.............well when I say once upon a time I actually mean last Tuesday, there was man who was so important he had his name written on his office door. The nameplate, a rich burgundy colour, was engraved with the words "George T. Saggerson BA(Hons)" in beautiful gold-leaf lettering. For all of George's status however he felt himself disliked by his colleagues. This animosity was, to a large extent, mutual for he had quite rightly concluded that they were all idiots. When I use the word " all " I include in that statement his bosses for they had attained their position not through aptitude or hard work but rather by years of grovelling to those at head office.To George these elite staff were underserving of their position; he hated their condescending cliques, their conversational trivia but above all he hated their confidence which he rightly felt was based on what he described as "refined ignorance." He winced at their grammatical incompetence, their lack of general knowledge, their appalling taste in music, their artistic failings and their over reliance on technology, the exception of course was Susan from "Sales." Susan was none of these things -her radiant beauty was a balm to George's tortured soul and a cultural oasis in a cesspit of jumped-up ignorance.
For months now George had to suffer and correct the spelling mistakes of his secretary Julia until finally he decided that the current spellchecker on the firm's network was not fit for purpose and something needed to be done. With a little help from Google and the outlay of just a few pounds of his own personal money he was able to download what he was assured was a non-American spellchecker.
On Tuesday morning George arrived at the office unaware of the fact that his purchase was to prove even more effective than he anticipated.
" Good morning Julia "
"Good morning Mr. Saggerson there is a guy to see you he does not have an appointment", replied Julia.
"Julia it's not guys or dudes we use the word "gentleman", remember? Does that not sound slightly familiar ?"
" Yes Mr. Saggerson , sorry Mr Saggerson."
"So what's his name Julia ?"
" Whose name ? Oh you mean the guy to see you, his name is Mr. Bedstraw" , answered Julia and then added "I think."
George took a cup of coffee from the machine and headed in the direction of his office. A man in a rather curious checked tweed suit sat on the chair outside, in his hand he played with a yoyo. George was a little taken aback by both the man's appearance and his odd choice of behaviour.
"Mr. Bedstraw ?" enquired George.
"Why yes, yes indeed now let me guess you are probably George T. Saggerson if I am not mistaken."
Again George was a little flustered by man's manner but ushered him into the office and was surprised the man continued with a variety of tricks with the yoyo. The man sat and stared at George without saying a word until eventually George was forced to start the conversation.
" Well Mr. Bedstraw what can I do for you?" Mr. Bedstraw looked slightly puzzled.
" What do you mean George you sent for me, remember, its all paid for?"
George was now convinced the man was slightly deranged or perhaps this was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by his more juvenile colleges. However the man continued and, with a flourish, he produced a sheet of paper from his jacket pocket and handed it to George. George scrutinised the printout and then things became a little clearer.
" You see," said Mr Bedstraw " you ordered a spellchecker and paid for it by PayPal, its all valid."
"Ahh yes, I see now, " said George "I was expecting just a download not someone arriving here in person to install it." Mr. Bedstraw raised his eyebrows and looked a little puzzled before he spoke again.
" Well at least that is sorted," he said " now George tell me about these spells you want checking."
George cleared his throat and looked his visitor in the eye before he spoke.
"You mean spelling ? It's the staff they seem over reliant on this American spellchecker we have ,personally I blame it on education and a lack of ......."
"Whoah just hold on a second George," interrupted Mr. Bedstraw " you ordered a spellchecker it's in the contract. I am here to check your spells not the company's spelling."
"My spells?" repeated George.
" Yes spells," said the visitor " you know frogs into princes, pumpkins into coaches you must have heard of that sort stuff."
" Yes of course I have heard of that sort of stuff but that's all fairy tales," answered George.
" There George, I knew you would have heard of it, easy wasn't it?" Mr Bedstraw smiled rolled the string around his yoyo and placed it in his jacket pocket.
