Banishing Thugs

There’s something about stairs. They’re kind of magic because you walk up them and you’re somewhere else, usually on the first floor of your house. But it’s amazing isn’t it? I mean, you’re standing in the same place as your kitchen sink but you’re…well…up. We never had a proper landing in our old house so I love my stairs. The other day I curled up on them in a stretch of sunshine. It was an odd place to sit but strangely comforting.  I looked up the stairwell at the banisters and the hanging light-thing, and I watched the sun skim … Continue reading Banishing Thugs


What’s your front door like? Mine’s green with a brass knocker. There’s a letter box that’s shiny and a handle that isn’t. There’s one of those outside lights that looks like a lantern, which I like to think is elegant but is mostly dusty and covered in cobwebs. (I’m a rubbish housewife because I’m either at work, or blogging about random things like doors). This is how my front door looks like now: – But I have a long term front-door-plan. This involves: – One of those tall pointy tree things in a pot either side. Shiny brass bits at … Continue reading Doors


You know when you get a trolley with a dodgy wheel? The realisation sort of creeps up on you, doesn’t it? First you’re scrabbling for a pound (Is that one? No, it’s a franc or a token for the Belarus metro).  Then it won’t fit in the slot unless you press down, applying your full body weight. Then you try to pull the trolley out but it’s stuck so you have to heave, bruising your own leg and that of the old lady behind you. Finally, having apologised to everyone in the queue including someone who might be your boss … Continue reading Play

Moths for Beginners

The sign must be for people who love the park but she wonders if anyone loves it that much – Trees? Butterflies? Pond Dipping for Adults? And then she sees it, right down at the end, handwritten, as if tacked on as an afterthought: Moths for Beginners. She laughs aloud, suddenly and inappropriately so it sounds like a cross between a bark and a drunken snort. This alarms a child on the ground nearby, counting stones. Sorry, she says, but the child runs screaming to its mother whose glare is venomous above his tousled head. She tries to explain, I … Continue reading Moths for Beginners

Waiting Room

The Waiting Room There’s a blast of cold air as someone comes in. We all look up then quickly away. The woman is wearing a headscarf. From beneath the material, matted hair curls down in oily strands.  She has a bruise on her forehead and her eyes are too big and too far apart. Oh God, please, please, please… I’m not surprised though when, dragging feet like dinner plates and lugging carrier bags, she lunges towards me, and then lowers her sizeable backside into the next seat. Because they always do, particularly when I pray. Which goes to show, I … Continue reading Waiting Room


You know that box on your laptop that pops up sometimes? Plug in or find another power source. You never really read it, do you? You hear it. Usually in a deep American drawl like that of Brad Pitt or the guy on Radio 4 that does the links. It’s in a wide, pale box so nothing can distract you from the essential threat, i.e. seconds from now you could lose everything, everything, if you do not take immediate action. Also, annoyingly, it always takes you off guard. You click on that battery picture thing at the bottom (Icon, Mum, … Continue reading Power


“Name?” “I’m sorry?” The girl is blonde with a lilting voice, Norwegian or something.  I’m too startled to speak. I’ve asked for a Caramel Macchiato and a blueberry muffin and she wants to know my name.  I pause. I’m a bit funny about names. It’s because I’m a teacher and from another planet – the one where you used to say Miss/Mrs So-and-so until the relationship got to the point where someone said, with a rush of warmth, “Oh, call me Beryl”. And you’d say “Oh thank you…Beryl” and the new name as well as the friendship would roll around … Continue reading Name


  Frankly she was having a rant. “People don’t queue any more! We always used to queue in England. Now it’s a free-for-all. Where has all this pushing come from? Europe? America? It’s wrong, I say, all wrong!” I smile sympathetically and glance at my daughter who’s dragged me here – with heavy bags and sore feet in pointy boots – because there are always less people at this stop. But there is one very old lady, huddled in an anorak with a brown furry hood gazing up at us beadily like a furious mole.  I try to look sympathetic … Continue reading Queue


“This is a safety announcement. Due to today’s weather, please take extra care on the station platform. Surfaces may be slippery.”  London Bridge is crowded despite the snow but the surfaces are clear and there’s not a hint of ice. People walk about. A young mum chases her child, uncomfortably close to the yellow line. “This is a public safety announcement. Please do not leave baggage unattended on the platform. Unattended baggage may be damaged or destroyed or removed without warning by the security services.” My red holdall, while not exactly unattended, is several feet away next to a nun … Continue reading Safe