Inspired by a bad case of puffing to cross the road, I decided to try and use my running machine for running rather than hang clothes on. I had two exercise bras-unused, a rapidly expanding waistline care of lockdown and a free “couch to 5K “app on my phone with all sorts of famous people claiming that not only had they done it but I could too.
What was there too loose?
The first week started with a five-minute walk and a three-minute jog I switched on Neil Diamond and by the time “Cherry Cherry” had finished I was sweating like a Camembert in the sun.
Not the best half-hour I have spent despite Neil’s greatest hit, in fact, it sort of put me off, Neil.
The first couple of weeks were tough I have never jogged before but I had made up my mind to follow this app to the letter. Each time I made it to the five-minute walk cool down I celebrated with a sweaty tossing of a bra ceremony.
There is nothing like the flinging off of a tight bra to cheer a woman up. Five weeks later the run flashes by, I still sweat and toss the bras but I feel great and can now talk when I run across the road. My hips haven’t shrunk but I swear when I hold my stomach in I have definitely lost weight.
And if you are looking for something to read that isn’t going to break the purse string check out the links below …
Rise and shine its’ June So another month has passed and we are here, reading and wondering about what the future has for us.
Well I guess I shouldn’t really speak for you should I?
Writing and working from home can do that to a woman-mix up her pronouns because there is no one but the TV to talk to. All my family are in another country-everything is hello on a screen.
The last hug I received was from the next door’s cat and that was only because I’d been cooking fish.
The other day the neighbour of the cat offered me a home brew outside by the sun, with line drawn on the ground by his daughter to keep our distance. Clutching my new “I luv cats” mug I tucked into a delicious white wine that had me forgetting that four hours in the sun can burn a woman with freckles.
I think he’s seriously worried about my obsession with his cat. He asked me to stop leaving fish heads about the bin, I told I was a vegan and he looked at me with the sort of look a child who know there is no Santa gives to a man dressed in a red suit at Christmas time wanting him to sit on his knew. Needless to say I didn’t sit on my neighbour’s knee.
Nor did I leave any more fish lying around. Instead I accepted the offer of helping the local carer group.
Decked out in a plastic apron, gloves and a mask I managed to spread and receive some human kindness all be it with plastic between us.
I hope you have some human kindness this month, it makes the sun shine even on a raining day.
I can’t live without it.
if you would like some free books then check out the links below
A wee story for you to help chuckle away the Lockdown blues…
George’s codpiece is a magnificent piece of expanding equipment which, with the aid of a long-life battery, pulsated to music.
The straps are studded with green and red baubles. The tip (or “main event,” as George likes to call it) sprung forth like a jack-in-the-box, presenting a bloodred, jewelled disco ball at the end with an almost ta-da–like quality, spurring a woman to forget her “darling, I’ve a headache” as soon as she saw it.
George had first spied it in the Red Cross charity shop. He walked past on his way to the butcher’s and there it was in the window passing itself off as abstract art. He stopped and stared at the red tip just shy of the mannequin’s askew wig and soon forgot about his pork chops.
The charity shop was run by Elsa and Karin, two women who had spent their lives making scones for the Women’s Rural Instute, (WRI). The only codpieces they had seen, apart from ballet on Television, were Henry VII’s armor during a school trip to London (which wasn’t yesterday) and the amateur dramatics society’s one and only attempt at Shakespeare—as Hamlet as camp as Liberace who wore his codpiece like a hairpiece and, according to the local paper’s witticism, had “as much acting ability as a glass of water.”
The codpiece was hanging on the doorknob in a Marks and Spencer bag when Elsa and Karin arrived.
Elsa, with a quick glance, thought it was a joke coat hanger, which started her off on a rant that Karin had heard many times. In fact, the mere mention of “hangers” often led to her plugging in her headphones and nodding like a Chinese cat doll.
“What’s this,” said Elsa, “another of those friggin’ crochet-covered coat hangers?”
Karin, shop keys poised, huffed a silent “here we go.”
“I mean who came up with that idea?” said Elsa. “They are about as much use as one of those crochet toilet roll covers.”
Karin opened the door.
“Surely there are better ways to use up spare wool than crocheting pointless covers,” said Elsa.
Karin marched into the dark shop and switched on the lights.
She sighed. “Must we go down that coat hanger road again?”
Elsa thumped the bag on the counter.
“A toilet roll is a toilet roll, a coat hanger’s a coat hanger—they’re not genitals that need covering up,” she said.
“Must we move on to genitals as well?” muttered Karin.
Elsa watched as Karin switched on the till and opened up the back door.
“They should be banned,” she said to herself.
Karin flicked the Closed sign to Open and then stopped. “If you really feel that strongly about it, why don’t you write to the WRI —or better still leave, join the Women’s Guild?”
“Guild?” Elsa jolted. “Have you seen their bottle stall? Not a wine in sight. They have no idea what the public want.”
Karin fingered her mp3 player, wondering what she had downloaded recently.
“One as bad as the other,” muttered Elsa. “As for her who runs the Guild . . . I see enough of her in here.”
Karin lifted the bag from under Elsa’s clutches and peered in.
Elsa flicked on the kettle. “She’s living in the Dark Ages”—she checked the fridge for milk—“saving the world with homemade jam.”
“I don’t think Her from the Guild believes in jam saving things,” said Karin. “
Her last bottle stall was full of ’em,” said Elsa. “As if anyone is going to spend a tenner on raffle tickets for a jar of strawberry jam.”
Karin muttered about “homemade” as Elsa ranted on about the bottle stall.
“She’s been warned,” said Elsa, “if her next bottle stall doesn’t make any money, she’s out . . . for good. I mean who gets sacked from the Guild?”
Karin, feigning listening, pulled the codpiece into the light.
“I don’t think it’s a coat hanger.”
“What?” said Elsa.
“I said I don’t think it’s a coat hanger.”
Elsa looked up from the fridge and stared at the apparition suspended from Karin’s hand as the morning sun twinkled on its baubles.
She whistled through her teeth. “Talk about genitals—that’s big enough for an elephant’s.”
Karin read the note attached to the belt. “It’s from that belly dancing teacher.”
