Friday 10 April 2009

Emma Royds meets Hugh G Rection

14st 12lb, 6.0 units. Good Friday. A chance to laze around and think of the more important things in life. Or, if you are Mrs H, the ideal opportunity to take your car to be thoroughly valeted, prior to its scheduled service tomorrow. This struck me as being very much the same sort of behaviour one sees in those houseproud, middle class ladies who like to make sure that every room is neat and tidy before their cleaner arrives, but I have now been married long enough to keep that sort of thinking to myself.

Observing the local scratter population and their deeply unattractive propensity to spit everywhere reminded me of two things.

The first was the maroon, hand-painted warning that used to appear in block capitals on the top deck of Newcastle Corporation Transport’s fleet of yellow-painted trolleybuses and motor buses in my schooldays: “NO SPITTING”. It appeared on the lower deck, too, beneath the perhaps more conventional “NO SMOKING”. I remember asking my mother why people needed to be told not do something so obviously Bad and Wrong, and she replied that it was to do with the eradication of TB. Job done, the words had disappeared by the time I returned home during university vacations, just as “Tuberculin Tested” had vanished from the side of milk bottles. Perhaps it is time to bring it back.

The other was the existence of some important chap called Mr Spittle, whom one of my colleagues had to ring on a regular basis in the days when I was an investment analyst. This important chap was guarded by a fiercely protective PA, who had presumably heard all the jokes as often as those unfortunates listed in the phone book as Emma Royds or Hugh G Rection. I seem to recall that we once wound up our colleague so much that he spluttered, in answer to her curt enquiry about what he wanted with her boss, “He’s expectorating my call.”

But maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.

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