The Little Red Book

by Karen J Mossman

I was in Asda looking for something when my eyes fell on a little red book. It was wrapped in cellophane with a strip of black card that said – George £3. Medium Free Writer. For Notes, Research, and Inspirations.

There is something about a blank page, fresh and new. I had a burst of thought in which an entire conversation came to mind at once. I couldn’t see inside to look at the ruled lines of emptiness just waiting to be filled. I hadn’t written a short story for ages. It was Halloween soon. Could I conjure up something? My mind was filled with thoughts as I stared at the little book in my hand.

It then leapt into my basket, almost on its own. I spent two days looking at it, trying to find the time to actually write something. At the same time, I noticed another notebook in the drawer which I hadn’t opened either. That one I bought to write in too, but there it remained unfilled and empty.

Whilst browsing the shelves of Amazon, I came across a book that was called How to Write a Book in 7 – 14 days That Will Make You Money – by Darren Stock.

It wasn’t a very big book, 20,000 words maybe. He made it sound easy, and his book was probably a product of what he was writing about. I knew it probably wasn’t that easy, but it involved brainstorming titles and subtitles. Either way, it sounded like fun and I wanted to try it. Four weeks later, it still lay in the drawer, untouched and unopened.

I needed to find time from somewhere. 

Anyway, skipping ahead, I finished the novel – which, incidentally, was a cracking read. (Steve Mosby, The Black Flowers) and it made me want to write a novel again. I decided that instead of going back to rewrite and finish a previous one set in the medieval times, I’d go back and write the second draft of my 70s novel. When I originally finished it, I intended to leave it in the drawer for a couple of months before doing the last draft. That was four months ago.

So there I was at our caravan with time on my hands. I finally opened the little red book, courtesy of George. I was immediately disappointed as I saw blank pages as opposed to the ruled pages I thought I was buying.

I prefer lined pages, in fact, I remember being at infant school and the teacher told me children write on ruled lines and when I grow up I will write on blank pages.  I never did. An artist or illustrator uses blank pages to draw on. Lines are meant for words.

So my recent book of musings and stories was not what I thought, but I started writing anyway and it didn’t impede me.

I wrote 26 pages and my pen on fire.

Several musings and one short story later. I love my little red book!

And that 70s novel I mentioned, it got published and is called Behind Closed Doors.

The Saga of the Bank Card

by Karen J Mossman

Another old one from a few years ago.

On the way to our Anglesey to stay in our caravan in the Autumn of 2014, we stopped off for breakfast at McDonald’s. I paid by handing hubby my bank card. As I had the dog on my knee, I couldn’t get it back into my handbag easily, so I stuffed into my bra. Not an unusual thing to do. I often put small things in there. I then forgot about it as we continued our journey.

At the caravan, he took the dog out for a walk and I went to the toilet. It was then that I remembered my bank card was still in my bra. So I went into the bedroom and saw the bed needed making up and found a sheet to get it ready for bedtime. Bankcard forgotten.

With everything unpacked, we planned to relax for a couple of hours. So, as normal when relaxing, I ‘let out the girls out’ and sat reading on my kindle Steve Mosby’s Black Flowers, which I’d picked up in a charity shop. I read the blurb on the back and thought it sounded interesting. I took a photo of it and later downloaded it from Amazon and onto the kindle ready for my holiday.

However, I digress, hubby settled down with his Apple Mac to familiarise himself with the recently released update.

A couple of hours in, I remembered my bank card and that I’d taken off my bra and not retrieved it. It hadn’t stuck to me, so I went off to find my bra and it wasn’t there. So the only place it could be was somewhere in the bedroom, except it wasn’t there, nor was it on the floor anywhere.  I checked the suitcases in case it flew out and landed in a pocket. It hadn’t.

I checked under the duvet, under the sheet, and under the pillow, in case it had miraculously lodged there. It hadn’t, either.

Checking the floor again, I looked under the bed. It couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. The toilet, where I had last seen it, was practically two steps away, so it had to be there didn’t. it? I stared at the floor again. The carpet was the same colour the card, so could it be camouflaged?

I walked back up the caravan to ponder over a cup of coffee. As I did, I was telling hubby the story and my hand touched my tummy. It felt hard, oblong, and plastic. My top had an elasticated waist, and the card was lodged at the bottom of it! 

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Songs Take You to The Past to Relive Again

The Tams – Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me played on the radio this morning and it took me back to 1972 and a boy called Steve Crane. He was one of those cool guys that people looked up to and knew very little about. He was too old for me at 17. He lived three roads up from in Withington, Manchester, and he had a younger brother called Jack. Both were good-looking boys, Jack was too young for me, so they were just friends.

Steve, with his fair curly hair and easy smile, was always friendly when he saw me. An all round nice guy. He used to do this little dance with his hands as he sang Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me. A bit like the Tommy Cooper gesture, now I come to think about it. Back then, it was cool, and I liked him because he would come over and talk to me.

When the song came on the radio this morning, I thought of him. He would be over 60 now and his brother a bit younger. They would be middle-aged guys, someone’s husband, someone’s dad, and strangely enough, they could even be a granddad. Youth served them well, and I can’t help but wonder what middle age has done to them. There again, I’m a long way from that 14-year-old who used to wear red hot pants and think she was cool!

From this thought process, I went off on another trail and my first boyfriend came to mine. I was eight years old.

As children, we moved around a lot. Dad was a police officer stationed at Bootle Street in the centre of Manchester. In those days, the police provided their officers with rented houses. Mum, who was always a bit of a wander-lust, regularly asked for the list and chose a different house, and off we went again.

We moved into a semi-detached house in Wellington Road, Whalley Range. All the rest of the houses were large Victorian ones, so it was easy to spot ours amongst them. Next door  was another policeman, Jack McNeil, his wife Maryl, and daughter, Karen, a year younger than me. We became friends and used to play with our Sindy Dolls. I had Paul, Sindy’s boyfriend, and Karen had Patch, Sindy’s her sister. I also had a Sindy wardrobe and Karen, or it could have been me, had the car. It was a flash red sporty one.

For Christmas, I asked mum for Sindy’s horse and instead she bought me a black and white stallion with a cowboy saddle. I was so disappointed, but funnily it is the only toy I still have left from my childhood. It sits on a cupboard in the hall. (Much to the disgust of my husband who thinks it just a plastic horse!) Karen and I were also in love with Davy Jones from the Monkees and hearing Daydream Believer takes me back to those happy time.

With my brother, sister and some friends, we played in the garden of a house at the end of the road. It had the foundations dug for a building that was never built. It made a great place to play chase running from one end to the other. One day a man came and asked if he could take our photograph. He let us have a copy and to this day I don’t know who he was, or if he ever used it anywhere.



That’s me in the middle.

I digress, as we were talking about boyfriends. Yes, I was eight, and his name was Hughie Brock. A blond-haired boy and all we did was hold hands every now and again.

He used to stand at the end of our drive with his mate, Terry Hayes, with their bicycles, waiting for me to come out to play. Mum said they were always standing together just waiting for me. I used to go to Hughie’s house; he lived in a large Victorian house in the next road.



This is our house in Wellington Road, looking pretty much as it did in the 1960s.

Someone in Hughie’s house loved train sets. I remembered waiting in the top attic for him to have his tea. Model railways surrounded me, with real looking stations and hills, and those little people that enthusiasts put with them. Once Hughie had finished eating, we would go off out to play on our bikes with Terry.

Terry was cute, and he had the same short hair and a full fringe that was all the fashion in the late 60s. He was chubby with freckles all over his face. Sometimes if Hughie wasn’t playing out, I played with Terry. He had a den in his back garden that had an upstairs, and it was pitch black inside. I even used to bring my big doll, Belinda, to play there, too. One day I forgot her and fretted all night that she was alone in the dark. I had to wait until after tea the next day to go and get her. It was pretty traumatic stuff then.

In the years before Facebook, remember those? I frequented a site called Friends Reunited. I met Karen MacNeil again, now Karen Blinko, and we see each other most days on Facebook. I also met Terry Hayes on Friends Reunited and we chatted. I remembered Hughie wondering where he was. I imagined him living his life somewhere, much the same as I was. Was he married, with children, grandchild, I wondered?

On Friends Reunited Terry told me how he went in the army for a while and I asked if he kept in touch with Hughie. He told me that as a teenager, Hughie and his friend took a car and drove to Blackpool. It crashed it and Hughie was killed. It made me so sad. As for Terry, well, funnily enough, he told me he had a crush on a certain little girl who lived in Wellington Road.

Life as a Dog Owner

by Karen J Mossman

From my diary of 2011

Every day at lunchtime, I come home from work and take my Yorkshire terrier, Jodie, to the local park, Victoria Park, Stretford, in Manchester. There are two big fields and a few nooks and crannies to wander around. At lunchtime, I just walk around the perimeter of one field. Weekends are lovely, I go in around at 9 am and have a leisurely stroll, often bumping into the same people. Then I go again mid-afternoon. Weekends are usually a bit of an adventure. Something interesting always happens.

That particular morning, I arrived at about 9.15 and stepped out of the car as my foot slid on the icy floor. At the same time, an elderly lady fell flat on her back on the pavement. Jodie and I went quickly over as a man parked up his car and got out, and a bloke across the road came running over, too. Between the three of us, we could get her to feet. Luckily, she was unhurt.

“Where are you going?” the man from the car asked.

“Just to the precinct,” she replied.

“I’ll give you a lift.” She got into the back of his car and the second man got in the front. I hadn’t even realised they were together. It struck me how my Mum always said never to get in a car with strangers, but I expect it was okay as none of them were under 65!

Jodie pooped as soon as she got on the grass. She must have been desperate as she never does it there. I picked it up in one of the little black plastic bags. Funny how you get used to doing that. It’s a bit like changing your child’s nappy. You’d hate to do anyone else’s, but you and yours are okay.

A man and his shitzu were standing across the way, watching us. His dog was very interested in Jodie’s presence. I bid him good morning, and he said it back. I kept to the grass as I’d already stepped on an ice rink and had to stand still for a moment, afraid I would slip. We walked in the nooks and crannies, and over the white hard grass. There were a few other dogs and owners stomping round, but none I knew. Jodie didn’t mind where we went as she sniffed and wee’d her way around every tree and clump of leaves.

As I came back around after depositing the black bag in the poo bin, I squeezed through a hedge as an old lady with an elderly King Charles spaniel came through.

“What’s it like over there, is it safe?” she asked. “Everywhere is like a millpond.”

“Oh, I know. I’m stomping around here carefully. Yes, it’s fine.”

“That’s good,” she said, and off she went.

I’ve only been a dog owner eleven months and I love that I belonged to an elite club. Other dog owners talk to me and I speak to them as if I know them. I would never do that with a stranger as we pass each other on the street. Pass a dog owner, and the least we’ll say is hello.

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I’m Scared of Mice!

by Karen J Mossman

I don’t know exactly when I became afraid of mice. Perhaps it was my mum telling me she heard a mouse trap snap in the night, then lay awake hearing the whoosh- whoosh of it being dragged across the floor.

Or it could have been my sister who kept mice as pets when she was a child. She took them to her bedroom where they escaped and bred. I remember waking in the night, hearing them scuttling around on the floor.

For years we had a cat and never troubled by them. Then one night from the corner of my eye I saw something move on the carpet. There was a mouse, and I instinctively drew up my legs and screamed.

