Friends: The Play

friends-the-play-cover

Growing up in London, and later in Hampshire, I loved nothing more than playing with my BF, Ben Key. Ben was a cultural ambassador in otherwise fairly boring Raynes Park, and introduced me to Clueless and my two great loves, X-Men comics and Grease 2. Unfortunately, whenever we tried to play together, our horrible mothers forced us to endure his younger siblings, Marcus and Tammy, and my younger brother Nick being foisted on us whenever we tried to play essential games of Captain Planet, or The Worst Witch. Continue reading

Creative Londoners: Storytelling (also: I have a new job!)

Banner for Creative Londoners September 2014 event

Imagine having access to this many crayons. Imagine.

Domestic Sluttery‘s founding editor, Sian Meades, also founded the Creative Londoners networking events. Having entirely failed to attend Sian’s previous events because of choir, I’m thrilled to say I’m speaking at the next one so am guaranteed to go. Continue reading

Synaesthesia

This is the most beautiful poem I’ve read in ages. I wish I had synaesthesia – I have the lower end of it I guess. I was explaining to Elizabeth how when writing I will almost taste a sentence as being green, or lilac, or a bit the wrong blue. “I have exactly the same thing!” she said. Of course she did, because we are Not Quite Sisters.

Paraic O’Donnell

It’s nothing really, just

a way of treasuring

things, a feasting

on the bright

world that borders

on the pathological,

on the unseemly

maw of wet nerves,

the gape that swallows

every spine, tingles even

in the absence

of signal, lusts for

every fluke of noise

covets wave

and particle alike

collapsing always,

coming home drunk

or high and falling

asleep in that deep

plexus

where all our seemings cross

where the overspill

was the light under

overpasses, was the solace

of amethysts

and deep kissing

where the numbers

of your birthday

were—write this down—

magnesium almost

and chlorophyll

and something like honey.

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Elle Talent Contest: Rebellion (Lies)

imageThe other week I got an email telling me that I was a runner-up in Elle magazine’s Talent Contest. I may have jumped up and down, resulting in some damage to my office chair, and definitely on hearing I will be mentored by one of the judges next year.

Elle’s topic was My Rebellion. It didn’t specify fiction or non-fiction, so I loosely fictionalised my one internet date this summer. It was not a success. Continue reading

Discovery Day

Discovery Day at Foyles

I am an adult, shut up

Having flapped around like a pair of easily distracted pigeons for the last few months, Elizabeth and I decided enough was enough. There are only so many emails you can bully each other with, along the lines of “WRITE, YOU FUCKER” and *points accusingly*, and so we signed up for Discovery Day at Foyles, to spur ourselves on to paying more attention to our writing, and to a potential nervous breakdown. Continue reading

Dreamy times at Totleigh Barton *insert custard pun about Devon here*

sheepwash totleigh barton (6)

The view from my window! Falling about with daisies and buttercups

I didn’t really like my 30th birthday for Reasons, none of which actually had to do with turning 30. Once I realised you don’t burst into flames and life continues pretty much as usual, that was all fine. Still, I was greatly soothed by a wonderful present from Charlotte and Chris, university friends and parents to the Prettiest And Best Baby Of All Time, who coincidentally happens to be my god daughter, Evie.

Charlotte is a writer, and knowing my yearning to actually write and finish a book, gave me a voucher towards an Arvon course, where you basically end up in the middle of nowhere somewhere disgustingly idyllic for a week of writing, eating and learning. Having mooned over various novel ideas for the last year or so, but failed to really get much down beyond sketches, I went off to the twee-est named of them all: Totleigh Barton in Devon, for their Starting To Write a Novel course. Continue reading

A story for you: Honey

“Do you remember the first time I said I love you?”

She leaned over and rested her head on her arms, smiling at him.

“Un?”

He was half-asleep of course, she shouldn’t be trying to get any reaction out of him now. She may as well ask if she should look into getting a new dress or do her hair differently.

She waited for more, but the rhythmic phuu phuu of air signalled that he had gone back to sleep.

She thought of all the places they had been where she could have said that she loved him. Walking hand in hand through a food market, laughing over how  they both loved the same sort of intricately silly tomatoes. There was a moment, as he smiled at her, and she looked up, eyes wide. Perfect.

But I wanted you to say it, to realise how perfect a moment that was, how we could tell our grandchildren about it – “Oak smoked? No way!” – but you didn’t. So I didn’t.

