130. The passive aggression of kitchen sink Jenga, staying out all night so someone else has to put out the bins, using the last of the milk after the shop has shut and other sagas from a shared house that seem trivial once you see who else you could be living with.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

Here are some of my favourite books with memorable descriptions of houses and living spaces.

129. A Nata and a Natter

A #ShortStorySeptember tale for a new year. Freshly sharpened pencils, new notebooks and all that. It’s also for anyone embarking on a brand new life at University or emerging, blinking in the light, from their cocoon as Lockdown opens up.

I thought a black coffee would be the cheapest, and as it was a universally unquestioned drink, I would always have a legitimate and innocent reason why I didn’t know the difference between a latte and a cortado. But why did the barista give me a little bowl of candy floss? 

Mum was right, £12 a day wasn’t nearly enough for food. Getting into a good school was one thing, actually being accepted beyond a pity pet project was another. I’d noticed every small detail between us. I’d read the books and seen the films, but some considered my life still to belong below stairs. I couldn’t absorb, only observe. If I bought the same bag it wouldn’t have the rich patina of their experiences. How could I possibly know if I had “summered well”? At least my nickname of ‘Tom Ripley’ hadn’t followed me here. Well, not yet, but it’s a small world.

The waitress in me made me sit at a table for two, and I faced the door, so my new friend could see me when she entered. I watched her through the window as she embraced each of the couple in turn then smothered their baby in mwah mwahs. Then she looked up and waved at me. The bell above the door of the coffee shop dinged as she entered.

“Sorry I’m late. I bumped into some old friends and got chatting. You know how it is. They have the fattest, most edible baby I’ve ever seen. Anyway, Happy Birthday!”

She unravelled herself from her hand knitted, cashmere scarf, then peeled off various layers until she was down to a t-shirt and a pair of cords. I wished I’d picked a bigger table. She piled her coat, scarf and jumper onto her chair and then fumbled around in her bag for her purse. I spotted a small turquoise box wrapped with white ribbon in her bag.

Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash

Her necklace cost more than my rent, her watch worth more than my car. A shabby leather strap on a vintage Omega. Two Cartier Love bangles jangled on her wrist, and although she once claimed they were fakes, I very much doubted that was true.

“Is it me or is it hot in here? Do you want anything? Ooh, they do those little Portuguese custard tarts in here that I like.” she said while fanning her face. She stuck out her chin and tried to blow air upwards towards her hairline.

“Could you get me some sugar please?” I said.

She cocked her head, raised her eyebrows and studied me for a second. Then she pinched a bit of the pink candyfloss and popped it into her mouth. Clawing up the rest of the nest, she dumped it into my cup. It dissolved immediately to nothing.

I looked up to see her perfect, high ponytail flick a spin. Her dancer’s body turned first, then her head. Muscle memory.


SHORT STORY SEPTEMBER FESTIVAL

I’m dead chuffed to be part of the Short Story September Festival event on Saturday 25th September 2021. Although I won’t be reading, I am part of the ‘A Brief Pause’ Writers Showcase, and have a short story included in the anthology, ‘Small Good Things’, which is published by Dahlia Books on the same day. You can order it here.

Tickets to the event are available here.

Dangles a carrot of a 2-hour Kathy Fish flash fiction workshop.

It’s an odd feeling (pride, fear, gratitude), just before a story is released into the world. I know every word so well, the plot inside out. It’s finished, tidied, polished with a bow on top and now out of my hands or control. If you want to read a bit more about how I was inspired to write my weird fairy tale, then click here.

Here’s one of my favourite songs. ‘Maps’ by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. It’s been viewed over 69 million times on youtube and I just love Karen’s vibe in it.

Do you have an artificial friend? If so, then you may like this book. I did.

Modern sc-fi (like ‘Black Mirror’ or ‘Never let Me Go’) is one of my little obsessions in life.

Cease The Day

Photo by Michał Bielejewski on Unsplash

You know the failure to prepare is to prepare to fail saying? Well, I prepared my socks off to read my poem online at an event. I rehearsed it, recorded it and pinned up print-outs in large font, in case I forgot the words. Half-way through reading out my poem, the doorbell in my house rang. It’s an extra-loud doorbell so I can hear it when I’m in my office. I remembered what my old drama teachers said. I acknowledged the interruption, then simply carried on. Apparently it was someone asking if we wanted double glazing. We already have double glazing in this rented house. Ah well.

Today has been a good week for my writing, quite possibly the most productive week I’ve ever had. I could really do this writing gig full time (if I had a private income).

  • I agreed edits and signed a contract for one of my short stories to be published in a lit mag later on in the month.
  • I read the critical feedback, then amended and submitted a story for publication in an anthology in September.
  • I wrote the beginning of a short story for a class I’m taking online, and then read it out in class.
  • I read my poem out in a zoom. Hopefully, it’ll make it into their anthology.
  • I submitted a bio, photograph and recording of myself reading out a poem for an event and anthology in Glasgow in November. That’s a big one. Internationally big.
  • Oh, and this was released……

The People’s Poem. Written and performed by residents of Leicester, which incidentally, was the most locked-down city in Britain. Inspired by The Leicester News’, ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign.

Yup. That’s me folks. The one at the beginning with the moonface. Honestly, this project was so much fun to do. I loved every minute!


So, I was thinking about taking a short break from this blog for a bit. I will still maintain the diary of what I’ve been up to aka Neverthless She Persisted. I’d like to see this hiatus as a natural summer holiday pause or end of season one.

You can find me on Twitter @nicolawitters (Sometimes I remember what a man once said to me. “Is Witters your maiden name?” He clearly didn’t know me or how long I can babble on for !)

Thank you for all of your support so far. xx


My new boots.

I’m delighted that HAIKU SALUT, one of my favourite electronic bands has a new album coming out.

The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is out at the end of August. Here’s their new video to tide you over while you’re waiting, during these lazy, languid, long summer days, or washout, humid, hayfever-ish, thundery ones.*

*delete as applicable