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Julie’s Story: The Hen Weekend

I didn’t want to go in the first place. I mean, really? Stags, Hens, aren’t they a thing of the past yet. Haven’t we found something more sophisticated yet? We have of course, but most people tend to go for the traditional ‘let’s get pissed up and wear stupid clothes’ idea. Personally, I like the idea of the bride having dinner with the grooms’ friends and the groom having dinner with the brides’ friends. That’s not to say this is a more civilised option, just a bit different. But I’ve only ever known of that happening once within my circle of friends and acquaintances.

So, I received my invitation email, correctly sent by the Maid of Honour, but clearly under strict instructions from my friend Ashleigh, the Bride, a control freak. We were booked into a hotel in Amsterdam, which had a Spa, and our Easyjet flights were also booked, for midday on the Friday. We were going for two nights. Great. As I read through the email it became abundantly clear that this weekend away was going to cost a truck load of money, and from the copied in names on the email, I could see that there was only one other person, apart from the Bride of course, that I’d ever met, let alone knew. Jesus. AND we were required to dress up. Happy days. I had a month to prepare for this.

So, there I was euros in purse, bright yellow tights on ready to adorn my fancy dress chicken costume that was hidden in my hand luggage – I’d gone for funny rather than the usually sexy French maid look that I was sure most people would opt for – waiting outside Boots at Stansted Airport where we’d agreed to congregate. I wasn’t sure whether to check-in before meeting them, or if we were all doing it together, so I’d opted for the latter, you know Team Spirit and all that….

‘Hiya, you must be here for the hen weekend? Ashleigh’s?’, she said, looking at my bright yellow legs. ‘Funny…’. Well at least she got the joke. She was, as predicted, in the tiniest of mini skirts with a tight white blouse that buttoned up the front, high stilettos.

‘Ha, yes, I can see you’ve gone for the saucy maid look. I’m Julie, nice to meet you.’

She stared blankly at me, then half smiled.

‘Actually, I haven’t changed yet. I didn’t realise we were meant to come dressed up already.’

Fuck. Foot in it, right from the off. I really had no idea how to get myself out of this so gave a weak smile and sort of apologised. Fortunately, Ashleigh arrived as I was doing it and gave both myself and my newly peeved companion a hug. Ashleigh was good at jabbering, so the focus was deflected away from my mahoosive faux pas and onto some nonsense about fake tan. Eventually everyone arrived, and before long we were jetting off for our weekend of forced fun.

We arrived at our Amsterdam hotel after much fussing about with bags and taxis, some headed straight for the Spa, some relaxed in their rooms phoning babies and boyfriends, but I headed straight for the bar. There was no way that I was getting through this without a suitable amount of Dutch courage, and as we were in the right country for that, I figured that I was justified in finding plenty of it. My boyfriend could wait, we weren’t that reliant on one another, and as he was in Benidorm on the stag weekend, I figured he’d prefer to be left alone focussing on trying not to be the one to get drunkaroo’d or shaved inappropriately. Ha, it made me laugh just thinking about it. Poor bastards. The stag weekend always seem so much more filthy than its female counterpart.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d been in the bar before a few of the others joined me. Each one in turn found my chicken costume hilarious, and the fact that I was sat at the bar alone with it on seemed to garner even more hilarity. We were undecided about whether to start a tab, or have a pot. Both had their problems apparently, as someone was going to have to look after the pot or a tab would mean that all that divvying up nonsense would have to occur.

‘Why can’t we just split the tab evenly between all fifteen of us?’, I suggested, ‘Easy. Sorted.’

‘Oh no, we can’t do that’, some skinflint said, ‘I’m not planning on drinking too much, and I don’t think it’s fair for those of us who don’t drink much to pay the same as those who do.’

Here we go I thought. The temptation to say ‘why did you come then? It’s a fucking hen weekend!’ was enormous, but of course I didn’t, I just crossed my yellow legs, ruffled my chicken feathers and took another sip. In fact, this seemed to be my stance for most of the weekend, as more and more nonsense seemed to expose itself.

Before long I’d latched on to one of Ashleigh’s bridesmaids, Tina. I could see her rolling her eyes at pretty much the same things as me and decided that if I was going to stand any chance of making a buddy then she seemed the obvious choice. I have to say, it was a good choice. We laughed raucously at the same things, and spent absolutely no time at all discussing boyfriends, husband or babies. Marvellous.

We all entered out into the city, stopping off at various bars along the way. The usual chat-ups occurred, as well as the usual dodgy dancing, someone brought out a vibrator and dropped it into Ashleigh’s beer which caused a right hoo-ha. Much later I bumped into her in the loo at a bar near the Rossebuurt, and she seemed ecstatically happy.

‘Juuuuuuu, Ju Ju Ju…..I’m having the best time. Everyone is. Watch Tina though. Ha ha. Ju Ju Ju, watch that Tina.’ And she was gone: L plates on, tutu tucked in her knickers, arms raised above her head like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, gone out into the bar grabbing at whatever glass seemed full and available. What did she mean: ‘watch that Tina’? Some drunken bollocks which I, of course, ignored.

Ever had a blackout? I’m sure you’ve heard about them. I had. And now I’ve had one.

My boyfriend was as smug as smug could be. All he did was laugh, laugh raucously as I stood in front of our bathroom mirror trying to pencil on my right eyebrow. The remnants of the temporary tattoo moustache was still slightly visible, below the redness of my scrubbing, and the memories – not to mention the photographs – of me riding high that bucking bronco before rolling around in the mud wrestling circle, will be forever imbedded in my psyche.

Never again will I go on a hen weekend. Never. I’d rather go with the boys.

Oh, and the humiliation of appearing at the wedding, and encountering its guests……well, that was yet to come.



A Fiction: Life Changer

Do you ever just get in the car and drive? I mean drive without thinking about it, autopilot some might say. You can sometimes get from A to B without remembering the journey at all. Well, that will never happen to me again, never, because I will never get in a car again.

I remember the day well. It is etched in my memory until the day I die. It altered my life, irrevocable.

The sun was shining, but the day was cold. You know, one of those fiercely cold days that make you smile because you feel alive. I’d been duped by the sunshine so left the house in jeans and just a thin jumper. I turned round and went straight back in to grab my coat. Graham followed me back, as usual, but letting out an excited bark which warned me that his promised turn on The Heath was a definite goer! I wrapped my coat around me and opened the rear door for Graham to jump in, and then settled myself into the drivers side, belting up as usual.

I’ve done this journey many many times. It’s a pleasant one, one that most people would love to do, but one that I’ve now realised I take for granted. The roads are narrow and tree-lined, they border The Heath which is pretty visible no matter which angle you approach it from. I love my area, but you know how it goes when you’ve lived there for a while…….

I was working to a deadline, plus my sister’s baby had been quite ill. I was due at a party that evening, and I was thinking about the possibility of taking the next belt in my quest to dominate the Judo world. Should I eat at home before the party, or should I arrange to meet people for dinner before? My thoughts were erratic today, all over the place, and Graham was groaning in the back as he always does when journeying toward his place of freedom.

And then it appeared. From nowhere. A pushchair. I braked. It flew up in the air, or so it seemed. It flew straight ahead….or so it seemed. And also to the right and to the left. It seemed to go everywhere, and in slow motion. Why do things like this go in slow motion, why couldn’t the seconds before be in slow motion, then I’d have seen it. I know that this is an irrational request, but what the hell…..

The noise was immense, like nothing I’d ever heard. Cars were screeching to a halt. Doors were slamming. Horns were blowing. There were screams, screams like I’d never heard before, but screams that I hear all the time now.

I pulled on the handbrake and just sat, staring ahead, I simply couldn’t move. Every face that I looked at seemed to morph into what could only be described as a gargoyle, or worse, like a something from a painting by Francis Bacon that haunted me as a teen.

I came back into reality, unbuckling my seat belt as it happened, undoing the door before my belt was fully off. I was confused, stunned, incapable of saying anything even remotely coherent.

‘What happened?’ I managed. It seemed like such an inane thing to say, but nothing else would come out. I was utterly bewildered. People were staring at me, some were swearing at me. My god, what had I done? Hell was opening up in front of me. I knew that I’d run into a pushchair, and I knew that my head was full of every other kind of thought but driving. I could see a group of people kneeling on the ground, huddled around something. Time stopped. Graham barked somewhere in the background. And then she appeared. My Guardian Angel.

‘Don’t look over there dear. Stay here. Don’t go over there. I saw everything.’ Her voice was calm, as calming as aloe vera on a burn, and I immediately wanted my mother, my soothing taken-before-her-time mother. She was like my mother.

I remember being back in my car surrounded by dog noises. And then I remember being at a police station.

I was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, but surely the mother should have been prosecuted too. I had to pay a hefty fine and my license was revoked for 6 months, at the judge’s discretion. The child died. But I had been deemed not wholly culpable because I was driving within the speed limit and my Guardian Angel had not only confirmed that, but had drawn attention to the fact that the mother had pushed the child out ahead of her so that she could check the traffic. The absurdity of that. She had come from between two parked cars, chatting to her friend, straight out into the road leaning forward to check for oncoming cars, but it was too late, I was there, killing her child.

My life would never be the same again, my life sentence had begun.

And Graham now had to walk everywhere.


Frank’s Story: The Things We Do For Love

‘Did you do it? Did ya?’ I listened while she told me what she’d done. We laughed. We flirted, moderately. ‘You’re a star,’ I said, ‘Thanks darlin’.’

My Sergeant Major had told me he’d do, and he had. I knew he would, he was a tough bastard, Robeson.

‘Axl, you little shit. You’d better not be winding me up. Give me her number? NOW!’

Christmas leave was coming up and I’d been told it was a week. The love of my life was half way round the world. She’d been travelling for a year, and we’d hardly seen one another. We tried to speak as much as possible, but it was hard, what with my patrol duties and her island hopping. I needed to see her. And besides, Aldershot was doing my head in.

As I said, I had a weeks’ leave but needed to fly to Australia. I concocted a plan.

I’d often walk past the local travel agent in the town and was aware of the girls sat at the desks inside. My mates and I would stop and look at the latest deals, managing a cheeky peak at the totty, who were always willing to flash their pearly whites at us. Sometimes they’d wave and we’d cock our heads at them and walk on by. And then one day, I went in.

‘Alright ladies’, I said, and planted myself at the desk of the one who always blushed whenever she saw me.  What I needed was a one to one with one of them, and fortunately for me some other customers came into the office which meant that there’d be no eavesdropping.

‘So, I need to book a return flight to Perth leaving on the 23rd of December, coming back about 4 weeks later. And I need a receipt saying that I’m coming back a week from the 23rd.’

‘Soldier are you?, she said.

‘Yup, parachute regiment.’

‘Mmmm, yes. Lovely. Really? Parachuting, brave. I could never do that. Don’t you get scared? So, 23rd of Decccccember. It’s just loading. Um, sorry, what did you say? Coming back a month later, right? Ok, what have we got here then. 23rd of December, coming back a month later. Flexible by two or three days? Um, what did you say before? Coming back about a month later, but a receipt for….’

‘Yeah, a receipt saying I was coming back a week later.’

Our eyes locked. I smiled at her. She blushed, then quickly smiled and looked me square in the eye.

‘What are you up to?’

I laughed, and began to tell her my story.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Sandy, what’s yours?’

‘Frank. So, Sandy. This is what’s going on…..’

The truth was that this could have gone either way. She’d either resent me for flirting with her and tell me to F-off or she’d buy into the romance of it and fall hook, line, and sinker.

‘I’m gonna be honest with you, right. My girlfriend is backpacking around Australia and I haven’t seen her for a year. All I’ve got is one weeks’ leave coming up and I need to find a way of extending that into a month without getting into trouble. I’ll be AWOL, but can’t be. I’m desperate to see her, to make sure she’s ok, but have no way of knowing when I’ll be getting time off again. Can you help me? Please? Any chance? I’ll take you for a drink?’

She smiled at me.

‘God, you’re sooooo romantic.’ She twiddled her hair, and looked at me again. ‘Ok, yes, I’ll do it.’

‘You’re fantastic darlin’. Thanks. Um, there’s one more thing though. Sorry. You see, my sergeant major is a right bastard and he might call you, well I mean, he will call you. Would you be able to tell him that there was a flight delay problem?’

For some reason, she bought it and agreed to everything. I paid for my flight, got my dodgy receipt, and her phone number, and headed out into the cold December afternoon as smug as you like.

A few days later I landed in Perth and immediately made the call to my COS. I told him that someone had made a mistake and the dates on my ticket were for a month later. I was desperately searching for a flight home, but none were available and I was stuck. Job done.

Suffice to say, my holiday in Aus was amazing: a month of sun, sea and sand. And my love of course. Also, suffice to say…..upon my return he made the call.

Sandy was an absolute star. Not only did she remember our deal. She performed it to absolute perfection….and more. Apparently, according to Sergeant Robeson, my carrier had got the dates wrong on the ticket. Sandy had explained to him that it wasn’t their mistake so how could he blame them. The airline I’d travelled with had royally messed up the flight times, and they were the ones to blame.

Had I been found out I’d have done two days in jail for every day I was away. At the very least. This was what I was willing to do for love. Oh, and some serious sunshine.


Mark’s Story: The Bike

I heard the knock on the front door.

‘I’m outta here. See you later.’

I knew it was him as he never lets me down. He’s my best mate, Mark, someone I’ve known for all of my life and will know for all of my life. I’ve had some of the funniest times with Mark. Proper side-splitting times. You hear people say that, but no truly, I mean it, piss yourself funny times. My mate Mark is a diamond.

I flung open the front door.

‘What the fuck are you wearing? Where d’you get that?’, I asked. Mark had on a cream coloured matching Adidas track suit: top and bottoms. There’s no way that was his, he just didn’t have things like that.

‘It’s Paul’s, fucking kill me if he knows I’ve worn it. Anyway, fuck ‘im, how’s he gonna know eh?’

Paul is Mark’s older brother, and yeah, he’d be pissed off.

‘It’s quite smart mate.’

We headed off down my road and turned into Windermere. We were going to the river bank where everyone always gathered on a Friday night; it was either that or causing chaos down the seafront. It was a light, warm evening and we could hear the screaming and shouting from our mates. We were a gobby lot, but harmless.

We got to the end of the road and through the cutting, jabbering about this and that, some bird or other.

‘I thought I could hear a fucking bike’, said Mark, ‘whose is that? Look at that bunch of fucking twats. They’ve never driven a bike in their lives. Haaaaa, it’s only a fucking 50cc. Haaaaa. Look at ’em.’

We upped our pace as we walked along the river bank. Mark was determined to get to the other side and show them how to ride a bike properly. They were taking it in turns to burn up and down the bank, and Mark was getting more and more animated about how shit they were.

‘Oi, oi,’ he shouted, ‘oi, Finch, hold on hold on, I’ll fucking show you how to ride it. Been riding them for years me.’

We reached the other side of the river and watched for a minute as yet another rider messed up their turn.

‘Right, bugger off, get off the fucking thing. Where’d you get it from Finch? How much was it? I’ll show you how to ride it.’

‘£50 quid mate. Yeah ok, ‘ave a go’, said Finch.

I’d never seen Mark ride a moped before, but he seemed to know what he was doing. We watched as he turned the handle, revving the engine, and then he was off. We turned to watch him, he was going at some speed, well, as much of a speed as a 50cc could do, and then…….

‘Fuck, where’s he gone. Fuck.’

He’d disappeared. We all ran toward where he was last seen. There’s a kink in the river edge, close to where the bushes are, so we scrambled through them hoping that our friend was ok. And there he was. Well, I haven’t laughed so much in all my life. I swear to god, I wasn’t able to control myself. Mark was stood in the river, Adidas track suit filthy and soaked through, moped upright on its back wheel, in a wheeley position, and his face stunned in a state of shock.

‘Fuck sake, Paul’s gonna kill me. Get me out for fuck sake. What the fuck happened there.’

That was the day I properly pissed myself. My mate Mark had done it again. None of the other ‘twats’ had ended up in the water, only my mate Mark. He’d added another story to the hundreds that I already had of him, and I love him for it.