 Instead it was over honey. I’d gone to look at a bee stall at that fair and got talking to the lady there for too long. I ended up buying a jar of honey from the park; almost luminous, yellow and green.

 I looked up, hoping to see you looking at me indulgently, admiring my enthusiasm for all things. “But you don’t need to impress me,” you said, later on. And it occurred to me that this had never occurred to me before. And I felt at peace and loved and like I knew where I stood, which was all I’d really wanted to know, and which I could only sort of see for myself.

 And that night after you’d kissed me and curled into me, I felt you drift off and whispered almost under my breath. And just as you went to sleep, you said it too.

A story for you, written quickly

A fairly unexciting black feathery glove

Today I have accomplished the followingly seemingly impossible tasks

  • Obtaining tickets for Punchdrunk’s new show despite only remembering they were on sale 50 minutes after they started
  • Getting previews tickets for same, saving almost £20 per ticket. It is admittedly very, very late in the evening and I will have to have a sleep.
  • Acquiring the “Yes please!” of my three most theatrical chums, thus ensuring a group outing of great potential larks.

This coincides with my having started to transcribe all the writing in my writing folder, having thought that I’d left it on a bus on Monday, and being very glad that I hadn’t.

A while ago on an Urban Writers day, we had some great exercises in short story writing using props as cues. This is what I wrote about a black feathery evening glove, the sort of cheap velveteen thing I wore to James Bond parties at school.

In the spirit of Punchdrunk, it’s theatrical. Not in the spirit of Punchdrunk, it was written in 10 minutes so don’t come crying to me asking for your £47 back.

A story for you: The Glove

After dinner they got up, stomachs heaving, from the table and went through to the sitting room.

Clara had stoked up the fire while they had been feasting, and a sleepy glow descended upon the room.

“Before you all nod off,” said Papa, helping Aunt Maeve into the good armchair, “our friend Felix would like to tell us a story.”

Much gentle applause and slightly swollen calls of “Well done Felix” and the slim, dapper figure of my brother got to his feet and stood by the fireside. Papa gracefully bowed to him and signalled that the place was his.

Felix in turn smiled at Mrs Corrigan. “May I?” he said, tilting his hand towards her evening glove. She slipped it off and passed it to him.

I’m not sure whether it was the drowsiness after supper, or the reflection of the flames playing tricks on us, but as Felix stood there, still, the black glove resting in his hand, it changed. The feather trim sprang up and quivered – a rat, poised, whiskers trembling.

Felix started a ghost story in a low, soothing voice, but I didn’t hear it. Only the crackling of the logs and the whisper of the ladies’ dresses as that dreadful sight in Felix’s hand changed by turned into a monstrous spider, and then a whirling devil, eyeless but glaring at me, rejoicing in my every sin.

Screams rose in my chest, but my heart beat too hard to allow them out. The flames cracked and skipped. The dresses laughed and snapped. I thought I would pass out from the heat.

Then, “Thank you, Mrs Corrigan.” A flutter of applause. I open my eyes again, and the wretched thing really is a glove, after all.

Sometimes you just need to set your writing on fire and stamp it to death in the street

I don’t know what I was expecting when I signed up to Frances Taylor and Charlie ‘Ultraculture’ Lyne’s new writing venture Burn Night. It certainly wasn’t writing something that I was really proud of. And it definitely wasn’t watching someone set fire to it half an hour later.

I met Katie Khan of Awkward Situations for Girls fame at Charing Cross and we trudged over to Pall Mall to the wildly arty ICA, the pair of us carved out of a wildly unarty wool and waterproofs combo. Katie just started the Faber Academy course and will likely be on your Christmas reading list come 2014, but as I’ve done nothing since October apart from 3hundredand65 and transcribing all the voice memos I make on the lovely winding route back home at night, I needed to do something.

(You can tell we were keen because we were a) out at night b) out at night in winter c) out on a Sunday night in winter and Katie was missing her mum’s roast dinner.)

The 40-odd people piled into the Studio had applied to take part, and there was some joshing around at the beginning, literally, about a poor chap who’d written in but had just missed the cut. Charlie and Frances made a poster apologising.

sorry josh pappenheim burn night

Well. If anything is going to make you feel a bit smug around the edges, it’s hearing about people who missed the cut. IF ONLY WE’D KNOWN. Continue reading