Month: March 2014

21 Things I Irrationally Hate





21 Things I Irrationally Hate are: 

1. Clicking jaw during mastication

2. Blue bottles hammering their heads against a window pane and threatening to fly into my forehead while hurling around the room at speed in a misjudged figure of eight

3. Uncontrolled screaming, shouting, running, hitting, breaking, pigeon-chasing wayward children en masse in cafes, parks, museums, aquariums, where, by the way, you will inevitably find a deranged five year old boy    hammering on the glass shouting ‘Nemo!’ while the parents stand idly by enjoying their momentary respite at the expense of the longevity of an institutionalised Clown Fish, and other places of interest…keep them on reins until they are at least thirteen or take the little blighters to an open field where you can unleash them, for the love of Mike!

4. Squeaking sound of cotton wool and the repulsive feel of it in my fingers as it catches on my nails and causes skin tingling shivers

5. One wintry, dark and drizzly evening, I was waiting in traffic at a roundabout and noticed a small boy, perhaps eight years old, in a burgundy school blazer, trying to cross the road. He kept stepping into the street one foot and then back on the curb and he just could not get across because the cars were coming thick and fast from all directions. It was my turn to go and I stopped my car on the roundabout so that he could make it. A couple of people gave those long, angry hoots on their horns that sound like shouting because I blocked them from rushing to wherever they were going but I didn’t care. I just hated that no one let that boy cross the road. I hated the humans we can be when we’re consumed with our own squinty-eyed, selfish, single-mindedness. I hated the city. I hated the rushing. I hated it so much I cried when I got home because no one let the boy cross the road.

6. A gang of wasps trying to share my lunch

7. Nine inch heeled torturous, posture damaging, toe squishing, foot crippling death trap shoes…I watched a girl on a night out with her date teetering around on stiletto heels before flapping her arms like a demented seagull and taking a mean tumble down long escalators in Euston underground. I hate that we women feel like we have to be taller and our legs have to be longer to be attractive. I have been there and now I truly hate those killer heels. There are better ways to feel taller…try a penny-farthing or stilts if you need a rush.

8. Canine faecal matter on the pavement down the hill on the way to the train station

9. 4am rumblings of a Boeing 747 over the roof of our home that is just the beginning of the relentless air traffic that congests the skies 9 km above our fitfully, slumbering heads

10. Man-made fibres drive me potty. If I wear viscose then I am so wired, so electrically charged and I can get a shock from anything…even the ruddy cat and neither of us are happy about that.

11. Someone’s tendency to place his dinner plate at the very edge of the table so that the plate’s rim overhangs the floor and is far easier to knock off in spectacular fashion when there is an entire empty welcoming middle to the table. No need to exist on the borders I say. I hate unnecessary risk-taking with a perfectly good piece of crockery and a nice meal.

12. That single, wiry black hair, that before forty had never shown itself and now sneaks up on me under my jaw and that other one that grows out of my moustache, it’s darker than the rest and does not respond so easily to my friend Jolen. What do you want? Why are you here? Is it because I, having been the maiden and the harlot, must now become the hag? I hate it but then again perhaps I could nurture it and come Halloween it will be a new accoutrement to my witch’s costume. ‘Are you a real witch?’ children will say and I’ll show them that loathsome chin hair as proof of my new found identity as the neighbourhood Crone!

13. Seams in the toes of socks are an abomination. Why do sock designers ensure that your little toes will be rubbed raw to blistering by poorly placed seams? Perhaps, they assume that women won’t have little toes anymore after all those years of wearing pointy toed foot breakers which in fairness, in my case, is almost true but I still have enough toe to rub.

14. Bad queuers

15. Mean bus drivers who accelerate really fast, take corners at 100mph and slam on the brakes throwing old ladies and their shopping bags down the centre of the aisle till they fall on top of a poor Mum who’s trying to remain upright while holding onto baby in buggy. Mean, mean, mean bus driver. Not all of them, just too many is all.

