Notebook

Red

[Note, Red is a twisted fairytale, but it is not intended to be read by children. May also be a little NSFW, depending on the work.]

Red

She buttoned her dress slowly; gnarled fingers, stiff with arthritis, struggling over each wooden button. It wasn’t the dress she had been wearing when she met him – that had been lost somewhere over the decades, a casualty of either the children or grandchildren playing dress up, perhaps, or else of the moths. It was similar though, pale yellow and button down, though the body it wrapped itself around was much different.

He probably wouldn’t notice the similarity anyway, men rarely noticed things. Over their many years together, she had changed many times – her hair, her body shape, her face, even the way she walked. He had never remarked on it. Perhaps that was just his way of being sensitive. Or maybe it was denial.

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Let My sunshine In

Oh no, not another amateur ukulele song!

I’m genuinely sorry to keep doing this to you. But remember how I told you back in my Lockdown Blues post, that back in 2019 I promised myself 2020 would be the year I pushed out of my comfort zone and do more things that scare me? And I started trying to make some music, because though that wasn’t what I envisioned, it is really scary? Well I’ve done that again. Sorry.

So here’s my latest ukulele song. I’ve been playing since February (it’s now late August), and you can tell I’m very much a beginner, but I had fun doing it.

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Lockdown Blues

I’ve never been a musical person. But back in February I got a little blue ukulele for my birthday. I never intended to inflict my “music” on you, but then coronavirus happened and the whole world went a bit weird and now – despite being unable to sing and virtually unable to play – I’ve written a blues song about being locked down with 4 kids (I’ve also started a cult, but that’s a different story!).

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Join The Cult of V

If you’re on this post you’ve probably seen the #TheCultOfV hashtag and wondered what it was all about. Or you’re just looking for a cult to join and stumbled across this one I guess. In which case welcome, and I’m glad you found The Cult of V instead of one of those cults that’s all about doing unspeakable things to vulnerable people and generally being an arse, I guess.

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Red’s New Year’s Revolution

I’m an accidental millionaire; I was never supposed to be rich. Council estate lad done good. I was working in a factory when my mate Tim showed me a picture of his dog after a few too many and Pupr was born.

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If I Were Your Phone Screen

If I were your phone screen
Would you gaze at me
Adoringly
As your fingertips
Softly stroke my face?
Would you share
That secret smile
That you save only for me?
Would you lose
Entire days
Staring into me
Exploring all the depths I contain?
If I were your phone screen
Would you reach for me
When you can’t sleep
Would I be the first thing you turn to
When you wake
Would you fall asleep
With me in your hand?
If I were your phone screen
Would I feel like you are here?


You can read more of my poetry free here, or find some in my books.

If you enjoy my writing and want to throw some change into my tip jar, you can find it here.

Blue and Green

We labour under the midday sun, stumbling over the cracks in the parched earth. There is never enough water.

They say this was an ocean once – water as far as you can see in any direction. I can’t picture it. All we have here are the bleached skeletons of long dead beasts that roamed this place long ago. And the plastic. Everywhere the plastic.

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TBR – Mid-Week Flash 106

My 11th hour offering for Week 106 of Miranda Kate’s mid-week flash challenge. This weeks photo prompt is of a bookstore/library in Yangzhou, eastern China, taken by photographer Shao Feng. If you want to join in with mid week flash, The General Guidelines can be found here, or you can join the Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

TBR

When you first die, no one explains what has happened. You’re just in a queue, like you’re waiting at a bus stop. No one speaks. No one makes eye contact. So you wait.

Just when you think you can’t shuffle your feet or shift your weight anymore and you’re seriously considering tutting or something, you reach the gates.

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Johnny Come Lately

A Mid-Week Flash Short Story

I have broken the rules again. Sorry Miranda! I’ve gone over the wordcount limit for Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Flash (The General Guidelines can be found here if you’d like to join in) but, in my defence, I’m using both the prompts from week 98 and from week 100 in combination today, so if I get a 750 word limit for each prompt I’m well under 😉

(Reading this back now it’s obviously heavily influenced by Death and Albert from the Discworld by Terry Pratchett, but that wasn’t conscious when I was writing it!)

