Wednesday 5 April 2017

One Night Not So Long Ago - A Short Story

Something slammed into my subconscious and forced my eyes open. "It was just a bad dream" I repeated silently to myself as I rolled onto my back. "Just a bad dream, nothing to worry about". I struggled to calm my racing heart by taking long, slow breaths. As I lay there trying to focus on my breathing I berated myself for my childish idiocy. After all it was just a dream and I am too old to be scared of the bumps in the night. My heart slowed it's frantic beat and my eyelids became heavy. I was hoping for the sweet oblivion of a dreamless sleep.

Tap. Tap. Tap...


My eyes flew open and I sat bolt upright in bed, the sound jarring me back into full consciousness. I could not move, could not breathe as fear slithered through me and began to roil in my belly.

I'm not sure how long I sat there listening but, as silence greeted my straining ears, I dared to take a breath and the air burned in my lungs. In the blue glow of the digital clock I quickly grabbed my glasses, hoping that the clarity of vision would help to explain those unsettling sounds. I hooked the frames onto my nose and the black fuzzy outlines became nothing more than the shadows of the furniture that filled our room. Nothing was out of place, but that did not ease the tension building in me and so I reached for the bedside light to flip it on.

Tap. Tap. TAP...


My hand froze on the way to the light.


The noise was coming from the hallway downstairs.



It was getting closer.

I snatched my hand away from the light and swung my legs out of the bed and, as softly as I could, I planted my feet on the floor and rose from the bed. My body felt like jelly as adrenaline coursed through me. I placed my hand on the mattress to steady myself. For a moment I just stood there, listening and trying to decide what to do. The blood pounding in my ears was making it difficult for me to think clearly.

Whatever was making the rhythmic noise in the darkness was, once again, silent.

As if of their own accord, my legs started moving forwards out of the bedroom door and to the top of the stairs. I gripped the banister hard with my sweaty hand as the noise came out of the blackness of the stairwell.

Tap. Tap...

"Hello?" I whispered. My throat was tight with fear. In that instant, I realised I had made a mistake. If I hadn't alerted whoever or whatever to my presence before, I certainly had now.  All of a sudden the tapping stopped.

I heard a soft scuffling followed by that chilling scraping sound and then again, silence. It had moved away from the bottom of the stairs and was outside the door leading to the kitchen. As frightening as the noises were, the silences in between had become deafening.

My exit was blocked and I realised that my only way out was to go down stairs and either confront what awaited me or try to run for the back door. Keeping a firm grip on the banister I unsteadily made my descent. As I neared the bottom step there was a loud CRASH.

Something had forcefully struck the kitchen door. The shock of the sound made me lose my footing and as I slipped down the stairs...

I screamed.

Scrabbling back onto the bottom step, my hand fumbled up the wall looking for the light switch. It felt like an eternity before I managed to lay my finger on it and slam it on.

I squinted, trying to adjust my eyes to the bright light and hoping that my screaming had scared away whatever had been lurking in the dark. I finally managed to focus.

He stood in front of me, his yellow eyes weary and seemingly undecided as to what to do next.

It was the fucking cat.

After he had decided that I posed no threat, he stalked off to sit by the kitchen door where his treat ball sat. With a flick of his paw, the ball spun into the door and created a slight 'tapping' noise as it bounced off. He continued to repeat this and then, on the third attempt, he hit the ball into the door with a little more force and the treats flew free. He reached out his paw again placing it firmly on the treats and dragged them towards himself. They made a 'scraping' on the tiled floor as he brought them to rest at his feet. One by one he scoffed them, taking his time to lick up any morsel that escaped his mouth before starting in on the treat ball again.

"You utter bastard!" I shouted at him. "You scared the crap out of me!" He cocked his head to one side and stared at me, seeming confused by my fury, then continued his task of batting his treat ball into the door. I pulled myself up from my heap on the bottom step, flicked the light off and stomped back off up the stairs. "You're a dick" I shouted over the banister. As I fell fuming back into bed I heard...

Tap. Tap, TAP...


Thursday 16 March 2017


So, it would seem we are in the era of the reboot. Many superheroes and film classics are being given  a bit of a nipple tweak, a new coat of paint and some shiny-shiny actors that will appeal to the modern generation.

Ok, I might not be quite as hairy as King Kong and I am definitely lacking in superhero skills.  Unless you count the ability to dislocate my thumb as a super power, but surely I'm allowed to reboot aren't I...aren't I?

 Very little and a whole lot has changed since I last wrote anything that I have actually published. That is not to say I have not been writing, but much of it is random sentences and odd monologues that pop into my head from time to time. Things that may well be elaborated on in the future, but for now they are little more that the musings of a crazy person/a shy person who is not quite ready for the whole world to see the full on crazy. Lets take things slowly ok?

Since the last time I poked my head out into the world of social media, my Better Half, the two furry beasties and myself have left the convenience of the home counties and moved to what I fondly call the county of cheese and pork. Many of you know it as Somerset. The move has had it's pros and cons... mainly involving cheese and our waistlines, but I will come back to that in more detail at a later date. Other than the little nuances that life so often entertains us with and the proverbial shit hitting the fan on occasions, not a lot has changed.

"So, why haven't you been writing?" you may ask. Well, I could tell you;

I've been busy - sort of true,
I've not been feeling well - unfortunately, very true
The cats are arseholes and won't give me five minutes to myself to think coherently - also true, but they are monsters of my own making

Or I could bitch and whine and moan about the  fact that the bloody laptop sucks and I haven't been using it because it constantly has the spinning wheel of death when I load any page and I think it may well explode/be launched at the wall as it will not stop fucking buffering!!!!!!!!!

Sadly, I used the last excuse so much so that, my Better Half took pity on me and did what he does best and fixed it. How dare he listen to me and do something nice to encourage me! Bastard.

However, like my Mum used to say to me and now I like to say to my Better Half (mainly because its crudity makes him cringe and I like to see him squirm on occasion).

 "Excuses are like arseholes, everybody has got one."

And I have many. Excuses I mean. Not arseholes...that would be weird and pretty gross.

If I am truly honest with myself and with you who read my ramblings. No excuses, no rose tinted filter that makes life seem warm and beautiful. I was scared. I am scared. Not just because people will read this, which was my initial anxiety when I first started writing, but that in order to write anything that is worth reading you have to feel something. You have to use your emotions, deep down, gut wrenching, overwhelming, all consuming feelings and I couldn't. It was all too much. So many things I don't think I have quite come to terms with yet and the exposure of metaphorical scars made me feel raw. Vulnerable. It is so much easier to stay in my little rose tinted bubble, with my Better Half and annoyingly adorable cats and all the unconditional love and bloody cheese that I could eat.

But anything worth doing isn't easy right?

So, here I go again. No new licks of paint or shiny-shiny actors.

Just me.


With a nipple tweak...or two and my ramblings.

Friday 1 May 2015

Between Black and White, There Is 50 Shades.

Yes, I know, I am a little late to the table when it comes to 50 Shades of Grey but I still feel that I should add my two pennies to the pot.

I have a confession to make… I LOVE a bit of drivel! Strong male and female characters from different ends of the spectrum falling in love under unusual circumstances. Throw in some cheek heating sex scenes and a splash of supernatural, then pigs in muck have nothing on me.

My Better half rather crassly calls it my vampire porn but either way I have no shame in my little habit. I am certainly not one to hide my books amongst the covers of a more intellectually prestigious book. I would quite happily read them on the train to work or in the office on my lunch break and if people asked me what I was reading, I would simply say "porn" or "drivel" depending on my mood. So, considering my love for the obscene, naturally I was looking forward to reading 50 Shades of Grey even if it did lack otherworldly creatures.

Don't get me wrong. I like other genres and I have a small collection of books that are sat tapping their fingers impatiently, waiting for me to pick them up again. However, after a long hiatus from reading anything other than stories I found interesting in the media, I decided that I would ease myself back into the world of fiction with a bit of drivel (50 Shades of Grey).

I was utterly disappointed.

With all the hype that surrounded this book I had expected the story to be ground breaking. The 'Sex and the City' of this era…this, it was not…not even close. After every couple of chapters I found myself putting the book down, exasperated and ranting at my Better Half about how irritating it was. The female character was simpering. The male role lacked dimension. The sex scenes are firstly unbelievable and secondly, well, actually quite dull after a while. It was like "oh look they're having sex again, whoop-de-friggin'-do!" and lastly the writing itself was just irritating. I'm dyslexic and so I don't always notice spelling and grammatical errors but they smacked you in the face like a wet kipper. For those of you who are the spelling, punctuation and grammar police I can imagine this was positively cringeworthy.

However, saying all of this, I do have to bear in mind that I am part of a generation that is not easily shocked and crudity is part of every day life. What I find mild and relatively inoffensive, other generations may see as the equivalent of being punched in the boob and being called "the forbidden" C word.

I have noticed a distinct number of the more mature ladies have been asking me what I think of 50 Shades with a little bit of a twinkle in their eye. Desperate to read it but still too nervous about buying it while people are looking. I've been wondering if they are seeking approval to buy the book or if they just want to know what it is about without having to read the smut. On the other hand you have the more liberal mature ladies who have read it and have, indeed, felt it necessary to divulge explicit details about their sexcapades with their spouses. This was usually the point when I would sit there and think of England. As I said, I am not easily shocked but it is often a little unnerving when suddenly someone you thought of as being quite reserved tells you about what is hidden in their underwear drawer!

So with the tedious sex scenes, the poor writing and the ridiculous amount of product placement, you may ask why on earth did I keep reading it if it was so terrible?

I had to. I didn't want to fully judge the book until I had read the whole thing. After all, if you critique a book but haven't read it all the way through, how do you know that your judgement is justified? I also wanted to see why it had been criticised for it's 'glorifying' of domestic abuse because, other than him being an overbearing control freak (which never came across as malicious to me), I don't see how it can be seen as a tale of abuse.

*SPOILER* Yes he hits her. (Ok that part probably isn't a spoiler, it is a book about BDSM after all.) But, from the beginning of their encounter, Anastasia is aware that Christian is into BDSM. She makes verbal agreements to be his submissive and what a surprise, she finds the 'softer' acts very exciting but she is scared of being hurt. He tells her he has a dark past and because of that he actually enjoys inflicting pain as well as pleasure. She then goes on to manipulate him into inflicting said pain in order to get more information out of him about his past. He agrees, he belts her. "Oh what a surprise" she doesn't like it and leaves. Not exactly what I would call abuse. If I asked my Better Half to hit me and he did, I could hardly blame him for it if I gave my consent for him to do so. In my opinion that is, others may see it differently I'm sure.

No, I don't think I could do better but with this genre of books becoming so
popular I can think of better authors to try; J. R. Ward, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter and Sherrilyn Kenyon to name a few of my favourites but there are so many out there, it would make it difficult to choose just one.  E. L. James is not a bad writer but if I was to give her a report card it would probably say, "Good start, but must try harder".

I'm  afraid to say that after a couple of chapters of the second book I became quite
outraged and so I did a Joey Tribbiani. But instead of putting the book in the freezer I removed it from my tablet. I may get back to reading it one day but in the mean time my
stack of 'must reads' have given up tapping their fingers and have taken to throwing themselves from my coffee table to grab my attention. Little do they know that their impatience will go unrewarded as I will be researching the concept for my own little bit of drivel…

Friday 23 January 2015

The 'M' Word

After a very stressful few months and then unceremoniously belly flopping into the new year, I find myself out of energy and about as useful as a car with no engine. When I feel like this, I tend to get very anxious and fed up and inwardly start berating myself for being so useless. "Winter blues, here I am, come and get me you miserable bitch!"

Before I start spiralling into the dark depths of my own misery I thought it was about time to shine the spot light on mental health. Just the term "mental health" makes me cringe and despite awareness being raised after the tragic death of the beloved Robin Williams, it is a term that is still taboo and many who suffer with mental health issues still hide in the shadows. For self preservation I want to edit myself to the point that this blog would only be eight words long, "I suffer from mental health issues. The end" but as I said when I started blogging, It is time to step out of my comfort zone.

It is hard to accept that you struggle with something that is socially unacceptable and harder still to admit it and seek help. I understood at a young age that I battled with depression and anxiety. On three occasions, between the ages of 12 and 19 years old, I tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, I was naive enough not to understand the effects of certain medications and other than feeling very sick and ashamed, I was still alive and glad that my attempts to take my own life had not been successful. At the time I did not see my actions as being selfish. When you feel expendable you think that no one will bat an eyelid at your death. After my last attempt (and in a more balanced frame of mind) I thought, "What if someone I knew did the same thing?" I knew that I would feel very sad and angry. With that realisation I made the decision never to make the same mistake again but it wasn't until I was 23 years old that I admitted that I needed help.

When I was 8 years old, I was taken to see a counsellor after my Dad left. I don't remember it very clearly but I do remember that I did not want to talk to him. In fact I felt this over whelming urge to bite him and run screaming from the room. I didn't though. I just sat there, saying nothing. It was a futile endeavour that I had no interest in repeating, so when I was referred by my doctor to see a counsellor after having a melt down 15 years later, I was more than a little reluctant.

I remember sitting in the waiting room, wondering how many times I was going to be asked "And how does that make you feel?" and whether I actually would bite the counsellor and run screaming this time. Although, I wasn't so sure I would get away with such behaviour as an adult. Luckily I was called through before I could get cold feet. As I walked into the office I looked up to see a mature lady wearing a casual blouse and a pair of comfy trousers, loose hair and a warm smile. No stiff suit, no clip boards, no quizzical stare and in that moment I felt relief.

This counsellor did not judge me nor did I feel like she was sizing me up for a strappy little number, she steered the conversation with a few probing questions but mostly, she let me talk. By the end of the first session I felt raw. Like someone had ripped open my festering wounds scrubbed them until they bled and then neatly dressed them again. It felt strangely good. I hadn't expected it to feel good, in fact I was expecting it to feel like I had been flattened by a ten tonne tank. I almost felt like skipping as I walked home until I remembered I wasn't coordinated enough to attempt such a thing so, instead I mulled over my discoveries hoping that I would learn something that would change my life.

I had seven more sessions with my counsellor and in each one I learnt a little bit more about myself, which in turn helped me have a better understanding of the people around me. In our last session my counsellor told me I was very articulate and incredibly astute. I turned my head to see if someone had slipped into the room behind me. There was no one. For a person who frequently tripped over her own words and with the ability to walk past her own sister in the street without seeing her, I would not have labelled myself as either of these two things. It was nice to hear though but it was many more years before I gave these words any credibility.

After my counselling sessions, I continued with other forms of therapy, some more helpful than others. I even attended group sessions for anxiety sufferers. It was awful! A group of people with varying levels of anxiousness expected to stand up in front of strangers and explain why they suffered from anxiety. It seemed like an oxymoron and very little progress was made in these meetings but I received useful information on coping techniques so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

I would like to say that I was completely cured of all my depression and anxiety due to all the therapy I received but, sadly this was not the case. Although my festering wounds became scar tissue, scar tissue is fragile, it requires maintenance. Little knocks and bumps had become easier to manage but despite my revelations, I still found myself spiralling with any major blow.

It's hard to reach out to anyone when you feel so lost inside your own head. When someone asks, "How are you?" any other response other than "I'm fine thanks, and you?" you are fairly certain will be greeted with eye rolling and blank stares followed by awkward conversation while the other party is looking for a quick exit. It does make it easy to politely deflect such a question if asked by a stranger or someone you consider more curious than caring but when it is someone who genuinely does care, you find you are still doing the dance of polite etiquette. Why though? To look strong? Self preservation? There are probably hundreds of reasons for why that so many with mental health issues struggle with every day. I for one worry that I will sound stupid, that no one will understand and that I will ultimately be expendable if people don't like the answer to their loaded question.

Recently I found myself resenting  the "How are you?" question even though I am guilty of asking the exact same thing. I keep thinking, "If you really care about how someone is feeling why not ask a REAL question?" Not to say that you should go in all guns blazing and ask someone about their childhood but something a little less probing such as, "How did you get on at the doctors the other week or I heard so 'n' so has been having a tough time at school lately, how are you coping?" Nothing that would be classified as prying but enough to give that person the opportunity to open up a dialogue about how they truly are if they feel comfortable to do so. Surely if we could all do this then those of us with mental health issues may not feel so alone in the dark? If you know someone is struggling will you reach out to them or will you wait until they ask for help? Tricky questions with even trickier answers.

I don't want to be ashamed of being a little bit mental anymore. I want to accept it, to wear my battle scars and give people the opportunity to accept me for who I am if they wish to do so and I don't want to worry about the people that cannot accept me. I hope those of you still hidden in the shadows will find your own voice and I hope that it doesn't take another celebrity suicide or any suicide for that matter, for people to realise that mental health is a real issue and should be treated as such.

So, "How are you today?"

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Appeasing My Inner Child

After I clicked on the publish button and debuted as a blogger on my own page, I found myself having an anxiety attack. As I sat there with clammy hands and a racing heart two simultaneous thoughts crossed my mind.

"What if somebody reads this?" and "Oh crap! What if somebody reads this!"

After a few breathing exercises (and several cups of tea) I started to calm down and think clearly enough not to click the remove button. I felt quite pleased with my step into the unknown and actually realised that I was looking forward to doing it again.

The things that we look forward to when we are adults seem dramatically different to the things that we looked forward to as a child. When I was knee high to a grass hopper, every Sunday morning, my sister and I were given 50p each to buy sweets from the newsagents down the road. I used to look forward to it all week and I would plan which sweets I would spend my pocket money on. If there were new sweets then all my meticulous planning went out of the window. So, I would sit on the floor of the newsagents, with my nose pressed up against the glass of the sweets cabinet trying to figure out which tasty morsel I could eliminate from the selection I had decided on during the week. I used to think that when I was a grown up I would spend all my pocket money on all the sweeties and I would no longer have to choose between the new ones and all my favourites. For me, that was the dream and I couldn't wait.

Last week I was waddling to the intercom as quick as I could any time it buzzed, for that all important parcel I had been waiting on. "Come on, it's supposed to be 2-5 working days. Where is it!" I've never been very patient when I am looking forward to something. Counting the days the same way I used to do when waiting to go to the newsagents on Sundays and like a child, being utterly disappointed when it turned out to be a neighbour who had forgotten their keys (which seemed to happen an awful lot).

After giving up hope of it arriving at all and gearing myself up to call the courier and shout at them for the umpteenth time this year…it arrived…

Our new hand held cordless vacuum cleaner.

It was purple and shiny and I was soooo happy!

I was utterly thrilled at the idea of being able to do the vacuuming without having to lug Hetty (like a Henry hoover but pink) out of the cupboard and spend hours hauling her around the house. A job that I utterly loathe and frequently leave to my Better Half because just the idea of it makes my back ache. No more! It was liberating and I couldn't wait to test it out.

However, my Better Half was home when it arrived and like all men with new gadgets he grabbed it off me, opened the box and started to play with it! I would like to say I didn't pout like a small child and that I acted like a mature adult but that would be a big fat lie!