“Well, that explains it,” muttered Elsa. “Anyone who talks about pelvic tilts and TENA pads in the same sentence as a latte is bound to be a bit, well . . . free with things.”
“Told you, as free as a nudist colony,” said Elsa.
“‘Open your mind and give your pelvis a good seeing to,’” Karin read aloud.
“Completely pelvic obsessed,” said Elsa.
“‘Fulfill your fantasy,’” read Karin.
Elsa flicked the tip of the codpiece; it sprung into action.
“It’s not one of those vibrators, is it?”
“‘Build a bonfire, dance al fresco, and discover that goddess within,’” Karin read.
“She’s been on the home brew,” muttered Elsa. She looked at her pal. “Why don’t you put it on?”
“What?” said Karin.
“It’s Monday,” muttered Elsa. “No one comes in on a Monday, even Her from the Guild.”
Her from the Guild was the new Red Cross store manager. She had only been in the role for three months and had managed to lose every volunteer apart from Elsa and Karin. She’d been given the job without any experience beyond a few hours in her daughter’s coffee shop. Some say the daughter pulled a few strings, couldn’t bear another hour of her mother’s lukewarm lattes served with a temperance sermon that turned even the most loyal of customers away.
“Why don’t you?” said Karin, handing the codpiece to Elsa.
Elsa shoved it back. “Me? My size? Where am I to put it, around my neck? No, definitely you.”
Karin jangled the codpiece. “It looks contractable.”
They stared at the so-called “one-size-fits-all” pelvic apparition swaying before them.
“Not that contractable,” muttered Elsa.
Karin said nothing.
“And you’re the one with superb hips,” said Elsa.
Karin muttered a “hmmm.”
“Even that belly dancing teacher said you were a natural,” said Elsa; she could see she was winning her pal around. Karin threw her a half-hearted pfff look.
“She said you could make hessian flow with your hip moves,” said Elsa.
Karin looked at her pal.
“She wanted to know why you didn’t come back to her class. Had plans for you.”
Elsa caught Karin’s eye. “Imagine that thing—with those shimmies you love to do.”
“Oh all right then,” snapped Karin.
Elsa flicked on the kettle as Karin slid into the changing room.
Elsa’s phone pinged a text.
“It’s her from the Guild,” shouted Elsa. “She’s wanting something for the next bottle stall!”
“Should I take off my jumper?” said Karin.
“No, seriously, she does,” said Elsa. She scrolled down the Queen’s Speech of a message, skimming quickly through the “how to improve things” sermon.
Her from the Guild managed from a distance, occasionally calling in to rubbish Karin’s latest color-coordinated clothes rack or Elsa’s innovative window display; she even Skyped once, until Elsa switched her off mid rant.
“What about my shoes?” shouted Karin. “Should I take ’em off too?”
Elsa stopped. “Jesus.”
“What was that?” yelled Karin. “Shoes too much?”
“She’s coming here this afternoon,” shouted Elsa.
“Who?” said Karin.
“Guess,” yelled Elsa.
“I thought she was on holiday, taking in the ballet somewhere hot,” said Karin.
Elsa sighed. “Not anymore.”
“Jesus,” muttered Karin.
“Apparently, there’s an issue with our ‘so-called window display.’ Something to do with our out-of-date . . .” Elsa stopped.
“Out-of-date what?” said Karin.
“Err . . . mannequin,” muttered Elsa.
“There nothing out of date about my mannequin,” snapped Karin. “I used it for years before I brought it here.”
Elsa waited; she knew there was more.
“It’s retro, evocative, quiche.”
“Don’t you mean niche?” said Elsa.
“That window would be nothing without my mannequin,” said Karin, “and if that’s the thanks I get—”
“I know, she can shove it,” muttered Elsa to herself.
“—we should give her something to choke on,” said Karin.
“Exactly,” said Elsa. “Something as outrageous as her stupid demands.”
“I know,” shouted Elsa.
“Something to . . . you know . . . stop her in tracks—shut her up.”
“Something to put her right in her place,” said Elsa.
“How about this?” Karin swished the curtains open.
Elsa stared at Karin’s pelvis decorated like a joker’s hat as the kettle, bubbling unattended, filled the shop with steam.
“Jesus!” she muttered.
The codpiece jumped to life, making Elsa feel a bit funny.
Childhood memories flashed back to a ballet concert in Glasgow where Elsa, sitting painfully on a hard seat, wondered (between bouts of boredom) what all that Rudolf Nureyev fuss was about. To a sporty ten-year-old, men in tights were as stupid as her mother’s hairstyle, and a bulge between the legs was as intriguing as a pickled egg recipe. Karin twirled a few times, the codpiece swaying like a jewelled palm tree, expanding and contracting.
Perhaps I should revisit Rudolf Nureyev? thought Elsa.
Karin finished with a robust pelvic thrust.
Or even some younger dancer? thought Elsa.
Neither saw Harry, an elderly gentleman, pass by.
He, in the middle of pondering the butcher’s latest leek-and-mushroom sausages, stopped as he caught the pulsating burble shoot past his side vision.
Harry turned to catch Karin mid pelvis thrust.
Harry, like a stunned Labrador, was mesmerised, sausages as far from his thoughts as last night’s toenail trimmings.
Karin, who according to many was still a catch, had the sort of pelvic thrust that could set a man’s heart thumping. Especially a man whose only contact with a woman was having his blood pressure checked.
Karin wiggled with a giggle.
“I saw one in the war,” he shouted.
“Aye right,” she shouted.
“I did,” he shouted back. “There’s a lot to Hitler folk don’t know about.”
Elsa’s phone lit up, and a Dolly Parton ringtone echoed through the shop; the codpiece bounced into action.
Harry chuckled, setting off a round of coughing, as Karin twirled with her best I’m looking for a shag look.
Elsa’s phoned stopped, the codpiece flopped, and Karin, mid pose, tried not to look silly.
Elsa fumbled to find more music. “
Hurry up,” muttered Karin as Harry tapped on the window and pulled out his phone.
“Do it again, they’ll never believe me at the butcher’s.”
Elsa found a Status Quo song and, mid cursing her husband’s lousy taste in music, flicked it on.
Down, down, deeper and down . . .
The codpiece went mental.
A couple of hours and several Status Quo albums later, the codpiece was swinging from the window like a pornographic wind chime just shy of a seventies mannequin dressed like something out a sex shop, and Her from the Guild was livid.
Elsa and Karin had spent all morning redoing the window with Harry videoing (or “helping,” as he called it). They figured if Her from the Guild was coming for her usual get-rid-of-the-volunteers lecture, then they may as well get their money’s worth . . .
They were going out in style.
The girls threw everything they could at the window: leather belts disguised as whips, boots, bras, underpants, aprons—they went to town, relying on Harry’s knowledge of all things pornographic, as the only dubious things they had seen were Barbara Windsor’s breast in a Carry On film and the odd nude in the local art show.
Karin and Elsa learnt many things: mainly that when it came to sex, Harry’s memory was as clear as Highland Spring water, while theirs was as muddy as a cappuccino.
Finally finished and satisfied and Status Quo switched to a Seventies Greatest Hits album, the three stopped to admire their handywork with a coffee.
“It’s a work of art,” muttered Harry, tucking into a scone just as Her from the Guild flounced through the door.
By the time George passed by the shop, Her from the Guild had been inside long enough to not only throw a wobbly but also destroy much of the window ambience by covering the mannequin with a crochet blanket, causing a coughing fit from Harry.
As Harry recovered with a glass of water, George stared at the codpiece. The crochet blanket slung over the mannequin gave it a more avant-garde look, and his Beatrice could be very avant-garde.
He had known Beatrice since the black-and-white TV days, and she was a woman easily pissed off. This piece just might tip her over the edge from platonic to . . . well . . .
He stared at the bloodred knob.
It’ll make her weak at the knees, he thought. It’s making me weak just now.
He spotted the elderly gentleman by the shop counter recovering. Then he heard Her from the Guild, a woman as pious as the Pope and as sober as the temperance movement. In fact, if there were a local temperance group, she’d be running it; she was so against alcohol she had even refused George’s offer of a malt whisky for her latest bottle stall.
And that would have made a bucket of money, but then again, thought George, maybe it was because she recognised me . . . from another time.
George eyed the codpiece.
It had as much chance of surviving under her clutches as her bottle stall did of making money. He had to do something. He knew the Guild had nearly sacked her, given her one last chance to run the bottle stall . . . and he also knew of a time, years ago, when Her from the Guild was anything but pious.
He smiled to himself. That codpiece was all but his.
With a friendly tap on the door and his best casual saunter, George entered.
No one noticed.
Her from the Guild was in full throttle, claiming that the so-called art in the window had as much to do with art as a bottle stall had with alcohol.
“There’s a bonfire with that thing’s name on it,” she yelled.
The others tried to argue, but she, dismissing all arguments of it being “one of a kind,” ploughed through her speech like a minister preaching fire and brimstone to the masses.
“This is a charity shop, not an Ann Summers shop,” she yelled.
“Ann Summers?” mouthed Elsa to Karin and Harry. “How would she know?”
“I know about Ann Summers,” said Her from the Guild. “I know about all these things. I was once like you—a heathen, a lost soul . . .”
“Hello, Carisa,” said George.
She stopped. No one had called her that for years.
The two girls looked at each other with a that’s her name? look.
“I see you moved on from coat hangers and tea sets.” He paused. “Carisa.”
“Well, not exactly,” she muttered.
They looked at each other like they had a past . . . a past that hadn’t ended well.
“The last time I saw you, you were trying to sell raffle tickets for the bottle stall with jars of jam and a bottle of Sarson’s vinegar.”
“Don’t call me Carisa,” sniffed Her from the Guild.
“You made enough to what,” said George, “pay for the rent of stall?” He paused for effect. “Carisa.”
“I said don’t call me that,” said Her from the Guild.
They looked at each other.
George knew that he could say more, he could tell all; he waited.
Her from the Guild fumbled with the till and muttered something about the shop being closed.
George didn’t move. “I hear you’re doing another bottle stall, for the Gala Day,” he said.
The room was silent, the girls and Harry poised.
What’s next? mouthed Karin.
“And?” she said, attempting to hold her own.
“We’ve been here before, haven’t we?” said George.
“Another time, another place?” She blushed.
“Jesus,” Elsa mouthed to Karin.
Harry chuckled, setting off a round of coughing. George patted his back, making the coughing worse. Harry waved him to stop.
“I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve this time,” said Her from the Guild.
“Tricks? It’s a bottle stall. Throw in a few bottles of wine and malt whisky and you’re laughing,” said Karin.
“Yes, well . . . there’s more to it than that,” said Her from the Guild.
“But is there?” said George.
“Well, I . . .” She caught George’s eye and stopped.
A few days later, as George surprised, seduced, and entertained Beatrice into bed with his codpiece, Elsa and Karin were celebrating in the Argyll Hotel. They had left the charity shop. Harry had assured them that he had seen plenty, knew what he was talking about, and was happy to help in an advisory capacity. George had been generous.
“You’re welcome to the codpiece any time for a template,” he said. “Anything to spread the joy of a codpiece.”
Elsa and Karin had a plan that not only would make great use of Karin’s retro mannequin but would lead the two of them into a world far more entertaining than selling under that pain in the arse from the Guild.
They were going to make and sell codpieces on the internet, starting with designs inspired by George’s codpiece. George offered to make a donation to the bottle stall in exchange for the codpiece. It was large enough to impress those in the Guild, and Her from the Guild had no choice but to accept.
She had a past, a past that she wanted kept there. A time when she drank too much; she got so drunk at a Gala Day she drank the whisky from the bottle stall and danced on the table, hurling the pickled egg jars into the crowd. Some would call it a turning point. It was a lifetime ago, and George had promised never to tell, but as she handed in his donation to the Guild, Her from the Guild realised that perhaps bottle stalls were best left to someone comfortable with a bottle of whisky inches from their hand.
A few months later, at the Gala Day, Her from the Guild stood behind the burger stand, frying onions. At first, she didn’t see Karin and Elsa set up their stand—until the mannequin was erected. Mid peeling an onion, Her from the Guild stopped as a crochet codpiece was wrapped around the mannequin’s pelvis. Elsa and Karin had gone for a more subtle, comic element for the family day out. Not subtle enough, thought Her from the Guild, until she spied George with Beatrice heading for her stall.
