I hate traffic wardens. And I really hated this one. He was standing by my car, hunched over his pad like a sweating gargoyle when I got back with my ticket.
‘I’ve only been away five minutes,’ I said.
He didn’t look up. Just scratch, scratch, scratch at his pad.
I waved my ticket. ‘Look. I’ve just been to get it. You can’t do me for this. It’s ridiculous.’
He kept on scratching, so I thrust the ticket right under his nose. ‘See?’
He lifted his head then. Looked at my ticket. Put his whole pasty paw around it, tugged it from my fingers, screwed it up and threw it on the ground.
I looked at it, and then I looked at him. ‘You’re insane,’ I said.
But he just ripped the page from his book and slapped it in my hand. ‘You’re the one who’s insane, sunshine. Here. Have a fixed penalty notice from me. ’
I was going to hit him then, right in his little blobby jobsworth’s nose. My hand was tight in a fist, like this.
But he just looked at me and you know what? His little pouchy eyes began to fill with tears and he said, ‘Go on hit me. I don’t care. I’ve been waiting to do you. Ever since you drove on to a pavement last year and killed my daughter.’
This was part of an exercise I set for my students last night, to demonstrate showing and telling, and how you could use anger to move a story along. I gave them six lines of dialogue featuring an impossible traffic warden. And then I thought this morning that it might be interesting to look at it from the traffic warden’s point of view.
Picture via Creative Commons courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp
Tessa worried about her mother. Eadie was 92 and getting a bit frail. And she lived on her own. True, Eadie lived in a warden-controlled flat, but what good was it if the warden did come round every Tuesday? What would happen if Eadie had an accident on a Wednesday?
‘I’ll be fine,’ said Eadie. ‘Look, there’s a pull cord in every room. If I have an accident I just tug on that, and it alerts Central Control.
‘Central Control?’ echoed Tessa. ‘What, like when they send a rocket to outer space?’
Eadie looked confused. ‘No, it’s a lady called Brenda at the council. I talk to her sometimes when I pull the cord by mistake.’
Tessa felt better. At least the pull cord worked. There was somebody looking out for her mother. But then something else occurred to her, and she said, ‘But what happens if you fall over and you can’t reach the cord? What then?’
‘Tessa, you’re being ridiculous,’ said Eadie. ‘I might be old, but I’m not stupid. I will be fine.’
That night Tessa couldn’t sleep for worrying. Her husband was working a night shift, so she had nobody to confide in. And then the phone rang. Something had to have happened. Why else would the phone ring at 3am? She got up in a hurry to answer it and fell over the dog. She lay for three hours with a broken leg before her husband found her.
image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mission_control_center via creative commons
Jim was from Yorkshire. He didn’t like fancy food, people from Lancashire, or modern art. His daughter Tessa took him to an art show. It was full of abstract paintings.
‘Any fool could paint them,’ Jim said. ‘How can a blue splodge be a nude woman with a fan? Why don’t they just call it, ‘Blue splodge?’ I could do better than that.’
‘Go on then,’ said Tessa.
Jim bought paints and canvas. A year later his picture was accepted by the Royal Academy of Arts for its summer exhibition.
‘It’s just lots of big red splodges,’ said Tessa. ‘What’s it called?’
‘Load of old bollocks,’ said Jim.
Story inspired by Bruce Goodman’s post Picture at an exhibition
Picture by kind permission of the Canham junior art collective.
Caroline was having trouble with a guy at work. He kept asking her out, and she kept refusing, because after all, she loved her husband. Then she went on a business trip. That night in her hotel bedroom she sat down to text her husband. ‘ Miss you darling. Love you. Xxx.’ And then she clicked the wrong button and sent it to the guy at work.