Sunday, 25 January 2009
And I Only Went In To Buy Cat Food...
What a to-do! And I'd only abandoned Moonshine (another chapter written today but still nowhere near meeting the deadline, but it's all going well at the moment so I'm optimistic that maybe in about three weeks I'll have a book - don't hold me to that though!) for a few minutes to pop across the road to the Eight til Late (there has been a bit of a Store Wars here recently as rivals have set up across the green with a more daring Seven til Eleven - but I'm still faithful) to grab some cat food.
Before becoming indispensable (???) behind the bars at the Weasel and Bucket and Hairy Harrys, I used to do a few hours in the Eight til Late, and Ravi is one of the nicest bosses I've ever had, always slipping me a few ounces of pineapple chunks (the retro-sweets-in-a-jar sort, not the tinned fruit in syrup which would be very messy), or a quarter of haslet (he never grasped that as a vegetarian, haslet wasn't really ever on my menu - anyway I used to give it to Maudie next door for Wilf's sandwiches, so it went to a good home) at the end of my shift. Anyway, as usual, I've digressed...
There I was, pushing my way through the throng that always gathers by the "special offers" basket - this week consisting mainly of Christmas puddings, mince pies, After Eights with snowflakes on them, and a selection of rather dented novelty Santas - when I became aware that the crowd round the counter was even more frantic than usual. The customers in The Eight til Late would put any City trading floor to shame the way they wave their arms around and shout and barter for a good price, so we're used to a bit of noise, but today it was total mayhem.
Ravi's wife, Shulie, who is usually the epitome of calm unflappability, was yelling into her mobile phone for an ambulance and directing some sort of military operation at the same time, egged on by a lot of very verbal pensioners in woolly hats. By the time I'd managed to grab two boxes of As Good As It Looks (it isn't by the way - The Toyboy Trucker inadvertently tried some once after a night shift and was sick) and found a gap near the counter, I could see what all the fuss was about.
Big Lorna, the Eight til Late's part-time assistant, had gone into labour just in front of the "Eastern Delights" chiller cabinet. This was something of a shock I think (to everyone else I mean, presumably not to Big Lorna) as no-one had actually noticed that she was pregnant.
Fortunately, once she'd called the ambulance, Shulie managed to get Big Lorna out of her tabard and away from the shelf of sardine samosas as they were on pensioners' special and some of the older estate residents wouldn't have been averse to scrambling over Big Lorna to reach a bargain. As I'm pretty squeamish and luckily my close-encounters with childbirth have been minimal, I stood well back, but I did suggest to Shulie that it might be a good idea to get Big Lorna out of her tights and sandals too - otherwise it would be like Daphne on Neighbours who gave birth without removing a single item of underwear.
The ambulance arrived remarkably quickly. They're very good, the emergency services, at turning up to things on the estate. I suppose they always know it's genuine. And once the paramedics had thrust their way through the audience and managed to stop Big Lorna biting them (her language - always ripe - was frankly appalling), it only took them seconds to shovel her up onto a stretcher. Everyone stood back like Moses parting the Red Sea and clapped as she left the shop.
The Eight til Late went pretty quiet after that, and I paid for the cat food and came home and back to the computer, wondering if I could incorporate an unexpected corner shop birth scene in Moonshine, and eventually decided I couldn't as it would probably be edited out.
Heard later from Shaz and Nikki that Big Lorna gave birth in the back of the ambulance in a lay-by on the A34. Shaz said it wouldn't be the first time Big Lorna had been legs-akimbo in a lay-by on the A34 which I thought was pretty harsh. True, though... Anyway, she's called the baby Clint. She says it's after one of the paramedics. Shaz and Nikki reckon it's because it was fathered by the cowboy builder who came to repair her guttering last summer. Mother and baby are doing well.