Friday, 30 January 2015


This was first published in February 2013 but in adding audio, blogger has bumped it up to the top. 
For the audio click here.

Mike poured water on the coffee granules and heard them sizzle as they dissolved beneath the boiling liquid. He readjusted himself inside his boxer shorts and patted over to the fridge to get the milk, yawning as he did so. How had it come to this? Early morning instant coffee sending him on his way to a day in commuter hell. Crowded trains, stuffy, disease-ridden offices, urgent deadlines and rude colleagues while all the time knowing the train ride home would be a jam packed hell. The whole day spent under leaden skies and artificial lights. Not the lights he had dreamt of when the band were so close to stardom 16 years ago. They were going to be the next big thing, a Britpop sensation, the new Supergrass. He still had copies of that first CD single, the first and last. ‘Time’ had reached number 35 in the charts and had been the Morning Show’s record of the week. Mike remembered the appearances on TV pop shows and the interviews with the countless pop magazines, the tours in the old van and the support gigs with Shed Seven; it was going to happen, they were going to hit the big time, they were that close. But then suddenly Britpop was dead and no one wanted to know ‘the Crow’s Feet’ anymore. Stung by the realisation that they were never going make it, the band broke up and went their separate ways. Mike started his slow ascent up the shallow career ladder.
Mike slurped his coffee and listened to his upstairs neighbour singing in the shower. Mike’s neighbour couldn’t sing but that didn’t stop him from ‘entertaining’ the other tenants every morning from the limelight of his bathroom. His repertoire was wide and varied, hymns, Sinatra, Spice Girls, his latest one was that Every thing at Once from the Microsoft ad. But this morning it was something different; an oldie but goodie as some long forgotten DJ had been prone to say.

Mike had an extra spring in his step as he walked to the station that morning. Suddenly the rain didn’t bother him and the crowded train ride held no fear. Was Mike actually smiling?
He hadn’t recognised it at first, so out of tune was the singing,  but then the words had been unmistakable,
I haven’t forgotten yet will to forget,
I live to remember, I live to regret
A marathon runner, an unwinnable race,
Out of sight out of mind, not always the case.
It was Time, the song that had reached number 35 in the charts, his song, his lyrics, his teenage angst. His neighbour was singing his song.

Enjoyed this? Why not buy my novel Maggie's Milkman? Details HERE

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Old School Friends

Trying a new way to share audio. Please let me know if it works, if you like it etc?
Click HERE for the audio. 

Jean had recognised Christen as soon as she walked in to the bar with her colleagues. Christen was sitting on her own at the bar, dolled up to the nines, lazily smoking a cigarette, confidently scanning the room. God she’d come a long way since school, thought Jean. Jean approached her, at first it appeared that Christen didn’t recognise her, but then her face broke into a smile.
‘Oh my God! Jean, wow! What are you doing here?’ they air kissed dramatically.
They had been great friends in school but had lost touch soon after. Going out every night, turned into once a week, once a month, as boyfriends turned into husbands and kids had come along. Telephone calls became so infrequent it was almost awkward to call; it was better to lose a friend than apologise for not phoning.
They spoke for a little while, catching up on who they married, where they lived, how many kids they had, other people from school. Then, Christen told Jean she was expecting someone. Jean got the message, but didn’t want to lose contact again. They arranged to meet in a coffee shop in town the following Wednesday and Jean went back to her colleagues.
‘Hey Jean how do you know the hooker?’ asked JP, the office big mouth.
Jean was shocked, what did he mean by hooker? That’s a prostitute! Christen wasn’t a prostitute.
‘She’s not a hooker, that’s my old school friend, Christen.’
‘She may be your old school friend, but that doesn’t stop her being a member of the oldest profession.’
Jean looked at her old friend again, what was JP talking about? Okay she might be wearing a little bit too much make-up and her heels might be a bit high but women can dress how they want without having dickheads like JP calling them prostitutes. She tried to change the subject but JP was like a man possessed.
‘Look!’ He said nodding in Christen’s direction.
Jean looked around and saw a man in a smart business suit talking to her old friend. She could clearly see him hand something over, money? And then they left, arm in arm, they walked over towards the lifts and after a small wait they disappeared.
JP was unbearable, in his eyes he’d been proved right.
‘Can you get me her contact details?’ he said sleazily.
Jean didn’t know what to think, she liked to think of herself as a woman of the world but deep down she was a bit of a prude. Prostitution was what other people did, not people she knew. Should she still meet Christen for coffee now she knew what she did? Would she be able to look her in the eye? Oh what the hell she had to go, she had to find out for sure, that night could have been anything. It could have been Christen husband or new lover, he could have just been handing over the room key not money. JP was a dick, he liked to be all man of the world but he was just a childish fantasist.
The two women were all smiles as they settled over their lattes. They chatted about this and that, that and this, they got on like a house on fire but the only thing burning was the question that Jean was dying to ask. She was trying to find a way to subtly broach the subject but she couldn’t. She took a deep breath.
So who was that you left the hotel with last week?’ God, she sounded like bad cop.
‘Yeah, it must have looked a bit dodgy I suppose.’ Christen replied with a bright and breezy smile.
Jean breathed a sigh of relief, if it only looked a bit dodgy, Christen was going to give her a perfectly reasonable explanation.
‘I was hustling!’ Christen said, Jean’s mouth dropped open, her brain trying to process the information.

