Julie Rosenfield

My journal

The Breakfast Club

The long, long winter,

The hard, frosted ground,

A handful of kindness,

A scatter of breadcrumbs,

Breakfast club is open.

* * * * *

In the kitchen, with the washing up,

Standing poised, I wait.

It’s not long till the first guest,

The shy wren, hops back and forth,

Considers the menu,

Unsure of approach.

* * * * *

Not so shy, a bold magpie,

Swoops down,

Avaricious.

Crams its beak, once then twice,

Until with a flutter of feathers,

A band of brothers swoop down,

Scattering feathered fellows at the feast

* * * * *

Yet all is not lost,

Crumbs of comfort still,

For the thoughtful squirrel,

Nibbling delicately,

Like a seasoned connoisseur,

And two hopping robins,

Their blazing red chests illuminating

This frozen, white scene.

* * * * *

Just a brief pause, while I dry my plates,

And consider how this picture came to be.

Wheat growers in distant lands,

The work of the harvest,

The kneading, the baking,

   One thoughtful purchase

   And a kind winter’s deed.

* * * * *

And now my dishes are dried,

The garden empty, save frost,

Breakfast club is ended

As another day flies by.

REFLECTIONS

I loved that man to distraction

To inaction, to the traction of my soul

Whatever he wanted, there I was

But however hard I tried

My love was not returned.

* * *

“Put up a barrier,” my friends urged

“A cold wall.”

Tired of broken arrangements

Cancelled dates

Trips to the Shard not shared

I concurred.

* * *

I would erect a barrier, they were right

But not a stone wall, a barbed wire fence,

An invisible, electric repelling beam

But a big, shiny mirror

A large, reflecting pool

That would be my border control.

* * *

So that when I send out beams of needful love

Instead of desiring arrows bouncing off his cold shell

And draining my being of a loving birthright

My love would, through the mirror, be reflected back at me

***

   And all the desire, the burning,

The yearning and the care

Would reflect back at me

Showering love

On one who deserves it more.

* * *

For he doesn’t need my love

But I surely do

Have craved long and hard for it

Suffered many a year for it

But now through the mirror I see

I am love.

How Many Camels?

I wonder if you’ve ever sat down and calculated your worth. Think for a second. I don’t mean bank accounts, property, savings bonds. Your true worth. Not how much you’d get if you sold your hair or the worth you bring to the world for all the good deeds that you do. No, your real worth. In camels.

I asked an ex-boyfriend once, a market trader, how many camels he would take for me if he were ever offered. He didn’t hesitate.

“A gross”
“A gross?”
“A gross of camels. 144.”
“So you would swop me for camels?”
“I could sell them on the market. Business is business.”

Now that is gross.

And then I asked my late mother:

“How many camels would you swap me for?”
“One?”
“One. Only one? I’m only worth one camel?”
“I couldn’t look after more than one,” she concluded, regretfully.

So there we are, reader.  I am worth somewhere between one and 144 camels. All depending on who I ask, and the current rate of exchange. Bearing in mind that rates may fluctuate. Always check the terms and conditions.

All of which could quite clearly give you the hump.

Unless one day you meet someone who wouldn’t swop you for all the camels in the desert.

Then you really have to stop and think. Especially if you are sitting in a Moroccan-themed café and it isn’t even shisha night. Bong!

“Really? You wouldn’t swop me for any camels?”

Wait. Perhaps he just doesn’t like camels. Perhaps he prefers caramels. Or camel cigarettes. Or llamas.

“There aren’t enough camels in the world…..,” he says softly, gazing into your eyes.

Sheesh!

And, of course, if that doesn’t set any a-llama bells ringing, then maybe someone has seen your true worth, after all.

And maybe, just maybe, you should take off with him into the desert.

Or to a dessert island. Now that would be sweet.

Or even a camel ride?

“Only if the camels want to,” he says, gently.

So kind.

Probably on a parallel universe right now, a camel is asking of her beau.

“How many humans am I worth?”

I did say parallel universe. I didn’t say sensible.

“There aren’t enough humans in the world….,” breathes her adoring companion.

“Not enough humans,”  she sighs, contentedly.

Which considering there are 7 billion people in the world, and only 14 million camels (90% being dromedary – one hump, in case you’re wondering) makes camels way more rarer than humans. And therefore perhaps more valuable.

Maybe they don’t even want to be swapped.

No wonder they have the hump.

 

 

 

 

10 TOP TIPS FOR A RELAXING CHRISTMAS? NO STRESS!

Be honest! With so few days to go till 25th December, does the thought of Christmas drive you crackers? Would you rather that the festive season was more mistletoe and less whine?

Here are ten top tips for a cracking, stress-free Christmas…

1. Christmas is bound to be a hectic time for all concerned. So a key feature is to get enough sleep and rest as possible in the weeks leading up to the big event. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, make a point of listening to a CD of relaxing music before bed. Sleeping well is key to make sure you’re relaxed and energised for the busy weeks ahead.

2. When it comes to Christmas plans, an important ingredient for success is just that: plan, plan, plan. Never underestimate how long it will take to buy little Johnny’s special limited edition train set, or how long it will take to choose your father-in-law something more original than socks! Buy early and save stress on the present front later.

For all of the tasks, whether it’s buying Christmas trees and presents or making the Christmas pud, get the family involved. Make a colourful chart and stick it to the fridge, and work out together who will do what chore. Breaking the whole task into manageable chunks will make Christmas plans go that much easier. Remember, many hands make Christmas light work.

3. Christmas can be an expensive time for all concerned. So now’s a good time to be looking for discounts from online companies such as Groupon and Living Socials. Buying in bulk is the key to keep expenses down and do remember to budget. After all, there’s nothing worse than ending Christmas broke and in debt.

Another way to keep costs down is by making home-made gifts. From home-made chocolates and jam to hand-knitted jumpers, personalised gifts can be of high value to the recipient while keeping costs low.

4. Christmas is a time for celebration, not for stress. If you’re finding the thought of Christmas stressful, now is a great time to learn some relaxation techniques. Learn to take seven long, slow, deep breaths first thing every morning and any time throughout the day when you feel you need to. It has also been shown that regular deep breathing actually causes beneficial changes in the brain, and makes it much easier for you to deal with stress. So now, when it comes to thinking about Christmas, you can breathe easy.

5. Everyone has Great Expectations for Christmas but it can be precisely those high expectations that can cause people to become stressed. Take a few minutes out of your day, to sit down, close your eyes and visualise how, ideally, you would like the day to go. Picture the smiling faces of your family, see the Christmas dinner turning out perfectly, see everyone happy with their presents and, most of all, see yourself feeling relaxed and happy. Do this every day, and soon you’ll be merrily singing A Christmas Carol or two to yourself as you go.

