Granny made pancakes the same way every day.
In her slippers and dressing gown, hair still taking shape under a factory of rollers, humming a Brenda Lee tune. Or Stones.
Surprisingly eclectic, granny.
Egg, milk, flour and an unregulated allowance on cinnamon.
The whisk plugged, screaming the mixture in short bursts. Taking form like a thought first thing in the morning. Gradually coalescing into the recognisable, the predictable, the expected.
Heat on, pan oiled, mixture added.
Just like her.
Just like her.
Granny didn't eat pancakes.
That was just like her.

Stone Me

It was Stephen's fault.
He shouldn't have done it at all.
We told him. "Stop it Stephen, it's a sin. Stop".
But I think that's what made him do it more. He didn't care.
Yer man came out of nowhere. Honest to God, none of us saw him.
We were running so fast out of the graveyard to get away from Stephen that we couldn't have noticed. Some of the stones Stephen had grabbed hit me on the back of the legs. It didn't hurt, but still. They gave a different kind of bad feeling. He'd grabbed them straight off someone's grave. Could have been a priests'.
I remember the grey hair and dark suit. No tie. And the way he walked - like he was in his living room getting up to close the curtains or something.
"Your friend is right" - (me!) - "You've upset some people".
The voice, velvety - like a Wispa with a warm cup of milky tea.
Stephen looked up at him. His twelve year old eyes trying to understand.
"I came here in 1992".
My friend's hand opened just enough for the last few pebbles to clack clack clack to the ground.
"I'd advise you to sleep with the light on tonight".
We all did.

Perfect Timing

She went for a walk.
Not something she usually did - just take off like that, without warning...without yelling "Bye" to everyone, checking for keys and phone and million other pointless accessories.
She just left. Closed the door and walked.
It was only three o'clock.
Nice park. Tarmac pathway, trees on either side swaying and sighing in the first chill breeze of Autumn. Their leaves will be gone soon. 'Know the feeling', she thought, without checking if anyone heard.
Defenses up by being brought down. You can smile at that one now.
Her pace self indulgent. Why hurry? Where do you need to be? Where do you ever need to be?
A street. Coffee shop.
Tall latte.
Cyndi Lauper sings 'True Colours' on the radio.
Just in time.

Altogether Now.

Tony, Andrew, Uncle Paul
Lisa, Sharon, Sue
Pat from work and Joe McCaul
Oliver and Pru.
The gang from football at the club
The red head from the store
Everyone sat in the pub
A conversation roar.
Wives and husbands, aunts and grans
Uncles, cousins, friends
Smiles and hugs and words of love
Good times never end.
That empty hollow echo
Still infiltrates the bones
He never knew how many folk
It took to be alone.

Missing Picture

I ended up meeting him. He seemed fine. Relaxed, well-groomed and happy to see me.  It was a bit weird to be honest. I mean, it was just a joke. A prank. I hadn’t actually expected him to show up. But there he was, as real as me and in the flesh. Firm handshake, white teeth, welcoming smile with a look that said “Can you believe this?”

Only I couldn’t because it never happened.

The reason we were there was false. The idea that we knew each other just a work of fiction. Created by me.
“Hey man, it’s me…remember we met up in Ibiza last year? We should hook up for the laugh”.

I don’t know why I wrote that. Just flicking through pictures of friends and friends of friends and there he was; with Caroline, at a bar, sun setting on the horizon, cocktails, tans and a busy beach.

Two weeks later: “Hey man, yeah let’s do that. I remember you well”.
Really? OK.

So there we were. In the front bar of the Shearton Hotel. Him reminiscing about the two of us in Ibiza the summer before – who we saw, what we did, where we went. Only I hadn’t been there. Have never been there.

Should I tell him? How do I tell him? ‘Hey listen man, sorry about this but I was drunk that night and just did that for the laugh’.

So I did. I said that. He looked blankly at me as if the words hadn’t reached him.
“No, no. I remember you. It was great”.

But…I hadn’t been there. Why was he saying that?

I told Caroline.
She showed me her pictures of that holiday last year.

Her, him and me.

Winging It

Hark, the celestial angels cry
One's a girl and one's a guy.
One harks louder than the other
The reason being, the other's stutter.
It might not seem like much to you
But when you 'hark', it should be t-t-t-true.

