Margaret Henderson Smith Margaret Henderson Smith
Margaret Henderson Smith
‘No! I just can’t go with that!’

It’s a new day! A new start! I’m filled with optimism. The board down the road is showing off a ‘Sale Agreed’ sign and I’ve been so well praised on my favourite auction. Invited back to ‘Shop here for Pokemon, anytime!’ And I’ve actually managed to create a party invitation from all that stuff that’s already sitting in the computer when you first buy it. Oh it started! Yes it started again though. It just came up with one in the corner of the page when I printed it off and I wanted four. Now I’m playing about. Low and behold I get four! I’m flying! Next, what to call it? Christmas Party? Open House? Book Launch? No! I just can’t go with that! What if nobody turns up? I don’t want to put them off before they’ve hardly had chance to open the envelopes. I’m struggling. I must put this fear of publicity behind me. I have a better idea! Our Christmas party will double up. Double up as a book launch. I won’t tell them though. I’ll see how it goes. Hide a couple of books and then if someone else mentions it I’ll bring them out. I must consult my all-things-wise better-half on this one, though. This is too important to get wrong. But not now. Not today. The car’s due for its MOT. He’s got other things on his mind. He’s thinking how long can he stall its replacement.

Back to Christmas shopping. I’m still at it! You wouldn’t believe how I could still be at it! I’m looking at my rosy apples’ Christmas list. No! I’ve got it wrong! I’ve missed the car. Princess Glam must come with a car. The trouble with this one is she changes her models at the slightest whim. I steel myself for a return visit to that online store. No! I haven’t opened my emails yet! I am thinking it’s probably better if I don’t! At the moment I can only find one and that’s sitting in its box with this determined Princess standing alongside it. Ready for the off! No! Wrong colour! I’m not going there again. I’m still waiting for that ‘sits on the top of the counter’ box of Pokemon cards to arrive. Still waiting to see if I’ll be able to find that unmentioned ‘X’. I can’t afford to fudge it again.

I’m taking refuge in my favourite auction. I’m scrolling away. All types and makes of these things are appearing. Not new though, unless of course I go for ’A nearly new never been played with’ one. No! I just can’t go with that! It must be new. It must be brand new. I’m scrolling down. I’m getting nowhere. I come out. I start googling. I see one. I see the price. I’m moving on. I’m moving on in disbelief! It looks like it’s going to have to be that nearly new one after all. I go back. It’s got one of these dolls sitting in it. All raring to go! All raring to drive off to somewhere more exciting than is good for her. No! I can’t be doing with another of these Double-D dolls. In any case I can’t give one without the other. If Princess Glam’s going to have a mate, then so it must be for Princess Orous. I come out. I move on. Page after page. I’m now glancing the margins to the right of the screen. I’m promised my exact requirements. I can’t find one. I decide this much desired car has been rendered obsolete. That explains it! That explains the price!

I go back to my auction. I must waste no more time. I buy it! I’ve settled for an extra one of these materialistic Double-D dolls in order to get the first one a new car. They’ll have to toss up as to which one’s to sit behind the steering wheel. She may have no choice. I’m bringing the picture up of the one I’ve already bought. Oh no! It looks like the wrong doll! It looks like her legs don’t bend. She’s standing tall next to her large freezer. Totally disinterested! ‘A takeaway tonight,’ comes to mind. Just like Harriet! It looks like her new buddy won’t even need to budge over. It looks like she’ll be doing the driving if they’re ever going to get anything to eat.

I’m thinking it might be better for driving if they’d been wearing jeans and a comfy navy-blue jumper. Like the one I used to wear. Only when home of course, doing the housework. On my own at home. I’ll tell you about it.

It’s a grocery store again. Much further afield this one. Now no longer, of course.

‘The other one?’ You might ask.

Well you wouldn’t have expected me to go back into that one, would you? Not so soon, anyway. I still haven’t reached The Big 40 but it’s starting to get to me. I’m baking. I run out of flour. Oh and I need some ham. I’m in my jeans and a one size too big navy jumper. This guy’s looking particularly miserable today. He’s had better days. Oh, I’ve popped in there on the way home from work on the odd occasion. I’ve popped in there for something or other I’ve forgotten to get. I’ve popped in with my high-heeled shoes on and a pretty blouse under a work suit, just on the very rare occasion. He’s always smiled. Pleasantly passed the time of day. But not today. No definitely not today. He looks like he’s got something on his mind, today. I go in.

‘Are you alright there lad?’ I hear him saying.  

‘But I’m not a lad!’ I’m protesting to myself. I’m breathing in. Standing straight. Desperately trying to utilise my feminine assets. A bit like those dolls I’ve just been shopping for. Only nothing so glamorous!

I’m standing there, frozen in disbelief. ‘No! It’s definitely not right! To call me that. My hair’s long as well. If there’s one thing I’m not it’s a lad. I don’t look like one! I don’t act like one! My better-half, he’s the man in our house. He does all things manly. I believe in it. Men things for men! Girl things for girls! No! My better-half can vouch for it. And I’m most definitely a girl! Surely this guy’s contact lenses have misted up, or something? He’s seen me before. How can he possibly suddenly think I’m a lad?’

This time I know whether to be pleased or annoyed. I’d leave but he’s already heaved his ham shank onto the slicing machine. Boy is he taking his time! His eyes are distant. He’s looking over the top of my head.

‘You know what it’s like, don’t you?’ He’s saying. ‘They just can’t stop spending. She wants this and that all the time. She never stops. Oh I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Let me tell you what she’s after now…’

I’m looking nervously out of the window towards my car parked right outside. He gets the message. This is not going to be one of those guys to lads chats. He’s speeded up his slicing. I pay and look behind. I see a lad sauntering out of the adjacent aisle. He continues telling him his woes as I’m leaving the shop. I’m overwhelmed with relief! I go home. I’ve forgotten the flour. I don’t mind. It’s totally insignificant. I must do one thing. I must do it now! I must get changed.

I’m looking like Princess Glam. I’ve abandoned baking. I’m hoovering away looking like Princess Glam. I’m faltering my way towards The Big 40. I decide it’s the wrong time of life to dive out looking like that. I should have known. He was looking over the top of my head. He was looking at the rashers of ham slowly falling into the greaseproof paper sitting in the flat of his hand but he wasn’t looking at me. I’m feeling better and I’m not. All at once! I go back to the hoovering. I can’t settle. I switch it off. I need some flour. I need some reassurance. I’m on my way to my local shop. The other one. The one I’d decided to leave well alone. I’ll just make sure I stay this side of the counter!

Back to today. I can still feel the relief. Definitely not one of my better off-days, that one. The sort of day that starts so full lof promise then goes rapidly down hill. The sort of day I’m having at the moment thanks to these glamorous girls.

I must turn to Princess Orous. Little apple is surely going to need a car for her. I’m back on google. I’m back on my favourite auction. I’ll find one with a chum already behind the wheel. Just like middle apple’s. Slight problem! There’s no car to be had. No car with a chum anywhere. Unlike her buddy. Or is it her buddy’s buddy? I’m confused! She can’t get enough of them. She tosses them away like sweetie papers. I bring up the picture. This Princess Orous doesn’t look like she’s prepared to bend her knees, let alone drive. She’s standing like a poker alongside her bath. Can’t wait to get in it. Can’t wait to while away her time lazing and soaking.

I’m back on google. I’m checking to see if her legs will bend. I’m spending ages on it. I’m getting nowhere fast. I give up! I look for accessories instead. Any accessories for this difficult doll. Ah! At last! A pack of outfits. I ‘Buy it Now!’ Little apple likes dressing dolls. I’m making progress. I’m making progress until I’m pinged an email. ‘Please don’t pay for this item. None in stock.’ This is a request to agree cancellation. I’m back to square one. No, it’s even worse. I’ve got to go back in and sort that one out. So this doll’s not even going to get a clean change of clothes. There’s absolutely nothing I can buy for this awkward Princess. No! If that’s the way she wants it she can sit all day and all night in her bath. In her ball gown in her bath. On her own! As she’s no change of clothes. She can sit until her dress is laundered! She needs some life experience this doll. If ever there was a case for jumper, jeans and a working hoover, this is it! Anyway, far more fun for the kids!

Rosy apples’ mummy has just arrived. She wants to know what I’ve bought for her apples so we don’t double-up. We get to the non-listed impromptu things. ‘Oh no!’ She says. ‘Oh I’ve just auctioned some of those. She’s grown out of those now.’ She moves on. ‘Oh and that. She’s already got one exactly the same. She’s never  bothered with it much. I’ve just auctioned that one too.’

Oh no! I’ve now got to re-jig my Christmas shopping. I’ve wrapped them. I’ve labelled them. They’re all sitting in a box in the loft. I seek my better-half. He’ll need to get them down. He’s been under the car. He’s washing his hands in the utility. It looks like he’s finished with all that now. Dare I mention our Christmas double-up as well? I’ve got invitations to be getting on with. He greets me.

‘It’s no good,’ he says. ‘If we’re lucky we might get another year out of it. I doubt it though.’

I smile. ‘Oh, I’ve found us one,’ I say.

‘Oh yes?’ He looks at me suspiciously. ‘You’re not still after getting Sanderson’s silver Mercedes, are you?’

I laugh. ‘Well it would be nice, very nice. His is top of the range though. I couldn’t pretend to be Harriet sitting in anything less!’

‘In your dreams!’ he replies.

‘You don’t like him do you?’ I cautiously suggest.

‘No! He’s a chauvinist! A bourgeois spiv!’

No! I just can’t go with that! I will not have Mr Sanderson maligned. ‘He just needs a little understanding, that’s all,’ I say.

‘You what? Understanding! I don’t believe I’m hearing this!’

I can see he’s laughing but I’m of a mind to stay quiet. I decide this is not the best time for asking him about my book launch. I go back to safer ground. I go back to talking cars.

‘No, not a silver Mercedes. I was joking. I found a different one. For a doll!. Absolutely silly price!’

He laughs, puts his arm round me.  ‘That’s OK we’ll go for one of those then, if you want to role play. You’ll need to glam up a bit though. You won’t have to be sitting by me in those jeans and that jumper.’

‘Hardly!’ I reply. This is one joke I don’t want to get. ‘Seeing as neither of us would fit in!’

‘Of course we would,’ he replies. ‘Haven’t you seen any of those going past yet?’

He’s still laughing. I look at my jeans and jumper. Bad memories! I’m going to get changed. No! I just can’t go with that!

 

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