Born Bad Follow up Now Available

I’m very excited to announce that Blood Ties, the follow-up to Born Bad and book two of my new trilogy, is already available to pre-order from Amazon. You can grab your copy using the link: http://viewBook.at/BloodTies. Publication date is 1st March 2018, which means that if you order now, you will have the book delivered to your Kindle as soon as that date arrives.

To give you a taster of what’s in store, here’s the fabulous cover that my publishers have designed together with the book blurb.

Adele Robinson is locked up – convicted for the murder of her abusive father. She quickly realizes that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive, and soon gains a reputation for standing her ground.

Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside – running protection rackets, seedy nightclubs and all manner of schemes to make a fast buck. He soon comes to the attention of, not only the police, but also Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out.

And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way.

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I hope you’ll agree that the book blurb is very enticing. March might seem a long way off but with Christmas coming upon us, the time will soon fly by.

Big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Born Bad, recommended it to others and left a review. It has surpassed all my expectations, peaking at an Amazon UK rank of 41 last week, and it continues to sell well. I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book just as much.

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Growing up in 70s Gorton

1970s Gorton is the setting for the first part of book one in my new gritty crime trilogy. Gorton is a suburb of East Manchester, and is also the place where I was born and raised until the age of 13.

Book one of the trilogy is called Born Bad and the first part of the novel describes Adele and Peter’s tough upbringing with a drunken, violent father and a slovenly, beaten mother. The remainder of the book tells the story of how that upbringing affects them into adulthood.

I have chosen 1970s Gorton for the setting of ‘Born Bad’ part one because, by doing so, I have drawn on many childhood memories. However, I wish to add as a disclaimer that although I draw on the characteristics of many people when creating my characters, none of the characters in the book are intended to depict any real people, either living or deceased.

Gorton has changed very much in recent years with rising unemployment and an increase in violent crime. However, the Gorton that I remember was very different from the Gorton that is now portrayed in the media. It was a working class area where most people worked for a living or, as was the custom in those days, the husband worked and the wife stayed at home to look after the children.

What is Gorton Famous For?

Belle Vue – formerly a zoological gardens, which opened in 1836 as well as a speedway stadium, amusement park and amusement hall complex. Belle Vue hosted many sporting events including wrestling, boxing and rugby.

Sadly the zoo closed in 1977 and the amusement park in 1980 followed by the speedway in 1987. Nowadays all that is left of Belle Vue is the Greyhound Racing Stadium and a snooker hall although that part of Gorton is still often referred to by locals as Belle Vue.

Shameless – Although the programme featured the fictitious Chatsworth estate, it was actually filmed on the council estate in West Gorton.

Gorton Monastery

Picture by Mikey – originally posted to Flickr as Gorton Monastery, Gorton, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8010571.

The monastery is grade II listed and has been included amongst the 100 most endangered sites in the world alongside the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the Taj Mahal. It was designed by Edward Pugin and built by Franciscan monks between 1863 and 1872.

The Franciscans left the monastery in 1989 and it fell into disrepair as well as being ravaged by dry rot. It was also prey to vandalism and theft, and many of the artefacts disappeared.

Fortunately, a £6 million fundraising campaign enabled the monastery to be restored, and many of the artefacts were returned. It now functions as a conference and events centre.

I’m pleased to say that I visited the interior of the monastery in the early 70s when the monks were still in residence and before many of the artefacts disappeared. It’s a stunning building. I’m also old enough to remember the monks in their brown habits walking in and out of the building when I passed the monastery on the bus to Manchester.

My Memories of Gorton

Belle Vue – In those days its main attraction was the well-known zoo with an accompanying fun fair. We used to love visiting Belle Vue in the school holidays.

When I was a teenager I moved out of Gorton but still lived within easy reach of Belle Vue, which also ran the Zoo Bi Doo disco. It was very popular amongst teenagers and was great fun, a precursor to the clubbing days of my 20s. Many of the kids who went to Zoo B Doo also went to the same secondary school as me.

I also remember attending the East Area Athletics championships at Belle Vue, where I represented my school in the 200 metres sprint. No, I didn’t win. I came third out of four runners.

Gorton Cross Street – This was the place where parents went for their weekly food shop but, as well as supermarkets, it had many other shops including clothes shops, haberdashers, toy shops etc. It was rare for our parents to venture into central Manchester in those days because of the expense, even though it is only a few miles away. Therefore, most things would be bought at Gorton Cross Street. There is still a thriving shopping centre in Gorton but the street has been renamed and most of the shops have changed.