Amelia’s Story: Fish

I woke at my usual time. Thought about my day, my week. The sunshine was coming in through the gap between the blind and the window. Yeah, summer’s coming.

Up I got, tied my hair back, looked around for my dressing gown and pulled on the cosy socks that I’d kicked off during the night. What for breakfast? Had mum been shopping yesterday? Of course she had, she’s always up at the supermarket. For a moment I wondered why, but then the answer was easy: we eat everything she buys pretty much as soon as she buys it.

The house was quiet. Everyone was out, just me in, biding my time, preparing to go back to college. I’m happy pootling about the house, making a cuppa, picking up and putting down my book as and when it suits me, chatting to this pal and that if the mood takes me, and flicking on the TV and watching whatever I want for as long as I want without any opposition. The house is my domain during the day, and nobody, unless by prior arrangement, penetrates that. Yes, I liked it that way. I had a routine.

I flicked on the kettle as I walked past it, making my way to the pantry. I’d already decided on muesli this morning, maybe with some toast, but that would depend on what bread was left. I hate that white stuff that the men around here like, and besides a malted Danish is better for you. Well, I say ‘the white stuff that the men like’, but funny how that was always what was left over.

Yes, as predicted, just the white stuff left. Jeez. I picked up the muesli and gave it a shake: full box. Nice one. Out of the pantry I pootled, found a bowl, a mug, a spoon, made my tea, added milk to my muesli and sat in my favourite chair at the kitchen table. My favourite seat looked out onto the garden. In the summer we have the French doors open and the sound of chirping birds and garden mowers is always lovely. I was lost in my thoughts when my phone rang.

‘Holy guacamole, who the hell….hiya. Yeah, I’m good thanks. How’re you?’ I listened. I had to think on my feet. ‘Awww I can’t today, my nan is coming over.’ Lie, white lie. You see, I’d already decided that I was going to have an undisturbed day today, just me and my Tom Ford palettes. Well, the Tom Ford palettes that I was going to be getting in New York next month. I needed to do some research into them. Huuuugely important.

‘Yeah, sorry, yeah, another day for sure. Soon. This week sometime. Byyyye.’

Phew. Just managed to swerve that one. I went back to my thoughts, but goodbye thoughts of summer, and hello thoughts of NYC, 5th Avenue, and shopping. I was straight on my IPad. Tap tap tap. Google. Tap tap tap. Tom Ford. Tap tap tap. Shopping New York. Tap tap tap. Make up New York. Oh there they are. Luuuuuvely. A better choice in New York. Barneys. Saks. Bloomingdales. Bergdorfs, what are these places. Ah yes, ok, department stores. Tap….


You what. No, can’t be. Ignore.


‘Holy guacamole. Are you kidding me.’



I grumped toward the front door.


I swung the door open. I knew the look on my face.

‘D’you want any fish?’

I just stared at him.

‘No mate. Do I look like I want any fish?’


I knew. He knew. The door slammed shut.

Danny’s Story: The Car Ride


It’s a standing joke in my family. Mmm, I should explain really. You see, I have very vivid dreams. Don’t know why, just do.

I live my life just the same as everyone else I reckon. Usual things: get up, take a shower, get ready for work, have breakfast, travel to work, work, have lunch,  work,  travel home, go out  on my bike (sometimes), have dinner, watch TV (footie is my favourite), go to bed. Nothing unusual, right? But wow, what happens once that light has gone out and I’m well in the land of nod, beggars belief. And I have no control over it.

Some say that food has a direct connection to what you dream about, but I’m not so sure. I mean how can chicken tikka masala have any influence on a dream about being chased by tigers, or eating cheese last thing before bedtime equates to a dream about dancing with the Royal Ballet in Swan Lake. Really?

Having said that, I can completely see how my choice of snack before bedtime a few years ago, led to a particularly wacky dream, and one which my family love resurrecting at every conceivable social gathering. Yes, this dream is available for weddings, engagements, bahmitvahs and christenings! It comes out, at my expense, everywhere.

I’d gone to bed at much the same time as usual. It was a school night, so the time was reasonable. I double checked that my school uniform was where I usually put it after school, and that the clean shirt – ironed by my lovely mum –  was hanging neatly on the front of my wardrobe. My school tie was draped around the hook. I was ready for tomorrow, and just one quick repositioning of a few bits and bobs on my desk, meant that I was ready for sleep.

My light went out, and I shuffled about in my bed for what could only have been a few minutes, and then I was off into my dream world and on a car journey like no other…… the car, my dad’s old blue Renault Laguna – a beast in its time – sped away at top speed. I didn’t know what was going on, but was ecstatic to be along for the ride. The car motored along the dual carriageway, heading I know not where. We passed a service station on the left and a hotel not much further along. The radio was blaring, and at first I didn’t register what it was that was playing. I didn’t care. I was on the joy ride of my life.

‘Woo woo,’ I screamed, ‘let’s go! Overtake him, put your foot down. Yeeaaah!’

We went on like this for some time, dodging in and out of the traffic, adrenaline pumping through my veins, and then, almost as quickly as the adventure kicked off, it slowed down. The music on the radio was strangely familiar to me, but it wasn’t one of my favourite songs by The Who, or even one of those irritating Disney songs, no, it was something far more bizarre than that. I glanced across from the passenger seat and, much to my surprise, when I looked over at the driver, and then to the back seat, I realised that the song blaring from the radio was a theme tune from my childhood. I had been kidnapped. Bananas in Pyjamas had kidnapped me and sped me away.


Lesson learned: NEVER again will I eat banana bread before going to bed.


Many many thanks Andrew for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I feel really thrilled that you considered my stories worthy of it. Apologies for taking a while to post and reply, and I have set up a page on my blog with the answers to the questions posed by Andrew. I am currently working on my selection of nominees and will post them soon along with some questions of my very own!

Thanks again Andrew, and I’ll carry on regularly checking out your blog.

******Dear followers take a look at Andrew’s blog: https://www.andrewmferrell.wordpress.com

Sam’s Story: The Lorry


I leave my house at the same time every day. I drive the same route, passing by the same shops, garages, takeaways, and often see the same cars pass me and the same people are in them. The same faces look out of the steamed-up windows of the same buses that, like me, do the same journey.

It takes approximately 15 minutes for me to drive to work, door to door. I’ve seen the seasons change, and have often been in awe of the beauty of the landscape that I drive through every day. I never take it for granted. On this particular day, late winter, it was cold, cold and damp. I had to put my fog lights on and drove at a steady speed as seeing too far ahead was proving difficult in places. The topography of my route meant that at times the road was clear ahead and at times not as I journeyed into little valley’s and back out again every few seconds. I’m was sure that I could see tail lights ahead, but they just seemed to disappear and reappear within moments. And yes, I’m sure, certain that there was a man in the distance…yes, he was there sauntering along on the side of the road, hands in his jean pockets, black jumper on, but hardly anything else. Really? And then he’s gone again, as are the tail lights.

There’s a flat, straight bit not so far from my office and I can see an enormous lorry ahead of me. I think very little of it as I’d been distracted by a song in the radio. I indicate right and I soon arrive at my destination. My day pans out in much the same way as usual. When I get home that evening, we have macaroni cheese for dinner. Delicious.

I leave my house at the same time the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, but on this day something strikes me like a hand across my face. The radio reports of a missing man. He’s been gone for 3 days, and was last seen wearing jeans and a black jumper, and very little else. He was last seen heading out toward the country road, my country road that I travel on everyday.

What am I supposed to do? Is it him, the man I thought I saw? Surely not, maybe so. What am I meant to do.


After much delay, I am absolutely delighted to accept the Liebster Award presented to me from Feleciadawn. I can only apologise for taking suuuuuuch a long time to post about this and to thank her. It’s so refreshing to be given one of these and I’m thrilled.

Feleciadawn, I have set up a page with all of my answers to your questions. I am currently formulating my list of nominees and will post them soon along with some questions of my very own!

*****Anyone following my blog please take time to have a look at hers: http://www.feleciadawn.wordpress.com

Si’s Story: The Beach

We go to the beach most evenings. Lucky there really, to live so close.

