It’s just like potty training. IT IS.

‘It’s just like potty training, you’ll be fine,’ my friend tells me. I’m disturbed. I’m getting varifocals for the very first time and she gives me advice like that. ‘It just takes lots of practice before you get used to them.’

Two years ago Mr Optician warned, ‘next time, we might be talking varifocals, I’m afraid’, and clicked his teeth in pity. I waited for ‘like a grandma’. It didn’t come, but we both heard it, because varifocals are a sign of grandma. My own nan had them, two milk bottle thick half-moons perched on the end of her nose. Varifocals are for old people, it’s the law.

It turns out my eyes listened keenly to Mr Optician. “Might be” morphed into “100% definite” over the two years and I’ve lived in a quiet blur for months now. It’s not always the worst way to be, avoiding sharp lines of reality, but when I found myself holding my book at a ridiculous arm’s length, I got measured up.

‘You long sightedness should level out in about ten years,’ Mr Optician smiles at me like I’m in for a treat, and I need something to look forward to.

A part of me dies.

I try on my varifocals when they are ready.

‘I can see!’ I blurt out, in front of Mr Optician. It’s a bit sad really, admitting that. Mr Optician smiles thinly, he’s heard this sort of thing before. He’s already got my money, there is no need for him to patronise me now, clicking tongues no longer necessary.

glasses q

You’re not allowed to drive, he says, with the look of someone who will take my new glasses off me if I try.

But I can’t drive and haven’t got the money to run a car anyway – I’ve just handed a wad of cash over for new specs. I walk home.

I’m walking and everything is clear and bright like just after rain, the sky washed blue, the edges of everything is hard, too clean and weirdly sharp. Perspective is all wrong; the ground looms large and wide, it feels like it’s going to smack me in the face. I have sore eyes, because any sudden movement and I have a dizzy turn; stairs are a nightmare and turn into giant steps.

The next day, my eyes like boiled eggs, I have to have a lie down in a darkened room like a Victorian heroine suffering an attack of the vapours, by mid-afternoon. I can’t do much writing, the black letters on white are hard and nasty and they hate me. Reading hurts. The arm of the glasses rubs the top of my right ear red, so I wear them at an angle, my vision turns wonky. I sulk.

Day three, and it’s better. I still have a moan and a whinge, because it seems the thing to do. By Monday I don’t remember until mid-morning that I’m wearing varifocals.

My friend was right. It is like potty training, after all, this varifocal business. Kind of. (But for slightly older people.)

@cathbore

Twisted Tales – Flash Fiction Anthology 2015 – the Shortlist

Cath Bore:

I’m so very chuffed to have my flash fiction Friday Roses on the Twisted Tales Flash Fiction shortlist! Congrats to everyone on the long and short lists x

Originally posted on Annie On Writing:

Judging is well and truly in full swing over at Raging Aardvark Publishing. With 8 international judges, its a lively discussion on every story submitted.

We have 27 wonderful Flash Fiction stories which have made the second cut in the selection process. With a huge response and such high quality entries, its made paring entries down from the longlist very difficult. Congratulations to all those who are listed below.

Our line up of stories to be published in the anthology  (expected to be between 12 and 15 stories)  will be announced on the 27th of July.

Congratulations

The New Thieves – Thaisa Frank

Debut – Therese Edmonds

Friday Roses – Cath Bore

Goodbye Cruel World – Warren Glover

Elevation – Vesna McMaster

Crank Call – Phil Rossi

Liberty – Gareth Cadogan

A Good Boy Killer – Gareth Cadogan

The Bunk Bed Incident – Allan Heller

Vixen – Simon Sylvester

Silhouette –…

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Paying for our pleasures

I wrote You Promised a year ago, and on Tuesday it found a loving home in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2015, out next week. I workshopped You Promised last year and played with my smutty trippy tale of unrequited love ever since, until it was ready.

Landmarks : NFFD Anthology 2015, edited by Calum Kerr and Angi Holden (Gumbo Press)
Landmarks : NFFD Anthology 2015, edited by Calum Kerr and Angi Holden (Gumbo Press)

I believe in celebrating successes when they happen, you never know when the next one will be, but Tuesdays are a strange night for a celebration. Tuesdays are part of the slow sad shuffle to mid-week, uphill all the way, the inside a Lowry painting plod to the production line, a black and white telly and kitchen sink drama type of day.  But Tuesday is when the success comes to me this week and I needed to celebrate, with wine; You Promised deserves it.

Saying that, it still didn’t seem quite right to me to splash out on Tuesday wine, no matter what, it’s an extravagance too far. But, I have a silver slummy jar and a bag and fruit bowl of copper coins. I’m not paying for wine with pennies, but silver is respectable enough.  Coins from the slummy jar are play money, not real money at all. You can buy anything with them, that’s the law.

I go to the supermarket and pick a nice bottle of still Prosecco.  I pay for it with my coins at the self-service till and avoid the cashiers. They have enough to do without me with my mountain of money holding their queues up, coins escaping everywhere.

Of course supermarkets have machines now where you put in your slummy and out pop shiny new £1 coins in reply. I’ve two problems with this (of course I do); if slummy is converted it’s not play money anymore, and that’s no fun at all. And they charge 7p per £1 of slummy you put in. 7%! The machines are laughing at us, my friends.  In the self-service till area where it’s safe we can slip in our coins, one by one and buy our lovely wine.