16. People looking

17. Sitting next to fidgety, twitchy legged people on flights, train journeys, buses.

18. Nose pickers in traffic jams…I can see you!

19. The low, top shelf in the newsagents. Even a child could see 21 year old Kent-born, Denise’s mammary glands galumphing out from the cover of a lads’ mag. Really, I don’t know who should be more insulted; perhaps the men who these over-paid media twits have reduced to fodder chewing, video game-playing brainless idiots that only pause from Streetrace 5 to have a mid-afternoon w***.

20. Pouting

21. Dust


A very funny and brilliant blogger posted her list of irritations here:  She invited people to do the same.  And so I have, thanks to positively radiating Rara!!  Reading hers and writing my own provided some well-needed amusement for which I am very grateful. :>)


Image: The Angry One by Francis Hodler 1881, Source:




Bealdric & the Dungsworths

Moors above Holmfirtg Allan Kirk

Bealdric’s summer dreams fade with a last bite of Greenup’s Pippins xanthic-white flesh and a swallow of sweet, apple acid.  Ice crystals gather like unwanted visitors upon his flanks.  The Black Shire horse investigates the creatures.  Avice recoils as he leans down, inhaling folk scent and ruffling her matted, ashen curls with his muzzle.

‘He’s getting to know you is all.’ assures her big sister.

‘Oh right.  Good day Sir.  We are the Dungsworths.’

Idonea grasps coarse, wet Yorkstone whose ore-less field magma and hexagonal sheets of glitter crumbs sparkle between webbed fingers.  The girl finds footing on Dry Stone wall and stands next to the equine giant, tall.

‘Where have you come from?’  She whispers into the Shire’s ear.

Bealdric does not answer.  He moves closer.  Idonea runs her hand along dewy hair from crest to croup.   She surveys the mist-hidden horizon.  With a deep breath and eyes closed, she grabs his withers and hoists herself with a spring.  Her sister simmers and shakes her head before following the elder with trepidation into mounted heights.

‘Ground looks a long way off.’ worries the small girl.

‘Aye Avi, twenty two hands or more I reckon.’

‘Won’t we get into trouble? Someone’ll miss a beast this size.  He’d be able to turn father’s field in a moment or pull a quarry of millstone.’

‘He don’t belong to no one.  Didn’t you see?’

‘See what.’

‘I know you saw Avi.’

The Black Shire feels the little one’s fear pulsing through each nerve-ending in his twitching hide.  He treads thoughtfully around peat bogs, walks between heathery hills and climbs bracken banks through fuliginous fog.  Avice is calmed by his steady gait.  As she studies her sisters back and follows the jerky, uncertain journey of a water droplet that arrives at the end of a dank, auburn tendril of Idonea’s hair, she is moved by her child’s trust in the safety of her sibling.  She tightens her forearms around Idonea’s waist and rests her cheek against her sodden woollen cloak.  

Lagopus lagopus scotica startles and a flurry of terracotta feathers takes flight at Bealdric’s side, gliding and whirring from wing to wing.  Bright orange lids lace glassy, chestnut eyes and the moorfowl’s lucid gobble echoes loudly against elemental walls that reach six thousand feet high.

‘Go-back, go-back, go-back.’ calls Red Grouse.



Image 1, Moors above Holmfirth, Allan Kirk, source:

Image 2, Grouse, Archibald Thorburn, source:

About me, sharp teeth and other things

I was born at three o’clock in the morning in 1973, under the glare of the bedroom ceiling light, on a bed covered in plastic sheets in a square 1960’s semi-detached house in Yorkshire.

