-In the middle of writing, I caught sight of my reflection in the train window and though, ‘What is it like to be the person who is NOT the writer?’-

Swirling shades of blue slow-dance in my dad’s eyes while my mother talks. He’s watching, but not seeing, a chattering woman with jerking, waving hands.

       They’re sitting on the lounge sofa, Dad reclining against the chord cushions, looking normal. My mother is sitting cross-legged, her knees bouncing against his thigh, her hands darting about. For a writer, she relies a lot on her hands acting out what she wants to say. I’ve seen her standing in a circle of people, squatting and twisting and putting on a voice when probably a sentence would have done. Those hands conduct her. Stopping and starting, jumping around like her thoughts, her voice, her everything.

Continue reading “Plaits”

A Bloody Mary

–This mural of Mary Kelly, depicting her as the person she was before she became known as the final victim of Jack the Ripper, gives me so much respect for the artist, whoever they are.–

London is glossy and black under fallen rain. Orange globes, cast by over-hanging lampposts, shine on the slippery pavements. The metal gates of Spitalfields Market are tucked to the sides, leaving a dark space into the market-hall.

     Inside, the muffled music from the surrounding bars does not penetrate quite to the centre. Skeletons of market stalls sit at odd angles, their chipped wooden tops and anorexic frames exposed and stripped of materialism. A damp huddle of people walks into the midst of the tables, anonymized under umbrellas and hoods.

     A tour guide, young and smiling, trots to the front of the group, carrying a rucksack in one hand and a large yellow umbrella in the other. She keeps the umbrella over her head, despite the cover provided by the market-hall. Continue reading “A Bloody Mary”

Underground Compatible

–While on this busy tube, I thought… if in Islam you are not supposed to shake hands with an unrelated man, how must a Muslim woman feel when crammed up against total strangers?–

The red pole is hot under many salty palms. I can only see some triangles or slithers of light between arms and hands and bowed heads. Thumbs jump about over mobile phones. This is the only real movement except the occasional stamping of feet as the carriage sways from side to side. I am caught in the sweaty clutches of the Central Line rush hour.

    My mother and sister don’t get on the tube at rush hour. I would avoid it if I could, but today I have to work because other employees are on strike. More trouble because of the Night Tube. There’s an odd satisfaction to wearing an Underground jacket with a hijab. Proves a point. Continue reading “Underground Compatible”

Project Hillary

I was watching the US Presidential Elections this week (like everyone else!) and when I saw this front page on the tube, I thought ‘What would it be like if Donald Trump was a really decent person?’-

08/11/2016: 08:15 pm (EST)

A large blonde man, wearing a red tie that drapes down his belly, sits in an imposing leather chair. The glare of the huge television he’s watching reduces the tan on his face and illuminates hints of a very large room expanding behind him in the dark. He’s screwing his eyes up slightly at the white-blue screen, watching a big map of the USA. A couple of states are coloured red, whilst much of the North-East Coast is blue. Slowly, he tugs the tie loose and lays it down to his side. With his other hand, he reaches into his inside pocket and pulls out a Smartphone.

    Along the bottom of the TV screen shows:


    The man glances at the TV, smiles, and starts a video call.

    “Hillary,” he grins, “are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Continue reading “Project Hillary”

The End of the London Mile

This ambulance looked very lost to me, and made me think about what could be going on inside, between the drivers. –

An ambulance comes down the road, sirens on and blaring, going approximately 12 mph. It’s in the back-roads of a cheap, but nice part of East London. Lots of one-way roads come off a main one, fringed by pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes.

One of the ambulance drivers is a middle-aged, very lined woman whose lips turn down at the sides. The other, the driver, is a slightly younger man, balding and sweating the underarms of his uniform dark green. He is very red in the face. The man’s eyes dart around every street and pavement whereas the woman’s stay straight ahead.

The woman says, “you always do this.”

His pupils and irises trail up into his eyelids for a moment. She keeps going. Continue reading “The End of the London Mile”

Boy with a Sandy Face

-I drew this smiley face in the sand on Eastbourne beach with my old school friends. The oncoming tide made me feel a nip of melancholy that the sea was about to wash away the childish image.-

He came to me, running and rolling his head like a mad thing. Water spat from his hair into my eyes as I stumbled backwards over the sliding pebbles.

“No! No!” I waved my hands.

His head banged into my chest. We were ten so the height difference was in my favour. His wet, gritty face shook about, wetting and dirtying my sun top and neck. I laughed, hating him.

“That’s horrible. You’re horrible.”

Ryan grinned at me, his chin and cheeks red from where the sand had also scraped at him. Continue reading “Boy with a Sandy Face”

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