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Meet Me in St. Louis…

Meet Me in St LouisMeet me in St Louis….
(Alan Bamber March 2018)

Years ago a lady appeared. She was very beautiful. Expensively dressed and very fragrant.
She wore a very thick and dark leopard-skin fur coat. It reached to just below her knees. It had a wide collar and the lady wore a large, gold brooch on the lapel and a very heavy jewelled chain around her neck. I can’t remember now if the jewels were green or purple…
She looked very important and I was slightly in awe of her. I thought if I said the wrong thing I’d end up being stamped on and twisted beneath her very shiny, very black, very expensive shoes.
I was young, spotty, frizzy-haired and in my very best oil-stained grey nylon overall.

She said, I’ve driven a very long way to visit your store, today and I want you to fix my Bernina, young man.
It wasn’t so much a question as a….
I asked, in my best Mancunian twang, where she’d come from.
The lady blinked her eyes several times and the eye shadow on her eyelids made me think for a moment of a Common Blue.
All the way from Marple, the lady replied. As she said Marple one of her eyebrows arched skywards to emphasise the distance she’d travelled and, because it was Marple, how important this made her.

In those days (1970’s/80’s) every Saturday, I travelled all over the region delivering new machines and collecting and returning repairs etc. etc. etc. I met all sorts – maybe I’ll tell you about a few more of them…
Marple was always on my list and it was about 13 – 14 miles from our store. I found it quite amusing that the lady considered Marple to be such a distance. But then I imagine she wasn’t talking geographically, if you see what I mean.

I fixed her Bernina. She paid me and I put the Bernina back in it’s case and carried it out to her motor – a very large navy blue Mercedes. It was polished to a high sheen. A man jumped out from behind the wheel – the husband, the chauffeur, the lover, I didn’t ask. He trotted round and opened the boot and I placed her Bernina carefully inside.
She said thank you and then reached her gloved hand into a nice purse and pulled out a 50p. I thanked her nodded my head and she was gone.

I got an order a day or two ago from Linda. She wants a few parts for her ‘old’ Bernina 830.
Linda, I’m sure, is a very beautiful lady and she lives not in Marple, she lives in St. Louis, USA.
As ever, I’ll try my best to help her.
But it made me chuckle when I saw Lindas order – all the way from St. Louis – and I remembered the lady, all the way from Marple.

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