When I was five years old, my first teacher was Mrs Cruickshank.  She had steel-blue eyes enlarged to a terrifying googliness by her magnifying spectacles that were framed in pearlescent, pink plastic to match her pink rinse.  She wore maroon crocodile shoes and fawn-coloured tights that flattened Daddy Long Legs on her strong, old lady calves.  When she gave her special smile that was reserved only for little boys, a deadly venom dripped from her canines.  In her presence, I could not speak or think or move.  I was paralysed in fear.  I was utterly mute.  Mrs Cruickshank was a whiz with a wooden ruler.  She told my mother I was stupid.  I agreed.

Later on, I found privacy from the intrusiveness of my rowdy family in writing and I escaped in words.  Inner sanctum did not last long.  The three sisters took English exercise books from my school bag and read my stories out loud to one another for their evening entertainment.

‘And then I woke up with no arms and legs!’ squealed Marjorie in delight.

The evil trinity howled hysterically and revelled and rolled around in the morbid gore of a shark attack.  They mocked my imagination which they considered to be uncharacteristically dark for an eight year old girl.  I don’t know why they were surprised; we had all watched Jaws 1 and 2 together after all.


            At high school I met a friend.  Her name was Ronda.  She didn’t like P.E. either.  I enjoyed my first truant with Ronda.  Instead of walking into the changing rooms, we conspicuously walked across the chalk-white lines of the school field and ran into the woods.  Legging it, as it was called, with the prison-like deportment of the hulking school mass disappearing steadily from view, was exhilarating.  It was freedom.  We enjoyed hanging around the disused playground while tufts of grass crept up the rusted, blue metal poles of the swing frame and grew around our woollen tights.

I should have been in the sports hall being picked last for the netball team and shouted at by Miss Yates for not running fast enough or not defending or not attacking or not catching the ball.  That ball.  It came alive in my butter-fingers and bounced off sweaty palms into the hands of my opponent.  I did not want an opponent and I did not want the ball.

And so, I truanted and then I truanted more and then Ronda, Nicky and I drank Ronda’s Dad’s home-made plum wine and looked at his pornographic magazines one afternoon instead of attending Biology.  It was biology of a sort.  Only Nicky evacuated plum wine all over her school desk in the next lesson.  And then I got caught over and over again until I earned the grand title of ‘truant’.  I became adept, or so I thought, at forging my mother’s signature on my truant notes but unfortunately I wasn’t very good at that either.  By the time I had earned the grand titles of ‘inept truant’ and ‘ham-fisted forger’, school was almost over.

I didn’t try because I didn’t think I was any good you see.  I said I didn’t care but I did.  I cared.

At eighteen I started working in my Dad’s surgery.  I remember a lady there talking loudly.  Her name was Doris.  Her hair was translucent, blond-grey and it gleamed in harsh strip lighting.  She was talking to another woman.

‘I mean I feel sorry for all those coffee-coloured kids…they don’t know where they come from, they don’t even know who they are, I mean who’s going to want to marry them?’ she said indignantly.

I looked at my forearm.  It was the colour of coffee.  Not the greyed, dirty dishwater colour of Mellow Birds.  More the colour of a nice, warm, nutty Arabica bean monsooned in Malabar, with a splash of cream, I prefer to think.  But I do know where I come from.  I was born where I was conceived; on that saggy old mattress.  And my Dad was born on an island six thousand miles away and he fell in love with a Yorkshire lass.  And as for marriage, ‘well I’m too young to think about that’, I thought.

But people like Doris made me want to know more.  And so, I woke up one morning and decided I would.  I moved to London and I studied Anthropology at UCL.  They let me in because I knew a bit about bonobos.  Then I buggered off to Thailand and Vietnam and Australia and I came back with no money.  So I worked in a job I hated for five years.  They gave me a car and a phone and a computer and I got by until my soul was hanging from the jaws of Satan’s hellhound and then I left.  I found a job I hated less for the next five years and then I got angry so I took an MA in Human Rights Law.  They gave me a First Class Honours.  It was the first time in thirty one years that I began to think that Mrs Cruickshank could have been wrong.

