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Toro Bravo

28 Jul

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Flamenco comes from the heart ­ the blood pulsating around your body, twisting your arms, contorting your hands. Toro Bravo, the bull, the flashing red skirts of MariePaz, we dance our battle.

The rhythm makes its way unfiltered to my feet as they stamp the beat on the ground, and to my hands as they clap in syncopation. I can feel the veins in my neck, my forehead. I look at MariePaz ­ she is absorbed in the dance. The passion she once felt for me, and I for her, now expended solely in the performance.

The music stops, and we hold our final pose. Our all-inclusive audience clap as I mop my brow.

 

Inspired by the above photographic prompt at Creative Writing Ink

Kentucky Derby

28 Jul

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Kentucky Derby

She handed me a crisp pound note, fresh from her pension. ‘Get five shillings and the rest in smash.’

At nine, I am already taller than my wee Granny, so I go up to the booth and translate the request into new money.

Diane likes the tupenny falls. The exact timing of dropping the coppers in, watching them fall, pushing other coins forward. Some drop onto the next level to be raked, moving others tantalisingly close to the win.

Granny stands at the one-arm bandit. She anticipates three cherries while building up the muscles in her right arm. We’ll get an ice-cream push-up if she wins big.

Both games are too sedentary for me. I am drawn to the Kentucky Derby. I play it every day, building up my winning tokens to be exchanged for a prize on the last day of the holidays. There’s a teddy bear for a hundred tokens, though Granny says it would be cheaper to buy. I really like it though, even if I just have fifteen tokens with six days to go.

I put my money in the slot, wait for my ball to roll to the front of my game area. I like to sit on the third seat, three being my lucky number, the date of my birth. The ball is yellow, which I like too, as are the coloured border of the target holes. I don’t mind if someone else is already in my seat, it doesn’t put me off, but gives an added challenge.

When the man running the stall figures that no one else is coming, he puts us under starters orders. The horses are all ready, waiting for our commands. And they’re off.

You need to be quick. Rolling your ball up the slope. Aiming for the three-point hole, but satisfied with a two. My horse moves forward ­ one, two.

Commentary blares over the speakers, filling the whole arcade. ‘And Number Six is leading by a head.’

There’s a fat man who plays all day, or at least all the times I’m here. He’s my main rival. But what he has in speed, I make up in accuracy. I’m ahead. The race is on. I can see his sideways glance, but I am under strict instructions not to talk to him.

Diane comes up behind me, wants to show me her handful of winnings, but I blank her out for a few more seconds to secure my win.

I’m handed my token, and pop it in the sparkly purse, which I wear diagonally across my body. I take out another coin to start again.

When we run out of money it means it’s time to go back to the flat that Mum’s friend lets us have. When it’s raining, we run ahead of Granny, while she braves the elements in her summer coat and rain mate. But if it’s dry, which it sometimes is, we shorten our steps to walk beside her, as she limps along with her rickety legs and bad hip.

I tell her about my races, and ask if we’ll get ice cream from Nardini’s later. And she tells me again, not to talk to the fat man, who sits all day at the Kentucky Derby, trying to get enough tokens for a giant teddy bear.

 

This piece was inspired by the CHANGE prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

Summer Holiday Reading

14 Jul

I absolutely HATE packing. I know that deciding what to wear on holiday should be fun. but it’s the run-up to actually putting things in the case that I hate. Do I have enough? Does that still fit? Can I actually go to the shops and not just buy clothes for the kids? Our baggage allowance is what?

It is getting easier though – for a start there’s only 4 of us going away instead of the usual 5. (Will be weird, but cheaper without No1 son, who has already been away with his pals, but my mum is trying to make me feel guilty that I’m not taking him.)  Kids 2&3 are old enough to pack themselves, but need to keep a wee eye on them after No3 turned up in Brussels in October with no jacket – it was -2 degrees. To be fair to him, we’d never been abroad except in the summer, so he didn’t really compute that it might be cold.

But what I do love about packing, is choosing what I’m going to read on holiday. Because we’re not going with ElCheapo Airlines, like we usually do, I’m going to sneak in a few paperbacks as well as a Kindle (I’ve finally realised that the Nook, while a nice ereader, getting almost impossible to buy books for. And my sister-in-law was upgrading her Kindle, so I got the old one.)

Lovely man in the local Waterstones gave my kids great recommendations, although we realised that we already had quite a few of the books they were suggesting. I bought the lovely Maggie Ritchie’s new novel Looking for Evelyn (Maggie is a G2 Writer, but I missed her book launch. Did make the launches of two compadres’ launches – Kevin Scott’s Dead Cat Bounce, and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). Rest of the holiday reading is coming from the book shelves, and looks like this.