The Corner Shop – We had one at the top of our street and many others dotted about the surrounding streets. I have vivid recollections of women standing in the shop gossiping, often wearing hair rollers and turbans. Women would also gossip on their doorsteps and I remember that a trip to Gorton Cross Street with my mother would take an age as she would stop to chat to many people on the way.

The Red Rec – This was where many of the older boys went to play football. It was also the place where most of the surrounding streets had their bonfires on Bonfire Night. Back in the 70s, the abundance of fireworks from people attending a dozen or more bonfires used to frighten the living daylights out of me. It’s a pity I can’t see it again nowadays because it must have been quite a spectacle.

Although I was nervous of the fireworks, I still have fond memories of all the mothers mucking in with Jacket potatoes baked on the bonfire, homemade treacle toffee and Parkin.

The Local Park/Playground – Although we referred to it as the park, it was actually a playground next to the Red Rec with some fields off to the side. From what I recall, I don’t think the park even had a name; it was just ‘the park’ as far as we were concerned. I have based the playground in ‘Born Bad’ on our local park.

As kids, when we felt a little more adventurous we would take ourselves off to one of the ‘proper’ parks, the ones that had names, such as Sunny Brow Park, Peter Pan Park or Debdale Park.

Playing out in the Street – At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged bore – those were definitely the days when we didn’t need games consoles and mobile phones to entertain us. We knew how to entertain ourselves and would play out for hours.

Here are some of the games I remember from the 60s and 70s:

Skipping – when the mothers would often come out to hold the ends of the rope.

Two and three a ball against the wall to chants such as Pontius Pilot the king of the Jews bought his wife a pair of shoes etc.

Handstands against the wall.

Paper chase, where we tucked bits of paper into wall crevices etc. and each piece of paper would have a clue as to where to find the next one.

Knock a door run – when we were feeling a bit devilish.

Please Mr Fisherman.

Statues.

Ticky It – still played by children nowadays but I think it’s changed its name.

Hide n Seek.

 

 

Check out those street urchins – I’m the skinny one second from the right.

Black and White TV – Yes, I still remember our first rented black and white TV. Most of the sets we rented used to jump and we would have to change the position of the indoor aerial to get the picture right. When it became impossible to adjust we would send to the rental shop for a replacement.

School Sports Days – Back in the days when winning was celebrated (and not just the taking part). I remember taking my giant sized prize bars of chocolate home and being ordered to share them with my brothers. Having brothers in school had its advantages though as it meant that half the school would be cheering for me whenever I entered a race. Yes, believe it or not, I used to be quite an athlete back in the day. I don’t think my arthritic knees could cope with it nowadays though.

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Free Promotion – A Gangster’s Grip

‘A Gangster’s Grip’ will be FREE to download to the Kindle from Friday 28th October until Sunday 30th October so, if you haven’t already got a copy, here’s a chance to grab one. Just follow the link: http://viewbook.at/GangstersGrip.

‘A Gangster’s Grip’ is the second book in the Riverhill Trilogy but it can be read as a standalone novel so you don’t need to have already read ‘Slur’. I must confess that this is my own personal favourite of the trilogy, and readers seem to enjoy it too. To date, it has gained 44 reviews on Amazon UK, averaging 4.5 stars.

Gangster's Grip V4

Here’s the book blurb for ‘A Gangster’s Grip’ to give you a little taster of what it’s about:

When Rita returns to Manchester after a few years away, she doesn’t expect to find a spliff smoking, beer swilling thug called Leroy firmly ensconced on her parents’ sofa. Rita is horrified to discover he is her sister Jenny’s new boyfriend, and she senses trouble.

The more Rita finds out about Leroy, the more she mistrusts him. As she uncovers the truth about his shady dealings, she becomes anxious about Jenny’s safety and is desperate to lure her away from him. Rita’s mettle is tested as she tries to protect her sister while battling with personal health concerns.

But it’s worse than Rita could ever have suspected. Through her association with Leroy, Jenny is about to become embroiled in the most dangerous phase in Manchester’s recent history.

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I hope you enjoy it and, if you’ve already read and enjoyed the book, please let your friends know about the promotion.

