Celtic Illumination, part 308, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

It was depressing working in the unemployment industry.  It was quite apparent that the only purpose, of the combined effort, was to produce figures that showed the government was succeeding, which of course they were not.  Statistics are manipulated, as are the great unwashed, to provide figures that show the, privately educated, multimillionaire politicians are fantastic. I did enjoy meeting most of the people who came through the system and did what I could to help those that wanted it.  Being ex forces my outlook and beliefs had been controlled, so that employed and unquestioning was good, unemployed trouble maker was bad.  Suddenly I was learning that what I had been encouraged to believe might not be true.

I remember approaching one young man and mustering as much enthusiasm as I possibly could, asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up.  It was my normal attempt at humour approach, which resulted in him pulling out a handgun and setting it on the desk before him.  I don’t think he wanted any help, and who was I to question him.  Most of the people on the courses were quite reluctant attendees, which is no real shock when you realise the standard of idiot that had been advising them up until now.  It is a most discouraging environment no matter which side of the fence you are on.  In the media most unemployed people are all clumped together and blamed for all the problems within society.  Once you start to meet them, you understand that they are all individuals with dreams and aspirations; it’s just that some haven’t been beaten down yet, while others have given up and begin to believe the lies told about them.

It was the one thing I was trying not to do, to give up.  Sometimes it was difficult motivating yourself.  I was receiving replies to the letters I had sent out to all the literary agents within the UK.  Thirty five in all.  Thirty two replied and they all said that they were too busy to look at my work or even consider taking new clients on, yet in the newspapers almost every day you would read a story about some lucky writer being signed by a literary agency.  I still had the recommendation to Carol Anne Duffy’s agent, so was planning to make the most out of it.  I needed something positive to happen so I rang Action For Blind People hoping that the situation may have moved forward and they could give me a date for my move to Ireland.

By the way if any of you would like to step in and take over my life and give me a rest for a few weeks you would be more than welcome.  I was told that both directors in the Preston office had been suspended; one of them was having an affair with the secretary while the other was embezzling funds from the charity’s bank account.  All decisions made by the pair had been put on hold and were to be investigated thoroughly.  I explained that I needed a date for when I could take up my post in Ireland and was saddened to hear them laugh at me as they didn’t have any presence in Ireland.  This is why I had tape-recorded my interview with Scrivens in Birmingham, when they offered me head of training, because, although I don’t believe in it, I seemed to be in line for the title of unluckiest person in the world.

I needed a holiday and I think the double top secret cabal who were preparing me to take the throne of Ireland realised that too.  I received a letter with a fifty pound note in it.  It was from Tony in Ipswich, well; Shotley.  He was moving house, would I take the train down and help him out.  I jumped at the chance of getting away from Skelmersdale for a few days and hopped on the first train to Ipswich.  Tony had sold his practice, in Clacton, to Boots, the chemist chain. In order to avoid paying any tax on the transaction Boots and Tony had agreed a price and Boots had bought a farm on the Isle of Man, for the exact same amount, which they now gave to Tony.  The year before the tax man had dragged Tony in and demanded that he pay a fifty thousand tax bill there and then.   This of course was at the end of a right long and drawn out affair.  Tony played ignorant and claimed that at that point in time he only had five thousand to hand. The tax man accepted it and the bill was satisfied.

I couldn’t believe the amount of hassle unemployed people were getting for being accused of fiddling ten or twenty pounds a week, whereas business people were fiddling millions and getting away with it.  It upset me that the system was so out of kilter, yet so clever that the government had the media blame the poor, and the bloody foreigners, for everything.  All I could work out was that whatever it took I would be trying to stay well outside the system at all costs.  It was nice to be back in Shotley.  I took a wander over to the families club and was disappointed to find that the club seemed to have been taken over by young civilians.  I didn’t really know anybody there so I didn’t hang about.

Tony and Mary had packed two cars with belongings.  I was to drive one car while Tony would drive the other.  Mary would fly to the Isle of Man that evening; we would already be on the island, when she landed, so we would pick her up from the Isle of Man airport.  Tony’s son Tim was coming to have a look around the new house, but they didn’t want him flying back to the UK on his own, so he brought a friend to keep him company for the return journey to the UK.  We set off nice and early and I quite enjoyed the three hundred mile drive up and across mainland England.  We arrived in good time at Heysham and had a beer or two as we waited for the ferry.  Really the journey was uneventful, the fun started once we arrived on the isle of Man. It was late in the evening so we had to rush around for Tony to sign papers and collect the keys to his new home.

