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Thursday, 5 May 2016

The House. A short story

She always said that the house chose her.

Although she lingered in front of the estate agents for months, humming and hawing over the cost, the number of bedrooms, the location; the moment she stepped over the threshold the house was sold.

The walls whispered her name. And very few people ever said her name. Days, weeks could pass without her being addressed but the house knew her name and used it from the moment they met.

She moved in six weeks later. According to the experts that was unusually fast but to her it felt like an eternity. A return to being nameless and unacknowledged.  The house greeted her as she heaved her boxes in to the lounge. Said her name appreciatively as she knocked down cobwebs and cleaned the windows to let the light in.  That first night she sat amongst the boxes and treated herself to a glass of wine.
“Should I paint the walls blue?” she asked the house.
“Green?” she offered.
Silence. She thought harder. Tried to match the mood of the house.
“Yellow?” she asked eventually.
“Yes.” Replied the house and breathed her name .
She felt pleased to have made the right choice. She knew she wouldn’t have acted without the house agreeing.

Each day she went to work and went back to being nothing. A girl with no name. Part of the furniture. Bland. Ignored. Nameless. It both bothered her and didn’t bother her.

She wasn’t bothered as she now had something who knew and appreciated her. If she counted the number of times she was ignored during the day she knew that she would be doubly acknowledged when she got home. But at the same time she was bothered. She had become accustomed to being noticed by something. Mattering. She had become used to hearing her name said aloud. Her name savoured by someone, said with love, lulling her to sleep.

She lavished the house with love. It started as reciprocation, she wanted to thank the house for seeing her. For wanting her. For choosing her. Then it became a need. She wanted more. She wasn’t even sure what more there could be, what more could a house give her? But she felt there was something else so she pushed, doing more and more in case she could earn it. She treated the house, kept an eye out for things she thought it would like, wanting it’s approval. Wanting all it had to give. So she dusted and polished and sewed and swept.

She rushed home from work and polished brass. She spent lunchtimes pouring over colour charts. She laid tile samples on the floor and felt calm as the house whispered to her.

Finally she was ready for her final act of love. She felt the house deserved fine wooden floors. The house agreed with her. Actually the house seemed very keen on this idea. It was the happiest she had heard it. She rented a sander and struggled home on the bus with it. She didn’t feel like an inconvenience or stupid as, as usual, she was ignored by the people around. They simply moved around her to stand on the bus and squeezed past her to get off at their stop. She didn’t even muster an ‘excuse me’. People looked blankly forward as she bounced the sander down the steps and no one batted an eyelid as she yanked the power chord free in the nick of time as the bus pulled away from the kerb.

The house welcomed her home and she began to rip up the carpets. The house cheered her on. She ripped up the tired hallway carpet to whoops of happiness. The living room carpet was removed to shouts of joy. By the time she had been working for a few hours the house was positively animated. It shouted, yelled, almost screamed her name. The name that had remained unsaid for so long echoed from the walls.

Things reached a crescendo as she tore up the carpet in the dining room. 
‘I know’, she soothed the house. ‘Think how smart you will be with your new floors.’
The house shouted until the floorboards began to vibrate with the sound. She put her hand on the floor to try and calm the house and to steady herself. As she wobbled forward her fingertips brushed against a ridge.
‘Yes.’ The house said.
She pulled on the board and the house roared it’s approval. She lifted and there beneath the floor sat a man on a low stool. He looked at her and she looked back. Her heart swelled with love.
“You’ve been calling for me” she breathed.
“You’re not who I thought you were.” Replied the man who was no longer a house.

It turns out that Sarah is a very common name. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


It's the hashtag that's sweeping the nation. 

It's not. But I like it. 

Mainly because it tends to be one person boasting about their word count and a thousand others telling you what they are doing other than writing. 
Today I am writing in a coffee shop so I don't get distracted. It's a lovely independent, local coffee shop. Big tables, great coffee, I will do well here. Unfortunately someone is being interviewed for a job at the next table and it's horribly fascinating. So far the interviewer has banged on about himself for twenty minutes and recommended that the girl he's interviewing doesn't give up the job she currently has. I am trying to concentrate on what I am doing but I keep getting drawn in (he's just used the word 'bosch' - and not in relation to a washing machine), it's dawning on me that I am just transcribing what they are saying. She wants to do marketing. She feels that where her skills lie. His reply: "well that's really the one area we don't need help in."

Oh thank goodness. They're finished. The bad news is that I now need something else to distract me. Or I could do some work. 
Although this blog post may not show it the writing is going quite well. I got an agent at the beginning of the year which was brilliant. Not because I am now writing all the time and wafting around in velvet carrying a quill but because it was confirmation that I wasn't wasting my time and should give up, go back to work full time and stop being a deluded idiot. Now when I am sat in coffee shops eavesdropping on people I am doing it because I #amwriting not #unemployed. Although to be fair the end result is pretty similar. 
Ooh two old women have just come in . One of them went in to to London last night...back in a bit. 

By the way the weird photos are what comes up if you google #amwriting There was also someone's wedding photo. I don't know why. 

Cat Lady

I have a foster cat. His name is Sox which I don't like so I am tying to convince him he's called Sir Bernard Sox. He's not keen. I am also quite hopelessly in love with him. 
I've always liked cats but never had one. When I was growing up, my brother was/is allergic to animal fur so we never had any animals in the house and then since I've lived on my own I've worked unpredictable hours and it didn't seem fair to leave a cat on it's own for ages. Now however I am writer/freelancer/layabout and so I thought the time could be right. 
I decided to foster through the RSPCA as I like the idea of giving a cat a nice home for a bit before they go to a permanent home. Or falling in love with a cat and praying they don't get adopted so I can keep him. 
Sox was a sad cat when he arrived. He'd been a lap cat and then his owner died and he ended up in a shelter where he proceeded to have a breakdown. He arrived about a month ago and set about proving how many places there are to hide in a one bedroom house. 
I went out for a few drinks the evening he arrived. When I came back he was gone. I couldn't find him anywhere. In my slightly addled state I at first thought he'd shot out when I'd opened the front door so I put my coat on and went to look for him. No luck. When I came back I still couldn't find him so I assumed that I had imagined getting a cat and went to bed. On Sunday I traced him to under the bath (which I had no idea you could get to). Working on the assumption that if he got in he could get out, I left some food in the bathroom and left him to it. By lunchtime I had visions of a dead cat under the bath so took the side off the bath and there he was staring at me like I was an idiot. Which is fair. 
I left him to it. Only to discover he'd gone again. 
By Wednesday morning there was still no sight or sound of him. I began to compose messages to the RSPCA to let them know that I had killed a cat in three days. I went to work and the cavalry arrived in the form of my friend Adrian who took the kickboards of the kitchen and found him. I was sent photos of the cat finally eating and seeing daylight. I went home ready to spoil him. Only to find he'd gone again. 
It turns out he was throwing himself down a six inch gap by the side of the fridge and then getting stuck under it. The joys of a suicidal cat. 
Three weeks later and he's like a different cat. He follows me around, he sleeps with me (in a strictly platonic sense) and likes to be no more than a few inches from me. Unless I have visitors. If it's Adrian, I am dead to him and they rejoice in one another. If it's anyone else, he buggers off and hides. 
I have fully embraced being a cat lady. I know that I am mere weeks from bottling my own piss and wearing felt hats. I am also aware that this is probably not reciprocated. I know that if I fell down the stairs and died he would eat me. But I know that I would be fine with that, I'd just be happy he was eating.