It’s Friday and I’m anxiously awaiting a delivery of a rubber fish.
I need a rubber fish as a prop for my annual school musical production (along with a giant hotdog, a super-sized pair of knickers and – amongst other mad things – a pantomime cow).
About this time every year, I expend a lot of energy trying to teach 10 year olds how to act – and failing badly.
By day, I sit in my director’s chair haranguing hapless children and bellowing clichés such as, ‘This acting is as flat as a pancake!’ and, ‘Don’t tell the floor; tell the audience!’
By night, I scour Amazon for more props and hare around the thrift stores of Leeds, haggling over battered suitcases and old-fashioned typewriters.
In the final weeks leading up to the play, I sigh a lot in the staff room; I puff out my cheeks in an exasperated fashion and tell other teachers, ‘I’m VERY worried about the play. None of them seem to know their lines and there’s only TWO WEEKS TO GO!’
Secretly, I love it.
The phone rings. It’s the Amazon delivery man with my parcel containing the rubber fish. I’m actually sat in Starbucks, having recently eschewed my usual haunt of Caffé Nero.
This is because Porridge-loving Pensioner (who I found out today is 85 years old!) keeps coming over and grabbing hold of my cheeks saying, ‘You need to get some sun’. He’s done this on three separate occasions now and I’m starting to get scared.
That, coupled with the unwanted attentions of a host of other strange retirees, has led me to the relatively safe anonymity of Starbucks up the road.
‘I’m on my way to your apartment,’ said the Amazon delivery man. ‘I’ll be there in half hour and I’ll phone you back when I get to Chapel Allerton.’
Half an hour passes and the phone rings.
‘Do you watch Emmerdale?’ cries the Amazon delivery man.
‘Er, no…’ I said.
‘Well, you’re never going to believe who I just delivered a parcel too… Debbie Dingle!’ he went on. ‘She lives on the next road to you.’
This Amazon delivery guy sounds like A LOT of fun, I thought.
‘Where are you right now?’ I said.
‘Pulled up outside the Nag’s Head pub,’ he replied.
‘Wait there,’ I said. ‘And I’ll come to you; I’ll be there in three minutes.’
(I had an important appointment with a nail technician around the corner; I thought this would save me time).
As I drove to meet him, I thought, ‘I never knew that a minor celebrity was living round the corner from me.
‘I don’t know who Debbie Dingle is but she could be my NBF. We could meet for coffees in Caffé Nero and share acting tips.’
I decided I would try to elicit Debbie Dingle’s address from the Amazon delivery man.
Minutes later, I pulled up alongside him and gave a beaming wave.
He wound down his window. ‘I.D please,’ he said.
I handed over several bank cards.
He shook his head. ‘No can do. I’m going to need some photo identification.’
‘Really?’ I said.
‘Yep. You could be anyone off the street,’ he said.
‘Well I’m hardly anyone off the street,’ I said. ‘All the clues point to the fact that I am Katy Palmer. I’m driving around with her credit cards, her mobile phone and her car.
‘You could be anyone,’ he repeated, the joviality of earlier having evaporated completely.
‘The only way I couldn’t be Katy Palmer, is if I had kidnapped her and stolen her identity, which seems a little extreme given that in the parcel you are holding is a RUBBER FISH.’
‘A rubber fish?’ he said, sceptically.
‘Yes. It’s a prop for my musical production,’ I said, rather grandly.
‘I don’t care if you’re taking delivery of the crown jewels,’ he said. ‘I ain’t handing anything over without photo I.D.’
‘BUT YOU PHONED ME!’ I wailed.
‘I.D,’ he repeated again.
‘Right!’ I stomped back to my car, crunched the gears into action, and set off at speed to my apartment, the overly-officious parcel man following me in his van.
I made a great show of pulling up, slamming the door, and striding into the apartment. Re-appearing on the street, I held my passport aloft in an exaggerated Sergeant Major manner.
He stared at it for an infuriating amount of time, cross checking it with my name.
‘Just admit this is slightly silly,’ I said.
‘It is not silly,’ he said.
‘Just concede that red tape has taken over from basic common sense,’ I said. ‘You know deep down that I couldn’t be anyone else other than Katy Palmer.’
‘I will not concede that,’ he said.
‘Just concede 10 per cent then,’ I said. ‘Give me a NUGGET!’
‘No,’ he said, stubbornly.
Satisfied with my particulars, he handed over the parcel and hoisted himself back into his van with a shake of his head.
I leapt back in my own car but not before ripping the parcel open, wrenching the rubber fish out of its plastic packaging, and hastily holding it up at the passenger window – wild-eyed – mouthing ‘SEE!’
For a split second, our eyes locked through our car windows. He stared back at me like I was a Truly Crazy Person before roaring off into the night, leaving me clutching my sad-looking seabass.
It was only then that I realised I’d forgotten to ask him for the address of Debbie Dingle.