123. The Elusion of Sleep

Photo by Kai Alyssa Bossom on Unsplash

I need to walk off this nightshift or I won’t sleep. I can’t sleep anyway, so who am I kidding? Last night was brutal. Three came in and we lost two more. 7:00am used to be when this town began to stir into life. Now it’s dying. Before, I’d see white delivery vans. Now, Deliveroo bikes. Shutters going up not staying down. Whistling shop window cleaners flicking water. Walks of shame. Free newspapers thrust into my hand. Drops of dried blood on the pavements from people I patched up a couple of hours before. I know that muggings have increased because there are fewer people to beg from, so I now keep an emergency fiver in my coat pocket. Cyclists are breeding and they’re getting faster and braver. No-one cares about takeaway coffee cups anymore.

I see him, near one of those cruel anti-social designed benches. A sleeping sailor swaying on a washing line. His eyebrows raise when he hears a rattling Nourishment can clink against an empty bottle. I watch this underwater marionette conduct an invisible orchestra in one smooth tai chi arc, then stumble onto the pavement. A passing car swerves and beeps which is his cue to spring up and swing a punch, but he’s too slow and falls as solid as a tree. Fortunately, he’s wearing everything he owns and his padded shoulder hits the ground first. I run to him. He’s shaking and the freshest smell is his loss of bowel control. For my efforts, I get a mouthful of abuse then he tries to kick at me. He’s alright. I don’t know whether to call an ambulance or the police. I doubt he even opened his eyes.

We’re both coming down from last night and neither of us wants to do this anymore.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash


👀 in other news…

You know how the algorithm is always watching? That supercomputers know more about us than we do? How it’s too late now and we’re too far gone to even try to live off-grid, under the radar? (Yes, I am terrified of those Boston Dynamics robot dogs.) Well, it was only a matter of time that twitter recommended someone I used to know (pre-internet) as someone that I should follow. But what I want to know is, how did it know?

This is a video of his band, The Boy Tate. They are delightfully northern blokes and are really quite good.

Please enjoy.

A Brief Pause for a Micro Podcast

Photo by Cory Vincent on Unsplash

*Disclaimer. This is not my actual home studio because I don’t have one. Maybe I will one day though. (No I haven’t been looking up the usb microphones that Emily St John Mandel or Limmy use. That was someone else who looks like me) However, I did actually recently dip a toe into the water of podcast/audiobook/storytelling.

Micro is a podcast for short, but powerful writing

I have always wanted to hear one of my stores read aloud but it never occurred to me that I could be the one to do it. If you’ve ever wondered what my voice sounds like, now is your chance to find out! Please enjoy.

click here to hear me read ‘Minted’

Minted was first published by Dime Show Review back in 2019.

The episode on micropodcast.org was released on Thursday 4th February 2021.

This may be a piece of flash fiction, but recording it was not quick. I live in a house with thin walls near to a school, so there is always the sound of next-door’s telly, car doors slamming or children’s voices. To try to muffle as much outside noise as I could, I piled cushions and a duvet around my desk, and put a giant bath towel over my head to create my own personal fort. Even though my audience was me and me alone, I still had to try to manage the nerves of ‘public speaking’ my own words out loud.


Most of us are staying at home these days, and we’re all getting used to the majority of our interactions with other people being through a screen. My experiences of video calling, facetiming, MSTeams and Zoom are a bit like when Laura Dern in Jurassic Park goes near to a computer screen. Communicating in writing via the chat function, Twitter, texts, emails and WhatsApp are now my default.


I was overjoyed to be accepted onto a short story creative writing, professional development course called ‘A Brief Pause‘. It is run by Dahlia Publishing with funding from Arts Council England and support from The Literary Agency. The list of tutors for the twelve, two hour Zoom masterclasses is impressive. (Xanthi Barker, Susmita Bhattacharya, Rebecca Burns, Emily Devane, Melissa Fu, Divya Ghelani, Anita Goveas, Abi Hynes, Farhana Khalique, CG Menon, Mahsuda Snaith, and Alison Woodhouse.) So I have to try to be cool and not fangirl too much, because this does feel like a big deal for me. I also have to remind myself that I don’t have to buy every single short story collection or writer’s guide that is mentioned!

Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Lockdown III (the most controversial of the trilogy) has seen me scour YouTube and rediscover old episodes of ‘Tales of The Unexpected’. YouTube is a rabbit hole for book research as there is always someone who is a specialist in just the exact thing I need for my novel. It sometimes reminds me of being back in the Brownies, when a guest speaker would explain the workings of some puzzling contraption or how something was made. It’s strange to think that during the editing process, I will delete much of that (as yet unwritten) backstory as it will no longer be relevant and considered to be an infodump.

Writing should actually be called rewriting.

122. The Seven C’s

I was running late and spotted that someone had put up one of those ‘Take What You Need’ posters on the noticeboard in the corridor. After class, Simon waited there while I talked to the tutor about my poor time management and why I needed an extension on my essay. As we walked to the refectory, I said, “which one did you take?”

“Courage,” he replied.

“Why’s that then?”

“I want to ask someone out but I think it’s too late. We might already be in the friendzone, so I’m a bit worried about risking it. What do you think I should do?”

“Well you picked courage for a reason. I think you should just go for it. If you don’t ask then you’ll never know.” I bit my lip and desperately hoped he wouldn’t notice that my cheeks were burning.

He didn’t reply for a couple of minutes then he said, “Do us a favour? Get me a latte please. I’ll be back in a minute,” and walked off towards the toilets.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

He was beaming when he came back. “I did it and she said yes.”

My stomach filled with lead.

“Nice one,” I said. “When are you going out?” I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose, then fumbled in my backpack for a tissue. All I could think of was why did I even start this stupid conversation in the first place?

“Tomorrow night. Oh and thanks for the coffee. You alright? You look a bit deflated.”

“Yeah, I’m fine, a bit stressed out. I was just thinking about my essay.” I scrunched up the tiny piece of paper and rolled it between my finger and thumb.

“Oh ok, I never asked you what you took,” he said.

“Resilience,” I replied.

“That’s a tough one. Getting up after being knocked back.”

“I know,” I said.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash