Monthly Archives: July 2014

Still crazy … after 125 days

I met an old friend on the street last night. She looked great. She was dolled up to the nines. New clothes and immaculate make-up. She’d lost a bit of weight since I last saw her too. All of which would have been good news, if she hadn’t been climbing on board the One25 van at the time. Louise flagged us down towards the end of the shift. She was standing outside the 24-hour shop. It’s a good place to pick up punters. Reasonably safe, because it’s well-lit. Although that didn’t prevent one of our women from being assaulted and robbed here a few weeks ago. Louise and I hadn’t seen each other since Christmas. She’d been off the streets for two years then. Clean. She’d been doing so well. We first got to know each other in a Freedom Programme group. Her most recent abuser was in prison. I was taking the first hesitant steps towards accepting that I’d been abused.

I’d last seen Louise at the One25 children’s Christmas party. It was a mayhem of over-excited kids. Their proud mums were drinking tea and comparing notes on child-rearing while the children ran riot. Some of the mums looked astounded, as if they barely dared believe they’d come so far. Louise arrived late. Five-year-old Josh piled straight into the chaos round the conjurer. I was in charge of making crowns. Selina settled quietly next to me. She glued tiny pieces of sparkle onto her fairy crown with intense concentration. Each jewel hand picked and stuck on meticulously. Her eyes shone behind her pink-framed specs.

Louise’s support worker was with her. Louise was in bits. She hadn’t filled in a form correctly. Her benefits had stopped. She was on her own with two children and not a penny to her name. It was two weeks till Christmas. For her, for Selina and for Josh, the festive season had been sanctioned. Louise had simply been too busy with the demands of surviving from one day to the next to understand what was required of her.

The party wound down. Louise’s last words to me were if I can’t get money from anywhere else I’ll have no choice. I’ll have to go back to working. She didn’t mean stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s. Six months on and here she was sipping hot chocolate in the back of the One25 van. A self-fulfilled prophecy. She didn’t tell me how she got here. We both knew it would hurt too much. I cried when she went.

I’m getting soft in my old age. I’m also getting angry. We live in a world that leaves women like Louise out in the cold. She works the street to survive. To buy the drugs she needs to numb the pain that’s results from a lifetime of abuse. Bullied and despised. Robbed, raped and beaten on a regular basis. Separated from her children. Estranged from her family. Blamed, accused and held responsible for her own suffering. Even her abusers will likely tell you it was all her fault. The rest of us just shake our heads. Wag our fingers. Tell her to pull herself together. Get a proper job. We walk by on the other side, confident that what happened to Louise could never have happened to us. Safe in our delusions.

Of course the truth is it could have happened to any of us. And yes, that includes you men. It’s not just we women who sell our bodies to feed the need for numbness. We like to think the people at the margins are somehow ‘other’. In our heads, they’ve stepped over a boundary we’d never be stupid enough to cross. It makes us feel safe to think that way. But it’s a bloody lie. Every one of them is a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood woman or man. She came into the world exactly the same way I did. Maybe he was neglected as a child. Perhaps someone abused her to satisfy a perverse craving. One hundred percent of the women in intensive therapy with One25 were sexually abused as children. One hundred per cent. Every single one. Is it they who are less than human? Louise lives the consequences daily. Fear. Guilt. Shame. Loneliness and abandonment. Then we heap on poverty and accusation as well. Whatever happened to humanity? Empathy? Compassion?

For one-hundred-and-twenty-five days last year I gave up NOT being a writer. I did it in the hope of raising money for a cause I believe in with all my heart. One25 charity works with women like Louise, Alice and Emily and others I talk about in this blog. Steph, for example. Her leg’s so badly ulcerated now that the nurse thinks she may have to have it amputated. I’ve changed all their names here of course, and any details that might identify them, but they’re real women. Living real lives not so very far from where I’m sitting now. I’ve talked to them. Laughed with them. Cried with them. Hugged them. We’ve eaten lunch together. Made tea. Battled to thread a broken sewing machine. Every one of them is trapped in street sex work, or has been at some time in her life. The things that drive people to such extremes are beyond their control. It could be benefit sanctions. Mental health issues. Abusive parents and partners. Addiction. Poverty. Disability. Debt. One25 has been a lifesaver for so many women. Often literally.

