“But it only lasts for one day….” (the biggest Christmas lie of all. Maybe.)

Yorkshire birthday tea1.jpg
This lot have a special place in my heart, with their always on time birthday card and annual free tea bag. I love you, Yorkshire Tea x

I was in Asda shortly after New Year, earwigging while I was picking up some bits. I’m a writer, it’s what we do. Say something interesting in front of me and it’s going in my notebook, with no exceptions. Anyway, two women were next to me in the queue talking about one of their daughters, whose birthday happened to fall that week. “She understands why she can’t have a birthday party like her brother and sister do,’ said one to the other, sounding sad (but not quite sorry enough for my liking). “Their birthdays are earlier in the year, but hers is just too soon after Christmas.’ Her friend nodded and agreed the January daughter was indeed good girl for being so gracious.

Me, I felt like turning around and bellowing NO, YOUR JANUARY DAUGHTER DOES NOT UNDERSTAND.  She puts up with it because she’s a nice kid. Save money up and put it to one side for her party or just don’t give your other children parties. What you are doing is bloody unfair.

I didn’t say any of this. I should have, though. Really wish I had.

This example on its own puts paid to the myth that Christmas only lasts for a single day. That’s the lie that gets told to anyone who finds Christmas uncomfortable or sad or upsetting or irritating, isn’t it? Get through the one day and that’s it, you’re sorted. Breathe, over and done with for another year. Go for a stroll in the afternoon to break it into manageable bitesize chunks and life winds comfortably back to normal after twenty four hours.

Erm, wrong. Christmas stretches out like a yawn. Its effects begin in September and reach well into February, money wise anyway. Financial pressures and general wariness of Christmas is one thing. The birthday issue is another. The fact is, if you have the misfortune to be born In December or January, your special day is disliked by all. People don’t know how to cope with anomalies like birthdays a month before or after 25th December, or so it seems. So I‘ve put together a little guide on how to cope with a friend or relative’s birthday if it occurs around then. I do hope it helps.

  1. Don’t try and shoehorn someone’s birthday into the Christmas night out. No matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, birthdays are on the day cited on a birth certificate and that’s that.
  2. Make the person whose birthday it is the focus of proceedings. It’s the nice – and only – thing to do. Tales of your own Xmas shopping traumas and other personal shit are very poor birthday talk etiquette (but still prove surprisingly common anyway).
  3. Expensive presents are nice, but not important. Even meals out aren’t that much of a biggie (but children’s parties are, bloody hell – I’ll never get over that woman in Asda, ever). The gift of your company is precious. So don’t aim to get home in time to catch Eastenders, or clock-watch because it’s a late shopping night and you have to “get on”.
  4. If you’re going out for a meal or to the movies to celebrate friend’s birthday, let them choose the restaurant or the film. Please.
  5. The Xmas-and-birthday-present-in-one thing. That’s a no. Anyone even thinking about trying this on deserves jail time, and lots of it.

I’m collecting donations of new children’s and YA books for families struggling this Christmas. More information here. 


Teen angst (a very different kind)

A couple of weeks ago I was in a big record store, not one I often go to these days. I buy my new releases off the internet now, second hand record shops for everything else.  To me the big record shop chain stores are all for Fifty Quid Man, that figure from the 2000s, marketing mythology, the office worker or professional male who’s doing ok, he’s not rich and what with the kids still living at home and all that, he’s not going out as much as he’d like. Fifty quid on albums, it’s a little gift he gives himself each month, maybe two. When he was younger Fifty Quid Man was into BritPop or punk. Grunge passed him by except for Nirvana, because everyone digs them, the MTV generation, yeah? He’s got fifty quid at a time to spend or so the marketers say, so they’re after him, big time. Fifty Quid Man loves reissues and Coldplay when they have something new out.  If Fifty Quid Man isn’t a dad he wants to be, some day.

The store has rows of computer games, a shy selection of CDs, a big load of Beatles merchandise, from shot glasses to pencil tins, and a wall of vinyl, reissue-heavy but a better selection of new stuff than I’d expect. Actually, there’s some good albums in here I wouldn’t mind, I’ll have to slip back some time. But I can’t think about that now, I’m there to watch an in store performance. Merseyside group Hooton Tennis Club are new kids on the slacker enthusiast block, debut album out four days before on Heavenly and I’ve been rocking out to it all weekend.


So I’m there on the ground floor of the shop, watching the band set up and sound check. The only other people in the room apart from black suited and booted security guards are a gaggle of teenage girls. Hooton Tennis Club’s album ‘Highest Point In Cliff Townʼ has been picking up some cracking reviews and it’s selling well but we’re not talking the need for crash barriers just yet and the teenage girl audience, it’s to be expected. The album’s full of clever words, observations and tunes, the group are nice boys, clean. I wish they’d been around when I was fifteen. These girls, they’ve got taste.

The shop starts filling up. I missed the group at LIMF the weekend before so I’ve made today’s trip especially. But I’m freaking out a bit. There are teenage girls all around and children, they make me itch. They’re so giddy, fiddling with phones, and I’m dying for someone to come in I can stand near at least, so I don’t look like some sort of weirdo who surrounds herself with girls a third her age. Some lads wander in, mid-twenties maybe. One of Hooton Tennis Club lets on to them as they’re sound checking. Damn, they’re friends of the band so standing with them might look a bit odd. A bloke in his earlier thirties is there, I think maybe I’ll loiter around him. I notice he’s carrying a camera. He’s a photographer, not here for the tunes. I’m dying here. There is no one from my own peer group present at all.

Then I see him. A bloke of about forty, thin up top and wearing a suit looking interestedly about, standing on his tiptoes and trying to get a view of the performance space. Thank God. He’s the Fifty Quid Man for me. I go and stand near him to stop feeling ridiculous, but then I notice he’s got two teenage girls with him, I’m guessing his daughter and friend.  Blow it, I think. I’ll feel mortified whatever I do. I’m staying put.

htc 2

The group starts playing. They’re good. I’ve seen them twice before, in a club environment. It feels slightly strange standing in a high street shop at five o’clock in the afternoon, blue skies and soft sunshine on the shiny shop floor instead of a dark club with a beer in my hand but it’s free and they’re playing, so I’m happy.  The teenage girls are too, and the lads, sixteen, seventeen year old boys. I edge to the side.

Hooton Tennis Club are doing a signing at the end of their set and I’m considering it. I’m thinking, should I ask them to sign my copy of their album “for my daughter Cath”? Lovely girl she is, lads. Loves your album big time, don’t mind it myself, now I come to think on. You’ve got some good tunes there. Keep it up.

Should I, though? Really?

I decide against it, in the end. I walk away and leave the teenage girls and boys to it, me with my dignity intact. Or so I like to think.

Hooton Tennis Club play Liverpool’s Kazimier on 8th December. My socially awkward self will be there. (NB. I have no daughter). Highest Point In Cliff Town is in the shops now (Heavenly).

(First published in The Guide, September 2015)

Children’s books appeal

I’m after books, children’s books to be precise. So many families in Liverpool have nothing and Christmas is especially hard to struggle through when the air all around you is thick with the sound of Christmas carols, and the shops are crammed with lovely things you can’t afford to buy. Such families need support to stay together/keep their children out of care.

So we’re putting out an appeal for books; a gift  for children who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to open on Christmas morning.

If you are a children’s author or publisher, please consider donating a book. Or if you’re a book lover and would like to buy a gift and send it, that is wonderful too. We are looking for new books for children 0-16 years old. Email me cathbore@gmail.com if you can help, or leave a comment below.

Also – donations for selection boxes are welcome too. More details here

Thank you


This Body I Live In

Slim Volume 3 : This Body I Live In (Pankhearst) is out today, it carries a flash fiction short story from me within its pages. I love the Slim Volume books, crammed full of beautiful poetry and flash, snappy pieces inspired by editor Kate Garrett’s imaginative themes. The book launch is at The Red Deer in Sheffield next Monday, I will be reading my story on the night along with other Slim Volume contributors.

Slim Volume 3 : This Body I Live In (published by Pankhearst)


You can buy a copy of the book here


Feminist Zines Rule OK

Geeked Magazine is now sitting pretty (because it wants to, not because it seeks approval of the male gaze, obviously) on the shelf in the Women’s Studies and magazine section of Foyles bookshop in London. Issues of Geeked for sale there include The Sexy Issue, formerly only available on PDF format. I have a flash fiction in #7 The Sexy Issue and an interview with crime author Mel Sherratt about how the self-publishing revolution had given her and other women writers a kick start in their careers in #8 Breaking Boundaries.

GEEKED, sitting pretty in Foyles.
GEEKED, sitting pretty in Foyles.

In January (2016!), the very first issue of the new feminist zine Rants edited by author Abigail Tarttelin is out, I’d so pleased to have an article in it. My piece is about housework, and our attitudes to cleaning. Not very glamorous, I grant you; which is kind of why I wanted to write it. So many women I know don’t seem to want to admit to being house proud these days, as if running around the place with the Hoover is proof of being a bad feminist, somehow. Anyway, I look into all this much more in my article; Rants#1 also includes articles on domestic violence, slut-shaming, breastfeeding, books…I can’t wait to get my copy. A very nice way to start the new year, having work in a brand new and very fabulous publication.


Wondrous Place, flash fiction by Cath Bore (WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG Series)

Cath Bore:

So pleased to have my Billy Fury-themed flash fiction released into the world today, via Silver Birch Press:

Originally posted on Silver Birch Press:

bilyfuryWondrous Place
by Cath Bore

It is early morning and Liverpool is opening its eyes, ready to wake up, stretch, yawn, and welcome the day.

There’s a tune, a breathy bass riff. A voice, smooth and clear, high but not too much.

I found a place full of charms.

I hear the voice singing, and I know who it is. Billy Fury. I know the song too. Wondrous Place.

I know the singer and I know the song but what I don’t know is where it is coming from at ten to eight on a Tuesday morning in Liverpool city centre. So I follow the song. It takes me to a pub, the old boozer type, doors flung wide open. I near and hear singing, a voice on top of Billy’s. It is thin, slightly shrill, out of tune and time. I peer inside.

The pub’s cleaner in her…

View original 80 more words

Good Times

‘Don’t turn me down.’ He speaks like a poet and brandishes splayed fingers, clear air between each tapering digit. ‘Or I don’t know what I’ll do…’

I laugh at his drama. ‘You’ll live.’

‘I won’t.’ Daniel arches his throat, caresses the pulse points on his neck. He’s slighter than I usually go for and slender boned, but tall. We go for a drink, his thick lashed blue eyes and soft wide mouth persuading me.

‘I don’t drink much,’ Daniel confesses.

I like his vulnerability, it’s refreshing. He’s good company, angles the conversation around me all evening. I try to remember the last man who was so attentive. Was it years ago, decades even?  We walk towards the bus stop and he holds my hand. How sweet. He pulls me into an empty shop doorway. Daniel’s an eager kisser his eyelashes tickling my cheek and he’s a gentleman too, feeling me up over my clothes instead of under them. He takes my hand again and presses it against himself. I have a flashback from my youth, in another shop doorway, of giggles and fumbles, cider and blackcurrant breath.

I don’t mean to say it, it just comes out.

‘What are you, seventeen or something?’

Daniel draws away for a second, his blue eyes shocked.

Oh don’t tell me I think, and pull back, my mortified cheeks puce.

‘Are you alright?’ he seems genuinely worried about me, and kind. His eyelashes really are very thick.

‘Yes,’ I say, returning my hand to the warm. He trembles.
People don’t like us being together and we get comments punched at us everywhere so spend most of the time at my flat. That suits us both because he’s energetic and enthusiastic about everything we do, and I love it. I don’t love him though, I can’t; he’s only seventeen years old. Still, I try not to think about that.

‘Did you have a good time last night?’ he questions me in his narrow single bed the one and only time we stay at his.

‘Of course,’ I say.

His mum is ironing his clothes in the kitchen when we go downstairs. She does it on purpose and I don’t blame her, she was in the year below me in school. I’d be angry with me too but him and me, we carry on. He still asks if I’m having a good time every single time and I always say yes because mostly it’s true. Daniel’s eighteenth birthday is excruciating though. His dad comes with us for his son’s first legal pint, I ask Daniel if he’s enjoying it and he looks hurt like I’ve stolen something from him.

In the end it’s my suggestion we pack it in, us. I’ll miss the firmness and hardness of his body and his consideration, but we’re going nowhere.

‘Let’s be friends,’ he says, tearful.

‘I don’t think that’s the best idea.’

He walks me to the bus stop for the last time, presses my hand against his groin (he’s young after all) on the way there.

‘You had a nice time with me, didn’t you?’ he asks.

I nod.

Weeks later, I see Daniel holding hands with a girl his own age and hear his question to her, the one he always asked me. The girl is happy, both she and Daniel are, and he looks genuinely interested in her reply to his query.  It’s his line now, the one he’ll use forever, and so he should. It’s a good one.

Good Times was first published in Slim Volume 1 : No Love Lost (Pankhearst, 2014)