Loose women (and one man) in the library


I chaired very cheery writers’ event at Nantwich Library this week.


Authors Nikki Ashton, Caroline James, Victoria Johns, John Paul Goss and poet Helen Kay spoke about self-publishing vs traditional publishing, writing practices and revealed (more or less!) all.

The Nantwich librarians kept us sustained with chocolate digestives and shortbread (we managed to ‘force’ them down).  At the end, they said “tonight was like an episode of Loose Women”.  We’re taking that as a compliment!

I loved this sign on the library’s toilet door. As soon as I saw it, a full episode of Seinfeld ran through my head:


And the stairs had a Vertigo/Hitchcock vibe to them…



I’m also on Instagram now, if you’d like to follow me on there.


You Promised

‘I’ll sing for you,’ you promise, but never do. Instead I get excuses and small talk, coy and cute in my ear.

‘Sing for me,’ I say. ‘You said you would.’

You blink and I wonder how your eyelashes manage to get so dark, your lips so dry, ones that peck me goodbye on the jaw, missing my mouth.

I roll on cooling bed sheets, damp flakes of skin sticking to me like static and take a sly lick of you from my leg. I suck each of my fingers, worming you out from under my nails. You are everywhere and I love it, I imagine you singing for me here and now. In my room, you, singing my song, and making it beautiful.

It doesn’t work. You’re not here. I sniff my arm. Your smell is gone and no crumbs of you garnish my bed. I have nothing of you, so I hum my song, and wish. I close my eyes and follow a ribbon of sound, hold onto it where it pulls me, over mountains and hills, round bends, down steep slopes and up. My calves hurt, stretched then shrinking as I climb, so I stop. I hear it, my song, faint and low. I sway under a navy sky. Night breezes brush my mouth. My lips swell.

I follow my song. I inch up a tree, your bark scratches my inner thighs raw but I shimmy up and up until I peer into a window. It’s you. You smile from behind thick glass, impenetrable, opaque, and sing my song, the one I love. You’re singing my song, as I asked, but you sing my song for her, and not for me, never me. Still, I settle and listen. It is beautiful, the song and you, exactly as I imagined.

First published in Landmarks, National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2015.

Read “Good Manchester Rain” over at Flash Flood Journal 2016 here.

Rants, and flashes

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I Hope You Like Feminist Rants issue 2

It’s been a messy old week, what with the EU referendum, but a couple of nice things have happened to me. We need to cling onto whatever lovely things there are, I think.

Issue 2 of indie publication/zine I Hope You Like Feminist Rants, edited by Golden Boy author Abigail Tarttelin, came out on Friday. The theme for this issue is motherhood. I have Baby Love, an essay on non-motherhood, in it. You can buy Rants online, but if you are fortunate enough to live in Liverpool you will find it for sale in the News From Nowhere bookshop on Bold St, which is wonderful news.

Also, yesterday was National Flash Fiction Day. The annual Flash Flood Journal carries my short story Good Manchester Rain.  I’m glad I submitted this story, it’s quite European in nature – romantic, smutty, and with lots of rain. Like a European short film! You can read Good Manchester Rain here.


£2.50 is a lot of money when you’ve got sod all

Of all of this weekend’s charity shop swag, I am most proud of this

I was in a charity shop at the weekend, nothing new there. While I was on my knees (ditto) rifling through piles of books and records, a woman came in wanting to return a purchase.

Staff behind the counter were perfectly nice to her, but the shop’s policy is to issue credit notes and not cash refunds, and they told her so. This lady became very distressed, saying there was nothing in the shop she wanted and could she have the £2.50 please?

The answer was no, sadly. Shop policy is king.

The lady was vulnerable, I think. It’s not my place to judge, but the I reckon she fell firmly within the remit of the people the charity tries to help. She needed that £2.50 pretty badly. £2.50 is a lot of money when you’ve got sod all.

I “bought” her credit note from her, so she got her cash in the end (I was buying something anyway, I’m not fishing for compliments here) but I do think sometimes charity shops forget what they’re actually there for.

They raise money for their charity, yes – but they provide a service.

It’s all very well for the likes of me indulging in a cultural pick me up of a weekend, so I can smugly post up pictures on Facebook of nice things I’ve bought at pocket money prices, but in many cases charity shops are the only place where some people can afford to buy clothes, and the basics.

I honestly believe that in my community some wouldn’t have cutlery and plates to eat from, if charity shops weren’t around.

So yeah, I thought I’d get that one off my chest.

On a lighter note, I have a personal essay on fan fiction in Glasgow’s Fuck What You Love, out next month. It’s crowdfunded, and has exceeded the amount that editor Claire Biddles asked for by a fat margin, so that means there will be even more copies printed. (wahey to you, Glasgow)


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.

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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.”

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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.)

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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)