Hubby patiently explained that the mouse was more afraid of me, but then brought home a mousetrap – one he is still keen to point out cost him £15. He laid it in the kitchen and I was more worried about what I would find when it snapped. It gave me nightmares, and eventually I hid it in a drawer.

One day I found mouse droppings on the kitchen work surfaces and saw a small hole under the windowsill. The blighters had pulled the cord of the blind down the hole and somehow trapped it. The string was all chewed. Two blocks of wood and a bottle of cooking oil did the trick until it could be filled in properly. Then I discovered more droppings in the drawer where I keep my vegetables. 

One morning after getting my breakfast cereal from the top shelf, I found yet more mouse droppings. I couldn’t believe how it got up there. Did we have an infestation?

Luckily my cereal was in plastic containers, except for the porridge which I pulled out – and out shot a big brown mouse! Horrified, I screamed as it hit the floor and it leapt onto the kitchen counter. Fleeing into the lounge, heart-thumping, goosebumps prickling, tears streamed down my face as my hands shook and I gasped breathlessly. I knew I had a problem, both me and vermin!

Hubby found a small hole at the back of the cupboard and under the cooker where it had escaped. He tried to show me, but I couldn’t go in there again.

Yes, I know it is more scared than me. Yes, I know if I stamp my feet while walking, it’ll hide. Yes, I’m aware it is irrational, but I cannot help it!

Hubby poured my cereal the next day and brought it to me in the lounge and then went to work – leaving me alone with whatever hovered in the shadows. I shut the door and lost my appetite,  afraid of what lay behind the door.

Why do I fear it running over my feet? I know it would run the opposite way, but the thought of running (in my house) makes me shiver. Why am I, a grown woman, so irrationally frightened of something so tiny?

More to the point, how am I going to get out of this room?


How Rude!

traffic-light-24177_1280Imagine that you are in conversation with someone. You are enthusiastically telling them a story when suddenly, they put their hand up and say, “Stop! Don’t speak.

You wait, mouth still open….?….? ….? You’re gasping to tell the punch line, your heart is racing, waiting..waiting….

“Go,” they say, “carry on.”

How rude is that?

Well, that’s exactly what it is like waiting at traffic lights. I turned out of my road, sped up, changed into second gear, and about to turn right –  when – Stop! The lights change to red.

I wanna go! I’m heading somewhere! I don’t want to stop because I’ve just got going.

Of course, I do and I wait, but how rude!


I originally wrote these a few years ago when I lived in Manchester, a big city. Traffic lights annoyed me so much for exactly that reason. Now have moved to the rural setting of Anglesey, it doesn’t apply anymore. Traffic lights here are programmed so if they see you approach and it’s clear, they change to green.  Simple. As it should be!

What do you think?

Some Trip!

From 2010

The other day I came home from work with a headache. As my husband and I were going out to our favourite Indian restaurant and I didn’t have to cook tea, I thought I would go to bed for an hour.

In the bathroom, I reached into the medicine cupboard, grabbed two headache tablets before climbing into bed.  It was pleasant after a busy day with sounds from outside drifting in.  I dozed and when hubby came in; I knew he couldn’t resist and grabbed a half-hour himself, too.

The headache had gone when I woke, but decided not to drink, and volunteered to drive to the restaurant. We had a lovely meal and when we had finished; I felt fidgety. I put this down to eating too much and needing to get my comfy clothes on.

We walked back to the car, and I didn’t feel too good. I was suddenly cold. I drove home feeling positively strange, almost disorientated. Perhaps I was coming down with something.

I was looking forward to the evening ahead. The second part of Silent Witness was on and the Celebrity Big Brother final.

On the settee, I felt chilly again and reached for the blanket.  I’m not one for dozing while watching the television, but I could feel sleep creeping up on me. I longed to close my eyes and knew if I did, I would miss my programmes. So I fought it and started getting the twitches. Something pulsated in my neck and my legs jumped for no reason. It was a peculiar sensation.

