...a few new captions

A handful of captioned images taken from vintage sewing pattern covers and catalogue pages.

The Evacuee

The story of an evacuee that begins in the autumn of 1940... 10 year old Billy says a tearful goodbye to his mother before boarding the bus to who-knows-where. All the other kids are just as nervous as Billy, even more so when they arrive at the small church hall in a remote town somewhere well away from the city. They stand in line waiting to be picked and some of their potential hosts inspect them as if inspecting livestock, picking the healthiest and cleanest looking ones first. Poor Billy was always one of the last to be picked for football games and he's one of the last today. A stern looking middle aged lady arrives late and is 'furious' that all the 'decent' children have been claimed. “Is this all you've got left?” she snaps at the billeting officer as she sneers at the three remaining children. The lady reluctantly picks the tatty looking red haired girl next to Billy, before entering into a heated debate about whether or not she should take Billy too. “You did put your name down for two children Mrs Postlethwaite.” the billeting officer reminds her. In the meantime, the smallest child is taken in by a family who've agreed to take four instead of three evacuees. The billeting officer pleads with Mrs Postlethwaite but the lady refuses to budge.

“I said I could house two girls at the most and you've only got one!” Mrs Postlethwaite retorted. “I don't like boys, I don't trust boys, and I have no intention of housing one... especially a scratty street urchin like that!” she says as a well manicured nail points directly at Billy.

Halfway House

Lawrence has recently been taken out of foster care due to him turning 16 years of age, and has been residing in a residential housing scheme for the last five months. It's a kind of 'halfway house' which helps youngsters make the transition between foster care and living by their own means. The halfway house provides a stable and secure living environment and helps its residents to find work or a suitable college course and assists in finding permanent accommodation outside of the welfare system. Lawrence's current halfway house is called Elm Tree House and is more geared towards residents with mental health and disability issues, but it was the only one in the area which had an available place so that's where Lawrence ended up. It's not a bad place by any means and like most of these types of residential housing schemes, the aim is to get their residents to eventually move out and learn to live an independent life.

House Rules

Aunt Katinka was always a staunch advocate of petticoating and claimed that it was commonplace in ‘the old country’. It’s not at all common here in Blighty, apart from at Aunt Katinka’s house. My mother used to send me to stay with her a few of times a year as a child and spent every moment having to abide by her unusual house rules.

From the moment I arrived I'd be buttoned into a dress and if I showed even the slightest hint of objection, she'd swap my knickers for a nappy which wouldn't be changed until bed time. She didn't make me wear girls clothes every day. Some days I wore my own clothes but always over my knickers, or if I’d been disobedient, over a nappy. To begin with I suffered terrible nappy rash but I soon learned to shut up and put up as I'd rather spend my days wearing a pair of knickers than a nappy.

My mother knew exactly what went on but insisted that petticoating was harsh yet harmless. At least my mother didn't petticoat me at home, nor did she ever threaten me with it. However if I ever played up or got in trouble, my mother would threaten to send me to stay with Aunt Katinka when school broke up. “She'll happily have you every school holiday and half term if need be!” I recall my mother saying. The visits to Aunt Katinka's stopped when I left school and so did the petticoating... thank god!

Now I’m an adult and I'll be staying with Aunt Katinka again for a few weeks, but only until I sort myself somewhere permanent to live. The last thing I expected was for her to pick up where we left off all those years ago!

My First 'Mixed' Girl's School

Having grown up in Ashford, where one school on the far side of town had adopted the policy of 'educational petticoating' several years ago, I knew that some schools were less desirable than others, especially for boys. Educational Petticoating schools (or 'mixed' girl's schools) are becoming increasingly popular these days, with seemingly every large town or city having at least one, so when my mother booted up Google Maps to show my sister and I the location of a our new house and our new school in the new town we'd be moving to, I asked “It's not one of those schools where the boys wear the same uniform as the girls is it?”

“Nooo.” my mother replied. “The boys and girls have separate uniforms.”

“Phew!” I replied. “Told you!” I cockily said to my sister who, only a few days previously had claimed that our new school is a 'mixed' girl's school. I was 95% certain that she was only trying to wind me up because she knows how much I'd hate it.

“Told me what?” Julia smugly asked.

