January 1, 2016

A New Year and a New Story


2015 was a difficult writing year, but things will be different in 2016. I'm looking forward to a productive year.

As a thank you for sticking with me - here's one of the few stories I did manage to write last year.

Hope you like it :) x


 Billy Tongs 

“Your nan’s hair is exactly the same as my nan’s hair.” 
“Your nan’s hair. It’s exactly the same as my nan’s hair. And Benzo’s nan. All the nan’s come out of that hairdressers looking the same.”  
Tommy Miller stopped picking at the chewing gum stuck to the sole of his shoe and looked at his friend. “Wot are you on about?”
“Nothing, come on.” Billy jumped down from the wall. 
“Hang on, I’ve nearly got this.” Tommy held his tongue between his teeth as he peeled the last of the chewing gum off his shoe, sticking it to the wall as he jumped down.  
“Where to now, Billy Boy? Up town to see what girls are about? Or we could go to the football field. Bradders has hockey training there today. We could shout at him from the sideline.”
“Let’s walk home the long way, through town.” Billy was already walking that direction. 
“I knew you’d say that. Why do you always want to walk home through town? I’m not going all that way. It’s another hour’s walk and it’s sausage, egg and chips for tea tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Tommy dragged his heels for a couple of steps then started to kick an invisible football down the road.”
“Yeah, see ya Tommy mate.”
Billy was glad to be rid of Tommy. He always preferred to walk through town on his own. Tommy never stopped talking, and Billy couldn’t concentrate with Tommy about. 
He kept a good pace as he made his way to town, but slowed down when he reached civilisation. As soon as he began to pass people, it started. He did not see fat and slim, big ears and beards, limps and strides. He could only see hairstyles.
Short back and sides, grey rinse and set dry, asymmetrical bobs, crew cuts, flat tops, long layers, step cuts and half grown out perms. He would guess how ‘old’ someone’s haircut was; how soon before their roots would need doing and what blade number had been use on short cuts. He would imagine at what angle the hair would need to be held to cut the layers in it and what size rollers were used to get a certain type of curl. 
Somehow Billy had managed to keep it secret. He didn’t know why, but he knew people would think it was weird. He daren’t tell Tommy. When Tommy found out that Bradders had joined the hockey team, he gave it to him non-stop for 6 months. That was 2 years ago and he still wasn’t done with him. 
He he did not want to tell his mam either, he knew she’d be delighted. She had always wanted to be a hairdresser but never got there. She was a cleaner in the shopping centre. That meant discount hair-dos in the salon and taking old hairdressing magazines home. Billy’s mum never read women’s magazines. There was no Take a Break, or Woman’s Way; it was all Stylewize and The Hair Magazine in Billy’s house. 
He got to the shopping centre and took his place on the bench opposite the salon. After about 20 minutes, his mam came along with her trolley of cleaning products and mops. 
“Billy! I love when you come to see me in work. It makes my day, it really does.” As she bear hugged him, Billy turned her slightly so as not to miss the blowdried-with-straighteners blonde highlights leaving the salon. 
“I’m finished early today; now actually. And guess what?! I get my raise today. So, I’m going to buy something I shouldn’t for our tea. How does that sound Billy?”
“Brilliant Mam, thanks.” 
“Before that, I’m going to treat myself to a half price blow dry. Come with me will you? You can tell me all about your day, then we’ll stop at the chippy on the way home.” 
“No Mam," he had to think quickly now. How about I get the chips and go home. I’ll put them in the oven. The plates will be nice and warm when you get home.” The last place Billy wanted to be was in the hair salon. Not with his mam anyway.
“Oh come on love. I could be an hour. It looks busy in there. Come and chat to me while I wait. I never get an early finish like this”
Billy couldn't say no to his mam when she begged him with that pitiful voice and beautiful smile. She was right, it looked busy; maybe he wouldn’t be noticed. 
When they got into the salon, it was chaos and Billy loved it. The place was packed. Half-price Everything Tuesdays were always popular. Billy and his mam sat down on the plush velveteen sofa after a hasty nod from a flying receptionist to say that she knew they were there. There were women sitting at each basin, plus one or two that were seated in a holding area. The receptionist was running back and forward from basin to reception every time the phone rang. Billy hid himself behind the latest edition of The Hairdressers Journal, looking at the latest cuts, figuring out how they worked. Fifteen minutes later his mam was still waiting for her hair to be washed. Billy tried to swap magazines quickly, but he was spotted. 
Rochelle (who's real name was Rita) the receptionist spotted him. 
“Billy? Billy, oh fantastic. Thanks so much for coming in. Cherl-Anne, Billy’s here. Will I put him on basins? You’ve saved the day, you little beauty.”
Cheryl-Anne (who's real name was Brenda) left her half-rollered customer and ran to the waiting area. She pulled Billy up off his chair for his second bear hug of the day. Billy looked at his mam who was frozen to the spot, her mouth bobbing open and shut. 
“We won’t keep you too long now Janice,” said Cheryl-Anne. “Not sure why our Saturday junior is here on a Tuesday, but we’re really glad he is.” 
“Billy, can you rinse those two perms off and then you can shampoo Janice for me.” Cheryl-Anne was back putting rollers in before she had finished her sentence. 
Billy went to the basins and rinsed the two perms. Every so often he looked at him mam who was smiling at him. By the time he was ready to shampoo his own mam’s hair, he was himself. 
“Is the water ok for your Janice?” he asked. 
Copyright Annmarie Miles 2015
photo credit: Scissors via photopin (license)

February 19, 2015

When is a writer not a writer?

When she’s a mover!
Remember me? Yes! I have emerged from under the mountain of boxes, application forms and appointments. There is still plenty of that stuff to be dealt with, but enough of it is done to allow me to pop in here so I can make sure the place is still in one piece. I thought being out of work and settling in to life in the UK would mean that I’d have lots of time to sit around writing. I saw myself gazing out the window at an inspiring Welsh skyline. Instead, writing has been almost impossible to get my head around. I’ve been so distracted by all that’s going on. 
My suspicion has long been that the busier I am, the more productive I am. The less time I have, the better use I make of time. That suspicion has been proven true. So much so that I can’t wait to have a job, and not just for the shekels. I long for my writing time to become precious again. When I was driving all over the place doing guitar lessons, and zooming up and down the motorway to the radio station, I guarded my ‘Friday-off-everything’ jealously. Unless someone’s hair was on fire, I didn’t leave the apartment. I didn’t drive anywhere, I didn’t cook, I didn’t even get out of the pyjamas! (The postman will vouch for that one; as soon as he is out of therapy. Poor bloke.) I got so much done on those Fridays, and filled the gaps on other days with reading and editing etc. 
Now…? Well, the only writing I’ve been doing, except for my regular articles, is filling in forms. And when you've written your name, address, DOB and National Insurance number 10 times, it can drain you of the will to hold a pen ever again. 

Anyway, excuses done with now... I shall endeavour to do better. :)
Have you got some tips to shake me up (or something you can hit me over the head with)?
Pop over to the Facebook page and let me know.
You can also tweet @amowriting
A x

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