Thursday, 15 December 2011







Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Packing, yay!

I just walked home from the bank with 980euros in my pocket. You know that feeling you get when you're carrying rather alot of money that everyone's watching you? Just like, everyone knows..? Yup. Not a walk I want to repeat.
The girl at the bank today asked if I've started packing. My answer was that I'd piled all the clothes I _want_ to be able to take on a chair, looked at it and went, "Heh. That's too many." ...Then left it. She looked up from her screen, laughed politely and said something along the lines of, "When are you leaving again? Tomorrow? Hmm, yes, better start that packing properly!" This is the bank clerk talking. I felt like I'd failed at a bit of life. Which wasn't a fun feeling to have with 980euros in my pocket.
I admit it freely though - I am not a good packer. I always overpack the wrong things. Like, too many clothes and then I forget my toothbrush, or my key. Or I remember my mp3 player and my book, but forget to write down my train times, or check if my phone's charged. When I went to my friend's Uni for three nights I managed a normal sized bag, but stuffed it so full that it exploded all over her room when I got there. And I ended up discovering I had one whole outfit too many, but I'd forgotten the mini sewing kit I was going to take with me so I could finish off her Christmas present. Needless to say, then, my sister is checking my packing-list to work out- wait. Wait just a minute. I was going to say that my sister (the sensible packing one) is checking my list and will be checking (and rechecking times infinity, probably) the suitcase, but I'm no longer sure I need to get her to do that. There's been all this "Be thrifty, no you may not take a party dress unless you can wear it during the day too!" thing, but she's just said she wants to take at least three towels...
I think I'm just gonna muddle on without. Worst comes to the worst, my hand luggage will be oversized and heavy, and I'll probably forget to take a towel at all and have to buy one. Nevermiiind. As long as I don't forget tickets, passport, or plane times (I will tattoo reminders on my hands if need be), and don't leave my suitcase anywhere (has nearly been done before), I reckon that even if I trip over my own feet when getting on the plane, the holiday will go fine. In the end, I'm with my girlfriends, and they'll be there to give me a boost (or a slap round the back of my head) if need be. I can always rely on them to bail me out of packing/organising-fail trouble.
... Right, girls?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Pinch punch first of the month, no returns!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The plans of a English-German girl.

So I've restarted one of my other blogs! It's been revamped as "The Diary of an Apple Waitress." Sounds a bit boring, huh? Maybe it's only me that gets kicks out of other people's oddnesses, but for those who are interested, take a look!

Other news, hmm. Well let's go for... Christmas! Yes, it's not December yet, and usually I don't start feeling Christmassy till at the earliest Decemeber the first, but I've been planning a Christmassy holiday, so it's hard for all that Christmassy planning not to rub off a bit of excitement on me (That's alot of Christmassys). Some of my girlfriends and I are going on our first ever group holiday to Berlin for week, to revel in the German weirdnesses (Man, have I been missing those), to soak in the Berlin sights, and to explore the Weihnachtsmarkte! (That's Christmas Markets to all you British folk.) I haven't been to Berlin for nearly two years, and I have missed it.

Some odd facts about that great city:
- You hardly ever see anyone with an mp3 player. When my sister and I were there last, we spotted only six in the whole week.
- It's populated mostly by people of a Turkish descent (Berlin is one of the biggest Turkish citys in the world), which means that a natural blonde is very, very rare. Which earns me alot of stares.
- It's dirty. In summer, you can run your finger along a centimeter of wall, and your finger will come away literally black. The shower water tends to end up a delightful grey colour. Think of London, then times by two.
- There's a currywurst (spicy sausages) stand on literally every second corner. They give you your currywurst slathered in paprika ketchup, with a white roll, and you can get a black coffee to go with it. Sooo yummy. And there's at least one bakery for every two streets, and at least one kebab shop for every block. Crepe stands are pretty popular too.
- When Germans have a sweet section in a proper supermarket, it's not just half a shelf unit. It's at least one full shelf unit (usually two), floor to ceiling, an aisle long, stacked with chocolates and sweets.
- In Germany (odd fact out, but it's weird), chocolate is primarily a summer thing, rather than a winter thing like in England.
- Berlin isn't half-hearted about its Wiehnachtsmarkte. They'll close off streets if they have to, lining them with dozens of small wooden huts, decorated with fake snow (if it isn't already snowing - sometimes even if it is) and strung with fairy lights. The markets smell of roasted and sugared nuts, which you can buy inn paper cones, caramalised grapes (rather than toffee apples) and mulled wine.
- German's have an awesome tradtional meet-up called Cafe und Kuchen which - instead of afternoon tea - is basically Coffee and Cakes. Germans will invite half a dozen friends over at about three or four o'clock, and they'll sit down for a good few hours of hobnobbing over a table groaning with cakes and pastries (you rememeber I said about all those bakeries..?) and will drink copious amounts of coffee through out. For me, a non-tea-drinker, this is an ultimate afternoon treat.

Ah yes, that wonderful, ridiculous city. And this time, I'm planning on joining my friends in doing the complete tourist thing. When we went before, it was mainly to see family, but this time I'm planning on learning and soaking up my German heritage as much as I can. This will include trips to the Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate, another visit to Checkpoint Charlie, and of course all the markets. But also will include sampling the Berlin nightlife. Which, going by reports from friends, should be interesting... Roll on the 16th!
(That's alot of parentheses too.)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

she built a blanket fort

So I have an edit for you - my blanket fort poem, now complete with a photo! Elou from ElouCarroll Photography, also known as KeyChild, helped me bring my poem to life. The "blanket fort" was constructed, the fairylights strung, and the red balloon aquired. And Elou added the magic :)

in a blanket fort constructed from fragile sheets of securities,
padded out inside with cushions of collected comforts,
the little girl curls in the love-light of the lamp through the fabric
and puts her hands over her ears to block out the rage of reality.
if she squeezes her eyes shut in her creatively constructed cocoon,
bites her lips together and hums a childhood lullaby,
the notes will add a throbbing bass of bars to her security.
she's hiding from the adult road to adolescence,
the years of awkward promised pretence before a foothold is found.
in her childish dreams she doesn't have to walk that way.
she thinks she's found a safe-place, and so she sings in her sleep.
tangled between her fingers she holds the string of a red balloon.
her gift to her grandchildren. if she can hold it that long.
the fairy lights above her head pretend to be stars.


Monday, 7 November 2011

So sensible.

So polite, so sensible, so
how did you find me?
Except, for someone so sensible...
I attempt missions.
Misguided travels.
Mutual ground is a safe bet,
don't you think?
I'll be wearing something blue.
I'll be carrying a bowler hat.
I'll be humming that song.
Casual, accidently-on-purpose.
Something like:
Oh, I'll be Here on the 17th.
Wouldn't it be funny
if I bumped into someone
Someone like you?
What a laugh.
Wink wink.
Nudge nudge.
Nod nod.
Or code. A sly mention
to catch attention.
Mutual ground is a safe bet,
don't you think?
Then tippy-toe-nervous
w a i t i n g.
I attempt missions.
Misguided travels.
Unrealistic planning.
Incomplete idea-starting.
Too polite, too sensible, to
try to find you.
For someone so sensible...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Quick Post - No.13

Whoever created this is a genius.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


CocoRosie sing of stories,
of summer dreaming and lemonade,
of gallows screaming and werewolf moons,
and from their music dreams are made.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


*strikes SuperWoman pose and disappears in a puff of smoke*

And counting.

Twelve miles away
(that's forty-eight less than before)
and now it's over and I know.
A day too late.
You stood so tall, and walked so proud;
a black and white photograph
amongst graffiti bright currancy.
So admired. So beautiful.
And I didn't see
how much easier you found it til now.
A day too late.
The nightingale, still singing,
(for hope is the thing with feathers)
is replaced with a thing of gold and gems
and forgotten even to be forgotten.
Your life so busy, so bright,
it blinded.
You step on my collected;
beautiful, cracked and fading stills.
Walked right past my door.
Twelve tries away
(that's fourty-eight less than before)
and now it's over, and you know.
A day too late.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

An average in-kitchen Saturday afternoon.

"It's not a question, it's a life!"
"And that is 45thousand. And _that_ is 45thousand. And THAT is please. If I throw myself off the chair, you know why.!
"It's shocking, I might cry. I'M NOT CRYING."
"I keep spilling my teeea!"
"Mum, it's going to be reeeally weird without chocolate bits in. I'm confused."
"Well that's because your stairs are slanted. How many years have I been telling you to unslant those stairs?! And NOTHING HAPPENS."
"Well, you need to keep trying."
"YOU'RE very trying. Heh heh."
"I just got chocolate in my tea!"
"We need like the Dyson hand dryers that go *kkkkrrrrcccchhhhh*"
"Try not to use the different, um, the thing... You have to leave it otherwise it goes, um nono, you have to go..."
"What do you mean you're not hot enough yet?"
"Well I'm only a centigrade not hot enough, but you know, the thought's there."

Friday, 30 September 2011

Summer meets Autumn.

I'm a Summer girl, really. So I've been loving the heat wave this week. It appears I'm not the only one either - I finally made it to my favourite park today with a camera, and took a few sneaky shots of the public's enjoyment of the heat.
So here is South Park in the sun:

A slightly wonky shot of the famous spires - sorry about that, guys.

Some beautiful colour in those trees.

People enjoying the shade under said trees...

Lens flare, woot!

A rather dramatic catch from the guy in the blue shorts - I felt like I should have been applauding, but that would have drawn attention to the fact I was taking their picture.

Beautiful shadows stretched across the grass...

I feel like putting in this photo is bad form, seeing as it's vertical instead of horizontal, but I like it, so the OCD people out there will have to make do :P

And a final full shot of the park from the top of the main hill. How I love this space.

Now I've shown you the Summer, let me tell you the Autumn. Walking along the grass barefoot (of course, why wear shoes?) I came across a patch that had been blanketed with the dried flames of crisp fallen leaves. If you have never shuffled barefoot through a layer of Autumn leaves on a bright green carpet of soft grass, you have not experienced life to the full. I would recommend this experience especially for those of us who specially walk close to the wall so they can crackle through drifts of leaves on the pavement, or find themselves walking the street funny because they want to crunch a leaf under their foot with every step. Yes, I'm talking to you...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

I've been song-obsessing...

I'm a tad annoyed that I can't link to youtube anymore - the internet sees my new lappy-top as a mobile or andriod. Therefor youtube fails. Sad times.
Anyways, you know how some songs just get stuck to you for a time? Well, over the last week I've had these ones on repeat...

Ed Sheeran - Could just be the bassline.
Ridiculously catchy. Plus it's Ed Sheeran.

The Weekend - The Knowing.
Repeat, please.

One night only - Say you don't want it (acoustic)
Is cute. Also, the lead singer looks suspiciously like a guy I know... Which always makes me do a double-take whenever I see him singing.

Adele - Someone like you.
Ahh, this woman's voice is amaaazing.

Lisa Hannigan - I don't know.
I'm in love with this song. She sings to her future partner, and the simplicity of it is beautiful.

Frank Sinatra- Killing me softly.
Golden oldies. Any cover of this song fails to do the original justice.

Jen Titus - O death.
Drama! Incredibly full sound. Soul-touching. (Go youtubing and look up Death's enterance into Supernatural. It has this song in the background - never watched the series, but this... deity's(?) entrance is awesome.)

Emily Browning - Sweet Dreams.
Daaark and pretty. From the soundtrack of Suckerpunch.*

Manu Chao - Bongo Bong.
Hehe. Sounds like the Gorillaz. Only not. "Je ne t'aime plus, mon amour. Je ne t'aime plus, tous les jours."

Malajube - Montreal 40.
French people. I have no idea what they're saying, but the track is brilliant. As is the music video :)

So there you have 'em. Not one of the most imaginative posts, I know. But I wanted to music share! *runs back to speakers to put all back on repeat*

* Sucker Punch. Good storyline? Nope. Depressing. Leaves much to be desired. Amazing acting? Nope. Vanessa Hudgens, pleeease try to act! Happy ending? ... Debatable. I'd say no. BUT. Very pretty girls in pretty cool outfits kicking the butts of a range of monsters, from zombie soldiers to robot guards, in a video-game style (explosions and dramatic kick-flips included), to an awesome soundtrack? Win!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Words of wisdom.

"When you breathe, you inspire. When you do not breathe, you expire."

she built a blanket fort.

in a blanket fort constructed from fragile sheets of securities,
padded out inside with cushions of collected comforts,
the little girl curls in the love-light of the lamp through the fabric
and puts her hands over her ears to block out the rage of reality.
if she squeezes her eyes shut in her creatively constructed cocoon,
bites her lips together and hums a childhood lullaby,
the notes will add a throbbing bass of bars to her security.
she's hiding from the adult road to adolescence,
the years of awkward promised pretence before a foothold is found.
in her childish dreams she doesn't have to walk that way.
she thinks she's found a safe-place, and so she sings in her sleep.
tangled between her fingers she holds the string of a red balloon.
her gift to her grandchildren. if she can hold it that long.
the fairy lights above her head pretend to be stars.

Gorjuss - Flying above it all.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

"This little Bluebird came looking for you.
I said that I hadn't seen you in quite some time.
This little Bluebird, she came looking again.
I said we weren't even friends, she could have you."

Christina Perri - Bluebird

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Would you rather pass away
and let time stay
or watch time pass away
while you stay?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part eight (end)

When I got back on Saturday afternoon, the children were already home. Mother was sat in the living room with a mug of tea. "We thought we'd be home to welcome you, Catherine," she explained. "And why don't you have a teapot and teacups? I'm drinking out of a mug. It's all wrong."
"I'm not a tea drinker, Mother." I moved to the window. Liam was drawing a goalpost on the shed wall with chalk. "You know that."
"Well, you should still have one for guests. I'll bring you one of my older ones when I next visit."
"It'll only get broken."
Mother tutted as she fingered a chip on the mug's edge. "You really should take more care of your belongings, Catherine. You can't blame all these breakages on the children!"
"I don't." Liam spotted me through the window, and waved excitedly, gesturing with both hands at the chalked shape on the shed, and expressively mouthing "Goal posts! Is that okay?" I nodded my agreement at him, and he grinned and gave me a thumbs up sign, before disappearing into the shed to fetch his football.
"Where's Mel?"
"Oh, upstairs or something. She went straight to reunite Mr Bear and Dolly-de, or so I gathered. Or maybe she's on the stairs."
"On the stairs?" I turned to face her. "Mother, I asked you to keep her away from the stairs! Even you said they were dangerous to play on. For goodness sakes!" I started for the living room door. Mother sighed, "Well I'm sorry! It's not like anyone's needing to use the stairs. I thought she'd be fine." I'd stopped listening, marching out into the hall. I stopped when I got to the foot of the stairs. Mel was sat halfway up with Mr Bear and Dolly-de perched on the steps next to her, singing a little song as she played with Dolly-de's hair. It wasn't a song I recognised. "Halfway up the stairs is a staaair where I sit. There isn't any other stair quite like it. It's not the bottom, it's not at the top!" There was a pause as she lifted Dolly-de onto her lap. She hummed the tune, in the broken way I knew meant she'd forgotton some of the words. Her thin voice echoed off the wooden walls of the big hallway. "And all sorts of funneee thoughts run around my head!"
"Mel!" I called softly."Mel, I'm home!" She didn't respond. Just kept playing with Dolly-de's hair and singing. "It isn't really anywhere, it's somewhere else instead!" I stepped up onto the first step. Step: one. "Mel?" She ignored me, her head turned away, her attention diverted. She was tugging at Dolly-de's hair in time to the song. "It's not at the bottom!" Tug. "It's not at the top!" Tug. I went up to her, put a hand on her shoulder. "Mel, honey?" She turned to face me. Green eyes glinted. Cute little mouth open. Head tilted to one side.
"Who's Mel?"

She sits on my lap and I tell her stories. My bony hands clutched at her dress, her soft, pudgy arms wrapped around my sharp elbows to keep her from falling off. While Liam watches. Protective. Towards the end of their visit, I show her the little sweet tin from the table next to my armchair, and let her wriggle her way off my lap and onto the floor. "Now you go and count the stairs. Go on! Just to make sure. Go and make sure there's still fourteen steps." And I smile. As if it's a game.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A photoshoot with a bee.

So much storying going on! *flails* Last installment tomorrow, me thinks.
I should probably be sleeping. Work calls tomorrow with the breakfast shift, 7 30am start. [ Enter long, contemplative pause here... ] Nah. A few more minutes won't hurt.
I took a photo of a honey bee today. Announcement of the week, right? I was doing a bit of gardening - back aching, up to my elbows in dirt, hands scratched and stung by many, many weeds - with the sun against my shoulders, amidst the smell of freshly turned soil, with the ladybirds for company. Lovely. And there was this little bee, buzzing busily around some pink flowers. Settle, turn, lift, buzz, settle, turn. KeyChild has been kind enough to lend me her Nixon. I fiddled with the exposure, shutter speed, iso, etc etc etc, and the flower turned from black to white to pink in my lense (those settings can be hard to negociate). I took a few photos, as the bee fussed its way along the petals. Experimented with framing, using the flowers to create an asthetically pleasing border for my model. A photoshoot with a bee. "Turn a little more to the left, darling. No, the left... There we go. Oh, perfect darling, perfect. Simply divine!" And then he took off, wings fizzing through the air, headed for the second flower, and my finger hit the button automatically, and lookit! A honey bee in flight!

After all that fussing. A complete accident. "Simply divine!"

Ps. On the subject of bees - did you know that the name of the headmaster of a certain now-famous school of wizardery and witchcraft attended by one bespectabled individual actually means bumblebee? Love it.

Pps. Also, another name for an umbrella is "bumbershoot". I am never using the word "umbrella" again.

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part seven.

