This is my writing blog, where I will be shamelessly posting my work. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, extracts from novels...they'll all be here. And if you don't like any of that, just play with the tiger.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The course begins...

Here's an activity what I writed for my course. Day one, and I've got something written...yay!

The church clock strikes eight, so those villagers who are awake know without checking that it is six. A cock crows, and is answered by a braying donkey. A body lies across the doorstep of the church; a viscous trickle of dark fluid on its cheek is picked out by the feeble dawn light. There is a serene, momentary quiet after the chimes cease. A figure glides past the church wall, before the silence is cracked by a baby crying.
Guillermo Brown registers briefly that these sounds of normality can still exist - clocks and cocks, babies and brays. Beneath them, he hears still the incessant bass of the front, the ceaseless, brain-churning thrum of artillery and the sudden whoompfs of displaced earth. His mind adds extra sound effects: the whistling skirl of shells bearing down on him; the nasal whine of bullets streaking by his ear, so close they set off detonations in his mind, the strangled, urgent shrieks of men shouting 'GAS!', and the eerie, invidious silence of the gas itself. All these noises want him dead. And so did his friend. Guillermo Brown looks queasily at the body, and runs.

The church had seemed safe: abandoned for the night, it offered a haven for an hour or two. If only he'd known that Tommy Atkins would get religion. As Guillermo Brown writhed on a pew, trying to snatch a fragment of sleep, Tommy Atkins began to pray.
'Will God forgive us, Gil?' he whispered. '
Yes,' snarled Guillermo Brown, bunching his jacket beneath his head as a lumpy, stinking pillow.
'But we're deserting. Running away.''
Saving our bloody skin,' Guillermo Brown corrected him.
'But doesn't the Bible say, greater love hath no man-'
'Bloody hell, Tommy!' Guillermo Brown surged to his feet. 'I never made you come. If you want to go back and be cannon fodder, off you go.' He pointed with his whole arm at the church door.
Tommy Atkins blinked stupidly. 'But we're pals,' he almost whispered, his bottom lip trembling childishly. 'It just doesn't feel right. Leaving the others behind.'
'We're not stopping them from running away, if they've got the balls for it.'
A heavy silence.
'Greaser said there'd be bacon this morning,' Tommy Atkins said vaguely. 'Bacon and good, strong tea. With sugar.' He smacked his lips, then looked at Guillermo Brown with big eyes. 'Gil. God will be so angry.'
Guillermo Brown lowered his head, recognising that the die was cast. Tommy Atkins was going back. But Guillermo Brown wasn't. 'Fine,' he whispered. 'You go back and be killed like an animal. If it'll make God happy.'
Tommy Atkins took a deep breath, and began to walk away.
Guillermo Brown settled back onto his pew, then jerked upright with horrible realisation. They'd court martial Tommy Atkins, and Tommy Atkins would spill. Every word of their plans to flee hell would tumble from his frightened mouth, and then they'd be straight after Guillermo Brown. When they caught him, they'd save the Hun the bother of shooting him.
No. Guillermo Brown raced through the church, picking up a heavy candlestick as he went. He caught Tommy Atkins on the church steps, and silenced him with a single blow. He hoped Tommy, and God, would understand.

The baby quietens as Guillermo Brown runs through the drowsy village. He sends a regretful, anguished thought after the soul of Tommy Atkins. As he reaches open country, he vows he will write a letter when he gets to safety. A warm, gentle letter to Tommy Atkins' mother, telling how her boy had laid down his life, for his friend.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Gardening haiku

Surprised wormy coils
make way for papery skin:
bulbs drowse; yearn for spring.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

One small step...

You may have noticed over the past several months that I found my last OU course something of a challenge. More accurately, the kind of challenge that results the inability to string two words together, coupled with overworked cranial matter dripping slowly from the ears. I chivvied myself along with the delightful notion that once the hell of study was over, I could spend a happy few months writing before the next course (in creative writing - insert appropriately hysterical noise here) begins, but I was thwarted by the aforementioned brain dribble. Even when, as recently, I had an idea, I just couldn't get the words out: I would sit, ignoring the blank screen and inwardly screaming I can't be arsed!! Frankly, this was disturbing, as I had never conceived that it could be possible for me to get any lazier.

