Newsletter 162

Been a bit of a week, hasn’t it? We had the events across the Atlantic of Tuesday through to Wednesday (I was chairing a meeting on Wednesday and had to sign/date a set of papers which meant I kept writing 9/11 – make of that what you will). Then yesterday our nation was torn apart, family member against family member – were you for or against the John Lewis Christmas ad? All joking aside, my American pals are very much in my thoughts at present.

News:

Lessons for Sleeping Dogs has got an Honourable mention at the Rainbow Awards which is dead chuffifying (I have turned into Shakespeare – I’m making up my own words).

Also a lovely set of reviews for my WWI books (among some other excellent ones) in Padme’s Library’s Remembrance post.

I guess, given the day, it’s appropriate to post a snippet from one of those stories, and I’ve chosen Awfully Glad with my WWI concert party female impersonator.

“We’ll leave you to it.” Corry ushered the gaggle of officers out, leaving Sam alone with the business of casting off one persona and putting his real face back on. While being Madeleine was always exhilarating—especially when some poor dupe fell for the trick—he was more comfortable in his own skin. He knew men who weren’t, of course, who’d have envied him this opportunity to prance about onstage and garner the temporarily deluded worship of ranks of young men, but that wasn’t his cup of tea. Somehow his being a rugby-playing, Military Cross-winning officer added a certain authority to the deception. A female impersonator he might be, but nobody would ever accuse him of being a pansy.
He considered his reflection, which was almost passable now that the red patches on his face, where he’d smeared off the make-up, had faded and his hair had been towelled to a tawny dark blond. He looked younger than twenty-seven, barely a touch of six o’clock shadow, which was why Madeleine was always so authentic looking, of course. He’d make some young lady a wonderful husband, as his family kept reminding him.
Except that was on the bottom of his list of priorities, possibly even below getting himself stuck on a piece of barbed wire.
Make some chap a lovely husband? Yes, well, less chance of that happening than George V coming out here, shaking the Kaiser’s hand, and putting this whole mess to an end right now. Still, he couldn’t deny that the last few minutes had been pleasant. Corry was a great bloke—if he knew, then he was keeping his own counsel—and the ginger-headed lad had blushed rather attractively, even if the rest of his face seemed to consist of rough and pockmarked terrain.
The other two officers had been a treat for the eye, though. Did somebody in the regiment have an eye for a handsome face and make sure the pair had been assigned to the same battalion?
A small shape, just at the corner of Sam’s vision, caught his attention: a small piece of writing paper, or something else of the same colour, between two jars of make-up on the makeshift dressing table.
He prised the thing out—a little piece of paper, which had clearly been folded with great care before being wedged in such a position as to be visible only to someone sitting in the chair. It hadn’t been there before the show, and he’d swear it hadn’t been there at the interval nor straight after they’d taken their curtain call, either. Which meant, presumably, that one of his little gaggle of visitors had left it. Except he hadn’t noticed anybody put it there, or even one of the officers touching the jars on the table. Someone must have had a good tactical eye, an appreciation for the lay of the dressing-table land, and the ability to make a bold but discreet move. That hardly narrowed the field, did it? They were army officers, after all.
He turned the paper in his hand, imagining some poor chump of a second lieutenant writing love lines to Miss Madeleine, leaving them here, and then not being able to retrieve them after the great denouement had occurred. How that chap would be squirming now at the thought of Sam reading the lines he’d penned and having a good laugh over them. Perhaps it would be kinder just to chuck the note in the bin, rather than making the man suffer embarrassment. He might have put his name to it, after all.
Still…
Sam couldn’t resist unfolding it; he’d had these sorts of things before and they were always good for a laugh. The invitations would range from the innocent to the knowingly experienced, although nobody ever suggested something entirely obscene—Miss Madeleine gave an air of always being above such things. This would probably be the usual Might I buy you a drink? I know this little estaminet…
It wasn’t.
“I’m awfully glad you’re not a girl. J.”

And finally…lest we forget

Charlie

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