THE WINNERS: The Herald/Mighty Pens Writing Contest

The Herald/Mighty Pens Writing Contest winners have been announced. Please see below for the winning stories. A huge thank you to each and every author who entered and in the meantime, don’t forget that we have new writing competitions! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for the latest news! Until then, happy writing everyone!

The Lottery Winner By James Miller

It was a fine summer’s day when George’s front doorbell rang in the middle of the afternoon. He had just enjoyed a refreshing glass of Chardonnay to celebrate his 55th birthday and, as he headed towards the vestibule, was in excellent fettle. That was about to change, very dramatically.

Standing a couple of paces back from his doorstep was a young man with a mop of long black hair.

“Good afternoon” said George to the stranger. “Can I help you?”

“Oh, you most definitely can, Mr Gardiner,” he replied, smiling. He then pulled out a copy of the local paper from his jacket. “I’ve been reading about you and we have something to discuss. The theft of my property, to be exact.”

George was stunned. It was as if he had been clubbed with a sledge hammer….


Six months earlier – on Monday, April 7 – an event was to transform George’s boring, mundane life as an unimpressive chartered accountant going nowhere.

The grimness of George’s professional prospects was mirrored in all other aspects of his life. He had married Wendy when he was 20 and she had bossed him around ever since.

On Monday, April 7 the Gardiners had breakfasted in total silence, as usual. George’s car was in for a service so they headed together for a Number 4 bus.

It was on time for a change and they sat at the front. As the bus was about to pull away, George spotted a National Lottery ticket, wedged into the chrome rim of the seat in front of him.

“It’s a ticket for this week; that’s a good start to a Monday! ” said George happily, slipping it into his wallet.

Seven days later George Gardiner walked purposefully into his boss’s office and told him to stuff his job. George’s ticket had netted him a little over £9m but the bonanza was a something he and Wendy decided to keep to themselves. No publicity meant no tricky questions about how and where he “bought” his ticket and as the Gardiners were literally friendless, they didn’t have to explain why they were taking early retirement.

However, news of their good fortune did filter out. Wendy was certain their solicitor’s glamorous receptionist – “ a yappy, stuck up bitch” – was the culprit. The evening paper then got wind of it and a clever reporter door-stepped a surprised Wendy into confirming they had won big in the Lottery.

Other than the unwelcome newspaper publicity, all was good with the Gardiners. The windfall had transformed their lives and re-ignited a spark in their relationship that had been extinguished for years. For them every day was wonderful until the dark-haired young man arrived on their doorstep….


“What theft? No idea what you are on about” George blurted, having recovered some composure.

“Well, I’ve read all about your big win but we both know that it wasn’t your ticket Mr Gardiner, don’t we?”

“Are you mad? I’m sorry, I’ve nothing to say to you” said George and slammed the door shut.

The young man then popped open the letterbox and shouted, “I’ll come back tomorrow once you’ve had time to consider this” and posted through an envelope.

George shouted on Wendy and watched the man walk calmly down the garden.

The secret was out! But how on earth had this lad uncovered it. They had told no one?

George babbled out details of the encounter to Wendy.

“What’s in the envelope?” she asked. George tore it open and started to read the letter inside.

“My name is Alfie Franks and I bought the Lottery ticket that won you £9, 847, 637. I left it on a Number 4 bus and you stole it and claimed my money.

“I do not want to make trouble for you but I want what is rightfully mine. On the other hand, if you refuse to cooperate, I will expose you as a cheat.”

The Gardiners were dumbfounded and sat around the dining room table until after midnight discussing how this man knew so much and what options were open to them. They concluded that they were completely cornered.

They decided they would speak to the man the following day and test the veracity of his story. Deep down, they both knew that this “Alfie” held all the cards. Probably the best they could do was broker some kind of deal or cover up. Alfie came across as an educated, pragmatic character. He had expressed no anger at their deception and was may be open to reason.

They both had a sleepless night but their strategy was agreed.

Right on time, the door bell sounded.

“You had better come in,” said George, without any greeting. He introduced Alfie to Wendy and they sat formally around a table.

“Your claim seems extraordinary to us and, without any sort of evidence, is groundless,” said George, sounding out the young man.

“I hope you are not going to be difficult, Mr Gardiner. We both know the truth.”

