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 Sponge Cake & Leopard Ski

           Jane Hilliard              

Jane Hilliard has lived and cut hair in a small town in  Dorset for many years.

She is the Chairman of her  local drama group 'West Moors Drama'  having performed, written and directed many plays over the years.

She also enjoys writing poetry

At the moment  she is working on a collection of short stories under the 'Umbrella' of relationships, and writing a full length comedy play 

She has just discovered 'Encaustic Art',  finding it extremely therapeutic especially when suffering from 'writer's block'!

You can find Jane here:


The Finish Line script

I thought it was the postman when the doorbell rang.

We don’t have many visitors.

I was surprised to see a woman on the doorstep.

She was holding an enormous Victoria sponge, oozing jam and cream.

I thought she’d come to the wrong house.

Before either of us had a chance to speak she toppled towards me.

Landed on the hall carpet.

There was a cat you see, Siamese, wound itself round her legs, tripped her up, she

fell on top of it.

It wriggled out from beneath her, spitting, yowling, covered in jam and cream.

Then it sat on the doorstep, purring, silly little pink tongue darting in and out as it lick itself clean.

While the woman lay face down on our new ‘Autumn Gold twist pile carpet.


Raymond’s choice that carpet, I wanted ‘Blue Mist’ but he insisted on ‘Autumn Gold’, I     

told him it looked like we had smeared the place in mustard but he wouldn’t budge so

we had the whole bungalow done, every room.

At night, with the lamps on, it takes on the hue of the contents of a baby’s nappy. Not that I         

know too much about baby’s nappies never having had any children.

Anyway, back to the woman on the carpet,

She was trying to move, legs shuffling, body writhing, rolling from side to side.

I tried to help, I really did, put both my hands underneath her and lifted but it was no use!

She must have weighed fifteen stone!

It was then that I spotted the deep red stain seeping onto the carpet.

I panicked!

Leapt into action!

Rushed into the kitchen for a cloth and the bottle of carpet cleaner.

On my knees, furiously rubbing at the stain fearing it was blood.

Raspberry Jam!

“Get yourself on to your knees dear” I said as I rubbed.

“Then I can help you up”

It was no use; the poor woman was rolling about like a turtle on its back.


I finished with the carpet, took the cloth back to the kitchen, and rinsed it out.

When I returned, the noise had stopped, the woman was still.

I called the Paramedics.

It took two of them to roll her over.

Cream, jam, sponge, up her nose, in her eyes, even her ears!

I looked away!

They took her away.


Oh, they asked me all sorts of questions I couldn’t answer.

I was relieved when they left.

Raymond was due home for his lunch in an hour and I needed to wipe down the walls.

The Police arrived later, more questions, more answers I couldn’t give.

Well, it was beyond explanation really, a strange woman calling at nine thirty on a

Tuesday morning carrying a Victoria sponge then choking herself to death having been

tripped up by a cat?

I began to feel a bit shaky after they left.

I had a sherry.

I tried to talk to Raymond about the mornings events but it was pointless, his only comment “Don’t get involved”

Ate his Cauliflower cheese and went back to work


He can be a queer fish at times can Raymond. My Mother said the same


My Father thought I could do better, maybe I could but I was nearly thirty and Raymond


Was the only real boyfriend I had ever had and certainly the only one who wanted to marry  me.

A shy child with no confidence, boys were not attracted to me.

Well, boys like a girl with a bit of spirit don’t they?

I’ve never had ‘spirit’ my parents didn’t encourage it.

Quiet people, living quiet lives.      

It was always just the three of us until Raymond came aAfter they went Raymond and I continued living in the bungalow. We’re still here.


I was washing up after dinner when the doorbell rang again

Raymond was out.

Badminton. Tuesday night.

I kept the chain on the door while the stranger identified himself.

The husband of the poor woman with the cake, I let him in.

