Monthly Archives: November 2012

A fascination with the bizarre


Why must my child identify the most crazy person in any given situation and go and converse with them?

Wilko’s, town centre. We’d bought some stuff (things to put on our Christmas wreath) and were sitting on the benches in the store having a toddler drink and a partially eaten gingerbread man; when an old lady, (ok, her eyes were on the wild side but nothing too out of the ordinary for Halifax) sits down on the end of our bench. Daisy immediately starts up:

‘Hello lady! You’ve got a pink coat! It’s fluffy! You are cute! Haha! Hello? I’m Daisy! Hello?’

The old lady starts muttering, and produces a long, long, menthol mayfair cigarette, as yet unlit. It’s bent in the middle and she barks

“Look at THAT, love. Like my dead husband’s COCK. His willy. BENT. BENT in MORE WAYS THAN ONE he was. Useless c**t”

No laughter, winking, smile. She means it, and by now it’s become clear she is barking mad. Completely cuckoo. Ten pence shilling.

Get out of there, sharpish, my head tells me, and I have to drag Daisy away, as she’s still obsessed with the coat.

“Ooo its lovely and fluffy and pink and…”

For the love of God. As odd encounters go, its up there with when a big muscular Eastern European gentleman stood very, very close to me on the tube with his ginormous willy, free of pants and unfettered, swung pendulum-like in his linen trousers, almost grazing my face. I suppose I should be grateful the old lady was wearing pants. That would have put a whole new spin on it, and not a good one.

Count your blessings, eh?



What a weekend its been
The whole world has shifted
And although you’re only one day older
A whole year has gone by
You blow out your candle with a big, confident puff
But I don’t remember showing you how

I watch you on your scooter
I didn’t know you could
You run naked through the kitchen, laughing
White body luminous
Like a beautiful slender fishbone

I can’t remember seeing you grow
But suddenly your trousers are too short
And here I am, crying in to your hair
As you sleep
Little drops of happiness
A salty baptism of joy
On your birthday.

On a Promise


He’s promised to take me to New York
One day in the future;
When we’ll get there, I don’t know
The thought makes me smile
Because when I imagine us
Getting off the plane
We’re older

This idea of ageing doesn’t scare me
In fact; I like it
I go to the thought when the days are tough
And we get a huge water bill
(Must fix the downstairs toilet)
And Daisy’s got a fever

I look at the wrinkles in the corner of his eyes
And I want to kiss them
They’re like tree rings
Denoting shared trauma, joy
And I think of all the times to come
They’re just waiting

Other babies, mortgages
Jobs that end in tears,
Dreams that simply fade away,
All the coats we’ll go through,
And the cars, the carpets, the school concerts
We’ll sit through even though I’ve got a cold
All the mince pies I’ll forget to defrost
All the hard decisions,
Difficult conversations about STI’s
Had with teenagers,
Funeral plans and probates

When I think of all this
It still makes me smile
Because we’ll be together, stronger, older,
Laughing, waiting for our flight.

Three Halifax Witches


Three of them sat at a cafe,
On a Halifax street
Even though it’s November cold
And even the homeless aren’t about
Three witches with gnarled hands
Clutching fags between fingers
Adorned with pink frosted polish

They all look the same,
All are about 65, although pretending not to be
Their prime was in the 70’s
And that time is still with them
The smell of ghostly chip fat and crepes suzette

All their teeth are capped
Their hair is like pea straw, but still long
They wear faux fur and kohl.
All light up, smoke and reach for another,
Ladies of a certain age
Certain about their place in it

I wonder how long they’ve been doing this
Three friends, meeting on the heath, dressed like dolls
And whether my sister and I
Will be so identified in our time
20, 30 years from now
In our skinny jeans and pashminas
Insisting on hazelnut lattes
Just as certain.