Sunday, 5 April 2009

Pennies From Heaven?

You may find this hard to believe, but I am a guardian angel. A fully paid up member of U A W (Universal Angelic Workers, for those of you not already enlightened). Not the best credited of occupations, you understand. Those winged souls who play harps all day have a union that really looks after their credit interest. I should explain, heavenly credits are like money, only more intangible, you might say. But I mustn't grumble, for I do have the reward of seeing results when I've done a good job.

Although... I shouldn't gossip, but I'm sure you will be the soul of discretion and keep this under your halo... It hasn't been all sweetness and light for me; I've had my share of problems with my latest assignment. Why don't we make ourselves at home on this little hillock, and I'll tell you something about her?

This particular work project began more years ago than I care to remember, but I think I could say we understand each other a bit better now. She gets the messages quicker, because she's gradually realised I exist, you see. Always a big help, that. Makes life less of a battle of wills.

My task, as allocated at her birth ( touch of the fairy godmother there somewhere, although I take personal exception to either word) , was to make this scrap of humanity aware of the needs of others. She'd been rather naughty in the life before, a mite selfish, and this was her chance to redress the balance.

It wasn't too difficult in the early years; other humans round her did most of the groundwork for me, being the kind of people you'd expect in a large, loving, caring family with little money. An 'all for one and one for all' attitude comes to be second nature in those circumstances, if their hearts (or their guardian angels) are in the right place. Looking back, I may have been over enthusiastic at some point. My small charge did seem a little too soft hearted for her own good at times. Anyhow, we muddled through the first eighteen years or so, with only an occasional nudge from myself , if she seemed to be slipping. On the whole, the system appeared to work quite well, until...
Oh, dear! I nearly put the cart before the horse then, and told the end of the story before the beginning. Let me try again...

By the time she was at college, she'd already come to realise there was more to life than meets the eye. The rest of the picture is engraved on my memory with horrible clarity, eyes or no eyes. After a perfectly ordinary morning's work on the particular winter's day in question, my charge was waiting for a bus to take her home for lunch. Here I need to set the scene.

Place: Bus stop near the corner of a busy road in the town centre.
Time: Noon, or shortly after.
Scene of action: Platform of lumbering, red, double decker bus, approaching right on schedule.

The long queue of traffic eventually let the bus halt near the stop. My charge waited for a solitary, old lady passenger to climb awkwardly down from the high step, hampered by a large shopping bag.

Able to climb aboard at last, she welcomed the blast of warm air that greeted her. For once, there was no conductor to push past on the tiny platform. 'Good', I heard her think. 'My bag always seems to catch on his clumsy ticket machine at the most inappropriate moments'. She stepped up into the main gangway; 'Hey! What's that?' she muttered under her breath. I saw her pick up a leather purse from the centre of the aisle. 'Oh, no!' was her next thought.'It must belong to that old lady...and it feels full up, too!'

At this point I need to explain something for the benefit of younger generations. All these events occurred before the days of decimalisation, so every coin, literally, far outweighed its present day counterpart. Twelve pence alone would have seriously damaged a pocket lining. Add to that a half-a-crown, a few chunky thrupenny bits, a selection of ha'pennies and the odd sixpence or two, and the weight could really mount up. So it was no surprise the purse felt heavy.

But back to the story, where things were becoming more than a little muddled.

The conductor was still upstairs, therefore not a witness, as my charge, having concluded the last passenger to alight must be the owner of the dropped receptacle, threw down her bag, clasped the purse in her hand and rushed onto the platform, full of good intentions. She was just in time to see the old lady standing on the edge of the pavement, peering distractedly into her bag, obviously searching for something in its depths.

I tried to send the message 'Ring the bell to stop the bus!' but it was one time when telepathy failed. As a last resort, I 'nudged'...thus making the worst mistake of my entire career. The 'nudge' was interpreted as 'Throw!'

Unfortunately, ball skills were not included in my early teaching curriculum, and my charge had abysmal co-ordination in that field. The heavy purse sailed through the air in a graceful parabola...only to make contact with a sickening 'thud' on the side of the poor, unsuspecting woman's head. Admittedly, the bus starting up and gathering momentum as it turned right immediately it drew away didn't help, but I ask you, did I nudge her to throw it at the old dear's skull?

Being a guardian angel does limit one's faculties rather, so I'm afraid neither of us ever knew whether the astonished old lady survived the impact. The bus was round the corner and the victim out of sight before you could say 'Holy Moses!' The memory will weigh on my conscience for all eternity, not to mention my charge's. She spent the rest of the journey home battling with a great urge to dissolve into fits of hysterical, angst ridden laughter. Luckily, remorse outweighed the compulsion.

I've given a lot of thought since then to the origin of the expression 'pennies from heaven'.

To add to the whole nightmare recollection of this particular occasion, I can't help wondering, did the purse truly belong to the poor old soul anyway? Ironically, it was nearly Christmas, the time for giving gifts. And my charge's name? Why, Penny, of course!


  1. Oh no...the poor lady was wacked by too much help! What a muddle...I won't allow myself to laugh...but so true sometimes we intend to help but just over what is needed. Thanks for sharing.<3

  2. Jinksy, this was so much fun! Ahhh! What does that say about me? Oh well, bombs away.

  3. You're in fine form today. Well told. A+

  4. "it was one time when telepathy failed" . . . was real fun reading :)

  5. Oh I so love your writing and your sense of humour, lovely Jinksy. Laughing Out Loud here, hehehe.

  6. Loved the story, thanks for sharing. I hope you've been putting all of your short stories into a notebook to be published at some time.

  7. What a coincidence! I found a penny on the carpet of the Chinese restaurant where we had lunch today!

    I hope this story is true and that you are Penny. But it's a well-told tale, even if entirely fictional.

  8. A very humorous take on a catchphrase. Next week's tale: Penny for your Thoughts.

  9. What a delightful read. I could almost see the twinkle in your eye!

  10. Great fun. Your writing always delights.

  11. Wonderful story, Guardian Angel! :)

  12. What a story, blessed, winged Jinks - I love the concept of angels, and I do read angel cards - have done for around 8 years now... Not sure what you think about those... I tend to think powerful things to try to help people with positive energies - Often I don't tell them that I'm doing that - Sometimes this brings results...

    Hope you don't think that I'm as mad as a box of frogs now, as if you didn't already! x

  13. Naughty girl, Penny. I can see the headlines now: "When a Penny packed a punch."


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