Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fify Shades of Bum Cheek Red - A lighthearted extremely serious review of Fifty Shades of Grey....

Most people, certainly most writers, will know by now, that for much of this year, one of the top selling novels in both the US, Canada and the UK, is an ‘erotic’ work, part of a trilogy which is now known affectionately as ‘Fifty Shades..’ by EL James – a first time, middle aged female novelist, who said of her success,

“I could have divorced my husband or bought a car in my forties, instead I wrote a novel.”

It’s the story of a twenty-year-old virgin – obviously it isn’t set in the UK – who begins an affair with, ‘the most beautiful man (she has) ever seen’ – a tycoon, who also (sigh) pilots his own helicopter. Let’s face it though, most tycoon’s can appear pretty attractive, huh girrrrls?
Although, your average, local lad, Ron, once a proud, fit ‘ banger-in-of-rivets’ at the local shipyard, and now on the checkout at Tesco, due to the ‘Back to Work’ campaign by the Coalition government, does appear to lose a little of his appeal beside such obvious glamour – especially when he’s filling you in on the latest BOGOF deal, or wondering whether you’d noticed your Coronation Chicken still had feathers.
Anyway, Ron, sadly, isn’t in ‘Fifty Shades’, which is the tale of the rather strange relationship that develops between the twenty year old virgin, and the tycoon. At this point I’d like to be able to say it involves many aspects of bondage, domination and submission, sadism and masochism but I am not sure that a couple of over-the-knee spankings really qualify it.
Masochism may be stretching it a little far actually, given the fact that the twenty year old virgin does not appear at any point to have any sexual fantasy of her own at all,  let alone the desire to get her nipples chewed off and spat out like a couple of Coco Crispies the dog got hold of, but didn’t much fancy.  No, our heroine simply goes along with what the ‘weather events’ in her knickers are telling her – wet patches in one particular area, and it’s not Wolverhampton. In any case, he buys her an expensive sports car, an apple Mac and, Oh God knows what else – does that sound like suffering to you?  No, me neither.
Anyway, as well as having ‘dark copper eyes’ and ‘steel grey hair' – oops, that may have been the other way round – though do we care? Really? No, thought not. As well as those particular features, he has, it would appear, just the one teensy little character flaw…. It’s so small you almost don’t notice it, but then at about page thirty-nine it hits you…bam!  Right between the eyes, the man is, quite simply…..unbelievable. Oh and he’s also a ‘pervert’, though stood against a twenty year old virgin my eighty-six year old Auntie Lil could look somewhat shady…
Yes, Mr Billionaire Tycoon Grey (he of the Fifty Shades) or BTG as we shall now call him, has had a bit of a raw deal in life, a heavy cross to bear.  He’s a sexual dominant, who does not like to be touched…. ever.  Ain’t life a bitch?!  Not only does he have to suffer his sexually perverted desires, but he also cannot have ‘normal’ sex, (whatever that might be these days), because, having ‘normal’ sex would mean being touched, wouldn’t it?
G0sh, it used to be so simple; meet a prince in the forest, sing nicely, stroke a few furry things, kill a couple of witches, get married…
Back to BGT and let’s see if we can get to the ‘bottom’ of the problem – he certainly does himself, on Page 124, Page 138, and Page 564.
He has this ‘Red Room of Pain’ in his house which is where he takes the twenty year old (sadly no longer a virgin at this point) to punish her.  I sympathise, really, I do.  I have a ‘room of pain’ in my house too.  It’s where my eleven year old sleeps and throws clothes, toys and books, all over the floor. Believe me, I know about pain.
‘But why?’ I hear you cry, ‘What has the Twenty Year Old No Longer A Virgin done to deserve punishing? Has she crashed the car he bought her?  Oh God, not the helicopter!
No, none of the above.
She ‘rolled her eyes’. Yes, that’s right, she rolled her eyes.  Now, there was one point, early in the story, where it occurred to me that all this ‘eye rolling’ and the subsequent punishment spankings it produced, might not be the sort of ‘eye rolling’ familiar to most people.  I wondered if perhaps, the hapless TYONLAV (Twenty Year Old No Longer A Virgin) had performed some sort of revolting ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ type stunt, taken her eyes out from their sockets, and rolled them around a bit – maybe on his new rug or something?
It’s feasible though, isn’t it? I mean, I might want to spank her for that myself, especially if I slipped on one and broke my neck or something, but no, it was just good ol’ eye rolling as we know and love it.
Especially when our teenaged children do it. In front of their friends. Bless them.
So yes, our heroine keeps getting in his bad books and getting herself a red bottom, in the red room of pain.
Naturally, I found this very odd behaviour, but not quite so odd, as some of her other behaviour. Like, for instance, the fact that she says “Holy crap” every third paragraph, or worse “Double Crap”, progressing to “Holy Shit” and even “Oh fuck” but that is only when ‘He blows gently up the length of my sex’… yes, really, that is just one of the delicious lines to ponder, wonder at, and maybe, just maybe, roll your eyes – but watch out for passing billionaire tycoons..
For you see, right at the end of this wander down Debauchery Lane, the Twenty Year Old… oh you know who, gets Six of the Best, across the arse cheeks, with his belt.
Yes his belt, and apparently he doesn’t ‘hold anything back’ – I guess that’s the job of a belt -  but does she say ‘Fuck’ at this point, or even, and here you can call me a spoilsport if you like,
‘Fuck Off before your trousers fall down BTG’
No, she says….
‘One, ouch, two, scream, three, Holy Mackinoly’ (oh alright she doesn’t but you get my point!)
Anyway, I’m not one to spoil the ending so back to ‘the ‘length’ of her sex.. really?  Really? I thought girls had funny bits, maybe some are a little more ‘sticky out’ than others but lengths?  All this time me and the girls sat around discussing our new shoes we shoulda bin getting out the ruler and measuring our lengths..
I have to say I had to suspend a little disbelief with this novel. I know fantasy is very popular among the young but twenty-year-old virgins who get Apple Macs and fancy cars in exchange for having their bottoms spanked by beautiful billionaire tycoons? I mean, what is this ‘The Story of O (h I Wish I Had A Billionaire Helicopter Pilot To Spank Me Although I Wouldn’t Like It, But Oh Well, What Can You Do, No Billionaire Is Perfect?' Well, yes I suppose it is.

