A HUMONGOUS THANK YOU FROM MAVIS AND ME…

Less than three years ago I had the most amazing dream that consisted of three wishes, well, four really if you count my desperate desire to fit into the size 8 jeans I last wore in 1986.  My wonderful jeans have sat in the third drawer down in the spare bedroom, forlornly waiting for the day my waist would measure the same as my left ankle, thus rendering them useful once again.

Sadly, both me and my anorexic jeans are still waiting for our moment of glory whilst I play Homer Simpson faces with the excess rolls of tummy flab that have slowly crept up on me since I hit my fifties.

So, back to wishes 1, 2 and 3.

Wish number 1.  Write a book and get it published.  Simples really if you say it really quickly.  Being an ex-secretary I could type, I could spell and I knew some fabulous big words, although where I was going to fit supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into a chapter I had no idea.

Wish number 2.  Well that sort of followed on from Wish number 1.  If I managed to write a book AND get it published, I wanted to tread in the hallowed footsteps of Luca Veste, David Jackson and Jonathan Harvey by having my launch at the fantastic Waterstones in Liverpool One.

Sorry, just as a little diversion and to brag a bit, Luca Veste is my incredible nephew, David Jackson is my lovely neighbour and I spoke two words to Jonathan Harvey once AND I got a book signed by him.  I think the two words were ‘Eee Rita’ but nevertheless, I was beside myself with joy and hero worship for weeks afterwards and I still sigh in awe when I see his name on the credits for Coronation Street.

And finally…..

Wish number 3.  The potential for a ‘selfie moment’ in Liverpool John Lennon Airport with my book in the W H Smith Holiday shop.  Not a pouty, duck-faced one, as old age has given me lips like the arse end of a cat, so unfortunately lipstick and gloss bleed into the wrinkles and then come to a grinding halt at my carefully tended moustache.   The downside of my upper lip hair is my granddaughters now kiss the top of my head rather than suffer near fatal electric shocks from my bristles and nose hair.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, my Guardian Angel, who has been avidly following me around, ducking the occasional disaster or dilemma that had been flung my way, came up trumps.

After many months of frantic typing, coupled with copious amounts of biscuits, crisps and chocolate as I worked (ensuring those size 8’s would never, ever see the light of day or my chunky thighs again), Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong was born, followed by that email from Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications.

And the rest, as they say, is history!

This was the start of my amazing journey, a journey that has been made all the more special and magical by the lovely people I have met along the way.

I truly had no idea how fantastic the book world and Social Media could be to a novice writer.  From authors, readers, bloggers and reviewers to Facebookers and Twitterati, they all excitedly encouraged and supported me.  It’s a genuine support too, they love nothing more than seeing you succeed and helping to be part of that success.

 

I did worry what they would make of Mavis and her Humongously Large Thongs, I fretted over my own ‘likeability’ factor, I panicked about tweets/emojis/not tweeting/forgetting to tweet/saying thank you the right way/not saying thank you/retweeting/ballsing things up  and finally the horrors of predictive text that could turn a simple name like Georgina into a dose of the clap.

I wasn’t sassy and self-assured and I certainly hadn’t written a literary masterpiece that would be hailed alongside the works of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.  I was also pretty sure that neither Jane or Mary had the added pleasure of packing 120 pairs of size 18-20 knickers from Primark that had their respective protagonists face emblazoned on the front as a PR exercise!  In the end, I plumped for being just me, accompanied by all of the above feck-ups.

To be honest, I don’t think Gonorrhoea Kirkham would be the same if she were sensible, full of her own self-importance and lost the ability to laugh at herself, do you?

It’s been a whirlwind of excitement, laughter, achievements and discovering new things about myself.  I have realised that you never stop growing (there’s those damn jeans again), never stop learning, never stop finding the fun in life.

I also discovered that even though I’m fast approaching sixty, with arthritic knees and a bad hip, I could, in a moment of unbridled excitement, almost do a cartwheel or some other physically impossible action.  

The cause of this geriatric excitement?