He’d just come back from the hospital, wanted to thank me for all I had done for his

wife, sadly she had passed away before she reached the hospital

There was nothing they could do.

Well, I knew she was gone when she left my house but I didn’t say.


We sat at the kitchen table, not the usual place to entertain guests it’s true but he had his

outdoor shoes on and I didn’t have the heart to ask him to remove them.

I opened the sherry

Poor man, he looked awful!

Apparently he and Mavis had a dreadful row the night before her death.

Alan had threatened to leave; he was tired of her slumping on the sofa all day.

Tiny little thing when they got married he said but since the Agoraphobia she spent all day

watching television, her only activity was baking and eating, her only friend was her cat.

Ironic I thought, but I kept it to myself.

Mavis had promised she would get some help, he told her it was her last chance   

How he regretted those words!

Now, I know little or nothing about Agoraphobia, it would appear that crossing the

road to my house involved a great deal of courage on Mavis’s part.

Alan started to cry.

We had another glass of sherry.

He told me that she had seen me going past her house on my way to the bus stop

and had often remarked that I looked like a ‘nice Lady’.


I felt a little guilty that I had cursed quite so much about the stain on the carpet.

More sherry.

Alan asked me if I would consider helping him with the funeral tea; he had no relatives

nearby you see and couldn’t face it alone.

I was flattered.

I touched his hand, poor man, he was so distressed.


Well of course, Raymond didn’t want me to help, said it was bad enough the woman chose

OUR hall carpet to die on and not to get involved.

He can be very hard at times can, Raymond!

Two days later Alan called in on his way home from the Coroner’s office.

Raymond was at work.

I invited Alan in.


He was little calmer than our last meeting

An attractive man, with sharp blue eyes and slightly greying hair I found his vulnerability  

rather attractive.       

Wasn’t too sure how old he was but certainly younger than me.

I wished I had brushed my hair, put a bit of lipstick on,

I opened the Sherry.

Nice evening.

Mavis died from asphyxiation.

Well, it wasn’t exactly rocket science.

I could have told them that!

The Paramedics gave evidence that they were here within 10 minutes of my phone call,

I didn’t mention the time spent scrubbing the carpet.

He didn’t need to know.

Accidental death the Coroner said.

He kissed my cheek as he was leaving. (Alan I mean, not the Coroner)


I really enjoyed the funeral.       

Oh dear that’s not right is it!

I threw myself into making cakes, not Victoria sponge!

Sandwiches, cold cuts, salads.

Alan was grateful.

Raymond was annoyed.        

And that’s how it all began!


Alan took to popping in occasionally, on his way home from work when Raymond was at

Badminton or wine club.

I looked forward to seeing him.

He was finding it hard to come to terms with Mavis’s death you see and the manner in

which she died.

I didn’t let him dwell on that too much,

He invited me out to dinner.

We went in his little white Plumbers van one Friday evening to a ‘Trattoria’.

Red and white check table cloths, dim lighting and those wine bottles with raffia

round them and red candles stuck in the neck, very nice!

We talked a lot.

We laughed a lot.

The food was delicious.                       

The toilets were beautifully clean.

I was home before Raymond so no need to tell him I’d been out.

The next time, we went for an early evening drive in the country, ate fish and chips out of

the paper sitting on the cliff top.

Was pleased I had some wet wipes in my bag though, such a lot of grease!


We fell into a sort of routine, Raymond out two nights a week and Alan and I meeting for

one of them, I told Raymond I had started evening classes, he didn’t even ask what I was


I didn’t care. It was fun, the secrecy.


I found myself in an ‘exotic’ underwear shop whilst shopping one day!

Fell in love with a leopard skin print bra and pants set, with tassels!

I had never owned such items in my life and I have no idea why I bought them or why I        

wore them the following Friday night when Alan and I went out to dinner.

It just felt…right!

Maybe it was the underwear or maybe it was the wine but as we were leaving the restaurant I suggested going for a ride.

We parked in a lonely spot in the forest and before I could stop myself, I was suggesting we get into the back of his van!


You can guess the rest!


Oh, he loved the leopard skin and I enjoyed making love amongst the u bends’ bits of plastic piping and nipple greasing oil.

So decadent!


Back to the underwear shop the next day, a red lace Basque this time, with suspenders!


The haughty woman who served me asked me if I would like it gift wrapped, she obviously thought I was buying it for someone else

I resisted the urge to say “actually no, it’s for me, .I shall be wearing it for my lover.”


I thanked her and I had it gift wrapped.


Sex has never played a big role in our relationship, Raymond and I.

When we first married I was naïve, he appeared to be the same. In my naivety I found that endearing

Raymond just wasn’t all that interested and to be honest, after a while neither was I, well not with Raymond.

We’d settled into a sort of ‘companiable’ marriage.

Separate rooms for as long as I can remember.

Raymond likes it that way.

We both sleep better.

Alan and I enjoyed halcyon days of love and laughter.

Long walks and deep conversations

Sweet, intense lovemaking.


Raymond didn’t notice my new haircut or my new makeup.

He certainly didn’t seem to notice the change in me, although he did once remark that I seem to be enjoying my evening classes.

I smiled to myself and thought some very naughty thoughts.  

I loved keeping that secret!


But, it couldn’t last; nothing ever does if it’s too good does it?


We had been ‘meeting’ for nearly nine months when my world fell apart.

Alan and I went for dinner as usual, he seemed a little reserved, said he was tired.

When we arrived at his house we didn’t head straight for the bedroom as usual, we sat in the lounge, me on the settee, and him in the armchair.

He made coffee.

He wanted to talk.

My heart sank.

I knew!

He’d met someone else.


He was very sorry and said he would always love me but he was lonely and needed more than I could give.

I had Raymond you see, he had no one.                       


He was moving away.

I wanted to scream, tell him that I would have given him all he wanted, made him happy, cared for him, loved him. I would have left Raymond, I would have moved away.


But, he had never asked me.


I didn’t say any of these things; I just listened, kissed his cheek and left the house by the front door instead of the back.


I was past caring if the neighbours did see me!


I walked.

Tears running down my face.

The bones from the red lace Basque digging into my sides, the suspenders rubbing my legs, they were mocking me.


What made you think you would be enough?

What made you think he wouldn’t move on?

What made you think this was forever?


The tears ran.

Still I walked.


Eventually, I went home,

Raymond would be home soon.

I went straight to my room,

The place was in darkness, apart from a light under Raymond’s door.

He was in!

I threw my handbag on my bed, headed to the bathroom to clean my face.

I just wanted to fall into bed and disappear under the duvet.

I hesitated, turned, went to Raymond’s room to say goodnight, I don’t know why, needed some normality I suppose.


The room was empty; I looked towards the open door of the ensuite,

The first thing I saw was black fishnet stockings, cheap red stilettos and a mass of matted blonde hair.

Reflected in the bathroom mirror, amongst the garish red lips, bright green eye shadow was a distorted female face staring back at me.


Finally I spoke.

“Where is Raymond?” I demanded to know.

Her head bowed.

Then, I noticed the leopard skin bra and pants, with tassels!



My eyes wandered to the pile of clothing on the floor, something leather, something silky lay in a crumpled heap.

“I’m so sorry” she said staring at the basin, head still bowed. “I’m so very sorry!”


It took me a couple of seconds to recognise Raymond’s voice.


I heard my mobile ringing in my handbag.

I knew it was Alan.      

Maybe he had changed his mind.

Maybe he had thought about it and realised he had made a mistake, maybe he wanted me still.


I glanced towards the bedroom door then back at Raymond.

The phone was silent now.

Somehow it made me stronger.


Poor, pathetic Raymond.

Crying now, mascara running down his over rouged cheeks.

I took him by the arm and led him to his bed.

We sat, neither speaking.

Him in his leopard skin bra stuffed with tissues, me with my Basque suspenders digging into my thighs.

He was sobbing quietly.


“Explain Raymond please.” I managed to say eventually.

“I can’t” he whispered.

“How long?”  I wanted to know

Since he was sixteen!

Oh my God!

How did I miss that!

All those years!

I wanted to feel anger

I wanted to attack him for his years of selfishness.

His domination.

His indifference.


For denying me a child.


Anger welled up in me, an anger I had never felt before.

I wanted to beat my fists against his chest, whip off that stupid wig, scratch his ridiculous face with my nails till it bled.


Instead I felt pity, so deep inside it made my chest hurt.


I held him in my arms and we cried together.

Me, for what I had lost.

Him for what I had found.


There was no Badminton club, his holdall contained his ‘Ladies’ clothes on Tuesday nights no wine club either.

Oh, he did go to a club, some rundown café in the backstreets.

A place where like-minded people met, a place where they could be themselves, mostly married men like him.

The clubhouse had been visited by the Police that night and he had made a quick getaway,  


I listened to his humiliation,

I nearly told him about Alan but decided against it

That was my secret.

I made some tea; he cleaned off his face and put on his dressing gown.


We sat in the kitchen.

I opened the sherry.


He had no explanation, no excuses.

He couldn’t promise he would never do it again.

He begged me not to leave him.


I played the ‘wronged wife’ with a slight twinge of guilt but consoled myself with the fact that at least my indiscretion was of a normal nature.

I listened then I lay down some ground rules.

For the first time in 25 years I felt I had the right!



He must be discreet at all times.

No wearing women’s clothes outside of ‘the club’ or the house

No more tarty leather and fishnets and the blonde wig definitely had to go!

He agreed to everything.

He had no choice did he!

With a tentative kiss on the cheek I made my way to my bedroom.


Of course I didn’t sleep.


The leopard skin underwear came into my head.

I got out of bed stopping to pick up the red Basque from the floor, screwed it up, and shoved it to the back of the wardrobe.

I opened the drawer.

It was still there, wrapped in its pink tissue paper, leopard skin and tassels.

I shut the drawer,imagine my husband and I have the same taste in ladies underwear!

Well, you couldn’t impart THAT bit of information to anyone could you!


I got back into bed.

My mobile rang again, my finger hovered over the call button, I hesitated.

I turned my phone off.


I lay there remebering feelings of warmth, comfort, excitement.Then despair.

I would have left Raymond , you only had to ask me.

But I knew that was unrealistic.


Crying softly into my pillow I fell into an unsettled sleep.


I was woken by a remorseful Raymond with a cup of tea.

He could tell I’d been crying, he apologised so many times for causing me such pain.

I felt a little guilty.


So, here we are today, Alan’s gone and there are three of us living in the bungalow, Raymond, Candice and I.


I watched from my bedroom window

Five trips it took, Alan and his little white van to move out

He left a voice message on my phone, “goodbye, I’ll never forget you, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you” etc

I erased it.


I felt wretched

Raymond made me soup.

He never asked any questions, just quietly ‘cared’ for me all day.


Raymond still goes to his ‘club’ (they have a new venue now)

‘Candice’ is now a brunette with a sleek straight bob and subtle makeup.


We talk mostly about clothes, makeup and his friends at the club.

He is quite animated at times!

Makes me laugh on occasions.


And what about me?


Well, I have joined a creative writing course.

Every Thursday afternoon.

Our tutor encourages us to write our essays from the heart, “Use your life experiences to enhance your writing”


I’m sticking to poetry!


I start as a waitress at an Italian restaurant next week.

The one with the ed and white tablecloths

Tuesdays and Fridays.

Saw the advert, got the job.I’m looking forward to it.

Besides which…

Aldo, the owner, is rather attractive!

Might be taking the Leopard skin tassels out of tissue again someday soon!

Who knows!






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