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I Did Write What I Know

I Did Write What I Know

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I Did Write What I Know

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453 pagine
8 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781465910820
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Wendy Williams has one dream left and that's to become an author. Every other aspect of her life is in tatters and out of her control. So Wendy thinks that if she can get this right, then everything else will simply fall into place. Only, It doesn't help when she's forced to move back in with her father (who hates her) and convincing her husband (who seems to hate her too) that writing is a 'proper job', whilst trying to do her best for her son (who also hates her). But there are secrets and lies that lurk in the past and present, which can tear her world apart if she can't get a grip on reality long enough to sort it all out. And she can do this, can't she? This is a comedy of manners and not all of them, good!

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781465910820
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Maureen Reil writes comic commercial fiction and has had over 35 books published, so far, but she's always working on a new manuscript so she wishes to add to that tally with lots of new titles before she's done and dusted. She was born in the city of Liverpool and resides in semi-rural Lancashire UK, but longs to live by the sea. It was always a dream of hers to become a novelist and thanks to her readers, she has fulfilled that ambition, so she couldn't be more grateful if she tried. And Maureen hopes you enjoying reading her books as much as she enjoys writing them.

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I Did Write What I Know - Maureen Reil

I Did Write What I Know

By Maureen Reil

This novel is entirely a work of fiction.

The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © Maureen Reil 2012

Maureen Reil asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

Also by the author Maureen Reil

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name (Chick-Lit Collection)

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name 2 (Chick-Lit Collection)

Lily Loves To Love

Sleepyhead Shares A Secret

I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

Chick-Lit Saved My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 1)

Chick-Lit Stole My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 2)

Chick-Lit Staged My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 3)

Chick-Lit Collection

Chick-Lit Trilogy

Mistletoe And Wine (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 2 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 3 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Christmas Comedy Trilogy

Let’s Get Married (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Together (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get It Started (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Serious (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Physical (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

The Finch Family Short Break Book 0 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 1 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 2 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 3 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 4 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 5 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Easter Holiday 6 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Bank Holiday 7 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Bank Holiday 8 (Comical Vacations)

A Granny Is For Life, Not Just Christmas

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 2 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction (Six-Book Box Set)

Comical Vacations 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Comical Vacations 2 (Three-Book Bundle)

Comical Vacations 3 (Three-Book Bundle)

Wed To The Wrong Wayne

Christmas Crackers

The Desperate Dater’s Intervention

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Things Can Only Get Better

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Dedicated to my sisters and brothers

Tina, Mike, Kath, Frank and the late

Patricia.

THE COMPARISON

By Maureen Reil

Becoming a mother is very much like becoming a novelist. To begin with, you conceive a baby/idea. Only it fills you with a crippling doubt as to whether you will even make a very good mummy/author. As you ponder the future in all its beguiling glory whilst standing nervously/yawning in line at the clinic/library waiting to hand in your urine sample/pay your overdue fines before blinking in shock at the confirmation of your home test results/amount owed. Whereas family and friends treat you differently all of a sudden, as if you are special/talented now that you’re with child/making it up as you go along. Whereby everyone else waits in wonderment of that tiny bundle growing in size/pages before their very eyes. This soon finds you nipping to the loo, often in a rush because of all the pressure down below from processing fluids/endless cups of coffee.

Thereafter you have to endure the months of disciplined sobriety as the bump/story takes over your every waking thought and mannerism, whilst keeping your eyes/concentrating on the prize/outline. Then it’s off to the first of your trips for a scan/writing workshop session just to make sure that things are on the right track. After all a little reassurance/encouragement goes a long way to make you think you can stay the course and don’t miscarry/lose faith, whilst holding onto your pregnancy/enthusiasm this time. Having taken this journey once before but failing to make it to the finish line/The End but not this time, no, this time you believe you can see it through/stick it out.