He caught her eye.
But then again, crochet is not so bad, she told herself. It has a certain restrained charm about it. And she pulled out another onion to peel.
Boudicca and Mavis is part of a book of short stories, called A Dress For A Queen And Other Short Stories. If you would like to read more please click on the link below.
A long time ago I brought a vibrator, it was an embarrassing event which I knew would one day make a funny story.
Years later the event rose to the occasion like any decent young man and found its’ way into a novel I was working on “Three Angry women and a Baby.”
The novel is now finished and I thought why not cheer a few folk up in these tough times of isolation and fear? So sit back, enjoy and raise a glass to the good old days when shopping didn’t require gloves, or masks and the only thing dangerous about a sneeze was its’ ability to put your back out.
The Buying Of A Vibrator
I decided to buy a vibrator. I had seen a couple of them at a hen party humping about a table like legless dicks, and I, like many, had flashed a glance at an Ann Summers window, sometimes stopping for a better look . . .
Ann Summers is the sort of shop that sells sex toys and lingerie for women, and I had passed it many times, flashing a glance at the mannequins in underwear a drag queen would give her right tit for and nighties like those worn in romantic comedies.
It was a Monday morning and Ann Summers was empty apart from two assistants lounging about the counter talking about their holidays.
They clocked me straight away as I lingered by the edible body paint . . .
The older assistant nudged her comrade as I picked up a pink tube of “pussy rub” and tried to the read the label without my glasses. She was mid-forties and had a blonde hairdo with short back and sides, six-inch heels, and glasses swinging from a gold chain just shy of a cleavage that would have Henry cracking Mount Everest jokes.
“VV at eleven o’clock,” chuckled Short Back and Sides, setting her cleavage into motion.
Her younger male comrade’s perfect eyebrows twitched. “What was that, Darl?”
“Vibrator virgin,” laughed Short Back and Sides.
Perfect Eyebrows flashed a smile with uniform Hollywood teeth. There was not a wrinkle in sight.
I moved towards the back of the shop as they watched. It was a bit unnerving, but I was determined. I picked up a set of handcuffs, and fumbled.
“Definitely a first,” muttered Perfect Eyebrows.
I caught sight of several vibrators arranged like a selection of James Bond weapons at HQ. I, mid wondering if Q would appear, fingered a silver bullet-shaped object. I turned it about in my hands.
It looked like it would fit . . .
“What do you reckon, the Rabbit?” said Short Back and Sides.
Rabbit? I stopped . . .
“Always the Rabbit, dear.” Perfect Eyebrows laughed. “Need any help, luv?” he shouted across to me.
I stopped. “Well . . . I . . . err . . . not sure . . .”
With a Marilyn Monroe saunter, Perfect Eyebrows appeared beside me, followed by the clipped march of Short Back and Sides.
I fumbled about with words, trying to describe what I was looking for, and they watched like a toddler pulling wings off a fly.
“I was sort of wondering . . .” I muttered.
“What, luv?” said Perfect Eyebrows.
“About getting . . .” I faltered. “It’s just that . . . well.”
“Hmmm?” they said in unison like two Gothic undertakes.
“It’s my first time . . .” I blurted.
“Bit overwhelming, pet?” Perfect Eyebrows flashed his teeth.
“There’s so many . . .”
“I know.” He patted my arm.
“. . . sizes, shapes, and colours,” I muttered. “That one” — I gestured with the silver bullet — “looks like it’d block a toilet, let alone . . .” I attempted a chuckle. “Down below.”
“It’s all in the shape,” said Short Back and Sides, casting a glance at her comrade.
“And lubricant,” muttered Perfect Eyebrows.
Lubricant? I thought.
I looked about. There were things I had never seen before: G strings that looked as comfortable as a G string, shiny tight nurse and Santa outfits looking as comfortable as, well . . . as a G string, oils that promise the impossible and enough flavoured condoms to fill a sweet shop.
“We’ve all been there, luv,” he said.
I stared down at the silver bullet in my hand.
“Do they all . . . you know . . . fit?” I said.
Short Back and Sides eyed my lean frame. “Anything would fit you.”
“No, I meant those.” I waved the bullet at the vibrators on show. “Never used one before.”
“Always a first time,” said Short Back and Sides, swiftly lifting the bullet from me with a way out of your league sniff. “We’ll soon sort you out.”
She marched towards the stand like she was missing a whip and someone had hidden it. She, gesturing for me to follow, pulled out a large pink dildo and waved it under my nose. The smell of new lingered.
“Beginners,” she said in a clipped fashion. “Durable, flexible, and easy to clean.”
“I don’t want anything too noisy,” I muttered.
“Of course, dear,” said Short Back and Sides.
“I mean I’ve seen them in a porn . . . err . . . film.”
They looked at me.
“Not that I’m a regular watcher,” I laughed, “just the odd, you know . . . when I was younger; curious . . . like.”
“Mission: Impossible.” I chuckled. “I mean if I saw that before I was married . . .”
She hushed me with her hand. “This is what I use when my boyfriend’s away, and I’ve tried everything . . .”
“She’s tried ’em all,” Perfect Eyebrows jumped in.
“But honestly,” said Short Back and Sides, “I always go back to my Rabbit.”
“She’s lost without it,” said Perfect Eyebrows, “been through at least . . .” He silently counted. Four? Five?
Short Back and Sides threw him a look, then turned to me. “Honestly, there is no substitute. If I don’t get my weekly — ”
“Weekly? Pfff — daily, more like it,” said Perfect Eyebrows. “When I stayed with you, I needed earplugs — honestly.”
“Daily?” I said.
Short Back and Sides glared at her comrade.
“We’re all girls here,” he said to her, then touched my arm. “If you saw him you’d have few Rabbits too.”
“Him?” I said.
“Oh absolutely you’d have a draw full,” said Perfect Eyebrows.
I looked at Short Back and Sides.
“He’s talking about my boyfriend,” sighed Short Back and Sides.
“A beard like a Taliban,” said Perfect Eyebrows.
Short Back and Side pulled a face.
“I’d go crazy if he went down there with that thing,” said Perfect Eyebrows.
“Jesus,” she muttered.
“I mean honestly I would.” He pulled a face.
“We’re not here to talk about what you like,” she said.
Perfect Eyebrows shivered. “Hate beards.”
Short Back and Side threw him a shut it look.
“Well I’m sorry, luv, but his must prickle like a cactus,” he said.
“There is nothing cactus-y about my Lenard,” snapped Short Back and Sides.
“Even the name gives me prickles.” Perfect Eyebrows shivered again.
“Yes, well, lucky for you he’s not your type, is he?”
Short Back and Sides looked at me. “He just loves eighties-style butch men . . . packed at the front like one of your porn films.”
“Only watched one years ago,” I muttered.
“I’m just a tart,” laughed Perfect Eyebrows, “but who cares? It’s not like we’re gonna live forever.”
“Don’t be saying such things,” she said.
He looked at me. “She’s vegan, thinks it will make a difference — save the panda, the white leopard, the whale, the whole friggin’ world.”
“If we all gave up meat,” she said, “then — ”
“There’d be enough rice for everyone,” snapped Perfect Eyebrows. “Yeah, well, honey, rice gives me wind.”
I turned to her. “I’m a vegan.” Well, thinking of it . . .
“No worries here.” She threw me a warm smile. “Even the lubricant’s animal-free” — she tapped my arm — “and gluten-free as well.”
Twenty minutes later, I, clutching my “this is not from Ann Summer’s” bag, walked out of Ann Summers filled with expectation, at least two great stories to entertain Sheryl and the brother with, a decent set of underpants that I was assured was comfortable, and an “easy as sliced vegan cheese” vegan sausage recipe.
Not that I had anyone to wear lacy lingerie for, but as Perfect Eyebrows said, “You never know when a car will come along and knock you over” — which had Short Back and Sides tutting — “and darling, the last thing you need when a handsome nurse casts his eyes across your smalls is to be seen in a set a bag lady would sling in the bin.”
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Mavis and I walked into the Argyll for a quick one; I had my walking shoes and dad’s jacket on for warmth, while Mavis had opted for leather, lipstick, and flowery wellies.
Mavis posed by the bar, she had two tickets for the Half-Life show and a novel’s worth of opinions about it. Mavis likes to think she’s arty. Me? I’m more a Ruben’s fan, lots of fat women, safely framed and hanging in a warm room with coffee and a toilet nearby.
For a woman of a certain age, that’s comfort.
‘You headin’ for the Antarctic?’ Said Malcolm the barman.
Malcolm is sort of guy who thinks culture is anything written in French and Gaelic is what the French cook mushroom in, he wouldn’t know art if it jumped up and ripped his nails out one by one and he wasn’t impressed when we told him about Half-Life.
‘What’s that when it’s at home?’ He said.
‘It’s outdoor art, said Mavis. ‘Something to do with bones and cremation and we’ve been invited.’
Half-life is a play held in the middle of a forest and the only way to get there is on a double-decker bus. Mavis and I along with the rest of the audience waited for the bus in a tent with fairy lights and candles on the Lochgilphead green. Mavis liked the tent or marquee as she liked to call it. She said it put her in mind of an elegant wedding and the only thing ‘lacking’ as far as she was concerned was the ‘the lubrication of alcohol, preferably gin’. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the free ticket I wouldn’t have bothered, Coronation Street was at a crucial stage and it was only Mavis’s offer to wear her flowery wellies that swung it for me, Mavis doesn’t ‘do’ wellies.
We sat at the top of the bus right at the back and for the first time through a small film of mist saw Lochgilphead from above. It was like being back at school again without the cigarettes, even the coop looked impressive.
Mavis, who was wanting to get into the spirit of Half-Life had insisted on us visiting the two forts Dunadd and Drum An Duin, we squelched our way through the mud to reach Drum An Duin and then walked to the top of Dunadd hill. Mavis stood at the top of the hill like someone out of a Victorian drama as the wind and the sound effects mingled together like something out of a film.
‘I feel like the past has touched me,’ she said staring across the moss.
‘We used to sneak up here remember?’ A bit rum, some coke and if we were lucky one of the McLean boys, we made own background noises back then.’
‘Hmm the circle of life’, said Mavis looking pensive. ‘And it all starts with just a few sound effects.’
Mavis and I sat through the show, it was long enough to make us glad to bring our cushions, atmospheric enough to make us stay awake and wonder what was happening next and different enough to make me glad I had taped Coronation Street rather than watch it.
‘That was absolutely fantastic,’ said a woman from behind.
‘Aye well it’s amazing what they can do with a few trees, a bit of lighting and some harnesses,’ said her partner.
‘And how those two trapeze artists hung upside down for so long without getting dizzy’ continued the woman. ‘That was amazing.’
‘I didn’t understand it,’ says Mavis.
‘You’re not meant to understand it,’ said the woman. ‘It’s the experience, watching the bats …thinking about death and bones and things …’
‘For twenty quid I would want to understand,’ said Mavis.
‘It the lights, the atmosphere, the ambiance…’
‘I can get that with a couple of tea lights and gin,’ snapped Mavis.
‘Still, it makes you think,’ I said.
‘What about a drink at the Argyll.’
‘No’ I said, ‘about the Circle life, the coming and goings, are we dead when we stop breathing, where do we go when we are dead, that sort of thing.’
Mavis looked at me as if she had seen me for the first time.
‘So,’ said Malcolm. ‘How was the Half-Life then? You see any cremations?’
‘No,’ said Mavis lifting her tray of drinks. ‘Let just say it was nothing like I expected.’
Mavis took the tray back to the table; a few from the bus had joined us for a drink.
‘It was amazing,’ said one of the women at the top of her voice.
‘Brilliant,’ said her partner.
‘What were you expecting’ I said to Mavis?
‘I don’t know,’ said Mavis ‘something Neolithical I suppose.’
I don’t know what I had expected either, but as I looked at the flat television screen on the wall and then at the fresh-faced people around me arguing over the merits and meaning of Half-Life, it suddenly dawned on me that Coronation Street had not even entered my head once, during the whole evening.
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A short story for all you women who survived having a baby.
For you men who wondered why the woman you loved turned into a banshee when having a baby.