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Alexandra Park, Moss Side, Manchester – An Historical Landmark

Alexandra Park in Moss Side, Manchester is another of the locations featured in my forthcoming novel “A Gangster’s Grip”. Its reputation has suffered in recent years due to violence and crime in the vicinity. As recently as 12th May 2015 there was a report of a stabbing in a street next to the park, which left a man in his 20s in a critical condition.

It’s sad to think that Alexandra Park hits the headlines due to violence in the surrounding streets because, actually, the park has a rich and significant heritage. Not only is Alexandra Park the home of the Manchester Caribbean Carnival, a colourful, vibrant event that has been taking place for over 40 years, it is also Grade 2 listed and has been declared a place of national importance because of its heritage.

ParkThe Park was opened by the Mayor of Manchester on 6th August 1870 and was named after Princess Alexandra. It covers an area of more than 60 acres and is one of the most complete Victorian parks in Manchester. In fact, it was considered the showpiece of Manchester’s Victorian parks, boasting a lodge designed by Alfred Darbyshire, male and female gymnasia, a cricket ground, the Serpentine lake, a walkway and terrace designed for promenading, and Manchester’s first sunken bowling green. Later additions to the park included a bandstand, propagating houses and refreshment rooms.

Alexandra Park also has connections with the Suffragette Movement. Emmeline Pankhurst was born on the Alexandra Park estate only yards from the Park. Thousands of suffragettes marched to Alexandra Park on 24th October 1908 where they held a political rally called the “Great Demonstration”. In 1905-6 a large glass house was built inside the Park to house the impressive cactus collection bequeathed by Charles Darrah upon his death. The bombing of the cactus house in November 1913 was attributed to the famous Suffragette, Kitty Marion.

In December 2012 a programme of restoration began for Alexandra Park after decades of neglect. A total of £5.5 million has been invested using money granted to Manchester City Council by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund and various sporting bodies in addition to some funds from the council itself. The improvement work has now finished and includes:

  • Restoration of Chorlton Lodge to be used as a community area downstairs and office space upstairs.
  • New cricket pitches with markings for two lacrosse pitches.Football
  • Restoration and extension of the pavilion to encompass changing rooms for the cricket pitches, a larger community space, public toilets and a café.
  • Four new tennis courts.
  • Renovation and/or demolishing of depot buildings to provide views into the park and a community room, and improvement of the existing depot changing rooms for the tennis courts and football field.
  • Extensive landscaping including a flower garden, flower beds, the planting of additional trees, repair and/or replacement of footpaths, replacement of street furniture, improved drainage and restoration of the drinking fountain and flagstaff.

Following completion of the work Alexandra Park now looks stunning. You can see some images of the Park, including some taken during the refurbishment phase, at: http://www.alexandraparkmanchester.com/.

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Announcing the Launch of ‘Crime, Conflict & Consequences’

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new short story book ‘Crime, Conflict & Consequences’, which is now available to download on the Kindle at: http://viewbook.at/Consequences for only 99p (UK) or $1.48 (US).

The book has ten short tales, which cross a number of different genres and styles, and cover various topics including crime, love and family dilemmas. There are also a few twist in the tale types. The stories are ideal for an enjoyable quick read during your coffee break or whenever you have a spare few minutes.

Crime v3

Developing my Alter Ego

I am continuing to publish under my new pen-name Heather Burnside and am making a few changes to the blog. I have separated my book writing endeavours from my writing business entirely so the blog is no longer an add-on to my writing services website. I now want it to have its own presence to complement my new identity.

As part of the ongoing development I want Heather Burnside to have more than a blog so that I will be able to showcase my books etc. The first step was to drop the ‘wordpress’ from my URL and pay an annual fee which allows me to have my own name for the URL i.e. www.heatherburnside.com and add more pages to the website rather than just the standard About page and blog that you get with the free WordPress account.

At the moment I’ve only added a books page but I’ve made a few other changes such as the theme and the addition of my mailing list link at the top right of every page. As I publish more books I will be expanding the website and hopefully adding more features.

What’s next?

Now that I’ve published my short story book I can’t wait to move onto my second novel which is also a crime thriller. In fact, I’ve already started work on it, but it isn’t the book that I originally previewed in the back of SLUR. I will be writing that one eventually although it will have to wait a while. There is a reason for this switch, which I will tell you more about in my next blog post. In the meantime I hope you enjoy reading ‘Crime, Conflict & Consequences’.

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In the News

I’ve finally got round to adding the news features relating to my recent book signing at my local book store. I would like to point out that there is an error in one of the articles. Contrary to what is written in the article, Diane Mannion Writing Services is still trading.

Reporter Oct 23rd

Reporter Oct 16th

SLUR will be available on Kindle Countdown for the reduced price of 99p or 99 cents from 20th to 22nd November only at: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

Slur Chapter 2

Here is chapter 2 of Slur. If you missed the blog post showing chapter one, you can find it here or read the pdf, which you can find on the books page of my website at: http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the box that reads, ‘Read a sample chapter’.

I have now fixed my official launch date as Friday 19th September and I’ll be throwing a big online launch party with competitions and great prizes. For those that can’t make the Friday, I’ll be re-running some of the competitions on Saturday 20th September, because most of the competition answers don’t have to be in straightaway.

If you’re tempted by the first two chapters of Slur and don’t want to wait till launch date, the book is already available to purchase online at: http://viewbook.at/Slur.

SLUR – Chapter 2

Friday 20th June 1986Make-up

It was Friday night, the big night out of the week. Julie was sitting at her dressing table putting the finishing touches to her hair and make-up. When she was satisfied that she had achieved the desired result, she pouted her lips and kissed her reflection in the mirror, saying, ‘you’re gonna knock ’em dead tonight – you sexy beast.’ She was disturbed by the sound of a, ‘tut tut’ coming from the doorway of her room. It was her mother, Betty.

‘Julie Quinley, I don’t know. You get dafter by the minute. When you’ve finished dolling yourself up, Rita’s downstairs waiting for you.’

Julie took no offence at Betty’s comments as she was accustomed to their friendly banter. She turned in her chair, gave her mother a beaming smile, then dashed across the room and planted a kiss on her cheek, saying, ‘Here I go, don’t wait up!’

She headed downstairs to find Rita in the hallway. As they greeted each other, Betty passed them on her way to the living room. Julie stepped away from Rita, allowing her mother to pass. As she did so, she noticed what Rita was wearing. “My God, she’s really gone to town this time!” she thought, observing Rita’s white lycra mini skirt, low cut red top and towering, white stiletto heels.

‘You look nice Rita,’ she commented politely.

‘Oh thanks,’ Rita replied, preening herself.

Julie then heard the sound of voices coming from the living room. She put her fingers to her lips, motioning Rita to keep quiet as she led her towards the living room door while they listened in on Bill and Betty’s conversation.

‘She’s at it again, is she?’ Bill asked.

‘Aye, she’s only kissing the bleedin’ mirror now. I swear she gets more puddled by the minute that girl,’ replied Betty, in an amused tone.

Julie looked at Rita and managed to stifle a giggle as she heard her father grumble, ‘I can’t understand it me, young women out till all hours of the night up to God knows what, and with all these dubious characters hanging about.’

‘Yes, I know your feelings Bill, you have mentioned it once or twice.’

‘Well, she’s twenty years of age for God’s sake! She should be married with a family now, not stuck in some nightclub getting drunk, with a load of riffraff!’

Julie held up her hand for Rita to see as she formed the shape of a mouth opening and shutting, in imitation of her father’s familiar complaining.

‘She’ll have plenty of time for settling down when she’s had a bit of fun and built up a career for herself,’ Betty replied. ‘A lot of women don’t even think about having children until they are in their thirties these days. Anyway, she’s got her head screwed on the right way. She won’t do anything daft.’

‘Huh,’ was Bill’s response, followed by silence.

Julie and Rita backed away. Julie then opened the front door and they stepped out into the street, shutting the door as quietly as possible so that Julie’s parents would be unaware of their eavesdropping. As soon as they were outside, they gave in to uncontrolled laughter.

‘I bet your mam was a right one in her day!’ giggled Rita.

‘She might have been, given half a chance.’

Julie thought about her mother and the tale she had told her many times about her married life. Times had been hard for Betty when she got wed and their finances were fully stretched after Julie’s birth. Therefore, they decided to postpone extending their family until they could afford it.

When Julie was in school, Betty found herself a job in a store in order to bring in some extra income. After a few years of being stuck at home, Betty was a bit apprehensive at first, but she soon settled in and made lots of new friends. This in turn improved her social life and she began to relish her newfound freedom. After that, there never seemed to be an appropriate time to have more children.

However, as Betty reached her thirties and sensed her biological clock ticking away, the desire grew to extend her family before her time ran out. This resulted in the birth of Clare, twelve years Julie’s junior, and now a likeable, sweet girl of eight.

Although Betty was immensely proud of both her daughters, at times she regretted not doing more with her life, and every time Julie thought about her mother’s lack of achievements, she was determined not to make the same mistakes.

As Julie and Rita made their way up the street, on the way to their friend Debby’s house, the familiar clickety clack of high heels reverberated on the pavements.

Julie’s home was in a street full of three bedroom semis in a Manchester suburb. Many of the houses looked dreary and run down, a result of the poverty in the area. The home of Bill and Betty Quinley, however, was one of the more presentable houses in the street. The front garden was well tended and baskets of bright blooms hung at either side of the front door.

Julie’s sister, Clare, and her friends, who were playing further up the street, paused in their play as Julie and Rita approached. For a group of eight year olds, the image of Julie and Rita dressed to go out was a sight to behold, and they gazed in awe as the two older girls walked by.

‘Bye our Julie,’ shouted Clare.

‘Bye sweetheart. I’ll see you in the morning and don’t forget to be a good girl for mam and be in at eight o’clock.’

‘I won’t,’ said Clare, full of respect for Julie who she saw as a role model.

Julie couldn’t help but swell with pride as she sensed the idolatry glances of the young girls, and caught snippets of their conversation on passing.

‘Wow Clare, I wish I could go out all dressed up like your Julie, wearing make-up and everything!’

‘Our Julie lets me wear her make-up sometimes.’

Julie turned to Rita and they smiled at each other on hearing these childish comments. They looked an oddly matched pair: Julie, tall and elegant, and Rita, who was just a year older than Julie, smaller, brasher and louder in every sense of the word. Julie, although slim, was also curvaceous and well proportioned. Her features were sharp but nonetheless attractive.

She usually opted for the sexy but sophisticated look, and tonight she was wearing a shortish pale blue skirt with a matching fitted jacket, which bore the popular shoulder pads of the eighties. She wore the customary white stiletto heels and had a white leather handbag to match. Her make-up was subtle and served to define her striking features, and her blond hair was naturally wavy.

As they rounded the corner at the top of the street, Rita opened up the conversation, by talking about her day at work, which was at a food factory.

‘Me and Debby were talking to Charlie at work today. He’s a card! He told us this joke…What’s white and slides across the dance-floor?’ Then, pausing for effect, she added, ‘Come dancing,’ the double entendre being a reference to a popular TV dancing show around that time. ‘Well, that was it! We couldn’t stop laughing after that. The slightest thing set us off.’

They both laughed at this and Julie replied, unwittingly. ‘Oh I wish I worked somewhere like that Rita. It sounds as though you have a great time.’

‘Why not?’ Rita replied enthusiastically. ‘I can let you know when there’s any vacancies. You should get a good reference from your place and you’ll soon learn the ropes. There’s not much to it really and I can put in a good word for you so it won’t matter if you haven’t got any experience.’

Julie was a bit taken aback by this as deep down she saw herself as being a bit above factory work, but she didn’t quite know how to put her thoughts into words without offending her longstanding friend. So she replied with caution.

‘I’d love to, but I don’t want to waste my qualifications.’

‘Come off it Julie, what’s a couple of ‘O’ levels? Besides, if you decide you don’t like it at the factory, you can always go back to office work. Anyway, you’re a bloody receptionist for Christ’s sake. You’re hardly gonna qualify for the High Achievers Award, are you? I mean to say, I earn more than you do.’

Julie resented Rita’s views concerning her choice of career, but tried not to show it. Despite her resentment, she appreciated Rita’s open and frank manner, which she had been grateful for in the past, so she maintained a cautious approach.

‘It’s what it can lead to that matters. I could do a course in computers or something.’

‘Like as if. You’re too busy enjoying yourself to stick a college course. Besides, I could do a course in computers, come to that.’

Julie didn’t wish this to escalate into a full-blown argument but felt that she must assert herself, so she replied, ‘You haven’t got the ‘O’ levels or the office experience.’ Then, realising that she was now becoming a bit confrontational, she tried to lighten the conversation by joking, ‘Anyway, the talents always a bonus.’

Rita, however, was not so easy to pacify. ‘Come off it. All men who work in offices are bloody wimps! You can’t beat a bloke with a good trade. That’s what my dad says and it’s true.’

‘What’s the use of a good trade if there’s no work around for them?’

‘Oh that’s just temporary. They’ll be all right now we’re getting over the recession. It’s all down to that bleedin’ Maggie Thatcher anyway.’

‘Well while all your blokes with a trade are still busy looking for work, there’s blokes being promoted at our place.’

‘Yes blokes, exactly! Anyway, Vinny’s a builder isn’t he and there’s nowt wrong with him?’

Knowing the mood that Rita was in, Julie guessed at what was to follow, and she was reluctant to discuss the subject of her boyfriend Vinny.

‘Yes, he’s all right, I suppose.’

‘But?’ prompted Rita.

‘Well, I just wish he had a bit more ambition, that’s all.’

‘You know your trouble Julie? You don’t know when you’re lucky. Vinny’s gorgeous. Loads of girls fancy him. I wouldn’t kick him out of bed myself! He’s got his own place, and he’s good between the sheets, from what you’ve told me.’

Julie smiled, amused at her friend’s audacity. ‘Well he does know which buttons to press and when to press them, but there’s more to life than sex you know Rita.’

‘Oh yeah? Well when you find it let me know, and I’ll have a double helping,’ Rita quipped.

As Julie laughed, she turned to Rita and said. ‘Let’s stop being so bleedin’ serious! It’s Friday night for Christ’s sake! We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, not putting the world to rights.’

Rita decided that she had made her point anyway, so there was nothing to be gained in pursuing the matter. ‘Yeah, you’re right Jules. Come on, let’s go for it.’

They carried on walking for a few moments before Julie asked Rita, ‘What time are we supposed to be at Debby’s house?’

‘Dizzy Debby?  Oh I said it would be about seven by the time we got there.’

‘Don’t be rotten. She can’t help being a bit slow at times.’

‘It’s all right, she’s used to being called Dizzy Debby. It’s her nickname at work. Anyway, there’s an offy on the way so we can grab some booze and have a few before we go and meet your friends. Eh, I tell you what Julie, we’d better make sure we give your friend Amanda a good time, seeing as how it’s her birthday night out.’

‘Don’t worry, we will,’ replied Julie with a smile.

When they reached Debby’s house, it was Debby who answered the door and led them straight up to her bedroom. Her home was in complete contrast to the one that Julie had just left, and the décor was shabby and dated. Julie recoiled as they passed the bathroom and smelt the pungent aroma that emanated from it. She looked at Rita for her reaction, but Rita didn’t respond. Julie wondered why; could it be that Rita was used to it so it didn’t bother her. “No,” she chided herself. “Rita’s home might be a bit untidy, but it was certainly a lot cleaner than this one.

Julie could see that Debby was excited about the forthcoming night out and was anxious to get started. When they entered her bedroom she noticed Debby already had three half pint glasses ready and the sound of Luther Vandross was blasting out of the stereo.

‘Don’t your parents mind you having your music that loud?’ asked Julie.

‘No, they have the bloody tele so loud, they can’t hear it anyway.’

‘Mine are as bad,’ said Rita. ‘Ever since my dad came home from the pub with that dodgy VCR he’s been like a bleedin’ kid with a new toy.’

LagerThe girls seated themselves and began to pour the cans of lager. Julie pretended not to notice the greasy marks that covered the glasses. She inwardly cringed on observing Debby’s choice of clothing, accessories and make-up, but was too considerate to comment. Everything about Debby was overstated, from her fluffy bright blond hair to her fashion sense. All of her clothes were in vivid colours, uncoordinated and clung perilously to her large breasts and rotund hips.

The girls settled down with their drinks and began to discuss music, fashions and other topics of mutual interest. At eight o’clock, in a more animated state than when Julie and Rita had arrived, they set out, giggling, towards the nearby bus stop in order to make the trip to the city centre which was just a few stops away. When they got off the bus they had a short walk to the pub where they had agreed to meet two of Julie’s workmates, Amanda and Jacqueline, at eight thirty. While they were walking along, they spotted two policemen just ahead of them.

‘I think it’s time we had a bit of fun!’ said Rita.

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I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be publishing the agenda for the online launch party a couple of weeks beforehand. We’ve got lots of fun lined up so if you can’t make the full day you might want to choose which events you want to take part in.