We were all assembled in my front sitting room/Home Gallery. Look, if people can have home cinema rooms I can have a home Gallery room. After having to begrudgingly give up my proper Gallery studio at Grimsby’s Abbey Walk Gallery, I needed to hang my work somewhere so may as well hang it nicely in case anyone ever wanted to see it.
Halfway through my first hanging session some very nice people from the Grimsby Institute came and took rather a lot of paintings to exhibit in their Gallery Restaurant. That was rather a relief as I managed to fill the walls with what was left over, anyway.
So here we were, with notepads on knees and pens at the ready to have our first brainstorming session.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for coming today,” I said professionally, “Basically we need to generate some leads that will provide more income than a box of cupcakes. As scrumptious as they are I don’t know of any utilities barter system that will accept cupcakes as part payment. Apart from the small fact that we no longer actually have any left to barter with.” I felt those last couple of sentences were unlikely to be repeated in many boardrooms across the country and didn’t sound very professional at all, really.
“Ally. What are you scribbling away at?”
“I’m taking the minutes,” she said professionally.
“I wouldn’t bother,” I deflated her perky enthusiasm with 3 words. “The way we drivel on they will probably have to be called ‘hours’ rather than ‘minutes. Look what you’ve already got – a moan about cupcake-income.”
Ally put down her pen and looked like she was having to hang onto her bottom lip. I was quite surprised as it usually slips out more than easily.
I had placed what was left of our lovely new flyers on the coffee table and wondered aloud if we would have any comeback from the ones that Hot Toddy had already delivered when out on her paper round.
“There’s a woman down Oxford Street, Cleethorpes, that seemed rather interested. She asked lots of questions about the agency. I tried to make us sound better than we actually are,” she said proudly. Before realising what she had actually said and stuttered and fluttered various words of apology, mostly aimed in my direction.
“Great, Thanks, Susie,” I forced a forced grin below my frown. Do you know, it’s actually rather hard to both frown and grin at the same time. It seems to be an either/or situation. (I bet you’ve just tried that – haven’t you? Haven’t you? And you looked really silly doing it. Hope there was no one in the room/train/bus/office with you. Ha!)
I know Susie had been insulting with the best of intentions and, let’s face it, I could hardly disagree but it did make me think.
“Maybe we need a Team Corporate Identity. A Macintosh, with a collar large enough to turn up to hide behind and a Trilby Hat,” I was always partial to a big coat and a good hat, or two.
“Maybe we should just have T-shirts printed with ‘I’m a PI’ on them,” Ben said deeply and darkly.
“Okay, I see your point,” I acquiesced. “I agree I’m more of a Tracey that’s a dick than a Dick Tracey.” Get’s a tad confusing around here as there is a Grimsby band called DickTracey Duo as well, (I’ll leave you to work out their respective names and how many of them there are). So, probably best to avoid that even if the original police detective was missing the e out of Tracy. No one can spell my name with the e anyway so... Hmm... I’ll stop there – even I’m getting confused...
“I’ve got a paying job for us,” My Mother piped up. Everyone’s ears perked up. “My friend, down Devonshire Avenue, has lost her cat.” Everyone’s ears instantly fell down, shoulders and chins too.” Seriously, she’s worried sick about him as he’s old and needs medicine every day and he’s never been gone 3 days before. She’s really upset.”
I don’t think one person in this room could resist a sob animal story – especially one that didn’t involve payment in cupcakes.
“Give me her details then,” I said. “I’ll go round after we’ve finished here and distribute some flyers at the same time. At least it is in Grimsby so I can walk.”
Yes, I CAN WALK. It’s taken a while but the nightmare of the wheelbarrow incident had made me determined to get the cronky knee better and I was rattling with supplements-of-hope, had got through loads of TV programmes, while resting and then gently exercised in-between the glut of US Sci-Fi and UK house makeovers. Determination had won the day and I was relatively mobile, at long last.
It was a beautiful day, in-between the heavy downpours that is. I chose an opportune in-between moment to leave the house and slowly wend my way to Devonshire Avenue.
I popped a couple of leaflets into houses on Abbey Road but didn’t bother putting one in the Co-op Funeral Parlour (No it wasn’t because I thought they wouldn’t need our services, and yes, it was because I was scared of zombies and one dead body in a week was my lifetime’s quota as far as I was concerned. If you can’t exactly admire me for my bravery, at least try to for my honesty).
I turned into Abbey Park Road next (Far too many Abbeys round here – utterly confusing). I did a few houses and then looked up.
In the landing window of one house there is always a mannequin. The same mannequin but the clothes change. I love to see what it has on. Some things are annually rotated. There is the Santa outfit, the bunny girl ears for Easter and the summer dress with the big floppy 1970’s sun hat with the massive brim. During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations the Union Jack flag dress came out and I think it will probably stay on while England play football in Europe and the Olympics are in London. Patriotism is ‘in’ this year and one’s mannequin should celebrate too.
They didn’t have a street party down there but if they did I expect she would have had pride of place at the head of the table. I’m sure she’d love to escape her window, once in a while.
I carried on, having a lovely look at the beautiful big houses, mainly Victorian but all full of character and, at least, oozing faded elegance. Two looked like they were both about to slide into a big hole between them as they both leaned alarmingly towards each other. I prayed that they had been under-pinned. I should imagine that both houses had drawer problems. In my cottage in Cornwall nothing was straight, not a square room in sight and as for level floors...well... I had to resort to big blobs of Blu Tack to keep the filing cabinet drawers closed and the castors had to be angled so the whole didn’t roll across the room.
By the time I had reached People’s Park it had started to drizzle. I shoved a few flyers in the houses on Park Drive but the heavens then opened and I ran like hell, well, walked as fast as I could anyway, for the bandstand. I was not the only one.
In a fairly confined space (how does a whole band actually fit on here?), there was a party of very small schoolchildren plus 5 teachers, fussing about, putting hoods up and picking up dropped mittens, opening rustling packets of crisps and wiping noses.
Four separate dog owners were pressed, equidistantly, up against the railings while their respective dogs strained on their leads to get to the other dogs; either for bottom sniffs or snarls of dominance.
"Watercolour Walk" ©Tracey Edges
To celebrate the camaraderie-in-adversity, an intense rainbow split the dark blue-grey sky in half and the children started chanting Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain, over and over.
It was certainly one of those moments.