With all the official stuff out of the way, Tony and I headed over to the airport to wait for the remainder of our party.  By the time the four of them landed, yeah four, sorry I forget to mention the cat, by the time the four of them had landed and we were driving across the Isle of Man it was dark.  Tony had actually been to the house once before so he knew where it was and he also knew where the front door was.  We got in to discover that there was no electricity or heating.  I can remember saying that it was a stupid idea putting a shilling in the electricity meter as it was quite obvious it had been disconnected but Mary insisted. We then each went our separate way looking for something, anything that would make our stay a little more comfortable.

Tony suggested that we all go and stay in a hotel but Mary insisted that we would stay at the house.  I found some gas canisters outside against a wall and came back inside to see what they were connected to.  They had been connected to a gas fire, but as it was now on the opposite side of the room to the inlet pipe I deduced that it might not work.  Unfortunately I had told Tony and Mary about my find.  I say unfortunately as Tony had gone outside and turned on the gas while Mary was wandering about inside with a burning newspaper looking for where it was coming out.  With the newspaper extinguished, the gas supply turned off and heartbeats back to normal all eyes seemed to turn to me.  I sent the two boys outside to gather wood, coal; anything they could find that would burn and began to build a fire in the fireplace, the fireplace without the gas supply.

Now we had light and heat in one room.  I then fashioned a griddle on the fire and heated some tinned stew and beans, which was rather nice.  We did have duvets and blankets and a large bottle of whiskey, so having made sure the whiskey was fit for purpose, settled down to try and get some sleep.  It was one of those moments I’ll never forget, neither, to my shame, will the others.  A medium sized room, it’s dark, very quiet with a fire glowing at one side.  Five of us have settled down and are trying to get some sleep.  Then you feel this build-up of gas and you realise that you are going to have to expel it.  In the air force, or with air force people, there is an established way of dealing with this situation which causes those involved no embarrassment at all.  It’s referred to as ‘The Badger.’

If you feel a sudden internal build-up of gas which you suspect will result in flatulence you issue a ‘Badger warning.’  All those around you now know that there is a good chance you are going to fart.  Should you find that you have no option but to forcibly expel the gas, having done so, you will now issue the ‘Badger loose!’ call, so just in case the expulsion was silent you have given your colleagues fair warning.  As Tony, Mary, Tim and his friend were all civilians, I’m not sure about the cat, but as they were all civilians I wasn’t sure if they would understand the ‘Badger’ code, so simply farted.  Now when I saw farted, I mean a real ripper, the sort of fart that would make Julian Clary turn around and say “Oh a virgin!”  Luckily it was dark so I wasn’t that embarrassed but there was a deathly silence, after the thunderclap had echoed its way around the bare walls of the empty farmhouse and died a death.  It wasn’t the first time that evening that a foul smelling cloud of gas threatened our very existence.  I did the only thing any decent ex air force chap would do.  In the best feminine and whimpering voice I could muster I called out the most appropriate thing I could think of, which was of course.  “Nurse!!”  

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About celticillumination

Celtic Illumination produces unique Celtic themed candles/craic pots and Tartan Candles. It is (as far as we can tell) the only company in the world to produce 'real' Tartan candles. Most tartan candles are plain candles with a tartan sticker applied. These Tartan Candles have a Tartan pattern run all the way through the candle. Rather than the old adage of "pile it high and sell it cheap" Celtic Illumination does not import in bulk from Asia, or anywhere else for that matter. instead of filling a whiskey glass or tea cup, with wax and adding a wick, we have created something Celtic. Hand made, hand finished, from scratch in our workshop. Even the Celtic Knot range of candles are made from scratch in our workshop, Each candle has a 10mm deep Celtic knot that runs all the way around the candle, other companies stick their Celtic knots on with glue or something similar. Celtic Illumination claim to be the best candle company in the world and they probably are.

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