6. They say there are more divorces and relationship break-ups after Christmas than at any other time of the year. Let’s face it, family ties can be pushed to the limit, spending so much time together under one roof. Whether it’s your nearest or dearest, in-laws or far-flung relations, pressing your buttons, you need to be prepared to keep everyone full of Christmas cheer.

It’s important that people can be as involved as they want to be or opt out if necessary. After all, maybe Grandpa doesn’t want the kids riding on his back as part of the after-dinner entertainment but is too polite to say so. Maybe Auntie Jean only feels useful when she’s criticising your Brussels sprouts and showing you how she would make them. Don’t let these comments knock the Christmas stuffing out of you. Be polite, be firm and soon you’ll be laughing all the way.

Always have some distractions at the ready. If the kids are starting to get tetchy – extra little games or more Xmas crackers are always helpful. And let well-meaning relatives help you in the kitchen. You are not Superman/Woman and you don’t have to prove otherwise.

Some affirmations you might want to practise out loud in the weeks before Christmas are “My home is a happy home for all who enter in it” and “I am good enough,” and, above all, always bear in mind the true message of Christmas. It’s not about the presents and getting frazzled in the kitchen, it’s about the message of peace and love and that starts with you.

7. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, be sure to make your home a happy and calm place. A few drops of lavender oil are perfect for creating a relaxing atmosphere: whether as a room spray, or put on the pillow or in the bath, the scent of lavender will really soothe yourself and your family. Another calming treat is a cup of chamomile tea before bed. Just the thing to help you drop off for a relaxing, silent night.

Keeping your home clean, tidy and clutter-free will really help your home look an inviting, relaxing place. So now’s a great opportunity to start de-cluttering. Also putting and keeping things in the right place will really pay dividends so you’re not rushing round looking for scissors and string to wrap presents at the last moment.

8. You’re going to want everything to run smoothly on the big day. So now’s the time to get your boiler serviced and to make sure that all electrical items are running well. Nothing worse than finding you’ve no hot water or your oven’s not working on Christmas Day. Other tips are to make sure you have enough batteries for toys to avoid any disappointments on the big day.

9. Of course, not everyone will be spending time with family at Christmas. Many people will be on their own at Christmas. If you’re on your own, think of volunteering to help an organisation like Crisis who will be looking for volunteers to help the homeless enjoy Christmas. Or maybe you’d like to invite an elderly person to spend Christmas with you who would otherwise be on their own. Spread the season of good will to those in your community and you will surely spread happiness and be a Christmas Star!

10. Enjoy yourself, it’s Christmas! Take lots of photos to remember this special day. After all, if you have enough food to eat, a roof above your head and you’re spending time with loved ones, then what could be better? Count your blessings, enjoy the day and, let someone else do the washing up, while you put your feet up. After all, you’ve earned it! Merry Christmas!

LONDON – A FRIGHTFULLY GOOD PLACE FOR VEGANS TO PARTY!

In London, we vegans never need an excuse to party but this weekend was pretty spectacular:  what with Friday being Hallowe’en, Saturday World Vegan Day (and not forgetting 2014 marking the 7oth Anniversary of the Vegan Society!)  and with Sunday being the Festival of the Day of the Dead for our friends overseas in Mexico, there was nothing for it but to put on three frightfully good days of vegan celebrations in the capital and party, party, party….

Always one to put in the witching hours, I took to my broomstick and spent an incredible three days sampling some of the best events that London has to offer to dedicated vegan party goers.

 

FRIDAY 31sT OCTOBER 2014 – HALLOWE’EN.

Friday saw me in full witch gear, flying down to the London Vegan Meetup Hallowe’en party, hosted by lovely Laura and held in the dungeon of popular, central London veggie restaurant, Tibits, who thoughtfully offered a spook-tacular range of delicious, all-vegan dishes on their buffet that night. After all, it’s well known that vampires often fancy a bite after dark, and vegan ones are no exception….

Fangs to all the ghouls and boys who attended, and here are just a few highlights of a scarily good night out.

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Nice spooking with you ……

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Vegan meet ups are always out of this world ….

 

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Spider Man found us on the web ….

 

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It’s always good to catch up with “old fiends” …

 

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And the last word on the Hallowe’en Party goes to poetry competition winner, Alex.

 

 

SATURDAY  – 1st NOVEMBER 2014 WORLD VEGAN DAY

Saturday saw an unseasonably warm November day and the perfect chance to enjoy the Brixton Walkabout – a regular monthly fixture of the London Vegan Meetup scene. The day was extra special being both the second anniversary of the Brixton Walkabout, run by popular hostess Jess, and World Vegan Day itself.

Brixton itself was choc-full of vegan chocolate, cakes – courtesy of Trina’s and Ms Cupcake, Ethiopian fayre, Scoff Sweets ….. Need I go on?

But the icing on the vegan cake that afternoon was a fabulous fun-filled World Vegan Day party held at local hostelry The Dog Star, which saw an amazing afternoon of  rock ‘n’ roll dancing led by Sarah-Jane, raffles, a charity auction featuring vegan goodies including Plamil chocolate and Tropic Skincare products, musical chairs, singing contest …..

And if that wasn’t enough, when all the fun and games were over, there was nothing for it but to head up north to our favourite vegan cafe,  Kabaret at Karamel in Wood Green, for a special World Vegan Day Drinks night, hosted by Fat Gay Vegan. Here we were blessed by talks from two vibrant queens of the vegan scene: Louise Wallis, co-owner of Kabaret at Karamel, who initiated World Vegan Day 20 years ago, and Joyful Vegan and Author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who was visiting from across the pond and who was, happily, able to join us for the celebrations.

A hearty range of food was on offer from Gourmet Burgers, to Pizzas and Spicy Sausage Casserole followed by a fabulous vegan chocolate cake. Yum!

And with dancing scheduled to go on till 2.00 am, these plant-fuelled vegans clearly had no shortage of stamina ….

 

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A sweet way to start the day at Trina’s cake stall …

 

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The auction was choc-a-bloc with prizes. Thank you, Plamil!

 

 

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And yet more auction prizes. Goodie, Goodie ….

 

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Sold to the highest bidder ….

 

SUNDAY 2nd NOVEMBER 2014 –  DAY OF THE DEAD PARTY

You’d think with all the late-night shenanigans of Friday and Saturday, those vegans would be wiped out. Not a bit of it. Even if some of us were feeling half-dead afterwards,  it really didn’t matter, as Sunday saw an amazing Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) party, back at Kabaret at Karamel and hosted by the tireless Fat Gay Vegan.

In any case, we were quickly revived by the most amazing vegan Mexican buffet, lovingly prepared by two specially-imported Mexican chefs, and which included wave after Mexican wave of vegan goodies: tasty black bean soup, enchiladas, tortillas, guacamole … And those with a sweet tooth were well rewarded by delicious vegan rice pudding, sugar skulls, Scoff sweets, and chocolate to die for from Cocoa Feliz.

Other treats along the way were a cookery demonstration featuring a fabulous Brazilian quinoa dish, made by our dear friend Vanessa of Essential Vegan, a talk by Emma of Veganbnb Travel on vegan holidays in Spain and Guatemala, an encounter with a Mexican wrestler and his hot Kankun chilli sauce – the joint was indeed kicking. Muchas gracias to all concerned.

Anyway, here I am to spill the Mexican beans ….

 

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Fighting for the last enchilada ….

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 Some like it hot …

 

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Not mushroom in my tummy … !

 

 

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Mixing it up with Vanessa, the Quinoa Queen!

 

 

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Mmmmm. Nice buns!

 

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Thumbs up for a really great party!

 

So there we have it! Three days of vegan celebrations in the capital.

Think we’re all going to slow down now the weekend’s over? Not a bit of it. London is vegan party town and we intend to keep it that way!

 

Join us for lots of fun vegan events in London at

London Vegan Meetup http://www.meetup.com/londonvegan/

Fat Gay Vegan Events http://www.meetup.com/FatGayVegan and check out his blog at http://www.fatgayvegan.com/

London Vegans. http://www.londonvegans.org.uk

 

Find out more about veganism at the Vegan Society http://www.vegansociety.com/

 

For vegan resources in London (restaurants, events etc), check out Vegan London http://www.veganlondon.co.uk

 

Eateries

Tibits Restaurant, 12-14 Heddon Street, off Regent Street, London W1B 4DA Tel: 0207 758 4112  http://www.tibits.co.uk

Kabaret at Karamel, Chocolate Factory 2, Coburg Road, Wood Green,  London N22 6UJ 020 8829 8989  http://karamelrestaurant.com/

 

Vegan Cakes

Trina’s Delicacies http://www.trinasdelicacies.com/collections/vegan-cakes

Ms Cupcake  http://www.mscupcake.co.uk/

 

Vegan Sweets and Chocolates

Scoff Sweets http://www.scoffsweets.co.uk/

Cocoa Feliz http://cocoafeliz.com/

Plamil https://www.plamilfoods.co.uk/
Vegan Skincare

https://www.tropicskincare.co.uk/shop/shabarisaha

 

Vegan Author

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau http://www.joyfulvegan.com/

 

Brazilian Vegan Food

Essential Vegan http://essentialvegan.co.uk/
Vegan Mexican Sauce

Kankun http://kankunsauce.com/

 

Vegan Holidays to Spain and Guatemala

Veganbnbtravel: http://www.veganbnbtravel.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

VEGANISM? IT’S ALL IN THE GENES!

Scientists have announced today that when it comes to veganism, humans may actually have a genetic predisposition to being vegan.
Professor Frank Solo of the Berkeley Institute, California made the exciting discovery earlier this year while carrying out a study on Veganism and DNA Methylation in 1,700 vegans .*
The mutant gene – known as VEG0104 – was discovered in over 82% of the participants, explained Professor Solo.
People who carried this gene were also found to have high levels of compassion, empathy with animals, an interest in health and a concern for the environment. Another factor, one of the study’s researchers Dr A. Day noted, was a greater-than-average interest in cake. Vegan cake, of course.
While a predisposition to becoming vegan may be something we’re born with, it can be something which can be switched on and off during certain important times. Watching videos such as The Animals, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated and PlanEat for instance, were found expressly to switch the vegan gene on or just surrounding oneself with like-minded people, such as at one of the many Vegan Meetups around the world, can have the same effect.
Someone who is really switched on then is Al Gore who recently converted to veganism. “Over a year ago I changed my diet to a vegan diet, really just to experiment to see what it was like,” he says. “And I felt better, so I continued with it.”
Other celebrities believed to carry the VEG0104 vegan gene include Moby, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway and Joaquin Phoenix.
If this is true, then it may mean that humans were meant to be vegans all along and that the gene has only been switched off because of peer and family pressure and lack of knowledge.
All of which is great news for the many vegans around the world. It appears then like Bruce Springstreen’s song, maybe we really are “Born this way.”

If you think veganism might be in your genes, you can find out more at http://www.vegansociety.com or if you’re in London, come along and join us at http://www.meetup.com/londonvegan/ or check out your own local vegan group at http://www.meetup.com.

*A genome-wide association study identifies VEG0104 as a susceptibility locus for veganism in adults and children.
Authors
Solo, Frank; Day, A
Natural Genetics
14 (14-41)
Published online 1/4/14

 

THE CUPID BUSINESS: INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, JULIE H. ROSENFIELD

Q: So, Julie, what is this new novel of yours, The Cupid Business, about?

Julie: It’s about 400 pages, and 100,000 words!

But, seriously, it’s actually about many things. It’s a romantic, comedy novel, written as a sort of a comic monologue with poetry, puns, advice on dating, and at its heart, what I hope is a darn good love story!

Q: Tell us a little more about your main female character, Kate Parkinson.

Julie: Oh, yes, Kate Parkinson. She’s in a bit of a rough place at the beginning of the novel. As the blurb on the back cover of the book says: “Trapped by her demanding, live-in partner, Paul Edmonds on the one hand, and a difficult job as a PA in an insurance company on the other, 37-year old Kate Parkinson has, seemingly, no way to turn.”

I guess a lot of people can feel stuck these days, particularly on the romantic front. However, when it comes to finding love, there is far more choice on the dating scene than ever before. In my day, all we could do is sit and wait by the phone to see if there was going to be another date.

These days, there are so many more opportunities to find love: speed dating, internet dating, matchmaking agencies. And there are so many ways to get in touch: Facebook, texting, instant messaging etc. No wonder, Kate, who suddenly finds herself coming out of a long-term relationship, finds herself overwhelmed at all the options.

Q: So, would it be fair to say that, as well as being a novel, The Cupid Business is actually a bit of a dating manual?

Julie: Well, I guess you could say that. Although I hadn’t intended it to be as such, it was only after I’d read it through for the umpteenth time, that I realised that there is actually a lot of good advice in there for single people looking for love.

Q: Kate’s long-term partner, Paul Edmonds, is a bit of a horror, isn’t he? Is he based on anyone you know?

Julie (laughing): No, thankfully, not at all. All my characters are purely fictional, thank goodness! Can you imagine?

