“Wheelie Bin Collection Day”

For 11 July the writing group was asked to write 500 words, or fewer, about Wheelie-bin Collection Day.

“Wheelie-bin Collection Day”

 “Shh.  Shh, be still.

There, that’s better.  Didn’t help to struggle, did it?  Nice and tidy.  See,  practice makes perfect.

I didn’t mean the first one.  I was sleeping rough under a flyover in London; some tosser came at me with a knife over a can of ‘Special Brew’.  Must’ve thought I’d be easy, being small like.  Ridiculous thing to die for really, only a mouthful left in it.  It wasn’t much of a scrap, two tours in Afghan saw to that; training kicked in, like his head.   There was this row of big bins, so I thought “why not?”  ‘Course I didn’t hang about afterwards.  I was three weeks and a hundred miles away when he was found.  No I.D, I’d made sure of that.  Nobody missed him, so the police didn’t try too hard.  To be honest I got a buzz out of recycling the man-trash he was and getting away with it.

Now, where’s that plastic sheet?  Ah, here we are.

Then there was Marcia.  I found her crying in a park; she was having trouble with her boyfriend, beating her up and that.  She wanted him out of her basement flat, and I wanted somewhere off the street for the winter: seemed like a fair trade.  She got him well drunk, and took a bit of a bashing doing it, but after he passed out I put a plastic bag over his head and fixed it on with this Duck tape.

Good and tight.

There was a skip two streets down, roof extension just started, so we heaved him in there under some old carpet.  You know what it’s like with skips; sat for a month with other people filling it up, then someone set fire to it.  ‘Course, she had to go too when I left in the spring; couldn’t risk her grassing me up.  She went under the floor boards.  Bare earth, so easy dig even for me, but a bit tricky ‘cause the joists were close together and she wasn’t exactly a size 12, if you get me.  It’s an Asda now.  They didn’t find her so I think she’s still there; maybe under cold meats, eh?

Last bit now.

I still had my passport, and a few quid from Marcia, so I bought a flight here.  Did a bit of bar work round the iron ore mines.  It was OK for a while.  ‘Course it was illegal, no work visa, and very blokey, but they liked having a pretty face around.  Good money, mind, but too dirty and hot for me, even after Afghan.  And the flies! Jesus! Like flying raisins, bloody millions of ‘em!  How did you cope?   That’s why I came into Perth.  Found you and your lovely clean bathroom.  It’s a bit more anonymous in a city too, lots of transients, and more wheelie bins.

There, all done.

It’s a good job you had air con isn’t it?  Silly me, I forgot to ask when your collection day is.”

Andrew Gold©

11 July 2014

500 words


PS After I had written the first draft of this story I discovered that disposing of bodies, victims of murder usually, in this  way is not at all uncommon!

  •  1991 – Transgender killer dumps former lover in bin – funds foreign travel on stolen cards
  • December 1994 – Glasgow man thrown from a window and dumped in a wheelie bin.
  • March 2006 – Manchester 11 year old killed by 15 year old – dumped in wheelie bin in park.
  • October 2008 – Edinburgh man kills father – body found in bin 7 weeks later.
  • June 2009 –  Couple murder man’s girlfriend – body in wheelie bin for 3 weeks.
  • June 2011 –  Woman murders on/off lover – helped by friend to dump in a wheelie bin.
  • March 2012 – Man killed in Wigan – dumped in wheelie bin.
  • November 2012 – Southampton man murdered and dumped in wheelie bin.  Killers arrested trying to move body to a skip.
  • March 2013 – Cambridgeshire serial killer dumps first of 3 victims in wheelie bin.
  • March 2014 – Man killed in south London – dumped in wheelie bin and bin set on fire.
  • July 2014 – Man killed in Northern Ireland – body found in wheelie bin.
  •  Several cases in Australia, including a lesbian ‘triangle’.



A shedload of (in)sanitaryware – a tale of customer quality control.

The point of this rant is that buying online often results in extended and complicated contractual relationships which make service difficult to achieve when things go wrong.  It clearly also exposes the weakness in quality control when the person you order from is just a mouthpiece for the actual makers, and has no resource to check the quality of product except through customer feedback.

We’ve been developing our small garden for a while and have reached the point where we really need a shed to store ready-for-use tools and so on.  I’m more than happy to put one together from a ‘kit’, so we trawled the net for something suitable and found one offered by a firm called ‘Greenfingers’.  Greenfingers is a portmanteau company, mostly marketing products made by others, so our chosen shed was really made by another company – Mercia Garden Products, based in Nottinghamshire.  Greenfingers seem to be in Scotland, or so I discovered once I had to deal with their customer service team.  The shed arrived, late, and the kit parts were not constructed from the material described in the brochure, nor were they properly put together.  I complained and, to their credit, Greenfingers promptly refunded us by cheque.  However, getting the unwanted shed removed has been a real hassle.  Because it is not Greenfingers who made and delivered it, Mercia have to take it back.  Mercia agreed to come on Saturday last but, as is the way of these deliveries, declined to say what time.  Conserquently we waited in all day for someone who didn’t come.  Later, in conversation with Greenfingers (with whom we had contracted), I discovered that Mercia’s carriers claimed they couldn’t find the address: odd, given they had delivered it in the first instance.

We also have been embarked on a major upgrade of our bathroom and cloakroom.  Being an expert customer I ordered everything we needed online from a well know national supplier of sanitaryware and fittings.  There have been repeated instances of manufacturing defects: poor ceramic finishes, casting errors, chrome finish failures.  The suppliers have a well oiled customer services team, so getting replacements (even multiple replacements when the replacements themselves proved faulty) has been a fairly straighforward process.  However it has not been a straightforward project: the goods were ordered 6 weeks before work was due to start but the delays caused by having to replace items has caused the programme to go off the rails and resulted in additional cost due to out of sequence, uneconomic, working by the plumber.  It has caused other trades, like electrician and carpenter, to be reprogrammed too.  Yesterday we bit the bullet and asked for a refund on one item to enable a replacement to be bought locally.  Meanwhile the ceramic tiling has also gone wrong.  Tiles bought through a local firm were different from the samples we used to select from.  These tiles are a special order item so, although replacement was easily agreed, another delay resulted.  The tile company sent the wrong number of extra tiles, and they gave us a box of completely wrong tiles occasioning more delay.  Since completion of the work we have replaced the shower screen seal with one sourced separately, from a specialist, because the item ‘bundled’ with the screen didn’t work properly.

This last demonstrates that even if you visit, and buy from, a local specialist shop, and have a relationship with that shop, there is no guarantee that the product will be as you expect.  The amount of time, and transport resources, that must be being wasted across our consumer economy is scary: huge trucks travelling the length of the country (or in the case of some of these products, across Europe) carting defective, and then replacement, produce.  When I worked on a major construction project, in my former career, I travelled to the manufacturers to carry out my own quality control.  Big businesses, with multi-million pound turnovers, who market product they don’t actually make, ought to do the same.  In the end it isn’t good enough customer service to just offer replacement.  When you leave the customer to be the quality inspector of the goods, often at the end of an extended or fractured supply chain, you leave your business (and I would argue the environment) exposed to disaster, and the customer with a shedload of hassle.




“The Key”

A ten minute writing group exercise on the subject of a, or the, key.

The Key

It was 11 in the evening.  The baton twitched at the bottom of the upstroke, tired grips imperceptibly tightened on 80 instruments, the timpanist crouched forward ready to strike.  The baton swung up…and the 16 year old artiste said “What key is it, again?”

The murmur that rippled round the string section was barely audible, not so the frustrated clatter of the leader’s bow onto his music stand.

The conductor looked heavenward, then through the window into the control booth at the sound recordist but all he could see was the bald patch on the top of his head as he banged it off the mixing desk.

Turning to the spotted youth, with all the patience left to him, he said “Well, what key would you like?”

“I dunno really, same as my last record, only louder.”

“And what was that?  I don’t think your agent mentioned it.”

“Keep me up all night”, big hit, top 40.”

Well, what key was that in?”

I dunno.  Me manager told the maestro; he hums a few bars and I follow on, like.”

“Well, do you think we could ask him to do that for us now?  Is he here?”

“Nah, he’s in Florida, but we could ‘phone ‘im.”

A few minutes later the batton twitched again.  Marlon XC stood confidently at his microphone, iPhone in one ear, and looked at the conductor.  “OK, guv, Key of Haitch.  3, 4 time.  When you’re ready lads. A 1, 2, a1, 2, 3, 4.”

Andrew Gold©

247 Words

16 May 2014

“Finishing Touches”

A ten minute exercise at the writing group on the subject of Finishing Touches.

Finishing Touches

She looked peaceful, if a little unreal; the lines etched by years of worry, pain and disappointment, had melted away.  Whether it was just the relaxation of the facial muscles, or the artfulness of the embalmer, Tommy couldn’t say but it just didn’t look like her.

He just stood looking, wanting to touch her hand, kiss her goodbye once more, but afraid of the cold feeling and the possibility that his lips might taste something.

The chapel of rest was, of course, quiet.  Not as the grave, but that silence which defied you to breathe in case it were overheard.

Of all the things he wanted to say, he had forgotten to say “I love you”.  It was understood between them, at least he had thought so.  But now he thought perhaps he hadn’t said it as often as he might have, so he just mumbled, placed a small flower across her chest, turned and walked away.

Andrew Gold©

157 words

30 May 2014

“Stage Fright”

This week the writing group was asked to write 500 words or fewer including, or inspired by, the words “Bring a mallet”.

“Stage Fright”

Jinky and Arthur slid through the opening they had forced in the verger’s office window, and dropped onto the old, cold, stone floor. They waited, crouched, catlike, waiting to see if their intrusion had been detected, but Jinky’s abrupt exhalation announced they had not been seen crossing the churchyard, nor heard breaking in.

“Phew.  See? There’s nobody around in the week.”  He tugged on Arthur’s sleeve, “Come on, we haven’t got long, it’s nearly 12 already.”

The wrought iron door latch clattered up, the sound causing Arthur to wince, as Jinky eased back the door into the side chapel and generations of beeswax and incense enveloped them.  It didn’t bother Jinky, but Arthur had been a chorister so the heavy sepulchral silence, and perfume, troubled him, raking across his fear of divine retribution like a fingernail scratching down a school blackboard.  The hairs stood erect on the back of his neck as he shouted a hoarse whisper, “Jinky, I don’t like this.  I want to go home.”

But Jinky, the older and bolder of the two, was already tiptoeing down the central aisle.  “Don’t be such a wus.  We’ve come this far, let’s do it and get out of here. Gi’me  the bag.”

The light from the full moon flooded through the stained glass oriole window above.  Framed by the polished altar pieces lay an open leather-bound bible, the gold leaf letters gently glowing, and there before the altar stood the object of their intent: with a single brass candle stand at each corner, a coffin rested on a trestle.

The lid bore a brass plate with the name of the occupant, Nicolae Enescu.  At the foot, an easel carried a black and white photograph of an old man with protruding teeth, and a brief biography: Nicolae, had been a renowned magician and escapologist.  He had been discovered by the Red Cross after the war, a child living in a packing case in a ruined Romanian monastery, and brought to England.

Jinky gushed. “See, he’s even from Romania. I knew it, I told you he was one!”  He swept a wreath from the top of the coffin and rooted around the toolbag for a screwdriver.

Arthur, even more un-nerved by the church clock striking twelve, implored again. “That don’t prove nothin’, you might be wrong, anyway it’s sacrilege. Please, let’s go.”

But Jinky, still ignoring him, had already removed the lid of the coffin and was looking in.   Enescu, looking younger than he expected, was laid out in his stage clothes: a long tailed dinner suit, winged collar and cape.  Jinky shivered, then took a deep breath.  He felt inside the bag for the wooden stake, found it, then rummaged again with increasingly desperate urgency.  “Where is it Arthur?  You dipstick, I told you to bring a mallet.”

But Arthur was nowhere to be seen, and when Jinky looked back to the coffin his gaze was returned, and a smiling mouth purred:

“Good evening, how nice of you to come.”

Andrew Gold ©

11 June 2014

500 words