Leashed…

The following is a short character sketch that I wrote for my FutureLearn course, Writing What You Know. Emmy is in her early 30s, works full-time as a receptionist in her father’s I.T. company, but doesn’t get the respect that she deserves from her colleagues, and is badly treated by them.  Maisie is her pride and joy, and they share the ground-floor apartment Emmy has been living in for 11 years.  Emmy feels trapped by circumstance, waiting for the day that she can eventually move out.

Emmy’s car had broken down on Sunday evening, the battery was completely flat and whilst her car was insured, she had let her Sheila’s Wheels breakdown cover lapse some time ago and hadn’t bothered renewing it.  Monday was her day off work, and her Pekinese dog Maisie, had an 11 o’clock appointment at Soapy Paws Dog Groomers which couldn’t be missed.  Emmy had lain awake the best part of Sunday night thinking about how she would get to the groomers on time.  Did people still carry jump-leads in the boot of their cars?  She would have to ask her next-door neighbour Joseph in the morning before he set off to work.  If he didn’t have any, she would have to fork out what little cash she had left to catch the bus to the groomers and back home again.  Maisie always left the groomers with a different coloured bow, sometimes it was on her head, other times on her collar.  Her groomer Andy loved to use them as a way to thank his clients for their repeated custom, and often matched the colour of the bow to the colour of the collar. 

‘Is that the time already?  Oh no, Maisie, we’ve missed Joe!’, Emmy closed the blinds to her bedroom window.  She grabbed her red sweater out of the pile of laundry at the end of her bed, threw on a pair of grey jeans and black ankle boots.  Emmy scooped Maisie into her fake Michael Kors handbag; and closing the living room door behind her, left her apartment and power-walked in her heels to the bus-stop.  All along, forgetting that the red bow was still sitting atop Maisie’s head.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Through my psychosis he stays by my side for four solid days.  Grounding me and trying to stave off my panic attacks by asking me questions such as what are your favourite three things?  Inside, he is silently raging because he doesn’t understand how some parents who profess to how anyone can profess to love anyone else, could abandon them when they are at their most vulnerable and at their most fragile.  Leaving them without clothes, food or money, and most importantly, without their daily medication.  It’s not the first time that we have met.  We’ve known each other now for six years.  Back then, he was an eighteen-year-old bank nurse, doing a night shift on an all-female acute psychiatric ward.  Blonde tousled hair and reeking of innocence.  But to look at him now.  He has grown by at least half a foot and looks like he’s been at the gym working out and drinking protein shakes ever since.  It’s no ordinary nurse-patient relationship that we have.  More like friends.  Or sometimes, boyfriend and girlfriend because we banter and bicker.  And now I am stuck with him for eleven whole weeks during lockdown. 

He openly flirts with me whilst I am waiting for my tablets to be doled out by the matron.  Morning, lunchtime, teatime and night.  He whistles at me when I step on the scales each Sunday, me having lost weight again due to the tiny portions of hospital food.  He has an uncanny knack of turning up in the laundry room, whilst I am getting my smalls out of the washing machine.  In the activity room, he sits opposite me with his leg outstretched underneath the table, sending shivers along my spine as his foot casually rests against mine.  His fingers reach out to touch mine if we are playing games in the television lounge.  He leans in close to me, lifting his blue t-shirt up slightly revealing his taut tanned back and the band of his designer briefs.  He doesn’t behave like this with anyone else but me.  And it’s oh so visible to everyone else that we are crushing on each other.  But me, I am old enough to be his Mum. 

It’s been almost two years now since I have been discharged and whenever I speak to my CPN, I just want to ask about D, my guardian angel.  The one who has saved me from my demons.  I often think about checking myself in for the night, voluntarily, just to have a cup of tea and a chat.  But more often I feel like reaching out to him on social media and ask whether he wants to go out for a pint.  And I think of the song by Kasabian, ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’, and I don’t know who’s more dangerous, me or him?

Four Weeks Until Christmas? Are You Sure?

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of another year. Yet, with just one month to go until Christmas Day and its festivities, here we are. So, let’s have a quick catch up. I received my results back in July for my exam for A222 Exploring Philosophy, and it was a Grade 2 Pass. On 2 October 2021, I started A363 Advanced Creative Writing, and enjoying the course so far. Last Friday, I received 84% for my first assignment, which is just 1% below a distinction. But, with a solid grade like that, I was pleasantly surprised and the feedback from my tutor was encouragingly constructive.

In September, I wrote an article for the Open University Students Association’s Student Magazine, The Hoot, entitled “What The Open University Means to Me”, which was published and eventually nominated for “Hoot of the Month” for October 2021. The article describes my journey of studying with the OU, particularly after I dropped out of Edge Hill University due to mental health reasons in 1996 and again in 1997. Completing my Y002 Openings Course in 2002 with the OU gave me the drive to study different courses, and gave me the confidence to move from volunteering with The British Heart Foundation and apply for full-time work. And having this short read published by The Hoot has spurred me on to apply to become a content writer as part of their microvolunteer team.