Luckily it had some power so we went round "oohing" and "ahhing" as it powered through the cat hair that Hetty failed to devour. I wanted to snatch it off him and have a go myself but I managed to resist the urge and waited my turn. Then, the battery ran out. I knew it would take a couple of hours for it to recharge and by that point it would be too late at night to be vacuuming the house. So, feeling more than a little miffed, I went to bed and sought vengeance during the night by poking my Better Half while he slept.

The next morning, instead of my usual routine of stumbling out of bed and making a beeline straight for the kettle, I jumped out of bed like a kid at Christmas and vacuumed the whole house from top to bottom. I was so surprised to find that it still had battery left when I had finished so I started hunting around for more things that I could clean. After partially dislocating my shoulder, my thumb and three fingers in pursuit of vacuuming the curtains, I figured it would be a good time to stop and let myself and my new toy recharge. Despite my injuries I was beaming at my fuzz-free house that I had cleaned all by myself.

You may think me very sad and 10 years ago I probably would have coughed a not so subtle "loser" if I had been told a similar story. However, as much as we all look forward to the highlights of our lives, going out, holidays, getting married, having children, etc, etc. I think it's just as important to look forward to the little things and appease our inner child no matter how daft others may think it is. It certainly can make the week a little less ordinary.

Sunday 26 October 2014

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again…and again…and again.

 I have always been more of a thinker than a writer, a day dreamer if you please. With my head off in the clouds and very rarely in the 'here and now' writing did not seem like the obvious step forward. It takes time and energy to transfer thoughts and ideas to the page. Time and energy I have copious amounts of, and none of, all at the same time.

The problem is, when I have so many thoughts and ideas whizzing around, my brain becomes crowded. I can no longer think along a straight line and I find that I have just put the bottle of milk in the washing machine or something else utterly absurd. So there needs to be an outlet for all those random thoughts that strike me at all hours of the day and keep me awake at night, but what?

I have been told numerous times over the years that I should write things down to help me get perspective. Clear my head to make space for new thoughts, new ideas, new dreams but until now I have been reluctant to do so. Not just because of the time and energy it would take to write them all down but because the gremlins in my head make me feel like I should censor the things I would like to say. I have recently been told by a fellow blogger and writer that this is my 'critical parent', my 'internal editor' making me censor what I say. I like to call them my gremlins because they are ugly, spiteful and they seem to multiply when splashed with negative emotion. Whatever they call it they make me want to keep it all locked away inside my brain where no one can judge me and I am safe.

So, why am I writing this?
I have asked myself this question repeatedly and have minced around the truth of this question for a couple of months now and this was the only honest answer as to why I felt the need to write.

Many times I have had to start over with my life and each time I feel like I have failed to accomplish my dreams and aspirations, like I have let myself and everyone around me down and all I wanted to do is crawl into a hole and not re-emerge, unless I won the lottery of course. However, after a period of self loathing, doubt and mourning over what I had lost I found I came to a point where I had to make a decision. Do I continue feeling sorry for myself or do I set myself new goals and strive for a new dream, or a slightly modified old one? This point usually comes when I step out of my own misery and look at my better half. I see how hard he tries and how much he cares and he reminds me why I was trying in the first place.

For us.

He makes me want to keep trying, to be the best that I can be and to always find a way round the dung heaps that life so carelessly leaves in it's wake. If it wasn't for my better half I would have given up a long time ago. I certainly would not have found a new job when I could no longer do hairdressing. I would not have found a diagnosis to my illness that made no sense and I certainly would not be writing this now.

Today is a new beginning and with all new beginnings we must shed our old life and step boldly into the present and face our fears head on. Writing something for the world to see and judge me on is one of my biggest fears, one which I now intend to face without my gremlins (hopefully) and probably with a lot of spell checking, but maybe, just maybe it will help.

And if it all goes tits up…well, then I will try again.