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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Did I Eat That……

Did I Eat That……

New jeans, that was exactly what I needed to cheer me up.

I picked a rather fancy pair from the rail in the natty designer shop. The label swung tantalisingly from the belt declaring them to be the new ‘Lift & Shape’ design. This was emphasised by the purple sparkly sticker on the back pocket. It promised a full transformation from a sagging, droopy bottom to a firm, uplifted derriere.

Fishing around for a pair that was as near to my size as possible, it struck me that this shop only seemed to cater for the eternally thin and equally malnourished amongst us. Not feeling the urge to traumatise myself further by publicly declaring the size of the pair that were now draped over my arm, I ambled off to the changing rooms.

Ten minutes later, I was still huffing, puffing and wriggling to get them on, as my face began to turn fifty shades of red with exertion. This was a bigger struggle than I had anticipated.

Feck me… if my Nan’s old saying of a ‘moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips’ was true, I must have devoured the whole bloody cake and cookie display at Sainsbury’s..!

Grabbing the waistband, I gave an almighty tug upwards, bending forward in what was a futile attempt to stretch the material over my wobbly thighs whilst giving myself a very unattractive and positively painful camel toe in the process. Pausing for breath, I looked in the mirror behind me.

I wanted to cry.

Staring back at me was a massive rear-overhang. The jeans were tucked, or should I say, squashed under each plump, dimpled cheek. Even if I managed to get them on and zip them up, the promise of a firm, uplifted booty was never going to materialise, and at £40 a pair, I expected to at least be able to sit down in them. I peeled them off and kicked them into the corner of the cubicle.

I had to face facts, I desperately needed to diet.

There, I’d said it!

I could do this….

I had willpower….

I had lettuce….

I had an old Weight Watchers’ magazine from 1978….

What could possibly go wrong?

******

DAY 1

BREAKFAST: Sugar Free Muesli
Jeez, this was like chewing on your Grannies old knickers. I started eating a small bowl at 7.30 a.m. and was still going strong forty-five minutes later. I found a sultana, which was exciting.

LUNCH: One Calorie Cup-a-Soup
They lied. I couldn’t find half a calorie let alone a full one. Watch Loose Women on television as a distraction to stave off the hunger pangs. The adverts are a killer. I am getting obsessive thoughts about food. Decide that I am no longer in love with Gary Lineker or his damn crisps.

DINNER: Weight Watchers’ Extra Gourmet meal
I’m actually bordering on hysteria, I’m so hungry.
Wow, a real fit-in-your-eye meal this one. I found a pea. No wonder it has 200 calories in it. A whole pea can really bump up the calorific value in a meal. Think I might be going slightly diet crazy as I’m more excited about the pea than I was about the sultana this morning.
Disaster!
The pea has rolled off my fork onto the floor and the dog has eaten it. Try prising his mouth open in desperation, but it is lost forever.
My pea is gone.
I swear that dog has a smile on his face.

SUPPER:
20 minutes opening cupboard doors, looking inside and closing them again.
15 minutes opening the fridge door, looking inside, mentally eat the contents before leaving door slightly ajar so I can cosset the lump of cheese bathed in the ambient fridge light.
Indulge in one Ryvita – unbuttered. Chew, cough, gag and splutter, but persevere.

20.43 hrs Get up, wander around the kitchen, look in the fridge, close fridge, open fridge. Poke finger in cottage cheese, close fridge. Resist initial temptation.

20.55 hrs Get up, wander around kitchen, look in cupboards, talk to myself. Look in fridge, poke finger in coleslaw. Take small nibble from slab of cheese. Smooth over teeth marks with finger to hide evidence.

21.03 hrs Watch television. Grab large portion of tummy fat and do Homer Simpson impressions complete with voice over. Eye up dog’s half chewed marrowbone biscuit and guess calorie content. Eye up dog and challenge him to who can get to the half-chewed marrowbone biscuit first.
Dog wins as my wobbly butt gets caught in the arm of the chair.

21.09 hrs Sneakily slide hand down back of the sofa just in case any errant sweeties are inadvertently hidden there. Pull out one yellow, crusty Liquorice Allsort coated with crumbs, fluff and……. Eeeww! I wretch. No, no, no, I’m not THAT desperate.

Notice dog is now sitting on his bowl of Tesco Value Dog biscuits whilst giving me a defiant scowl.

21.14 hrs Half a box of After Eights, two chocolate cookies, packet of cheese & onion crisps, whole tub of Twiglets, jar of jellybeans and a bag of peanuts….

…. ALL to myself.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow!

******

Heading towards the locker room, the overpowering stench of sweaty socks, underarm perspiration and other manly odours seeped out through the open door to greet me.

I baulked.

Gone were the days when the Police Women’s Section had their own place, crammed into the corner of the old boiler room, where you hopped over dislodged nuggets of coke and coal left over from the heady days of a heating system that alternatively made you wonder if you were going down with a severe dose of man-flu or hitting an early menopause.

Pushing the door open, I stood and marvelled at what I now shared with at least thirty-two other men. The grey metal lockers stood rigid to attention, doors left open sporting hastily cast off uniform jackets, a moth-eaten pair of Y-fronts and a shoe lace, gave an eerie echo of abandonment. I scanned the bottom end of the room, and there in the corner was my target.

Westbury Police Stations all-singing, all-dancing special edition, digital scales. The sign above it on the wall, held on by a yellowing strip of cellotape declared in bold, black letters;

For the sole use of the male & female of the species
No parcels
No weighing of kebabs, testicles or other singular bodily parts
No animals, no car or bike parts

I sighed. So far I had endured four weeks, six days, eighteen hours, forty-five minutes and ten seconds of my Diet from Hell, not that I was keeping tabs or anything, which was now culminating in this tense moment.

The Weigh-In.

Right, come on Mave, way to go girl, let’s get this over and done with.

I stared at the zero’s, willing them to be kind to me as I gingerly stepped on to the scales. I was on the threshold of triumph. I, Mavis Jane Upton would roar in the face of adversity, I would snub even the smallest blob of cellulite, I would squeeze into a size 10 bikini without the very real threat of giving myself a deep vein thrombosis in one or both legs, I would….

Shit, this has got to be a joke, right?

10 stone 4lbs 9oz

Jeez, there must be some mistake. I was 10 stone 5lb 9oz when I started.

Malnutrition, near starvation, cabbage soup, the ensuing flatulence and total denial of earthly pleasures for over a month all for the sake of losing just one measly, rotten pound! It had to be what I was wearing, it just had to be.

Frantically, all reason lost, I stripped off down to my matching pink underwear. I tried again.

No change.

Furtively looking around to ensure I was still alone, I flung caution to the wind. Off came the frillies too. They might skimp on material so they probably wouldn’t weigh much, but what the hell, every little bit helps doesn’t it?

I stepped back onto the scales, stark naked but eager. Still no change.
This called for more drastic measures….

Grabbing my pony tail, I yanked out the velvet scrunchie along with four hairclips. These were quickly followed by my watch and earrings. In fact, I was that desperate, if I had been wearing dentures they would have been yanked out too and placed on the nearby bench to sit alongside the discarded jock strap, solitary trainer and a dog-eared rolled up copy of The Exchange & Mart. Standing on tiptoe on one leg with my fingers clinging to the window sill to alleviate a little of the pressure on the scales, I sucked my stomach in, gracefully lifted my other leg and skilfully executed a near perfect arabesque, whilst dropping my head forward to look down.

Now there was only skin, bone and me between my foot and a decent digital reading.

10 stone 4lbs 6oz

Just as a groan of despair caught in my throat, the swing doors to the locker room suddenly creaked and thudded open.

Nooooooo…….!!!

Panic began to set in as a collection of baritone voices heralded the appearance of the afternoon section arriving for duty. Scooping up my clothes, I desperately looked around for an escape route. None was forthcoming.

Seriously, you’re kidding me! Was my Guardian Angel faffing around on a cloud somewhere eating Philadelphia Cheese and not paying attention? Helloooo, I’m in desperate need here!

“Tell yer what lads, I think I’m in with a chance with that redhead from The Farmers….”

That was Johnny Clarke’s voice, I’d know that anywhere. I had less than five seconds until they emerged from behind the row of lockers to catch me in all my glory.

Think Mavis, think….

Squeezing myself into one of the open lockers, I pulled the door shut by the metal rod. I sat in silence with my knees up to my ears, stark naked and in total darkness, perched on top of a pair of smelly riot boots, a spare truncheon and a rather large A4 Court File that had, much to my discomfort, quite sharp corners. I slowed my breathing to an almost non-existent gasp as little beads of perspiration began to form on my forehead.

The lads continued their locker room banter.

