Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Hook a Duck.

Himself and I have very little in common which is probably why our relationship works so well.

Surprisingly, Fishing (or Fishting as our youngest calls it,) has recently become an area of mutual interest. He spends hours by the river spinning and reeling before returning home jubilant in the knowledge that he caught 6 Perch, 4 Pike and not forgetting the one that got away. I prefer to cast my line and fish for people.....More of a hook-a-duck situation you might say, simply because you never know who are what is going to pop up on the end of your rod.

They bob in and out of the foyer, jostling for position at the leaflet carousel before weaving their way into line. Every now and then a little face will appear sideways as they check the distance from you to them, trying to catch your eye, willing you to favour them over the 3 or 4 people at the front of the queue.

Sometimes they don't see you depending which position you're on and where the light is shining. A clerk has been known to go to extreme lengths to attract the attention of a customer by half hanging through the porthole like a limp doll exhausted from casting, casting and casting again... " Hello - may I help you...? " whilst said punter nods and bobs to the music in their earphones oblivious to the world around them.

I'm inclined to adopt the stealth approach. Like waiting for some poor unsuspecting punter to use the counter worktop to check the brochure thinking the position is closed because the curtains are drawn.

A sitting duck.

I wait patiently watching their reflection in the metal surface between us as they huddle and flurry and twitter; blissfully unaware of my presence.

I make no move, I give nothing away. I have them in my sights.


With one fell swoop I tear the curtains aside.


Saturday, 27 September 2008

Never Pass This Way Again.

( Words by boxofficegirl inspired by the melody from Lord of all Hopefulness written by - Jan Struther 1901-1953)


O hear us dear Father,
we call on you Lord.
To open your arms wide
embrace your dear son.
He leaves us too quickly
no time for goodbyes.
Our hearts filled with sorrow
for the pain in our lives.

In his goodness and his faith, Lord
this quiet man came.
Without insult or injury
he lived out your name.
How humbled we are to have
called this man, Friend.
His soul aches for peace now
as he reaches his end.


How small our lives seem Lord,
as we bid him farewell.
Grains of sand in the desert a
breath of wind could dispel.
Bless us with your grace, Lord
we falter and fail.
Our courage undone all
our weakness unveiled.

If we can be of service
let it be in your name.
Offered up freely
not toiled at in vain.
Any good that we do now
must succour and sustain.
For we know in our hearts Lord,
we'll never pass this way again.
  • For J. A. with love and thanks for a life well spent - Rest in peace.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Small Steps.

Hello, may I help?

Yes, I'd like to book a ticket for the Wednesday matinee please.

I'm afraid that performance is sold out could I check another date for you?

Oh dear, I don't think so no...The afternoon would have been OK to come on my own but I don't think I could risk coming out at night.

Oh.. are you sure ? It's a wonderful show and I've got a single available in the front stalls for Saturday night.

It's the first time I'll have been out you see since my husband died and I just thought that a matinee would have been easier...But now that you've said that I wonder if I could manage an evening...I suppose I could get a taxi - a single you say ?

Yup, brilliant view, nice and central. You know if you are worried about waiting around afterwards one of the Front of House staff will be happy to wait with you.

Mm. Oh I don't know what to do, whether I dare..... Blow it!.... I'm going to go for it and come out on Saturday night by myself. (nervous laugh)

Good for you, I'll just take a few details.... There we are, that's a confirmed booking and the ticket will be at the desk for collection. By the way - I think you're extremely brave. I can't believe we've gone from Wednesday matinee to Saturday night - well done.

I can't believe it either. Goodness only knows what my husband would say if he were here but then if that were the case I wouldn't be coming on my own would I ? (heavy sigh)

Good luck, I'll be thinking of you.

Thank you. Actually, I'm quite excited - nervous but excited.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Boxofficegirl. An Audience Booked By...

The Vulgar Comic Fan. (V.C.F.) Box Office Cashier. (B.O.)

V.C.F. " Alright Love ? Can ye tell me where Buffet is ? "

B.O. " I beg your pardon - Buffet ? "

V.C.F. " Yeah. It sez 'ere on me ticket - Buffet ! Where do a gaw ?"

B.O. " Er, Would you mind if I just took a look at that Sir, we weren't aware of any Buffet this evening - thanks."

V.C.F. " Look 'ere - it says Buffet on me receipt.

B.O. " Yes I see - That actually says Bfee Sir, short for Booking Fee which you paid in addition to the ticket price. "

Gentle pause whilst penny drops.

V.C.F. " Soooo...No Buffet then ?"

B.O. " No Sir. No Buffet, sorry."

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Until Your Song Is Sung.

So many times over the years I have talked about writing only to fall back into shadow blinded by the brilliance of someone else's work. It's taken me a long time to realise where my own voice comes from and that it is unique.

Our Souls cannot be duplicated. Someone else may look like you but they are not you, your essence is your own. Do not be afraid to shine, to have ideas, thoughts and creative moments of joy. Never allow your dreams to ebb away and die just because the world failed to recognise your true worth.

How often have we hidden in the darkness afraid to show our colours at the risk of rejection ? We've all been on the receiving end of comments capable of crushing the hardiest of spirits. More importantly, we are guilty of the destruction of dreams that were not our own; inflicting pain for no reason other than we could.

There is the potential within everyone to fulfill ambition long since cast aside. Perhaps the dream was shelved for the sake of loved ones or because commitment and duty took prior place. Maybe the years went by too quickly and ' one day' just never got around to being 'today.' We all have our reasons, excuses. I Know I do.

This blog began because of the threat of redundancy. I'm beginning to think that they did me a favour. I've lost track of the amount of notebooks and scribbles I've made in the past as the prelude to some great literary work and 'one day,' who knows what good things may come ? Now, instead of notebooks I tell it to the blog.

This is my voice. I have at long last found the harmony and it does not frighten me to share my ideas here. I make no apology for incoherence or the patchwork attempt to express myself.

Some of you will be glad and decide to sing along with me-I hope that you do. May you find the courage and strength to hear your own voice, find the harmony within and sing, sing until your song is sung.

Carpe Diem par Deux.

(See Carpe Diem-August Archives.)

The Union's involved now which should make life a little more interesting. People are relieved but we're not out of the woods yet. Still, moral has risen and the fast speed put-downs are back on track, so all in all, business for the moment as usual.

Strange, but for some reason I can't get that Tina Turner song out of my head...

"Left a good job in the city,

working for the man every night and day

but I never lost one minute of sleep

wondering 'bout the way things might have been-

Big wheel keep on turning..

Proud Mary keep on burning ooh

Roll 'em...... Roll 'em

Roll 'em on the river...let me hear ye all sing...."

Friday, 19 September 2008

Bit Miffed.

Have not blogged for a few days because the creative flow has been interrupted by technical stuff. I have been trying to add a page counter onto the website and to be honest it's turned into a nightmare - I'm having bad dreams believe me, even Paul Mckenna's dulcet tones couldn't help. What really gets my goat is that apparently it's all so EASY !

Well, I beg to differ.

Anyway, it doesn't matter now 'cos I've given up. Not sure anyone is reading this in the first place so why on earth should I worry about 'traffic' ( another techie word) to this blog. The only type of traffic I'll be experiencing is the one I get stuck in around 8.50am.

Me thinks there are more players on this stage than in the audience.
Humbug! I'm off to bed.

Monday, 15 September 2008

It's in a Safe Place...

Tiny bit stressed at the mo'. Just filling in our eldest' application for Secondary School and couldn't find relevant paperwork ANYWHERE! Only to be told not to worry as it was more or less a done deal-PHEW.

I had looked everywhere for this particular folder only to find clutter, clutter and yup, more clutter. Nothing in order, nothing filed except in plaggy bags and stuffed into cupboards, Me thinks that spring cleaning will be coming sooner rather than later to this house. The thing is I can see the folder in my mind, I've even held the darn thing in my hand but can I lay said hands on it now ? Noooo I cannot. It's the usual scenario. I put it in a safe place, so safe that I can't remember where.

Anyway. The form is filled in, thank goodness and will be handed in tomorrow. Now we just have to go through it all again with our youngest.....I need Valium and a blanket !

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Phrase For Today...

I love you even when I'm cross.

Letting Go.

Holding her hand lovingly he led her to the door. She smiled uncertainly but allowed him to take her inside. The room looked familiar, photographs of their children, grandchildren, the two of them laughing on some windswept beach as the water splashed over their feet.

Someone else in the room released her hand gently from his, smiling reassuringly. They spoke quietly and calmly as though to a child. He let her go without her noticing, throat tight with emotion for his girl.

Had her father felt this way 50 years ago ?

" Come in a few days, " they said. " Let her get used to the place. "

Alone now and grief stricken, he'd forgotten a time when she could remember their life, their love, his name. Her memories ravaged, all connection severed.

Like the footprints on the beach in the photograph, her mind washed clean by the incoming tide.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Matinee Idol.