It an awful shame though, that this novel has so misrepresented the subject of Sexual Dominance and Submission, which is already greatly misunderstood in the public sphere.
Dominants thrive on the understanding that their submissive partner finds their sex life together just a little more than ‘hawt’, and beating someone as an act of anger is not the deal here. Beating someone and being beaten is viewed as an expression of mutual desire, one need complementing the other, each need fulfilled. Fulfilling your partners needs and desires? Hey that’s a little radical!

It’s about allowing women to finally grow up as sexual beings with desires of their own – even if you don’t share, or approve of those desires – BDSM is an area where women really do choose, and those choices should be as respected as any other, shouldn’t they?  (Fact is, there are plenty of submissive men out there and it’s not discussed alongside the issue of violence against women. Instead sexually dominant women are merely a joke.)
And that’s the real shame of this book – for in my experience the BDSM ‘scene’ is about partnering and giving, and absolute honesty – for if you can’t be honest about your desire to either give or experience sexual pain, then somebody is going to get seriously hurt.  What a shame the BGT had to go and turn out to be emotionally disturbed instead of a man who recognised his needs and was honest about them, and went and found himself a grown up gal who had a few of her own.  Mmm, maybe that's another story....
Though, quite frankly Ms James I wish you’d bought the car, and if you ask me, just for the ‘length of your sex’ you deserve a sound spanking!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Late Summer Plum...

When you first came calling for me, you knocked softly on the front door and if it sounded at all, it was a mere whisper that may have been heard on the ground floor but would never have echoed through the hallways and reached up to my apartment.

The doorbells could never be relied upon, so I guess that gentle ‘tap, tapping’ was an indication of your initial ambivalence, as though even then you wondered about the wisdom of being with me.

After a while you knocked loud and grew bolder, and banged on that door until a shudder went all through the house, and everyone knew you had come a calling. 

Boy I liked that. I used to swagger down the stairs; careful to see who else had come out onto the landing to watch me leave with you, and maybe smile, maybe just stand there, arms folded in the half dark of the hallway, staring at our backs as we left.

I wanted them to want to be us so very badly.

One time, as I reached the bottom of the stairway I heard a whispered warning from the shadows.

"Take care, girl."

She was an old woman, with wisps of white hair that made an unruly frame around her head, like an oddly shaped halo.  She wore glasses with frames too large for her tiny face, and thick lenses that distorted her eyes, making them huge. They were  'swimmy' like old people get, though they were still a bright, cornflower blue.

She stood there a moment, said nothing more, blinked a few times as we faced each other, and then turned back into her apartment, shutting the door hard behind her.

Would I have stopped and listened? Sure I would! Even then, in my fire years, I was polite and cheerful in my nature, though truth be told, I had no concern for danger, or a life of misery, or anything untoward.  So I listened, then dismissed her warning, and went about my business, thinking her typical of the old, the out of touch, unable even to recall the carefree days of their youth. 

Secretly I wondered as to her sanity; as to whether she had begun the kind of tragic decline that would, in time, leave her unable to remember her own name.  I pondered her strange appearance in the hallway, thinking that perhaps it was an early indication of things to come.

So, I left with you that day, and again and then again on subsequent days, hanging on your arm and onto every clever, funny word that tripped off your tongue.

Later I would close the door softly as I left your apartment, after that salty tongue had snaked its way around my mouth and down the length of my body.  I would shudder remembering how it had slowly made its way to the place from where all of my existence sprang, from where the heat of me lay simmering.

That tongue had licked and flicked at my reddening, swelling heat, until I had boiled over, spilling like the sticky juice of a sweet, late summer plum.

Leaving you sprawled in the creased sheets, snoring lightly, I would smile at our secrets, and carry them carefully, all the way home to my own bed which waited empty, it’s sheets cool.

I rarely saw the old woman after that day. Perhaps from time to time I would catch a glimpse of her, entering her apartment or leaving by the front hallway, but she never spoke to me again or came to her door when I banged down the stairs in reply to your knock. 

I had no time for her anyway, for I could give little thought to those who were not like me, with my urgent need to live, to exist only in the moment, to ride and then ride again on the high rollers.

The summer wore on, and a sudden blistering heat made the hallways smell bad.  It was as though the years of boiling and stewing, roasting and frying, on all the stoves in those tiny apartments had created one god almighty smell that sweated through the walls and hung stinking in the air, leaving a stain on the shabby, peeling paper.

Nobody left their apartments much then; to go about their daily business or visit friends for mid day lunches or meet for cocktails before a theatre show, or a late supper.  They lay helpless on their beds in dark shuttered rooms, waiting it out, waiting for the big warm drops of rain to fall and cool the sticky air. 

Others, too impatient, left the city and headed for the coast with its sea breezes and big hotel rooms with double doors that opened onto balconies overlooking the ocean.

As time went by you called less and less often, and eventually I too lay on sweat creased sheets, tossing and turning, the fire in my belly unstoked, and a terrible dread in my heart.

When after two weeks, you did not call at all, I began not to eat, but to drink instead. Endless glass, after endless glass, of clear cold water, no ice, whilst I listened to the hum of the refrigerator and watched the flies dance a listless, doomed tango around the broken ceiling fan.

The old woman’s words ran over and over in my head. 

'Take care, girl.'

Each time I closed my eyes I saw her own once again.  They were still cornflower blue, but this time I recognised the grief that lay deep within them, and realised that her words that day had been a warning to the girl she had once been, even though it had come too late for both of us.

Finally, my eyes were open and I understood.

Some weeks after that I packed up my things and left the faded, forlorn apartment building.  I made my way to a small town nearby to stay with a friend, for company and to recover my senses, before I headed for the wider roads of the West Coast.

I did not return to the city.

Sweetie Sometimes - Chapter 1


Sweetie is approaching forty, single and wanting to give colour to the fantasies she has only sketched so far....

From the corner of her eye, she watched as a fully clothed man, across the far side of the room, stood beneath a classic oil on canvas, rhythmically thrusting himself into a woman bent facedown over a plush velvet Chesterfield sofa. The subject of the portrait; a blush-cheeked maiden, her modest bosom tightly buttoned, looked down upon the room with a formal disdain, as though bearing witness to the scene before her. Her skirts showed only the tips of her tiny feet, encased in delicately buttoned boots.  On the side table next to her sat a bible.

