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October 15, 2015

This isn’t going to be one of those love is… you can tell a real friend … load of bollocks that seems to constipates social media these days, I promise.

I came to musing on this subject triggered by re-visiting an office I used to work in in a previous life, at the very fine Better Food Company.  That job, answering phones and taking orders for organic veg boxes and morphing into a marketing position over the years, came at a time in my life when my resources, emotionally and financially, were very low following a major bereavement.  It was a time for healing, re-thinking, starting over.  It coincided with a new beginning for the Better Food Co as well.  They had just moved in an enormous shell of a building which occupied three floors, empty and grubby, with us and our phones at one end of the top floor, wholesale on the ground floor and the shop in the street level bit.

The view from our floor was wonderful, very urban and gritty, big, somewhat dirty windows revealing the beating heart of St. Werburghs long before it started its upward social climb.  The other end of our floor was still empty and I would go there sometimes, leaving my desk with no explanation, to sit and cry.  It’s not often that someone who is grieving has the space, literally as well as with the tacit understanding of others, to do something like that.  I was sad when we moved down the dark, dingy office next to the shop on the street level, but the building had started filling up with other tenants, and it started buzzing with industry – it felt alive with promise.  The gin palace across the road started doing roaring trade in organic gin, stolen from the shop, along with the bacon butty van and their stolen organic bacon – the area was on the rise and no mistake.  The shop carried on, security got a bit tighter, we in the office made some order out of the business of buying and selling organic food, and friendships became sealed.



It was Amy who stood out among them for me.  Amy who wore trousers under her skirt way before it was fashionable, refused to shave her legs just to conform with society’s narrow expectations, who wrapped enormous home knitted scarves around her neck and wore fingerless gloves on cold days at the keyboard (and there were many cold days in that unheated little hive of industry).  We would sometimes share my enormous duvet coat, until I took it to a dry cleaners where they dyed it purple and shrank to the size of a barbie doll.   Amy who came from the heat of Australia to sit and share stories and food at our chilly desks, cobble together ideas and tasks to help this company we worked for and loved to grow, tactfully attempting to reign in some of the more insane ideas from our boss (who was also my brother) who we loved, admired and were exasperated by in equal measure.  Amy who was part of the most monumental job of logging every single item in the shop and stores onto an epos system, who laughed and teased Mark about his waste bin full of apple cores and fruit flies (not as picturesque as it sounds) and helped bring the Better Food Company into the 21st Century.  Amy with whom I went** on a late, winter evening search for the main post office depot, getting lost more than once, so we could get the Christmas newsletter and order forms for turkeys and trimmings in the last possible post before it would all be too late and Christmas would be ruined and life as we knew it would end.

Then one day Amy said she was leaving.  It was around the time that I too was due to leave to start the now *world famous (*people in Canada know of it so it’s technically true) Folk House Cafe.  I don’t actually remember who said it first, but I think it was her.  She was heading home.

We had a farewell lunch, Amy, me and the boss man.  I felt sad but also joyful and hopeful for her and her new life.  I also knew the likelihood of ever seeing her again was pretty slim.  This was the dark ages, before facebook, when mobile phones were just that so contact was thereafter was spasmodic and via email, and eventually there was silence.  I know what you might be thinking at this point.  Getting the tissues ready.  Well, don’t worry, there is no sad ending to this tale.

With the age of social media and the click of a mouse came news of Amy, in a far away land that isn’t Australia, hanging out with a man in a sarong and with a baby on her hip.   We swapped messages but Amy isn’t a prolific fb user so we just keep watch over each other’s lives and that’s a good way to be.

So, there I was, back in that office to pick up keys so I could borrow their van and move a pizza oven, like you do of a Thursday, and there was our corner, not much changed, a bit cleaner maybe, staffed by others now.  I sent Amy this:

“Amy Musgrove recognise this place??? Many hours of pain and joy spent here! Xxx”

The hub of the business.

The hub of the business.

And she responded:

“In a heartbeat, Betty Boo, how could I ever forget?! Having to go driving in the car with **heated seats and your doona jacket over our knees when our fingers couldn’t type anymore and our breath was clear on the frosty air. Smartened it up a bit since our times!! SO THRILLED it’s survived, and thrived. Enjoy the snippets FB gives me into your world, and LOVE LOVE LOVE Betty bites….more please. Love you.  xxxxx”

And so this Betty Bites entry is for you Amy.  Love you too!

** yes, my car had heated seats.  There is nothing like it on this earth, except maybe an electric blanket.  When the car died I asked the garage who bought it’s remains if they could give me the seats, but they seemed to think not. Sad face.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    October 15, 2015 3:23 pm

    Heart swell. Your writings, musings and story tellings are a joy xxxx

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