There were days when I thought I was insane to take on the 125-day challenge that kick-started bluesinateacup. I don’t know if it changed anyone else’s life, but it changed mine beyond a doubt. I I spent hours of frustration, blocked in front of a blank screen in the middle of the night. I sat at my keyboard until two in the morning, typing words I could barely see. The triumph when I hit the ‘publish’ key was unbelievable. I muttered, ranted, revised, raged and edited. I wrote with tears rolling down my face more than once. I thought I’d never write again. Almost every day. My wardrobe was decimated. I stopped buying meat. I re-thought myself from the core. My awareness re-awakened. It was worth every bloody painful minute. I found out I can do it. I’m a writer to the core.

Thank you for coming along with me on this crazy journey. The original of this post marked the end of my sponsored challenge. It was published over a year ago, but it wasn’t the end of bluesinateacup. Instead, it was just the start of my adventure in writing. And it wasn’t the end of my support for One25. I literally walked across red hot coals for them a couple of years ago. I’d do it all again at the drop of a hat. Why? Because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

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Multi-coloured sunshine and making people special

The chapel’s decked with balloons and flowers. Drenched with multi-coloured sunshine, pouring through the stained-glass windows as the people pour through the heavy, wooden doors. Cakes have been baked with love. Arranged with precision on pristine tablecloths. Now they’re being consumed by the chattering throng. With minimal attention. I’m released from the kitchen. The fruit juice cocktails. Mixing with the crowd. The sister of the groom. Smiles surface. Drift by. Greetings. Hugs. Laughter. Everyone’s happy. All’s as it should be.

I stand at the centre. In a well of sunshine. I have the sense of an ending. A circle complete. A job done. My pride is not wholly perverse. In another world, none of this is happening. In another world I made a sensible choice. One sweltering Tuesday five years ago.

There are two hundred people here today. Crazy how one decision can change so many lives. If I’d gone home that evening. Walked away from the Scene Of The Crime. That’s what he used to call it. If I’d been prudent. Cautious. Then I’d not have been to hell and back. I’d never have come here. All these people I love so much. Smiling. Hugging me. They’d be total strangers. I wouldn’t know know any of them. My brother and his soon-to-be-wife would be living in different towns..

That split second. I remember it down to the smell of the dusty pavement. I threw caution to the heavy city air. It hung there glowering. I ignored it. Walked into the pub. A choice that changed everything. And who knew so much good could come from all the heartbreak that followed? Who can know the mind of God?

The next person I speak to does.

“What a wonderful day. It’s God’s blessing on him of course. He’s such a good man.”

Who am I to argue?

Twenty minutes later everyone’s settling down. The ceremony’s starting. You and I are standing to one side. Eyes full of tears.

“My mascara’s going to run.”

“I never wear it on the bottom lashes at times like this.”

“Good thought. I’ll remember that next time.”

A niece-aunt moment. I’ve had an unexpected chance to get to know you these past five years. Another reason to be thankful for my foolishness. We’ve baked banana bread and brownies. Eaten together. Discussed your plans for the future. Discovered shared passions for writing. Creativity. I’ve learned to make tiramisu. Explored a castle. In the rain. You. The whole family. You’ve all been integral to the fabric of my recovery.

We cry with happiness today. Oblivious of what’s to come. We don’t know yet there isn’t going to be a next time. You’ll have no need to think about mascara soon. In ten days I’ll be hearing those words. The ones I can’t forget. The worst possible news. I’ll be shouting at the window. How can the people out there drink and laugh? Just as if the world hasn’t fallen apart? As the first storm subsides I’ll wonder what I might have said. If I’d known how short the time was. Would it have mattered more than the mascara? Maybe not.

This afternoon I made two unhappy people smile. In the drop-in at One25. I didn’t do dramatic. Life-changing. Or significant. For one I found a strawberry body spray. The other one I asked about her dog. I thought of you. I was thinking of you anyway today. You specialised in making people special. You noticed details. Remembered. Brought colour into everybody’s life. It’s taken almost three times as long as you were here. But I’m starting to get it now. The little things make up our daily lives. Fill them with colour and significance. That way we change the world.



