‘Big windows and weird neighbours. Weirder the better.  If the bloke next door likes to dance a naked Paso Doble in his back garden whenever there’s a full moon, that’d be ideal.’  I noted the nonplussed expression on the estate agent’s face as he stood clutching his clipboard.  I continued, ‘If he could do it whilst quoting Shakespeare’s sonnets, even better.’

‘Right,’ the estate agent made a note. ‘Anything else?’

‘Yes, it’s essential that the woman at number 12 is having a kinky affair with the bloke at number 24 and clanks up the road with her whips and chains every time his wife goes to work.’ I watched as the estate agent’s clipboard slid from his hands and clattered onto the laminate floor.  Recovering himself, he picked it up, walked over to his desk and pulled a set of keys from a drawer.

‘I assume you must be a writer, Sir. Come with me.  We’ve the perfect place on our books.  More strange characters in the neighbourhood than you could fit into an epic novel.  I wonder if you’d be kind enough to give our agency a mention on the acknowledgements page please?’


Zumwhere in Zumerzet

The sign on the gate read, ‘No Dogs Allowed.’ Irritated beyond reason, Janet had spent the last 10 minutes scratching out the word dogs and writing husbands above it instead.  It was the other sign that said, ‘Clocks and Apples For Sale,’ that’d caused him to disappear up the lavender edged path that led to the rustic cottage.  “Just buy fruit,” Janet had called after him.  He’d waved an acknowledgement and promised he’d only be 5 minutes.  That was an hour ago.  Janet was growing tired of standing there, dog poo bag in hand.  Her feet ached and she longed to go back to their holiday cottage to make a cuppa.

She looked down at the golden Labrador snoozing beside her. After a minute, the dog’s ears pricked up and heavy tail began to thump the ground.  She followed the dog’s gaze to where her husband was emerging from the cottage.  He called a suspiciously loud and cheerful goodbye, then began singing as he weaved his way back down the path.  She noted he wasn’t carrying the apples he’d gone there to buy.  He was however carrying a package that looked suspiciously clock shaped.

“That bloke makes the best… the BEST scrumpy,” he said as he staggered through the rickety gate and slithered sideways into a hedge. Janet sighed, wishing that it was socially acceptable to keep husbands, rather than dogs, on leads.


Note: This piece was written from a prompt, ‘The sign on the gate read, “Old Clocks and Apples for Sale,” which was set by a member of my writers’ group.

Zumwhere in Zummerzet = Somewhere in Somerset. Somerset is an English county and this is written as spoken in the dialect.

Scrumpy = cider. An alcoholic drink made from fermented apples.  Popular in the West Country, where Somerset is located.


Potting Shed

“Do they sell those pots at our garden centre?” I listen to my husband’s directions, thank him and end the phone call, but before I have time to follow his instructions, I feel the light touch of a hand on my forearm.
“Sorry for eavesdropping. I can help. Follow me. Keep a few paces behind. Don’t let the boss find out. She’ll go berserk,” a furtive voice whispers, urgency in his tone. The speaker is a man who looks to be around 30. He’s wearing the uniform of a garden centre employee – green T-shirt with yellow logo and beige combats. Setting off past the birdbaths, he beckons me over his shoulder. Curious, and somewhat puzzled, I do as I’m told.
We go past the aquatic section, a display of greenhouses and the potted shrubs to a small, dilapidated shed at the far end of the property. I hesitate. This is weird. He opens the shed door, eyes darting watchfully, and urges me inside. Against my better judgement, I go.
The shed smells earthy. It contains a rickety wooden table strewn with plastic plant pots, seed trays and dibbers. Fascinated, I watch as he fumbles around on a high shelf at the back and brings down a battered tin that once housed biscuits. He takes out a package from underneath packets of seeds.
“How much?” he asks.
“How much what?” I reply in confusion.
He shows me the contents of the package. It’s easy to recognise cannabis from my student days. We used to call it pot back then too.


This is from an exercise in my writers’ group where we had to eavesdrop a coversation and use whatever was said as the prompt.  I got a boring woman at the garden centre, who just said, “Do they sell those pots at our garden centre?”  I decided to use the prompt to put the pot into potting shed.

Excellent Free Writing Course

A website called FutureLearn does an excellent free eight-week course (three hours per week) called “Start Writing Fiction,” which I highly recommend. It’s available to anyone worldwide and the next run of it commences on 5 March 2018.  The course is so helpful, I have now done it twice and formed an online writers’ group specifically for those who have graduated from it.  Using principles taught on the course we’ve helped and encouraged each other in our writing.  All you need is access to the Internet and a commitment to do the course.  It can be upgraded and there are certificates available.  There are other excellent courses available on the same website, such as the “How to Read a Novel” course for those interested in literature, and many other topics such as science and health are covered too.  There’s a superb mindfulness course I also recommend.  The below link is specifically for Start Writing Fiction, but from there you would be able to further explore what the site has on offer.

Keep Clear When Reversing


“Excuse me Sir, I’m researching voting habits and wonder if I might interview you?”

“All right.”

“How do you decide what to vote for in elections?”

“By what’s written on the bus.”

“What’s written on the bus? Sorry?  Please explain.”

“It costs money to write something on a bus, doesn’t it?”

“Well, yes…”

“So they wouldn’t pay to put anything on there that wasn’t true, would they? It’d be a waste.”

“Isn’t that rather unsubstantiated? Don’t you check the facts and figures?”

“No need. I reckon if something is important enough to write it on a bus, it must be worth voting for.”

“I see, Sir. So if a bus bearing your name were to be emblazoned with a message telling you to never vote again, would you refrain?”

“I certainly would, if it were on the bus.”

“Interesting. Remind me to get your details at the end of the interview.  OK, next question: which Party did you vote for in the last General Election?”

“Well, I looked for the ‘Keep Clear When Reversing’ Party on the ballot form, but they didn’t put up a candidate in my area, so I spoilt the paper.”



It Sounded Like…

A proposition, it was regarding.

Raising money, charity because of.

Eager, I came over.

Whipped cream, I’m equipped with.

His plan, I’ll get aboard.

Surprised we went as far as.

Inventive things, we got up to.

The possibilities, we were considering.







Or all of the above?

‘This is fun,’ he says during, ‘…though when will writing prepositions come about?’

‘I thought you wanted preposterously placed propositions – been confused throughout.’

‘You have,’ he laughs, ‘…but complaining, I’m far from.’


Sherry and Fish Fingers

Crash. Bang.  Wallop.  “F***it.”  Ah, the festive sound of my husband rearranging the furniture to accommodate guests.  Beyond that, his idea of preparing Christmas dinner involves putting, “A Christmas Carol,” on the TV and going next door for a beer.  The rest just happens.  By magic.  There is a Santa.  Yep.  It’s me.

“You’ve got to pick up Andrea and Jeff later, so don’t have too much,” I call to his retreating back. He stops, turns and stares bemusedly.

“Andrea and Jeff?”

“Yes, your sister and her boyfriend, remember?”

“Is Andrea still with that cock?”

“Unfortunately, yes. BE NICE to him.”

He stomps off. I take the turkey out of the oven to baste it.  A little voice wails from a nearby room, “The guinea pigs are having a fight in a Santa hat.”

Guinea pigs? Santa hat?  I run to find two rodents humping inside a tacky piece of red felt, the white pom-pom bobbing up and down frantically.  I try to drag the arse of the first amorous cavy out of the garment without a curious six-year-old asking awkward questions.  It’s a tricky manoeuvre.  “Why were they in the hat?”  I ask her, feigning nonchalance.

“Daddy said I could take festive photos of the pets with his phone.”

“Oh, did he?” I drag the second one out, depositing both back in their cages before returning to the kitchen, where I find the dog devouring the turkey.  How the F***did she manage to get that Christmas jumper on him?  I swear, take a large swig of sherry and shove some fish fingers in the oven instead.  As I do so, the cat bolts past sporting reindeer boxer shorts.  I down more sherry, and hope the cat rips the offensive underwear to shreds.