After the children had gone to school the next morning, I moved the children's beds and favourite toys downstairs. I made a blanket fort in the living room, rearranging the furniture so that there were three sleeping areas. One on either side for Liam and Mel, and one in the middle for me. I set up a treasure hunt along the bottom floor, and set a barrier across the bottom of the stairs. I gathered together our explorer outfits - finding Grandpa's old "Captain Jack" coat for Liam, and sewing big brass buttons and gold braid, and a flower patch, onto an old purple jacket of mine for Mel - and hung them on the coat hanger by the door, with our newly cleaned wellies arranged underneath, and our explorer hats perched on top. I phoned the school and arranged for the children to have a few days off. Then I phoned my Mother. "Of course Liam and Mel can stay with me for a bit! Is this over the weekend?"
"No, Mother. They'll spend the weekend with me, then come to yours on Monday for a few days. Is that okay?"
"That would be lovely, dear. I think your Father and I would appreciate a little young life around the place for a bit! Planning a holiday, are you?"
"No, no. I just thought that the children would benefit from spending some time in an old favourite place of theirs, after having to settle into the new house so quickly." The flattery softened my Mother up, as I knew it would. "Well, that's lovely. Of course they can stay. As long as they like! You make sure you take a break too, Catherine. Don't spend all that time working!"
"I shan't. Thanks Mum. I'll drop them round Monday morning, at about 11."

The weekend was perfect. Mel didn't go near the stairs, accepting my explanation of the barrier without arguement. "That's cannibals up there - we can't go up there, they'll eat us! We have to stay in the jungle down here." We camped out in the living room, toasting bits of bread over Granma's open fire, and telling jungle stories till the fire died down to glowing embers. We drew pictures of the animals we encountered along our expedition, and made juice-cocktail antidotes when Liam got poisoned by a snake. We found the cure for the dreaded Jung Disease, and caught the last living specimen of the Fire Moth, which Mel kept in a glass jar by her bed till I told her we needed to let it go before it became the last dead specimen. Then on Monday morning, we clambered into the back of our Jungle Jeep, and made our way back to "civilisation", laden with our spoils and discoveries.
I spent the next four days mostly at home. I cleared away our jungle. I caught up on the paperwork that had built up. I phoned Mother every morning to talk to the children, and went to see them twice. Mel and Liam seemed more content in my Mother's house. Mel was not as quiet, not as withdrawn, and Liam seemed happier to be around her than he had been at home. I thought maybe we were making progress. That all they'd needed was a break from the stress-residue of moving into a new house. On the last night, I locked up the house and checked myself in to the local hotel for a night. I figured I needed a break too.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part six.

It was true that Mel was quieter, though. She appeared to have withdrawn into herself a little. As the days went by, she became more withdrawn, her behaviour more erratic. She'd forget where rooms were in the house, or there'd be a moment of confusion on her face when I asked her to go and find Liam, or she'd be sitting at the table and forget to eat. I'd sit in the kitchen and listen to her, playing on the stairs, going up and down, up and down, counting the steps out loud. Always she would get the number wrong. And always she'd get to step seven, and there'd be a pause. A minute of silence. Before the eighth step.
One night I counted the steps with her. We made it all the way to the top. Fifteen. Then all the way back down. Three times. I showed her that she was wrong. She cried herself to sleep that night.
Then one day, Liam came to find me. "Mum?" He stood at the kitchen door, fingers twisting round themselves. His face was white. He jigged nervously up and down on this toes. I put my pen down and turned my chair to face him. "Liam? What's the matter? Are you okay?" I put my arms out and he clambered onto my lap. He put his skinny arms around my neck and I held him close, stroking his curls down smooth. "Mum," his voice was muffled in my shoulder. "Can I sleep in my fort in the loft tonight please?" I leant back and turned my head towards him, and he sat up and stared at his hands in his lap. "It's a school night, Liam."
"I know. I won't stay up late or anything, promise!" He looked up at me, pleading. "I've set up a proper bed and everything, come and have a look!" He slipped off my lap and grabbed my hand, dragging me out of my chair and to the stairs. Mel was sat at the top of the stairs, with Mr Bear sat next to her, conducting some serious conversation with her favourite cuddly toy. Liam let go of my hand and ran past her without looking at her. He didn't pause when he knocked the toy off the step and down the stairs. I caught Mr Bear and handed him back to Mel as I went past. When I got upstairs to the loft, Liam was sat on his makeshift bed amongst cardboard walls, hugging his knees. His body cast a long shadow against the back wall from the desk lamp he had plugged in next to his pillow. I gently pushed aside one of the boxes. "That wasn't very nice, Liam. You should have apologised to Mel for messing up her game."
"Sorry," Liam muttered into his knees. I carefully manuvered myself into position on his mattress, tucking my feet close to my body to avoid knocking over a wall. "So why'd you want to sleep up here?" Liam shrugged. "I just wanna."
"I don't wanna sleep next to Mel. That's all. Can I sleep up here, pleeease, Mum?"
"Liam, what's wrong with Mel?" I turned to face him. "Something's wrong, but I can't work out what." Liam shrugged. His face still buried in his knees. "I dunno."
"Liam? Please help me out here."
"I don't know. But..." He turned to look at me. "Something's wrong with her eyes." I nodded. "Okay." I stood up, keeping my head bent to avoid knocking it on the low ceiling. "Of course you can sleep up here. Stay here as long as you like. But if I see the light on past 8 30, you're moving in with me, got it?" I smiled down at him. His face echoed mine. "Thanks Mum!"
"Don't forget to brush your teeth."

Mel was still playing on the stairs with Mr Bear. The hallway light was off. The street light from outside created a sharp shadow pattern through the banisters that sat in crooked shapes across Mel's shoulders. I sat down next to her. "Bedtime, Mel-bell." Mel hugged Mr Bear close to her chest. "But I don't wanna go to bed."
"It's a school night, Mel. You know the rules." When she didn't move, I put a finger under her chin and tilted her face towards me. She stared at me with those big blue eyes. "Bedtime." For a split second, the eyes flared green. I let go of her chin and flinched back, shocked. Then she blinked, and her eyes returned to blue, and she tilted her head back and screwed them up and whined, like she usually did, about how Liam got to go to bed later than her, and anyway, she wasn't sleepy at aaall yet! But for that spilt second, I'd seen in her eyes an anger and annoyance that was competely out of proportion with the situation; an anger that was almost adult-like in its strength.
I put her to bed. Tucked her up with Mr Bear and Dolly-de, and a bedtime story. She wriggled and giggled throughout the whole process as normal, and I found myself wondering if I'd imagined it. If Liam's remark about her eyes had me seeing things. It was ridiculous.
After I'd checked Liam's light was off, I made my way slowly to the stairs. I counted them as I went down. Step: one. Step: two. Step: three. There were fifteen steps. Always had been, always will be. The trees outside tapped long fingers against the pane of the kitchen window, and the sound skittered along the floor of the empty hall and up my legs and back. The wind shook a dirge out of the leaves. I turned. Put one foot on the first step. Counted out loud. "One." Next step. "Two." Next step. "Three. Four. Five. Six." When I got to step seven, I held the word and the step like Mel did, prolonging each before bringing my foot down towards step eight. "Seveeen..." My foot hovered in thin air, my body almost tipping itself over in its attempt to keep its position. Then just as my foot began to come down towards the eighth step, I found myself falling. Falling through blackness and cold, with the air whistling past my ears, my arms and legs flailing out, my mouth opened in a scream- my foot hit the eighth step with a jarring thud that echoed throughout the hall. I toppled over, my hands slamming onto the ninth step. My breath came short and ragged. "Eight." Pulling myself upright, I continued up the stairs. "Nine. Ten. Eleven." There were fourteen steps. I sat on the top step, staring at the stairs, my body shaking, until the grandfather clock in the hall struck twelve. Then I dragged myself to my feet, and made my way to bed.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part five.

The weeks passed. School started. The children loved coming back from their days at school to their new home. We each found our own favourite spots. Mine was the kitchen. The Aga in the corner kept the room toasty warm, and the huge old table was a perfect space for me to spread out all the papers and files that constituted my work. And with the biscuits and kettle within reaching distance.
Liam's was his room. He made a whole world of imagination up there. Using the many cardboard boxes left over from moving house, we built a fort there one weekend. A fort that covered almost half of his substantial-sized room. We also extended it up the secret passage to one side of the loft, so that he had a mini town of carboard houses spreading over a full corner of the house. I bought him packets of oversized marker pens, and he decorated the cardboard walls with dragons and aliens, cityscapes and mountains. There was even a Tardis hidden down one cardboard street.

"What about Melanie?" my mother asked me. "Where does she like to spend her time? I imagine that Liam doesn't always appreciate having his little sister getting in the way of his games in his City." She smiled fondly out of her living room window, where Liam was kicking a football against the garage wall, often missing the white goalposts painted on it. "She likes the stairs, strangely." Mother took a sip of her tea. "The stairs? What an odd place to get attatched to."
"Mmm." I brushed some cake crumbs off my lap. They peppered the green carpet, and Mother's songbird flew down from its perch to peck them up. "We painted her room together last weekend. In pink and yellow, of course. And we set up her toys and belongings on shelves that I put on the walls at her height. But she has a habit of moving her games into the hallway, to sit at the top of the stairs and spread down the steps.
I tried to discourage her. The amount of toys that were left to trip people up and generally cause havoc was ridiculous. But nothing I said or did would change her mind. In the end, it's nice to have her there. She's learned how to tidy up after herself now. And I can hear her playing from the kitchen when I work."
"Stairs are dangerous, Catherine. Little children should not be allowed to play on them." Mother put her cup down on its saucer and looked reprovingly at me. "You should really put a stop to it." I nodded in halfhearted agreement. "How is she otherwise though? Is she settled in?"
"She's quiet." I stood up, and went to the window. Mel was squatted on the grass, poking bits of stick into the dirt to make a circle of wooden pieces, then laying brightly coloured flowers picked from the flowerbeds in the middle of the circle. "She's quieter than usual. I think maybe she hasn't properly settled in just yet. Sometimes when she's playing on the stairs and I'm working in the kitchen, it goes all quiet. When I look over at her, she's sitting completely still on the stairs. Aways the same place, exactly halfway up. Not making a noise. When I get up to go and talk to her, she starts, and looks at me as if I've appeared out of nowhere. All shocked and surprised. It's odd."
Mother rattled her cup in its saucer. "Well I know a good child psychiatrist if you think it's necessary, Catherine."
"Mother!" The shock registered in my voice, and Mother looked at me crossly. "Well, you never know, dear! Moving house can be very unsettling to a child, and after your divorce..."
"Mel does not need a psychiatrist, Mother. She just needs more time." As I left the room, I heard Mother sigh. "Poor Melanie. I never did like those stairs."