“Let me take you through it. I shoved the ticket into the back of the bus seat while I chatted to my pal. It was only after I stepped off that I realised I had left it. Luckily for me, I saw you and your wife take the seat – and the ticket – as the bus left the stop.

“I didn’t give it any further thought but when I saw your picture in The Herald it was pretty clear to me that you had cashed in my ticket. I couldn’t remember all the numbers I had chosen but enough to know it was my ticket.”

“I repeat, you have no evidence,” replied George calmly.

“Not on me,” stated Alfie confidently, “But it is my face – not yours – on the newsagent’s CCTV buying the ticket and I know when and where I bought it. That’s your evidence. It is irrefutable”. He smiled smugly.

The Gardiners were silent. The real owner of the Lottery ticket was sitting opposite them. There seemed to be no doubt about it.

“We need time to consider what you’ve said” George requested. “Can you come back in an hour?”

Alfie agreed and returned 60 minutes later.

“We would like to negotiate,” said George.

“You have nothing to negotiate!”

But after some persuasion and to the Gardiners’ relief, Alfie became less inflexible and began to talk and compromise.

Two weeks later Alfie gazed contentedly at his laptop screen, where the RBS website displayed his current account details. “Seven million smackeroos!” he muttered to himself. He regarded himself as both Lucky and Smart.

Lucky to have been seated behind the Gardiners when they discovered and pocketed the lottery ticket on the Number 4 bus. Lucky to have spotted their picture in the evening paper. And smart enough to execute a plan to dupe them.

Meanwhile, Tony Gillespie clocked off his eight-hour shift at the Nationwide tyre replacement depot as an apprentice fitter on the minimum wage. Tony had long forgotten about the Lottery ticket he had left on the Number 4 bus on Monday, April 7.


‘Why can’t I come with you?’

‘Because you’re a girl.’

‘No that’s not a good enough reason.’

‘Look, I want to be with my own friends, without you always tagging along. We’re going to play football and climb trees, boy things. Go and find some girls to play with. Look there’s Whatshername and all those girls from school. Now go.’

I looked to where he pointed. The girls, in their pretty sleeveless dresses, sat outside McKinlay’s farmhouse, comparing their dolls and chatting. All white socks and black patent shoes. Their brushed and braided hair adorned with clips and hairbands. I looked at myself in last years t-shirt and cut-off shorts, my scraggy hair flailing round my face. Wriggling my toes I saw them peek through holes in Alex’s old canvas shoes. I didn’t have a doll.

‘But they’re boring Alex. Can I not play football with you?’

‘No, there’s no girls in our gang. Now bugger off.’

‘Oh I’m telling mammy that you said a bad word.’

‘See, that’s the other thing, you’re a wee clype too.’

The word took my breathe away. Surely he knew I wouldn’t tell. I was never a clype. Using my shocked silence to gain his freedom he took off down the field. His friends, dangling from the trees, egged him on to hurry up and he sprinted away, afraid I would follow. I tried, the breathe catching in my chest, nettles and brambles hooking my legs, leaving stings I would feel later. I stopped when they disappeared into the dark woods. Panting and crying, I watched until they reappeared again, crossing the flooded field to the football pitch.

With mum at work, Alex was supposed to be looking after me, and he usually did. He showed me where the mice lived in the hedges and which ponds had the most frog spawn, which trees were easy to climb, and where the birds nested in the barns. But the fun always ended as soon as his friends showed up. Then I was dumped.

The sun had dried up all the puddles in our garden so I wandered to the pond in McKinlay’s orchard to check for frogs, but only water boatmen skated there. Lying in the shade, with my face almost in the stagnant water I watched them slide around.

‘Hey! I see you. You leave my apples alone and get out of here.’

‘I’m not going near your apples – they’re not even ripe yet, moron.’

I kicked up the dust as I fled along the lane to see the cows. It was cool under the trees at the gate where Tilly and her sisters sheltered in the soft mud. They mooed, watching me with interest as I climbed the metal bars and sat surveying the open fields and wide countryside.

‘It’s a grand sight eh?’

I turned to the voice. A man with greying hair, in a dark brown suit and matching city shoes, was standing just by my right shoulder. I shuffled further along so he could see better.

‘Suppose it’s alright.’

‘You probably see it every day so you don’t realise how lovely it is.’

His voice was whispery so I had to lean towards him. He smelled like the village boys on a Saturday night. I shrugged. I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers.

