Tag Archives: romance

Number 69- Mr Loverman


Number 69- Mr Loverman.

Dave reckons its all about the detail, those little things that make all the difference and that’s why he’s leaning over the ironing board, ironing the sheets.

There is nothing more luxurious than crisp, ironed Egyptian cotton sheets and Dave reckons that even if the girl is too pissed, too tired to notice, at some subliminal level, the whole message of care and attention to detail is absorbed, helps make a night with Mr Loverman just that little bit more special.

Dave is an expert on the little details;
Food can be ready made, but it’s the presentation that matters.
You can ply a girl with booze, but you need to be a bit subtle, cocktails are good for that, plenty of alcohol, but such innocent tastes.
Candles, candles are a big part of it, all girls look better in candlelight and , complete bonus, candle light covers any cleaning failure and these days, he reckons that he looks better by candlelight too.
Cleaning, see above, but somethings have to be done properly.
Fluffy towels in bathroom
Decent duvet on top of those ironed sheets
Books on the bedside table, books are very reassuring
Sitting room needs a little artistic arrangement, needs to look as if he’s just interrupted a quiet night in to let tonight’s girl in, so, open book on the coffee table, half finished mug of tea, sometimes he goes the whole hog and makes it herbal tea, something eclectic musically and, he’s learnt this the hard way, TV both turned off and most importantly, channel changed so that when a girl sits on the remote it doesn’t blast into life with Russian housewives porn.
He’s pulled out the cushions, covered the sofa with them, put flowers, simple, non showy blooms, definitely not garage flowers, in a plain glass vase and sprayed air freshener.
He’s even dug out those photos he found in a charity shop, a family, someone’s family, Christmas and beaches and big dogs and a wedding and had framed, placed casually around. He knows that girls cannot resist picking things up, cannot resist asking questions, cannot resist making assumptions about a man who used to own a black Labrador.
The table is set, plain white China, big plates, will make the meal look smaller, reassure the girl that she hasn’t eaten much.
Dave doesn’t understand the girls and food. It’s simple he thinks, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, job done.
But, over the years and years that he has ironed sheets and sliced tomatoes and laid tables, he has never, ever fed a girl who just ate. He has become adept at walking that tightrope between providing food that’s effectively calorie free, whilst still always having a chocolate based pudding and offering at least one dish that has to be eaten with fingers and, and this is the big one, he mustn’t offer any food that risks the girl feeling fat.
Girls that feel fat, feel greedy, feel that they have let themselves down tend to make an exit, cite early starts at work, a sudden headache, a childcare problem. They have made themselves feel unattractive and cannot bear to see themselves naked even in between fine cotton sheets.

Dave isn’t against fat girls, plain girls, even downright ugly shockers.
These girls are often enthusiastic lovers, as long as he keep the lights low enough to not shake their confidence and makes sure he gets the booze level right.
For him and the girl.

Dave is pretty much an equal opportunities Mr Loverman, he has, to date, and personally he feels he has a lot more special nights in him, slept with ;
Tall
Short
Black
Chinese
Somali
Divorced
Escapees from their own hen nights
A girl he found at a bus stop
And of course the usual bevy of girls he has found, chased, captured and rewarded with a night with The Loverman.

Dave reckons he could run an evening class in getting girls, Dave reckons he’s a zen master at it, Dave reckons, that if he had a superpower, it would be this, he is a shagging superhero.

Dave has an almost 95% success rate, which must put him up there with the super stud muffins and yeah, he does know that knowing your pulling and follow through rate in % is not a thing to share with any of the girls. On balance, probably worse than the whole porn channel thing.

Dave has rules though, not rules he always keeps to, more guidelines really, suggestions, ways of avoiding complications.
These rules, if they are rules, can be summed up in one simple sentence
“ No mad birds”

Although sometimes he has to admit that you can’t always tell until it’s too late and other times, well, you have to take what’s on offer.
But generally, he avoids the actual card carrying mad, anyone who believes in astrology, girls who want him to call them women, girls who want him to call them at all
, girls who have texting habits, or crack habits or who want to take him home, introduce him to their mothers.

Dave can find a girl anywhere, doesn’t need to haunt pubs or clubs or stupidly expensive cafes, although he’s happy to use these for straightforward hunting, but what Dave likes is going off piste, going off road, taking the lane that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere useful.

