How do you start a diary I wonder?
I’ve never kept one before, not a serious journal at least. I’ve often thought
about keeping one but I’d be mortified if Gary the Grump found it and read my
He thinks he knows everything about
me just because we’ve been married for eighteen years, but in truth he knows
very little and understands even less. Oh, he can find his way around the
intimate parts of my body and he knows to keep well clear if I’m in one of my
moods, but he doesn’t have a clue who the real me is. I hate the way he calls them, my moods, as though he’s always full of
the joys of Spring. At least I have the excuse of an excruciating period or the
beginnings of a migraine when I snap. He gets unbearably shitty if his precious
football team loses, and God help us all if England aren’t doing very well at
He thinks he knows which TV
shows I like, (the ones I get to see when there isn’t a conflict with the
sports channel,) but he doesn’t have a clue what I Sky Plus and watch when he’s
at the pub or nursing a Sunday morning hangover in bed. He has no idea what I
dream about, what I think, or what I do all day.
He’s convinced that I vote Labour
because he does, but I’ve never voted for them once. I actually voted for the
Rubber Chicken party at one election and I’d have been quite happy had they got
Gary still hasn’t worked out that if I nod my head when he’s screaming at the TV during Question Time it doesn’t mean I agree with him. It’s actually far more likely to mean that I agree with the politician who almost caused him to have a seizure. Gary has always been arrogant like that. He assumes that he wears the trousers in our house but in actual fact the decision-making process is shared equally. He decides what we should do about Libya, oil prices and the EU and I make the everyday decisions, like, what we buy, where we buy it, how much we put away for a rainy day, who we buy our gas from, who’s offering the best mortgage deal … It works out perfectly really.
I’ve decided to turn this into a
weekly diary. My everyday life is so boring that it would be pointless making
it a daily one. If I’m lucky I’ll just about cram enough into a full week to
make a worthwhile entry. There is also the fact that The Grump might find it
strange that I’m spending so much time on the laptop. I normally only go onto
the Internet to order new refills for the fridge, water filter, or buy the odd
book from Amazon. If my life story should suddenly become more entertaining,
I’ll start doing twice weekly updates. I can always tell him I’ve joined
Mumsnet.com. He’ll think I’ve gone all radical.
I suppose I’d better start by
introducing myself properly. You’ll need to know a little bit about me if we’re
going to be sharing my innermost thoughts.
My name is Isla Ferry and I’ve been
married for eighteen years to The Grump, aka, Gary Ferry. (He tries to make out
he’s distantly related to the singer, Bryan Ferry, but his mum told me the
first time I met her that he isn’t.) When we decided to get married, I
fully intended adding my maiden name to The Grump’s in order to make a posh
sounding double barrelled name. The problem was, my family name is Whyte and it
didn’t take long for me to realise the years of torment I’d be letting myself
in for if I were to become Isla Whyte-Ferry. I had enough jokes made up about
my name when I was at school without adding to the misery.
I’m thirty-nine years old and
rapidly approaching forty. I have no idea how this happened as the last time I
looked I was twenty-seven. Life crept up behind me one morning and screamed
‘Hey, it’s time for a midlife crisis.’ I’ll never forget that moment, I was
cleaning the toilet bowl at the time.
I hope you got a lie in after Carmel’s break up party last
night. I managed to get an extra hour, so got up about twelvish. I didn’t feel
too bad considering the amount of booze I put away. I can’t remember getting
home, but worryingly, Mum found a pair of men’s underpants in the porch this
morning. All my clothes are in a pile on the chair near my bed, so I know I
arrived home fully dressed. Who was that bloke I was talking to, late on? I know
I snogged him outside the loo, but that’s as much as I can remember. Was he
okay? Don’t tell me I snogged a minger. My street cred isn’t what it was since
that tart, Olivia, told everyone in Slappers night club, that I had crabs. I
know it must have looked like I was scratching at nits, but it was those
knickers I got from Ali’s market stall last week, they had some dodgy stitching
and were irritating me all night. I’m going to take them back on Saturday. I
paid a bloody fiver for those; Ali can do one, I’m not wearing seconds. I ended
up going commando in the end, which was very risky in that short dress I was
wearing. I had a bit of a rash round my bits next morning, though that could be
down to the fact that my razor is blunt. I think Gran’s been using it again. I
don’t know why she insists on having a Brazilian at her age. Her pubes are like
a Brillo pad: she needs a chainsaw to trim them really.
Poor Gran, she’s starting to feel her age a bit now. She’s
in her 80s, so doing really well, but her knees are giving way and she’s
struggling with the stairs now. When she stands up or sits down her knees crack
so loudly that you’d think you were down at the rifle range. Mum says we’ll
have to move her downstairs soon. We have a room at the back that’s only used to
keep Dad’s knock off fruit and veg out of the sight of prying eyes.
Gran wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but changed her mind
when she found out that Dad didn’t like the idea either. Dad said he’d have a
heart attack carting all his stuff upstairs to Gran’s room. Gran said she’d like
to see that and asked Mum to point the indoor security camera at the stairs so
she could record it and watch it over and over again.
I’ve just been listening to Dad and Gran arguing about Brexit, or should I say, the lack of it. Remember I told you about all the arguments in our house when we first had the referendum back in 2016? Well, we’re still having the same old rows. It’s like Groundpig day. No one has changed their opinion in the slightest. Dad still thinks we should stay in the European Union and that everyone who wants to leave is a racist, insular, narrow minded, myopic Nazi. Gran said that was a compliment and reckons Dad is a weak minded, spineless, yellow bellied. commie traitor and should be shot as a Quisling collaborator.
I didn’t get why Gran bought up the fact that Dad enjoys
taking part in pub quizzes during a political argument, so I looked the word up
on Google and it seems that Quisling was a Norwegian bloke who took the side of
the Nazis in the war. That puzzled me a bit, because if both their arguments are
correct, they should be on the same side.
Even Mum gets involved at times. She said that If four ex-Prime
Ministers and that nice Nick Clegg, who was nearly Prime Minister, think we
should stay in the EU, then it’s good enough for her. She’s worried that if we leave,
she might not be able to spend the 20 Euro note, left over from the day out to
France she had with the Clicking Needles, knitters’ group, last year.
I’m a bit worried about it all too if I’m honest, I mean, if
we leave Europe, we won’t belong to a continent anymore and it will cost a
fortune to reprint all those atlases. Anyway, I want to go to Malaga this
summer and if we aren’t in Europe I could be classed as stateless, like that
ISIS bride, and that might make it a bit tricky until we sort all the maps out.
How’s the jogger’s nipple? I hate that, I got it once when I
wore that hessian blouse without a bra to Bryony Chalmers’ end of engagement
party. I was really popular with the lads that night but Christ, my nipples
felt like they’d been chewed on by a starving buck toothed Piranha. I used up
three-six-packs of Greek style yoghurts trying to cool them down.
That bastard, Simon, my ex, put my name down for the wet
t-shirt competition at Tossers night club. The lousy sod said I’d be a shoo in
with my cast iron nips.
Gran’s been giving us a lecture on how tough life was back
in the 1960s tonight. It all started when Dad came home from work saying he was
going to see the doctor about getting a few days off. Mum got all worried, she
doesn’t like the idea of dad being on the sick. The last time he had a few days
off he didn’t go back for twenty years.
Hope this email finds you in good health. How’s the
ingrowing hair on your nipple? Have you had it removed yet? It looked really
sore when you showed it to me. Sorry my efforts to dig it out with my eyebrow
tweezers wasn’t successful.
Apologies for not being in touch sooner, but I felt I had to get away to think about everything, so I went down to Newquay for a fortnight. That was a waste of time. I ended up getting pissed every night in Easy Riders nightclub. Remember that place, Emma? We had some fun in there when we were on holiday with your mum and dad. How old were we, fifteen? We thought we were so grown up. You tossed that lad off in the toilets and got his stuff al over your blue skirt. I still laugh at that. You told your mum I’d spilt some superglue on it when I was trying to stick the heel back onto your shoe. If only she’d known, she wouldn’t have tried to get the stain out by handwashing it.
Today, the Independent newspaper is carrying a story about
the perfectly preserved body of a Buddhist monk that has been found in
Mongolia. One Buddhist academic maintains that the monk, still sitting in the
lotus position, may not be dead but might be in a state of deep mediation.
Now, as some of you know, I’m not one to be taken in by
religious relics. I wasn’t fooled when a ‘genuine,’ nail, from the crucifixion
of Jesus was put up for sale on Ebay, nor was I convinced by the splinter from
the cross that was being offered by the same seller. (Not least because I had
already bought one from a street market seller when I was in Turkey, and the
one I’d haggled for was made of a much darker wood.) I was sorely tempted to
purchase one of the thirty six, Messiah’s foreskins that were offered to me on
the same holiday, but in the end I didn’t succumb, I mean, Jesus only had one
foreskin removed, how could I be sure which one of them was the genuine
article? I could have ended up with Judas’ prepuce and that wouldn’t have been
half as valuable. I suppose, in a way they may all have been genuine, he was a
supreme healer, after all. I just don’t think he’d have put up with a rabbi
following him around with a sharp knife waiting to snip the latest growth.
