Posted by: almckillop | May 23, 2010

Where have I been?

Well, actually my excuse is that I have moved lock, stock and barrel to Australia! Not a small undertaking as I’m sure you will agree, and now beginning to settle in to our new lives here.

Consequently I’ve not had much time for writing but I am looking forward to sharing some new stories in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, you can follow my Aussie Adeventure at my other blog – My businessman’s belly down under

Have fun

Posted by: almckillop | July 10, 2009

Fiction Friday

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I haven’t posted anything for a few weeks – and to be honest I wrote this story a little while ago for a local writers group. It had to contain the line “I can’t believe he said that!”  However, I think it still fits with this weeks topic ” Write about a misunderstanding between three people.”

It is a bit different in genre from my usual stuff – slightly chick lit – but don’t let that put you off !!!!

Here we go then:

“I can’t believe he said that.”

Julie looked at Carol, knowing full well that whatever she said in reply was going to begin a one sided conversation, with Carol taking the opportunity to go off on one of her rants.

Carol stared at her, demanding a response.

Julie gave in.  “Who?” she said, trying to be as non-confrontational as possible.

“You know who,” snapped Carol.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t. You could mean Gordon Brown, George Bush or the Dali Lama for all I know.”

“Don’t be stupid. I hate it when you are trying to be smart. Why can’t you just have a normal conversation?”

“I wasn’t trying to be smart,” said Julie. “Just tell me who you are talking about and then we can start the conversation.” Although she already had a fair idea who was going to be the brunt of Carol’s verbal tirade.

“James of course.”

“Oh, why didn’t you say so?” James was Carol’s new boyfriend. They had been going out together for a month and gave the impression that they were totally loved up. In fact this evening was the first time Carol had come out to the pub alone since James had appeared on the scene. But there was always the chance he was going to turn up later to join them.

Julie thought she better clarify the situation. “So what did he say?”

Carol took a large gulp of her Sauvignon Blanc and sat forward so she could speak more directly to Julie.

“Well, yesterday,” Carol started, “We were walking in town together and I went to cross the road. Of course I was looking at James instead of at the traffic. I had only stepped out off the kerb when this maniac in one of those stupid little two-seater town cars nearly mows me down. I mean she must have driven straight at me. Well I jumped back of course and I must have just got out the road, but she hit my handbag.”

Carol paused for effect and to take another gulp of wine. She was doing her best to look distressed but Julie was having none of it, she has seen it all before. Before Julie could say anything, Carol carried on where she had stopped.

“So I yelled at the bitch, but she just kept on going and ignored me. Well, I was raging and when I looked at James he was just laughing. That made me even more annoyed, so I shouted at him ‘Why didn’t you stop me stepping out?’. And do you know what he said?”

“No, I don’t know what he said,” sighed Julie.

“Well, you won’t believe this. He said, and I quote, ‘If I wanted to get rid of you, I would get more sympathy shags if you were knocked down and killed than I would if I just dumped you.’”

Julie was taking a sip of her wine at that point, but she spluttered it out as she tried to stop laughing.

“What are you laughing at?” demanded Carol. “It isn’t funny. He either wants to dump me, but would prefer it if I died so he could shag his way through the funeral party!”

It took Julie another minute and a few paper handkerchiefs to wipe up the wine she had spluttered on to the table before she regained her composure.

“Well, I think you are taking it too seriously. He didn’t say he wanted to dump you, and I sure he isn’t going to push you under a bus.”

Carol sat back in her chair, obviously distressed by the fact Julie couldn’t see the enormity of her predicament. “Don’t you see? I’ll need to watch my back all the time now. All it would take is a slight tap of my ankles when I least expect it and I would be squashed under the wheels of a number 13 bus. He doesn’t want me as his long term lover and life partner. He wants to get in the pants of all my friends, and getting me killed by a number 13 bus is the ideal way for it to happen. I mean, sympathy shags. Who would ever do that?”

“Do you not think you are being a bit melodramatic? I mean, it was just a turn of phrase. I’m sure he really likes you and has no plans for sending you to an early date with the devil under the wheels of a bus. You two seem to be getting on like a house on fire, and I assume he doesn’t have any need for sympathy shagging, does he? From what I can gather you have been at it like the Duracell bunny for the last three weeks. He can’t have any energy left for sympathy shags!” Julie tried to make it sound like Carol was being, well she was being Carol. James is not the first boy she has had a seemingly fabulous first month with before finding some random reason to think he has ulterior motives and then dumping them. But murderous tendencies is a first, even in Carol’s weird and wonderful repertoire.

Carol looked hurt by the suggestion that she was reading too much in to a single comment. “But there have been other things, now that I think about it.”

Julie knew that random connections were about to be made, and Carol would now believe every date for the last three weeks had some element of James trying to plot her path down a slippery slope to an early grave. She gave in again. It was going to be too much hard work to stop the juggernaut that is Carol’s imagination once she is in this mood. “What kind of other things?” she said, immediately regretting it and wishing she had made a dash for the toilets at that point.

Carol leaned forward again, as if to bring Julie in to her confidence. “Well thinking about it, last week we were in a pub that we don’t usually go to. It was a bit rough, lots of shady looking characters and they didn’t even know what a white wine spritzer was. I ask you, some places just haven’t come out the dark ages. Anyway, we had a drink and he wanted to play pool. So he went over and asked they guys who were playing, and it all seemed fine. He kind of ignored me but he kept chatting to the guys at the pool table and they kept looking over and laughing at me. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so vulnerable. I mean, they all had skinheads and tattoos. So when he had his game of pool he came back over to me and I said I wanted to go. He said fine, but he had to take care of a bit of business with these guys. He went back over and I could see him take his wallet out his pocket and hand over a big wad of cash to the toughest looking one. They then both looked over at me and smiled and nodded.”

