Rosemary's Carriage Clock
They had not let her go early. But at a quarter-to-five, Emma her line manager with her customary in-yer-face niceness and right-girls-I'm-in-charge manner, had clapped her hands and brought the office to heel.
'And now as we know Rosemary will be leaving us today for what we all hope will be a long and happy retirement so we would like to present her with this.'
Even at a distance 'this' looked horrible.Too bulky, clad in pretentious gift wrap with a trivial little arrangement of bows. Appalling trash and she must have paid over the odds for the wrapping.
Too large for chocolates, not a bottle (pity, her Kumquat liqueur from Corfu was down to the lees), not even the friendly green speckled floppiness of a Peace Lily (she had thought of hinting). There was no escape. Blushing with tension she peeled the bows, the golden bag, the glitzy ritzy sparkling paper with the repeat logo of the bubbling champagne and reached the cardboard.
'A carriage clock - thank you girls. Well - cheerio.'
'Bye then' called Emma 'you take care.'
Without further faff Rosemary tapped downstairs in her matching navy heels and tailored gabardine. She had been wise to bring her brolly. The Met office, had for once been right. Catching the earlier train also meant not needing her usual pretence that she had not sighted Emma on the platform.
Relishing the book she had requested from the library stacks on the train (Karl Marx had a lot going for him!) and then boarding the bus to her tidy, cosy, hard-earned house Rosemary's spirit soared. No more work!
After handling Macaroon and Lollipop her adored rats, feeding and petting Vladimir her attention-seeking big black bushy-tailed Persian and putting out dogfood in a saucer for Spike, her shy prickly garden guest she approached the box containing her unwanted gift . She could not not open it. She had been taught at grammar school that 'Manners makyth man' .
The Marie Therese edition made in Stevenage' - oh for goodness sake!'. And then. 'Batteries required.'
Actually she could leave it in its' box and it would be worth more at its next destination.
'Is Rosie a sourpuss, is Rosie a sourpuss?' she asked the enigmatic furball now purring on her lap. And,as ever, she was reassured by Vladimirs' silence.
The next day, Fur and Feathers, the shop along Exeter Road which gave its profits to animal sanctuaries got not only the clock but also four large Lidls bags containing office outfits freshly washed and pressed complete with matching shoes. Rosemary had treated herself to a taxi.
'Thank you, how lovely!' said Lorraine.
Rosemary bit the bullet. She knew and liked Lorraine. She offered her services as a volunteer.
'And as you know' she said 'I have always been passionate about animals'.
True and far more 'positive' than saying she preferred animals to people.
She would start on Monday morning. Voluntary work killed time and although second hand tat was not her thing old rubbish hurt the planet less than new rubbish. And at Lorraines' prices it was practically redistribution.
Emma, Rosemary's former line manager, often spent Saturday afternoon visiting the charity shops. She always started with Fur and Feathers after enjoying a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit at at her Nan's warden controlled flat. Tomorrow was Vida's birthday. Emma spotted a familiar package in the shop window.
'That's a bit ungrateful'. And it must be worth more than £3. It was still in its box and it had cost £29.99. Plus £2.99 for the packaging which the assistant had done to order.
On Monday, Rosemary arrived at Fur and Feathers for her shift.. Soon a large cheery chatty lady entered bearing a box.
''Thank you, how lovely' said Lorraine (she had been friends with Vida for a long time.) Then after the door had pinged farewell. 'Put one pound on it.'
'One pound. Surely we can get more for it than that?'