Tracey

At work there is a woman. Let us call her Tracey, because that is her name. No thinly-veiled references here. Just outright ones. I doubt Tracey will ever come across my blog.

Tracey is one of the oldies, but goldies. By oldie I mean she has been at the company for 25 years, as opposed to myself, who has only been there for one year and 3 months. Also, she is a grandmother, although that does not make her old. In fact, she is quite spritely and has an active mind. Also, the people she tends to hang out with are in their twenties, indicating that she likes to hang around with younger folk. By goldie, I mean that she sticks out as a person. Her personality wears a gold cloak, and one can forget about her, but one is not inclined to, because she inserts herself into an alcove in one’s mind, even though there is nothing distinct about her. How can that be?

Tracey is a woman of many words, but she is picky about who she shares them with. She sits diagonally opposite to me, but we have probably exchanged a maximum of 56 words. That is a rough estimate, to give you an example of how often we speak to each other. We became ‘pod mates’ on the 16th of October, you see, and I am a very quiet person at work, which is not like me at all, because at home and with my friends I am a chatterbox and sometimes a little deranged. Rather like a pigeon who has stumbled upon a state of being ruffled and confused.

Anyway. Tracey picks up the phone a lot at work, and has terribly long conversations with colleagues who either work in a different city at another branch, or on a different floor, or just even way across the office on the same floor. She even has long chats with colleagues at our branches in America. But those only start at 3pm, which is around 10am on the West Coast. We have a pretty big office. And because she has been here for 25 years, she is very well acquainted with a lot of people.

I like when Tracey picks up the phone. We generally do not pick up the phone. I only use my work desk phone to call companies abroad, or to ask IT to sort something out for me. Tracey uses it to catch up with people, while simultaneously carrying out work.

For this reason, I have learnt a lot about Tracey. She is now living alone with her husband, as her kids have all left. They drive a range rover. She lives across the field from work, so she walks in when it is not raining. Her son is getting a divorce. So they have to split their Christmas between her daughter who lives in Canada, and her son who lives with his only child two hours away.

When her husband calls, she picks up the phone, and says ‘Hey sweetie,’ without pronouncing the ‘t’, so it sounds like ‘sweedie’, which makes her sound like she is saying it with an American accent. The rest of her accent is distinctly northern.

Her husband calls between 5:00 and 5:30PM daily. He picks her up from work and they go out for meals, or dancing, or to the big city for some drinking. Sometimes they just go home and have a glass of wine together. Sometimes she ditches him to go to the gym with one of her buddies. I like when he calls, she seems very comfortable chatting with him in public and does not run off to a corner to chat with him, like I do when my husband calls. She doesn’t mind if we hear their conversation. She talks to him like she talks to her friends.

I silently tap away at my computer, while her conversations and her life sail around my head. I drop a lot of eaves, I have to say, but how can one help it?

Anyway. That is Tracey.

A very average woman, no? And yet, she has her very own post.

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On Sundays, people do nothing.

On Sundays, people do nothing.

Well, I don’t know what people do.

When I was a child, we lived in a hot country. And our Sundays were actually Fridays, because the first day of the week was Saturday. Weird, I know. But it didn’t feel weird when we lived there.

My mother was a powerful woman, emotionally. She is still. She could make magic out of misery, but she never hid the misery.

Some mothers cover it with a silken gauze, layers of kisses, gentle smiles and eyes full of pain, but my mother didn’t.

She sobbed in front of us, over things that were out of her control, and then visibly pulled herself together and took us to places and made us happy.

Every Friday, she organised an outdoor pool party, because there is really little you can actually do in a desert, especially back in the early 2000s, at a location somewhere on the outskirts of the city we lived in. She made it so all the families attending pitched in to pay for the daily use of a huge pool, surrounded by a garden with swings and slides and sandpits, a football pitch, and some tent-rooms for the adults to sit in and chat amongst themselves while the kids splashed in the pool under the hot sun all day. We ordered food in and dessert was a potluck of many sugary delights.

And because it was a hot country, we would go every week for most of the year, except a couple of months when it was ‘winter’ – except ‘winter’ was just mildly chilly at best.

We had something to look forward to, every weekend. And weekly school was thoroughly enjoyable too.

We had dreary weekends, of course, but nothing like I’ve experienced since coming back to live here. There is something to be said for the serotonin of sunshine, and the vitamin D of happiness!

In the UK, I don’t like Sundays.

Houses are smaller here.

Children are more cooped up, because they don’t play on the streets like they used to do in the olden days.

And there is little to do. Or too cold to do it. And people are not as social as they perhaps once had been.

Also, it’s true what they say about the UK.

It is perpetually grey.

It’s a country blanketed in dismal cloud and chill and dampness spreading its tentacles through the earth.

So it’s no wonder people want to stay in bed all day, and watch TV, and eat comforting foods like crackers and cheese and relish and cups of tea.

Smell the fresh air. It is good for you.

english-winter-dusk.jpg

English winter is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. The days are so short, though, and lots of areas are so rough, but the countryside always maintains its wondrous glory, even with bare trees, it has an ethereal allure to it. Don’t you agree?