EuroFiles (No.6) – Newdawn Grey and Newday Grey

‘It’s a Newdawn, it’s a Newday …’

For the songsters among you, yes, these two founder-Greys of the Eurocratic Union are indeed leading …

‘… a new life … and fee-eelin’ good’!

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They’re proud of their role in making the Union the sound and solid institution it is – by, for example, insisting that Atlantic pollock are not being caught too small; by reinforcing the ban on old-fashioned pounds and ounces; and by encouraging traders to sell eggs in tens rather than sixes.

Newdawn and Newday are leaders in the daily brainstorm for new regulations. It was Newdawn alone who thought up the idea of straightening cucumbers and bananas, and Newday who suggested that without bends in roads and railways we’d get everywhere much quicker.

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It’s not all plain sailing. Here, during quality control of fruit and veg, Newdawn is shocked by a cucumber which appears to bend in different directions at each end. Hard enough for the Greys to classify – let alone what the poor Eurocratic shopper is supposed to think!

But don’t imagine for one moment that Newdawn and Newday are only concerned with crooked cucumbers. Along with her sidekick Wisecrack Grey, Newdawn leads the way in office naughtiness; and Newday’s roving eye is certainly caught by roving tai chi instructor Finski Feelgood.

After all, Greys are only human … I believe.

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

Next week – in the final issue of EuroFiles: The Angel of Mercy – Leader of Germolena and prospective Head of Planet Earth

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

 

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

 

 

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EuroFiles (No.3) Wisecrack Grey – The Joker in the Pack

You know those people who have to crack a joke every five minutes? Or twist everything you say to try and be funny?

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Wisecrack

Well, Wisecrack Grey is one of them. Irritating, a bit vulgar and idle to boot. And she doesn’t always know when to stop. I mean, there are only so many times you want to hear tai chi referred to as chai tea.

And yet – she is the bright spark every bureaucracy needs to help box shifters through those tedious hours of stamping documents. Some offices have piped music for entertainment; Bristles has Wisecrack.

Her partner in crime is Newdawn Grey. They make a formidable pair.

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Newdawn

If things are quiet, a not infrequent occurrence in the Bristles basement, Newdawn will provoke Wisecrack into some sort of naughtiness. Their party piece is a (sideways) crab-step waltz around the office. Don’t ask! More nutty than naughty! And as ‘head judge’ in the Greys’ mock Eurocratic Court, Wisecrack is a sight to behold. Boy, can she handle a gavel! Yes – while The Senior’s away the Greys certainly play.

Wisecrack is never afraid to challenge The Senior about the values of the Eurocratic Club – such as chucking dead haddock back in the ocean or dreaming up new rules about the thickness of marrow skins. The Senior quietly enjoys Wisecrack’s brazen attitude, and only intervenes to try and show who’s in charge. Even then, when asked why she needs to be quite so sarcastic all the time, Wisecrack simply replies:

‘It’s just another service I offer.’

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Senior Grey (‘The Senior’) – Backbone of the Basement

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

 

EuroFiles (No.2) – Finsky Feelgood the Tai Chi Instructor

Life in the Eurocratic Club is pretty relaxed.

That Greys never age from the day they start working in Bristles is testimony to the gentle pace of life, the stress-free environment and the magnificent facilities on offer, such as the health spa, pampering pool and 5-Star restaurants for all nationalities.

To help keep it so, The Senior calls occasionally on the services of Finski Feelgood, a tai chi instructor from Scandy. The wellbeing and balance offered by tai chi leaves the Greys feeling ever more euphoric about life in the Bristles basement – if indeed that’s possible.

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Finski’s classes are compelling. If ever the Greys were at risk of over-pacing themselves, the smooth and graceful tai chi moves slow them to a more manageable work rate. They love Finski’s visits – although she does prove a distraction to Newday Grey, his loss of concentration making the moves not so much ‘smooth and graceful’ as ‘dad at the disco’.

And of course tai chi will serve as a great communication skill for The Angel of Mercy and her ‘troops’ when, having absorbed most of Eurocratica and Middle Easternness, she begins her advance into Far Eastern Regions. Fabulous being able to display such an understanding of what makes other cultures tick!

Finski Feelgood – the basement’s star attraction. Bringing a touch of glamour to an office that might otherwise be, well, rather too grey.

The Yellow Box original draft poster (2) (282x400)

In the next issue: Wisecrack Grey – the Joker in the Pack

The Yellow Box – written and directed by Paul Costello

Bookings:  www.themarkettheatre.com

Copyright © Paul Costello    August 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me

Above The Call

A waiter slops asparagus soup over my mum’s posh top, spits on my steak tartare and asks my dad if that’s a wig he’s wearing – which it isn’t. He now presents the bill for around £80 and asks dad if everything has been to his liking.