The woman being ridden below her, was naked apart from a tightly laced, flesh-pink corset, and a pair of 0ld-fashioned bloomers, which were draped around her ankles.  Her breasts, the nipples swollen and dark, dangled and danced with each thrust, and across her trembling buttocks, lay an artful arrangement of perhaps eight, maybe ten red welts, raised on the skin. All had been delivered with an expertly wielded crop some while earlier in the proceedings, and each had been received with a howl, followed by a most polite ‘Thank you Sir’.

Sweetie – not her real name – looked away from the couple, feeling it was somehow rude to stare. She rested her gaze on the shuttered window, willing herself to concentrate on the mundane, the everyday.  Her thoughts turned to home; they needed toothpaste, and her shoes could do with being re-heeled.

The span of the window seemed huge, and the light from several lamps cast odd crooked shadows across it.  She traced their outlines with her eyes, to give her mind something else to focus on, but each led her back to where she had started.  She tried looking around the room, admiring its antique elegance despite the decadent air.

The house was stately, august; like a grand, if elderly duchess. From the outside it had seemed a little ‘Miss Havisham’, appearing slightly dishevelled, and now well past what must have been a glorious heyday, as bright, shiny London traffic swam around it like a slow-moving shoal of silver fish in a castle moat.  She wondered if behind it lay a hidden, secret garden, wildly overgrown, with crumbling red brick walls, the mortar turned to dust, fitted with antique latticed iron gates, which were rusted now; the keys long since lost.

It was not quite Belgravia, not quite Mayfair but an elegant address nonetheless; one in a row of large terraced buildings, finished in the Italian stucco so fashionable of the period.  Numerous wide steps led up to double-width, glossy-black doors. Stone lions sat on either side, in the shade of each portico, but over the long years, layers of grime had settled into the cracks and crevices of their flamboyant manes, and snarling faces.  Here and there, the paint had bubbled and curled.

Intricately patterned black iron railings almost concealed the shorter flights of steps that led down to the basements, and what had been the servant’s entrances.  The doors here were much smaller, narrowed to reflect the tradesmen’s status, and fittingly, the average adult would need to bow their head on entering. 

It would be easy to imagine the baker’s boy dallying on those steps to waste a little of his working day.  She could picture him clearly, whistling, running his fingers absent-mindedly along the railings whilst nearby a blinkered carthorse waited, snorting steamy breath from it’s nostrils, in the early morning turn-of-the-century air.

The unmistakable roar from the diesel engine of a bus brought her back into the present.  From the top deck it would be possible to see right into this room, were it not for the shutters across the windows. On seeing inside, the passengers might stare, sit upright, and pretend to be transfixed by the droplets of rain, or look shiftily around to see if anyone else had noticed the goings on.

Perhaps though, as cynical city dwellers, they would look, shrug their shoulders and return once more to their preoccupations, seeing only the globules of water shivering as the engine vibrated, and watching transfixed as they trickled down the outside of the glass.

Maybe in moments, the whole bus would be in uproar, the passengers outraged, a baying mob calling for blood.  Perhaps it would turn into a farcical scenario, like an Ealing comedy, with uniformed ‘Bobbies’ arriving in a swarm, and blowing sharply on their whistles, whilst dragging half-dressed, and most indignant souls into Black Maria vans, accompanied by the wailing of sirens.

“They call this the ‘Great Room’ Sweetie,” whispered Angel, suddenly appearing at her side.

“It’s quite public as you can see.”

Sweetie felt the weave of the heavily embroidered curtain and fingered the silk tassel of the tie-back, taking in the plump feather cushions of the classic sofa and the old, classic prints on the walls.

Wanting to feel the embossed rich wallpaper beneath her fingers, she made to step closer to the wall and stumbled in her heels. As she did, a hand reached to steady her, catching her elbow.

“My old mum would’ve said ‘You’ll do yourself a right mischief in them heels’.”

As he said it he didn’t smile, but perhaps raised his eyebrows a glimmer, perhaps he didn’t, she couldn’t be sure, but he met her eyes nicely with his own, and then he was gone.  She steadied her position, balanced the tray carefully and lowered her head just slightly, to appear less noticeable.

‘Just think of yourself as literally part of the furniture;’ Angel had said when she had given her the job, ‘they’ve got all the fanny they could possibly want and it’s more available than Cod in a fish and chip shop, so you don’t have to worry, they won’t give you a second look’.

They hadn’t either. She had been standing there in her costume for almost an hour, ignored by everyone accept Angel who busied herself to and from the bar area fetching and carrying implements as they were demanded. The rules were definitely the rules in this room and as she had given no consent to be touched, so she was ignored.

The men, either Masters or Dominants wore suits, with the exception of one or two who wore breeches with shirts that sported flounces down the front.  She was reminded of ‘Mr Darcy’ although she was pretty sure that Miss Austen would have swooned at such a scene.  Mostly, they would not have looked out of place in the office, which she guessed was where they had come here from, and where no doubt some would return to after the games. That, or a dash across town to catch trains back to the suburbs, or further out to the Home Counties, perhaps even beyond.

The women, the willing submissives, wore corsets, petticoats, bloomers, and stockings, or else very little of anything.

Sweetie had been intrigued when a giggling Angel told her before she agreed to the job, that the party theme would be ‘Wicked Masters Punish Their Disobedient Servants’ – though there was a distinct lack of young, wan-looking footmen getting their just desserts.

Greg, who was knelt on all fours opposite her, with the feet of a Master resting on his back, was surely a submissive, but then it was very easy money. Either way, she didn’t much care, it added both to her ‘portfolio’ of adventures and her pocket.

She returned to unnoticed, persona non-gratis in the corner by the window, whilst another layer of underwear was removed and the giggling women, clearly not very ‘sorry’ for their misdeeds, were laid over furniture or laps, and their buttocks soundly spanked, paddled or flogged.  It was oddly disconcerting, and yet, at the same time, delightful to observe.

“You should try not to smile. Someone might wipe it off your face for you.”

He was back!  The man from earlier who had steadied her as she stumbled. She looked him in the eye.

“You? Will you wipe the smile off my face?”

“I don’t play here.” He replied and she was immediately disappointed: He didn’t like her.

