Well Oiled

16 May

When I was but a lad, just out of short trousers, I got a job (as I’ve related before) with the Inland Revenue – specifically H.M. Inspector of Taxes, in Ipswich.

In those days the staff at Clerical Assistant level (filing clerks and other menials) were all paid on a weekly, or possibly weakly, basis in CASH.

When I arrived at H.M.I.T. Ipswich 2nd District at the next grade up from that, one of my occasional duties was to escort one of my colleagues into town (a walk of no more than one quarter of a mile) to cash a cheque for those payments.

On the way we would sometimes be stopped in our tracks outside one of the other banks. A coach would draw up, something like twenty enormous men in Sailor’s uniforms and carrying baseball bats would disembark and form a double line from the coach to the bank door. Along this tunnel of nautical beef would scuttle a little man in a suit with a briefcase chained to his wrist.

He was collecting the payroll for the Royal Navy shore establishment, HMS Ganges at Shotley, Ipswich, and when he’d got it the process would be repeated in reverse and the coach would drive away.

We would often laugh at the contrast between Naval Security and that of the Inland Revenue which was to send out two spotty herberts carrying a bright yellow cloth bag with CASH printed prominently on it!

Now in that office was a middle-aged typist named “Betsy” – one of the weekly paid staff. When she received her money at about mid-day on a Friday she would be straight up the road to “The Swan” to blow it on Gin!

Unfortunately she was a “touch typist” and after a liquid lunch on a Friday would often start her afternoon’s work with hands one key to the right or left on her typewriter.

If you were unlucky enough to have her typing for you that day your letters would be gibberish and would have to be re-done on Monday!

She was not known as Betsy by those of us who suffered in this way but as “Stoned Olive”!

And what, you may well ask, is the point of this story?

Well, I’m writing this on my holiday in Majorca and during my buffet dinner today I bit hard on what I assumed, from previous experience with Hotel buffets, was a “stoned olive” – i.e. one with the pip removed!

See the connection?

Only it wasn’t stoned! And it bloody well hurt!

You didn’t see where THAT one was going, did you?


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Posted by on May 16, 2009 in Uncategorized


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