by AJ Mack
She scared us all. A force of nature, a go getter, takes no prisoners. A pain in the arse. Why was I here ?
I recognised the smile first of all. Slightly manic and overbearing as she showed me into her overstuffed and overflowing lounge .
Every nook and cranny was filled with cushions, nick nacks, candles ( that had been a previous scheme). Cream and chintz , tea, nibbles and desperation.
The scent of desperation was overpowering but most of it seemed to be coming from me !!!
The throng - well at least 20 of them,seemed quite cheerful.Chatting and laughing , The primarily female gathering looked happy.
Then I realised that apart from me these poor buggers were fresh meat .
They hadn’t heard about the fantastic cleaning products that would literally change your life or the candles that would allow you to give up your mundane existence and live like a Kardashian.
I am going to kill them !!! My so called friends and colleagues. They had signed me up, dumped me in this and left me here, alone and vulnerable with Crazy Cate looming towards me.
My phone buzzed and I sneaked a look. Laughing emoji followed by another. Revenge I think you would call it.
I had persuaded my two closest work compadres to accompany me on another of these “ wonderful business opportunities” a few years ago when I took pity on poor Cate as the newby in the staffroom.
Edith and Moira were made of sterner stuff though. I will never forget their crossed arms and stern dead eyed stares to Cate. No way were they going to get hooked into her shit candle calamity.
“ Ann, welcome, welcome I have a special seat right here at the front for you.” She trilled. Trilling is the only way to describe her way of speaking.
An octave higher than anyone else and a decibel louder.
Always accompanied by fluttering hands and the air of a southern belle who unfortunately had the horror of living in grey, wet and decidedly wisteria free Dumper, North Lanarkshire.
Cate’s flowing dress was chintz and when she passed her plumped and plush couch she almost disappeared - a shabby chic Bear Grylls.
Oh weeping Jesus how am I going to survive this for the next 2 or even 3 hours. I don’t even wear perfume. I really need to grow a back bone , a pair of balls or even learn to feign deafness.
The front door slammed uncompromisingly shut and I saw Frank escape, fishing rod in hand and wearing tatty jeans,
an old jumper and a khaki hat that all in Dumper ( well apart from Cate)would call a bunnet. God I wanted to follow that bunnet, out the door, down the street and home to Netflix.
Honestly watching the unending horrors of The Walking Dead would be better than this.
How Frank survived I would never know. A man of few words ( that is probably a survival technique). He is a tinkerer, always under his car or on his roof and frequently in his shed.
A techie teacher by day and wife avoider for the rest of the week.Unlike beflowered Cate he prefers cardigans, anoraks and the colour brown.
I have never actually seen him in his living room and I cannot even imagine him sitting doing what men do - reading the Record and downing a can of lager.
I suppose he might be allowed at Christmas but only with a coaster and maybe with the Herald.
No, that would not be allowed. Frank and Cate the staffroom Posh and Becks.
Well no actually more like the school Hyacinth Bucket and the poor sap she was married to ( god - did he even have a name ?).
Frank was hardly at the bottom of the path when Cate clapped her hands and scanned the room with her laser like stare.
The grin was fixed, like her hair - immovable unless she got caught in the rain but that rarely happened .
She has a small selection of Rain Mates - which is a plastic head covering usually seen on the heads of Scottish grannies that buy them in a secret Brigadoon type shop because believe
me normal shops do not have these garments.
I found myself next to Brenda.
I hadn’t noticed her in my quick panicked scan of the botanical living room which was a surprise as Brenda did not easily blend in to the pastel soft furnishings delight that
is Cate’s front room. Brenda is old school lesbian. Doc Martins, a love of black and always with a fantastic slash of red lipstick. Not who you would expect at a Pampered Perfumes Party.
An art teacher at the High School.
She shared a base with the techie teachers and often sat with Frank in companiable silence, sharing a love of strong coffee and deep suspicion of the school management team.
“ Don’t fucking ask.”. She mumbled . Jeez there must be a story here. I subsequently discovered that Frank had “welded her sills” a couple of months earlier.
My widened eyes must have given me away. Welding sills seemingly has something to do with her old mini. Frankly I was disappointed .
“ Aye bastards at Quik Fit we’re going to charge me a fortune. Mind you if I knew I would end up here I would’ve bloody paid it “.
No more chat. Cate was tapping her glass with a tea spoon ala Downtown Abbey and the serious stuff began.
Pampered Perfumes are a wonderful company with excellent high quality perfumes that mimic the fragrance of all your high street favourites. In a word ( well 2 words ) knock offs !!