Sunday, 29 April 2012

Suzy takes on the world - Part Four - Princess Tiffany

Suzy sat alone in bed, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Her brother, Damian, was involved with some bad people.  And there was nothing Suzy could do about it.  She couldn't even confide in mum.  Not unless she wanted to see her kitten plummet to his death.

She was very angry with her brother.  He had been horrible.  A monster, in fact.  She didn't speak to him.  She didn't want to speak to him ever again.

Suzy was getting fed up of being abused by males and made to beg and she was going to do something about it.

But first she had to have that hundred pound deposit for her trip to France.  The money and booking form were due tomorrow.  She got up.  She needed to speak to mum.  It was only just past ten o clock and Mum was still up.  Suzy snapped her light on.

To Suzy's astonishment, she noticed a envelope had been pushed under the door.  Suzy opened it to find one hundred pounds exactly.  There was a note in mum's handwriting "For your French trip.  Love Mum".

Suzy felt like crying with relief.  It would get Mademoiselle Penchat off her back for a while.  But then Suzy wondered where on earth Mum had found a spare hundred pounds lying around.

As far as Suzy knew, Mum cleaned houses for a number of clients, mainly elderly gentlemen.  The most horrible suspicions swirled around inside Suzy's mind.  She put the money back in the envelope and went back to sleep.

When she got up for school, Damian had already left, but Mum was still around.  Suzy handed Mum the envelope "Thanks for the money, mum, but I can't accept it".

Mum was astounded "But you need it for your trip to France!  That teacher of yours, Madam Penchot, or whatever she calls herself, wrote me a letter.  She needs one hundred pounds.  Today.  Or no trip".

"Mum, I don't need to go to France that badly!  I can go next year".

"You're going this year" Mum said firmly, pressing envelope firmly into Suzy's hand.

"But....where did you suddenly get a hundred pounds from?"

"I earned it.  Another job came in just at the right time".

Suzy shook her head "It just doesn't seem right......"

"I see" said Mum "You need to know where the money came from, right?"

Suzy nodded.

Mum took a notepad and pen out of her handbag and wrote something on a piece of paper, which she then tore out and handed to Suzy "Be at this address after you leave school.  I'll still be working there and you can see for yourself exactly how I earn the money.  OK?"

Suzy nodded in relief.  If Mum was willing to show her what she was doing, it couldn't be as bad as she feared.  She made to leave.

"Aren't you forgetting something?"Mum prompted her.

Flushing, Suzy smiled and said "Thanks Mum!"

"No, not that.  The permission slip.  Your French Madam won't be happy if you don't have that!"

"Thanks Mum" said Suzy, giving her a kiss.

Mademoiselle Penchat was happy when Suzy was able to give her the permission slip and deposit later that morning.  Home Economics, Physics, English Literature and Games seemed to pass in a blur.  Belinda Fox and her cronies gave Suzy little trouble beyond a few jibes at her patched skirt.  Suzy spotted Kevin playing football with his mates.  If he noticed her at all, he didn't show it.

Before Suzy knew it, the bell had gone for the final lesson of the day and Suzy was riding the bus to 47 Kenton Road.  Suzy had never been in this part of town before.  It was the posh end where the well-heeled lived and where people like mum were only the hired help.

Suzy didn't know the area at all and had to ask for directions but eventually found the house.  It was one of those old victorian houses.  Big and well-built.  Suzy rang a brass doorbell and heard a refined chime.

The door was opened by Mum, wearing a plastic apron, and Suzy was admitted.  Suzy found herself in a large, long hallway.  Expensive looking paintings hung on the walls and there was a big grandfather clock that was much taller than Suzy herself.

Mum directed Suzy where to put her coat and bag and ordered her to take her shoes off, handing her a pair of boy's slippers.  Suzy slipped them on.  They were comfy.  The whole house suggested comfort and well being.  It was much nicer than the flat at Royale Mansions.

The silence of the house was disturbed by a cry of "Nanny!" from somewhere above.

"I'm coming, Princess!"  Mum shouted up "Suzy, make yourself a cuppa and we'll chat when I get back".  Mum disappeared up the carpeted stairs.

Suzy wandered into the kitchen and made herself a drink.  She was puzzled because she was pretty sure the voice that cried out had been a man's voice!  And Mum had called him Princess!  Something weird was going on.

Mum came back about ten minutes later and made herself a drink.

"Mum, what's going on?"

Mum shook her head "You'll have to see it to believe it" she whispered.  "This house is owned by a gentleman called Mr Lancaster.  He's in his fifties, retired and very wealthy.  Well, he originally employed me as a cleaner and for a few months that's all I did for him.  Then, one day, I realised that I had left my purse at his house on my last job and so I went round to collect it.  Mr Lancaster wasn't expecting me, or anyone else, and so I unwittingly found out his secret.  He was so embarrassed and begged me not to tell anyone.  Then, it occurred to both of us that my role here could be expanded, for more money of course".

Suzy was fascinated by this revelation and dying to know more "So....what's his big secret mum?"

"If I show you, you must promise never to tell anyone.  Mr Lancaster would die if it ever became public!"

"OK Mum, I promise".

"Alright then, come with me and I'll show you".

Mother and daughter crept upstairs.  The hallways and room doors looked ordinary enough.  Disappointingly so.  Mum went to a cream coloured door, turned the brass handle and let it swing open.

Suzy's jaw almost hit the floor at what she beheld.

The room beyond was a perfect bedroom.  For a little girl, that is.  Pink and white wallpaper with fluffy pink bunnies on it covered the walls.  The floor was carpeted in a white carpet with a pale pink rose pattern.  The large, double-glazed window had net curtains to conceal the interior from prying eyes and silk curtains trimmed with lace.