‘No don’t be daft,’ Christen said immediately, ‘it was my husband you fool, but.... don’t tell anyone,’ Christen leaned in close. ‘We were doing a wee bit of role-play, you know to spice things up, so your colleague was nearly right.

Enjoyed this? Why not buy my novel Maggie's Milkman? Details HERE

The Medina

Trying a new way to share audio. Please let me know if it works, if you like it etc?
Click HERE for the audio. 

‘Hey Mister, I have the best carpet for you, look, this carpet is lovely … you like it?’ The shop owner’s eyes and tone of voice told me that if I didn’t buy his carpet, his children would go hungry.
‘I don't have any money,’ I said, trying to move away,  ‘and I don’t need a carpet.’ But the man had hold of my hand and was not about to let go. The grip was two-handed, firm and strong; I felt it might even be leaving a red mark on my arm.
The medina was crowded and noisy, western pop tunes clashing with Arabic music over competing stereo systems. There were tired, overloaded horses being goaded through the narrow streets. While locals did their thing and tourists like me looked lost, hot and bothered by the attention of the vendors. I wondered how many tourists would be leaving with carpets, lamps or robes that they didn’t really want and then wondering how they’d get them back on the plane.
‘Come have a look, no money, no problem, come look,’ The shop owner wasn’t giving up, so I gave in. I went into the man’s bazaar, secretly pleased to escape the hustle and bustle.
Inside the shop was an oasis of calm, the salesman’s assistant produced a pot of tea and poured me a cup and I took the seat I was offered.
‘He’ll be here in about 5 minutes,’ the salesman said to me. He was calmer now that there was no need for a show for the passers-by.  I nodded and took a mouthful of tea burning the roof of my mouth. I winced
‘Every time my friend, every time,’ the shopkeeper said and smiled at me, shaking his head in disbelief.
‘And every time you leave me with bruises,’ I said, rolling up my sleeve revealing the welt on my arm.
‘Sorry my friend, I have to make it look real,’ he said, but there was no way he was really sorry.
‘How about this robe?’ He was good, his ability to go back into character at a drop of a fez was impressive. ‘I’ll give you special price and, if you like, I get you something nice to model it. You like male of female? I think you look like a lady kind of guy.’ He smiled at me, not the friendly smile of moments ago, but a smile that sent a shiver down my spine.I nodded like I might be interested in his special extras. 
The words were designed to put whoever had just come into the shop at ease, to tell the newcomer that I was of like mind, not a threat. I’d recognised the new customer, of course I’d recognised him, any of you would; he’s been in your living rooms often enough.
‘Ah my friend,’ the shopkeeper had turned his attentions to the newcomer, while I stared at the material of the robe. ‘I have what you want.’ The shopkeeper clapped his hands theatrically, and a small boy stepped forward from out from the shadows. Of all of us the boy was the best actor, the calmest or maybe, he just didn’t really know what was going on.
‘He’s pretty boy? Do you like him?’
I took a sneak peak at the customer, his face was contorted with lust.
The man nodded, ‘How much?’ he growled, that voice so distinctive - the one-time nation’s favourite.
‘What we agreed,’ the shopkeeper said.
I watched the man get his money out and hand over a wad of dollars and then step forward to take the boy by the hand.
That was my cue.

‘I’m arresting you for the solicitation of minors.’ I said, standing up, stepping forward and grabbing the man’s hands before he could reach the boy.

Enjoyed this? Why not buy my novel Maggie's Milkman? Details HERE

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

White Middle Class Angst.

Trying a new way to share audio. Please let me know if it works, if you like it etc?
Click HERE for the audio. And listen for the obvious mistake. 