“Nah, no chance Johnny, she’s got the hots for Bernie from the Dog Section mate, dream away sunshine. If I were you I’d….”

…….and suddenly the locker rod was fiercely yanked out of my fingers as the door swung wide open to reveal the owner of the voice and the smelly riot boots I was currently sitting on. I was staring eye to eye with Constable 8632 Charlie Banks, well at least I hoped it was eye to eye, who was now rapidly changing from a pretty shade of pink to a more radiant tone of red.

A deathly silence followed, before I found the ability to speak.

“Oh, for goodness sake Charlie, stop gawping and shut the bloody door will you. This is an undercover covert practice session…. the Detective Inspector will have your arse if you blow this, you idiot!”

Coughing loudly, Charlie turned beetroot red, mumbling as he slammed the door shut. “Jeez, sorry Mave, err you couldn’t do me a favour and pass me my butty box whilst you’re in there, could you?

Sniggering in the darkness, whilst frantically scrabbling for anything that remotely felt like Tupperware, I couldn’t help but be relieved as to what a flat cap, a helmet and an A4 file could cover in an emergency whilst feeling an overwhelming sense of pride in my ability to lie with such conviction whilst clutching my underwear, rather than wearing it.

Gina Kirkham © 2017

MOTHER NATURE’S WICKED SENSE OF HUMOUR…..

 

image

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

A DEAD END JOB…….

image          A DEAD END JOB

                                                                                                       

“Right you little monkey, come and sit here for a cuddle, I’ve got crisps, Twiglets and Chocolate Buttons.”

Ella’s face lit up as she bounced down on the sofa next to me. Clicking the video remote I started the film. Our favourite. Mary Poppins.

She crunched a Twiglet and pointed the remaining bit at me.  “Mum have you ever seen a dead person yet, you know a real dead humung beening?” 

I tried not to laugh.  “It’s human being Ella, erm no, not yet….but that’s such a strange thing to want to know sweetheart.”

She shrugged her shoulders as her hand disappeared into the Twiglet tube.  I just wondered if they had wings when you found them or do they come later?”

Jeez, questions on Theology, I could spell the word, not have an in depth discussion on it.

 “Err I’m not sure I get what you mean Ella.” 

“Oh nuffink, I just thought it would make it hard to get them out of the front door if they were dead AND had a big pair of wings. Can I have another Twiglet?”

…and with that the conversation on dead people was over.

                                                     *******

“Neighbour from No. 32 is reporting he hasn’t seen the old lady next door for several days Mavis, voters show an Alice Creighton, 87 years.”  The ensuing silence from the other end of my police radio gave me time to think.

I groaned. Thanks Ella!

No sooner does she mention something, then it happens. I’d avoided the optional Post Mortem visit during my early probation as I didn’t quite fancy savouring my breakfast twice in one day. After all, I wasn’t going to be the one that had to bloody dissect them. I just needed to know how to deal with finding them.

Standing in front of the dull black door to No. 34, the abode of the unseen Mrs Creighton my heart sank. The backlog of newspapers and milk bottles could mean only one thing.

Grimacing, my stomach did a huge flip.  It’s more the anticipation of death that is so disturbing, so unless someone has ever taken the opportunity to actually keel over and expire in front of you, the chances of seeing a dead body are probably few and far between.

I lifted the letterbox and had a discreet sniff.  I baulked.  Yep, something smelt very dead inside the little terraced house.

“Here yer are love, it’s her spare key, use this.”

The kindly neighbour from 32 proffered the shiny bit of metal on a piece of string. I looked at it, looked at him and looked at the front door. It was at this exact moment I realised that I was the one wearing a uniform, and as such, I was probably expected to do something about the unseen Mrs Creighton.

Why on earth couldn’t I have worked at Sainsbury’s, they never have to find dead people do they?

I let that thought hover in the air before slipping the key into the lock, tentatively turning it and stepping through the door.  I glanced back to a sea of faces belonging to the concerned neighbours outside, watching in a medley of keen anticipation and sheer nosiness.

Just on the remote chance that there was anyone alive to hear it, although I did seriously doubt it judging by the stench, I loudly announced my arrival in a quivering voice.

Mrs Creighton, Mrs Creighton, it’s the Police Mrs Creighton…….”

No reply, nothing. Not even a whisper.

