I’ve started a new writing course. The course sets you writing assignments, which are then marked by a tutor. The feedback helps you to improve your writing.

That got me thinking. What should I do with the writing assignments once I had completed them? Some might be the right length and style to be sent to magazines or competitions. But some of the assignments are relatively short. I don’t know quite what to do with them.

So I am going to post them here. Purely for fun. Here’s the first one. The challenge was to write about a woman called Angela on her first day at a new job.


The blue or the grey?

Angela held each dress alternately against her chin, the coat hangers clicking under her painted nails. The shade was Devilish Blush, as red and shiny as a hot chili pepper.

She had to get it right. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Or so they said, when they weren’t tittle tattling nasty rumours. She knew all about they. They were the whisperers and gossipers, the behind-your-back sneaks, the scratchy cats and the evil bitches. Her last job had been full of them and the jobs before that.

Mackenzie and Bell would have its fair share of characters. For all their glossy mission statements and tropical pot plants, it was still a jungle where you either ate or were eaten. You were either a predator or a predator’s lunch.

The blue dress was still sexy. It was just a little too short to be decent when kneeling down or stretching up for a high shelf. The neckline had enough plunge to catch the eye of the office juniors, shiny and hot in their Marks and Sparks my-first-suits.

It swished well too, a silky rustle of floaty fabric across her tights. Or stockings if Mr Thompson had asked her to “work late” to finish some report or other. It was a pity that he had to leave her last company. Maybe he wouldn’t have needed to “work late” so often if Mrs Thompson had seen to his needs more.

There would be another Mr Thompson at the new job. There always was. There had been Mr Thompsons ever since a man invented paper and a woman worked out how to file it. Even the ancient Egyptians would have had whoops tra-la moments with blue dresses and cramped stationery cupboards, when his eyes met yours and you found yourself pressed urgently against a stack of A4 ring binders.

Maybe the blue was a shade too much for a first day? There would be plenty of occasions to take it out for a canter later on. Perhaps this time she ought to be more discreet. Business-like. Efficient, effective, a team player. It would be nice to keep this job a little longer.

The grey then. It had just a hint of eighties power-dressing shoulderpads, but they were coming back in. There was a trace of librarian in the sober stiff wool and the hemline which fell demurely below the knee. The elbows were a little shiny. No-one would notice if she kept her arms tight by her side.

Definitely the grey. What had the judge called her? “A lady of good standing who had made a little mistake.” That had been a nice way to put it. A lady of good standing. It was the grey dress that did that. He would not have been as kind if she had been wearing the blue. Or if they had found the money. Mr Thompson had given her such a lovely character reference at the trial, even while his shrew of a wife was glancing daggers at her from the public gallery.

The grey then, but with heels. That was the compromise. Maybe not the four-inch Saturday-nighters or the unwearable Mr Thompson mail-order favourites. Two-inch Jimmy Choos in black. With seamed stockings.

That would send the right message. Efficient and experienced on the outside, adventurous and flighty on the inside. Like a chocolate with a whisky soft centre to ooze onto your tongue when you bit through.

Talking of which … there was a glass tumbler of you know what on her dressing table. Just one wouldn’t hurt. Surely. She only really got into fights when she’d had two or more. Call it a little bit of Dutch to calm the nerves. Everybody did it when they started a new job, didn’t they? A couple of glugs of mouthwash and a tube of polos in the car and no-one would know.

She’d learned the hard way. The trick was to take your courage before you left home. In your lunch. Or a ciggie break. Never let them find a bottle in your desk. If there was a way to talk yourself out of that one, Angela hadn’t found it yet.

Angela’s cat sashayed into her bedroom, his tail question-marked as he rubbed against her naked legs.

“What do you think, Mr Thompson, the blue or the grey?”


She stroked behind his ears and the fat diamond jiggled on his collar.


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