The Show Must Go On (Part Two)

It’s been a while so here’s Part One for those that missed it!

The rain continued to lash down so regrettably I wasn’t going to get the opportunity to wear my oversize vintage Givenchy sunglasses purchased for the princely sum of £2.50 from the charity shop after all. Fat and full from the bacon buttie I’d troughed, I noticed that things seemed a little busier upon my return and a little tense amongst my car parking colleaguesdad 008 with a lot of walkie-talkie action going on. Erin identifying Tommy’s dulcet tones had grabbed hold of our handset and screeched across the airwaves “Tell Tommy I love him”. Yes Erin, I rather think he got that but there again so did the residents of the next county.

Throughout the afternoon the lovers whispered sweet nothings at each other over the airwaves until a little while later when Erin spent a little too much time chatting with one of the fit firemen. Suddenly the kissy kissy love chat and innuendo was quickly replaced with heated accusations.

“Big Wheels Postie to Car Park Princess, could you ask that fireman to take his eyeballs out of your cleavage”.

“Roger Big Wheels Postie, it’s nice talking to a man whose idea of romance isn’t spending a night in playing Mafia Wars whilst I defrost his freezer”. And so it went on.

It was during the lovers quarrel that my iPhone buzzed alerting me to a text message from Serial Shagger which just simply said “Miss Me”? Immediately followed by a YouTube clip of Adele singing what I had thought was “our song”, although in hindsight “Go Your Own Way”dad 009 might have been more appropriate. Clearly, he had been informed of my glamorous job role and breathtaking appearance by Nauseating Nigel. For a few moments I hovered somewhere between anger and embarrassment but then I looked at my calloused hands which had spent countless hours stripping & painting walls of our former home and which had been destroyed by him in a fit of spite.

So I took a deep breath and text back “I’m not Adele. I don’t wish the best for you and neither do I want to find someone like you. I do, however, want to set fire to all your worldly goods” and promptly switched my phone off.

Fired up by my heated exchange with Serial Shagger and with my tolerance level at an all time low I snatched the walkie-talkie from Erin and in the words of Bootilicious Beyonce, I told Tommy quite firmly to put a ring on it. Well if you’re going to walk on thin ice you might as well tap dance across it!

As Tommy and Erin enthusiastically reconciled, I felt that my work as a peacekeeping & matchmaking kick-ass ninja was done so I made my excuses and headed off in the direction of the marquees, as I wanted to catch the awards being presented. I got there in time to see Sid’s marrows earn a bronze and Ernie a silver for his runner beans. However, I think we were all pleasantly surprised when my Dad won a gold for his Dahlias.

In my Dad’s acceptance speech, he declared that it was the proudest moment of his life. My mother looked less than thrilled as she had been under the illusion that she had earned that accolade on the day she married him and later when she endured hours of painful childbirth to deliver his offspring.

And the winner is ......

And the winner is ……

Clearly, my Dad had either been partaking in his own homebrew or had developed a taste for sleeping with one eye open and would most probably now be restricted to muesli breakfasts for the remainder of his natural-born life. His prize was a bird feeding station and my Dad handled it as if it was a religious relic.

As we all trudged back to the car park, my Dad was deliberating where to put his prize; if he continued to talk about it that evening whilst my mother was trying to watch the X Factor, I was pretty sure she would be able to help him with that!

As luck would have it, our car had become entrenched in the sodden earth. My Dad reckoned he could ease it out of the mud if we all gave him a push. We assumed the position at the rear of the car, my mother throwing me under the bus, by insisting I stand behind one of the rear tyres and Ernie the other whilst she was better and safer placed in the middle. For some reason unbeknown to us, as the wheels spun, mud was splattered in the directionality of my mother so she was coated head to toe in Devon’s finest fertile soil. As she looked like she’d spent the afternoon mud wrestling, Ernie offered to rinse her down with a bucket of water he kept in the back of his transit van for such an occasion but as she was sporting her cherished Jaeger coat she just gave him one of her withering looks that could dissolve steel. Ernie recognizing a force of nature when he saw one wisely jumped back into his van and hightailed it out of Dodge leaving us to face the impending storm.

In Deepest Darkest Devon No One Can Hear You Scream

A few years’ ago having tearily (not) despatched my nieces for a Sea Cadet camping weekend, my sister and I set about driving to Torquay, the English Riviera no less, for a spot of lunch and some shopping. We made some serious dents in our credit cards and lunched in our favourite pub. By the time we had finished with our Irish coffees we were fit to burst but clearly not so much that we couldn’t continue on our shopping spree.

