Trevor Belshaw Author

Author of Out of Control

Author: tbelshaw (page 1 of 3)

New! Tracy’s Twenties Hot Mail.

THRUSH

Hi Emma,

Sorry to hear you’ve got Thrush, I hope the itching isn’t too bad, I scratched my way through two pairs of knickers when I had it.

I’ve still got some tablets, and the cream, if you haven’t managed to get hold of any yet. I can drop them off after my promo tonight, it might be a bit late though, it’s at Fatty Artie’s, Fish and Chip Megastore over at Claypole. They’re having a themed 60s food night and all their stuff is going to be cooked in beef fat instead of oil. Blimey! I think he’ll have to change his shop name to Fatty Arteries after that.

Still, he’s paying me in cash from the till, not in chip suppers, so I don’t care.

I’ve got to get dressed up like a dolly bird from the 1960s, you know, like that Twiggy. She had no boobs though, so I’ll look more like Nancy Sinatra when she was singing that song about her boots. She had a right pair on her.

I once caught my pervy ex: Simon, knocking one out over the video of her singing that song when I came back from my electrocution class. Do you remember? That time I was learning how to talk posh for when I got famous. I only lasted a week. I didn’t care where the bloody rain in Spain fell after the first thirty minutes.

‘Speak as though you have a plum in your mouth,’ said the tutor, Mrs Poshly-Smythe.

That put me off for a start. All I could think of were Simon’s plums, and I wasn’t going to let them get past my lips. He’d been begging me to suck on them for months.

Anyway, it shouldn’t be a bad night, though the crowd might get a bit rough. You know what Claypole is like on a Friday.

Back to the Thrush.

I remember the second time I had it. It was only a few months ago. It started after I had to borrow a pair of knickers from Stacey Macey at her coming out party. She was just looking for a bit of notoriety, really, she was never a proper lesbian. I caught her sitting astride Frankie Arbuckle on a stack of pallets at the back of Hardwall’s DIY shop the week before.

Anyway, I’d got my pants snagged on Stacey’s little sister’s rabbit hutch when I went outside with Jimmy McCorker. There wasn’t an inch of privacy in her house, and unlike that tart, Olivia, I wasn’t going to perform in front of five other couples in the back bedroom. (So, what if Olivia had been first in? She got there within five minutes of the party starting, the tart. Any self-respecting woman would have at least pulled the duvet over their coupling.)

My knickers snagged on the rusty wire of the cage as I leaned back to think of England. Before I could let him know I was caught up, he yanked my knickers down my thighs and I heard them tear in half.

I wasn’t too fussed; they weren’t new ones or anything. I got them in a multi-pack from that new street stall in the precinct, but it did leave me embarrassingly knickerless, wearing a dress that barely covered my arse in the first place.

So, I copped hold of Stacey as I walked back up the stairs, trying to pull my dress down to cover my modesty and to stop Jimmy, (who was two steps behind,) continually lifting up my dress and shouting, ‘Och Aye! there’s a full moon tonight.’

She dashed into her bedroom, (sadly, the one that Olivia was being carnalised in,) grabbed a pair of Tesco’s big girl pants, and tossed them across the room to me.

Olivia savoured the moment.

‘Ooh, taking a souvenir, are we?’ she chortled.

I told her the only souvenir she’d be taking home, was crabs from the favourite to win the greasiest, hairiest, ugliest, tramp of the year contest, and slunk down the passage to the lavatory where  I had to evict a couple of crackheads getting their two hourly fix, before I could pull on the garish, monthly pants, tidy my hair, lip up and make myself presentable. Luckily, the pants were only two sizes too big, so I wasn’t in danger of finding them round my ankles as I walked down the stairs. I grabbled hold of the waistband though, just in case.

By the time I got back to the kitchen, Jimmy was nibbling the neck of a mousey-looking girl with buck teeth and a hairy top lip.

Most of the fanciable men had already copped off and the ones that were left, looked like they wouldn’t know what the word, conversation, meant, let alone produce one. So, pushing past a line of groping fingers, I let myself out and walked the short distance home, across the estate.

Now, you know when you realise you’ve made an horrendous mistake, but it’s too late to do anything about it?

I reached that stage by the time I’d got home, sat on the loo and looked down at those pants.

Stacey isn’t a smelly sort, usually, but I think this grisly garment had missed its annual treat into the washing machine. Under the light of our bathroom, (Stacey’s house had been decked out in mostly, red light bulbs,) I could see the stains quite clearly. I tried to tell myself that she’d just forgotten to Oxi-Action them and the baggy bloomers were clean, but I couldn’t convince myself.

I chucked them in the bin, scrubbed my fanny to within an inch of its life and fell into bed feeling more than a tad, depressed.

Two days later I woke up with an itch that would take an eagle’s talon to sate. It drove me nuts. This wasn’t just Thrush, a Thrush whistles sweetly, this thing was screeching like a starving seagull, swooping down to grab someone’s seaside sarnie.

I still shudder at the thought of it.

The cheeky cow even asked for her knickers back when I saw her a few days later. I just smiled and nodded because she was with that tart, Olivia at the time.

Olivia looked sad, stuck her bottom lip out and said, ‘Aw, Stacey, do let her keep them, she loves them so much, did you see her little face light up when you gave them to her?’

