Time to play the Game!

How this site came about is a bit of a mystery. It would seem that I created a "Google Site" way back in 2009. To be honest, I have no recollection at all. I do remember creating a Blogger site, which I occasionally use for little snatches of writing, but since 20 September 2006, I have had a WordPress site which has been my main focus of on-line presence. So it came as a bit of a surprise when an email landed advising that my Classic Google Site needed attention to bring it up to date with the new "Google Sites". So here we are.

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Near Saxton, Tadcaster

Yorkshire

Back in the day, I was the main IT contact for the service I was working in. My colleagues looked to me as the first line of IT support. As a consequence, I was also the first line contact with the external IT company that we were working with for a couple of years. This idea for this story came from one of the 'experts' I was working with. He had had an issue with his computer that wasn't quite an issue . . .

My intention was to publish this as a one-act play. Someday I may get around to it.

“Good Day. Thank you for calling ‘FixMyPC’. All our technicians are on calls at the moment, and the waiting time is 3 minutes. Please hold to be connected when one of our technicians becomes free.”


Hmmmph


“Thank you for waiting. We have not forgotten you, but our technicians are still busy on calls. The waiting time is 3 minutes. Please hold to be connected when one of our technicians becomes free.”


Still three minutes?…


“Thank you for waiting. We have not forgotten you, but our technicians are still busy on calls. The waiting time is 0 minutes. Please hold to be connected when one of our technicians becomes free.”


0 minutes ???


“Hello. Thank you for calling ‘FixMyPc’. My name is Raman. Can I take your SR number please?


“Hello. Err… SR number. What is that?”


“That’s your Service Registration number. It was on the email, sir.”


“Email…which email?”


“The confirmation email, that you received when you signed up to FixMyPC sir.”


“That’s part of my problem……I cannot get at any emails.”


“I’m afraid I cannot help you without that number sir. Do you not have a printed copy sir?”


“Erm..... Sorry!”


“I can try another way, sir. If you want me to?”


“Please, that would be helpful.”


“Can I take your surname, DOB, that’s date of birth sir, postcode, and the last three digits of your credit card sir?”


“Can you just hang on a minute, while I get my card?”


“Of course sir.”


Bloody messing about!


"Right, it’s Johnstone, 20th of the 4th, 1975, LG29 7QA and the card number is 399.”


“Hello…. Are you still there ??”


“Thank you for calling ‘FixMyPC’. Your service call has been put on hold. All our technicians are on calls at the moment, and the waiting time is 6 minutes. Please hold to be connected when one of our technicians becomes free.”


“What …… hello!!!!”


“Thank you for waiting. We have not forgotten you, but our technicians are still busy on calls. The waiting time is 23 minutes. Please hold to be connected when one of our technicians becomes free.”


Arrrrrrrghhhh


“Hello. Thank you for calling ‘FixMyPc’. My name is Pierre. Can I take your SR number please?


“What the….I have just been through all this with…. Raman!!”


“Raman is on another call at the moment sir, but if you give me your SR number, I can help.”


Grrrrrrr


“Yes, he was on a call to me!!! As I explained to Raman, I cannot get access to my emails, so have not got the damn SR number."


“Please don’t use offensive language sir, or I will have to terminate the call. I am trying to help you. Now if you give me your surname, date of birth, postcode, and the last three digits of your credit card, I can find your account that way sir.”


“No don’t go hang up ….. it’s Johnstone, ‘DOB’ is, 20, zero 4, 1955. Postcode is LG29 7QA and the card number is 399.”


“Is that Johnstone, or Johnson sir?”


“Johnstone. J-O-H-N-S-T-O-N-E!”


“Ah ….. Mr Johnstone. I see you now. What seems to be the problem?”


“My computer is not working!”


“Well let's see what we can do. Now did you get any error messages?”


“No!”


"Have you been to any unorthodox websites?


"How do you mean, unorthodox?"


"You know the type sir"


"You mean porn sites?"


"Yes!"


"No"


“Just a theory. Are there beeps or other noises when you switch on.”


“No!”


“Are there any lights on the computer, that are lit?”


Err ......No!”


"Are you sure the computer plugged into the mains, Mr Johnstone ???”


Bugger !!!


“Mr Johnstone…..is the computer connected to the main electrical supply?”


Hang up you fool…


“Mr Johnstone !!! Are you still there ?”


I’m going to hang up…


“Mr Johnstone. Do you wish to close the call?”


"Mr Johnstone ....."