The room was dominated by a large four poster bed, all festooned with lace and other feminine trimmings, with white silk sheets and heart shaped pink pillows.  There was a white vanity table and a dresser and what looked to be walk in wardrobes.  Then there were two display cases filled with dolls of all shapes and sizes. There must have been over a hundred!

The "girl", whose room this was, was the oddest thing Suzy had ever seen.

"She" was at least six feet tall, and stockily built, with large hands and feet.  "Her" legs and arms were bare and hairless and "she" wore a pink frock that was much beribboned and trimmed with frills and lace, with lace petticoats, frilled ankle socks and a shiny pair of mary-janes.  The "girl" wore bangles and bracelets on her arms and a twinkly necklace.  The hairpiece that resembled the blonde ringlets of little girlhood was clearly a wig.  The fingernails were painted a glossy pink colour.

Suzy had to resist the urge to burst out laughing at the sight of this huge man dressed as a little girl.  He looked nothing like a little girl!

The "girl" had her head bowed down in embarressment at Suzy's presence.

Mum held out a hand and "girl" rushed over and took it gratefully "Princess, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Suzy.  You do remember how to greet guests, don't you Princess?"

"Oh, yes, Nanny!" said the strange creature in a lisping voice.  Grasping "her" skirts, Princess bobbed Suzy a curtsey.

"Very good, Princess!  That was a very lovely curtsey!  What a good little girl you are!" said Mum sweetly.  "Now, be a good girl and play with one of your dollies".

Beaming happily, Princess romped off and sat down with one of "her" dolls.

Suzy stared at "her" in disbelief.  

Whilst Princess played quietly, Mum opened up the wardrobe to reveal a vast array of frocks and dresses.

They went back to the kitchen.  Once there, Suzy burst out laughing "It's so funny!  Fancy, a big man like that wanting to be treated like a little girl of six!"

Mum gave a reproachful look "Don't ridicule him.  He can't help how he feels.  For over fifty years, he's had to completely suppress his feminine side. Now that he no longer has to work and has no family to consider, he can allow himself to be what he wants.  It makes him very happy to be Princess.  And he pays me very well to be his "nanny" and to keep his secret".

"Which I know now as well" said Suzy thoughtfully.

"Yes.  You can't breathe a word about this to anyone.  I promised Mr...I mean Princess that you were a good girl and can keep a secret.  If I hadn't, she wouldn't have let you see her".

"I won't say a word.  It's just priceless though".

On the way home, Suzy thought about Princess.  OK, he looked like a dude in a frock.  But once you looked beyond that, Suzy recognised that Princess was capable of being a girl and exhibited classic feminine behaviour such as shyness, innocence and submissiveness, all of which was very endearing.

And that room had been an oasis of femininity.  Princess, Mum had mentioned, had designed the room herself.  A mind that could conceive such a room had to be feminine.

Suzy found all this very interesting.  Just as women were often capable of being masculine, men were  capable of being feminine, given the right clothes and environment.

Just think what might be possible Suzy thought.

Suzy takes on the world - Part Three - Oh, Brother!

Suzy was noticing some changes in her brother's appearance and behaviour.

A few weeks earlier, on her way back from school, she had spotted Damian talking to some lowlife on the estate.  Suzy suspected that he was a member of one of the many gangs who ruled the estate between them.

On that occasion, Suzy had shrugged.  The gangs were everywhere.  It was inevitable that one would end up having to interact with gang members.

But not all of the time, and lately, whenever Suzy saw her brother it was more often than not in the company of a gang member.

Then Damian had had his hair cropped.  Usually, this was no big deal, but Suzy couldn't help noticing that this was the style in which a particular gang had had their hair cut.  Then Damian had had his left ear pierced and a diamond earring inserted into the hole.

Mum had been quite taken with Damian's new look.  Suzy had not been so enamoured.  She could see what was happening.

But Suzy had her own problems.  She had a boy who she longed to give her some attention but treated her as though she did not exist and the actual girlfriend of the same boy who would scratch her eyes out if Suzy as much as looked at him.

Oh, and there was also the trifling matter of finding a hundred pounds in the next forty eight hours to put down as a deposit on a school trip to Paris.  Mum worked several cleaning jobs.  It wasn't likely that she would have a spare hundred pounds lying around.

Suzy had been putting off asking Mum but knew that she couldn't put it off any longer.  Mum would no doubt wring her hands and go into hysterics.  But she would somehow find the money.  She always did.

Suzy went to school as usual, acutely aware that the deadline for submitting the form and deposit for the trip was now less than forty-eight hours away.  Between classes, she had passed the French Mistress, Mademoiselle Penchat in the corridor, and the big wobbly teacher had stopped Suzy and reminded her that the form and deposit was due soon.  As if Suzy could have forgotten.

After lunch, however, Suzy had stomach cramps and had to skip the rest of her classes. This was no big deal as Suzy was top of the form in just about every subject.  She rode the bus home, in acute pain, but thankfully the cramps had eased off by the time she alighted.

As soon as Suzy entered the small flat where her family lived, she knew something was amiss.  She could hear voices, male voices, murmuring in the living room.  One voice she recognised as that of Damian, but the other she could not place.  For an instant, she had hoped that it may have been the voice of her long absent father, but that hope was soon dashed.  It was the voice of a stranger.

Damian appeared in the hallway as soon as he realised that he and his guest were no longer alone.  His handsome, boyish features showed consternation "Suzy, what are you doing here?".

"I had stomach cramps, Damian" Suzy explained "Who's your visitor?"

Damian's features hardened "None of your business, girl!  You go to your room!"

Suzy was shocked.  She hardly recognised her brother.  He had never spoken to her like this before!  But her spine stiffened.  He might be her elder brother and technically in charge whilst mum was at work, but Suzy was not going to be ordered around.   Something was wrong here, very wrong.  Damian's outburst did not suggest someone in control of the situation but someone who was afraid.