The foetus/voice inside your belly/head is getting stronger and you feel the kicking/characters focus all your attention on what you are trying to achieve here. The housework can take a nosedive into squalor right around you, while yours is firmly stuck in a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting/The Writer’s Handbook. After all, you want/need to know everything you can and research what it is that you are trying to produce/create in order to understand what it is all about and why.

You ponder the sex/genre, plus whether it will be gifted/successful in education/sales. Not to mention the backache suffered or the piles that accompany the cramp through lack of exercise, especially when physical/mental exhaustion takes hold. While certain issues of favouritism come to light between your clan members when it comes to deciding on options for the Godparents/dedication. They also want their say on the best way to raise/market your youngster/tome. And don’t get me started on the childcare/final edits for it is up to you what/who you feed/acknowledge, not them.

However you find yourself suffering the baby brain fog/writers block and indulge in eating chalk/nutty chocolate as the cravings/isolation takes hold. You make the effort to relax/write outside a nearby café having a light beverage/cigarette with your cake. Only it’s a little too friendly/noisy and you get no peace/work done as there’s a constant stream of questions from the staff/customers about your bump/progress and you’d rather be in bed anyway.

The name/title is so important that you could spend the rest of your life regretting your final choice, since trends do tend to date rather quickly.

You attend antenatal class/writer’s group and meet other expectant mums/scribes as you help one another with breathing/plotting techniques and learn how to accept/ignore others meddling. Any misgivings/mistakes will be learnt from and dealt with later because right now the end is in sight for your pregnancy/manuscript and you deserve a well-earned pampering/rest before that next big step needs climbing. You imagine what the face/cover will look like once it’s here as no matter what, you’re sure to annoyingly post pictures/images everywhere. In a bid to show it off/feature it on your social networking sites. Is it a risk to try a homebirth/self-publishing? What if an emergency caesarean is needed/the printing goes horribly wrong? In the end, you shy away from it and decide to go the hospital/traditional route.

It is then that you seem to notice more people than usual in the same position as you stroke your bulging bellybutton/security pass whilst at the shopping mall/literature festival for you feel an automatic kinship with them. After having smeared cocoa butter on your stretch marks/read through it till you can’t stand the smell/see straight anymore, you must take a break and then do it once more for good luck. Meanwhile you have to give it your all to get the birth plan/proposal just right, since you are as prepared as you will ever be with your bag packed/three chapters enclosed etc., while you make your way to the maternity ward/post office. So with much fear/anticipation in the pit of your stomach, you wish for nothing more than to get this kid/package safely delivered into the right hands. The endurance of labour/waiting for replies is long and arduous for all, just as the painful contractions/rejections start hitting the nerves/heart with their hurtful jabs/words.

You think you cannot carry on because it is taking its toll on your very being, until you revise your thinking/work. Then, just as you give it one more push, the infant/agent is greeting you with open arms. And when you hold your precious child/contract in your shaking hands, you let out a sigh in relief. As you’re sure it was all worth it just to get to the reward stage for all your troubles being a healthy newborn/big cheque in the tiresomely worrying months that lay ahead for the first timer. You pray your little one/fiction will latch on properly/not sit on a desk being unread and unsold. Also that you can cope with the smelly nappies/correction notes before advocating breast is best/beta readers. But in the dead of night when you’re sleep deprived, you wish someone else could bottle-feed/rewrite the crying infant/sentence structures for you and that way you could nap instead.

You notice your mummy tummy/writer’s bottom and fret if you will ever be able to get rid of it. Only there are far more important things to dwell on like securing the best possible schooling/publishing deal one can muster. You must of course make the grade and bond with your son/editor or things could go downhill for all concerned. That is before you expose your offspring/novel to the judgement/critics of the world at large with a comment/review on your limited sense of style as regards to fashion/wording. Even the cliques/trolls that hang out at the Mother and Baby Club/on the internet cannot dampen your sense of achievement, so what if your child/book is not walking yet/a literary work of fiction. You are proud of your baby and that is what matters, right?