I was livid. It was one of those moments when I needed a wisecrack about the new, drug resistant Syphilis that was infecting the world or asking her if the boffins had signed her up for testing the Incredible, Vagina-shrinking cream that was about to revolutionise post-natal care for new mothers, (Olivia’s fanny is legendary in size and she’d make a great guinea pig,) but I couldn’t think of a single insult worthy of the name, so I just ducked my head, looked at my, fake, leather look, Shoo Shoes, and slunk off home.

Right, I’d better dig out the 1960’s mini dress and get ready. It’s one of those black and white, harlequin patterned ones. I’m going to wear my knee-length, white leather boots with it.

Do you know what? I WILL look just like Nancy!

Are you ready boots…?

I’ll drop the cream and pills off later Hun. Tracy, the Go-Go- Girl.

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NEW! Tracy’s Twenties Hot Mail.

Powerful Women

Hi Emma,

I’ve just been listening to Dad and Gran discussing the news, but it’s confusing the life out of me as usual.

Dad said the main headline in the Daily Mirror was, ‘hot political news,’ and it might bring down the Home Secretary.

Gran said you couldn’t believe a single word that Commie rag printed, and the story was probably made up by that sad loser, Jeremy Corbyn.
Dad called Gran a Filthy, Right Wing, Nut-job Fascist. Gran said that was the nicest thing he’d ever said to her.

It seems that some bloke called Cyril Servant has resigned from Westminster because he didn’t like his new boss, who is a pretty woman, telling him what to do.

I wondered if Julia Roberts had gone into politics, but she hasn’t and it’s just a coincidence.

It’s always the same isn’t it Emma? People never like being ordered around by attractive women. I can’t remember that munter, Theresa May having anyone resign when she was Home Secretary, and she tried to kick all the black people out of the country just because one of them had a boat called Windbrush.

When I was half-listening to Dad ramble on, I realised that I was having my first #MeToo moment.

About six months ago, the Dog and Duck darts team asked me to take over as secretary for a few days because Mrs Arrows, who normally did the job, was in hospital for investigations into her prolapse.

I didn’t really want to spend my nights typing up dart player’s scores but Dad said he’d do that and he just wanted me to turn up for the grudge match against the top of the league team from the, Spears of Destiny pub, further down the road.

All I had to do, was stand there looking glamourous for the publicity photos that would be used in the sports pages of the local Evening News.

I was okay with that. I asked if I’d be paid, but Dad said the team couldn’t afford it. I would get free drinks all night though, so in the end I agreed to do it. I would be in the paper again and I haven’t had my photo in there since their reporter snapped me sunbathing in my bikini at the Lido. Remember that headline above my picture, Em? PHEW! Wot A Corka!

I decided to wear that low front, green top I got from Ali’s market stall. I hadn’t worn it before so none of the jealous bitches reading the paper could accuse me of always wearing the same thing. It was a bit tight, so tight I didn’t really need a bra, but I managed to squeeze into it.

Anyway, come match time, Dad asked me to stand right next to the dart board when the opposition was throwing, but turn away and pretend to be jotting down notes when the Dog and Duck players were chucking their arrows.

I don’t know how the Spears of Destiny ever got to be top of the league, Emma, their team are absolute rubbish. They missed the board more times than they hit it. I’m not surprised really, because they spent more time looking at me than the dart board. During the first tie, I bent down to retrieve a dart that had somehow been thrown into the skirting board and two of the buttons popped off the front of my top. Their star player muttered something about a Double Top, as I stood up and his next dart hit the scorer in the back of the head.

By then, their entire team was crowded onto the oche and the thrower didn’t have room to pull his arm back to chuck his third dart. The scorer wasn’t taking any chances and after a quick glimpse at my chest, he nipped off to the toilet, presumably to dab some water on the hole in the back of his bonce.

Anyway, it was then that this woman wearing a T-shirt that said, I want to have the Crafty Cockney’s Babies, wobbled up to the front. Honestly Emma, she had at least five chins. She was a dead ringer for Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars.

She glared at Dad and accused him of cheating by putting my chest in such a prominent position.

Dad denied it, and said that as acting club secretary, I was entitled to put my chest where I felt like putting it.

She immediately whipped out a dog-eared, rule book and pointed to a regulation, regarding deliberate distraction.

Dad said that if she hadn’t picked a team full of perverts I wouldn’t have been a distraction at all. He suggested she set up a gay darts team if the players she had were unable to concentrate on the job in hand.

Just then, the scorer came back in from the lavatory looking a bit flushed.

Jabba, who was, apparently, only the team kit washer, pushed her way past Dad and glared at me.

‘You should be ashamed of yourself, turning up to a sporting event dressed like that. I didn’t dress like that when I was your age,’ she whined.

I sniffed, looked down my nose at her and told her that the male population must have been eternally grateful to her for that, and walked out of the bar while her mouth was still wide open and her chins still wobbling.

I don’t know, Emma. Some people can’t stand to see attractive women in positions of power, can they?

I resigned as secretary the same night. I hope the pretty Home Secretary doesn’t do the same.

Tracy. #MeToo

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A bit of poetry

My Mistake

I did something stupid. Then lied, but you knew.
I opened a window and our love went on through.
I tried to revive it, I tried, how I tried,
but our love froze to death in the cold dark outside.

I Held You

We danced beside the river as the sun broke through the mist,

In the warming of the morning, I held you and we kissed.

And later that same afternoon, I held you as you slept,

Then you had to leave me and I held you as you wept.

I held you when we met again, back home in winter rain,

I held you in your ecstasy and in your guilty pain.