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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Jesus, love and that camel again …


Picking up a pen and writing is something I’m reluctant to do when it comes to the spiritual side of life. The word Christian hits the page. Half my audience switches off. I don’t blame them. I’ve written before about the bad name we give ourselves. How much it frustrates me. I wouldn’t mind betting most people could tell a tale or two. Bigotry. Hypocrisy. Insensitivity. Moral one-upmanship. Inflicted in the name of a man whose whole philosophy was love. Beginning and end. Love your enemies. Love your neighbour. Love God. Period.

The internet’s been alive this past week or two with debate about an American company called Hobby Lobby. I’m a simple woman. And English. I know nothing about these people. The grounds for their decision to deny insurance cover for contraception to their female employees. Or the complexities of the American legal system that upheld their choice. So far as I can grasp, they consider certain types of contraception to be contrary to their Christian beliefs. Or more accurately, they consider paying for these for their employees to be contrary to their beliefs. It’s OK to invest in and profit from the same types of contraception apparently. It’s also OK to make a profit by exploiting workers in other countries. China for example. Where people earn less than $10 a day. Where the one-child policy can still lead to forced abortions. So … exploitation and profiteering are Christian. Paying for contraception isn’t. Like I said, I’m a simple woman. I’m obviously missing something here.

Of course, if you’re a wealthy businessman in Middle America, China must seem a very long way off. You probably don’t give much thought to the suffering of children in the factories producing the plastic trinkets that make you rich. Recent research suggests you may even believe you’re entitled to a better life than they are. The asshole effect Paul Piff calls it. His research, quoted by Anne Manne, explores the way wealth enhances our sense of entitlement. The rich really are more likely to exploit. To cheat. To hold the poor responsible for their own circumstances. To be unable to grasp the effects of their behaviour. It seems wealth insulates us from our own humanity. No wonder Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle …

Jesus. As I’ve said, I’m a simple woman. That’s why I think I’d have got on well with Jesus. He said a lot of fairly straightforward things. Love your enemies. Do not judge others. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Don’t worry about food and clothes. Do to others what you would like them to do to you. God blesses those who work for peace … None of it rocket science. Not a word about contraception. Marriage equality. Women bishops. One or two things about children though. Don’t hurt them. Don’t exploit them. Become more like one. That kind of thing. He didn’t seem all that struck on the profit motive either. What was it he said about God and money again? You can’t serve both of them at the same time …

Simple instructions can be really hard to follow. We like complex. Detailed. Heroic. Thou shalt NOT … Something we can debate. Find loopholes. Did he really mean that? Love your enemies? What’s that all about? I mean, these are bad people. Surely I’m allowed to hate them? Not even a little bit? Sell your possessions and give to the poor … Look, I worked bloody hard for this lot. Don’t tell me that woman begging on the street in Dhaka couldn’t get a job if she wanted. Disabled? No compensation? Less than two pounds pound a day? You’re joking, right? Oh … you’re not.

Jesus is all about love and forgiveness. We might argue about the practicalities. How do you show love? That’s all in there too. Do to others what you would like them to do to you. I’m guessing wildly that wouldn’t include controlling you. Judging you. Exploiting you. Manipulating you. Abusing you. Putting religious dogma ahead of your medical needs. No-one gets it one hundred percent right of course. And I’m not exempting myself here. Do not judge … I’ve done a fair bit of judging in this post.

Despite the negatives, there are so many people out there expressing love for others in their own creative ways. I’ve been privileged to meet a good few. I missed Mother Teresa herself by a matter of weeks, but the community was still loving the dying and destitute when I visited. One25 loves and accepts vulnerable women. Operation Restoration brings hope to street kids in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. People Against Poverty is passionate about alleviating poverty. Saint Mark’s Community Café loves the community of Easton in Bristol. Serving food and more, regardless of people’s ability to pay. Small projects. Love shown in practical ways.

This morning a friend shared a video on Facebook. Just one man feeding hungry people in Bangalore. Going against the flow. Living a life of love. I don’t know about his religious inclinations. He may wear a Christian label. He may not. Whatever the dogma, I’m pretty sure he’s closer to the Jesus I know and love than some of the people who do.



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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Pick up a pen and write …

Saturday night and the rhythms of carnival are pulsing outside my window. I’m a week from the end of this writing challenge. My mind’s as blank as the screen in front of me. You’d think it might have got easier as time went on. That’s what I thought. I was wrong. It’s been a journey. A wild one. I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it. But I’m a long way from the confident writer I thought I’d be by now. Instead I live with a constant fight to write.

I’ve discovered excuses and distractions I’d never even dreamed of before. I sit down at the keyboard. Upload a few photos to Facebook. Just quickly. Before I get stuck in. I feel thirsty. Make tea. Realise I’m low on milk. Walk to the shops. Come home to cold tea. I browse pointless news articles. How to have the career I always wanted. Bit late now. 10 ways to tell that my marriage is on the rocks. Mine never got off them in the first place. I make resolutions to de-clutter. Meditate. Get more exercise. Lose weight. Save the world. I Google recipes. Look up yoga classes. Decide I can squeeze in an extra volunteer shift at One25. Then I eat nectarines. Gaze at the sunset. Make coffee. Move the plants so I can take photos of the sunset. Upload the photos to Facebook … Anything to avoid actual physical contact between my fingers and the keyboard.

I’m one-hundred-and-nineteen days into a challenge. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for one-hundred-and-twenty-five days. I’ve learned that I love writing. I’d have to love it by now. Either that or the laptop would have landed in the car park weeks ago. I’ve also learned that I don’t need a telly. I do need to read. I love creating. Anything. Cakes. Birthday cards. Stories. Poems. Soup. I find people fascinating. And I love teaching just about as much as writing. So why do I still find it so bloody difficult to get down to work?


I’m trying to please everyone …

I’m writing with half an eye on the blog. All the time. What will people want to read? Have I written about this before? You’d be amazed how easy it is to forget after a hundred days and more. Am I boring everyone to death? Or is it only me that’s sick of the sound of my voice? Why hasn’t anyone read my last post? Does everyone hate me? I haven’t written about my internal Editor for several weeks. This doesn’t mean she hasn’t been breathing down my neck. Analysing every comma. Re-structuring every sentence. Whispering in my ear. Insidious. Insistent. What if Gertie reads that? She’ll never speak to you again, you know. It’s all right. I don’t actually know anyone called Gertie. This is rubbish. Nowhere near as good as that thing you wrote last Thursday. You’re getting worse at this, not better. Call yourself a writer? Real writers don’t run out of ideas. Stop messing about. Get a proper job. Act your age.


I think I should get a proper job …

I wouldn’t wish a lifetime of penury on my worst enemy. Actually, I’ve been sulking. Didn’t help the creative flow much. I wanted to go out this evening. I couldn’t afford to. This is normal. My normal. I wouldn’t know how to behave if I had money. And I definitely wouldn’t want all that anxious keeping-up-with-the-Joneses stuff. That said, I still get the odd yearning to throw in the alternative towel. Get a job stacking shelves in Tesco’s. Go down the pub once in a while. Try someone else’s normal for size. I know. I’d hate it. But it doesn’t stop me wondering from time to time.


I’m rubbish at selling myself …

I could make a living from teaching and writing. If marketing skills were a part of my resumé. As it is, I consistently undersell myself. I’m guessing there are not many teachers whose students tell them off for undercharging. As far as writing goes, I’ve made a few submissions to women’s magazines. All rejected. Thank heaven. Otherwise I’ve never even tried asking anyone to pay me for doing it. Unless you count asking people to sponsor this challenge. As a result, writing gets squeezed into the corners of my life. Late at night. Before meetings Sandwiched between things I tell myself must be more important. All of which brings me neatly to my final point.


I haven’t got time …

If confession is good for the soul, I have one of the healthiest souls on earth these days. To keep up the good work, I’ll share another character flaw. I’m the world’s worst time manager. I often blame this on my limited ability to say one small word. The one that begins with ‘n’. Ends with ‘o’. And has nothing in the middle. In reality the problem goes much deeper. My response to any request for volunteers is frankly Pavlovian. I’ve tried sitting on my hands in meetings. Biting my tongue. I wouldn’t have been at the meetings if I’d been able to say the ‘n’ word of course. I’ve tried staring out of windows. Counting drawing pins in notice boards. Working out how many people in the room are left-handed. Anything to distract myself from the fatal words. Would anybody like to …? It doesn’t matter how much I wouldn’t like to. I can only control myself for so long. No-one else speaks up. I’m doomed. The result? I worked nineteen hours over a two-day period last week. Excluding writing. Seventeen of the hours were voluntary.


