2017 – Be Excellent to Each Other

I saw an article yesterday that said 130 celebrities had died this year. I may be riddled with flu but I was stuck naming more than a handful besides the few that died this week. I’ve seen arguments on both sides about how much grief one should have about a celeb death and how much with that grief has.

On the other side, sadly I can name more than a handful on my Facebook friends list who have lost family and close friends (and I’m including the pets in this) which is  a bit more close to home.  While it’s sad for anyone to die these mean more to me because I’m seeing my friends (no matter how long it’s been since I saw them last) suffer.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be awash with negativity and various polls, elections and votes have given results that have stirred up anger even more to the point that people are viewing this as one of the worst years ever. I’ve seen the twitter posts stating 1939-1945 were probably worse which is right but sometimes I think of social media as a hive mind of doom. Bad news and misery seems to be following us everywhere. There was a twitter moment regarding some good things that happened in 2016 (mostly animals coming off the endangered species) but in less than 48 hours it’s gone and we’re back to misery and political tit-tat.

We really need to kinder to each other. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t best friends with a celeb, if their lives touched you grieve away. Better than keeping the crap bottled up and struggling. If you don’t like it, unfollow that person on FB for a few weeks. Then let it all go back to normal. Let’s help each other out. If someone is upset (for any reason) give them a hug; offer them tea or just sit and chat. As someone who has suffered with depression for many years sometimes this is all a person needs.

And then maybe we can spread that to people outside our social circle. But in the secret altruistic spirit of George Michael let’s not tell anyone! Don’t tell us you gave Bob the homeless guy you’re filled free coffee coupon. Post some articles or write a blog on the plight of the homeless instead. Don’t tell us about your volunteering somewhere – raise the profile of that charity instead. Let’s share the different ways to volunteer and help people rather than making it all about us.

(However if you’re after the money for charity, promote away. I may be doing that again if I decide to do the St Gemma’s Midnight walk again.)

We need to make 2017 a year where we’re not counting down the hours wishing it to end but one filled with as much positivity as possible that we’d be quite happy to do all over again the following year.

Let’s just be excellent to each other x


Borstal – short story

The first creative writing assignment I did as an OU student


Looking back my shift at the centre started as a night like any other. I-wing stands for isolation wing; not very original but at least you know what you’re getting. I’d been here ten years and thought I’d seen everything. This is where they put the worst of the young offenders; junkies, the Hep-C’s and AIDS kids and the just plain violent ones.

Each screw gets given two cells. There are usually five or six suicide attempts every week. On top of them you’ve got the ones that just like causing trouble. I saw Tommo heading to the showers with a kid

“Little shit has puked all up the walls” he said. “Two hours ago; jizz, now shit. Thinks he’s entertaining.”

“Gonna be puke again next” the kid smirked. “I just like to watch you clean up mate.”

“You’ll be laughing the other side of your face when you’ve spent the night in the bare cell, concrete bed and a hole to piss in. Happy Christmas kid, you’re gonna freeze.”

Yeah, I though, just another normal shift. That night my two cells were full. In I7 was Wee Billy, five feet two inches of adrenaline. When he wasn’t high on amphetamines he was high on E-numbers. He’s been in and out of the system for years, preferring to be off his face on drugs or locked up with us rather than be at home with his old man knocking ten bells out of him every night. Funny little shit, I’d quite like him if only he didn’t finance his drug habit by beating and robbing old ladies. He should be careful though. The next time he gets himself locked up he’s in with the adults. I checked through the slot and he was fast asleep, jittering and shaking as the drugs left his system again.

Then came I8. I could cope with the junkies and the screamers but this kid gave me the creeps just sitting there so quietly never making a sound. Billy hid from his parents through drugs, this kid…he chose to slit their throats. The warden didn’t know what to do with him. They put him in a cell, he tried to kill his roomie; let him into the canteen he shafted someone with a fork….Oh yeah this one scared the hell out of me. And as the night went on I was right to be very scared indeed….