It was fairly late when we returned to the car park and it was beginning to get dark so we loaded up the boot with all our swag and headed off home. On the way my sister who was driving, said that she knew a short cut so we headed off the beaten track across country.

For some reason she decided to tell me that these remote country lanes reminded her of the horror flick “Wrong Turn” and proceeded to talk me through the plot. My sister and the girls are die-hard horror flick fans through and through but me not so much. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit it but I still hide behind the sofa when Doctor Who is aired and on the odd occasion when I’ve been channel hopping and come across a vampire movie I’ve spent a sleepless night with the lights on, a garlic bulb and a framed picture of the Pope (in the absence of a crucifix) trying to keep demons at bay.

Beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable I decided to phone Dyson Abbey to alert them that we were homeward bound to discover that we had no mobile signal. Now distinctly uneasy, particularly as my sister continued to talk me through the slasher part of the film, we realised that we were hopelessly lost and hadn’t passed any other vehicles for some time. We identified a couple of figures ahead in the fog so we pulled over to ask directions. Believe me when I tell you that these good old country boys resembled the mutant family of cannibals from the Hills Have Eyes. Never before had my Grandma’s phrase of “you see some sights when you’ve not got your gun with you” seemed more appropriate.

Regretting our decision to stop we politely asked directions to be met with rousing laughter. The older one of the two spoke first and leaning into the window “You’m lucky to have caught me and my boy, we’re just on us way home, lost are ye”? He said grinning from ear to ear with a mouthful of rotten teeth.

The “boy” cadetswho would never see forty again and clearly shared the same dental plan as his father chimed in “Them fancy sat navs no good out ‘ere, girl; got yerself an ‘usband”?

I admitted to being spoken for but my sister …… before I could finish that sentence she had accelerated away leaving the Star Wars Bar regulars behind in our rear view mirror. In fact, we got the Hell out of Dodge burning rubber with a speed that would have impressed Rover who had manufactured my sister’s ropey old car sometime in the previous century. Who’d thought we would have got 70mph out of that bad boy!

As a safety precaution and just in case we were followed by the Adams Family, I climbed over the rear seats to retrieve my new titanium knife set which I had bought earlier from my favourite shopping outlet of TK MAXX. As it was dark and it was particularly awkward to recover said items from the boot with my ample bottom firmly wedged over the back seat whilst the car hurtled along those winding English country lanes at breakneck speed, sadly I was only able to salvage the potato peeler.

My sister enquired about the effectiveness of my choice of weapon and I pointed out that it could probably take out an eye in the event of an emergency. I gifted it to her as a wedding present and suggested that it could double up as a stiletto for the nights when her intended was howling at the full moon.

Fortunately, a little further along the lane we came to a crossroads and a signpost guiding us back to home and normality. We have since retraced our journey a number of times, but we have never again seen those strange folk and try as we might we’ve not been able to find that turn off either leaving my sister pondering what might have been and hankering after an unrequited zombie love.

crossroads

Dreams Don’t Have Expiration Dates

It’s official I am a Larry Letdown! After reading countless posts regarding #pitchmad, I realised how much I didn’t know and also that I was in no way prepared to pitch. Further more it was evident that my manuscript wasn’t ready either; it’s still a work in progress much like myself in fact.

It was apparent that those taking part were firstly very knowledgable about this event and processes. Secondly, they had clearly spent every waking minute in preparing their pitches and honing their manuscripts. As I had already arranged to take the day off and had stocked up on gallons of Red Bull (which I detest after overindulging in vodka & same one weekend) to keep me going through the day I still wanted to watch the proceedings and got quite caught up in the spirit of the event even though I was just a spectator. Writers tweeted pitches for their manuscript twice an hour throughout the day and literary agents favourited those that they wanted to see more of. I loved the hosts who under the #moderatorninja gently warned against over tweeting and typos. There were some excellent pitches which impressed and intrigued me so I have no doubt that many writers were successful in attracting the attention of an agent.

The next #pitchmad event is the 7th December; which incidentally is my birthday so not sure whether this is a good omen or not! Subsequently, I shall be spending the next couple of months buffing and polishing my pitch and manuscript so it will be glowing like a firefly in readiness for the occasion.

I hope you can forgive me for ducking out on this occasion but I wanted to thank you all nevertheless, for your support and encouragement and a special mention to my very own dream team of Megan @ Cowboys and Crossbones and Rhonda @ 50 Shades of Gray Hair who were emailing me for England with tweet ideas which I will be squirreling away to bring out again at the next event. I felt a bit like Rocky with my two boot camp trainers; ladies you truly are champions.

So I shall be rocking up to #pitchmad on 7th December in my Mickey Mouse onesie (attractive visual I know) and hoping that fortune favours the brave and that life is kind to me on that day.

In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take

The Show Must Go On (Part One)

In true village fair tradition, we awoke to gale force winds and torrential rain which meant that the favoured mode of dress was going to be wellies and hi-visibility rain ponchos; villagethe bright luminous ones that could be seen from outer space.

As the kitchen was a bustling hive of activity and strictly out-of-bounds whilst my mother was putting the finishing touches to her cakes; breakfast was going to be a muesli bar and orange juice but I consoled myself that I might be able to score a bacon butty at one of the refreshment tents if the verger was in a benevolent mood and allowed me a break.

I reported for car park duty nice and early to be greeted by my Dad’s allotment buddies Sid and Ernie who had been assigned the security detail hoping that they would get the opportunity to bodily evict their nemesis, our neighbour Billy Big Potatoes who was one of their competitors again in the produce class. Clearly Arnie or Steven Seagal weren’t available for the gig!

“Name?” said Sid whilst gazing at his clipboard

Really? As they had known me since I had been a twinkle in my Dad’s eye I pointed out that having not yet had my coffee I was a woman on the edge and they may want to rethink their security strategy. Ernie quickly determined that I was not a morning person and prudently offered me a cuppa from his flask which I suspected had been fortified with some of my Dad’s dubious moonshine. Fortuitously, I was able to decline on account of the verger hailing me from the other side of the field.

Reporting for duty with the other car park marshalls, we were divided into teams of two and presented with the County Fair equivalent of the Holy Grail, our walkie talkies, with strict instructions that we were in no way permitted to abuse the airwaves. I was paired up with Erin who was one of the local farmer’s daughters and had been engaged to Tommy,village 2 the village postman another a car park steward, for the past fifteen years. As neither of us had succeeded in making it up the aisle of our local parish church, I thought we would get along together famously particularly as I knew where she could pick up a really cheap never-been-worn wedding dress.

After patrolling the car park and setting up the barriers, cars soon started to arrive. The Fire Brigade who were attending the event in a PR capacity were one of the first to arrive and I waved to my former school friend who was driving the engine today. As children, we had nearly torched his house attempting to smoke our first cigarettes so I made a mental note not to engage him in conversation anywhere near the barbecue or the hog roast not wanting to lose my newly tinted and shaped eyebrows by tempting fate a second time.

One of the next cars to arrive was Nauseating Nigel who had been my cheating fiancée Serial Shagger’s suspect choice of Best man for the wedding that never was, who whilst revving up his BMW proceeded to tell me what I had missed when I’d given his friend a swerve. As I was not at my physical best owing to the adverse wet weather conditions and looked like I’d taken make-up tips from the Joker in Batman Returns, he pointed out that as I had let myself go it was no wonder Serial Shagger had drop-kicked me to the kerb in favour of my former best friend. I fought the urge to direct him to a car parking space in the next county and decided instead to use my powers for good thereby allowing him to park in an allocated space.

Next up was the Vicar who was keen to make amends for last years cake fiasco had somehow been manipulated into volunteering for the worst job in the world of judging the Bonniest Baby Competition.  As I realised he was a “dead man walking” I allowed him to park ringside in order that he could make a quick getaway from the mob of torch & pitchfork wielding Showbiz Mommies when their little angels didn’t win the coveted title.

The rain continued to bucket down and I sneaked off to a Burger wagon aptly named “Get Stuffed” for a quick bite whilst the verger was distracted by a parking violation, not realising that the afternoon was going bring with it a whole heap of surprises.

Want to see what happens next then check out Part Two

Suck It Up Buttercup

Chloe one of our rescue cats, unfortunately is a well-known mouser and has a bad habit of bringing any quarry home relatively unharmed. We are on a first name basis with the veterinary nurses at our local practise as we regularly drop off various wildlife; baby hedgehogs, fledglings and on one occasion a young weasel to recuperate and be released back into the wild.

One day last week, Chloe dropped a sparrow on my bedroom floor and I thought initially it had expired from the shock but locked her and the other cats outside anyway whilst I could further investigate. Upon closer inspection the little sparrow was obviously playing possum and scooted speedily around the room. I feared it might break its neck as it frantically beat its wings against the patio door in an effort to escape and unfortunately, it was just too fast for me. A chase ensued but I had to admit defeat and returned to my sick-bed leaving the small bird to settle down.

Several hours later, I could hear the frenzied beating of wings against the window again as the small bird tried to escape. As it was so exhausted, this time, miraculously, I was able to capture it. As I held that delicate little creature in my hands I could feel it’s wildly beating heart and sense its overwhelming homing instinct.

