Picture credit – Hannah Tobin.
Tales from the Strangled Ferret Season 2. Episode 2.
George admits to his loss of faith and his decision to resign as a Welsh Tobacconist. There is also a discussion about the French and British elections. There are problems with the new lemon slicing machine.
‘What do you think of all this election business, Janet?’ asked Jack. ‘especially as Lame used to be a politician.’
‘I’m just glad he is out of all that now. When I first met him he was near suicidal because of the all the different pressures he was coping with. I could see under all that to the lovely man beneath and now he is free from all that pressure, he is like a butterfly, coming out of his shell and showing his real self – if you’ll excuse the mixed similes, err metaphors – I’m never really sure of the difference. We do watch all the politicians on the news sometimes and laugh at them as they rush around the country spouting the party line and trying to keep any of their own opinions away from the media at all costs.’
‘Well I’ve been watching how the French do it, they seem to have a completely different system to us. I’m not sure it is better but it is certainly different. I wonder if Marine will prove that Le Pen is mightier than the Macroni? Have you heard that we are setting up a twinning arrangement with a bar in a small village in the Auverne? The first meeting is here tomorrow evening. Will you and Lame be here?’
‘Mais certainement!’ said Janet as George wandered in having finished his day’s work in the Ferret Project office.
‘Hi George,’ said Colin, as George edged towards the bar. ‘Hard day in the FPO?’
‘Not really,’ said George, taking off his glasses, folding them and carefully sliding them into his jacket’s breast pocket,’ the main project is just about finished, it’s now all about checking the invoices from the contractors, writing the cheques and working through the snagging lists.’
‘What are they?’ asked Colin, not really wanting to know but happy to keep the conversation going. George had read about these when he had flicked through his PRINCE 2 coursework books when they arrived the previous Tuesday so he knew enough to bluff his way through.
‘They’re lists, with costs of all the outstanding errors and work once a project is in full operation. It is important to separate any unfinished work from any defects arising from fair wear and tear so that the costs can be correctly assigned.’
‘Wow,’ said Colin,’ I’m impressed, you certainly seem to know what you’re Tolkein about.’
‘You have to keep on top of the contractors. I’ve spent a couple of days in Middle Earth, you know. They’ll slip extra invoices in to add to the project if you’re not careful. A pint of Old Mouldy please Colin, I’ve got quite a thirst tonight.’
‘You’ve certainly come to the right place then. I think we have just about got the cellar temperature and humidity right so that it suits Old Mouldy. Have a sip of that and tell me what you think.’ he said as he slid a brimming pint across the bar. I’ve got a problem with the new lemon slicer. Do you think you could have a look at it, and put it on your snagging list if it is the supplier’s problem.’
‘Yes, of course I’ll have a quick look and if it is anything serious I’ll get the “Citron Clicing Company” to send one of their technicians out to have a look. It is still under warranty so won’t cost us anything. Well, it looks good, the glass is only a little under filled, the head is just right, the ale is clear, smells just right now it only remains to taste it…Ah, yes, that’s good. Full marks Colin – all you need to do now is to fill the glasses properly and stop trying to short measure your customers – did you learn that from Ben?’
A flustered Colin replied, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, Ben never showed me anything like that. He…he…’
‘Only teasing you, Colin, I think that’s a great pint and you deserve full marks for all your cellar work.’
‘Well, I too have spent a lot of time in Middle Earth, sorting out the beer storage conditions.’ They both laughed.
George took his pint over to his favourite seat by the fire and sat there, on his own, staring into the flames.
‘Are you trying to work out how to squeeze 10% more of the project cost,’ asked Jack as he drew up a chair and sat near George.
‘Not really Jack. It’s just that Ben’s funeral had quite a big effect on me and has made me reappraise some of the things I have taken for granted for most of my life.’
‘Like what, for example?’
‘Well I’ve always been a Welsh Tobacconist just like my Father and Grandfather before me. I go to the Bethesda Chapel every Sunday. This Sunday I listened to everything that was said and I realised that it was all just evil nonsense. Nonsense because it just didn’t make sense and all religions cannot be right, Only one can be right so which one? Evil because it decried all the other religions and tried to separate people and so was extremely bigoted and could easily cause friction – if not arguments and wars, as it has over the centuries. All religions claim to be ‘a religion of peace’ and then they pray to their god before a fight to intervene on their side as they kill the other side.’
‘Wow,’ said Jack. It sounds like you have started thinking for yourself.’
‘That is exactly what I’ve been doing,’ replied George, ‘ and, to coin a phrase, I think I have seen the light. I’ve resigned from the Welsh Tobacconists.’
‘So that means you don’t believe in god then?’ asked Jack.
‘I just believe in one less god than believers, after all there have been thousands of gods to choose from throughout the history of mankind. Do you believe in Thor or Zu Rhong, for example?’ riposted George.
‘Of course not. So you are now an atheist, George?’
‘Yes, but I am also a Humanist – I was so impressed with the humanist celebrant at Ben’s funeral that I went to see him the other day, when you kindly granted me an afternoon off, to talk about these things. I must get behind the bar and have a look at the lemon slicing machine. Talk to you later Jack.’
‘OK George, just make sure you are here for the twinning meeting tomorrow.’
‘I won’t forget Jack, I have already put some new Castors on my tractor but, if you ask me, it’s a load of Pollux.’
‘Don’t be so grumpy George, I’m sure you will be all for it once you have heard the details – after all, you are a Gemini aren’t you?’
‘Huh? …What’s up then Colin?’
‘The machine just refuses to operate – I think it is because the extraction unit isn’t running.’
‘OK, Let’s have a look at it. Have you tried it with the filters removed?’
‘If the filters are blocked, the extraction fan won’t run and then the slicer won’t work. So let’s take out the filters, have a look at them and then try the unit without them…Just look at that Colin, the filters are all bunged up with that fibrous stuff you get on lemons just under the peel. It’s running perfectly well without the filters so that shows that you should increase the frequency of filter cleaning. I’m disappointed in you Colin, I thought you were a lot better at taking the pith than this.’
© Richard Kefford 2017 Eorðdraca
My Kindle books are on Amazon – Here