Wedding Days – short

Another little story for you 🙂

‘First day of autumn ladies. I think we should get out the sunburnt orange dresses’

That’s Millie Molloy, owner of Molloy’s Weddings and my boss. If mannequins can have bosses that is. I don’t have a name like Mille and her two assistants I’m just me. A mannequin. I can think and see but little else. I’ve worked in a few stores over the years but this one is my favourite. I love the dresses I get to wear. I have lots of different styles but also such beautiful colours like the dress I’ve just been given; the tulle and satin the colour of orange leaves just fallen from trees.

The Bride is here with her gaggle of friends. This is their fourth fitting so far. I believe the term is ‘bridezilla’ but it seems harsh. She seems very stressed, everything must be perfect and just so and the same goes for her bridesmaids. The dresses must be the same length and same style. There were tears when one girl needed wide straps adding to her beautiful dress to hold up her ample bosom. The physical appearance seems to be uppermost on all these girls’ minds. I hear them talk of dieting and wanting to be in smaller sizes than they are. Is this what it’s like to be a real woman? The need to always be perfect?

Oh The Bride has Her with her today. Her is a bridesmaid but she comes in separately sometimes to look at the wedding dresses. I hear her talking to Millie about her own dream wedding and the dress she would have if only He would ask her. She has such sad eyes. I’ve seen them both, Her and Him as I stand in the shop window; me looking out and seeing everything, Her looking in and seeing only her distant dreams and Him looking like he wishes to be anywhere else except where he is. The unasked question is obvious to everyone and even The Bride puts aside her to-do lists to offer sympathy now and again.

Last week she tried on the dresses again. Her favourite is a 1940’s style with lots of fringing with no back and covered in beads and embellishments. She looked like a beautiful dancer missing her dance partner. She’s hinted that she may buy it anyway as it’s a timeless piece that can be worn any year but I think maybe not for any man. Is this again a human thing? To buy something that may never be worn may never even be seen. Hidden away somewhere along with the remnants of a broken heart.

Also in the group is the Sister: a lady who has no partner, no soul mate. I see Sister all the time; she walks past once a week. There is a hospital, homeless shelter and a court room nearby so maybe she goes past on her way to work. The Sister has hopeful eyes though rather than sad ones. I know from the wedding gossip that she is on her own but hopes one day to marry again, that her life partner is out there. When she stops by each week I can see her looking at the dresses through the window, mentally working out which one would suit her, which one would make her look old and trying to decide on the one that would showcase her timeless beauty the best. She seems to like the straighter sheath dresses that fall elegantly straight rather than the full bodice and lace of some of the dresses. Not for her the giant puffball and hooped underskirts. Will she ever meet her One? It’s not a concept I understand.

The assistants will talk to me while they change my clothes but I can’t call them friends. I wonder what they would do if I ever spoke back to them. Or the ladies as they remark on my dresses as they feel the lace, the beads, the satin.

‘That’s it. Everything is spot on. I can’t wait for next week’ trills The Bride. And then they are gone in a sweep of perfume and laughter. The Bride, finally finding the perfection she desires, Her; the sister wondering if the wedding will finally prompt Him into asking the Question she so desperately craves and Sister, so happy for her sibling but wondering when her own Knight in shining armour will appear. This is love; this friendship is what makes the world go around. If I were human this is all the love I would ask for.


The restaurant at the end of your Life

So it’s been a while since I last wrote any blog so I thought while I put together some pieces about the things I’ve been doing lately I’d share some small pieces of creative writing that I’ve done over the course of my recent module.

The brief gven on this one was to write about a meal. This is my attempt 🙂

Mark’s Diner

Today’s the day I get to visit Mark’s diner. I’ve been marking the days for the last two weeks. Well it’s not often you know exactly when you’re gonna die is it? I walk with Pastor Jim; the corridors eerily quiet. The Screws are peering around the corners looking for signs of despair but it’s not gonna happen. The Pastor is sweating more than I am.