Twelve weeks ago, I returned to drum lessons after a five-year break, this time with the brilliant Jamm Studios which is a short walk from my humble abode. It’s a fantastic set-up, and I’m picking things up slowly but quickly. Tonight’s lesson was extremely tricky indeed, but managed to get there after thirty minutes. Throughout all of my lessons, my tutor has made me feel at ease. Only with time and practice may I reach the dizzying heights of playing like Nandi Bushell. One can dream.

But the icing on the cake, hasn’t been my success with studies, or learning to play music again, or the delectable Mr B and I’s trip to Bristol in September, but the birth of my great-nephew Teddy Lee. He is eight weeks old tomorrow, and oh my, cuteness overload. I’ve had a few snuggles with him over the last few weeks, and he’s slowly getting used to being in the arms of other people rather than his Mum and Dad. And they’re coping amazingly well with their newfound roles in life.

And in memory of Teddy Lee’s late Grandad, Lee, my Mum and I took part in the Lost Hours Walk on 5 October 2021, and raised over £200 for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Our route took us from Victoria Park, St Helens, along the East Lancashire Road towards Windle Island, then past St Helens Crematorium, heading back towards Victoria Park via The Abbey pub and the back of the Crematorium. It rained heavily on the way to Windle Island, and as we walked past the rugby/football playing fields of Cowley High, a rainbow shone upon us. All-in we completed just under 7km. I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far, but for those of you that haven’t, there is still time. CALM are accepting donations until 31 December 2021. If you would like to make a donation, please visit my JustGiving page by following the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/local-lost-hours-walk-20216125641b96dfb?utm_source=facebook

Any donations that you make will go directly to CALM and their continued fight to smash the stigma that surrounds suicide, and to provide much needed support to those during times of crisi.

So, I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas for those of you who celebrate the occasion, and happy holidays in general. And I will see you again in 2022. Take care Tiddlypeeps xxx

Queen of Just Eat…

So, in preparation for going into my final year of my degree with The Open University, I have been completing FutureLearn courses relating to creative writing. In 2018, I started Start Writing Fiction with The Open University, last year, I signed up to Explore Filmmaking, a collaboration with FutureLearn, the National Film and Television School and the British Film Institute. And this year, An Introduction to Screenwriting hosted by FutureLearn and The University of East Anglia. The beauty of FutureLearn, is that you can dip into the course whenever you need to, and as long as you have completed 90% of the course, then you receive your Certificate of Achievement which comes as a digital download and a physical copy posted out to you.

What follows here is one of the activities that I had to complete for An Introduction to Screenwriting. With a recent pre-Type 2 Diabetes health scare, I had to really make lifestyle changes fast and furiously. So, here is a short script based on one of my vices, food:

‘Queen of Just Eat’  

Cary: Another sodding night alone. Where’s my phone?  
Her Conscience: Babe, it’s right there where you left it. On the coffee table.  

Cary picks up her phone and clicks the Google Chrome icon. From her search history she goes straight to Just Eat.  

Cary: Chinese? Indian? KFC? McDonald’s? Burger KIng?  
Her Conscience: Decisions, decisions.  
Cary: Eh, if only Pete was here this week, we’d be cooking every night.  
Her Conscience: Forget ordering online then. Fridge, freezer, cupboards? Hunter gather.  
Cary: Go away. Cooking is just not on the agenda right now.  
Her Conscience: Hell’s bells!  
Cary: Indian it is then.  
Her Conscience: Just Eat Junkie…  

Cary browses the menu of her favourite Indian takeaway on her phone.  

Cary: Keema naan…  
Her Conscience: Lordy, think of all of those carbs!  
Cary: Make it a delivery…  

She enters her payment details and confirms her order.  

Cary: Now I can’t wait for this. Starving.  
Just Eat Chat-Bot: Order declined.  
Cary: Pfft! What?  

She almost spills her cup of coffee on herself.  

Her Conscience: Quick smart.  
Just Eat Chat Bot: Restaurant unable to process your order. Payment declined.  
Cary: Shit, shit, shit. 

Her Conscience: Teaching you a lesson maybe?  
Cary: Umm, what do I do now?  
Her Conscience: Vaping is not going to help you out of this one.  
Just Eat Chat Bot: We are sorry for the inconvenience caused.  
Cary: Xena, come here kitty.  
Her Conscience: Yay! At least there will be no heartburn. Have a nap, you’ll feel better in an hour.  

Cary gets her grey blanket, arranges the pillows on the sofa and invites Xena up to join her.  

Cary: Zzzz. 

Whilst doing A105, Material, Texts and Culture with The Open University in 2017/2018, I had to write a short script adapted from a piece of historical writing. Basically, take two or three characters and give them names. And each line of dialogue starts with the letters of the alphabet, from A-Z. So, in essence, the script is twenty-six lines long. This is dedicated to the catering and hospitality industry, who kept us fed during lockdown when we couldn’t dine in public with our family and friends. I hope you enjoy reading this. I will be sharing this to my Facebook page first, so if you have any feedback, please leave your comments there. Constructive feedback only please. Once I have linked my Instagram and Twitters accounts to my new phone, I will be sharing the URL of this page in the coming week.

Take care Tiddlypeeps xxxx