" Now look Mr. Bedstraw or what ever your real name is I am not the sort of person to be as easily duped as that, I have got the development report to finish before four thirty today so if it's all the same to you I would like to finish this crazy interview now if you don't mind." Mr. Bedstraw reached into his inside jacket pocket and from within somehow produced a cup of tea on a saucer which he sipped then looked at George and grimaced .
"Ughh no sugar, have you any sugar George ?" George was somewhat taken aback to the surreal manifestation of the tea but tried to maintain a cautious sceptical approach.
"Suppose you magic spell some sugar Mr. Bedstraw after all that's what you are here for," said George sarcastically.
"But I am here to fix your spells George that's what the contract says, unless of course you would like me to conjure up some sugar with a sweet spell. Would you like that George ? It seems like a waste of a spell to me."
" Yes oh for God sake just do it. I do have that report to write."
" Ok if you are sure." There was a crackling sound and a bowl of sugar appeared on George's desk. Mr Bedstraw took a spoonful and put it in his tea and looked quizzically across at George as if awaiting further instructions. George , for his part looked dumbfounded and a shadow of doubt crossed his mind. Could it be really true? Surely not.
" That's some trick, said George.
" Spell," corrected Mr. Bedstraw " spell,anything else you wanted me to do ?"
" Well I really would like to have this report finished, if its all the same to you, " replied George.
" Simple, " replied Mr. Bedstraw and in a flash a weighty volume of neatly bound papers appeared on the desk which he handed to George. George flipped through the document incredibly it seemed all there development assessment , diagrams, spreadsheets the lot. He glanced up in bewilderment and again Mr. Bedstraw had that quizzical look on his face.
" My God Bedstraw I don't know how you do that but it's fantastic beyond belief I just don't know how to thank you."
" Think nothing of it George it's all part of the service, you paid for it remember ? Now any thing else I can do for you ?
" Well ," said George thoughtfully "there is one thing."
The next day it was Susan from Sales that was to have that special extraordinary day. For some strange reason Susan discovered that she now found George T. Saggerson very attractive. It was as mysterious as it was inexplicable and if that wasn't enough she also discovered she somehow had a yoyo in her handbag.
"As I was walking aal alane,
I met twa corbies makin' mane ...."
....... within the time-frame of the gibbous moon she had the first dream but it wasn't until much later she decided to confide in a friend.
"What the hell is all this about?" said Roslind pouring herself a second glass and looking intently at Katovia's troubled face "your text sounded so mysterious. You OK?"
"I'm not sure, did you bring the pendant?" replied Katovia.
"Sure, you wanting it back? You know it's not the traditional way to behave with birthday presents." Roslind placed the gift box on the table, Katovia opened it and seemed genuinely relieved at the contents.
"I know I'm sorry, I'll buy you something else I promise," she said "look Ros I've been having these dreams."
"Dreams, nightmares you mean? Oh we all get those Kat," replied Roslind.
"No, not exactly nightmares more mysterious than that, weird stuff."
"Well that's what dreams are Katovia all dreams are weird, its nothing, you're probably just worried about the new job, have yourself a couple of glasses of wine at night, help you chill, got to say this stuff is pretty good."
"No you don't understand Roslind it's more than that it's a reoccurring dream."
"Ok, Kat just relax and tell me about it, but believe me it's nothing to worry about."
Katovia took another sip of wine unsure of where to start, it was couple of minutes before she looked up at her friend.
" Well .....," Katovia paused and cleared her throat.
" Oh come for God's sake Kat you can trust me, are you pregnant?"
"No!" she replied emphatically " it's nothing like that."
There was a frustrated anger in her reply so Roslind tempered the following words with a little more compassion.
"OK Katovia take your time-there's no rush." Katovia gave a weak, laboured smile and cleared her throat a second time.
"Well I have had three dreams all pretty much the same and in the dream I am dressed in a black silk corset and matching slip. I am barefoot and I am standing on a cold granite floor," said Katovia.
