I have already mentioned I recently joined a local writing group and we task ourselves to produce a written ‘piece’. The brief this week was to “take a significant day in your life”, so I chose the day I met Sharanne Neidermeyer Armstrong. Some readers may already be acquainted with my dear friend, but for those of you who are not…
2nd August (a few years ago)
It was the 2nd August that Adolph Hitler became leader in Germany, Iraq invaded Kuwait, Peter O’Toole and Dutch Shultz drew their first breaths, Will Bill Hickok (shot by a drunken stranger) and Thomas Gainsborough gasped their last, and the day Sharanne Neidermeyer Armstrong entered my life.
I was standing on the platform waiting for the metro into Newcastle. A typical summer’s day with a monsoon wind blowing up the River Tyne forcing folk to huddle into their raincoats to shelter from the horizontal onslaught of the driving rain. All folk that is except one. And that one person, dressed in a pair of pink flip flops, tight jeans and an even tighter white Tshirt and clutching a plastic Netto carrier bag, was standing next to me like the proverbial drowned rat.
“Lovely day, I spent a fortune getting me hair done. Ruined. Would yers mind, pet?”
And before I could she had thrust the carrier bag into my chest and started wringing out her bedraggled tresses dripping more water into the pools congregating around her feet.
“Least I’ve kept me jacket and Prada shoes dry though me bra and pants are a bit wet an’ clingy. Don’t scrunch me bag, pet, me speech is in there ‘n all. I’m attending the Symposium on climate change at the Sage. It’s a bugga, this global warming. Missed the forecast for today mind. Ee, what’m I like. Where’s me manners. Thanks for holding me bag by the way. I’m Shazza or Shaz to me mates.”
Before I could reply the train arrived and I was propelled aboard and into an empty seat by the window.
“Will yers pass me handbag, it’s in there somewhere. Let’s see if I can at least salvage a bit of decorum before I stand up in front of all those bearded tweedies. I met that Deborah Meaden there yesterday. Yer knaas, the huffy one off Dragons Den. You’d think with all that money she’d make a better show of hersen. Hah, she’d have the last laugh today if she could see me now. Do yer like Shakespeare by any chance? I’ve got a spare ticket for the Theatre Royal tonight, Midsummer Nights Dream.”
It was the kind of day you don’t forget in a hurry. I was hooked. Shazza had suddenly crashed into my life like an invading army, a veritable blitzkrieg, a one woman Geordie ‘Wild West’ fully equipped for shoot outs like some prohibition gangster. She filled your stage with her screen presence and yet still found time to paint life with the gentle brush strokes of an old master.
And as I was to discover over the following years there was more to this statuesque girl educated on the terraced streets of Gateshead with a degree from Spearmint Rhino than met the eye. Hidden depths ‘Wor Shaz’, equally at home discussing who should wear the no 9 shirt for her beloved Magpies as she was analysing UK tourism trends with Deborah Meaden or quantitative easing with Mervyn King . As for her address book, you wouldn’t believe who she knows, or who has her number. But that’s for another day!
If you would like to read more of life with Shazza simply click the drop down menu on the right hand side under Categories and select ‘Shazza’.