Children of an eastern suburb of London, who have been made homeless by the random bombs of the Nazi night raiders, waiting outside the wreckage of what was their home. September 1940. New Times Paris Bureau Collection. (USIA) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 306-NT-3163V WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1009
From The Book of Gran
Bashing The Bishop
By 1942 the war was in full swing. Europe was so crowded with soldiers that there wasn’t enough room to fight properly so Mr Churchill and old Adolph decided to move some of their armies to Africa and let them fight where there was more space. I was twelve by then and Fritz was just fourteen. I was still a child, but Fritz was growing up fast. He had begun to take an interest in other girls, older girls. I have to admit I was jealous. We had always been best mates and nothing had changed in our relationship, but I was forever catching him looking all gooey-eyed at teenage girls and even grown up women. He was particularly fixated with breasts. I put up with it for a while, but when I found him looking dreamily at my mother’s chest while she was hanging her knickers on the line I felt I had to say something. I mean, my mother is a very good looking woman for her age, and I was used to men fawning over her, especially our half-hour-uncles, but Fritz wasn’t like other males, he was my mate. I began to get worried that he might want to join my mum and play her parlour games in the back room.
One very warm, summer afternoon, I came back from an errand to find him, Tin Ribs and Fat Ernie crouched down behind our garden wall looking through the gaps where the mortar had fallen out. Fat Ernie was rubbing away at his front of his trousers. I crept up behind them and craned my neck to see what they were gawping at, but all I could see was mum stretched out on a blanket doing a bit of sunbathing with my big sister, Josie. Mum was wearing her usual black brassiere and faded blue bloomers, her girdle lay on the floor alongside. Josie was wearing a short, fawn coloured slip. They had rigged up a temporary screen on the one side they could be overlooked, by pegging a tatty old blanket on the washing line. They had obviously forgotten that people could look over the back wall if they wanted to.
Fat Ernie was sweating like a pig, and sounding like one. I had never heard anyone grunt like that in my life, even when we sang Old MacDonald’s Farm at school. Continue reading
My first, and last, gangster story. From circa 2011. This story got a good few thousand hits with a lot of interest from the USA.
The 2nd Valentine’s Day Massacre
I climbed out of the model A Ford, closed the door behind me and tapped on the side of the car to signal Jimmy to pull away. We chose the Ford deliberately, a car so common that no one would remember. I would have liked to have travelled in style but we couldn’t risk Luigi’s Cadillac, someone would be sure to notice it.
I turned up my collar against the biting wind, pulled my hat down over my eyes and crossed the slush-covered street. It was quiet, but I was still wary. I looked around to check that I wasn’t being followed. I needn’t have worried, only a few people braved the cold February night. I rapped on a glass panelled door and it was opened almost immediately by a guy wearing greasy trousers and a vest. He was sweating profusely, even though it was freezing cold in the hallway. He noticed my quizzical expression.
‘Laundry,’ he muttered. ‘We have a laundry at the back.’
I grunted and followed him upstairs to a room overlooking the street. My host nodded to the window and turned to leave, but before he reached the door I’d slipped the cheese wire round this throat. He died a minute or so later.
The dirty, single curtain was pulled across, so I stood to the side of the window and inched it open. Whoever had selected the vantage point had chosen well, I had a clear, unhindered view of the restaurant over the road. I pulled up a chair, lit a cigarette, checked my pocket watch and waited for Mary to signal.
At 8.30 I saw the light in the room at the side of the restaurant flick on and off twice. My audience had arrived, it was time to get the show on the road.
I took the stairs two at a time, then stood for a moment to give the adrenalin time to settle. Satisfied, I let myself out, checked the street as I crossed, then walked down the alley at the side of the restaurant.
Mary was at the back door with a smile on her lips and a glint in her eye. She looked good, even in her waitress clothes. She leaned forward and our lips touched. Her scent took me straight back to her bedroom, to one of the many nights we had spent together over the past few weeks. My eyes dropped to that wonderful chest, I felt the sap rise, I wanted her there and then, on the cold floor tiles.
Mary sensed what was going through my mind. ‘Easy Tiger.’ Continue reading
It began with a trivial moment of carelessness, but the shockwaves that reverberate from this seemingly insignificant incident, spread far and wide.
Ed and his heavily pregnant wife Mary are on an errand for Ed’s ailing father before the pair depart for warmer climes. But the winter of 1962 comes early and one innocuous event and a hastily taken decision will have devastating consequences for the family of young Rose Gorton. Mary’s already fragile mental state is put under further stress while Ed tries to make sense of events that are spiralling massively, Out of Control.
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