However, by the cunning application of self-bribery ('write for 10 minutes, then you can play all the spider solitaire you want'), I finally managed to finish something. 5,000 words of pretty mediocre stuff isn't much to crow about, but it is a relief to be back in the land of characters and dialogue rather than in the scary real world. Besides, this story got me back in touch with Tyrone, and it's always a blast to spend time with him. Just don't tell him I said that.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Another Tommy Atkins

October 18th, said Tommy’s handwriting. Had it really been three weeks since his last letter? Molly Atkins settled into her rocking chair, and set it into gentle motion. She knew it was silly to worry; Tommy was so busy out there, and of course he would see to his men first, censoring their letters and tending to their needs just as she had taught him to take care of his little brothers.

She tried to read a few lines, but the words swam before her eyes as she recalled an image of Tommy newly decked out in his uniform, looking tiny and lost like a boy in a new suit that must last him several years yet. But as she clucked and exclaimed over him, Tommy’s blue eyes had filled with calm purpose, and Molly felt sure he would get through all right. It didn’t matter that the letter now blurred before her; she knew its contents by heart. Tommy’s cheerful descriptions of the wonderful, motley assortment of lads around him; jokey remonstrations against army food, and a little list of the things he hoped she would send.

Of course, she had scuttled into the village immediately and bought all the cigarettes and chocolate she could, then she hurried home to finish knitting those warm grey socks. She knew he’d love them.

A barely-glimpsed shadow passing the window startled Molly. She half-raised herself from the chair, then sank down again. The doorbell rang in unusually sonorous and respectful tones, and a gush of anguish speared through Molly’s stomach as the certainty flashed into her mind. It was Bobby Stewart, the telegraph boy.

She heard Martha clattering down the stairs to answer, and gripped Tommy’s letter more tightly. Suddenly the words leaped out at her with all the clarity and solidity of life.

Cigarettes, please – as many as you can send. And chocolate too; it cheers the lads up a treat. And you know how I am with socks!

A list of futile little comforts that had not helped him at all. Then, a line below:

Lastly, my dearest Mother, send me your prayers.

Molly shook her head slowly. Not even this last item had reached her boy in time.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A write mess

It's fair to say that things have not been going altogether swimmingly of late. You may have surmised from the slightly hysterical limerick below that I managed to get into a car accident (less than a month after passing my test - I assume this is some kind of record), and while I fully accept all the platitudes about how the only important thing is that nobody was hurt, it nevertheless left me feeling pretty disillusioned about how whole driving business. Now, I say that nobody was injured, but my fellow prangee is claiming all sorts of sudden and debilitating illnesses, all of which will, I assume, be miraculously cured by a wad of notes from the insurance companies. All most irritating. As Radiohead would say, Karma police, arrest this man...

Writing hasn't been going well either, largely because I can't do it. Every day I sit eagerly before the PC with the sincere intention of rattling off a few hundred words or editing a chapter or two of Tyrone's novel, but even as Word lumbers to life, my attention begins to wander. Next thing I know I'm lazing around on Facebook fussing an imaginary dog or playing infuriatingly addictive word games, or I'm succumbing to my crippling spider solitaire habit, or buying useless tat off Ebay. Anything, it seems, other than do the one thing I yearn to do when I'm at work or otherwise unable to write. Then, before I know it, the evening has gone, and I'm left feeling thoroughly narked at myself and my lack of application. Sigh.

I have, however, managed to complete one writing-related task: I have booted my gorilla-y kids' novel off to try its luck with another agent, as the last bunch of guttersnipes I tried didn't even bother to reply - which I find intensely irritating, having enclosed the stipulated SAE. Fine, they don't have to like the story, but there's no need to be so goshdarned rude.

OK, I'll put an end to this aimless rant now. I know it's particularly long and self-pitying, but it has been a while.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A peevish limerick

A van driver (I won't say his name)
is playing a quite roguish game.
He ploughed into me,
and then skipped off to see
about filing his false whiplash claim.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008


‘That’s the ticket!’ he garbled through his mouthful of burger and spittle. ‘Nice and simple.’
He looked pointedly at her over the top of his shades and wiped his greasy fingers on his greasier apron. Of course, it was one of those specimens depicting the outline of a basque-clad woman – he thought it hilarious.
She stretched her mouth into a submissive smile as she pushed a morsel of burger around her plate with her fork, silently drooling for the aromatic pinkness of rainbow trout or a nicely-seared king prawn, perhaps with just a touch of sweet chilli dipping sauce. But no, it was her birthday and he had insisted on treating her to his speciality – the traditional British barbecue. Her burger fragment beached itself on a slope of thickening grease, and she suppressed a gag.
‘Filling, innit?’ He smirked approvingly, taking her disgust as a sign of satiety. ‘Not like your arty farty nouvelle quizzy stuff. Much nicer than them burgers you made, ain’t they?’
She recalled her steak tartare haché and his pained and prolonged retching as he took his first mouthful, and memories of her other attempts to interest him in real food stung to the surface. The hours she spent making that cassoulet, and the seconds it had taken him to fork it into the bin and then microwave a plateful of Heinz beans. She swallowed.
‘You’re quite right. This is delicious. Do let me get you some more ketchup.’
‘Attagirl!’ he crowed from behind his barbecue as he flipped his third burger.
She padded inside, and extracted the red bottle from the cupboard. She glanced furtively towards the window, and then took a second bottle, decanting most of its contents into the ketchup. He may not care for her French food, but perhaps he might get a kick from her imported Wasabi sauce.

Monday, 23 June 2008

A flash from the past

I was rummaging through my memory stick last night, and found this. Gawd knows I've lost all ability to write new stuff, so here's something from a few months ago:

Gazing down the length of her body, she knew she had done the right thing. The fur was divinely beautiful; she would have been insane to let it go. There was something gently nurturing in its soft warmth, a plush luxury that reminded her of when she was tiny, snuggling up to her mother and her comforting, familiar scent. The symmetry of the markings delighted her – perfect black rosettes against caramel background.
She paced slowly back and forth, revelling in the thick ripples of the fur as she walked. She knew, some day, that her determination to have the coat would lead to repercussions; even now, she was privately ashamed of the cost. She didn’t even particularly want to be seen in it – it was enough for her just to possess it.
Turning, the leopard pawed absently at the corpse of the hunter, before bounding sleekly back to her den to feed her cub.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Beep beep!

Well, well. Who'd have thunk it? After just over a year of juddering, stalling and screaming (and that's just from the instructors), not to mention a frankly horrifying amount of cash spent, I can now drive! On my own, and everything! I can exclusively reveal that my examiner from this morning is without a doubt the most generous man in England - he seemed to view my rolling gracefully backwards on a hill start as nothing more than a pleasant diversion from the dreary business of proceeding forwards, and he accepted that stalling needlessly at junctions merely adds to the interest of the drive. What a lovely chap. I hope his team wins the DSA Euro 2008 sweepstake, and more especially I hope that the sour-faced harpie who glowered throughout the whole of my first test has got Switzerland.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A flash of lamp light

Olivia ran, splashing through puddles, silting her Jimmy Choos with ruinous mud. She clattered into her apartment building and tore up the stairs. In the kitchen, she tremblingly poured a huge Scotch, and swigged it down despite her breathlessness.
It couldn’t be possible.
Not Daddy.
‘Think of the family name,’ had been his mantra, especially when Olivia was negotiating her teens. Every prospective rebellion or lower-class potential boyfriend had been delicately dealt with, usually with crisp wads of banknotes and earnest lectures, and eventually Olivia had come to believe in Daddy’s creed. No scandal, at any cost.
Until this evening, that is, when Olivia had popped in to show Daddy her new handbag. She found him in the kitchen, red-faced, eyes closed and sweating as he rogered Forbes, his Parliamentary secretary. Olivia turned and ran.
She paced her apartment for some minutes. How could he do this to Mummy’s memory? Or to Forbes, for that matter? Mummy at least must be avenged. Olivia contemplated calling the News of the World, but knew no editor would dare cross Daddy with nothing more than hearsay, easily contradicted.
Standing at the window, Olivia cooled her forehead against the glass and closed her eyes against the brightness issuing from the nearby Tiffany lamp. Suddenly she smiled. She’d give Daddy scandal. She left.
Some time later, she returned, placing a few rapidly-printed fly bills on the table. She hadn’t had time to put all of them up, but it was a start. She shimmied into her new outfit (purchased with a shuddering thrill of cheapness from New Look), applied lurid lipstick, and carefully changed the bulb in her lamp. The pavement below the window was suddenly bathed in an inviting glow of red.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Car-nage MK II

EXAMINER and VIKI take their seats in the car. EXAMINER looks on as VIKI engages in brief but lively struggle with recalcitrant seatbelt.

