My intention this year is to write as much as possible and get published as much as possible, and it’s slowly starting to happen. I’m kind of believing that success is all about focus – where you put your attention.
After almost a year’s break, I’m back to the blog! I didn’t do much writing last year as I was focusing on a rather large cycling challenge (John o Groats to Lands End), which was over 1000 miles. However, in November I took a couple of workshops with renowned flash fiction writer, Meg Pokrass and they really kickstarted my creativity.
My aim this year is to get my stories published in literary journals and long-listed/shortlisted and placed in competitions, and so far I’ve had a number of pieces accepted.
On 1 January I had a story long listed in Reflex Fiction‘s quarterly flash competition – great start to the year!
The antique shop was nestled in a Somali enclave at the bottom of my road. Surrounded by barbers’ and cafes blasting out football games in unintelligible languages, the shop seemed an anachronism, and indeed it had been there for years, a fact borne out by the virtually indecipherable phone number at the top.
Extending from one side of the window to the other was a deep fissure, caused perhaps by a wannabe burglar, but more likely by an errant chair leg, for who in their right mind would want to steal anything from there? The place was, quite frankly, an eyesore.
The antique shop seemed a final resting place for all manner of curios, dumped there by relatives of the deceased who lacked the time and patience to sort through their loved ones’ belongings properly, because if they had done, they might have spotted the inherent value of the red-eyed dragon. What it lacked in financial value, it clearly made up for in charm and idiosyncrasy, or so my foolish husband obviously believed when he presented it to me, exquisitely wrapped, as ‘a special gift, darling,’ for my 40th birthday.
I haven’t been too active on my blog recently, partly because of work, but also because I’ve been training and fundraising for a cycling challenge in September when I’ll be cycling from John o’Groats in the far north of Scotland to Lands End in the south of England, a distance of 1,013 miles, and although I’ve done many endurance events before, this will be the biggest so far.
I’m doing the ride to raise money for Women V Cancer, a British organisation which represents three cancer charities: Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action and I’ve pledged to raise £3000 by the end of July (which is probably more daunting than the actual ride!).
I hate asking for money, but any donations, no matter how small, would be really appreciated. There’s more information on my Just giving page (click the link below), or you can text using the information below to donate £3 – every little bit will hopefully help me to reach my goal!
‘Do you want to see him, love?’ said the nurse.
‘No,’ I replied as ‘he’ had gone. But the others took turns to say their final goodbyes, blowing noses and weeping softly as they left his room.
Later the undertakers arrived, did what they had to do and removed the body. I peeped through the curtains then and the drizzle obscuring the windows and glimpsed the coffin, the overworked windscreen wipers and the lowered heads. I then heard the crunch of gravel as the long black car transported my father’s body away from the home he’d loved.
Afterwards I crept upstairs into his empty room where I spotted his spectacles, open in his Bible at the page he was reading and his glass, three-quarters full of the water he was sipping up until 5 pm yesterday after which time he could drink no more.
I call them the three wise men. There are more of them obviously, but if I stand in a particular place; on the corner of Bessie Road and Gleneagle Avenue, in between the ‘s’ and the ‘F’ on the sign, ‘Gladstone’s Fish Shop.’ I can see them and only them. The lights are a mere five minute walk from my flat and even though I know the way, they guide me somehow, making sure I get home safely, and when I’m coming home at night after a hard day’s work, or a hard evening’s drinking, I gaze up at them looking for the answers they always provide.
‘Keep going,’ they tell me. ‘Don’t ever give up.’
And on particularly bleak nights like this one, when life seems pointless and all sense of purpose gone, they bore into me, deeper and deeper, blindly persisting until they connect with my soul. It’s this that enables me to go home lighter and slightly less despondent. It’s they that keep me alive – my three wise men.
To this day, I recall the smell of methane, the vicious blue flame and the ice cold feel of brass. Even when the Bunsen Burners weren’t being used, I’d sense their presence, positioned strategically in the centre of the high wooden tables like soldiers ready to attack.
I hated chemistry. The Mr Bean-type teacher, Mr Tansley wore a melange of browns and purples under his lab coat; this was the 80s after all, yet he somehow always looked dour; miserable and afraid of the world he intended us to discover through various experiments and calculations. Yet despite my aversion both to him and the subject, I pitied him for he was hated by teachers and pupils alike, bullied and tormented by both. I often wondered why he’d chosen such a job.
It was a sad, old lesson for me, a big black hole in my middle school timetable; the misery reinforced only by one hastily scribbled comment in my school report. ‘You don’t like chemistry and chemistry doesn’t like you.‘
a couple of metaphors dripping from a broken soul | cocooned by solitude | afraid to love | lover of afrika | daughter of pain | wanderer | seeker | attracted to flowers🌼 | a hippie living in the wrong generation | nehanda's baby girl | occasionally sane | decolonised bohemian | recovering hopeless-romantic | in love with love | i have a medical condition, it's called hurt-phobia | somedays i love with my eyes, my heart is lazy | i prefer something else but they call me liz |