writing

Gung-Ho!

Another week, another one-hour wonder! I suppose this is finished, but I don’t like the ending. I don’t know why ‘Gung-ho’ would be an especially Spanish name, but the joke about the sup came to me, so I had to make it Spanish. So, I don’t like the ending, but enjoy!

Gung-Ho! ***

3 Reviews – ££ – #1 of 2 restaurants in Cronge 

***** Love2Review

Excellent service, outstanding food. Not too pricey. Highly recommended.

Gung-Ho!

Thanks, Love2Review!

**** AlisonMorley

Best restaurant in Cronge!

Gung-Ho! 

Thanks, Alison!

Alison Morley

No problem! 

* MrPasta

Can’t believe the good reviews this place is getting. This place is awful. My server was completely uninterested in us. The food, if you can call it that, had obviously been sitting around for ages, because mine was cold when it arrived. Awful. 

Gung-Ho!

I’m sorry to hear that, Mr Pasta. We would be delighted in giving you a £25 bar tab to compensate for your cold food.

MrPasta

Thanks, but I’ll pass. Nothing can remove the taste of cold tomato soup. I’ll be spending my time now at Totorelli’s, the best restaurant in Cronge IMHO. 

Gung-Ho!

Cold tomato soup? Can you just run past us what you ordered again?

MrPasta

Gestapo soup.

Gung-Ho!

GAZPACHO soup is meant to be cold… 

MrPasta

Is it? Because no one else had even HEARD of Gestapo soup, and my wife has been to Italy, so she knows about these things. If you’re going to make stuff up, I’m going to take my custom to Cronge’s other, better, Italian restaurant, Totorelli’s.

Gung-Ho!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazpacho   This might help. And we’re not an Italian restaurant, we’re a tapas bar, serving Spanish food.

MrPasta

You’re unbelievable. You’ve made up a whole wikipedia page because you were WRONG!

AlisonMorley

This is great. MrPasta, you need to bow out gracefully.

MrPasta

They pay their reviewers!

Gung-Ho!

We certainly do not. 

Love2Review

*grabs popcorn* Quit while you’re behind, Mr Pasta!

MrPasta

You’re all being paid to gang up on me! It shouldn’t be called gUng-ho, it should be gAng-up! You don’t get this kind of treatment at Totorelli’s.

Love2Review

I’m not being paid. Are you, Alison?

AlisonMorley

Certainly not, Love. Wish I was though! But speaking of paying for reviews, have you noticed how Mr Pasta has been banging on about Totorelli’s?

Love2Review

Hmm, suspicious!

MrPasta

I’m not being paid by Totorelli’s, which, incidentally, is the best restaurant for miles around, I just can’t believe the shoddy quality of Gung-Ho! There are only two restaurants in Cronge. You gotta pick a side. I pick Totorelli’s.

Love2Review

Is that £25 bar tab still on offer, Gung-ho?!

Totorelli’s **

3 Reviews – ££ – #2 of 2 restaurants in Cronge

*** Love2Review

Decent enough Italian, good food, just spoilt slightly by the overly-enthusiastic waiter.

**AlisonMorley

Meh, it’s ok. If you want a good plate of pasta, then sure, it’s fine. But here was a very zealous member of the waiting staff who ruined the night slightly. Would have given another star if only he’d calmed down a little.

Totorelli’s

I’m sorry to hear that. Obviously, we’re delighted that our for has inspired our staff to be so excitable, and remember, we are Italians! But we’re sorry it marred your night. 

***** MrPasta

Wow!!!! What a restaurant! Authentic food, authentic atmosphere! Utterly brilliant!!!!! I was blown away by the quality of everything, from the hand-ironed linen napkins, to the waiting staff, who I thought did an incredible job. 10/10, you should go!!

Love2Review

So MrPasta, we meet again. 

MrPasta

You’re that nasty reviewer who was paid by Gung-ho, aren’t you!

Love2Review

I wish I was being paid! Mate, listen, you obviously prefer Totorelli’s, but you don’t have to be quite so, well, gung-ho about it, if you don’t mind the expression. 

AlisonMorley

Love, have you not seen his profile pic? Look at that, think about the enthusiastic waiter… and put two and two together…

Love2Review

OMG, it’s you! 

Totorelli’s

I don’t know what you mean. 

Love2Review

Lol, don’t use your Totorelli’s work account to deny you’re working for Totorelli’s!

MrPasta

This comment was removed by TripAdvisor, who are investigating user MrPasta

AlisonMorley

Whew, that was quite a ride!

Gung-Ho!

Well, that was really something. Alison, Love2Review, there’s a £25 bar tab for you each as a token of appreciation for sorting this out. 

*****SignorLasagna

Excellent restaurant! Really loved it. Ignore all that drama above. It’s really great. If you’re ever in Cronge, this is the place to go.

Totorelli’s

Really pleased to hear that.

Gung-Ho!

MrPasta?! That you???

writing

Mortal

Another one-hour special! This was written on a programme called Scrivener, and when I was writing it, I copy and pasted emoji in it. Worked well. When I copy and pasted the story into wordpress… they all disappeared. So just so you know, there were loads of emoji. It was very colourful. And if someone replies and here’s no writing, that was an emoji.

‘Mortal’ means ‘really really really drunk’ up in the North East. I don’t come from the north east, but it was the first thing that came to mind when given the spark word.

Also, I took major liberties with grammar and spelling. The computer did its best to reinstate capital letters and apostrophes and whatnot, but it is actually meant to be written wrongly, if that makes sense. I have no idea how da yoof text each other; I am seriously uncool, and used to use correct punctuation when I had my Nokia 5110.

Anyway, here is Mortal.

Girl’s on the Lose!

Participants

Staceeeeey (admin)

Becca 

Lady V

Mel

Thursday 11th June

Staceeeeey: rite lads, whos up for getting mortal tomoro. been to long!

Becca: Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Lady V: 

    Mel: well up for it lol

     Becca: wheres gud these day’s

     Staceeeeeey: waikiki is open now, got new drink’s 

     Lady V: all I’m interested in!! Lol 

     Staceeeeeey: sat at 9 ok? x

     Mel: brill, c u then

        Friday 12th June

        Staceeeeey: Just checkin………. We all gud for gettin mortal tomoz?