“A watcher.” It came out like a statement of fact though she had meant it as a question, but her disappointment leant it an air of disapproval that she hadn’t intended but found she could not conceal.

“Actually a drinker, an occasional afternoon drinker who can’t stand the stink of the public bar and the late-lunch heave of people. And yes, someone who quite likes his art ‘alternative’, his cinema ‘independent’, and his ‘frantic antics’ with females flavoured a shade richer than vanilla. You can get me another one of these please, when you’re ready.”

He swilled the last of the liquid around the glass and drank it down, then held out the glass to her. She took it and turned from him.

“Manners I like though.” She turned back to face him, smiling at the reprimand.

“That was an Irish whisky with two blocks of ice.” He held two fingers up to confirm his order.

“Yes Sir.”

He smiled briefly. “What do they call you then, apart from ‘Bitch’?”

She grinned at him, there was no trace of malice in his words, they both understood the joke and anyway, he had kind eyes.


“So you taste good then, right? His head was shaved where he was balding, and he loomed over her, stooping to hear her from his height. His smile was wide, his teeth dazzling white against a tan gained in the sun rather than from a bottle.

“You have lovely teeth!” She laughed at her awkwardness. He studied her a moment, allowing a smile to play over his lips before he looked at his watch and looked serious again.

“Sweetie, get my drink and get it quick.”

She turned and tottered to the bar. She was just about to ask the barman for the order when he placed the drink on a clean napkin in front of her.

“A regular then?” She said. He did not even glance at her and turned back to polishing glasses at the sink.

She liked the man, had liked the feel of him as he’d steadied her. She had no idea quite why, but of all the people she had met on this rather crazy journey, he was perhaps the first who had really piqued her interest.

She thought about how his hands might burn her, how those teeth might nip at, and bruise the tiny folds of skin at her throat. How his fingers might snake through her hair and bunch it into a fist, pulling it just enough to make her dizzy with pleasure, a sizzle of warmth searing her belly. She realised she already knew his smell.

She began the long walk back across the room in her treacherous heels, trying to balance the tray on one hand, as Angie had shown her earlier. When she looked toward where he had been sitting, he was no longer there.

Scanning the room, she saw him standing beside the fireplace deep in conversation, one hand resting on the mantelpiece. Had he moved deliberately? Again, she walked the width of the room in the heels, her tray in one hand. She had a sudden vision of herself falling spectacularly just as she reached the fireplace, showering the men with liquid, and ice and shards of glass as she tumbled to the floor. She coughed to stifle her laugh at the thought, and he glanced at her as he took the drink from the tray but did no more, in fact, he seemed to turn away from her.

For the first time, on this strangest of days she felt foolish and awkward.  She really was the invisible servant they had employed her to be, paid very highly, to disappear into the background of the scene, her discretion valued, her discomfort enjoyed.

How utterly mad that she took pleasure in imagining him physically bruise her, yet having him ignore her bothered her greatly.

A good psychologist would no doubt question her lack of self-esteem, or think her perverted, but then a psychologist would do their learning from books. Sweetie had long concluded that people were just not so easy to read.  They always had secrets, fascinations, obsessions, and the kinks and twists, even when they were never acknowledged, were always there; deeply buried perhaps but there, never the less.

She went and stood in the position Angel had shown her first, and listened to the moans of the women who were being humiliated, exposed, and beaten.  Sweetie thought them most beautiful, as the punishing hands of others pleasured them, and their faces shone with the blissful honesty of their desire, and the sweet fulfilment of it.

Around the room, in couples or threesome’s they were sprawled on the furniture, or else they stood over the sprawled. She gazed at the bodies; real bodies, shaped and sized differently to each other, some showing signs of the process of decline, others still holding onto the gorgeous bloom of their youth. All of them were carried without shame, as though to be naked publicly, to behave in such a way was perfectly normal without any need to cower or conceal.

She watched their hands groping, and gripping at soft white buttock cheeks, and thrusting themselves hard into the heat of the women. Some stood and stroked their cocks, smiling, and holding them over open, eager mouths. Faces either frowned in rapt concentration, or were contorted with the agony of their coming ecstasy. Grunts and cries, moans, and streams of filthy words echoed around the sumptuous room, and finally, sighs of blissful pleasure.

No longer able to help herself, her eyes searched the room for the man from earlier, but she couldn’t see him anywhere.  She looked beyond the players, beyond the bodies still writhing, or those convulsed with gentle laughter at a well-timed joke, and those simply prone, sweat beading on their skin, sated, stirring occasionally to stroke or caress an admired curve.

Sighing and suddenly dismayed, she rested her gaze once more on the shuttered windows, and thought again of the buses that passed just beyond them. She imagined the collective weariness, as the passengers swayed in their seats, whilst the bus lurched, navigating the sharpest corners of the narrow London streets. The air would be filled with the fizz from their headphones, or the vibrant buzz of their many conversations. She could almost smell the damp of their clothing, the waft of fast food, the diesel fumes.

In the background the late afternoon traffic, would hum as it began to build toward the evening rush.

She looked again toward the lovers dotted around the room. Perhaps, next time, if she were invited back, she would find the courage to join them in their pleasures. Why not?  It had been a strangely unsatisfying journey so far, and the more she thought about it, the more it seemed like the natural next stop along the route that was taking her toward her own destination, perhaps to the end of the line.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

small... A Short Story

I broke my nose when I was nine. Well Dad broke my nose, going (literally) over a roundabout somewhere near Hendon. He’d had a couple of pints and a whisky or two “before I take the kids back to the wife officer, you know how it is.” 

The unsmiling policeman obviously didn’t know how it was and arrested my dad who got stroppy and mouthy and banned for a year and I got a bent nose.

It happened on the first weekend that Debra and I spent with dad and Monica together since the separation.  We’d been on odd days out the four of us, but until then no weekends.

The days out would begin with a mostly silent telephone call from Dad to our Mother.  Whatever was said to her she remained almost monosyllabic but by then of course my sister Debra and I had pricked up our ears. We would exchange the most fleeting of looks but we listened intently even if we continued to sit watching the television or looked as though we were concentrating quietly on the homework laid out on the kitchen table before us.

Our mother would slip the telephone receiver back into place and the audible ‘click’ as the line disconnected would break the heavy silence.

“You’re dad is coming for you Sunday” she would say without emotion and by the time we could answer her or ask a question she’d have left the room.