' Alright love ? Relax, for today. D'ya wanna cup of tea ? '

This was my first encounter with Jimmy, a large bear of a man with a Robert Redford thatch. Although in his 50's with a widening girth, he still had Matinee Idol good looks which he occasionally hid behind thick rimmed glasses. His smile revealed a row of perfectly shaped teeth tainted by years of tobacco abuse.

He was the Supervisor in a London Theatre Box Office and this was my first job. I was so nervous but his flamboyant swagger couldn't fail to put me at ease. Incredible really how such a talented man should end up in an office but it marked the beginning of a special friendship.

Jimmy lived with and adored his elderly mother. He was always on the phone making sure she was OK. We worked long hours and he worried for her welfare constantly. Away from her he led a colourful, dangerous life. He drank to excess and sometimes went missing for days without a word until eventually he'd reappear like a naughty school boy who couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Amazingly, no-one dared to ask where he'd been, not even the manager. We placated ourselves by enquiring if he was alright. He didn't give much away and a few of us began to wonder if he was aware of just how long he'd been absent.

He could be fiercely loyal or your worst enemy. House Managers had learned never to interfere when Jimmy was on pre-show Doors. He didn't care what anyone thought yet cared deeply about people. His hands were like great, heated spades, his heart the size of a giants.

Suave, irresistible, unpredictable Jimmy. How we loved him.

In his Glory days he was Dresser to the Stars. and spent much of his time at after show parties. Always on the edge of fame but never in the spotlight. Years back, he'd trodden the boards in Bingo Halls and Working Men's Clubs until it became obvious he wasn't going to make it to the big time. On good days he made us howl with laughter, regaling us with stories of being on stage in his best velvet suit, crooning away in some dismal Derby and Joan.

" There I was mid song, when this little flat cap geezer comes on, rips the mic' from my 'and and starts boomin';
Pies. Get yer Hot Peas and Pies. The Pies are ready. Only to have it thrust back at me as though naffin had 'append.
What did I do ? What d'ya mean what did I do ? I'm a Pro' I carried on singing o' course. Mind you, half the bloody audience had disappeared to get their supper-know what I mean ?"

Jimmy could camp it up when he wanted and would quite often burst into a Shirley Bassey number in the middle of the office.

But for every high there were many lows. There were surreptitious meetings outside where bulky envelopes changed hands. He'd come to work already intoxicated and rebuke staff or anyone who had the mis-fortune to be in his way. We would sit in silence for fear of upsetting him and awakening the rage within.

We spent many an evening chewing over the fat. Me with a cup of tea, him with something stronger. He had the saddest eyes I've ever seen and a way of using them to manipulate attention. A man of the world spilling his guts to a girl barely in it and yet he seemed to look to the younger generation for his salvation. He loved the vitality, the humour, the sheer life force that emanated in the face of youth. It reminded him of the potential he once possessed but had somehow misplaced.

We lost touch after I left. He was never one for writing except once when he sent a beautifully scribed letter explaining why he couldn't come to our wedding. I think the idea of the conventional filled him with horror.

The truth was he saw himself as a loner, an outsider looking in as though the warm, pleasant scene he witnessed could only be marred by his presence.

I suspect that in his own movie he would always be the trench coat figure in the shadows. His face illuminated briefly by the lighting of a cigarette. Collar turned up of course and shoulders hunched against the cold. Turning away, he'd flick the ash before sauntering down the dimly lit ally. His charismatic spirit languishing like a ghost.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Box Office/Theatre Jargon.

Admin: Not entirely sure where this is.

Punters: A term of endearment reserved for customers.

D'ya wannit or not ? Customer service spiel.

Identity Tags: A violation of staff civil rights unless worn by backstage crew in which case they look cool.

Method of Payment: Various, including on one occasion a Boots Voucher because the Punter didn't have enough cash.

Seat Allocation: Depends on the mood of the clerk.

Subscribers: Over pompous crowd who think they own the place or at least the seat they're sitting in.

The Ghost of Christmas Past: Much loved ancient doorman who lurks in shadowy corners, appears from nowhere and jangles keys.

House Managers: Front line Royalty. May be observed descending the Dress Circle stairs like the King of Spain in a penguin suit. Fred Astaire meets Shrek depending who's on duty.

Stage Door Man: Never been seen without a copy of The Sun or ability to say; ' finishes 'bout 10,' without looking up.

May I help ?: Don't be fooled.

Backstage Tour: Reserved for people with one leg shorter than the other due to gradient of the stage.