So there I was, under the bright studio lights, perspiring slightly and certainly not enjoying myself. With all the cameras around me I was conscious of my every move, my every word. But I’d done okay so far; I’d made the presenter laugh with my anecdote at the beginning and then I’d answered five questions right and one question wrong, and that had been a real toughy.
I was down to the last question, get it right, as the jovial quiz show host had just informed me, and I’d walk away with £3000 pounds, get it wrong and I’d leave... with nothing. I took a deep breath, looked at my shoes and then looked up and smiled into the camera, just like the floor manager had told me to.
‘Now, all you need to do to win the money is… to name this famous sportswoman.’ The host said while the producers brought up a picture of a black woman that I’d never seen before. 
They say in pressure situations your mind goes blank, but my mind didn’t go blank. On the contrary my mind worked faster than a supercomputer beating a master at chess. It was in overdrive, at risk of burn out.
The problem was my mind wasn’t going through its database of black sports women. No, my mind was embroiled in a moral dilemma that there was surely no satisfactory conclusion to. I wasn’t only looking for the correct answer, I was looking for the politically correct answer.
I knew I didn’t know who the woman was, but I could guess, have a go, maybe pluck a correct name from somewhere. But therein lay the problem.  I could say Venus Williams or Tessa Sanderson or Maggie Alphosi but I was pretty sure it wasn’t any of them and... wouldn’t I be leaving myself open to the accusation that I thought that  they all look the same’?... Oh god, my white, liberal mind was in turmoil. Was I about to make a racist gaffe on prime time TV?
Of course, I could have simply said ‘I don’t know’, that would have saved my blushes, but that didn’t cross my mind. 
‘I have to push you for an answer.’ The host said. Three cameras, red lights shining, pointed at me. The studio lights seemed unbearably hot. I willed a name into my mind and my prayers were answered.
‘Steffi Graf,’ I said confidently.
There was a collective intake of breath from the studio audience while the host looked at me like I was mad, which I just might have gone.
‘Steffi Graf?’ He repeated, ‘well let’s look and see if ‘Steffi Graf’ is right.’

The producers pressed the button and a red cross appeared on the screen signalling, as  everyone had known, that my answer was not correct.

Enjoyed this? Why not buy my novel Maggie's Milkman? Details HERE

The Problem with Matty

This story carries a red warning, - contains scenes of a sexual nature.You have been warned. 

Trying a new way to share audio. Please let me know if it works, if you like it etc?
Click HERE for the audio. 

Aisling bit her finger and moaned gently, conscious of not wanting to wake the boy who was snoozing gently next to her. She closed her eyes and allowed her breathing to get back to normal, now she too could drop off to sleep, satisfied. Aisling smiled to herself, she was a wicked woman - 42 years old and in bed with a boy of 21. It wasn’t the first time either, Matty was becoming a hard habit to break and every time Aisling found herself in Swansea, she called him up and he was only too willing to take a night off from his ‘studying’.
She loved his body, fresh and firm, his skin seemed clean and clear and he had strong well-defined muscles and they weren’t the only things to be strong and well defined.
He was good too, surprisingly good for one so young, okay she usually had to satisfy herself once he’d drifted off to sleep, but he was not the clumsy, fumbling buffoons she remembered from when she was 21.
Gosh she remembered Pete, her first lover; slumped on top of her, head in the pillow, slobbering at her ear, hips jerking, high in energy but low in skill; lacking the understanding of what made women tick. Not that she had much understanding of that back then either, not until she met Pierre but Pierre was a different story.
Despite his skills there was still something missing with Matty, but Aisling was struggling to put her finger on it. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and he seemed to know what he was doing, but somehow the passion was lacking, it was all rather clinical, like he was doing it by numbers. There was also a lack of intimacy; Matty was distant, both physically and mentally. She'd tried to pull him close, she wanted to feel his skin on hers when he was inside her, but he seemed to think making love was a better done at a distance. She was almost asleep now; she’d ponder this more in the morning when no doubt Matty would be standing to attention and ready for action.

She woke up with the word porn in her mind. That was the answer. That was why Matty knew so much about sex and why their bodies didn’t touch much while they was doing it. Back in her day, boys didn’t have access to porn like they do now, so it was no wonder Pete was clueless. But Matty had probably been watching it half his life. He’d probably learnt everything he knew about sex not from gossip in the playground but from youporn or xtube; that’s why he had all the moves, all the positions and that was why he was so distant in his lovemaking. Aisling didn’t watch a lot of porn, but she had seen enough to know the actors didn’t often get up close and personal, they can’t. If you do it like they do on the porn channels, then you need to leave room for the cameras.

Enjoyed this? Why not buy my novel Maggie's Milkman? Details HERE