I carried on along the hallway, checking each room in turn with no sign of Mrs Creighton.  In the kitchen I found a pan of some foul smelling gunk on the old enamel gas stove. The furry growth on top had been fermenting for some considerable time.  I held my breath, this was going from bad to worse.  I tried again.

Mrs Creighton, don’t panic, it’s the Police, just need to know you’re okay”

Silence.

With my heart thumping in anticipation, I began to climb the staircase. Picking my feet through the threadbare runner, I swept my fingers along the dark brown bannister.  I was utterly convinced I was going to find the elusive Mrs Creighton rather deceased somewhere upstairs.

Oh please God don’t let her be all horribly….. well, you know what I mean… just make her sort of fresh…ish…!

The first bedroom was empty apart from an old 1930’s wardrobe, several dead flies on the ledge of the cast-iron fireplace and a commode. Motes of dust whipped up, catching in the muted sunlight from the window. Coughing I closed the door. Creeping out onto the landing, I put my very sweaty hand on the door handle to the second bedroom, pausing long enough to control my breathing as my heart threatened to explode through my shirt.

I turned and pushed.

The door creaked open….

…… and there, lying in bed amongst her pink rayon sheets and green polyester quilt, mouth wide open and eyes hooded was Mrs Creighton.

Very grey, very still, very cold and very, very smelly….
……and in my expert opinion…. just a little bit dead!

I froze.

Oh shit, I’ve got a dead body, a real life dead body.

My first.

Panic ensued. 

Think Mavis, think.  What did they teach you at Bruche? 

For a split second I didn’t care what they had told me at Police Training college, it didn’t matter.  All I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there…….

…..and then I remembered.  It all came flooding back,  I knew exactly what I had to do.

My priority was to confirm that there was no output from Mrs Creighton, no breath, no pulse, nothing that could be resuscitated, no signs of life.

Way to go Mavis.

I held my breath and walked gingerly over to the bed, jumping as the floorboards creaked. Oh blimey, facial hair! Mrs Creighton has facial hair. I hesitated, wondering if she still had her false teeth in, which in turn reminded me of Marj at our first aid classes. A quick glance at the bedside cabinet confirmed that her teeth were accounted for, they were floating in a glass of disgusting yellowy green…err…. something.

Fantastic that was all I needed. I’d never get a good seal around her mouth for CPR if it was caving in through lack of teeth. The thought of shiny gums and spit made me feel sick.

Taking hold of her limp wrist, I bent over her to check for a pulse.  As I tentatively moved closer to her face, I paused waiting to see if any air was being expelled from her nose.  The hairs on her top lip remained static.  Oh dear, this seriously wasn’t looking good.

I moved in closer, my own breath barely perceptable.  At the exact moment my nose almost touched hers, her eyes shot wide open.  A low moan drifted from her mouth as she suddenly sat bolt upright in bed.   Every nerve in my body went into high alert as I stumbled backwards in fright, knocking into the mirrored wardrobe.  

Letting out an almighty screech akin to a banshee, she flailed her arms in the air.  “What the fuck are you doing in me bedroom……?”

I screamed.

Mrs Creighton screamed….

….and I legged it out of the bedroom in sheer terror, flying down the stairs, missing several steps as I went.

The neighbours, fearful of my findings and the wailing from inside the house, crossed themselves in godly reverence before disappearing back into their own houses as I fell over the door mat landing sprawled out on the pavement.

Standing alone outside, I gathered what was left of my dignity and quietly meditated my predicament before forcing myself to return inside the House of Horrors.

I made Mrs Creighton a cup of tea, washed her dishes and contacted a relative to advise them she had been suffering a rather awful bout of influenza, which had been aggravated by a Nightnurse induced coma.

Plumping the pillow behind her, I folded back the quilt and handed her a bowl of chicken soup the next door neighbour had brought round.   “Here you go, that’ll make you feel better Mrs Creighton.”

She grumbled, sniffed, tasted the soup and let the spoon rattle back into the bowl.   “D’ya know what would really make me feel better?”

I was mesmerised by the flake of chicken adhered to her top lip as her tongue snaked up trying to dislodge it.   “Anything, just say and I’ll see if I can sort it for you” I gently crooned.

She wiped away the chicken with the back of her hand, flicking it across the counterpane.  

“I’d feel a whole lot better if you’d just fuck right off……   and don’t let the door smack you on the arse on the way out…!”

*****

Back at the nick I filled in my report on Mrs Creighton before going off duty, still stinging from her ingratitude and gobsmacked that an 87-year-old lady could actually know, let alone use, the F-word.