A completely unexpected nomination for The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2017 from the lovely Mark Mayes, a fellow Urbanite.  If the nomination on its own wasn’t enough to send me into raptures, the fact it had come from Mark was the icing on the cake.  Can you imagine how it feels to have someone you greatly admire and respect as a writer to believe in you.  Forget the cartwheels, I cavorted like a retired lap dancer at a bus stop!

Two weeks later, once my hip had set itself back into the socket and I’d extricated my Thong from where the sun don’t shine, I had cause for another bout of elation.  I had made the Long, Long LongList.

Now when The Guardian says ‘long’… it means long.  If you hit the link below and keep scrolling, by tomorrow you might have found me, but to honest I couldn’t care less if I have to scroll off the end of the iPad…. I was there, Mavis Upton had made it to the List, and public voting had begun with earnest.

I’m under no illusions, there are so many wonderful and literary greats amongst those titles, and Mavis may be a little out of her depth, but I’d love to think she’s holding her own.   The chances of her winning with Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong is roughly the same as Cilla Black getting a straight answer on what it’s really all about from her mate Alfie but to have even the remotest possibility of reaching the shortlist is like having Wishes 5 through to 10 all at the same time.

The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2017

After gratefully accepting wishes number 1 and 2 as granted by my harassed, borderline-alcoholic Guardian Angel, the Not The Booker nomination and the added news this week that W H Smith holiday shops are to stock Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong from August, I am feeling untold joy and eternal gratitude to everyone who has done so much for me along the way.

I truly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 So, as I wish you a fabulous Sunday, I’m sitting here with my tongue hanging out in concentration using my trusty dried up Sharpie pen to cross Wish Number 3 from my list, whilst happily having visions of me grinnning inanely holding my book in Liverpool Airport.  The WH Smith sign is behind me as Loretta LoveHoney the blow-up doll on the front cover, bares her ginger ‘Dorrito’ to weary travellers and fellow holiday makers as I dance like there is no tomorrow hoping for a mention in the Liverpool Echo.

Gina x

 

©Gina Kirkham 2017

 

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MOTHER NATURE’S WICKED SENSE OF HUMOUR…..

 

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Mother Nature’s Wicked Sense of Humour

     It was quite a revelation this morning when I jumped out of bed in happy expectation of a brand new day – only to find that for the first time in my life something other than my feet hit the carpet first.

As I sleep butt naked, I’m sure you can imagine what I forlornly ended up dragging along the beige shagpile towards the bathroom, whilst avidly avoiding hubby’s boots that had hastily been kicked off the night before. Needless to say, double nipple burn is not pleasant but I counted myself lucky that I hadn’t smacked them into the wrought iron candle holder on the landing.

Somehow, and I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it sooner, I had grown old.

Everything that had previously pointed North, had suddenly decided to take a road trip South. They didn’t bother packing an overnight case or think it necessary to let me know where they were going, or leave a forwarding address. They just bloody got up and went between 10pm the night before and 8.30am in the morning.

As I plonked myself down on my silent flush, low level budget bog, my once pert nellies rolled out to comfortably drape themselves across my upper thighs.

I wanted to cry.

I’d got used to pulling out the odd grey hair that had begun to adorn my head. Even a single stray that had hung tantalisingly out of what was left of my right eyebrow last February, got the rapid tweezer movement, but THIS….. this was something else.  Whilst brushing my teeth, I desperately tried to console myself that at least nature hadn’t combined the two and given me hairy nipples.  Then again, on closer inspection, I could be wrong.

Plucking at the fine fluff adorning them I give a sigh of relief.   Carpet fibres.  I offer up a solitary, half hearted, thank you.

As my luck would have it, Mother Nature decided she wanted to give me one more kick in the Tena Ladies, as my day got gradually worse.

Once I’d hoisted my hooters back into their rightful place with a bra that had seen better days, I casually dressed myself in shorts and t-shirt for a bit of gardening. I have an agreement with my hubby. His knees creak less than mine, so he does the weeding and I do the watering.  Actually….. talking of watering, that’s another aspect of impending old age.  A need for what’s commonly called amongst us oldies, APP.

Advanced Pee Planning.

