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Maggie Fortune

She wished she'd been listening harder in Physics. Electro-magnetic fields were a thing of the past. If you closed your eyes and thought about it hard enough - you could be anywhere you wanted to be. But what about walking? Also a thing of the past. Did time travel have wheelchair access?

Nancy pushed her "Dirty Dancing" video into the VCR. Long and hard did she wish she could be there. Dancing cheek to cheek with Patrick Swayzee. She closed her eyes and thought and thought. And Nancy was there dancing with him and throwing her head back and laughing. And he grinned all the time and held her hand everywhere and bought them both milkshakes and played her favourite song on the duke box. She'd even started to get nervous about introducing Patrick to her mum and dad, but her worries were soon overshadowed by the whirlwind rush of Patrick taking her to the drive-in. They kissed all the way through so Nancy missed the film but it didn't matter because Swayzo - as she had been accustomed to fondly referring to him, had seen the film literally dozens of times before and told her the story after they did it in the back of his car. And they went to McDonalds and Pizza Hut the next day and Swayzo got out his stunt kite and they went off up on the hill to fly it. And he flew it very well. He was always going up there - just to feel the wind in his hair. Blow the cobwebs away - you know. And Nancy and Swayzo did it again behind a grassy knoll. Then Swayzo had the grand idea of going to the diner and they were just about to tuck into their knickerbockerglories when Nancy got woken up by an overwhelming smell of marker pens and tiny blue darting fizzy fuzz lights round the living room. And after Nancy had blinked her eyes a couple of times in disbelief - she could decipher that the tiny blue darting fizzy fuzz lights were taking on some kind of human form. Could time travel really be possible? Everybody else seemed to think so. But Nancy was the only one left in the whole wide world who still had a rusty old VCR. And that didn't make her a likely candidate for leaping into other time/space dimensions…(now did it?)

But right now - before her blinking eyes, she saw the form of Patrick Swayzee taking shape.

"Swayzo" she gasped. And waited…waited for them to go get soda and brownies then go see a movie and do it in the Chevy.

But Swayzo was all dressed up like a squaddie and just looked scared of Nancy and fumbled nervously around and handed her a piece of paper and she took it and all of a sudden the tiny blue fizzy fuzz sparks went fuzzy again and followed each other, zooming out of the window like a comet.

And Nancy blinked her eyes some more in disbelief and wondered what delights the piece of paper might hold and shakily opened it and read aloud:

"Dear Nancy

Thank you for choosing me. Before we get to know one another better, I want to ask you some things. Here they are:

  1. Do you smoke
  2. Have you got a boyfriend
  3. Are you a virgin

from Patrick.

You can write to me c/o Squadron Leader Shouty

Boys only Barracks.
Keep off or I'll kill you Fields.
Middle of Nowhere."

Nancy folded the letter and blinked her eyes in disbelief some more and thought about how Swayzo'd forgotten to put the question marks in.



Maggie Fortune

"If I were a Frenchman, yabadiba diba diba dee", sang Jackie as she set up her roadside stall on the A421569. The onions draped around her neck swung violently s she bent and lifted - knocking gnarled and squishy fruit and their wooden boxes. Her black and white horizontal stripe t-shirt had strawberry rash and her beret looked more Frank Spencer than Lauren Bacall.

"C'omme d'habitude, c'est d'habitude", she mumbled away to herself, neither knowing nor caring what those alien words meant. She had been across the water once - to La Rochelle, and that was five years ago. She remembered how she had felt like "Claire" from her o-level French text book, "Eclipse Totale", but Claire was more confident than Jackie and had been other places:

"What's your name?"


"Where are you from?"


"What's your favourite film?"

"Cool Runnings"

"What's your favourite food?"


"How often do you come to France?"

"Every year. I also visit America, Italy, Russia..."

Bla, bla bla. Jackie had been other places too: Majorca, Menorca. She'd kind of ended up in France by accident. She couldn't remember how she and Jean Luc had become Les Pals de Pen. She couldn't really remember going over there and finding him attractive and having les liasons dangerous with him for 8 months. As it turned out, Jean Luc's (only) priority in life was making sure cheese matured properly before it was consumed and his seeming 'laissez faire' attitude was soon, inevitably overwhelmed by the fact that he was the Most Boring Man on Earth.

And Jackie, not being the kind of woman to sit and sit and sit and sit for days on end and cry every now and again - which she did do however, because she was only human after all, and she had liked Jon Luc before she had had a chance to see his true boring colours...

Anyway, after sitting about for a bit, Jackie went out up to the town and went to le Bar and ordered a large brandy and thought about how obviously English she looked. And she ordered about five more large brandies and just as she was swigging the last dregs from the last glass - another brandy was slammed down in front of her, and someone said


Jackie looked up and Claire from her o-level French textbook "Eclipse Totale" was staring back at her - only she was older now, obviously. Claire was sitting back to front on her chair - legs spread and leaning on its wooden back. And most likely because of the effect the brandy had had on her, Jackie wanted to say: 'I know you, you're Claire aren't you? If you weren't behaving quite so much like a pirate, I could have sworn you were Claire from "Eclipse Totale". But instead she just said

"Bonjour Claire"

"All right". Said Claire, schlugging away on her beer - admittedly in really quite a pirate fashion.

And as it turned out, Jackie had always liked pirates - and guess why Claire had moved out to France? The French men of course! So Claire and Jackie spent the next eight months in La Rochelle as Captain Fisher Bite and Monsieur Le Noble respectively and were really quite the thing and the schpeel de la ville. But one fairly cold day when the weather was not really sure of itself and it's confidence had reached an all time low, Captain Fisherbite sailed off in her pirate ship made of old eye patch boxes and parrot feathers and when she went to say au revoir to Monsieur Le Noble, one of her swashbuckles got caught at the stern and she was off on la mer before Monsieur Le Noble could kiss her on one cheek, let alone two.

And although Jackie sat and sat and cried a bit, she returned to England, knowing in her heart that although Pirates were true roamers, Captain Fisher bite's homing pigeon had flown on in.

And when Jackie set up her fruit and veg. stall on the A421569 under the name of Monsieur Le Noble, a little sad, but still glad to have returned from her accidental 16 month holiday, she always made a special point of making sure the tomatoes she sold were French.


Maggie Fortune lives in East London and likes making soup. She also loves taking the bus and being the only one dancing. Look out for Maggie playing keyboards in a new band at a mucky little place in a town near you. Maggie writes short stories, plays and poems (mainly about a big cake mix of girls, boys, and things going wrong, and seeing what happens when they come out of the oven). Maggie has been running a spoken word and DJ night in Whitechapel since October 2001. It is a small venue and everyone has some fun listening to words (from people who don't take themselves too seriously) and music (from DJs Betty Bontempy and Cherry Vanilla: Beyonce and Lionel Ritchie to Gene Defcon/Le Tigre/Helen Love). All readers are pre-arranged by Maggie but she's always looking for more people to get involved, so if you'd like to know more, or just come along to the night email her at

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