I held you when you broke away, to end the secrecy,

I held you as, when giving birth, you screamed and cursed at me.

I held you when the verdict came, that devastating call,

when fate tore away our happiness that morning in the hall.

I held you through the anger, through the fear and misery,

I held you on our final night, as you slipped away from me.

I dream we dance an endless waltz, your head upon my cheek,

I hold you close; you comfort me when everything seems bleak.

I bless you for our daughter, there’s so much of you in her,

We hold you in our memories, you never leave us there.

In Dreams

In dreams you are happy.

In dreams you don’t cry.

In dreams you have everything

money can buy.

In dreams you are famous.

In dreams you succeed.

In dreams you have more

than you ever could need.

In dreams you are confident.

In dreams you excel.

In dreams you are loved

and you give love as well.

In dreams you find harmony.

In dreams there’s a way.

In dreams you’re the master

of all you survey.

In dreams there is safety.

In dreams there’s no pain.

In dreams you can hold her

again and again.

In dreams she still loves you.

In dreams she still cares.

In dreams you still walk

on a cushion of air.

In dreams there’s a future.

In dreams there’s a plan.

In dreams you are more

than a simple, flawed man.

In dreams you show interest.

In dreams you both play.

In dreams you’re a partner

who won’t go astray.

In dreams you share feelings.

In dreams you exchange.

In dreams she believes

that you really can change

In dreams you’re a talker.

In dreams you convey.

In dreams you don’t let her just

wander away

In dreams there’s a last chance.

In dreams there’s reprieve.

In dreams you persuade her

and she doesn’t leave

In dreams there’s no ending.

In dreams you don’t weep.

In dreams you don’t wish you

could die in your sleep

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Christmas Story 2019

The Little Christmas Tree

The Last Pine Tree Before The North Pole

Ryan yawned and tilted his head from side to side in a vain attempt to remove some of the stiffness from his neck. He pulled his head back and looked beneath the fake-fur trim of his hood to the canopy of pine branches high above. Thin, watery sunlight filtered though the trees, casting grey dappled shadows across the gaps on the forest floor. He leaned this way and that to counter the humps and bumps that tossed the sled from side to side as it slid over the snow-covered track. A few feet in front of him, two Inuit guides drove the team of ten, powerful Husky dogs through the rapidly thinning treeline. Earlier, the forest had been thick, and the going had been slow, he had lost count of the amount of times they had had to get off the sled to carry it over, or around, a fallen tree. Now, the vegetation was sparser, the going was easier and the few, short hours hours of daylight they had been blessed with at their base in Last Town, seemed to have been cut in half.

Ryan, disliked the freezing, long, night, which lasted almost twenty hours at a stretch. But that’s what you had to expect when you got this close to the North Pole. In the forest daylight, he caught glimpses of startled reindeer as they dashed across the path ahead, but in the dark, all he saw was slow moving shapes amongst the trees. Scariest of all, was the sound of a wolf howling from the trees on the left, which was answered almost immediately by a howl from somewhere on the right. Every so often he would hear a loud, Plop! as lumps of ice fell from the treetops onto the soft snow on the forest floor.

Ryan tried to be brave, but he was beginning to regret that he had persuaded his father to let him come on his pre- Christmas trip to the far north, to recover data from the scientific, weather-checking instruments that had been tracking temperature, snowfall and air quality for the past six months. His mother had been against it, but he had begged and pleaded until she gave in.

‘Make sure you’re back in time for Santa,’ she said. She would be waiting for them at their hotel in Last Town when they returned.

He yawned again and looked at his watch. The movement attracted the attention of his father, who looked down, smiled and ruffled Ryan’s hood with his gloved right hand.

‘What time is it, Son? My watch appears to be broken.’

Ryan showed the illuminated dial of his watch to his father.

‘We’re almost there, Ryan. Another half an hour and we’ll be at the camp.’

Ryan puffed out his cheeks and blew warm breath into the freezing air.

‘Thank goodness for that, Dad. I really need to stretch my legs.’

Professor Mulgrew nodded.

‘Make the most of it while you have the chance, son. Were only here for a few hours. It will have to be a quick turnaround if we’re going to get back to Last Town for Santa Claus.’

Ryan suddenly felt a little worried.  Lots of questions came into his mind at once.

‘We will get back in time for Santa, won’t we Dad?’

‘It might be tight; we lost a lot of time crossing that frozen river earlier, but we should make it.’

Ryan looked up at his father.

‘He will find me if we don’t get back in time, won’t he?’

His dad ruffled his hood again. ‘I’m sure he will, Son.’

 Ryan pulled a face as he thought about it. ‘I forgot to hang my Santa sack up,’ he said.

Thirty minutes later, as promised, the dog team pulled the sled out of the pine forest, past a few large boulders, and came to a halt alongside a broken-down shack. Part of the roof had collapsed and the open door creaked as it swung in the strengthening wind. The shack was surrounded by a series of high poles which had various sized boxes fixed to their tops. A thin strand of wire holding a few dozen glass lightbulbs, hung between them. On the floor, just inside the shed, was a coil of unused lighting wire.

Ryan jumped off the sled and stamped around while his father and the two guides unpacked the replacement equipment and prepared to check the data from the existing experiments.

