There’s a party next week and Gina’s Little Black Dress is about to become Gina’s Busted Seam Black Dress. But a chance visit to a Chinese food store and the impulse purchase of Dieter’s Tea will change all that…although perhaps not quite in the way Gina expected.
1. Finding the right mantra
The South East Asian food store smelt interesting, enticing. Its interior, so dark compared to the blinding, sunny white tiles outside, held a promise of spice, a soupcon of cheong-sam, a steaming bowl of noodles.
Gina swept aside the awful plastic flaps of fly curtain; her shoes sounded hollow on the old lino. She drew a deep breath of spilled soy sauce and dried mushrooms, and almost sighed in delight. Like so many other Asian corner stores, the shelves were piled to the ceiling with packaged goods, many of them labelled in Chinese or Korean or Thai. Several had English subtitles along the lines of “is good taste yum yum!” which were so endearing she was tempted to buy them anyway, regardless of whatever mysteries hid inside the tin. Continue reading
When Layla, trapped under a fallen bookcase, calls for divine help, the last person she expects to answer her call is the Fuck Up Fairy….. Warning: Bad Language, religious irreverence. 18+
It had NOT been Layla’s day. The hot water system had died a natural death during her shower, she’d been overcharged at Sainsbury’s for some very indifferent Bulgarian red, a trolley had added a new feature in the way of a creative dent in the rear panel of her car when she finally found it in the carpark (after almost dropping the two bottles she’d fought over), a traffic snarl made her fifteen minute journey home take 35, and that was all before 10am. Since then she’d learned the water system wouldn’t be fixed for at least three days, her boyfriend had left an ominous message on the answering machine that simply said, “We have to talk,” in a way that said he was about to dump her, the secretary of the CEO she was supposed to interview that afternoon (deadline for major business article: tomorrow) rang to say she’d got the dates mixed up and the CEO was currently en route to Rio de Janeiro and couldn’t be contacted, and a letter from the bank informed her politely she was overdrawn.
Layla fought the impulse to scream at the secretary, but instead persisted like a bulldog until she got the Rio hotel details out of the stammering woman. She had a feeling the telephone on the other end had turned, of its own accord, to ice. Great, now she could add a nice international phone call to the overdraft. Continue reading
Georgina’s generous and rather loopy Aunt Hermione left her a house in her will. The only snag is Georgie has to share it with a feline monster with a penchant for belting up people he doesn’t like. Dedicated to my lovely huge silver tabby Hamish McFlea, 1999- 2008, the inspiration for Glasgow Ned (but much nicer). Warning: Bad language.
Where there’s a will there’s a greedy relation. An old joke, but, like a lot of old jokes, based on truth. In this case there wasn’t one greedy relation, there were two of them, shouting at me at once.
“How DARE Gran leave you her house! You’re only her NIECE!”
“She was out of her mind! I’m contesting the will!”
Trent and Sebastian, my two furious and already well-off cousins, drew breath at the same time, ready for the next tirade. I took advantage of the microsecond’s pause to have my say.
“Firstly, Great-Aunt Hermione was entitled to leave her house to whomever she chooses -”
“Whomever she chooses,” mimicked Trent, who’d failed English in High School but mysteriously made his living as a newspaper editor.
I glared at him. “Secondly, she wasn’t out of her mind. She was a cunning old lady with a terrific sense of humour.” Continue reading
When journalist Nicola Jenkins heads up to her uncle’s farm, she finds the scoop of a lifetime galloping on top of a hill.
Author’s note: Back in the 80s and early 90s I had quite a nice little earner writing horse stories for a magazine. Given that the readers were often horse-crazy girls well under sixteen, the only thing that ever got mounted was a horse (unlike some of the stuff I’ve written since!). This story is one of the less saccharine ones, and doesn’t rattle on about dressage tests, one day events or show ring competitions. It was first published in The Horse Magazine in 1990, but I’ve reworked it slightly. And yeah, only the horses get mounted. Sorry! CS
Nicola saw the gate ahead of her and braked with a sigh of relief. It had been a long drive from Sydney and she was too tired to take much notice of the high brick house and intercom at the gate, which were way out of place this far out from town. The nameplate said “Tom Jenkins” and “Darius Stud Farm”, and that was all Nicola cared about. The glaring “Trespassers will be SHOT!” sign she totally ignored, since she wasn’t really a trespasser. Continue reading
Be careful what you wish for…in case your wish comes true. Is “may you live in peaceful times” as much of a curse as “may you live in interesting times”? Ask Tom….
Tom sighed and tried to block out the combined noises of the children shrieking, the TV blasting out a soap opera and Linsi singing as she cooked.
The house had been a folly, he knew it. What solicitor – hell, partner now! -would buy a house that didn’t have a study? What lawyer would work at home on the dining table in the living room? What sensible legal eagle would buy a place where the only corporate entertaining area was around the BBQ in the back, because the cottage didn’t even have a separate dining room?
But the cottage had taken their hearts the first time they saw it, picket fence freshly painted, front garden an orderly riot of roses, cosmos and snapdragons, and golden sandstone building glowing softly in the light of spring. The tasteful additions at the back the previous owner had completed gave the cottage a living/family room that stretched its width and lit it with winter sunshine. Most of all there was an overall sense of peace, of strength, of age. The cottage had been there a hundred years. It would still be standing long after they’d gone. Continue reading
Working for the local radio station, stuttering Cathy found herself thrown into the microphonic deep end when the weatherman called in sick…and found out more about meteorology than she’d bargained for!
There’s a novel in all of us, so they say. In my case, it’s only a story, not a novel. And it doesn’t begin on a dark and stormy night, but a bright and sunny afternoon.
There’s something almost disturbing about days which are perennially bright and sunny, and where it only rains at night, like in “Camelot” – “The rain may never fall till after sundown….” – week after week, month after month, season after season.
And in Jameson Heads, that’s what the weather was like.
You can scoff and say it’s just the geography of the land, the proximity to mountains, the sea breeze. Whatever you want. Continue reading
Norman Weatherby is a miserable bastard. He’s a sleaze, a miser, and a man who suffers from telephone rage. Don’t be rude to him on the phone …or you might regret it! Warnings: Bad language.
If there was one thing Norman Whitby hated, it was being interrupted by the telephone while he was eating his evening meal. Countless telesales people figuring that the best time to ring people was 7pm had firstly been countered with polite denials, then brusque denials, then outright rudeness, then a phone left off the hook. Norman had now changed his phone number to a silent one, but still got badgered. They simply rang back later when he was watching a porn video.
Norman had today finally taken the step of buying an answering machine. It sat in its box on the cheap formica kitchen table, waiting for him to install it after he’d finished his chops and three veg.
Norman took a long swig of beer and forked the first mouthful of lamb chop and instant mash into his mouth.
And the phone rang. Norman groaned. He’d left it on the hook tonight because he’d entered a competition and was expecting…well, hoping…the organisers would ring to tell him he was a winner. Continue reading