INT: Not the name of urban, gritty, support band but in fact shortened version of the word Interval.

Poignant: Over used word to describe the latest tawdry, middle class drama.

Box Office Counter Window: Installed to protect the customer from the cashier. (Nasty incident that...)

Rat: Computer jargon for mouse that won't behave.

Call Centre: Day room serving beverages, toast and anything else you can 'borrow' from the fridge. Negotiations on Rota shifts made whilst putting the world to rights; and the occasional phone answered.

'It's like an oven in 'ere!' Call center mantra.

Dressing Rooms: Hallowed Corridor of Fame and therefore not for the likes of lowly box office clerks.

' I can't go on! ' Call center mantra rather than Thespian with stage fright.

Staff: Box Office Clerks disguised with clipboard skulking in Hallowed Hall of Fame.

Lifts: A place to spend a quiet few hours whilst mechanics work slowly to get you out.

Cash Office Hatch: An area to congregate and order ice-cream whilst waiting for change.

Phonetic Alphabet: IE: Yes, I have two seats on row L, that's L for Lettuce.

Usherettes: Mysterious breed and not to be trifled with.

Cloak Room Attendant: Even scarier than Usherettes.

Stalls: Area of house where general theatre goers are happy to sit as long as it's nice and central, good seats, 'I want the best.'

Dress Circle: Area of house where punters wish to see and be seen. A social statement unrelated to viewing the performance.

Upper Circle: Area of house where overflow of dress circle punters find themselves amidst gnashing of teeth, rather than miss out all together.

Balcony: Area of house where serious theatre goers will sit to watch anything and everything. The die hards' who are genuine performance lovers and therefore much appreciated.

Booking Fees.( bfees): The scourge of customers and box office alike.

P.O.P.S. or C.O.B.O.S. Property of Persons or Care of the Box Office. Where punters opt to have tickets held for collection just so they can phone again to make sure that the tickets are held and not lost or put away somewhere or been posted to the wrong address! ' It's just that I checked my diary and I've booked so many things that I can't remember what I've done...(infuriating, gushy laugh,)...So, I just thought I'd ring, (again) but you seem quite confident that they are there waiting for me so I'll take your word on that...'(breathing rather too quickly now and turning into panicky pigeon.)

Marketing Department: Used to be one bloke with a pen but is now well oiled machine bent on world domination. Full of James Bond type characters wearing smart clothes and carrying moggies.

Box Office: Last Bastion of Independence. An Island surrounded by bureaucratic, marauding sharks. We will never surrender nor will we fire before we see the whites of their eyes. ( See Carpe Diem.)

Theatre: A public building designed for the performance of plays which should be open to ALL regardless of their cultural or economic background.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Buried Treasure.

I look at our small garden sometimes and feel nothing but disappointment for the lack of space. You couldn't swing a mouse let alone a cat, although a few frogs have learned to fly into next doors pond, courtesy of himself. I feel sorry that the kids don't have room to run around and that when we have people over it's like playing musical chairs. We always meant to move to something bigger but just never managed to time the economic situation in our favour. Hey-ho. You have to grow where your planted, as my mum used to say.

My sister and her husband came to visit recently. They are newly married and the wedding was a blast. They brought the photos on the lap top and we spent what turned out to be, a real party of a night, laughing, joking and watching the sun go down. As it got dark, the little stick lights around the edge of the garden came on. My sister and I spent time catching up whilst her husband showed her son how to play the guitar.

After the wedding, they'd been on whistle stop tour of Ireland in their flash, new Motor home. The photos said it all. They must have gone to every Diddly-Dee pub in the land and drunk Guinness until they couldn't stand up. They met some fantastic people who were more than willing to join in the celebrations and best of all, they never had far to stagger before they found their bed.

Since having the van they never seem to be at home but are always out experiencing everything that life has to offer. Walking, climbing, cycling and scaling mountains just to look at the view. They are not wealthy. Just ordinary people leading extra-ordinary lives, risking fear for the thrill of adventure, saying yes when so many of us might say no and reaping the rewards because of daring to do so. You can understand why we might feel a little envious of their lifestyle but acknowledge that they have made this happen. No-one did it for them. There is a world out there to be experienced and I for one feel empowered by their energy.

Our small, dis-functional back yard was transformed that night by friendship, music and laughter. What to me had always been a regret, to them was ideal, manageable and pleasant to be in. There was an enchantment about the place which I had forgotten existed. Instead of valuing what we have I had lamented for the things that we didn't. So often what we're truly looking for is staring us in the face and it's only when we alter our perception that our vision then becomes clear.