I’ve identified a heap of problems. I’m really good at identifying problems. So what am I going to do? I’ve been reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I love it. I’d really recommend it to anyone who wants to write. Her advice is simple. Pick up a pen and write … Keep your hand moving. The days I’ve come close to failing have been the days when I’ve given the problems the upper hand. I’ve re-edited eight times. Fretted about money. Worried about wasting time. Tied myself in knots over other people’s opinions. It really doesn’t take that long to write five hundred words. I can sit down with a pen and notebook. Get caught in the current. Come up for air eight hundred words later. Dive back in. I won’t have polished prose at the end of it. I will have the raw material I need. And the worry will look different. Money? So what. Have I starved yet? No. Pleasing people? Impossible. Forget it. Getting it right? Does anybody get it right all the time? I know one or two people who think they do. But that’s another story. So for now, I’ll just pick up a pen and write.



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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The Footballer


He’s on the wrong side of the barrier as I walk across the footbridge. On the slip road. A woman watching from the bottom of the steps. Floral frock. Sensible T-bar shoes. Like the ones I wore as a child. Ankle socks. A confusion of thoughts swirls in my head. Maybe the same thoughts that made her stop. He’s oblivious. Bends gracefully. Scoops up the errant football. Vaults the barrier in one fluid movement. Oh to be so young again. He exchanges a few words with the woman in the frock. The body language makes me think at first they know each other. Then they move apart and I can see they don’t. She turns right. Sets off at an anxious pace. Flat-footed-not-quite-run. On her way to church. I think.

He’s a few yards ahead of me now. Dancing behind the ball. Barefoot. A can in one hand. Didn’t see him pick that up. He’s skinny. Lithe. Grey T-shirt. Stringy brown hair. Shaved on one side. No sign of any shoes. The parent in me frets about glass on the pavement. He flicks a middle finger at a passing police car. Blue lights. Curving in ahead of a cavalcade of bikers on the motorway. More flashing lights bring up the rear. A police escort. By accident rather than design. The ball rolls into the gutter. The footballer hooks it out with his left foot. Dribbles it round the bend into the park.

I fish in my bag for the camera. Take a photo of the first ripe blackberry of the year. Ahead of its time. There’s a bumper crop on the way. The brambles are sagging out over the path already. Most of them have barely finished flowering. The generosity of nature makes me smile. Two pounds for a tiny punnet of blackberries in Tesco’s. Last year I picked a whole carrier bag full less than five minutes’ walk from home. So many I didn’t know what to do with them all. They tasted so much better than anything Tesco’s had to offer. Didn’t have to pay a penny for them. We don’t trust free though. There has to be a catch. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is, a friend once told me. The day before he went on a bender and locked me out of my house.

The Footballer’s under the bridge when I catch up with him. Chatting to the drinkers. I can never quite hear what they’re saying. The bridge wasn’t designed for its acoustics. He looks no more than a child. His face is painted. Carnival colours. All across one cheek. It could be a tattoo of course. There’s a fine line to observing without making eye contact. I can’t look for long enough to decide.

Lunch-with-friends later there’s some new street art on the wall under the bridge. All in white. Intricate. Spray painted. The bottom line stark on the blackened brickwork. F**k police. I can’t help thinking The Footballer’s responsible. How funny I assumed the can in his hand was beer. We weave our stories of the world. Tales that fit our view of how things ought to be. Maybe The Footballer was a woman. The woman in the frock a celebrity in disguise. The bikers en route to a police convention. The police cars on a getaway from a bank job. Who’s to say?

In the shadow of the screen fence on the far side of the motorway the line of vans and caravans has grown. It’s carnival weekend. Two men are sitting on the kerb as I re-cross the footbridge. Beer bottles. A football in the shadow of the van. Their lifestyle is so different from the one that’s sold to most of us. Sometimes we forget we have a choice. Get angry. Sanctimonious. Look down on those who choose a road less travelled. Who shun convention.  Swim against the tide. Sometimes I think we collude in our own unhappiness.  But as I said, maybe we don’t trust free.

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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You look nice today

The sign at the entrance to the park always brightens my morning. Spray painted. Cream streaks down the rusting metal to a smile. You look nice today. Amazing how something like that can produce a grin. Even on the wettest Thursday morning.

