You know when you have someone over at your place and you say “make yourself at home”? Have you ever wondered what would happen if your guest did exactly that? If they ran themselves a bath, put on the chip pan, maybe? Well, I did imagine the exact scenario, in a piece of flash fiction called (unsurprisingly) MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME. It is published this week in Slim Volume: Wherever You Roam (Pankhearst), along with another flash, WATCHING.
Slim Volume: Wherever You Roam is available in paperback here.
Writer Cath Bore “In my writing I create female characters who meet the world on their own terms”.
Cath Bore, Liverpool, UK, started as a music writer in her early 20’s then went on to write creatively. Cath has an MA in Creative Writing, and lots of her flash fiction and feminist essays / creative non fiction is published in the UK and the US.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of domestic violence in your art?
Domestic violence is a cause very close to my heart. I find it odd domestic violence victims and survivors are put in boxes labelled “it was their own fault”. The more we talk about DV in its different guises, the better.
Tell us why you chose this submission?
I wrote FRIDAY ROSES after I saw a Facebook meme about a woman who received flowers every birthday from her husband…
In the media is a weekly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous week and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely and the categories used are a guide, not definitives.
There are so many flash fiction timed competitions now, the sort where you are given a photo or word prompt and a set time – often mere hours – to write a punchy flash fiction. I sign up to them and swear blind I’ll enter this week honestly, but I never do.
It’s the time element that doesn’t suit me, I think; but I’ve used such prompts quite a lot and worked on the flashes until I’m happy with them. I saw this photo on the Angry Hourglass site back in October 2014:
The photo reminded me of the sort of characters we have in Liverpool. The city is full of them, the wonderful busker Jacky (aka Plinkety Plink, because he mimed playing a cardboard guitar and sang “plinkety-plink” to Beatles songs, no matter the actual lyric) who performed outside Probe Records in the 1980s. Jacky died and was replaced by a doppleganger who carried on in his stead, like a tribute act of sorts.
I remember too Cherry Red frequenting pubs in the city centre, so called because he put shoe polish on his head in an effort to conceal his balding pate. The Cherry Red and Plinkety-Plink monikers were not meant as cruel or nasty, but affectionately and both men are still spoken about with fondness.
So when I saw the pic of the man in his top hat on Angry Hourglass I imagined him prancing about in Liverpool or another city and getting up to all sorts. I wrote a flash fiction about him called Follow The Finger; it went quite dark in the end, as my flashes often do. Last week some six months after I first saw the photo Follow The Finger was published over at Flash Fiction Magazine. You can read it here.
I am not a wealthy woman, but consider two things apart from food and water as essential tools for life – a good red lipstick and Chanel No5. No matter the time or day I wear both, typically bold scarlet on my mouth and my Chanel No5 eau de toilette on my pulse points – I save the perfume for posh.
Because I work from home, my postman is now accustomed to me answering the door in my pyjamas and my hair still wildly bed head, but with immaculately applied lipstick and smelling pretty darn good. He was a bit disturbed at first, but he’s used to me now.
The fact is, EVERY woman looks great in red lippy.
Red lipstick gives confidence, like a magic elixir. It suits every woman, always; don’t let anyone tell you different.
It enhances any skin tone, adds a slash of unexpected colour, elegance. I was at an event recently, a woman sitting in front of me had the most glorious shade on. She looked wonderful. I just had to tap her on the shoulder and compliment her on it.
Speaking to another woman on Twitter last week, I was gutted to hear she wasn’t allowed red lipstick in her workplace. Her boss doesn’t think red lipstick is “appropriate” for a bank cashier, presumably because the public would see it…and what? Be appalled, shocked, their moral values affronted? Go and speak to your union representative immediately, I insisted. You have your rights.
What a foolish man. Unbeknownst to him, delighted female customers in his bank are, instead of taking offence, more likely to lean in and enquire “where on earth did you get that gorgeous lippy?”
This week I heard about Red My Lips, a movement to encourage women to wear red lippy this April to raise awareness about sexual violence & speak out about victim blaming. More info here.
I don’t watch television. It’s a recent thing, this non-telly lark. It happened in January. Over Christmas we watched hardly any of the repeats and thin dramas dished up, resorting instead to DVD boxsets, playing records and reading.
It was good.
When January made an appearance I switched the telly on one day because Columbo was on. Everybody loves Columbo. My mum fancied Peter Faulk, she liked the fact he only had one eye (am still not sure what all that was about) so the programme always reminds me of her, in a good way.
So I start watching Columbo on this January afternoon and really get into it, Mrs Columbo bakes the felon a cake, Faulk really getting under the killer’s skin, winding him up; then an advertising break starts. (Bear in mind that by January I hadn’t really watched live telly for weeks, commercial TV none at all, so this is all a bit of a shock – I’ve been deprogrammed by this point). Instead of getting up and making myself a brew like I should have done I sat through the break, and they start trying to sell me loads of crap I don’t need. A diet powders ad was the one that got me the most, the advert shouted at me I need to sort myself out, NOW. How bloody rude. Ok, I did need to sort myself out but not by buying their stupid powder. I watch a bit more of Columbo and every fifteen minutes they’re trying to flog me rubbish and the diet powder AGAIN, so I turn it off. I know who the killer is, but it still wrecks my afternoon.
I haven’t watched live TV since. I have one exception to the rule – Only Connect, my Monday night bliss on BBC2. I watched the leaders debate on ITV too, but that’s been my only one off.
The Guardian is not happy that Labour Party leader Ed Miliband admits he does not watch television:
“We’ve all met people who don’t watch television, and we’ve all been immediately creeped out by them. It’s a generally accepted fact that the only people worse than people who don’t watch television are people who don’t own televisions, and the only people worse than those people are people who use internet comment sections to tell other people that they don’t own televisions.”
I know people who can’t afford the TV licence anymore, or have had to sell their own sets to make a few bob. Are they “creepy”? I reckon not. I call them sensible. The Guardian should try it on for size, eschewing the box. It’s good, a life with no TV interrupting you. Our TV set still lives in the corner, we just don’t switch it on. It’s taking up room if I’m being honest. To me life is calmer and quieter if I don’t watch telly, it frees up time. I find chat and panel shows sneery and competitive, the news channel and bulletins as biased as hell, and advertising breaks keep telling you that you need x y and z and sachets of diet powder, or else…
With telly watching, I just don’t enjoy it anymore. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it, who knows? But for now, friends are slowly realising that “did you watch…” is mostly replied to with a “no”. To be honest it makes for more interesting conversations, once telly talk is dispensed with. Wasting time watching crap telly is bad enough, wasting time talking about it, just as bad.