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





“Oh bloody hell Mave……why me?”

I stifled a giggle.  Looking around at everyone’s faces, I could see they were all doing exactly the same.  Bob even had both his index fingers shoved up each nostril, trying to suppress a rather loud snort.

Petey was standing forlornly by the back door of the Police Station.  His metal key chain was dangling from the door, key still firmly in place in the lock.  Running my eyes to the other end of the chain, where the sturdy S hook had been clipped to the back pocket of his rough serge uniform pants.  I shook my head and grinned at Bob.  The back pocket and a large portion of material was still attached to the S hook, which was still attached to the chain, which was still attached to the key, which was still, very embarrassingly for Petey, attached to the door.

He was frantically trying to cover up a huge gaping hole in the back of his pants which allowed those who had gathered around at the first squeal uttered from Petey’s lips, the opportunity to glimpse in all their glory, a pair of bright yellow Batman boxer shorts that sported the words kapow, bam, zap and splat.
Petey had just learnt another valuable lesson.   Remember to take your key out of the lock before you let the door slam shut behind you.

“Just tell me, why me?”  he moaned again.

I jiggled the key out of the lock.  “I don’t know Petey but it always is and it’s always funny mate, just look on it as entertainment for the troops.  A sort of duty.”  

I could hear Bob sniggering behind me.  Deep down I did feel sorry for him.  If Petey could faark it up, break it, lose it or display his idiocy to the world, he invariably did – in style, and today was no exception.  Whilst Petey went to change his trousers, I loaded up my patrol car and checked  the log book. 

“Mave, do us a favour, take Petey with you, don’t think I can get through ten hours with him in my car.” Bob threw his briefcase on the back seat of AR13.

I looked at him sympathetically.  “Err, now let me see…….. think that’s a big fat nope mate, I’ve had him the last two shifts, sorry it’s your turn.”

Before Bob could reply, our radios burst into life.

“AR21 can you start making a report of intruders on, silent approach as occupier is still in the house with a possible suspect hiding.”  

For once Heidi’s excitable voice genuinely evidenced the urgency of the job as we hit the early morning commuter traffic, blues and twos giving both cars a clear passage until we exited on the other side of Town.  Branching out into leafy residential roads, we curved down onto Plantation Hill and swept out at the bottom into Calday Forge, the playground for real life Millionaires.  Leaving the blues on but killing the klaxons, we followed the widening road round until we reached the address.

I pulled up outside a rather ostentatious new build with huge wrought iron gates and winding driveway.  Stumbling out of the car behind, Bob in tow, Petey excitedly carried out his famous jiggle whilst pointing at the name plate.

“Oooh look Mavis,  it’s called Fook Hall….” struggling to contain himself he added “……oh wow it sound just like fuc……”

“Okay Petey, that’s enough, let’s concentrate on the job in hand hey matey?”   I quickly cut him off as the electric gates swung open to greet us.

I could hear Bob snorting behind me as we ran up the driveway.  At least I thought he was snorting.  Knowing how out of condition he was, fuelled by 26 years of Mrs Wongs Special Fried Rice and just lately her Salt & Pepper chips, he could have simply been suffering a long overdue cardiac arrest in a nearby bush.  I turned to check, although glowing a startling shade of peuce, he was still with us.

Mr Simon Wetherington-Phipps, the owner of Fook Hall was anxiously standing at the entrance to the house, framed by the limestone and oak doorway.  He was a noted high price Divorce Lawyer who, as legend would have it, had never lost a case for his long list of celebrity clients. The affectionate name for his house had been taken from his much rumoured catchphrase of  Let them sue for whatever they want, we’ll just show ’em you’ve got fook all; half of fook all is fook all whichever way you look at it’.

Still in his expensively cut navy blue pyjamas, he hastily beckoned us inside and through to the cavernous kitchen.  It was spectacular with a vast bank of fitted cupboards on three sides in high gloss black with stainless steel handles and a large breakfast island in the middle.  I couldn’t get over the absence of sticky finger marks, smeared butter streaks and drips that my own kitchen units normally sported.

“Ssshhhh keep it down, can’t quite figure out where he is, but he’s in hear somewhere.” he whispered, putting his ear up to a door in the far corner.

“Sir, what makes you think there is someone in your house.?” asked Bob in his best professional manner.  Well, as professional as you can get when you’re whispering like a 5 year old playing hide and seek.

Mr Wetherington-Phipps wound the cord from his pants around his fingers before he spoke.  “Well, we were having breakfast and, I err….err…you know what it’s like first thing in the morning, we all have little bouts of flatulence and when I passed a small amount of wind, I heard him.”

Petey coughed.  I gave him a look that said ‘don’t even think about it’ but it clearly fell on the ignorant or just plain stupid.

“Oooh do you mean fart Mr Wetherington-Phipps, I tend to fart a lot in the mornings too.” he excitably proffered with a genuine look of sympathy and understanding.

Mr Wetherington-Phipps rolled his eyes, shook his head.

“What do you mean by heard him Sir?” Concerned that we were all standing in the kitchen discussing wind, whilst a burglar was potentially still on the loose, I pushed for more information.

Mrs Cressida Wetherington-Phipps, dressed in a stunning gold flecked floaty robe, tied lightly at her very slim waist, glided across the kitchen, china cup in hand.

“Oh my goodness Officer, if you had lived with him as long as I have….” she pointed a perfectly manicured fingernail at her husband. …then you would understand even a perfect strangers reaction to him when he steam-presses his Calvins.  It was laughter Officer, laughter….someone was laughing.”

I looked at Bob, totally perplexed.  Steam-pressing his Calvins?  That was a new one on me.  

Seeing my confusion, she smiled sweetly and continued in her plummy voice.  “From where you come from, that probably means fart to you my dear.” she sniffed.

No sooner had those eloquent words left her mouth when a loud choking, snort of a giggle emanated around the room.

I glared at Petey, who shrugged his shoulders mouthing ‘not me’.

I looked at Bob again, who also shook his head.

“There it is again.  I told you I had heard something.  Mr Wetherington-Phipps hissed at the beautiful Cressida, who in turn pursed her lips like a wild tom cats butt.

Bob pointed to one of the large larder cupboards at the far end of the kitchen and moved towards it.  Petey with his baton drawn followed me over as Bob started mimed the counting of 1,2 on his fingers.

I opened the door on 3 and there squashed amongst the NEXT at HOME polka dotted broom and matching mop, one foot in the polka dot mop bucket with an abundance of Marks & Sparks carrier bags draped around him, head bent at an angle to accommodate the top shelf was the one and only Angus ‘Roofie’ Johnstone, prolific domestic burglar and thief of our Parish.

Bright pink in the face, sweating profusely and compliant as he was still snorting with laughter, he blurted out.  Oh for fucks sake Miss, even in Walton they don’t fart like him….” he roared “…he even played a tune with his butt trumpet and she hummed along!”

Roofie continued his uncontrollable laughing whilst Mr Wetherington-Phipps looked suitably embarrrassed.  “And her, lady muck, steam pressing yer Calvins, you’ve gotta be kidding me?”

Slapping the handcuffs on, Petey began to caution Roofie who was still beside himself with childish laughter.  Getting caught burgling hadn’t been on Roofie’s agenda when he’d broken into the Wetherington-Phipps abode in the early hours of the morning.  When Fook Hall’s kitchen had become floodlit due to the occupants early rising, he had hastily secreted himself in the nearest available cupboard that would accommodate his rather aged and portly frame.

Sadly, Roofie hadn’t anticipated that his own childhood weakness at not being able to suppress his mirth at the sounds of tuneful flatulence would once again come to the forefront and betray his hiding position.

Bundling Roofie into the back of the patrol car, Petey grinned, thought for a moment and then imparted the immortal words;

“They’re dead posh round here aren’t they…..I never, ever iron my underpants, do you Bob?”

Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong (c) 2014

Gina Kirkham