Friday, September 30, 2011

'I'm away now....'

I used to sell books. I sold new books in a city centre bookshop - where they made me wear a lanyard. At weekends I sold old books on a stall at Tynemouth Market. Like many regular public gatherings, Tynemouth Market had an 'eccentric'. His name was something like Cyril and he was somehere around seventy years old. Cyril was covered in badges - they were all over his frock coat, his flat cap and were glued to his walking stick.

Cyril would 'perform' his eccentricity for traders and customers: loudly telling spectacularly old jokes and singing music hall standards. He once saw me doing a crossword and informed the whole market:

'We've got one of them clever ones here!'

Tynemouth Market takes place in Tynemouth Station. Book and bric-a-brac business is punctuated by the arrival and departure of trains on the metro loop from Newcastle. Cyril would announce his own departure with some grandeur - waving his stick and shouting:

'I'm away now! I'm away!'

He was, in the main, ignored.

Cyril would tarry - even letting his train pass if necessary - until the loss of the 'life and soul' of the market was fittingly acknowledged.

'I'm away now! I'm away!'

Eventually a couple of people (possibly tourists) would wave back and that was usually enough for him.

Today was my last day at work. Morag was all smiles yesterday - looking forward to 'a face to face handover' of any oustanding tasks on my to do list.

'I'll be out all morning,' she said, 'see you at about 1.30.'

I have always wanted to walk away from a job at lunchtime and here was my chance.

It was just before noon. I left a note for Sadie and punched 'send' on a handover email to Morag. The faculty admin staff were busy speaking loud English at some newly-arrived Asian students. I squeezed into the lift with a grumpy porter and a trolley. At ground level I was swept into the youthful tide of students leaving the building and entering the quad. They massed towards the university refectory. I turned away for the car park - telling nobody in particular as I went...

'I'm away now! I'm away!'


  1. Marvellous.

  2. Anonymous8:13 am

    it's end of an era; yours was the most entertaining lens through which to view the government's tentpole Circus Parade. Or was it flagship creative learning programme. I forget.

    Keep writing please.

  3. Anonymous11:13 am

    Sorry, for some reason your farewell was as slow to appear on my RSS reader as was Cyril to leave Tynemouth Market.

    A new chapter! All the best and ditto to anonymous.

  4. Anonymous8:42 pm

    You've got out in the nick of time and managed to avert involvement in the next wave of creative learning: the bridge building initiative.

  5. Not sure I'm the bridge-building type.

  6. Anonymous5:45 pm

    If it is any consolation, I had a similarly moving departure from one of my old jobs. In truth, I did not fit in. My colleagues did not get me. Well, they did. They thought I was a cunt, but would never use that word because they were a bunch of cunts. It was an open plan office, littered with stupid fucking cunts. I emptied my desk tidy into a bin liner, and left. I believe I said 'tirra'. Leaving them to their world of pointless steering groups, pseudo lesbianism and yogurt weaving.

  7. If I may say so anonymous, you still sound a tad bitter.

    I too was in an open plan office - it was a space cut off from the main business of the organisation and housed the 'overlooked'. Officially it was a collection of 'hot desks', but that couldn't have been a more inaccurate description.

    What is 'pseudo lesbianism'? Is it lesbianism for professional gain? Changing from dress to lumberjack shirt in the car park?