I’m infamous. The first man to be put to death in England in fifty-one years after the government brought back capital punishment in an effort to win the election. We are shown into a small room barely big enough to fit the table and two chairs. Some joker has placed a red gingham tablecloth on it. Mark brings my starter: Prawn Cocktail. Big pink slimy looking things covered in sauce. Very 70’s but I’ve always loved it. All that’s missing is a kipper tie and some chord flares

Next up I ordered beef and ale stew just like my mama used to make. Half a bottle of ale for the pot and half for my mama. It has thick brown liquid not quite thick enough to stand your spoon in but close, with big lumps of the finest beef. Well this one does. Mama used to make do with whatever scraps were left from the butchers at the end of the day. Oh crusty bread with lashings of real butter. Make it an inch thick Mark, yes please.

Just look at that dessert. Piping hot waffles, firm not soft banana, vanilla ice-cream starting to melt from the heat of the waffles and covered in lashings of toffee sauce. Oh my arteries! I can feel them closing as I near the end. I think I’m going to die a happy man.

Anyone for a poem?

I’m a good mood today so here’s one of the poems I wrote from my OU course

Over the Rainbow

The shoes

up on the shelf –

Red sparkles in a sea of black.

Take them down.

Try them on.

Take yourself away to a magical land.

Where will you go?

Who will you be?

A young girl at her debutante ball.

A princess running from her prince.

A heroine whisked away

to a castle in the clouds.

Tap tap tap your heels,

Say the magic words.

I want to go…

Somewhere over the rainbow.

The right shoes

Can take you anywhere you want to go,

Help you be anyone you want to be.

Who will you be today?

Poetry hour

Seeing as the poem I put up last week went down quite well I thought I’d be brave and give you a couple more. I will, over the next few weeks also put up some of the short bits of writing I’ve done over my course so far – mostly 200-300 words and not all complete short stories but maybe sharing them will inspire them to become something bigger.
The first poem was inspired by some graffiti in a book I was reading and is just a bit of nonsense. The second was inspired by watching local school kids at the bus stop. The school uniform is black and as many of these students at the school are Asian their headwear also had to be black (no pretty colours for individualism at this school!). It was so lovely to see someone trying to express their individuality as best they could.

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Exams Smell

Terror, tremors
The fear and sweat
In the school gym
Exam conditions met

Tick tock goes the clock
Nervous shuffling of feet
Are my pencils sharp?
Tap tap goes their beat

I’m so scared
What if I fail?
What if I can’t answer the question?
Did I revise enough?

The clock chimes nine
It’s time to begin
Turn the paper

The girl in the red Converse

Bus Stop
To high school
A sea of black, conformity
Then…a pair of red shoes
Uniform. Uniform!
Everyone’s the same
She tries to break the mould

Stand out!
Wear the shoes.
Embrace your individuality.
Dare to be…

A Day in the Life – original poem

Well tomorrow’s diet blog can be summed up with the following: When you bump into a former friend of your evil ex-husband, binge eating a packet of chocolate hobnobs is probably not the best way to deal with it. I didn’t even enjoy them in the end and will probably pay for it at the scales tomorrow. The support from friends was far more satisfying over the following couple of days. So hugs not biscuits need to be the way forward!

This blog was started to see the positive in life and taking chances so here’s a poem! It was written in response to a recent Open University tutorial and we had to write about an event(s) of the past week which happened to co-incide with the arrival of snow. This is that day summed up in 3 stanzas. Hope you enjoy it x

A Day In The LIfe

‘Snow joke, lost again.

Trudging a mile

in the crunchy white stuff.

Me with the wrong place,

She with the wrong time

Two drowned rats looking rough.

Go see my golden boy.

Housed after a year on the streets.

Smile, he is happy.

Feeling safe and ready

to start his life again.

Looking for work now, my cheeky chappy.

Ah The Palace! Five pound

wine bottle with my name on.

Waitng. Along with friends.

Glass not empty for long.

Laughter, gossip,warmth and love

The perfect way for my day to end.