And for all you contemplating a baby-maybe you’ll think twice.
A stich in time saves bugger all.
“I hear you’re a bellydancer.” Said the Consultant. “Been doing it long?’
“Ten years.” I muttered closing my legs.
He covered me up with a tap on my knee, “that explains it.”
“You got the hips that expand like a snake’s jaw,” he laughed “you could swallow a car.”
The doctor chuckled, as I glared at him with my best is that so supposed to be funny? Look.
My fanny had had more viewings than a house action-with instrument that would scare a masochist and I was supposed to enjoy a stupid joke?
“Car,” I said with an angry tug at my sheet, “and what size we talking of-mini-four wheel drive-limo?”
The doctor flicked his gloves from his hand and tossed them in the bin, “Sense of humour very good,” he smiled muttering something about my ability to close like a clam.
I was in the middle of a large birth room with a door that swung open at a whisper of a wind with fog-horn voice doctor shouting out the size of my pelvis that I sure even the cafe across the road could hear.
I glared as the consultant lather his hands under the tap, pulled a towel from the holder and without looking at me continued on about dilations and the like. The two nurses nodded while the teenage looking students took notes. They didn’t look old enough to watch a porn film let alone, handle a dilator.
According to the nurse he-the consultant was eccentric and I was to take any so called joke with a pinch of ‘whatever’. It was one of the first things she said when I arrived along with “get undress”; “put this on” and “we need a specimen”.
“A while yet,” he muttered to the older nurse.
I watched him leave his white coat flowing like a cap crusader, his porn virgins following.
“Snake jaw,” I said “what sort of friggin bed side manner is that?”
“He’s Polish,” said the older nurse, like somehow that explained something.
“Polish?” I muttered. “What that got to do with car parking?”
“He always talks about cars” muttered the younger nurse.
The older nurse smoothed down my sheet. “But he is the best, honestly if I was having a baby he’s the man I’d want.”
She looked at the younger nurse. “His episiotomy’s are talked about for months.”
“Seamless.” Said the younger nurse.
I gulped “cuts… down there?”
“But don’t panic,” the older nurse patted my arm. “He hardly does them.”
“He’s more a cesarian guy, very safe.” Said the younger nurse.
I looked at Steven who had just entered “caesarian?” I yelped. ‘But I did yoga and breathing.”
“Honey you have the best, he’s very good, parking cars is just his way of lightening the mood.”
“Parking cars?” Steven looked at me confused.
“Mood lightening?” I turned Steven. “Apparently talking about my bits like it’s a garage will have me laughing though my labour.”
“It’s to take your mind off things.” Said Steven with an “is she ok” look at the nurse.
“Take my mind of things? That’s like saying hit you head against the wall and you won’t feel any the pain when they cut your pera-fucking-neum.”
“Lets just leave the perineum out of it.” Muttered Steven.
I let out a manic laugh that even I didn’t recognise, my moods were see sawing all over the place.
“My mother’s been going on about my peraniumfor months in fact ever since I told her I was pregnant.” I joked.
Steven rolled his eyes. “She mentioned it a few times.”
“ ‘Olive oil and rubbing’ she says, “will keep you like a virgin.”
Steven threw look at the older nurse. “She never said that, your mum doesn’t believe in virgins.”
“Steven hasn’t fried anything for weeks.” I laughed again and then burst into tears. ‘My mother’s put him off olive oil for life.’
Steven looked from one nurse to another mumbling something about medication.
“Medication? That’s you answer to everything.” I snapped.
“Well…it might help, the breathing certainly isn’t.”
“Well you not trying to push out a toe truck though a pin hole are you?” I snapped.
“Perhaps it time for some more medication.” Muttered the older nurse.
Hours ago, excited, happy and enthusiastic for a deliciously simple natural birth I had been whipped into a labour room and given a gown the size of a napkin which hardly covered my breast.
‘Is this for nose blowing,” I laughed.
The nurse, a young woman who was bustling in the corner with instruments laughed out loud, “no dignity in this place.” She said.
“It like a dolls dress,” I said, causing more giggles, until the older nurse entered.
“Having babies is no laughing matter,” she said to me “it’s serious.”
She eyed me, perched on a bedpan like buoy in the water. “You done anything in that pan yet?”
I mention something about waiting for everyone to leave, sending a series of tuts from the older nurse.
Apparently I had the consultant of all consultants and should be poised for inspection like a cow waiting for an insemination.
“You lucky he’s on tonight.” She added before leaving.
The door swung open I stared into the corridor grateful it was empty, perched on a bedpan is not something you want anyone to see.
When I discovered I was pregnant I was so excited, so happy. Steven had brought a pregnancy test, and as we looked at the blue marker he cried. We had wanted a baby for so long.
I prepared myself for my birth with yoga moves, bellydancing and birth classes rubbing oil on bits and pieces while visualising me glowing, with a baby in my arms ,Steven beside me, and whale music in the background.
Nothing is funny when you are having a baby, no one tells you how scared you become, how despite the whole world and it dog is in the room with you, you are on your own. And no matter how many hold you hand, rub your back and tell you “you’re doing great” you are scared, petrified that along with the baby, all you innards are going to burst out onto the table, the floor and even the walls and you’ll never able to shit on your own again.
When my daughter arrived Steven punched the air like a football player kissed me a thousand times and then punched the air again.
I felt nothing but a huge desire to sleep and was just in the process of doing so when I felt a burning poker sear into the flesh somewhere down below.
My legs were spread out like a dissected frog, the consultant was playing cross stitch with my bits below while my daughter was being attended to under a chorus of “she’s lovely”, “she’s beautiful”, and “so like her dad”.
“Keep still.” Snapped a male voice.
I did my best gritting my teeth with each tug as Steven told the world and my mother that our baby girl was apparently the image of him.
“Yes all fingers and toes,” he laughed, “And Sheryl? Yes she fine, waiting for her tea and toast.”
When it was over I, sipping the best tea I had ever taste in my life cracked a joke about tapestry and how my husband would appreciate the artistic display next time he was “down there.”
The consultant flicked off his gloves and moved to the sink. I was just about to sink my teeth into my toast when he without looking up said “Don’t I know you?”
I looked at nurses then Steven, Know me? I mouthed The only thing he’s seen is my fanny.
“Don’t worry,” said the young nurse. ‘He says that to all the girls.”
“His Polish,” added the older nurse.
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I was perusing through my notes, planning the fourth Planet Hyman book when I came across an out-take from Rebel Without Bra.
I brushed, tweaked and revised it, and now for your eyes only, a wee snippet into the lives of a shed worker, a footman and the possibilities of what Legless will get up to.
The Foot Rub
DBO was sitting in the shed having her “feet sorted” by a footman young enough to sit in a squatting fashion without hurting his bunions. She was 23 with no idea about sex, one-night stands or massages and as the footman rubbed her feet she looked on with confusion.
She had been told by many that touching was barbaric…
Her feet had never been discussed, touched or even looked at before and here she was having them caressed, washed and talked about by a footman with papery thin skin, loose folds about his neck and hands as soft as tofu butter….
‘Tough spot mam.’
‘Could do with a little moisture.’
‘A better fitting shoe wouldn’t go astray.’
The footman it seemed had a lot to say about feet.
DBO smiled as he got stuck into her heel. “Bit more,’ she finally muttered.
“Mam, we have another twenty minutes left, do you really want me to remain in one spot?”
‘Twenty minutes, I don’t understand?’
‘Time limit,’ he muttered, ‘there is only so much pleasure a woman can take…’
She wondered, “Do you do ankles?”
‘Ankles are permitted as are calves and knees especially the back of them.’
No one told her about that back of things… then she wondered what else had she not been told about.
‘Yes, Mam there is the back of things and the front,’ the footman muttered under his limp mustache. ‘We see them all but are not permitted to comment.’
When the footman first entered the shed DBO’s nerves hit a new height and she wondered if her goose, all be it tofu was cooked. The only time a footman walked anywhere near the shed was to spy.
DBO had been hiding under the stairs at the time, contemplating her next course of action when she heard a muffled scuffle. She spied the footman clumsily squeezing through the vent, knocking the roto clipboard of its peg. She watched as he squeezed himself in, pulled himself up.
She had no idea what to say as she had never been alone with a footman before, but she knew she had to do something. He was heading for her hiding place.
She coughed as his hand poised over the clipboard.
He started, slid the clipboard back on its peg.
‘Foot rub mam,’ he said.
She was totally thrown. ‘Rub? What is that?’
‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander’ he muttered with no reference to tofu. Then, before she had a chance to ask what a gander had to do with things, he laid her leg onto his knee, slipped off her shoe and pulled out a tube of lubricant.
The scent of hemp mingled with the smell of damp knocked her off guard.
She looked at the top of the footman’s bald head as lubricant squelched through her toes. Feet had never been discussed in the past, no one ever mentions the joy of a foot rub. The only thing she knew about foot massage was her granny spa foot bath which bubbled over the sided making a mess, and a scrapper which once engaged caused so much pain that DBO never mentioned calluses again-even in jest.
The footman moved to the other foot and began with her big toe he twirled it around and then ran his fingers along the joint. His hands were warm and oily, she sighed.
‘Why have we never heard of this?’ she said.
‘Those higher up’ said the footman, working his way along her arch.
‘The Voted in, they banned it- for all except for themselves; apparently sitting about a big table is hard on one’s feet.’
DBO detected a smirk…was that a hint of sarcasm?
She sighed, he found that spot again … releasing feelings she had no idea she had.
Focus….Focus….Remember there are spies everywhere.
“This Legless,’ she finally said, ‘have you heard of him’.
‘Everyone has heard of him.’
‘Did you meet him?’
‘I rowed a stationary beside him, never seen anyone peddle like him. That man was a genius-with so little work he achieved so much, apparently it was all in the push.’
‘Ooh rub that a little bit harder…go on’
‘All us men took riding a stationary for granted back then, it seemed easy, just a matter of peddling, but somehow Legless took it to a new level, according to him it was the quality of the push mattered.’
DBO knew nothing about stationaries except they were old fashion energy providers model on the outdated bike, which thanks to the lack of dirt track upkeep were as useful as a shed without a door.
She like all shed workers had a moped, which was also as useless at the door-less shed. Starting it took peddling on a grand scale and getting it to stop required jumping off. In fact, her moped hadn’t been used since she jumped off it in front of the shed and it continued, knocking through the front door, smashing the only window the shed had, and disrupting the ‘so-called’ beverage corner.
It took her all day to sort that mess out.
‘Pushing,’ said the footman. ‘Is beyond the realms of language and is not as easy as it looks.’
‘I have been told that all men say that.’
‘And when was the last time you rode a stationary?’
‘I drive a moped ever tried one of those?’
‘No mam they are too mechanical for the like of us men- requiring multi-tasking- a talent we are apparently not qualified for…although I have heard starting one is a nightmare.’
She wondered if he was taking the proverbial. ‘You sure you’re not a robot?’
‘You talk like one,’ she was about to say more when she noted something in his pocket, she looked closer-what was it?
Words from, DBO gran flashed back to her ‘real footmen are silent one beware of those that speak…’
DBO stared at the footman “what is that in your pocket?”
He sat back from her foot, pulling a lace hanky from his pocket a note fluttered out.
DBO picked it up, she read it then looked at the footman, ‘I thought Legless was dead.’
‘That’s what they all say.”
DBO looked at him.
‘Those higher up, which is pretty much everyone in your case.’
DBO slipped on her shoes ‘it says here that he is not only alive and kicking but has a plan?’
“That is the gist of it Mam.’
She stood up her toes slid down to the front of shoes, she pulled a face.
“Did warn Mam about the quality of one’s shoe.” said the footman.
“Quality of my shoes? I work in a shed on pay so low its laughable I can’t afford shampoo let alone shoes, I had wait about the recycle bins to get these.”
The footman looked at her with a ‘yeah right’ look and sniffed. ‘Best to wait for the lubricant to be absorbed,’ he looked at her, “beside Legless hasn’t finished sorting your moped yet.’
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The Changing of a tyre can led to many things-depending on your Jack
I have been trying to finish my novel in the midst of watching too much TV and traveling about Scotland. I had a few day’s holidays with “the Hubby” and we spent it getting wet in the mountains and warming up with curries from his friend’s restaurant.
I now can eat chilies like chocolate, turmeric like salt and cumin like well…cumin I guess. So I thought I blog a little of what I am working on…
Heather was a woman people didn’t notice except when they wanted something fixed.
She had spent a lifetime with Henry a man who overshadowed her and talked about her like she was a huge burden that only he could deal with, and Henry was a convincing man.
He claimed he wanted more children-“a tribe,” he said, but Heather according to him, couldn’t cope with one.
Heather learned how to mend things because her husband, a builder was too busy to mend anything in their house. Henry had built the house when Heather fell pregnant, he brought an old stone byre, knocked down a couple of walls and with minimum effort or thought and knocked up the sort of house, that was, to quote Heather was more like a barn. The doors never locked, the cupboards were few and unfinished and there was always a set of tools somewhere to trip over.
“We have a roof over our head,” said Henry “that is all that matters,” along with vague promises of sorting things “later”, which he never did, he was never there. Henry was always busy saving the lives of other people’s houses. He could plumb, sort slates and seduce any woman into thinking he was, a gentleman, a hero and a great husband who married a dill of a wife.
Heather coped with wardrobe-less bedrooms and second-hand washing machines. Soon she was fixing things herself, at first showing her husband, waiting for an “aren’t you marvelous.” The marvelous never happened, instead, her efforts were met with what she did wrong, temper tantrums and mass destruction of whatever she did.
Heather stopped telling Henry and began to squirrel away the odd tool, until their daughter, Amy left for college.
When she walked away from her husband everyone was taken aback and yet at the same time not surprised. Once you saw the other side of Henry it was easy to imagine how shit it would be trying to sleep beside him.
You either loved or loathed him.
And while Henry strutted about complaining of a broken heart, Heather said little apart from “how was your day?”
She moved into a caravan, got a job as a receptionist in a garage and even joined a belly-dance class. She walked into the class thin, slight like one sneeze would blow her away.
“It was the flat tyre that did it,” she said. “It changed everything.”
We were sitting in the Argyll at the time. I was on sparkling water, at the time.
“Flat tyre?” I said.
“Yes, we were heading home after helping Amy, (her daughter) move to college when my tyre exploded.”
“Henry was further on,” she said. “His four-wheel-drive being way faster than my clapped out mini, he was in a race to get back for some meeting.”
“Meeting on a Saturday?” I said.
“He went mental “of all the places to get a flat you had to choose here,” he said. “Like I had exploded the tyre myself.”
“Like you what?”
“Like I had personally jumped out of the car and blasted it with a couple of hand grenades. He tore into me about how useless I was until someone stopped to help.”
“After days of sulking, he exploded again, “what’s the point of having frigging jack in your boot if you not going to use it” he snapped.
“Jesus Christ,” I said.
“The funny thing is,” said Heather, “he had told me not to use it. He said, “if I ever got a flat to call him as the friggin jack was a bastard to use and unless I knew where to put it I’d fuck the car.”
“It was pretty fucked anyway,” I muttered.
Heather sighed. “It was a light bulb moment if I learned to change my tyre myself then, well…what was the point of Henry?”
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My husband and I hadn’t seen each other for a while and it was time for some serious fumbling.
We live separately which has its own quirks, never arguing over the remote or the state of the toilet seat being two, the other being sleeping alone to the point when you’re gagging for it and a pillow just doesn’t cut it anymore.
And Gagging for it has many great advantages too…
One being a certain pep in your step and the other being that you don’t need to shave your legs until required, which in itself isn’t nothing special until it becomes part of your I’ll be getting a “seeing to” soon routine. Then shaving your legs becomes part of the delicious routine of choosing underwear that, although comfortable and clean, must be rip of-able in the dark.
I used to think great sex was all about fine wine, dim lighting, and good denture grip, but now I realise there are better/cheaper ways, down and dirty way that bring back memories that could even arouse the second rising of a souffle.
We ended up next door to a dorm of back packers, in tiny double room loosely called “en suite’.
With paper thin walls, that couldn’t hide a cough let alone a belch, a window that collected ice (on the inside,) a toilet that took a century to fill once flushed, and one of those annoying fans that takes ages to switch off, it was not romantic and yet it brought back memories…
The bed was a flimsy affair with a whisper of a blanket, pillows that were as much good as an envelope and a quick-sand mattress that sucked my body into a hole.
We did think of complaining but it was late, there was nowhere else to go, and I had opened my “buy one get one free” Australian “she a beaut” wine.
As my husband arrived fresh from the Indian takeaway a faint whiff of spice filled the room, under the flickering light of the off license we tucked into a “I think it’s chicken “ curry…
I slid a pakora between my lips.
He looked into my eyes…
“You want that?’ he said, gesturing at a way too floppy poppadum.
A toilet flushed somewhere in the distance, followed by a juvenile giggle.
Suddenly I was taken back to the days of teenage feelings…
Those days of innocence when you were not sure what a penis looks like as the only one you had seen was your Uncle Johnnie’s when he was peeing outside, which had weirdly turned from a nightmare into something else that you told nobody about.
Illegal, “you will remain a virgin while living under my roof “fumbling’s, groping’s and cries of “that’s what a penis looks like?
Teenage snogging parties-seventies style…
Contortionist groping in tight jeans and car back seats or if you were lucky a bed and you had twenty minutes and a mountain of teenagers loitering outside, high on Bacardi and coke with supposedly no idea what you were doing.
Hubby made his move I prepared for the landing of a juggernaut…
Squeak…Squeak… squeak, squeak, squeak…
The bed rhythmically squeaked on a par with a carryon film, the whole floor could hear us….
“Flush the toilet, that give us ten minutes noise cover.” I said.
As the fan reeved into action so did the juggernaut and under the soothing tones of a filling toilet, I was transported back to the days of silent snogging.
With hushed giggles we made out like teenagers and before I could find the lubricate it was over.
The juggernaut was quick, uncomfortable and yet strangely a lot of fun.
“There a lot to be said about laughing sex,” I said to my hubby.
He drained his wine and with an expert toss of his empty polystyrene cup laughed.
“Shall we do it again?’
Discomfort it seems it as good as Viagra and way cheaper-even with a curry thrown in.