“There you go Mave…” Bob dunked his biscuit in the chipped mug, brought it up to his mouth with seconds to spare before it drooped, “…it’s the four S’s, you should’ve known that.”

I closed my notebook, What on earth  has sun, sea, sand and sex got to do with an ungrateful old biddy with Tourette’s?”

He grinned, cramming the rest of the biscuit into his mouth.

“Nope, it stands for not all Shitty Smells Sniffed are Stiffs….”

 ******

Extract from Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong (c) 2016

Gina Kirkham

WHY IT’S GOOD TO BE GAY………………..

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WHY IT’S GOOD TO BE GAY…………………..

“Jump in Olivia, let me fasten you in.”   I clicked the seatbelt across her, adjusted the booster seat and checked little Annie’s harness in her car seat.   Safety for my two granddaughters, Olivia, a big girl at five and Annie two years, was paramount on our trips out.

“Nanny, can we open our nik-naks now I’m hungry?” 

I looked at Olivia’s cute smile and did what any self respecting Nanny would do.  I relented and handed them both their packets of nik-naks (crisps) that in an ideal world, were supposed to be for after Messy Play at the local church.

“Fank you Nanny”  piped up Annie as the first handful disappeared from view into her mouth leaving a smear of orange flavouring across her chin.

I knew there wouldn’t be another word spoken by Annie until she had finished her packet, but Olivia, being a little chatterbox, had the fabulous ability to eat and speak at the same time.  She also had the added talent of being able to spit various chewed contents of her mouth onto the back of my leather passenger seat.  Words beginning with ‘P’ or ‘S’ were the ones I dreaded the most as they gave a particularly spectacular spray across the interior.   I made a mental note to wipe it down after our little jaunt lest it should harden and remain there for all eternity – or at least until I decided to sell the car and give it its first clean since the initial purchase.

Listening to the rustle of the crisp packets in stereo I wound down my window to let in a little fresh air and to clear the odour of added cheese & onion flavouring and dollops of E621, better known as monosodium glutamate.

“Nanny I’m a Christian because I’m going to church aren’t I?”  Olivia mumbled whilst spraying crumbs down her dress.

I thought about this for a moment wondering if she was old enough to understand the concept of Christianity.  Deciding it was perhaps too deep for her, I opted for a more child-friendly explanation.

“Well, it takes a lot more than just going to church Livvy, the most important thing is to be kind with your heart, think kind things and do kind things for other people.”

“Mmmmm I see….”   She paused to cram another handful of crisps into her mouth before continuing with a cough and a fair splattering of chewed potato onto the seat in front of her.  “…..so you should forgive people and love them all the time then.  They’re nice things to do aren’t they Nanny?”

I smiled as I looked at her face in my rear view mirror.  I loved the innocence of a child not yet corrupted by the realities and cruelties of everyday life.  “Yes, that’s right Livvy, we should always be kind to people and they will be kind back.”   I mentally crossed my fingers, hoping my simplistic reply would suffice.

She sighed loudly, which was then followed by an unusual ten second silence from the backseat.

I waited with baited breath for another profound statement of Godliness.

“Nanny…..”

“Yes Olivia.”

“I really don’t like puffs though……”

I almost choked on the segment of Terry’s Chocolate Orange I’d just popped into my mouth.  Slowing down to approach the looming junction, I changed gear and managed another quick glance at Olivia in the rear view mirror.  She was happily staring out of the side window.

Oh my goodness, how on earth was I going to deal with this, to explain to her that it was not only something she shouldn’t be saying, it was most definitely not something she should be feeling or thinking.   I mean, come on, what would you do?  Ignore it, pretend she hadn’t said it.  Was this even something that Nannies should deal with?

I answered my own question.  Yes, this was exactly what Nannies were made for – sandwiched in between the theme tune from Frozen, Ben & Holly and an episode of Mr Tumble.    Wasn’t it?

I decided to broach the subject with tact, diplomacy and care.

“Gosh Olivia, we don’t say that do we?  We have to love everyone sweetheart, even if they are different.”

I rambled on and on, giving all sorts of reasons as to why people can be different, religion, colour of their skin, their hair, nationality, what food they liked to eat.  I decided against a direct approach on sexuality, thinking maybe this was something mummy and daddy should deal with, and due to my fabulously rainbow coloured family where ‘spot the heterosexual’ would be enthusiastically indulged in after several Gin & Tonics at our fun-filled parties, I had a feeling it would have to be discussed sooner rather than later.