Carol took another gulp of wine, finishing her glass off, but Julie could tell from her eyes that she was not to be interrupted and the story would go on.

“So James came back over and I asked him what that was all about. He just said he was buying the services of one of the guys and it was nothing to worry about.” Carol was now speaking very quietly and Julie had to lean forward to hear her.  “I think he was taking a contract out on me.”

Julie tried hard to keep a straight face. “What do you mean a contract?”

“You know, a hit. He’s going to have me killed.”

“Oh, come on now,” Said Julie, trying to bring the conversation back to reality. “You think he has taken out a contract for someone to kill you just so he can get in the pants of all your friends for a sympathy shag? I really don’t think so. Anyway, I would shag him if he asked, even if you are still alive.” Julie decided to get mischievous.

Carol thumped her empty glass on the table, attracting the attention of the other drinkers nearby. Her face was turning a beautiful shade of red with rage. “I can’t believe you said that. How dare you…”

“Woah, woah,” said Julie, holding her hands up and smiling, trying to defuse the situation that her misplaced humour had got them in to. “I’m only joking, just trying to bring you back to reality. I mean, do you really think that goes on in this day and age?”

They sat in silence for a minute trying to work out what to say next. Julie took a brave pill and went first.

“So are you going to dump him then?”

Carol looked shocked. “Dump him, you must be joking. I’m having the best sex I’ve had in ages, he keeps buying me dinner, taking me out to the theatre. He’s so lovely.”

Julie sighed. Carol was so fickle, but she had grown used to that over the years. She was debating whether or not to ask when she was going to meet Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde when it was answered for her.

Carol’s mobile phone rang and her face lit up. “Hi honey,” she gushed. “Your coming over, that’s great. You can meet Julie, she’s dying to meet you.” Julie thought there was a little too much emphasis on the word ‘dying’. “Ok darling, see you shortly.”

So I guess I’m going to meet him now then? I thought this was going to be just us tonight?” said Julie.

“I know, honey, but he is in town and I so want you to meet him. He is just around the corner and will be here in a minute.” Carol’s mood had now changed to one like a schoolgirl going on a date with her first love. She delved in to her enormous handbag and started to apply various layers of make-up and lipstick.

Julie looked on in amusement. “So should I keep an eye out for anything in particular. Perhaps him dropping a potion in to your glass when you’re not looking, or see if he has a concealed weapon about his person?”

“Don’t be silly. I was probably just imagining it all. Just be yourself, I’m sure he will love you too, and I hope you like him.” Carol had locked her gaze on the door, waiting for James to make his appearance. Julie imagined him making a grand entrance with a spooky cape billowing behind him, a freezing cold wind blowing through the door as he stood there, laughing his best Dracula laugh.

Julie followed Carol’s gaze as her face lit up with a smile as bright as a super nova. Julie was taken aback. Walking through the door was the most handsome, debonaire and frankly shaggable, man she had seen in her life. He stood there in the door looking for Carol (well he was actually pausing to let everyone in the bar realise he had arrived), his six foot two frame blocking out the glare from the street lights beyond. He was wearing a long grey dogtooth pattern coat cut perfectly to match his frame. His dark trousers were the perfect length, and he had on shiny, expensive looking loafers. Having worked her way up, Julie now sat with her mouth agape at his drop dead gorgeous face. His strong chin, perfect nose, and piercingly blue eyes were complemented by his dark hair, which was neither too short or too long. He was gorgeous.

Carol stood up and waved towards him. He smiled back, and Julie almost went in to her handbag for her sunglasses. His smile was dazzlingly white – straight from a toothpaste commercial.

He acknowledged her wave with a nod and started coming towards them. Julie just about found enough strength in her legs to stand up to greet him as well. Carol couldn’t wait and almost ran towards him, clasping him in a bear hug so tight you would have thought she hadn’t seen him for five years. They exchanged lingering kisses before Carol remembered they were in a public place and her friend Julie was watching with her mouth open in astonishment that Carol had pulled such a fantastic looking guy.

Carol led him to their table, and James immediately held Julie by the shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks, continental style. “You must be Julie,” he said, stating the obvious.

“Well if I’m not, I sure would be happy to be her if that’s how you greet all the girls you meet for the first time.” Julie couldn’t believe she had just come out with such a flirtatious line. She caught Carol giving her dagger eyes so she sat down before her legs collapsed from under her.

“So ladies, can I get you another drink?” His voice sounded just husky enough to give off an air of confident sexuality, as if the rest of him wasn’t enough.

Carol was keen to have cocktails, but Julie was worried she would lose the ability to control her mind and start to make a fool of herself in front of this dreamboat of a guy.

“Oh, come on,” insisted Carol. “Let James buy you a drink, I’m sure he would be offended if you refused.”

Julie relented, ordered a cosmopolitan and James headed off to the bar.

“Well, what do you think?” asked Carol, already knowing what the answer was going to be.

“Bloody hell, he’s gorgeous. How could you ever think he had an ounce of badness in him. If I was you, I wouldn’t let this one out of your sight.”

“I don’t intend to. Oh, by the way, forget all that rubbish I was talking about earlier, I was just blowing off steam.”

“Okay, enough said.”

James came back to the table and they all took a sip of their drink before indulging in small talk. Julie was beginning to get some of her confidence back and was feeling more comfortable talking with the two of them, even though Carol was draped provocatively over James and obviously hanging on every word he said. She was laughing a bit too loud and a bit too often, thought Julie. She better watch she doesn’t over play the doting girlfriend bit or he’ll get bored with her.

Carol announced quite matter-of-factly that she was going to the loo, and she instructed Julie to stay with James to make sure no other ‘vultures’ came to try to pick him up.

As Carol left, James smiled at Julie and said, “So what were you two talking about before I came along.”

Julie tried her best not to melt under the glare of the million watt smile. “Oh, nothing much. You know, girly stuff.”

“I always like to hear the girly stuff – it’s much more interesting than talking about football or rugby.”