He climbed to the top of a ten-foot snowdrift and looked out across the frozen tundra. There were no trees beyond that point and the flat, snowy landscape stretched for miles until it reached a long line of white, jagged mountains. Beyond the mountains lay the North Pole; Santa’s home. The sky looked pitch-black above the peaks, although there should have been a good two hours of daylight left.

As he clambered down from the snowdrift, he noticed a small, stumpy, pine tree that had grown just behind the run-down shack; the only tree for a hundred metres or so. It was a thin, spindly little thing, no taller than Ryan himself. The sparse branches were tipped with icicles.  He immediately felt sorry for it.

‘Look, Dad,’ he called out. ‘A baby tree, all on its own.’

Professor Mulgrew walked across and examined the pine.

‘It’s not a baby, Ryan. It’s probably as old as many of the trees in the forest back there. It’s just that the soil isn’t as good out here and it hasn’t had a chance to grow like they have.’ He looked out across the frozen waste, then back to the tree line. ‘This must be the last pine tree before the North Pole.’

‘It looks so lonely, Dad,’ said Ryan. ‘Can’t we dig it up and plant it near the other trees?’

Professor Mulgrew stamped on the rock-solid ground.

‘We’d never get a shovel into this, Son, and even if we could, I doubt it would survive the shock of being moved.’

As his father walked back to the sled, Ryan patted the tree on one of its frost-covered branches and said.

‘Did you hear that? You’re the last pine tree before the North Pole, that’s something to be proud of. You should be one of the most famous trees in the world really. People should write stories about you. You shouldn’t be left unnoticed and alone.’

Then he had an idea.

He ran around to the storage shed and picked up the coil of spare lighting wire, made sure the lamps were screwed into their holders, nice and tight, and ran back to the tree. He wrapped the wire around its branches, being careful not to disturb any of the hanging icicles, and happily found he had just enough spare wire to reach back to the shed.

‘Dad,’ He called. ‘Could you plug this into the generator for me?’

Professor Mulgrew plugged the extension lead into a spare plug socket as Ryan waited outside, expectantly. Suddenly he heard the sound of the generator starting up and the thin line of lamps between the poles flickered into life. Ryan cheered as his tree lights burst into life. The glow from the bright yellow lamps flickered across the icicles, making them seem to dance in the icy, artic breeze.

‘There’s something missing,’ said Ryan to himself. Then he realised what it was.

He ran back to the sled and rummaged about in the bags until he found a small, round, shiny metal, dinner plate. He rushed back to the tree and wedged it into the topmost branches.

‘There,’ he said proudly. ‘Now you have a shiny star.’

His happy thoughts were interrupted by the alarm in his father’s voice.

‘There’s a storm coming!’

Ryan clambered up the snowdrift again and looked north to see that the dark black clouds had moved a lot closer. The three men hurried about, taking down old boxes from the pole tops and installing new ones.

Amaruk, one of the Inuit guides, (his name means, Grey Wolf, in English,) called Ryan down from the snowdrift and pointed to the old shack.

‘Get the huskies inside, Ryan, take them to far end, where the roof is still in place and tie that door shut. We’re going to have to camp here tonight.’

Ryan began to panic. ‘We can’t,’ he said, ‘Santa is coming tonight. He doesn’t know I’m here.’

Amaruk looked at Ryan sadly.

‘I’m sorry little one, but we can’t outrun this storm. It will blow us back to Last Town.’

Ryan reluctantly led the Huskies into the shed, settled them down, then closed the door and tied it shut with a length of old rope he found on the floor. When he had finished, he walked round the back of the shack to the little Christmas tree. He pointed to the north.

‘There’s a storm coming, little tree. I know it’s not the first one you’ve seen; you’ve probably been through a lot of them. I just wanted to wish you good luck with this one.’

 When he got back, he found the guides using short, sharp, saws to cut blocks of solid snow from the snowdrift.

‘What’s happening, Dad?’ asked Ryan. ‘We’ve got tents on the sled. Why aren’t we setting them up?’

‘They’ll just blow away in this storm,’ replied his father. He noticed the look of alarm on Ryan’s face. ‘Cheer up,’ were going to spend the night in an igloo.’

Ryan forced a smile.

‘I just hope Santa knows where I am. I’m supposed to be in the hotel in Last Town tonight.’

He watched, fascinated as the two Inuit guides shaped the blocks of ice they had dug out of the snowdrift. When they thought they had enough, they began piling them on top of each other to build a circular wall. It was amazing how quickly the building came together. In what seemed like no time at all, Amaruk placed the final block onto the roof and patted into place with a small, wooden mallet, then everyone joined in to cover the igloo with loose snow. Ryan’s job was to pat it all down with a wide, plastic spade.

They finished work just as the storm arrived. Ryan followed his father through a short tunnel and found himself inside the igloo. It was warmer than he thought it would be, and by the time Amaruk had finished carving a few nooks into the ice wall, to hold some battery-operated LED lights, he was warm enough to remove his outer coat. A few minutes later, Aput, the other guide, (whose name means Snow, in English,) crawled into the igloo with their sleeping bags and food packs.

Ryan suddenly found he was really hungry and tore open one of his packs to find a banana, an apple, and a couple of carrots. His other pack contained sandwiches and some round, oatmeal biscuits.

He ate hungrily, leaving only two biscuit and the carrots. He washed the meal down with a bottle of fizzy water and settled back on his sleeping bag with a notepad and a thick pencil.

Dear Santa.

