Little old ladies

All I can say is never trust little old ladies.

There I was, sat in a room with this old dear who looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Tiny thing, wouldn’t reach my waist if I stood up. Thick white hair, blue eyes and makeup that wasn’t really put on that well. Looked proper innocent she did, peering over the top of those half glasses, what are they called? Oh yeah, half-moon glasses. Proper dowdy, all twin set and pearls, frumpy old lady. Know what I mean?

Well, she was asking me about my life and stuff. Didn’t matter what I said, she weren’t bothered. I swore, used words I’d not use to my own family and she ignored them. The questions seemed really random, nothing to do with what had happened, the reason that I was there.

As if we was just old friends chatting over times past. Think she must have been planning it all along. Family, friends, football. You name it, we nattered about it. Turns out she’s a Chelsea fan as well and knew all the teams going back to when I was born. The craic of talking footie with some old dear really took me by surprise. If only my brother had been as knowledgeable. He was too thick to even notice when the Blues had won the Championship.

We had tea and biscuits too. Sometimes we stopped so I could go outside to have a ciggie, didn’t matter really. Funny how time goes past when you really are enjoying yourself. It’s only afterwards I understood where she was leading me, the clever cow.

We was sitting there discussing next season’s prospects when she leaned forward and her voice dropped to a whisper.

“What was…..” she said, coughing over the last bit.

I couldn’t hear her so asked her to speak up.

“I was just idly wondering,” she said a little louder this time, “I’ve always wanted to know. What’s it like…?”

She sat there, waving her hands around vaguely, looking up at the ceiling and then at me.

“What’s it like… you know? What does it feel like to k….” she stopped mid-word.

So comfortable was I by then, I filled in the bloody blank didn’t I? Stupid, stupid mistake!

“Kill! Oh it’s amazing. The power… the…”

No vague look now. She gazed at me. No, she looked like a hawk that’s just grabbed its prey. Keen and satisfied. Gotcha!

The door opened and they took me away.

This morning I had my last meal. Anything I wanted they said. Big Mac, fries and a glass of champagne. It was great.

Shame she couldn’t have joined me: we could have talked about football again. It would have taken away the fear of what’s to come.

How could you?

She sat in the cafe listening to the buzz of conversations droning on around her.  It was like sitting in a garden listening to bee hives. Picking out one or two words or phrases every now and then, most people discussed what they’d bought. The rain splattered the window, reminding her that summer was quickly passing away, being shredded by the cool mists of autumn.

The mobile phone on her table buzzed quietly, slyly informing her of another tweet that had come in. No, it wasn’t from him directly. Never was. He didn’t know she existed. Despite her attempts to grab his attention, jumping up and down in the way you do, she knew he would never come to her.

But she loved him all the same. She just knew it was love. When she saw his name light up the phone, her heart soared. Every word he uttered would transform her day into something light and fluffy, other times would leave her in the depths of despair. She missed him when he didn’t tweet, when there were silences. In her head, she had said goodbye so many times and yet… And yet each day she was pulled back in, his subtle phrases beguiling her, teasing her, drawing her back into his world.

There were others he dallied with. She knew about them and hated him for it. Brazenly, he talked about them and it irritated her so much. He was hers and only hers. In her head, her heart and dreams.

Just as he was in the dreams of the other 44,758,153 followers.

Game Over 1.2

On receiving some excellent advice, I revised this tale a little more.  I like this version better.  Hope you do too.

It’s hard when you’re on the run. People start to avoid you. Things become much more expensive when they realise you’re desperate. Money becomes scarce, favours scarcer. I ended up on the dark side of every planet I landed on, always one step ahead of the bounty hunter. Until I came here: too tired to eat, too tired to make a decision.

Best restaurant this side of Tixlit, best meal on the menu and all I could do was prod it from one side of my plate to the other. Not that it was still moving or anything. Elena’s Exotic Eatery was famed throughout the universe for the best food going at the best prices.

Yet here I was, unsure whether to take a mouthful or do whatever I needed to do next. I was tempting fate by sitting here I knew that, but I needed one good meal inside me. And a break.

“You gonna eat that?” A gravelly voice disturbed my thoughts. I looked up: my table companion eyed my food greedily.

“Yeah… maybe… no… you want some – all of it?” Hell, I thought, why not give it to him, he looked hungry enough. I pushed the plate towards him, appetite gone.