As you start to obsess over the development/advertising and become stressed if anyone dare suggest that you’re not doing it properly. Whereas, the toilet training/blogging become so important to you that you repeatedly check the potty/eBook sales to see if it has been used/rising up the charts at last. Days are drawn together and time flies by as you happily sit in the kiddie park/bookshop for the afternoon play/paperback launch where people come up to you and express what a wonderful job you have done as you cuddle/sign your pride and joy. Thereupon you start to think about doing it all over again, once the miserable memories subside and fade into oblivion.

Talk about a glutton for punishment/publication!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 1

The knife was waved around my face in a threatening manner and all I could think about was the fact that it hadn’t come out of the dishwasher clean enough (for I’ve been known to scrape off the odd bit of dubious substance from between the gaps of a fork before now and still use it). I suppose it was my own fault for squashing the carving knife in-between the glasses and cheese grater at the very last minute. In fact – no, if I recall correctly – it had already started to wash the other objects when I’d discovered the knife had been tossed in the stainless steel kitchen sink. And then, I’d shoved it in when everything inside was already dripping wet having gone through the first cycle (or is that term for washing machines only and it’s called a stage, as I’m not quite sure to be honest). Why is there always something that either gets left out or near as damn it every time I switch on the dishwasher, I’ll never understand this? For it’s not like I don’t give enough of a warning shout out to the lazy slobs beforehand that I’m about to load it and to bring everything to me that needs chucking in.

‘Give me the knife and stop being so stupid,’ I demand as it gets nearer and nearer to my cheek.

‘I want my Xbox back or it’ll be your fault if I get bored and turn to drugs,’ he replies as the knife actually touches me and feels cold against my skin.

‘There’s no point in me discussing it with you now, while you’re in this state. Besides, you can’t stab me with that thing, it’s dirty and I’ll die from infection. Don’t they teach you anything at school these days?’

‘What?’ He was confused enough by this statement to allow me the time needed to grab the knife from his grasp and move it out of harm’s way.

‘Now get to bed and sleep it off. We’ll talk about this later,’ I order and point the way with the knife as he scurries up the stairs, muttering to himself and throwing the odd swear word at me for good measure. Just as my husband walks through the front door and only catches the end of everything, of course.

‘What the hell are you doing, pointing a knife at our son? No wonder he’s moody, it’s your fault,’ says Craig and barges past me in the hallway with yet another computer held lovingly in his arms (I can’t remember the last time; he did the same thing to me).

‘Since when did I become the bad guy around here?’ I shout after him, but get no reply for my troubles since he ignores me, as per usual.

Anyway, my fifteen year old son was drunk by mid-morning. (It was an ‘inset’ day and what’s that all about? Is it just a modern excuse for teachers to take yet more holidays, like they don’t get enough already?) Anyhow, having stolen a bottle of vodka out of the globe cabinet (don’t laugh, it was the height of interior fashion when my late grandmother had purchased it) and he’d mixed it with the strong caffeine drinks that personally, I suspect he’s addicted to. He was angry, very angry that I had taken away his ‘Xbox’ because it was making him go all psychotic, actually on more than one occasion (okay, many, many numerous occasions) to the point of having a mental meltdown right in front of my eyes. And I say ‘Xbox’ because that’s what he’s got but I know of other mothers, who’ve complained about their children acting the same way with other similar consoles. So it’s a universal problem and not down to one machine or one particular game either.

And woe betide anyone who entered the ‘room of doom’ as I call it, for his bedroom has been painted dark grey with gory posters abounding the walls and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was into ‘black magic’ or ‘the occult’ or whatever they call it these days. And along with black, blackout curtains in a bid to pretend that he’s not living in the real world but some luxurious, comfortable cave somewhere. Only this particular dwelling place has a free and never ending supply of electricity/heating and hot water out of the sink in the corner, not to mention the obligatory internet access and large screen TV. It also comes with a handy delivery service (meaning the food and drink that I bring to the door for fear of him dying up there through malnutrition and they’ll only blame me if he does – being his mother because isn’t everything bad in the world – my fault since that’s what I’m constantly being told). It’s funny how none of my son’s stuff was sold to pay off debts since he convinced us that it wasn’t his fault that his parents have gotten themselves into such a mess. So why should he suffer too, anymore than he’s had to?

And add to this – the excellent laundry service which Ben feels entitled to which goes beyond the call of duty – when I risk a stint in casualty after stumbling over his array of items that litter the carpet and clambering across his gaming chair. I didn’t know it was the ‘rocker’ type until I found out the hard way when falling face first into a wet towel left on top of a pile of discarded tins. The towel by the way had been a joke present from his last birthday and it was white on one half which read, ‘face’ and brown on the other half which read, ‘bottom’. I bet you can guess which end I find myself breathing into all of a sudden? I also have to avoid the many trip wires of cables that lead to the ladder up the side of his bunk bed. I swear that it had deliberately been greased up the last time for I found hair gel on the third rung when I nearly slipped to the fate that awaited me, if it wasn’t for me having such upper body strength.

It still smells like something has died in there, for no amount of deodorant spray can mask it and believe me you even can smell that stuff from outside, with all the windows shut. I certainly could whilst standing at the bus stop down the road and thinking about it, I haven’t seen his friend Marcus for ages. And there is a pile of clothes, note, they were perfectly clean when they got tossed on there and now they’re covered in dust and debris because my son refuses to tidy them away into his cupboard. And I’ll be damned if I’m doing it – he has to learn to pick up after himself as so often stresses my father – while I put the knife back into the dishwasher. The clothes meanwhile linger on the top bunk along with a beanbag so perhaps, I should check just in case Marcus is buried under it. Saying that, my son wouldn’t notice if his friend was as long as he’s hooked up to the internet intravenous drip feed and thankfully on such occasions, he’s not in my face and being his usual obnoxious self that often makes my life miserable. Where did I horribly mess-up, is what I really want to know? My son can’t stand to be in the same room as me and wishes me dead; I know this for a fact because it’s all he ever says to me, especially, when I don’t have any spare money to give him.

It unfortunately is usually left up to me to deal with the disturbance of the peace and dare to tell him to keep the screaming, banging, smashing stuff up against the wall and swearing fits to a minimum for God knows what the neighbours are thinking. And frankly, I’m surprised that social services haven’t been called yet. But is torture by ‘games console’ a reasonable case for getting him put into care, unfortunately not and I gather it’s too late to get him adopted as well because nobody would have him. The way he’s heading, he’ll end up behind bars and I don’t mean working in a zoo, but I’d be glad of the break to be honest and I don’t suspect for a minute that I’m the only one having to put up with the ‘rage at this age’ mentality of the youth of today. Jeez, did our parents really have it this bad or are we guilty for not instilling enough discipline when they were younger and wanting them to have the best possible childhood which was totally free from oppression? Is it so wrong, to want to spoil your child to the point of them hating you in return? I didn’t ask for that.

Bring back capital punishment my father says, sorry, I meant corporal because it never did him any harm (I beg to differ). I recall being told about the cane (made of rattan) used across the backside and the strap (made from leather) used across the palm and the pump (otherwise known as a plimsoll) used across the back of the legs. Not to mention the ruler (made of wood) used across the palm or knuckles and finally the duster (chalkboard cleaner) used to get thrown at pupils who were talking in class or worse, asleep. Thinking about it – my father would bring back capital as well – since he’s always going on about why the taxpayers have to pay to keep people in jail because he’d half it straight away and turn it into a reality show where the public vote on who gets it. You decide! Scary, remind me never to encourage his political aspirations when he expresses that he might run for mayor of this town one day.

My husband Craig works from home, as an IT technician. So our place is full of hardware, software and any other paraphernalia to do with computing that you care to name. In fact, I like to think of it as a graveyard for all the old laptops and PC’s out there, because that’s exactly where they end up. As Craig is reluctant to part with any parts just in case he can build something out of it (I wish he’d make a time machine so we could travel back to the good old days when we had money in our pockets to spend and a change of scenery every now and then, as in, a holiday to make memories out of). I once complained about the amount of useless circuit boards stacking up in the dining room and he informed me that he was going to put frames around them and sell them as works of art for people to hang on their walls. The only thing I wanted to put round them was a bin bag, but he wouldn’t let me.

‘Aye, Fathead . . . if you’re quite finished in there, you can bring me the paper now that my programme’s ended,’ shouts my father from the comfort of his monster armchair in the living room. The big, leather beast with the built-in massage vibration and heater, also accommodates the obligatory footrest and head tilt that can be put into a sleeping position (being that this at least gives us some peace so he’s not bothering me in particular and I wish that he’d use it more often). It has a pocket for his reading material, remote control and a mini fridge. The only thing missing is a tea urn and loo and he’d be set for life.

‘I’ll be right in,’ I reply loudly and go in search of the husband instead.

‘Fathead, Fathead . . . what’s keeping you?’

‘He’s shouting for you again,’ said Craig, with his head buried in the latest machine to enter the workshop (otherwise known as the utility room just off the kitchen).

The unit that we rent from the ‘Red Room’ storage company houses not only our furniture and most of our other belongings which we couldn’t bring here but also, it has space for some of Craig’s leftover computer carcases that he can’t fit in anywhere else. Sometimes I muse that I’m going to leave him and go and live in the storage unit with all our lost memories. (I wonder if anyone has actually tried to take up residence within the red rooms, or would I be the first.) The greenhouse and shed in the garden are already full and if Craig could, he’d probably put some stuff in the coal bunker/outhouse and WW2 air raid shelter if they weren’t so damp and hard to get to, ever since the entrances became completely covered over by ivy and you wouldn’t know they were there if you didn’t already know they were there, if that makes sense. I think this is all getting a little out of hand and I’ll have to put a stop to it soon before my father notices that the loft is filling up too. (I mean, if the loft is full of computers then where will the two households of Christmas decorations go?)

‘You think I’ve gone deaf all of a sudden. I can hear him too you know. Where’s the newspaper that you were supposed to pick up on your way home?’ I ask as I look around in earnest for any sign of it.

‘Oh, that. I knew there was something else besides the cereal for his lordship upstairs and I completely forgot all about it. I mean, what’s with the paperboy going on strike?’ stresses Craig, as he grabs the nozzle of his small but mighty powerful vacuum cleaner and switching it to blow instead.

‘Christ, why do I have to see to everything around here?’ I retort as the switch button is pressed to on.

Craig thinks I can’t hear him say over the noise ‘well it is your father after all and not mine.’

‘And it’s our son that I have to deal with as well,’ I snap back and get a mouthful of dust for the pleasure as the insides of the computer are blown about the place, but mainly in my direction and I’d swear that he did it on purpose.

‘Fathead,’ my father shouts for one more time before I enter the living room.

By the way, that’s not my real name as its Wendy but he insists on calling me that and has done so for as long as I can remember. I like to think of it as a term of endearment and it has nothing to do with me having a freakishly, large sized head as my son keeps trying to make out. Whereas, my husband on the other hand takes great pleasure in often reminding me that my father actually means, I have no brains between my ears but a big, lump of fat instead. And everyone wonders why I didn’t do very well at school; maybe a severe lack of confidence had something to do with it. I mean if you’re always getting told how dumb you are, then pretty soon you start to believe it. My father had obviously never heard of ‘praise the child to raise the child correctly’ as it gives them a sense of being worthy and who knows what they’ll achieve then. Mind you, my old man likes to point out that my own son isn’t exactly turning out to be an angel. I don’t want an angel I tell him, since I’m not that religious. I just want some respect and then I get the lecture from him, on respect having to be learned and earned. My father makes me feel like I’ve let him down by getting into major debt and what’s to respect about that. I can’t win this argument so I don’t try anymore.

