"Tight equipment is not something to shout about but then neither is a tenner pad."
I was in the loo pondering the wisdom of my mother despite most of it being as useful as a three-cup bra. She had me confused about many things.
I grew up thinking the G spot was a new marker pen, and a scrotum was French for a sausage roll.
According to her public loos had more germs than a cesspit, and sitting on one led to the plague. By the time I was ten I was a master at hovering over a toilet like a spaceship.
I could hear the rattle of a loo roll in the next cubicle followed by a long-suffering “shit”.
“The Argyll” was not great when it came to loo paper. I pushed a fist full under the wall, not an easy thing to do when suspended like Yoda above a toilet.
“Cheers,” huffed my pal.
She, having spent the last few hours listening to me rabbit on about a death scene in my latest sci-fi comedy was fed up to the back teeth.
Plying her with wine hadn’t helped. If anything it just confused her. To her comedy was anything with Hugh Grant in it.
“I thought you wanted to be funny?” she yelled from the next door.
I stumbled regretting that third glass… or was it a fourth?
“Death is funny,” I shouted back.
“A dying Alien coughing her last phlegm is as funny as a shopping list.”
I counted one, two, three…
“You’re doing it again aren’t you?”
I didn’t answer, you had to do it five times and I had lost count.
“I knew it,” she snapped with a flush.
“Intermittent peeing” was another of my mother’s mantras. “It keeps everything in good working order” she used to say and I was doing my best- daring gravity to do it’s worse.
Seeing double had that effect on me, suddenly the state of my equipment was on a par with world peace.
A tap splurted on.
“So much for Bellydancing,” said my pal.
Three or was it four?
“So much for your sneeze freely promise.”
“What?” I said.
The hand dryer blasted on.
“Laugh without pads…”
Finally five… I sighed and flushed.
My years of body hating started early, back in the days of beauty pageants. My parents picked holes in the contestants like a judge at Crufts Dog Show leaving me fretting in front of the mirror.
Bellydancing changed all that, along with the odd man who knew what he was doing….
My pal eyed me as I appeared safe in the knowledge that all was still working.
“So why all the pee holding?” She said.
“You have to cover all angles,” I muttered.
A few drinks later we were sitting at the table shouting over an eighties’ band killing a Madonna song.
The singer was ancient. He had the look of someone who’d been around the block way too many times to remember.
His half-hearted gyrates were as mesmerizing as a car crash.
“Like a virgin touched for the very first time ….”
Bellydancing made me feel my body was not only ok but a delicious piece of equipment designed for pleasure.
My mother had as much concept of that as the singer had of virginity. My mother thought a middle-aged stomach should be hidden away like a toilet brush.
“Why do mothers do that, rise from the grave and drag you back to a time of confusion?” I said.
“I never did like Madonna; too many dark roots,” said my pal.
“She hated my belly dancing,” I said.
“What? Madonna belly dancing? Don’t think so.”
“I was talking about my mother,” I yelled. “She had no idea about dancing for pleasure…”
My pal gestured I can’t hear.
“Or connecting with your body; hip circling…” I yelled.
“Touched for the very first time….”
My pal shook her head with a “still can’t hear”.
“And as for pelvic pleasure…” I shrieked.
The singer stopped.
My pal snorted a laugh as the whole bar stared at me with a “what so great about your pelvis” look. She topped up my glass with a who cares snigger, turning to the very thing she had been avoiding all night.
She sipped her drink and in the dark light of the Argyll read what I had been working on all day. The poetry of an Alien woman who had done many things and leaves the world celebrating the memory.
The Ramblings of a Dying Woman.
I love my body, from the deliciously farting bowels to the breast that gave me pleasure. It has devoured food so delicious I drool, to bed-diving so spectacular my pelvis lubricates at the thought and a heart that loved so much that it ached.
My body has been there for me through thick and thin. Crying when I needed to, dancing until it dropped, and laughing with gusto, turning a bleak day into a comedy sketch.
Even frail and old, wheeled about in a chair, my body has not let me down. With gums that fill with juices at the mere smell of sweet hemp, to full thick hair that delights in the stroking of my lover. I love my body and those I shared it with.I give in to its passing with gratitude and thank the gods of the galaxies for designing
such a miraculous and efficient machine to live in and another to share it with.
She read it three times, mouthing each word, occasionally looking up with what I thought was an impressed look.
Then over the massacring of “Pappa Don’t Preach” she yelled…
It takes two years and a TV remote to know the dark side of a partner.
I decided to say a Christmas thank-you to my son the only way I knew how- with chocolate; apparently it’s not that great in China.
My husband, a man with more vouchers than Amazon brought so much cheap chocolate I had to send it in batches.
Or eat it myself …
Every day he came in from work looked at the pile of chocolate and asked…
“Have you sent that chocolate yet?”
Sometimes I looked at him like he was stupid, other times I just said “yes.”
Finally, my inertia got the better of him.
He waltzed in brandishing a chewed up roll of Christmas paper which needed a little “drying out”, a roll of
Sellotape so old it took half an hour to find the end, and an empty box marked “adult’s only.”
Where he got them I haven’t a clue but I suspect like most things, in some dark corner at work where no one dares to linger…
Three buggered fingernails later I looked up from the sellotape, the end still stuck like super glue.
My ability to breathe life into a has-been, Sellotape is legendary, but this thing had been glued together since the Thatcher years.
“Shall I just buy a new one?” I said.
He peered from his precision paper cutting with a “hardly” look.