        Becca: HE’LL YEAH

        Lady V: even washed my pulling pants lol

        Becca: lol

        Mel: do they work??????

         Becca: no! 

        Staceeeeey: no lol x

        Lady V: yes they do

        Staceeeeey: They mite work bettr if u didnt wash them…… if u see what I mean! 

        Mel: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Becca: grim

Lady V: u wait and see

Saturday 13th June 

Becca: getting mortal later lads! 

Lady V: pants all ready on lol 

Becca: leg’s shaved?

Lady V: got a brazziliun!

Mel: lol

Staceeeeeeey: rite the plan…………… meet at waikiki at 9, get right mortal an sleep all sunday !x

Mel: sounds like a planx

Sunday 14th June

Mel: uhhhhhhhhh

Staceeeeeeeey: kno the feeling lol

Becca: im never drinking agen

Staceeeeeeeey: was a gud nite tho

Mel: yehhhhhhhh

Becca: cant beleve the pulling pants worked vix

Becca: oi vix

Becca: victorrrrrrriaaaaaa lol r u there

Mel: shes prolly still busy 

Becca: yehhh 

Monday 15th June

Mel: any1 herd from vix yday

Becca: nope lol prolly still getting it on

Staceeeeeeeey: slag

Becca: lol

Mel: lol

Mel: really tho, any1 herd from her?shes ment 2 be in today

Becca: in where lol

Staceeeeeeeey: in her new lads pant’s

Becca: lol

Mel: in work

Becca: prolly pulled a sickie

Mel: prob

Staceeeeeeey: shes dun it loads of time’s before

Staceeeeeeey: dont wurry about it

Mel: ok

Tuesday 16th June

Becca: vix get yo lazzzzy ass into work were all getting a bollickin for lieing for u yestday

Becca: wat r u doin???????????? 

Staceeeeeeey: stop dicking us around vix 

Staceeeeeeey: uve made melanie cry

Staceeeeeeey: slag

Becca: lol

Becca: wen she gets out from under her guy shes going 2 have sooooo many messages!

Staceeeeeeey: lol

Mel: no im getting really worried guys

Mel: we shudnt joke

Mel: she mite be sick

Becca: yeh, haveing to much sex disease

Staceeeeeeeey: yeh 

Staceeeeeeeey: lol

Staceeeeeeeey: slag

Becca: she is

Staceeeeeeeey: slaaaaaaaaaaag

Mel: just rung her mum..they avnt herd from her

Staceeeeeeeey: tipical slag

Becca: lol

Mel: gotta bad feeling 

Wednesday 17th June

Mel: made new group lads

Mel invited you to join ‘RIP LADY V’

RIP LADY V

Participants

Mel (admin)

Becca

Staceeeeeeeey

Mel: rip vix

Mel:  miss u

Staceeeeeeey: cant beleve he did that too her

Becca: the 1 time her pulling pant’s work,,,,, an he turn’s out to be a psycho!!!!!

Staceeeeeeey: lol

Mel: that’s not funny becca

Becca: lighten up melanie

Staceeeeeeeey: its a JOKE mel

Mel: she was strangled by her pants……… i dont think its funny 

Becca: was r the plans for her funeral 

Staceeeeeeeey: going 2 get proper mortal

Becca: lol

writing

Wanderlust

One more from my one-hour writing sessions. I think this works as a piece of writing, and it’s certainly topical, but it doesn’t really ‘go’ anywhere. Still, I quite like it. Here it is:

Congratulations on your purchase of Wanderlust – Bringing the Outside, Inside (TM)! You have opened a new world of possibility so let’s get going! First, enter your name. Welcome, Andy88! Now create a password for your account. Passwords must be between 6 and 14 letters long, with at least 1 capital letter and 1 number.  I’m sorry, Password1 is not secure. Please enter a new password. I’m sorry, Andy88pword is not secure. Please enter a new password. Bl00dymachine accepted.

Before you begin your virtual travels on Wanderlust – Bringing the Outside, Inside (TM)! you need to select your avatar. Please select your avatar. You have selected ‘bald male’. Would you like to add accessories? You have selected ‘glasses’. You have selected ‘bow tie’. Is this correct? Then let’s go exploring!

It’s a big world out there, and Wanderlust – Bringing the Outside, Inside (TM)! is ready to be your guide. Where would you like to begin? You have selected ‘Europe’. You have selected ‘Italy’. You have selected ‘Venice’. Is this correct? Then let’s go exploring!

Where would you like to travel to first? You can select from: St Mark’s Square, the Bridge of Sighs, the Grand Canal, or the Doge’s Palace. You have selected: Grand Canal. Is this correct? Then let’s get exploring!

Please select from the following gondoliers: Stefano, Pietro, Guido, Bruno. You have selected Pietro. Is this correct? Then let’s get exploring!

Would you like Pietro to sing or give facts? You have selected ‘sing’. 

Back.

Would you like Pietro to sing or give facts? You have selected ‘sing’.

Back.

Would you like Pietro to sing or give facts? You have selected ‘sing’. 

Settings: Sounds and noises: Singing gondolier: Off.

Away we go! With Wanderlust – Bringing the Outside, Inside (TM)! you can get up close and personal with some of the greatest sights in the world. We are on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, Europe. Pietro hopes you are enjoying the ride. Would you like him to sing for you?

You have selected ‘no’. Is this correct? Then let’s get exploring!

Enter destination for gondola ride. I’m sorry, I could not find ‘St Maek’s Square’. Please enter new destination. I’m sorry, I could not find ‘St Maek’s Square’. Please enter new destination. I’m sorry, I could not find ‘it was a bloody typo’. Did you mean St Mark’s Square? St Mark’s Square selected.

We have arrived at St Mark’s Square. Would you like to explore the square or enter the basilica? You have entered ‘explore the square’. Would you like to feed the pigeons? 

Settings: Display: Pigeons: Avoid pigeons.

Where would you like to explore now? You have selected ‘cafe’. 

Welcome to our typical Venetian cafe! My name is Cinzia, and I am your waitress! Would you like to view our typical Venetian menu? In it, you will find many facts about Venice, and tips and tricks to make your time on Wanderlust – Bringing the Outside, Inside (TM)! even better.  

