Wednesday, 31 May 2017


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“Thank you for your warm welcome. Gosh, this is hard, isn’t it? Let me see, um. My friend Barbora there suggested I came here did because it helps her so much. I didn’t want to come but she talked me in to it. It all started about seven or eight years ago. I felt so lost and confused. I knew I had to get out of the difficult relationship I was in. It had got stale, the trust had gone, it seemed to be one war after another, one financial crisis after another. Trouble was, I didn’t know where to turn, how to get help. Anyway, I’d never done it before but this man in a nice suit suggested it and well he had a nice smile and he made me feel good about myself. So, one day I tried it and you know what, it didn’t feel that bad. I mean it wasn’t good either and I still ran home and had a shower straight away, but the world didn’t change, no one died. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone, my parents would be horrified, but I was okay with it. The next few years were okay. Not as bad as my friends said they would be. I mean I could see there was less money and that might have been because of my actions, but we were getting by, doing fine. So, I kept doing it, whenever the chance arose and I suppose it became a habit, my little secret. I know it’s bad for me, I know it will end in tears but I just can’t help it and I’m sure I’ll do it again. I can see from the looks in your eyes and from the stories I’ve heard you’re all in the same boat as me. It’s nice to be among people who understand, who’ve experienced it. So, I am willing to stand here and say it. My name’s Elaine Smith, and I vote Conservative.” 

This idea was inspired by the Guardian headline, see below. I just wondered if there was a self-help group for the poor selfish loves. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

An Offer you Can't Refuse

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Ed, Mandy,” Danny shouted at the top of his voice. “Emma,” he looked around, so many faces all different colours and hues, but none of them his three new friends. He’d only stopped for a second to take in the lights at Piccadilly Circus, he’d seen his friends cross the road but by the time he’d managed to get through the buses and the taxis, they’d vanished into thin air. Why were there still so many people around? Llantwit Major never got this busy ever; at eleven pm you’d be lucky if you even saw one car trundling along, but tonight in London, it was busier than Barry at rush hour. “Ed,’ he yelled again, but his voice was drowned out by a street performer who was shouting over the chugging engines and bleating horns that in turn were drowning out Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy that was pumping out of a takeaway pizza booth. Ed had mentioned the pub he was taking them to, but Danny couldn’t remember the name and anyway it was gone last orders, it’d probably be closed by now. Danny turned on his heels and headed to the underground station. He’d just go home and catch up with them in the morning and hope that Ed hadn’t got off with Mandy in the meantime.
“Hey, kid you look lost.” A man in an immaculate three-piece suit was smiling at Danny.
“I’ve lost my friends, so I’m going home,” Danny said.
“Do you want to earn some money, young man?”
“No, you’re alright mate, I just want to go home.”
“What all the way back to Wales?”
“No, to my student halls in Islington.”
“Ah, you’re a student? What if I told you, you could make £200 this evening? £200, that’s going to buy you a lot of pints.”
“What would I have to do?”
“You like ladies?”
Danny nodded.
“Wanna have sex with an older woman?”
Danny looked around, were his mates winding him up?
“All you’ve got to do is have sex with a woman, and you’ll get two hundred quid.”
“You’re joking,” Danny went to push past the man, but the man stood his ground.
“Does it look like I’m joking?” The man took out a bundle of notes out of his top pocket and started peeling them off. “One night of passion, no one needs to know, and this,” the man held the money out to Danny, “is yours.”
“Not interested,” Danny said.
“Okay, two fifty,” the man added some more notes to the wad he was holding.
Danny looked at the money, that was almost his whole grant and all he had to do was to fuck someone. Sex and money, Danny’s two favourite things.
“Okay,” he said.
“Good, come with me,” the man stepped into the road and hailed one of the taxis and held a door open for Danny.
They chugged through the London streets, Yazz, The Only Way is Up, was on the radio.
“Where are we going?” Danny said.
“Don’t worry,” the man replied, offering Danny a cigarette. “By the way, you don’t mention this to anyone, okay?”
Danny shook his head. He felt sick. Why on earth had he said yes? Was he be driven somewhere so the man could kill him, or worse bugger him? If there really was a woman, what if she was old, or ugly, or fat? What if came too quickly? He looked out of the window, he’d never been to this part of London before. He wondered if he could back jump out of the car. But every time the taxi stopped at lights the little red light came on to say the door was locked. They turned left and right and left again and then pulled up outside a posh looking hotel.
The man leant forward and handed a ten pound note to the driver.  “Keep the change, mate, ” he said. “This way,” he led Danny into the hotel. He nodded at the concierge and headed up the stairs. He knocked on door 110.  
“Come,” a female voice said.
“In you go,” the man pushed Danny into the room.
A bedside lamp lit a room that was about double the size of Danny’s student digs. The bed alone was about the size of his room. In the bed, a naked woman stirred. “What have we here then?” she said.
Danny didn’t move.
“Come closer,” the woman said, putting on her glasses. But Danny still stayed by the door. “Come on, I haven’t got all day,” the woman snapped.