Friday, 5 September 2008

In Their Shoes.

Customer Service plays a huge part in a typical day at work. As with any front line position, there is the usual barrage of complaints, discrepancies and general hullabaloo to deal with. Most of the time I think it's fair to say that we bend over backwards to set things right and people are usually happy except when they are not, which isn't always something immediately related to the problem at hand. So, here are few examples of the type of issues that cause our customers such concern.

I've booked the wrong night.
I've double booked myself.
There is no leg space, no head space-the woman in front has got a bouffant.
Will I be able to see from there ? ( Yes Madame, if you open your eyes.)
I'm only small. ( Does Madame require a step ?)
I need to be in the middle as I can't look, left or right.
( Remind me never to cross the road with you.)
I need to be in the Dress Circle because it's the only place I can see from. ( We do have other seats where one can see perfectly well...)
It says on my ticket that the show begins at 7.30pm. What time should I get there ?
Your pointing to the Upper Circle and I asked for Dress Circle. ( Trust me, I work here. )
The name is Smith; I'm on your database. ( I'm sure you are Sir, but going to need a few more details than that.)
Could you make sure that I'm sitting next to someone who actually knows about Opera !
I've been trying to get through for three days !!!! ( You must been a shadow of your former self.)

My wife died last night and I don't know what to do. We had tickets for the show on Saturday. Will you take them back ?

Shakespeare was right, life is a stage and we are the players. We laugh when it's funny and we cry when it's sad. One minute you're in full swing, bantering, laughing, getting on with the job; the next there's a man in shock unable to comprehend the extent of his loss. He must have gone home and found them in the envelope. Perhaps they were on the sideboard or on a pin board near the calender, the date marked in red so they wouldn't forget their big night out. Not knowing what to do he did the most practical thing he could think of. He got a refund on the tickets.

We sorted it out for him of course and I remember watching him leave the building. He even stopped to hold the door open for another customer before disappearing into the crowd.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Late Summer.

The child played with her Mother all afternoon in the woods. They chased each other into patches of dappled sunlight and twirled around and around until their skirts took flight. Above them, the Southern Wind rippled through the trees urging them to lean towards each other and whisper their long kept secrets.

Later, as the light began to change, they collapsed beneath the leafy canopy laughing and rolling in the newly fallen carpet. There wasn't much time left. The Mother knew this but refused to submit until the very last moment. Lying there, she touched her own face and felt her youth disappear in the blink of an eye. By her side, her daughter had become a woman in just one short afternoon. Or had it been a lifetime ?

Eventually, they pulled each other up, dusted themselves down and strolled hand in hand to the edge of the wood. The countryside displayed it's majesty like a cloak of tarnished gold inviting them to become part of the procession. On the horizon, the sun descended like a king at court, blinding the onlooker by the intensity of his beam. In the distance, water shimmering with diamonds, flowed towards another life.

The child felt the tug of the wind and without thinking or looking back began to run into the dazzling light. Faster and faster she ran leaping over hills and rivers with the lightest touch of her feet. Her hair streamed in the wind and the sun bowed down to her daring spirit.

Behind her, frail but proud, a small figure watched as she ran out of sight.

Monday, 1 September 2008

All Reliefs' to the Checkout Thankyou.

I only went in for milk and ended up spending £30.00. How did that happen ? How often does that happen ? I blame the end of isle promotions, 3 for 2's and Bogoffs. All those unnecessary purchases that at the time were a must.

So. Why is it that when I try to get something that is actually on my list; there's a tedious little label instead announcing: Sorry, this item is temporarily out of stock ? Twice now I've gone in for own brand Cheerios only to find branded goods at extortionate prices. I tried my look again in the dried fruit bay where I just about managed to wrestle the last bag of sultanas that wasn't Organic or priced in pounds rather than pence; before scrabbling on the floor for a packet of value Midget Gems tucked away on the bottom shelf at the back. How I crowed ! ( What can I say ? I can't watch telly in my nightie without them.)

I tell you, Supermarket shopping has become synonymous with The Gunfight at the OK Corral. The pensioners are the worst, ramming their trolleys and pushing past in order to scrum around the Reduced section.

Which brings me to it.

I'd just put my hand on a double-chocolate mousse when a searing pain tore into my back. Turning, I spied Blue Rinse Woman stabbing me to death with her glare. I reached for the nearest weapon, in this case a White Cabbage and stood my ground.

"Do ye feel lucky Gladys ? Well, do ye..?"