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part four.

Time passed quickly. There was alot to do. The children helped as best as they could with the cleaning and tidying. We made it into a game. Every morning we put on our explorer hats - mine was a straw sunhat, Liam's was a fireman's helmet, and Mel's was a bright pink wooly bobble-hat - and collected our equipment, and went to unearth treasures. We cleared out the rooms one by one, throwing away and donating dozens of binbags worth of junk, coming down each evening covered in cobwebs, and carrying armfuls of treasures to be stowed away in the spare room. Once the house was set to rights, the children would be able to play with, dress up in, and make a mess with all of the bits and bobs put in the spare room. But not till then. A kind of bribe to help get the house done.
One Saturday, we finished at lunch time, and I gave the children leave to play at will in the few tidy rooms. Liam disappeared into his bedroom to organise his belongings. I sat in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, and watched the rain slick grey patterns on the thick glass of the kitchen windows. The cup was burning my hands, but it was a relief from the cold water I'd been sluicing down the furniture with upstairs. I could hear Mel playing with her dolls at the top of the stairs. "How lovely of you to come, Mr Bear! Would you like some tea? Sit up, Dolly-de. Sit ups! There. I pour the tea, shall I?" I closed my eyes. Weariness laid a heavy hand over my eyelids. Mel's voice chattered on in the background; a backdrop set of chords for the melody of the raindrops. "Your dress looks pretty today, Dolly-de! Is it from Sainsburys? I thought so, I got my dress from there too, see? More tea, Mr Bear?" There was a series of bouncing clinks as a teacup escaped and skipped down the stairs. I heard Mel put the teapot down with a clank. "Oh BOTHER."
Her steps tripped their way down the stairs. "One, two, three!" she sang. "Seveeen... eight! Nine, ten, eleben, twelves. Erm. Firteen. Fourteen!" The teacup chimed as it rolled over the uneven planks at the foot of the stairs. I heard Mel pick up it up and start her way back up the stairs. "Ooone, two, sree, four, fives. Six, seveeen..." There was a pause. Silence from the stairs. I opened my eyes. Silence. I waited. Silence. I put down my cup and pushed out my chair. "Mel?" There was a small sound from the stairs. Mel said, "Oh!" She was stood on the step, her foot raised above the next one, her eyes wide and shocked. "Mel? Mel, are you okay honey?" She turned towards me. Eyes blue and round. "Mummy?"
I ran up the stairs and knelt on the sixth step so that my face was just below hers. "You okay?" She blinked. "I'm... I forgotted the number." I hesitated. "It's number eight, honey." She blinked again. "Eight!" She turned away from me and stomped up the stairs. "Eight, nine, ten, elebens, twelve, firteen, fourteen!" She reached the top of the stairs and plonked herself down next to Mr Bear. "I has your teacup Mr Bear! More tea?"
I made my way back downstairs. I'd told her the wrong number, she must have been on step nine. She must have missed counting one of the bottom steps or something. I shook my head and poured the rest of my coffee down the sink. Tomorrow I would send the children to their Grandmama's for a few days. They needed a break from this house.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part three.

When it came to bedtime, we went up the stairs together, counting them one by one. Step: one. Step: two. Step: three. All the way to fifteen. She pouted a little at the unfairness of it, as I tucked her into the makeshift bed between mine and Liam's on the floor of my room. "But there was fourteen Mummy, there was! Cause you goooes..." She lifted her hands in the air above her head. "Five, six..." Her right hand patted the air. "Seveeen..." Her right hand stretched towards the ceiling. "EIGHT!" She dropped her right hand as her left hand shot up towards the ceiling. "Nine, ten, elebens..." Her left hand continued patting the air till she got to fourteen. Then she smiled at me triumphantly, as if she'd proved a mystery of the universe. "See?" I said that I did. And apologised for the apparently wrong number of steps that evening. Liam clambered between the layers of his sleeping bag next to Mel. "I'm sleeping here tonight cause I've got to look after you and Mum," he explained unnecessarily to an uninterested Mel. I left them counting the cobwebs on the ceiling, to the yellow glow of the hallway light, and went to continue unpacking the saucepans and crockery in the kitchen.
When I finally went upstairs to bed, it was past midnight. My feet carried me up the stairs one tired step at a time, my eyes half closed, and when I got to the top of the flight, I stumbled. My foot had lifted itself in preparation of another apparently nonexistant step, then fell with sickening speed and weight to slam against the wooden floor of the hallway. My body swayed with the shock of the unbalance, and I clutched at the wall to steady myself. My bed was welcome in its sleep-inducing comfort. I fell asleep to the snuffly sounds of Mel's breathing, and the shuffling of Liam as he continued to move, even in his sleep.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

I take shelter
in this way.
hide away...

Maybe I had said
something that was wrong.
Can I make it better
with the lights turned on?

The xx - Shelter

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

And so it comes down to this. Again.

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part two.

It wasn't till I was in my thirties, had been married, divorced, and had two children, that I moved into Granma's house. We opened the heavy wooden door, and I watched the dust rise around my children's feet as they scampered into the big hall and ran circles through the downstairs rooms. I supervised the removal men as the children made a racket upstairs. When they came down for drinks and biscuits, panting and flushed, they were covered in cobwebs and had dust balls clinging to their clothes. "Children! You look like you've found the messiest part of the house to play in!" Their replies were indignant. "We weren't playing!"
"Yeah, we weren't playing!"
"We were exploring!"
"I'm an explorer, Mummy!"
"We found such coooool stuff!" Liam leant forward over the table towards me, while Mel stuck her grubby hand into her glass of orange juice to fish out a broken section of biscuit. "Mum, I found a sword in one of the rooms! A sword! And there's a wardrobe that's still full of clothes - I found a coat that looks like Captain Jack's from Dr Who, can I have it pleeease, and I found a hat with roses on it that Mel was wearing, but then she sat on it, but I think it's okay, and there's a lion's head on the wall in the hallway, or maybe it's a tiger's - Mum, why is there a lion's head on the wall? - and I found my room!" Liam paused to take a breath, and I took Mel's drink off her and fished the soggy biscuit out with a spoon, which she took off me and sucked contentedly. Outside, the removal men were manhandling a running machine out of the van, and Liam stood up on his chair in his excitement. "Muuum! Did you hear me? I found my room!"
"Sit down, Liam. Which room was it?" I tipped Mel's drink down the plughole, watching as it made an orange track through the layer of dust on the surface of the china sink, leaving behind islands of biscuit, then poured her a fresh cup. Liam had sat down, but was now swinging back and forth on his chair, the legs making rattling noises against the uneven grey tiles. "It's the one next to the bathroom. Can I have that one? It has a huuuge window in it and a secret passage to the loft!"
I remembered that room. It used to be Granpa's study. I only went in there twice as a child. The window was the same in Granma's bedroom, reaching from floor to ceiling, looking out over the now overgrown garden. "Yes, you may have that room, Liam. Go tell the removal men that's where you want your bed and your boxes to go." He leapt off his chair and disappeared out of the door, and I sat to watch Mel gulping down her juice. "What did you find on your exploring, darling? Did you find your room?" Mel swiped her mouth with the back of her hand, leaving a smudge of grey dust across her chin. "Liam founded a hat! With flowers on it, but it was all dirty so I didn't like it so I left it... somewhere. Um. And I found aaa..." She rolled her eyes up and opened her mouth wide in an effort to remember. "I founded a thing. It was quite big and had things on the side..." She gestured vaguely with her hands. "And it was all metally, kind of. And it was really heavy!" A bright smile. "So I left it. Errrm. And I found aaa... bed! It was huuuge! It was a biiig bed, Mummy, can I have a biiig bed?"
"Maybe when you're older."
"Aaaw, okays. And I founded a room that Liam said was mine and it had a pink carpet." I picked up the dishes from the table and started to rinse them at the sink. "And there's a lion in the hallway, and the bathroom door has flowers on it, and I founded a broken cup in the sink in your room, and the door to the downstairs toilet creaks alooot! And I founded a mouse nests in the wardrobe, and I counted the stairs and there was fourteen! And then I also founded a dead butterfly, which was sad. I put it in the hat. I'm going to tell the removal mans where Liam's room is."
I smiled as she scrambled down from the chair. I'd have to go and find the mouse nest and relocate them before Mel got too attatched. It was cute the way she counted the stairs, considering the amount of times I used to do it. Stomp stomp stomp, up and down. And then to Granma to collect my sweetie. "There's still fifteen stairs, Granma!" And how she'd go on about the odd number of stairs.
My smile faded. Fifteen? But... My feet clacked across the hallway floor as they carried me to the door. "Mel? Mel, where are you, honey?" Liam was outside with the removal men, getting in their way as they threw boxes at each other, and swung around our furniture. He hadn't seen her, and I issued an automatic safety warning, which the removal men batted aside with a goodnatured "We're keeping an eye on him, Mrs D", before going back into the house. She wasn't in any of the downstairs rooms. I clattered up the stairs. My mouth automatically formed the numbers as my feet hit the steps. Stamp: one, stamp: two, stamp: three. My heart beat faster the nearer I got to the top. Stamp: nine, stamp: ten, stamp: eleven. I tripped on the thirteenth step. There were fifteen steps. Of course there were. Childish error, that's all.
She wasn't in any of the top rooms either. My voice bounced off the old panelled walls. She wasn't locked in any of the wardrobes mistake. She hadn't fallen through the broken slats of the old king-sized bed. She hadn't tripped over an uneven floorboard and knocked herself unconcious. I went back downstairs. Fifteen steps - once fifteen steps, always fifteen steps.
As I reached the front door, her voice caught my attention. "Mummy?" She was standing halfway up the stairs, one hand clutching the banister, peering through the wooden poles. "Mel! Where've you been?" I ran up the stairs and sat her on my lap. She poked my cheek with a finger. "I been exploring!" Her body was warm and soft against my chest.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Quick Post - No.11

Just lookit this.
And remember to fly, once in a while.

Halfway up the stairs - story. Part one.

"Never get a house that doesn't have an odd number of stairs."
That's what my Granma always said. "You don't want a house with an even number of stairs, oh no." She'd shake her head and purse her lips. "You want a house with an odd number of stairs. Like eleven. Eleven is a good number of steps for a house. Or fifteen. My house in Cransbury used to have fifteen steps. That's why I bought this house, as well. Fifteen steps is a good number. But you don't want an even number, no no."
I'd be sitting on her lap. Her bony hands clutched at my dress, my soft, pudgy arms wrapped around her sharp elbows to keep me from falling off. She would lean back in her chair and tap her fingers against my knee. "You pay attention to your old grandmother, now." She'd smile at me, her eyes crinkling around the corners. "You listen to your crotchety old grandmother now. She knows what she's talking about!" Then she'd show me the little round sweet tin from the table next to her chair, and let me wriggle my way off her lap and onto the floor. "Now you go and count the stairs. Go on! Just to make sure. Go and make sure there's still fifteen steps." And she'd smile again, like it was a game. And I would go and count the steps. Stomp: one. Stomp: two. Stomp: three. All the way to the top. And then back down again. Stomp: one. Stomp: two. Stomp: three. Just to make sure. Then I'd go back to my Granma, and she'd give me a sweet from the tin, and let me choose if it was a pink one or a yellow one. Then I was free to go and play while she and Mama talked.
When I was eleven, I asked her why. Why should I only have a house with an odd number of steps? And she said, "Well, it's bad luck, isn't it child?" And looked at me all surprised, as if I should have known.
When I was thirteen, I told her that the number of steps in the house wasn't going to change. If there were fifteen steps, there were always going to be fifteen steps. And she looked at me as if I had thrown a stone at her in the street, her thin fingers tight and white and tangled in her lap, and I went and counted them again for her. All the way up to the top and back down, and then again. Just in case.
When I was fifteen, my Granma died. She left me the house in her will. It was dusted and cleaned, and covered and locked up, and left for when I turned twenty-one. Twenty-one was a respectible age to own a house, Granma said in her will.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

"In search of a lifetime
to tell when he's home.
In search of a story
that's never been known."

Nick Drake - Three Hours

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Male multitasking impressitivity.

So today on my way to work I was standing at the side of an always busy main road waiting for a chance to cross, when a man in a suit, riding a bicycle, and shaving his chin at the same time as cycling, came careening round the corner opposite me, and wobbled off down the road.
Surreal much.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Me: I'm so ooold! D:
My little sister: Now you can drink alcohol at your wedding!
Me: I already could. ...What wedding?

Halfway up the stairs.

The stairs in this house are one step too few. On both flights. In our old house there were fifteen steps. I counted them one day. And then forgot what number they were. Then counted them again to remember. I used the number to make sure that when I was going up them in the dark, or while I was carrying something big so that I couldn't see my feet, I still got to the top/bottom of the flight without falling over. Now, after at least fifteen years in our old house (how nicely the numbers coincide), my feet are so used to fifteen steps that I'm constantly falling over myself at the top of these fourteen-step flights in expectation of another step, or ending at the bottom of the flight in a jarring thud as my foot hits floor sooner than it expects. Dammit.
Ah, but having fifteen steps was important for another reason. Not only because it's a nice number (a comforting number, a kind of comfortable number), it is also odd. An odd number of steps when I was a child was important. I assume you know AA.Milne? The author of Winnie-the-Pooh. Delightful writer. He wrote a poem, that my family used to sing when I was a child.

"Halfway up the stairs
is a stair where I sit.
There isn't any other stair
quite like it.
It's not at the bottom,
it's not at the top.
But this is the stair
where I always stop.
Halfway up the stairs
isn't up and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
it isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
run around my head.
It isn't really anywhere,
it's somewhere else instead."

I've got the structure wrong, but the words are right. Or right enough. Memorised as a little girl. It took a few years for that song to sink in, but when it did, I stomped my way up and down those stairs, counting and then counting, till I was sure when I'd found the half-way-step. Then that is where I would sit. With a book, curled up against the wall out of people's way. Or with a notepad and pencil, scribbling nonsense. Or just for a minute to peer through (and later over) the banisters, just in case there was something worth seeing.
Now these new stairs don't have a halfway up. There's just that moment, for a split second, when your foot is suspended in midair between the seventh and eighth step, with your body wavering in space, when you're exactly halfway up the stairs. Not a particularly easy place to think.
And now that I've realized what it is that makes my body feel that tiny bit uncomfortable while going up and down those stairs, I feel like I'm missing something. I'm missing a step.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Gotta love a convert ;)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Third wheel.

She lay between two duvets.
Legs still tacky from last night's

Ever tried to forget that she's up there
with her man
in the double bed above yours
in the arms of someone
unlike you?

She has a tissue in her hand
and her cheeks are wet.

She pressed music into her ears.
Volume still too loud from the afternoon's

It's hard to forget that you're resting
best as you can
in a double bed that's "spare"
borrowed from someone
but not yours.

She has a tendency to ignore it
and save it for later.

She watched the paint swirls on the ceiling.
Palms still raw from the evening's

Think it's time to forget you're labelled
in a double bed half empty
lacking that someone
all yours


Everyone knows at least one person like this...


Thursday, 11 August 2011

"There's one girl I like,
she's a smile on a Monday
and she'll fight to stay so.
And she's like the sun on the weekend."

Lisa Hannigan - Sea Song.

Monday, 8 August 2011


The Marie Antoinette dress is complete. Completed just hours before the deadline. Phew! I feel I should be writing an account of the process - I feel that is what this momentous task requires - but I fear I have a lack of energy. Have a photo instead:

Ent she pretty?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Hospital corners.

A flick of the wrist
The billow and snap of white fabric
Soft as a cloud
with creases sharp as paper
Fold and tuck
times four
Sweep a hand across the flat
to straighten the wrinkles
Hospital corners
Heavy warmth cased in purity
Laid on top
And neat under
Two pockets of comfort
Plumped and placed
A tug and a smile
Then covered with flowers

Friday, 29 July 2011


There is something I forgot to add when posting the photo of Mister Squirrel. On that same day, we met a man who should be commended for his patience. He saw us taking photos of the charismatic Mister Squirrel, and consequently called us over.
"If you're that good with that camera, taking photos of that squirrel, you can come take a photo of this Jay bird," says he, in those approxmiate words, anyway. I shooed my camera-toting KeyChild over to him while I gathered up our junk and said goodbye to our new squirelly friend. I arrived too late to see the Jay bird. But I heard the story behind it.
There are only a few Jay birds in our part of the country. They travel in pairs, and I've only ever seen two couples in my area. They're rather large, and have beautiful blue colouring on their wings. They're also notoriousy loud, and very people-shy. Through perseverance and alot of patience, however, this man had managed to gain the trust of one Jay bird enough that it would come sit at the other end of the bench as he, and eat bread from the wooden slats. It had taken him "Six months. I come here everyday, to this bench and it's taken me six months to get him to come down here and eat with me." Bird tamer extraordinaire. That's special.

Ps. Also, my new lappytoppy thing does not have automatic spell check on my internet writings. So I keep spelling things wrong and there's no red line to sarcastically point out my mistakes. What, I'm going to have to proof read?! Effort much.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Meet Mister Squirrel.