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And from the Kindle: Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry; Holding by Graham Norton; and CJ Sansom’s Revelation. A bit of a mixed bag, I know, but that’s the great thing about uninterrupted reading time – you get to put the mind to Umberto Eco and chill with Graham Norton.

And if you are still looking for books to take away, check back in between tomorrow 15th and the 19th of July, and you’ll be rewarded by a Free Book. Subscribe or Follow me so you don’t need to remember.

 

Crannog 45

29 Jun

A little story of mine White Dreams has just been published in Crannog 45 can’t wait to get my hands on it. Launch is tomorrow night, but unfortunately I’ll not be able to go across the Irish Sea this time.

Mothers’ Day

21 Mar

Okay, so maybe you can’t afford to send your mum on a round-the-world trip, but you could buy her a book that sends the heroine on such a journey. Even better if your mum remembers the 80s. What book would that be? I hear you say. Oh, you know, don’t you? And don’t worry, one of these days I’ll finish the next book, and give you something different to look at.

Just to guilt trip you – got my Amazon payments for last month – 3p. Really must get on with writing something new.

The Wedding Party

4 Mar

The Wedding Party

She’d been to these parties before, when a bride wants another wear out of her wedding dress. ‘It’ll be fun,’ Stacy said. ‘All the girls from the office are coming. Another chance to feel really special, eh Christine?’

It was also a chance to have a snide look at your friends’ weight gain; the not- yet-revealed pregnancies; the workmates who would have to make excuses because their dress came out of the hire shop, or the man they called their husband wasn’t really.

Christine had no such worries: at forty she had accumulated three traditional white frocks and two less formal ones – one from the beach wedding with Javier, (who turned out to be gay); and a grey suit from the Registry Office with James, who believed that everything should be functional (he was a bag of laughs).

Stacy’s party definitely called for white, but no amount of SlimFasting would get her into the dress she wore when she married Andy. She was so tiny then, withered away to almost nothing. Three kids later, and a hell of a lot of comfort eating and she was in a plus size for Ali. He said he liked something to hold onto, but it turned out he wasn’t great at holding onto anything.

So those two were out. All that was left was her first dress. The one that made her mum cry when she tried it on. The one that made the girls in the bridal shop rush with a veil and shoes to pop on, and even an artificial bouquet that she could hold in front of her, so she could get the full impression in the mirror.

She lifted it off the hanger, and slipped it on again. After the years of a yo-yoing waistline, it just about fitted. She circled the gold band on her finger; the one Euan had given her twenty years before. The one she had refused to remove for Javier and Ali and Andy and James. The one she had kept faithful with throughout all the subsequent failures.

Maybe if she wore this dress to Stacy’s party she would stand out among the other brides. Maybe Euan would realise what a mistake he had made. And Stacy would regret inviting her new husband’s ex-wife to her stupid wedding party.

This piece was inspired by a prompt at Creative Writing Ink

Round in Circles

5 Jan

The Christmas jigsaw has been completed, and while the decorations are still up, the kids are back at school, so it must be time to get down to work (although it should be noted that paid employment continued/increased over the holidays!).

It must surely be time for New Year Resolutions, but since I started a 90 day plan about 6 weeks ago, I really should just keep on with that. It broadly broke down into three areas: New Book; New Job; New Bod. We’ll totally ignore the last one, as I’m definitely still in the ‘Before’ stage. New Book? Well, the word count is moving up, but not nearly as quickly as I had liked. New Job? Well, there is a bit of a long-term plan there, and I’ve almost completed my Level 1 qualification in British Sign Language, which I am really enjoying and may eventually lead to a little bit of sessional work to supplement the supermarket wages.

So no new resolutions, but I have been thinking about the whole circle of life thing – most of us don’t need to watch the seasons to make our crops flourish, but the way that life is split into days, weeks, months, seasons and years does give us all the opportunity to start again, not just keep going on an unchanging continuum until we write our last word and breathe our last breath. Just think how glad people were to get the Bumper Celeb Death year of 2016 out of the way. There was an almost audible sigh of relief when the bells struck midnight (and Mons Meg was fired), and the internet was filled with memes of Brucie, saying ‘phew, made it.’

And I have to say I was mightily glad to get 2016 behind me as well. It’s been an absolute stinker in many ways, but things are looking much brighter with a welcome decline in hospital trips. The spreadsheet for 2017 is being populated with deadlines for competitions and submissions, and I’m trying not to think too hard about when I’ll receive my annual rejection from New Writing Scotland. So I’ll keep calm and carry on, and I’ll just f*@%ing do it and I hope you’ll keep on keeping me company for the year ahead.

 

Christmas Jigsaw

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