It shouldn’t have ended like this. I loved that woman more than anyone else I had come across. She was everything I needed: sassy, kind, moneyed. I could’ve moved up in the world, left my past behind, started anew. Then her dad put a tail on me and all my secrets spilled out. The bounty hunter had a fresh trail laid out for him.

A blast of cold air: the door had opened. This time I knew it was too late. I turned and faced my nemesis.

“Girlie things”

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend I made at university.

Now I attended uni as a (very) mature student, having missed, no – the words should be not taken advantage of the opportunities available to me when I was younger.  Looking back, I realise that I just wasn’t read to study back then, and when I did finally get round to it, I loved pretty much every single moment of the learning, even the hard times.

My friend was also a mature student and I remember when she beetled up to me on the first day, probably feeling as out-of-place as I was, in amongst all these fresh-faced kids.  Frankly, I was more than old enough to be their mums.  They knew it, and so did I.  So my buddy and I stuck together all the way through the good times and bad and have kept in touch ever since.

She’s very lovely, very petite and… the only way to describe her is “girlie”.  A complete contrast with me who (so I’m told) am also lovely, but I’m not petite and, these days, not very girlie.  (I don’t think I ever was, but the memory does distort and deny stuff)  For example, I’m not really a “shopper” who will spend hours looking at clothes.  I’m more of a ‘shark’ who circles for a few sweeps and then Pow! I snap up what I want to buy.  This is due to the fact that I can’t really buy clothes easily  because I’m fat.  A combination of medication and other factors have pushed me (well) outside the “norm”. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, so please don’t take the opportunity to give me a hard time, I already do that without your help.  Each size increase dents my self-esteem further, and there you go… before you know it, a vicious circle is established.  I don’t look in a mirror very often.  If I do, it’s a cursory glance because, frankly, I’m not that keen on what I see.  Something I have to sort out, and I will.

Back to yesterday.

We did the looking at make-up thing.  You know… looking at eye-shadows, foundations… yeah all that.  Normally, my toes would be curling up after short time and my attention would be becoming none existent.  But I liked it!  I really liked this sharing of girlie time and I need to do this more often.

I need to be kinder to myself and in that kindness re-discover me.  I need to learn that girlie is actually ok and that I can actually like being reminded that I’m feminine and attractive and actually have a lot to offer the world.  It’s bad enough I am looking for a job and not getting anywhere, so I need to value myself in other ways.

Don’t panic, it doesn’t mean an excess of pink (hot fuchsia maybe).  Just an acceptance that doing “girlie things” is an ok way to spend some time with a very good friend.  Here’s to us kid!


Happy Anniversary!

The other day it was the third anniversary of joining Twitter and I’ve been thinking about my experience so far.

1 I’ve become acquainted with some really lovely people who have made me laugh, educated me and offered words of comfort when necessary. Thank you very much, it has been quite a humbling experience to link up with you.

2 I have learned that there are times when not getting involved is probably my best course of action. This is probably cowardly, but I prefer to choose my fights. Sometimes, I think that where misunderstandings have taken place, it’s because both parties have only the words in front of them. No tone of voice, no body language, just words. Those words are often interpreted through the filter of what’s going on for you as a person, so you may think someone is being funny in the wrong sort of way, when how it was meant is something completely different.  The very speed of Twitter also helps, I think, to enable the misunderstandings to escalate into full scale spats.

3 I am not impressed by the amount of cyber-bullying I’ve seen.  You may perceive yourself to be absolutely right on a point, but that doesn’t mean you should set your followers onto another person to make their lives a misery.  Even ‘famous’ people do it and I’m horrified at the outcomes.

4 The ability to follow a wide range of people, from all walks of life and/or political spectra is fabulous. One of the biggest thrills is that I as a reader can have is that I can actually contact the author of a book (or series) and say thank you directly to them. From this, I had the great pleasure to be involved as a beta reader for the last 2 books of a great author (Ben Galley), so my name is there in the acknowledgements for all time. What a great honour and privilege it was to be involved in helping an author out.

5 I have to mention this next part as it would be criminal to miss it out. I have recently become involved with a wonderful group of authors in the Friday Phrases (#fp) community. Each Friday we tell short stories in the 140 characters (or less) that have a twist in the tail – or should that be “tale”?? I have had so much fun with the flights of fancy and sheer gruesome tweets that have fallen out of my head, it is untrue. Let’s put it this way, my son is not quite sure he approves of the gory side of me he is now seeing… For more information follow @FridayPhrases or contact @amicgood

6 I love the fast flowing, quick-fire nature of Twitter. To me it’s like playing Pooh sticks with words whilst on speed (not that I would know about the latter part). It has been the best fun I’ve had for quite a while and I am grateful that I persevered through the first few weeks when I really did not know what I was doing.

Twitter has really been amazing. I look forward to another 3 years of highs/lows and everything in between.  Thank you for following, it really has been a blast!

The Berlin Wall comes down 24 years ago

I found a tweet this morning with a photo of someone breaking down the Berlin Wall and was instantly taken back to that day in 1989.

In late September of that year, some German friends took me and my husband from Würzburg in West Germany through the border to Leipzig in East Germany.  It was the stuff of spy novels.  Forests stretched for miles on each side of the road as the line was crossed. The east was demarcated by the quality of the roads suddenly changing from super-smooth autobahn to what appeared to be cobbled roads.  The Trabants chugged by merrily, while we in our BMW were totally out-of-place.

I remember the last thing before crossing the border was the order to take a deep breath of fresh air as it would be the last we would have until we came back.  A strange request, but once over there, the smell of poor quality coal being used in homes and factories and the 2 stroke-Trabant engine exhaust soon made my chest hurt.  It really was like stepping back into the 1950s.  Quite surreal.

The reason for visiting Leipzig was that one of our friends, Marcus had lived there as a child and had escaped from the East through the Berlin Wall.  I had not been aware of his history and as he told us about it, I felt as though we had stepped into a Le Carre spy novel.  Marcus and his family had been smuggled out in the false bottom of a US VW camper van at great risk to both the US serviceman and his family.  He had truly been a child of the GDR.

Leipzig seemed quite dull in many ways.  The buildings greying with age, slightly ramshackle and run down like a ill-cared for elderly aunt.  The famous square where the demonstrations about opening the borders was huge. It was only when I was shown the placements for the state TV spy cameras on tops of buildings that I fully realised how oppressive life must have been for the ordinary citizen.  The shops were functional, not much to see, not much to buy.  Flea markets were starting to spring up here and there, relics from the war still available as were good quality Russian army hats and coats.

Staying in the hotel by the old railway station, the room was small and yes, oppressive.  The ceiling had been lowered in each room and it was obvious that somewhere overhead there would be a camera to monitor what was going on.  The newest hotel block was one apparently run by the Stasi, used to entrap business men when they came to visit, probably at the annual book fare.

Over dinner talk ranged over many topics.  Marcus told us the whole tale about escaping to the West, about why his parents had taken that option.  How frightening that must have been for a boy to leave school one day knowing that you would never be returning, of friends being lost, of not being able to tell anyone for fear of Stasi informers.  It was for choice his parents left: choice for the children.  As his mum and dad were both doctors, the state would have made it virtually impossible for any of their children to even consider that as a career option such was the control it had.

Of course we talked about Berlin and the situation there.

Even though the borders were starting to open, this was the jewel in the crown of state and Russian control.  I asked my friends if they ever though the wall would come down.  The stark reply was not in their lifetime, if ever.  For well-informed professional people that showed the extent of how entrenched things become in the years after the war.  Change was coming, but it was not possible to even consider change could reach the ultimate state symbol, Berlin.

It was somewhat of a shock when the first pictures were shown on television here in the UK on this day.  We phoned our friends.  Tina couldn’t believe it was happening and was so excited.  Such change!  So quickly!  I reminded her of our conversation about this only a few weeks before.  It was absolutely stunning what was going on.  Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

Driving home from his work, Marcus could see the news on TV screens in shops and through the windows in the homes he passed.  It wasn’t sinking in.  He thought it was some fabulous TV drama, like Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds on the radio.  His mind could not take in what he was seeing.  It was unreal, the wall wouldn’t  – couldn’t – come down.   Yet there it was, happening in front of his eyes.  Stunning.  The world was changing.

The difficulties of the coming together of both parts of Germany were yet to come.  The fall of the Berlin wall marked a change in the world.  It was the start…