Here are the prompt images:

Mid week flash prompt week 98
Mid week flash prompt week 100

Johnny Come Lately

I was at rock bottom when he found me. Literally, lying on a piss stained concrete floor, puking black blood, caked in my own filth. Must’ve looked like a feral animal.

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Thamesmead by Steve McAuliffe

I’ll open this review of Steve McAuliffe’s debut poetry collection, Thamesmead, with a disclaimer: I do actually know Steve (online at least), we’ve worked together on a couple of independent lefty media sites, both being writers of a similar political persuasion. He did also give me a copy of this book free – but it was a birthday gift, rather than in exchange for review, and I didn’t tell him I intended to review it until after I had read it and decided it met my personal standard for public review. Long term followers of my goodreads, facebook, and twitter will know, I generally don’t like to give public reviews of books unless I can give them three or more stars.

Once I had read and fallen in love with Thamesmead, I badgered and nagged and irritated Steve until he agreed to answer some questions to make me go away – you can find his author interview below my review.

Thamesmead Review

Thamesmead by Steve McAuliffe is a collection of 30 poems, some only a few lines, a sketch of an idea or snapshot in time, some several pages long, telling entire narratives. I really enjoyed the contrast in length and style throughout the book. It’s a slim volume, but I still found it took me a long time to read, because each piece made me want to pause and reflect, and at times re-read before moving on. The imagery is powerful, and even in the parts of the book that delved into the fantastical and mythological is vividly painted on the page so that the reader is right there with the subject, seeing the scene clearly through their eyes, a feat that’s difficult to achieve in poetry.

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Hamster Wheel

Clothes eaten by moths,
Future stolen by toffs,
Hunger is exhausting, it’s true.
But it’s hard to riot,
When your stomach won’t quiet,
And your shoes are held together with glue.

Aching feet, heat or eat,
Surviving is no mean feat
When you’re done before you’ve even begun.
But it’s hard to fight back,
When you can’t afford the sack,
And you’re too tired to even have fun.

“The economy’s bad,
And yeah homelessness is sad,
But there’s nothing that we can do,”
Says the MP who ate,
Indeed cleaned the plate,
Of a £45 breakfast, on you.

They seem to hold power
Because we work every hour
Scraping around for every penny
But it’s time to down tools
Because they treat us like fools
And they are few, and we are many.

Terms and Conditions

Dying hadn’t been as painful as Mary expected it to be.


The moments just before she died had hurt, hurt beyond anything she had ever experienced – more than getting Malaria. More than when she got shot even. She didn’t think anything would be more painful than getting shot. Her mother had always told her she was risking her life “running around in warzones” – how banal to have died in a head on collision with lorry just outside Hemel Hempstead.


Mary had never been one for religion – which came as something of a surprise to a lot of people she met – she decided at an early age that what happened after death didn’t matter a jot, it was what you did before death that counted, and she’d not given it much of a thought after that.


What she definitely hadn’t expected was the plain white walled waiting room she found herself in now. One moment she was blinded by lights, spinning out of control, feeling the sickening crunch as her ribs folded in on themselves, puncturing her lungs, the stench of petrol hanging in the air, the next she was stood in her best dress and cardigan, handbag hooked over her arm, in front of a desk where a bored red-haired receptionist sat, idly flicking through a magazine.


After a moment, Mary gave a small, polite cough.


The woman at the desk licked her finger and turned the page of her magazine.


“Welcome to the afterlife,” she said in a bored voice, not bothering to look up. “Please take a seat while your paperwork is processed.”

Continue reading “Terms and Conditions”

They Tried To Bury Us




It started underground
In the dark
A fluttering of awareness
A pulsing heartbeat
A distant drum of war.

It started underground
Waiting out the cold
Gathering its resources
Biding its time
Waiting for its moment.

It started underground
Until conditions were ripe,
Then everything exploded;
The rush for the light
Breaking into the sun
Claiming its ground.

It started in the dark
Now it stands tall,
Unfurls its glorious petals,
A red banner 
In the grey.

Written by Victoria Pearson. Performed by Laurence Bourne