“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. 


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


Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder

I’m writing a new fortnightly column Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder for The Guide in Liverpool, a tie in with the television programme on BayTV presented by Jay Hynd and Ellie Phillips. In the column I’ll be covering popular culture – books and music, with other bits too.

the guide

Presenter Jay Hynd and I go way back, in our days at Liverpool’s City Talk 105.9 we did so many early morning shows. It’s so ace to be working together again.

cath and Jay1

My first column is up now, if you’d like to take a look.


Femme Fatales and Fragile Frails

In Glasgow last weekend, on advice of Mslexia’s Little Ms, I went to Glasgow Women’s Library to see the Femme Fatales and Fragile Frails – Women In Pulp Fiction exhibition. Donna Moore, curator of the exhibition, showed us books and artwork and gave us some background. There’s so much for me to learn about the genre. I had no idea the early books featuring lesbian characters and storylines were marketed at men, for example;  I believe the term “one handed read” might be appropriate.

Fluff magazine - on the cover, "Snappy American  Love Stories"
Fluff magazine – on the cover, “Snappy American Love Stories”
Fluff magazine - open the page, and the stories turn  "Spicy". Interesting censorship.
Fluff magazine – open the page, and the stories turn “Spicy”. Interesting censorship.

We were given tea and biscuits, chatted to Donna and colleague for a while about book themes, how they changed over the decades and how the covers of pulp fiction books are the finest – the drawings are so damn sexy (all the broads have great racks).

pulp women redhead

The best “OMG! I think I follow you on Twitter” moment in the world ever came next, when Donna and I realised we knew each other (virtually, that is). Serendipity at its finest – I’m miles away from home, in another country, and stumble upon a kindred spirit.

Pulp women

The Femme Fatales and Fragile Frails exhibition is on all month, and you can try your hand at writing some pulp fiction while you’re there. Oh, and they make the loveliest tea and serve very nice biscuits; always a plus.


Liverpool Is A Village

Liverpool is a village.

I hear this, all the time. Everyone knows everyone else, and if you don’t, you know their mum. There’s an essential noseyness in the blood. I like that. It means you can walk through town anytime and see a familiar face (or their mum’s).

Amanda Brookes

I went to Liverpool author Amanda Brooke’s launch party for The Missing Husband, her brand new novel, on Thursday last at Waterstones in Liverpool ONE. As ever, because it’s Liverpool, I end up talking to people I know, lots of them.


Hello, you!

Ahh! You’re here too!

None of them writing people, just folk I know. It’s a joy. A grand evening of wine and words.


Brand New, With Tags.

I stumbled onto the wonder that is Fleabay, online classifieds. The working class equivalent of vintage, no recycled or pre-loved monikers to soften the blow, no Saturday morning traipse around the charity shops. Fleabay is second hand – or die trying. It sells everything. A collection of shoes, sizes three to nine (how many people are in your family, exactly? And why so many feet?), drum kit (“played once”), One Direction duvet set (“daughter scared of it”). 

On Fleabay, I see a Superwoman dress. It’s in my size.

Super Woman dress

 A noisy thing, primary colours shouting, Superwoman logo printed on plasticky cloth, belt drawn on, it has a suspicious shine. It’s a second skin, clinging over breasts, hips and bottom, no cute nipping in at the waist, no flared skirt to hide a pot belly. A squeeze-into frock with hem mid-thigh on the shortest of women (a knicker-skimmer on me) – and like Fleabay, irony free. I just know the belt will ride up, printed on belts never stay where they’re meant to, inching northwards with every breath.  I know it will look awful on me, unflattering, and yet…

Vigilante by Shelley Harris

A few months ago I read Shelley Harris’ magnificent novel Vigilante. Harris’ heroine, ignored by her family and husband and the world, fashions herself a superhero costume, goes out at night and fights crime. It’s the best feminist novel I’ve read since Nina De La Mer’s Layla.

While I read it, I was like, “every woman needs to read this”.

“Ok,” said my husband, not listening. “I will, sometime.”

“Hell, that’s an idea! Every MAN needs to read this!”


The idea of a woman gone invisible to the world restoring justice and her sense of self is fucking brilliant. So now, post-Vigilante, I’m looking at this dress on Fleabay and I‘m wondering, dreaming.

The dress is only a fiver. I could hang it in the wardrobe and look at it. I’ll know it’s there, just in case.  In case I need to wear it and sort out the world. I like this, the way I’m thinking now.

But the dress has no cape. Super heroines need a cape. Everybody knows that. A super heroine without a cape won’t fly.

I eye up the curtains in the spare bedroom and wonder what could be.


I have an essay on sisterhood in Walking In The Feminine: A Stepping In Our Shoes Anthology, released this month.

walking in the feminine 1