If you read this note you’ll know I’m not in Last Town tonight. I’m stuck up here instead, so, can I ask you a favour? Instead of leaving me a present, could you use some of your Santa magic to make the little tree happy.  I feel so sorry for it, growing on its own like that.

Lots of love.

Ryan.

PS.

Sorry I don’t have a mince pie. I’ve left you some oatmeal biscuits and carrots for the reindeer. I hope that’s okay.

He flattened out the foil-wrapping that the food had been packed in, and placed it on the floor between his sleeping bag and his father’s. Ryan slipped the note under the carrots, pulled off his boots, slid into his thickly-padded sleeping bag, and with the sound of the storm howling around outside, he drifted into a dreamless sleep.

At exactly two-minutes-past-midnight, Ryan woke with a start. He shot bolt upright in his sleeping bag, his head cocked to one side, listening hard to see if the sound that had filtered into his sleep, was real.

The storm, it seemed, had passed over and all was eerily silent, except for… YES! Now he was sure… the sound of the tinkling of sleigh bells. They were faint, but unmistakeable.

Ryan eased himself out of the sleeping bag and as quietly as he could, in his excited state, pulled on his thick coat and boots. He scurried on his hands and knees through the short tunnel and got to his feet. The air was cold, the night was black, but the sky was filled with a billion, sparkling stars. Ryan looked up in wonder, he had never seen so many. Then, as his eyes turned to the north, some of the glittering stars began to move towards him. He blinked, and looked again to make sure he wasn’t imagining it, but the stars were moving towards him, there was no mistake.

His mouth opened wide as the tinkling of bells got louder. The tiny stars became bigger, and bigger until he could see the shape of a sleigh, led by nine reindeer. The sleigh and the harness were covered with strings of rapidly flashing, white and silver lights, Ryan could hear the whoosh as it sped through the skies towards him. Suddenly, it was overhead, two hundred feet above, he heard a deep, booming, ‘Ho, Ho, Ho,’ as it sped on.

Ryan jumped up and down, waving his arms, shouting, ‘I’m here, Santa, I’m here.’

But Santa drove, on, seemingly oblivious to his desperate calls. A tear slid down Ryan’s cheek as he watched the twinkling lights fly over the forest, towards Last Town.

He turned towards the little tree, amazingly still lit, and glowing proudly despite the storm.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he said. ‘Santa missed us.’

He crawled back into the igloo, and fighting back the tears, undressed, slipped back into his sleeping bag and fell into a restless, sleep.

Ryan was the first to wake next morning. He sighed as he remembered the events of the previous night. They would be going home today and the lights would be turned off, leaving the little Christmas tree alone and cold through the long dark winter. He looked hopefully at the floor where he had left his note for Santa but his father had rolled over in the night so that he was lying across the spot where Ryan had left it.

He felt a sob rise from his throat, but he held it back, got dressed and slid out of the tunnel. He didn’t want to let the grownups see him cry.

Outside it was still dark, a few of the bulbs on the line of lights had gone out during the storm, but a few were still lit.

Ryan walked over towards the shack to check that the Huskies had got through the night without incident. On the floor, by the shack door, was the string of lights that Ryan had hung around the little tree. They had been unplugged and lain out on the floor alongside his stainless-steel dinner plate. Ryan took off a glove and touched one of the bulbs; it was icy cold.

Puzzled, Ryan walked around the back of the shack to where the little tree stood. As he turned the corner, his eyes opened wide in amazement, a joyful cry escaped his throat.

The lonely, bare, little tree, was lonely and bare no longer.

Its branches were strewn with dainty, star-shaped, glittering lights, some glowed red, others green, blue, silver and gold. There were no wires between the lights, each one was powered separately by Santa magic. Between the lights, lying across the branches, were long strands of silver. The icicles on the tips of the branches, danced, bathed in a myriad of colours. Best of all, at the very top, was a large, shiny, silver star.

Ryan stepped back and admired the little tree.

‘You look beautiful,’ he said. ‘And, because of the Santa magic, you’ll look like that for ever and ever.’

As if to reply, a breeze whispered through the tree’s branches, making them sway, gently.

Then Ryan saw something else that brought more tears to his already wet eyes.

Between the shack and the back of the little tree, in the shape of a horse shoe, were a dozen little pine trees, each about eighteen inches tall. All had their branches decked out in the same star-shaped lights as the little Christmas tree. Ryan clapped his hands together.

It was still the last pine before the North Pole, but it was no longer alone!

Ryan was so entranced by the scene, that he hadn’t noticed the small pile of gaily-wrapped presents that sat beneath the little Christmas tree.

He ran back to the igloo, shouting at the top of his voice.

‘Dad, Dad, Santa found me. He’s left us presents; you should see the little tree.’

The grownups crawled out of the igloo and Ryan led them around to where the little tree danced its colourful dance in the early morning breeze. He passed around the presents.

Dad got a new watch to replace his broken one. The new watch had dials which could tell you the time in any part of the world.

Aput and Amaruk, each got a new fishing rod that could fold away into the smallest length imaginable. The Huskies got a large bag of dog treats.

Ryan held his present close to his chest, not wanting to spoil the moment by opening it.

Finally, under pressure from the others, he at first, folded back a little bit of the paper from one end, before giving in and tearing the brightly coloured wrapping from the gift.

Inside was a box with the words, Junior Arctic Explorers Kit, emblazoned across the lid. Ryan slipped it off to find a fake-fur hat with flaps to keep his ears warm, a set of powerful binoculars and a digital, satellite-connected tracking device with which you could find your way home from anywhere. In the bottom of the box was a card with a picture of Santa on it. Ryan opened it slowly and read.

Dear Ryan.

Thank you for your letter. I was a little bit concerned that you might think I hadn’t found you, but you were my last call on the way home. Thank you for pointing out the plight of the little tree. I hope both you, and it, are pleased with the result.

See you next year, wherever you are.

Love, Santa.

PS.

You will find some more presents back in Last Town.

Merry Christmas.

The adults packed the sled and tidied up the camp, while Ryan said a happy goodbye to the little tree.

‘I’ll come to see you again next year and every year after that,’ he promised.

Ryan stroked one of the glittering branches, took one last look at the little tree’s new companions, and with a happy heart, walked back to the sled.

The Huskies were yapping to each other, clawing at the snow, eager to be off. Ryan fed them two treats each and took his place at the front of the sled alongside Amaruk.

‘Which way is home, Navigator?’ asked the guide with a smile.

Ryan started up his new device, typed in, ‘Last Town,’ and waited. A few seconds later a route was displayed with an arrow pointing South-West. Ryan held out his arm in the direction the arrow was pointing.

‘That way,’ he called.

The Huskies began to run. Ryan took one last look back and waved.

‘See you next year,’ he whispered.

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Desperate Measures

First published in Ireland’s Own magazine.

Michael Keagan stared despondently at the bleak winter sky. The light snow that had started to fall half an hour ago had become heavier and begun to settle.
‘Fabulous,’ he whispered, ‘the first Christmas snow we get in decades and I’m stood around in it, freezing to death.’
Cursing under his breath, he pulled his hood forward, checked his watch for the 20th time and wondered, once again, why he had chosen to wear trainers instead of the warm winter boots that were sitting under the stairs at home.

Christmas Eve wasn’t the best time to do a spot of breaking and entering, he decided.

Keagan looked around, the garden was quiet. His hiding place could not be overlooked by the neighbours, he had chosen well. The laurels were excellent cover and he could see into the drawing room clearly. The occupants, a man in his 40s and a slightly younger woman, were sat together in front of an open fire, drinking and sharing some joke or happy memory.

Keagan willed them to go to bed, it was 11.45. It couldn’t be much longer now surely? There was a child in the house, kids always got up early on Christmas day. Parents usually got up with them.
Five minutes later his patience was rewarded. The couple left their fireside seats and headed for the door leading to the stairs. The man remained for a while, turned off the Christmas tree lights and placed a metal guard in front of the coal fire. He checked his watch as he left the room; closing the door behind him.
Keagan watched as the stair light was turned off. It was replaced by a bedroom light and the duller light of the en suite close by. Not long now. He reached for a cigarette then decided it was too risky. He would have to wait.

Ten minutes later the lights were extinguished. He hoped the pair weren’t feeling amorous.

Keagan waited in the shrubbery for another thirty minutes before he decided it was safe enough to proceed. He took a final glance at the upstairs window and hurried across the lawn, crouching as he ran. The snow was coming down heavier than ever and would quickly cover any footprints he left behind.
Still crouching, he crossed the patio and headed for a set of French doors. A pair of small garden statues guarded them, one either side of the frame. Keagan lifted the right hand statue carefully and groped underneath until he found a key. He grinned and nodded to himself. He knew it would be there; people were so lax about security matters.



With a trembling hand, he turned the key in the lock. The door opened with a low groan, the warm air that greeted his entry, welcome after the freezing two hour reconnaissance. Keagan dipped into his pocket and pulled out a small pencil torch. Sliding a tiny button forward he shone the thin beam around the room. The door he wanted was on the left and with a few quick strides he crossed the timber floor and let himself into the drawing room.

The fire had begun to die down but gave out enough light to enable him to turn off the torch. Keagan wandered over to the Christmas tree, a dozen parcels lay underneath. Picking a couple at random he shook them, guessed the contents then returned them to the pile.

‘Now for the tricky bit,’ he thought.

He walked to the stair door and slowly eased the handle down. He grimaced as it creaked open, didn’t anyone lubricate hinges anymore? Keagan waited for a full minute in case the sound had been heard, but no-one stirred in the rooms above. He decided to leave the door ajar, for his heart as much as anything else. The noise had un-nerved him.
On tip toe and grateful now for his decision to wear the trainers, Keagan crept up the stairs a step at a time, listening intently for any sound of movement.
At the top he halted and waited for a few seconds; all was quiet. He turned to the right, eased open the white painted door in front of him and entered the bedroom. A small night light glowed on the bedside table, he smiled to himself; she never had liked the dark.

Keagan looked toward the small figure curled up under the covers and caught his breath. The girl was asleep, breathing softly, deep in dreams; her golden hair spread over the pillow. He moved slowly to the side of the bed, reached into his pocket and brought out a small package containing a bracelet and a short letter. Holding his breath, he gently lifted her hand and laid the package on the coverlet, then set her hand on top. Instinctively, he leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.
He wanted to stay longer, but he daren’t. He wanted to wake her, to tell her he loved her, to tell her he hadn’t forgotten, but that could end in disaster. Laura’s mother had steadfastly refused him access, despite the court order he had won. She had even refused to pass on gifts and messages. Were she to discover him in this burglar role, her revenge would know no limits

Keagan leaned over her again, whispered, ’Soon, my darling,’ then, wiping away a tear, he turned and left the room as quietly as he had entered it.
Back outside, Keagan replaced the key under the statue and took a last look at the house he knew so well, the house he used to share with Laura before life had become so difficult. His lawyers had insisted that access would be granted in the New Year It all should have been sorted out much sooner. Had it been left to Laura’s mother and him, it would have been.

Once on the street he lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. The snow fell steadily. It was in for the night, there would indeed be a white Christmas; Laura would love that.
Back in the car Keagan lit another cigarette, fired up the engine, turned on the radio and adjusted the dial for the heater. He had a two hour drive ahead of him, but the journey would be shortened by the feeling of a job well done.

As he was about to pull away he heard a beep from his pocket. Keagan checked the phone; a text message was waiting in his inbox.

‘Thanks Dad, I love the bracelet. Happy Christmas! Laura.

Through misty eyes, Keagan checked his mirrors, pulled away from the kerb and turned up the radio. As he drove along the deserted High Street he heard the familiar voice of Bing Crosby wishing everyone a merry Christmas.
‘Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow…’
Keagan nodded in agreement and headed toward the motorway.

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The Visit

The Visit.

He walked across the veranda and stopped just behind her.

‘Jodie?’

The young girl stared into the darkness and said nothing.

‘Jodie, I…’

‘Don’t talk to me.’

‘Come on, Honey, I just…’

The girl whistled tunelessly and studied the darkness.

‘Jodie don’t…’

‘You left us.’

The man bowed his head. ‘I know, Honey. I didn’t want to.’

‘You just left, without even saying goodbye.’

‘I couldn’t, Jodie, there wasn’t time, your Mom…’

‘Mom was hurt real bad. Do you know that?’

‘Yes, Honey, I know that. Do you miss me too, just a little?’

‘No, I got over you, it took a while, but I made it.’

‘I never got over you, Jodie. Never will.’

The girl got up from the step and turned to face him.

‘You haven’t changed much.’

‘No,’ he laughed. ‘I don’t suppose I have.’ He reached out to put a hand on her shoulder.

She stepped back quickly. ‘Have you seen Ryan?’

‘Not yet, I don’t know if he wants to see me.’

‘Probably not. He calls Jim, Dad, now.’

‘And you? Do you call Jim, Dad?’

She shook her head. ‘He’s not my Dad. I call him Jim.’

‘Is he looking after you Okay? Does he…’

‘What do you care? You left us. He wouldn’t be here but for that.’ She sat on the step again and wiped away and angry tear.

He placed a soft hand on her hair. She snapped her head away, then dropped her chin to her chest and began to sob. ‘You went… without…saying…goodbye.’

He sat on the step and placed his arm around her shoulder. A few seconds later she buried her head in his chest.

‘I would have given anything to stay, Sweetheart. You know that. I would never do anything to hurt you.’

The sobbing slowly subsided. When she spoke again her voice was soft, all the anger gone.

‘Christmas was bad, and Thanksgiving. I didn’t celebrate my birthday, not properly.’

‘I couldn’t send you anything, Jodie. It wasn’t possible.’

‘I know, Dad. I’m older now, I understand.’

A voice called from inside the house. ‘Jodie? Dinner’s ready. Come wash your hands.’

She stood up slowly. He crouched and took her hands in his. ‘You had better go or you’ll be in trouble.’

She threw her arms round his neck and hugged him. ‘Thanks for coming, Dad. Will I see you again?’

‘He sucked on his teeth and tipped his head to the side. ‘Never say never. It’s difficult, but I’ll try to come over now and then. It might be a while ’til next time though.’

She stepped back and gave him a smile. ‘I love you Dad.’

He nodded slowly. ‘I know, Honey, and I love you, never forget that.’

She smiled again. ‘Sorry for behaving like a brat.’ She turned away and crossed the veranda as Jim appeared in the doorway.

‘Jodie, how many more times…’

‘Sorry, Jim. I was just thinking about Dad…it’s three years ago today that he died.’

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Designer Shorts

Re-Released today. The Kindle version of my collection of Short Stories, poetry and sample chapters.

Knees provided by
David W Robinson

Designer Shorts is an anthology of short stories, excerpts from works in progress and a bonus section of poetry by the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail, T A Belshaw.
The collection includes two emails from the sequel to Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail.
The Zombie Poets is a rather amusing tale about the aftermath of a Zombie apocalypse. The Zombies don’t want to eat brains; they have something far worse in mind.
The Psychic is a short story about a bored policeman stuck on desk duty, who encounters a strange individual delivering a very disturbing message.
Blind Date is a three-part story of a woman who allows herself to be persuaded to go on a blind date with the friend of a friend.
The Instant Messaging Machine, the Bath O’ Matic and The Time Machine are a series of Steampunk stories based around a Victorian inventor and the wife of his best friend who is determined to become the test driver for his amazing inventions.
The Second Valentine’s Day Massacre is a tale of gangster revenge.
Can You tell me Where God Is, tells the story, in verse, of a man struggling to bypass heaven’s insufferable, red tape.
At My Expense, is a poem about MPs expenses, whilst Clicking Gran is a children’s poem long listed in the Plough Prize international poetry Competition.

My Mistake was highly commended in the Farringdon Poetry competition.

Available on Kindle, Click Here. Amazon UK



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The Steampunk Instant Messaging Machine

From 2011

‘What an interesting device, Sir Oswald. What does it do exactly?’ Albert Parkin straightened his cravat, leant back in the stiff leather chair and took a sip from his brandy glass.

