24th November 2008

Happy Monday morning to you. We're on the final stretch now, so thank you for those that have been with us from the beginning, and those who have just joined us. So let the obsessive word counting begin for the week...!


She thought she might be one of those women who only drank champagne, wore silk negligees, smoked Turkish cigarettes, laughed twinkily and talked about nothing. Luckily, events worked against her.


  1. The furniture is made of salt, the windows, the tiles. My neighbour’s entire house is salt. Luckily it last rained in 1926. For three days. It destroyed the Shali fortress.

  2. He wanted a house, career, wife and three spoiled children. He spends his life on the road instead, seeing places, sleeping in motels, without a home. And he likes it.

  3. Mostly turning up for work at the library, smoking and smooth-moulded by her Hollywood-pink bustier and thong. Even positioning herself in “Glamorous Lives” had failed to soothe the manager.

  4. She opened the silk package. Inside were heaped champagne truffles, Turkish delight and Twinkies. For a brief moment, she imagined a different life. Different indulgences. Then she began to eat.

  5. Cigarettes
    gave her cancer;
    champagne, heartburn.
    Being perpendicular gave her vertigo.
    The sparkle of her personality
    atrophied under chemo
    and the glimmer of magenta sanity
    according to
    obfuscated design.

  6. She discovered the benefits of versatility: choosing to be vacuous on Mondays and dignified on Thursdays. On Saturdays she wore pink lycra. blue cashmere socks and smoked a meerschaum pipe.

  7. I lolled in my glass of champagne, puffing on my pink Sobranie. I’d forgotten a thing or two: where to flick the butt, and how to get to my negligee.

  8. She, prudish, became suddenly
    European, addict to French wine,
    frilled , smacking frock on
    her perfumed skin, western
    notes in Anglophile villa,
    Turkish Cigarettes,
    But her children remind
    their Indian Father.

  9. In a room without windows and without a way out, she had to imagine the colour of the lump she felt on her neck. She thought it must be red.


  10. Let's get a few things straight. Champagne is nice. But complicated. Now, to those women who only drink champagne. Have you ever met one? I did once know someone who aspired to it but the reality was that even she hit harder times (namely when her expense account was withdrawn) and she resorted to Cava. Furthermore, she was a physical wreck, existed on a liquid diet on the orders of a team of private surgeons and I was never sure whether they were aware of her interpretation of 'liquid diet' or if they turned a blind eye so that they, too, could continue to enjoy extravagant lifestyles. Let's be realistic. It gives you a headache after two glasses so unless you are very restrained and only ever drink two glasses of anything then you should be ready with the paracetamol which, of course, you shouldn't take until you're sober anyway. See? I told you it was complicated.

    Silk is just as bad. The woman in the lingerie catalogue may look like a goddess in her flowing ivory silk negligee but her perspiration tide marks will be airbrushed out along with her laughter lines. Yours will disappear just as the delicate garment begins to fall apart at the seams in the washing machine and before you've even got down to the butt of your Turkish cigarette which, incidentally reeks like a camel's backside and forces you to wash your negligee all over again. This time it disintegrates.

    Twinkily laughs. I'm not sure if they're genuine. I imagine champagne bubbles cascading down an elegant fountain of silk into a pool of warm, liquid oestrogen. I get splashed but I say nothing at all, put on my hoodie and go down the pub for a pint of Guinness with the lads. No contest.

  11. Three languages, numerous plane tickets, a new tattoo, some crazy shoes, a black cat and every last drop of my patience couldn’t save her from the jaws of the average.

  12. She missed the mark. She aimed too low and fell too high. She missed out on cirrhosis, venereal disease and cancer. Facing days of being nothing but a twinkily laugh.

  13. Every change means loss – my acupuncturist. You don’t know what’s around the next corner – a kind friend. They died of cancer, AIDS. People shouldn’t ever say wise things to me.

  14. Bubbles tickled
    her nose
    toes twinkled
    voice like silken strands
    nerves steadied
    one last look
    in the mirror-
    high heels
    thank you speech.
    Her body armour lay
    in a corner.


  15. Baby balanced on her hip, next door’s puppy scampering round her feet and a cup of earl grey in her hand she smiled, breathing in the country air. Just right.


  16. Always wear clean underwear in case you’re knocked over. Mother’s advice rattled through her head as she eased on her best silk stockings.

    Emily was frightened. She always had been. She grew up facing the prospect of becoming a butterfly hanging upon her man’s arm, constantly apologising for her own intelligence. Education hadn’t helped. She hated the scorn and pity exhibited by both genders. Why not put away these foolish dreams and wear the silks?

    The backs of men formed a sweating, beer soaked barrier against her objective. She panicked, she had to get through. What place was this for a lady? A real lady should be drinking champagne in the royal box whilst leaning delicately upon a masculine arm. A real lady would be thinking about dinner arrangements and laughing at how the odds really made no sense to anybody. What were her odds?

    Finally, she reached the bar, definitely, no place for a lady. Shoulders jostled. Beer and cheap wine slopped from bottles clenched in meaty fists. Her head ached. Her back gave her constant pain. She wondered if she should ask a “gentlemen” for a drink from their bottle.

    For an instant, she wondered if it could ever have been different. Could she ever have primped and squeezed into a desirable form? Would she ever have cut it as a woman of dark allure?

    Pounding, shouting, the ground itself trembling at the approach of raw animal power, Emily ducked under the bar and stepped onto the turf. For a moment, she felt sorry for Anmer, the king’s horse. She hoped that hitting her wouldn’t hurt him.

    Emily Wilding Davidson died of her injuries, less than one hundred years ago. I weep that I had to look her name up before I could write this. Please, never forget.

    Monkey @ monkeyonmyshoulder.co.uk

  17. The Turkish bath-house was her confessional. Lying next to priestess Evie on the hot stone, words flowed from her mouth as easily as sweat from her skin. She felt purged.


  18. She had even tried it for a while, joined a luncheon circle and got bored.
    Now, still drinking champagne, wearing stilettos and stockings, she secretively has fun with the husbands.

    Jacqueline Smith

  19. Smoking with her friends.
    How grown up it makes her feel...until the dinnerlady sneaks up on her, removes the cigarette and makes her write her name on the butt.

  20. She felt utterly hopeless. All she wanted was to be a good person, but no matter how hard she tried, she kept making the same mistakes over and over again.

  21. She looked up from the crystal ball and let out her breath.

    “That's what my life would have been like?”

    “Aye,” replied the gypsy.

    “Thank goodness I said 'No' then.”

  22. She burst in - “Sorry I’m late, blame Brown Owl” She giggled,
    offering her left hand – “Tawny - not a Guide then?”
    “Jill; n-no; just ticked volunteer for needy causes”.

  23. Her friends had said she was unlucky in love, but while they were all stuck at home with screaming babies and drunken husbands, she was still free and blessedly single.

  24. That's what living in France had taught her, how to drink champagne : in a slim-stemmed glass, with tiny bubbles, treading water on an August evening in the emerauld Breton sea.

  25. So; was it right place wrong time, wrong place right time, or maybe right place right time - certainly the press and the public all had there opinions about that evening.


  26. The smart WAAF uniform and the thrill of delivering planes to the edge of the theatre of war was exactly the wake-up call she needed. She'd never felt so alive.

  27. Joan Rivers, Joan Collins? No!
    Just Joan,
    beige to the bone,
    lugging giant carrier bags
    heaving requests:
    old people's shopping lists,
    sweets to bless a crying child -
    Saint Joan.

  28. Horace was disgusted. He thought she liked words but she had talked about nothing, only silly, flippant, empty words that she had poured into his ear all afternoon.

    She wasn't interested in HIS words. But somebody had to be, someone who would appreciated his gritty, harsh words: words with power which changed people's view, words with hate which made people reel, cutting words which made people cry.

    Those were the ones he liked. Twisted words. Not the simpering, twinkly words of nothingness.

    But he was forced to sell some of them; only a few. He needed the money. He had visited everyone in town but no one seemed interested.

    And he was hungry. So hungry that he was finding it difficult to think.

    As he walked he came across a pawn shop. He asked the pawnbroker how much he could get for his words. He was shocked that it was so little, but if he pawned ALL his words, it would be enough for a meal. Then he would be able to think of what to do next.

    'I'll be back tomorrow,' he said.

    'They might be sold by then,' said the pawnbroker.