"I'm not going anywhere, Damian, until you tell me what's going on" Suzy replied firmly.

Damian looked utterly perplexed and at a loss.  He clutched at the door frame for support.

A new voice piped up, more gravelly and masculine than Damian's "Relax, dollface, nothing is going on".

The owner of the voice replaced Damian in the doorway.  He was older than Damian and dressed in a smart suit.  He looked like a respectable businessman but Suzy gauged instinctively that he was nothing of the kind.  He had a certain aura of someone in complete control, but also of someone where violent tendencies were never far below the civilised exterior.

"My name is Suzy, not 'dollface' mister.  Who are you and what are you doing in our home?"

The man chuckled "Hey Damian, I like your sister.  She got balls!  Sorry, SUZY, I'm Ryan.  A friend of your brother's.  We're you youngsters say nowadays.....chilling out.  It's cool.   Say, why don't you be a good girl and make us all a cup of tea?"

Suzy was not impressed by Ryan's attempts to mollify her suspicions.  In fact, his whole manner and way of speaking were having the opposite effect!

"No" Suzy said "I want you to leave.  Now please!"

Ryan's jaw actually dropped!  A panicked Damian rushed over to Suzy "Suzy! You can't go talking to Ryan like that!"

"I just did" Suzy replied flatly.  She turned to Ryan "Are you still here?"

Ryan's features hardened, just as Damian's had earlier.  He spoke to Damian "We'll meet again. Later.  In the meantime, you might want to teach your kid sister some respect".  Ryan marched out.  Suzy waited until the front door slammed shut.

Damian was freaking out "Do you have any idea who you just told to sling his hook?  Only Ryan Kirke!  Mr Big on this estate!  He could have you done away with as quickly as this if he wanted"  Damian clicked his fingers to illustrate his point.

Suzy shrugged.  "Mr Big" wasn't likely to employ his vast resources to liquidate a schoolgirl, even a mouthy one.  "What were the two of you talking about? Please don't tell me you're part of his gang!"

"That is none of your business, Suzy!  Keep out of my business!"

"Or what, you'll get your 'friend' to do me in?" Suzy sighed "Can't you see that he's using you?  He's just a parasite who uses everyone to get what he wants".

Damian's features became more determined "No.  I don't need Ryan to deal with you.  I'm gonna do that myself".  He marched into the living room.  Suzy followed him fearfully.  What the hell had come over Damian?

Damian walked over to the sofa, where Suzy's kitten, Lucky, was sleeping.  He violently grabbed Lucky, who began mewling.

"Damian!  Leave him alone!" Suzy shouted.

Damian held Lucky up so that Suzy could see him clearly.  The poor kitten was trying to wriggle loose, but was no match for Damian's superior strength.

"I'm gonna teach you some respect girl" Damian told her.  He walked over to the glass door that separated the living area of the flat from the balcony of the immense tower block of which the flat was a part, and opened it up.  There was a blast of cold air.

"Damian, what the hell are you doing?" Suzy was frightened now.   Not for herself, but for the helpless kitten.

Damian ignored her.  He moved out onto the balcony and held Lucky out over it.  The drop was probably over two hundred feet......Poor Lucky could not possibly survive if Damian chose to release his grip.

Lucky's cries became shriller and more urgent as he realised his peril.

"Damian!  Please!  He's a little kitten!" Suzy pleaded.

Damian smiled, satisfied that he had Suzy begging. "If you say ONE WORD to mum, or anyone else about Ryan being here....".  He looked meaningfully at the tiny, struggling form of Lucky "or ever talk to Ryan like you did just now again....and this one will be taking a dive.  OK?"

Suzy hated the idea of having to give in.  But, there was a life at stake here.

"Ok Damian" She forced herself to say "Please give me Lucky"

Enjoying himself, Damian said "On your knees, girl.  Show the proper respect!"

Suzy forced herself to kneel.  For Lucky's sake, not for Damian's.

Damian said "That's better.  You need to learn your place in the scheme of things, girl.  And keep that mouth firmly shut.  Little girls like you should be seen and not heard".  He tossed Lucky into her arms and marched out of the room.

Suzy comforted Lucky, and stared after her brother.  Bastard!  Damian, the apple of her mother's eye, had been turned by one of the gangs into a bully and a coward.  And he thinks of me as just an insignificant girl who should be submissive, respectful and mute.

Something inside Suzy's being hardened.

I'll show him!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Suzy takes on the world - Part Two - Tough Love

Suzy tipped some milk into a saucer for her new kitten, Lucky, who gratefully began lapping it up.

Mum had not been happy when Suzy had brought the stray kitten home "I work my fingers to the bone to put food in your belly and clothes on your back" she had ranted "And how do you thank me?  By bringing home yet another mouth to feed!"

But, as Suzy had known all along, once Mum picked the kitten up and stroked it, she was won over.  She still made a show of grumbling about the costs of food, cat litter and vets' bills, but Suzy knew Lucky had a home for good.

But bringing Lucky home meant that Suzy had had to put off, yet again, telling mum that she need a hundred pounds for the forthcoming school trip to Paris.  God knows when she was going to break the news!

Suzy finished her breakfast and washed up the dishes for herself, her brother Damian (who was the apple of mum's eye and excused all chores) and mum before heading out for the bus.  As she emerged from the main door of Royale Mansions, she noticed a gang of youths hanging about.  One of them wolf-whistled as he saw Suzy in her school uniform.  Suzy flushed and hurried away from the vicinity of the gang as soon as possible.

These gangs ruled the estates and had done for years.  They were made up of unemployed (and Suzy suspected unemployable) young men who considered parts of the vast estate of which Royale Mansions was one small part, as their "territory".  The gangs frequently fought amongst themselves for control of a little bit more of the estate as well as preying on the weak and vulnerable and committing all kinds of crime.

