Wear a mask

          I work in retail, I pretty much always have. I’m part of that strange breed who actually likes people so front of store, with lots of customer contact usually suits me fine.

          When I go out in the world, I smile, I make people happy, I try to leave as many people as I can with happy thoughts, that’s my way of making a difference. A lot of our customers are elderly and I might be the only person they’ve spoken too all day, I smile and say good morning, even to the grumpy ones, even when they’re scowling. I know some people appreciate my cheerfulness, and I’d like to think most of the customers do, but at the moment the scary thing is, any one of them, could be carrying the weapon to kill me.

          I’ve been compared to many animals in my time… A cat – you’ll often find me asleep in the warmest spot in the house… A mouse – I scurry away from trouble (unless my girls need me… then I’m a lion)… A mischievous monkey – that goes without saying. But at the moment, I’m a bit like an ostrich ….

          I watch the news, I follow the rules, I do the best that I can to help beat the virus. But I can’t work from home so I have to go out into the world, not onto the real front line with the medics and other N. H. S. staff, but an army marches on its stomach so I go to my supermarket and I help to put the food on their plates.

          I turn up for my shift and prepare myself for work. I wash my hands and put on my mask, then I pause at the door to the shop floor, I gather my marbles, push my ostrich head back into the sand, and head for the checkouts.

          I stand behind my plastic screen, but I touch the shopping you’ve just picked up, I pack your bags, I take your money from your hands. I can’t allow myself to worry, otherwise I would be too terrified to leave the house. I have my hand sanitiser behind the counter… As do you on a trolley by the entrance. Sanitising your hands on the way into the shop is for my benefit (thank you) and on the way out its for yours.

          The wearing of a mask is now compulsory in shops (except for the excepted) so now little mousey me has to police that too. So if you can do just one thing to make my job easier today… Wear a mask …

          We’re all in this together… Things have been better, but they’ve also been an awful lot worse… We’ll ride out the storm as we always do, and when the rain stops and the sun comes out, boy will we enjoy the rainbow.

This entry was posted on January 31, 2021, in Me. 9 Comments



          As a cute little girl of about six I did what many little girls of that age did, and joined the Brownies. I can still remember my badge, it was a yellow pixie.

          Although I no longer have any of my badges, or my little brown dress which they would have been sewn onto, I can remember working towards some of them, and enjoying my time in Brownies.

          The brownies I joined was part of The Salvation Army and as a natural progression I went along to Sunday School and learned about the bible and The Salvation Army way of life.  I became a “Young Soldier”, I joined the Songsters (the choir) and the Timbrels (the tambourine group). The Timbrels I enjoyed immensely and spent many a sunny Sunday morning at one of the meetings at one particular garden on the prom rattling my tambourine and playing along with the band music.

          As I grew older, too old for Brownies, I moved onto the Girl Guides.  I didn’t enjoy the more intense activities at Guides and so didn’t stay for very long.  At about the same time it was expected that I would move on from being a Young Soldier to a fully fledged Salvation army officer and I found that although I enjoyed the lifestyle and agreed with many of their core values, I lacked the belief and commitment to go further and gradually drifted away. 

          As the cute little girl I’d often wondered why some of the older members had smiled at my name so much, apparently Sallyann was a friendly nickname used for the Salvation Army in times gone by.  During a short stay in Bath, we came across this Salvation Army Citadel, and a little cafe incorporated into one corner of the building brought back a few long forgotten memories and raised a few smiles.




          These are my new “Bowls” .

          What do they say about me?

          I guess you need to know a little bit about them to work that out. TAYLOR, that’s easily explained, it’s the brand name, but BLAZE?  That tells you a little bit more. 

          Flat green bowls don’t roll in a straight line, they roll in a curve. The direction of curve is decided by which way you hold them to start your shot, but the arc of the curve (to a novice like myself) is decided by the type of bowl.  There were plenty of bowls to choose from in the bowls cupboard so in my first few weeks I practiced with a few different types and sizes and finally settled on Taylor Ace, size 2.

          Size 2, chosen purely for comfort.  The sizes range from the smallest, 00, up to a 5, size two is the biggest size I can comfortably pick up with one hand.

          Of the Taylor bowls, the Ace is the one which curves the most, it’s quite difficult to use, but if you can learn to control it, it’s perfect for slipping in through small gaps from the side of the rink at the end of the game.

          I haven’t done a bad job with the aces over the last few months, but they need a very wide shot to allow for the bowl to arc inwards to do its job and for that you need to not be afraid of aiming too far out.

          Until recently, Taylor made, I think, six different styles of bowls, the ace making the biggest arc, and the Vector being next in line. I did have a go with a Vector set from the cupboard, and was more comfortable with their arc, but there wasn’t a size two so in the end I decided to buy a set of Vector bowls, but continued to use the size two Aces while I waited for a friendly payday.

          As I got used to the Aces, instead of making my mind up, I was more and more undecided between Ace and Vector… then Taylor released the Blaze… with an arc which rolled between the two… perfect.

          The colour ?  Well most older bowls are black with coloured emblems on them.  It’s only recently that bowls have been made in colours… And of course I looked for orange and found them.

          Then the confidence fell and the doubt set in again. The orange bowls were very bright and could be seen clearly from the far end of the green. An advantage to follow a good bowl with another, but since I only manage for about one in four shots to be good, my bad shots would show up from the other end of the green more than my good ones.

          Bowls aren’t cheap and I’m probably only ever going to have one brand new set so I made up my mind, I would go for the orange ones.  I couldn’t find them again online so eventually phoned Taylors in Scotland …  Limited edition… The words sunk in and my smile fell to the floor… The decision had been taken out of my hands … No orange bowls.

          New colours available in the new catalogue ? Not yet online?

          I vaguely remember giving my address and waiting for a catalogue to arrive.

          Well, the catalogue arrived and so did the friendly payday.  Green bowls, not quite as good as orange, on the plus side though, not quite as bright as orange either.  Another delay, they were so new a colour that the compound to make the bowls hadn’t arrived, there was another plus side though, since my bowls were still a twinkle in someone’s eye, they would be made from scratch for me and I could choose whatever emblem and colour paint I wanted…

          Orange of course, and the scorpion? My birth sign.

          And then my smiles arrived in the post, all four of them, and they’re perfect.

          So, what do my bowls say about me?

          I like orange and green (of course I like orange and green), it’s taken over six months to get to the stage where I get the odd really good shot with the more difficult bowls, so I guess there’s perseverance, but I’ve bought the slightly easier bowls to use… There’s that confidence thing again.

          Oh, and the scorpion ?   Pretty standard really, I’ll back away from most things for a quiet life, but just bear in mind I have a nasty sting in my til and given no other choice, I know how to use it.

          More from before: living into “Semi-retirement” and beyond…