Saturday 11 March 2023

Saturday Sample: Transforming Being, lemon tea,



The stories in this collection have come about from a call to submission issued jointly by Bridge
House Publishing and the Waterloo Festival. Writers were asked to write a short story or a short
monologue on the theme “Transforming Being” in this second year of the Waterloo Festival Writing
As you will see from this collection there are many interpretations of the theme. We might say
that every single one is different. Here are the best eighteen submissions. The others were also very
How did we decide on these? We looked for good stories, strong voices and unusual
interpretations of the theme. Literary fiction and drama, I’m told, make you think. If you read the last
paragraph just after the first you don’t get a spoiler. I guess, then, all of these must be quite literary.
We intend to put together a similar e-book in 2020 and also publish all three in a paperback as
well in 2020.
It has been a great privilege to work with the Waterloo Festival and with such intriguing writers
on this rewarding anthology.
Gill James, editor and partner, Bridge House Publishing, senior lecturer the University of Salford.

Cat and Mouse
Irene Lofthouse

My Funny Valentine. I love that song. And isn’t it a great image, that line about making someone’s
heart smile? I got warm fuzzies when I saw those words. Never had a Valentine card before. Never
had a sweetheart neither, and here I am with a gorgeous bloke wining and dining me, telling me how
beautiful and attractive I am. I didn’t think at my age I’d have my head turned or be swept off my feet.
How wrong could I be? He makes me feel sooo special. He’s very attentive and empathetic. I didn’t
realise men could be like that.
Before I met him, I wasn’t really bothered about how I looked, as long as I was neat and tidy for
work. Why would I be? No-one was interested in mousy old me. Which is why I was amazed when he
asked me out for a drink. He’d called into the library a few times and asked advice, being new to the
area. Of course, we all noticed him; a new face does break the monotony, especially one as goodlooking
as him. Eyes green as spring grass, dark wavy hair, such a melting smile and the grace of cat.
For some reason, we seemed to ‘hit it off’ as they say, and it wasn’t long before we were an
‘item’. I could tell that he could see the inner me, the me that was trying to get out, to slough off my
mousiness. Empathy you see. Everyone’s been amazed at the change in me, especially the hair and
clothes. I do feel much better for the weight loss and of course, we look so much better now as a
couple. Joel joked about us following the My Funny Valentine lyrics; you know, about me being little
Miss Mousy, over-looked, ignored. Looking beneath the surface though, Joel saw a work of art, saw
the beauty waiting to dazzle.
I wasn’t sure of the cosmetic surgery, not at my age, and the price! But I did have the savings,
and as Joel pointed out, I should spend it on making me feel good; what else did I have to spend it on?
And he was right, I feel fantastic. I am soo looking forward to seeing him.
Joel’s a bit squeamish about blood and needles and things, and knowing how much he wants me,
and how we can’t, not while I’m recovering, we – well I – arranged that he should have a holiday and
enjoy himself. He’s been so good at sorting the paperwork for the operations, the insurance, the
hospital stays, sending me flowers and more, that I think it’s only right he should relax. I mean, it
wouldn’t be much fun looking at me wrapped in bandages. Definitely unphotographable, as the song
says. I changed my hair again too. To show that I cared. To show that with my new body, Joel and I
would stay together for ever.
Well, he didn’t. Stay. Nor did he pay for the operations or insurance. He did manage to clear my
bank accounts while I was recovering. And sell my flat. I returned – giddy with excitement and
expectation of Joel being there with champagne – to changed locks and confused residents who
wouldn’t believe I was who I said I was. They showed me a picture that was in the flat when they
arrived. One of me with a speech bubble saying “Welcome”. I have to admit I understood their
confusion. I don’t look anything like her now, the woman in the picture.
It took me an age to convince my bank manager too. I had to remind him of books that he’d
borrowed, discussions we’d had about favourite authors. Eventually he believed me, becoming
profusely apologetic about the circumstances. But the paperwork with my signature authorising the
sale of the flat and bank withdrawals was there in black and white. I was penniless.
I decided then, being Miss Mousy no longer, I’d pursue a different career; one more lucrative
than being a librarian. I started that evening. With the bank manager. Freelancing means I’ve built up
some reserves again. And had time to track down my ‘sweetheart’. In fact, I’m meeting him tonight. I
sent him a Valentine inviting him out for a secret date. I said that I was smitten by his green eyes. That
intrigued him. Saw him open the card through his kitchen window. Like I said, I tracked him down.
When he opened the card, it played that Police song – the one people think is romantic. You know the
one – about breathing, moving, walking. Watching. I’ve got very good at that. Watching him. Like a cat
watches a mouse. This time, I’m the cat.

About the author

Author, storyteller, actor, director, playwright, historian, creative writing tutor, Irene’s work covers several genres and ages, appears in many anthologies and canal lock gates. She’s appeared at Edinburgh Fringe, in films, on radio and regional theatre. Her plays and books(on Amazon) have toured literature/arts festivals. She’s writer in residence with First Story, consultant with Historic England.

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