a charitable concern...), but the other cashiers don't ever seem to find fault in that way.

Ack - isn't that awful, that heart-sinking feeling of knowing someone's been conned and they're happy about it to boot! There was a chap who used to come into my work wanting to donate stuff he'd bought from the back of magazines ('limited edition' figurines and so forth, the tacky ones that you have to read several times to convince yourself it's not an elaborate put-up job). He was always convinced that we'd make hundreds selling it all on ebay - often he'd bought the rubbish for that purpose alone. Although his generosity was appreciated, it was quite depressing to think of him spending his money on that and not on himself. I guess the moral of the story is - beware salestalk and any deal that looks too good to be true! >.<
( 5 confidences — Confide in me... )

Eavesdrop, snoop, and sigh with yearning...

This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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