FRED -My Monologue which was recently published in The Portsmouth News.

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Can I just say a big thank you to all the lovelies who took the time to read my competition story and for writing such encouraging comments. Putting yourself ‘out there’ as a writer is enormously scary so it’s wonderful to get such positive feedback.

For those of you who asked for another taste of my writing, I have included a story called ‘Fred’ which was recently published in ‘The Portsmouth News’. It is taken from my ‘Field Street monologues’ (named after the street where I was born, in Bradley). I have been working on this project for a few months and hope to publish soon. I hope you like it.

Fred        

I love this internet malarkey. I’ve just ordered a new rear shock absorber, headlamp and bezel for the Anglia. Some bloke in Bilston selling parts from his private garage. I’d never have found them if Anita next door hadn’t sorted out my Modem Router. You can’t keep me off it now. I’m like a kid with a new toy.

Bought a lovely set of Ming vases off EBay, genuine article, have the certificate to prove it and only fifty quid each. I saw some identical on Antiques Roadshow and they wanted thousands for them. It just goes to show; you need to shop around.

She’s a lovely lass is Anita. Lives on her own. She has a fiancé but I don’t think it’ll last. He’s a shifty looking character, has a look of Stanley Beck about him, you know that bloke who played Private Walker in Dad’s army.

I was sitting in the Queen’s legs polishing the knob I’d brought for the front left passenger door, when he came in, cocky as you like and flung his holdall down at me feet, nearly knocking over my half a Shandy.

I said, ‘Steady fella, these varicose veins are giving me enough jip, I don’t think I can stomach an open wound.’

He just shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘You wanna watch?’

I said, ‘Why what ya going to do?’

He said, ‘No you daft bugger, do you wanna buy a watch? I’ve got Rolex, Tonino Lamborghini, Emporio Armani.’

I said, ‘No thanks, this watch here saw me through the Suez crisis and flared trousers, I don’t want any of your new-fangled rubbish.’

I don’t think they were the real McCoy; you could tell by the packaging. I use the same zipped top freezer bags for my cheese and ham.

Anita could do so much better, a nice girl like that. Been a neighbour for a few years now. We’ve become quite good friends over time. I think she sees me as a bit of a father figure, which is nice as I haven’t got any kids of me own.

I was married, back in the day. Geraldine her name was; she was from the South Coast. We met at one of them holiday camps. She was a dancer and I worked in the open air pool as a life guard. I had a smashing physique back then. Used to do a muscle man routine after the bingo. The girls loved it. I’ve still got my gold lame briefs somewhere.

It was one of those whirlwind romances. We’d only been going out a month when I proposed. Had a quiet ceremony at the registry office and then back to the camp for a knees up with some of the crew. They even organised married quarters for us. We were happy as anything until just a few weeks before the end of the season. That was when smarmy Marco came along. He was a student from Italy who’s grand-father had shares in the site. He was a good looking bugger, but I never expected Geraldine to just up and run like that. Without so much as good bye. Everyone on the camp was very sympathetic but there was nothing they could do. I didn’t hear anything from her for months until I got a letter asking for an annulment to the marriage on account of not consummating it properly.

It wasn’t true of course. We had most definitely consummated it, in chalet 435 on the Formica table, but it was quicker to go along with it. After all there was no chance she was coming back. She told me she was pregnant with his child and they’d decided to move over to Florence to be near his family.

Funny thing is, years later, I thought I saw her in a supermarket stealing Tiramisu from the freezer aisle. I was on holiday in Portsmouth with the lads from the classic car club. It took me aback for a few minutes, but it couldn’t have been her, she had long grey hair and surgical stockings and was sneaking a whole load of frozen desserts into her pockets.

Anyway the upshot is, it put me off women for years. It’s only recently, now I’m in my twilight years that I’ve thought about settling down again.

Actually, I’ve already met someone. Got talking to her on the internet. A friend of mine from the classic cars club put me on to her. That’s how he met his wife see. They love an English man out there, in Thailand. He said he thinks it’s the accent.

I think they like the older man as well cus she’s only twenty-four. I know there’ll be those who think the forty-year age gap is too big. But I’ve always kept myself in shape. I sent her one of the photos from when I did my muscle man act and she said she couldn’t wait to get her hands on them. I’ve been getting up early and lifting a few old tyres in the back garden to try and get back in tip top condition. Mind you I don’t think I’ll have time to have the varicose veins done before she flies over.

I’m partial to a French Fancy so I’ve had to stop buying them so I can lose a few pounds before she arrives. Her name’s Tookta. I looked up the meaning and it said it meant a diligent and persevering worker. So I think we are well suited.

Apparently she’s trained in massage; has lovely big hands and is a very accomplished cook. I’ll have to watch this though as too much spice brings me out in sweats and I went into anaphylactic shock when I ate a king prawn in Whitby.

She said I reminded her of some bloke called Justin Bieber. I told her I’d never heard of him but she claimed he was a handsome fella, so I didn’t question her. Her English isn’t that good and some of the things on Google translate alter the meaning. She said she used to be a cock and I had to tell her that it was spelt with two o’s.

I’ve already bought one of those ‘teach yourself Thai’ dvd’s,’ I listen to it after The Archers and again before I go to bed. I’ve got the basics covered. ‘Hello, goodbye, do you like pigs pudding?’ She said when she arrives I’m to take her shopping as she loves new shoes. Funny thing is her feet are two sizes larger than mine and I always thought these Asian girls had small feet. She’s got nice broad shoulders too.

It’s taken ages to organise a visa. Some complication with her birth certificate. I called her just yesterday to see if it had been sorted, first time actually. It was a bit of a poor line though, it made her voice sound really deep but I expect it’s the humidity out there.

Anyway must dash, I’ve got to collect a parcel from the post office. I expect it’s the pills I ordered on line, recommended by one of the lads at the club. Bit of an appetite these Thai girls and it’s been a while.

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Hope you enjoyed reading it.

 

 

I’ve only gone and won!

Yesterday I battled the London traffic, on my way to the ‘Writeidea’ short story writing competition ceremony. I had been told that my monologue ‘Maud the Costume Mistress’ had been short listed for the prize. As one of five finalists I had been invited to read a short passage from my piece in front of an audience.

I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous, so much so that I dribbled latte down my top and my voice went up two octaves so I sounded like Julie Andrews during the nunnery phase.

Sitting at the front of the audience, whilst waiting for my turn to read, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone else’s stories were poignant and reflective pieces about adult subjects. Mine on the other hand…

Well lets just say it was a comedic monologue which made references to the male and female anatomy with a brief reference to alternative sexual preferences.

‘Maud – The Costume Mistress’ was inspired by a painting of Greta Moll by Henri Matisse and speaks of life backstage in a theatre. It explores Maud’s relationships with other theatre staff and hopefully reflects the funny side of the theatrical lifestyle.

Here it is, I hope you like it.

Maud – The Costume Mistress.

It’s no good, I’ve held my tongue long enough. That bloody stage manager, does he know how many costumes I’ve got to make for this performance? Forty-two…yes that’s right, forty-two. I wouldn’t mind but trying to get the cast to come in for their fittings is nigh on impossible.

I’m up to my ears in Tulle and finding sequins everywhere. I was at the doctors having a smear test last week and he retrieved one with in a pair of tweezers. He asked me if I’d bought a ‘Vagazzle home kit’. I said I’m sixty-four, I left all that behind when I started catching ‘The Ring and Ride.’

I tell you, we’ve gone glitter mad here since ‘Strictly’ came back on the scene. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a ‘light reflective fabric’, but we’re currently doing a period drama, not the ‘world disco dancing championships’.

I’ve only just got over that musical that finished last month. You wouldn’t believe the things I saw back stage. Beardy young lads slapping their flaccid appendages here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude or anything but some things need to be tucked away. It took me ages to wipe the stains off my chaise longue.

I’m not one to moan but I’m running up and down the stairs like a cat on hot coals. And that stuck up madam Elsie Ackerman has been giving me a hard time, claiming she has less sparkles than the other members of the cast; demanding a costume made from a vibrant colour to reflect her vivacious personality.  She said, ‘You do know my great aunty was the famous 1930’s actress Eileen Percy?’

I tried to be tactful and explain that the larger, more mature lady needed to consider the benefits of the ‘illusion of shade’.

Well she didn’t like that. She said, ‘I have a responsibility to Eileen to always look my best and Maureen in ‘Make-Up’ has promised to trim years off my face with her new French foundation and blusher.’

I thought that’ll never work, she’ll need a Polymer render and a cheese grater to sort that face out, but I don’t like to offend. Anyway Elsie makes a lovely lemon drizzle and I’m partial to a bit of cake.

I had a brief visit from Cyril Fairbanks, this morning. Models himself on Elvis, he does, mind you, his hair is letting him down of late. He used to have a lovely quiff, back in the day; sideburns to match. Now it’s more like that spun sugar you see on those fancy cooking programmes.

He said, ‘I need you to dye my cravat aqua-marine darling, this insipid colour clashes with my Eczema.’

I told him, I said, ‘Cyril, the costumes need to look authentic. I’m not sure aqua-marine was a colour of the period.’

He says ‘It’s that or mustard yellow and that’s my final word on the matter.’

Bit of a diva is Cyril, likes the sound of his own voice. He had a small speaking part in an episode of Casualty and its given him ideas above his station.

(Phone rings. Anna picks it up)

‘Yes, this is Maud. A parcel of what? What would I be wanting with 40 leather whips and a gimp mask? I don’t know who ordered them, but it wasn’t me. Try Fred in lighting.’ I ask you 40 leather whips. Whoever heard the like?