‘This,’ said Sir Oswald, ‘is my latest invention. I call it the IM machine. It is capable of sending short messages to recipients anywhere in the world. Providing they have one of these devices of course.’

‘Doesn’t the Telegraph system already do that?’ asked Albert.

Sir Oswald nodded. ‘Yes, but this little beauty can be set up in a person’s own home or office.’ A huge grin spread over his face. ‘No waiting for the delivery boy.’

‘It does looks very impressive,’ said Mrs Parkin from the back of the machine. Her head appeared through a cloud of steam. ‘How does one send an instant message?’

Sir Oswald puffed out his chest and stood proudly in front of the contraption. He opened a small door and threw in a single lump of coal. A fresh burst of steam hissed from a valve at the rear making Mrs Parkin scurry round to the front. She laid a soft hand on Sir Oswald’s arm as a small cloud of smoke snaked from a funnel on top.

Let’s say,’ said Sir Oswald, ‘that I wanted to send a message to Mrs Pettigrew, my secretary at Crankshaft and Piston Ltd. All I would have to do is this…’

Sir Oswald pulled a red lever, twisted a dial, then pulled on a green handle. He turned to Mrs Parkin with a smile as a panel slid to the side and a typewriter keyboard presented itself.

‘Voila.’

Sir Oswald fingers danced across the brightly polished keys. As he hit return, the machine emitted a small toot. There was a crunching of cogs, and more steam hissed from the safety valve. To Mrs Parkin’s delight a thin strip of tape appeared from a slot in front of her.

At Sir Oswald’s invitation, Mrs Parkin pulled the tape from the slot and read aloud.

‘Mrs Pettigrew. Please reply to this message immediately.’

Sir Oswald fed the tape into a second slot just above the first, and pressed the return key again.

‘Shouldn’t take a minute,’ he preened. ‘We have an identical machine in the office. We’re hoping to have thirty of them littered around the county by the end of next year.’

Sir Oswald poured himself another brandy and strolled back to the IM machine.

‘It’s taking longer than usual,’ he said with a frown.

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The Country Park

From 2009

The Country Park

By Ruddred0 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33165150

I live in a village called Ruddington, part of the borough of Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire.

The village itself dates back to Saxon times, though a recent excavation on the perimeter found stone arrowheads dating back to 1500 BC. Looking at certain members of some of the older families of the village, I can well believe they have been here that long. Two spring to mind immediately. They both have beards, long straggly hair and the wife of one of them has a fur coat.

Close by the arrowheads they found the remains of a Roman villa. Try as I might, I have yet to discover any of their distant relatives. No orgies have been reported in my lifetime.

 Such is the gossipy nature of the village, that if as much as a threesome had been planned, the entire village would have heard of it before number three had taken his coat off. A full-blown orgy would have seen a horde of Ruddintonians peering through windows long before the participants got as far as second helpings.

Ruddington is home to the famous Framework and Knitters Museum. I have to shamefully admit that this is a place I have never visited. Maybe it’s the thought of those dark old satanic mills that puts me off, maybe it’s the anger I would surely feel when I saw the conditions those poor Victorian wretches had to work in. But mainly I think it’s because I would be bored rigid. Cotton and wool, whilst worthy commodities, do not do a lot for me.

The museum is situated just beyond the church in the centre of the red brick village. Ruddington may sound as if it is named after the colour of its soil, or the brickwork on show; but it is actually named after a Saxon called Rudda. The name Ruddington means “the homestead’ or ‘ton’ of the Ruddingas (Rudda’s people).

I believe an ex-village hairdresser is a direct descendent of Rudda. I’m sure she used an axe as a hair cutting tool, there is no way you could make it look that rough, using scissors.

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The Froggers

The Froggers

 My garden pond is teaming with wildlife at the moment. We have Koi Carp, Goldfish, a couple of Green Tench and a few dozen newts, frogs and toads. I also have two energetic Springer Spaniels. Both of them are accomplished frogger’s, Molly, my black and white Springer, could frog for England at the ‘frogging Olympics’ if such an entity existed.

She is so accomplished that she sometimes comes trotting into the house with three frogs at a time, her mouth gently but firmly closed over fat bodies, leaving a tangle of green legs hanging out of the sides. Usually though, it’s only one unfortunate creature that has been caught unaware s as it came out of hiding, thinking it’s safe to go about catching dinner.

Maisie, my liver and white Springer, isn’t quite as adept at catching them, though she could still be an international at the event. She likes to see them jump, so she’ll give them a whack with her paw, then chase after them and repeat the exercise until they are steered in the direction of the pond. She knows they live there; she saw them in the bottom when we dug it out a month or two back.
Once the escapee is back in its watery gaol, she’ll go in search of another, looking under shrubs, stones and bits of old log we have scattered about the place.

Occasionally she’ll pick one up and trot around the garden with it. If we spot her, a quick ‘leave’ will see her cough up the absconding prisoner. She will then guard it carefully until we, the warders, stroll up to return the inmate to its watery cell.

Molly doesn’t give up her prize anywhere near as easily. She is a hoarder, a collector, an expert on the species. It really doesn’t matter if she has a frog or a foul-tasting toad. Once they are caught, they don’t get released until they been carefully inspected, catalogued, sized and sexed. We always groan when we see her with one, as we know what a tough job we have ahead of us, trying to negotiate a ransom.

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