GUEST POST number 1

Hello, and welcome to the first (of many) guest posts. Today’s writer goes by the mysterious name of “The Military Gentleman’s Wife”. This is her first published story. It is a vignette entitled,

Observations from My Window

Photo by Sylvia Zhou on Unsplash

I didn’t notice him at first, all 22 stones (at least), sat on my wall at the front of my house. I was absorbed on finishing the bespoke, reversible masks I was sewing for my daughter. I was totally oblivious. I had seen him before many times since lock-down, walking up and down our street, usually with a can of beer in his hand. He always wore a dark green shabby coat, baggy grey trousers, a red t-shirt with a slogan on it and dark red jelly bean sandals. He was somewhere between 50-70 years old, with long white hair, a beard, and his face was much tanned, like someone who spent a lot of time outside. Perhaps he was homeless; he had that defeated look about him. I was annoyed that he was sat there. What if the wall collapsed under his weight? Was I liable to pay compensation if he hurt himself, besides paying for the repairs to the wall? 

The man looked up and down the street as if expecting someone. Lots of people passed the time of day with him as they walked by. I continued sewing. What if my daughter didn’t like the beautiful Japanese designs on the face-masks? I thought that they were gorgeous.  

The man crushed his empty beer can and put it into the bag that he was carrying. He stood up slowly, wearily, then carried on walking down the street. I breathed out. If he sits there again, I will send my husband out to do some gardening. They’ll chat and I’ll find out all about him. 

I must learn not to over-react to things. After all it’s just a wall. The face masks? My daughter loved them.  

Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

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.

117. How to Choose Which Shoes to Wear in the Apocalypse

Photo by Philippe Jausions on Unsplash

My wardrobe, floordrobe, was supposed to be a curated collection of neutral basics plus a smattering of thrifty vintage pieces mixed with designer splurges. There was that pair of leather strappy sandals bought in Greece that I could never wear for more than half an hour before they rubbed my feet raw to ribbons. After every hangover, I vowed to give up my late nights. I was going to reinvent myself and spend my Sundays outdoors, just as soon as I’d broken in the hiking boots that pinched so much that I lost all feeling in my toes. I knew they were supposed to be tight but once they’d moulded to my feet, they would be the most comfortable footwear in the world. I thought I looked the business in those silver leather brogues until I saw three other women wearing the same shoes at the same event as me. Embarrassing wasn’t the word.

I know now to never buy this year’s colour in a leather handbag. It’s a waste of money because it only lasts one season and I’d have to keep it for 12-15 years before I could use it again. Chain store coats are also a mistake unless I wanted to look like everyone else.

Marie said to put all of my clothes onto the bed so I knew what I’d got. Passers-by could see right into this basement flat, but I didn’t care. They also didn’t seem bothered because it was still raining, so they were hurrying by, just wanting to get where they were going. 

I was down to my bra and knickers, trying on everything I owned, chucking my clothes into piles –  keep, bin, donate, sell – whilst dancing around to an 80s pop mix. Between songs I could hear a burglar alarm wailing like an old-fashioned air raid signal so I just cranked up the music a bit louder to drown it out. Then someone startled me by banging on my window and shouting “get out!”. I quickly put on a pair of comfy cord jeans and an old baggy t shirt and ran to the front door to yell right back at them. Before I could open it, I heard water trickling down the steps and saw it creeping under the door towards me. For a moment, I stood there, watching my slippers get soaked.

“This is the police helicopter. The river has breached its bank. You are in imminent danger. Please evacuate your property immediately and make your way to higher ground.”

In less than thirty seconds, I was out of there. I grabbed my phone, purse, glasses, a pair of trainers, socks, knickers, a jumper, that book I was reading and (weirdly) a pillow. I put on the first coat I saw hanging up and snatched another. Then, swinging a black bin bag containing all my worldly goods, I pelted up the street, splashing through the ankle high water in my sodden slippers, as if I had seen the last bus coming.

Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash