Conversations with wonka.., p.1
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       Conversations with Wonka - Part Four, p.1
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Conversations with Wonka - Part Four

  Conversations with Wonka - Part four--

  Copyright 2014 Madeleine Masterson

  Fresh from my sojourns to the new family bits and the old friends, I tried to gear up for the back end of the year and a return to the dark world of the high school. Me and Wonka were still on our own, me with plenty of experience at it and him trying it out for size. All the cats on the outside fancied their chances except Ruggles who seemed keen to stay there.

  ‘He’s weed on the Buddleia’ observed Wonka from his sideboard perch. I too gazed out back and admired Ruggles for his up boys and at em look. In truth he was a teddy bear masquerading as a brown bear, and I had to hold onto this thought for when I finally tackled the half tail he was left with. Not today though.

  ‘What’s for tea’ chirped Wonka checking out the neat row of boxes. There were enough biscuits to keep the local RSPCA going until all were rehomed and same again with the pouches. Yes, I had some tins but they were for outside. Unless Wonka felt peckish and then he would knock the small round orange plastic lid off and go in with his paw. I mean. ‘Well there’s……’

  ‘I hate that one!’ and off he span into the hall and living room landing on the blanket box in the bay. From here, any cat crossing the motorway stroke street could be spied on. The Skylark, my ancient car that was keeping all the local garages in business during the recession, was parked up opposite. I was proud of this because usually I was faced with parking decisions that had to be made more or less instantaneously or risk driving round and round for hours. It could be a mad taxi driver right up to your back end and a stressed out worker coming towards you. In that split second you had to weigh up your ability to reverse park into a space. Depending on the kind of day I was having this was 1. Fairly easy. 2. Might do it or 3. Don’t even consider it. If someone said to you ‘your money or park the car in that just big enough space’, you would have to say please take all my money. But today I had parked up a treat, right where I could keep looking out at it. The checking thing? Goodness me, in full force. The eyebrows? I had moved away from this obsession but only as far as my teeth. The dentist was still in favour and still taking my money.

  I paused to admire the evening sky and the last of the swallows. This more than anything meant the end of the summer and the slow move towards the cold and dark. Two things rattled in my head and they weren’t mother and aged sibling. No, they were the fate of the Skylark, and Rugglesis tail.

  Pulling up outside the dentist with aged sibling a few months back, I braced myself. No not for the dentist as it wasn’t my appointment but because I could see a man approaching fast in my wing mirror. Had I cut him up? Overtaken him on the inside, sworn at him so loudly he had heard me? I wound the window down and waited for the onslaught. But no! ’Are you selling your car?’ the stranger bent down and smiled kindly at me. Stunned for a minute I came out with the truth.

  ‘If I could marry this car I would – but if it comes to that, do you have a contact number?’ And the reason for his interest was then clear. My number plate was his business initials. Ah. Now the decision about the Skylark was usually bound up in the MOT. Most of the local garages had inspected the innards and most of them had of course found a little and large job that started up sounding affordable and ended up with me reaching for the precious credit card. ‘You haven’t!’’ accused Wonka as soon as I pulled up feeling proud and happy all because the Skylark had been fixed.

  It hadn’t been fixed, it had been patched up and sometimes (I prayed it was just sometimes), the mechanic had not even done that. ‘That’s it!’ I shouted, usually in the kitchen where the noise of this could be disguised by the radio, ‘I need to open a women only garage! For Women, and Run by Women!’ Even Wonka approved of this one and made a few suggestions like, where would the money come from and did I have a business plan? Alright, I knew it was shaky but still I had to find a decent garage where they didn’t see me and the Skylark as their next holiday or house. ‘What about that nice garage where they do the tyres and look you over for nothing?’ Oh yes, that one. With Wonka praying they would not rub me up the wrong way simply by saying (or not saying) hello, off I set.

  The Skylark has somehow become a part of my psyche and if only Jung were still around he could have set out a brand new theory on it. Either him or Freud. Actually, it would have caused a rift between them with Jung on the side of Yes it is a reality this side of the unconscious and cannot be dismissed as a (Freudian) bit of nonsense coughed up from the sewer like tank holding all my shadowy side down. Holding onto this image, of the Skylark gradually rising to the top of the tank and bursting through to save me and become some of my much needed armoury for the daily grind, I braked sharply into the entrance of the GARAGES ARE US little car park ignoring the sign that said, MOT Customers only. Surely I was safe in the hands of such a national treasure?

  ‘Have you done it then?’ Wonka rolled on the luxury carpet looking all appealing and cuddly. Until he had enough of the careful stroking and tickle tummy and swiped at me with his claw. I had many a little white scar to thank for this. ‘Yes they are going to give it a triple service as that’s cheaper than the first one and let me know…’ I had trudged home feeling vulnerable and small fairly creeping along the streets I was used to sailing round and then parking up sharpish. Thoughts of what if it cannot be kept going had been silenced by not one but two cream slices. Why?! I had often shouted to the empty room, pack two delicious cream slices with that super sickly icing on top into a teensy weensy packet and expect you to share it (with?) or save the second one. It had been the second one that had settled me down. And blow the dentist.

  Tossing and turning overnight with a variety of scenarios flashing on and off like a weird American sign, I settled on the Skylark one. This was in favour of the next trip to the Dentist one. He was trying to flatter me into paying vast amounts of money for the new and of course very expensive cosmetic treatment. Like a secret spy, the implants idea had taken…..had taken…Hold!! But surely spies were financed for it all by MI5 (or 6 even) and weren’t seen scuffling around with loans and cards. And anyway as Wonka had observed, my teeth were fine, ish, without any more poking about. ‘It’s a moneymaking scheme!’ he sneered at me when I left the brochure on the table. ‘And you have to travel miles to get there……’ which brought me neatly back round to the Skylark. We were both a bit battered and dented really. Which still left me unprepared for the nice Kwik as you like mechanic’s announcement.

  ‘It’s not worth fixing; do you want me to go through what it has failed on……?

  Once again I had to face this change, which alright had been creeping up on me for the last five years, smack on. Consulting my imaginary Jung went like this. It is chock full of memories. Good memories? (He would have prompted, picking up on the key word and gently prodding me along). Now all I could think of when Jung said that were the million journeys with me weeping steadily at the wheel, set off by these ‘golden’ memories. But it’s part of me! Again I challenged the wisdom of Jung, who for the benefit of my mammoth problems was resurrected in the hanky sized kitchen. Whilst Wonka was rather more forthright in his appraisal (time to get rid!) Jung seemed to be on my side. The question of archetypes was bound to come up, those mysterious sea bound antiques all bobbing about under the surface, well my Skylark was every bit equal to say a chariot of the gods. Jung would have rubbed his chin here and paused to flick through one of his many books looking for an illustration to make the next important point. Who knows, it could have been the Sphinx itself gazing out at me!

  ‘I don’t know about you’ interrupted Wonka, ‘bu
t I’m starving……’


  Like all my other situations to be reckoned with I gradually unpicked the Skylark from its place in my affections and rejigged it. Wonka had suggested looking for another car online and there I was doing it. ‘Endings are just beginnings’ he was wont to say but I was having none of it.

  Alongside this obsession, the seeking of new wheel bound armour for me lurked the day to day angst of agency working. What made me plump for this, a nerve jangling affair when all my nervous system needed calm and quiet? I had of course consulted other confident non stressed out agency workers about it. The knot in my stomach tightened the minute I spied the door to the so called Staff Room. ‘More like a Dentist waiting room’ I moaned to Wonka, where at least the other patients (?) gazing steadfastly at the floor had my sympathies. They knew it was going to hurt. Now the Staff room, that was a full on anxiety ridden situation. They might smile, they might not. You might be spoken to, and they might remember your name. ‘Remember!’ called Wonka after me, as I closed the front door on my beloved sanctuary, ‘it’s not a real job!’

  No, it was not a real job with (even worse) appraisals and paid holidays and wondering if you would be sacked for not meeting a weekly (new one) target, but it still wanted to be given your total, life sapping commitment. ‘It underlines all that is rotten in our society’ I shouted as soon as I fell back in the door.

  ‘You sound like a half- baked politician’ observed Wonka from the luxury carpet and swiped me with his claw. It would have to do for now, the anxiety ridden job, until that hand reached down from heaven to rescue me. Surely the Guardian Angel had spotted me by now? The magazines in my hairdressers always had a feature on this. Well where was mine??

  Life coaching didn’t promise angels in fact it preached on about how you were in charge of it all. All my fault? I pondered rooting around for a chocolate lime. It tasted even nicer knowing that it went against every boring, sugar free, gleaming teeth if you spend your life in thrall to them, dentist religion. I don’t care! I shouted to just Wonka.

  But I did really.

  Life though has its own ball of thread going on and it wasn’t long before the cover supervising ran out. One minute I was in a routine getting up doing the job moaning about it, and the next I was dispensed with. And that’s when it sank in. It really wasn’t a proper job and it would be alright as a new ball of string would be along soon. Wonka was duly proud of this cool take on being ‘dropped’. I couldn’t be sacked as that only happens in real jobs. Now it would simply be there one day and not the next. Once again I could shout ‘I don’t care!’ and ‘Stuff your School’ and get on with the important job of being me.

  Aged Parent asked regularly about my employment and was amazed to hear I was still hard at it and not drawing a pension. ‘Not while the Tories are in’ I shouted back at her. She would then home in on the car and what shape that was in. ‘Last legs’ I muttered. Yes here I was again; shut up in a fairly small room with someone who rather like my dentist was going to touch on something I did not want to think about. We had visited the job and the car so I was waiting up for family relationships which as we all know are a spark to a tinder box. WOOF it would go up in a simmering flame of disastrous meetings phone calls and texts.

  ‘Well?’ Wonka barely raised his head from the comfort of his nest aka the settee to quiz me on my visit. But I was busy going online in search of the next armoury. And a few phone calls and peering at a suitable car later, I was on track to buy it. This major change, this disturbance in my status quo was about to happen. Jung? Waiting quietly in the background of my mind ready to deal with the stream of letting go anxieties. He was even now murmuring about control and fear and leaps of faith and such. For zillions of years man had been up against this very problem of how to deal with changes in his every day routine, with the natural resolution of sacrifices to the gods. A little ritual here and little offering there. It all made sense to me and Jung was busy referring to all sorts of famous paintings and writings. Any minute now the Greeks would be back, with their inner selves splayed amongst the stars. Wonka broke the spell as he rushed past me to sniff deeply at the back door.

  ‘Ruggles’s tail looks funny’ he noted, scowling down at him from behind the blind on the poor back door. I looked down too. Somehow I must gather my strength all in one place and take him to the Vets. And it didn’t matter how much I had thought this over, like my Life Plan, doing it was the frightener.

  They do promise us, the great advisers and experts all living their fear free lives, that the reality is hardly ever as bad as our wildest imaginings. I did need someone in the hanky sized kitchen with me, not Jung as he would want to refer to his tomes of ancient knowledge and there wasn’t room or time for that. No I needed a circus person; in short I needed a lion tamer. I had seized the moment and me and Ruggles were in a tight corner in said kitchen. The massive cat carrier was wedged up against the dining room door and I had yet again rung the Vets. ‘We are open until 5 30 pm,’ they murmured ‘and yes we are waiting for you to bring the stray in.’ pause. ‘Have you tried a towel?’