Q: And what about Mark, the romantic lead?

Julie: Alas, he’s pure fiction too. Although I’m sure there are some handsome, single thoracic surgeons out there somewhere!

Q: So where did you get your inspiration to write something like The Cupid Business?

Julie: Well, to paraphrase the famous quote, I guess it was 1 per cent inspiration, and 99 per cent perspiration.

So, in that case, you could say that writing The Cupid Business has been a mixture of love, sweat and tears!

Q: That’s an interesting point. Let’s go through that. Love?

Julie: I wanted to write a novel for the love of writing. I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler but so far it’s been restricted to my blog: short stories, poetry, life writing, articles etc. 

My last publication was in 2002 when I edited a book called Vegan Stories for the Vegan Society.

I’ve tried to write a novel many times in the past but usually I’ve got stuck at chapter three, page three. This time, thankfully, I was able to keep going!

I don’t have a plan when I write. I just get some crazy thought in my head first thing in the morning and try and capture it before it disappears.

For The Cupid Business, it was just a question of turning up at my computer every day and waiting to  see if the characters turned up and if they had anything to say. Thankfully, they did.

For some reason, I thought a love story would be the easiest kind of novel to write. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Q: Why is that? Is it because of some of the novel’s more racy moments?

Julie: Yes, that was really tough. Personally, I favour the “less is more” approach. When it comes to writing racy scenes, I have to confess I’m less 50 Shades of Grey, more 50 shades of Pink!

One of my proof-readers advised me that the novel was too saucy, another said it wasn’t saucy enough! Hopefully, I’ve redressed that balance now.

Personally, I’d say it was more cheeky than saucy, with a lot of humour thrown in, and allowance for the liberal use of the reader’s imagination.

Q: And, carrying on from your earlier comment, you said the novel involved a lot of sweat?

Julie: Well, yes, it did take 8 years in all to write. Not continuously, of course. I did manage to squeeze in study for an Open University arts degree and a part-time job in that time too.

I imagine most people think the life of a romantic novelist is sitting in a flimsy pink dressing gown, eating chocolates, drinking champagne and dictating words of wisdom to a trusty secretary.

It’s all true apart from the chocolates, champagne and the secretary. A lot of it though was written at my computer while in my dressing gown, so I may, one day, call my autobiography, “Productive in Pyjamas!”

Actually, the hardest part was not so much the writing and the editing, but getting to grips with how to self-publish on Amazon and Kindle. That has been a major learning curve!

Q: Yes, why did you decide to go down the self-publishing route? Didn’t you try sending it out to a publisher first?

Julie: Oh yes, that’s where the tears come in (laughs). I kept on sending it off to publishers and agents and it just kept coming right back at me with a “Thanks, but no thanks” printed rejection slip.

Sometimes, I swear it was on a rubber band, and used to come back to me before I’d even sent it out.

Q: That must have been hard.

Julie: Yes, it was a bit off-putting, especially in the early days. I guess that’s why I kept putting it back on the shelf.

But, thank goodness, for encouragement from friends, and for Amazon and Kindle, which have made self-publishing an affordable reality! Nothing beats the thrill of seeing your own work in print!

Q: So, Julie, after The Cupid Business, what’s next?

Julie: I already have some ideas in the pipeline: a book of short stories, a second novel, and perhaps a book of puns. Hopefully, the next book won’t take 8 years to write!

Q: Thanks for talking to us today and good luck with The Cupid Business.

Julie: Thank you!

 

The Cupid Business, a romantic comedy novel by Julie H. Rosenfield.

Published on Amazon and Kindle on Valentine’s Day: 14.02.2014.
ISBN-13: 978-1493589661 ISBN-10: 149358966

The Cupid Business on Amazon

P1090620

BREAKING ALL THE RULES! (SHORT STORY)

Dear Mr Honeydew

I see from your magazine, ‘The Chaperone’, that you are currently seeking entries for a short story competition on the theme of love.

I attach my short story “Hot Coals” for your consideration.

Yours sincerely

K.L. Rowling

 

Dear Mr Rowling

As you will see from our competition rules, in order to enter our contest, you will need to print out your story in a Word document format and mail it to us with the requisite entry fee. Please remember to enclose an SAE, should you want your story returned.

I regret that e-mail entries are not acceptable.

Yours sincerely

B.D. Honeydew

Editor, ‘The Chaperone’

PS Any relation?

Dear Mr Honeydew

What’s all this with Mr Rowling?  Please call me Katherine.

Of course, my name’s not really K.L. Rowling. I just figured that when I eventually get my novel published, they’ll have to put it on the library shelf next to J.K. Rowling and, if her books are out of stock, people will naturally be drawn to pick my book up instead. Crafty, eh?

Katherine L. Rowling (no relation!)

 

Dear Katherine

Oh yes, I see. Sorry about confusing your gender. These days, you can’t always tell.

About your story, as I say, if you send it by post to ‘The Chaperone’ offices, someone will be sure to read it.

Kind regards

Bernard Honeydew

 

Dear Bernard

May I call you Bernard? We do seem to be on first name terms now.

So “someone” will read my story, will they? My dear Bernard, I don’t want just anyone to read it. Who did you have in mind:  one of your minions or juniors, perhaps?

In that case, I don’t think so. My story is, shall we say, rather of an adult nature? That’s why I’m sending it expressly to you as the Editor.

Katherine

Dear Katherine

Well, in that case, we couldn’t possibly consider your story.

‘The Chaperone’ magazine is meant for those dear readers who hark back to a more gentle era. Not the rather more bold, raunchy, anything goes tales of today.

Bernard

 

Bernard

Yes, I see what you mean. I raced to read your feature in last month’s issue, entitled “50 Shades…”, only to find a photo feature on parasols.

Really, Mr Honeydew, speaking as a red-blooded woman, it hardly raises the temperature, does it?

Katherine

Katherine

I can assure you that there was a wealth of subtle meaning behind that feature. The orange parasol, I feel, was positively twitching.

Less is more.

Bernard

Bernard

Nonetheless, we must agree to disagree.

Now, are you going to read my story or not? Otherwise, I can always submit it to your rival magazine, ‘The Governess’.

Katherine

 

Katherine

Well, in that case, as you insist, and as I do happen to have a little time on my hands this evening, I will take a brief look at it. No promises, mind.

But, in future, I would strongly urge you to submit any future stories in the usual way.

Bernard

Bernard

Well?

I’m waiting ….

Katherine

Katherine

I don’t know what to say.

Bernard

Bernard?

Does that mean it’s good or …. ?

Katherine

Katherine

Let me get straight to the point. Your story, though well-crafted and constructed, and with its excellent use of imagery and dialogue, was really rather ….

