Sunday, 23 October 2011


Mate's mum died.  Got the message on Facebook.  Didn't have the mobile number to text the bereaved.  Had to actually get out my black book of (proper) telephone numbers and look it up, and dial it on one of those quaint appliances that stands there quite redundant in the hallway. 

What a sweet and old-fashioned process! I hear everybody used to do such a thing. 

My moleskin phone book, immaculate with crisp pages, compared to my mum's of twenty years, faded and dog-eared from constant use. 

What about those telephone diaries that had an actual dial on the cover?  How chic were they?  You wanted someone with the initial B, you had to stick your finger in this receptacle.  They never really worked properly.  They seemed to get stuck a lot.  Still hanker for one though.   

Took me right back to 1970 when we first got a telephone. With the round dial and everything.  Took you about five minutes to dial a number, usually getting the last digit wrong. 

Standing proud and new on our telephone table by the front door.  The only ones in our street to possess such a sophisticated item.  One of the reasons our phone bill was so low, apart from the fact we didn't know many people who actually had one, was that it was so bloody freezing in that hallway!  Of course you kept it short!

I used to ring my mate in Norfolk and you had to go through the operator.  Loved that.  Was sorry when those stupid STD codes came in.  That was the highlight of the call for me! 

The second highest was when my mate, 200 miles away, asked why I was shivering?  (Her's was in the kitchen, a rare thing then).

Sometimes I would have to speak to my cousin on there.  I don't know why.  Could never stand the bitch.  The feeling being quite mutual, there would be a silent eerie echo on each side.  My mum standing over me (never quite knew why), would urge me to say something.  Then the cousin would join in with the same sentiment.  Witches, both of them! 

Found their number, dialled that long and inconvenient code to Southend.  Bastards weren't in.  Couldn't be THAT upset and bereaved, could they? 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Feeling very sorry for myself today.  Am staying in with the blinds shut - and 40 fags! 

Two short story rejections in the space of two days.  One by email, one by post.  Don't know which was worse!  The former, which had a big twist in the tale, was reported to "have no surprises there".  What's the point of having Readers when they don't actually read it properly?  The latter just said the characters weren't engaging enough. 

I wouldn't mind, but the first magazine had sent me a contributer's letter, saying they needed more stories urgently.  Kind of raising my hopes.  Bastards!  Good mind to start one up on my own!  Only it would be biased towards stories about smoking.  There may be a limited readership for this. 

Don't want to look at my nearly completed novel (62,000 words), but I may have to. 

Put some Lime-lite on our grouty shower tiles.  It stinks! 

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Son is 13 today.  Would you believe it?  That's my toddler!  And, after waiting patiently on the cusp of adolescence, he has finally become a teenager. 

I can't believe it was 13 years ago that I was flat on my back in that delivery room, huffing and puffing, dying for a fag.  Painfully delivering a boy child into the world.  And did I get a word of thanks? Did I Shoot? 

For his birthday, he got a BMX and an Inbetweeners book (filth!).  The cat got him some coloured gel pens, and his sister got him a PC game.  And he had m&ms and Coke for breakfast! 

He put his Inbetweeners book in his school bag, and set off happily for the day.  The promise of a Burger King tea followed by birthday cake keeping him warm on that silly little bike.  

When I was 13, I got one of those crocheted waistcoats.  The older ones of us will remember these were all the go in late 1971.  Mine was bright red with tassels hanging down.  I also got some Holy Cow tights.  White thick ones, with holes going down the side.  The last word in chic round our way. 

I also had a Ben Sherman shirt with a button on each collar, and it was yellow with blue checks.  A bit last-season, and it was my brother's old one. 

I also had, like, a feather cut.  Thankfully, this style has not been brought back into vogue at all.  Where half your hair stays long, and the other half resembles Rod Stewart. 

Every year, this first teenage one being no exception, my mum made a fruit cake with pink icing on top.  Never did like it, but I ate a bit anyway.  And every year I would tell the woman I couldn't stand this type of cake, and yet she would still make the thing. 

However, to give her credit, I would get chops and chips for tea.  So it wasn't all bad really. 

I didn't smoke then.  Still had a couple of years to wait for that one. 

Son really doesn't know he's born.  Couldn't see him in a crocheted waistcoat anyway!