Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Take a walk...Write on Wednesdays

For this week's write on wednesdays challenge, we were instructed to take a walk and come back and write about what you encountered, writing in such a way that your sentences feel the way the walking felt.

I started to do this, and wrote a few lines, but then I admit I got distracted by a little seed of inspiration for a piece of fictional writing so decided to follow that instead! Apologies for not following the instructions!

I hope you enjoy it though, let me know with your comments what you think :)

This was the first few lines that I wrote...

As she took her first reluctant step off the moss-strewn patio she gasped as the soft spongey grass squidged underneath her bare feet. Wrapping her cardigan tighter around her, she began a slow meander across the field behind the manor house in which she was staying. After only a few steps the feeling of the dewy morning grass curling up between her well-manicured toes made her smile.
She couldn't remember the last time she had felt this peaceful. She paused in her walk to peer up into the towering oak tree that was a short distance from her, and watched a playful squirrel scurrying up the tree's gnarled old trunk.

But then this was what I decided to go with...

She sighed grumpily as she picked her way across the uneven terrain. Stumbling slightly in her Versace pumps she peered up ahead where her boyfriend of a few years and his parents were striding enthusiastically across the golf course, looking as if they were having the time of their lives in their hiking boots and waterproof jackets. Louise on the other hand, had been thoroughly unprepared for this 'casual stroll' as they had put it. Wanting to impress the potential future parents-in-law, she had thought she was being sensible when she had packed pretty, demure outfits that were extraordinarily unsuitable for any kind of serious outdoor activity and provided her with no more warmth than a pair of knickers. And as for shoes, Ricky's mother had frowned rather confusedly when watching Louise line up her choice of footwear for the few days that she was there.
When the 'fantastic idea' of a bracing stroll had been suggested this morning, Louise had glanced nervously over her shoulder at her new designer pumps (a necessity for a day out), sexy heels (a necessity for a night out) and cute beaded flip flops (a necessity for a sunny day) and gulped anxiously at the thought of trudging through a cow-pat covered field and ruining one of her best-loved pairs of shoes.
She had attempted to tempt Ricky away from the walk and into a more fashion-friendly activity (such as shopping or sunbathing), and failing that had even resorted to muttering seductively and lying on the bed provocatively to attempt to escape from the hell of having to brave the 'great outdoors'. Unfortunately her adorably laid-back boyfriend had merely grinned at her cheekily and told her to wait until this evening whilst simultaneously tying up his hideous yet 'practical' walking boots and ushering her out the door.
Louise had just been stood by the front door miserably slipping on her pumps, when Ricky's good-hearted mum Sandra came wondering out of the kitchen carrying a pair of the oldest, muddiest, grubbiest wellington boots that she had ever seen. As Sandra thrust the offending boots in Louise's direction, she suddenly cottoned onto the fact that she was supposed to wear the revolting things due to her lack of walking attire. Trying not to recoil in horror as the dirt-ingrained wellies were dropped too close to her pretty shoes, she had murmured a few pathetic explanations and excuses for why she would be fine in her pumps. Despite her understanding that the boots she was being offered were probably the most sensible option, the thought of putting her delicate foot in some skanky thirty-year-old wellie boots was more than she could handle.
So now here she was, staggering over hidden molehills and trying her best to keep up with the others and make a good impression, whilst all the time thinking unhappily of the sunny pub gardens that her and Ricky could be sat in right now enjoying a glass of Pimm's.
Looking up she suddenly realised that the others had stopped and were waiting for her to catch up. Feeling a little flustered at being caught so obviously out of her comfort zone, she giggled awkwardly and plastered what she hoped was an expression of 'I'm having a lovely time' onto her face.
'We were thinking of walking over to the lake so you and Rick can try out wakeboarding or even rock climbing if you fancied it!'
Louise looked desperately at Ricky for help just as he smirked good-naturedly at her ridiculously horrified expression. 


Thursday, 18 August 2011

'Piqued'...Write on Wednesdays

This week the challenge set was to write for 5 minutes on the basis of a word cue. That word was 'piqued'.

A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride.tr.v. piqued, piqu·ing, piques
1. To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
2. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
3. To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.
Her curiousity was piqued by the smell. Glancing around, she slowly edged her way out of the museum tour that she was supposed to be listening attentively to, and peaked around the corner. Her heart leapt and fell at the same time at the sight that was now before her.
Oh how she longed to go and join that queue, grab a tray and begin the tantalising decision making process that had been the focus of her day for so long...which of these cakes, tarts and pastries do I want? She was salivating at the thought.
She suddenly realised how she must look; an overweight, fashionably disadvantaged girl/woman (she wasn't quite sure yet) staring longingly open-mouthed at the little museum cafeteria as if she hadn't eaten for four days, rather than a mere four hours.
She tried to tell herself that they wouldn't serve the Belgian buns that she loved so much in such a small cafe, and even if they did, they wouldn't be as delightful as the ones from the bakery down the road. But even she knew this was a farce.
It was irrelevant of whether she thought they would be more or less delicious. She still wanted one. She could almost taste it she wanted it so badly. The soft smooth icing, the sweet carby breaded goodness, the little cherry on top...oh how she wanted it.
No come on. You've lasted three days on this diet and you are not going to be distracted from an educational museum tour by a stupid pastry.
But a little food devil's voice in her head counteracted the sensible angel on her shoulder.
But surely you deserve a treat for being so good for three days. I mean, how many calories can actually be in a pastry? Forty? Fifty? Hardly any. And you can choose one with cherries or apple in so that you're getting part of your necessary 5-a-day as well which is good for you. So actually if you think about it, it's better for you to eat a cake now, otherwise you'd be scrimping on your fruit intake...But what about the museum tour?
She pondered this, torn, for all of about thirty seconds.
Okay so what I'll do is, go and get the pastry, sit down and eat that because I need a rest after all this walking (from the car park), and then I'll go to the museum gift shop and buy a book about the exhibit that I'll read tonight while I watch that cooking programme. Ooh I wonder if they've got any of that fudge on sale in the gift shop too, and the biscuits...
Feel free to leave any comments!! This piece sums me up to a tee to be honest!
Thought I'd post this one too, it was my first attempt but I didn't feel it was really going anywhere so I tried again. Thought I'd post it anyway:
Her curiousity was piqued by the gossip. The words 'bad hair day' or 'awful outfit' could always be counted on to prick up her ears, much like a cat to the rustling of a bird in the tree.
At this moment she was attempting to feign disinterest in the other mothers in the playground's animated conversations. Taking a surreptitious step backwards so she was better in earshot of their bitching, she strained her ears to hear a name so that she too could revel in the fashion faux pas of whoever today's victim was of the Trendy Mums' gossiping.
It had only been three short months since she herself had been the subject of these bored women's mindless chatter. They had decided to move Marcus from the village comprehensive to the private school in the next town. On that first fateful afternoon when pick-up time came around, Rose had rushed back from her part time stint as a receptionist, changed swiftly out of her smart work clothes and into the first wearable items that she could lay her badly-in-need-of-a-manicured hands on. Sometimes this kind of thrown together outfit ends up looking vaguely passable, but unfortunately on that day, the first garments that had come to hand were an old pair of flurorescent green leggings that she had worn to do her exercise video the previous day, with one of her husband's faded yellow and black rugby shirts. The overall effect was of a bumblebee sitting on a leaf.
So you can imagine the glances, sniggers and stares that she received when standing next to the immaculately and fashionably dressed private school mothers whilst waiting for her son to come bounding out.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Life and Lies of a Retail Shop Assistant

Having worked in retail both full time and part time for over five years I have come across such a vast array of customers that I am pretty sure I must have seen just about every kind of human being that walks the planet.

The customers that enter the shop that I am employed by (that sells shower gels, body lotions, hair care, make-up, etc) begins at one end with the well-dressed, wealthy woman who strolls in in her clippy-cloppy heels with her designer bag thrown casually over one arm. She spends hours looking, applying and generally criticising the excessive amount of eyeshadow colours that we sell, before eventually telling me in a drawling accent that we do not have the exact shade of teal that will match her dress for some function or other. She says this despite us having, if you ask me, an unnecessarily large variety of different shades of greens, blues and all the colours in between (and if you didn't think there was many colours in between blue and green, trust me there is. I spend about an hour of every day cleaning them...yes my life is that thrilling).