Bernard

Bernard?

Are you still there?

Katherine

Katherine

Well, what can I say? That scene with your characters, Tom and Lydia, cavorting in the sauna. Well, I have to say it was, rather, shall we say, steamy?

And that episode in the artist’s studio was, frankly, quite graphic.

My dear Mrs Rowling, readers of ‘The Chaperone’ are only looking for a little romance. More of a gentle saunter than a full-on sauna.

And, frankly, is it even possible or advisable to do such things in a sauna? NB Health and Safety!

Yours

Bernard

PS Is there a Mr Rowling?

Bernard

I assure you that the scene in the sauna is very possible. Why, in my youth, I myself was actually quite the gymnast. A lady never forgets.

In any case, we must think about your circulation.

Katherine

PS, There is a “Mr Rowling” as you call him, but he’s always far too busy working to pay me much attention these days.

Katherine

Nothing wrong with my circulation, I can assure you. I’m not sure about my blood pressure though, after reading your story.

Bernard

Bernard

I was talking about your magazine’s circulation, of course.

By the way, I do like the photo of you in the Editor’s Chair feature. Very handsome.

Katherine

PS Is there a Mrs Honeydew?

Katherine.

Thank you.

I’m glad you like the photo. I’m really rather proud of it myself.

Bernard

Bernard

Yes, but I would lose the white whiskers if I were you. Bit too Father Christmassy, in my opinion.

Katherine

Katherine

I’ll have you know that my wife, the first and only Mrs Honeydew, loves my beard. She says it makes me look very distinguished.

Bernard

Bernard

Good for Mrs Honeydew. I’d say you’d look 10 years younger without your beard. If you were my husband, I’d make you whip it off in no time.

Katherine Growling

Dear Mrs Rowling, Growling, Yowling or whatever you really call yourself

I feel this has really gone far enough and that we should put an end to this correspondence.

Your story is not suitable for publication for this magazine.

The Editor’s Decision is Final.

Bernard D. Honeydew

Bernard

I am attaching a photo of myself in a new, skin-tight, red leotard with my long brown hair falling loosely around my shoulders. 

I do hope you like it.

Yours

Katherine

Katherine

Thank you for your photo. Very charming, indeed.  I see what you mean about being a gymnast. You’ve clearly kept your figure over the years.

I do feel, though, that the judicious addition of a parasol might have been called for, with perhaps an accompanying warning for a man of my age.

Mr Rowling is a very lucky man.

Bernard

Bernard

I have a suggestion.

Why don’t we get together and set up a new magazine of our own?  Something a little more in touch with the present day?

Katherine

Katherine

Well, it’s certainly a thought. You do seem rather gifted.

Bernard

 

Bernard

Ah, does that mean you did like my story, after all?

Katherine

Katherine

Rather. I’m still hot under the collar thinking about it. And as for your photo ..

Bernard

Bernard

Perhaps we should have a meeting to discuss any … matters arising?

Katherine

Katherine

Yes, indeed. We should…

There is just one thing, though.

Bernard

Bernard

Yes?

Katherine

Katherine

When you come upstairs tonight, will you please switch all the lights off and leave the dog downstairs?

Bernard

Bernard

Really? Why’s that?

Katherine

 

Katherine – or rather –  Katie!

I rather think this is one night when we won’t need a chaperone!

All yours

Bernie

THE END

Julie H. Rosenfield               24.2.2014

THE CUPID BUSINESS BY JULIE H. ROSENFIELD (EXTRACT) CHAPTER ONE

EXTRACT FROM THE CUPID BUSINESS BY JULIE H. ROSENFIELD

CHAPTER ONE

 MONDAY

Monday morning rush. Overnight sleet. Bad day on the Northern Line. Slush, push, crush…

          “The next station is High-gert.” High-gert? Every day, I want to challenge that clipped, impersonal voice. “High-GATE,” I want to scream.

          Where do they get these announcers anyway?

“Customers in the last carriage, please move towards the front doors to leave the train.”

 When did we start becoming customers? What’s wrong with passengers?

“Mind the Gap.”

 Why don’t they just fill it in? Who builds a platform so narrow that it doesn’t meet the train? Or is “Mind the Gap” just a subliminal advert for a well-known clothes store? It wouldn’t surprise me.

 I’m standing all the way in a carriage so jam-packed with people that there’s no room for me to put my bags down. It makes me wary.

 Once, squashed inside the tube train in this way, with my hands full of bags and umbrella, I suddenly became aware of someone touching the back of my coat and fondling my bottom. And then, I was aware of something hard poking my well-padded behind. And it wasn’t a brolly.

 Trying to swivel round, I caught sight of a well-dressed man, holding a briefcase in one hand and my backside in the other: an opportunist who took advantage of our enforced intimacy.

 And with no room for me to jab him with a pointed elbow, and too tightly pressed up against unseeing strangers to cry out, I had no choice but to endure his unwelcome attentions.

 And I’ve never trusted men with briefcases ever since, which is unfortunate as I work as a secretary – or Personal Assistant – at a large insurance company: Grantham and Slater.

  You’ve probably heard of them or seen their corny ads:

 “Assuring you of our assurance always.”

 “Insuring you all ways – always.”

           How about another subliminal advert?

          “Please INSURE you cover all your belongings with us when you leave the train.”

           It wouldn’t surprise me. These days, nothing does.

          So, is it any wonder then, after fighting against the elements, the London underground, time and my personal inclination to stay in bed, that I arrive bruised and bedraggled at the office desk where I am due to remain chained for the rest of the day?

            And late – ten whole minutes. And it’s noticed…

            “Oh, I thought you’d had a better offer,” sneers Marsha Bray, our stick-thin, eagle-eyed administrator. Time-keeper and office pedant. Loved by all. Not.

Nothing escapes Marsha’s newly-lasered, piercing, blue eyes. Sharp, those lasers – just like her tongue.

“Only ten minutes,” I counter, anticipating her next response.

“Thirteen-and-a-half to be exact but who’s counting?” She is, and don’t I know it!

“Oh, and Mr Sykes wants to see you.”

          An early summons from the boss. Not a great start. I had hoped his Monday morning breakfast meeting might have gone on long enough to cover my late entrance. Alas, not. They must have run out of doughnuts. This is not good news.

I drag my soul and my shorthand notepad into my boss’s office.

My boss, Mr William Sykes, a senior director at Grantham and Slater, started out in the insurance field at the age of 17. Sell, sell, sell. “If it’s worth having, it’s worth insuring.”