They run me ragged they do. Here at the crack of dawn and rarely home before eleven. I’m usually the first to arrive, just before Pork-pie Pete. He always picks up a couple of those posh coffees on his way in. He lives with his mother and likes to be out the house before she uses the commode as it upsets his digestion.

He’s got an appetite that man. I can’t tell you the times I’ve had to let out his trousers. I was saying to Doris our cleaner, ‘If he keeps slipping off to Greggs, I’m going to run out of crushed velvet.’

That reminds me, I need to order some more lining, I was putting an extra layer in the leading man’s jodhpurs earlier, he mentioned he had a bladder infection and you can’t be too careful, those theatre lights can be very unforgiving. I was just finishing off the last stitch when that floozy Chardonnay-Jay flounced in, with her fake tan and wedges. She said, ‘Maud darling, do you think you could widen the neck on my dress to flaunt my assets a little more?’

Apparently she’s been told she needs to ‘appeal to a wider audience’ and she thinks her costume makes her look frumpy.

Frumpy I ask you. I told her, listen to me young lady, a plunging neckline would be totally unsuitable for your role. You’re a maid for the local clergy, too much cleavage isn’t ecumenical.

She said, ‘I don’t care how much it costs, I need to bring in the punters.’

I never had this trouble with Dame Maggie Smith.

(Phone rings again)

Costumes? Oh hello Mr Naysbe, no it’s no trouble, I can always find time for you. Yes, the costumes are on track to be ready for the dress rehearsal. I’m just waiting on a delivery of bloomers and the cobbler said he’d have the shoes finished by Wednesday. He had a bit of trouble fitting Cynthia’s foot, on account of the gout, but she’s been off the wine for a couple of weeks so she’s hoping it will have cleared up by opening night. Well that’s very nice of you to say Mr Naseby, you know I like to be helpful whenever I can.

That was Mr Naseby the Artistic Director, lovely man, always nicely turned out. Studied at Rada he did. Friends with that fella who does the double glazing advert on tele, you know the one. You can tell he’s well-bred by his hands. Lovely and smooth like fine bone china.

It’s a pity the Stage Manager isn’t cut from the same cloth. Barking demands at everyone. It’s like working at Stalag 17. Fancies himself as a bit of a high flyer, straight out of drama school. Northern chap, harsh vowels. Smells a bit of damp Alsatian.

(Phone goes again.)

‘Oh Hello Sidney, I’m not sure I’ve got a spare suit. What do you need it for? Why would you want to do that? Haven’t you been seeing that woman from the deli, the one who had the hip replacement? You know which one, she’s got braces and a perm. Well I don’t think I’ve got one but I’ll check when I get a minute, there might be one left over from The Great Gatsby.

That was Sidney in the box office, he’s got a hot date with some bit of fluff he met at bingo. Says he needs to borrow a suit cus his smells of boiled ham on account of the amount of funerals he’s been to recently. I don’t know how he manages to find all these girls, he’s not what I’d call handsome, well unless you’re partial to a bit of Charlie Drake.

Anyway, I can’t stand here chatting. Norman from the orchestra needs a button putting on his jacket. That’s if we can find it. Last bar of the chorus it broke loose and landed in the French horn. Nearly choked Harry and ruined his climax. Still ‘spect I’ll sort it. Always do, don’t I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A work in progress…

What is great about being part of a weekly writing group, is that you have a constant network of people who are encouraging you to write. People who give you welcomed feedback that gives you the motivation to write better and with more stamina.

A couple of months back, one of my close friends set me a challenge. She sent me a picture of an old camper van and suggested that I write a duologue about the two characters who owned this vehicle. What came out of this was an idea to set a plot within the Morris Dancing community and to tell the story through the words of these two characters and so it was that ‘The Saga of Ken and Sandra’ was born.

This is very much a work in progress and I’m trying to marry humour with drama, but I am having so much fun writing this.

Once edited, I will post snippets of this on this blog so you can give me some feedback before I send it out into the wider world.

 

 

 

New beginnings…

How exciting, I am writing my first ever blog. Those people who know me will tell you that I’m not a very techy person so this is quite an achievement for me.

Reaching my big birthday last year, turned out to be quite a turning point for me. Making the decision to reduce my teaching to part time and devote the remainder of my time to writing.

As a child I had three great ambitions: to become an astronaut; to spy for MI5 and to become a famous author. My fear of flying and inability to keep a secret cancelled out the first two, so when the opportunity came along to write, I jumped at the chance.

Like most writers, I have spent many hours with one finger permenantly hovering over the delete button and the others clutching the biscuit tin, but like all new tradesfolk, I’ve practiced my art by writing in every genre, about any subject, at every opportunity. A friend once told me that if I were a carpenter, I wouldn’t expect my first cabinet to be my best. On reflection, it was probably a polite way of saying that my first attempts at writing were not the works of great fiction that I had hoped for, but what it did do, was remind me that, writing is a skill, an art form, a learnt technique, which improves with practice.