It’s said that everyone remembers the birth of their first child. Ours is etched in my memory.

Janice had gone to bed early. There I was watching “The Great Escape” when there was a piercing scream from upstairs followed by a loud thump.

“Johnny!” I heard her yell. “I need you!” I leapt upstairs.

There was Janice, lying in a pool of water.

“My waters have broken.” She was sobbing.

“Phone Joan the midwife! Get her to come NOW!”

 I tried to calm her down.

“But you’re not due yet.”

“Please Johnny.”

So I did, only to be told that Joan was out and would get back to me. There were no mobile phones back then. We were stuck. And Janice was literally stuck on the bed. I tried to move the wet sheet from under her, but she just screamed at me.

“Johnny, I think the baby’s coming!”

I panicked then, I can tell you. I was desperately trying to remember what they’d said at the hospital. Something about keeping calm and not panicking!

“Keep calm,” I said, in my best soothing voice.

She screamed back at me, “I am calm!”

The phone rang. It was the midwife and I managed to gabble what had happened. “Stay calm,” she said.

“Aaarghhh!” yelled Janice.

“I’m not going to be able to get there. Have you seen outside?”

I glanced out of the window. Snow!

“Have you timed her contractions?”

“They’re coming frequently,” I replied, as Janice yelled again, this time with a supressed grunt.

“If it’s happening this fast, it’ll be fine.”

I don’t know who was breathing more rapidly, me or Janice. She had starting panting like a dog on a hot day.

“Aargh!” screamed Janice. “It’s coming!”

Between her legs I could see this pale lump. The baby’s head!  

Joan was reassuring. “No need to do anything. Just support the head with your hands as it comes out.”

There was a wounded animal cry from Janice as more of the baby’s head appeared.

“Pant!” urged the midwife.

“Pant!” I shouted.

Janice panted. And then in a moment, it was all over. Our son slid out between Janice’s legs.

“Now lift baby onto your wife’s tummy.”

Janice reached down to touch our son. Was he alive?

Then the magic moment when he cried. We were crying too.

“You’re amazing,” I told her. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Don’t touch the cord.” The midwife was still there on the phone. “Cover your wife and child. An ambulance is on its way.”

Janice had put our boy to her breast. His little toes were curled up in ecstasy.

“Hello son,” she whispered, “I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time.”

And do you know, he opened his eyes and looked right at her.

There was a ring at the door.

“Congratulations!” The ambulance man beamed. “What’s his name?”

“Noah.” We both said it together.

“Ah,” smiled the ambulance guy, surveying the soaking wet bed.

“I can see why!”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



The writers’ group I attend set the task of writing 450-500 words on the topic of, “A tight situation”.

I brainstormed various ideas of difficult situations and came up with this idea. Hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think.


The bells of Westminster Abbey tolled the hour.

“It is time.” said someone sombrely.

In the ensuing silence there was a loud yell.


“Mum”, whispered Tom, “they’ll hear you on TV.”

“This is a disaster. I’ve laddered my stockings! What am I going to do?”

She nudged the young woman next to her.

“Kate, have you got a spare pair of tights on you?”

Kate silently shook her head and put her finger to her lips as the TV cameras swung towards them.

“Oh heck,” muttered Camilla, “what the hell shall I do?”

She looked around furtively.  No one appeared to be watching. A quick fumble under her skirt and she had unfastened the stockings from her suspender belt. Thank goodness she still wore them – so much easier to get off. At least, that’s what Charles had always said.

“Quick,” she whispered to Kate, “pass me your tights!”

“That’s crazy! We can’t swap tights!”

“Of course not!”

Kate looked relieved.

“I’ll wear yours and you can go bare legged. You’re young enough to get away with it. No one will notice. But I can’t appear in front of the cameras with a huge ladder for all the world to see.”

Kate sighed.

“I can’t take them off here. We’ll have to go to the ladies’ room.”

“OK. You go first.”

Kate was seated at the end so it was easy for her to slip away. A few minutes later she was back, with the tights balled up in her hand.”

“Here you go.”

“You’re a star.” Camilla smiled.

“Be quick. It’s nearly time.”

Camilla didn’t want to draw attention to herself, so she sidled along, smiling benignly at people who nodded to her as she made her way to the back of the Abbey. But where was the loo? She started to panic. It was no good, she would have to nip outside and do the deed hidden around the corner.

With minutes to spare, she saw the sign. Ladies. At least it wasn’t gender neutral! She crept into a stall and quickly put the tights on. Thank goodness they fitted.

