Short Dates – A Book Extract

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Complaint Lover


The gate banged in the distance, as the wind could be heard to whistle by, bending and distorting anything which happened to get in its way. It was very late at night and as usual I was busy replying to my endless stack of emails to do with work. In amongst them I noticed an electric bill, standing out because of its colourful logo. I marked it to be read and finished an email to my boss requesting a holiday before boiling the kettle for the fifth time and stretching my legs to avoid deep vein thrombosis. While getting up to close the curtains, I realised that I was freezing cold and so went to turn up the heating, before eventually getting around to opening that email containing my latest bill.


My blood seemed to boil instantly as I scanned my eyes over to the total cost of usage. How dare they say that I owed that much? That was insane. Either the whole town was tapped into my meter and was draining power from me, or my son was using enough electric to fuel a thousand games consoles, but I was pretty sure he only had the one. All thoughts of work emails flew out of my head and I thumped my fist against the table, knocking my cup of tea over and spilling it onto my favourite jumper.


My first instinct was to call them but I soon realised that their call centre was long closed and I would not be able to get through until the following day. I logged into their online chat instead and left a furious email, slagging them off and using colourful language that I usually only reserved for my ex-husband. The cat looked at me as if to say, ‘here she goes again,’ disapprovingly. I glared back at it and slammed the laptop closed.


Before going to bed, I turned the heating off, unplugged everything I could think of, filled up two hot water bottles (one for me and one for Kieran) and went into my bedroom to sulk. Luckily the sulk soon slipped into a deep sleep and the next thing I knew it was time for my alarm to ring. I never had been one to struggle to get some sleep, luckily.


This meant I was fresh and raring to go as I stomped downstairs. Still reeling from my discovery, I told Kieran that he would have to wear extra layers of clothing as we couldn’t afford the heating any more. He looked at me with an expression not unlike the cat’s and grunted, ‘Whatever!’ and then wandered off into the garage to get his bike and go to school.


I remembered that I was working from home this morning and so this would be a perfect opportunity to lay into that stupid electric company. Anyone that knew me at all was well aware that I blew hot and cold and this was just something you had to get used to. Maybe that was why I was so useless at keeping men. Kieran’s dad had got so fed up that he ran off with the vet. It hadn’t struck me that he had taken the cat to the vet an awful lot in the months leading up to our separation, no doubt trying to seduce her.


 My friends and colleagues also knew that I loved to complain about things. Even just last month I had gone to stay in a hotel where the curtain was coming off the rail and the workman had to be called to fix it. As a result I wrote a stinking letter of complaint which resulted in a voucher for a free night’s stay. People could call me what they liked but the fact was that when I complained, I always got my voice heard. This time would not be any different, as far as I was concerned. I was not prepared to pay such a large fee just because they said so.


My laptop fired up as I stroked the cat awkwardly, still unsure if it was able to judge me or not. It purred slightly so I guessed it must have forgiven me after all. The emails opened and the chat window refreshed. A small message asked me to get in touch at my earliest convenience as they were sure they could help me by explaining my bill to me. Feeling patronised I took ten deep breaths and then started typing into the live chat box.


Straight away it told me that a customer assistant would be dealing with me and this one began with the usual password checks and verifying my existence. After this he said that he would find it easier to discuss these issues over the phone. Quickly considering my options I decided to go with that, even though I had already logged into the website, which had felt like a massive effort in itself.


He offered to call me and when I picked up the phone I was surprised by the silkiness of his voice. It was soft, but not too soft. He sounded as though he were in his mid-twenties with a well spoken southerly accent. His name soon came up as Jenson and I thought to myself that that was a nice name, reminding me of a famous racing driver. Already I was in a less stressed state and so this conversation was going to be had without shouting and screaming. I realised that I was being charmed by a posh accent and pulled myself together, managing to find the anger again which had driven me to contacting him to start with.

To read more of this story, check out my short stories collection. I have added an affiliate link below.

Old Matches – an extract

Today I wanted to share an extract from one of my short stories. This was influenced from a year when I spent a summer and winter working weekends in a care home. People work so hard in these environments and currently the shortage of staff is very much in the News. Here is a sample of ‘Old Matches’.

