I write some pretty dubious poems…

My Sid had clearly been drinking,

I don’t know what he was thinking,

“Come tango with me,

naked ‘neath the stars,” he did plea

in the garden, just wearing his socks,

between the greenhouse and the hollyhocks.


Our neighbour she wasn’t amused.

He’d woken her up as she snoozed.

“You stupid old prat.

You’re pissed as a rat,”

out of her window she bellowed

but Sid didn’t care; he was mellowed.


I began to apologise,

reconsider, then realise

Sid’s idea could be fun,

just gotta be done.

I stripped off my clothing too

and tangoed ‘til the morning dew.



A Simple, Easy Cure for Writer’s Block

Discombobulate vied with bamboozle, unable to agree who should go first. Flabbergasted joined in and a fight ensued.  The frustrated author picked up a plunger.  It worked on sinks and toilets.  Worth a try.  He placed the rubber suction cup against his temple and pumped the wooden handle in a slow, rhythmic movement.  The words stopped bickering and flowed eloquently once more.  Writer’s block cured, he discarded the plunger and began to type.


Careering Along

(A friend of mine found a list of peculiar jobs and we talked about writing a story including some of them.  Here’s my version).


Bragging, Buzzwords ‘n’ Bullshit. I call them the 3B’s of Curriculum Vitae writing.  In 25 years of assisting the clients of my secretarial service to construct their pleas to be hired, I’ve realised that’s pretty much all these documents consist of.  If someone says they were described as a rising star by their last employer, it means they’re an egotistical upstart.  Anyone who claims to have smashed their sales targets at the age of 17 probably just sold a few extra burgers.  It was the usual phone call enquiry.  Meeting set up.  He looked normal.  Jeans, T-shirt, neat haircut.  His moccasin shoes were a bit dodgy, but I just supposed it indicated him to be single.

I led the way up the steep staircase to my attic office and took a seat at my desk beneath the eaves, motioning for him to take the chair opposite, which he did. I picked up my notepad, beginning with contact info and basics.  “OK, employment history.  First job?”  I enquired.

“Well, I started out as a goldfish catcher.”

“Goldfish catcher?”

“Yeah, it was a big pet store and we sold loads of them. Popular pet.  Cheap.  Doesn’t shit on the carpet or bite the postman.”

“OK,” I wrote it down.

“Then I got promoted to the neon tetras in the tropical section. Fast little buggers.  My career was on course to get to the gouramis next, but the bloke on Betta splendens went and ruined that.”

“Betta what?”

“Sorry, that’s Siamese Fighting Fish to you.”

“What did he do?” I was intrigued.

“The git invented an invisible net. Made the job much easier and he took over the whole section, so I left to become a cow banger.”


“Yep. Saw a local farmer advertising for help with his herd.  It was a disappointment.”


He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, face turning red. “Wasn’t what I expected.  That’s all.  Misunderstood my duties.  Got fired by lunchtime.  The farmer wasn’t very happy.”

“Right.” I decided it best not to ask more.

“So then I became a turnip shepherd instead.”

“Turnip shepherd.” I jotted it down, nothing surprising me at this point.

“Bit boring. They didn’t do a lot.  I was traumatised after the cow incident and well, I guess I grew disillusioned with farming.  When I saw the job advertised for a knocker up of working people it seemed like a good idea.  Turned out that wasn’t what I was expecting either.  That went worse than the cows…”

“So what next?”

“Emasculator. Do you want me to explain my duties?”

“No, I don’t. Let’s just assume what I’m imagining is accurate enough.”

“That’s fair,” he looked into the distance, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Well, an examiner of underclothing vacancy opened up, so…”

“OK,” he’d gone too far. “Who put you up to this?  Was it Kelly or Laura?”

“Kelly or Laura?” It was his turn to look bemused.

“Have you got a hidden camera? Is this some kind of TV windup program?”

“They’re real jobs,” he protested. “Look them up on the Internet if you don’t believe me.”

“I will.” I flicked on my computer and typed goldfish catcher into a search engine.  He was right.  It was a job.  Even appeared on a census.  I tried cow banger next.  It soon became clear how he’d got fired from that one.  I should’ve known better than to type in emasculator, but went there anyway.  It was inadvisable.  Enough.

“OK, they’re real jobs,” I conceded. “Weird, but real.  So what are you doing now?”

