Story Starter: Clean Hankie

Always have a clean hankie to hand!

It’s something our mums always asked when we were off to school: “Have you got a clean hankie?”

Clean laundry that you’ve just ironed: it’s a scent that makes a home smell cared-for and domestic, like baking bread or brewing coffee.

It’s a chore. It’s satisfying. It’s time consuming. It’s a waste of time. We all have a different feeling about a stack of ironing.

A hankie was the first thing I learned to iron when I was little and wanted to “be just like Mum”, at that stage when you pretended that your dollies were your own babies.

It’s the old-fashioned symbol of a gallant gent, ready to whisk it out of his breast pocket to rescue a woman in distress.

Perhaps it’s the mark of a smart young man off for his first job interview.

A white hankie raised in surrender?

What does a neatly pressed clean hankie say to you?

Another thought

While you’re thinking about that, I’ll tell you about something faintly spooky that happened today.

I noticed a strong smell of tobacco, which obviously is impossible in an office these days. Angela smelled it, too, but no one else. That set us speculating that it was the ghost of some editor past, puffing on his pipe and haunting the corridors of our newly-refurbished old building. I kind of like that thought.

So, back to the story starter. I’m still looking for 2000 and 3000, but more especially the latter, please. And please, not the dreaded 2500 which falls slap bang in the middle and doesn’t fit any of our templates! Season? I chose the stories for our July 22 issue this morning, so obviously if you’re writing you need to be thinking now about autumn and winter. This writing lark does rush us through the year, doesn’t it?

And if that thought makes you want to weep, there’s another purpose for your clean hankie!



Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.