Playing the cards

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

Looking through some birthday cards recently in a shop brought assorted thoughts and memories back as a lot were ‘gush n slush’ cards – you know the sort– the one’s with sickly wording that makes you cringe on reading them and you felt embarrassed when you were asked at some point by the sender/giver if it ‘was alright?’ and rather than admitting you had wondered what they had in mind when choosing it, you fake sincerity and just smile as its cheaper and less painful.

Having brought a birthday card that fitted the occasion – as in non slush but conveying the message – I was slightly distracted in my rush to get away by the assorted greeting cards with messages or the wording in some instances as I thought if this is the trend these days, how about the following ideas that might be worth a thought.

For those moments that words really can’t describe as in: “I am so sorry that your lawn mower I borrowed a few months ago was so good that I lent it to my brother-in-law to use on his five acre grass field and I hope to bring it back to you soon and I offer my, or our, thanks to you for allowing me/us the use of it” with a ‘ps’ on the back of the card: “If you do upgrade to another, more modern mower could you consider one with a thirty six inch cut please? – many thanks.”

Now you may smile about that but in the not too distant past, I was silly enough to lend somebody one of my electric drills as they needed it ‘for just a small job, won’t take ten minutes...’ and it was about seven months later that I had somebody knocking on the front door.

On opening it I was confronted with somebody I did not know but I did however recognise my electric drill or rather something that could well be my electric drill, depending on the outcome of a coroner’s report at some point.

He explained that he had borrowed it – hoped I didn’t mind? – from his next door neighbour, who worked with Dave (“You must know Dave! – drives that old rot box of a car with the front driver’s side wing falling off..”) and I confessed I didn’t know this ‘Dave’ but we carried on to find that he had ‘loaned’ my electric drill to this person to do a job on his guttering and it seems I was actually taking trade away from local tool hire shops and similar businesses but to be fair I had no knowledge or was even aware of.

The crux of the matter was since I had ‘lent’ it out, it had passed through about five or six people (uncaring ones judging by the state of it) that I had no knowledge of, but the general feeling was that ‘I wouldn’t mind’ (like you do) but here it was back safe or so I thought.

Brian, the current user now on my doorstep, wondered if I had a ‘bigger, more powerful hammer action model’ that he or perhaps the rest of the 2nd Battalion of the Disloyal Corp of Scroungers could use and without even so much as a mental reference I replied in that well known Russian sounding departing two syllable expression that ended in ‘off’.

Quite what form such a card would be like to cover the above event I am not quite sure, but something along the lines of: ‘Thank you very much for lending me, among others, your drill and I/we are sorry for reducing it to a door-stopper as /we have run it into the ground and I/we humbly apologise but it met it’s untimely demise before I/we had finished the job I/we were doing with it, just before it started smoking and finally conking out”.

If you have any ideas, do let me know and before you wonder I don’t actually have that particular tool or device you can borrow as I have made other arrangements and they are in a safe deposit box in an off shore tool bank.

Where I used to live a neighbour and I were fascinated by another who lived down the road as he was forever ‘borrowing’ tools and equipment off anybody locally silly enough to let him have them in the first place and this is where ambition comes into play.

We both decided that we would have the ambition to try to outlive him, the borrowing one, so that we could see how much he would leave in his will as he spent nothing while among us as there was always somebody he could ‘borrow’ from.

He, I am sad to say, actually outfoxed us both.

He sold up ‘on the quiet’ and moved away but keeping with his ethos of ‘short arms and long pockets’ syndrome actually borrowed a large van off another unwitting neighbour to move his furniture, chattels and no doubt strong room or vault, so we still don’t know what he will leave in his will although we feel certain it would help pay off part, if not all, of the current national debt.

Not sure what sort of wording would fit in for this sort of perpetual scrounger but greetings cards alone, I did mention to him once that with all his ‘money saving’ schemes he had going, I could well construct him a roof rack for his coffin so that he could indeed ‘take it all with him’ as the saying goes but his response was one of ‘are you being serous or not’?.

Place your bets on that one, amigos, place your bets...

One occasion, just the one, concerned my mum, she of the people for the people, when she sent a card to somebody who lived ‘round the corner’ so to speak who had come out of hospital after a long operation.

For whatever reason, the recipient thought the wording was ‘not quite right’(?!) although mum and her friend who chose it between them could not see anything untoward and when she eventually saw mum, told her she thought the card was ‘rubbish’ and mum should ‘stick it where the sun don’t shine!’ which quite upset her to say the least.

Mum being mum, however, rose to the challenge.

She pointed out that she chose it together with friend Betty and so it was a joint effort but as to ‘sticking it where the sun don’t shine’, help was at hand.

She knew somebody across the road from her, just past the house with the rotting boat on the trailer that had not moved in over 30 years or ever likely to, who had a sister who lived in Manchester, where it rained a lot and the sun was on permanent back-order most of the time if rumour was anything to go by.

So she suggested to this ungrateful ex-hospital bed blocker that she would pop along and have words with her, just pass the rotting boat, and get her sister’s address in Manchester and she would send it on so it would not be wasted and hopefully she would be more grateful.

It’s the greeting, and thought, that matters.