A New Hat

Their glasses were all empty. Edna noticed that as the nice young orderly from the nursing home wheeled her past the pub. Her hearing wasn’t so good any more, so she couldn’t make out what they were saying. They were obviously wrapped up in their conversation and talking animatedly about something. From the scarf one of them was wearing, it was probably about football.

The city was bustling. The school holidays were in full swing, workers were let out from their offices for the weekend and it was her turn for a shopping trip into the city. It was nice to get away from the home once in a while. There were only so many times you could sit in the garden or read in the quiet room before you yearned for something a bit fresh. She had a little money with her, enough to treat herself and the orderly to a cake and a cup of tea at the little cafe near the river. Maybe if she found something cheap, she’d treat herself.

As she was wheeled down the high street, something very expensive caught her eye in a charity shop window. “Peter?” She called. “Peter!”

“Yes, Mrs Burrows?” Peter said, bringing the wheelchair to a stop.

“Could we go in there? I’ve seen a nice hat.” She gestured over to the window.

“Of course we can. We can go wherever you want today.” He smiled down at her. It was a bit of a job to navigate the chair into the store, but he did so without knocking it against the door frame and flagged down a shop assistant to get the hat.

It was marvellous! Bright and blue with all sorts of feathers and fascinators forming an elaborate crown. The brim was wide and it would be perfect for sitting in the sun. It must have been worn to a race day at some point, or a fancy wedding. With slightly shaky, wrinkled hands she placed it on head to cover the thinning white hair. “How do I look, Peter?”

“Like royalty at Ascot.” He said with a brilliant white smile, drawing a rich laugh from her.

The marvellous item was only two pounds fifty! Edna Burrows carefully removed the exact change from her little coin purse.

She couldn’t wait to get back to the home and show off her new hat.


That Lovely Girl

“There she goes, that lovely girl.”

She had an air of genuine kindness that the residents loved. Always interested in their tales from decades past, no matter how often they rambled on during their telling. When they sung her praises to their relatives, she was always modest.

“I don’t need to be thanked for that.” She’d smile while steering a tea trolley loaded with treats, all ready to be dispensed before Countdown came on.

“Isn’t she such a dear?”

Every once in a while when they were distracted, a ring or trinket would vanish.

But they’d never blame her, that lovely girl.

This week’s Three Word Wednesday words were: Distracted, Genuine, and Modest.

Ceefax Serenade

She always wondered why her elderly parents went to bed as early as they rose the following mornings until she had to stop there, due to work being done on her house. It was five AM in the morning, and noise downstairs had woken her up. As she wrapped a flannel dressing gown around herself to pad down the staircase, she wondered if her children had woke early.

She paused at the lounge when she saw the light of the television on. If her boys had snuck down to watch cartoons… the look of imminent scolding fell from her face though as she poked her head around the door-frame.

In the middle of the lounge, in front of the bulky CRT television that her parents wouldn’t part with on the fact it ‘still worked just fine’, her mother and father were dancing to the soft, easy-listening music that accompanied Pages from Ceefax, the quaint little information display on BBC2 filling time between programs.

– Click me for background music via YouTube! –

They didn’t pay any heed to the words on the screen, flickering every so often from news story to sports and other topics. There were no lights on other than the early sun slipping parts of itself through the thick curtains and the glow of the screen itself. They were just lost in the music and too busy reading the wrinkles on each other’s faces and the twinkle in their eyes.

She stopped herself from calling out to them, unwilling to spoil the moment. Instead, she wandered back up the staircase, the soaring saxophones and the accompanying acoustic guitars lingering in her mind as she began to realise just why they got up so early.

It was much later in the day, while her father was at his allotment, that she asked her mother just what was happening.

“Why, when your father worked, he’d have to get up early.” Her mother said, rolling out some pastry. “So I’d make us our breakfast, pack him his lunch, and we’d have the BBC2 on for news, and something we could dance to without interruptions.”

“That’s… really sweet, and romantic, mum.” She smiled, before looking worried. “But what are you going to do next month, when…” She left it hanging ominously.

“When they stop playing it on the digital?” Her mother filled in, before smiling. “Well, there’s always the iPod.”


Author’s Note: Next month, the Digital Switchover is complete in the UK, and as such, Pages from Ceefax will no longer broadcast on any Digital channel, as the service ends. When I was little and would wake early before primary school, I could always count on it being on, and then the Open University programs about things I would never study at my little school. Like neural regeneration in goldfish.