Settings: Sounds and noises: Typical Venetian cafe: Waitress off.

writing

Triumph

I have been so disorganised lately. I have weeks and weeks of stories, and not posted them. Anyway, I’ll do better from now on.

Today’s spark word was Triumph, so I wrote about Triumph underwear (they’re a real company, and though I own no triumph underwear, I’m sure it’s great). As per, it is unfinished (I only had an hour, come on), but unusually, I had an end in sight this time: the girls would 9-5 their boss, and they would be triumphant. See what I did there? Anyway. It’s not my best, but it’s not my worst. Please excuse any typos; it’s an hour’s worth of first draft.

Katie Harris had never really liked her job, but now she absolutely hated it. Well, not necessarily the job, but the new manager. Martin Robinson had started three weeks ago and there had been an instant mutual loathing between both of them. 

Katie’s job was very simple: she sewed pairs of knickers. That’s all she did. She didn’t design the knickers, she didn’t cut the pattern, she was just given pieces of fabric which she turned into a pair of knickers. 

The work was repetitive and monotonous, so Katie had plenty of time to daydream. Her daydreams had changed in recent weeks, from marrying Ryan Gosling, to murdering Martin Robinson. 

The day he started was the worst. He had wanted to ‘get to know’ all the workers, so she had spent twenty excruciating minutes with him.

“How do you feel you encompass Triumph’s ethos?” he asked, to which Katie had shrugged. 

“I just make the knickers,” she said. 

“And that’s a very important part of the Triumph process, so well done you. You’re a very important cog. But Katie,” he clasped his hands together, “a cog can’t work on its own. It needs other cogs. How do you see yourself with the other cogs?”

“I make the tea,” she offered. 

Martin sighed. “Here at Triumph, we have very high expectations of all our cogs. You may think you’re only making knickers, but these knickers represent hours – hours – of work, of passion, of dedication. Even during tough times, during recession, war, famine, people still need knickers. The right underwear can make a woman feel special. No matter what she wears on the outside, she’ll feel good if she has a quality pair of knickers on. We’re boosting public morale with our work here.”

“Uh huh,” said Katie, a little cautiously. 

“We’re artists, you and I. But our art is a very special art. It’s art you can wear! Every woman can be a walking gallery, with exquisite masterpieces only she knows about. So don’t think of ‘just’ making knickers. You’re performing a public service. It is estimated that 36% of women in the UK wear Triumph underwear. That’s a lot of women! Tell me, Katie, are you wearing Triumph underwear right now?”   

“I’m sorry?!” she spluttered.

“Describe your knickers to me,” he said. He laced his hands behind his head and leaned back, watching her through half-closed lids. 

Katie could not for the life of her remember what knickers she was wearing. Should she check, or make it up?

“Umm, blue ones?” she said, after a long pause. “With yellow flowers.”

“They sound nice,” grunted Martin. 

“I think they’re from Primark,” she apologised. 

He was still reclining, and observed her lazily. “Think of who made those knickers, Katie. Think of who thought of your bottom being caressed by them. Think of who sewed that particular pair, that you slide up and down your thighs…”

Katie left while he was still talking. Face burning with embarrassment, she consulted with Jo, who was in charge of bras. 

“Did he make you describe your knickers?” asked Katie.

“No,” said Jo, “but he pinged my bra straps to make sure they fitted properly.” She looked at Katie. “Why? Is that weird?”

“Yes!” said Katie. “It’s very weird!”

Jo looked surprised. “I hadn’t really thought about it,” she said at last, “I thought he was just checking to make sure I was wearing the right size. But now you mention it, it’s a very improper style of management.”

Zarah, who also worked in the bra department, just so happened to be walking by. “Are you talking about Martin?” she asked. “He asked me if I ever wore stockings and suspenders. I said I usually wore tights, and he got really cross. Isn’t he such a sleaze?”

   “Sleaze is the word,” said Katie. “We need to do something about him.”

Three weeks had passed, and nothing had changed. Katie, Jo and Zarah had all complained to HR, who were as much use as a chocolate teapot. After the third week of being fobbed off with excuses, Katie decided drastic action must be taken. Somehow or other, she must expose (for want of a better word) Martin in front of HR. But how would she do it? She was sewing knickers on autopilot, so her daydreaming time was getting more and more intense. She fantasised about killing Martin by strangling him with a pair of tights, but she knew that wasn’t really feasible. She just needed to show him for who he really was to the higher-ups. 

writing

Retire

I’m still not good at updating this… I still have a backlog of about 3 weeks’ worth of one-hour writes to upload. This one was inspired by the word ‘retire’, and is, as usual, unfinished. I decided to write something I wouldn’t normally write, so this is first person, present tense. The experiment went well, but I think I’m always going to be a ‘third-person, past tense’ kinda gal. Anyway, here it is.

I am a good boy. I know I am, because they always say so. When I get a big drugs bust, they stroke me and call me good. I always wag my tail, but I don’t lick them, because that would be unprofessional. I am always professional. No one could accuse me of being soppy, or overly-affectionate. I like them, and we have a friendly relationship, but I am not a pet.

Until now.

PC Martin Burrows will be my owner. I’ll be his pet. I like Martin; we’ve had some adventures together, but everything has been strictly above board before. No licking, no snuggling. Like I say, I’m a professional. That said, I am looking forward to being part of a family. I know Martin is married, and I know his wife is pregnant with their first child. I will love this child. It will be like one of my pups. 

I look askance at Martin, his hands on the wheel, his face determined. Next to him sits PC Edward Burton. It took a while for them to warm up to each other, but now they’re quite friendly. That’s nice. I’m quite friendly with some of the dogs back at the station – Buster and Prince, especially. I’ll miss them when I’m gone. I’ll miss sniffing their bottoms and going to the toilet together. Still, things change. Their time will come. They’re still only 4, whereas I’m the very nearly the wrong side of 8. Retirement beckons. 

A call comes through on the radio. There’s to a be a raid on the warehouse by the docks. Big one, apparently. 

Martin turns his face towards me, sitting in the back.

“How about it, boy?” he says. “One last bust before you get to laze about all day?”

I’m there already, I tell him, through pants. (Barking is very frowned upon unless essential). Martin puts his foot on the accelerator, Edward turns the blue lights and siren on, and then we’re off, racing towards my last job.

It was a big one, all right. Heroin, with a street value of £3 million. Good thing we took that off the streets. I even got to bark a bit too, release a bit of energy. And now we’re back at the station and can you believe it? They’ve organised a little do for me. For me! I’m beyond touched.

The police are all eating chocolate cake and I’m eating a dog-friendly version, made with tripe and chicken livers. It’s delicious. They’ve put up some ‘happy retirement’ bunting and written me a card. That was sweet, but I can’t read, so Martin’s holding onto it for now. There’s a real party atmosphere and I’m going to miss this, I realise suddenly. Yes, I always knew I would miss it, but it hadn’t hit me before. This is the last time I’ll see DS Cooper and his 1998 World Cup mug, which he loves. The last time I’ll see Sergeant Wolfe, who is very fond of me, and used to give me pats on the head when she thought no one was looking. They’re a good crew. 

Do I really want this? Do I want to give all this in, just to chase my tail all day? Chasing my tail is fun, I’ll admit, and yes, I’ve had a few celebratory chases when we’ve done a good shift at the airport, but it’s not, well, it’s not fulfilling. You chase your tail, you catch it, then what? You’ve got a mouth full of tail. I’m not sure that would be the most efficient use of my time.

I’m milling this all over in my head, when Sergeant Wolfe comes over to me and Martin. She’s smiling, and Martin smiles back at her. 

“May I?” she says, indicating the empty chair next to Martin. 

“Of course!” he says. “Pull up a pew.”

She sits down, and for a minute, neither of them say anything. 

“I’m going to miss this little bugger,” says Sergeant Wolfe, breaking the silence. 

“I’ll bring him in every now and then,” says Martin. “It’s not like you’ll never see him again. And there’s all the other dogs.”

 “I know,” she sighs and scratches my ears in that spot she knows I love. “But Toto’s always been my favourite, haven’t you, Toto?” She scrunches up my fcae with her last words. I wag my tail involuntarily. I’ve always held Sergeant Wolfe in the highest esteem. Always referred to her as Sergeant Wolfe, despite all the other dogs calling her Sarah. It’s a sign of respect, always referring to her by her job title. But maybe I’ll call her Sarah, just for now. 

Sarah clears her throat. “How’s the wife coming along?” she asks.

“Good, good,” says Martin. 

“Not long now, is it?”

“Two months,” he grins. “Just time to get this one – “ he indicates me “ – settled and then yes, parenthood beckons.”

I thought she’d be pleased for him, but to my surprise, she bursts into tears. It is evidently to Martin’s surprise too, because he immediately starts flustering and isn’t sure what to do. 

“I’m sorry,” sobs Sarah into a tissue that she’s pulled out of her sleeve. “It’s just, I’m so lonely. You’ve got your wife, a child on the way, and now you’re getting my favourite dog…” She tails off. I feel a puff of pride. I was her favourite! I’ve always been fond of her, so I put my head in her lap, but this only makes her worse. I hastily retreat while she hiccups and apologises. 

“Why,” says Martin, treading very carefully, “don’t you come round for dinner one night? I make a mean mushroom risotto.”

She looks up at him, smiling through her tears.

“That would be nice,” she manages.  

writing

Cheap

Happy lockdown, everybody! I’d forgotten my login for this site, so even though our Saturday meetings have continued (online), I couldn’t put my stories up here. Sorry. So I’ve got three weeks’ worth of stories! (I missed a couple of weeks.)

Anyway, this story was inspired by the word ‘cheap’. I don’t like it very much, I think it’s definitely one of my weaker stories, but I’ve written it, so here it is.

Her mother was talking again. Something about budgeting; Rosie wasn’t really listening. She surreptitiously opened her book of signatures and looked down appraisingly.

“Rosie Thacker,” written in large, looping letters. “Rosie Thacker,” a slightly more serious signature. “Rosie Thacker,” printed. “Rosie Thacker,” written with the Rosie above the Thacker.

“Rosie Whittaker! You haven’t been listening to a thing I’ve been saying, have you?”

“I have,” argued Rosie. “You were talking about budgets.”

Her mother harrumphed. “That was a lucky guess. Rosie, love, it’s nice that you want a big dream wedding, but don’t you think things are, you know, getting out of hand a touch?”

Rosie was saved from answering by the doorbell. 

“Saved by the bell,” muttered Mrs Whittaker as she went to see who it was, and left Rosie looking starry-eyed at her future signature book. A new name meant a new start. She could write her signature however she wanted – ooh! – maybe she’d have a swooping line underneath, or even sign as “Mrs Adam Thacker”, or…

“Rosemary,” came the low, warning tones of Mrs Whittaker, “what the hell is this?” She entered the kitchen carrying a box of enormous proportions. A delivery driver followed after, a box under each arm. 

“Oooh, lovely, my flowers came!” squealed Rosie.

“What do you need flowers for?” asked Mrs Whittaker.

The delivery driver, sensing he didn’t want to be there, scuttled out, leaving mother and daughter glaring at each other.

“I need flowers,” said Rosie, in a voice you would use to explain a complicated subject to a 5-year old, “because I’m getting married.”

“You’re not getting married,” said her mother in the same voice, “until July. And it is February. These flowers will be dead by then.”

“I need them for practising,” said Rosie. “How else will I know what colour nail varnish the bridesmaids will be wearing if we don’t practise with real flowers?” 

TWO YEARS LATER

Rosie was smarting. She had just received a very cutting letter from Adam’s solicitors. He wanted the washing machine. Why he wanted the washing machine was anyone’s guess – he never used it, in all the six months they’d been married. Spite, she decided. It was pure spite.

John, her lovely new boyfriend, placed a cup of coffee at her elbow.

“Thanks love,” she said, a trifle absently. 

He sat down in the armchair next to her. 

“Bad news?” he asked. 

“He wants the washing machine. I doubt the bastard even knew we had a washing machine, but there we go, he wants it.”

John nodded sympathetically. “When Karen left me, we even argued over the leftover Dettol wipes. It gets better, I promise.” 

Rosie was still at a loss to explain what had happened. It had been a lovely day that July – she’d been the centre of attention – so why had they split, and so acrimoniously, only six months later?

“It’s today that he announced he was leaving,” she told John. “22nd February, two years ago. Breaks my heart.” She swallowed away her tears. 

“Well,” said John, steeling himself, “why don’t we make today a happy day? We’ll get our outdoor clothes on, head out to the moors and have a winter picnic. And, oh,” he added casually, “something came for you the other day.”

“Not another bill for that sodding wedding, is it?” asked Rosie. “Two years later and I’m still paying it off! £85,000! Never again!”

John faltered. “What do you mean, never again?”

“I’m never spending that much money, on what was essentially a party, again.”

“But you’d get marrried again,” asked John, hope in his eyes.

Rosie hit him with a cushion. “Yes, you daft bugger. Just, when the time is right.”

“Is the time right now?” asked John.

Rosie looked at him. 

“Yes,” she finally said. “The time is right.” 

“Good,” said John, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a little box. “Because this arrived the other day…”

“Oh it’s perfect,” said Rosie, as John slipped the ring on her finger. “Of course I’ll marry you. But on one condition.”

“What’s that?” asked John, feeling nervous all of a sudden.    

“That we do it cheap.”

John laughed, relieved.

“The cheapest in Yorkshire,” he promised. They clinked coffee mugs. “To cheapness!” they toasted.

writing

Decorum 2.0

A few weeks ago, when I wasn’t self-isolating and could leave the house, I went to my Saturday group and wrote a piece called ‘Decorum’. It was ok, but I think this piece – written a few years ago now – is better. So enjoy it! Decorum the second!

Shh, thank you, thanks, shh please. Well, I’ve always known this day would come: the day I say goodbye to my innocent unworldly young girl, and instead say hel-lo to a beautiful confident woman – still young though, I hasten to add! Though the clock is ticking darling – you got in there just in time, Simon! Ha ha! I’m only kidding: she’s still got a few good years ahead of her left.

Anyway, time now for a few helloes: hello Janice and Eric, all the way from Swansea, and hello to Patricia and Iain, all the way from Ozz-traylia! G’day, I should be saying. Or good arvo, I suppose. Or even, give us our ashes back, you load of criminal bastards! Ha ha, no I’m just joking. Still, thanks for making the effort to come. I wish I could say the same about Lucy and John, who only live in Peterborough, but there we have it. And last of all, hello to Samantha and Luke, who were the last to reply!

I am delighted, on a serious note, to see Mike and David here as we’re very welcoming of all sorts, we are, and I am very pleased you feel comfortable enough to come together, considering what my Shelly’s mum thinks of your lot. Still, like I say, Shelly and I are please to allow you here because we’re absolutely fine with what you two get up to – but don’t go getting any funny ideas, Simon, Shelly and I do want grandchildren at some point!

And very last and finally, a special hello to Chy – Che – Cheese-ome? Is that how you say it, Nicole? Cheese-ome? You know, your black friend! What’s her name? Cheeseym? Chisom? Lovely. Well, welcome here Chisom, we’ve got some nice music for you later, some nice Stevie Wonder. Hope you like it! I’m sure you will: you’re all such good dancers! Sorry? What’s that, Nic? Broken her leg? Oh well, you’ll enjoy swaying, like Stevie Wonder himself! If anyone fancies sitting down, then do please keep Chisom company – she’s the one with the lovely white teeth, but they all have, haven’t they? What’s that, Nic? Get on with what? Ok, I suppose that’s enough helloes. You can’t boss me around Nic, I’m not Simon! Watch out Si, ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’ has given her orders!

Anyway, welcome everyone. I hope you’re enjoying yourselves! After all, Shell and I remortgaged the house to pay for this, so no ruining the tablecloths! Simon very kindly offered to pay half, but as the father of the bride, it is my duty, and he’s not exactly on his six-figure salary yet, is he Nic? Actually, and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this, but he’s not on any salary at the moment, so I’m sure they’ll welcome any cheques for them, but he’s promised to get over his back thing and get a proper job because my little Princess doesn’t want to be a working mother! Anyway, Nic, if he can’t provide in the meantime, Mum and Dad Bank plc is open 24/7 darling, so don’t worry about anything. And even though Jamie had a good job and his own flat, you chose Simon and me and mum couldn’t be more prouder of you. So this is for Simon and Nicole, who love each other and that’s all that matters!

So now we come to the cards: this one says “congratulations on your wedding day” from Jean McLean – Donald’s name conspicuously absent, I notice! See Nicole, that’s how not to be married! And a cheque for £25 – well, that’s err, very kind of you, especially after he’s taken everything. So thanks then, Miss, Mrs – well, Nic, she’s kept the name, I don’t know what to bloody call her – and this one says “congratulations on your happy day” from Rob Jenkins with a £100 John Lewis voucher – that’s more like it! – and this says “best wishes on your life together” from, err, I can’t quite read it. Not from you, is it Chesse-ome?! And there’ no cheque, so maybe it’s best I don’t know who it’s from, eh Shelly? And this one from the Campbells says “massive congratulations”, and in it they say they got you a toaster. Well, they’ve already got a Dualit twin sandwich toastie maker, so it’d better be a Kenwood at the very least!

And, princess, while we’re on the subject of presents, me and mum have… dun dun da! Bought you the bungalow next to ours! So now you’ll never be too busy to see your old dad! Yes, darling, really! Riiiight next door, yes! Although it is detached – we want grandchildren, but don’t want to hear how they’re being made! Ah, my princess is so overcome, she’s crying. Don’t cry, Nic: we’ve still got the photos to go and that make-up artist cost an arm and a leg. So, while Simon’s STILL unemployed you won’t have to worry abpout the rent on that nasty London flat – you’ll be back in Surrey with us! Nic, love, I haven’t made the toast yet, don’t go downing all that wine. Anyway, Nic, me and mum are so proud of you, and hope we never have to do this again, so you’d better behave yourself Simon! I’ve got my eye on you! No ending up like the McLeans – that’s right, isn’t it Jean? Real miserable on your own. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses to the happy couple, our next door neighbours and parents of our future grandchildren, the lovely Nicole and her husband Simon!

writing

Decorum

Another Saturday session, another hour of free-writing! Again, we will forgive any typos, errors or mistakes, as this was all typed in an hour. Spark word was ‘decorum’; here is my piece:

The summer Eleanor returned from her Swiss Finishing School, was the summer Isabel decided she would kill her. She had always suspected grandam had preferred Eleanor, as she was prettier and daintier and younger. For even though they were twins, Eleanor had taken her sweet time in being born and had arrived after midnight. As such, they had separate birthdays, and Isabel always thought grandam put more effort into Eleanor’s birthday plans than to hers. 

Eleanor was due to arrive back at their palatial Georgian townhouse on Wednesday the 15th. It was swelteringly hot outside, in the leafy streets of Regents Park, but inside their house, it was oppressive. Grandam had insisted on keeping the house at a Georgian standard, and so there were heavy draped curtains over the windows, and huge glooming oil pantings which loomed down from almost every wall. Isabel wasn’t sure how grandam had managed it, but the house surpassed itself in being boiling in the summer, and freezing in the winter. The only place to get some respite from the heat was the orangery, out back, and in Eleanor’s room. Isabel held it as further proof that grandam liked Eleanor more: she had the better room. She had been allowed to decorate it how she wanted, and had even been to Ikea. Isabel’s room looked like the Grim Reaper’s bedroom. There was a portrait of hr great-great-grandfather hanging directly opposite her bed, which was dark and menacing and needed a good clean, if truth be told. It gave Isabel the heebie-jeebies. She longed to wash it, or, better still, get rid of it. 

She sat now, in the orangery, drinking a cup of Earl Grey with lemon and listening to grandam go on and on about how much she was looking forward to Eleanor’s return. Isabel swilled the tea around in her bone-china mug, and wished it was a mug of builder’s brew, with 2 sugars. Or, even better, instant coffee. She wasn’t really listening to what grandam was saying. A brief ‘mm’ here and there was all that was necessary to hold a conversation.

“So you’ll do it?” asked grandam, shaking Isabel out of herself.

“Do what, sorry? I was miles away.” Isabel smiled shyly at grandam, hoping that the old woman would think she had just had a momentary lapse of concentration, and not realise she had not paid attention to anything she had been saying.

“Why, organise the party of course,” said grandam. 

Of course! How could Isabel think grandam had forgotten? She had asked, very tentatively, in the April if she could hold a birthday party for her 21st. Her 21st, and Eleanor’s, she thought begrudgingly. Grandam had replied that she would think about it, and no more had been said. Until now. Of course, there wasn’t long to go, today was the 15th of August, and her birthday was the 31st

“You’e such a good girl,” said grandam. “Young Eleanor will love it.” It still rankled with Isabel that grandam referred to Eleanor as ‘young’ Eleanor. Eleanor, named after their mother who had died shortly after childbirth with her only children, loved it of course.”I’m named for my mother,” she would tell strangers, then, bottom lip a-qivering, would tell them, “she lives with angels now.” There was no chance of Eleanor ever being confused with her mother, as her mother was long dead, but grandam still stuck the prefix ‘young’ onto Eleanor. Isabel wasn’t sure if that was just to remind her that she was the older one.

With Isabel’s birthday being the 31st of August, and Eleanor’s being the 1st September, they had been in different year groups at school. As such, they had different friends, and different experiences of the place. Isabel remembered being the youngest in her form, struggling to keep up with the ones born almost a year before her, whereas Eleanor had breezed through school, along with all the lucky autumn babies. 

It was Eleanor’s good fortune to be that one day younger that had secured her a place at finishing school in Switzerland. Not that Isabel would have wanted to go to finishing school – all those elocution lessons and walking around with books on your head left her cold – but she wouldn’t have minded leaving grandam’s company for a year or two. 

“I’ll like it too, grandam,” argued Isabel. Grandam smiled at her.

“Of course you will, dear. But it will be dear Eleanor who will be the belle of the ball. Imagine! She might meet her future husband at this party,” Grandam’s eyed twinkled at Isabel. 

“I might meet mine too,” said Isabel, objectionably. She disliked Eleanor being referred to as the ‘belle of the ball’. 

“Organising such a big party in such a short time will be difficult, you know,” warned grandam, but Isabel’s mind had run away with her. She would have a circus-style party, with jugglers and tightrope walkers and fire-breathers. Everyone would be dressed up as clowns, but she would wear an elegant ballgown, to show it was her 21st, and…

“Young Eleanor’s debut is a very improtant event,” continued grandam. Isabel’s face fell. Oh. It was a party for Eleanor. Of course. “I thought we could have it on the 31st of this month, what do you think?”

“But that’s my birthday,” wailed Isabel.

“It will be a joint party, for both of you,” said grandam sharply. Isabel felt depressed. It was her birthday on the 31st, Eleanor’s was the day after! It was her special day in the year, and now it was ruined ruined ruined by having to have a stupid party for stupid Eleanor, returning from stupid finishing school.

“Stupid,” muttered Isabel, but was saved from having to explain herself by the arrival of Eleanor.

Eleanor stood in the doorway of the orangery, perfectly erect. She had on a green linen sundress, and white lace gloves. She carried a small attaché case and smiled meekly towards grandam, who came flurrying over to embrace her.

Eleanor was stock-still while grandam pawed at her, and only when she had been released did she incline her head slightly towards Isabel.

“Good afternoon grandam,” she said, in a voice that rang high and clear. “Good afternoon Isabel. Is it not a  fine day? I do believe I shall take a nap. Travelling does weary one so.”

“Oh, darling, I’m so happy you’re back!” enthused grandam, taking the attaché case off her and holding her by the gloved hand. “It seems to have done you a world of good.”

“Why, I believe it has,” said Eleanor. “Please be a dear and take my case to my suite. I wish to talk to my sister.”

Grandam, trembling with excitement, left the room with the case. 

Eleanor sat down next to Isabel.

“Hello sis,” she said, in her usual voice. Her voice wasn’t rough or common by any means – they lived in Regents Park – but it didn’t have the sonorous tone that she had used before. “I hear you’re organising my debut. Jolly sporting of you.”

“Shut up,’ scowled Isabel.

“I’ll shut up,” said Isabel in a low, threatening tone, “when you make me the star of the party. Everything is to be about me, you hear me? I want pictures of me everywhere, and everyone to talk about me. You make that party the best party there’s ever been. It’s such a shame it’s on your actual birthday but – “ she levelled her face next to Isabel’s. Isabel could see the powder on her nose. “May the best granddaughter win.”

It was then that Isabel decided Eleanor should die. She would kill her, and at her party. There would be no more young Eleanor.

Grandam sailed back into the room.

“Everything going well?” she trilled.

“Fine, thank you,” replied the twins in unison.

all about me, writing

Imbolc / Nature

Today is February the 1st. Which means it’s my day, St Brigid’s day! It marks the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so is considered by some to be the first day of spring. Also, it’s my name day. Me me me. So go and celebrate! Happy Imbolc!

Coincidentally, the spark word at my Saturday writing group was ‘nature’. So I’ve written, as per, a 1 hour story about nature. This one actually has an ending of sorts, though it is MEGA CHEESY. Apologies about that.

Here is ‘Nature’, in all its glory:

“…Take them twice a day, Mrs Godfrey, and that should heal up in no time,” smiled Dr Ray at the ancient woman with the most horrendous toe fungus he had ever seen. She smiled back at him, then slowly shuffled her tiny body out of the surgery. 

Ray shuddered to himself as the for closed behind her. Feet were the worst. He’d never been keen on them; even when his girlfriend showed off her pretty painted toenails, he recoiled a little. Still, the next patient was not an 88 year old lady, it was a 32 year old woman, so unlikely that she would be suffering from foot-related fungus. You just never knew, however, he reminded himself. You just never knew.

After he had signalled for the next patient to come in, he watched as the door opened and the most beautiful woman he had ever seen entered. She had auburn hair which fell in pre-Raphaelite ringlets around her cherubic face, which was porcelain-white, and makeup free. She wasn’t small, and wasn’t big either. She was just perfect. He felt his mouth dry, so took a deep drought from the glass he kept by the photo of his girlfriend. Amber was pretty, sure, but she paled into insignificance next to this goddess.

“Miss Hamilton?” he asked, once he had gathered his composure.

“Mrs,” she corrected him, a tiny smile playing on the corners of her lips. “But please, call me Fiona.”

“Fiona,” he said. He rolled the word around in his mouth a few times. It was delicious. Fiona, Fiona, Fiona. “What can I do for you today, Fiona?”

“Well,” she started, then stopped. 

There was a pause for a minute, then Ray asked, “is everything ok?”

“Ye-es,” said Fiona, still hesitating, then she sat upright, looked at Ray with her deep violet eyes and asked, “is it illegal for your husband to steal your baby?”

“Sorry?!” spluttered Ray.

“My husband. He’s stolen my baby.”

“Right,” said Ray, trying to compose himself, and wondering what to say next. Fiona was clearly very vulnerable, and he longed to embrace her, to take her cares away. But he had no idea, no professional idea that is, of what to do next. He was stumped. Eventually, he asked, “is it your husband’s baby?”

“Oh yes,” said Fiona in that angelic voice she possessed. “I’ve only ever been with two men, and the first one was in my teens. It’s definitely my husband’s baby. But he’s stolen it.”

“Do you have any idea where he could have taken it?” asked Ray, wondering why she kept on referring to the baby as ‘it’.

“Oh yes. He’s taken it to hospital. But I don’t want him to.”

“Is,” said Ray, treading very carefully, “the baby sick?”

“Oh yes,” said Fiona, quite cheerfully. “Very sick. We think it’s whooping cough.”

“Then surely a hospital is the best place for a sick child?” suggested Ray.

“No, no, not at all,” said Fiona, suddenly very firm. “It’s not natural.”

“Not,” repeated Ray, “natural.”

“No. I don’t mean – “ she held up her hand to stop him interrupting, “I’m not a lunatic!” she laughed a terrifying tinkly laugh. “I’m not at all against medicine. Not at all. But they’ll pump it full of chemicals, and I just want nature to care for my child.”

 “Nature,” repeated Ray.

“Yes,” she was earnestly nodding her lovely head. “I just want nature for my baby. My midwife was Mother Nature herself, and even though my husband told me off because I could have started haemorrhaging when the placenta came out, I survived the birth.” She proudly drew her beautiful head upright. “It was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever done.”

“You didn’t have any midwife at all?” asked Ray faintly.

“I did! I told you, Mother Nature! Gaia, the earth goddess and Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fertility were all the help I needed.”

She’s insane, thought Ray. She’s actually certifiable. All thoughts of wanting to stroke her hair, to hold her in his arms, to cherish and comfort her vanished. She needed help.

“And I tried everything,” she was saying, as Ray zoned back into the room. “I dried out the umbilical cord and gave it to it to suck on. I fed the baby the ground placenta. I lit candles and collected dew and danced. And I’m sure it was working, but husband stole it and has taken it to hospital, where they don’t understand nature at all, and will put chemicals in my baby!” She started to sob. 

“But the chemicals will make the child better!” Ray almost shouted. “You must think of what is best for the baby! You haven’t even told me if the baby is a boy or a girl! How can I help you recover your child I don’t even know its sex!”

Fiona looked at him hard.

“It has a penis, if that’s what you mean, but it isn’t ready to choose yet. Who knows – it might turn out to be an animal, instead of a human. Imagine,” she said, starry-eyed, “if I had given birth to a tiger instead of a human child. Wouldn’t that really be something?”

 Ray couldn’t believe he was going to attempt reason with Fiona, but he did anyway. “Surely the most natural thing is to raise your son – ” here Fiona shuddered – “as a boy, and if he feels he’s in the wrong body later, he’ll let you know.”

Fiona looked coldly at him. “I can see that I’m wasting my time here,” she said stiffly. “I thought you would understand, but you’re just like the rest of them. Telling me to talk to someone, to ‘get help’ – I don’t need any help! I carried that child for nine months, for nine months!” She was screaming now. “And I know it better than anyone! It’s my child, mine mine mine! And he – ” she spat out the word, “has taken it to hospital. To a bloody hospital!” She lay in the foetal position and wept while Ray discreetly phoned for an ambulance. 

That evening, Ray was having glass of wine. His third, but who’s counting? He was exhausted. He listened to Amber as she chatted away, clearing the dinner plates and telling him all about Samantha in HR, who’s covering Jan on maternity leave, and is such a bitch. 

“I’m sure she’s cheating on him,” she continued, as she sidled on the sofa next to Ray. Ray blinked. 

“Who’s cheating on who?” she asked, a little blearily.

