Halloween Story

In the half light of the full moon crawls a boy. The undergrowth through which he makes his way is simultaneously his protector and attacker, shielding him from view and yet inflicting countless wounds upon his bony limbs; a dichotomy of nature. From time to time he stops and sniffs the air, then presses his nose into the damp earth like a dog tracking a scent. His hair, matted with juice of berries he has harvested for food, is festooned with unintentional regularity by twigs and tiny insects.

Even the most untrained eye would see the boy is feral. His skin is worn like leather that has spent a decade in the sun. His eyes, black like ravens’, reveal the true nature of the instinct by which he is governed. His movements are not clumsy as one might expect from a boy of his age – Six? Seven? Surely not more – but rather fluid and considered, swift and exact.

Devoid of anything resembling human emotion, the boy follows his senses to survive. He scavenges, preys on the weak. He creeps into the homes of unsuspecting householders and steals their food. He watches their children as they sleep, in silent and uncomprehending curiosity.

He was human, once, a long time ago. He is not human anymore.

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For Sarah

A bit late, but I blame the tube. I wrote this poem today for my beautiful friend Sarah, who I saw tonight for what might be the last time before she flies back to Australia to start a new life after the tragic loss of her wonderful boyfriend Paul. I hope she won’t mind me posting this, but they have both left such a mark on me I can’t help but show it. Xxx

For Sarah

When we met we hit it off and laughed the night away,

That weekend in our lovely lodge was just the perfect stay.

We went to our friends’ wedding and we had such a good time,

Then woke to find Paul cooking and a view that was sublime.

We soaked in the jacuzzi until we were like prunes,

Your lovely bracelet lost its glow because we were such loons.

After that we threw ourselves down the kids’ waterslide,

The look on the kids’ faces made our hearts all swell with pride.

Your Paulie and my Rory played some crazy golf outside,

As you and I took time to preen before we took a ride

To Em and Harry’s celebration wedding barbecue

And from that weekend on I’ve been so glad to have met you.

We have so much in common like our love of fancy dress,

And fondness for a spot of raving to fun drum and bass.

So all I really want to say is that I will miss you,

Please stay in touch and here’s a little gift from me to you.

XxxxxxxxxXImage

 

Reasons to be winter-ful

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few days it cannot have escaped your attention that the nights are drawing in. Winter, dear friends, is coming – as we all knew it would (although we clung to the warm weather like limpets to a rock). But the demise of British Summer Time need not send us spiralling into a depression. Summer has gone, that much is true, but far from being summer’s miserable cousin, winter brings with it a whole new list of reasons to be happy. Reasons like:

1. We can invest in new bedding

When winter arrives and the sunlight hours decrease it is more crucial than ever that we get a good night’s sleep, not least to fight off the threat of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So as the colder months approach what better way to prepare than with some goose down pillows and a nice 13.5 tog goose down duvet? S.A.D? Not me. I’m Z.Z.Z…..

2. We can buy new clothes

Last year’s wardrobe’s been eaten by moths? Never mind, you can always clear it out and invest in some new choice threads to keep your smile white hot when the temperature drops…

3. Animal hats are back in vogue

…and animal slippers, ear muffs, slipper socks…

4. We have an excuse to get the hot water bottle out of retirement

What can be better than retiring to bed with a miniature heater and a good book? Cosy.

5. We can drink hot chocolate like it’s going out of fashion

For the rest of the year it would seem gluttonous, but when winter rolls around it’s perfectly acceptable to drink hot chocolate every day. Yum.

6. It’s CHRIIIISSSSTMAAAAAS

Okay, so not everyone loves the festive season, but surely everyone appreciates having some time off work?

7. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Snow crocodile anyone?

See? Winter’s not so bad after all – embrace it!

Gearing up for NaNo No.5….

Today I have been planning out the story for my NaNo* novel, the chapter notes for which you can see in today’s photo. I wish I could say I’m feeling totally prepared this time around, but the truth is there will once again be a significant element of winging it. Still, on the positive side a plot and characters are at last beginning to emerge, like (slightly reluctant) woodlice, from the (somewhat rotten) woodwork of my brain. And, more importantly still, I’m starting to feel that old glimmer of enthusiasm to get started, and the accompanying excitement to see what comes out once the month is underway.

