ABOUT TRADING VINCENT CROW
Vince Crow had heard somewhere that you could trade a piece of useless junk on the internet and within a year of swapping it for better and better things you could get cool stuff. Crow decided that he himself was going to start off as that piece of tat, jump from one job to the next; indeed he would trade one lifestyle for a new one, until he was finally a success. Every three months he would have to trade-up for an entirely new life – new job, new girl, new wheels, new pad, new threads – until he reached the top.
The plan of comparing himself to a used item traded over the internet was of course marginally flawed, as there is a human factor to all of this which he’d over-looked. Besides, success isn’t just about work. It’s about the car, the clothes, the house, and getting the girl, so changing all of that with every new trade upwards is a lot more difficult than swapping an old stereo in the classifieds. Crow quickly learns what the price of success really is. An education he would never have got if he had gone to college.
Purchase your copy:
Vince scraped the gunk from the bottom of the final saucepan
with his water-wrinkled hand. He plunged it into the lukewarm,
murky water of the sink and scrubbed half-heartedly at the
bottom with a scourer. He was convinced that his boss wouldn’t
mistreat the pans, or use quite so many, if she was the poor
bugger who had to wash them up afterwards. Natalie Sedgwick,
who was both the cook of questionable bar-meals, and spouse
of the pub’s owner, was currently in the bar enjoying the New
Year’s Eve party. Vince imagined her, G&T in hand, flirting
with the regulars. She would be laughing in an over-the-top
way at their crude jokes whilst Dennis, her husband, polished
glasses at the end of the bar, watching in silent annoyance and
jealousy. She had about as much apathy towards Vince’s desire
for an easier run, as Vince had towards his current occupation.
Delving into the depths of the industrial-sized sink, Vince
located and removed the plug, watched the water slowly gurgle
down, and then began to scrape more gunk and soggy bits of
vegetable from around the plug hole. Natalie Sedgwick had a
thing about her sink looking cleaner than the pots that were
scrubbed in it.
Vince swept and mopped the floor of the kitchen. The
muffled sounds of 70’s Christmas classics accompanied the
shouted conversations of people with better jobs than him, who
didn’t have to work on public holidays. Once he’d finished, he
propped the broom up in the corner, he grabbed his coat and left
via the back door which led into the car park. Having dumped
the evening’s black bag of soggy leftovers in the bins at the top
of the car park, he began his walk home. Passing the front of the
pub, he peered through the window at the drunken mob of
revellers. He knew a lot of them. Through the frosted pane he
could see Jenny Davis, a girl that he’d had a crush on throughout
school. She was at the end of the bar getting-off with Dan
Bridges, whom coincidentally he had also been at school with
and despised with a passion. Jenny was now a receptionist at a
car rental place. Dan worked on a till in a supermarket. Vince
pondered at how amazingly pathetic a bunch of drunken people
appear when you yourself are sober, and yet somewhere within
him was a need to be as drunk and pathetic as them. After all,
being wasted and getting off with Jenny Davis was the pinnacle
of aspiration in small town life. It didn’t get any better. The days
in-between such fleeting moments of excitement were a
monotonous drudgery, and it would never change. Jenny was
not going to progress past receptionist. She neither had the drive,
the skills or the opportunity. Indeed, her looks had probably
helped her land the job and a younger, better looking girl would
eventually come along and replace her. Meanwhile, Dan was
always going to be a thug. He was a violent piece of work at
school and was still a moron now. His strong jaw-line, rugged
appearance and just enough money to buy attractive girls drinks
would carry him along until he eventually got one of them
pregnant and would have to get married. He’d then realise he
actually had a naff job, a life which had acquired responsibilities,
and then take out the frustrations of his wasted existence on his
kids. Their offspring would in turn on go to become thugs and
terrorise more sensitive kids at school. This was a circle of life
that was rarely covered on in-depth documentaries.