That's Fine Then

Here come the footsteps
Prepare to pretend to be busy
Can't look idle
Too many questions
What are you doing sitting there?
Can't be honest
Can't be true
Thinking Brooding Feeling
Look busy Grab a book
Reading Exams Busy me
Oh that's fine I'll leave you be
Yes do
I'm fine
Just sitting here

In Case of Emergency

It looked like great fun. A great old time. Friends and cousins all together; cakes, tea and good clothes.
Loud cackling laughter, smell of hairspray and aftershave. The secret adult world on it's best behaviour.
Ladies parachuting from the heavens in layers of coloured silk. Men righting the world beneath starched collars. Cigarette smoke punctuating the liquored words.
Boys in shorts running between rooms, avoiding obstacles real and imaginary. Girls with curls and pretty dresses rehearsing for later roles.
The pane of glass around him. See all, hear all. Touch none.
The glass that no one saw.


Every night, they walk together.
Her on the inside, habitually pampering his need to safeguard. Arms propelling body and words.
Him, head bowed in devoted concentration, cherishing each act of the new drama.
Continuing their promenade through life. Step by synchronised step.
Hands in pockets. Steps close to the road as before. Pace less urgent.
Head bowed.
Listening to the chasm for lost echoes.


She once felt loved and lovely
Around the turn of Spring
Now just cold and lonely
A bugger of a thing.

Hey Buster

They gave him a nickname once. Secretly chuffed he was by that. He'd never show it. Never let on.
Brush it off with a mischievous smile, knowing laugh and a lively wink. Never dismiss it entirely though.
Here he comes...Buster Davis. Suited him, with his barrel chest bursting out from the tweed waistcoat as if it had a story to tell and couldn't wait any longer.
Half the regulars didn't know his real name. For all they knew, that was his real name.
It might as well have been.
Sometimes, he can feel himself back there again. Not just as a fantasy, but really back there. In the carriage, on the red, high-back upholstered seat, quaffing champers, reveling in the high squeals of laughter from the well bred as he watched on, charming the blue fragrant plume of smoke from his Caribbean cigar.
Taking turns to sit beside him as the eleven o'clock Brighton Belle shimmied it's way back to London. The curtain drawn, the punter's applause inhaled, as sex and hunger and want ripened in the blood.

The robin landed three feet away. Outside. In the garden. There had been some light rain earlier.
Buster watched as it's tiny, perfect head tilted from side to side, regarding the scene.
He shifted an inch in his chair. A hard chair, but it suited his purposes. He wondered if he should really ask for a new one, but it never came up in conversation.
Funny how I've never seen that bird before, he thought...for the first time today.
It looked like the flame haired actress who went on to star in that northern TV soap. She had been eager. Whats-her-name. Her.
Funny how I can't remember her name, her thought. I think I loved her. Should have told her. Did I tell her?
Where's the tea?

Thrice as Nice

- How's it goin', y'all right, how's things?
* Grand, not a bother, y'know. 
   How's yerself, all good, doing well?
- Can't complain, got the health, doing a bit.
* Sure that's the way, your only man, keeping busy.
- Spot on, keeping the nose clean, staying out of trouble.
* Here listen, look after yerself now, be good.
- Sure what would I be doin'?, staying out of harm's way, good luck.
* That's the one, the very man, on the pig's back.
- Yeah.

*  ............oh.

Cash and Carrie.

It was a gentle collision. Her rounding the paperback aisle, three novels and a half priced New Year diary hugged to her chest.
Him hurrying past the magazines to the cash till; newspaper, Mars bar and obliviousness.
“It’s like in the movies” she said as they kneeled down to pick her purchases off the well walked floor.
“Which movies?” he asked.
“Gothic horror sci-fi ones”.

Then he knew.


-I wish you nothing but health and happiness for 2016.
*Don’t say that.
*Because you can’t have both. If you have nothing but happiness then you become one of those permanently happy people who are impossible to be around.  So, eventually your network of people leaves due to your insatiable need for joy. This leads to loneliness and loneliness is as dangerous to your well-being as smoking and alcoholism. In the end, it kills you. I’m not ready to die yet.
*No years resolution.