“Yes, Prime Minister,” Danny said.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Scott Memorial

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I took off my cap and wiped my brow, the weather forecast had been wrong and I wished I was wearing shorts rather than the jeans that were helping the sun bake my legs. I licked my lips and glanced over at those sitting on the grass enjoying a mid-afternoon drink, I was tempted to join them.  But I was close to finishing and I wasn’t going to quit now. I nipped another piece of tile and glued it in place. Just a few more and I’d be done. 
Passers-by passed by, some said hello, most just ignored me, assuming me to be the artist or an authorised repair man. Only I knew that I was just an odd jobber giving something back to the community. 
I’d notice the state of the monument a few days earlier, bare patches where the tiles had fallen or had been picked off, bits of graffiti, a smear of something that I hoped was brown sauce. I don’t really care about the Scott Expedition, but if Cardiff is going to have a memorial to it, the least it can do it keep it tidy and if the council weren’t going to do it, then I bloody well would. 
I stood back and enjoyed my handy work. The monument was looking better already and would look even better once the grouting had been done, but I’d leave that for another day, now it was time for that pint. 
I was lucky to get a table outside the Waterguard pub. Already half a pint of lager was gone from my glass. The half-term crowd milled around Cardiff Bay; parents shouting at kids, kids sulking, skateboarders and bike riders sending pedestrians scattering and of course seagulls on the hunt for discarded ice-creams or crisps. 
Two police officers rounded the corner; poor buggers, I thought. I bet they’d had their leave cancelled just so they could be part of Mrs May’s strong and stable leadership. I smiled at them just like the internet meme told me to do. 
“Excuse me, sir,” the female one said. 
“We’ve had reports of a man fitting your description committing criminal damage.” 
“Really?” Well, I can assure you it wasn’t me.” I raised my glass to them and took another glug of beer. 
“Can you tell us where you were this afternoon sir?”
“Of course. I’ve been here fixing the monument all day.” I tilted my glass towards the Scott Memorial. 
“In that case sir, we are arresting you on suspicion of committing criminal damage.” 
“What? I didn’t damage anything. I fixed something.”
“But it wasn’t yours to fix, was it?”
I spread my arms out wide, “How can you damage something by making it better?”
But they didn’t answer my question, they just asked me to go with them to the station and led me away to their waiting car. 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Poetry Friday 47

Poetry Friday 47
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Reflecting on a week of atrocity and a fortress city. As Cardiff barricades itself in to prepare for the Champions’ League Final in the wake of the Manchester bomb, I wonder how long before we see Marshall Law by default on the streets of Britain.

Urban Cleansing
stop and search,
restrictions in the name of freedom.
“We’re protecting you
with police and soldiers - visible deterrents.”
But in the shadows
they lurk,
not in uniforms
or hi-vis vests.
no ID cards,
not terrorists or criminals but
the ones authorised
to cleanse the city
of undesirables.

They said
They said
it’s only for the football,
to ensure Cardiff’s biggest event
would progress peacefully.
We understood.
They said
in the wake of recent events
we’ll keep the security measures
a little while longer.
We understood.
They said
don’t you feel safe
with soldiers on the streets
and police checking your movements?
We didn't understand,

But we no longer had a choice.