‘I sell tractors and I was just leaving the farm over there,’ he said pointing to where I had come from, ‘but I had to stop when I saw this view.’

‘At McKinlay’s farm?’


‘But they have cows and apples. They don’t plough fields.’

‘Funny, that’s what he said too.’

He licked his lips. Beads of sweat had appeared on his face as he scanned the countryside.

‘God it’s hot eh? Know what? I think I’m going to drive on into the village and get some ice cream. Do you want to come? I’ll get you one too.’

‘I can’t. I’m not allowed to go beyond the boundary wall.’

‘What? A big girl like you not allowed to go into the village just down there.’ He pointed at the church spire poking up through the distant trees. ‘ How old are you anyway?’

With his eyes darting about he reminded me of the weasels that lived in the dark woods, sitting up on their hind legs with their necks stretched, heads turning, always alert, always checking. He sidled nearer to me.

‘I’m nine and I can go, just not on my own.’.

‘Well now, you won’t be on your own. I’ll be with you.’

‘No I can only go if my big brother is with me.’

‘You have a big brother? Where’s he then?

He stepped back and looked up and down the lane.

‘He’s about. He’s supposed to be watching me but his friends came over.’

I sighed and looked at the ground.

‘And I bet he left you all on your own to go off with them. Well that’s not very nice is it? But imagine when you tell him that you had an ice cream and he didn’t. Won’t he be jealous. It’ll serve him right for leaving you alone.’

I thought of what he said. It was true, for once I’d have something that Alex didn’t and I’d have my own adventure story to tell him too.

‘So what’s it to be then, a nice big strawberry ice cream?’

‘I prefer chocolate.’

‘Well chocolate it is then. I’m sure they’ll have that.’

‘Baptiste’s? They have every flavour. They’re the best. We went there for my birthday and I had the biggest ice cream ever.’

I could see the ice cream, in the long heavy glass, topped with nuts, whipped cream and runny caramel. At the bottom was that thick sauce that was really just melted chocolate. Swallowing hard, I could almost taste it.

‘Well let’s go then. What are we waiting for?’

Little trails of sweat ran down his face and I thought he probably needed the ice cream more than I did. His dark car sat low under shady trees. It’s long nose facing up towards us. Imagine, me in a fancy car! I would roll the window down and wave to everyone. I was just swinging my leg over the gate when it dawned on me that his car was facing the wrong way if he’d come from the farm. I stopped climbing. He stared at me and I thought, no it wasn’t the weasels he reminded me of, but Sally cat when she had a mouse in her sights just before she pounced. I jumped backwards into the mud beside the cows.

‘Sorry mister. I can’t. I think I hear my brother and his friends over there.’

‘Oh. That’s a shame. But hey, maybe next time. Anyway, don’t tell the boys that I’m buying ice cream or they’ll all want one, and I’m not made of money. And don’t be getting me into trouble with your mum either for wanting to take you down to the village. I was only going to get you an ice cream after all’

‘I’m not a clype mister,’ I shouted back to him as I ran across the cow field.

Send In The Clowns By Nick Scobie

Chief Inspector Aitken vowed as he left Ashfield Square that the next time he confronted one of Joe Smith`s rallies he would “ crush him”. The police had been heavily criticised on all the news channels for failing to keep order. He wanted revenge. At the Anti- Poverty Rally organised by Community Activist Joe, black clad anarchists had suddenly appeared and sparked a mini-riot.

Joe Smith had secured a job as a Hospital Porter in Chloe`s Hospital in addition to his usual job as a Joiner so that he could spend extra time with Chloe. She was eleven years of age but had leukaemia. He knew and she knew that she was very ill. He had discovered that Chloe was able to analyse everyday political events. He felt he benefited from her views. She was confrontational and feisty – just like her mother.

“Daddy – why can`t people protest peacefully?” asked Chloe as Joe sat beside her on a visitor`s chair one night. “Why can`t you take the Clowns with you when you want to say what you think is wrong? People listen to Clowns.” Joe left the Hospital Ward and thought about what Chloe had said. He and his friends often dressed up as Clowns to raise funds for Chloe`s Ward.

Joe thought long and hard about what Chloe had said. He had an idea…..

“My Daddy is a Clown,” said Chloe to the Ward Sister – Sarah Burt – a few days later. “And he is going to help the working class. No- one is better than anyone else. And my Daddy is a Clown who is going to do something about it.” Sister Burt sighed inwardly and thought to herself –“What is this child talking about?”

On Saturday 30 November 2002 history was made. 200 police officers sat in expectation of a “ruck” at Ashfield Square. Joe Smith had organised an Anti-Poverty Rally and thousands were expected to attend. A helicopter buzzed overhead, while the Police Support Units were on standby. Chief Inspector Aitken could barely conceal his excitement. That toe rag Joe Smith was going to get his just desserts.

Chief Inspector Aitken radioed over to his “spotter” in plain clothes around 12 noon on the Saturday. The rally was due to start at 2 pm. In Ashfield Square there were very few people about but the spotter Sergeant Combes, in plainclothes, had advised him that crowds were gathering at the Ashfield City Football Stadium, half a mile from Ashfield Square. He suspected that they were going to all rally there before marching down to the Square. An hour later he confirmed that there was a crowd of around two thousand but that they appeared to be enjoying a pop and rock concert and a circus. “A circus ?” Queried Chief Inspector Aitken.  “Yes, Governor,” replied Combes.

The crowd in the Ashfield City Stadium enjoyed the music and the circus. The Clowns were a particular favourite. Everyone was having a good time apart from fifty or so black clad anarchists.

Chief Inspector Aitken was getting more and more bemused as it was now 1.45 and there was no sign of the crowd moving out of the Stadium. Then a minute later his radio crackled into life and Sergeant Combes said, “Four Hells Angels on Harley Davidsons have arrived in the Stadium.” Five minutes later Combes radioed in to say “The bikers are on their way to you Governor, but I think I should warn you about something…”

“Not now Combes,” barked Aitken, “I am in command mode now.”

The police surrounding Ashfield Square braced themselves ready for action as four Harley Davidsons thundered into the Square itself. The bikes stopped and from the back of each one, a Clown alighted carrying a case. The Clowns waved off the bikers who promptly left the Square. The police watched in astonishment as the Clowns slowly unpacked their cases and then set up a table and four chairs. Then they all sat down and set out tea cups, a tea pot and cakes. The Clowns poured themselves tea and chatted away to each other.

“What do we do now Sir?” asked CI Aitkens second in command Inspector Brian Donnelly. “We wait,” said Aitken confidently. “Obviously this is meant to lull us into a false sense of security. Smith and his rabble will be here enough soon enough.”

An hour later, Aitken was about to have a coronary. The huge crowd was still up in the Stadium peacefully enjoying themselves while he was facing a table load of four Clowns drinking tea. Eventually he snapped. “Donnelly -arrest those four”, he shouted. “On what charge sir ?” queried Donnelly. “Clowning around,” yelled Aitken, “And wasting police time….anything you can think of… ” As each Clown was led away in handcuffs by about six officers each, they showed clearly to the waiting news cameras the slogan on their chests – “Chloes Clown Army Says No To Poverty”!

“Chloes Clown Army ? “ asked John Butler, Sky duty News Editor, as he watched the first pictures coming in of the events at Ashfield. His news crew had been sent up to report on a possibly hostile Anti-Poverty Rally, but it was not expected to be very newsworthy. Now he was intrigued. His reporter on the ground went up to the Stadium and reported back to him.

John Butler immediately ordered his Six O` Clock News Team to work on the background to the story. Meanwhile in Ashfield Central Police Station Joe Smith and his fellow three Clowns sat in separate cells and slowly smiled to themselves. CI Aitken had been in to tell them that they were all in very hot water and he expected the Crown Prosecution Service to throw the book at them. Which was not the view of his 200 junior officers as they went off duty wondering why they had been told to expect a riot that afternoon.

“Can I watch the news on television Sister ?” Chloe asked at around 5.45 that afternoon. “Oh well if you must Chloe,” replied Sister Burt. The TV was switched over to Sky and at Six o clock the main news came on. Sister Burt nearly had a canary when Chloe shrieked “That`s my Daddy!”

Sister Burt turned to see a report coming in from Ashfield Stadium and Square. There were shots of the crowd in the Stadium, Clowns on motorbikes, Clowns having tea in the Square and then finally Clowns being arrested. As she listened in she heard interviews outlining the iniquities of poverty. Members of Joe Smith`s Committee outlined how they had been determined to have a peaceful rally, so had deliberately kept the main crowd entertained in the Stadium ( including the pain in the ass anarchists ) and gone for a thought provoking very quiet event in the Square. And then one spokesman delivered his main punchline.

“We cannot thank Chloe Smith enough for inspiring us to Send In The Clowns.” Sister Burt`s face was a picture. “I told you my Daddy was a Clown,” said Chloe proudly.

Well – the story hit the internet and soon went viral. The pictures of riot police arresting four Clowns having a tea party resonated around the world. Joe Smith and his three fellow Clowns were released on the Sunday morning after the Home Secretary intervened and demanded to know from the Chief Constable of Ashfield whether it was his intention to make the British Police the laughing stock of the world. CI Aitken was put on immediate sick leave….

And as for Chloe ? Well as you read this she is still very ill in hospital, and only time will tell. But her request to her Daddy to “Send In The Clowns” has been vindicated….

Grieve by L. J. Sexton

I hover with allure – my presence is quiescent, blown in on a soft sombre breeze, paralleling the mood of the morgue. I take my time reading the tags on their toes, the actions of one who is both atavistic and methodical, and I am curious, as always, as to why so many are unprepared for their own passing. One elderly lady’s face displays deep creases; valleys that she has ploughed in prayer and angst over nine decades. Perhaps the effects of having a troubled childhood? Evidence of marital abuse? Poverty?…I don’t know for sure as the tag doesn’t detail such information, but I pray her expression softens in her coffin. No one should display a map of their life’s pain and suffering for all to see, so I make a mental note to do my best for her. Another lady illustrates varying signs of stress, a notable tension in her jaw, hair standing to attention and stiff-fisted hands like a baby who can’t communicate their pain. As I meander among this milieu of repose, drawing back sheet corners for closer inspection, I do wonder, if they were given notice of their passing would they have perhaps preened themselves a little more? Like self- indulgent cats. Colour their grey roots, exfoliate dead skin or take a pumice stone to their corned and calloused feet. One pair looks particularly neglected, as if barnacles have attached themselves pre-necrosis and made a home there. Another pair is garnished with blisters; I guessed a runner – I was right. The tag read massive coronary. Idiot probably took up running at sixty and ran a marathon. I’ve seen it all before.

I stop to appreciate how they’ve been laid out, like collimated beams of light on cold clinical marble, cauled in white Egyption cotton – their feet the only clue of what lies beneath. I peek at another pair. Divine. Long slender toes so equivalently sized and placed that they nestle together perfectly like a close knit family. It’s such a pity her choice of polish is in the purplish tones as it has clashed with her livor mortis. I smile, a seraphic smile and dismiss the idea that she would’ve known this beforehand.

An odd choice of occupation you might say, but I like to think it came with my name…GRIEVE, Euphemia Grieve. Grieve by name and by nature. Oh, I don’t mean all lachrymose and wailing, I’m much more pragmatic that that. I settle them in and sort them out, shawling them in mother’s nature you might say. First of all I separate by gender and age. I am aghast at the numbers under forty; symptoms of societal overstretching – push push pushing themselves to the brink. I’ve no need to prod deeper, it’s like pulling weeds from soft damp soil, making it easier to recognise those who require my celestial intervention. Some have arrived contorted in shame and scandal. There are those in shock and ill prepared. Others who were alone and quite terrified. Very occasionally – (usually the elderly or long term sick) are those who simply sat in an armchair of acceptance waiting for it to happen as if waiting for a bus. I’ve seen it all amidst the finality. When needed, I lean closer, my breath at their ear, soothing as psithurism; ensuring them it will be alright. There was this one young man, I remember it so well. The banshee did not cry a warning, nor did Morrigan’s crow fly overhead. The soil had not yet been turned over in preparation for him, so he was a lost, not to mention a very distressed soul. It was painful to watch him, as well as the stinging soap filled eyes of his family with their shaking heads and their sorrow, the weight of great slabs of grey granite settling on their shoulders and pushing them down so far they could’ve been buried with him too.

But death becomes us all, and I say this with absolute certainty, and sometimes the finality is feral. Feral and so brutal that it leaves the living with scorched skin, like a self-afflicting flagellation. I know that there are some left behind who carry the burden well, or simply look as if they do, and others who bury it like seedlings, praying it never sprouts above the clay. Some dissolve into a deep depression that never leaves them; destined to carry the weight of an old rugged cross around for the remainder of their days. They do not realise it, but I am an ever present mantilla of tenderness, a bud of hope, a feather of light and I never leave their side. I leave signs and symbols everywhere, feathers and pennies from heaven, robin red breasts fly close. I leave brush strokes across their cheeks and fleeting sensations that warm their hearts and cause them to smile at the memory of their loved one. I play pertinent songs on their radios and place numerical repetitions on everything from clocks to phones to washing machines to till receipts; all of them screaming, I AM HERE! I AM HERE! I AM HERE!

I know only too well what it is to grieve, to immerse oneself in the essential process of accepting death. For I too grieved my parents, my husband and two babies who never cried out on seeing sunlight. I grieved again when I passed on and left my children and grandchildren, my siblings and friends. However, we must never allow grief to drop anchor in our harbour forever, or let it move in permanently to our bodies and minds, like some dreadful unwanted house guest.

I have settled the new arrivals now, acclimatising them for their place of eternal rest. I go now and offer my help to their loved ones, relieving them of their own personal stigmata; at least those who are open to it. I’ll admit it can be frustrating when the grieving do nothing to avail of my services; ultimately their lack of faith in our existence. Sometimes it manifests briefly around Christmas, when they settle down on the sofa with their families to watch, It’s a Wonderful Life, momentarily extinguishing guilt whilst sipping Prosecco and nodding in appreciation at the angelic significance of Clarence Odbody. But ultimately, far too many revert back to their old ways. Back to shoving greedy fingers deep into buckets of chocolates, rummaging around in search of their immortal souls which are like deep wells, unfathomable and empty. Far too many of them rush to the drink, delusional that their grief will somehow dissipate along with the last few slugs of the bottle. Many go to Facebook and Instagram, seeking solace in the “likes” of others, forever fearful of never ever getting or having enough. If they only knew they had it all in every breath they took – in every smile they shared and received – in every thank you they declared. If they only knew that heaven was already here – then they would never feel that separation. Indeed they would never grieve again.

The Jet Set By Sheila Millar

Don’t talk to me aboot DIY. Nearly killed me so it did. Ma wife see, nothin wid do but she wantit wan o they jakoozi baths. Ah said, c’mom hen. What dae we need a jakoozi bath fur? Oh, but see, her pal, Mona got hersel a jakoozi bath so ma Jeannie hud tae be upsides with her. Well. Ah spent weeks trying tae talk hur oota it. There’s no enough room fur a start, ah said, but you take whit she gave me. Not enough room is it, she says. Well mibbe if you took yer motor bike oot the bedroom we could put the chest of drawers back where it should be. Now, ah ask you – is that reasonable?

Ah kept tellin her, ah’m only keeping it there till ah rebuild the engine. But she wid have none of it. Anyway, Jeannie went oan and oan and oan till ah finally had tae gie in. Luckily big Kenny helped me haul the bike back doon the stairs again – no easy wi the barrels half aff and the wiring harness trailin oan the grun and aw the other bits in a rucksack on ma back. Kenny’s missus running behind cleanin up the oil drippin doon the stairs an screamin abuse like a fish wife. An then ah hud to haul the chest o drawers back tae the bedroom and Jeannie took the opportunity tae start oan again aboot the bath.