The clock struck two followed by a loud fanfare.

Kate was looking around and at the same time trying to remain the serene and smiling Kate the world knew and loved.

“Don’t panic, I’m back!” Camilla smiled at Kate with relief. “All done. And just in time. The procession is about to begin.”


Breakfast the following morning was a very quiet affair since Charles had stopped speaking to her.

The most momentous day of his life and nothing had been written about him! Not a sausage.

Instead, there was page after page of photos of Camilla and Kate. And to top it all, there was a close-up of Camilla unfastening her suspender and several pictures of a bare legged Kate in the photo line-up.

As for the headline, it read: “A tight situation for King Charles 3rd!”

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



I don’t often write fiction that’s just based on dialogue so thought I’d have a go.

Let me know what you think.


Strange meeting you here, he said. How many years has it been?

I looked at the guy but I just couldn’t place him. Was it a former boyfriend?  A lover even.

Maybe an old colleague? 

I’m sorry, I said. But I’ve forgotten your name.


He didn’t look put out so maybe he hadn’t been anyone important in my life. That was a relief.

I’d be really hurt if I bumped into someone from the past and they didn’t remember my name!

Derek French, he said smiling

Derek French. I was none the wiser.

This probably sounds rude, I said, but where do I know you from?

You seriously don’t remember?

No, otherwise I wouldn’t be asking you.

We were at school together.

I’m sorry, I only remember my friends and they were all girls

I taught you for English, he said.  If I remember you were pretty good. One of the best in the class, in fact.

Ah, that explains it. I would never have known your first name.  We called you Frenchie! I’m surprised you remember me.

I’ve never forgotten you he said, which sent my alarm bells ringing. What are you doing now?

Nothing exciting. I’m actually in between jobs at the moment. What about you? Are you still teaching?

He hesitated just for a moment before replying. I gave up teaching a long time ago. Or should I say it gave me up.

Just then a woman about my age joined us and linked arms with his.  Derek, she said, do you want to introduce us?

This is Charlotte, he said. My wife.

And this is … she asked

He smiled awkwardly. I’m sorry but I don’t remember your name.  I recognised you of course. You haven’t changed a bit but the name …  he trailed off embarrassed.

It’s Jane.

Ah yes, Jane.

Charlotte was dragging on his arm, keen to be away.

Well, good to see you again Jane. And he was gone.

Something niggled me about this meeting so when I got home I googled his name.

It turned out that not long after I left the school that Charlotte had been a pupil in his class. She must have been about ten years or so younger than him when they began their affair, which if my memory served me correctly, was not the first time he had had a relationship with one of his pupils.

Well, at least this one had lasted.  However, the school had not approved and he had been sacked.

Odd though that he said he had never forgotten me. I wonder why?

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



The Unhappy Prince

There was once a prince who lived in the most beautiful palace. Everyone loved him.

But was he happy? No.

Nobody loves me, he said.

There was only one person whom he had ever truly loved, but she died.

And he cried bitter tears. Not just for her. But for himself.

Where his tears had fallen flowers grew and soon the palace was surrounded by thousands of flowers, all with messages declaring love for the prince.

But was he happy? No.

Nobody loves me, he said mournfully.

The prince grew up and had many friends and colleagues who cared about him.  Countless women fell in and out of love with him.

But was he happy? No.

Then the prince fell deeply in love with a beautiful woman and for a while he was happy.  But his new love told him that he was not happy and that his life was not worth living. So the two of them agreed to leave everything and everyone he knew to start a new life for themselves.

But was he happy? No.

Nobody loves me, was his mantra. He took every opportunity to tell people how he felt. Eventually he told his father, I don’t want to be a prince any more.

That’s fine with me, said his dad, but then you can no longer live in a palace. We will still call you prince but you can no longer expect to have all the good things that go with the title.

The prince moved to a new country far away where he had a beautiful house, servants, two beautiful children and everything his heart desired.  But was he happy? No.

He started to take pills and other drugs hoping they would make him happy.

The prince complained to anyone in the world who would listen that his father had been cruel, that his wicked stepmother hated him and that his family, whom he had chosen to leave, did not want him.

Everyone he met wanted to hear what he had to say about his old life compared to the new one.

I was not happy, he said.  No one listened to me, he said. Everyone wanted a piece of me, he said.

Advisors told him, you must tell the world how you feel, how you have been mistreated.

And so he did.

He gave interviews to the newspapers, appeared on TV and even blogged – with some help and encouragement from his beautiful wife – on his very own web site.

But still he was not happy.

So he wrote a book which everyone read.  It sold millions of copies all over the world and made the prince even richer than he had ever been before. But not any happier.

I would like to be able to tell you that this is a mere fairy tale.  But, sadly, it is all true.

And it looks like the prince is going to live unhappily ever after.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



Writing flash fiction is a particular skill. You are given a word count which you must not exceed. There lies the problem for me as I tend to over write and then have to drastically cut down!

Recently in the writers’ group I attend (nowadays we tend to “meet” on Zoom – which has been a life saver these past two years) we were asked to write on the subject of “next door” in 450-500 words.

I initially had the idea of writing about next door neighbours but thought that would be the obvious choice. As I used to say to my writing students, your first thought is not usually your best!

I then came up with the rather cheeky idea of incorporating the words next door into my story – as you will see in the first paragraph.

Hope you like it. Do comment below and let me know what you think.

Notes from a diary

I saw him again today as I was coming out of Next. He was waiting at the door. The minute he saw I had seen him he turned away and fiddled with his phone.

My face felt clammy and I could feel my heart beating faster.  This was no coincidence. It was the third time this week that he had turned up in the same place as me.

When mum phoned this evening, I told her what had happened.  You’ve got to report it to the police, she said.

I sighed wearily. 

It’s no good mum. I’ve tried and they’re just not interested. To have your ex following you around is par for the course to them.  One of them joked to me that he must be really smitten. They don’t seem to consider it as stalking.  He’ll have to kill me before they sit up and take notice!

Come home for a bit, mum suggested. 

How can I? I need to be in Watford for my job. I’ve only been at Next for a few weeks and I really love it there. I said I’d see her at the weekend and left it at that.

Aside from that one time when I spoke to the police, I haven’t told anyone other than mum. I can’t help feeling it’s my fault somehow that he’s following me. One of the young coppers asked, had I done anything to encourage him? As if.  It’s not as if we had been going out for that long. I only knew him for a few months. It was fine at first. I liked the fact that he was very attentive. It was flattering that he wanted to spend every spare moment with me.

After he moved in, that’s when he became more controlling, even to the point of taking away my phone. It all became too much and I tried to break it off a number of times. He went crazy, threatening to kill himself if I kicked him out. I didn’t know what to do.  

In the end I just didn’t go home.  I told him mum was ill and that I was going to see her. But instead, I went for the Next interview and got this job at Watford. One of the girls there is letting me stay at hers for a while. But now, somehow or other, he’s tracked me down.  Maybe he’s hacked into my Facebook account? I’m so scared. I just don’t know what to do.  I can’t live my life like this forever looking over my shoulder.


How old was she?

Only 23, poor thing.

These notes we’ve found aren’t very helpful.  I’m going round to her mother’s again to see if she has a photo of the lad. The name we were given turned out to be false.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s done this kind of thing before. We need to find him before he does it again.


© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems



Here’s a piece of flash fiction I wrote in response to the writing prompt of the word “wave”.


One has had to learn so much in such a short time.

One was thrust into things, so to speak. One had never gone to school, never mixed with other children. One knew nothing about life other than what one had gleaned from the governess and the nanny. Mummy was always far too busy. One had a hard enough time learning how to curtsey to her. And then one had to have elocution lessons – one thought that one already spoke the King’s English but there you are.

“Lilibet”, mummy used to say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She is so elegant. Look how she stands and walks. Try to be more like her, poppet.” 

And even now, all these years later, Philip will still tease, “Stand up properly cabbage! You are the Queen you know.”

The hardest thing one ever had to learn was how to wave properly. One just couldn’t get the hang of it.

Daddy said, “Don’t worry poppet. It’s not as if you’ll ever be queen.”

But mummy, nanny and everyone in the Royal Household just kept on and on. You do it too vigorously, they all said.

“Gently does it your Royal Highness”, they would say, “or your arm will tire with all that waving.”

One wanted to be out riding or walking the corgis. Instead one had to waste morning after morning learning to wave.

One despised all the protocol. One doesn’t want or need to have one’s hair styled every day. And wearing make-up was an anathema to me. Who needs lippy when mucking out the horses? Philip agreed. He was so understanding. “I love you as you are cabbage”, he used to say – and still does.

In the end one had to have this ghastly manicure because one was going to be seen at some awful function somewhere. The beastly varnish wasn’t bloody drying so I waved my hands about a bit.

My valet jumped in the air excitedly. “By George she’s got it,” he shouted. “Her Royal Highness is waving!”

And after that one never looked back.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems