Dark London

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I have a piece in a two volume charity anthology called ‘Dark London’ by Darkstroke Books. It is available here

 

My story is called ‘The Big Lad’. It is set in Hackney during the late 1980’s and was one of the most enjoyable pieces I have ever written. 

In the 80’s, I would visit family that lived there. It is the Irish side of my family, most people from Liverpool have an Irish connection, and I loved ‘going to the smoke’ to see them. It seemed like safer days back then, although it’s probably much safer now. As a teenager I would take the National Express coach – the 550 – or buy an Apex rail ticket for £21.00 !

My dad would always meet me at Euston or Victoria Coach station and we would visit wherever I wanted to go –  the usual touristy places. I hated Oxford Street, but loved Soho! Eventually we would end up in Hackney where my family lived.

He and his friends would meet up every Monday afternoon at their favourite pub, and if I was visiting then, he would take me. I was underage, but I drank lemonade… yes really. Sometimes a shandy ( google it )!! He would show me off to his friends. ‘Here she is! Here’s my girl’  – lots of oohs and ahhs – someone even patted me on the head. I should have been insulted, but I wasn’t, they were lovely. I had to put them in the piece!

 Each of them had a story to tell about when they first came to England. Most of them had roughed it, and it still irks me when I hear ignorant people (idiots) refer to them as Navvies or Thick Micks etc etc. They seemed to take it though, and would force a laugh at the ‘Paddy’ jokes, but they never forgot those insults. They did like their beer and their horse racing  – yes, cliches we associate with the Irish community, but so what? Good on them.

‘The Big Lad’ from my story is based on a real person. A pub landlord who, if you lived around the Mare Street area at that time, would probably recognise him. He was a larger than life character and the Victorian pub he managed was the perfect setting for my ghost story.

I think of my dad everyday, he’s been dead for many years now, and the family is scattered around the globe. I’m so glad my mam trusted me to travel to London – a vibrant, glorious, edgy city – nearly as good as Liverpool! I’m so lucky to have met all the old fellas of the Monday Club and to have experienced Hackney at that time. I visited about four years ago. I didn’t recognise the place, so much had changed which is a good thing I suppose. It was great to revisit those times through this story.

When my dad first came to England – he landed in Liverpool – he was 14 and had ran  away from a horrible home life. He worked in St John’s market by day, but slept rough at night. He was homeless – dirty, hungry and terrified – he would never romanticise about that time whenever he spoke about it. It was the kindness of a policeman, who found him sleeping in the doorway of a pub, and who took him to a local bakery that needed someone to start as an apprentice, that saved him.  

This is why I was happy to donate my story to this Anthology. The proceeds will go to  Centrepoint – a charity that helps homeless young people & The London Community Foundation. Something I know my Dad – and the Monday Club –  would be proud of.

Volume Two is available for pre-order right now, published July 2nd.

 

February …2020

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Hello!

How are you?

Here is what I’ve been up to lately.

I hope you had a very nice Valentine’s day, if you believe in that kind of thing …

My piece in Scary Snippets, Valentine Edition called, Buy a Rose for Your Valentine? Is a slightly horrific take on the whole situation!

I have also been featured by Black Hare Press in their year ending anthology, I don’t think I covered this in my last post, but here’s a quick link anyway.

And to finish (hooray I hear you shout !)

I am extremely pleased to have a story included in their 2020 anthology called A Song For The Prince. All proceeds will be going to animal aid charities in Australia to help with their care after the recent fires. Please help if you can.

Happy Holidays!

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Hello! The very best of the season’s sparkly wishes to you and yours.

This post is just a short catch up. I have a couple of pieces out at the moment if you are interested. The first is part of  an anthology published by ‘The Gemini Wordsmiths‘. It’s called ‘ The Twofer Compendium‘ and is about twins. Some are good, some are bad and some are just weird. My story, ‘Room Mates‘ is definitely one of the weird!

 

I also have a piece in an anthology by Suicide House Publishing. Scary Snippets:Christmas Edition, is available now. My story, ‘The Older Traditions‘ is a folk horror take on an almost forgotten Christmas ritual.

It was great to work with Suicide House again. My story, ‘The Victorian Mirror‘ is in their Scary Snippets:Halloween edition and is still available.

Wishing you all a great 2020 xx

Folk Horror

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A small post about a book reading / signing I attended last night at Waterstones in Liverpool.  Lucie McKnight Hardy the author of the magnificent ‘Water Shall Refuse Them‘ was in conversation with Simon Savidge.

The evening threw up some interesting points for me. During the Q&A after the reading one attendee (Audience member? Punter? I never know the correct term! ) commented that he thought the book , ‘was a beautiful coming of age story, that contained some horrific elements.’ I totally agreed with him. That’s how I find ‘folk horror’. It’s how the protagonist acts in their environment. The surroundings, however dramatic or alluring, always come with a charm that has horrific elements. Their failures or intentions, wicked or otherwise are exposed by it.

I won’t go into the plot of the novel, because any spoilers will wreck it for you. It does involve, witchcraft (maybe??), teenagers and death. All set in a village in Wales during the awful heatwave of ’76. There you go. It’s great. Please buy, read and recommend. I look forward to her next novel.

Of course I couldn’t wander around without buying another book, Murial Spark, ‘Memento Mori’. It’s an addiction!

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Great books, great covers.

 

 

Keith Haring

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New York Is Book Country 1985.

I went to see the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool over the weekend. It is amazing. My partner is a huge fan of pop/modern art and was exited to see it, while I was a bit, ‘yeah o.k. whatever’. However, my mind was changed.

The paintings are gorgeous. Large tarpaulins crammed with hieroglyphic like images, that challenge those visitors who just glance and walk away. You can’t. You have to stop. They make you take notice.

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‘The flying saucer is able to awaken, and achieve a higher state of being’  *Tate

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Untitled ( Apartheid ) 1985

There is a curtained off section. Within, is a smaller exhibition space with flourescent lighting and great early 80’s disco and hip hop music being played. I could have happily stayed in there for a few hours. It felt like being in a nightclub – a proper one. Along the walls of another installation further into the exhibition, there are fly-posters covering it, that you would see in a club or band space – not so prevalent now as they seem to have been replaced with ‘social’ media, but they were interesting, an insight to a scene and a time I could identify with and remember. We stopped to read them. I miss fly posters. Home made ones.

There is an energy at this exhibition, something that is often missed at others. Keith Haring’s work is needed more now than ever with the narrow mindedness and right wing thoughts and theories being pushed about today. I mentioned I had been to this exhibition on Twi*ter and since then I have been pestered by a series of new ‘followers’, all family men, God fearing and wanting to set me on the right path … whatever that is.

I hope they’re just bots, but I fear they’re not.

Anyway, visit this exhibition. Please. It’s on until November 10th.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/keith-haring

 

Homeless Jesus

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‘Homeless Jesus’ The statue in the grounds of St Nicholas church, Liverpool.

I was driving past the Royal Liverpool hospital a few days ago. We stopped at the traffic lights. It was approaching lunchtime, the street was busy with people rushing to coffee shops and cafes. I waited for the lights to change, and absentmindedly looked around me.

In a side street, a man was laying on the ground. He was being treated by three paramedics. They were trying to save his life. A few people had stopped and were watching. The paramedics were working quickly, doing everything they could for him. I stared at his face. He seemed asleep. His tent and belongings were piled against a wall.

The lights changed, we had to move on. All day I thought about him. I hope he’s o.k.. I hope they got him into the hospital. I hope …

That night I thought I would look on the local newspaper site, just to see if anything was mentioned about him.  ‘Man saved in front of the hospital!’ ‘Miracle on Moira Street!’

But no, the man had died.

He had been found in his tent, unresponsive. People had walked past, going about their business, myself included. The article said that he was only forty, he was a dad – a good one- and as one of his friends said, ‘life had just got the better of him’.

A statue was unveiled in the grounds of  Liverpool Parish Church – St.Nicholas – this week. It’s called ‘Homeless Jesus’.  Casts of it have been seen around the world, Vatican City and New York included. The actual statue has come to rest here. I wanted to see it. I’m not religious at all, but it is very moving. There is space at the end of the bench for someone to sit. The question posed is, ‘Would you sit next to a homeless person? Would you sit next to a homeless Jesus?’

Some people wouldn’t even stop for a man dying on the street, and that is the saddest thing. We seem to have a forgot what compassion is. Life can get the better of any of us.

 

 

 

John Waters – Homotopia

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We went to see a hero of mine on Saturday ( 10/11/18) – John Waters. I’d been looking forward to it since we bought the tickets months ago. The Liverpool Philharmonic hall seemed full – downstairs anyway – and the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming.

The show was a part of the ‘Homotopia- I Will Survive’ festival in Liverpool, which ‘champions fabulous art’ from the LGBTQ+ community.

Mr Waters spoke for nearly an hour and a half about his life, his work, friends, actors – the Dreamlanders- and politics. He let rip with a monologue that was very funny – still laughing about the woman with the noisy blender who got punched, ‘BAM!’ – poignant – ‘my friends children are now the age Divine was when he died’ and at times vitriolic         ( The Pope, the Catholic Church, Trump etc ) which I loved. His irreverence and lack of over political correctness was just what I expected.

The evening ended with a Q&A which he was happy to conduct, and then there was a book signing in the foyer.

I remembered going to see his early movies at a cinema that’s long gone now.  By day it showed ‘Adult Cinema’. The evening was for whatever was popular at the time or weird, and it was only 50p admission! I think Mr Waters would have liked that very much.

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An apt title.

 

Windfalls

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Sometimes you have to get outside to do some writing. Even if it’s just for twenty minutes, a change of scene does you good. I’ve been writing a lot at my allotment. It’s quiet, not too cold yet, although I do sit in the greenhouse with the heater on occasionally and sometimes inspirational.

I wanted to write an autumnal, Halloween inspired story. What could be more autumnal than apples, with all their ducking and bobbing? There is an orchard on the allotment, in the centre of which we devised a secret seating area. You won’t be seen or disturbed. It was the best place to write my gruesome little story called, ‘Windfalls’.  You can download it along with many other stories and great artwork in the Sirens Call ezine, ‘Halloween Screams and Other Dark Things’ below. Enjoy!

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

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Church Island

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We went on a research trip to Anglesey, Wales last week. It was perfect Autumn weather, cold and bright. I had wanted to visit St Tysilio’s church on Church Island by the Menai bridge for a while, and thought it would be difficult to find even with a satnav! Anglesey is crammed with small lanes and turnoffs, I thought we would be searching for a while. Not so. The island can be accessed from a causeway that leads from ‘The Belgian Promenade’, which runs around this part of the coast.

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We parked and walked through some beautiful woodland, to emerge next to the Menai Straits and the breathtaking view of the island. We were lucky that we had arrived early before anyone else, and for a short while had the island to ourselves. Once through the gates you are greeted by the huge Yew tree ( some say it’s not a yew at all but a Cypress or a pine ). It was huge and the trunk felt like old newspapers.

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Many of the grave stones looked like they had been replaced  with granite or slate, either way they had been kept in the original style. Being so open to the weather coming from the Straits must batter them, some of the older stones were difficult to read due to the erosion. Many were poignant, and heartbrakingly simple in design while surrounded by the ornate Victorian stones.

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At the highest point of the island is a Celtic cross war memorial. It overlooks the Britannia bridge and is surrounded by some of the oldest graves. The medieval church of St Tysilio – a Welsh saint – has been there since the 1400’s and replaced an earlier chapel. Unfortunately we could not go inside.

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No one knows exactly who built the chapel, a fitting mystery for the island. It is a place we will return to again, maybe in each season. Anglesey is a magical place, if you can get there, do.

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