With one hand I threw open the window and opened the other when the little sparrow flew off without a backward glance. Not for a heartbeat had that precious soul given up although terrified and fatigued. I was humbled and the self-pity I had been wallowing in for a week dispersed when I realised that no wild animal ever wasted a second on self-pity and rejoiced every moment that it breathed life. The lesson that little sparrow had taught me that morning was that life was way too short and there were so many beautiful reasons to be happy but the best reason of all was flying home to his family.

Chloe The Koi Carp Thief

Chloe The Koi Carp Thief

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.

Blogging friends I need your help! I was chatting online during the week with one of my blogging friends Pleun over at La Vida Loca about how I hope to participate in the forthcoming Twitter event #pitchmad in the first week of September. I said that I was feeling particularly uninspired after my illness and she suggested that I recruit your advice as I have done on so many occasions.

As most of you know I am totally pants at Twitter but have been improving gradually with the help of two of my Twitter buddies, Megan at Cowboys and Crossbones and Rebecca at Clanmother (who’s well-timed quotes always manage to raise my spirits even on the bluest days).

The idea is that in 140 characters to include #pitchmad, I pitch a book idea to any literary agents that will be participating in the event. I was thinking that maybe just maybe I could submit a creative and attention-grabbing tweet for the Honeymoon Stories as it seemed to strike a chord with one or two of you.

So I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions, advice or inspiration to share with me?

Sometimes the best road is the one you make

Sometimes the best road is the one you make

Your Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

No doubt you have all seen in the press recently another beautiful young person has taken her life as a result of bullying cowardly internet trolls.  It saddens me that with the amazing technology that we now have access to in our homes and at our finger tips, there are those cowardly souls that would abuse this medium, hiding behind their anonymity to slander and disparage more vulnerable individuals.

We have all been members of social media groups where particular discussion threads have descended quickly into public slanging matches where accusations are made and vitriolic statements written.  I have left many a group appalled that so-called intelligent and fortunate people have found it necessary to take advantage of these opportunities to denigrate others with insults becoming unnecessarily offensive.

This week was no exception, whilst taking part in a Twitter event an individual took this opportunity to air some personal grievances with another.  Whilst it was obvious that these two shared some sort of history, it was in my opinion not the right platform for these allegations and whilst I don’t know the circumstances which caused this rift, I do think there’s a lot to be said for not washing your dirty linen in public.  As the afternoon wore on, the tweets got more distasteful and more malicious so I just couldn’t help myself when I tweeted that pulling someone else down wouldn’t help you reach the top quickly followed by good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.

Predictably, the tweeter then turned his or her attention to me by tweeting something along the lines of “desperate uninformed writers don’t get my tweets”.  Well I guess that would be me but also I daresay most of today’s bestselling authors before they became published; so I was in good company.  Well buddy, if that’s the best insult that you can hurl at me, “Game On” because I am my Father’s daughter not some impressionable teenager and I have been taught the importance of right from wrong since I could walk along with respect for myself and others.  Whilst I don’t actively seek out confrontation, I will not run from it and neither will I indulge others that thrive on conflict and will endeavour to cause a fight in an empty room.

I can’t help but wonder if there had been just one compassionate voice in the darkness for one of those desperate bullied teenagers, maybe just maybe it might have made a difference.

 The world is a dangerous place not because of the evil that men do but because of those that look on and do nothing       Albert Enstein

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You Can’t Buy Happiness But You Can Buy Ice-cream

My bestie all the way through school was Louise Matthews whose family owned the local ice-cream company; and who says I don’t know how to choose my friends well.  Louise and I accompanied each other to Girl Guides, Youth Clubs, Barn Dances and eventually our first forays into the seedy world of nightclubs; when we wore far too much cheap make-up and ridiculously high heels. Both of us also used to sneak our real clubbing outfits, which were deemed unsuitable by our mothers, into our excessively large bags and change in the nightclub toilets once we escaped from our overly protective parents.

One evening Louise’s Dad offered us a lift into town and as students any cost saving exercise which would result in us being able to purchase an additional Bacardi Breezer or the more sophisticated half a pint of Snakebite was a welcome bonus. However, both of us were a little disappointed when we discovered that he intended to drive us into town in the back of one of his ice-cream vans but as we knew the journey would be a short one, we reckoned that no-one would see us and thus our street-cred would remain intact.

With trepidation we hiked up our short skirts and teetered gingerly into the back of the van in a cloud of overpowering perfume; I think it may have been called something along the lines of Tramp or Harlot and smelled more like toxic waste than designer fragrance but we thought it was the teenage equivalent of catnip.