Every so often, a convoy of police vehicles would roar up to the estate, spew out an army of armoured men wielding batons and riot shields, round up a goodly number of suspects, and haul them off to "help the police with their enquiries" as the authorities termed the objective of the operation.  Police crackdowns on the estate were intermittent though, and the gangs more or less had a free hand.

The gangs were mostly male and certainly male-dominated, but there were also girls.  As well as being girlfriends of gang members, girls were useful for smuggling weapons or drugs past the police whereas a young male was almost guaranteed to be searched for such items.

Suzy shuddered.  If she had not been so clever in school she could easily end up like one of those girls, or else lumbered with a platoon of kids by the time she was twenty.  That was the other fate of girls who lived on this estate.

Suzy quickened her pace, anxious to get away from the estate that had the capacity to so destroy lives before they even began.

On the way to school, Suzy could not help but blame the problems of the estate, not to mention the world, on men.  Men ran the gangs, ran criminal organisations, ran the economy, ruled most of the world and indulged in endless conflict in which mainly women and children were the victims. Women still seemed to have little say in how the world was run despite now surpassing males academically, entering the workplace in greater numbers, occupying positions of power and earning more than ever before.  Women were proving that they were better and more compassionate leaders.  But there were still too few of them in positions of power to make any real difference.  In spite of everything, it was still a man's world.  It was all so depressing!

It was Games first thing and Suzy trooped out with the rest of the girls with her form to play hockey.  Suzy found the game tedious and wished that girls were allowed to play football or rugby instead.  The school authorities still laboured under the mistaken belief that girls were too fragile to play "boys' sports".

The game began, and, as it progressed, Suzy became aware that Belinda Fox and her two cronies, Helen Goff and Rosie Doyle, playing on the opposing team, seemed to have it in for her for some reason.  Come to think of it, Rosie had tried to trip Suzy up on the way to the playing field.  Now Suzy found herself tackled by each of the girls, even though the action was happening some distance away.  Finally, Belinda whacked Suzy on the leg with her stick.  Searing pain dominated Suzy's mind, and she collapsed into the mud.

She dimly heard the Games' Mistresses' whistle and sensed that the game had stopped and that the other girls had crowded around her.  Suzy saw the face of the Games Mistress, Miss Pringle, full of concern.  She examined Suzy's leg.

"That's a nasty bruise you're going to have there" she concluded "We'll have to get you to the nurse to check that there are no broken bones!"  She ordered the two biggest girls to help Suzy back to the main school block where she could receive medical attention.

As she hobbled away, she heard Belinda say, in the sweet innocent voice that she was able to put on "Honest Miss, it was an accident!  Tell her, Helen, Rosie, you were there".

"Yeah, that's right, Miss.  An unlucky accident" the two other girls chorused.

Miss Pringle sighed.  She had been on the other side of the field when the incident had happened and so had seen nothing. "Alright.  Just be more careful next time, ok?"

"Yes, Miss.  Sorry Miss" said Belinda in that sweet, sugary voice.

Suzy had to sit in the nurse's room for the next hour and so miss her next lesson.  She wondered why Belinda had suddenly become so implacably hostile towards her.  Normally, Belinda and her friends pretended Suzy didn't exist, but at least they left her alone.  It was a real puzzle.

The nurse had examined Suzy's leg and confirmed that no bones were broken, but that it would hurt for a few days.  Suzy was released in time for the lunch break.  Suzy had her dinner alone, as usual, and then repaired to the toilets to check out her leg.

There was a deep purple bruise on her shin.  If Suzy pulled her socks up to their fullest extent, it would hide it for a while, but eventually the socks would ride down and expose the bruise. Damn!

The main door to the toilets opened to admit Belinda, Rosie and Helen.  Suzy was about to say something colourful to Belinda about what she had done to her leg but thought better of it when she saw Belinda's face, full of hostility.

"Well, well" said Belinda "Found you at last!  Have you been hiding from us?"

"No" Suzy replied "What's going on Belinda?  First you tackle me, then wallop me with a hockey stick..."

"Grab her!" Belinda ordered, by way of answer.  Moments later, Suzy was pinned and helpless in the grasp of two bigger, stronger girls.

Satisfied that Suzy was powerless to resist, Belinda cupped Suzy's face with one hand "I'll tell you what's going on, you little slut, you've been making eyes at Kevin Connor!  My boyfriend!"

"But...I didn't know he had a girlfriend, honest!  And he only asked me to help him with his French!".

Belinda laughed "I'll bet he did!  French kissing!  He's rather good at it, actually, and I know that better than anyone!  So....slut.  If I see you anywhere near him again, you'll be sorry!  Understood?"

Frightened, Suzy nodded.

"Good" said Belinda, releasing Suzy's face.  "Ok, girls, you know what to do with the little tart".

Grinning, Rosie and Helen hauled Suzy into the nearest cubicle.  Suzy tried to resist, but was too weak against the strength of two girls.  They thrust her head down the toilet bowl and flushed the lavatory.  Suzy screamed as the cold water hit her, and with the humilation.

"Let that be a lesson to you" were Belinda's parting words "Stay away from MY boyfriend!".  The three girls departed, leaving a soggy and sobbing Suzy alone in the cubicle.

Once she had composed herself, Suzy looked at herself in the mirror.  Her hair was a mess!  It looked like someone had thrown a bucket a water over her.  Suzy did her best to dry herself off, but her efforts could not hide that she was soaking wet.

She knew she couldn't attend class in the state she was in, so made for the warmth of the school library to dry off.  She managed to make her last class, maths, but remembered that she had to meet Kevin afterwards to help him with his french essay.

