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The Toolman Cumeth
(with apologies to Eugene O’Neill)
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

In 1968 I could only think of my exotic exciting journey into the unknown. A continent with a magical musical language, Brazilian Portuguese. Portuguese with sugar the Brazilians would say. The sound sent shivers up and down my spine and the enticing throb of the Afro-Brazilian music coupled with the Bossa Nova, almost unknown in London in the late 60s, although de rigeur in Paris where the poet and singer Vinicius de Moreas had been the Brazilian ambassador.

In the late 60s I was slender with long flowing golden locks parted in the middle and wore short mini dresses showing off my well endowed curvaceous body and good legs. I was about 26 and full of energy for a new life on the other side of the world without social connections.

In 1968 I was working as a travel agent/consultant in Oxford Street for Global Tours, a big tour operating company with offices in New York, Sydney and Jo’Berg. I got a perk, an educational tourist week in Lisbon with a colleague Carole and off we sped to be educated in Lisbon and Oporto.

There I fell in love with the nasal language, easy for me with my knowledge of Spanish and Italian but when I saw the colonial baroque candy pink and pale blue architecture and heard the Bossa Nova, I was hooked for life. I felt it was my destiny to emigrate to Rio de Janeiro.

I rushed down to the Portuguese tourist office with my little Berlitz phrase book and demanded help with the pronunciation. In turn I was introduced to the charming friendly tourist office photographer who took me to Hyde Park for a photo shoot.

In September 1970 I boarded the plane for Brazil, my dream destination and a new chapter of my life there began.

I kept the 4 black and white photos forever and in 2019 do not recognise the slender girl lying on the grass. Jilliana. Today I still have those sexy posed photos in Hyde Park which ended up on my computer screen, frozen in time.

I have been lucky renting out my high-ceilinged Georgian flat for a couple of winter months in January and February. I have always been asked to rent it out by someone with possessions in storage between properties. Thus my tenant would only come with the clothes on his or her back. We would usually come to a friendly financial arrangement with a reduced rent in exchange for looking after my lovely black and white cat Neko, building work, gardening and in the case of orange long haired Zac, IT work.

I was computer illiterate in the early Noughties, and so every time, I had a glitch, as after renting from me, Zac was renting a flat close by, I was forever calling him up for help. He was always at my beck and call and loved to feel ‘wanted.’

In his mid 30s, Zac never had a girlfriend, worked hard in IT and must have been very talented because he was sent to Bangalore to set up one of the big 5’s banking computer systems. He earned enough to buy his flat for cash.

Sometimes his long bushy hair was pink or orange. The poor guy had a degenerate bone condition too and in general was an unhappy soul drowning his loneliness in strong cider at the local pub. I always made sure I had some chilled fruit cider in the fridge to offer him.

One evening he came over to convert my TV over to digital. when by chance my computer screen was switched on. Zac gasped when he saw his ‘fantasy’ woman lying on the grass.

He sat quietly silently gazing at my image on the screen announcing, somewhat embarrassed.

‘Jilliana, I’ve got a hard on!’

‘Oh, well you’d better get rid of it!’

Never had I been in such a situation. Well he could have jumped on me. Who knows?

I got up and shouted at him to fix my TV. After all that was why he had come over. I discovered he liked to be shouted at and obediently obey his mistress. Being a dominatrix seemed to do the trick. His erection must have gone down with my harsh words. Mr fix it didn’t stay long, mumbling he had to meet a friend in the pub and dolefully left after I had given him a mini gift - An 80s cork screw called ‘ScrewPull!’

I told my best friend Pauline the story of the TV toolman and the cork/cockscrew ‘payment’ gift and we had a girlie laugh. Some weeks later, I saw Zac coming towards me in the street on his way to the pub, he had already apologised for his bad behaviour. He smiled and said a nervous hello to us both.

‘That’s the TV guy, isn’t it?’ Pauline instinctively knew in her wisdom.

‘Yes, how did you know?’

‘By the way he lusted after you with his eyes!’

‘The tool man cumeth!’ I subtilely replied.

Written at home in March 2019.


‘The iceman cometh’ by Eugene O Neill.

Wikipedia. Vinicius de Moraes - Brazilian poet