What am I Doing?

I wrote a draft for a post yesterday, looked at it, and thought: it’s old hat; it’s explanatory; it’s repetitious (ie, haven’t I said all this before?).

I was up in the night (as I often am), and wrote: ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do for the blog.  I’m casting about here because I didn’t like what I came up with before – clever claptrap.  It was clever claptrap, but I was sincere in it – this makes me wonder because it seems that sincerity and clever claptrap can’t be together like that; the very terms seem to cancel themselves out.

What am I trying to say then?

What I did say in the sincere clever claptrap:

When you write to a brief – I did a writing course once – I know, dear reader – you must be sick of hearing about writing courses from me by now, and I didn’t set out with that intention when I began this blog – but I have done a few of them –

I have been trying to find myself through my writing – unsure of myself, and of my place in the world, and rather than endure the cold – the snow, the ice, the blizzards (ahem) – I mean – that feeling of being on the outside, looking in – I have gone back to basics, I have tried to learn anew…

Anyway – this one – an online writing course – it was new, I think, and they said they had deliberated as to whether to expect word-counts or not – and had decided for – so many writing situations require the writer fit into a particular set of parameters – that is, a word-count.

Hmm.  That sounds to me more like journalism, or the sort of popular fiction that relies on world-count because the reader expects a book of a certain size – romantic fiction used to be like that – I don’t know what it is like now – I’ve given up the idea of writing romantic fiction, even as a way to earn my bread and butter.

No – I find it difficult to write to specs.

Christmas Clippings – Another Course

“Christmas,” said Robin.


It’s always the same with these courses – they always have to be topical!

No – I did not say ‘tropical’ –


‘Oh – the red, red Robin goes…’


Am I going to have Christmas tied up in a box like a parcel fastened with fancy string?

I’m tempted not to mention it at all.


Christmas sucks!


But – Christmas?

Not so always –


Lying in bed –

I was in the small front bedroom that year, for some reason – there was a time when my sister and I slept together in the back bedroom – we wanted the small front bedroom as our playroom –

We’d asked our Mam if we could, and she’d said yes.

We’d read about it in Enid Blyton – there was a picture of it, this playroom, and we’d copied it as far as we could, putting our toys – we had quite a few that were the same as the ones in the picture – dolls, a ball – no soldiers, but – maybe a clapping monkey –

They would come to life, these toys, in the playroom, during the night.

Every morning, when we got up, we’d go to the playroom, and look to see where the toys had got themselves.

But the toys were cleverer than we were – after their night of fun, they always assumed the exact positions we’d left them in.

This particular year, for some particular reason, I was sleeping habitually in the front small bedroom…


The front small bedroom was small.

It was no more than three or four yards long – and not so wide.

The bed was pushed up into the corner, its length running across the window, and its head against the wall that adjoined with our Mam and Dad’s room…

The house was cold.

Downstairs, in the winter, we’d all huddle around the coal-fire in the front room – the door to the kitchen and the one to the lobby were kept shut in the evenings to keep in the warmth.

We had some roaring fires – half-way up the chimney, people would say –

We’d sit there together, the four of us – or the five of us when Nanny was alive – getting red legs from the fire (except our Dad, who wore trousers, of course), hot on our fronts, freezing at our backs.

Upstairs, the beds were heavily-laden with brown and grey blankets – they were Nanny’s, from a time when blankets were grey and brown…

Flannelette sheets.

Hot water bottles.

We had a stone hot water bottle that was Nanny’s – it was a cylindrical container with a stopper jutting up from the top, and it was kept in the gas cupboard…


Once in the bed, you could hardly move under the weight.

You pulled the covers right up over your nose – or it might fall off in the night from the cold – and you’d lie there, breathing the fug you made.

This Christmas Eve, I was in the bed alone, in the small front bedroom, under the heavy blankets – but lying towards the bottom of the bed so that my head would be level with the window.

I was cold – freeze battened those window-panes.

I was watching.

I was watching the sky.

I had the draw-curtains pulled open, and I had my head under the net, my pillows propped against the window-sill.

I was nine.

I think I was nine.

They’d been saying at school that Father Christmas wasn’t real – but that was balderdash.

I was going to stay awake until I saw Father Christmas in his sleigh.

I would hear the bells first, that jingling – and then I would see the sleigh and the reindeer – and then Father Christmas himself with his sack of toys.

I would prove that Father Christmas was real.  I would see him, and tell everyone.

No one could doubt him then.

I’d even tell our Mam and Dad.

Everyone would have to believe once I’d seen Father Christmas, in his sleigh, pulled by the reindeer across the sky.


Ah!  I see him now – as I am driven towards the hospital.

He’s plastered up the front of someone’s house!

Look, it’s two-thirds into November.


And there he is – that old Santa – in razzle-dazzle lights, getting into and out of his sleigh.

And there are three giant snowmen with him –

I don’t mean to be mean, but we had real snowmen in our day – it was really cold when we were young –


Now I’ve done it, haven’t I?  Moaning like that…

We’re bound to have a bad winter this year – in retribution – bad for everyone, except for the snowmen.



Disparate Thoughts

Going by some reactions I get to blog posts, there are people who are mystified as to what I am doing.

A hardline from me would be – continue to be so.

However, I am not always a hardliner.


The thing is, you can’t go through life looking over your shoulder all the time.  You can – but that is wearing.


Doing a creative writing course tends to be like a forced march – you produce, produce, produce.

It may be like that in the real world, but if so – I can’t do it, and I’m not in it.





Pink Roses

[17/03/2012; 21/05/2012; 11/11/2016]

She walked beside a metal-grid fence against the stream of people going the other way.  Through twisted diamond-chain, she could see a park, tranquil with its ordered greenery and traceries here and there of weeping willow.

On the other side of her, the ground fell sharply away.  She was saved from a sense of vertigo by the presence of a mist that hid the bottom of whatever chasm might be there.

She had left the shopping mall behind her.

She felt oddly in danger, but she thought that might be paranoia, not attached to anything real.

She couldn’t quite remember, this was the problem.

She had left the stream of people behind now, and – people that she still encountered were few and far between.

She was a tourist in this place, and she felt that the people must have a curiosity about her, with her occidental features – but not one of them had stared.  She must not look particularly out of place, or unexpected.

She was in a street that seemed somehow vacant; windows of three-storey buildings blanked out by dark blinds; alley-ways – gaping at street-level – that led to doorways.

The neighbourhood had a general air of privacy.

She came to a causeway.  Each side of it was built up in concrete, so that she couldn’t look over, but she could hear water running somewhere below.  It was as though she had entered a tunnel.

At the end of the pseudo-tunnel, there was a branching out into a wide enclosed area.

The ground was concreted over but that gave way with no visible edge to a gravelled, grassy expanse that was neither countryside nor town.

Ahead of her was an impenetrable row of concrete outhouses.

One of them – to one side of her – was a long, low building with a slanted roof.

There were three – no – four windows.

They were protected by metal grilles, but she went up to them, and peered through.  The window-glass was just beyond, but all she could see through it was dark wood that reminded her of the backs of cabinets.  She tried to see through each grilled window, but it was as though someone had pushed the furniture up against all of them – from the inside.

She didn’t know why, but she felt that she had to get past this place.

There was something that looked like a water-butt beside a window.  It was as though the mist had extended to here – or maybe she just wasn’t sure of things – but she felt it would be nothing to climb up on to the roof from there, and it was nothing; the water-butt was easy to hop up onto, and it was a skip and a jump from there, that’s all.

She was on the roof, and she went up the slope of it to the ridge.  On the other side of the ridge, on top of what she thought of as the back part of the roof (this, given the general direction she had been taking, and it seemed important not to forget this distinction), she could see a flat concrete wall, and metal fences either side, with foliage growing through.

She went for the concrete wall.  She knew she’d be able to reach the top of it.

She pulled herself up – with some effort – but it was easy enough to vault down to the other side into someone’s back garden.

She had no idea what she was doing, but she felt as though she had been here before, and that, if she continued on her path, she might find what she was looking for.

She felt happier that she was out of public view.

There was a pink rose-bush in the garden.

She walked past it.



[4/11 and 5/11/2016 draft – from 25/02/2014 draft]

Her eyes were closed.

She opened them a fraction.

They were gummed-up enough to stop the immediate stinging of sweat.

She wanted to keep it that way.

She peeped, as well as she could, through strings of tackiness and eyelash.

The brightness that was still in the day was screened by this procedure, and she congratulated herself for her forethought, but in fact, she had not anticipated the effect at all.

Much of the stickiness popped away, and her eyes adjusted enough so that she could see some distance – though there was nothing but the expanse of red dust that extended to where a dark line of trees edged the landscape.

Bea had gone that way this morning.

She had watched until Bea disappeared into heat haze.

She had no idea how far Bea had got – but it would have been silly for them both to go.  Bea herself had said that.

She lay there under the triangular bit of canvas that she had fixed from the tailgate of the truck to a crowbar that leaned jauntily, precariously, against an outjut of rock.

Her shirt was soaked with sweat – sweat pricked at her back.

She thought of scratching, but the heat sapped her will, and it was difficult to move at all.

She wondered if Bea had found water beyond those trees.

Did she dare to have another swallow of her own supply?

Last night, there had been the screams of beasts.

She couldn’t stay here much longer – who knew when the beasts would be back?

And – would they come nearer this time?

Would they scent her out?

She pulled herself further under the canvas and towards the back of the truck where she had left her water-bottle in the deepest shade.

The shade wasn’t so deep now – the sun had turned in the afternoon sky.

The bottle was warm to her touch, wet with condensation around the stopper – that should have been an automatic seal.

She got her tongue around that, then opened the bottle, and took a sweet, full swig.

The water was almost gone.

Her rucksack was still under the front seat of the cab.

She pulled out from beneath the truck, pushed herself up from under the canvas, swayed in the pounding heat, found a centre of balance, took a few steps to the cab.

She had left the door open – that was luck also rather than forethought, and she chided herself to be more careful – the handle would have been impossible to hold in this heat.

She found the rucksack.

She pulled a thin scarf from it.

She put the water-bottle in it.

There were a few pieces of dried-out fruit left in the front pocket.

She tied the scarf over her mouth and nose, dragged the bag over her shoulders.

She looked across to the line of trees, trying to gauge how long it would take to cross that red vista.


The dust wasn’t deep, but it was dryer than any dust she had encountered before, and every movement stirred and lifted it.  She moved through a red cloud, blinking through the irritation to her eyes, tears washing them continually.

The light was beginning to dim.

She dredged through dust.

And then she was tripping through scrub.

There was wiry grass – and the trees ahead.