The kids love to run across the sand, wrapped up in fur-lined boots, scarves, bobble hats and elasticated gloves that feed through the arms of their coats. My daughter chases the tide in and out squealing when the foamy water catches up with her and touches the tip of her boots. Her rosy cheeks and wide smile are a pleasure to behold as she looks up at me waiting for me to wave at her. I do.

‘Watch out Syd, look behind you, look, now Syd, now.’

She turns around and almost goes flying, but manages to steady herself just in time.

‘Fucks sake,’ I say under my breath, ‘that was close. Good girl Syd, good girl.’

The number of times I’ve walked home with one or both of them soaking wet after a stumble in the sand. Today would not be a good day for that as Sare had expressly asked me to keep a close eye on them.

My boy is a different kettle of fish to his sister; he’s not content with chasing the tide, he’s squatted down in the sand digging up something or other that has caught his eye, throwing out the bits that he’s not interested in and piling up the treasures that mean something in his little mind.

‘Alright Vin?’ He doesn’t answer.

‘Vinnie!’ He looks up. ‘Alright?’ He nods, then looks down and gets on with his stuff. He rocks.

I look out at the sea, rub my hands, shrug my shoulders and answer my phone which has just started ringing. I walk a few steps this way and that, chatting to my mate, keeping an eye on the kids, having a laugh. There’s very few people about, just the usual characters walking their dogs. Syd is still chasing the tide, and Vinnie has decided to throw his treasures into the sea.

‘Hold on mate’, I say into the phone. ‘Vin, Vinnie, watch what you’re doing, watch Syd. Vin, Vinnie….’, he looks up, ‘Watch where you’re throwing things, you’re gonna hit your sister. Watch where you’re throwing things or we’ll have to go home.’

‘Sorry about that mate,’ I say into my phone, ‘Vinnie’s randomly throwing things, and missed Syd by about an inch. I think I need to teach him a bit about space and distance. Hahaha.’

I bend over and pick up a bit of old drift wood and lob it over my shoulder.

‘Jeeeeeeez, what the hell….’, I turn sharply and see some guy lying on the sand about fifteen feet away from me, the lump of wood lying beside him.

‘Shit. Vinnie…..what did I tell you about throwing stuff!’

‘Sorry daddy’, came his little voice, ‘sorry daddy.’

I looked at my son, looked at the guy, waved my apologies, and realised that I’d stitched my son up: he was getting any amount of sweets that he wanted tonight.


Olivia’s Story: The WC

The hotel was lovely, and the breakfast promised to be even better.

We all made our way down to the dining room, and were greeted by the Maitre d’ who checked our room number and showed us to our table. As we followed, our eyes feasted on the expanse of be-linened table, decked with all manner of deliciousness. This was always the best thing about staying at a hotel, and none of us could wait to get stuck in.

We all did the polite sitting-at-the-table thing, fiddling with knives and forks, each of us waiting for one of us to say “let’s go then.” We were aware that we had to wait for our brother, a student at the local university,  but temptation was getting the better of us and mum soon gave us the ok.

‘Just need to pop to the loo Mum. Did you see where it was?’

Mum looked around, half distracted by the sight of one of the food baskets being replenished with fresh croissants, and pastries galore.

‘Um, yes, um, yes over there, look Liv, sign on the door, over there.’

Off I went, off she went, and my younger sister wasn’t far behind either. To be honest I didn’t really pay much attention, but headed in the direction of the door with the sign on it.

It took a little push to get the door to open, and it was pitch black inside; foolishly I let the door close behind me. I felt around for the light switch. Nothing. I staggered around with my arms out in front of me, hopeful that I would discover a cubicle if not a light switch. The darkness was only punctuated by the ever growing number of expletives that were falling out of my mouth.

‘For fucks sake, where’s the switch. It’s a disgrace that there’s no bloody automatic light in here. How sodding stupid.’

It was starting to feel like ages. I was desperate for one of those croissants, not to mention desperate for the reason I’d come in here! I’d lost my sense of direction, so trying to find the door through which I’d entered was yet another, virtually impossible feat.

And then, as if by magic, the light came on. Two people stood in the doorway. One familiar (my mother) and the other not.

‘Bloody hell Liv, what on earth have you been up to.’

Yes, breakfast time was nearing its end……and I had spent most of it in the stock room.