As Vince crossed the road opposite the pub, he turned on
hearing the front door of the pub swing open and two pissed-up,
middle-aged women staggered out. The stagger was
emphasised by their clothes that were a few sizes too small and
rather impractical for the cold urban winter. Their make-up was
applied liberally to evoke a message of availability. The first one
immediately fell into a bush next to the porch. The second then
screeched with laughter at an unnecessarily high volume. Having
realised this noisy display had failed to attract any welcome
attention from passing hunks, she knelt on the ground and
began to throw-up loudly into a pot plant: damp soil and vomit
no doubt making an unwelcome addition to the peroxide. Should
these delightful ladies remember any of their display, a
romanticised version of the incident would surely be their big
story for many Friday nights to come. Vince looked through the
open door at the groups of drunken party-goers. A week before
he would have walked right in there and joined the crowd. He
would have happily spent all the money he’d just earned whilst
washing-up their dirty dishes trying to become part of the Jenny
and Dan social group. He would eventually leave with less
money and a similar social status to when he started, but the
water-wrinkled hands from a night of washing up would remain.
Instead he walked straight past the pub and started down
the road towards home with a wry grin spreading across his
face. Vince Crow had been party to a revelation the day before,
that was going to change his life forever. He was no longer one
of the small town crowd that delighted in tales of vomiting into
plant pots. Vince Crow was about to start living life differently.
ABOUT D.C.J. WARDLE
D. C. J. Wardle holds post graduate qualifications in development management as well as community water supply engineering. Over the past twelve years he has worked extensively in developing countries in Africa and Asia, managing emergency and development programmes. You can visit D.C.J. Wardle’s website at: www.dcjwardle.co.uk
His latest book is Trading Vincent Crow.
Slide-shows (Guest post from the author)
As a small child, the family summer holiday to a caravan near a beach in Wales would be followed by the inevitable post-holiday slide show. Something we all anticipated with a combination of mild interest and dread. Dad had invested in a carousel slide projector and screen. The slides would come back from the shop a few weeks after the holiday and then Dad would spend the whole of the next Saturday afternoon crouched over them on the bedroom floor, holding them up to the light from the window to work out which way up they went. He would then place each of them in a slot on the carousel. That evening the screen would be set up at the end of the living room and the projector would be balanced on a pile of strategically stacked books.
The lights would be extinguished, the anticipation-induced silence only broken as the machine noisily shuffled and clicked like an old photocopier until the first slide appeared. The chances of the slide arriving up-side-down were high. Dad would then reverse the machine up several places until he could get to it. The lights would come back on, the slide would be removed, held up to the light and examined to make sure it was the right one, and eventually returned to the carousel the other way up. The lights would be switched off and more clicking and shuffling followed until the picture reappeared. Then there would be a prolonged series of loud whirrings while Dad fiddled with a different button to focus the picture in and out as he peered over his bifocals. Eventually the image would appear: Mum, my sister and me in front of the harbour, with the sea behind us flowing downhill. Just as the captive audience began to observe the slide it would do a slight pop and go out of focus again, presumably from the heat generated by the projector’s bulb combined with the whirring in and out. It would be focused yet again and admired until one of us would point out that the writing on the side of the boats in the harbour was back to front, and then the whole process of getting the slide out to turn it round again would begin.
Time consuming though this was, it was nothing in comparison to the tooth-pulling process of the slide being taken in the first place. Dad would line up the family in front of a monument or a sandcastle, and then remove his camera from his bag. It was quite an old but elaborate one which had been left to him by an aunt. It came equipped with a light-meter, and a flash attachment, and various dials and settings, all of which needed to be checked, fiddled with or focused before each photo. When eventually ready, Dad would elaborately raise his index finger and then firmly push on the button so we knew the picture had been taken. In retrospect, this might well be the explanation for the sea always flowing downhill.
In ‘Trading Vincent Crow’, the modern hell of technology is also a stumbling block Vince has to try to overcome as well. Cars, factory machines, and fire-extinguishers are amongst the modern aids he has to deal with, often with limited success and unfortunate consequences.