Sure enough on Sunday morning our dad would arrive in the Company Cortina with Monica his new girl and her satisfied smile. She would flick back her hair and wave cheerily at us as we walked behind him up the garden path like we should somehow be pleased to see her.

Off we’d go then.  We did a couple of country houses with vast landscaped gardens and a cafĂ© with tea in a pot and slices of cake and once we went to a small private zoo somewhere near the south coast. Then of course there was Hastings with its castle and a climb on the cliffs and fish and chips for lunch and cokes with straws fizzing in their frost cold glass bottles.

On the way home Dad would whistle and tap the steering wheel in time to the music from the radio and Monica would unwrap Murray Mints and put them straight into dad’s mouth whilst Debra and I sat watching uncomfortably in the back. I remember being fascinated by such an intimate act between my father and the girl who had replaced my mother in the front passenger seat.

Debra always did her best to provoke.  She would sit silent rhythmically kicking the back of Monica’s seat ‘til she’d say in her chirrupy, syrupy voice, “Don’t kick the seat Debbie love” and Debra (who’d never been called Debbie in her almost twelve years) would stop for a while, then start again. Kick, kick, kick.

A little while later Monica would say quietly “Debbie, sweetie, don’t kick the seat” and on and on it went until Dad’s arm would come swinging over the side of his seat, his palm stinging into Debra’s leg. “She said don’t kick the effing seat.” He always said ‘effing’.

Later back home, Debra and I would lay in our twin beds with their teak headboards and quilted nylon covers: lavender for her, lemon for me. We’d chat quietly and she would mimic the quiet, high voice of Monica as I lay giggling in the dark.

“And I’m not your effing, bloody, sweetie Monica you fanny!” Fanny was just about our favourite word, although I had never said it aloud in the presence of anyone but Debra.

Eventually the days out became overnight stays. Saturday at noon until Sunday at two just Dad and us but no Monica. Then he’d drop us back at the house where inside mum sat silently in front of the Sunday Matinee.

On those weekends we’d spend Saturday afternoon in Kingsbury Wimpy and boy could we make a beef burger in a bun last. Anything to avoid going back to ‘the flat where Monica wasn’t’ as mum called it, adding a “ha, ha, ha” but the last “ha” would disappear as she forced down an odd, tearless sob.

The truth was Monica really wasn’t there on those occasions. I guess she went back to her parents on our ‘overnights’. In my mind’s eye there she is sat before the television on Saturday nights restless and pining for dad. No doubt shovelling Murray bloody Mints in her fat face with her mother giving her looks across the room. 

In the advert breaks her mother looks up from her knitting and she says, “Well, you didn’t bargain on this for a Saturday night out when you took up with a family man did you Monica?”

She wasn’t missing much. Our ‘overnights seemed to drag and the long awkward silences, although punctuated by sudden bouts of fun were painful. It seemed as though none of us had the energy to keep it up.  I guess Dad's weariness of family life was somehow catching and by the end of those weekends Debra and I would slump in the back seat of the car on the way home to mum exhausted by the effort needed just to be with him.

The Kingsbury Wimpy was often empty on those mostly wet Saturday afternoons.  We’d sit at a grubby formica topped table and I'd watch dad look longingly across to the betting shop on the other side of the road, no doubt wondering who’d won the three ten at Newmarket.

Debra and I would suck on the paper straws of our milkshakes until they became soggy tufts of paper that stuck to our lips. Her suggestions (like seeing who could spit them the furthest) saw Dad head quickly for the door.

Then we’d travel silently through the north London suburbs to his miserable flat in a grey block somewhere near Rayners Lane. Actually, it wasn’t his it was hers. It was Monicas, the receptionist whose temporary assignment seemed now to be pretty permanent.

After a five-floor climb the lift doors would ‘shoosh’ open and we’d step onto the dimly lit landing with its slight smell of disinfectant and wait for Dad to fumble for the keys. 

Inside the flat Dad would put the gas fire on and we’d watch Saturday night television, grateful for the comforting familiarity of Dr Who and The Generation Game. Dad would start on the first of many cans of cheap supermarket beer that was no doubt purchased with a view to getting him through a long weekend with just us.

We’d shout out the names of the items on the conveyor belt. ‘A Cuddly Toy!’ ‘A Ladies Hairdryer and Accessories!’ Ladies and Gents Matching Sterling Silver Bracelets!’

We often ‘won’ most of the items because Dad and Debra were really good at it. They would smile at one another, delighted in their latest acquisition. Dad would run round the sofa to the Match of the Day theme tune when he won ‘A handy Teasmade’ or ‘A Set of Gentlemen’s Tools’. All of Debra’s face would smile.

Now, all these years later, when I picture that smile I almost lose my breath. Looking back I think of those as the last vestiges of her childhood happiness. A few final brief moments where she could still be Daddy's girl.  Even if they were snatched from under Monica's nose whilst she sat with the family she did belong to.

In those moments though, with the three of us on the vinyl sofa with its quilted back and the buttons you could twist and twist during the scariest bits of Dr Who everything was all right. Not back to normal, for sure it never would be again but all right. Dad was being nice and he was with us, just us, and Debra was his girl again.

Slowly it would get dark and the gas fire would glow in the flicker of the television and another beer would lose its ring pull and the smoke from his endless cigarettes would hang above our heads.

The curtains would stay open but there was no view from the fifth floor flat other than the block opposite and we knew there would be no offer of supper.

We’d stay silent, hoping he’d fall asleep or forget we were there. Finally the deep breathing that preceded the snores would begin. With luck there would be something with naked bodies on the television and we would sit enthralled before the box while he grunted, turned over on the couch and began to snore again. Then later, having fallen asleep Debra would wake me.  With a fuzzy head from the heat from the gas fire and as the little white dot whined and shrank its way to oblivion she would pull me by the arm.

“Bed now Suz.” We would fumble our way in the dark through the still new to us lounge and into their bedroom, creeping into the bed that smelled of sweat and things as yet unfamiliar.

In the morning we’d watch Thunderbirds and Little House on the Prairie and as the television went on dad would rise from the sofa and stagger into the bed still warm from the heat of us.

Debra would make toast with extra butter on my crusts and two sugared tea. When the focus turned to religion or politics she’d wake Dad who would return to the lounge, cough deeply trying to clear his lungs and turn off the television. He’d start then, complain we did “nothing but stare at the telly “ and “hadn’t we come to see him after all?”

Then off he’d go to spend the next half an hour in the toilet with the just delivered ‘News of the World’ (or “The Whores Gazette” as Grandpa liked to call it) and a packet of Benson and Hedges. I am guessing he sat there ‘on the throne’ marking out his winning ‘gee-gees’ and coughing in the fug of smoke, tipping the ash from his cigarette between his knees and down into the bowl of the toilet.

Meanwhile, Debra would sit silent on the couch, knowing that the good bit was over and the saying goodbye bit had come around again.  With her arms folded and a sneer waiting on her face she'd call through the toilet door. “I'm bored, when can we go home?”

Whilst this scenario was played out I would potter quietly round the flat looking for evidence for mum. Debra and I had, until recently, done this together. We’d go scrabbling through their things looking for anything incriminating.

“Money, bills, jewellery, anything that proves they are better off than us. Especially as he’d walked out on his kids for a slightly older one” as mum in those never ending rants at Nan was wont to repeat over and over. On our previous visit I’d said excitedly.

“He’s locked the lav Debra, shall we look?”

"You look if you want, I’m not doing it for her.” She’d sneered saying 'her' like she might have said a swear word. I still remember my shock as I thought of mum at home all alone and I choked down a sob. I didn’t understand. Hadn’t we liked looking for evidence for mum? I’d thought it was great and nothing got me more attention amongst my friends at school than the latest episode of “Looking for Evidence!”

Debra said “You shouldn’t do her dirty work for her.” I was puzzled. Did we hate mum now?

“Him, Monica and mum, they’re all” (she searched for a word) “bloody cow sons” - and borrowed three from dad.

Anyway, this weekend, the very first weekend with Dad and Monica, the one when my nose got broken, was different. We’d stayed in their new flat with two bedrooms, though ours only had room for a single bed. Debra said I’d kicked her all night in my sleep. I remembered then; I’d had my flying dream again. I never flew very high, though I could have if I’d wanted to. Could have soared I could, but I never did.

Instead, I flew low over the heads of the people chasing me. I’d run and run and just as they were about to catch me off I’d fly, arms flapping, legs doing a weird sort of breast stroke kick. Then I’d float just above them, just beyond their reach, teasing with occasional aerobatics whilst they stood below me, mouths open. That explained the kicking then.

The weekend had gone well, so far. We spent Saturday afternoon at the cinema watching ‘Digby the Biggest Dog in the World’ with popcorn and orange squash in a triangular carton that just never had enough orange taste for my liking.

Emerging from the warmth of the Holloway Odeon the evening was dark and cold and a heavy drizzle seeped from unseen clouds above and soaked us. The shops were shut until Monday now and we walked, too quickly for my legs, to the car.

Dad couldn’t find the keys. He found the flat keys and the office keys and the keys to his mate Mickey’s lock up, but he couldn’t find the keys to the car. Debra waited silently kicking a can in the gutter. Monica searched her handbag. I offered advice. I remembered Grandpa and the lost wallet.

“Dad you have to remember the last place you saw them then you can trace backwards and you’ll find them.”

Preoccupied he says “Mon, did I give them to you to put in your bag?"

“I don’t think so love, I can’t see them.”

“You have to retrace your steps dad” I offered – that’s what Columbo, the small one-eyed American detective would have done.

Monica says “Maybe they dropped out of your pocket love, inside?”  and dad says “Yeah I’ll go and check.”

I am still keen to offer my services. “I’ll come and help you look dad.”

He snaps back. “No you won’t, you’ll stay here.”

We wait in the rain then, Monica chattering, her long hair now damp and flat and not at all the ‘lovely do’ dad said it was earlier.

Then Dad, his shoulders hunched against the cold and wet returns. “Effing manager won’t put the effing lights on will he? Not ‘til the picture’s finished. Check your bag again Mon, I thought I give ‘em to you.”  Monica scrabbles through the bag as Debra watches.

“Perhaps you left them in the car dad” is my next piece of cheery advice.

He shouts then. “For Jesus Christ sake will you wrap up!”

I’m glad its dark and the rain is falling and my anorak hood with the fluffy trim is far too big and hides my face. The corners of my mouth begin to descend toward my trembling chin despite my desperate efforts to keep them where they belong. Smiley Suzie that’s me! Until I’m not.

The first tears well up and spill over onto my red, hot with shame cheeks. Now everyone will see and I’m… small.

Monica’s found the keys! In her pocket! “Sorry love” she says with a smile.

He raises his eyebrows and despite himself returns her smile. I’m standing there in the rain. The tears are rolling down my cheeks now and I’m shrinking. A sugar lump in the rain. Sweet, Smiley, Suzie. Shrinking.

Nowadays, when I remember that little girl who stood in the road with her face red and her hot tears mixing with the cold rain on her face I comfort myself with another scenario. In this one he is still tall and distant and loud when he shouts at me for all to hear but in this one he says “sorry”.  Not “sorry love” to Monica with a smile but a bent down, scooping up, hugging kind of sorry to me, sweet smiling Suzie who also wants to be his girl.

So, anyway, there I sit in the back of the Company Cortina face to the window watching north London go by in the haze of raindrops hoping no passer by will see me crying as I am still stifling sobs.

“Stop the effing grizzling for Jesus Christ sake” says dad. I want to tell him though, tell him why I’m crying. I just don’t think he knows.

I’m crying because I wanted to go with him back into the cinema to be his little helper, like Miss Beech at school. She lets me be her helper. Miss Beech says she wants my help at playtime and I can help her at the Christmas concert if my mum says so.

Miss Beech likes me and she wants my help, but he only likes Monica now and he smiles at her and he shouts at me and I just… I only wanted to help.

I don’t tell him though.  He won’t even hear me, and anyway he and Monica are chatting away now in the front of the car like its all okay.  Now I’m even smaller.

Back at the flat there’s the Generation Game again, but this time we’re silent. Then there’s Sausage chips and beans that Monica cooks and dad says, “isn’t up to much.”

Monica gets the Angel Delight out of the fridge and bangs the bowl of instant strawberry flavour dessert on the table.

She goes into the bathroom and we sit looking at this culinary treat until dad gets up and goes to the bathroom door and tells her not to be so daft.

“Piss off” she says through the door and on it goes until dad gets a beer from the fridge and sits himself down in front of the television.

“Get ready for bed you two” he says and Debra says “I need to clean my teeth and she’s in the bathroom.”

“Who’s she, the cat’s mother?” he says sounding at once like Nanna Rose before she had the stroke that stopped her making any sound except a strange groan, after which Grandpa would carefully and oh so gently wipe the dribble from her chin.

“Well she’s not my mother” says Debra and I laugh. He reaches out and slaps my leg and, shocked, my tears begin to fall again but this time it’s a physical pain. 

On and on he goes. I’m “rude, ungrateful, whining, daft and Jesus H Christ I’d better stop that grizzling or I’ll have something to cry for.”

Monica comes out of the bathroom, red eyed, bottom lip quivering and “Jesus H Christ, not another one, what’s the effing matter with all you women?”

Debra goes to clean her teeth and gratefully I join her. We stand at the basin and she turns on the cold tap and spins the soap in her hands. She passes it to me and while I take my turn to spin the soap over and over she rifles through the bathroom cabinet until she finds his ‘Brut’ after-shave. Opening it, she pours it slowly down the sink.

I’m looking at her wide-eyed but she doesn’t look at me. She puts the empty bottle under the tap and fills it, puts the lid back on and returns the bottle to its place on the shelf.

Later as we lie in the dark, back to back trying to get to sleep in this strange new room, I can hear the television in the lounge and low voices and Monica laughing and I can’t decide whether to tell the kids at school about the after-shave or not.

So now its Sunday morning.  We’re all sat round the table and Monica’s burnt the bacon under the grill and Debra wants to know why we can’t watch telly like we always do “when she’s not here.”

Monica calls her a ‘little cow’ and Debra calls Monica a ‘fanny’ right to her face and that sets me off giggling. Dad shouts at me and tries to slap Debra’s backside. He hits his hand on the corner of the table and the Cornflakes scatter, and he’s shouting and I’m crying and Monica’s crying and Debra, after starting the mayhem is waiting sullen and silent in the hall with her bag packed ready to go home to mum. Only we’re not due back until two-o clock so they take us to the pub.

We stand awkwardly in the Children’s Room of the Sticky Wicket waiting for our cokes and crisps. There’s a half size snooker table but the baize is missing in the middle and there’s only one cue. We sit at a rickety table, the centrepiece a stinking ashtray. We blow bubbles in our cokes through our straws and crunch our Ready Salted crisps.

At a table nearby two little girls watch us, the cheap lemonade fizzing in their bottles. Monica comes to see if we’re alright and gives us ten pence for the table football but its broken so we play ‘I Spy’. Its a version that begins with “I spy with my little eye something beginning with U.L.G” and turns out to be Ugly Little Girls. It degenerates from there until one of the quiet little girls, also left in the shabby back room like an afterthought, smiles at us and we stop, ashamed.

Eventually Monica appears and we’re off home. In the car we sing “We are the Diddy Men, the Diddy Men, the Diddy Men, we are the Diddy Men, who come from Knotty Ash!”

We’re all singing it, and everyone’s smiling and it’s better again until Debra sings “We are the Diddy Men who come from up yer bum!”

That‘s it then. That’s just about the final straw. Dad says she’s “A little cow who just wants to spoil it all” and I’m “No better” and “Why Monica would want to spend any more weekends with us is anyone’s guess, but we’d better buck our ideas up, ‘specially Debra because we weren’t going to dance to her tune. Oh no we weren’t.”

The rest of the journey is silent and we sit in the back of the Company Cortina looking at the backs of their heads, turning to look at each other when Monica and Dad exchange looks in the front seats.

Monica drops her hand casually onto his knee and his hand leaves the gear stick and finds hers and gives it a squeeze. Then in a second dad’s missed the give way sign and overshot the junction and swerving to avoid the traffic we head straight for the roundabout.

We seem to bounce up the kerb and then there’s a pretty loud bang as we hit a sapling and a sign saying ‘Golders Green 4 miles’. The car stops suddenly and we all jerk forwards against our newly fitted seatbelts only I’d been kneeling in my seat at the time and the seatbelt doesn’t quite save me. I fly towards the back of Monica’s seat and hit it with a soft thud. Boy oh boy does my nose bleed.

Later we sit in the waiting room at the casualty department of the local hospital. There’s me all bloody and swollen faced and there’s Debra who has a bruise on her thumb and blood on her tee shirt from my nose which has bled on my hanky, jumper, skirt and socks and even the plastic chair is sticky with it.

Dad’s been arrested and Monica’s gone with him “to make sure he’s alright.”

The ambulance man is dumbfounded by that, seeing how he’s got me sat in the back of the ambulance. With my head back and an ice pack on my nose I’m being ‘a brave little soldier’ for someone who’s not quite ten but dad is thirty-seven or something and Monica is “not quite bloody twenty” so mum says.

There were no blue lights or sirens, just a slow ride through the traffic. The ambulance man made a few jokes and asked us if we liked Donny or David. He wasn’t a fan of pop music himself though, he liked a melody to his songs. Debra sat silent holding my hand.

The nurses were lovely. They asked us who we liked the best Donny or David and they argued about just who was the best looking of the Bay City Rollers. Amongst themselves though they spoke in hushed voices and looked across the room at us with pity in their eyes.

The Doctor who had sent me to x-ray had confirmed the nose had a break but “that was that” to mum who had just arrived. She said nothing, simply nodded.

She didn’t panic. There was no breathless tearful arrival. No crying for her injured youngest. She had just walked calmly into the waiting room and there we were sitting swinging our legs, covered in blood and she’d said, “Did you enjoy yourselves then, with Monica?”

For a second it was as though none of this had happened. I wasn’t nine years old left in casualty with my twelve-year-old sister after a car accident. My dad hadn’t been arrested and his girlfriend hadn’t gone and left us and my nose was still unbroken. Not so my heart.

It seemed as though she’d sat at home all weekend waiting to say those words. To punish the little traitors we had become. I think now that Debra had already noticed what I could not fail to acknowledge from that day on.

The woman who had nurtured us so carefully in our short lives, who had put all our needs before her own was no longer present in the every day.  She who had waited at the school gates every afternoon in a cheerful headscarf and red lipstick. She who had sung “Daydreamer a walkin’in the rain…” with us as we dusted the front room whilst outside Dad had washed the Company Cortina, had begun to disappear.

Whilst there was still tea on the table at six every school night and Sunday tea was still ham salad other things, routine and familiar were no longer the norms.

Our mother had become a stranger.  She would arrive late to the school gates with unwashed hair where we waited with a patient teacher.  She ‘forgot’ to take the dirty clothes we gathered on a Saturday morning to earn our pennies, over to the launderette or else she left them there until the woman who ran it would call after us as we passed in the street.  “Tell your mother to pick up her wash and she owes me for the powder too.”  

Back in the hospital, when she leant closer to inspect my nose she smelled like the pub and her eyes were looking but she didn’t see. So I didn’t cry and say “Oh mummy it hurts so much” and get cuddles and kisses and a promise of sweets on the way home if I was brave. Perhaps I knew whose pain was greater.  

One thing was sure. The safe and comfortable life we had known until then, ordinary and certainly mundane had left along with my father.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sex and the Small Coastal Town...

So now, not only am I a blogger but I am an internet dater. In fact, I have gone one beyond that. I am in fact a sex texter or is it a text sexer? I am having sex via text…there I said it. He sends me a paragraph of written filth and I send him one back…he sends me one, I send him one…oh…yes…oh…oh…oh…YESSSS! If you get my drift, or at least that is what I am doing in the spaces between frantic texting or trying to find my reading glasses so I can better note the letters. Otherwise I guess he could receive something like “ctm, aabw, bum” – maybe he is…oh god that might mean something in Welsh! Likelihood is though, what with my vast internal dictionary plus superb level of manual dexterity – I am making at least someone, very happy. Now there’s a nice thought… On the other hand he might be watching an old episode of The Professionals on Freeview Channel 7968576 or similar and every commercial break he absent mindedly reaches for his mobile and in thirty seconds flat delivers his most expert filth to mine… And thats the other thing about mobiles – last night he sent a text “how about a picture of your (mmm..never mind what he called it my favorite word is Quim – yes with a capital so thats what I will put) Quim?” Well of course, to anyone under twenty five thats a shrug of the shoulders, maybe a grunt, a click and the gorgeously soft click of nails on keypad and in thirty seconds – Sir (as he shall be known) has an up close and extremely personal piccy of yer Quim. But, of course, I am not twenty five nor even thirty five, but forty five, so its a scramble to the mirror to check it for any stray white hairs…and then seven full minutes of naked posing trying to get that special close up. Being unmathematical and well…stoopid basically it took me forty minutes to work out which way to point the camera…and just when you think you got that perfect shot there in the background is…The Jack Russell Terrorist with that slightly embarrassed look that dogs seem to get when admonished for some misdeed or other…and as my mate Shazza says “how do you get yours to smile…I cant get a decent mugshot..” Anyway, by the time I had finished my naked contortions, a four minute interlude to grin in satisfaction at my having got Quim in shot and then a forty minute lecture to self on horrors of internet porn and dislike of readers wives efforts..I had no network coverage anyway! By the time I did the moment had passed and Sir had to forego his portrait of my Quim…and anyway, he only saw it in close up three weeks ago – has he forgotten what it looks like already?! Cos, oh yes…we not only sex texting…no! Really…I am having sex…and not of the virtual kind either!

Bad Words..

Yesterday, in a moment of frustration I let slip an “oh bollocks” in front of Small Child. A few moments later she said “Oh mummy, there are so many bad words in the world aren’t there?”  and then sighed aloud.  The sympathy that child is capable of at so small a size is truly impressive.  At the sink, under my breath, once I’d had a moment to think I replied “…and I know every fucking one of ‘em…”  Clearly I have not lost all ability to connect with my own ‘small child’ within, but  I don’t go there often – she’s such a bitch!

Just Call Me Bubbles Dahling....

I am always in the gym.  When I am not at home or work or shopping, I am in the gym.  I walk up the steepest of hills and run fast.  I work on my abdominals (well on locating them anyway) and I row.  Then I climb on board a strange machine that simulates a skiing motion and I do a weird dance for ten minutes – weirder if I can get Kiss FM on the radio.  Then, every friday, and no other day of the week, I change into my swimming costume and I head for the Spa Pool.

Some weeks ago I found myself in the Spa Pool, alone or so I thought.  Somewhat bored I began a game with myself.  The challenge was to stay on my feet in the onslaught of the bubbles of the powerful jacuzzi jets.  Now, whatever kind of hobbies or pastimes you have, let me tell you this is quite a good game.  It uses calories, stamina and its lots of fun.  It is also slightly, well ever so slightly erotic.  All those bubbles you see…the bashing of bubbles on yer bits…if you get me.  Anyway, happily I frolicked in the bubbles for quite some while until I turned around and…oops, laying hippo-like (ie still in the water with only the top of his head on view) was….The Man.  He was looking…no not looking; he was viewing me and his gaze never faltered.   I held it together pretty well I must say.  In a nano second my brain sent the message “slowly, calmly, with no embarrassment whatsoever…GET OUT OF THE POOL! ”
Since then, I see him often in the gym.  Mostly the back of him actually.  As I row my way to nowhere I am often free to peruse the back views of the runners on the row of treadmills ahead of me.   He runs.  He is not a lithe, lean athletic runner but he runs.  He has a bald spot coming and some well defined lats.  From the front he has a very broken nose.  

Well, he and me, we look, we look away, we get caught looking and we leave the gym…it is ongoing.
Tonight, at the checkout in Tesco a shout goes up “are these yours love?” and an Old Gal at the back of the queue is holding up my one pound post-it notes. She passes them to Hubby who passes them to someone else who passes them to a little girl about Small Child’s age who passes them to her dad who holds onto them a second longer than he should do which makes me look him in the face and as he puts them in my hand he smirks. Yes it is him…

I have never left Tesco so fast. I was having a bad hair day anyway but then Id got caught in the rain. I was stinky from the gym and I was wearing my too short tracky bottoms that swing round my ankles…why is my life like this?  Why did Paula Jones from school get a nice husband and two kids and a semi in Pinner and I got this?  She would never play in the bubbles by herself. 

I suppose it could have been worse. I had lingered over the Durex Play Massage Oil..Summerfruits flavour.