“That it's not a mixed girl's school.” I retorted.

“Actually Matthew, it is a mixed girl's school.” my mother stated.

“What?!” I blurted as she clicked on the school and followed a short cut to its website. “But you just said...” I stammered as she clicked through to the uniforms page and...

PA for a Day

WTF is going on? You may ask... Well... my mother works for herself and for no other reason than trying to impress one of her clients, she claimed that she had a Personal Assistant to help manage her diary, run errands, keep her topped up with coffee and so on. It was one of those innocent white lies until this particular client wanted a face to face meeting to discuss a new contract, and the client insisted that Mum's PA also attended the meeting. The fact that her PA didn't exist was a big problem, and it was my idea that Mum simply gets someone to pretend to be her PA. The last thing I expected was that it would be me!

Should Our Menial Males Man Up?

The image above has been published in Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home, Marie Claire, OK!, Woman's Weekly, Cosmopolitan and many other periodicals, and it's been causing quite a stir! It's part of the pressure group Extreme Equality's latest campaign and a retort to the pro-separatist stance on what has been dubbed the genderquake. The pressure group's founder and former starlet Charlotte Chapel has repeatedly claimed that the pro-separatist movement are 'relics from the stone age' and 'a bunch of sad little misogynists who need to wake up'. Chapel claims that the latest Extreme Equality campaign highlights the positives and negatives of the genderquake in a simple and succinct manner. “It's designed to promote the debate as much as it's designed to change opinion.” she states. “It's really no big deal when a guy is told to wear a specific uniform, paint his face or shave his legs... it wasn't a problem when the girls had to do it and its not a problem now... and this poster highlights that.


I arrived home from school to find my dad sitting at the kitchen table with his laptop. Being an average dad, he hasn't got a clue about modern technology so his laptop is really my laptop. He usually needs me to help him turn it on and then point to the browser or email shortcuts and guide him through whatever he wants to use it for... so seeing him using it without assistance was something of a surprise. I asked him what he was doing and he replied, “Oh just doing a bit of surfing.”

I had a mooch over and peered over his shoulder. He was looking at the BBC news website. “You managed to turn it on then?” I sarcastically stated.

“No.” he replied, “It was already turned on so thought I'd have a play.”

“Well I'm sorry to spoil your fun Dad but... I'll need it for my homework in a bit.” I told him. Dad was oblivious to the fact that I spent most of my time online just surfing a variety of websites, blogs and video streaming services. I pretend that I use it primarily for study and Dad is none the wiser.

“No worries.” Dad replied. I set off to my room to change out of my school clothes. “Oh before you go David... can you just explain something to me.” Dad said. I hovered behind him as he flicked through the various tabs on the browser before he found the one he was looking for. “What's all this?” he asked.

I lent forward, gulped and began thinking of excuses. “Dunno.” I said. “Looks like a load of anonymous comments to me.”

“They're not your comments then?” he asked.

Trying to be convincing, I scan read a few of them, shook my head and said “No.... dunno who's they are.”

“Fair enough.” dad replied. “It's just this one says the name's Dave.” he said, tapping on the screen.

My Surrogate Sister

This is a follow-up to A Surrogate Sister, which you may want to read first. This story begins five years after George and Andrew's youngest brother Peter became Sophie, and is told in flashback form from Andrew's point of view.
Also, I'd better warn you that it's nearly 40,000 words long!

Being at college is loads better than being at school. There's no uniform for a start, the subjects are more interesting, there's no PE, RE or IT to endure and I've made a few new friends too. It's not uncommon for a handful of us to go down by the creek and sit talking, smoking and generally killing time between our classes. Today I sit with Bekah and TJ... and as usual, TJ is moaning about his parents. I wouldn't mind but his folks are loaded and all his supposed problems can be attributed to him being a spoilt little brat who's struggling to grow up. He's a nice enough guy but sometimes I wish he'd give his 'my parents are so unfair' mantra a rest. I guess Bekah was also at the end of her tether with his incessant whining because she told him that he has no idea just how lucky he is. She described her own home life which leaves both of us speechless. She grew up with an alcoholic mother and an abusive yet mostly absent father. Any nice clothes she had were second hand and she endured years of teasing and taunting at school for being scruffy, spotty, speccy and so on. Once she'd informed TJ just how bad growing up could be in a broken home where money is scarce, he shut his mouth. “What about you Drew?” she asked me. “Your Mum's a single parent isn't she?”