‘Oh my god,’ thought Julie, this guy is really too good to be true. She decided to chance her arm.

“Actually, Carol told me a couple of disturbing thing about you.”

James was taken aback by this. “Disturbing? What do you mean? I’ve never been called ‘disturbing’ before!”

“Well, she told me about the comment you made about sympathy shags when she nearly got run over by the car, and then there was the episode in the pub with the pool table. She is convinced you were handing over money to put a contract to get her killed so you could get a load of sympathy shags.” Julie kept as straight a face as she could.

James looked at her intently, clearly disturbed by the way the conversation had gone. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said. “You mean she thinks I’ve got it in for her and I’m going to get her knocked off so that I can get sympathy shags from every girl in town, including you, by the way.”

Julie could feel the blood rising in her cheeks as he looked directly in to her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she had just been propositioned, but she decided to play it cool. “Yes she does, and frankly I’m inclined to believe her unless you can tell me differently?”

“Well, firstly, I could have any girl in town if I wanted, I don’t need sympathy to get a shag. And secondly, the guy in the pub had offered me a knocked off plasma screen telly for cash, so I bought it and told them I wanted it delivered to Carol’s house. That’s why I came here tonight, to let her know it is turning up tomorrow.”

Julie laughed, trying not to feel like a complete idiot, and thankfully James joined in the laughter too.

“What are you two finding so funny then?” asked Carol as she walked towards the table.

James and Julie looked each other in the eye and implicitly agreed not to disclose the content of their conversation.

“Nothing dear,” James said, smiling at Carol and giving her his best flirting stare.

Maybe it was the look in his eyes that distracted Carol, because she didn’t notice that her silk scarf had fallen on the floor in front of her. As she went to lean forward to kiss James, she stepped on the scarf. Her weight, the silk and the polished floor combined to make her foot slip viscously backwards, sending her sprawling forward headlong towards the table. With a sickening thud, her head hit the edge of the table and she flopped to the floor unconscious.

“Bloody hell,” shouted James, impressively taking charge of the situation, a fact nor missed by Julie who was standing helpless over the prostrate Carol. “Quick, phone an ambulance,” he shouted to the bar staff. He bent down over Carol and moved her to the recovery position, checking her pulse and breathing.

“You look as though you know what you’re doing,” said Julie lamely.

“Spent two years in the army a while back, the basics never leave you,” he said without taking his eyes off Carol.

One of the bar staff had brought some ice and a towel, which James expertly applied to the large bump that was forcing it’s way out Carol’s forehead. He nodded to Julie, “Here, keep this on her, gently not too hard.” Julie had to put her hand on top of James’s to keep the ice in place and she felt he left his hand there just a little too long, enjoying the contact. They looked at each other, and gave each other a shy smile.

“So what was that you said about me trying to get rid of her?” asked James jokingly.

“Well this is a bit drastic, but not quite at the sympathy stage quite yet.”

“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” he said as Carol began to come round, making small groaning noises.

Julie became aware of a couple of ambulance men at her side, and James told them what had happened. The two of them stood up and watched in silence as the ambulance men got Carol on a stretcher with a head brace and wheeled her out to the ambulance.

James turned to Julie, “ I better go with her, otherwise she will think I planned it all to do away with her.”

Julie just nodded. “Yes, I think that would be good. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but you better take my number in case you need anything.”

“Good idea,” said James, with just the hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

They exchanged phone numbers and James climbed in to the back of the ambulance where Carol was already calling out his name.

He smiled at Julie, and looked over his shoulder at Carol. He turned back with a mischievous grin on his face. “So at what point does sympathy kick in?”

Julie thought she better not make it too obvious that she fancied him, but her mouth engaged before her brain. “I don’t go big on sympathy, but I have a great shoulder for crying on, if that’s what you need?”

“That might just hit the spot, I’ll call you later.”

Julie stood there as the ambulance door closed and it made off taking Carol and James to the hospital. James’s last smile was etched on her retina, and she knew she was going to be a naughty girl.

Out loud, and to no-one in particular she said, “I can’t believe I said that.”

Posted by: almckillop | June 26, 2009

Where have I been?

Good question and I’m not really sure about the answer. Time just seems to have flown by in the last couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to spend writing! However, all is not lost.

I came across a feature on the Scottish Book Trust site called Days Like This where they invite you to write a short story about a memorable day in your life. Unfortunately the exiting part of the project has long gone, where you could have got a story published in an anthology or even read out on BBC Radio Scotland. However, they are still posting new stories on the site, and I had a bit of late night creativity and wrote my 1000 words.

So here it is – a story about the day the QE2 came down the river Clyde for the first time. As usual, I struggled to keep to the word count, but I edited as best I could and it was written in one sitting.

Going to see if I can come up with something for Fiction Friday tonight, so you might get another post later – but only if you’re lucky!

Posted by: almckillop | June 5, 2009

Fiction Friday -The Giggler

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Fiction Friday 5 June 09

 This weeks task is to include:

“Don’t sit there,” she commanded. “That’s the cat’s chair.”

 Sorry if it is a bit long. Got carried away since I hadn’t written anything for a few weeks.


Andrea was giggling. I’m sure I’m not that funny to look at, even if we had just finished three bottles of wine between us at dinner. Now she had a fit of the giggles, and it was becoming infectious. My controlled smile was about to burst in to laughter and join her.

 The evening had started very properly. It was our third date and I was beginning to think this might actually work up in to a full-blown relationship. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Tonight was going to be our first proper date in a restaurant, eating proper food. The last two times we met, it had been more casual. A meeting after work in a bar, both of us knowing that we had other commitments later on and we would have to curtail the evening at an early hour. Then we spent a Sunday afternoon in a park, soaking up the sun, people watching, making up funny stories about their lives as they walked past us, oblivious to the tags of serial killer, call girl, President of Moldova and many others that we made up for them.

 That was when I first heard her laugh. It started almost as though she is trying to hold in a sneeze, scrunching her face up, trying not to let it out. She seemed to have caught it in time and takes a breath. Then she looked at me smiling at her and she lost control. She started giggling and laughing, rolling about on the grass, trying to hide her face from the passers-by. But they all just smiled as well, probably wondering whether or not I had the gift of some fantastic wit that had set off this poor girl spasming with mirth, or perhaps she was laughing so much because I had just asked her to sleep with me. Who knows, it could have been either.

 Every time she seemed to bring her laughter down a notch, she would look at me and that would set her off full blast again. I didn’t know whether to be offended or to join in, but since I still fancied her despite the public display of mirth, I decided it was best to join in.

 And here we were again. In a nice Italian restaurant, just having finished our meal and sharing the last of the wine from the third bottle. I don’t know what started her off, but it was clear that she wasn’t going to stop anytime soon and I was on the verge of losing it too. The other diners were trying to ignore us, but sneakily looking over and getting annoyed that we were having so much fun. What right did we have to laugh in a restaurant? I called for the bill, and paid it as quickly as I could. Andrea was still in convulsions, but she couldn’t explain what she was laughing at. When we got outside, the fresh air seemed to have a miraculous effect. Just as quickly as she had started laughing, she stopped.

 “Wow, that was fun,” I said, trying to be careful not to start her off again.

 She smiled at me and took my arm as we walked towards the taxi rank. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just can’t help myself sometimes and once I start I just can’t stop. Did it embarrass you?”

 “No, not at all. I think everyone in the restaurant thought I was a comic genius. It did me no harm at all.”

 “Good. So what do you want to do now?”

 “I dunno, what would you like to do?” I looked at my watch. Only 10 o’clock, the night was still relatively young.

 “ I want to go dancing, but I want to get changed first.”

 I stopped and pulled her in front of me, holding her at arms length so I could look her up and down.

 “Mmmm, shoes look lovely, those jeans, well they are so sexy, and your top, I can’t take my eyes off you. I can’t see anything I would want to change?”   I thought the flattery might stop her wanting to go home and spend another hour getting ready to go dancing.

 Instead of being blown over by my great lines of flattery, she put on a sulky face. “But I have to. I have a special outfit for dancing. I know you’ll love it,” she insisted. “Here’s a cab, it will only take us 10 minutes to get home and I promise I won’t take long.” She fluttered her eyelashes at me and I melted.

 “Of course, if it makes you happy, let’s go.”

 Once we were in the cab Andrea held my hand tightly. “This way you can get to meet my mother.”

 “Meet your mother?” I almost choked. I was not ready to meet the family yet, and I don’t think I would be making the best impression given the amount of wine consumed.

 “Yes, she’s adorable and she’ll love you, I know she will.”

 How many times have I heard that? It is like signing the death warrant for the relationship. She wants to get her mother’s approval before we get serious. I could see my chances of seeing Andrea on an ongoing basis disappearing down the plug hole. Girlfriend’s mothers and I seem to bring out the worst in each other. No matter how hard I try, I always seem to say the wrong thing, or knock over the priceless vase that has been passed down from generation to generation as I back away from an overbearing potential future mother-in-law trying to give me a kiss. I was getting a bad feeling about this.

 I spent the rest of the cab ride doing deep breathing exercises. Trying to relax and sober up as much as I could. Andrea was chatting away merrily, not recognising that the one word answers I was grunting back were getting shorter and shorter as my stressed out larynx closed up the closer we got to her house.

 All too quickly, the cab stopped outside an apartment block.

 “Here we are,” she said as she jumped out.

 I tried to speak but could only croak. “Maybe I should wait in the taxi if you can rush in and get changed. It will be so difficult to get another one at this time of night, we shouldn’t let this one go.”

 I thought that was a moment of genius, a great excuse not to go in to meet the mother. But Andrea was having none of it. She grabbed me by the hand and physically pulled me out the door. “Don’t be silly, there are plenty of taxis.” She gave me a peck on the cheek and handed the fare to the driver. “Come on, I promise I won’t be long.”

 We went in to lobby of the apartment block and made our way to the lifts. The lobby was very well kept, with lots of marble panels on the walls, mahogany railings and a beautifully tiled floor. Obviously Andrea or her family has some money to be able to live in a place like this, and I started to think that maybe meeting the mother wasn’t such a bad thing. I would be on my best behaviour.

 In the lift, Andrea pulled me close and kissed me full on the lips. I was so taken aback I didn’t have time to react before the doors opened and we stepped out on to the landing. Andrea searched in her handbag for the keys.

 “Oh, did I mention that my mother is blind?” she said almost as an aside.

 Suddenly the keys appeared and the door to the apartment was opened, before I chance to close my mouth after my jaw dropping to the floor. Andrea breezed in merrily, shouting “Muumm, I’m home, and I’ve brought someone to meet you.”

 I stood in the doorway, now paralysed with fear, anxiety, stress and probably just about staving off a heart attack as my pulse rate shot through the roof. Andrea turned to me and waved me in. I tried to move my feet, but they had more sense and wanted to stay exactly where they were.

 “Oh come on, don’t be shy!”

 She came back and grabbed me by the hand and for the second time that evening pulled me forcibly through a door. She led me through to a large sitting room that took my breath away. Three of the four walls were adorned with what looked like original oil paintings, some of which I recognised from my old art appreciation classes as school. There was at least one Van Gough, and a Rembrandt if I was not mistaken. The fourth side of the room was a large picture window with spectacular views of the city, lights sparkling as far as the eye could see.

 There was very little furniture in the room, perhaps because they had spent all their money on the art, but more likely to make it easier for Andrea’s mother to move around.

 And there she was, the matriarch sitting upright in a wingback chesterfield leather chair facing the window, which seemed a bit pointless since she couldn’t see out it.

 She picked up a walking stick that was leaning against the chair and pointed it straight at me.

 “Who is this you’ve brought this time? I hope he is nicer than the one who came last night.”

 Andrea quickly went over and took her mother’s hand. “Oh you silly billy, I didn’t have anyone round last night, that was Eric, your son! And he is perfectly nice. This is George. He is nice and sweet and funny and he’s going to take me dancing. I’m just going to get changed. Be right back.”

 She beckoned me over to her mother’s chair. “George, this is my mother, Agnes. Say hello.”

 “Hello Agnes,” I said, stupidly holding out my hand for her to shake.

 “Oh dear, he is like the others,” said Agnes. “I am blind, not stupid, so take your hand away.”

 “But how do you know I had my hand out?” I protested.

 “Everyone does the first time they meet me.”

 I hadn’t noticed Andrea slip away. It was just me and her mother, and I hadn’t made a good first impression.

 I looked around for somewhere else to sit. There was only one other chair in the room, right across the other side from where mother was sitting. I thought that might be a good option, get some distance between us.

 I decided to make some small talk to cover my retreat towards the seat.

 “You have some very impressive artwork in here.”

 Agnes harrumphed. “Fat lot of good it does for me. Never seen a bloody thing of them. They could be fakes for all I know. I have to trust that the children have bought wisely. It’s their inheritance after all, but they have probably been hoodwinked and some dodgy character has run off with the money. You’re not here to steal them are you?”

 I was taken aback by the accusation. “Of course not, I didn’t even know you had them until I walked in the room.”

 “So you don’t know my daughter very well yet?”  She was not one for small talk then.

 “Well, we’ve met up a few times and we like each other.”

 I was moving closer to the chair, hoping to take the weight off my wobbly legs.

 “Don’t sit on that chair,” Agnes boomed her command at me from across the room. “That’s the cat’s chair.”

 Bloody hell, how did she know I was going to sit on it? And I couldn’t see a cat anywhere, certainly not sitting on the seat.

 “S-s-s-sorry,” I stuttered.

 Then a door opened and Andrea stood there, backlit by the light coming from behind her. “I’m ready now.”

 I stood staring at this transformed character in front of me. Only a few minutes ago, my lovely Andrea had left the room dressed in jeans and a nice knitted top. Now she was dressed all in black. She had on biker boots with six-inch soles and heels, black skintight trousers, a tight basque top, and her blonde hair had been replaced with a jet black wig. In her right hand was a whip straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. In her left hand was a black riding crop that she flicked menacingly against her thigh.

 Astonished by what was standing before me I took a step backwards, not realising how close I was to the chair. The sight of Andrea as a dominatrix made me forget the command from her mother not to sit there. My knees gave way and I flopped back in to the chair.

 As my backside hit the leather an almighty screech filled the room, followed immediately by Andrea and her mother simultaneously screaming at me. “You’ve sat on the cat!”

 My immediate reaction was to stand back up, and I looked at the chair but there was no cat there. Then there was a crack right beside my ear as Andrea had unleashed her whip and was undoubtedly about to do me some damage if she could find her target.

 I found my voice and shouted back “But there is no cat here!”

 Just as I protested my innocence, a large ginger cat appeared from behind the chair, looking dazed having just been sat upon. “Where the hell did you come from?”

 Andrea had recoiled the whip by now and was lining up to take another shot at me.

 “How can you be so cruel?” she screamed at me. “Leo’s bed is inside the chair. Mother told you not to sit on it but you ignored her and now you must be punished.”

 She drew back her arm and expertly flicked the whip at me again. She had done this before.

 Her mother had joined in with encouragement. “Get him Andrea. Don’t let the cat hater out of here without a few lashes!”

 The whip snaked towards me in a flash, but I was just far enough away for it not to make a proper connection, but it still got my leg and it stung like hell.

 Time to get out of here. I ran for the door, and slammed it shut behind me just before the whip slapped against it, the awful sound of splintering wood giving me the extra adrenaline rush to get out as fast as humanly possible.

 No time to wait for the lift. I ran down the stairs and out on to the street. I didn’t dare look back in case the mad whip woman was coming after me.

 After a few blocks I was out of breath and wheezing. I stopped, doubled up and leaned against the wall. Slowly my breathing normalised and I stopped seeing stars in front of my eyes.

 I noticed a few people looking at me as though I was a criminal on the run. I just smiled at them limply and gave them a pathetic wave to let them know I was all right.

 A young couple were coming down the street towards me. They held each other tight and were laughing together. As they walked past me, the young man looked at me while his girlfriend laughed out loud.

 “You better watch the gigglers,” I told him. “They’re never what they seem.”

 He looked at me as though I was some madman, swore and walked on. I smiled to myself and burst out laughing. I knew I should never have gone to meet the mother.

Posted by: almckillop | June 4, 2009

Forza Italia

I guess we all get the holiday blues when we come back from foreign climes, having experienced a slice of what is not the true reality of living in that country. We have just spent four days in Torino, Italy with some of Nadia’s cousins, I have to say that we had a truly great time with them, and the hospitality they showed us was second to none. The whole weekend made me think very hard about how we treat family and friends in this country compared to there. I am not saying all is doom and gloom here, but there seems to be a much stronger family bond, and long lasting friendships count for so much, as I will explain shortly. 

It was not my first time in Italy, and it won’t be my last. There are many things that I love about how they live and just the attitude they have to life. We arrived late afternoon on Saturday in Milan Malpensa, and were met by Nadia’s cousin Dario. First thing that struck me was that when he took us to the car, it was just parked outside the terminal – no problem. There were lots of police about because Berlusconi was arriving, but it was all very relaxed. In the UK, you would have to have parked about half a mile away and paid £10 for the privilege! So off we went and after half an hour he said he needed to stop for petrol and while we were at it, we may as well have a coffee. The motorway service station was a fairly old building, but inside it had the most tremendous array of freshly made foccacia and pannini’s all being made as we were there. Not a hint of plastic packaging! Why can we not do that here? Our coffee was served in true Italian style, and was as good as anything I have had anywhere. We can learn some things about service stations!

When we arrived at Dario and Federica’s apartment, they showed us round and said this is where you are staying. There was only one bedroom so we were slightly confused. It turns out they were giving us their apartment for the weekend and going to stay with Fede’s father. Now that is way above and beyond our expectations and we protested, but they were adamant this was the arrangement. We were so humbled by this.

The weekend continued like that. We had to forcibly or sneakily pay for any coffees or breakfast as they would not let us pay for anything. On Sunday, Nadia’s other cousin Fabio had arranged for myself, Matthew and Candace (Nadia’s nephew and his girlfriend who are on a trip from Australia) to go to a Juventus match. Again, we asked how much the tickets were, but there were no tickets. Fabio is in the police and he had arranged for police visitor passes for us. We were ushered in to the stadium for free. Big thanks to Fabio for the wonderful experience, especially since he is a Torino fan and it was hard for him to watch Juventus!

More hospitality continued on Sunday with a barbecue at Stefano and Lia’s lovely house. Again, we were not allowed to contribute a euro! 

On Monday evening, it had been arranged for us to meet with some of Nadia’s Dad and brother’s old friends from the town. We thought we were going out to meet them for a pizza, but they had arranged a special meal for us in the sporting club, with Nadia as guest of honour as a mark of respect for her dad who passed away last year. The food and wine was marvellous, and it was a very touching and moving evening. The friendship that extends through the family and friends never fades and is something that has made me think about how we would have approached something like that in this country. 

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist of it all. Families are close. Friends are forever. They will do anything for you. Respect it, love it, live it.

It came to an end all too quickly and we are back to the reality of life in Edinburgh. Not that there is a lot wrong with that, but I do hope I have learned something from our trip.

Thank you again to Suzi, Corrado, Dario, Federica, Fabio, and Virginie for the great time. We look forward to seeing you all again soon

If you are interest, there are some pictures if you click on this link

Ciao a tutti.

Posted by: almckillop | May 25, 2009

Not been writing much

After managing to write something 3 weeks in a row for Fiction Friday, I have failed to make it to the starting post for the past two weeks. A combination of work and socialising has meant my Fridays have not been my own for the past few weeks. But the good news is that I have been working on the plot of a novel that was inspired by the story about Robbie and the thugs. The plot is growing arms and legs and twists and turns as my imagination runs riot with it. I did write what I thought might be an opening chapter, but on reflection that scene will play out slightly later in my tale. 

We are heading off to Italy next weekend for a few days, so might not be able to post for Fiction Friday next week, but I’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, enjoy the lovely weather we are having just now. Going to meet Nadia from work and see if we can grab a nice cool drink on the way home.

Ciao a tutti.

Posted by: almckillop | May 8, 2009

Fiction Friday – May 8th – The Linesman

Fiction Friday

This weeks challenge was quite interesting and it took me a while to think about what to do with it. I think this is a bit tongue in cheek and may only be understood by the English and Scottish, particularly football (soccer) supporters. Hope you enjoy it anyway. It’s meant to be light-hearted.

The task set was:

A man is given the ability to go back in time and change one event in his life.

The linesman

Hello, my name is Tofik Bakhramov. You may not recognize my name, but in my own way I was very famous.

 I am from Azerbaijan, and I love football. I love football so much that when I could no longer play because of my sore knees, I decided to become a referee. I refereed many important games, and in 1966 I was given the honour of being a linesman in the World Cup final at Wembley in England. It was a very exciting day. England had done very well and reached the final to play against West Germany.

 The people in England were very excited. It was a very special occasion and I wanted to play my part in making it a day to remember. It was a very good game, and after the regulation time the score was tied at 2-2. The game then went in to extra time and very shortly the very good English player Geoff Hirst hit a strong shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar of the German goal and bounced downwards. My colleague, the referee Gottfried Dienst, was not sure if the ball had crossed the line and if a goal was to be awarded. He asked me if I thought the ball crossed the line. In the noise of the crowd, who desperately wanted England to score, Gottfried did not hear me properly and he thought I said it was a goal, when in fact I said I could not tell.

 A goal was awarded and England went on to win the match and the World Cup. It was a joyous day in England.

 Many years later, at my home in Azerbaijan, I received many visitors from England who thanked me for awarding the goal and how proud they were that England won the cup.

 But one day nearly forty years after the game, my wife brought a relation of hers to visit. His name was Kenneth. It was very strange because he did not congratulate me on my performance in the cup final, but stayed very silent.

 My wife said to me, “Tofik, this is my sister’s husband and he lives in Scotland. For the last forty years he has had to put up with the English people telling him how they won the World Cup. Every time the English national team plays, the television and radio commentators always mention it as though it was yesterday. It has made his life miserable. Only last month, he found out that his brother-in-law was the man who awarded the goal to England that was never really a goal. He, and every other Scotsman, has suffered humiliation at the hands of the English because they always talk about 1966. He is now threatening to divorce my sister as he cannot be part of the family who gifted that goal to England. My sister loves him very much, and she will be very, very sad if he leaves. Do you have anything to say to  him?”

I looked at Kenneth, who appeared to be a pleasant and reasonable man, although he had not said anything yet. I had often thought about that instant when the goal was awarded. Perhaps I should have been more forceful and stopped Gottfried awarding the goal. But I didn’t. So many people were so happy about the goal. But I had not realized the angst I would cause in Germany and now to my horror in my family and in Scotland.

