ONCE UPON A TIME……
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in her own special dream world. She would sneak off to her bedroom to lie on the small wooden bed, surrounded by her pink 1960’s bri-nylon quilt which gave off frequent electric shocks that would make her hair stand on end every time she moved. Here she would read her beloved books, disappearing into herself whilst conjuring up exciting adventures that she could star in. Her imagination knew no bounds.
Now, you’d think these would be pretty, fluffy dreams and adventures, full of petticoats and blonde braids, where fairies and elves played in magical woods holding tea parties with rabbits, mice and frogs, and where Flibberty-Gibberty chased colourful socks in the breeze.
Gina with the dreadful pudding bowl haircut. Gina who wore green and blue checked trews with foot stirrups tucked into her red Clarks sandals. Gina who didn’t have a cute cuddly kitten as a pet but a full blown rat and several mice. Gina. That strange little girl from ‘Number 4’, the latter being whispered in hushed tones by the neighbours as though saying where I lived out loud, would bring hell and damnation.
In my defence, yes, I was slightly odd… and going to Sunday school minus my knickers at the age of five didn’t help but that was really my mum’s fault not mine, as mums are supposed to be in charge of washing and dressing their kids aren’t they? Fortunately, I did have a very happy disposition, a kind heart and I didn’t seem to mind when people laughed at me. Sometimes it hurt but in the main, I acted up to it and turned it around. I decided that they would laugh with me, rather than at me.
And this set the tone for the rest of my life.
Little did I know in 1963, whilst glued to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, engrossed in swashbuckling adventures of smuggling, spooky houses, solving crime and running around at midnight swigging lashings of ginger beer with Julian, Dick, George and Ann, that this would shape two of my future careers. I know you’re now wondering where Timmy the Dog is in that line-up…. well, I’m not sure myself really, probably behind a rock somewhere having a dump!
So, whilst I leave you with that one thought to ruin your childhood, let’s fast forward to March 2013.
I had barely made six months out of retirement from Merseyside Police, before I found myself kicking my heels wondering what I could do between the amazing days I spent with my two granddaughters playing Crocodiles from sofa to sofa when my arthritic joints would let me, to having my knees squished up to my ears sitting in a pink plastic play tent enjoying afternoon tea from tin cups filled with soil, and grass ‘cakes’ on little plates. In my quest for further fulfilment and escapism, I turned to books again, but this time not reading them, I wanted to write one!
Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong was created from life experiences, age worn stories, wonderful colleagues and friends… and lots of laughter. I then had the most amazing piece of luck. Urbane Publications wanted to publish it. How cool was that?
After signing with Urbane in May 2016, I had twelve months of permanent excitement and anticipation, drafts, proofs, cover reveals and basically soliciting myself to the lovely and very funny Sarah at Waterstones in Liverpool One in order to complete my dream by having my book launch at her wonderful literary establishment.
So here I am on Thursday 18th May, 2017 in all my glory at Waterstones, desperately trying to hide a crippling attack of nerves from the audience whilst keeping my hands from shaking, only for the tremors to leak downwards to my feet. Consequently I looked as though I’d been plugged into the mains as I executed a pretty nifty River Dance as they jiggled and tapped their way throughout the whole of Luca Veste’s fabulous ‘In Conversation With…’ which in turn detracted from my first pimple for 42 years, but sadly drew attention to my skinny ankles and the fact I’d forgotten to shave my legs.
To be honest that, coupled by the preceding twenty minutes in the loos after overdosing on Imodium Melts (just in case!) was the least of my worries. By Sunday 21st May I was considering a visit to the Doc’s after suffering four days of what the Germans call Farfrompoopin, a direct and undesired side effect of the latter medication.
Unfortunately, whilst everyone else was celebrating my successful launch and subsequent book signing the following week, I was still adhered to our budget B&Q loo seat after causing a catastrophic evacuation with a combination of prune juice and Ex-Lax.
Two weeks later, noticeably slimmer courtesy of the aforementioned prune juice and Ex-Lax, I went shopping for a little something to wear for a very important personal appearance at a Book Event. At Bev’s Boutique, I asked, actually no, I begged them to see if they had anything floaty that would hide the several spares tyres I was still sporting just above the waistband of my pants, combined with a high neck to conceal my crepey décolleté and sleeves to cover my bingo wings.
Beverley looked me up and down, slid her glasses to the end of her nose, arched one of her black microbladed eyebrows and sniffed.
“Bin bag, madam?”
That was definitely not what I had expected from an establishment that sold padded, underwired bras with removable glitter-gel inserts!
Finally plumping for a rather delicious khaki and gold off-the-shoulder silk crochet number that gave me the appearance of a trout caught in a fishing net, I succumbed to combining it with an accidental purchase from the previous week. Whilst browsing Amazon at 3 am, I’d fallen asleep with my finger still adhered to my iPad. Two days later I discovered I’d purchased through ‘one-click’ ordering a strapless stick-on adhesive bra in a whopping ‘E’ size cup. I only know it was that big because it got stuck in the letterbox, traumatising Colin, our postman.
Not to be undeterred or waste the £3.99 I’d inadvertently forked out, I spent the best part of an hour trying to stick the ruddy thing on evenly and at an acceptable level. The adhesive cleverly stuck to every finger I possessed as I tried to position it, it then developed a will of its own as it attracted every body hair known to mankind within a 5-yard radius giving me very unattractive hairy nipples and then to top it all, steadfastly refuse to cling on to my boobs. After a further twenty minutes I reached the conclusion that if you’re anything more than a very pert B cup, this is not the bra for you…..
….actually come to think of it, if you’re lucky enough to have a very pert B cup why on earth would you even contemplate trying to hoist them up with one of these things?
Having norks that your chin can rest on when you’re almost sixty is not really a believable look, neither is having one three inches lower than the other, but with the help of my hubby’s B&Q Spirit Level I persevered, shoved and slapped them into place and was eventually happy with my shape
After a final slick of my famous Coral Blush Lipstick, I was ready.
Halfway through nervously extolling the virtues of 21st Century Policing and my book to a large audience of women, the gentle first flush of perspiration was quickly followed by a fair deluge of panic-struck sweat as I forgot where I was in my mental script.
This in turn enlightened me to the difference between a £29.99 adhesive bra from the UK and the £3.99 one from the Far East that I was currently sporting. It slowly began to peel itself away, first from my right boob, followed very quickly by a slight slippy sensation, as it lost its hold on the skin of my left one, slid down, juddered tantalisingly by my belly button for all of two seconds, and before I could react, it appeared under the hem of my top and dropped to the floor.
Unfortunately, the adhesive fared better on the leather of my shoe than it had on my skin, as it stuck fast to the toe of my stiletto, refusing point blank to budge. I feigned ignorance for the remainder of my talk, occasionally dragging the pointy toe behind me along the threadbare carpet in further attempts to dislodge it.
Exiting the stage, I hobbled to the toilets holding one shoe whilst mourning the effects of gravity on a pair of unholstered norks in a gold lame fishing net and the consequences of seeking partial fame and fortune as a writer.
Squishing my no-longer-adhesive E cup bra in my hand, I wondered how Enid Blyton would have coped. I dreamily thought of her calmly drinking Cammomile Tea before and after her public appearances with an air of elegance and confidence.
Hanging from my chrome and leather bar stool, enjoying my third double Gin, I fondly remembered one of her famous quotes…
“If you can’t look after something in your care, you have no right to keep it.”
Launching my errant item of underwear towards a nearby bin, I smiled smugly to myself as it hit the wall, temporarily stuck to the flock wallpaper, fell off and hit the bottom of the bin with a gentle thud as I toasted the wonderful Enid, the maker of my dreams.
© Gina Kirkham 2017