    Horace smirked. No one had wanted them for months so the liklihood of selling any in only a few hours was highly unlikely.

    But it happened. With a full stomach he returned to the pawn shop to find them gone. All of them.

    'Nasty piece of work she was,' said the pawnbroker. 'They were just the sort of words she was looking for.'

    Horace was dumb-struck. He was dumb-struck because someone had wanted to buy his words after all, and he was dumb-struck because he had virtually given away every one of his best words.

    Now he had nothing left, only a few silly, flippant, empty words.

  29. Between stuttering phrases silence
    Is filled with sips of reception champagne,
    Conversation crutches. Absorbing
    Bubble upon bubble we learn
    To walk, to break the ice and swim
    To distant shores.

  30. She thought she might be one of those women who only drank champagne, wore silk negligees, smoked Turkish cigarettes, laughed twinkily and talked about nothing. Luckily, events worked against her.

    Sadie married at sixteen and worked in the Caernarvon Launderama. The only negligees she ever saw were the ones brought in for a “special wash” and she had to make do with a Lambrusco if she felt like a bit of fizz. But only one, as she was counting the calories.

    When Sadie’s lottery ticket numbers came up, she was tingly with excitement at the way her life could change. She quit the launderette, bought herself and husband, Ozzy, a five bedroomed bungalow in the new estate and a sunbed.

    She could afford all the champagne she could ever want now, but after forcing down a bottle between her and Ozzy, she pronounced it overrated and was up all night with terrible trapped wind.

    Whirling her way through the travel brochures, Ozzy and Sadie spent the a lot of that first year away from home, looking for whatever it was that made rich people happy.

    On the phone to her married daughter, Candy, she wondered what it was that was missing from her life now she had everything.

    “Come home, Mum. Come home and start living life again, like a normal person.”

    “I am a normal person, pet, aren’t I? I was never meant to be anything else,” she said, finally realising what she must do.

    In two weeks, she was back at the launderama, washing the town’s clothing and chatting with her customers again, laughing twinkly and talking about nothing and yet everything.

    You should also know that Sadie did get to try Turkish cigarettes once though, as someone left some in their pockets at the launderama. Again, over-rated.

  31. Gerry said

    Champagne flows. The talk is witty, brittle, even sometimes bitter. The guests are bright and
    well informed. I watch it all float over her head sparkling like glass spheres,unheeded.
    Luckily everyon takes her silence for wisdom...
    I know different. She's day dreaming. Concerned
    about circus fleas with swollen knees; disappointed, after at last doing a decent drawing of a frog prince; how frustrating to find they're out of fashion!
    She might be busy in her mind colouring in meandering coils of tree roots growing under the sea. Or god knows where she'll go with magic. Whirling Plates,Flexing Rods, and Fire-
    eating and Ribbon Making. And Multiplying Eggs.
    How she'd have loved to be Professor Pinetti,
    nailing a card to the wall with one pistol shot,
    or making a whole car load of attractive assistants disappear in one puff of smoke. Or Servais le Roy, levitating in a hoop the beautiful Talma, in a negligee of silk. To hear a whole audience gasp as he makes her disappear.
    Suddenly, when we are just finding some new angles on the financial meltdown, she interjects in a loud voice, just like Aunt Eff
    "I still don't understand why a leech would be
    encased in mother of pearl in message 15, or why a lobworm has to be funny? After all lobworms were once considered to be mythical dragons..."
    Fortunately at that very moment Charles knocks
    his glass of wine all over Samantha. In the rush for tissues and wet cloths, amid loud offers of sympathy I gently suggest might we
    take the opportunity to leave quietly?
    I fear she will have lost her reputation for
    "Perhaps you are a little too mature to take up
    blogging?" I venture, as I fill the kettle for
    her hot water bottle.

  32. She was born a delicate pink rose in a crystal vase, became a tall white lilly strutting down chic Parisian boulevards and died an old-fashioned carnation in a stranger’s pocket.

  33. He thought he would be one of those men who wore ties, smoked a pipe, read the New York Times, laughed deeply, talked incessantly. Then his mother died. Everything changed.

    Jamieson Wolf

  34. She loves: crooked smiles; ripped t-shirts; man-sweat; beer; and the rasp of evening stubble. She loves: danger; lengthy arguments; her family hating him; the way he loves to touch her.


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