Well, just tae keep the peace ah said ah’d go wi her tae that Ideal Home Show at the exhibition centre tae huv a look at jakoozis. Now, ah don’t mind admittin, ah wis impressed. No sooner wur we ther than Jeannie was peering inti a hot tub. They hud them aw set up an bubblin away – some o them were big enough fur eight folk – an one o they gaysbows built roon aboot it. A bar at wan end – noo that wis temptin – and aw fairy lights an champagne cocktails an she was chattin away to the bloke, askin aboot prices and installation an aw sorts. Talkin in a Kelvinside voice she was. “ Ooh how laavly. Thenk you soo much.” Ah thought ah was gonny have tae haul her away. Anyway, she turnt back to me and telt me to close ma mooth before it hut the floor. She wis just showin an interest. Onyway, back at the Bathroom Display an she shows me this jakoozi bath. See Billy she says as sweet as you like. It fits intae a corner and we have a corner available now. Look at they jets – yi don’t huv tae use them but, if you want, they have three speeds – gentle, light massage, and firm massage. Now, can yi no just picture the two o us – one at each end and all they lovely bubbles? God, she knows how tae get roon me so she does. Cause ah really could picture it. Awright pal – ah didny mean you had tae picture it. Och, it’s awrigh, no need to apologise. Ah was probably describin it too well. Anyway she’d talked me inti it hadn’t she? Before those pictures became a blur we’d wan ordered fur delivery in two weeks’ time. They wantit tae install it but ah wisnae havin ony o that. Ah’ll dae it masell ah said. Ah’ve done electrical work in ma time and ma pal’s a plumber. So no thanks all the same but we wouldny be needin to get it installed. But the bloke wis persistint. Shower o chancers. It was gonnae be twice as much for them tae install it. Ah always dae it masel an, honestly, ah was anxious to get oan wi it. Kept picturing hur an me wi a wee glass o vino sittin in that bath wi all the bubbles going at full pelt. Ah was thinkin ah might even gi the pub a miss so’s ah could git oan wi it. Ah got aw the preparation done before they delivered it. Treated hur tae new tiles and concealed ceilin lights an everythin. Got ma pal roon ready to git started the minute it arrived and it all went smooth as a nut. It pays tae git the preparation done – measured it all up – hud tae move the sink a wee bit an git a new cistern wi the handle the other way roon but it wis worth it. When the jakoozi bath arrived, we were all set. The fixtures and fittings wur all there lucky enuff, cause many a time, ye order a bit o 3 furniture or sumthin and half the screws are missin or worse still you’ve got ten screws left over wance you’ve built it? Bloody useless. But everyhin went fine – bath sat in the corner neat perfect. Ah connectit it tae the electrics – made sure the socket wis ootside the bathroom – ah’m no daft – an ma pal did the taps. Between us we sealed it all an put a fancy panel roon aboot tae box it in. Byootiful it was if ah say so masel. Only trouble ah had was wi ma pal. He hung aboot for mair than an hour until ah hud tae say tae him, Look Jackie, we’re no getting inti it while you’re staunin there watchin – noo piss off. An, finally, there we were – all set –bathtime. Jeannie ran the water, measured in just the right amount of Radox – not too much, not too little and off we went to get wur dressing gowns on till it was ready. No pal, ye can wipe that grin aff yer face cause yer wrang there. We didny get sidetracked. We didny forget aboot it and let it overflow. That wisny whit happened at all. Now, ah’m no wantin to gi you too many details – don’t want yi daein any mair picturin. Let’s jist say all went well tae start with. There we were as planned, luxuriatin –lyin back, wee glass o wine, Jeannie had even lit a few candles. Warm as toast, startit it on gentle massage, bubblin away nicely. Ah wis tellin Jeannie she’d bin right enuff, when there was wan almighty crack an the next thing we drapped through the air and landed smack bang in the middle o Kenny’s livin room. Jeannie screamed an grabbed the sponge tae cover hersel – well aw the bubblin had stopped. Naw, that’s no how ah hurt masel. Kenny’s flair was stronger than oors an he hadny even reinforced it – turns oot ah hadny reinforced mine either. Naw that bloody mad woman o a wife o his laid aboot me wi the poker. Chased me right doon the stairs so she did. Soakin wet, bare arsed, coverin masel as best ah could. Got tae the first landing wi hur screamin like a banshee right behind me. Doon ah went the whole twenty stairs bang, bang, bang turnin ower a the 4 way. Thought ah wis a gonner. When ah came to ah couldny tell where the pain stopped an ah startit. And that wife o Kenny’s jist left me ther. Hadny phoned an ambulance. Ah hid tae dae it masel.

The Herald Mighty Pens Writing Contest Highly Commended

Mighty Pens Team Leader And Herald Contributor Bernard Bale Says

“To say that we were overwhelmed by the number of entries would be an understatement. To say that we were overwhelmed by the quality of those entries would also be an understatement.

“Yes, it is customary to say nice things so that those who have not won feel better but, hand on heart, I can honestly say that there was not one single entry of the near 200 that did not deserve applause. We were astounded by the very, very high standard.

Every entry – yes, every entry was read by the panel and it was indeed a difficult task to select a winner and that is why we have selected five winners, all of whom will receive the first prize. That is why we have also felt it necessary to list the Highly Recommended.

Everyone else should not consider themselves to have failed for indeed we would put them all under the heading of “Recommended”.

The standard has underlined the quality of education in Scotland, the passion that flows through the veins and the unchallenged ability to tell a good story.

Thank you to all those who have given us the great privilege and pleasure of reading your work.”