John Pye Weekly Laugh - Mrs Smith’s SideboardMrs Smith’s Sideboard

Laughter has always been a great part of my working life and none more so than during the many years I had with my loyal and dedicated helper George working alongside me.

A prime example came in the mid-1980s when I was asked to call at a house in Sherwood to pick up a sideboard for auction because the occupier, a Mrs Smith, was going into a care home at the age of 82.

When I arrived at her house with George, we found that it had been rented by students who had ruined the huge sideboard with curry sauce, vinegar and all manner of unmentionable stains and dirt.

It was a big horrible thing and so filthy that we had to stick newspaper over it to protect our clothes when we carried it out to the pick-up truck. It was utterly disgusting as well as being ugly.

As we drove off, we spotted a woman in her 50s in a white raincoat walking toward us and – just for fun – I decided to make some ‘inquiries’. I asked George to pull over and I wound the window down to ask her if she knew a Mrs Smith on the street.

By sheer coincidence, she said she was Mrs Smith and then she went on and on, telling us she was married to Norman who cleaned the buses and ran the bingo down the club, as well as being a steward at Notts County. Anyway, then George, pretending he hadn’t heard her, stepped out of the truck and walked over to her to ask her a few questions.

He said: Are you Mrs Smith who is married to Norman?

She said: Yes.

Then he asked her: Does Norman clean the buses, run the bingo at the club and work as a steward at Notts County matches?

She said: Yes, that’s right.

Then George turned and pointed to this big and horrible sideboard and informed her: Well, he’s bought this for you.

She said: No, I can’t believe he’s gone and bought that horrible thing, has he?

George said: Oh yes he has. So where do you want it delivered?

She said: Nowhere. I’m not having it. It’s filthy. Take it back where it came from.

George kept a straight face and told her that she just needed to get some acid and scrape the muck off, hose it down and use some Rinso and it would be fine. Then he told her that Norman would be swapping it for that smaller sideboard she had in her house. With that she pulled off her white mac and threw it on the pavement with a huge shout.

George and I couldn’t contain ourselves and burst out laughing at the sight of her getting so mad. She noticed straight away that we had been taking the Mickey and shouted: ‘You pair of right ba*$&*ds!’ Then she started laughing too and we all fell about, splitting our sides at the joke. It was hilarious. And we became good friends with her after that.

Sometimes, it’s the fun of the work which makes it so extra special and George was a truly special bloke to work with. Characters like Mrs Smith also made my day.


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