“Sampler of drugs.”

I wrote it down. I didn’t need to question that one.  “What would your ideal job be?”

He shifted again in his seat, looked down at the ground and mumbled, “I’ve always wanted to be an accountant.”

Framed Canal Prints

20180519_150546Suzette sketched the monochrome lock gates, then the terracotta brick paths that ran in quarter circles beneath them. Her fair, freckled skin reddened in the hot sun, exposed shoulders showing white lines beneath a strapless top, blonde hair flowing in cornrows down her back.  She glanced up from her barge every so often at the dog walkers and families who traversed the tow path, looking for suitable figures to draw.

‘Is that called the stern, or the aft?’ A young, male voice broke her reverie.  A canal nerd.  Suzette sighed.  The warm weather always brought them out with their plethora of inane questions.

‘Neither. It’s the pointy end.  I don’t do technical terms.  Go bother somebody else,’ she said.

‘What’s that for?’ he persisted.

‘What’s what for?’ Growing irritated, she shielded her eyes to look up at him.  He was around 15 years old, with dark hair and an inquisitive face.  He pointed at a rusty L-shaped piece of white painted metal that lay on the floor beside her.

‘It’s my favourite murder weapon for people who ask too many nosy questions,’ she replied.

‘Oh come on, tell me what it is, please?’

‘It’s a key for the canal locks,’ she gestured towards some black and white gates further up the stretch of water. ‘It has holes one end that you fit over a sticky out bit that’s attached to a mechanism thingy.  Wind it around like a mangle handle.  Flaps open and let water in.  Once both parts are level you can go through.  Happy now?  Will you shut up and let me get back to my artwork?’

‘What’s a mangle handle?’

‘Go away!’

‘Can I have a look around?’

‘No, you can’t. It’s my home, not a tourist attraction.’

‘You live on it?’

‘No, I use it as a very slow getaway vehicle,’ Suzette sighed. ‘Yes, I live on it, year round.’

‘Do you need any help?’

Suzette considered for a moment. ‘Actually, I could do with moving along a bit further.  You’re not coming onto the barge, but you can run ahead opening the locks whilst I drive through if you like.’


‘I’ll get my new key, not that rusty old thing,’ Suzette said, ducking inside the cabin, where she pulled on a pair of gloves, took the key out of its plastic wrapper and placed it into a cloth bag. Then she returned onto the deck and handed it up to him.  ‘Be sure to put it into the bag before giving it back.’

Suzette smiled as he ran off along the tow path. His fingerprints would be all over the metal bar, but not hers.  She’d let some more canal nerds open gates and add their prints too.  When she did use it as a murder weapon they’d never trace it back to her.


(This story is one of the ones voted as ‘Reader’s Choice’ in the May competition by Didcot Writers.  The theme was key, and I got the inspiration for this take on the prompt whilst visiting a canal-side pub!).



Between sleep and wakefulness lies a moment of possibilities. She hovers there, feelings of desire and longing rekindled by dreams of him.  Should she call?  Risk rejection.  Refrain?  Always wonder.

Daylight seeping through a gap in the curtains brings reality with it. She remembers the heartbreak.  Her phone stays untouched.



As featured on the website 50-Word stories:


EU Data Protection Law and Blogging

Any email addresses given by followers will only be used for the purposes of this blog.  I don’t sell them or use them for any other reason and they’re stored as per the settings of WordPress.  (I don’t know how to write an official privacy policy or do this properly, but wanted to put some form of reassurance).


(To the handful of personal friends who follow this blog, I hope you’re happy to continue to do so and if I do need to delete your contacts to comply with this law please know it’s nothing personal.  I hope you re-subscribe after the changes come into effect).


Useful Writers’ Resource

I’m excited to be featured in 2 of the books being published by Christopher Fielden today. They are both anthologies to raise money for charity.  These books are an amusing read for non-writers, but for aspiring writers they are of even more value.  The challenges run by Christopher Fielden are a great way of becoming aware of the pitfalls new writers can encounter – such as the overuse of adverbs, worn clichés, prepositions and just talking nonsense.  Through being a contributor to these challenges, I’ve learned a great deal about the art of writing.  I would recommend anyone wishing to improve their skills to check out the website, and to take part in the challenges themselves, because they will find that in doing so their work improves.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2


Tritely Challenged Volume 1