I went up to the bathroom, feeling dizzy, and it was only when I sat there I remembered the two headache pills I had popped earlier.

I pulled them from the cupboard and realised with horror they weren’t painkillers. The packet just looked like them.

When we went to America last year, a guy from hubby’s work gave him some tablets which he said his wife takes to help her sleep on long-haul flights. The label said extra strength and will cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate machinery! 

Not only had I taken them, but I had driven too – I was high! 




How I wish I could go back to 2009 and visit my mum, who died the following year. My diary says:

‘Yesterday I was on my way to visit my mum, who lives 15 miles away and also to see my new nephew. So in preparation, I went to Asda and bought some things for the baby.

It is lethal going upstairs in the store because I have to pass the clothing area and something always catches my eye.

I came away with a new top and matching earrings. The earrings differed from the dangly ones I usually wear and now because I have short hair thought I would try studs. I put them on to see if they suited me. They looked fine. 

An hour before I left home, I rang my sister to catch up on the week. I used the mobile house phone and sat in my favourite chair by the window and chatted for an hour – as you do.

As I was going out, my daughter asked why I wasn’t wearing a poppy. ‘I am,’ I told her and looked down at my coat. The £2 I’d paid for my poppy now composed of a green stalk and pin. Duh!

“Do you know you have lost an earring?” Mum said when I arrived. My hand immediately went to my ears and sure enough, only one dangled down. Duh! 

Later I went into my handbag for my mobile phone and instead found the mobile house phone – duh! I must have dropped it in my bag instead of putting back when I spoke to my sister.


That evening as I was getting undressed to go to bed, and I went to take out my one earring, and there on the shelf was the other. I hadn’t even put it in! DUH! 

Please tell me I’m not the only one to have days like that!

I’m a Granny again!

by Karen J Mossman

Yesterday my daughter gave birth to my third grandson and her fourth child. We are absolutely thrilled with the arrival of 7lb 14 oz Jack. Mother and baby are doing fine and she is making the most of her stay in the hospital for cuddles with her newborn before the mayhem begins – her words.

She says that the birth was tough at the end because Jack had his back to hers and was face upwards. His heartbeat kept dropping, but luckily he delivered and all was fine.

Prior to that she was on gas and air and realised her voice was very low. “Do I always sound like this?” she asked with a giggle. They said she was probably high on the gas and air.

The midwives needed to put a needle in her arm and told her to make a fist, but because she was high on the gas and air, she thought they were telling her to wave her hand. “No make a fist,” the midwife said laughing. “I am,” my daughter replied, still giggling. “No, your waving.”

She then realised what she was doing and amongst the pain and stress the entire room of people were laughing.

It reminded me of a story I heard when I was having her, and strangely enough, she presented the same way and I ended up with a c-section.  At the moment of birth, one of the mums in my ward was told to pant like a dog but got mixed up, probably high gas and air too, and started barking.

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Normally we would have been at the hospital to visit and cuddles, but due to COVID-19, there are no visitors allowed. So we will have to wait a couple of days until they return home.

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if this had happened last month when we wouldn’t have been able to see him. So thank goodness for small mercies!

Friday Flash Fiction 555 – Phone Call

A good little story that doesn’t take long to read, and that’s what we all need, especially when the end makes you smile!

Times and Tides of a Beachwriter

Doris danced round the kitchen, her mood lifted. What was this music, that composer who died young, they played it at that concert they went to… Thank goodness for the radio to ease the monotony of kitchen chores. She was having a big tidy up, making space. It was just as well her son and his family were not coming straight to her after flying in from the USA. Their delayed annual holiday was starting with a further two week delay in quarantine at an air bed or b&b; for the best really, she had managed to avoid getting English Covid, she didn’t want to get American Covid. Cassie next door would help her order a big shop next week, though goodness knows what the children’s likes and dislikes would be this year. The top cupboards would have to stay untouched, Doris had not used her stepping stool since lockdown…

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