Door to Door

After numerous job offers, all of which were followed by a rejection once they found out about his past, Daniel is told by his work search advisor to go door-to-door to find work. Daniel has issues with this advice as cold callers are often met with suspicion, especially one who's currently on probation. He runs the idea past his probation officer, with whom he has a weekly meeting and the probation officer says that so long as he's honest, polite and prepared for plenty of rejections, there shouldn't be a problem with him going door-to-door to try to find odd jobs. “What kind of odd jobs?” Daniel asked.

“Anything really... weeding, sweeping leaves, cleaning.” the probation officer suggested. “Pack a rucksack with anything you think you'll need; a trowel and garden fork, maybe a pair of secateurs, a dustpan and brush, a roll of bin bags, dishcloths and dusters, a few cleaning sprays, one for glass and one for wood, maybe one for plastic... use your imagination.”

“And I’m supposed to charge them?”

“The point of the exercise is that you find work to earn money.” the probation officer replied. “If you spend an hour weeding or sweeping leaves then charge them seven or eight pounds... two hours, fifteen pounds.” he suggested. “Think minimum wage.” he added. “But you will get a lot of rejections and lots of doors slammed in your face. Just be polite. Don't be pushy and if you do get lucky, work hard and fast and thoroughly.”

“But... no one's going to let someone like me into their house... and I can't lie about why I'm going door-to-door.”

“Don't lie. Just tell them that you're an ex-offender struggling to find work and you've been sent door-to-door to satisfy your commitments in order to receive Universal Credit, otherwise you'll be sanctioned, which means at least six weeks with no payments.” his probation officer tells him.


The Nanny Van (a short story)

Very little goes unnoticed when you're living on a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs, and some middle aged and middle class couples have nothing better to do than to keep an eye on all the comings and goings on their quiet little street; people walking, someone mowing the lawn, a parcel being delivered, a car reversing from a driveway, kids playing or being noisy, a dog running free and so on. Nothing much happens in suburbia and little observations help keep the residents occupied and give them something to talk about.

“There's a van pulling up outside number fifty-four.” Harry mentioned to his wife.

“What sort of van?” Maud replied.

“Delivery van I guess.” he said.

“What colour is it?”

“Grey.”

“Does it say anything on the side?” Maud asked.

“I don't know! I can't see from this angle.” Harry impatiently retorted.

“Let's have a look.” Maud said, appearing by his side and peering out of the front bedroom window.

“There's some women getting out.” Harry remarked.

“Nannies... by the looks of them.”

“They look more like prison wardens.” The two women wore smart grey skirt suits, black nylons and sensible shoes. Maud insisted that they were nannies. “Why would they be going to fifty four?” Harry wondered. “Them kids are too old for a nanny.”

Karen's Café: part three

 New to this story?

You'll probably want to read parts one and two first.

~o0o~


The first thing I thought of when I woke was the weather. I checked the forecast before bed which stated that Wednesday was going to be 18ºC, but checking the forecast again, it's saying it's gonna be 19º now. “What if it reaches twenty?” I thought, knowing that the forecasts aren't always entirely accurate. Mum noticed that something was on my mind over breakfast, but I assured her I was OK. “Having second thoughts about joining in with the protest?” she asked.

“Kind of.” I said. “But it's stupid that we can't wear shorts when the girls can choose.”

“Boys can choose too.” Mum said.

“Yeah but...”

“And they all wear shorts under their skirts so it's not like you'd just be wearing a skirt.”

“Yeah I know.” I frowned. I tried to imagine what it would be like as I walked to school. I envisaged everyone giving me a second glance, and giggling at my legs, and wondered (worried) how I’d justify the fact that there's no hair on my legs. I considered mentioning the summer shorts protests to my friends, but thought better of it. They'd only think I was weird, or worse, so I kept it to myself all day.

The girl approached me after school and showed me a weather app on her phone. “You're sailing close to the wind, Simon.” she smugly told me.

The forecast said 18 last night.” I glumly replied. “I know.” she said. “It's supposed to be nineteen tomorrow.”

“And what if it turns out to be twenty?” I grimly asked.

“Well it wouldn't be fair if the forecast is wrong would it now.” she smugly replied. “I'll play by the rules if you will.” she said, telling me that whatever temp the weather forecast states the day before determines whether or not I wear a skirt the next day.

“But... what if it says twenty and it turns out only be eighteen?” I gulped.

“Then I hope you'll be wearing a skirt.” she told me. “It wouldn't be fair if the forecast is wrong.” she reiterated.

“But... what if we're looking at different forecasts?” I asked. “The weather on the BBC isn't always the same as ITV.”

“Tell you what... give me your number so I can text you the forecast from my weather app.”

“I'm not giving you my number!” I retorted.

“Just so you know I'm not cheating.” she replied.

“Huh... cheating?!” I sneered. “You're blackmailing me!” I snarled.

“It's hardly blackmail... there's no money involved.” she replied.

“What is it then?” I growled.

“Encouragement.” she answered. “We love it when the boys wear skirts and I think there should be more of it.” she told me.

The Pageboy


“Mum?” I asked. “How old should a pageboy be?”

“Any age.” Mum said.

“But how old are they usually?”

“About six or seven I guess.” Mum replied. “Why?”

“Because when I tell people that I'm going to be the pageboy at Natasha's wedding, they keep saying I'm too old.” I told her, slumping my chin into my fist and sighing. “...and if they're usually six or seven... then I'm way too old.”

“You're only eleven.” Mum replied.

“But I'll be twelve when Natasha gets married.”

“You'll still be a boy and that's the only qualification you need.” Mum smiled. “You're going to look ever so smart.” she smiled.

“I don't even know what I'm wearing yet.” I replied.

“Neither does Natasha but she's still keen on a short suit of some sort.”

I puffed out my cheeks and sighed. “So long as she doesn't make me wear white knee socks.” I grumbled, recalling a potential outfit my sister showed me a while back; a royal blue velvet waistcoat over a white shirt, with narrow velvet knee length shorts. The waist coat and shorts looked pretty bad but the boy modelling it also wore girls white knee socks and shiny black shoes. I disapproved of the velvet outfit but detested the girlie knee socks.

“It's Natasha's big day so you'll wear what she chooses.” Mum reminded me. “Think yourself lucky that she's not asking you to be a bridesmaid.”

The Guardian


A very short story inspired by a picture by Vancy.
It's a bit grim!
:(

~o0o~

A mother and her son are moving across the country, From Catterick to Cornwall. Their estate car is packed to the brim with boxes and cases, the roof rack too. As the mother is strapping the last few things to the roof rack, the new tenants of their home arrive and they chat. Mum introduces herself as Maggie and amongst the small talk, tells them that she lost the boy's father in Helmand six months ago, hence the move.

The boy appears at the open front door, holding a vacuum cleaner. “Maggie!” he hollers. “I've finished the hoovering, does this need to go in the car?” he asked.

“No that belongs to the house Peter.” his mother replied.

“He uses your first name... how modern.” the woman says.

“I'm his step-mother.” Maggie replied. “Peter's mother left when he was five and I met his father when he was six.”

“Oh I see.” the woman says. “And how old is he now?”

“Eleven.”

“So for all intents and purposes, you are his mother.”

“I like to think so.” Maggie smiled. “He doesn't remember his real mum and I'm all he has now.”

“Oh bless him... it can be easy losing his father at his age.”

“No but he's tough. Like his Dad, a real trouper.” Maggie smiled.

“Here he comes.” the woman said as Peter exited the house.

Karen's Café: part two


You might want to read part one if you haven't done so already

~o0o~



I'd agreed to work in my sister's café for a few weeks to provide cover over the Easter holidays. This comes as a great relief to my sister as she's been struggling to find cover, and my mother's happy that I've found myself a part time job, even though it is only temporary. It means Mum won't have to give me any pocket money for a while and I’ll get seven pounds an hour which will add up to around one-hundred pounds a week... that's a whole lot more than the ten pounds pocket money I currently get. I've no idea what I'm going to spend it on; video games, movies, music, apps or maybe save up and buy a PS4 or a swanky e-bike, or a maybe a huge TV for my bedroom. I'm getting giddy just thinking about the money... but the prospect of working in my sister's café is beginning to fill me with dread.

I was feeling reluctantly confident when my sister talked me into it, but that was yesterday and today, all I feel is reluctant. My confidence ebbed away over night and in the cold light of day, the idea of working as a waitress when I’m a fifteen year old boy doesn't seem like such a good idea after all. I express my concerns over breakfast and Mum tells me I've nothing to worry about; no one will bat an eyelid. My sister reminds me of not only how great I looked when I tried the uniform on, but also the fact that I admittedly liked wearing it. I wash my face and brush my teeth and despite having removed all my make-up before bed, I can still see a trace of the eye-liner and foundation I wore. Not only that... my sister tidied my eyebrows a little and I'm worried that they now look a little too feminine. At least my long floppy fringe covers them most of the time, but I'm still worried about them.

Marty's New Look


Within minutes, the likes and comments began. I didn't want to update my profile picture and I certainly wasn't a cross-dresser... but my sister blackmailed me into doing it. The alternative would have been worse and there's no way I'm going to say what that was. Initially the reactions were 'likes' and 'loves' but it didn't take long for the laughing smilies, the wows and angry faces to start appearing, along with some derogatory and downright abusive comments. "Please let me change it back Laura!" I pleaded. "I've got people saying they're going to give it me up the ass and asking for blow jobs."

"No... the deal was a month." my sister stubbornly reminded me. "You can report the abusive comments to FaceBank and they'll be removed... but your profile picture stays." she replied. I hung my head. "Don't worry... your secret's safe with me... providing you pay the price."

"It's only been twenty minutes... a whole month of these sorts of comments is going to be a nightmare!"

"Most of them are nice... and you must admit you do look cute." she grinned. "Anyway it'll die down after a few days, you know how fickle FaceBank is."

"But everyone's going to see it... mum, dad, gran, uncles, aunties, cousins." I listed.

"Friends, neighbours... everyone." my sister proudly added. "What are you going to tell them?" she wondered aloud. "I very much doubt you'll tell the truth... and if you tell anyone that it's got anything to do with me, the deal's off, remember!"

Christmas yet to come...


It's December and the high street is lavishly decorated with festive lights and Christmas trees. The shop window displays feature Santa outfits, snowflakes, reindeer, elves, candy canes and gift boxes and all sorts of festive décor. Mark is shopping with his mother who frequently comments on the outfits in the shop windows. “I wish they had things like that when you were little.” she said, admiring a display of Santa's Little Helper outfits on some boy mannequins in the window of Debenhams. Mark said they did but they were for girls. “Not many girls wore dresses when you were little.” she reminded him. “I wonder if they do them for older boys.” she mused.

“I'm not going to dress like Santa's Little Helper mum!” Mark whined. “I'm fifteen.” he reminded her. The mannequins, depicting boys aged about eight or nine wore an elf themed red and green frocks with red & green stripy tights and a stupid looking hat with bells. Another wore a pair of green dungaree shorts with a red blouse and lace collar, with the same stripy tights, and the third wore a bright red Santa dress with fur around its hems and plain white tights. They're OK for little kids, Mark thinks, but teenagers don't do fancy dress if they can help it.

Inside one of the stores, his mother points out a sweatshirt with 'Just a Boy' embroidered in a graffiti style font on the front. His mother says it's nice. “It's horrible.” Mark whined. The sweatshirt is white but the design is in purple and lilac and the 'o' of boy is a heart shape. His mother says it's 'sweet' and Mark reminds her that he's fifteen and far too old for clothes like that. His mother points out a padded down jacket. “That looks nice and warm.” she said. It might look warm, Mark thought, but that shade of pastel purple is far too nice, and the fake fur around it's hood is the palest pink. Mark doesn't like it.

His mother picked up a hat, gloves and scarf set. Pink, lilac and baby blue stripes shouldn't belong in the teen boys department but they do.“This is cute.” his mother smiled. That's exactly what's so bad about it, Mark thought. Too many boys clothes these days are cute and strolling the boys department with his mother is always embarrassing, especially when she insists on just looking at the limited selection of skirts and frocks that seem to have been commonplace for a few years now. Thankfully there's still plenty of traditional boys clothes and Mark's mother knows what he prefers, but she always describes them as plain and boring when buying him something that he likes. “We may as well get you some undies whilst we're here.” she said.

“OK.” Mark apathetically replied. “Just don't get me any more nice ones... I’ve got loads already.” 

Karen's Café


I was only going to post one more story this year and I'm saving that for Christmas.
BUT... since my blog is about to pass the milestone of TWO MILLION page views

I feel it's necessary to give my readers a little something extra to celebrate. 

I've been trying to write this story for several years with varying degrees of failure.
It's one I've really struggled to finish and it's still not finished. This is chapter one.

I hope you enjoy it. I'll work on the second half in the new year. 


Rock Chicks


My sister managed to get her hands on four tickets to see AC/DC at the EnormoDome. I was really jealous because they'd sold out in minutes and being almost sixteen, I didn't have the money to book one... and even if I did, Mum reckoned I was a little too young for such a big concert venue.

On my sixteenth birthday my sister gave me a card along with an apathetic apology for not getting me a gift to go with it. I was a little disappointed. She normally buys me a CD or something but this time she gave the impression that my sixteenth birthday wasn't important... certainly not important enough to warrant spending more than a pound or two on a birthday card. Of course I feigned gratitude as I peeled the envelope open... but felt utterly disappointed having only received a card from her. I opened the card to read her message and couldn’t believe my eyes... for there, inside the card is one AC/DC ticket for the EnormoDome in six weeks time. 




I was over the moon that I'd be going along with my sister and her friends and could barely contain my excitement... in fact I couldn't!

“Now there are conditions Matty.” my sister told me.

“Yeah I know... no drinking, keep away from the mosh pit.” I said.

“Definitely no drinking!” she said, winking at me.

Mum surprised me and said I could drink if I wanted, providing I was sensible. “But please don't wonder off... I know how hard it is to find people in a place like that... you pop to the loo and spend about an hour trying to find your place in the crowd again.”

Who'd be a Boy?


Luke got himself his first job working as a hotel porter for the prestigious Marrion Hotel chain. He arrives in good time on his first day, clean shaven, wearing his brand new trousers and shirt, hoping to make a good first impression. He knows there's a uniform provided as he's already been measured for it. It's just a jacket to wear with his own smart trousers and freshly pressed shirt and even if it's a horrible colour, he knows it could be worse. The Waldorf hotel chain had recently decided to make their room attendants wear traditional chambermaid's uniforms and in recent years some of the big cleaning agencies begun making their staff wear housekeeping dresses... and with that in mind, Luke tried his very best to avoid applying for any cleaning jobs. He practically skipped all the way to the Marrion Hotel on the outskirts of town. It was a secure job, not well paid but not many are for boys and men these days. Luke's under no illusions, he knows it will be boring, just carrying bags for the guests and not much else, but it's not a cleaning job and that's the main thing!