We made friends in Christ Church Meadows. He is veeery cute.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Friday, 22 July 2011


I have the most beautiful friends.
So my birthday is coming up. Kinda an important one, actually. Milestone being marked, and all that. And yet, after the five-month planning, and four-day party and celebration of last year’s birthday, I sadly had precious little planning energy this year. A get together with all my girls was in order, yes! But half of us have started new jobs. A couple were on holiday, or staying in their Uni places. Complications, complications, complications. My sister and two of my girlfriends kept saying, “What are you going to do? What are you going to plan?” And I found myself saying, “Ohhh, I don’t know. Maybe someone else could plan it this year, I just can’t be bothered to get my head round people’s dates and all that,” with a sadly childish pout on my face. Did I think anyone else would step up to the mark and start making the plans? Course not! It’s a momentous task! If I had not the willpower to work at it, how could I expect someone else to?
July 16th, the earache started. Ow. The amount of messages and commands to get better very soon were gratifying. July 18th, my first ever doctors appointment, my first ear infection, and my very first antibiotics prescription. The hurrahs for drugs and getting-well-ness were pleasing. July 20th, I’m feeling slightly better, and no longer like my head’s going to implode with pain whenever I sit up, and the cheering on of my recovery continued. I felt so loved…
July 21st. A bad day for me. I was tired, grouchy, emotional. Still in some pain. My sister tided my room for me while I was in the shower. My mum kept telling me to just go back to bed to rest instead of moping round the house, pretending I could be helpful with something. The doorbell rings, and mum yells at me to answer it, and I trudge to the door. And there on the doorstep are my sister and three of my girlfriends, dressed to the nines, smiles on their faces and a big bunch of red roses held out in front of them.
Apparently, this had taken a month to plan. To get all my girls together in one place. My illness had meant that the dinner out that was also planned had to be postponed, but we went to my friend’s house where the other girls were waiting, had a picnic in the park on cushions, and spent the rest of the evening and night half-asleep in front of a good many films. A birthday celebration tailored to the unwell. It was beautiful. A pre-birthday surprise party that was full of special <3

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Time Travelling Ballads.

Geeky moment coming right up! So I’m a fan of Dr Who. Not as big a one as I’d have liked, time lacking and all that, but fan enough to get excited about this: Chameleon Circuit. Two cds released, a collection of songs written and performed by a group of youtubers strictly about Dr Who. What’s not to get excited about?
This isn’t to say this is a new band. They’ve been around for a couple of years, but me being who I am, I merely gave them the thumbs up for having such an awesome idea and doing well with it, without even properly considering looking them up and pursuing their music. I know that the major Dr Who fan base out there would give a strict slap on the wrist for that confession. But. Thanks to an update youtube video by Charlie McDonell (one of the members), I finally got round to actually listening to a good selection of their music. And did I like it? Did I! To listen to a song and suddenly realise you know exactly which episode/character/event they’re singing about is, for me, kinda exciting. The style of music changes with each song - due to there being no lead singer, the members take it in turns to write, play, sing, so the styles change with the preferences of the members themselves - giving the collection a proper compilation feel.
They aren't geniuses. They aren't perfect song writers. But their music is well thought out and catchy, and it makes me happy. I guess that's all that matters.
Dr Who fan? Have a listen.

Ps. The songs "Everything is ending" and "Silence and the end of all things" and "Kiss the girl" are the good ones, I reckon...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Before I go...

let me give you Ed Sheeran - Firefly. Because his music is one-of-a-kind.

It's 00:57 on Sunday morning.

I have an earache... Else trust me, I'd be happily snuggled in bed loving every second of my sleeping time. I'm hoping this earache clears itself up before Monday, as I have a trip to John Lewis in Reading with two of my girlfriends in order to buy meters and meters of loverly material to make two beautiful dresses, one Marie Antoinette style and one Alice McGee style, for their respective birthdays. Yes, I shall make the dresses. To make a dress for oneself is one thing, to make a dress for someone else is another. Of course, the multiple fittings that shall be needed are a perfect excuse to spend more time with my two girls. An ulterior motive? Course not..!
Anywho. To be able to function properly on Monday is therefor very necessary. I just had to delete a repetition of the phrase "in order to buy" from my writing above, and the spelling corrections I'm having to make are ridiculous. My brain clearly is not all present and correct. I think I shall have to attempt to shut it down again, despite the screaming pain battering in from my ear. Argh. I shall call down the martyrs of earache mid-dream, and beg for an early release.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Let the sun shine, let the sun shine, baby;
Let it all go, let it all go, baby.
Let the sun shine, let the sun shine, baby;
Let it all go, let it all go, baby!

I know that the world is going to smile again
When we go from the darkness into the light.
Let the sun shine!


Sunday, 19 June 2011

One day...

a long time after our first meeting, I will look at you and realize exacty who you are.

Within reason.

Yesterday morning started off well. While wandering through my hometown I saw:
A pirate, with long wavy hair, an almost beard, and a pirate shirt tucked into brown trousers. A little kid with a stegosaurus tshirt on, wearing a blue cape. A young guy doing his weekly shop on roller blades. A handbag made out of pompoms. An elderly lady in full goth gear, with black and red hair and many studs on her outfit. A nervous, geeky-looking guy, with an overbearing father, who was wearing a pink shrt and a fluorescent yellow and pink flowery tie. And countless mothers and daughters going shopping together (Did I miss something? Was it mother-and-daughter shopping day yesterday?). And got introduced to a little Café on Broad Street that does amazing coffee for about half the normal price. A good morning indeed.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Park of South.

I remember, when our family first started talking about moving house last year, we started discussing what we’d want in the new house. My sister said her own room. My mum said a bigger kitchen. My dad said an extra room to use as an office. My youngest sister wanted a garden big enough to house our trampoline. My brother just needed more space. I didn’t care. All of that sounded lovely, sure, but I didn’t want to think about what I wanted in a house. Because to do that was to admit we were moving. And if you start asking for something in particular, you are more likely to be disappointed. I said nothing when these discussions popped up.
But there was one thing I did want. Tucked away in the back of my head, there was this one tiny little part of me that just repeatedly said, “Let us move closer to South Park.”

Our new house. Everyone has their own room. A kitchen diner twice the size of our previous. An office for dad. A decent garden for the trampoline. And space, space, space. And it’s 15minutes closer to South Park. A gift.

I took a walk to the park yesterday evening. It only takes at most 10mins to get to the top of the park now. The sun was starting to set behind the trees. It cast elongated shadows across the grass. The park had a strange other-wordly feel about it. It was completely empty. From the top of the hill, the shadows cast by the trees at the edges of the park weren’t visible, and the leaves didn’t even shiver in the slight breeze, making them appear as if they had been photoshopped in on top of the strangely bright grass, reminiscent, somehow, of the main room in Willy Wonka’s factory. Seagulls with dusty-black heads strutted in pairs, their jerky movements making them seem robotic and toy like. When I saw one fly off, it did so laboriously, as if unaccustomed to the effort. Three partly deflated balloon perched, stranded, on one of the top branches of a tree. They hung like oversized, exotic fruits against the dark green.

The park has so many different… characters. Somehow. This is why I didn’t want to miss it. Give me a camera, world, and I’ll document its changing life.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Quick Post - No.10

Turtles are just too damn cool.
"It waaas in love ah was created an' in love is how ah hope ah diiie!"
Paolo Nutini.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


There are hundreds of people in this [place]. Thousands maybe. People who come from here, or people who have fallen through the cracks.”
Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere.

There’s a crack in time in the wall of your bedroom. And it’s been eating away at your life for a long time now.”
Dr Who.

There’s something up there, it slipped out the cracks in my lips.
There’s something up there, it slipped through the cracks.
I saw it from the corner of my eye…
It’s not just in my head.
Noone believes me, I can’t even trust me

I know they’re there.
The cracks in my fabric,
The faults in my path.
Below my feet, in the space above my head.
Watch my lips follow your words.
I know I don’t create you.
You’re hiding behind each layer,
Day-to-day life in a mesh of fractures.
Can I shatter the invisible walls?
You live where I cannot follow;
Dive into your underworld,
Up above my reach,
Yet you tease me, desired and despised.
Ribbons of shining-dark fabric.
I only entangle myself tighter,
Pull closer the insanity fractured mind
Rocking speaking swaying
Vibrating out the silent screams.
Even in my quiet moments
I hear you. My mind readers.
I see you. The slivered colours in my eyes.
A fantasy life. Fractured mind.
Sandwiched between fiction and lies.
I know I don’t create you.
Where’s my reality?
Can I remember my truth?
I know you’re there.
Speak to me stop your noise.
Take refuge in my melody,
the clouding of my mind.
I need your confusion, your clarity,
Leave me oh let me follow you, let me follow
Though the cracks.
I know they’re there.

…His small time’s end. His time-
Who saw Infinity through the countless cracks
In the blank skin of things, and died of i
A.S.Byatt - Possession

Bussing it.

I take my little brother into town to have lunch with my sister most Fridays. And last Friday we caught the bus back. Everyone was in a bad mood. The bus route had been changed, the bus stop moved. The bus itself was full almost to bursting of cross, over-heated people who just wanted to get home, dammit. We sat at the front of the bus. I was facing towards the back, so had a good view of the withdrawn, grumpy faces. We got to the roundabout halfway home, and shock! The bus driver went past our turning. The whole bus sprung into action. Shouts came from the back of the bus, "No, you've missed the turning! We're going to [enter destination here]! Don't turn off here, it's the wrong one!" The bus driver swore, quietly. Then shouted his apologies. The bus circled the roundabout then took the right turning off and we continued on our way.
In a slightly different mood, however. Somehow the shock of the almost-wrong-turning and the amusement of the near catastrophe, and the whole bus was now humming with conversation. Snippets of similar tales, giggles at the mistake, or just shared smiles as if over a joke.
The journey ended in laughter. Funny how that happens.

