Monthly Archives: May 2014

The irony of blogging

Never underestimate the therapeutic power of ironing. Two hours ago I was faced with a choice between ironing eight large white tablecloths or writing my five hundred words for today. I opted for the tablecloths. If I’m honest I don’t do a lot of ironing these days. Life’s too short. But somewhere around Easter I had one of those moments of total inability to say the ‘n’ word. Actually it was more an enthsiastic-puppy-do-you-want-me-to-do-that moment. The tablecloths have been taking up far more than their fair share of my flat ever since. It was time to Sort Them Out.

When the phrase ‘life laundry’ was first coined I don’t think it included literal contact between fabric and water. Or hot metal. But it worked for me. Earlier this week I embarked on a major de-clutter. A spring clean. I’ve been procrastinating to Olympic standard ever since. I’ve bought a new vacuum cleaner. That wasn’t optional. The old one had given up all pretence at suction. I’ve acquired a selection of cloths and cleaning materials. Moved all my recycling into a new bin. Stuck my nose into a couple of cupboards. Withdrawn it hastily. All I’ve actually got rid of is a few clothes. Half a dozen mugs. Oh, and a book I borrowed from my daughter five years ago. I finally remembered to return it this afternoon. The net flow of stuff into the flat was in danger of continuing to outstrip the outflow.

I love the smell of ironing. Scorchy cotton. Has to be real cotton though. Polyester stinks. I had J J Cale playing in the background. Crazy Mama. Love that song. Well, most of his songs actually. But that one seems to suit me somehow … The barricade started to shift. All week I’ve been thinking about getting it ‘right’. I had to have the right equipment. In the right place. Be in the right frame of mind. Start with the right job. Get rid of the right things. All of it no more than a massive excuse for not doing anything at all.

The hardest part of any journey is the first step. Sorry. I had to sling in a good cliché somewhere. But it’s true. Those tablecloths had been bugging me for three weeks. Now they’re neatly folded. Taking up less than half the space they were before. Tomorrow they’ll be out of here for good. Or at least until my next moment of weakness. You’d think I’d have figured it out by my advanced age. I’m never going to do anything one hundred percent ‘right’. But if I don’t do anything at all I’m never going to hit even one percent. That’s one of the hardest lessons for a lapsed perfectionist like me.

This weekend marks the half-way point of my 125-day challenge to give up not being a writer. It’s the end of the hardest week so far. I’ve come so close to quitting it’s little short of a miracle I’m at this keyboard now. But I am here. I’m writing. What I’m churning out might not be brilliant. But it’s better than nothing. It’s been a fight to the death tonight. It probably will be again tomorrow. I’ve only won this round because of those tablecloths. Kind of ironic, when you think about it.




I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.


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A blog with an attitude

The art of blogging is a delicate dance. Not quite a diary. Not really a short story collection. Often a rant. Sometimes an exploration. Always a journey. When I embarked on this particular escapade I had no idea of the impact it would have on my life. I’ve been writing steadily for sixty-two days now. Reading. Researching. Reflecting. I’ve tackled badgers. Climate change. Same-sex marriage. Food poverty. Domestic violence. The capitalist economic system. I’ve delivered my two-pennyworth on all these and more. As well as a couple of short stories I managed to slip in sideways without many people noticing. No wonder my poor brain feels ever-so-slightly punch-drunk most of the time.

I’m more or less at the mid-point of the 125-day challenge now. Even as I wrote those words I began to wonder how I’ll feel when I’m no longer committed to do this every day. Bereft. I think. This blog’s an integral part of my life now. It’s challenging me day-by-day. In the end it’s all very well to write passionately about things I believe in. If all I have is words they’re not worth the cyberspace they’re written in. I need to put my money where my mouth is. My life where my fingers are.

The thought came home with force yesterday. Researching the meat industry for the blog last night took me places I really didn’t want to go. Why? Because I’m a hypocrite. I know about the suffering of animals. Our fellow-creatures on this earth. I’ve chosen to ignore that knowledge. By doing so, I’ve become an active participant in the infliction of pain. By the time I posted last night’s blog, I was considering some very significant lifestyle changes.

It seems I’m not the only person who’s had to re-examine their position over the past few days. Probably one of the least-anticipated side-effects of the Sun’s dramatic exposé of some six-month-old news about Pizza Express. Giles Fraser, writing in today’s Guardian, reflects on his own hypocrisy in continuing to eat meat. If you are going to eat it, he says, you ought to be prepared to watch it die.

Strong stuff. But the principle holds good in many areas. I’m the world’s worst for burying my head in the sand. If I can’t see the elephant, it’s not really in the room. Cr*p of course. Suffering goes on whether I choose to see it or not. The older I get, the more I understand. If I refuse to look at what’s happening, I actively encourage it to continue.

The world we live in now is sanitised. So neatly-wrapped it’s easy to ignore the messiness. Meat comes in nice plastic packs. Looks as if it’s never been near an abattoir. People come in designer clothes. Photoshopped. Made-up. To cover the pain. Those who don’t can easily be ignored. Sidelined. It’s their own fault after all.

This afternoon I spoke to a young couple. Two of the loveliest people I know. Kind. Gentle. Very much in love. They have a gorgeous six-month-old daughter, whom they both adore. A fairytale ending you’d think. Except that she’s from the north of England and he’s from Syria. Apparently our government doesn’t believe a family like that should be together. This beautiful little girl is about to lose her father. Before she’s even had the chance to get to know him. They’ll have to fight the system every inch of the way to have even the smallest hope of remaining together. If they lose, mother and daughter will be stigmatised as a single-parent family. By the very government that robbed them of their husband and father. Madness.

But it’s the kind of everyday madness that happens when we close our eyes. When we believe the suffering of others is somehow less important than our own. The truth is. Like it or not. We’re all in this together. Everyone. Even a six-month-old baby about to lose her dad. The suffering of one diminishes us all. Especially if we choose to pass by on the other side.

This blog’s become my way to explore the thought of change. To learn. To talk about spitting in a bucket and bring the words to life. Even if the bucket sometimes seems to be bone dry. And above all, to share the journey. So here’s to the next sixty-three days … and beyond.



I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.


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Slow news and chickens

Confession is good for the soul. At least that’s what they say. So I’ll get this off my chest now. From time to time I’ve made provocative comments on Facebook. Lit the blue touch paper. Retired to a safe distance. Watched the ensuing discussion heat up. Sometimes I’ve even lobbed in the odd grenade to keep things on the boil. After all, I have strong views on a number of subjects. You’ll probably have noticed that by now if you’ve read this blog even occasionally. So I see no harm in challenging myself to defend them from time to time.

People who live in glass houses and all that. My confession leaves me without a leg to stand on when it comes to criticising Daniel Jones. He did exactly the same thing in a report about Subway cutting out ham in some of its branches on the front page of the Sun newspaper on Wednesday last week. I use the word ‘newspaper’ loosely, as you’ll see. I overheard the first murmurings of outrage while I was enjoying the sunshine on Saturday afternoon. Seriously? Boko Haram kidnap over 200 schoolgirls. Rape them. Threaten to sell them as slaves. And you’re getting hot under the collar about whether Subway sells ham? I thought no more of it until he lobbed in the grenade about Pizza Express chicken on this Wednesday’s front page.

Is it a slow news week at the Sun? If so I suggest they send their reporters further afield. In search of some real news. Preferably something that hasn’t been in the public domain for at least six months. Surely the criterion for ‘news’ is that it should be … well, ‘new’? Of course none of this is really about news. It’s about getting a reaction. Selling more papers. Making a profit. And if on the way we inflame a little hatred. Fear. Division. Well, that’s all to the good. It’ll sell even more papers.