EXAMINER: Ok, during the test, please continue straight ahead unless I ask you to do otherwise. When you're ready, please start the car and move off.

VIKI turns key in ignition. Various lights on the dasboard come on. VIKI turns key again, vigorously, and car whinnies into life. VIKI wrestles with gear stick, remembers clutch pedal, then stalls car.

VIKI: Ah. Third gear.

EXAMINER gazes straight ahead. VIKI selects correct gear, pulls out, indicates and then releases handbrake. EXAMINER makes rapid succession of jottings on clipboard.

EXAMINER: At the crossroads, please turn right.

VIKI indicates left, stalls at junction, and eventually proceeds straight ahead.

EXAMINER fishes extra biros from pockets and jots with renewed vigour.

EXAMINER: Please pull up on the left when it's safe and convenient to do so.

VIKI, with a squeal of brakes, pulls up slightly to the left of the central road markings, exactly opposite somebody's driveway.

EXAMINER (still jotting): Please move on when you're ready.

VIKI selects gear and applies foot to brake pedal. Car stalls.

VIKI: Oh dear. (in tones of desperate jocularity) Can I start this test again?

EXAMINER (with the fixed smile of someone trying to placate a lunatic): Just take a deep breath and think about what you're doing.

VIKI complies, and moves off. A PEDESTRIAN is crossing the road ahead. PEDESTRIAN sees car approach, and begins to dawdle, grinning evilly.

VIKI contemplates slowing down, but right foot disagrees. VIKI speeds up. PEDESTRIAN's grin switches to expression of abject terror.

EXAMINER applies her full weight to dual controls; car screeches to a halt.

EXAMINER abandons jotting in favour of telling a rosary.

VIKI eventually bunnyhops to a halt outside test centre.

VIKI: That didn't go too well.

EXAMINER (relinquishing white-knuckle grip on dashboard): Miss Lane, I'm sorry to say you haven't passed the driving test on this occasion. Would you like me to explain why?

VIKI: Do you have time before your next test?

EXAMINER laughs thinly, and warms to task of enumerating VIKI's errors. Some time later, EXAMINER disembarks, meets VIKI's instructor crossing road, wrestles him to the ground and garrotes him with her hi-vis vest.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Dinnertime doggerel

We’ve made it through the East Lancs. jam,
the decent telly starts at eight,
so I put on a bright cheery voice:
‘what do you want to eat?’
You think, and shrug, and roll your eyes,
and ask me what I want;
as if my dish were your command.
‘I don’t mind,’ I say, and wait.
‘Whatever,’ you concede at length;
I take you at your word.
I offer Thai curry, good and green,
but you reckon curry’s weird.
‘Pasta?’ I counter. ‘A nice pesto sauce?’
You can’t object to that.
But then you do: with a ‘yak’ face you remind me
that pasta has no taste.
A fry up, then? Sausies burst the way
you like, eggs yolks nice and runny?
But my last fried feast, you remind me,
led to an evening crunching Rennies.

Now eight-thirty, beneath golden arches,
you ingest your cow derivative and cheese,
fix me with an aggrieved gaze and ask
‘Why’s it always me who has to chose?’

Friday, 23 May 2008

End-of-course haiku

Smell of fresh cut grass
as I float on sofa-cloud
with no work to do

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Return of the Hat...

I'M BACK!!!!

*Dusts cobwebs off blog*
Well, that was a fun eight-or-so months. If, that is, your idea of fun is being clobbered mercilessly about the head with Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot. Quite frankly, I can think of nicer ways to spend my time. But never mind - the course is over, the final (and unspeakably evil) essay is written and awaits posting. Let it not concern us now that said essay is a steaming pile of the smelly stuff - the time to worry about that is August, when the results come out. I expect my results letter will have all the possible grades scored out with an angry red biro, and will instead bear the legend: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? THIS IS UNIVERSITY LEVEL STUDY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!
But never mind. It's the journey that counts, not the destination - right?

Friday, 11 April 2008

Whoop whoop whoopitty-whoop!

Regular readers (if I still have any of those exalted beings, after all my essay-enforced absences) will be surprised, and possibly dismayed, to find two consecutive cheery posts, but there's nothing I can do about that. I found out today that one of my short stories has been accepted for publication. Huzzah!

Angst-lovers will be delighted to know that, since my last post, I have managed to fail my driving test in quite spectacular fashion. Details will follow once I've stopped feeling quite so pleased with myself.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


I was going to start by apologising for tootling my own trumpet, but actually I'm not sorry at all. Many thanks to John for bringing my attention to a nice nugget of good news - the New Writer magazine has charitably awarded me a runners-up spot in its annual competition. My anti-hero Tyrone has done the biz for me, gor luv 'im.
Sometimes the word 'gobsmacked' just isn't enough, so let me just add that I am
dee-f***ing-lighted. (And no, that's not meant to sound sarcastic.)

Friday, 7 March 2008

Tyrone pops by

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a man standing outside my bedroom window. You'd think that would be a pretty big problem. Actually, the bigger problem with that is the fact that I live on the fifth floor. After a split-second of heart surge, I realize who it is. But it’s impossible.
Swallowing a rising nausea, I pad over to the window. It’s a beautiful window, reaching down to the ground and opening onto a little balcony with two or three pansy-filled terracotta pots. I wrench the door open, and slosh the remnants of my Jack and coke into the man’s face.
‘Bastard!’ I screech, to the discomfiture of a nearby pigeon.
He smiles his one-corner-of mouth smile, edges past me into my bedroom, and begins running his tongue as far round his face as he can to catch the JD.
‘The coke ruins it, y’know,’ says Tyrone. ‘Any chance you could fix me a real one?’
This time I throw the glass. Tyrone ducks nonchalantly and walks out into the kitchen, exaggeratedly tiptoeing past the sparkling shards. I follow, and launch myself at him, beating his back with my fists as he pours himself a drink. He turns, and snorts at me.
‘Jeez,’ he says, in an aggrieved tone. ‘I thought you mighta been happy to see me.’
Which I am. As well as being bloody furious.
I pick up the letter on the worktop. ‘Just what was this supposed to mean? I thought you were dead.’
‘I thought I would be, too,’ Tyrone says as he rummages in the fridge. ‘Cool. Lasagne.’ He switches on the oven, and takes a large draught of his drink.
‘So I changed my mind.’ He drums his fingers on the worktop, and glowers impatiently at the oven.
‘Well. I’m glad.’ My voice is quiet, but I can tell from the twitch of his eyebrow that he hears, and is touched.
I pick up the paper, his suicide note, wanting to tear it up. Something stops me.
‘Hang on,’ I say, and Tyrone’s shoulders tighten. ‘The policeman. He brought me this.’
‘Great detective work,’ muttered Tyrone dryly. ‘That’s why I put your goddam address on it.’
‘He said there was a body.’ I’m backing away, that old sick fear rising up in me again.
‘Of course there was a body,’ Tyrone said smoothly. ‘It wouldn’t be much of a suicide without a body, would it?’
‘Who?’ I pick up a cushion and hold it to my chest, as if for protection. ‘Who was it? Bloody hell, Tyrone, what did you do?’
‘I believe his name was Jim. Homeless guy. Real sad.’ Tyrone stoops to place the lasagne on the oven shelf, and walks towards me. ‘Why must we keep having this same goddam conversation?’
‘Because people keep dying. Tyrone, what did you do?’
‘I decided on a fresh start. No more Tyrone – his life sucks. He’s over.’ He strokes my neck with the side of his index finger. ‘Sweetheart, you’re not gonna rat me out. Are you?’
I try to remember how to breathe. The greyness of his eyes seems to be forcing the air from my body. Eventually I shake my head no, and Tyrone nods. He lowers his hand.
‘Extra cheese on your lasagne?’ I ask.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!


Pernickety Hat can exclusively reveal a sinister conspiracy at the heart of the writing industry. Our source, a 30-something writer who not only demanded to be named but also asked us to include samples of her writing in this story in brazen attempt to gain publicity, believes that she has discovered just why it is so difficult for aspiring writers to get into print.

'It's the agents,' explains our source. 'They don't actually read anything you send them.'

She claims to have sent a synopsis and sample chapters to a number of agents, only to receive rejections within a matter of days.

'I thought, at first, that they had simply discerned my writing to be the pile of tosh I secretly fear it to be,' she continues. 'But then it clicked. The same thing kept happening, and I realised then that something sinister was going on. Each time, my manuscript looked untouched - except for the fact that the agency kept the paperclip.'

Pernickety Hat has investigated these claims, and is now in a position to reveal the truth. The agency industry is nothing more than an elaborate scam, aimed at depriving needy writers of paperclips. We urge all writers to rebel against this behaviour, and to staple their manuscripts without further delay. Together, we can make a difference and bring an end to this evil paperclip-snatching conspiracy.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

With apologies to T. S. Eliot...

My current essay is turning into something of an obsession (not that I'm actually writing it or anything; that would be a step too far). There's great displacement to be had in aping J. Alfred Prufrock...

Let us go then, you and I,
While essay plans flutter before eyes
Like a patient bouncing on padded walls.
Oh, do not stop to ask ‘which question?’
Both A and B cause indigestion.

In the forum students come and go
Panicking about Okigbo.

The lowering fog that curls round my brain
Obliterates knowledge;
And do I dare to no longer care
And submit a pile of garbage?
To make it by my teeth’s skin?
(Tutors will hoot, ‘how she is dim!’)
It is impossible to write what I mean!

There will be time, there will be time
To analyze all the obscure rhyme
then feast on chocs and fizzy wine
Once the final ‘send’ has been confronted.

In the forum students feel wrecked
Musing on the ways of Brecht.

It grows late…it grows late…
And shall I miss the cut-off date?
I have seen essays returned,
Seen them marked, and smiled at some,
But this one will not smile for me.
I shall swim in seas of ignorance,
That’s by the by,
Til a ‘bad fail’ wake me, and I cry.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Following a prompt from Writers' Island (see sidebar):

Usually the SatNav woman had plenty to say for herself, but not today.
‘You have missed your destination,’ she conceded, a little sheepishly.
‘I bloody know that,’ Kathryn remonstrated. ‘But where the bloody hell am I?’
SatNav woman merely repeated her previous remark.
Kathryn, feeling hot and itchy about the armpits, pulled into a side road and stopped. First she texted Mark (‘wrong turn. Be bit late.’), and then attempted to re-establish communication with SatNav woman. The machine bleeped dutifully as Kathryn pressed buttons, but then suffered one of its habitual blackouts.
‘Come onnnn,’ hissed Kathryn, giving the machine a slap.
It had been sweet of Mark to buy it for her, but it was so like him to have got it from some dodgy geezer down the pub instead of a proper shop. So long as it was cheap, and it worked…sometimes. There was no hope today, though. Kathryn smoothed her hair, preparing to try and find her own way, when her phone chirped. Mark. ‘Wrong turn! Story of ur life. B quick. Dinner ready.’
The itchy-armpit sensation returned. Their first anniversary - of all the days to get lost! After she had spent the afternoon in the alien serenity of the beauty parlour, being made up and waxed and tweezed. She surged back out into the road, trying to remember which direction she had come from, but it was useless. In the looming dusk, all the hedges and fields looked the same. Kathryn trailed forlornly along until she reached a crossroads she seemed to remember. She slowed, and for the first time noticed the car behind her, its headlights off. In a sort of inspired desperation, she decided to ask for directions. She signalled to pull in, at the same time making beckoning motions in the rear-view mirror. The other car lumbered to a halt behind her. Kathryn got out, and tottered to its window on her unaccustomed high heels. A cool breeze welled, fingering her legs in their sheer stockings.
‘I’m so sorry,’ said Kathryn to the window, as the driver whirred it down. ‘I’m terribly lost, and my sat nav has broken down. Could you tell me the best way to Crawsdale?’
‘Crawsdale! You are lost!’ The man in the second car laughed, his eyes twinkling as his eyes assessed what portion of Kathryn was visible. He waited a few seconds before continuing. ‘It’s pretty simple, though. Right at the crossroads, straight on ‘til the third roundabout, then left at the lights.’
‘Thank you,’ Kathryn smiled, repeating the directions like a mantra inside her head but already secretly certain that she was remembering left when he said right, and that there would only ever be two roundabouts.
‘No probs, love. Enjoy your evening. Looks like you’ve got plans.’ The man smiled thinly, and his window whirred back up.
Kathryn got back into her car, and made the right turn. Within a few hundred yards, the road narrowed into a rutted path, pitted with stones and with nettles inching over its surface. This couldn’t be right. The man must have said left. The road, or rather path, was too narrow to turn around in. Images of spoiled dinners parading before her eyes, Kathryn threw the car into reverse and sped backwards. Glancing into her mirror, she was startled by a sudden glare of headlights behind her. She stopped, waiting for the other car to go back as there was no room for overtaking. It didn’t move. Kathryn squinted hard at her mirror. Impossibly, it was the car from the crossroads.
The driver eased out of the door, and began a slow, determined tramp to Kathryn’s door. Transfixed, she watched his approach in the mirror. He was still wearing the same thin smile, but now his hand was lowering a zipper instead of a window. Kathryn, feeling sick and ridiculous in her finery, suddenly came to life and grappled with her phone. Her hands shook and refused to obey her. She tried to dial 999, but fumbled and only managed to re-open her text to Mark.
Wrong turn, the phone flashed silently, as the man calmly reached out to open the door. Wrong turn. Wrong turn.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


Day melts into night,
but the page stays unsullied:
the words won't bed down.

Monday, 21 January 2008

From my office window...

HGV pauses,
bows to Mini: traffic light

Sunday, 20 January 2008

From my window...

Unseasonal fruit
sagging on winter-nude branch
of Asda-bag tree.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Impending housework

Cat, returning home,
curls to sleep, purrs; uncaring
of mud pawprint trail.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Daily haiku number 3

Dreary percussion:
rain on glass, low skirl of breeze
in storm symphony

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Lovely day

Strangely primeval
swathes of grey fight off the dawn.
The world drowns in rain.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008


Airfix devotion:
Scary Temp spends each lunchtime
with glue on his hands.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

General aimless waffle

I haven't bored you with one of my Pointless Life Updates for a while, so here goes.

Driving is coming along reasonably well, even if I am still prone to sudden outbreaks of gross numptiness. On the plus side, I managed NOT to have an accident with some oblivious old biddy who thought it appropriate to signal in one direction, pull out of a junction and stop horizontally across the carriageway in front of me, before sitting there blinking foggily at her windscreen wipers. On the other hand, I can still stall it without the slightest provocation. Recently, I was waiting at traffic lights with a heavy-browed member of the White Van Man tribe virtually parked in my boot when I spectacularly failed to set off at the appropriate moment. White Van Man was obviously somewhat aggrieved, which made me feel a good deal better.

Work is getting better. We now have a temp in to help out, and a lot of the pressure has been taken off me. Never mind that this temp is a chap of unmitigated and quite astounding weirdness. I'd tell you more, but I suspect he would find out and do something painful and drastic to me with an automatic pencil and a bottle of Tippex.

My Open University course is still something akin to a blood-sucking monster, lapping up every spare bit of time, but I'm enjoying it nonetheless. Of course, I don't actually understand a word of it - especially since it turned its attention to T. S. Eliot - but it's nice to mumble words like 'Vorticism' and 'metaphysical realm' to myself whilst assuming a learned expression.

Writing...well. It's not happening. And I miss it horribly. No ideas, no words, no anything. I'm supposed to be studying today (I'm supposed to be studying now, rather than indulging in blogly waffle, for that matter) but I may sneak off to play on one of those plot generation sites instead. If I'm not back later with a bit of writing, you can assume that didn't work either.

That's all, I think. You can wake up now.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


January grey
seeps into the mind; brings dreams
of hibernation.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone all the best for a fruitful and happy 2008. Now I'm off to obliterate what remains of the festive Pringles before reality kicks in and I have to go trailing dolefully back to work tomorrow.

Where do the holidays go?

With thanks to Graeme