Tags: willy wonka, childrens fantasy, short story, flash fiction, conversations with wonka series, humor
|Publication Date||Feb. 06, 2014Oct. 06, 2013|
|Series||Conversations With Wonka, Part 3|
|BCRS ratings?Learn more|
Conversations With Wonka, Part Three.
We had juddered into the New Year and I was trying out my new change of direction life and attitude. ‘I’m not stressed!’ I shouted as my patience gave out within two seconds of parking up. The drivers coming towards me and my vicious parking attempts couldn’t hear me, and the drivers practically carving me up from behind, well they couldn’t see me.
Wonka unconcerned and peering out of the front bay at the seagulls on the roofs opposite, checked for food shopping. I stumbled across the race track that doubled as a street with parking on one side, lugging cat litter and boxes of cat food. Had I bought something for my tea? Chucking the bent key in the lock, bent by the machine that gobbled coupons in the self-service section of the cavernous supermarket – I had tried to poke a coupon down the hole with my front door key and it immediately bent the key whilst the coupon stayed solid and would not budge. I had to get several assistants on to it before we heard the mechanical and annoying announcement ‘coupon accepted’. Happily, the bent key still worked in the lock.
I gained entrance to my home and hallway, and slammed the front door on the world and its wants.
Baba and Wonka wanted from the inside though.
We’re starving!’ shouted Wonka, laying down at my feet and showing off a massive tummy. Was I guilty of over feeding him I pondered en route to the kitchen. Surely not. The overflowing saucers were witness to that, and a bit of choice wouldn’t harm. Just because I had about four different sachets lined up and opened, wasn’t an indicator of overfeeding. My thoughts swerved down the old road of what things really mean, which thanks to a short and ghastly bout of counselling, from both sides, were lit up like neon. That’s it! I shouted to no one there, rather like that Neil Diamond classic, I am simply caving in to guilt and past wrongdoings. I shook more biscuits into Wonka’s trough as I thought it. Had I still been smoking my head off, I would have lit up another fag whilst resolving to stop.
Would life take the turn I was busy visioning, and become a simple satisfying affair?
Thanks to Wonka’s persistence, the Life Coaching had taken root. Like it or not, I had completed the course and some of it must have rubbed off. Standing in front of the stationery in the warehouse come Greek maze harbouring a monster come supermarket, I had finally selected a pink clear A4 binder in which my very own Life Plan would nestle. Life plans. Business Plans, I was on fire and in danger of achieving something.
Alongside my own life though I now seemed to be living other lives. That of aged sibling and parent. Three sets of To Dos fluttered round my brain and if I appeared selfish at times, shouting (yes shouting) things like ‘what about me!’ and ‘I’m trying to have a life!’ The latter I had settled on as a conversation stopper for all authorities. The slightest hint of pressure and this selfish statement would burst out of me. Wonka had noted it and warned me to ‘chill out’. It’s not as if you’ve got a whole great brood of family members all depending on you, he would say, whilst demanding more food, or biscuits, or just attention really.
He was right. I didn’t have layers upon layers of family, or an extended one, just a small circle of highly demanding people related by blood. The intensity of it had to be balanced out. And not just by adopting Baba who was fast becoming the most needy cat I’d ever had. Wonka in comparison was self-sufficient. Nearly.
I had reached a stage in my sort of breakdown thing, where the crying was practically on a par with normal everyday weeping. I could now hold off with the sobbing for hours on end. Surely it could now accommodate a working day with real employers in it? Had it been a breakdown service, I could have settled it up like a monthly direct debit, yes spreading it over a twelve month period. Well now, yes now I felt like cancelling.
New box set? Queried Wonka, not convinced that I was quite ready to take on the nitty gritty of a real job. We had come to the end of the last violent series in our favourite box set of all time. Like stopping smoking, there was no way forward and no way back, I was frozen at the end of the last episode and felt desperate.
February had that effect though. With the heating turned full on, I seized a small positive moment in the day, and emailed an agency.
Baba’s sneezing interrupted this magic moment, but too late I had pressed send. My new CV, the one that put me over as employee of the month, was whizzing across the phone lines or however it worked, and goodness me, I might even get noticed. I needed to be noticed.’
My new air brushed image was waiting for offers. The hairdresser, who so far in had stuck by me, laughed at my jokes before I made them, had managed, possibly by fear of the consequences to get my hair exactly as I wanted it. This alone was helping me get through each day. Yes we were in deep trouble with the bank, the utilities, the car and its endless menders, but stop a little minute, which I did, and admire the hair!
The GP? I had of course wandered up to see him and double check my state of mind. He was full of positive energy and during our allotted five minutes, so was I. There was nothing I wasn’t going to do. Start my own business (where did that come from?) get an immediate start with the agency (I had heard nothing from them at all) and in case I felt awful, I would go back to the counsellor (a friend in need of much the same) in fact given another five minutes I would have life coached the GP into another profession. Given this performance which I likened to one of the better acts put on by a hopeless drug addict convincing his support worker he or she is on the mend, I fairly skipped out of the surgery and back into the real world.
‘Please don’t tread on me!’ shrieked Wonka from his splayed out position on the floor. I got over him and then had to do a double hop to miss Baba ever stationery, ever bleating loudly. And sneezing. I was in danger of a shouting session and took some deep breaths to stave it off. What would the neighbours think?
Wonka had settled on the spare bed, used about once a yearish by daughter. It was really just a giant nest for him and Baba. To be fair to Baba he did prefer dark uncomfortable corners where he could squash without Wonka knowing. Due to my ongoing anxiety I did have to know, and would spend evenings darting round the house looking for him. Thankfully I did not live in a mansion, or I would have been gone for days. Usually though, a sneeze or the other would alert me.
So I was in the spare room, gazing at my new Life Plan. So far it was looking good and made me look like I was having one. A life. It had five sections and one of them was on about a holiday.
‘Barriers?’ queried Wonka from his giant nest a few feet way. ‘Well, there was you, but now we’ve got the Cat Sitting service……….’ This alone had probably staved off a full on breakdown and instead spread it over the 12 months. Money! Oh yes, the barrier that just kept on being a barrier.
Now all the best life coaching books and philosophies suggest carrying on as if you have no barriers. One of Wonka’s favourites, Edward De Bono, said as much. Just go on he proffered and plan it all as if you have the money! According to this philosophy, the money will appear at just the right moment. Wonka was keen to tell me this did not mean fetching out the credit card. No. it meant relying on the powers of the universe to know you were planning the holiday of a lifetime and deliver up the cost of it. Enchanted by this idea, I would put it to the test and put down in writing my holiday plan. New York, Paris, Isle of Skye…..and that was without even trying. ‘You’ll see’ said Wonka, from his hidey hole in the duvet. ‘and while you’re at it, me and Baba are starving!’
I moved onto the next section, employment. With any luck someone would take pity on me, see through the gaps of employment, the ‘career break’, (another name for a breakdown of course they would say wisely) and give me a chance. Up to now I had quickly reassured my clients, when I had some, that none of these things were a barrier. But I had to come out of my duvet hidey hole. They were a massive barrier.
‘Don’t forget the old and ugly one!’ shouted Wonka heading back downstairs for a snack.
With aged parent to remind me how could I? Mother often opened the conversation with how amazing it was I still had to work. That I still looked fairly alright etc. and the final nail in the coffin, ‘you are taking vitamins aren’t you?’ Of course I wasn’t. I did have a few of those little plastic containers shoved in the cupboard with loads of out of date multi this and multi that.
At times like this I fell back on the coping strategy that worked. Sweets, box set and more sweets. More popcorn anyone?
The finance section in my Life Plan read like a business plan for a meeting with the financial adviser. It would do to shore up any criticisms of how I was getting by. For this section, I had been ruthless. ‘don’t hide anything!’ warned Wonka.
So there it all was. The credit card once more taking all the – attention. It made the monthly outgoings look terribly reasonable. But that was because the credit card helped out with the rest. You know, like food and basics.
