Mr Finley's Socks
I have just received the first edit/comments from my editor, she suggested a change in title to “The Other Side Of Yes,” and a few plot changes/expansions which took me quite a while to rework. I have now sent her the revised draft for line editing and thought I’d give you a read of the reworked first chapter.
It is a little rough but I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter One -Not Every Girl Wants A Doll
I was sitting in the garden watching Baby Bea play, while Mum relived some moment in the past when she had the joy of seeing Mr Finlay’s stiff socks.
It’s a memory burned in my head of a time when cleaning for likes of Mr Finlay was what I did. Why she would remember it I have no idea, she never cleaned in her life.
My Mum known to all as Beatrice has as much idea of cleaning for a living as the Pope has of a hen night. She doesn’t even do her own laundry, she leaves it for me or her on/off partner George. Apparently living in a wheelchair makes emptying a washing machine impossible.
Sorting through Mr Finlay’s smalls was best done with gloves, in poor lighting, while holding my breath.
He had prunes with everything and liked to get the “most out of his underwear” with a sniff and throw test, which meant wearing his socks until they stood up on their own then tossing in the vague direction of the laundry basket.
His sense of smell was as buggered as my post-pregnancy pelvis, you only have to open the fridge to testify to that and it was one of the few things Mum and I agreed on.
Mum and I had reached a turning point in our so-called relationship, a turning point lubricated by red wine and Baby Bea my delicious daughter. Nagging is the furthest thing from my mother’s mind when Baby Bea is about. Her face lights up, sometimes she even laughs with a “thank you for bringing her into the world” look at me.
It’s enough to make me want to visit more.
We had just polished off a bottle of red and were waiting for Steven to pick Baby Bea and me up when Mr Finlay’s hygiene became a discussion point.
Mum, her face a healthy sun and red wine flush was dressing an old doll she had sourced from the Red Cross shop which Baby Bea had as much interest in as the six o’clock news.
She was fascinated by Puss, Mum’s cat.
“That Mr Finlay had no shame,” said Mum see sawing a bonnet for a golf ball size head onto a head the size of a football.
“But then he was always a bit of a minger.”
I stared at Mum.
The last time Mum said minger I was in short socks and wore singlets, Dad was still alive, and the only reason she said it was to get his attention.
“Yes,” she said, “a real minger, his smalls were as toxic as nuclear waste.”
“Mum the only smalls you’ve sorted is the change in your purse.”
“Pity the poor ambulance man that finds him on the floor,” said Mum attempting a more prolonged stretch and hold motion with the bonnet, “they’ll have to scrape him off with a spade.”
“Mum!” I said.
“What?” She said.
“That bonnet is never going to fit on that head.”
Baby Bea made a grab for Puss.
Puss escaped with a skid.
Mum tossed the doll, minus bonnet across to Baby Bea.
The doll landed with a thud by her feet, its cotton stuffed limbs spread out like a starfish.
Baby Bea burst into tears.
“That’s Nefertiti’s biggest fear,” said Mum.
“You mean Neff?” I said moving towards my daughter.
Mum looked at me.
“She likes to be called Neff.”
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it, I mean it’s hardly regal is it?”
“Well, that what ’s living in Lochgilphead does to you, No one gives a toss about that sort of thing here and who wants to have “Nefertiti” shouted out across the GP waiting room? In fact, I think that’s what made her give into the whole just call me Neff thing…”
“And when has she ever seen Mr Findley’s socks?”
Baby Bea picked up the doll and hurled it at Puss.
Puss made a dash for cover under a hydrangea bush.
“Not socks,” said Mum “To be found by the ambulance man…”
“I see,” I said, still confused.
“…Her body letting her down,” said Mum, “in some sort of position that even a porn star would not want to be seen in with her underwear, well, not at its best.”
I picked up Baby Bea and the doll.
Baby Bea pushed the doll away.
“But that’s what they are there for,” I said. “To deal with bodies letting things down. They’re probably seen more minging underwear than I’ve seen dirty nappies.”
“Don’t say that word, Sheryl”
“It's a dreadful word.”
“But you just said ….” I gave up and plonked beside her, Baby Bea in my lap.
Mum stretched out her arms and Baby Bea, doll forgotten tumbled into her lap with a giggle.
“Nefertiti…I mean Neff dreads the ambulance folk spreading rumors of soiled underwear in the co-op…” said Mum.
“You mean mingin…” I said.
Mum threw me a look
“I wouldn’t worry those ambulance folk are sworn to secrecy,” I said. “Confidentiality and all that, they’d had their tongues cut off and feed to the sausage factories if they say anything.”
Mum threw me another ‘don’t be ridiculous’ look and then with an expert Baby Bea jiggle said “Neff fears the bagging up of her things like yesterday’s newspapers.”
“I think you’ll find that’s the relatives that do that,” I said.
“Sent to the Red Cross shop for people like Ms Frasier to rummage through.”
I looked at her.
Mum always brought up Ms Frasier when exasperated, they had the sort of ‘love to prove each other wrong’ sort of relationship, which was worth watching as long as you didn’t get involved.
Ms Frasier had spent ‘her best years’ in the outback and had a passion for second-hand shops or “Op shops’ as they’re called in Australia.
She is never out of the Red Cross Shop, pulling shirts and ties off the rack reminiscing about the “poor dear departed last seen only weeks ago as fit as a Mallee bull ’ and no matter how many times she is asked what is her first name, she never replies.
Mum reckons she fancies herself as Lochgilphead’s Columbo, while those in the Red Cross call her Inspector Morse ——behind her back…
“And for once I agree,” said Mum. “The last thing I want is my life reduced to underwear and false teeth shoved into a garbage bag.”
‘I thought you didn’t care” I said. “You wanted to be cremated.”
And if that is not enough if you are a YouTube fan then lay back and listen to the first book I ever wrote.