My Alice.

There goes my Alice.
Blue eyes and tumbled hair.
The hunter and the hunted;
the unfinished story.

I recognise her, even as she hides her face.
A mirror child of distorted lines,
clear, but incomplete.
The truth is hidden under the layers of blue.
Here be dragons.

See her dress with lace edge
and yet her legs bare and stained,
grass green and mud smears.
She’s half hidden behind the dark trunks
in the crowded forest in my mind.
Sly smile and shy gaze.
Come and play.

A mismatched tale of broken words,
formed in the shadows.
A white rabbit and a blue bird.
And I know she thinks she’s dreaming.

Follow me into the dark,
even as she’s falling, falling,
into yet another life.

There goes my Alice.
Blue eyes and tumbled hair.
The hunter and the hunted;
the unfinished story.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A word is dead
When it is said
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson.

Monday, 9 May 2011


You don’t notice at first what she sees. She’s blocking the window with her body, but she gasps, and you see the flinch of tension as her body reacts before her mouth has even spoken his name. Her hair flicks out behind her as she moves, its tips catching your cheek. White-blonde waves swish through your vision, then disappear out the door after her. The meal started on the side stands forgotten.
The cream paint is desert-cracked, the edges digging into your fingertips as you lean on the window frame to peer out the window. And you see her stumbling across the road, hands reaching forward, as the stained, rickety black cart judders forward, her lover sitting, bound and silent, on the rough boards. The mismatched brown horses pulling it snort and toss their heads against the bite of the whip, and her lover’s body jerks with the movement of the cart as it pitches over a pot hole. She is left in the middle of the road, half hidden by the swirl of dust kicked up by the cart’s wheels, her fists clenched and her body leaning forward as she screams. Hot tears hiss as they fall onto the dirt road.
Your knuckles are white, your hands clenched tight to the window frame. Somehow you knew she was expecting this. Knew the possibility of this was one that had been haunting her for months. But to have your fear become reality is a deathly thing. Your breath is tight in your throat, and each heartbeat is painful in your chest. Thump thump thump, loud in your ears as you watch her cry. Unable to move. Blood trickles unnoticed between your fingers from where a sharp splinter has dug a jagged cut in your palm.
She’s still standing in the middle of the road, shoulders hunched. In the distance the cart rumbles further and further away, its sharp black corners half hidden by the dust. It passes over a hill on the horizon, and is gone. And suddenly she’s moving. Skirts dragging in the dirt, feet pounding at the surface of the road, she’s running, fast and frightened, towards where the cart disappeared.
In your haste to follow her, you trip on the doorstep and stumble forward. Your hands slam into the ground and your knee scrapes along the stones, but you’re back up and running before you’ve even registered the pain. She’s moving faster than you, somehow. You’re running as fast as you can, your breath rough against your tongue, rasping through your teeth. Your feet smack against the rough road, your legs already ache with the unaccustomed work you’re forcing them to do. And yet she is moving steadily away from you. The landscape moves past you slowly, and although you double your efforts, til your lungs are tight with lack of air and your legs are weighted-heavy with the extra work, you only seem to move slower. Ahead of you, she’s getting smaller. She’s melding into the dust cloud that is dragged behind the fast-moving cart.
You slow down. Close your eyes. Your feet stumble and scuff in the dirt. Your breathing is heavy and jagged. With each step you ache, but to continue to follow her seems like less of an option than a necessity.

At first when your feet come down to meet dry grass instead of stone, you don’t notice. Then the cold seeps through your closed eyelids and you open them to see darkness. You’re on a hill crest. Below you, stretching out in a vast space of shifting dark, are fields of black grass. Like living things they move in the wind, long sharp blades that swish and slick against each other so that their movement echoes the waves on the sea. They stretch to both sides. To your left a line of trees, sable bark and twisted boughs, stand guard before the drop of land into grey ocean. A clean, sharp salt smell drifts up from the damp ground.
She’s below you. Struggling through the waist-high grass, her hair whipped side-to-side by the wind. Her dress is torn and it catches continually on the thorns of the black flowers hidden in the grass. Scraps of it tear from the hem and flutter away in the wind like ragged moths. She’s still running. Moving as fast as she can, though the grasses whip at her legs and the roots snatch at her ankles and rip the soles of her feet. She’s reaching with her hands. A nominal, ghostly-pale shape in a sea of shifting darkness.
Ahead of her is her goal. Tall and rickety, it lurches away from her across the field like an oversized misshapen insect. Your stomach clenches as you see it. Built like a ladder to the heavens, the massive wooden structure has four levels. The first three levels are inhabited. Large woven baskets sit supported in holes in the heavy wooden flooring, each basket lined with dirty rags and rough grey material. They shed scraps of fabric so that the air around the structure is broken by tiny fluttering shapes that are whipped away in spiralling circles. And each basket holds a man. This you know. Despite its distance, you can see the hands that reach from the edges of the baskets into the thin air. You can hear the quiet sobbing and the despairing moans of these broken men, as it mixes with the creaking of the twine-bound joints and is swept towards you by the howling wind in a discordant melody.
Suddenly you are as desperate as she is. Desperate to see her reach her goal, to see her win this race. You try to move forward, but your feet are rooted to the ground, sunk into the bruised-plum mud, and you cannot. For you’ve seen her lover. Shadow skin and eyes deep as the night. He stands, his head held high, on the top level. The gallows swing free. Three loops of twisted rope. Dark against the purple-red clouds of the sunset.
Stop watching. But even with your eyes closed you can still see her, imprinted on your eyelids; a pale moth fluttering, struggling, on a background of black motion. As your eyes reopen, the sun falls. A sudden bright light from the horizon silhouettes her lover, the twisted rope, the creaking structure, in a graffiti painting of black on bright white. Stark and clean and terrible. Then the top rim of the sun sinks into the sea. She screams. A thin sound. And blackness falls.

Monday, 2 May 2011

"I think you'd like my new hair,
I cut it like I didn't care.
The pieces of me everywhere
were falling down."

Laura Jansen.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Jury service.

It came in a brown envelope. Hot pink letters shouted at me from a light pink background. I couldn't help but wonder if they sent out blue for the guys.

Did I mention I got called up for jury service three weeks ago? It's a strange system.


It was a hot day yesterday. I was walking through Oxford, jostled by overheated bodies and overwhelming sweeps of perfume and overloud voices. I was staring up at the way the sun glinted on the windows, when a question slid unbidden into my mind. If I was to bring someone here who had never seen my hometown before, what would I show them? And following fast on its heels, the realization that almost stopped me in my tracks: I had no idea where on earth to start.

The names and places swirled round my head in a dizzying mess. Do I start in City Center? The tourist places would be a good place to begin, I guess. The museums! The Ashmolean, the first public museum ever to be opened in Britain, with its collections of art and archeology; floors and floors of history. To wander through the open, cool rooms for an afternoon.
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History, with its towering dinosaur skeletons and glass cases of iridescent butterflies.
The Pitt Rivers Museum, with its dark wood cases lining the walls, drawers and drawers of ethnographic items. Dark and cold, with grinning masks hanging on the walls and wooden statues crouching in shadowy corners. You could spend a week walking these museums and not have seen everything.
Then there's Biscester Village, a 45min bus ride away, with outlet stores of dozens of designer brands. Christ Church College, with its gardens stretching alongside the river, where parts of the Harry Potter films were filmed.

But that's impersonality, right there. The stories and memories are what makes this town so special. But do I tell them all?
Do I sit them in Bonn Square, and tell them of the recent renovation? Of the fact that it sits on the graveyard of the first St Peter-le-Bailey church, demolished 1726. That the digging up of the old square unearthed a few remaining graves of those buried there hundreds of years past (listed here), which were then re-buried under the new paving of the square. Do I describe to them how it used to be before, dark and damp with half a dozen huge trees shadowing the area? Do I tell them of the plans to fell all the trees, which were followed through, and of the protesters who camped in the largest of the trees for eleven nights before being removed and arrested?
Do I take them to climb Carfax Clock Tower? The only remaining part of St Martin's Church, the rest of which was demolished years ago. Do I tell them of the suicide committed there only last year, the shock of which still reverberates through any mention of the tower?
Do I show them the cross of smooth cobble stones in the road of Broad Street which marks the place where Protestant Martyrs were burned at the stake for their faith, and the Victorian memorial that stands in St Giles in remembrance of them?
Do I take them to The Eagle and Child in St Giles, to sit in the same rooms as the members of "Inklings", the writing group that included both JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis?

How about the vintage clothes shop, The Unicorn, tucked away down a side street off Cornmarket Street? Chock-a-block full of piles of vintage clothes, hats and accessories (there is literally no room to move - only three people can fit in this shop at one time), just the sight of the bowler hats and satchels and lace dresses in the window makes me happy. And the vintage and antique market on every Thursday in Gloucester Green.

And then there are the food places! The Big Bang restaurant in Jericho, that serves almost only bangers and mash, all of a local origin. And the GandD’s Ice Cream Café in St Aldates, with its homemade ice cream and sundaes. Then there’s my favourite Café in Gloucester Green, Café Combibos, with sofas lining the walls and the best Chai steamer I’ve tasted.

Hell, that's two weeks worth of stories and places, and that's only Oxford City! I pity the eventual one to come to my hometown and have me show them round if they're only planning on a day visit..! Too many stories. But maybe someday I'll get the chance to tell them all.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Monday, 11 April 2011

In the early hours.

Hush your chatter, young lady. You find yourself here sometimes, and admit it, you kinda enjoy it. These random occasional nights bring you back to those months of insomnia and midnight conversations.
The weight of heavy weariness pressing against your forehead. the restless shivers travelling along your fingers and legs. The pain behind your eyelids with every slow blink. The way your bed's soft comfortable folds feel like a prison. The way you can't avoid watching the slow sliding of minutes from one to the next. So slow.
The thoughts that run in dizzying circles round and round in your head. Memory after worry after wish after sorrow after memory. A flashing merry-go-round with music that repeats itself over and over, refusing to give you any rest.
Your body and head are heavy with desire for sleep.
All of this you recognize. Like an old friend. There is some strange comfort in it's familiarity. You recognise how you'd be if you allowed yourself. Up in the early hours, ink on your fingers or paint under you nails, obsessive in your desire to escape the throbbing, unavoidable irritation of inability to sleep. Or pacing the floors of the silent, cold house, listening to every creak, alert to every sound. But that habit is one too easy to slip into.
Oh, stop this inane chatter. God give me rest.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


When the barks first crack through the window of sleep, they sound like screams. Short and high pitched, screams of pain or terror. They slip into your dreams and confuse your sleep-befuddled brain, and then suddenly you're sitting upright, swearing, heart thudding, your ears straining for the direction of the sound- who..? But once you're awake, the realization is almost instantaneous. Because with open eyes comes a clarity.

This wasn't the first time I'd heard a fox bark. But never this close. I lean from the warmth of my bed and reach to open my skylight. The cold sweeps in from the street outside, and there it is, standing alert in the middle of the road just outside my house. Tail raised, it’s neck stretched with each high bark. It looks incredible. I cough as the night air tickles my throat, and, momentarily, it looks up at me. I have eye contact with a fox. Then it looks away, I am no threat, and it continues barking. Calling? I don’t know. For a full ten minutes I sit there, my duvet drawn about my shoulders, my skin rough from the cold, and watch it. My sister’s skylight next to mine opens, and we discuss the wild animal below us in whispers. It pays no attention to our speculating.
Suddenly it is joined by a second. Smaller and more fragile looking than the first, this fox wanders from the mouth of our road down to the pavement outside our neighbours house, and lies down. The first fox stops it’s barking. Walks up to a couple of meters away from it, lies down. They whine at each other, quietly, hardly noticeable. Then the first fox gets up, moves a meter closer, and lies down again. He repeats this til they are close, and both hidden behind the neighbour’s car. Ten seconds later, the second fox emerges and goes to sit in the middle of the road outside our house. The first fox departs. And the second restarts the barking.
I sit, shivering slightly, watching this strange event. My sister’s skylight closes, but I sit still and silent until, without due warning, the fox ups and leaves. A swish of the tail as she turns a quick circle, and then pads off down the road. I close my skylight with a clunk, and snuggle back down into the duvet, curling up small to try and make the most of the limited area of warmth. That night my dreams are followed by a small red fox. Tail raised high.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Quick post - No. 9

I hope this confuses you as much as it confuses me.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

"I'm in a war of head versus heart, and it's always this way. My head is weak, my heart always speaks before I know what it will say."
Death Cab for Cutie.

Monday, 14 March 2011


At a distance, you're a memory.
Or a photo that shifts and blinks and smiles.
Or typed words, somehow in human form.
In this crowd of strangers
I'm acutely aware of the few I know.
They glow.
You don't. You're a brown haired memory.
As you pass me, greet me, you're my imagination.
A part in a play I've enacted
over and over and over.
In this mess of conversations,
I see you fulfill your part.
They shine.
You don't. You're my dusk imagination.
In a room of laughter, I catch you watching me and
oh god. You are real.
Our silence fills the noisy room,
and the absurdity is a jester with a pointed stick.
Laughable. Painful. Ridiculous.
My fluttering fingers
against a coffee mug.
In reality, you are no different.
And the drama is a scene on a stage.
Or a page in a story book.
In this place of busy bodies,
I feel other characters shift like the tide.
They ghost.
You don't. You are the only person
in the over-full room.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The rules of a gentleman...

are listed here.
Some of them are obvious, some of them are personal, some of them are amusing. All are genius.

Just past tipsy.

It smells of spilt alcohol. Muggy and cloying, the stench is sticking to my clothes and staining my fingers. In a detached vanity I walk through the mess of people. My hands catch at their clothing as I pass; the ones I don't know I avoid touching, knowing, seeing. Shy away. The tiles are smooth under my feet, the soles not protected from their cold by a tights-layer of thin threads. My balance is always the first to go, and I stumble as I walk. One step, two step, concentrate. Pride keeps me upheld.
The noise and loud and shouts of the people who's volume goes up the more they drink are thudding against my temples. I hear the smack of a glass on wood. The laughter at a bawdy joke. The gurgle of liquid being poured into a mug. Suddenly the mug is in my hand, and the drink is sharp on my tongue, and the heat of my friend's fingers is tight against my palm. To one side we hold our own conferences and our own meetings and our own parties; our corner of familiarity in the fog of strange people. A card game starts in the middle of the floor. I sink to join it in a flurry of velvet skirts. The cards are sticky with drying drink. It's hard to concentrate in the noise. A jug of bitter-sweet liquid is being passed from grasp to grasp. My hands shake as I put down the mug. I'm not even half-drunk yet. But I think that's enough.

The night after.

The not-yet-familiar warmth
against the cold white starch of
someone else's sheets.

Friday, 11 February 2011

I see people.

Sometimes I see people I know I shouldn't. Taylor Swift was visiting a house on a street near mine. A dark-skinned Ramona Flowers passed me in town, her pink hair vibrant against a black hoodie, a blue canvas bag over one shoulder, and Scott Pilgrim himself cycled past me only a few weeks ago, a striped beanie covering his curls. I've seen a blue-haired Singer on the streets of Oxford City, and one of the Inelesi in a back alley, his lumbering gait and translucent skin impossible to disguise. A slim, long haired Tolkien elf was in front of me in a super market queue. Little Red Riding Hood as a child has skipped past, holding onto an elderly woman's hand. Sometimes I even can see the Ford Prefects of this world. A slightly too intense gaze, or a reaction to normality that is unexpected, and suddenly... I can see it. And I know I shouldn't be able to.


Pure white in front of me, let me see, let me see.
Follow those skipping feet, down through dark streets
and over grass green. Blue skirt, shoes cream.
Earth dirt swallows me whole. A distorted reflection
confuses, takes, engulfs my sense of direction.
Let me sit pretty, blonde haired little pixie.
Teacup in hand, I don't understand.
Stop the spinning, crying, growing, shrinking;
catch me with a labelled bottle and a door too small
tell me your poetry as I fall fall fall.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Quick post - No. 8

A little piece of magic.

From here.

When all the lamps expire,

and I know you've got it so wrong,
and the conviction that you feel
comes out in your song,
and your music is so haunting
because I know exactly what you mean,
and your words cause a wound
because you're singing them right at me...

I'm still so proud of you.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Friday, 28 January 2011

"And breathing the sweet forest air
makes a bluebird aware
that she could be free."

Sky Sailing

I have this theory.

Each of us exists in our own world. "Reality" is a word that means little - it is created of a combination of each individual person's perception of the world. This perception creates an individual existence.

But each person's world also includes the people they know, live with, and come across as their life continues. Therefore there must be many, at least ever-so-slightly different versions of us. One version for the world of each person who knows us. Each version will differ because of each person's different perceptions of us, although the versions of those who know us best will overlap. And all those many versions of ourselves branch from the existing original around which our own world rotates. And all will be us, just slightly distorted.

This means that you are living many different existences, all at the same time.


Unlike in a game of chess, the squares are not just in black and white. The greys merge and overlap in a subtle changing mess of shades. The black Knight has made his final move. It is a risky one at best, leaving him open to danger from both sides. It is the white Queen's move. She stands, tall and pale. She has one final chance, but though she trembles with the choice she knows she made years ago, she elects to stand her ground. And wait as her white King moves a step closer.
"And if it’s set in motion
I’ll watch it all pass by,
and leave the rest unspoken
I’ll never change my mind.

Leave it unspoken, leave it unspoken,
Leave it unspoken, leave it unspoken now."


Monday, 24 January 2011

Thing is, I knew it.

I do know you this well. Almost two years later and I still know. You don't know me as well as I know you. If you did you'd have guessed. To me it's blatantly obvious... But then it would be. But I can't do what you've done. God, I wish I could.
Fall back and behind, my love. Fall back and behind and away and forget. Leave me with my knowledge, because you believe I don't, while I know we both do. And this side is the one that's far, far harder to be on.