To be frank I’m struggling to understand why the average carnivorous Brit is in the least concerned about this issue. Halal isn’t some kind of voodoo. It simply means permissible in Arabic. The original intention of the ritual was to give dignity and blessing to the animal at the time of its death. To ensure that it died with the minimum of suffering, given the facilities available for slaughter back in the day. Is that such a terrible thing? According to Tesco, the only difference between the halal meat it sells and other meat is it was blessed as it was killed. To be honest, if I was going to die an unpleasant and untimely death, the method of blessing would be the least of my worries. In the general state of the meat industry in the UK, it should be the least of anyone’s.

Until the Sun weighed in, most of us had never given a thought to what had happened to the chicken on our pizzas before we stuffed it into our mouths. If we had, we probably wouldn’t have eaten it. The average broiler lives a short and painful life. Its accommodation so cramped it’s unable to run, flap its wings or exercise most of its natural behaviours. The RSPCA says the majority of British meat chickens are reared to standards we believe are not good enough in terms of animal welfare. To add insult to injury, it usually ends its life shackled upside down on a conveyor belt with its head in a bath of electrified water. Most of us manage to avoid inconvenient truths like this. I’ve been as guilty as anyone. The more so. I knew what the issues were. I chose to ignore them. Not any more. At least I can thank Mr Jones for that. So can a fair few chickens over the remainder of my lifetime.

What frightens me though is the knee-jerk reaction I’m beginning to see to the word ‘Muslim’ in the midst of all this. Certain sectors of the media seem to delight in exploiting this. The Daily Mail has jumped on the bandwagon today. Whipping up hysteria, with very little thought for the consequences. Millions Eating Halal Food Without Knowing. Horse meat was one thing. Not for the horses of course. This is something else. I’m not old enough to remember World War II. I am old enough to have grown up in its shadow. One of the things I learned about was the way propaganda was used to turn a whole nation against a small ethnic and religious minority. Seeing shades of this in the UK today frankly scares the hell out of me.

I hate to leave a post on a negative note. I know I’m an old hippie. A hopeless dreamer. But I really do believe love and compassion will win the day. In the end. Our common humanity is so much more than our cultural or religious practices. Perhaps we all need to take a step back. Remind ourselves of the golden rule. Treat others the way we wish to be treated ourselves. Regardless of religion. Ethnicity.  Or anything else that makes us think ‘they’ are not like ‘us’.




I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.

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On being sensible

Sitting down at ten past nine in the evening to start writing five hundred words after a day like today is probably not the most sensible thing I’ve ever done. But I suppose ‘sensible’ never was one of my favourite adjectives. Google it for a moment. You’ll find a string of sleep-inducing synonyms. Practical. Realistic. Balanced. Sober. Serious-minded. Level-headed. Very few of which could be applied to a woman who decided to bring her new vacuum cleaner home by bus this morning, in order to save a delivery charge of £3.95.

Truth is, all that reasonable, pragmatic stuff’s missing from my genetic make-up. I wasn’t at the back of the queue when it was handed out. I didn’t even know the queue was there. As a result, I’ve had a lifetime of people looking at me oddly. Saying you’re very brave. In a tone that means you’re stark raving mad. Shaking their heads. Just the way the woman in Argos did this morning, when I told her I was taking Hetty home on the bus.

Of course the best thing about growing older is I have the perfect excuse. Can’t expect sound, logical, no-nonsense behaviour from a woman in her dotage. If you can’t be a bit bonkers when you get to my age, when can you? I did the wise, prudent, mature stuff in my thirties and forties. At least to the best of my ability. Time to kick over the traces. Live a little. Start wearing purple. Before it’s too late.

To be honest, the older I get, the more I doubt the wisdom of circumspection. Why toe the line? Keep your head below the barricade? What’s wrong with being different? Does it matter what people think? I’m not about to ride roughshod over anyone. That’s not my style. But when the only things that stand between me and walking on fire are fear of the unknown and worry about others’ opinions, it’s time to get a grip.


Fear’s the thing isn’t it. The worst thing in the world. It controls us. Keeps us in line. It’s purveyed subtly by advertisers. Do you measure up? Will the woman / man of your dreams reject you if you don’t own this? Are you letting your children down by not buying this? Less subtly by newspapers and politicians. Telling us the country’s going to the dogs. I’ve just checked Google for random examples of headlines. The first word I turned up was ‘beware’.

At a personal level, fear tells me what I want is impractical. Unrealistic. Irresponsible. Following my heart is unreasonable. Irrational. Unbalanced. Fear tells me I’ll fail. I’ll look stupid. People will hate me. It makes me behave practically. Pragmatically. Prudently. Fear makes me sensible. Sensible of risk. Sensible of danger.

I love the English language. It has a wonderful way of standing things on their heads. Suddenly sensible kicks back.  Thumbs its nose at chary. Staid. Soporific. Because it also means aware. Conscious. Mindful. Alive. I can be sensible of beauty. Magic. The presence of God. I can be sensible of your needs. Desires. Deepest longings. Just so long as I never become insensible. Callous. Indifferent.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m sensible that it’s almost one in the morning. Which is definitely not a sensible time to be writing about being sensible …



I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.


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Where your treasure is

OK. I admit it. There may just be one or two items I don’t really need in my flat. To be honest, subtle hints have been dropped by visitors from time to time. Do you really need so many books? So, how long is it going to take to knit up all that wool? Mum, you’ve got too much stuff. Maybe subtle wasn’t the right adjective …

As I keep telling people, if I had a normal-sized house, none of this would be a problem. But the truth is, I live in a one-bedroom flat, and not a very big one. Were it not for the hall cupboard my living room would look like something out of The Hoarder Next Door. As it is, most of the contents of said cupboard are inaccessible. Who knows what might be skulking in the dark recesses? My daughter called me this afternoon to ask if I had a saw, and I had to admit I didn’t know. If I’m honest, it would have taken me several hours to find out. I rest my case m’lud.

I could come up with any number of excellent explanations for my behaviour. After all, I was born less than ten years after the end of the war. There were shortages back then, and nobody got rid of anything. It might come in handy. I was brought up to be frugal. Repair. Re-use. Recycle. Don’t throw it out. Fix it. And it’s so much more eco-friendly … I’ve no doubt this principle can work. But there are limits. One friend recently unearthed two tins of wartime powdered eggs in the back of her mother’s larder. Another’s grandmother kept a hoard of twenty-year-old loose tea ‘in case of emergencies’. It would have created a few emergencies of its own if anyone had tried drinking it. Yet another remembers how his mother used to iron and fold paper bags before adding them to her stash. My own parents had so many empty ice cream tubs in the garage they had to park the car on the driveway.

It’s OK. I haven’t reached that stage. Yet. The difference is most of my stuff is useful, you see. I’m actually going to wear all those trousers some day. No, really I am. I just need to lose a few pounds … And the carrier bags? Well, I can’t just throw them away can I? I mean they’d only end up in a landfill somewhere. Anyway I’m going to use them. Every last one. Honest. You’re not buying it are you? Neither am I.

I’ve been doing a lot of research online since the blog started. Did you know you can hoard electronically these days? Over the past few weeks I’ve built up such a collection of bookmarked web pages it’s becoming hard to find anything I actually want to read in the midst of it. Be that as it may, there’s some fascinating reading out there. Among the gems I’ve turned up by clicking on links is a book called Buddhist Boot Camp. Don’t worry, it’s not gathering dust. It’s on the Kindle.  Yes, you can hoard on a Kindle too, but at least it doesn’t take up as much space … I’ve just started reading it. In a chapter called Less is More, the author talks about becoming minimalist. His dad once stayed a few weeks with him, to try to understand how he lived without the material clutter most of us believe we need. He ends the chapter with a quote from his dad. You don’t have anything, yet there is nothing missing from your life.

That grabbed my attention. I don’t consider myself particularly wealthy, and compared to most of my friends I’m not. But as I’ve already confessed, I do own an immense amount of ‘stuff’. Over the years I’ve come to take for granted things I couldn’t even have imagined in the past. The machine I’m working on now, for instance. I’ve begun to believe I need all those shoes. Clothes. Books. CDs. I’ve allowed myself to be influenced by a culture of materialism. There’s a sense that owning the latest gadget, the most beautiful dress, or the book everyone’s talking about will actually make me happy.  I’ll be a better person. More attractive. Lovable. Socially acceptable. It’s a very subtle poison, that feeds on our discontent, luring us onward with vague promises. If onlies. Only to leave us disappointed, time and again.

Because let me tell you now, far from material bliss, I’ve ended up with a stack of obsolete belongings. They’re creeping out of cupboards and spilling across floors. They need to be to be folded, stacked, reorganised, dusted, washed and protected. They get in the way of everything I do.  They absorb my time, energy and effort. Distract me. Disturb me. Draw my attention away from everything that makes life worth the living. I can stand that earlier quote on its head. I have everything, yet there is something fundamental missing from my life.

The theme of minimalism is not unique to Buddhism of course. It’s a thread that runs throughout spiritual thought. Jesus wouldn’t recognise the greed and materialism we take for granted. They have no connection with any of his teachings, much though we like to imagine that capitalism is somehow rooted in Christian values. The man who said sell your possessions and give to the poor has more in common with Buddhist Boot Camp than with our culture of accumulation.

So today’s post is by way of announcement that I want to do things differently.  I’m trying to dance to a different drum. I want shift the stuff. Minimise. De-clutter. Simplify. Reconnect with the spiritual. It’s going to be a fight. I know that already. I’m going to need all the help I can get. But it’s going to be worth it. So if you’re reading this, please feel free to prod me. Remind me. Leave a comment on Facebook from time to time, asking how much stuff I’ve managed to get rid of. Or better still, share your own experience from the journey. Because there really is a better way.

Sell your possessions and give to the poor.

Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out,

a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted,

where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12 v 33-34


I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.

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Plus ça change … or wolves in sheep’s clothing

At the risk of repeating myself, one of the things I love best about living in a city is its diversity. For some unfathomable reason, my bank manager won’t let me book that round-the-world ticket, so I’ve settled in a place where I can see as much of the world as possible with the minimum of outlay, and on a job that gives me the opportunity to talk to people from a huge range of cultures. I just find people infinitely fascinating. Maybe it’s my way to rebel against my upbringing. In 1960s England ‘our way’ was ‘the right way’, and everyone else was ‘wrong’. It was unquestionable. Boys wore short trousers, even in blizzards. Tea and coffee were drunk from cups, with saucers. Potatoes were peeled in ice cold water, regardless of chapped hands and chilblains. Bread was buttered and cut in triangles. And of course, denim jeans were worn only by dustmen. My mother was so worried about what people would think that both she and my brother missed a church picnic because said brother refused to take off his new baseball boots and put on ‘proper shoes’.


Keeping up appearances was crucial in late twentieth century England. It still is now, of course, although in very different ways. We have a whole new set of criteria for social acceptance now. Gone are the days of politeness, consideration and respect, which last I’ve always taken to mean treating others the way you would like them to treat you, rather than servility.  Instead we have greed, competition, physical attractiveness and wearing the right labels on one’s clothes. Who’d have thought they’d ever become virtues? It seems we’re programmed to follow. We don’t like to stand out in a crowd, and we’re hopelessly suspicious of anything or anyone ‘different’. Our criteria for ‘different’ have changed, but our aversion to it hasn’t.


Change. Now there’s another thing we don’t like. Change is one of the only certainties this side of the next world, apart from death and taxes, and we don’t like them much either. I sometimes think I’d love to go back to the way things were when I was nineteen. I wouldn’t. I’d just like to be nineteen again, only this time with all the wisdom of hindsight. I don’t want to give up my laptop, my blog, my central heating, or the progress we’ve made toward gender equality, however theoretical the last may remain. I wouldn’t want to go back to a world full of irrational discrimination, on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, skin colour, sexuality or disability. A world where Jimmy Saville could roam unfettered and Enoch Powell could spew poison without sanction. A time when it had only recently ceased to be a criminal offence for two men to love each other, and where I could be told there was no point in my applying for promotion at work because I was married. That wasn’t freedom. That was a licence for the powerful and privileged to run roughshod over the rest of us.


Yet the more I look around me, the more I see people yearning for ‘the good old days’. People hanker after a strange, mythical past in which we all knew where we stood, even if that was right up to our necks in a heap of something very nasty. My Facebook feed has seen a steadily increasing flow of posts about extreme elements in British politics. People who preach hatred and inflame prejudice, whilst masquerading as saviours of the nation. It seems to me that these people seek to divide us against ourselves. They set workers of diverse ethnic backgrounds at each other’s throats, pitch ‘strivers’ against ‘skivers’ and whip up prejudice against the poor. They pour suspicion on anyone whose lifestyle deviates from the ‘norm’, as measured by their own standards, of course. They fuel suspicion toward those with disabilities, or different ideas. Anything to distract us from the people who are really taking us to the cleaners. The wealthy one per cent. The wolves.


I’ve avoided mention of any particular political party so far. The article that caught my attention this morning this morning may blow my cover, should you choose to click on the link. I was brought up to believe that my parents’ generation fought a war to prevent a man with views like this from taking over the country, yet people are looking to a political party that can contain Geoffrey Clark, who advocates COMPULSORY abortion for babies who have disabilities, William Henwood, who wants Lenny Henry to ‘go to a black country’, Gerard Batten, who thinks all Muslims should sign a charter rejecting terrorism. Then there’s David Silvester, who enabled us all to breathe a sigh of relief because those floods had nothing to do with climate change, it was all down to same-sex marriage, oh, and Gordon Gillick, who is alleged to have asked a group of young people in care how it felt to be ‘takers’ from the system, as if they had the smallest choice in the matter. Add to that little lot Godfrey Bloom, who thinks I should spend more time cleaning behind my fridge, rather than trouble my pretty little head about politics, and I’m getting worried. Do we really believe things were better when we had less freedom? Do we want a less diverse, less interesting society? Do we see the past through such rose-tinted spectacles that we want to crawl back to it, clinging to a chewed security blanket that was never really the way we imagine it was?


I don’t need to tell you what I think. So I’ll allow a voice from the past to have the last word. With due acknowledgement to my friend Aletheia for posting this on Facebook at exactly the right time.

But if you want money for people with minds that hate,

then all I can tell you is brother you’ll have to wait


I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.

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Whatever happened to Kirby grips?

Having spent a large part of the last few weeks writing about ‘issues’, I felt the need to try my hand at fiction again. I’ve found the change in writing style surprisingly hard to manage. My internal ‘editor’ has had a field day. However, the bones of a short story have emerged from the fray. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as … or even more than I’ve enjoyed winning the battle to write it.


He’s not here. Four minutes late. What is it with men that they’re never on time? The Idiot was the same. Never less than half an hour. No explanations. Once he turned up on time. I wasn’t ready. He had a go at me. Mad. I’m not waiting. Ten minutes. Tops. If he can’t be bothered it’s not my problem.

The guy on the corner table’s working on a Mac. Typing steadily. Pen behind his ear. Thick book on the table. Hardback. Drawings on the cover. Small. Intricate. In primary colours. Can’t see the title. Is he a writer? Male JK. Writing in a café. That’s how they start, isn’t it? Mac’s a big step up from a scrappy notebook and pen though. Maybe it’s a sequel. Science fiction. Erotic fantasy. He stops from time to time. Looks up. Observes. Seeks inspiration. Hope he’s not writing me into a soft porn extravaganza. Then again. I should be so lucky. Perhaps he’s a spy. Or a snoop from the Benefits Agency. They’d do well round here. I don’t think they give them Macs though.

The Other Idiot used to pretend he had spies out after me. Sent me texts. I know what you’ve been up to. Slag. Didn’t know what he was up to himself. Never mind me. Too pissed. I told him he could put me under 24 hour surveillance. They’d die of boredom watching me. They would have too. My life was that much fun. I already have, he said.

The couple in the window aren’t a couple. They’re comfortable together. Like bedroom slippers. Newspapers. Mail for her. Last night’s Post for him. Coffee. Crosswords. Conversation. Chesty coughs and Kirby grips. Whatever happened to Kirby grips?

Can’t work out the other table. He’s nose deep in a book. She’s picking at a glossy mag. Distracted. Coffee must be cold by now. What’s the point? Wasting all that money? They’ve both got tortoiseshell glasses. Self-conscious. Disconnected. Wishing they were somewhere else. They’re definitely a couple. No doubt of that. Right. Ten minutes is up. I’ll let him have another five. Still got a bit of coffee left. Mr Disconnected snaps shut his book. Mrs D peeks through her tortoiseshell barricade. They both get up to leave. Without a word.

I might have another coffee. Try the chocolate tart. Treat myself. Why not? Don’t know why I thought he’d show. May as well make the most of it now I’m here. Mr Writer-Spy is packing up his Mac. Checking his mobile. Sorry. iPhone. He’s got a beard. Neatly trimmed. Strawberry blond. His seat’s been taken by the time I get back. Balancing fresh coffee. Americano. Frothy milk. Tart. Mahoganied with chocolate. Lascivious. Now there’s a word. Pure indulgence. Better than sex. Chocolate. And as close as I’m going to get.

The new man in the corner has an interesting face. Deep lines. Silver curls. A smile to die for. Zen. Teepees. Barefoot festivals. Roads to Kathmandu. I bet he’s done it all. All the might-have-beens. Irresponsible. Unrealistic. Rose-tinted. Oh, how The Idiot loved to shout those words. Long. Loud. And often. If I had a fiver for every time, I’d be … where would I be? Not sitting here. For sure. Barefoot in the Himalayas. Bronzing on a beach in Goa. I’d have fancied him. Back in the day. He intrigues me. The Silver Fox. Not The Idiot. He never did intriguing. Nor The Other Idiot. Much though he tried.

Mr Writer-Spy-Benefits-Agency-Snoop’s in the passage by the loo. Coffee goes straight through me nowadays. Ladies on the left. The waitress said. He’s on the phone.

“Yes … You’re barking up the wrong tree, mate … No … Nobody … Completely on her own.”

I squeeze by him. His voice drops to an urgent hiss. There are about twenty-five toilet rolls on the shelf in the loo. And I reach for the empty cardboard tube hanging on the wall.

I emerge. Mr W-S-B-A-S skirts around the waitress. Almost sends the debris of my elevenses flying.

“Idiot.” The door bangs. “Scared the life out of me. He was under the table.”

I make the phone call from the mini-market doorway. Withheld number. It’s starting to rain. A maroon taxi pulls up. They all pile into the street. The Couple-That-Aren’t-A-Couple. The Silver Fox. Two women with toddlers. The waitress. The chef. Wiping his hands on a tea towel. There’s a dull roar. A plume of smoke. Breaking glass. The waitress screams. I watch the taxi pull away. Silent. Invisible. Late. That’s the trouble with men. They’re never on time.



Happy Birthday One25 

I’m blogging to raise funds for One25, a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of their work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog.

Today would be a great day to decide to support them, as it’s their 19th birthday!  

Thank you.




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