Lucy can’t see the sign from where she’s standing. She’s bent double over the bin behind it. Fighting to breathe. Brian has a better view. It’s not making him smile though. In spite of the sunshine. His face contorts as I pass. He can barely manage a grunt. I didn’t want to speak to him anyway. Lucy seems on the verge of a full-blown asthma attack. All he’s bothered about is meeting the dealer on time.

To be fair, it would be all she cared about too. If oxygen hadn’t suddenly become a major issue. We exchange pleasantries. Nebulisers. F***ing useless inhalers. She doesn’t want to talk any more than he does. She’s just too polite to say so. I go on my way. Suppressing the thought that crack cocaine probably isn’t all that good for asthma. Slightly ashamed of my self-righteousness.

I felt threatened when the drinkers first moved in on the space under the railway bridge. Replacing the enormous crocheted doily that hung there briefly last summer. I seriously considered changing my route. Not for long. For a start, I’m more or less invisible to them by the time they’re half way down the first can. And anyway, why should I be intimidated? I’ve as much right as they have to enjoy this oasis of green space between the M32 and Stapleton Road. Why let them drive me out to walk along a street once called the most dangerous in Britain by a well-known national newspaper? Oh, and a lawless hellhole by another.

Funny how a place can get such a reputation. OK, it’s not the loveliest part of our green and pleasant land. There’s no doubt some dodgy stuff happens here. A lot of it in plain view. It definitely doesn’t look nice. Today or any other day. But a lawless hellhole? That’s taking it a bit far.

I fell in love with this city about eleven years ago. I was living in a small Wiltshire town back then. I came to work in an inner-city primary school. I had no idea you could suffer culture shock barely thirty miles from where you’ve lived for more than half your life. When I eventually moved here a couple of years later one of my colleagues wrote in my ‘new home’ card. Home is where the heart is. Yours has been here for some time. Welcome home.

A few months after I moved in, Tony Blair came to visit. Not me. Bristol. It was a hot afternoon. Getting towards the end of the summer term. I was lugging two large bags of shopping home from Tesco’s when I noticed three people loitering outside Lloyd’s Bank. With a TV camera. They saw me. Homed in. I’m not sure what they expected. Whatever it was, they didn’t get it.

“Living round here, I expect you worry about going out after dark.”

“Of course I do. I’m a woman. I’d have to be careful wherever I lived.”

“And you’d prefer to live somewhere nicer of course.”

“No. I love it here.”

I watched their faces fall as the interview progressed. Downhill. I wasn’t giving them anything they wanted. Despite the leading questions. Needless to say, I didn’t make my debut on breakfast TV the following morning. They lost interest. Switched off the camera. Walked away without so much as a ‘thank you’.

At first glance there’s nothing much looks nice about this part of the city. Rubbish in the gutter. Run-down shops. Broken people. All too easy to run with the image. Especially if you’re a journalist in search of easy prey. I recognise one of the men under the bridge. He doesn’t see me of course. As I said. I’m invisible. Except to the sign by the entrance. He doesn’t look nice today. He’s staring at a can. Too weary to hate it properly. He’ll be in the community café later. Coffee and a toasted sandwich. Not much of a life. Lawless for sure. Hellish too. Quite likely dangerous once upon a time. Who knows? Later, he’ll be cracking jokes in the café. The mask back in place. Trying to look nice. Right now, he’s just plain human.


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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Day ten … an answer to a big question

My 125-day writing challenge will be coming to an end soon. I’m re-blogging this post tonight because it explains why I chose to take on this challenge in support of One25.


If I do one more ‘edit’ on this I think I’ll go mad. So here it is at last … my response to the challenge to ‘write about what motivates and inspires me in my first hand experiences at One25′.  If you read this and decide want to support One25, please donate at Thank you

8 o’clock. I’ve just realised how dark it is out there. I’m buttering bread. Slicing cheese. Wondering what possessed me to think of venturing out at this hour. It’s raining too. Hammering on the kitchen window. Couldn’t I just curl up and watch Supersize vs Superskinny instead?

Cheese sandwiches wrapped and bagged, I’m outside. It’s emptying down. The umbrella’s inside out before I reach the kerb. Come to think of it, I’m not sure these boots are waterproof. I avoid the first puddle, then plunge my left foot straight into the…

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