Strangely, this section wasn’t inspiring me. Should I have a giant vision about it? I drifted off into a dream where the person says ‘pretend you have enough money for everything. What would you do with your life?’ Well now.
I mean if I couldn’t life coach myself then how could I offer it to the poor drifters out there, those treadmill nine to fivers with lacklustre lives? Ah, this must be that loss of confidence thing, where you go off track and lose focus. I flicked back through the course manual. Yes, there was a whole section dedicated to this apathy, this undermining debilitating weak willed thing. This wanting to give up thing. Funnily enough I had passed this with an ‘A’ and a very flattering comment from the Course Tutor about my level of understanding.
‘Are you there yet?’ questioned Wonka, sliding past me in one of my reveries. Not quite, not quite. In the reaches of this reverie though, I had bumbled upon something the nice GP had said to me, several times, until I thought maybe he had me down as a bit, well lacking. It’s not my intelligence that’s taken a break just my every day coping ability!’ I said, to the no one there. Well Wonka was there and so was Baba. Yes, he had kept mentioning a pension. I had given it all of 2 seconds thought. Goodness me, I had stared into his eyes longer, but best not think about that now. I scribbled ‘look into pension’ and highlighted it in pink. Oh yes, and not forgetting why I ended up with those ‘A’s, I set myself a target date for this. Of three to four months. Be Summer by then, past the ungodliness of February, shooting through the breaking down of Easter straight into the safe middle of the year, when you might be half way to something.
The mounting debt, had a plan wrapped round it, and I practically skipped to the supermarket to exercise the credit card for our tea. ‘Don’t buy any more clothes!’ warned Wonka, and ‘I’ve gone off that Sheba!’ The trick was to get in and get out bypassing any tempting offers, or checking whether they had a random, one off garment that could not be traced back to its supermarket origins. Hopeless. Instead I saw a bargain DVD all about some daft cave explorers who despite grave warnings of bad storms, so bad all their precious equipment blows away, yes they still all pop down miles into the dark. ‘Right up our street Wonka!’ I threw the bags of cat food in pouches and tins and boxes to one side and scrabbled the slim little box out. After a further inspection to check there were no clothes, Wonka agreed.
Baba had taken to going out. It was like going back to his roots really, and whilst Wonka was a happy prisoner, Baba was not. There had been a time when I had somehow allowed the prison door (the good back door) to swing open and both of them sped outside. Baba was swooped on and put back inside and Wonka was captured inspecting the shed. Already well into double and treble checking, I now banged up against doors with my hand and shoulder to ensure their shutness
Never one to take a cat to the vets for nothing, I dillied and dallied over Baba. This summed up another of my little philosophies. One of the greats, more than likely a Greek sunning themselves against one of those beautiful stone creations, a pillar maybe with a couple of sculptured gods thrown in, had dreamed up the nature or nurture debate. (dilemma?) For me, gazing out the back yard at a brick wall on a drab day, the argument went thus. Leave Baba to carry on with whatever strange disease he might be having, or, trustle him up, cram him into a cat carrier, pay enormous amounts of money to find out that he has a strange incurable disease.
As usual Wonka helped out here. ‘You’re in denial!’ he scoffed, jumping out on Baba and making him rush at the back door. I let him out. It wasn’t as if he went far, and at the moment he favoured the dog kennel I had purchased to give shelter to any lone cat out there. It turned out, this lone cat was to be Baba. He loved it and would nestle there all day. Wonka would jump up on the sideboard his favourite lookout for all goings on in the back yard. From here he could spy on Baba, and Ruggles our giant stray.
‘Time to come in Ba’ I would say when it was dusk. I loved twilight and looked forward to those longer evenings. Things were looking up slightly, whether by some Worldly accident or maybe my life plan had tripped a switch. The agency had liked my fulsome CV and invited me for an interview. The demands of family seemed to be copeable or I was just shouting up more.
‘Did you put holidays into that plan?’ enquired Wonka, probably nervous at the thought of cat sitters and such.
Oh yes Siree.
‘Just a couple……..’ I replied, smiling.