The Story of Bobby 2
Bobby 2: Shopping Basket Extraordinaire.
Bobby met Diddley when they both worked for the Highways Agency (HA). At the time, based in Dorking. They worked in separate buildings in the town. Bobby often attended courses in Diddley’s building. Important character forming lessons on:
- How to Deal with Difficult People
- Anger Management
- Work/Life Balance
- How to be a Dickhead
- How to be an Executive Officer
- How to Write Plain English
Heady days working for Her Majesty. God Save the Queen.
Only one of them is a spoof, of course. There was no need, as most had already qualified simply walking in the front door each morning. (Naughty naughty Bobby. I will not transcribe your memories unless you admit that you and Diddley had much to be grateful for working for the HA. Including making lifelong friends and meeting each other).
Bobby… Fair enough. I enjoyed working for the HA. But there could be future “I Don’t Believe It”…
Bertie… He didn’t like that older office, with its enclosed grey rooms and even greyer people. Until, one day, he encountered a mad, laughing woman flying down the stairs in the opposite direction. So different to the rest of the place. Maybe a seed was sown that day. Sometime later, the offices were combined and they found themselves just one floor apart. Civil servants treasuring their tea points. A room of microwaves, fridges and … tea. Bring your own mug. And tea. And milk, with your name on the carton. Places to chat. The future lovebirds compared notes one day. Remarkably similar. They were both divorcing from long term, childhood sweetheart marriages, where they had been dumped, but still saw life as funny, hilarious. Within a year they were married, by a Scottish loch, with me as Best Man! 19 December 1999. See preview.
Many happy years followed, with life revolving round the HA. Until March 2009, when Bobby retired. They flew off to California and left me looking after Laurel Cottage. Back in Blighty, Diddley soon realised how much she missed Bobby at the office. A fifteen minute walk from Sainsbury’s. Who was going to carry the shopping now.? The office lotharios were willing one way but rarely got passed the Surrey Yeoman.
And then, one day, a very large box was delivered to the cottage with instructions: “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL I GET HOME”. Later, to a fanfare of Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah, the box was opened to an unsuspecting Bobby. Out glided the poshest shopping trolley known to man or woman. Diddley was overcome with joy. Bobby read the invoice and where it had come from and sat in stunned silence!
He recovered and marvelled at her love for a shopping trolley. So much so, that she christened it (now ‘him’) … Bobby 2. He became well known in Dorking. She loved the attention. When she retired in 2012, she also gave up driving. Preferring the 93 bus on which ‘he’ received a lot of attention. They had their short exciting period working in the Oxfam shop. For just over a year, life was sweet for Diddley, Bobby 2 and Oxfam. Until that fateful day, when she was sacked for being drunk on the till. He had become a mobile off licence.
Life changed. Online shopping took over and the expensive purchase was relegated to the corner of the dining room, with me for company. His days in the sun over. Just one more journey when the lovely Maxine took him to the church full of the funeral Orders of Service.
So that was that. The poshest shopping trolley in the kingdom reduced to an ornament. Full of plastic bags. Somewhere for me to sit. The most expensive Rolls Royce of shopping trolleys. Ironically, just like those wonderful cars. The Best in the World and yet made in Germany. Yes he came from Deutschland. Destined to glide through England’s green and pleasant land. An English rose, with a teutonic heart. Maybe the best of both worlds, if pragmatism is your thing.
Just 15 months later and Bobby is languishing in the wonderful Ruth Myles unit at St George’s Hospital. (see blog). A broken right wrist. Home again and facing difficulties. Not least being unable to drive. Lifts offered by kind neighbours and friends.
And yet: Opportunity. Adventure. Albeit on a 93 bus. BOBBY 2 YOUR TIME HAS COME!
A test run is needed and becomes an introduction to the team that produces “Mindfully Bertie”. The 93 bus again. Three years gone by and yet the ladies on the bus had not forgotten. “Hello Bobby 2, nice see you”.
A Trip to Newbury.
Then, a trip to Newbury by train to meet Tim, Tracey and Oakley on board Sola Gratia. Only by Grace or By Grace Alone. Depending on which translation you look at. A narrowboat exuding serenity, peace and friendship.
On the “pointy end” of NB Sola Gratia is a big yellow duck. Arnold, apparently. Given by Tim & Tracey’s daughter Debbi as a “mascot”.
Here’s the team – in no particular order, as “Strictly” would describe
On board, I may have got a little over-friendly with she who is known as “The First Mate”. But friends are there to be made, and if you don’t grab the opportunity… I did hope for some food, but I think Oakley may have been leading me up the garden path.
Then, they all went out to the local Wetherspoons. Fed themselves, of course.
Back home, the first real working journey was to Waitrose in Dorking. The lady on the till still recognising Bobby 2!
Looking back, he did have other outings. Most appropriately; full of picnic paraphernalia for the teddy bears picnic at Abinger.
I Don’t Believe It!
Travelling by train from Dorking to Waterloo, two ladies got on with large wicker shopping baskets. Bearing in mind the theme of this blog, Bobby just had to ask them if they minded him taking a picture? Giving them a Mindfully Bertie card, he told them about Bobby 2.
Anne and Lyn were wonderfully friendly and it became an interview, with Bobby taking notes left handed on his phone as the train trundled towards London.
Anne… We have just been to Lyme Regis and are now going home to Walthamstow. Would you like to know what is in the baskets?
Bobby… Well yes. Why not?
Anne… A PYTHON!
Bobby… Errrrr really?
Anne… Would you like to have a look? Pulling back layers of blanket there, indeed, was the mid section of a large breathing snake.
Bobby… Friend of yours? What’s his name?
Anne… “Rainbow”. He is the best friend I ever had. I love every scale on his body.
Bobby… So, do you take him everywhere with you and how big is he?
Anne… SEVENTEEN FEET. He is so lovely. We stayed at a Travelodge yesterday and he slept on the bed. When I woke up his head was on the pillow next to me. I absolutely adore him.
Bobby… So you woke up to see a seventeen foot python on the pillow beside you? What did he have for breakfast?
Anne… Only his head on the pillow. He is very easy to feed. Just one frozen rat a fortnight.
Anne… I work in Waitrose, but they don’t do frozen rat. Yet!
Bobby… So, Lyn. I just have to ask you what might be lurking in your basket?
Anne… They are mine as well. They are large lizards. Very friendly…
At that moment, the train pulled into Waterloo and Bobby had to rush to catch a bus. Thinking all the time of two ladies walking through the station amongst the teeming commuters. All unaware of what was in those baskets……
Lighting a Candle for Diddley from Sola Gratia.
This week’s candle is lit by Tim, Tracey & Oakley.
Tim… Whilst we did not know Diddley personally, we are getting to know her through the blog. We have lit our candle tonight not just for Diddley, but also for all those who have lost a loved one that they will miss this Christmas. We both lost our Mums this year, so this will be the first Christmas without them. It will be the second Christmas without my Father. We light the candle also to remember those who are less fortunate than ourselves. The homeless, the ill, those battling addiction. There but by the Grace of God.
We have chosen to light our candle on the bow of the “Good Ship” as a light to lighten the darkness. To be a beacon in the night. A reminder that in the darkest of times, just one small light overpowers that darkness.