The Trump Diary was discovered in the house of the late Miss May Elizabeth Trump by a serving police officer, whose identity shall remain secret. The officer claims to have found the diary in the master bedroom, tucked under the dressing table, shortly after Miss Trump’s death. We have managed to secure exclusive access to the contents of this diary and will be posting extracts here periodically.
Tuesday May 1st:
Margaret has only just left. She stayed longer that usual which has now put me behind on my chores. She ate all my bakewells and I’m down to my last half pint of milk. The silly mare kept asking me how I was feeling as if there was something wrong with me. Quiet she called me, of course I was quiet. I could barely get a word in even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. It’s not like I had the remotest interest in the conversation any way. What do I care about the spring fair and what Mr. Wilkins got up to behind the coconut shire, though I must agree that it filled me with disgust to hear it. All the same, I wouldn’t advise him to try the same during the winter festival, not with the way the wind howls across the heath at that time of year.
Wednesday May 2nd:
I’ve just got back from Gracie’s; there was only a slither of milk left in the bottle this morning and Mr. Kibbles had run out of cat food. The number 46 bus was crowded and I saw Mrs. Wiggins again, odd woman that she is. She waved and I did my best to ignore her. When I walked up the bread aisle I saw the strange, red-haired lady that Margaret always talks about. She spoke to Mr. Poise the shop owner, who vigorously waved a hair net at her. She didn’t look too pleased and I am glad that I didn’t need to buy cheese on this occasion.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I almost cried this evening, the stupid old mare that I am. Why did I buy cat food? Mr. Kibbles has been dead for years.
Thursday May 3rd:
I took the cat food back to Gracie’s this morning. It was the boy working the tills as Mr. Poise was unavailable. I guess he was too busy dealing with the local paper and that story they printed about his hairy coleslaw. I was a little embarrassed still, not that I made an announcement of it, which was why I didn’t argue when he refused to give me my money back. The store credit was good enough as I needed teabags anyway.
The tea is always in the same aisle as the coffee and I discovered something rather odd while I was there. Mocha? Now what’s that all about? It would seem they have decided to mix coffee with hot chocolate for some strange reason. I can’t make sense of it, why would they do such a thing? Coffee is predominantly a morning drink and hot chocolate is designed to be consumed last thing at night, so what time in the frickin day are you supposed to drink mocha?
Friday May 4th:
Mostly housework today, in-between the usual soap operas and the Colin Farley Show. Margaret called and started to tell me about how they seemed to have made a connection to the spirit world last night. I told her to stop talking stupid and that I was disappointed she would even consider that I’d be interested to such rubbish. I told her dead was dead and it seemed to upset her somewhat. She didn’t much like it when I told her she was gullible and easily lead either. Connection to the spirit world indeed! The only spirits they connected with last night came in a bottle.
Saturday May 5th:
Juvenile delinquents! I’m not going let this go lightly. I’m not as steady on my feet as I used to be and they nearly had me over. These kids need a firm hand and plenty of it. Constable Davis wasn’t much use either, all he could offer me were apologies and excuses.
“I’m sorry Miss Trump but by the time I reached the scene they were long gone and without any evidence we can’t do very much I’m afraid.”
“No evidence!” I had replied using my least friendly voice. “I nearly had a tyre print tattoo embossed across me. Should I stand my ground next time just to give you your precious evidence?” I’m not letting it lie with just that I can tell you. I am going to pen a letter to the police commissioner about this. Bicycles shouldn’t be allowed in the shopping precinct. It’s a pedestrian area only and it states it quite clearly for all to see. There are no excuses, I want the full force of the law brought down on these cretins. They are a danger to society and people are getting hurt, my toe still aches from where I caught it on his training wheel.
Sunday May 6th:
Stayed indoors all day writing letters of complaint. One to the police commissioner, my toe still aches, and one to the manufacturer of my favourite confectionery. It has come to my attention that they have started to produce Lemon Bakewell Slices and Mr. Poise has seen fit to stock them at Gracie’s. Lemon? Why mess with the classic cherry flavour. It’s a slippery slope you mark my words and there’s no telling where it will end. Before you know it, there will be broccoli flavoured Swiss rolls and doughnuts filled with bacon fat. Some things are just fine the way they are. Bakewells are cherry flavoured and that’s just the way it is. I’ve been eating them all my adult life and they’ve never done me any harm.
Monday May 7th:
The number 46 was late yet again. I do hate having to travel by bus but it’s my only way of getting around these days. I’m too old to ride a bicycle, not that I would ever consider riding it through a pedestrian area. I have yet to receive a reply from the police commissioner and the letter should have arrived by today, I sent it via first class after all.
The bus driver pulled away before I could find a seat and I stumbled into a man dressed in grubby overalls. The man apologised, as he should have, but mere words won’t pay the dry cleaning bill for my coat now will it! The bus driver said nothing. He had a face like thunder and it was obvious his feet were made of concrete, even after I was seated I had to hold on tight to preserve my dignity. I have a good mind to complain to the bus company and not just about the driver either.
There were a group of noisy teenagers monopolizing the rear seats. They were sat right at the back and had their feet up on the seats facing them.
“People have to sit there,” I shouted at them. With the noise of the engine and whatever racket they were listening to through their headphones, I don’t reckon they heard me.
They were pushing each other around and one even fell into the aisle at one point. Then I saw one of them pull out a black marker pen and start writing on the window. I was shocked I can tell you. A blatant criminal offence was being committed right before my eyes and nobody seemed willing to do a thing about it. I would have marched down the bus myself had it not been swaying back and forth, like a tall ship on rough seas, every time we hit a bend in the road. I was forced to just sit and watch, as the young cretinous beast scrawled obscenities on the side of the bus. It was disgusting behaviour, he didn’t even spell frickin right either.
Tuesday May 8th:
Margaret is due to arrive for her usual weekly visit and I don’t know if I have the strength for her mindless babble today. My knees have been playing me up all morning and I almost scalded myself with that old kettle of mine. It’s not going to be easy to hide my aches and pains from Margaret. I just hope she doesn’t stay too long.
Wednesday May 9th:
I booked an emergency appointment with the doctor’s surgery this morning. My knees have been giving me a lot of gyp and I hardly slept all night because of them. The best they could offer me was tomorrow morning. It’s lucky I’m not having a heart attack, I’d be dead before then. I don’t think Margaret noticed anything yesterday, I think I managed to hide the pain quite well considering. She spent most of the time telling me about the craft fair she went to with her friend Deborah, which helped keep the enquiries regarding my health down to a minimum.
Thursday May 10th:
He’s a quack! I would change surgeries if I had any choice in the matter. The closest alternative is that walk-in clinic at the end of the high street and I’ve heard bad things about that place. You just turn up, no appointments, and you could end up spending the best part of the day just waiting to be seen. I wouldn’t mind so much but they let just about anyone in. Margaret once said that the waiting room was like being on the set of The Colin Farley Show. Wednesdays are the worst I’ve been told, what with it being the Mothers and Babies Clinic as well. Lots of screaming and crying, by all accounts, and the babies are none too quiet either. It’s no for me I’m afraid. I’ll just have to stick with the quack for the time being.
He got me to roll up my trousers so he could have a look at my knees. It was hardly dignified. All I needed was a handkerchief perched on top of my head and I would have looked like a cockney on a beach holiday. The doctor was only half my age and, by what I could gather, only had half my common sense as well. He said that there was nothing wrong with my knees and that it was just my body’s way of telling me that it was time I slowed down and relaxed more often. Five years of university and it still took him ten minutes to diagnose me as being old. Of course I’m frickin’ old, I have no delusions regarding this fact. I look old, I even looked old before I was old. I knew there was going to be trouble as soon as I walked into his office. He had a television set on his desk right where his typewriter ought to be. If he spends all day watching that thing instead of treating his patients it’s no wonder he hasn’t got a clue what’s wrong with my knees. I think watching too much television is affecting his eyesight as well. Why else would he need a remote control the size of a tea-tray?
Friday May 11th:
They’re having some kind of party again, that noisy house two doors down. I don’t know how that Mrs. Brown copes with them living right next door. I guess I should count myself lucky that her house stands between me and that racket they’re making. I closed the window but that didn’t help to any great effect, I can still hear them laughing and cheering. So what if they’re enjoying themselves, I don’t need to hear it. I think it’s all in honour of that young boy’s birthday, hardly a world-changing event now is it. We all get birthdays but you don’t see me disturbing the whole neighbourhood just because I turned another year older. They have no respect and no consideration. I’ve got a good mind to march down there and complain.
I can’t believe their audacity, how dare they suggest such a thing. I’ve just come back from telling them to put a cork in it and they had the nerve to invite me to join them. That Mr. Chimer even offered me a glass of wine. What do they take me for? Some kind of old soak or something similar is what I’m guessing. To drink alcohol freely and without a medicinal need, I don’t think so! I told them straight, I told them exactly where they could stick their invite and their glass of the devil’s hooch. They didn’t much like it but it needed saying all the same as far as I’m concerned. Mr. Chimer turned pale and he had to juggle the wine glass to avoid dropping it. I must admit though, Mrs. Chimer showed a little more spirit. She called me an old witch and slammed the door in my face. I didn’t take any offence by it. Her opinion is hardly of any concern of mine and my visit did have the desired effect after all, I can’t hear anyone laughing or cheering over there now.
Saturday May 12th:
There was a knock on my front door this morning, which was an unusual event in itself. I rarely have callers on a Saturday morning. In fact, I rarely have callers on any day of the week. I was watching The Colin Farley Show on my little television set at the time, which meant that another of my few pleasures was rudely interrupted.
A young, smartly dressed man stood smiling inanely on my door step. As soon as I opened the door he swept a clipboard out from behind his back, as if he were drawing a sword .
“Good morning madam. Could I interest you in…” I didn’t allow him to finish his obviously well rehearsed sales pitch.
“I’m not interested and I never will be young man!”
“But you’ve not heard what it is I have to offer.” He turned the clipboard to towards me and prodded it with his finger.
“I don’t need to hear a single word from you. I’m not interested and that’s final!” I was surprised to even find a salesman on my doorstep quite frankly, I thought they had all got the message by now. The last time a cold caller darkened my doorstep must have been a good six months ago and he had scuttled away with his ears ringing like tubular bells.
“This is an exclusive offer and it will help you reduce your household bills Madam.” His smile seem less inane now, more of a strained grin.
“Now you look here young man!” I could hear an advertising jingle coming from the television in the living room. I had already missed the last few minutes of the first half and I had no intention of missing the start of the second.
“I am not interested in your little scams. How many times am I going to have to repeat myself before it finally sinks in?”
“So you don’t want to save money?” He tilted his head and widened his smile a little. I remembered the incident last year with the shoe salesman and stemmed my temper as much as I could.
“You are obviously new to this area so I will give you a moment’s grace. If you had been gifted with any wisdom you would have checked with your more established colleagues regarding this address. I do not conduct my business on the doorstep and neither should any well-respected company or organisation. In the past I have not been as gracious and I ask you to leave my doorstep at this very moment, even if only for your own good. I have this broom you see. It is a good broom and has served me well over the years. The bristles are now few and worn but the handle is as hard and firm as the day I first bought it. No longer does it sweep away the leaves from my path as efficiently as it once did but, if I were to poke it into something soft, it still has the desired effect.” I then reached over and produced my old broom from behind the door and the young man slowly backed away down my garden path, as if facing off wild animal. I looked out over my garden hedge and saw two men standing across the street. They were both holding similar clipboards and were bent over double. They were laughing at something but I didn’t see anything even remotely funny.
Sunday May 13th:
I got up late this morning as my alarm clock failed to go off at the correct time. It sat on my bedside table, displaying the late hour and looking at me accusingly. For the push of a small button I had missed the early showing of The Colin Farley Show and they always seem to have the strangest guests on a Sunday morning. There was no real harm done, other than to my sense of pride, they always repeat it in the afternoon. If you can’t get up late on a Sunday, when can you?
I have just got off the phone to Margaret. Why would she choose such a time to ring me with such pointless babble and right in the middle of the Colin Farley repeat show. Why would I be the slightest bit interested in her pig sanctuary? Why do I care whether or not they are holding a jumble sale to raise money? Margaret has known me for more years than I care to count right at this moment. She should know me well enough not to bore me with such things. She may feel the need to volunteer her time in aid of a bunch of pre-processed sausages but I have far more important things on my to do list and missing my favourite television show twice in one day is not among them.
“Have you got anything you don’t want floating around that you could donate to the jumble sale?” she asked me, and she did it without the slightest hint of sarcasm in her voice. Who does she think she’s talking to? One of her soppy Thursday night friends I’ve no doubt. I told her straight.
“If I didn’t want it, I wouldn’t own it now would I. If nature deems that these pigs of yours can’t live independently of a group of soppy old mares then they are best fit for the pot if you ask me. Why should I waste a minute’s thought on that which would be more fitting on my dinner plate than rolling in the mud while scamming money out of the weak-minded among us?” Margaret didn’t seem to take it too well but I thought it needed saying. I think I may have upset her. She might not even come over next Tuesday but I don’t think I’ll be that lucky.
Monday May 14th:
I felt trapped; I didn’t see it coming. The sky wasn’t clear and sunny but I never expected such a downpour. I had listened the weather forecast on the radio this morning, they mentioned possible showers but it was coming down in buckets and there was me without my brolly. I was only going down to the local shops for a pint of milk and a newspaper. I would have made better preparations had I been planning a longer journey, I wouldn’t have wore a stupid woollen jacket for a start. It was lucky I was just passing The Greasy Spatula when the heavens first opened up. I managed to duck into the little café before my jacket had soaked up enough water to anchor me to the spot. It felt like I had lead bars stuffed into my pockets by the time I had managed to take it off and hang it on the back of a chair. A small puddle had already formed behind the chair by the time I sat down. The lady behind the counter looked none too pleased, she took a mop to it on at least three occasions while I was there.
I had never been into the particular café before, I had found of little use as it was only a ten minute walk from my own kitchen. I ordered a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich while I watched less fortunate people run past the window with newspapers and carrier bags held ineffectively over their heads. A lorry drove past , creating a huge wave that washed up against the window, drenching the young couple who had chosen that particular moment to brave the weather and step out of the café.
I didn’t expect the quality of the food to be able to stand up to much criticism and I was not wrong in my assumption. The bread was probably fresh two days ago and the bacon was swimming in oil and was about as crispy as a fruit pastel. The tea was fine but even that wasn’t worth the money I had paid for it. I took note of the certificate of culinary excellence that hung in an ornate frame above the register, it had been awarded to The Greasy Spatula by the local council. Well that is yet another letter for me to write, once I have finished penning the one to the radio station that is.
Tuesday May 15th:
Margaret is still coming around for her usual visit today, obviously I failed to upset her enough on Sunday. I actually thought I would see an entire week through without hearing the words Coo Wee followed by an hour of pointless babble. I ought to put the kettle on, the sooner it’s over the better.
Margaret has just left. She seemed on form today, some of what she said I actually found quite interesting. I was almost sad to see her go. Maybe I’ve been a bit too hard on her lately, she’s probably the only one who gives a jot about me anyway.
Wednesday May 16th:
I have just returned home after taking some books back to the library. I was surprised to discover they have had a bit of a change around in there. It would seem that libraries are not about books any more, which doesn’t seem at all right to me. Don’t get me wrong, they still lend out books in there but It would seem that half of the shelves have been removed. I don’t know what’s happened to the books that used to be on those shelves, thrown out and burnt I’ve no doubt, but at least they haven’t completely turned their backs on literature. There are racks of oddly thin video boxes which, as far as I could see, were far too small to contain any video cassette I’ve ever seen. One whole corner of the library is now filled with television sets. The way the chairs have been placed so close to the screens, I’m sure it’ll do no good for your eyesight and that’s for sure. The rest of the place has been devoted to some kind of higher education it would seem. I can’t tell you that I like any of it, not in the slightest. I was much happier when they only did books. I used to have the whole place to myself on most occasions but now it’s just brim full with all sorts of folk. I was surrounded by school kids and at one point four of the little devils were scattered along the same aisle as me. I tell you, it’s no wonder they keep closing these places down.
Thursday May 17th:
The great wad of paper that the postman squeezed through my letterbox this morning hit the door mat like a potato sack. Even from my room upstairs the loud slapping noise it made had me thinking that there was somebody trying to break in. I came thundering down those stairs with the cricket bat, which I usually keep beneath my bed, leading the way. I was ready to give someone a swift whack in the L.B.W and leave them riding my bat like a hobby-horse. I was quite disappointed to find nothing intruding but a block of papers with an elastic band wrapped around them.
All that excitement and, once I had unravelled the elastic band and sorted through the correspondence, I only found three slim envelopes addressed to me and two of those were bills. The remainder of the brick of paper was made up of leaflets. There were six takeaway menus, one for a noodle shop, one for a curry house, another was for a pizza parlour, a fish-and-chip shop and something called a kebab shop. The last one was for a restaurant that appeared to sell all of the above under the same roof plus some kind of fried chicken. There was a small plastic bag all neatly folded with the words ‘Charity Clothing Collection’ printed across it. I appreciated these particular examples of junk mail as you can never have too many bin bags I always say.
I then came across the leaflet from the local council. It would appear that they are planning to remove my big black rubbish bin from outside the house and replace it with three small square containers. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, going by the pictures not one of them looked big enough to hold a black sack.
It would seem that they wish me to recycle, which I was inclined to read as that they want me to do their job for them. One container for paper, one for glass and another one for plastic. Well I know where I’m going to put the paper one, directly beneath the letter box.
Friday May 18th:
A little housework and a little T.V. With nobody harassing me and nothing untoward happening, it’s been a pleasant day.
Saturday May 19th:
I can’t believe it, how dare they do such a thing. I pay my T.V licence as much as anybody and I expect to get what I’ve paid for. I have few pleasures in life and watching the underprivileged make complete fools of themselves on national television is one of them. I sure hope they don’t expect me to get an awful great dish mounted onto the side of my house because they’ll be sorely disappointed. I’ve heard terrible things about those contraptions and even though my hair is thin, grey and dry I don’t fancy having it all fall out just so I can watch my favourite show.
Sorry but I may have been a bit premature in my condemnation. I have just read the television pages again and it would seem that they have only sold the back catalogue of the Colin Farrell Show to a satellite channel. The new episodes will be aired as normal. No real harm has been done but I have still wasted 30 minutes of my time and two sheets of my best writing paper.