In spite of Belinda's warnings, Suzy had made a promise and meant to keep it, so she returned to the library.  Kevin was late and arrived a quarter hour after they had agreed.  He gave her a smile, which made all the trials of Suzy's day suddenly seem worthwhile.  Then he handed her the essay.

Suzy sat down and studied it.  Miss Penchat had written more than Kevin had.  Suzy could imagine the overweight French Mistress furiously scribbling on the essay in her red pen, appalled at the desecration of her native tongue.  The essay really was awful.  Kevin clearly had no talent for French.  Suzy's baby brother, Aaron, probably could have done better.

Suzy gently suggested that they should start again from scratch.  She dictated whilst Kevin wrote.  Occasionally, they had to stop whilst Suzy corrected Kevin execrable attempts at French, but almost an hour and a half later, it was done.

"Perhaps we could go for a drink?  The school cafe should still be open" Suzy suggested hopefully.  Let Belinda Fox be damned!

"Nah, sorry.  Got footie practice.  Thanks for your help though!  Gotta dash!"  Kevin was gone before Suzy could say anything.

Suzy was deflated again. In spite of helping him (rewriting the whole bloody thing more like!) and being nice, Kevin had not shown the slightest interest in her.  In fact, he had been eager to get away from her as soon as he had what he needed.

Life was tough.  Love was tougher.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Suzy takes on the world - Part One - Heart of Gold

Suzy Stanton leapt off the bus, her skirt flying and with her faded brown satchel bumping against her small body.

Ignoring the other passengers who had alighted from the vehicle, mainly old people who she didn't know and other pupils from her school who pretended that she did not exist, Suzy walked determinedly away and in the direction of Royale Mansions, as the Tower block where she lived with her mother and siblings, was ironically called.

Most people just referred to it as "The Dustbin". For the rubbish members of society. For people who had done nothing with their lives and expected handouts from the state.

Suzy's stride slowed as she approached the monumental building, its grey slab-like exterior jutting high into the sky. The sight of this bleak icon of human failure was enough to make any human spirit quail.

As if on cue, a grey, light drizzle broke out, as if to add to the gloom. Suzy steeled herself and made herself pick up her pace. It wasn't Mum's fault that they were forced to live in this dump!

Suzy entered the monolithic edifice by means of a shabby door covered with graffitti. Suzy had no idea what the door's original colour might have been. Suzy ignored the lift. It was never working at the best of times. The gangs on the estate vandalised the lifts quicker than the cash-strapped council could fix them, so they only bothered when enough residents complained.

After an exhausting climb up four sets of stairs, Suzy emerged into a dimly lit corridor with five nearly identical doors studded along each side. Suzy marched along to Flat 415, produced her key from her purse, and opened the door into the one part of the world that belonged to her family.

Well, actually, it belonged to the council, and Mum rented it from them, but as long as the rent was paid no-one bothered them. The tower block was so notorious as festering hole for roaming gangs of young males drugs and violent crime that not even the most hardy door to door caller dared to show their face.

Suzy could hear the news blaring from the telly the instant that she opened the door. This was accompanied by the sound of a baby wailing and the fainter sound of raggae music emanating from the closed door of her older brother's room.

Suzy entered the living room to find her mother gently handling Suzy's baby brother, Aaron, in an attempt to calm him down. It didn't seem to be working, judging from the volume coming from Aaron's vocal chords.

Mum spotted Suzy and immediately brightened "Hello, love. Did you have a good day at school?"

Suzy nodded. It HAD been a good day at school. A very good day. But Suzy did not want to discuss it with her mother. It would just add to her problems.

Mum passed Aaron over to Suzy "Be a love and take baby for me whilst I fix you some tea!". Mum disappeared into the kitchen and the sound of the fridge door and other doors being opened and closed could be heard. Then there was the sound of the microwave.

Suzy sat down and bounced her little brother on her knee. It seemed to help his mood a little and he became calm and quiet, gurgling happily.

Mum came back into the living room and sat down heavily. She looked wan and exhausted :"What a day I've had! First of all, I had to sort out the phone bill. How the hell they can try and charge me so much when I hardly even use my mobile gets me! I had words with "Robert, your friendly customer services representative". I told where he could stick his economy friendly tariff!"

Mum went on in a similar vein about almost every detail of her entire day. The trouble she had had at the laundrette. At the supermarket. The Post Office. Suzy listened to her with a mixture of boredom and sadness.

She loved her mum. More than anyone else in the world. It was not mum's fault that she was reduced to doing three cleaning jobs and claiming benefits to make ends meet. But having to listen to her describing her daily struggles against a world that was (according to her) against her was depressing.

Suzy's sadness was replaced by a surge of anger at her father. Her father, who she loved more than anyone else in the world and for whom Suzy had been his "special little princess", had shown his true colours by running off with another woman whilst Mum was still pregnant with Aaron. Mum had been fighting to keep the family afloat ever since he had suddenly and inexplicably disappeared almost a year ago.

Suzy had tried to keep in contact with her father. She had written to him and phoned him, seeking answers, an explanation as to why he had abandoned those he had once professed to love. Dad had changed his phone number and moved away. Suzy's letter were returned, unopened.

The mystery woman with whom Dad had walked out on his family for was just that. A mystery. The rumour was that he had hooked up with some minor celebrity or rich businesswoman. The wildest rumours linked him with a world famous actress. Suzy didn't know, or care, who the other woman was, only that she had stolen her Dad from her.

Suzy looked up at the section of wall above the mantlepiece. There was a square shaped patch of wallpaper that was slightly brighter in colour than the dingy white surround. That was where Mum and Dad's wedding photo had been ever since Suzy could remember. Until the day after Dad had left. Now, as far as Mum was concerned, Dad was a non-person. There were no photos of him and she never spoke about him. Mum didn't even (as far as Suzy knew at least) chase Dad for maintenance payments that the family needed and were entitled to. Mum had erased Dad out of her life as if he was an old episode of Coronation Street on a videotape.