Amber clucked. “Samantha, the next HR person. Her boyfriend, Joe, he’s really nice. I met him at a conference once and – oh, did I tell you? I got my toenails done today.” She pulled off her socks and wriggled her dainty toes at him, which had a covered of pale lavender on the nails. Ray was suddenly very glad to see her feet.

“Your feet are lovely,” he said, in all honestly. “I’ve never told you before.”

“Thank you!” beamed Amber as she slid her feet back into her socks. “And how was your day? I’ve waffled enough about me.”

“It was – ” Ray considered. “Interesting.”

“Oh?” said Amber, wide-eyed. “How come?”

Ray was tired. “It just was. Come on,” he said, standing up and taking her hand, “let’s go to bed and let nature take its course.”

Amber giggled. “I love it when nature takes its course.”

“So do I,” said Ray. “Sometimes.”

writing

Travel

Another hour, another semi-story! Spark word was travel, here is the resultant mess. Again, only written in an hour, so please forgive any mistakes, but enjoy!

“I’m bored,” said George, kicking the back of his mother’s seat. “I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored. I’m bored.  I’m bored bored bored bored -“

“Ok George, keep your pants on,” said Liz, turning her attention again to the satnav. “It says left here,” she told her husband. 

‘It isn’t,” he countered. “I checked the route before we left and we turn off at the next junction.”

“Well, the satnav says…”

‘The satnav’s wrong!” snapped Greg. He’d been driving for a little over three hours now, and was starting to feel the effects of the second cup of coffee he’d had before they’d left. 

“Mummy, can we turn the radio back on?” asked Phoebe. The radio had been turned off during a particularly heated discussion over temporary traffic lights and whether or not they’d be better going round the back streets. 

“In a minute, darling,” said Liz.

‘Why not now?” chipped in George. “It’s boring in the car. I’m bored, bored, bored, bored -“ 

“Because I said in a minute, darling – it really is left here, this is the turning.”

“It isn’t, I assure you,” said Greg, through gritted teeth.

“Ray-dee-oh,” chanted Phoebe. “Ray-dee-oh, ray-dee-oh…”

George joined in and the two children enjoyed a good 30 seconds of repeating the same word over and over, until their dad turned round furiously and bellowed at them for the love of God to shut up. They shut up.

It had been that turning. Shit.

They drove in silence.

At the motorway service station, and after a well-deserved trip to the bathroom, Greg was feeling more optimistic. Yes, they were now on a slightly different route, but as long as they carried on going south, that would be all right. Where was Dover? South. Where was he heading? South. All fine, he consoled himself. What’s a scenic route anyway? The ferry didn’t leave until the next day, and they had no rush to be in heir bed and breakfast. As long as he went in vaguely the right direction, he’d find it, eventually.

Liz came over to where he was sitting, holding Phoebe’s hand. Phoebe was clutching a bag of crispy M&Ms  – the kind that no one else liked – and singly softly to herself. 

“Have we got the next part of the journey worked out?” she asked, then stopped. “Where’s George?” she asked, her voice pitched higher than usual.

“He’s with you,” said Greg, then realised the idiocy of the statement, for George was not with Liz.

“Is he though?” shrilled Liz. “Look at me, Greg, how many children am I currently holding, eh? How many?”

“One,” said Phoebe helpfully. Greg shot her a murderous glance.

“That’s right Phoebe, I am holding one child. Tell me Greg, how many children do we have again?”

“Two!” squealed Phoebe, delighted to help her mother out yet again. 

“Right again, Phoebe, we have two children, Greg. One, two. I take Phoebe to the toilet; that’s one child; you take George to the toilet; that’s two. How hard is that?”

“Well, he can’t have wandered far,” said Greg, beginning to panic a bit. “We’re on a motorway. It’s not like he’s got out onto the road…”

‘I’m not worried about him walking out onto the motorway!” screeched Liz. “I’m worried about him being taken by someone!”

“Why would someone take George?” asked Phoebe. “Do they want him for something?”

Liz was saved from answering by the tugging on her sleeve. 

“Hello mummy,” said George. “Who wants to take me?”

“No one wants to take you,” said Liz.

“Mummy, why are you crying?” he asked.

“Because I’m happy,” explained Liz through her tears. 

“That doesn’t make any sense mummy,” said Phoebe, confused. 

“It’s something grown-ups do,” said George, with an air of great knowledge. “Daddy’s done it too.”

“Have I?” said Greg.

“Yes, daddy, don’t you remember, it was when you were on the phone that time to the credit card people -“ 

“Ok!” said Greg, making as much noise as he could. “Who wants to go and buy a doughnut?”

“Me!” said Phoebe and George.

“I don’t want a doughnut,” said Liz in a dangerous voice. ‘I want to hear about the time daddy cried because he was happy.”

Back in the car, George and Phoebe were tucking into their doughnuts. The radio was playing and the mood, in the back at least, had lightened. In the front of the car, the mood had considerably dipped.

“I said it was that turning,” said Liz, for about the fifteenth time. 

“And I said I’m sorry,” said Greg, again, for about the fifteenth time. 

“Good thing we can afford a trip to France, isn’t it,” said Liz.

Greg gripped the steering wheel.

“I told you we’d talk about it later.”

“£60,000, Greg!” 

“I know how much it is,” he said, staring intently at the road.  

“That’s a lot of money,” piped up George. 

“Isn’t it just,” said Liz. “We could have gone to Disneyworld with all that money – would you like to go to Disneyworld?”

“Yay!” said George and Phoebe together. 

“Or would you rather play silly spinny round games?”

“No, I’d rather go to Disneyworld!” said George. 

“See, Greg,” said Liz, “even a six-year old child can budget better than you can.”

“Shut up,” muttered Greg. ’Shut up, shut up…”

“Mummy,” said Phoebe, out of nowhere, “where are we going?”

“To France,” Liz answered shortly.

“Oh right,” said Phoebe. Curiosity satisfied, she went back to licking jam off her fingers and humming.  

‘To a charming little village called Roulette -“ Liz continued.

“I said shut up!” shouted Greg thumping the steering wheel. 

“Why did the car hooter, daddy?” asked George. “Is it broken?”

“I bet it is!” said Phoebe, with real hope in her voice, She had always wanted to break down and be towed away by a big truck.

“Do you bet it is, Greg? I bet daddy bets it is, too! Come on daddy, what do you bet?”