At the other end of the spectrum however, we have the chavtastic teenage girls who come sauntering in in pink velour tracksuits and fake Burberry caps and wander around the shop, picking things up and putting them back in completely different places. They also tend to enjoy smelling different flavoured lotions and announcing 'eww' to the whole store before making a very inept comparison that a strawberry flavour shower gel 'smells like sick' or some other equally unpleasant bodily expulsion. These customers never buy anything (or if they do, it's a foundation that is far too orange for their skin tone and/or the soap that they were caught attempting to steal) and are, in my opinion, a lot worse than the rich snooty women.

However there are, of course, also all the customers in between.

These include the mothers that come in looking overly exhausted with six kids in toe, all under the age of ten. These women appear to completely ignore the fact that their 'little darlings' are running, screaming all over the shop, bashing into old ladies and knocking their handbags flying, throwing lip balms at eachother and having a fight with the hair brushes, brandishing them as swords. Usually after about twenty minutes of this chaos the mothers give up what they were looking for and march the kiddywinks home, hopefully to throttle. Unfortunately this is not the case for all customers. Some of these mothers act as if their children are not even there, asking me for advice on blusher or facial wash as if we've got all the time in the world when in fact the display of hand creams that took me an hour to put together this morning is being brutally dismantled as we speak. Others decide to have a screaming match with their children over whether or not she will buy one or all of them their own personal shower gel to the point where I am desperate to hand over all the shower gels in the shop just to get them to leave. These people, I am unashamed to say, make me want to cross my legs tightly and make a mental note never to procreate.

The final customer category that I feel should be mentioned is my favourite one. It is the men that come in looking sheepish, totally overwhelmed and downright confused when presented with and told about the seven different ranges of facial skin care, all suited to a specific skin type that can be ascertained after completion of a short skin consultation. This can be a little daunting for them when all the wife has told them that they are to buy is a face cream. I enjoy these customers in particular, as they can usually be persuaded to purchase a variety of different creams just to ensure that one of them will be the one that their spouse has requested. While some of these products are eventually returned or exchanged by the sighing wife who explains that she thought her hubby would know what skin type she was, these male customers help to add a little entertainment into my otherwise dull day-to-day experiences, especially when they come over to you and mumble incredulously, 'I'm sorry but what on earth is body butter? Is it edible?' After a long pause I begin to explain kindly that 'No, Sir, it's for your skin' before they look utterly perplexed and swiftly get out the list of products they have been sent into purchase. I have a message to their wives: Men DO NOT listen when you talk about how your combination skin is really improving as a result of using this new skin serum, no matter how much you rave about it and ask him if he sees a difference.

I have a few other messages for various different types of customer...

1) Despite being merely a lowly shop assistant, I do have a name, and a name badge on which my name is displayed. Therefore YOU, Mrs Customer, have no need to refer to me as 'Oi' or 'Help?!' as neither of those words is, in fact, the name that I was christened with. On the other hand, having my name displayed does not mean that you have to use it every two seconds...for example, 'Hello Zoe, please could you help me Zoe to find some body scrub please Zoe'...it makes me wonder if you've been secretly stalking me for the last twenty years and I begin to panic before I eventually remember that my name is attached to my chest. So please, use my name, but not excessively. I appreciate that it is a nice name and you may wish to say it frequently but please, Mr Customer, once is quite enough.

2) The shop sells various products for feet, and so when you come in and ask me for a foot cream, I can, of course, point you in the right direction and answer any questions you might have about their ingredients. However, I am by no means a doctor and as much as you obviously think I really want to...actually, what I do NOT need under any circumstances, is for you to remove your shoe and sock (that is usually wet with sweat and reeking a rather pungent odour) and show me your grotty, mould-encrusted foot and tell me that you've tried everything and what do I think?...If I could, trust me I would tell you what I think, and that is that you should remove that foot (if you can even call it that) from my vicinity, go home and wash it you filthy woman, before going to see a specialist and having it chopped off.

3) If we do not have a particular product in stock that you deem so important that you cannot live without, it is not, in fact, some personal vendetta that I have for you involving my decision to prevent you from wearing lipgloss or moisturising your arms. When I attempt to offer an alternative product, I am not, in fact, trying to give you a skin reaction or stop you looking attractive; I am actually, although obviously this is unclear to you, trying to help.

4) As I have worked for this company, in this exact store, for quite some years now, I do in fact know whether, in the last two years, we have sold ready-to-wax strips or green mascara. I am not lying to you when I tell you this, and despite your insistence that we did use to stock these products, it does not make it any more correct, as I promise you we never have done. And when I suggest that you are maybe thinking of a different chain of shops who perhaps sell the product in question, this is not a brutal insult to your memory, it is merely a suggestion, for which I apologise for even thinking.

5) The customer is, in my experience, most often wrong. However, as I am a good employee and as I have been told frequently, a good and helpful salesperson, I have perfected the art of lying to customers all in the good name of the customer always being right and 'helping them to enjoy their shopping experience'.
-->For example... I may say: ''Yes madame that bright red eyeshadow does really suit you, I can see why you've been wearing that same shade for twenty years...unfortunately we don't sell that colour'' ...but I mean ''You look like a drag queeen, let me show you the make-up remover.''
-->Another example of something I said today to a woman with a beard, ''Yes of course I can show you where the perfumes are kept'' but I wanted to say ''These are the waxing strips and razors...use them.''
-->And finally the most common one, ''Wow yes you do look young...50?! My goodness what's your secret?'' but oh how I wish I could say, ''Here's the anti-aging cream for your only-too-obvious crows feet.''

Anyway I think that's probably enough ranting for one day. All I ask is that next time you are in a shop and decide to whack out a disgusting ailment or shout 'oi' at a shop assistant, you will take a second and remember the wise words you have just read. Shop assistants are people too, and yes, sometimes, we may lie :)


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Write on Wednesdays...''The Clock Winked''

Today's write on wednesdays assignment was to write the words 'the clock winked' at the top of the page,and write the first words that come into your head for 5 minutes... I would appreciate any comments :)

The clock winked.

Did the clock just wink?

Why is the clock winking at me?!

Taking a large gulp of cold coffee, Selena glanced to her left at her paper strewn desk and sighed. She had been sat in this position on her bed for far too long.

Sleep was calling to her desperately but she had promised herself she would finish her assignment before giving into her lethargy. However the lack of sleep and overworking of the brain was causing her to hallucinate slightly. At least, she hoped she was hallucinating. At this moment, for example, her lampshade was beginning to peer rather disapprovingly down at her from the ceiling as if it, too, was criticising her lack of essay completion.

The aim had been to pull an all-nighter to finish her assignment that was due for the following day. But, while she had achieved staying awake all night (with the help of excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine), she was somewhat failing on the actual essay-writing part.

She groaned sleepily and allowed herself to drift into a mini-sleep in which she shut her eyes and fantasise about being somewhere far more idyllic than a student bedroom in Portsmouth. She imagined she was lying on a pumped up lilo floating lazily around a perfectly blue, lusciously refreshing swimming pool, with the water lapping at her toes. She had never been a great beach lover (God only knows the places sand can somehow find its way into!) but a swimming pool was a whole different story. The sun was beating down, tanning her pasty arms that in the last six months had been exposed only to the dull and dreary weather of Britain.

Ah, much better.

The only sounds she could hear were the swishing of the water, the chirping of the crickets, the slirping of the straw in her cocktail as she sipped her Pina Colada... and a very annoying Bleep Bleep Bleep!

Wait, what's bleeping?!

She jerked awake as the noise from her laptop signalling its dying battery increased in volume.

Even the computer is against me. Ugh, reality.

Plugging in the laptop charger, she grabbed the textbook again and turned her attention back to her essay.

Don't you wink at me Mr Clock, I'm working again now.

Write On Wednesdays