So far this year, Dave has met, chased and caught girls he first saw in a queue at the dry cleaners, standing having a a smoke outside their offices, waiting for the Pilates class at the gym and he is secretly quite proud of this one, a girl who he found waiting for the family car to pick her up on the way to a funeral, in fairness to his sense of propriety, it wasn’t a funeral of a close family member.
Dave has a routine, bit of banter, couple of glasses of wine or beer or cider and then the dinner date for 2 days after this,the initial,preliminary sorte.
It gives him a chance to apply rule 1 – no mad birds and most importantly,to set him up as a really nice guy, after all, they’ve been for a drink or 7 with him and then, when most girls are expecting the heavy come on, he goes all Deliah on them and starts talking puddings.

If the spirit moves him and sometimes it does and some times it doesn’t, he will fit in another interim date, the only rule is that the timing has to be odd,the venue off kilter, so, yes to breakfast in a bagel café
Yes to duck feeding and a mini picnic after work
Yes to coffee at a farmers market
And never more than 90 minutes, 90 minutes of his total attention,eye contact, phone ostentatiously switched off and plenty of questions.
Dave isn’t actually that bothered about the answers, but he knows that girls,all,girls love talking about themselves and it saves him having to think of anything to say himself.
He sends 1 text per day to the soon to be wined and dined girl de jour and keeps an eye on the number he gets back.
He can still invoke the mad girls rule if the texting response gets too enthusiastic, too needy, too much.

And then it is D day, dinner day and there he is, sheet ironing and walking purposely around the conveniently local marks and Spencer’s.

He knows, he always knows how the evening will be end, sometimes there are small surprises.
The girl who arrives with a pair of fur lined handcuffs.
The girl who brings a friend.
The girl who cries into his chest, afterwards.

And at some point, late at night, the girl will sleep, neatly or untidily, quietly or with astonishing noise and he will be awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering when she will wake and when she will leave.

He is already thinking about the next girl, the one he has already spotted,already spoken to,already pencilled in to eat here in 4 or 5 days.

He extricates himself neatly, with polished practice from this girl,the one currently in his bed, the one who will wonder what happened, what went wrong.

She will never know and he will, within days, sometimes even hours, have forgotten her name although he often remembers the ex girls, the past girls by what he made for dinner.


Number 17- The horder.


Number 17 – The hoarder.
That’s not of course what he calls himself, nobody ever called themselves a hoarder, not even after the C list celebrity has picked her way around the mountain of bin liners in unsuitable shoes, not even when the tabloid cameras have photographed children eating breakfast in the small cleared pathway between the kitchen and the front door, not even when the council dig out team hire and skip and fill it, two, three, four times.
Nobody is ever a horder.
A collector.
Frugal.
Keen on recycling.
Buying and selling on the black, shady cash market.
Definitely going to do some car boot sales, honest.

And Danny, he’s not a horder either, he just has a lot of stuff.

It wasn’t so bad when Mary still lived there,mind you, she liked a bargain too,enjoyed a good root around a charity shop,often came home with a China dog or a vase or a pair of nearly new shoes only 2 sizes too big.
But, she kept a lid on it, didn’t allow the motor bikes and the push bikes and the almost working lawn mowers actually into the house.
She kept the kitchen and bathroom functioning, insisted that they slept in the bedroom, in the bed, made meals and remembered to put out the bin, pay the milkman, wash the dishes and even run the ancient Hoover ( rescued from a skip on one of his regular late rambles through the city centre.) around the sitting room every now and then.
He was quite surprised when one day wandering back indoors after a satisfying 3 hours spent in the big shed taking a 1970s knitting machine apart, he found her gone.
It took him a while to notice that she was actually gone and not simply out. In fact, it was only when he wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of tea that he saw the note, propped up against the packet of tea bags.
Writing wasn’t her strong suit but the note was clear enough, even to an infrequent reader like himself.
“ I’ve met another man, he’s got a car. I will take the dog with me”

Looking around, he saw that she had,so, he put the kettle on anyway and went back to the sofa to have a bit of a think and when it came to bedtime, well, there he was all warm and comfy in front of the gas fire and why bother getting undressed just to go to sleep.
He curled up on the sofa and slept well, waking up just once, unsure for a moment of where he was, but the faint glow from the still warm fire reassured him and he fell straight back to sleep.
He missed her, well of course he did, he missed her solid sturdy body curved against his at night, he missed grabbing a handful of stomach or arse when he walked past her. He missed his breakfast mug of tea, the slice of fried bread, he missed her bustling returns from walking the dog, he missed her chat over east Enders, an endless soothing flow,counterpoint to the action on the screen.
They had been together a fair while, met when he was still roaring with the drink, hearing the voices in his head, banging his fists against brick walls. She, a girl from home, had seen enough of men and drink and waited him out, patient like, until one day, he knew he couldn’t do it anymore and took to tea, 6 and 7 pints of tea every day, 3 sugars and dash of milk.
He became as well known for the not drinking as he had been known for the drinking and their life together got a bit quieter,a bit more money and him signed on the sick and taking the pills every day.
He wouldn’t have said her loved her, couldn’t have said that, but if pushed, he might mumble something, say that they rubbed along together alright and he liked a woman with a bit of flesh on her, something to get hold of.

So, although he’d never really given it much, any though, he just assumed she’d be there, getting a bit fatter, heating up fray bentos steak and kidney pies for a Friday treat, for ever and ever.
And then there it was, just him and no woman and no dog and having to make his own mugs of tea and he missed her.
He even missed the dog, a bit and then a bit more.
But Danny was at heart pragmatic, a survivor, skilled in making the best of a situation, so, he took stock and made a few changes.

It was February, bone chillingly cold and one afternoon, 3 weeks after she had left, as he bent over the engine of a micro motor bike, his hands so cold he could hardly hold the screwdriver, he simply picked up the machine and carried it indoors, finishing the repair in front of the fire, a bacon sandwich resting on the fuel tank as he worked.

He stopped sleeping in the bedroom, couldn’t see the point and besides it freed up the room for storage. He moved a lot of things from the sheds into the bedroom and then into the back room.
It was winter,he rationalised, cold out there and damp, stuff would keep better indoors, be safer, easier to get at if anybody needed anything and it was definitely easier to work indoors, less effort to put his hands on what he needed.
And he did sell things, occasionally, a bit regretfully, the gap any item sold left always seemed too big.
Needed to be filled quickly and finding things was easy.
People threw out so much good stuff, objects just missing a few screws, a bit of taking apart and putting back together, a clean up and then as good as new.
The stuff built up, took up the whole of the back sitting room, most of the kitchen, his cooking talents were meagre, he only really needed a frying pan and the kettle, was a dab hand with a rasher, a spluttering egg frying and then thick slices of white bread and the constant mugs of tea, so the loss of most of the kitchen wasn’t a problem.
He made a careful path from the sofa to the cooker and the back door, left a narrow gap up the stairs and along the landing, just enough room to make it to the bathroom.
Pretty much everything he needed and nobody ever came into the house, so there was no need to make the passage ways any wider, accommodate anybody else.
As the house became fuller,he started to spend more time in the tiny front garden, became friendly with the street drinkers who congregated at this end, the bad end of the street.
They would lean on his garden gate, perch against the brick wall,cans of super strong lager and cheap knock off fags and he with the mug of tea and the prison thin roll up which went out more than it was lit.
He helped out with cars bought for less than 500 quid, mended bikes and mopeds that the local bad lads rode too fast along the pavement.
Neighbours from the better end of the street borrowed tools from him,paid him small amounts of money to make not very effective repairs and all the time, he collected more stuff, allowed the objects to range around him, took comfort from their presence.
Sometimes he wondered how Mary was, wondered if she was happy with the man with the car, wondered if she would ever return and hoped that she wouldn’t.
His life was too full to fit her in, his house was certainly too full to fit her in and besides sometime soon, he would get his own car, have a car and a boot and then he would definitely do a car boot sale or two.
But today,today was a big day, he had finally got his hands on a pinball machine , liberated from a skip, well close to a skip, definitely being thrown out by the builders refitting the pub round the corner.
He hadn’t paid much for it and he knew for sure that he could get it mended and there was definitely room for it somewhere,although he might have to move a few things around first.


NANOWRIMO Novel – Cuttings – Day 11


She carries the slip of paper back to the table, sits down and wishes that she still smoked, wants something to mark this moment, but instead she lets her hand hover over the last remaining chocolate biscuit and then she carefully unfolds the square of newsprint,

” lady dwarf named as co-respondent in circus strong mans’ divorce petition”

and then she laughs out loud, the sound bouncing off the tiled walls, sounding louder than it really is.

She shakes her head, reminds herself that there is no-one to see this action and re-reads the headline, still smiling.

It is a gift of sorts, she can, see her mother, or perhaps father, carefully cutting the headline, choosing a resting place for it and then, but it is the then that pulls her up. who exactly was it meant for ? Was it meant for anyone? or is it just evidence of mis-firing synapses, her parents gentle fall into mild confusion, quiet loss and her fathers’ baffled expression as he tried, and failed, to keep on top of names, dates, constantly vanishing personal possessions.

She shrugs, it’s all too late now, she cannot have these questions answered, so has to take the cuttings in face value, left for someone to do something with and as there is no-body else then she will take them as hers, her gift and to what she can with them.

This  one is already pulling at her, a thread of a story beginning to unwind. She knows that now is the best time to start, so takes a bite of the biscuit which she has been absently holding, licks the melted chocolate off her fingers and sits for a moment, absolutely still, waiting for the story to emerge.

The Next Narrative – When God gives you lemons……

I heard that once, that saying and I thought, that’s me, that’s my life and God knows, he’s thrown plenty of lemons my way and I like to think that I’ve made lemonade.

I didn’t ask for any of this, like you didn’t ask to be blond or left-handed or blue-eyed, it’s just what we get given and it’s what we do with it that matters.

So, I’m small, really, really small, but and I say so myself, perfect, a bonsai version of a woman, everything in proportion, but tiny and take it from me, that’s just not true of many of the dwarves I know.

They  look unfinished, lumpy, hands too big, heads too big, but me, I’m a porcelain doll of perfection.

And yeah, I use the word dwarf, hell, why not. In my mind it’s like those black kids using the word n****, I’m just reclaiming it, making it my own and I like to see your faces when I use the word, like to see you look away, try to hide your embarrassment, try to hide your desire.

And right again, this is my chosen career, my profession, like I said, you get lemons and I tried the big world, tried an office job, everyone being kind to me, trying not to stare when I used a foot step to turn  the lights on and off. I was the one everyone came to, poured their hearts out, because none of them ever thought I had that kind of life, real, raw, dirty. To them I was just a doll, something to talk to and I learnt to not see the mens’ eyes on me, learnt to ignore the unspoken questions, the barely thought about, cos thinking about that stuff makes you feel like a bad man, a wrong man, a pervert, physical pondering.

And I’d probably still be there, wearing my age 3 to 4 clothes and do you know how hard it is to find black trousers in that size?, if it hadn’t had been for the freak show and yeah, I know what you’re thinking, freak show, in this day and age. How exploitative, how un PC, how very not modern, but you’d be wrong.

This was the new freaks – freak show run by freaks for freaks, making lemonade, hell, we were making champagne from the lemons we got given.

And I loved it, loved being around people who saw that what I had was special, saw that I was special, made me feel special and the money was great and people looked at me and I looked right back at them and dared them to stare.

We ran late at night, carried good security, ejected the drunks, the pity whores and became cool, stylish, invited to the right parties, got to wear tiny versions of designer outfits.,  there was even talk of me becoming a Vivienne Westwood muse.

Sometimes, people, who am I fooling here, men, it was always men, wanted to touch me, to hold me, offered me a lot of money and hey why have lemonade when you can have Chivas Regal ?

So, I became a teeny tiny courtesan, Polly in your pocket and yeah, it’s maybe not the career path my mother dreamed for me, but she’s not the one who has to live my life and besides and you probably didn’t know this, but dwarves, well, let’s just say, we’re not known for our longevity.

Besides, it’s not like any of the men mattered, none of them got to me. I stayed pure, clean, in my head I was still the porcelain doll.

I didn’t know it, but love was coming, love would fill me, love would lift me up.

See, you need to understand something about the New Age freaks, most of us, well, our bodies are different, born that way and we’re cautious about the others, the ones who do it for themselves, it’s almost as if they’re cheating, but, we need them, they add colour, glamour, so we have the tattooed lady, the starving man, the geek and of course a strong man. They change, a new geek every summer, a different strong man. they come and go, but we, we are constant.

Listen to me, I’ve gone all thoughtful, big words. I’m tiny, but I’m not stupid, I just pretend, it makes me more doll-like, more delicate.

But, the strong man, well, one went away and a new one came and i noticed him, all us girls did, because he was drop dead beautiful and I started watching him,watching him perform, spying on him training, feasting my eyes on his perfect body.

Yeah, you’re right, it was something about the scale of him, the space he took up.

I found myself dreaming about him, his arms wrapped round me, his biceps bigger Than my head, but it was more than that, there was something else, something that made me shy and I gotta tell you, I don’t do shy, no way Jose, but I couldn’t talk to him.

I just watched and waited, waited for the right moment, knew it would come…….

( to be continued)


Hunger 9- the fat woman’s lament


She is hungry, constantly hungry, engulfed with appetite.
Nothing satisfies her, even as she fills her mouth, she is searching out the next spoonful, the next plate full, the next meal.
Even when she sleeps, she dreams of food, a line of plates stretching as far as the eye can see on snowy white sheets.
The plates are heaped with food, fruits and breads and cakes tumbling to the floor.
In her dreams, she sees herself fall upon freshly baked bread, can taste it’s warm doughy mass against her teeth and lips, her fingers pull at grilled meat, become greasy, shiny with warm fat, pale cooked blood.
She licks them, sighs in pleasure and wakes herself up, pillow damp with licking or chewing or salivating, she cannot tell which.
In supermarkets she peers into other people’s baskets, other people’s lives, remains unconvinced that they are satisfied with their low fat yogurts, their pitta breads,their one lonely chocolate flapjack, half hidden under a bag of salad leaves.

Her hunger rules her, in quiet meetings she cannot believe that the others cannot hear her stomach growl and complain, she makes excuses, flees to the nearest bathroom, storeroom, quiet corner and placates it with bags of smarties, packets of wine gums, loose biscuits crumbling to dust at the bottom of her handbag.

When she eats with others, colleagues, friends, family, she is forced to sit, actually sit on her hands to stop herself reaching out, reaching over and across people to grab at left over food, barely touched plates, ignored side dishes.
Friends who know her well simply pass over their plates when they have finished.
Then watch as she eats one, two, three meals, but it’s never enough, never, ever enough.

Sometimes at night, when she lies, warm, drowsy, body scented from the expensive oils she drops into her bath, hands resting on her rounded, almost full tummy, she wishes she could hold onto this feeling, this peace forever, but she knows, knows full well, that in three, four hours, she will wake, ravenous and will pad on soft night time feet into the kitchen and stand at the open fridge door, hands squishing cheese, soft, cheap bread into an approximation of a sandwich.

The cat will wind around her legs, eyes on the look out for dropped crumbs of cheese, bread, a litany of miaows to tell her that he too is starving and she will reach down and share the final bite of her late night snack with him.

She is big, of course she is big, but with a joyous glamour that means that men stare at her, at her breasts, her full behind, when she walks down the street and other women suddenly feel all angles, too small for their place in the world when they stand next to her.

No-body knows about the hunger that drives her on, the emptiness, the longing for enough.

The hunger has its compensations, she is a baker of cakes, a sharer of sweets, the go to girl when pre-menstural pangs strike her lean, controlled friends.

The many men in her life find that she is the source of un-acknowledged, never aired fantasies in which they imagine themselves buried, enveloped in soft giving flesh, feeding their own hungers, their own needs, mouths full, busy, stuffed.

Her world is full of people who want to feed her,who unknowingly worship at the alter of her hunger, market traders who throw extra aubergines, their shiny flesh almost as seductive as her own, waiters who bring her extra portions, sly slices of pudding, tiny coloured glasses of sweet liqueurs, other people’s parents, who despairing of their own daughters’ bird like appetites, turn cheerfully to her, heap her plate, fathers’ using the excuse of serving another dish of trifle to pat her arm, the curve of her shoulder.

Sometimes, she wonders what it would take to fill her, wonders if her body would actually explode before she reached that moment of satedness, wonders if she would, could actually die of happiness at that moment.

And then one day, quite out of the blue, something magical, something wonderful happens.

It is Thursday, grocery shopping day and she is standing, overwhelmed by the beauty of the piled, pyramided perfection of the soft fruit display in Waitrose.
She stretches out a finger, the nail currently painted a deep purple, perfect counter point to the orange of the tiny clementines, strokes their rough skin and sighs with pleasure.

She hasn’t really noticed the man, standing quietly, perhaps deep in thought as he stares at the wine purple grapes.

And suddenly,he leans towards her and with no warning, pops a grape into her mouth, she is so surprised that she bites down, feels the grape explode with juice and skin and sweetness in her mouth and then she has swallowed it and the pleasure is such that her eyes close, just for a second, but when she re-opens them, he is gone, a bunch of tissue wrapped grapes placed carefully in her basket.

She stands for a moment, the after taste of sweetness in her mouth,her throat and then she understands, that for the first time in memory, that she is not hungry, not hungry at all.

Slowly, thoughtfully, she heads towards the checkouts, but stops to leave her basket, abandoned in the ready meals isle.

She heads out, into the darkness, suddenly knowing exactly what she has been hungering for.

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The Long and Winding Road – on the nightbus – 19


The problem really is, that Dell is a romantic, a hopeless romantic

And make no mistake, this will be a tale of romance, of unrequited love, fair maidens, quests and dragons slayed.

Dell has the heart and soul of a fearless knight, he is, within the limitations of the 21st century, chivalry personified and he dreams of love, true, enduring love, love that will lift him up, up where he belongs.

This story starts on a wet Monday night, the sort of night when you bend your body into your clothes, hunch down to keep out the cold and the dark and the rain and Dell is driving the Crouch End Circular and it’s midnight and the rain is keeping people off the streets, so it’s quiet, Dell, loosing a battle with short sight and worn out wiper blades is peering into the dark, looking out for ninja stylee cyclists, freewheeling pedestrians, motorists whose indicators have been fitted as optional extras.

Same old, same old.

And then, he sees her, the love of his life, the woman he is going to marry and he nearly ploughs the bus in to the back of badly illuminated skip, but manages to slam the brakes on, just in time and ignoring the cursing and the muttering from the passengers, he sits and he stares, while she stands on the pavement, waiting, for something, someone.

Dell has never understood the word breath taking before, but now, looking at this woman, he is struggling to breathe, is almost panting.

She is beyond beautiful.

Tall, of course
Slim, of course
Long blond hair, well of course.

But this is far more than beauty, this is about connection, this is about fate and then she looks up, looks directly at him and he feels an actual jolt of energy.

And then, the car, black, some souped up shit comes screeching round the corner, brakes slam hard and voice shouts
“Get in the F*****car, we’re going to be f*****late” and she does, just like that.

The boom box beat of the overdubbed base kicks in so loudly that Dell can feel it in his fillings and so he is holding his jaw as the car and the thump, thump base and the love of his life, drive up the road, kangaroo over a speed bump and vanish.

Just like that.

And then he becomes aware that the mutterings behind him are getting louder, more insistent and so, he inches past the skip and heads onward on his nightly circular route.

But he cannot stop thinking about her and later in sweaty, confused and tangled dreams he is rescuing her again and again and again and when he wakes up, her face is the first thing he thinks of.

All day he finds himself thinking about her and for the first time ever, he is actually keen to get to work, arrives early, spruced up, ready to go, ready for a quest.
He is sure that he will see her, cannot allow the logic of geography to get in his way, cannot even consider that she is far away locked up in some tower block and so, when at midnight,

Well it had to be midnight, this is a fairy story after all,

he sees her, standing in exactly the same place, he’s not surprised, he can recognise the hand of fate when he sees it.
She is even more beautiful than he remembers, hair up this time, but beginning to escape, little tendrils falling around her face, but this time she’s not alone.

Did I mention that this story has an ogre, an urban ogre, all sweat and swagger and expensive ogre jeans, pulled down to show off his hairy orgre ass and an ogre baseball cap to cover up his greasy ogre hair.

The ogre, the driver of the souped up ogre car is standing beside her and he’s jabbing the air with his grubby ogre fingers and every time he jabs, she shrinks back into herself.

Dell lets the engine idle, pats the steering wheel, watches the ogre, watches the princess, ignores the shouts and cat calls from passengers and knows that he must act.

But, he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t have a plan and so, sighing, almost sobbing, he puts the bus back into gear and heads off into the night.

And so it goes on, night after night, the gentle knight sees the princess, understands the cruelty of the ogre, watches her diminish under his barrage of orgre attacks.

Sometimes, she seems to see Dell, looks straight at him, he feels the appeal in her eyes, knows that time is running out, that soon the ogre will take her away, lock her up, chain her with cruel words and poverty and the limist of four grubby walls.

The fairy story is coming to a climax, the happy ending seems far away and all hope is lost.
Come the hour, come the hero.

And then one day, while Dell tries to sleep, while the noise of neighbours seeps through paper thin walls and the duvet knots around him like brambles,

Because it’s not just princesses who get locked in towers,

Dell dreams and in his dream comes the solution and when he wakes, he knows exactly what to do.

He knows this action will change his life forever, that he will be a knight both bold and true and that he will, tonight, finally rescue the princess from the evil ogre.

He gets to work early and while he makes chat with the other drivers, his heart is pounding with love and the rightness of his action.

Into the cab,strokes the wheel, feels the power and drives away. He needs to get his timing right and because this is a fairy story, he does.
At 11.30, the end of one Crouch End loop, pasengers dis-gorged, ready to start again and then with a shaking hand, he presses the button, changes the destination display to read
“Sorry, I’m not in service” and drives towards his princess and her salvation.

And of course, remember, it’s a story, there she is

with the ogre, on the ogre pavement, next to the stinking ogre takeway, beside the over-heated ogre car and the ogre is angry.
His ogre voice is raining ogre spite onto her beautiful head and Dell sits up, breathes deeply and hits the horn
“BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

The princess looks up, the ogre looks up, red, piggy ogre eyes trying to make sense of the scene.
Dell pulls up beside her, hits the door over-ride button and shouts
“Get in, Ive come to rescue you”

And because this is a fairy story, she doesn’t look blank or ask stupid questions or tell him to F off and mind his own business, she leaps forward and with one bound, she is on the bus and Dell tries to close the doors, but the Ogre is there, scabby ogre hand scrabbling with the handle and Dell is driving as fast as he can, banging the door close control and the ogre is hanging on, by an ogre nail and the bus is going faster and faster and finally, the ogre’s stumpy, hairy ogre legs cannot go on another minute and he fall into the gutter and his gutteral screams of ogre anger can be heard as the bus moves away.

And because this is a fairy story, the princess and the brave knight look at eachother and fall in love, immediately and forever and Dell drives the bus, though the back streets of unfashionable corners of suburban London and they hold hands and smile.

And because this is a fairy story, you’re not allowed to ask what happened next.

Did Dell lose his job?
Did the princess turn out to have a crack cocaine problem?
Did the Ogre promise to change and lure her back to their tower block prison?

Because what happend next was……………….

They lived happily ever after.

What else did you expect?

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Screen Kisses – On the Nightbus – 18


The girls are drunk, at that best stage of drunkeness when everything is shiny, anything is possible and when you know that tonight will be inarguably fabulous.

They are at that point of drunkeness when you look at your friends and feel cocooned in warmth and love, when you catch sight of your reflection in a shop window or a pub mirror and realise that you look hot.

They are drunk enough to laugh at non jokes but still sober enough to have conversations, deep, intense talk, with lots of eye contact, hand pats and reassurance of their own rightness on the very planet.

Later, it will get ugly. Alcohol will act like a truth drug, things will be said that are best left unsaid.
At least one of them will be sick, another will have almost sex with a stranger in a not private enough space and somebody will be left behind.

But for now, it’s all golden and they are the golden girls.

They are walking four abreast now, arms linked, all fake tan and artistically tousled hair and perfect pouting lip glossed lips and they are singing

“Girls just wanna have fun

The evening is still warm, for once their tiny, tight hot pants, super high wedges and micro t-shirts are perfect outfits, no goose bumps, mottled skin, chattering teeth to spoil the illusion.

They are at that perfect tipping point, enough alcohol to fill them with a physical hyper awareness, bodies young, legs endless, covering the ground in perfect unison, still sober enough to move with cat walk poise, they are tonight at least, finalists in britains next top model.

And so, the night bus, away from the street of bars, with drinkers spilling out into the unexpected warmth of a city heat wave and onto the clubs and the dancing and the downward trajectory of unwise vodka shots and jagerbombs.

When the bus comes they are the only passengers who get on and the driver turns off the engine, some enforced break and the girls have time to pile on, check out the other passengers, possible talent, potential rivals.

Girl 1 – 2 A levels, but not going to university, not her, is rummaging in her purse for the fare, comes up 10 p short and smiles oh, so sweetly and the driver smiles, cannot help but smile when faced with such self belief and such a tiny t-shirt and waves her on and from no-where or from a tiny little devil inside, she leans forward and carefully, precisely kisses the scratched screen that divides the driver from the real world, plants a ruby red, juicy fruit flavoured kiss where his lips could be.

And then she laughs, with the joy of simply being herself and leans forward again and this time the kisses are slighly smudged, the colour a little blurred, just brushing his cheeks, if only there wasn’t a plastic barrier between them.

He cannot help himself, knows he shouldn’t, knows that this will be captured on CCTV, knows that he will called in, told off, but and the shrug is internal, he turns, stops looking at the road, sat on this stationary bus and presses his face against the screen and this time, her kisses are buttefly light, lips only just touching the duarble, vandal proof plastic and he leans his face into them, can almost feel them on his skin.

There is a pause and she smiles and turns to her friends and this is becoming magical, they all move forward and suddenly there are lips and smiles and smudges of 4 different coloured lip sticks making perfect lip stick kisses and his face is turning this way and the other, trying to catch each one.

He feels as if he bathing in warm sunshine and wants to close his eyes, but is fearful that he may miss a kiss, so instead he lets his body writhe in some thing he cannot describe.

And then, his internal clock pings in and he knows that the ten minutes break is up and inside he is kicking himself, but, but, he turns away and switches on the engine and the girls, laughing, all too aware that they have paid almost no fares for this journey, turn and walk down the bus aisle, hugging eachother with glee and mischief.

The driver drives the bus and the smile last the whole of his shift and every now and then he lets his left hand leave the steering wheel and trace the shapes of the lipstick kisses on the safety screen.

His fingers are gentle, tentative and he wonders how long it will be before he will have to clean the plastic, wipe all the kisses away.

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The Moustache


with huge thanks to the lovely barista in Cafe Nero, Nottingham [ the one next to TK Maxx, should you wish to see the original in all its glory].
the moustache is real, this story is fiction.

He looks around the drawing room, they are all here, all ready to hear him, see him point the accusing finger, unmask the murderer.
There are nervous coughs, a young girl, with hidden sorrow in her face, anxiously smokes a cigarette, the dowager duchess clutches a lap dog to her chest.
He touches the moustache, feels its neat symmetry and then turn to the assembled group.

Emma is talking, has, he realizes, been talking for some time, he tries to adopt that listening, paying attention face, thinks he may have got away with it and tries to look involved and then realizes that it is only Conversation 27a – “Why don’t men – ie him- ever tidy the bathroom”. She is into the home straight, the ” and you never put the tops back on the shower gels” rift. He knows the correct response, mumbled sorry, head ducked and offer of a cup of tea and wandering into the kitchen, Conversation 34c ” Don’t put dirty cups in with the clean stuff in the dishwasher”, he feels himself drifting again.

“It’s a tough spot, chaps, but we’ve been in tougher”, he grins encouragingly at the others, Snowy, best chum a chap could have, Vince, working class, but a good cove in ruck and Boysie, faithful dog.
“so, we’ve got a snake pit to the right of us, the Mau Mau are getting restive outside and we’re tied to these chairs waiting for the return of Count Black and his swarthy henchmen, best see what I can do”
Vince, his face battered from a beating, smiles his cheeky cockney smile and Snowy is waiting for the plan.
He closes his eyes, touches his moustache, worn in memory of all those who fell at Paschendale and with one bound, he is free.

There is no milk, Conversation 11a – “there are shops, you know, they sell milk and bread and everything, why don’t you try them sometime”, he wonders if she will settle for flat lemonade or a slightly battered chamomile tea bag.
He can hear her on the phone, Conversations 1, 2, 4 8, 98c, 114a – “Why boy friends are useless”

Diary Entry
My darling Helena, the snows are closing in fast now, we shot the last husky today, we could no longer bear to see him trudging behind us, eyes half closed against the snow. It is a 3 day march to the next food dump and I wonder if we will make it.
I think of you often, in that pretty white muslin dress on the chamomile lawn at Orchard House , a jug of ice cold lemonade at your elbow and the children playing in front of you.
Simpson is fading in front of us, he doesn’t say anything of course, just trudges along, but last night, I heard him crying, terrible thing to hear an Englishman cry.
Tell Edward that he is the man of the house now and must behave like a gentleman.
I miss you, my darling, damn these Scandinavians, we must push on to have any chance of beating them.
I must attend to supper now, the husky did not die in vain, I may boil some snow for a shave, there is no reason to let standards slip, we are Englishmen after all and my tasche needs attention.

He ambles back into the sitting room empty-handed, the conversation has moved onto Daniel Craig, he knows from bitter experience that his opinions on Bond films will not be needed, now or at any time in the future.
He wonders if he can get away with playing COD with the sound down, Conversation 27d – “You’re 29 years old for gods sake, turn off the playstation and talk to me”
He turns on the TV, hopes for a film, something to head off Conversation 6b – “Why can’t you just be different” and all the emotional fall-out that will follow.

The sun is shining as he turns the Packard into the studio lot,there are the usual lines of hopeful would be extras in line at the gates. The women are quick to notice him and he smiles,a lazy devil may care smile, one finger grazing his mustache, as per his most recent publicity stills.
The women surge forward, but the gate guys are quick to open the gates and let him in, he pulls up and not bothering to open the car door vaults out, tossing the car keys over his shoulder
“Park this baby for me” he calls out to the gate guard and starts to walk briskly towards the set.
He passes a group of gladiators, recognizes a couple of them from his own extra days and smiles generously, he is not out of touch with the ordinary folk in the dream factory and then hubba bubba, a group of slave girls, gauzy, almost see through trousers, tiny sequinned tops, he zeros in on the prettiest, catches her eye, holds it and watches the color flood into her face.
He nods to himself, yeah, he’s still got it.

It takes him a few seconds to understand that Emma is talking to him and not Bekki/Sammi/Suzie or some other girl whose names end in eee and then it takes him even longer to actually understand what she is saying, to actually process what is being said to him
“It’s the moustache, it make you look like an idiot, everybody laughs at it and it’s itchy,like kissing a pet, I wish you’d shave it off” and then she is gone, out the door, a whirlwind of phone, bag,keys and he is left, sitting on the sofa.

His hand reaches up and touches the waxed tips and he wonders what Errol Flynn would do now.

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