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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Radio

A Silly Gigolo, by Sheena McKay, the third in a group of short stories entitled, ‘A Glimpse of Stocking.’
‘Afternoon Reading.’ BBC Radio 4, 3:30pm Thursday 22nd October 2009
Category: Drama Duration: 15 minutes

Laurie O’Neil

The radio provides an ideal and super efficient entertainment medium, enabling me to be a sous chef, cook, and vino quaffing poor mans Keith Floyd, whilst being entertained by a Radio four drama. As I slather the top of my whole chicken with Cajun spice powder, finely chopped garlic and a generous veneer of extra virgin olive oil, Joanna Tope’s perfect and pure actors’ voice, apart from the bit where she does the male voice of a silly and failed gigolo, delivers the story aptly.

This is the last in a series of three stories celebrating seventy years of nylon stockings. The main protagonist is a fourteen year old schoolgirl, Susan Simmonds, who in the early nineteen sixties morphs from Susan Simmonds into Suzanne Simone. Susan is one of the specially selected pupils chosen to represent the Grammar School at the headmistress’, Miss Fentemons’, memorial service. This event marked a turning point in Susan’s life when the schoolgirls are told to wear nylon stockings to the aforementioned memorial service rather than socks.

Susan lived with her widowed-adoptive mother on a smallholding in a ramshackle home on the edge of the town, was very poor and consequently there was no chance of her buying or borrowing stockings. She thought the only course of action was to steal a pair of stockings from Woolworth’s which she justified because she had previously been sold a pair of mismatched socks by Woolworth’s but had been too shy to return or change them. She was condemned to wearing the odd socks and suffered much teasing. Her poor mother ostensibly saved Susan from the guilt of theft when she produced a pair of never worn stockings and a pinkish-greyish and worn suspender belt. After the memorial service, another girl, Clare Alabaster, a Roald Dhal ‘verrucae’ style character, commented on the fact that Susan had worn old fashioned seamed stockings. This is followed by Susan’s chance meeting with a failed gigolo subsequently generating a moment of epiphany for her. The shy Susan feels the pull of the stage after this humiliating encounter with the glamorous fellow pupil, Clare and with the silly gigolo. The ending is ‘pink and fluffy’ which even includes Susan’s’ poor mother as having a vital role as accountant in the Suzanne Simone Touring Company.

This is a delightfully crafted short story with detailed and personal poignant descriptive parts. I was a little disappointed as the title, ‘A Glimpse of Stocking’ and the mention of ‘Stockings and green knickers white aertex blouses’ did lure me into thinking this was going to be a little sexier and raunchy than it actually was, but was equally entertained by the slightly ‘tongue in cheek’, simple and thoughtful story. As a result I listened to the previous two short stories, Hold ups and The Hostess with the Mostess, in this mini series, celebrating seventy years of the stocking, and was again suitably entertained.

The first story, Hold ups, was a pun on the stocking and robbery genres and had a charming and romantic little twist. Hostess with the Mostess set in 1984 also had a little twist at the end and a further happy, rounded ending. This is recommended listening easy and comfortable.

The roast chicken, roast vegetables and seared spring greens were delicious and the culinary process was completely effortless, simple and pleasurable similar to the appearance of seamed stockings on shapely legs.

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