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Carnforth Station

as seen in the film

Brief Encounter


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I thought they were customers

They pretended to be customers. They did everything that a customer would do. He picked things up and looked at them. He asked her opinion and she did the same. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the way they acted. They were just like normal customers. But something was different. Something seemed not quite right.

Mrs Scott was talking to me about the butter dish she had found at the back of the shop. It was Claris Clift. Not a particular good example. There was a chip or two, and a bit of crazing under the lid, but it was a genuine Claris. Mrs Scott wanted to haggle the price down, but I was not really paying much attention. I was watching the other two. In my head I gave them names. Mr and Mrs Smith. Ordinary people, with ordinary names. I don’t know why I was obsessed with them, they were just browsing like all my other customers did.

I turned my attention back to Mrs Scott and the butter dish. It was marked up at £35.00, which was a good price, considering the condition. She wanted it for £5.00. She always started low. I knew I could get £20.00 for it, but we had to go through the routine.

The other two, were now no longer browsing. He was holding a small Portobello glass jug. He knows his stuff, I thought. It was the best piece in the shop. I had just marked it up that morning at £2725.00 but I would settle on £2000.00. Would make a decent profit too.

Mrs Scott had upped her bid to £15.00 when it happened. Mr Smith stepped forward until he was by the side of Mrs Scott. He leaned towards her, and without looking at her, he spoke.

“Lady!” he said in what I imagined was some kind of American accent from the deep south, “Lady, either pay the guy or get the fuck outta here. This gentleman and myself have some serious business to conduct!”

Mrs Scott’s mouth dropped. My mouth dropped. The butter dish almost dropped.

“I beg your pardon?” spluttered Mrs Scott. “What … what … did … what? She was now struggling to string a sentence together.

“Buy the fucking thing, then go” replied Mr Smith.

Mrs Smith had now moved to the other side of Mrs Scott and spoke to here in a similar accent, but softer. “Don’t upset my brother, lady. It’s not a cool thing to make him angry!”

Mrs Scott now resumed her normal composure and turned to me. She carefully placed the butter dish on the counter. Then looked me directly in the face before turning on her heels and walking towards the door. As she opened the door, she turned her head slightly and announced “I will not be back. The clientele here has gone to the dogs somewhat. I shall take my custom to Hadfields in Station Street in future.” With that, she left.

Mrs Smith then walked to the door, dropped the latch and stood at the side, facing out as if she was watching for something.

“Hi,” I said awkwardly. “So how can I help you?” I moved nearer to the till where the silent alarm button was. I had it fitted only a couple of weeks before and just hoped it worked when I needed it.

“That’s a very fine Portobello piece you’ve selected,” I said nervously. “Is it a present for someone?”

“No. It’s more of an insurance policy!” came the reply. Unbelievably, the American accent had vanished, only to be replaced with a mild Midlands accent.

“Insurance, I don’t understand. What kind of insurance?” I edged closer to the alarm button.

“You see,” said Mr Smith, “I happen to know, that this glass jug is worth a great deal more than the two and a half grand you’ve tagged it at. It would be a crying shame if it got ‘accidentally’ broken.”

My left hand was now stabbing at the silent alarm button.

“Open the till,” said the man. They were no longer ‘ordinary’ people and they no longer deserved names. “Open the till and take out all the cash you have in there and place it on the counter. Then open the wall safe and do the same with the cash in there.”

I slowly did as he said in full belief that the flashing red light above the door signified that the alarm was working, and help was on its way. I laid all the money out in neat piles, still slowly, watching both him the Portobello and the woman at the door.

“Hurry up. And by the way, if you think someone is going to respond to that silent alarm, I’ve got some bad news for you,” he said, with a grin on his face. “All that does is make the little red light above the door flash!”

The woman at the door laughed. “My brother is good at selling fake goods. It’s how we started,” she said.

I looked back to the man.

“Yeah, that was me!” His accent had changed again. “A Geordie accent is one of the easiest to mimic. There’s that many of the buggers on the telly, man! Now put all that money in here.” He threw an Aldi “Bag-for-Life” over the counter and I piled all the money in, all £60,000.

“Give it here,” he said, back in his American accent, “and then our business is complete.”

“What about the Portobello?” I asked.

“Oh, you can keep it. I could never sell anything like that. As I said, insurance!” he replied and placed it carefully on the counter.

He turned and walked towards the door. The woman unlocked it and they both left. I turned, grabbed my mobile phone and dialled the police. The door banged and I spun around, hoping that they had not returned. My free arm hit something, and I stared incredulously as the Portobello glass jug, fell to the floor, shattering into thousands of pieces.

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Staithes

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The next piece of writing is from a creative writing practice prompt. Each sentence in the whole 'short story' must begin with a different letter from the alphabet. You must use all 26 letters in order, and none may be repeated. It has to make some kind of sense, but that is not the important factor. The idea is to get the writer thinking about how to use and choose the words they are writing. I think it works.

After carefully putting the phone down, he began to plot. Blinded somewhat, by the new powers he had earned, nothing was off the table. “Can I do it?” he pondered. Definitely. Everything he had worked for was now falling into place. Failure was a thing of the past. Great things would soon begin to happen.

Half an hour ago, he would not have thought it possible. It was now up to him. Job after job filled his head and the possibilities seemed endless.

Keep calm,” he told himself, “everything will be okay.”

Later that day, he began to write some of his ideas down. Making lists of things was something he enjoyed. Nobody had expected him to get the job. Over the years, important things like this just seemed to pass him by. People didn’t think he was up to it. Quite frankly, at times he thought they may be correct.

Residential Property Manager sounded a grand title. Some of his colleagues, well most in fact thought the title sounded too grand for the job. Tediously, he thought they were just jealous.

Unknown to him, some of the others, were also plotting. Various little cliques had appeared in the office over the past year. Work, for some, seemed to be something to do between pranks. X-rated videos and pictures had suddenly appeared on his laptop one day, but of course, nobody admitted to that in a hurry. Yesterday, someone had managed to change the screen lock on his computer, just for a laugh.

Zinfandel would be a nice wine to celebrate with,” he thought, as his mind drifted away to nicer places.

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I had forgotten about these. They were taken in April 2015. Near Masham.

It's a folly that is meant to look like Stonehenge


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The next story came to me when I doing some training as an IT support officer for the Council. I had been told to listen to the other team members when they take a call to see how they handle customers/clients.

“Who’s Stephen?” I said as she rolled over and looked at me.

“Pardon?”

“I pulled the quilt up earlier on, and you turned away and said ‘No Stephen. Alan would kill us both if he found out.’ So who is Stephen?”

“Ah!” she said. “It’s a bit of a long story, but …….”

She sat up and pulled the quilt up to her neck and began to explain.

“Well, you remember that user group meeting that we had in Brighton? The one where I had an overnight stay because it was such a long way to drive back,” she said

I nodded and propped myself up on my elbow.

“Well,” she continued. “After the meeting, I went down to the restaurant for the meal and met up with Margaret and James, you know from Bolton. They had decided to stay over too and invited me to join them.”

“That was nice of them,” I said although I had no idea who Margaret and James from Bolton were.

“Then James spotted Stephen. Now he is the Finance Director based in the Glasgow office. James decided that he was on his own and invited him to make up the four. He sat down with and declared that he would foot the wine bill as a thank you for not being left on his own,” she said and gave me a little nervous smile.

“Generous!”

“That’s what I thought,” she said. “It was a great meal. I had a kind of chicken dish, with mushrooms and …. and I guess you don’t want to know that. Do you?”

I responded with a little smile of my own.

“Well, after the meal Margaret and James said that they were going off to a club or somewhere. I said I wanted an early night and apologised for not going with them.”

“Tiring day I suppose,” I said.

“Yes, I suppose it was. Anyway, it was then that Stephen said he would like to talk to me about my presentation.”

“Presentation!” I said with a slight edge to my voice. “That’s a new one.”

“He meant my talk at the user group. It was about the user group finances. You remember, I practised on you,” she replied. “We went over it about six or seven times.”

“How could I forget,” I replied with just a hint of sarcasm.

“So we went into the bar to talk about it. We had a few drinks whilst we discussed the groups' finances. Then we had a couple more drinks. You know what these places are like,” she said. “He gave me a lot of advice on how to manage the books better and lots of hints and tips.”

“Okay,” I said.

Well, it got to about 11ish, and Stephen stood up and said he was going to bed. He said he had such a long drive in the morning and that he was a bit tired,” she said. “I naturally thanked him for such a pleasant evening and for all his help.”

“Naturally!”

“I stood up and held my hand out to shake his, and he leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. I was a little bit tipsy and it must have been then that I said ‘No Stephen’. I don’t really remember,” she said as she looked down at her feet.

“All very innocent then?” I said.

“Of course. Why would it not be innocent?”

“Nothing for me to be concerned about?”

She giggled and said, “No, nothing at all!”

“So who’s Alan then?”




Scarborough



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The next piece came to me one Saturday morning. The idea is loosely based on a conversation I overheard whilst queuing outside the Doctors before I had my blood test. I had arrived early and there was a small line of people waiting to be called in. I only heard the ending fragment of the tale, before I was called. So the whole story is based on about twenty words.

“Will you stay tonight?”

I nearly dropped the wine glass

“Andrew’s away in New York until Wednesday and the twins are at a party and will not be home until tomorrow afternoon,” she added. “I hate the house being empty.”

She looked at me over the top of her glasses, “I’ll put the coffee on” she said as she went into the kitchen.

I had known Andrew since college, but we had drifted apart over the years. He had gone to work in his father’s architect business in Hampshire. I went to work for my uncle who owned a family finance company. We used to write to each other regularly, but that got rarer and rarer to the stage where it was Christmas cards only. Even that dropped off eventually.

It came as a surprise when his name came in as an application to join the golf club. I was on the committee and after explaining that I had known him for a long time, the club accepted his application. I was asked to ring him, and we met for a drink in the club bar.

It was good to catch up, as a lot had happened since those college days. He had moved back up north and now ran his own design company. He explained that he had an office in town and one in Paris and was in the process of opening another in New York. He was now looking for a place to live as he and his family were renting a small flat in town, which was not big enough for them. I got his phone number and said I would ask around.

Within a couple of weeks, I had found a property in the village where I lived. Everything went well and they bought the house. To celebrate, he invited me to go out for a meal with him and I could meet his wife, Sally. As it turned out, I already knew Sally. Well, when I say ‘knew’ I had seen her before. She had worked for me until a few months before and had left to work elsewhere. Turned out that she had gone to work for Andrew as his “Operations Co-ordinator”, which was basically his secretary.

Sally was now running her own craft business which was the reason I was at the house today. She had asked me if I would look at the books as she thought there was some anomaly in the figures. She needed to ensure everything was okay before she filed her tax returns. I agreed and said I would not take payment for the work, but that she could cook me dinner.

Sally came back with the cafetiere and two cups.

“Milk or cream?” she asked

“Just black for me,” I answered

“Well?” she said. “Are you staying?”

I didn’t know what to say. Both were good friends and I felt like I was letting one of them down whatever I decided.

“Of course I’ll stay,” I blurted out before I realised.

I quickly regained my composure which stopped me from adding anything else such as ‘Thanks for asking’ or ‘My pleasure’. Sally offered me a brandy which I accepted as I wasn’t driving, and we sat listening to some music.

Just before 10 o’clock, Sally stood and went to put the dishes in the washer. I offered to help and as given the task of washing the glasses. She explained that she never puts ‘good’ glass in the dishwasher as it tends to give the glass a distinct bloom. I dried and put the glasses away then followed Sally back into the living room.

“I’ll show you the bathroom,” she said. “You can have a shower if you like, there’s plenty of hot water. I declined the shower saying that I would probably take one in the morning. We went upstairs and she opened the door to a genuinely nice bathroom. She pointed to a door in the corner.

“It’s en-suite, so that’s the door to the bedroom,” she said, “and there is a dressing gown just behind this door.” She pointed to the door we had just entered by.

“I shall leave you to it, while I go and get myself ready,” Sally said.

I stayed in the bathroom longer than I should. I was intrigued as to what Sally had meant by “… get myself ready …” I pulled the belt of the dressing gown a little tighter, took a deep breath and opened the door to the bedroom. It was an odd little room with two single beds, face to face under the window.

I heard Sally shout up the stairs “Have you get everything you need?”

“I just need a glass of water, but I’ll come down for it,” I replied. I closed the bedroom door, returned through the bathroom, and went downstairs. I could hear Sally in the living room, so I poured a glass of water and wandered in.

Sally had put on a coat and hat and was pulling on a pair of boots. She looked up and smiled.

“You going somewhere?” I asked.

“I’m stopping with Dad,” she replied. “He gets a little lonely around this time of year.”

“Oh!” I said. “I thought …”

“That’s why I asked you to stay,” she amplified. “I thought I had said I don’t like leaving the house empty.”

I attempted a smile back.

“I’ll be back around nine, so you can cook for me. A full English will be a great start to the day,” she laughed and turning, went out of the door, adding, “don’t forget to lock all the doors.”

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