Recycling is his middle name, in fact if there was a recycling superhero he’d be it. He could recycle a used postage stamp if he put his mind to it…
His cupboards are full of leftover underpants, mismatched socks, and jackets that don’t fit, usually from his twice the size brother or even worse, his sister.
When I first discovered such talent I was mesmerized, amused. His talent for recycling was on a par with his packing. I’ve seen him pack an 80inch flat screen TV into the back of a Minnie as a surgeon puts back organs. Hell, I’ve seen him parcel up a a running machine for his home in Bangladesh and still have change from a tenner.
And how he does it is as much a mystery to me as getting a souffle to rise.
I stared at my hubby folding paper around the ‘adult” box like he was making an origami H bomb.
It was going to be an all-night job.
My hubby likes to make a meal of things. What is a mundane task for me is truly saving the world for him. When he peels potatoes, which usually involves a critical inspection of my knives, he expects a round of applause for the symmetry…and don’t get me started on his foreplay.
Finally after an argument about my “flamboyant use of sellotape,” we headed for the post office.
A voluptuous elderly woman admired hubby’s handwork.
“Get a load of this,” she gestured to her comrade.
Her comrade polishing her glasses peered at the address while the voluptuous one praised my hubby for the excellent “taping of the corners”.
“That’s precision that is,” she said “impenetrable”.
Hubby beamed with pride.
“I have wrapped up more presents than Santa himself,” she said “but never anything as, well…perfect,” she eyed Hubby.
“You can wrap my parcel any day.”
He gave her his best shy face.
“Pity,” said the comrade.
“What?” I said.
“Well it’s way too heavy for China,” Said the comrade.
“Even by ship?” said The voluptuous one.
The comrade jiggled the box in her hands and blew through her lips.
Chocolate to China it seems is a lot harder to send than a running machine to Bangladesh.
She placed it on the counter like it was about to explode.
“It’ll never make it on a ship, way too suspicious.”
She threw me a look. “They’ll have the squat team after it in Peking.”
“Squat team, in Peking?” Snapped the voluptuous one “Who are you the next Micheal Palin?’
“You need to make it into two .”
“Two?” Snapped the Voluptuous one.
“Make that three.”
“Three?” Shrieked the voluptuous one.
“Well if you want to get it there before Christmas.”
I looked at my Hubby silent but thoughtful. You can learn a lot from a decade of bed-sharing one being when to say nothing and the other being when not to gloat.
His eyes scanned the back of the office stopping at the recycle bin…
The voluptuous one followed his gaze.
“Are those for recycling?” he said.
The voluptuous one with a larger than life smile picked a selection of scruffy padded envelopes that had, by looks of things, been around the world at least twice.
“I do like a man that recycles”, she smirked.
The comrade tutted.
My hubby with an arm full of used envelopes headed out the door, looked at the rain lashing down, and turned to me.
“There’s still plenty of that sellotape isn’t there?”
I said nothing.
True love is knowing when it’s best to feign deafness.
The unexpected arrival of an Alien is something I often dreamt about but never in a toilet let alone a disabled one and yet, a few years ago I did just that…
While valiantly trying to hold onto my sanity in a job I hated, Pete a robot made of Lyrca appeared on the pages of my laptop, setting off the hand drier in the disabled toilet of an Edinburgh cafe.
I was sitting in my hubby’s family restaurant at the time chuckling at the idea-writing asif my life depended on it.
The restaurant was busy and after thrusting a few misshaped pakora my way along with a large glass of house red my hubby left me to write and chuckle.
I don’t know whether it was the badly-behaved twins creating havoc in the toilet, or the “I am in the John!” squeal from an elderly gent when they barged in on him mid pee, but somehow toilets seemed funny that night and I was inspired.
Before I knew it, Woody had entered my writing coerced by a Battenburg to help.
Woody a dwarf with a sweet tooth is the only one who could slip into the toilet window being that the door was blocked by a semi-conscious Lyrca robot and the café owner was desperate to clear the area.
It was a laugh a minute writing session that kept me absorbed while my hubby dispensed with the runaway twins and placated the elderly gent.
Finally finished, my glass drained, my scene with a title I caught my hubbies’ eye as he appeared from the toilet brandishing a mop and several worse for wear toilet rolls.
He said little but skirted about the restaurant clearing up the trail of destruction-care of the twins. The tables were empty apart from a couple who look like they had been together long enough to argue over the TV remote and the position of a toilet seat.
I toyed with my empty glass hoping for a refill-to celebrate like.
Hubby asked me “what was so funny.”
“An entrance,” I said too pleased with my wit to register his disinterest. “but not as you’d know it.”
“I was just moping the toilet; not making an entrance.” Said Hubby with one of his “how many glasses of red have you had” look.
“I’m talking of a scene,” I said “for my book,” I gestured to my laptop “if I don’t find it funny how can my readers?’
The female looked up from her madras “you’re a writer?”
Her partner told her to “shut it.” “I’m only asking,” she hissed “nothing wrong with asking is there?
She flashed me a sisterhood smile. “I don’t mind you asking’ Isaid. “In fact, I can read you some. It’s set in a disable John.”
“John? Who’s John?” said Hubby.
“John is what Americans call the toilet.” I said “it’s a funny play on words.”
The couple looked about as interested as Hubby was in my writing, being that neither thought the word John was funny, but I couldn’t help myself I just had to read.
The couple disappeared to the pub next door and by the time I got to the “Battenburg seduction,” I’d lost my hubby to the cricket.
I stared at him glazed over his mobile phone, he looked up.
“You not listening, are you?” I said.
He nodded “Battenburg?”
“Well yes,” I muttered but there is a little more than that.
He laughed.“Battenburg a cake but not as we know it?’
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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