All-Consuming Rage

Peony tells me that I shout more abuse at consumer affairs shows on the telly than at any other type of programme.

While this is rich from her, I can’t really deny it. It’s not just that I’m heartless – I understand that these people have legitimate whinges – but why go so public? I mean, I’ve been duped dozens of times and I’d rather just hide my shame and pretend it never happened.

Only the other day I handed over £27 – all I had in my purse – to a man with a very strong accent who said he desperately needed to get back to his sick mother in Poland and didn’t have a penny to his name.

He promptly got into a 4×4 parked nearby and drove off – which was the point at which I reflected that his accent had been more Criccieth than Krakow.

The last thing I want to do is shout about it.

Here’s a story about people ringing you up and trying to get money out of you. It’s the latest in the Tapped series of overheard phone calls and I can’t really say anything without giving the plot away so I urge you to give it a listen.





At Her Age!

I feel queasy. I’ve just listened to the latest podcast from the Tapped series by Tempest Productions. I thought British farce and bawdy humour generally had been consigned to the 70s but clearly no one sent Tempest the memo. It’s not that I disapprove of sex comedies featuring older people, it’s just that I’d rather they hadn’t so obviously enjoyed making it. Don’t say I haven’t warned you.


Genre Bender

I’m a great believer in writing according to your mood or prevailing tastes. You might be into horror at some point in your career and itching to produce something gothic. On the other hand you might, having emerged from a period of cynicism and misanthropy, revel in creating a feel-good romantic comedy. Who’s to tell you to stick to one genre?

Clearly Bibi Berki seems to think she has it in her to dabble with “science fiction” (the inverted commas are necessary.)  Personally, I’d leave it to the experts but I see what she’s getting at…

Total Snitch


I always thought it might be nice to call in to Crime Watch one day and contribute some useful information. But then, of course, that would mean either knowing a wanted criminal or having witnessed a criminal act. And that’s not nice, really, is it?

And yet… and yet…


Life of an Earwig


Well finally this Bibi Berki figure has gone a bit more HA Ferdinand and attempted some comedy. Peony thinks it’s not half bad but I think it’s demeaning. Apparently the series is all about earwigged phone calls. I’m hoping for something a bit more explicit in future episodes. (The link to the podcast is below.)

As for the neighbours, Poppy came round the other day to say that the council is pulling down their summerhouse because it has exceeded height restrictions. She had the gall to accuse me of “dobbing her in”. I sent her packing, saying I had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t know anything about height restrictions anyway.

“What did Crappy want?” asked Peony when I returned to the kitchen.

“She’s upset because the council are pulling down her new summerhouse.”

“Serves her right,” scowled my daughter. “I can hardly wait to see all 272cm of it removed.” And then added a little more furtively: “I think that’s how high it is. That’s how high it looks from here anyway.”

Here then, for your “entertainment”, is Serving Suggestion.



Noisome Neighbours

My new neighbours are settling in and “redesigning” the garden. At the moment, this seems to mean burning rubber items that give off noxious clouds.

I leant over the fence yesterday and mentioned to the mother, Poppy, that the council would not be happy with the sight of her burning rubbish in a built-up area. She paused and appeared to be holding back tears.

“Oh that’s a terrible shame,” she commiserated. “I hate the thought of anyone feeling sad.” And she slung a section of polyester carpet on to the flames.

I’ve kept the windows closed to keep the gasses out but John, who is staying with me at the moment, is intrigued and wants to report them. If he’s serious, I won’t hold him back. A 10-year old’s lungs are surely sacrosanct.

The new neighbours are very exercised about Brexit, by the way, but I’m not sure how. They’ve put a poster in their front window simply saying “Brexit”.

“What’s the point?” asks John.

“I dunno. To give an impression they care about something,” I tell him. “But without offending anyone. They probably don’t want to miss out on all the fun.”

Now, talking about neighbours, I realise that I haven’t mentioned the last two podcasts by Tempest. The most recent one is, in fact, called The Neighbour and makes me think that a bit of carpet-burning is not all that bad. The one before is called Under and Peony tells me she doesn’t like to take a bath since listening to it.

(Peony is very contemptuous of the neighbour being called “Poppy”, says it’s a very lame and desperate kind of name, not the kind of flower that would impress anyone.)

You can find the two new podcasts here:









A Powerful Smell

I was rather pleased with my comic headline for the last podcast I mentioned here – about opening up flies to reveal nasty shocks – but I have to rein it in a bit now, because this one is a much sadder piece, a story about loss, longing and very strange sightings. Bibi Berki is undoubtedly a more serious writer than I am but I know a know a good, involving, unnerving tale when I hear one. Give it a listen.

You can find it at https://tempestaudio.tumblr.comWardrobe smilep ic

Who can be arsed to turn a page?

Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote anything here. Four marriage proposals being, I suppose, worth a passing mention – three made to Peony, two by her best friend, Justine, (“at last we can be the nuclear family John craves”) and one to me. All were turned down. Laurence is now being comforted by a Russian radiographer.

I really don’t mind the radiographer, the only awkwardness in the whole situation being the fact that shortly before we broke up – and in an effort to prevent that disintegration – Laurence somehow wangled me the post of writer in residence at his hospital. I hoped this might prove a sinecure but in fact it’s unpaid and I’m obliged to produce two short stories and three poems a year to justify my title.

I can’t write poetry to save my life or anyone else’s but I’ve discovered a wonderful app (how often do you hear those words these days?) where you simply put in a few basic commands and it juggles with some arbitrary vocabulary and produces a brand new poem for you. The process is, I think, perhaps even more gratifying than had I dreamt up the things myself. You simply have to fill in three basic requests, for example:

Subject: Spleen operation

Mood: sombre, nervous

Form: free verse

And it produces an original – a highly original – creation for your negligible efforts. The most enjoyable part for me is perhaps the wonder of the randomly selected titles, no two ever the same, and rarely do they have anything to do with the poem to which they’ve been attached. My favourites to date have been the gentle nostalgia of Oatcake Britain and the rousing Wash Him!

The short stories I write myself and the process is the same laboured scratching-out exercise it’s always been.

But Peony said to me after reading the last one: “Mum, I despair in your crap brain, I do.”

“Do you? And why is that?”

“Because nobody reads anything anymore. You’re a slag heap.”

“Surely I’m on one rather than actually one.”

(She thinks I prevaricate, can’t face the truth. I just want her to get things right.)

“Enough,” she said. “Just pay attention to me. Don’t think about readers. Think about listeners. Everyone listens.”

“They do?”

“You wanna story? Stick the buds in. Who can be arsed to turn a page?”

As ever I needed time to ruminate. I always dismiss her dismissings of me and then I wish I hadn’t been so dismissive.

And so I present to you – very soon – original podcasts, yes podcasts. Like our earliest ancestors who could not be arsed to turn a page, we now listen to tales told by others and the only difference is that we’re not sitting around a campfire with jackals circling us just out of sight, but we’re pressed up against a whole heap of other jackals in public transport as we head off to work.