Category Archives: Written

Stuff that I have actually written – stories, reviews, that sort of thing.

A Dose of the Mondays

“Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee!!” I yell, a ghoulishly cheery shriek. My colleague recoils, spittle flecking their glasses. I grab the pot of freshly-brewed coffee I keep on my desk by its slender glass throat. My bare hand on the red hot glass starts to blister. Shaking, I bring the pot to the cup. My colleague is wide-eyed, staring at my hand. It trembles violently, but I do. Not. Spill. A. Drop.

The liquid that pours out is slow, and tarry, treacle-thick. I see it cascade in slow-motion into my cup (my cup also says DON’T TALK TO ME BEFORE I’VE HAD MY COFFEE!! Because my cup understands me better than my colleague). I cough, a barking act of violence, directly at my now quivering colleague, who hides behind the slim bundle of notes they had brought for my attention. I stare into the space their eyes would be, if they dared to look at me.

The pain in my hand is nothing now, it is ice at the heart of a star. I drop the pot, it lands with a nervous clunk on my desk but does not shatter, it would not dare. I take the cup, and finally I may taste what I have waited for, for so long. It coats me, from the inside out, in warmth and comfort, in an electric sense of myself. My mouth opens again, this time to speak. Words pour from my soul.

“Mondays, am I right?”

A South Bank Story.

Now crunching wheels grind the concrete
Metal bones groan
The blasting surge of the Thames
Heard in silence.

And he, pausing,
an old man now
(by the standards of these things),
Stops and breathes.

He holds, not proudly,
The board he once rode.
One of many; a few shattered
And spilled him aslant on the slopes.

He is a phrase-book
Brought through time
To translate the thoughts of those
He knew here.

Continue reading A South Bank Story.

The Glass Doors

I remember my Grandmother’s cabinet. Glass-fronted, each panel etched with a complex pattern of flowers and leaves that never quite seemed to match your memory. I had favourite knot-whorls in the surface of my Grandmother’s table, I had the grain of the brushstrokes in the paint on the walls of her bathroom memorised, but I could never quite get the patterns on the cabinet fixed. I should have had a favourite flower, or known a leaf that looked like a dog. But it went through my head, like trying to catch sunlight in a sieve.

Continue reading The Glass Doors

For home.

The day had been short, lit by a mocking sunlight that refused to admit Christmas cheer into its long black shadows. People now churn through the streets of the City, pushing home, diving here and there from the crowd to chance a last-minute bit of gift shopping. The dark evening barely intrudes in the continuous stream of headlights, streetlights and the bobbing rectangles of phone screens, frantically being consulted for opening times, stock levels, last trains.

Continue reading For home.

Just a minute, sir.

“Oh sir, please don’t be alarmed by my face. Happened a few years back now, hardly think of it myself, the pox took a big chunk of it, hardly think of it at all. Yes, it worries people at first, sir, but pay it no mind. What’s inside that counts, isn’t it?
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“They say I died, sir, yes, that’s what I’ve heard. Dead as a doornail on the doctor’s table, just for a minute. Just a minute, and then the doctor brought me back, right as rain. Fit as a flea. But for that minute sir…

“I don’t like to talk about it, sir, no I really don’t. But I’ll tell you what I’ve told the Master and almost no one else, I remember that minute. Clear as day. Like it happened just now. It didn’t happen just now, it was years ago as I say, but I remember it clear as a bell. And do you know what I remember?

“Nothing. Quiet as the grave it was, sir. Black as pitch. No angels singing, no souls burning in torment. No Heaven, sir, and no Hell. There was nothing, and I was in that nothing, alone, for a whole minute. Toiling in black for 60 seconds, that’s what I was. You’d think it was peaceful, wouldn’t you, sir? You’d think it was rest? I didn’t feel any peace. No rest there, sir.

“Now we come to it, sir. Down here, please. Yes. I’m not asking you, sir. I’m telling you what the Master told me to do. Take you down here, sir. Quick as a flash, sir, down the stairs. Don’t make me push you, sir. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.

“Why bother talking to you at all, sir? Why, I could have just wrapped you in a blanket and carried you down here! But the master has his ways, funny way some of them. Wanted you to hear my little story, he did, sir. Wanted you to know about that minute. Told me to tell you, sir, that you have a lot of minutes ahead of you.”

Tube Chat.

The person opposite looks nervous. It’s not a ram-packed Tube carriage, but there are plenty of people here. That should mean it’s safe, but no. I am wearing a “Tube Chat?” badge, and in so doing have become the physical manifestation of urban ennui. Talk to me, stranger. Chat. Come out of your self-imposed bubble of personal space and let’s yak it up.

Continue reading Tube Chat.