When her radio program was over Mrs. Jennings used to put on her coat and hat and leave her little house for her daily errands. Sometimes there were letters to post, although that wasn’t something she did very much any more, now that most of her friends were past writing or in homes or were no longer with us. It was a shame that there wasn’t more writing to do, but Mrs. Jennings filled her day with other activities. Her errands included going to the butcher and going to the pharmacist, although she didn’t do those things every day. She liked a nice chop for her tea, but you couldn’t afford to buy meat all the time, and although she really enjoyed going into the pharmacy, for a lovely chat with George and his shop girl Tracey, you wouldn’t want to be going in there too often, because that would mean you were sick, and Mrs. Jennings was already taking quite enough medication thank you very much.
The doctor was a grumpy man named Bainbridge – Mrs. Jennings and he had never become familiar – and it was better to only consult him if you had a genuine and serious problem of some kind. Often, if the waiting room didn’t look busy, Mrs. Jennings would pop her head around the door and mouth, “Hello!” at the secretary Anita. If the doctor was busy with a patient, Anita would call her over and they would have a natter, and that was a lovely thing to do. It meant that Anita, who got very bored in the empty waiting room at that time of the late morning, would have someone to talk to at least once a week, and Mrs. Jennings knew that Anita enjoyed their chats.
Every day there was a visit to the newsagent. That was a constant, for the The Torch was a consolation, which kept Mrs. Jennings informed about the news and entertained her with the crossword and the comics. Ted loved to read the comics and he read the sport too. She missed Ted, but with him gone she could do the crossword herself, as he used to hog it and he wouldn’t let here have a go until he couldn’t get any more of the clues out, and that annoyed Mrs. Jennings at the time, but she missed it now. It was lovely to have it to yourself though.
At the newsagent she would buy a scratchie and also get a lottery ticket for the big draw once a week. There were other draws, all of them seemingly big draws, but Mrs. Jennings had the lottery she played and she didn’t want to change that now. She and Ted had talked about what they would do if they ever won and now she wasn’t sure what she would do, how she would spend it on herself, but she thought that she might buy Chalky the cat a new collar. That would be a start. She would probably have chops for dinner more often too.
Outside the newsagent, Mrs. Jennings would cross the road and buy a carton of milk in the grocery store near the bus stop. The mixed business was run by a young family and they had a wide variety of things to buy. It was really like a small supermarket. It reminded Mrs. Jennings of the way the shops used to be years ago, before the big chains took over, when you knew the shop owners and they got things in for you if you asked. The prices were a little bit high for some things, but that made sense, as they were independent and it was just the family members who ran the shop and it was hard to make a profit these days anyway. The Khans were doing their best – it was a business after all, and they were a part of the community. They had a small boy who was often crawling on the floor in the aisles at the back of the shop. He was a lovely little thing, although he really should have been on his mother’s lap if there were customers. That wasn’t too much to ask.
Mrs. Jennings patted the little chap on the head as she walked past him in the fresh vegetables section and he smiled up at her. She got milk from the fridge and found a small tin of cat food for Chalky, and made her way back to the cash register. She paid and as she paid she found a foreign coin in her pocket, a small brassy thing, worth nothing, from a small forgotten country, given to her by her nephew after his big trip last year. She handed it to the little boy on the floor for him to play with, and walked out of the shop smiling serenely, as behind her could be heard the chaotic sounds of adults trying to dislodge the coin which had just been swallowed by the toddler by patting the infant on the back. The boy would be alright. The scare would be over quickly. It was his parents who would suffer though, for that moment of ultimate grief and panic. And Mrs. Jennings smiled to herself some more. She had been meaning to do something like this for some time.

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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