As he drove through a particularly large housing estate, we were mortified when he switched on the chimes which played “Popeye the Sailor Man”. ice cream vanUnsurprisingly, this drew a rather large crowd so Louise’s Dad not wanting to miss a sales opportunity, pulled the van up and asked us to serve his customers. To be fair he did suggest that we don the non-too attractive nylon overalls hanging on the van’s rear door and we reluctantly set about serving our waiting public 99’s (that’s a cornet with a chocolate flake – I know my ice-cream). We made several other stops that evening but both Louise and I drew the line at serving the crowd outside the nightclub; we wanted to hold onto what little dignity we had left.

Bridges

This is another of my collaborations with the stylish and very elegant Rhonda over at 50 Shades of Gray Hair. This one was more of a challenge for me as Rhonda supplied the pictures and I wrote the story around them. I have loved working with her and not only is she a great photographer and a perfectionist but a generous spirited soul too. So on behalf of myself and my team-mate we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

I opened the letter with trembling hands; the one that I had been waiting weeks for. It had arrived in the morning post but I had crumpled it into my pocket and delayed reading it until my Mum had left for work. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share it with her but I just didn’t want to feel guilty either.

Mum and I had always been close but after Dad died Mum had worked hard cleaning houses nevertheless she’d made sure that I had never gone without and she always found the money to send me on school trips and for other small treats somehow. Both my parents had never hidden from me that I was adoptedbaby in fact Mum used to say I was a special gift from the angels and there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t feel secure or loved.

So when I reached eighteen I decided to try to contact my birth mother which I knew must have been hard on Mum. I’d always been able to talk to Mum apart from those difficult teenage years when I was permanently angry and would have started a fight in an empty room. Mum hid the hurt that my harsh words caused and ignored my unreasonable behaviour.

So I was surprised a few years later when a letter arrived out of the blue from my birth mother; from then on we exchanged letters regularly until the day I suggested that we meet up. It was a few agonising weeks before she wrote back recommending that we meet in a popular café bar in town.

That weekend, I’d spent forever getting myself ready, selecting and discarding countless outfits until I realised that I was going to be late if I didn’t leave straightaway. Walking into the almost empty bar with my family photos tucked away inside my bag, I spotted her almost immediately, glamorous, elegant and perched on the edge of a leather Chesterfield sofa drinking Chardonnay. We introduced ourselves and hugged awkwardly. After ordering drinks we settled down to getting to know each other better. She showed me pictures of her and her husband in their imposing house, in their sleek sports car and exotic locations around the world and I couldn’t help but be impressed and think “what if”. As we talked she said that she had lived in the locality for quite some time and had married her husband a short time after giving birth but having married young they both felt that they needed a fresh start and a baby would have been a burden that a young couple starting out simply didn’t need or want.

When the afternoon became early evening she continued to boast about her gold credit card and their next Caribbean cruise, I realised that this stranger was clearly incapable of making the inevitable sacrifices that is a fundamental part of being a parent. She confided in me that her husband had an important meeting in the city and subsequently, had been unable to accompany her.  I sensed a deep loneliness and I suspected that she was frequently unaccompanied. She ordered another Chardonnay but despite her half-hearted protests I made my excuses and bade her farewell leaving her sitting all alone; a sad forlorn figure. I understood then that my expectations had been impossibly high and I wondered if I had disappointed her as much as she had me. collage 2 I left the cafe bar with a lighter heart knowing that any further meeting would be unlikely and glad that I didn’t share more than genes with this outsider. My parents had never once made me feel like I was a burden and I had always known that I was the sun, sea and stars for them. Sure I didn’t live in a palace and there were very few holidays and other luxuries over the years but I wouldn’t have swapped a single precious second with them.collage 1 It was late when I returned home and as I opened the kitchen door, Mum was sat at the kitchen table hemming a new dress I had bought the other week. I noticed that her hair seemed a little greyer and her laughter lines a little deeper; she jumped up when she saw me “Fancy some cocoa, Love?

rhonda 4 I rested my hand lightly on her shoulder and said “I’ll do it”. As I busied myself making the cocoa, Mum carried on sewing. As I placed two mugs on the table she looked up and said nervously “Everything go all right, Angel”?

I grasped her work-worn hands across the table and saw the concern in her tired blue eyes. “Mum, I really don’t tell you often enough but the angels knew what they were doing when they gave me to you and I am truly grateful for the love I have received because I know that wherever you are, I am home”.

One of the hardest things to know is which bridge to cross & which to burn rainbow