People in care homes often have such touching stories.

My back hurt. My legs ached. My head was pounding. The only thing making me feel like life wasn’t that bad right now was the fact that I was surrounded by a lot of people who were much older than me. In fact, they were older in years but many of them seemed a lot happier than me. Carefree came to mind with most of them. All except for one. Bob. Bob was like looking at a reflection of myself in the mirror. Not that I was nearly as old as him and probably I had time to collect that many wrinkles, but it was his demeanour that reminded me of me. He always looked like he had just missed the bus, which meant that he had an expression that declared he was fed up, worn out, past bothering and keen for time to pass. That was me without any doubt.


I was fed up with doing twelve hour shifts at this ridiculously short staffed care home. I was worn out by the fact that it was a very practical and quite back-breaking job. In my love life I had come to feel that quite frankly it wasn’t worth bothering any more. Yes – just like Bob, I spent my days waiting for time to pass. Although I was never really sure what I was waiting for. In fact, like Bob, I had that miserable feeling that I had missed my calling. Again, sadly, nobody had yet revealed to me what exactly that calling should be.


As I drifted off into my own little world as usual and sipped my tea with a slurp, I had no idea that I had been targeted to look after a new member of staff.

The first I knew about it was when Bob said, “Give us a cup of tea!’ in his usual mannerless way.

‘Just let me have two minutes Bob,’ I replied sternly.

‘I weren’t talking to you, dingbat. I meant her,’ came his short reply.

I turned my head to see a new girl standing behind me. She had just walked in and Bob had already grabbed her attention. As she poured him a tea she looked at me with a squint, trying to read my badge.

‘Oh, you’re James,’ she said in a fresh northern accent.

‘Yes and you will have to excuse Bob. Just his way.’

She handed him the cup and asked him to try it. He tried hard to smile so as to get her to go away. You never really knew if he was satisfied. He was not the sort of man to show emotions apart from unhappiness. Grumpy was the name most of us used for him affectionately. I always felt sorry for him though as nobody ever came to see him. His wife had died many years previously and he was alone in the world. Quite mysterious though and very guarded. It certainly made us all intrigued about his past.

I wrote a book of short stories called ‘Short Dates’ and here is another sample of it. If you enjoy my posts perhaps consider subscribing to my blog for similar future articles.

My Writing- short stories

A Run to Remember.

This is a short extract from one of my short stories published in a book known as ‘Short Dates’. I hope that you like it and consider checking out more of my work.

My collection of short stories.

The sun was shining and I felt uplifted. This was the first time there had been a cloudless sky in months. Digby sniffed at my heels noisily, begging to go out on an adventure. I figured it would be a good idea to go for a run and take the pooch with me. I tied his lead to his collar and grabbed some earphones. A new album was downloaded and I was ready for a nice start to the day and a chance to clear my head. As I ran off down the street, the dog stayed close by my side, striding powerfully as we crossed the road and went down the alleyway.


The new beats filled my head and I began to step in time to the song. The dog was happy stretching his legs and stopping now and again to explore the lamp posts. I was determined to carry on running every time he stopped and so I jogged on the spot. I must have looked strange but I didn’t care. This week had been a stressful one with loads of work deadlines and the washing machine breaking down. At least I had had that date with Sarah on Wednesday. She really was a great laugh and I couldn’t stop thinking about how fit she was. It was good to know that afterwards she wanted to text and tell me what a good time she had had. It was a bit of a shame that she had not texted me today though. But I guess it was early and there was plenty of time for that. I had decided that later on I would invite her over for a take away as I was aware there was a film on TV tonight that she was keen to see.


Digby had liked her. She popped round mine before we went to the pub and grabbed some cheeky cocktails. He had got lots of attention from her. She was so easy to get on with. Not easy for a guy round here to find someone worth the effort. But she was definitely worth trying for. She was sexy, clever and had a cool sense of humour. Digby did not take to everyone. I mean, he always chewed at my mum when she came round. He gave her a hard time and barked and hissed at her. Sarah made him docile and sweet. She got him to roll on his stomach and flirt with her. He flirted a lot better than I ever could.