This will be my fifth NaNo novel, the main difference being that this time around I’m determined to edit my novel until I’m 100% happy to submit it to agents, rather than consigning it to a dusty folder in My Documents, never to be touched again. I did submit three chapters of my first NaNo novel (some years ago now) to agents and received one encouraging rejection letter in return, but nonetheless the responses were all rejections. The reason for that, on looking back, was because I hadn’t made any real effort to edit it – as in, none at all. And if I couldn’t be bothered to spend time crafting it into something amazing, how could I expect people to want to spend time reading it? So this time will be different, and if nothing else comes of it I will teach myself the art and discipline of editing for when I do finally write the masterpiece that will catapult me into the JK Rowling stratosphere. Well, a girl can dream…

*National Novel Writing Month – Budding novelists should check it out!

When good (washing) machines go bad…

In western society we underestimate the importance of our household machinery working well, and the degree of inconvenience that is caused when it ceases to function as it should. A broken washing machine, as I have today discovered, is most inconvenient indeed (especially when it breaks mid-cycle whilst washing all but one of your towels, and your washing basket is groaning with the weight of unwashed garments needing to be cleaned).

It’s at times like this it becomes clear just how spoiled we westerners are. In the third world washing machines and such like are little more than flights of fancy. Clothes are washed in rivers or streams using bars of soap (if they’re lucky enough to procure them), and food (when available) is cooked on open fires or gas hobs, with small portions of rice being shared between whole families. I don’t want to sound preachy, but when things that we consider to be part of everyday life break down it’s helpful to remember that those things are not essential to our survival, but rather luxuries that we have come to rely on as such.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the nearest river and a bar of soap…

The Club

She stands in the shadows, eyes narrowed like a cat, watching, waiting. Blood pumps deafeningly in her ears, drowning out the music that is blasting from the speaker beside her. She scans the room, searching the faces of the crowd, looking for him. There. She sees him, standing tall and proud on the dance floor – with her. She quells the surge of emotion that rises up inside her, inhales deeply and steps out of the shadows. She picks her way through the throng of inebriated clubbers towards them. They dance on, oblivious to her presence and drunk on one another’s. Somewhere someone blows a whistle, shrill and loud. As she approaches they start to kiss. His hands reach down and grope her behind. This time the rage explodes like a firework inside her head. She reaches out and pulls them roughly apart. The shock on their faces is satisfying and spurs her on. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she demands, furious now. She grabs him by the arm and starts to pull. He doesn’t resist, he knows his time is up. When they emerge into the cool night air she gestures to the car and he gets in. “Well? Do you have anything you want to say to me?” she asks, keeping her eyes on the road. “Sorry Mum.”

Peter Pan Syndrome

As I prepare to move seamlessly from an afternoon of sanding and varnishing furniture in a nursery to an all-night fancy dress (Halloween-themed) techno rave with twenty friends, it does occur to me the life I lead is sometimes a dichotomy of considerable proportions.

I’ve talked about my (late onset) love of fancy dress on this blog before, and have also touched more than once on my deep-seated fear that I should start acting my age. But the problem is this: I don’t want to. Yes, I’m thirty two now and yes, there is a palpably strong argument to be made that it’s time to slow down, rein in the partying and (wait for it) “settle down.” And yet the counter argument of thirty two no longer being ‘old’ in a society where everything is increasingly happening later in life is just as compelling.

There’s also the fact I have a boyfriend who is five years younger than me, which means that even if I wanted to tone down my social life I would struggle to do so without being labelled the ‘boring older woman.’ Not that I really care what I’m labelled these days (that being the only obvious benefit of growing up, as far as I can see).

Reading the above one might assume I’m out on the town every night. This, I’m happy to report, is very much not the case. I worked out the second I hit thirty that mid-week drinking in this decade and beyond would only bring me pain-not that I always manage to remember that, mind, but at least the slip ups are fewer these days. When I do go out I simply like to make sure that the occasion is steeped in fun-and how much more fun can you get than fancy dress? I’ll tell you: No more.

It could be argued that I have a severe case of Peter Pan Syndrome, and that may well be right, but you know what? When I’m old and grey and lying on my death bed I will never have cause for concern that I didn’t make the most of being young(ish). Come to think of it, I wonder if they do fancy dress parties in heaven…