Sunday May 20th:
I decided to reorganise my wardrobe today. The doors haven’t closed properly for such a while, what with all those cardigans and jumpers that I won’t be needing until the autumn. I’ve probably got more woollens than I need but I still won’t be giving them away to help Margaret’s undercooked bacon joints. I found an old suitcase under the bed, which proved a suitable storage solution for my winter wears but it was no easy task to get at it. I had to hook it with a coat hanger and drag it out very slowly. I felt my knees flare up with every tug. It was painful and time-consuming but I see it as just another trial that I have to endure if I wish to retain my independent lifestyle. I was surprised to discover that the suitcase wasn’t empty, until I began to get a vague memory of using it in a similar way as today maybe ten years ago. There were half a dozen jumpers and cardigans in there already, along with an old photo album and a leather-bound book that was sealed closed by a large rubber band. I removed the book and album from the suitcase and piled my newer winter clothes on top of the old forgotten garments with the thought that it may be another ten years before they are discovered again. I plan to make a note of it on my calendar as a reminder come the colder months.
I placed the photo album on top of the bed and opened it. I was greeted by the face of Mrs. Collins, which gave me quite a fright. It was a large black and white head and shoulders portrait from when I was a child. I remembered her as an older woman but only by a few years and the photo gave her a more youthful appearance than I had pictured in my mind. I flicked through the pages of the album and found only a few more photographs followed by empty white pages. There was one of me as a young woman of 16 or maybe 17 years old, not much more than a child really. It was about the time I had struck out into the world and the last time I had set eyes on Mrs. Collins. I closed the album and began to remove the rubber band from the book, which snapped after only one or two gentle tugs and flicked painfully against my finger. I tipped open the thick leather cover and saw my girlish scrawl running across the first page. It was my old diary, the one I had started writing when I took my first steps into the world. I had thought it lost many years ago but there it was sitting in front of me after spending every night for at least a decade secretly stowed beneath my slumbering body. It felt strange to me that something that had hung in the back of my mind for so long had always been just in arms reach. I have yet to read it; I will put a quiet evening aside and let myself drift into the past with a pot of tea and a Bakewell.
Monday May 21st:
I am the victim of a local authority endorsed burglary, my big black bin has been stolen. I am now been left with three plastic shoe boxes and one large, green wheelie bin that has been specifically designed for food waste. How on earth do they expect me to fill that up! One of the many lessons that I learned from my time at the orphanage was to never waste food, yet the council obviously expects me to throw away more food, on a weekly basis, than a family of four could eat in a month.
Tuesday May 22nd:
Margaret has just skipped out of my front door like a character from an Enid Blyton novel. She’s in such high spirits today that nothing I said would bring down her mood, no matter how hard I tried.
Wednesday May 23rd:
I was waiting to cross the road at one of those green man crossing places down by the local parade of shops. The road was clear of traffic apart from a sedately moving police car. The green man appeared and I stepped confidently into the road. All of a sudden the police car started to sound its siren and flash its lights. I became abruptly aware that it wasn’t going to stop, even though the red traffic signal was clearly against it. I was forced to take a swifter step backwards than my knees could endure without flaring up and causing me considerable discomfort. I am afraid to say that I stumbled slightly as I planted both feet back on the pavement. I was an astounded witness to that which I would consider as being a hair’s width away from a criminal act. The police car trundled through the red traffic signal with its siren blaring so loudly that my ears began to ring and its lights flashing like a hastily organised 70’s disco, yet I could not ascertain a hint of urgency in it’s movement. To add insult to injury, as soon as it had cleared the crossing its siren fell silent and its lights ceased to flash. I stood open-mouthed as it continued down to road at an unchanged and sedate pace. This is wholly unacceptable behaviour coming from officers of the law and a blatant misuse of power. I will be writing another letter to the commissioner as soon as remember where I left the scrap of paper on which I had written down his address. I’m certainly not expecting swift justice however as I still haven’t received a response from the last letter I sent him.
Thursday May 24th:
My monthly bank statement fell through the letter box this morning. I had to fish it out of the recycle bin. There appears to be one or two suspicious transactions listed upon it, I have no memory of buying 30 pairs of glow in the dark sunglasses. I guess this means a trip up to the bank tomorrow, which is a little inconvenient. I was hoping to stay in and watch the Colin Farley Show all day marathon. I have never seen Colin wearing anything other than a suit and he just doesn’t look fit enough to run the entire 26 miles in my opinion.
Friday May 25th:
I wasted a perfectly good morning due to, what I consider to be, gross incompetence on the part of the postman. I will be penning a stern letter of complaint, though I don’t hold much hope of it being delivered to the correct address.
I had an early start this morning. I wanted to make sure that I was the first customer into the bank as it opened at 09:30am and I was successful in that endeavour. Being the only branch in town it is liable to get busy very quickly. I can’t abide queues and besides, my knees won’t let me stand still for too long without complaint.
The bus was virtually empty, just me, half a dozen suited commuters, who were probably on their way to the train station, and a middle-aged, curly-haired man who was out for the count from before I even boarded. I could tell by the pearls of drool that were hanging from the edge of his mouth. I sat three rows behind the sleeping man and was only inclined to move when he started to snore. It was a deep gurgling noise, as if he was sucking up the last remnants of a milkshake through his nose with a straw. I couldn’t stand it! I could feel my breakfast rise in my throat and threaten to break free from the darkness of my stomach. Stay away from the light, I found myself thinking. I was left with no option but to take action. I whipped out my umbrella, I always carry one now regardless of the weather report, and I prodded the man’s shoulder with the metal pointed end. I was rewarded with no more than a groan before he turned his back on me, but at least he had stopped snoring.
I sat back down and waited for my stop in relative silence. Then something happened that I have always wondered about. The bus was just a short distance from the town centre bus stop and, as I myself began to stand in preparation of disembarking, the sleeping man opened his eyes and slowly rose to his feet. It was a casual action. There was no haste or confusion in his movements, as you might expect from someone who had just awoken in a strange place. He stood by the back doors and pressed the bell as if he had been awake and alert for the entire journey. He gave no sign that he had missed his stop or that his recent unconsciousness had been unexpected in any way. How do people do that? It is almost as if they just know where they are regardless of how deep their slumber. If it had been me, heaven forbid, who had drifted off while on a moving vehicle I would have seen the end of the line before I awoke. Margaret had once told me how her friend, Victoria I think her name was, had fallen asleep on a bus. She remembered just passing a particular stop before dropping off into a dreamless sleep. When she awoke she had felt that no time has passed but, as she looked out of the window, she saw the exact same bus stop that she had seen prior to sleeping, only this time it was on the opposite side of the road. It had left her confused for days by all accounts.
I reached the bank at 09:25, which was not my intention. I had scheduled my journey meticulously and a five-minute wait had not figured prominently in my plans. The bus must have been early, there’s no other explanation. I knew that I should have written down the vehicle details, regardless of whether the journey had been worthy of complaint or not. I had once given serious consideration to compiling a record of all and any services that I avail myself of just for eventualities such as this.
My five-minute wait turned into a seven minute travesty.
“It’s 09:32!” I tapped on my wristwatch as I heard the jingle of keys coming from behind the door. “It says here, clear as day, that you open your doors at 09:30. If you can’t even mange that! How am I supposed to trust you to manage my money?” The door swung open and the same middle-aged, curly-haired man who I had prodded with my umbrella earlier that morning smiled at me. He offered no apology and just stepped to one side as I entered the bank.
“This is no way to run a business,” I muttered as I passed him. I walked up to the queue point and, even though I was the only customer in the entire building, found myself guided by thick, red ropes through a maze of twists and turns before I reached the teller kiosks. There was only one window open, which I completely understood considering the current queue length; I am not an unreasonable woman.
“How can I help you?” She was younger than I could remember ever being, an age more suited to playing netball than working behind a counter at a bank. Blonde hair, too much make-up and a drug induced sparkle in her eyes; she had an “I’m on my third cup of coffee” look about her.
“A serious mistake has been made regarding my bank statement,” I told her and then slapped my paperwork down onto the counter. I was ready for a fight, I know how these places work and if you don’t stand your ground they will walk all over you.
“I’m sorry to hear that, let me have a look.” She picked up the statement and hummed with negative tones.
“Which transaction are you concerned about?”
“Is it not obvious?” I said. “Do I look like a regular patron of Desmond’s Novelty Bizarre?”
“Ah the sunglasses, yes that does seem a little outside your usual shopping habits.”
“I suffer from no habits young lady! Shopping is a necessity of modern life and a habit is a symptom of a weak mind, are you suggesting that I have a weak mind?”
“Oh no of course not madam.” Her face turned a paler shade and her thick foundation failed to hide it. She moved her chair an extra inch from the counter, though I don’t think she was conscious of her symbolic retreat.
“Well that’s alright then. Now can you scrub that debit from my account so I can get on with my day please?”
“I don’t have the authority to do that I’m afraid, I shall have to call the manager.” Now I had expected her to pick up a phone and speak politely and respectfully into it but that was not the case. She stood up out of her chair and cupped her hands around her mouth.
“Duncan! You need to deal with this one!” I was none too impressed at being described as something that someone would have to deal with. I turned around and a door marked “Branch Manager” swung open.
“What is it now Sharon? You can’t keep calling me every time something comes up that’s more complicated than a simple deposit.” The curly-haired, late sleeper walked out of the office and strode over to where I was standing. I was glad to see that even the bank manager had to navigate the red, rope maze.
“I don’t appreciate you suggesting that I’m incompetent Mr. Green, especially not in front of the customers,” Sharon said. Good for you girl, I thought.
“Yes whatever Sharon,” the bank manager said, as he flicked his hand in the air in a gesture of dismissal. “What seems to be the problem?” I didn’t give Sharon a chance to reply. I was worried that there might be an argument brewing between her and Mr. Green. I don’t have any issue with a good argument, it clears the air in most cases, but I didn’t fancy playing umpire while they bickered.
“The problem young man,” I emphasized the young as I wanted him to notice my superior years and sensibility, “is that I have been charged for a purchase which I didn’t make. I expect you to remove the debit from my account forthwith.”
“Let me see the statement and I’ll look into it,” Sharon pushed my paperwork across the counter and Mr. Green picked it up. He made the same negative humming noises that Sharon had previously issued.
“I will have to investigate this further before I can make any adjustments to your account Mrs. Chimer,” he said.
“Investigate! Why on earth would you need to investigate me? Do I look like some kind of criminal to you?”
“I am not going to investigate you personally Mrs. Chimer. Every request that involves possible fraud has to be investigated, it’s company procedure I’m afraid.”
“Oh yes,” I realized at that moment that I may well have been the victim of a crime, my personal details might be at risk and that didn’t sit well with me. “I guess you’re right in that regard Mr. Green but if my account has been compromised I will hold this bank responsible. You are the people who are supposed to be looking after it.”
“As I said, Mrs. Chimer, I will investigate this issue thoroughly and I will let you know what I discover as soon I possible.”
“That sounds fair enough but why do you keep calling me Mrs. Chimer?” I had noticed the first two times but, as they had yet to give me a reason to believe they were anything close to competent, I had ignored it as an error on their part.
“I’m sorry but are you not Mrs. Chimer?” Mr. Green asked.
“No, of course not! My name is May Elizabeth Trump and I have a considerable amount of money deposited at this bank so I would have you treat me with a little more respect thank you very much.”
“I that case Mrs. Trump…”
“Miss!” I corrected him.
“I’m sorry but in that case Miss. Trump, why do you have Mrs. Chimer’s bank statement?” Mr. Green held up the sheet of paper he was holding and pointed to the third line down. I lent closer and could see the name and address of Mrs. Chimer clearly printed upon it.
“That came through my letterbox yesterday morning, why would I expect it to be anyone else’s by my own?”
“I am sorry to cause you any embarrassment but I am afraid I will have to keep hold of this for the time being, at least until I can return it to its rightful owner,” Mr. Green smiled and I could sense a smugness to it. I wasn’t embarrassed however, far from it in fact. There was no fault of mine hiding within this fiasco and I knew just upon who to lay the blame. I am obviously surrounded by incompetence, even the postman has less sense than it requires to read a door number.
Saturday May 26th:
I’ve seen it all now. They’ve always seemed to be an odd family but now they have gone way too far. I’ve been watching them from my bedroom window. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spying on them or anything else underhand. It was the noise and the faint glow coming from their garden that first took my attention. I rushed to my bedroom, I have yet to discover a better vantage point that overlooks their garden than my bedroom window, and I stood in silent horror at what lay before me. It was like a scene from a Hammer House production. Two dozen people were milling around their garden, all dressed in strange and bizarre fashions and each had eyes that glowed a sinister, mystical green. It was an almost hypnotic sight and, as soon as I had regained my own free will to move, I rushed back down the stairs with a mind to inform the police of the goings on at the Chimer household. I still can’t believe that it happened right here in my own neighbourhood. A witches coven of some sort or other, maybe even a kind of satanic cult. Either way, our local bobbies will soon put a stop to it, at least that’s what I thought.
I could swear that the police officer on the other end of the telephone was laughing at me, especially when I mentioned devil worshippers. He excused his impromptu noises as the symptoms of a sore throat and a severe case of hiccups. Either way, he was clearly unfit to perform his duties. After a five-minute telephone conversation, I was left with the distinct feeling that my warnings would be left unheeded. That is their choice, as far as I am concerned, but they had better not come crying to me when they are knee-deep in cloven footed demons and dead poultry.
I will be keeping a far closer eye on the Chimer’s comings and going from now on, I’ve even taken the precaution of adding several cloves of garlic to my shopping list.
Sunday May 27th:
I watched a television show about antiques today. Three contestants were tasked with purchasing various items of value from people who clearly knew the worth of their wares. They then had to sell those same items to other people, who were also well aware of their worth. The results were unsurprising, with all the contestants eventually making substantial losses. What did surprise me, however, was the manner in which the presenter chose a winner. The contestant who had failed the least dramatically to achieve the set goal laid before them was labelled as the victor. How can they name them victorious? I agree that the whole concept of the show is flawed to the point of being completely impossible to win but the contestants must have been aware of this prior to applying to the television company.
As far as I can see, the only possible winner is the antiques expert who sold them the item in the first place, especially if he then attended the auction and won his own item back at a fraction of the price.
Monday May 28th:
I didn’t sleep a wink last night. The bathroom tap is leaking and, even through two closed doors, I could hear the drips hitting the porcelain every two seconds. I even tried counting the steady rhythm like sheep but to no avail. I’m going to have to call in a plumber but I hold no trust in tradesmen and the thought of having a complete stranger sweating and grunting under my roof leaves me feeling cold inside.
Tuesday May 29th:
Margaret informed me of just how tired I am looking. I have to agree with her. I fare poorly when deprived of sleep. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I could see that the bags under my eyes were drooping so low that they were almost under my nose as well.
Margaret offered to let me stay over at her house but I’m just not that tired yet.
Wednesday May 30th:
Last night was another sleepless night. Tonight however is so far looking promising. I’ve been cut off, there is no water to drip. Mrs. Brown came knocking on my door asking if I was without water, so I guess the whole street is living with empty pipes. I count myself lucky as my kettle is full so I won’t be left wanting as far as my evening pot of tea is concerned.
Hopefully the water will be back on by the morning but, as for tonight, I’m looking forward to catching up on some of my lost sleep.
Thursday May 31st:
So much for getting an early night. A group of workmen arrived just outside my house and started to dig up the road with jack-hammers. It’s just my luck, the water main had to burst right on my doorstep. It’s poor luck or witchcraft, I’m beginning to worry that the Chimer’s have put a curse on me for calling the police the other night. A water shortage shouldn’t worry them none. They have probably just opened another bottle of something potent or drained a goat and drunk its warm blood out of pewter chalices.
Friday June 1st:
I have water again this morning but I’ve also got a small building site on my doorstep. It looks like a dumping ground for traffic cones and orange, plastic fencing. They’ve only left me a four-inch gap between their mess and my garden gate (This is an exact measurement, I took my ruler to it). There’s no way that I can get through there without looking like an escaping convict hugging the prison wall in an attempt to evade a searchlight. I’ve decided to stay indoors today and save my dignity.
On top of all that, the bathroom tap has started dripping again. Margaret has recommended a plumber. I have his number written down by the telephone but I haven’t taken the plunge and rung it yet.
Saturday June 2nd:
I called the plumber this morning, he’s coming around later in the afternoon to take a look at my bathroom tap. Margaret should be here by then. I hate to have to call on others for help but the thought of being here alone with a strange burly workman worries me, you hear such terrible stories.
Eric has just left. He was nothing like I had imagined him to be. He was polite, friendly and respectable, which are traits I admire. He even looked reasonably smart, at least his boiler suit was clean and freshly ironed. To top it all, he’s not a bad plumber either. He fixed my leaky tap with the minimum of fuss and left no greasy stains or lingering body odour either.
I told Margaret about the sinister goings on at the Chimer’s house. She’s going to look into it and spread her gossip feelers to see if she can find out anything.
Sunday 3rd June:
I slept in late this morning, which is hardly surprising. It was so wonderfully quiet last night that I fell into a deep sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Monday 4th June:
The workmen have removed their unsightly mess from outside my garden gate but they have left a patch of dark tarmac. It sticks out like a sore thumb! Smack-bang in the middle of an old light grey pavement. It singles my house out from the rest of the street and it looks untidy, it’s not even a perfect square. The council will have to just resurface the whole street I reckon. They can’t leave it like that!
It’s like a stain on my home, a hex even. Now obviously I don’t believe in such things but there are plenty of people in this world who often confuse superstition with the gospel truth. I’m sure The Chimers are of that ilk and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were somehow behind the dripping tap incident either. Obviously that’s not admitting to anything mystical being at hand but somehow I just know that they were behind it. People who think nothing of sacrificing a chicken or a goat just to appease some imaginary demon cannot be trusted, they are capable of just about anything.
I have just had a disturbing thought. What if The Chimers had indeed swapped a perfectly good washer for the old worn one that Eric found in my bathroom tap? That would mean that they had crept into my house unbeknownst to me. I might have been fast asleep and unaware that my home was being invaded by the servants of Satan himself, not that I believe in him per say. I feel rather worried now. I am an old lady living alone only two doors down from a family of devil worshippers and clearly my current security measures have proved to be far from sufficient.
Tuesday 5th June:
I feel such a fool. I was so quick to pass judgement. It just goes to show how appearances can be so deceiving and how wild assumptions can be so easily made. I have to admit surprise at my own ability to err. I am not often wrong but I am more than willing to acknowledge the few moments when I am. Lemon Bakewells are rather nice. Not quite up to the standard of the original cherry flavour but I can understand their appeal. I would have remained ignorant of this fact had a free sample not fallen through my letterbox.
Margaret came over today for her usual weekly visit. She was eager to impart the news she had discovered regarding the Chimer family, amongst other pointless babble. She told me that they had hosted a fancy dress party and this was the reason for all the ceremony and theatrics. A likely story if I’ve ever heard one. It won’t stop me from keeping a clove of garlic in my purse, that much I assure you.
Wednesday 6th June:
I read from my old diary last night, so many rekindled memories. Over the years I have often wondered if I was ever that young or if my vague memories were more of a dream than reality. I obviously must have been young once but during the cold, dark nights, filled with aching bones and insomnia, the mind can have a habit of wandering where it may. The passages from my old diary have refreshed my mind but I am as yet unsure if they have made me feel younger or if they have helped me realise just how old I really am. Not that it matters any, I have few regrets. I have made mistakes along the way but I am confident that I have led my life true to my principles.
Thursday 7th June:
I woke up to a dreadful burning pain in my left knee this morning. I am glad to say that it has calmed down a little since then but it still aches something fierce. My right knee aches also but only at its usual level of discomfort. I have made another appointment at the doctors for tomorrow morning. I have little faith that the young quack will do anything of any use but I am left with few choices at this stage. There is that walk in clinic in the high street but I am barely able to hobble around the house let alone walk in anywhere. I just hope it eases off some during the night, I would hate to waste money on a taxi in the morning.
Friday 8th June:
I can’t believe it has cost me paper money to travel two miles. I was barely in the car five minutes and I had to hand over a crisp note for the privilege. His car couldn’t have used more that a teaspoon of fuel for the entire journey but I have been coerced into paying him enough money to fill his tank. It’s an outrage! These people are taking advantage of the less able as far as I am concerned. I am just thankful that my own lack of mobility is only a temporary affair and, as soon as I am able, I will be marching into that office of theirs in the high street and giving them a full on trumping.
The doctor was his usual incompetent self I am afraid. I didn’t expect much else but I have little choice in the matter than to heed his advice. As I sit in the emergency department of the local hospital, I can’t help but think that I am wasting precious time and resources. I could be doing the ironing right now and my purse is feeling a lot lighter after paying out for two taxi rides in one day. The doctor should have done his job properly and dealt with my ailment himself but he just palmed me off to the hospital. A handful of decent pain killers and a couple of days rest is all I need, yet here I am surrounded by the accident prone among us. I feel rather nervous whenever someone walks passed me, as I sit on this row of plastic chairs writing these words. I have just got my leg into a semi-comfortable position where the pain is just bearable and I am afraid that one of these oafs will suddenly fall over onto me and set it off again.
Two hours and I have only just spoken to a doctor. Well he called himself a doctor but he looked to me to barely be out of short trousers. He was spotty and, much like the paws of a puppy dog, his ears looked too big for his head as if he still had some growing to do. The young whippet reckons I’ve got inflamed kneecap or something like that. He’s shoved me into a ward.
“It’ll only be for a couple of days,” he said. “I need to give you and x-ray and a few tests to be sure.” Then he said something about not having anyone at home to look after me, which I found rather patronising. I am quite capable of looking after myself and I told him that much as well, but that didn’t stop him from booking up a bed for me. He then started talking about his duty of care and how he could end up being charged with neglect if anything were to happen to me while I was home alone. I was about to argue but then my knee flared up again and I almost fell. I’m embarrassed to say it frightened me. The doctor caught me by the arm and saved me from what could have been a rather nasty fall. I was grateful for the young man’s swift actions but, in an attempt to retain some dignity, I still reprimanded him.
“Unhand me this instant!” I must give him credit though, he only loosened his grip after I had regained a firm footing and he voiced his apology louder than his excuse.
“I’m sorry madam. I was worried you were going to fall over.”
Saturday 9th June:
I find myself this morning sitting up in a hospital bed with my leg wrapped in bandages and hanging from some chain and pulley contraption. I have never been so traumatised in my life, so much for the caring profession. I was pushed from pillar to post for the best part of yesterday evening. Shoved into a wheelchair and hurled down this or that corridor by some troglodyte named of Doug. I remember his name clearly. how could I not? He must have told me it a hundred times.
“Hello Mrs. Trump, I’m Doug and I’m here to take you to the x-ray department.” I told him that I was a Miss not a Mrs on several occasions but it never seemed to sink in.
“Hello Mrs. Trump, I’m Doug and I’m here to take you to the treatment room, to have…treatment I guess.” I finally got the pain killers I was after and even though they made me a little drowsy I still had more wits about me than the ward staff who took me to bed. There I am sat in a wheelchair with my leg all bandaged up and sticking out in front of me like lance. It was plain for any idiot to see what was wrong with me yet that short, dumpy ward nurse still asked me what I was in for.
“What do you think I’m here for!” I barked at her. I looked her right in the eye, at least I think I did but, due to the drugs, my vision was getting a little wavy by then.
“Is it not obvious?” I said, pointing to my leg. “If it wasn’t for all the drugs they’ve put me on I’d be in agony by now after the way Captain Caveman has been using my leg to push open every single door between here and reception. I have had just about enough of being looked after by a throwback, who I’m surprised is evolved enough to come equipped with opposable thumbs, and now that I am under your care I am left worried that you might somehow be related to him.” My stark honesty didn’t seem to go down to well with her, in fact she became rather confrontational.
“I don’t have to put up with your abuse Mrs. Trump.” I noted that she had made the same simple, prefix error that Doug had so frequently uttered.
“I have taken time away from my family to come here and look after you and this is how you treat me!” I could see beads of sweat forming on her temple and her hands seemed to be shaking ever so slightly. I must admit I had my suspicions that maybe I was merely just another antagonist on top of an already stressful day for this particular nurse but that didn’t stop me from speaking my mind, and why should it?
“Don’t talk rubbish! You’re a nurse for frick’s sake, besides your family is here.” I pointed at Doug, who didn’t seem to be keeping up with the conversation. He was standing just to the left of my chair, staring at his thumbs.
“You chose to do this for a living. You chose to work here and, even though maybe you do come here partially out of the kindness of your heart, the main catalyst for you to drag your self out of bed in the mornings is the money you get paid for being here.” I actually felt that it was a very fair statement, especially as I had acknowledged the possibility that she did have a kind bone in her body. She, however, did not.
