“I’m actually doing quite well here, week 8 and I’ve not been sent home.”  I looked over at Norma who was crashed out on the sofa in the communal lounge, one leg stretched across the faded teak coffee table, the other tucked under her.

“Sent home, why on earth would you be sent home?” she grinned.

“Don’t look so surprised, I’ve never been away from home before and I… well, it just seems I’ve taken longer than everyone else to find my feet and then there’s the little incident with the curtains and of course there was Tim..” I tailed off into an embarrassed silence as Norma jumped up, knocking a half drunk mug of tea from the table.

She bent down to pick it up.  “Never been away from home!  Oh come on, you’re kidding me.  How old are you?”

I shifted uncomfortably in my chair.  “Well, I went on a Brownies camping trip once, but it was a disaster, I hated every minute of it.”

I watched her scrub furiously at the wet patch on the carpet with a tea towel, pausing to wipe her nose with the back of her hand.

“Bet you were a right little goody two shoes for the Brown Owl, all sweetness and light, volunteering for everything.  A little Water Sylph or a Fairy Fire Lighter!”  She began to snigger.  “Yep, Fairy Firelighter – you’re good at that!”

I couldn’t help but laugh, she was right.

“it was because of the volunteering Norma, that’s where it all went wrong.”

She looked at me quizzically, waiting for me to expound.

“Well, we had to pick what chores we wanted to do, Pixie Cook, Elf Washer Up, Sprite Wood Collector, get the gist?”  I waited for a response, when none was forthcoming, I ploughed on.  “They were all crap and boring and when Brown Owl said La Trine Duty I nearly fainted with unadulterated pleasure.  It was so very French, couldn’t help myself, I squealed, jiggled a bit and stuck my hand in the air shouting ‘me, me, me..’…”

A loud snort came from the chair behind me.  I bit my lip.  “Yeah, yeah Melvyn, how the hell was I supposed to know?”

He pulled a face, “French not your best subject at school then Mave?”

Norma hid behind her tattered edition of Cosmopolitan to laugh, but her shaking shoulders gave it away.

“Glad you both think it’s funny, but can you imagine what it was like spending a whole week digging holes and emptying portable toilets filled with everyone’s poo and wee AND about four tons of San Izal bog paper?”

Realising they were probably too young to remember what it was, I tried to explain.

“It was toilet paper, sometimes called wet-bum-shiny-surface as it didn’t actually soak anything up, just slid right across your nether regions wipe after wipe.  It was ruddy useless!”

That just seemed to make things worse, Norma was hyperventilating and Melvyn had lost the power of speech.

Indignant I picked up my book.  “It was a lesson learnt, what more can I say, it put me off anything remotely French – even Sacha Distel!”

They both stopped laughing, looked at each other and simultaneously shouted “Who?”

To be honest I really couldn’t be bothered explaining.


I shoved an errant turquoise sock into the drawer and slammed it shut.  Socks, regardless of fancy colours had no place for a night out in Town.  I had a choice of a nice little polka dot dress, a woolly jumper with jeans or my dressing gown.  I slumped back onto my bed and stared at the ceiling.  Was I really ready for a drunken class night out?  My horrendous relationship with intoxicating liquor was legendary, hence my preferences for orange juice or soda water.

I had a mathematical equation for this anomaly;

Me + Alcohol + High Heels = FLOOR

I could still remember the ensuing hangover when I was fifteen from a run-in with several bottles of Babycham at a family party.  After several sausage rolls and a pork pie had failed to mop up the excesses, I’d somehow managed after a bout of hiccups and a loud burp, to vacate my entire stomach contents into my Nan’s handbag, destroying a packet of Embassy No.6 ciggies, a bingo pen, a pack of Fisherman’s Friends and her pension book before staggering off to the toilet.  Once inside the cubicle, my stiletto heels had failed to take purchase with the wet floor and I was a goner; wedged between the toilet seat and the wall.

This had been my very first indication that I was double jointed, and although not natural, my legs could go behind my head without really trying.

I shuddered at the thought of ever getting THAT drunk again as I zipped up my dress and checked the mirror.  Smearing a good slick of Coral Blush lippy on, I smacked my lips together just as Marj knocked on the door.

“Ready Mave?”


“You’re having a laugh girl, no alcohol on a night out!”  Norma barked at me in utter disgust as she dragged her stool up to the bar.

“Oh come on, orange squash, you’ve got to be kidding?” wrinkling up her nose, Marj raised her eyebrows.

Their derision was not hidden.

“Look girls I don’t drink, it sends me sort of funny, I like to have my wits about me.”  I took a swig of my OJ just to prove a point.

Marj grabbed my hand and took the glass from me.  “Here, have a go at this.”

She shoved a pint of White Lightening Cider towards me and waited.  I tentatively took a sip.  Mmmmm not bad.  It was like lemonade with a bit of a kick.

So here I am, six pints of White Lightening Cider later, dancing on a nightclub table with Norma, Marj and the gang cheering me on.  Amid screams of laughter, various insults and shouts of encouragement, which include Come on Mave give it a bit of Tina Turner to Look at this lads, Mave the Rave’s giving it some welly, all just audible above the persistent bass beat of the music, I gyrated, bounced and wobbled, my confidence soaring.

It was bound to end in tears.

Having not quite earned myself the bladder capacity of a two humped camel, I was taken short.

“Norma I need a wee, look after my drink for me.”  And with that I staggered off to find the loos.

Once in the brightly tiled washroom, I took my place in the queue, hanging on to a nearby door frame as nausea washed over me.  I’d clearly overdone the pop again.  Whispering never again under my breath, the click of a door lock gave me an available cubicle and I disappeared behind the door.

Five minutes later I stood, or in reality, hung over the washbasin.  Squinting through an alcoholic haze I fumbled around the low level basin for the hot tap, finding instead a rather squidgy bar of soap.  Clasping it firmly in my hand, I pulled.

“Hey, what the hell do you think you’re feckin’ playing at?  Hands off..!”

Dropping the soap, I stumbled backwards.  “Jeez you women round here have deep voices, must be all the pints you drink..” I wiped my hand on my dress “… bet you’ve got a hairy chest too!”  I sniggered at my little joke.

Come to think of it, I had as much right to the soap as they did.  Indignancy rising, I pointed my finger at the blurred silhouette with an exaggerated stabbing motion.

“Don’t you dare mess with me little Miss Testosterone..” I let a hiccup escape but held back on the burp for fear of once again producing a technicolour yawn. “… I’m Ninja trained – so watch out!”

There, that’ll teach her.  I’d had all of six martial arts training sessions and was good to go.  I could take her on.  The closeness of my adversary meant I got a rush of hot breath mixed with the smell of fresh lager as she spoke.

“Maybe if you were English language trained you might have read the sign on the door too, you stupid bint..!”

In the silence that followed I heard the sound of a trouser zip hastily being pulled up.

Within seconds I was roughly removed from my hand washing duties by  Security, who took great delight in marching me through the Club, past Norma, Marj and the boys and out through the double doors.

As the cold night air hit me, I suddenly became acutely aware that washing ones hands in the Gents Urinal is apparently not cricket in this neck of the woods…..

….nor is insulting a grown man by comparing his Wang Doodle to a squidgy bar of soap!


(c) 2015 Gina Kirkham

Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong


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