  I can only blame myself for what happened next, having dismissed Jung for the moment and relying on my own poor wit. The tiny whisper of common sense breaking through said: Do not, ever, try and throw a towel over a frightened animal. But I ignored it.

  ‘Are you alright in there?’ said Wonka through the dining room door. And after Ruggles had quite rightly attacked the right side of my face for thinking of throwing a towel over him I replied. ‘I don’t think I can do this.’

  Now not doing something you have set out to do, psyched up for, imagined and planned for months on end is not in Wonka’s philosophy, nor is it in my Life Plan. Washing my face round in the sink and thanking that Guardian Angel I still had my right eye, alright black eye, I braced myself for the final go at it. As I did so all the lights went out and so did the comforting mumble of the Radio. This, had not been envisaged. But perhaps this and my feeble laughing as I found a light on my cheap mobile mustered up the last bit of courage. Still growling and pretending to be a wounded lion being prodded into a cage, Ruggles backed into the carrier. My shaking fingers snapped it shut.

  The House plunged into darkness and Wonka backed into a corner as I charged through the dining room into the hall, I got out and across the street like the new warrior like person I had become. No more messing about in tight corners, come blackout, come wounded animal, I was now invincible! The skylark was waiting just opposite for the last journey with a very cross cat on the passenger seat. By some strange act of God, it was just our street that suffered the black out and all blamed the little council traffic lights at the top. Arriving at the Vets in record time, I handed Ruggles over. Yes I looked like I had got the worst of it and who would believe my story? ‘A cat did that!’ was to be a recurring overture in the coming weeks, but I did not care.

  ‘I did it Wonka!’ the cry of victory went up and fell back down again in the dark and silent household. Wonka continued washing himself round and demanded to know the price of this victory. The credit card would bear the brunt, the Guardian Angel would sort my eye out, and the Life Plan could have an adjustment in the Goals section.

  ‘I’ve done it!’ I shouted to the invisible Lion Tamers, the Vets who were waiting to assist and Wonka who was getting ready to have a full on hissing fit himself.

  Sipping from a cup of my very latest anti this and age defying that tea, I took stock. Jung quite rightly was now on the tack of symbolism, and his gentle voice ran through a number of great champions through the ages. We had stopped for a moment to reflect on David and Goliath. This famous painting now hanging in that ancient palace, the Louvre, had once had Jung in thrall to it. The smallness of David up against this mythical giant, overpowering him finally with a simple stone. Ah stones. Jung wandered off down another track, whilst I compared my small contributions here an
d there in the animal kingdom and sometimes with the human factor, to David and his slingshot.

  ‘All I have Wonka, ‘I declared ‘is my willingness to have a go.’ Wonka was barely listening to this, and Jung seemed to have vanished. Alone in the deserted kitchen, I tidied away the bits of cat fur and abandoned bloody tissues – I inspected the right side of my face. I looked a fright.

  ‘Are we having some supper then or what?’ quizzed Wonka, and went off to bash up his new catnip mouse.

  My face was nearly back to normal and we had hit one of those small routine phases where you can get ready for the next disaster. Autumn days would drift into darker ones and the Skylark would not ferry me through them.

  Wonka was settled up on the blanket box in the front bay window, peering through the red nets. Looking across the street I checked on the new motor. It was covered in exactly the same stickers and dangly things from the Skylark. I was nearly at the point where you stop mucking about on the clutch and get it right. And the same again with the new-fangled key. For the life of me though, it would not tell me its name. Jung suggested sleeping on it, and Wonka as usual was firm on it all. He told me off for making inanimate objects into personalities. ‘It’s all about control’ he went on, busy telling me what to do. ‘All these little rituals’ he carried on ‘just to make you feel safe and secure!’.

  We trotted through the living room to the dining room where his favourite old battered amazon box was. I could not throw it out, as he adored it. Every single bit of that tattered cardboard and shredded paper inside, he loved it.

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