‘Splendid, thank you,’ says dad, making out a cheque for £90.

I witnessed this scenario hundreds of times during dad’s life. A routine addition of about ten per cent, rounded up, regardless of the experience.

‘It’s for the service,’ he would explain.

‘But what if that’s not very good?’ I’d say, trying to fathom it out. ‘And isn’t cooking the food and bringing it to the table what you’re already paying for?’

waiterThere seemed a touch of master-servant about the whole thing, a leftover from Victorian times – doffing the hat and placing a penny in the palm.

Dad’s benevolence especially showed at Christmas. People you never normally saw would knock at the door. The dustman (as he was then affectionately known) touched his forelock and dad handed him a small brown envelope; the milkman would find something similar in an empty milk bottle; and it was the only time the postman actually took an envelope away with him.

Tipping in taxis was also de rigueur. Failure to do so might mean the driver retracing his route a mile before letting dad out. Ten per cent to the hairdresser prevented an unwanted bald patch. And generosity towards chambermaids and bar staff during a hotel stay guaranteed clean beds and proper whisky measures.

While all this was going on, the doctor’s receptionist, sales assistant, bus conductor, deck chair attendant, train driver, signalman, street sweeper, telesales operator, left luggage handler, airline pilot, local government officer, hospital porter, travelling salesman, car mechanic, farmer, footballer, formula one driver, lifeguard, gardener, soldier, gravedigger and balloonist, and many, many others simply had to get by on basic wages, since their services were clearly of less importance.

Class distinctions are increasingly blurred. Christmas door-knocking is no longer fashionable. But tipping in the traditional trades continues, more under the guise of mock friendship than master-servant, but with scant regard for what it really means. Clearly, it’s not in the interest of those sectors to disavow people of the custom.

When I was younger I found myself following dad’s ‘easy route’, expressing gratitude and adding percentages regardless of the circumstances – a comfortable way out, making me feel kind of important and stupid at the same time. Annual Christmas cards from the Indian Restaurant (address written at their request on an Excel sheet during a November visit) reassured me that a lasting friendship had indeed been forged.

But as social rebellion kicked in I steeled myself to experiment with paying the asking price only. I was terrified that abandoning tips would mean losing these friendships. I expected the chef to come running from the kitchen with a machete, or the manager to ban me from his establishment. I waited for the taxi man to warn other drivers by radio. I feared a Sweeney Todd incident at the barbers.

barber Instead I was offered a loyalty card by the barber, placed on the priority list by the taxi firm and welcomed back to the curry house with open arms. I realised it was my continuing custom and that of my entourage they wanted, not the small change in my pocket. We remained friends.So, although tipping is still widely practised, in my world the random and pointless custom ended years ago. But I still feel bad about all those who remain tipless while the same old people cream off the ten-percentages. And I’m trying to do something about it.

At Greggs yesterday a woman passed me my 85p sausage roll, asking if I wanted anything else and wishing me a nice rest of the day.

‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘I must say this is the most exquisitely wrapped sausage roll I’ve ever had. You presented it with utter professionalism and a beautiful smile – more than I could possibly have asked for. Here’s a pound, and I want you to keep the change.’

As I left the bakers, trying not to catch the eye of the homeless people blocking my exit, it was ample reward hearing the woman enthusiastically recount our conversation to the girl on doughnuts.

Back at home, concluding a telephone conversation with the MakerMint Water Company, I said to the assistant, Trudy:

‘Frankly, I’ve never known someone handle a direct debit application with such grace and aplomb, offering me all the information I could possibly want, and making the experience so enjoyable. Trudy, you have performed over and above the call of duty. Please give me your BACS details immediately and I shall place £5 in your bank account.’

And on the London train today, when I’d felt compelled to mention the state of the toilet to the train manager, and he’d apologised profusely before single-handedly restoring the cubicle to its pristine condition, I said as he called me to inspect his work:

‘Young man. I know you didn’t make this mess yourself, but you stepped up to the bowl and took full responsibility. Watching you don those Marigolds and plunge wholeheartedly into the matter of the moment has restored my faith in young people and in the entire railway industry. I paid £29 for this journey. Here – take this additional £2.90 to spend as you wish.’

So far, so good. And three new friends already!

Next week: Part 2. Fly Tipping – What To Give Bluebottles.

Copyright © Paul Costello January 2017

http://www.paulcostello.me