"Black silk corset? Barefoot ? Freud is going to have a field day with this one lady."
"Stop it Ros! I'm being serious!"
OK, Ok , sorry carry on."
" Well, as I said I am bare foot and in the dream I get the impression I am in castle-type place and it's night time I think, but I can't be sure. I'm in a fairly wide, dark stone passageway, the floor feels damp and there are plants moss and ivy and stuff. After a while I come to a curved stone staircase leading up and at the top of the stairs are some large, sort of church candles burning in front of a heavy oak door, you know the sort -with huge ornate hinges and iron studs."
"OK go on," said Roslind.
"Well," said Katovia " I open the door and the room inside is also lit by three large candles. On the floor is a small bowl containing a red liquid it could be blood or red wine or something and, at the far end of the room, on the stone windowsill sit these two crows and I get the impression they are arguing. The next part is difficult to explain I sort of feel that I am being told to place the rune stone beneath my pillow yet I do not directly hear a voice. Then I am asked to promise this and the request is repeated until I say the words 'I promise' at which point the crows fly out the window and I wake up."
"Wow girl, you sure are an odd one Katovia. So is that why you asked me to bring the pendant?" said Roslind.
"Yes " replied Katovia "it was the only thing I could think of with a rune marking on it. So what you think?"
Roslind sipped her wine, reflected on what had been said, and chose her words carefully.
"Well Katovia I think you are probably worrying over nothing everyone gets weird dreams now and again but you are more than welcome to have the pendant back if it helps. Not sure how that's going to help."
"I know," said Katovia " the problem is however there is also this."
Katovia pulled back the sleeve of her top and on her left wrist was tattooed the image of a crow flying above the same runic letter that was on the pendant.
"Holy crap Katovia what on earth possessed you to get that done?"
"The point is Ros I didn't get it done I just woke up yesterday and it was on my wrist. I'm scared Ros I don't know what my Mum is gonna say she hates tattoos she's going to go berserk I know it."
"Oh come on Katovia people don't just wake up with tattoos. Were you out drinking? Loads of people get tattoos when they are drunk, I mean is it real?"
Roslind dipped the paper serviette into her wine and rubbed it vigorously on Katovia's wrist but the image stubbornly remained intact.
"Don't think I haven't tried that" said Katovia "I scrubbed it with the nail brush it's definitely real and no I was not out drinking the night before. Please help me Ros I'm scared."
Roslind drained her wine glass and gave Katovia a bemused look, it was some time before she eventually spoke.
"OK Kat, as you can imagine I am having trouble assimilating this stuff I want your word this is not some prank and..."
"Oh I swear to God Ros it's not a prank please believe me I feel I am going crazy, " interrupted Katovia.
"Ok OK, calm down. Well, in the absence of any alternative policy, I suggest we go along with this mumbo jumbo stuff and see how it pans out. What you think?" suggested Roslind.
"Agreed," replied Katovia.
It was the following day that girls sat again in the same wine bar and on the table was a gift wrapped bottle.
"Well you seem much more relaxed today," said Roslind "I'm dying to hear the news."
"Well last night ,as we agreed I placed the pendant under my pillow and the following morning the pendant was gone it had been replaced by a pale green envelope with £9.50 in it, which was the price I originally paid for the pendant," said Katovia.
"Hmmm this is beginning to sound very suspicious Kat, sort of tooth fairy suspicious, know what I mean?" replied Roslind.
"I know, I know it sounds dubious but I can prove it. Look!" said Katovia,
Katovia pulled up the sleeve on her left arm and the tattoo which had been there and all too real the previous day, was gone.
" Wow, that's some trick Kat you could give Derren Brown a run for his money with that one, " said Roslind.
"Well if it's a trick I wish to hell I knew how it was done," said Katovia, "anyway this is for you Ros."
Katovia handed over the present, the message inside the card read :-
Happy Birthday Ros
(glad I got a refund on that first present !! )
Thanks for everything