“……so you see Livvy, we should love everything  and everyone shouldn’t we…….?”

There followed another ten second silence.

Ten seconds in which I had the time to seriously doubt my developing Nanny skills and suffer horrendous visions of little mouths uttering socially inappropriate one-liners to the gathered guests at our next party like a mini Keith Lemon.

Olivia exhaled a rather long sigh for such a little girl.  “Yes, I know Nanny but they do give me dreadful mouth ulcers…..”

Flummoxed at her reply, I pulled up outside the church, switched off the engine and turned to see her sitting with a bemused look on her face brandishing…….

….. a rather large orange Cheesy Puff pinched between her fingers that she had sneakily purloined from Annie’s crisp packet!

It is quite frightening isn’t it, to be so heightened by the fear of being labelled prejudiced, either through homophobia, religious intolerance, racism or disability indifference, that a simple word like ‘puff‘ fills you with immediate horror, until you realise that it is just a childish term for a brand of crisp.

This little incident with Olivia, although providing me with a smile and hopefully you with a giggle, sharply reminded me that ‘puff‘ was also a derogatory term that people I love dearly had to endure on a daily basis, along with other, quite vile, cruel chants, aspersions and demeaning labels.

We have come a long way in the fight for acceptance on who we love, who we worship, where we find our roots and how we cope from day to day with disability, but there is so much work still to be done.

Why is it still so hard for people to understand that love comes in many forms?  Why is it still so unacceptable for some to appreciate that the love between two men or two women is no less wonderful and precious than the love between a man and a woman?

I introduce my family as just that – my family.  My wonderful, happy family, which just so happens to have a high percentage of gays dancing around their handbags whilst laughing at the straight members of the clan.

I do not feel it necessary to explain their sexual orientation, whether they be heterosexual, homosexual or lesbian.  That type of title does not make them any less of a person or any more of a man or woman. They are who they are; kind, warm, and caring.  They work hard and have fun, in fact they have the most amazing sense of humour and sometimes are the first to poke fun at themselves in every day situations, as evidenced by the above paragraph that has the words ‘gay’ and ‘handbags’ in one sentence.

They also have a huge capacity to love and be loved and to make their own choices of who they share that love with.

They have never asked for the approval of those who disparage them for their sexual choices, but then again, neither have they asked to be treated cruelly because of it.

This blog post is important to me because I had a friend.  A good friend actually, who although I didn’t see very often, still kept in touch via Facebook.

The operative word here is had.

I was horrified this week to suddenly realise that after all these years I didn’t really know this person at all.  Even though he was fully aware of my family and my feelings, he chose to make appalling homophobic comments on a Facebook post.  I was heartbroken and felt betrayed by him.  He was unapologetic.  He could see nothing wrong in voicing his opinions, it was apparently his ‘right’.

After very little deliberation, I chose to invoke my ‘right’.

I deleted him.

I sat quietly, watching the now blank spot where his profile picture had been, sad that I had clearly made a poor choice in a friend.

As I shut down my laptop, I nostalgically remembered one Christmas more than thirty years ago.  The year my cousin came out.

She chose to reveal this important piece of information just as the turkey had been cleared away and the Rum Pudding and Black Forest Gateau were being served.  Great Grandma Pemberton, a very respectful 98 years old was presiding at the head of the table, wine had flowed copiously, which probably served to give Geraldine a little bit of Dutch courage as she wobbled to her feet, glass in hand.

“I’ve got something to tell you all, it’s very important…..”

A hush fell over the fourteen of us as we expectantly waited for her to continue.

“……..it’s just that……….well, err……….I’M GAY!”

Amid clacking of false teeth, slurping of port by Great Aunt Phyllis, the clattering of dropped dessert spoons and very obvious gasps, Great Grandma Pemberton raised one eyebrow, lifted her glass in toast and replied;

“That’s nice dear, we should all be very happy and very gay – after all it is Christmas!”

I couldn’t help but smile…

… Geraldine couldn’t help but be disappointed.

************

There is no person, no law or no God that should dictate who we choose to love, there is no gender, no colour, no religion or class that should influence our future together as human beings and how we celebrate our love.

Please remember how important it is to show love, respect and kindness to each other regardless of our differences, because it is not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to accept, nurture, cherish and celebrate them.

Gina x

© 2017 Gina Kirkham