Suzy ate her tea quietly and watched the news. More trouble in the Middle East. Crime rates in the UK were on the increase again, probably due to the ongoing recession and high unemployment that prevailed. Especially amongst younger and older men. There never seemed to be any happy news!

Suzy's older brother, Damian, emerged from his room and plopped himself down next to Suzy on the sofa. He had already eschewed his school uniform in favour of jeans and a T-Shirt. At fourteen, Damian was already tall. Far taller than Suzy. And had the cockiness and cheek of lads of his age. After ordering Mum to get him some food, Damian picked up the remote control and began flicking through the channels.

Mum brought him his tea on a tray and handed it to him and Damian began to wolf it down. Mum looked at her eldest child affectionately.

"You're growing fast Damian. Before long, you'll be taller than your f.....I mean, me. How did your maths test go this afternoon?"

"I aced it, Mum. Aced it" Damian assured her, between mouthfuls of food "Piece of cake".

Mum ruffled his hair playfully "You're a good boy. Keep up with your schooling and you'll make something of yourself".

Damian grunted and resumed eating.

Suzy gave her brother a sceptical glance and retreated to her room. She would have to wash the dishes later, for that was one of her chores, but for now she had something more pleasant to occupy her thoughts. Her French homework.

For two hours, Suzy was able to lose herself in her schoolwork. For two hours, the rest of the world outside her bedroom door did not exist. Suzy put the finishing touches to her essay, all written in perfect french, before proudly putting it into a folder. Suzy had completed the essay a week early but had been so keen to launch into it.

For the last year, if not longer, History, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Literature, Physics, Geography and French had become her most stalwart friends. French especially was her most favourite topic. Suzy also had to do compulsory modules in Home Economics and Needlework, in which she had no interest, and in Physical Education, which she sometimes loved and hated in equal measure. But even allowing for the fact that she had no real friends at school, Suzy enjoyed school and loved schoolwork.

Suzy put the folder into her satchel (It was actually Mum's old satchel from her own schooldays).  Then she took out a small square of white paper.  It was this piece of paper that could cause Suzy much joy - and her mum much worry.  It seemed amazing to Suzy that a single sheet of paper could be so potentially life changing.  But it was true.

Suzy looked at her door, envisaging her mum either bustling about doing chores or otherwise sitting down watching TV with little Aaron perched on her knee.  Aaron was growing all the time and mum was moaning only the other day about how expensive baby and toddler clothes were.

Suzy put the square of paper back in her satchel.  Let mum enjoy another evening without the worry that Suzy was, unwittingly, about to visit upon her.

The following morning, only ten minutes before Double French, found Suzy studying herself in the girls' toilets.  Suzy stood at five feet and two inches exactly.  She was not small, she reminded herself, she was petite, the more polite word for small.  Suzy had mousy brown hair and plain face out of which two light green eyes beheld the world.

Suzy also had larger hands than were usual for a female of her age and size and dumpy little legs.  Still, this was all she had to work with.  She hitched her skirt up as high as it would go, brushed her hair and tied a white ribbon in it.  Suzy thought that she already looked younger and more vulnerable.  Perfect!

It was time to put her plan, Operation Kevin, into motion.

Suzy sidled into the classroom.  Kevin, a tall, handsome, dark haired boy, was sitting with his mates, laughing and joking about something or other.  To Suzy's intense disappointment, Kevin didn't even seem to notice her.

Suzy wished that she had a compact and lipstick so that she could make an exhibition of herself for Kevin's benefit, but girls her age weren't allowed to carry make up in school, let alone wear any.  Sighing, Suzy concentrated on the lesson.

Mademoiselle Penchat, the French Mistress, who had long ago ceased to be young enough to merit the title of "Mademoiselle", but still insisted on using it, first handed back the last essay that every student had been required to submit.

Mademoiselle Penchat hovered by Suzy's desk and handed her her marked essay with an indulgent smile "Tre bion, mademoiselle!".  Suzy glowed with pride when she saw she had received the maximum number of points possible.

Then Mademoiselle Penchat frowned and spoke softly so that only Suzy could hear"Mademoiselle Stanton, I'm still waiting for your parent's permission slip and cheque for the deposit for our class trip to Paris....."

Suzy almost cursed aloud.  This damned trip!  A fortnight ago, Mademoiselle Penchat had informed the class that she had arranged a weekend trip to Paris, to soak up the ambience and the culture of the French capital.  They would visit the Arc de Triumphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower, along with a load of lesser museums and visitor attractions.

Suzy wanted to go with all her heart........but the deposit alone was one hundred pounds!  It would take a further two hundred pounds to pay for the whole trip and accommodation, plus Suzy would need some spending money.  There wouldn't be much change out of five hundred pounds.

Suzy doubted if mum had a fiver on her at the moment.  She would probably have a heart attack if Suzy rolled up to her and asked for five hundred pounds!

Suzy forced herself to look up at Mademoiselle calmly "I'll have the form in by next week" she said "I gave it to my mum, but she must have forgotten about it.  I'll remind her when I get home".

Mademoiselle Penchat beamed again and patted Suzy lightly on the arm "Excellent!  What a wonderful time we will have in gay Paris!".  The large French Mistress whistled "La Marseille" as she wobbled back to her place at the front of the class.

Suzy usually enjoyed French but was deflated that "Operation Kevin" had failed and miserable because she knew she would somehow have to break the news to mum about the Paris trip, and soon, if she was to keep her promise to Mademoiselle Penchat.

That Suzy's performance in class was a little below par than usual was barely noticed.  This was due to Mademoiselle's attention largely being taken up by the boys in the class.  The boys, including Kevin, tended to congregate at the back of the class, were always talking and laughing about something, and, because most of them were rubbish at French, threw ink pellets and other improvised missiles when they thought Mademoiselle Penchat wasn't looking, as a way to amuse themselves.

By the end of the two hour lesson, more than one boy had been given detention, and one other boy was ordered to report to the headmaster's office at the end of class.

Suzy stared at the boys in a mixture of awe and disbelief.  Awe that they had the cheek to flout authority and disbelief that they were wasting their talents indulging in silly pranks.  It seemed to be the same in every class. The girls got their heads down and studied while most of the boys just messed around and disrupted the class.

No wonder that girls were doing so much better in school than boys nowadays.  Suzy was aware of the current trend of the underachievement of boys and the spectacular success of girls in stark contrast.  Every new set of examination results seemed to confirm that the girls were pulling further and further ahead at every level of education, leaving the boys way behind.

Suzy was suddenly very glad that she was a girl.

A weary Mademoiselle Penchat dismissed the class and collapsed heavily into her chair as her pupils filed out.

Suzy hovered in the corridor, re-arranging her bags and checking she had her work book for her next class, Chemistry.  She did.  Relaxing, Suzy closed her satchel.  She heard a cough, looked up, and saw Kevin of all people standing in front of her.

"Hi" he said, in a deep masculine tone "Suzy Stanton, isn't it?"

Startled by Kevin's very sudden interest in her, Suzy nodded.

"I'm Kevin. Kevin Connor".

"I know" Suzy replied, wondering where this was leading.

"Good.  I heard you were a smart girl.  I could use some help with my French essay.  Mademoiselle Penchat said it was so bad that I'd have to write it again.  And you are the star of French Class, are you not".

"Well" said Suzy "I wouldn't go that far, but I seem to be good at French, yes"

"So....will you help me?"

The chance to be around Kevin was too good to miss, so Suzy said "Sure thing!"

They agreed to meet up in the school library the following day, after class.  Kevin turned on his heel and marched off happily.  Suzy almost fainted with happiness.

It was almost dark by the time Suzy got off the bus outside Royale Mansions.  It had been a good day at school. Especially with the prospect of spending time with Kevin tomorrow!  But Suzy still had to tell mum about the expensive French trip.

Suzy walked past a row of trashbins and gasped in shock as she saw a small tabby kitten pathetically trying to claw open a sack of rubbish and mewling.  Suzy's heart went out to the poor little mite. Whoever had abandoned the kitten must have been heartless.  It was just like abandoning a baby.

The kitten looked up hopefully at Suzy with its big saucer-like eyes.  It seem to be saying, without sound, "please help me".  Without hesitation, Suzy scooped the little ball of fur up into her arms.  Mum probably wouldn't be happy at having another mouth to feed, even one as small as the kitten's, but, like Suzy, she had a heart of gold.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

"Girlz Rule"

"Girlz Rule" was a TV show that ran from 2019 to 2025.

The show was unique in that it was produced, written and presented by teenage girls. Many of these girls went on to become successful Producers and Directors in later life.

The show dealt with many topics of interest to its target audience of girls and young women, including how to succeed at school and university, building a career and, of course, dating.

But often, the show focused on the growing superiority of girls and the decline of boys.

The show opener always showed a girl dressed in a purple fairy outfit, with a tiara and a wand. A boy is shown beside the girl dressed in a cowboy outfit complete with a hat and wielding a revolver. The girl looks at the boy and waves her wand. For a moment, the screen is a sea of fairy stars. When the stars disappear, the girl is dressed in the cowboy outfit and smiling whilst the boy finds himself in the fairy outfit. He looks less than happy with his transformation.

The caption "Girlz Rule" then appears and hovers above the cross-dressed pair.

Many of the episodes featured girls who had, by fair means or foul, forced a brother or other male relative, into girls' clothes. These included:

"Maid to Serve Me": Janice's brother makes a bet with her. If she loses, she has to be her brother's maid for six months and wear a particularly frilly maid's outfit. But she wins and to her brother's horror she decides as her forfeit that he would become HER maid. And have to wear the humiliating costume he had intended Janice to wear.

Transcript "Hi Girls! My name is Janice. I'd like to introduced you to my big brother. (Raises voice to a bark) Freddie! Come here at once!"

A large boy enters the room. He is dressed in a maid's outfit. The frilled skirt is too short and the ruffles of his panties can clearly be seen. He is also wearing fishnet tights, high heels, a blonde wig and make up, as well as the overly frilly apron and cap.

"Yes, Mistress?" the boy asks dully.

"Smile for a camera like a good little maid!"

The boy forces his coated lips into a smile.

Janice addresses the camera "This is my brother Freddie. As you can see, he has become my maid and a very pretty one he makes too, don't you think? Freddie has to do ANYTHING I tell him for the next five months! He has to wash and iron my clothes, cook me dinner, do all my chores as well as his own and do so with a smile on his face. Isn't that so, Freddie!"

"Yes Mistress" the boy confirms.

The doorbell sounds.

"Ah" says Janice with a smile "That'll be my girlfriends. Well, Freddie, don't keep them waiting! Go and answer the door!"

The boy drops a curtsey in acknowledgement and goes to answer the door. There are howls of girlish laughter.

The scene changes to the swimming pool where Janice and her four friends are reclining on sun loungers, clad in swimsuits and wearing designer sunglasses. Freddie is just finishing putting nail varnish on the last set of toes of the last girl.

Janice inspects his work "Mmmm. Not bad Freddie. You are starting to get good at this!"

Janice turns to the camera "Girls! I strongly recommend that you turn your idiot brothers into maids! Freddie is a far better maid than a brother. And prettier too! Oh, before I go, I have one more little job for Freddie!"

Janice removes a hankie from her bosom and allows it to flutter to the floor "Freddie! Pick that up at once!"

"Yes, Mistress". The boy bends over to retrieve the hankie. His skirt rides up to show off his ruffled panties. The camera pans in so that the screen is filled with Freddie's frilled bottom and the caption "Girlz Rule" appears.

"My Brother becomes a Girl Cheerleader!"


A girl hobbles into view on crutches "Hi Girls! I'm Abbi. Usually, I wouldn't have time to do a show like this as my favourite thing to do is cheerleading!"

"But....due to my imbecile of a brother, Josh, and his stupid prank, I broke my leg, so my cheerleading days are on hold. Our cheerleading coach was really miffed at losing her star cheerleader and being a girl short so she decided that as Josh had caused the problem, he would have to take my place!"

The scene shifts to a sportsfield where Abbi is standing next to a large figure dressed in a cheerleader's uniform complete with the tiny skirt and pom poms. The boy's head is down and away from the camera "Meet Josh, the newest member of the cheerleading squad, or, as he is known to the other girls, Josie! Come on Josie, don't go all shy on me! Let's see those moves!"

The boy performs his cheer.

Abbi speaks whilst her brother performs "Josh, or Josie, has to not only wear the same outfit as the other girls, but he also has to shave off all his body hair and use varnish and make up. Just like a girl!"

The scene focuses on Josh's performance and the caption "Girlz Rule" appears.

"My Brother becomes a Bridesmaid!"

A girl appears on the screen "Hi Girls! I am Wanda and this is my brother Luke". The scene shows a tall boy dressed in regular boy's clothes.

"Luke is currently dressed as a boy. Obviously. But a few months ago, he looked very different!"

"The story began six months ago when my uncle Dan decided to re-marry. Uncle Dan, can you come in here please"

There is the sound of running feet and a feminine looking figure dressed in a flowered patterned dress and high heels enters the room. The newcomer has long blonde hair and a made up face"

Wanda takes the woman's hand and pats it gently "This is my Uncle Dan and he is a cross-dresser. He used to do it secretly for years but eventually his former wife heard about it and, quite horribly, divorced him. Uncle Dan then found another woman, who enjoys dressing as a man, who accepted him as he was. She even agreed to allow Uncle Dan to be the bride!"

"Originally, the wedding was meant to be ordinary, except for the switch in the bride and groom roles, so I was slated to be bridesmaid and Luke was to be a pageboy. But, I went to see Uncle Dan and his soon to be wife and made a little suggestion. Wouldn't it be fun if everyone else was cross-dressed as well? They loved the idea!"

Wanda releases her Uncle's hand and take one of Luke's "Luke wasn't very happy at the change, were you Luke?"

The boy shakes his head.

"I mean, what must it be like to be getting used to the idea of being a pageboy and then suddenly being told that you were to be a bridesmaid instead? The gorgeous pink silk bridesmaid's dress with all its bows and lace originally meant for me had to be altered to fit Luke. He didn't much like the dainty lace underwear or the silk stockings or the high heels. And he positively hated having to wear a wig and have his face made up!"

"But.....just look at this!"

A picture of what looks like a girl in bridesmaid's attire flashes onto the screen. The girl is a tall, willowy and rather elegant figure wearing a pink silk dress that is much be-ribboned and adorned with lace and frills. The legs are encased in white silk stockings and the feet made to look dainty by being shod in pink silk high heels. The girl has long auburn hair that has flower decorations in and her features have been prettified by the careful use of make up. The girl carries a bouquet which adds to the image of perfect femininity.

"When I saw Luke all dressed up like that" continues Wanda "I thought, OMG, he looks prettier than me! Just goes to show girls, that we are not only ones who can be made to look pretty!"

Wanda waves her hand towards Luke "It only tool a dress and a bit of make up can turn this boy into a pretty bridesmaid! Just think how we could make our males prettier if we worked on it! I'll leave you with that thought Girls!

Wanda's smiling face fades out, to be replaced by the picture of Luke in the bridesmaids' dress again. The caption "Girlz Rule" is superimposed over it.

"My brother is really my SISTER!"

The scene begins in a suburban home. A little girl in a frock and tights plays with her dolls. Her fair hair is in ringlets and has ribbons tied in.

An older girl appears in the frame and gives a friendly wave "Hi Girls! I'm Gemma and this, believe it or not, is my little brother, Robert!"

Gemma gestures towards the girl-child brushing one of her dolls' hair.

"Mom, Dad and I want to make it clear from the get-go that this is not petticoat punishment or that Robert has in any way been forced into girlhood. The truth is that this is what Robert wants!"

"From a very early age, it became obvious that Robert was not willing to fit into the little boy role. He wanted to play with my dolls, he wanted to wear the same clothes as me and he even wanted to be called Roberta. All attempts to make him do boy things ended with him becoming upset to the point where we feared what he might do to himself".

"A psychologist quickly worked out that Robert had Gender Dysphoria. This means that he believes himself to be a girl and, therefore, wants to do girl stuff instead of the rough and tumble that boys indulge in. The psychologist recommended that we bring Robert up as a girl. In other words, to turn him into Roberta".

It upset Mom a lot to have to go out and buy little girls' clothes and toys for her son. Understandably. But we all got used to the idea. And Roberta is such a dear little girl. She loves her dolls and dressing up and playing with other girls, who all accept her as Roberta. They know, as we now do, that despite the casing that Roberta came in, underneath she is as much a girl as any girl I have ever known. And having a cute little sister is way better than having a brother, let me tell you!"

"So Girls!, if one or perhaps more of your young male relations picks up a doll or asks to try on one of your dresses, why not let him? Perhaps, just like Robert (or Roberta I should say), there is an inner girl inside every boy?"

"Girlz Rule!"