If you don’t monitor your fluid intake you sure as hell better carry plenty of change and know the prime location of every toilet facility within a three miles radius – intimately! Pretending you’re an Irish Clog dancer to cover the jiggling, whilst dragging the depths of your handbag for a 20 pence piece is soul destroying.

Right, so far we’ve got droopy nellies, hairy nipples, creaky knees and bladder weakness, all signs of old age that has crept up on you whilst you have, in sublime ignorance, carried on with your blissful life, believing you are drinking from the fountain of eternal youth.

So, where was I? Oh yep, gardening. So there I am, happily watering the back garden in my best cerise pink Crocs, you know, those delightful plastic things with holes all over them, allegedly for aeration, but in stark reality it’s really where your street cred slowly seeps out with each squelchy step.  This is my shameful confession – I am a secret Croc wearer.
I never venture out in public for fear of ridicule, although I did get shitfaced once on the cooking sherry (one for the pot, two for me) whilst making a Beef Bourguignon, forgot I was wearing them and went out to empty the bin. The look on my neighbours face said it all.

I knew that from that moment on I would forever be ostracised from the Meols Mummies Group, and as a consequence, invites to Aloe Vera Product parties, Ann Summers and Gin Evenings would never again rattle through my letterbox or bleep on my mobile phone.

I was so distraught at being caught red handed, or should I say cerise pink footed, that I finished off the rest of the bottle, burnt the Bourguignon and woke up eight hours later in bed wearing nothing but my bloody Crocs and a half-hearted smile. According to Hubby, getting my clothes off was easier than trying to prise those dratted things from my sweaty feet, so he’d left them on. Well at least that’s what he told me, maybe he had a ‘thing’ about naked women wearing Crocs. Sadly, due to my alcohol induced coma I will never know, but if he buys me a new pair for Christmas I’ll be seeking an appointment with a Deviancy Counsellor.

Anyway, back to gardening and Croc wearing.

I was happily enjoying a quiet five minutes whilst still mourning my loss of gravity and bounce over a glass of chilled white wine. The glossy pages of the LaRedoute catalogue, open at the the underwear section, fluttered and shimmered in the sun along with a landing strip of hair on my shin that I must have missed during my most recent leg de-fuzzing session without my glasses. I studied each youthful lingerie model with growing envy. Not one of them had droopy nellies, flabby tums, nasal hair or cellulite. One well toned red-head, her hair tumbling across her shoulders, softly draping over her buoyant boobies grinned out at me from the pages, gloating. I was just in the process of wishing a thousand boils upon her pretty face, when the doorbell rang.

…..and this is how my day ended.

“Oh hi, I was just wondering if you could take this in for one of your neighbours?”

There, standing on my ‘Feck Off’ doormat was the epitome of manhood. A Poldark lookalike. His smouldering eyes swept from my feet to my head, a glint of a smile touched the corner of his full lips.

Rooted to the spot, I desperately tried to hoist my newly drooped baps up another two inches by leaning backwards against the doorframe whilst simultaneously trying to hide my Croc-clad feet behind a nearby plant pot…..

…..only for them to suddenly emit a horrendously loud ‘fart’ as my damp, sweaty feet forced a rush of air through the holes.

“Oh dear, that’s one good reason for not wearing these dreadful plastic shoes isn’t it?” I coyly proffered, desperately trying to hide my embarrassment.

Mr Poldark grinned.

“Gosh, I wouldn’t worry too much love, my Nan suffers from flatulence too. She has tablets for it…”

And THAT my lovely friends, is why women over fifty shouldn’t wear Crocs!

All I’ve got to look forward to now is giving my granddaughters the obligatory electric shock from my upper lip hair (which I’m  in the process of excitedly cultivating) whenever I give them a kiss goodbye, along with milky cocoa, Ponds Cold Cream and a hair net at bedtime.

So, whilst you digest that depressing thought, I’m off to pencil in my ever diminishing eyebrows so that when the postman tells me about Nora from next door-but-one dragging her droopy nellies across her memory foam mattress whilst pleasuring the milkman, I can at least raise something to show how surprised I am..!

Gina Kirkham

(c) 2016