‘I’m sorry, Dad. But, Craig forgot the paper. How about reading a nice book, there’s a spy thriller one on the shelf over there that I haven’t seen you read. I’m sure you’d enjoy it if you put your mind to it.’

‘I have read it, years ago. Not that I can remember it . . . but that’s not the point . . . where’s the one that the paper lad normally brings?’

‘They’re on strike, more pay, better hours I expect.’

‘Don’t be ridicules, since when did paperboys have unions?’

‘If you’re that desperate to read something . . . how about reading my manuscript?’ I change the subject and ask in the vain hope that he will take me up on my offer, seeing as he hasn’t exactly been enthusiastic about it in the past.

‘I’m not reading that crap. Go out and get me my paper,’ he barked and I turn on my heel to obey, almost bowing in the process out of habit. I have the ‘mafia don’ in there and ‘his lordship’ upstairs to please, while the ‘cowardly lion’ in the back hides out of sight and certainly out of line of the firing squad.

I tut loudly to myself as I grab my bag, just as the late post get shoved through the letterbox. The heavy load that lands on the welcome rug is not so welcome, when it turns to rejection after rejection for my manuscript. I have slaved over that thing time and time again and still, I get the same reply. They tell you that there’s no point in approaching a publisher directly nowadays as everything is done by agents. Therefore, why should the publishing houses employ someone to do the job instead of having agents or their assistants more like wade through the ‘slush pile’ for nothing, hoping to find someone that they can take roughly 20% or thereabouts of the author’s earnings.

But it can get expensive, posting off three chapters and a query letter before paying for the privilege of them sending it back to you with thanks but no thanks attached and almost saying, ‘just go away and die, won’t you’ because sometimes that’s how rejection feels. That’s if they even bother to answer for most agents just send out the mandatory, printed form letter. I did get one female agent, who’d actually scribbled some handwritten words once on the bottom of my letter to her. It was so bad that even doctor’s notes are more legible and she was telling me that I was the one that couldn’t write. Well at least I could scribe a sentence and someone could decipher it I thought, but it didn’t stop that gut wrenching anxiety of being totally rubbish at everything I do from washing over me and very nearly sending me into a pit of depression. And what’s that all about, with the doctor’s handwriting skills? I mean, seven years at med school and they don’t teach you how to write out a note so that someone can clearly read it. No wonder there’s so many mistakes happening in hospitals.

My family all laughed at me when I announced that I wanted to be an author and get my writing published, because these types of things don’t happen to someone like me. Being only a remnant of a state comprehensive, high school educated in the eighties housewife. Why that practically makes me illiterate, because it’s a wonder I left there being able to write my own name (and spell it correctly) never mind a whole book (be it not a bestseller according to those agents or they would have taken me on, no problem and their client list wouldn’t be full and they’re currently looking for works in this genre etc). I’ve recently been sacked from my part-time cleaning stint in the school across town. How else was I to be able to afford the printing out of manuscripts, without the use of my employer’s facilities? It was the only work I could get – considering that I’m not particularly qualified to do anything else and my thieving of educational assets clearly cost me the job in the end – when they eventually found out. (How was I to know that their ink bill for the printer was more than the caretaker’s salary?) And I don’t expect I’ll get a very good reference from them either. But hey, who’s got time to be down about anything when there’s a trip to the newsagents to look forward to?

It was on my way to the shop when I took a detour and passed by the big house on the corner plot with the long, sweeping drive up the front of it (the mayor of the city lives next-door to it and a local, actor celebrity resides on the other side of this road). I can’t help but stop and gape through the huge, wrought iron gates. Only to feel even more dejected when the occupants come out and get into their ‘top of the range’ vehicles after kissing each other goodbye on the steps of the imposing porch. She is draped in designer dresses and diamonds and is pampered to the hilt. He’s well, still as handsome as I remember when he last kissed me like that on parting for the very last time, the day that I’d kicked him in the bollocks (not literally you understand but figuratively, since that’s what it must have felt like to him).

That should have been me, the wife of Benjamin Bendy. He turned into a superstar football player turned majorly successful businessman and now saviour of the young, when he opened his football academy and youth centre. He made it free to join for anyone under the age of sixteen with the right attitude and if we’re talking sport then the ability to shine. But I just couldn’t bring myself to be named Mrs Wendy Bendy (without feeling embarrassed). We were so in love, being childhood sweethearts from the beginning and practically as soon as we met in that classroom for an afterschool detention. We never shared any other lessons so we made a habit out of getting into trouble, just to spend more time together. By the way, Benjamin is also the natural father of my son Ben but only Craig and I know this as he agreed to raise the boy as his own. It was deemed as a blessing by Craig since we later found out that my husband is sterile, when we wanted to add to our family. This was also a blessing in disguise as it turns out because frankly, we couldn’t afford to have any more kids in the long run. So, I became Mrs Wendy Walliams (it could have been worse, for in school there was a lad that fancied me and everyone teased us that if we married I’d be ‘Wendy House’ and enough said on that subject I think you’ll agree).

I recalled the years I spent with Benjamin and that in those frantic teenage terms, every second counted and you desperately tried to grab them with both hands and not let go until you were both exhausted from devouring one another’s company to the limit even if you never spoke but just sat there looking at each other, because you didn’t need to communicate with anything other than your very being. Or failing that, until your parents/teachers/friends found out and deemed it a little bit too needy and slightly getting out of hand. We couldn’t understand of course why anything else mattered – why we couldn’t just ignore the world and carry on being with each other – because we didn’t need or want anything other than that. But when our normal lives started suffering through neglect, well, it was deemed that we were to carry on in secret and promised not to let everyone dictate our love or how we went about it. I was the one who forced him to leave me and go practice and play his best football; he did it for me as he wanted to impress me not the coaches/scouts. Nobody understood this at first and I was barred from the games but when his attitude suffered, only then was I allowed back.

If only I’d have said yes to his proposal but I was seventeen and he’d just turned eighteen. I had to get time off work from my job in a clothes shop (I was mad about fashion and stupidly thought that this was the start of a career in such) when he’d asked me on the afternoon that he’d scored the goal which won his team the cup in front of the entire stadium. I often wondered if he would have gone through with it, if they’d lost the game. The words were lit up on the screen and a microphone was hastily shoved in my face as even the press were in on it. I had no idea that Benjamin was planning anything of the sort and it did take me by surprise I must say. And nobody expected me to turn him down, least of all, me. And I have regretted it ever since, because we obviously split-up straight away as he graciously kissed my cheek in defeat and turned to walk away, indeed, to walk out of my life for good. I suppose at the back of my mind – I half expected him to get in contact and try to woo me back but he didn’t – as I guess ‘male pride’ has a lot to answer for. And not long after this, he’d married my best friend Beth when she found herself pregnant too after shagging him at a party (they were both drunk, according to everyone there). It took time but in the end, I forgave them as these things happen when you’ve both recently been dumped and finding comfort where you can.

On the rebound, I’d found Craig (literally for he was lost and asking for directions, being an outsider that wasn’t from round here). And him being older than me by five years, well, he seemed mature enough to handle us moving away to start a new life. I was once a lady of leisure, who was even on a charity committee but ended up as a lady who needed charity that cleaned the loos of the leisure centre which is attached to the high school. It wasn’t easy to forget the past and move on by any standards. And going through the bankruptcy of my husband’s ‘Bathrooms and Kitchens’ empire was the worst part – seeing as he’d lost his income before losing the house and having to pay off certain debts by selling nearly everything we owned including the cars and all my jewellery – some of which I’d been left by those who’d long since died. (I will never forgive him for this as it wasn’t worth that much and we could have surely managed without resorting to such measures.) You’d think that people would always need bathrooms and kitchens, wouldn’t you? They do obviously but only at much cheaper prices than we could afford to sell them because all our stuff was ‘Made in Britain’ and at one time that mattered to folk, not nowadays. And whatever happened to the ‘Buy British’ slogan as I guess we’re all guilty of buying foreign goods and not caring about the home economy until it hits home but by then, it’s too late.

I wouldn’t mind but I had spent an absolute fortune on that bloody garden too at our lovely, big house in the suburbs whilst getting it looking all perfect. I don’t know, somehow, I expected it to be our ‘forever home’ and living long enough to see the trees that I’d planted grow tall and strong. I’d even planned to have my ashes scattered amongst them, that’s how far into the future my soul was bound to that place. I went to the degree of digging one of them up but during the deed I had to lop off most of the roots, in order to bring it here with me when we’d moved in with my father. It didn’t last the winter in that pot.

I’d heard that not long after the new residents moved in, they’d ripped out all of my lovely plants and bushes from the front garden and completely paved it over to park more cars on the newly laid driveway. I don’t mind saying, it made me cry a little to think of it and picture it in my mind’s eye. And I bet they came across the burial site of a dead cat in the process, not that it was our pet but it was our neighbours and the metal name tag will reveal this to all and confirm my guilt. I’d accidently ran it over when I’d backed the car out of the drive. I couldn’t tell the neighbours because they’d hate me for killing their beloved animal, so I just buried it under the rhododendrons and said nothing. But I felt so ashamed when I saw them searching high and low for it that I went and got a bunch of flyers printed and even hand delivered them to every door in our neighbourhood (in the pouring rain). I’d certainly learnt my lesson, even if you do something that might upset someone; you have to man up about it and owning up is always the right thing to do, because even if they don’t forgive you, you can forgive yourself which is a start to a means to an end.

It’s not the same, living in someone else’s house even if they are your next-of-kin. As I haven’t been able to bring myself to touch the garden here for fear of all my hard work being taken away from me, once again. I can’t stand the wallpaper or the carpets, curtains or ornaments but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Because it’s not my home and I should just be grateful to have a roof over my head, is what I’m repeatedly told by my father when I offer to change anything. My son thinks that we’re ‘tramps’ and has called me so to my face, especially, when he wants something (that’s not even ‘very expensive’ is what he points out) and I have to remind him that we are still paying off debts and the last time I looked, still homeless. He hates us and blames us for forcing him to live like this and when I try to explain that it could be worse and mention others less well off. I get a torrent of abuse, in telling me how we have ruined his life. And if he does end up in the gutter, it won’t be because of anything he’s done but his parents are solely to blame for it. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for one’s own actions? This really is a ‘blameless’ society that we live in nowadays.

I can’t be bothered to walk any further up the road to what seems like the ‘last’ proper newsagents in our town that hasn’t been turned into something else as I wander into the car park of the local supermarket instead. Long gone are the handy corner shops on the end of every street and I’m guilty too – of using the big stores instead of the little ones and it is truly a case of use it or lose it – for our newsagent neighbour had to sell up and move away due to a severe lack of customers, who’d all preferred to buy in the giant ‘one stop shop’ instead. It is truly soulless in here as they go through a plethora of staff that lacks the friendly atmosphere of popping into little premises and chatting along the way with familiar faces. I grab at some papers to remove the top one and queue up behind an older lady, who not only has a basket brimming with stuff from this section but she has enough packets of sweets to feed an army of children for a week and then some. She must have a lot of grandkids.

‘They sell a very good dandruff shampoo here,’ says the

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