The trouble is, self-service tills accept coins when they feel like it. I give it too many 5ps in a row and it spews them out in disgust, me paying with such a lowly denomination an affront to its morals.

Go away, you pov. Come back when you’ve 20p at least, then we’ll talk.

The self-service till man keeps looking over as I pay coin by coin, 5p pieces pinging out again like I’m running a dodgy racket. I go sweaty faced and red but look grimly ahead, cast glances at my wine for assurance and keep slotting in those coins. I start to think I look like I’m desperate, gone round phone boxes picking up change so I can get my £6 Prosecco. He’s thinking, “spot the boozehound!”.

By the time I’m home and the wine is chilling in the fridge I’m ok about it. Writers have been playing for pleasures with silver slummy for centuries. It’s a right of passage for each and every one of us. This is what self-service tills were invented for, to get rid of your slummy. Especially on a Tuesday.

@cathbore

Cath Bore

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Originally posted on :

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FRIDAY ROSES

The red roses Brian sends on Fridays are delivered to the house, bound in a tight bundle. The taut rubber band pinks my fingers and thorny stems long and tentacular splice my skin as I unpick the stubborn brown rubber. My fingers cut and bleed but push the flowers into a vase.

‘Have they arrived, the flowers?’ Brian rings up and asks, as always.

‘Yes, they’ve arrived. Thank you.’‘And do you like them?’ He says this each time too.

‘I love them.’

He makes me say it every week, forces me to lie. Sometimes I think I hate the roses more than I despise Brian. They offer up no scent, shiny plastic petals scratch the end of my nose as he forces me to sniff them and inhale plain air that smells of tap water.

Flowers every week, how romantic, everyone says.  You’re so lucky.

‘Yes,’ I smile…

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I’m A Celebrity, Get Me In The Library. **IDEA**

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m in the library. The library of now, it’s like a reverse library from when I was a kid. Instead of dusty old books are nice new ones, loads of them, and in the place of people there’s empty spaces.

The librarians of now chit-chatter from behind the desk about speed reading. It’s not for them, all agree; they have a point.  I don’t like speed reading either, it defeats the object of reading really. I just wish they’d keep the noise down.

SHHHHH! I want to say but won’t, because the sky will come crashing down or so I reckon. Libraries haven’t changed that bloody much. Librarians, they still have the power, no matter how old you are.

Library assistant

A homeless dude is sitting by the magazine rack in the corner, out of the way. He rests his chin on his chest and he’s got copies of the NME and The Lady opened at random pages on the table in front of him. The best effort I’ve ever seen in my life of pretending to read whilst snatching some solid zzzz’s, he’s covering all bases, every audience. There’s no way the librarians will budge him now, if you’re reading The Lady you’re posh, an eccentric millionaire maybe. He’s got them on lock down. Good for him. I like to think every now and then he opens his eyes and checks out an indie band or two, and idles over a recipe for fancy cake.

The night before, I’m talking to a mate in the pub. I say I’m going to the library in the morning, she asks ‘Why?’, and pulls her face.

We go through the whole rigmarole, the same conversation I’ve had with so many people. Yep, I know I can download books for nothing, but I don’t want to.

The library’s minging (it isn’t, it smells of Lemon Pledge and books), I haven’t got time (she has), it’s too far (the house of books is NOT that far), the library is for povs (hmmm), I used to go when the kids were little but..., and I’m so busy

Her list of reasons not to go is endless. It never stops. Seems to me, on paper I have fewer reasons to go than she has not to, and that makes me feel sad.

Les Tucker

I don’t know how to sex up the library for her. I think that’s what she wants. But if it was sexy, homeless dude might not be welcome, and that’s not good; bloody hell, the odds are I wouldn’t fit in either.  Still, if the library was sexed up my mate might go, once in a while. How do you sex up a library? Add some celebrity zing, maybe? Because that’s what we’re all after, yes?

Off the top of my head, I’m thinking:

I’m A Celebrity Get Me In The Library.

The Great British Book Off.

The Library Factor.

Where do I pitch these ideas, please?

@cathbore

Breaking Boundaries

Oh, the state of the One Direction fans at the concerts this weekend, watching Harry and the boys singing and dancing for them, spending time with their friends, having a day they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Having such a delicious day, they are wrong and stupid, the girls who don’t know any better and the women who really should; the stupid, hysterical women who have no lives. The 1D fans, all of them, they’ll learn soon enough.

Us who know better, us with our proper music on vinyl because it’s so fucking authentic, us sitting at home on our own on Facebook, and mocking them, these ridiculous stupid females. We are winning. Of course we are.

I suggest the spunk-trumpets are not on stage at 1D shows, but in fact at home on their own creating memes like this.
I suggest the real “spunk-trumpets” are not on stage at 1D shows, but instead creating memes like this.

I have an article on women gaining and developing their own voice in the Breaking Boundaries issue of GEEKED Magazine, out this week. Available here.

geeked june 2015

@cathbore

Wherever You Roam

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.

Wherever You Roam004

Slim Volume: Wherever You Roam is available in paperback here.

@cathbore