Life happened and I decided that it’s too short to waste it on being too afraid to do what I love.  So I wrote a book and now it is sitting on an editor’s desk and it is waiting to be read.  And I am waiting.



Image, Steven Spielberg in Jaws mouth, source:



Bealdric the Shire

horse in fog annette hegel

Stratus stomps and snorts and treads slowly towards them, breathing getting louder and closer.  A silhouette emerges through grey cloud canvas.  Bealdric Black Shire strides over the moor.  He wears a faint star on his angular face.  He draws Avice down into bottomless wells of blackest eyes where secrets of the other world hide.

Idonea and Avice look long and hard at their last food.  In silent agreement sisters hold numb, flattened, tentative fingers in front of their narrow chests and out into icy fog, an offering.  Yellow dominoes pierce and sink into hard fruit, making easy pieces of it.  Chewing and chomping with ravenous enjoyment of sweet crunchy pleasures, Bealdric recalls green and russet memories of long gone summer treasures.



Image by Annette Hegel, ‘Horse in Fog in Winter’ sourced here:

Journey to the End of the Night

hydrogen atom

This body of ours, this disguise put on by common jumping molecules, is in constant revolt against the abominable farce of having to endure.

Our molecules, the dears, want to get lost in the universe as fast as they can!

It makes them miserable to be nothing but ‘us,’ the jerks of infinity.

We’d burst if we had the courage, day after day we come very close to it.

The atomic torture we love so is locked up inside us by our pride.


― Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit, (Journey to the End of the Night) 1932


Image source:

Grandfather and the Giant

Drax Mike Harry

Grandfather worked down the mines.  He was an electrical engineer.   During the war he tried to sign up.  He wanted to join the Royal Air Force more than owt.  But they said no because they needed engineers at home to keep things running.  Granddad was very upset.  He felt bad about it.  Mum says he never got over it, not really.

He rallied his BSA motorcycle.  He liked going fast and getting muddy.  He met Grandma in Sheffield.  She was working as a nurse at a hospital for the war-wounded, doing her bit, you know.

In the 1970s, a power station was built in a village called Drax in Yorkshire.  Today, it has a really tall concrete chimney 850 feet high and she is mother.  Sunshine stored in black rocks from Africa and Siberia trundles into the power house.  Twelve brothers, 374 feet tall and 300 feet wide, wear concrete-grey suits and their white cotton-wool hair hangs in the wind on sunny days.  Granddad got a job at Drax power station.  He was pleased to leave the mines and turn coal into light.

They say it can make 4000 megawatts of leccy; that’s more than any power station in the whole of Western Europe.  They say it chucks out more carbon emissions than the whole of Sweden.  They say that wood pellets are de rigueur but they have to come from somewhere too.  Burning new American trees instead of old Siberian ones was not exactly what Mrs Green had in mind.  They store them in giant upside down eggs to keep them dry, adding more peculiar constructions to the horizon.

Drax Eggs

But it is a marvel of man’s engineering that makes me stop the car in a patch of muddy gravel when I see a gathering of cooling towers around a monolithic enigma through a clearing in blossoming hawthorns.   It is people like my Granddad that built and maintained this opus, this enemy of the planet.  In a way, even knowing what I know, I find it beautiful.  I am drawn to the magnificent scale of this engineered construction.  In its utilitarian grandeur I see a collaboration of men who had lived through a war and dared to dream.  They dared to dream of bringing light to every home in the country after a period of forced darkness.

And now, as a Londoner, I long for dark skies that I may admire celestial artistry and glimpse stellar worlds.  But if I were forced to sit in the dark, perhaps I would want to light up the planet too.

Granddad died a long time ago now.  He smoked like a power station chimney and he liked to sup a pint or twenty to wash down Grandma’s tripe and onions.

Perhaps, I’ll pay it a visit, take a photo.  Like granddad, I love the power station and I hate it too.

Drax 3

For the National Grid go here:

Image 1 source:

Image 2 source:

Image 3 source: