Telly appearance, feminist rants, busy busy.

It’s only Tuesday and already this week is turning into a busy one for me.

In November last year I wrote a personal essay on the politics of cleaning, and housework. It’s not part of the “why don’t men and women do their equal share of household chores” debate because I think that’s discussed enough already, and very well. I wanted to explore our attitude to cleaners as paid employees, and how we view what is essentially physical labour, but from a feminist perspective. It was inspired by a Facebook conversation about memes like this:


The essay is published this week in new feminist publication Rants, edited by the fabulous Abigail Tarttelin, author of the award winning YA novel Golden Boy. I’m so pleased to have my work alongside top class writers such as Shelley Harris and Kit de Waal in this zine, and I feel privileged to have my opinion in a publication that offers writers the opportunity to express a wide range of views. I find the current trend of no platforming dissenting voices very disturbing, and akin to censorship. Bravo Abigail for allowing us the opportunity to speak so freely and honestly.

Issue #1 of Rants.

(I spent my lunch hour today working out which of these bottoms most resembles my own)

You can buy Rants here.

Yesterday I was invited onto the sofa of 52%, a TV show here in Liverpool, hosted by the brilliant Claire Simmo.

52 photo

It’s a programme presented by women and it’s ace. We talked about women and food, entrepreneurism and home baking plus what’s trending, news wise. We spoke about the north west band Viola Beach (I wrote about them for The Guide) ; their deaths over the weekend marked a very sad day for the local music scene.

52% will be broadcast on Saturday in the Merseyside area on Bay TV, Freeview channel 8 at 7pm.

Today, a teeny snippet of the crime novel I’ve working on, is published over at Paragraph Planet:


In addition to that, my interview with The Trouble with Goats and Sheep author Joanna Cannon is now online over at Urbanista, a preview to her appearance here in Liverpool next week.




Alice in Wonderland, in Liverpool

As a girl I found Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass frightening. I preferred Enid Blyton. But on reflection, I guess the Land of Dame Slap and the like appearing at the top of the Far Away Tree isn’t a million miles away. And don’t even get me started on Dame Washalot.

alice 2

I mentioned my Alice wariness to another writer at the press launch of walk-through theatrical production The Alice Experience at St George’s Hall in Liverpool last week. She lowered her head in embarrassment and whispered, “Me too! It freaked me out! Still does.”

alice 3

As I’ve got older I’ve read the books with a new eye and enjoy the weirdness of Wonderland. I even took part in a day-long reading of the first Alice novel at The Bluecoat a couple of years ago, people reading a handful of pages at a time in front of an audience. Having rows of people mouthing the words back at you in a silent echo is other worldly in itself.

alice 1

The Alice Experience, quite a trip. The White Rabbit was my favourite. He looked like furry eared Bill Oddie. We had cake at the Mad Hatter’s tea party; so much cake. (The Alice Experience is on until  9th February.)

alice 4


In other news, Get Into This who I now write about music for, was this week included in this rather prestigious list. We are at number eight!




Luck and Goats and Sheep.

I started entering competitions last year, a bit of a departure for me. I use the more you enter the more likely you are to win approach, because luck is an unreliable concept at best. Amongst other prizes, in early summer I won a balloon flight. It was worth quite a bit, moneywise. A stroke of luck for sure, but after the initial euphoria wore off, the prospect of floating hundreds of miles in the air lost its charm very quickly, even though everyone kept telling me how fantastic it would be. I don’t even like flying in a normal aeroplane so flaoting about in an air balloon with no roof or real walls to cling onto was never going to work for me. So I sold the tickets to a friend and went for a delicious weekend in Glasgow with the cash instead; much preferable.

In November, I won a proof copy of the debut novel everyone in the publishing world is talking about – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon. This time, I have to say that all who raved to me about it were perfectly right. I loved this book, and its ten year old girl narrator. Set in the hot summer of 1976, when we lived with water shortages and stifling heat but didn’t complain too much about it (imagine, if that happened now, everyone would “take to Twitter” in an offended outrage). 1976, a quieter and much less anxious time, and the year before Elvis died; for that reason itself it seems so long ago.


The Trouble with Goats and Sheep throws a light on people who don’t fit. They are the goats, if you will; the unlucky ones who don’t win competitions not matter how many times they put their name down. There are more goats about than we care to admit, and although we all declare a rebellion of sorts, let’s face it – it’s typically a benign and temporary one. Most of us conform and muddle along sheepishly within the rules, but there are those who don’t slot comfortably into the world, and luck plays a significant role in how that plays out for them. The fine fortune of good health and a nice family who look after you sound simple enough but luck decides if you get either. The goats, the ones who find life more difficult, are often so unlucky with the hand they are dealt. They might be that neighbour who nobody talks to so he keeps himself to himself more and more; the woman who fills her house with cats because she prefers their company to that of the cruel humans she’s met in the past; the teenage girl who wears spectacles with lenses as thick as Murray Mints and would rather stumble along in a quiet blur and begs the other kids at school not to notice her; the youth who can’t get a job no matter how much he wants one.  There are so many goats about; far too many.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a kind and funny book. We live in very harsh times and the goats amongst us feel that more, so I think we need a book such as this. It’s hopeful and comforting, a lucky book hug for goats and sheep alike, and out at the end of January.   (A free sampler can be found here)


“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 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.