Work Experience

  Being in my fifth and final year of high school, I had to do one week of work experience and my mother said I could do it at the agency she manages. the other kids in my class did similar; one working with his dad on a building site, another at his mother's pie shop, one at the factory his dad works at... so there was nothing all out of the ordinary that I'd do my week at the travel agency where my mother works. It's on the high street in town and most people only see the shop on the ground floor. What they don't realise is on the two floors about are two busy telesales offices where the 'girls' make and take bookings. That's where Mum works and that's where I'd be working too. There were some forms to fill in for insurance and what-not that had to be signed by parents, teachers and the employer, plus guidelines to adhere to... and once all that was sorted, Mum told me that since all the 'girls' wear tights and heels, I would too.

Of course I was mortified, convinced she was teasing me to begin with... but it was 1985 and if an employer said that their staff must wear three inch stilettos, tights and a skirt suit then that's what their staff had to wear. And since many such places were staffed solely by women, there was no such thing as a male dress code, at least not where my Mum worked anyway.

Mum had me practising in high heels for over a month beforehand; every day after school and all day on Saturday, and that's when she made me try on some tights and a dress too. I hated the tights but Mum said I'd get used to them, and they did feel a lot better once I had shaved my legs which, somewhat ironically I thought, Mum told me I wouldn't need tights. "What?!" I exclaimed. "You told me to shave my legs so my tights wouldn't itch and now I've shaved my legs you're telling me that I don't have to wear tights now?" I ranted.

A Christmas to Remember (part two)

 This is part 2 of A Christmas to Remember.

Read part 1 here


After warning me that the first dress I'll be given to wear will be deliberately prissy,
Dad told me that every dress after that won't seem quite so bad.

“That's what Mum said too. She bought me some lacy knee socks to wear with it and they're bad enough.” I told him. Dad said I was being dropped in at the deep end and assured me it would get better. “I hope so.” I glumly replied.

I also asked my sister if she would be at work the next day. “No got the day off.” she told me. “But I will be out from mid morning so I won't see you in your first dress.” she frowned.

“Phew!” I replied. “Do you know which one it is?”

Anna nodded. “I didn't like it much but it is very pretty.”

“Apparently so.” I sighed.

Dad would likely have set off for work by the time I rose on Sunday so we said our goodbyes before I went to bed. When I did wake the next day my sister was around, chatting with Mum in the master bedroom as I exited the bathroom. “I'm sure it was for a christening.” she said, to which Mum countered with it being the dress she got to wear for a wedding anniversary. Anna glanced at me as I passed. “Have you seen it yet?” she asked me.

“My dress?” I knowingly gulped, shaking my head as she nodded.

“Can he see it yet?” Anna asked Mum.

A Christmas to Remember (part one)

It was a week before Christmas. I returned home from school and warmed my freezing hands by the fireplace. “Mum.” I said. “Jonny's Mum said I could go to their house on Boxing Day to play video games.” I excitedly told her. “Can I go?” I asked.

“We'll be at Auntie June's on boxing day.” she told me. “You can visit Jonny after we get back.”

“In the evening?”

“No on the twenty-eighth.” Mum replied. “So maybe the day after that... if it's OK with Jonny's mum.”

“You mean we're going to stay Auntie June's?” I quizzed.

“Yes. From Sunday. I did tell you.” Mum claimed.

“You said we were going over Christmas but I thought that was just for the day.” I replied.

“No love, we're going to stay over Christmas, from the twenty-third to the twenty-eighth.”

“But that's a whole week!”

“Almost, yes.”

“Why?” I asked. “We usually just go for the day.”

“I know but you're dad's working over Christmas and he's got a lot of night shifts, and so has Anna.” Mum told me. “I'm certain I told you.”

“You did but you didn't say we were going for a week!”

“I'm sure I did.” Mum replied. I recalled what Mum had told me about the Christmas arrangements this year and figured that maybe she had told me, but I must've got the wrong end of the stick. When Mum said we were going to her sister's over Christmas, I thought she meant for one day over Christmas like we do every other year. And she didn't mention my Dad would be working a string of night shifts, which isn't unusual since he's a hospital doctor and works long hours both day and night. My big sister Anna is a nurse and will also be working all sorts of unsociable hours over the Xmas period, which means it'll just be me and Mum visiting her sister June and my cousins Peter and Jasmine.

I considered the prospect of a week at my Aunt's house. “It's gonna be weird coz I'll be the only boy.” I grumbled.

“Peter's a boy as well you know!” Mum bluntly told me.

“Yeah but he's...” I retorted before quietening my voice to a mere whisper. “...petticoated.” I gulped.

“He's still a boy despite his clothing.” Mum said. “Which raises the subject of what you're going to wear whilst we're there.” she added.

The Runaway

Fleeing his horrible stepmother to spend time with his real mother, William attempts to hitch-hike all the way to Gallopton in Hopshire; a journey more than three-hundred and fifty miles from his home overlooking the Solway in Cumberland. Navigating with a road atlas stolen from the grounds keeper's car and sticking mostly to back roads, it takes almost all day to travel no more than 50 miles. It's mid-summer and the nights are short and warm so he camps out in a barn and continues his journey early the following morning. He walks for hours fuelling himself with the last of the food he purchased the previous day; that being two small sausage rolls, a chocolate bar and a can of cola. He is eventually picked-up at around 8.30am by a friendly woman in a clapped out old car. “Where are you going young man?” she asked. 

“Erm... Hefferton.” he replied. 

“I'm going as far as Oakford if that's any use?”

“Yeah I guess.” he replied. 

“Well jump in then.” she said. “My name's Vicky.” she told him. 

“Hello... I'm, err... Andrew.” he told her.

No Surprises

“Kenny Linch is getting a Play Station 5 for Christmas.” I mentioned to my mother over breakfast one morning.

“Lucky boy.” my mother replied. “I hope his parents can afford one. They're still not cheap.”

“I know.” I replied. “The FIFA game is like sixty-five quid!”

“Hmm.” Mum replied as she buttered her toast. “Remember what we talked about before your birthday?” she said. “I don't want you getting your hopes up this year.”

“No.” I replied, glaring glumly for a moment into my cereal bowl.


A few days later. It's break time at school and me and a couple of friends are sheltering in a doorway, keeping out of the icy biting wind. Robert said he was hoping to get a gravel bike for Christmas and Peter said he'd got a CX bike for his birthday. “I'd like a PS5 but my folks can't afford one.” he added.

“Kenny Linch said he's getting one.” I commented.

“I'm surprised he hasn't already got one. His Dad's loaded!” Robert claimed.

“So what you getting for Christmas?” Peter asked me.

“Petticoated.” I bluntly replied. His eyes widened and Robert's jaw dropped.

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?”


“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.


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!


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?”


“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


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!"