“Kenneth,” I said, “What happened was a long time ago, and it should be something that we can all put behind us. But I do understand that the English have had nothing else to celebrate since then, and if I had known they would have become so supercilious and boring about it, I would have made sure the goal was not awarded. I have visited Scotland many times, and I do like the place very much. And now finding out that I have a Scottish relative, I feel even more remorseful. If I had the chance to go back in time and change one thing in my life, it would be that moment. It was not right, but it is what happened. Do you have the ability to turn back time?”

Kenneth looked at me, and cracked a smile. “ I can’t turn back time, but you know what, even just to hear you say it was a mistake is good enough for me. From now on, every time an Englishman tells me about 1966 I can honestly say that I heard from the man himself that it wasn’t a goal, and they shouldn’t have won the cup. I know it’s petty, but that is what life is like!”

With that, he got up, shook my hand and left. Ten minutes later, my daughter came home with her new boyfriend. “Dad, I want you to meet Dave. He is from London, and he wants to meet you and thank you for being brave and awarding the goal in 1966.”

I sighed, looked at Dave, then looked at my daughter who was obviously infatuated with this handsome Englishman.

“Dave, I am glad I awarded that goal, it was the right decision.” I smiled at him and looked towards the door to make sure Kenneth wasn’t listening in. I can’t turn back time, but I’ve got to keep the family happy. I just hope my son doesn’t bring home a new German girlfriend.

Posted by: almckillop | May 2, 2009


Does anybody need a ghost? And I don’t mean of the haunting kind.

I have been thinking for some time about ghosting someone’s autobiography or even writing a piece of fiction based on someone’s life story. A lot of the writing I do in my day job is all about ghosting communications for people, and I would like to take this a stage further.

If you have a life story you want to tell, or know someone who does, get in touch and let’s see if there is some mileage in it. I hope there is.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Posted by: almckillop | May 1, 2009

Fiction Friday 2

Fiction Friday logo

Well, I enjoyed doing last weeks challenge I thought I would do another. This time the challenge is:

A secondary character says this somewhere in your story; “He’s the cutest little boy. Makes it that much sadder, doesn’t it?”

I’ve taken a bit of a liberty with the language that would normally be used by the characters in this little scene. There would be much more profanity but I don’t want to use that in this kind of forum, which might take away the edginess from the story – let me know if you think I should be more ‘realistic’. So here we go. Done in one go, only editing has been spell checking (I hate to publish anything with typos):


Robbie turned as he heard the car screech to a halt behind him. It had stopped only a few feet from him, but he had been oblivious to it right up until the last few seconds.

Before he had time to react, the doors on either side swung open and two men who looked to be in their early twenties jumped out and made straight for him. He stood rooted to the spot, not understanding what was happening.

The one who came from the passenger side ran right up to him and pushed him in the chest. He was short, but stocky and his hair was shorn so close you could see scars in his scalp. Robbie is not small, but the attack took him by surprise and he stumbled backwards. No words had been exchanged.

The driver by now was right in front of him. His face only inches from Robbie’s.

“You’re that little shit Andy’s brother, aren’t you?” he demanded, spitting his words in Robbie’s face.

Robbie was a few inches taller than his assailant, and he gathered himself and made himself as tall as he could. “What is it to you if I am?”

“He owes us, and he owes us big time.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said Robbie, although he had a pretty good idea what they meant. His brother had been involved with the wrong crowd, and it had ultimately cost him his life. He had been stabbed in a fight last week and had been buried that morning.

“You better know, because now that he’s gone, his debt passes to you.” Robbie felt a think finger poke him in the chest.

“I don’t know, or want to know, so get the hell out of my way.” Robbie made to move away from them.

“I don’t think so,” the passenger now forced his way in front of Robbie. “Your scumbag brother had stuff that belongs to us, and we want it, and we want it now. So you better find it, or you’ll end up the same way as your kid brother.”

“Just leave me alone. We had nothing to do with Andy’s friends, or enemies. His baby is an orphan already, don’t you think you have done enough harm?

The driver stood in front of him now, and quick as a flash pulled a switchblade from behind his back and held it to Robbie’s cheek.

“Now you listen here, and listen good. You are going to get us our goods, or Andy’s little bastard boy is going to come to some serious harm. You wouldn’t want that, would you? It’s going to be tough for a kid to grow up with a scar running across both his cheeks. I’ve heard he’s the cutest little boy, that makes it much sadder, doesn’t it?” The hatred in his voice was almost overpowering him as spittle formed on his lips with every word.

Robbie stood stock still, the blade of the knife pushing against his cheek. One false move and it would cut him.

The driver snarled at him. “It’s up to you, sort it out or the kid will get a scar to match his uncles.”

Robbie hissed back, “I don’t have a scar.”

In a flash, the driver dragged the blade down Robbie’s check, splitting the flesh so quickly that Robbie didn’t immediately realise what had happened.

“You do now.” The two thugs laughed as Robbie lifted his hand to his wound to feel blood streaming out. They turned and went back to the car. As they got in, the driver shouted over to Robbie, “We mean business, sort it, or you won’t have to worry about scars when you’re in a box six feet under.” They slammed the doors and sped off, the tyres squealing in protest as the wheels spun.

Robbie looked at his hand covered in his own blood, feeling the warmth of it running down his neck and said to himself, “Thanks brother, I really hope you aren’t resting in peace.”

Posted by: almckillop | April 24, 2009

Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday logo

The lovely people at Write Anything have a weekly challenge on a Friday, funnily enough called Fiction Friday. They set a theme or a phrase and you have to write for 5 minutes on the said topic. This week, the theme is:

During her first trip to Las Vegas, a woman experiences the luckiest night of her life. (It’s not from gambling).

So here I go:

Lucky lady

It was only just past two o’clock in the afternoon, but Julie couldn’t have told you if it was day or night outside the casino. She had been sitting at the slots since breakfast time, telling herself she was agonisingly close to hitting that million dollar payout. Her bucket of dollar coins had been refilled more times than she can remember, but the next time was going to be the payout – it has to be.

“Ain’t you had enough there?”

Julie’s best friend Donna had appeared at her shoulder and she hadn’t even noticed.

“I’m so close, I am so close, I can feel it!”

“You’ve been feeling it for the last five years. Every time come, you sit here morning ’till night, and you say you are so close. I’m getting fed up wandering this town on my own, why don’t you take a break at least and come out with me to look at the shops at least. I saw this beautiful dress that I want, but I need a second opinion.”

Julie didn’t take her eyes off the spinning wheels on the slot machine, hitting nudges and holds almost instinctively.

“But I’m so close, this is the big one, I really know this is it.”

Donna let out a long sigh. “Ok, Jules, but if you don’t come out with me to see this dress, I’m never coming back here with you again. You know Bill won’t let you come on your own, so your little fun at the slots will be over, done, for ever. You hear me?”

Without looking up, Julie rattled her cup of dollars. “Okay girl, you win. As soon as this cup is done, I’ll come see your dress. What do you need a dress for anyway? You got loads of dresses.”

She fed the machine with another ten coins and hit the buttons.

Donna stood silently behind her, knowing that conversation was pointless until Julie’s money ran out. She was hoping that it would be sooner rather than later.

Another ten coins were swallowed greedily by the machine as Julie played on like an automaton.

Five minutes later, her last dollar went the same way as the previous hundred. The wheels spun and came to a stop. Nothing matched. Julie sat in silence, staring disbelieveingly at the oranges and lemons.

“Okay, that’s it, you’re done here for a while at least.” Donna held Julie’s arm as she slid off the stool. Having not moved for hours, her legs had gone to sleep and Donna had to hold her up for a moment or two until the feeling came back.

Julie took a deep breath as though she was trying to relax. “Where are we going?”

“Just to the mall next door, not far. You’ll be able to walk it.”

“Are you sure? I didn’t come to Vegas to walk.”

“Relax, you don’t even have to go outside, it’s part of the complex.” Donna gently led her away from the stool in the direction of the lobby.

Julie began to protest. “I’m not dressed to go shopping. Look at me!”

She stood in front of one of the gigantic mirrors that lined the room, her reflection showing her beige leisure suit, training shoes that had never been trained in, and hair that proved she had come straight out of bed and downstairs to the machines without a hairbrush getting close enough to frighten it in to some sort of style.

“You look fine.” Donna pulled her away from the mirror and led her forcefully out of the gaming hall.

They turned in to the black and white art-deco marble lined lobby only to be stopped in their tracks by a rope strung across the entrance. The lobby was packed full of people, cameras, lightstands, and everything else that goes in to shooting a movie.

“Wow,” said Julie. “Take a look at this, a real live movie set. I just love the movies.”

Donna seemed less than impressed. “Come on Julie, we see these all the time in New York.” She moved to turn away to find another way to the mall.

Julie grabbed her arm this time. “Hold on, hold on. Let’s see if there’s anyone famous.”

She moved right up to the rope beside a harassed looking young man who was just on the movie side of the rope. He was looking at everyone who had come to see what was going on.

Julie nudged Donna, nodded her head towards the young man and whispered in her ear, “Must be someone famous if they have this much security.”

“Don’t be silly, they always have security.”

The young man was now staring at Julie. She could feel her face redden, thinking that she had made too much noise.

“Sorry” she mouthed, almost making no sound.

The young man smiled at her. “Sorry for what?”

“For making too much noise.”

He smiled at her. “You weren’t making too much noise, don’t worry. Are you a guest here?”

Julie was melting in front of him. His blue eyes twinkling straight at her. “Yes.”

“Hmm, have you ever been in a movie? You look familiar?”

“That’s the oldest pick up line in the book, ” said Donna. Julie blushed even more.

“No, I’m not trying to pick you up. You see, one of the actresses has taken really sick just in the last few minutes. We’re all set up here and we need to find someone to do a walk on and a one liner. Someone who happens to be dressed just like you, that ‘straight out of bed look’.”

Julie didn’t know where to look or what to say. She eventually spluttered, “You want me to be in your movie?”

Handsome boy gave her his best Hollywood smile, “Well only if you want to. We’ll pay you for it.”

The mention of money seemed to bring Julie to her senses. “It sounds interesting, what do I have to do and how much will I get paid?”

“My name’s Alan? What’s yours?” he asked as he lifted the rope and beckoned Julie to come under it.

“Julie,” she replied, glancing quickly back at Donna who stood there with her mouth open in astonishment.

“Well Julie, here’s what it is. This scene is where the main character is checking in to the resort, and you come through the lobby having just got out of bed, kind of like you look now. You recognise the main character, whose name is Sean, run up to him at the desk, grab him by the shoulders, plant a kiss on him and say “Sean, thank you for a wonderful night.” Then you continue out through the front door, and disappear. Simple.”

Julie was still trying to take it all in.  She decided to play hardball. “Sounds simple enough. But you didn’t say how much!”.

Alan took a two-way radio from his his belt, turned his back and spoke in to the handset. He looked over his shoulder a couple of times at Julie, smiling. The conversation finished and he turned back to her.

“Okay, I just spoke to the producer. Since we are all set up here and it would cost us a fortune if we  have to pack up and not shoot, he is willing to offer you ten thousand dollars.”

Julie tried not to look shocked. That would cover her holiday, slot money and still have enough over to come back next year.

“One last question,” she said. “Who is it that I have to kiss?”

Alan pointed towards a group huddled together. “Him.”

Just as he pointed, George Clooney stood up and smiled in Alan’s direction. Julie’s knees almost buckled under her. She looked back at Donna who was staring at Clooney, totally starstruck.

“So are we doing this?” said Alan.

“Only if we can do at least fifteen takes,” Julie smiled, grabbed Alan’s arm and dragged him in the direction of her  new co-star.

Donna shook her head. “Some gals have all the luck.”

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