I nodded and Bekah asked what she's like. “She's OK I guess. She used to be a bit mad but...”

“My Mother's bonkers!” TJ interupted. “She even irons socks... and if there's one thing I can't stand it's creases in my T shirt sleeves...” Bekah and I shared a sly grin and rolled our eyes as TJ resumed his rant about how bad his life in a cushy middle class home is. We let him rant away though, and thankfully mid-rant, he realised that he was supposed to be somewhere and darted off.

"See ya tomorrow TJ." we said in unison.

“Poor lad... having creases in his T shirt sleeves.” Bekah giggled. “My mum didn't even have an iron and if she did she'd have pawned it for a bottle of gin.”

This made me laugh out loud but it wasn't funny. “Sorry. It's the way you said it, not what you said.”

“Ah it's OK... I could write a book about my mother's drunken antics” she replied.

“So...” Bekah asks after short yet comfortable silence. “When you say your Mum was a bit mad... how do you mean?”

After seeking her assurance that she wouldn't tell anyone, I said “Well, she wasn't a psycho or schizo or anything like that.. but she did make me and my brother wear dresses.” I gulped before defensively adding, “Not all the time... just occasionally.”

“Wow!” Bekah exclaimed as she lit two cigarettes and passed one to me. “I wasn't expecting that.”

“Thanks.” I said as I took the lit cigarette from her, “It was pretty weird.” I added before taking a long deep toke of my ciggy. I didn't want to reveal everything to Bekah... in fact I wasn't sure I should be revealing anything to her, but it feels good to talk and she seems as if she's capable of listening without prejudice.

“So... how come your Mum made you wear dresses?” she asked. “Was it a punishment thing?”

“No nothing like that.” I replied. “My younger brother went to high school in Crickley...” I began.

“Which one?” she asked.

“Malham Hall.” I cautiously replied.

“I had a feeling you were going to say that.” she replied, “It's a very good school.”

“Not if you're a boy it ain't.” I retorted before taking another drag of my fag. “Well...” I backtracked. “...it is a good school I suppose... it's just the boy's uniform isn't so good.” I said. I didn't tell her that my mother turned Peter into a girl and insisted we called him Sophie as she didn't need to know about that, but did tell her about him having to dress like a girl for school as that is the precursor to Mum making me wear dresses. “My big bro and I used to tease him something rotten.” I confessed. “But we were just picking on an easy target.”

“So... your brother went to Malham Hall...” Bekah said. “...and you went to Broadoak Road, which isn't an EP school?” she quizzed, adding “Educational Petticoating” for clarity. I nodded and she continued. “So... how come you ended up wearing dresses then.”

I sighed. “I dunno... it just sort of happened.” I replied. “You promise you won't tell anyone?”

Bekah assured her confidentiality and dug a little deeper. I cast my mind back five years to that fateful summer when it all began...


Peter and his sister Laura walk to school one sunny Monday morning. As usual, she has her smart phone in her hands and is texting her friends, probably telling them that she's walking to school and will see them in class shortly. Peter couldn't understand why she sent so many pointless texts. It's almost as if she has to use every last one of them before her monthly allowance expires. They enter the school gates and soon part company, heading to their respective form rooms.

When Peter enters his form room, a good third of his classmates burst out laughing. He's clueless as to what they're laughing at. Maybe he's got shaving foam left on his chin, dried toothpaste around his mouth or is having a really bad hair day. As Peter takes his seat, his classmates start to whisper amongst one another and the giggling and sniggering spreads like wildfire. “What?!” he asks when people give him funny looks and throw sly comments in his direction.

The poor lad is the last to know that he's changed his Facebank profile picture and shared it with everyone... EVERYONE! And by the sound of it, everyone's been sharing it with everyone else. It's morning break when he's finally shown his latest update on Facebank, the new profile picture has been shared 107 times, has 243 likes and a handful comments. The fact that he didn't change his Facebank profile picture is irrelevant, as it's clearly him wearing red lipstick and a blonde wig in the very close and very clear image.