“They don’t pay me enough to deal with the likes of you!” Just at that moment another nurse walked in and took over. She muttered something about taking a break to the first nurse who stomped out of the room huffing and puffing like Ivor The Engine. The new nurse gave me a brief smile and began to transfer me into a bed. She didn’t say a word the whole time. She shifted me over with the minimal of fuss, strapped up my leg and wrapped a white name tag around my wrist. I must admit that I was quite impressed to tell you the truth. She was swift, efficient and I suffered little discomfort, though that could be more down to the effect of the drugs. She had gone a long way to rekindle my faith in the caring profession until I discovered her grave error this morning. Going by the name tag she gave me, I don’t exist. It’s completely blank! If anything had happened to me during the night I could have ended up as a Jane Doe. What if I had died? I could have ended up being buried under an unmarked grave like some forgotten soldier. This is hardly the kind of care I was expecting from a modern hospital I can tell you. I will be writing to the hospital manager as soon as I am discharged and no longer at their mercy.
Sunday 10th June
I had a visit from a different doctor this afternoon. As soon as I saw him I felt a little relieved, he was no spring chicken, if anything he was older than myself. Finally, a member of the medical profession who wasn’t still reeling from the effects of teenage hormones. All the other staff are so young here, this hospital must recruit them straight out of primary school. Doctor Wilkins was his name, he introduced himself as he swooped into my room. I remember thinking at the time how sprightly he was for a man of his age. He wore the standard white coat over a paisley shirt crowned with a small, brown bow tie. He was old school, I could tell right away that he fitted my expectations of what a doctor should look like, although his busy sideburns were not to my taste.
“Good afternoon doctor,” I said and was met by a confused stare. I guess he wasn’t used to getting such a polite reaction from his patients.
“Oh, hello,” he said,once he regained his composure. He quickly glanced down at the folder hanging on the end of my bed. “Miss Trump I assume.” He flashed a brief smile my way.
“That is correct,” I said, glad that they had got my name right on my medical notes at least.
“How’s the leg feeling today?” Doctor Wilkins said, alternating his gaze between my notes and my suspended leg.
“Not so bad, Doctor. The rest is doing it good I reckon.”
“I think that’s all it really needs, Miss Trump,” He said, back hunched, squinting down at my notes. It seemed an awkward way of going about it, why he didn’t just pick up the folder was beyond me.
“They will probably send you home soon, Miss Trump,” Doctor Wilkins said.
“I’d be happy to go home right now if you would just sign my discharge papers,” I told him.
“It’s really not up to me, Miss Trump. I generally only consult on terminal cases I’m afraid. In fact, I don’t usually involve myself with the patients until they’re nearing the end.”
“That sounds like a rather morbid speciality to study,” I said.
“It’s not by choice, Miss Trump. Circumstance led me into this particular field of medicine, one that I am uniquely qualified for.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” I said. “I would be very wary of the kind of person who would actively choose such a speciality. What were the circumstances you mentioned?” Doctor Wilkins suddenly seemed flustered.
“I.. I can’t really stop and chat right now, Miss Trump,” he said, his voice wavered. “I have some urgent rounds to make.” – he turned and hurried towards the door – “I bid you farewell, Miss Trump,” his voice trailing as he vanished into the corridor.
I found Doctor Wilkins to be a very odd gentleman but, strangely enough, I would have felt far more confident under his care than I do under that school boy of a doctor I saw in casualty.
Monday 11th June
It’s official, all the nurses here are completely witless. This morning, I spoke with one of them regarding Doctor Wilkins and she suggested the most absurd thing. As soon as I mentioned his name she drew her hand to her mouth, as if she were eating an apple, and made a faint squeaking noise.
“Are you sure he said his name was Doctor Wilkins? The nurse said through her cupped hand.
“Of course I’m sure,” I replied, gruffly. “There’s nothing wrong with my memory.”
“Oh my,” the nurse mumbled, staring down at the floor. “There’s only ever been one Doctor Wilkins at this hospital and he died years ago. In fact, we are currently in The Wilkins Memorial Wing.”
“What are you trying to say?” I asked, staring at the nurse with puzzlement.
“Oh my, I never believed the stories, Mrs. Trump. They are always talking about it in the staff canteen, trying to scare the interns I think, I assumed it was all just rumours and gossip. Oh my, Mrs. Trump, I think you saw the ghost of Doctor Wilkins.” Her voice faded more that stopped. The word ‘Wilkins’ petering to a faint whisper. A brief silence passed before I responded.
“First of all, it’s Miss not Mrs. Secondly, are you a complete fool or do you think me one?” I yelled the question so loudly that the nurse took an involuntary step backwards. “How can you even think of such a thing? Not only is it absurd, it shows a complete disrespect for a senior colleague. You should be ashamed of yourself, not only for your impertinence towards Doctor Wilkins but for being so downright gullible as well.” The nurse made several more squeaking noises before scurrying out of the room.
The medical profession of today is a shambles in my opinion. I will be so glad to get out of this place.
Tuesday 12th June
Margaret paid me a visit today, can I not get any peace even in hospital. She didn’t stay long after I feigned falling asleep.
Wednesday 13th June
I am being discharged from hospital tomorrow, I hope I survive that long.
Thursday 14th June
Finally home and still breathing. I feel a lot better already. There’s only one decent doctor in the whole hospital and you have to be dying to get his attention. I just hope the next time I’m admitted is the last.
Friday 15th June
I spent the whole day inside, trying to get used to these crutches the hospital gave me. Every time I put my weight on them they seen to buckle to one side, I swear they’re bent in some way, they look straight but they are definitely faulty. Never mind, I’ll just have to make do. I have no intention of going back to the hospital to complain, I’m not going anywhere near that place if I can help it.
Saturday 16th June
The first time I step out of my door in days I find myself having to scrape the soles of my shoes on the nearest curbside. Three steps beyond my garden gate and I tread into a dog’s turd fit for an elephant. How big must that animal be? Was it on a lead or did it have a saddle? That’s all by and by, however. I don’t care how big your dog is, if it fouls on the pavement pick it up. I don’t see why I should have to run the gauntlet every time I venture out into public spaces. Surely I have the right to go about my business without the fear of stumbling across the diseased-riddled faeces of a wolfhound every time I turn a corner.
I fear I may have to throw my shoes away. No matter how many times I wash them, they’ll never seem clean to me again. I am going to write to the council and demand that they pay from a new pair.