As written about previously in the narrative My 2020 Vision, I plan to cut back on the number of blogs I pen for a short period in order to concentrate on re-writing a 370+ page draft tome initially written in spring of 2010.

This a fictional emotional support team who bear the title of BEST (Birtdale Emotional Support Team), based on the Samaritans. A literary vehicle that affords me opportunity to utilise both whimsical and deeply dark story styles. Yarns of time wasters and those confronted with desperately difficult emotionally challenges.

Anyhow, to cut a long story not very short, today I eventually got around to commencing this re-write. In the absence of a blog, I thought I’d share the first four pages of the initial edit:-

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Chapter One

Have You Seen My Socks ? 

“Do you know where my black socks are, son?” enquired the elderly sounding man’s voice on the other side of the telephone.

Irked his first call of a nightshift he really didn’t want to work “Which pair, your red ones or the blue ones your aunt Maude bought you for Christmas?” the call receiver Joe Keeley irritably responded.

Keeley, a voluntary member of the Birtdale Emotional Support Team (BEST), was in no mood to spend his voluntary night shift placating time-wasters.

He followed up this sarcasm by pressing the mute button on the antiquated call management system that fed his headset with an amalgam of genuinely despairing and idiosyncratic callers. This cloaking from the time waster allowing Joe an opportunity to sigh disdainfully at this hoaxer’s inanity.

Joe had been a Bestie (as team members referred to one another) for five years and could normally be relied upon to handle calls of this nature with ease. Lately, though, he’d found they were starting to test his patience.

“Are you taking the piss son?….. I’ve not got an aunt Maude” countered the man in dotage, disenchanted at the unprofessional response from a representative of a support team from whom he sought assistance.

Realising he’d ventured into the murky waters of unprofessionalism, Joe sought redemption by feigning interest in the old man’s plight, enquiring “Have you looked in your linen basket?” 

After a brief pause, the elderly guy replied “Which one son? I have one for whites and one for coloured laundry.”

Sitting at his dimly lit desk adorning a battered old headset, Joe shook his head in dismay, prior to elongating this idiocy by questioning “What colour did you say your missing socks were again?

“Black.” responded the caller swiftly.

“Well I suggest you look in the coloured linen basket.“ Joe advised his eccentric caller.

“I’ve already looked there, son……Anyway is black technically a colour?” the pensioner pointed out.

“Well it’s not white, is it?” Joe barked; his patience being severely tested by this annoying interaction.

As he had had very little sleep during the day, he was in no mood for calls like the one he was currently having to endure. Dismayed that he was being irked this way, he mooted to himself the hope this wasn’t the start of patience challenging shit.

You’re right son I think I better get my missus to buy another linen basket for black laundry.” Terry informed the exasperated Bestie, who by now was struggling to maintain his disingenuous interest in the coffin dodger’s conundrum…… His attention span now the slave of a three-dimensional cube he was doodling on the A4 notepad in front of him.

“Good idea!” Joe half-heartedly muttered back, gallantly endeavouring to mask his disinterest in the location of this man’s sock, or indeed how many linen baskets a person should possess.

As the emotional support volunteer came to the end of a near perfect cube on the paper, the voice at the other end of the line exclaimed “Ah, hold on a minute son I’ve got them on my feet!…. How did that happen?!…. I am sure I checked my ‘plates of meat’ prior to dialling you!” 

As the old man chuckled at his oversight, Joe yet again hit the mute button to mask a despairing sigh.

Alerted by these repetitive sighs, his colleague Louise Swailes averted her gaze from the magazine on her desk towards her clearly irritated workmate. His furrowed brow and intermittently shaking balding bonce leaving her in no doubt her work-mate was finding this phone interaction challenging.

As he made eye contact with her, she gave Joe a sympathetic grin before returning her gaze back to the magazine in front of her.

“Anyway, thanks for your help, son. You people are amazing!…… I’ll tell all my mates that you can assist with anything.” The chirpy old man advised Joe.

Keeley, worried a recommendation from the man in his dotage would lead to an influx of unwanted nonsensical calls, responded firmly “Please remember that we are here for people with emotional issues such as mental issues, relationship problems etc….. It’s imperative time-wasters don’t tie up our stretched resources at the expense of people bearing genuine issues.”

Terry, oblivious to the fact he’d wasted the Bestie’s valuable time, countered Joe’s comments with a less than reassuring “Aye son, I agree…… There’s no way I’d have rung if I thought for one moment that the loss of my socks wasn’t a genuine issue.”

Joe’s patience was now being severely tested by this old man who was still tying up his phone. Leaning back in his uncomfortable chair with his hands behind his head, unintentionally exposing his beer belly, he tersely re-asserted “Err …… well perhaps not problems like that. I meant more for people afflicted by depressive episodes, relationship problems and the like.”

The old man, who didn’t seem that keen to end the call, went on “Well I was really depressed when I thought I’d lost those black socks!”

Going on the add “They’re my lucky socks!….. The one’s worn when I won the 2007 East Wardley Whistling Championships. Also, as a further proof of their serendipity, I’ve never been run over by a bus while wearing them!”

Confident he already knew the answer, Joe resisted asking Terry (as the old man had introduced himself) if he’d been knocked over in any other coloured socks. The emotional support counsellor now beginning to lose the will to live. Despair exacerbated by the coffin dodger’s decision to regale him with specifics pertaining to victory in the aforementioned whistling championships.

Terry relaying with pride how he’d invented a whistling technique whereby he inhaled and exhaled almost simultaneously. Resultant aural beauty so moving that three out of the six judges wept openly during and after his performance. Although, there were rumours that the tears were consequential of Terry breaking wind so horrifically the judges thought they had been maced.

Anyhow, whatever caused the judges tears, on hearing the dodderer’s medley of songs from ‘The Sound of Music’ there was only going to be one winner. His first prize a week free of pain from arthritis, along with a chance to represent the North East of England in the National Whistling Final in Shrewsbury.

Much to Joe’s dismay, Terry proceeded to further advise that although he won the final, he was stripped of the title for taking performance enhancing drugs after foolishly taking Viagra the previous evening. This ill-advised move the consequence of his wife getting frisky whilst he practised whistling an impromptu version of ‘If I Were A Rich Man’.

An anecdote which surprised the Bestie as he was convinced Viagra wasn’t a performance-enhancing drug. Well, apart from perhaps in the World Penis Raising Championships.

Joe also convinced that ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ was in the musical ‘Fiddler on The Roof’ and not ‘The Sound of Music’. However, not wanting to engage the old man in conversation any longer suppressed those pedantic suspicions.

To Joe’s relief, at this point the old man decided to terminate the conversation, telling him “Anyway son. I going to revisit my household linen basket shortfalls….. Thanks again for your time!” 

After spending most of the conversation doodling on sheets of A4, only half listening to the elderly man, Joe replied “Okay, take care Terry. Look after those socks!”

The old fella responded chirpily “Don’t worry son. I’ll make sure I’ll check my feet before ringing again! …..Did I ever tell you about the time I put a hole in them, and our lass had run out of darning cotton?”

“Yes!” Joe lied before swiftly ending the call to avoid another uninteresting anecdote.

A man of great humanity, to some extent the emotional support worker was ashamed of himself for being so rude to the harmless enough chap in his dotage. Even though he could no longer bear the old man’s idiosyncratic behaviour, Joe knew he needed to address his recently acquired lack of patience.

…… To be continued………

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