Sometimes a detour is what you really need. Almost always, come to think of it. The day hadn’t started well. I’d checked my email over breakfast and found a reply from the last literary agent I’d contacted. A succinct but polite rejection of my manuscript: Thanks for the submission, but I’m afraid it’s not for … Continue reading detour


Getting out of the car, I stop to look up. Swifts! Swooping and screaming round the high buildings of the old hospital. It’s incredible to think how far these birds have come, thousands and thousand of miles, up from Central and Southern Africa to spend just a few months of the summer here before flying … Continue reading swifts!

the gabby gene

Violet doesn’t say hello when she answers the door so much as seamlessly include me in the conversation she’s been having with everyone, and herself, these past few years. It’s how I imagine being subsumed by an extra-terrestrial blob in one of those fifties’ sci-fi films. (A theramin plays in the background; you open the … Continue reading the gabby gene

mr stabby

The worst blocks have the loveliest names. Carnelion House. By rights it should be bold, angular, cut from a solid block of plastic. Not a few, desultory storeys thrown like a bad cap over a huddle of failing shops. You’d never know it was there. Even the SatNav’s embarrassed, blindly and hurriedly planting its red-button … Continue reading mr stabby

rita’s chairs

In the time it takes to walk from the front door to the sitting room, Rita has recalled my name, the names of my children and their musical aspirations, the village I live in and even the breed and name of our dog. ‘I’m amazed!’ I tell her. ‘And there was me struggling to think … Continue reading rita’s chairs

out out

When I was little we used to play a game called Jack Straws. You had a box of plastic tools – ladders, shovels, brooms, rakes and so on – you dumped them in a pile in the middle of the table, and then you took it in turns to try to hook as many away … Continue reading out out

mum’s calculation

Mrs Charlesworth appears to have read the book on Being Old. Her hair is as white and tightly curled as a titanium helmet; she’s wearing a thick cardigan despite sitting in a conservatory that’s as hot as a pizza oven; she has a kitchen trolley by her side with her glasses, a cup and saucer, … Continue reading mum’s calculation