Insurance Man of the Year. Worked his way up through the ranks and onto the Board. Big, broad-shouldered, burly; wavy, grey hair; thick, tangled eyebrows. He has one joke which he repeats often. Well, every time he speaks to a new client.
“And it’s William Sykes. William – not Bill. I don’t know what the Dickens my parents were thinking of.” And with that, he roars, as if he’s never heard his own joke before.

Every morning of my working week, Soggy Sykes – my nickname for him because he makes such heavy, wet weather of everything – hauls me into his office and loads me with dictation.

Some mornings, unlike Dickens’s hero Oliver, I actually want to shout: “Please Sir, I don’t want any more,” but, of course, I never do. Perhaps I’m just quietly going round the Twist.

On this mundane Monday morning, I emerge from Sykes’s office two hours later, weighed down with the fruits of the morning’s dictation: my humble shorthand pad a glorious testament to the British person’s need for insurance.

“Run for cover – to Grantham and Slater.”

“Your life insurance in our hands.”

It often amazes me how these light, dancing, pencilled shorthand squiggles are sturdy enough to convey such heavy subject matter as endowment policies, remortgages, life cover and all risks policies…

All risks? How about the risk of me dropping down dead of boredom in the middle of one of Sykes’s dense, dictation sessions? How about the risk of me surviving just one day without being lashed by the acerbic wit of Marsha Bray? What about the risk of me exploding with shock at the thought of typing out just one exciting letter?

“Don’t risk your all without our All Risks policies.”

            Shorthand. What an amazing skill that is. Thanks to Sir Isaac Pitman for that one. It took me a while to get the hang of learning the phonetic sounds and symbols; reading them out aloud over and over again: chay, jay; kay, gay; pee, bee….

And, talking of pee: just my luck, ten minutes later, I’m cornered in the Ladies’ by our HR manager, Annabelle Lomax.

“Oh, darling. How are you? Must tell you about my fabulous weekend,” she breathes.

This could take some time. I look in the mirror. It might be wise to take a moment or two to repair the ravages of the morning. Frosted pink lipstick in hand, I gaze at my reflection: long, mid-brown, tousled hair; snub nose; a freckle or two and, as for those messy eyebrows…

 And, next to me, Annabelle: tall; big hair: dark and curly; Roman nose; dazzling red lipstick; huge, porcelain, white teeth.

“Nick took me to quite the best dinner dance on Saturday night. Tickets cost a fortune but he managed to wangle two freebies for us. Contacts, you know,” she says, tapping her generous nose.

            I pretend to be both impressed and interested. I even remember to make the obligatory, complimentary remark on her latest fabulous outfit. Yellow two-piece suit with black polka dots. Perfect for a cocktail party but for an insurance company HR department?

“Oh, I’m glad you like it. Charity shop, you know.”

Inwardly, I groan. Charity shop! How come I never find the latest Dior creations in my local Oxfam? The best I’ve ever done was to find an orange summer skirt which “makes you look like a plump tangerine,” according to one of my kinder friends.

Thank goodness, I didn’t canvass Marsha.

“Still, darling, must fly. People to interview, that sort of thing,” and, with that, Annabelle’s gone.

What a morning. Definitely time for a break. I make my way to the drinks machine. As always, Tony Ross, the IT guy, is there. This explains why no-one can ever get him on the phone – perhaps they should call him the High-Tea guy.

Tony is tall and lanky, with short brown hair and owlish spectacles, and sports his perennial checked shirt and grey cords. Boy, it’s good to see the first friendly face of the morning. Time for a breather and to talk about the weekend and Tony’s latest online dating exploits.

“Hang on, Tony. You actually told someone you’d seen online that, in her profile photo, she looked as if she had good, child-bearing hips?”

“Yes.”

“And you haven’t heard from her since?”

“Well, no …”
“And you’re surprised?”

“Yes. It was meant to be a compliment,” he shrugs.

Tony never fails to amaze me. Some men just have a talent for that sort of thing. If there was an Olympic event for Shot-Putting-Your-Foot-In-It and Curling-Up-Your-Toes-With-Embarrassment, he’d be an Olympic gold medal winner every time.

“But you hadn’t even met the girl.”

“But we’d chatted on the internet. I’d virtually met her.”

It’s a mystery to me what people see in the internet. OK, it’s useful to check the weather forecasts, catch up with the news and book last-minute holidays but as for those netheads who spend hours and hours surfing… What a waste of time.

But then, Tony does work in the IT department so I guess it’s not too surprising. At least, this way, he gets paid for it.

“And how about you, Kate? How was your weekend?”

“Don’t ask. Just don’t.”

It had been a bad one – just like most weekends these days. Paul and I fighting. Again.

What had sparked it off this time? Oh yes, I remember. I’d forgotten to unpack one of the bags of shopping from Saturday’s supermarket spree. And the next day, Paul had retrieved a soggy bag of melted, frozen peas from the unopened, plastic carrier bag, left lying on the floor.

Someone didn’t unpack the shopping,” he declared, pointedly.

“Really? Well, what was to stop you doing it, then?” I retorted.

 “Well, at least, I put the tofu away,” he countered.

 And there we were, straight into another bickering session. My usual accusation of how he never helps with the housework, and his standard defence that he looks after the car and that the house is my domain.

On and on – all day Sunday. Both actors knowing their lines so well that neither was willing to change, to improvise, to be spontaneous. Or even say sorry.

Ah well, no use crying over soggy peas except that I did. Silly me. Silly, silly me.

It seems to be happening more often these days. Is it my age? At 37, am I too old for boys and too young for the men-o-pause? Or is it, I wonder, just time for a change of a different kind?

I’ve often wished that men could be like library books. You pick one you like the look of, take it home, spend time with it for a week or two and when you’re done, you take it back to the library and exchange it for another one. No questions asked, no hurt feelings and, if you like it, you have the option to renew.

Why aren’t marriage licences renewable? An old man once told me that it used to cost seven-shillings-and-six-pence to buy a marriage licence which was the same price as a dog licence. I wonder which was the better value. At least, with a dog, they never complain about burnt dinners or erroneously defrosted vegetables.

Although to tell the truth, Paul and I aren’t actually married. Although these 15 years we’ve been living together, it certainly feels like it. I don’t know why we’ve never married. Somehow, I’ve never felt able to make that final commitment.

Maybe Tony, although he doesn’t realise it yet, is actually better off. Stay single, stay free, keep your options open. Sometimes, my heart feels as frozen as those wretched peas.

Still, try telling Tony that. He’s desperate to find someone, to be in a relationship, to settle down. Too desperate, I think, and it shows. Still, he’s a nice guy and that’s why I like to encourage him when I can.

Still, no-one can doubt his prowess on the computer. Just as well, for the number of times my machine breaks down. That’s how we’ve got to know each other so well, really. So many times he’s rescued me when old Sykes has had a deadline to meet and I’ve been faced with a computer which won’t do as it’s told. I just dial extension 369 and he’s there in a flash drive.

And, for that sort of service, a little coddling and advice about women is well worth it.

Recalling Tony’s earlier remarks about his disastrous online date, I start to tease him as he reaches for the chocolate digestives: “Go easy on those biscuits, Tony, or else people will be commenting on the size of your hips too.”

Smiling to myself, I manage to duck the empty plastic cup he hurls in my direction.

For all his faults, Tony does make me giggle. And, at Grantham and Slater, you need to laugh a lot – just to get through the day.

             “So, how was your day?” I ask Paul when I arrive back at home in Finchley this evening. Although seeing his face crumple as he collapses on the settee, I have a fair idea. It’s a shame because I was hoping to broach the subject of me maybe giving my job up and taking on something part-time and, if possible, a bit closer to home. It’s something we’ve talked about before but I’m not sure how much he’s taken in.

“Today was tough, Kate. Look, I know you want to jack in your job at the insurance place, but things are really tight at work at the moment. We do need you to keep on working there for a little longer: just till we can be sure of Athens…”

Athens. Paul’s work is a mystery to me. Lots of wheeling and dealing from what I can tell. Building contracts mainly but who knows what else goes on? But although Paul wears a sharp suit, he never seems quite sharp enough to land the one big deal that will give us the financial freedom for me to pursue my own thing. And with a mortgage weighing heavily round our necks, there’s no choice but work, work, work for the pair of us.

            “Dinner’s nearly ready,” I soothe, removing the cardboard sleeve from the Just-Heat-It-Up Chilli ‘n’ Rice ready meal and piercing the plastic cover with a fork.

Is there an art to cooking these things or does everybody else end up with the same burnt bits inside the plastic container? Ah well, who’s got time to cook proper meals these days?

I fantasise about baking my own multi-seeded, granary bread; laying the dinner table with candlesticks and solid silver cutlery, and serving up some gorgeous, golden-orange, butternut squash soup for starters; an exotic, saffron-infused, wild mushroom medley, wrapped in home-made puff pastry, accompanied by new potatoes and a julienne of vegetables for the main course and an enchanting, hot raspberry soufflé for dessert. Ah, those TV chefs have a lot to answer for. Dream on!

“You want bread with yours?” I shout through the hatch, reaching to open the wrapper of the cut-price, sliced white bread. Oven-ready, ready-sliced, nearly ready.

And, after what I laughingly call dinner, a night in front of the box. We generally catch up with one of the TV soaps while we balance our dinner on our knees. I found a couple of those cushion trays in a pound shop recently and they’re just the job.

One thing about watching TV together, though, that really annoys me is how, every time the ads come on, Paul reaches for the remote control and switches channels: just to make sure he isn’t missing anything on the other side. And, despite my entreaties, he always manages to clip the second half of the serial. He really is a remote control freak.

Tonight, as he usually does after dinner, Paul gets ready to go upstairs to our spare bedroom – his office – to spend the evening on his computer. I remember to grab him before he disappears.

“Remember, I’m seeing Suzie tomorrow night. I’ll be meeting her straight from work. You’ll have to get your own dinner.”

Always best to give him a bit of notice so he can pop into the chippy and get his dinner on the way home. Ah, modern life, so many conveniences yet so much inconvenience.

I hope the Northern Line will be working tomorrow, I think, as I iron my sensible white blouse ready for the next gripping day at Grantham and Slater. At least, let me get there early for once, just to see Marsha’s face.

END OF CHAPTER ONE

Extract from the novel, The Cupid Business by Julie H. Rosenfield

Published on Amazon and Kindle 14.02.2014  The Cupid Business on Amazon The Cupid Business on Kindle
ISBN-13: 978-1493589661

ISBN-10:1493589660

SOMETHING DIFFERENT (SHORT STORY)

Ever since she’d been a teenager, it had been the same refrain.

“Why can’t you meet a nice Jewish boy?”

Rachel sighed. “But I don’t want to meet a nice Jewish boy,” she thought to herself. “I want something different. I want a bad boy.”

Her mother was off again. “Mrs Fishman’s daughter’s just got engaged and she’s two years younger than you.”

Rachel shrugged her shoulders, uninterested in the dating successes of her mother’s neighbours’ offspring.

“You could find yourself a nice accountant, or even better, a nice Jewish doctor,” and here, a tear sprang to Rachel’s mother’s soft brown eyes.

“A doctor,  that would be one in the eye for Mrs Goldbaum. Perhaps even a specialist?” Rachel’s mother had to sit down quickly, overcome at the thought.

No, Rachel didn’t want a nice Jewish boy. She wanted something different.

There had been boys at uni, of course. Bad, bad boys. There was Tariq, who took her out on his motorbike; Christopher, the teacher who gave her lines that were totally unconnected to detention, and Ho-Sung, the martial arts fanatic …

“Or a solicitor, maybe. Or a barrister?”

Rachel’s mother was off again. Rachel smiled. Barrister! The closest she’d been to that was that barista, Carlos, she’d met at the student coffee bar. He’d certainly been close to the law a few times but not in the way that Rachel’s mother had ever had in mind.

All too soon, though, uni came to an end. And, unable to find a job in London that would pay to rent more than a shoebox, Rachel had had no choice but to come back home to Leeds, and suffer her parents’ rules.

“But what if I don’t want to meet a nice Jewish boy?” Rachel asked her mother, for the umpteenth time.

“Not want to meet a nice Jewish boy? Rachel, really. You have to marry a Jewish man, so you can bring your children up Jewish. Saul, come and listen to this.”

Rachel’s father, Saul, put down his newspaper, wearily. It had been so nice to have Rachel back home but, all too soon, the arguments had started up again. He reached for his cheque book and a clipping from the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“Rachel, do me a favour. Just join this. Here’s the money. Keep me and your mum, happy, eh?”

Rachel read the clipping. A new Jewish dating website called Dates All Ready had just been set up: “Have we got Jews for you!” ran the headline, accompanied by an eye-watering joining fee. “Find the Smoked Salmon for your Bagel,” continued the ad, accompanied by photos of simpering, happy couples.

“But I don’t want smoked salmon,” replied Rachel, “I’m a vegetarian …”

“While you’re living under our roof …,” began Sarah, Rachel’s mother.

Saul looked over at her, pleadingly. Anything to preserve the peace ….

“OK, OK. Thanks, Dad, I’ll give it a try,” Rachel conceded. “I’ll just go up to my room and sign up.

Wearily, she turned on the computer, logged into the Dates All Ready website. Search males: 20-45, she instructed. It was all so predictable.

“Benny: already know him from school. Mummy’s boy. No thanks.”

“Paul: went on a date with him once. What he lacked in personality, he made up for in perspiration. No wonder, he’s still single…”

“Joe: he’s still on the market,” and then,  remembering his rather excessive interest in her clothes at the youth club dance: “Thought he’d be a Josephine, by now.”

There was a knock on the bedroom door. Rachel’s mother popped her head round the door.

“Just brought you a cup of hot chocolate. Seen anyone you fancy yet?”

“Not yet, mum.”

“Oh, he looks nice, what about this one?” said her mum, pointing at a picture of an older guy with a scowling face and greying hair.

“I recognise that one: Bernie Fox,” said Rachel. “But didn’t I hear that he’d got married?”

“Twice,” said her mum, “But, hey, hope springs eternal … Anyway, keep looking. We just want you to be happy….”

“Thanks, Mum, I just need to join up first before I can contact anyone anyway.”

“I’ll leave you to it,” said her mum. “Good luck.”

To humour her parents and to keep the peace, Rachel started filling in her online profile.

She didn’t really want to meet anyone on the website, anyway, so decided not to put too much effort into it. Once she finally found herself a job, and could leave home for good, she wouldn’t have to submit to any of this pressure anymore. For now, she guessed with a sigh, she’d just have to toe the line.

She searched for a photo of herself which didn’t make her look too attractive. She uploaded one particularly unprepossessing one of her with her long, dark hair scraped back and wearing no eyeshadow on her almond eyes. Anything to scare any potential suitors away …

After all, it was not as if she had anything against Judaism itself. She’d grown up in the comforting rituals of her parents’ religion, and looked forward, as much as anyone else, to the songs and candles of Sabbath and Chanucah, the big family meals at Passover, even the hungry, soul-searching of Yom Kippur.

But, she reflected, there was a whole world out there. At uni, she’d joined in just as passionately with the lights of Diwali, given up chocolate for Lent and even had a go at fasting for Ramadan…

Religion, she mused, was like a chocolate box. Some rules were hard, some were soft, but it was nice to be able to pick and choose. Why limit yourself to one religion and just one boy from that religion?

Especially when her interests and hobbies were so diverse. She loved the speed of motorbikes, loved watching wrestling, liked hunky men who were good with their hands: builders, plumbers, construction workers. And she had a particular aversion to accountants.

Dutifully, she filled in all her requirements. If the website were offering her a filling for her bagel, she knew deep down that, like the centre of a bagel, the result would be a big fat zero.

After all, she might find herself a Jewish baker but a Jewish biker, and one who liked martial arts and bricklaying? Fat chance!

Once she’d finished her registration, she lay down on her bed and flicked through the pages of her favourite fashion magazine.

Ten minutes later, there was a ping on her computer.

“Jonathan winked at you,” came the message from the website.

She quickly read his profile. No motorbikes, no kung fu but, predictably, Jonny liked jazz.

Jazz? No, heavy metal was more Rachel’s thing. Dream on.

“David smiled at you,” came another message.

She glanced through his profile. “Hoping to become a partner in my own accountancy firm one day,” it ran.

She yawned and was about to close down the website when – ping –  a message came that Reuben would like to talk to her.

Reuben indeed. No way was she going to indulge in an online chat with another hopeless candidate for her affections. She was, she reminded herself, only doing this for her parents but still….

“Press Yes to accept, press No to reject,” screamed the online message.

“I should just press No,” thought Rachel, savagely. Then, looking at her watch, “If I’m quick enough, I can just nip out to the pub. Anything’s better than being stuck in with this.”

She was about to press No, when she took a quick look at Reuben’s photo. He was dressed in martial arts wear, and had masses of long, black wavy hair…

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt just to have a chat,” Rachel thought, “As long as that is his photo and not downloaded from some kung fu website.”

They chatted long into the night. Reuben told Rachel that he was a black belt in karate, that he owned a motorbike …

“It’s hardly a Harley yet, but hopefully, one day ….”

“Reuben,” Rachel said, cheekily, “You do sound like a bad boy ….”

At breakfast, the next morning, Rachel appeared quite sunny at the table.

“You were up late last night,” said her mother, serving the porridge. “Tapping away at your computer?”

“Yes, I met someone on that dating site Dad asked me to join. He’s asked me to meet up with him….”

“Oh,” said her mother, her bosom swelling with pride. “What’s his name? Is he a doctor?”

“He’s a web designer called Reuben,” said Rachel, and saw her parents exchange knowing looks. “He wants me to go and meet him for a drink tonight, at a pub in town.”

“A pub in town?” spluttered Saul, Rachel’s father. “Can’t he come and pick you up like a decent human being?”

“Dad, you did want me to meet someone from the website…”

“OK, OK, but just be careful, eh? You don’t know this guy ….”

 

Later, in the pub, her heart beating wildly, Rachel looked up as a tall slim man with dark hair, and clad in motorbike gear, made his way over to her.

In the pub, they talked and talked for hours.

“Yes, it’s my third motorbike …. I’ve practised martial arts for years …. I had a go at fitting my own kitchen.”

She told him of her dreams: to leave home, to find a job in fashion, to have her own line of alternative clothing one day.

Looking round her in the pub, she caught sight of Mrs Fishman’s daughter sitting at a corner table with a pale youth, each silently nursing an orange juice.

“Another pint?” asked Reuben, knowingly.

She smiled. The evening was going so well, Reuben, was, quite frankly, gorgeous and seemed to complement her wide range of interests perfectly.

“I’ve really enjoyed this evening. Would you like to meet up again?” asked Reuben, soon after last orders.

“Yes, I would,” said Rachel, with a smile. “You’re like a breath of fresh air…”

“Rachel, there is perhaps one thing I should tell you …,” said Reuben, his expression darkening suddenly

“Oh, no,” thought Rachel, “He seems so perfect. If he tells me, after all this, that he’s married or gay or …”

“I think it’s only fair to tell you that … I’m not actually Jewish. And that my name’s not actually Reuben, it’s Ronan. And I’m a Catholic…”

Not Jewish? But the website ….?

“Yes, I know it was wrong of me. But I do like Jewish girls. I guess I just wanted something different.”

Something different. Rachel laughed to herself, happily making arrangements to see Ronan the following Tuesday. And, after all, as she reasoned to herself, her parents could hardly complain. After all, hadn’t they wanted her to meet someone from the website and hadn’t she done just that? She was just being a dutiful daughter, and, as she rode home, on the back of Ronan’s motorbike, she could swear she saw the corner of Mrs Fishman’s front curtains flicker in the breeze.

 

 

 

 

 

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