Category Archives: London Posts

Things about this city

Hand to Mouth – A London Story

Another Flash Fiction piece….. this is about trying to read, and others things.


He had been fine where he was. In a little park, just off the beaten track, one that was always deserted at this time of the day. After work.

The squawking was getting closer. Antipodean, harsh, the uplift. It was all there. Would she would pass him by? It really was a torrent. Unrelenting. He tried to get back into his book. It had just been taking him. That delicious falling away when the flow is joined. Somehow like falling asleep.

‘Yeah my jazz teacher, yeah he’s great.’

No it was impossible. She was upon him. She sat down on the other end of the bench and it was like he wasn’t there.

‘My jazz teacher, yeah. He is such a laugh. We’ll all have to go out some night soon.’

He turned and looked at her as she harried the phone into the crook of her neck and swung her bag over her shoulder at the same time. It was a practised but not especially deft movement. Cheerfully he would have strangled her then.

She was plump and loud, he supposed. That was what they would have said. The cruel but honest. There was a gap then. No response and then, something.

‘Ok, my jazz dance teacher. Yeah.’

Then, a rapid prattle of yeahs that gradually deflated in enthusiasm. This continued for a while, the length between each elongating. The conversation thinning to a stop.

‘Well we should go out.’

Silence. He was now listening very closely. Waiting, as she was for a sound.

‘Well listen, I have Pilates, so I got to go.’

It sounded like she was disappointing the person on the other end. But it was most obvious she was not.

She ended the call and immediately he knew that she would speak to him. The air around them heaved with the words already. They pressed into the space between them. And then just before she spoke he felt it; a pang of something more than mere curiosity.

‘Good book?’

‘Ah, yeah.’

‘What is it?’

She watched him slip a book mark between the pages and turn to face her. He was good looking alright, nice suit, maybe a lawyer. And he sounded keen.

‘It’s called WutheringHeights.’

‘I’ve heard of it.’

He smiled at her. A wide thin Cheshire cat smile, without the teeth. ‘Yeah, it’s a classic.’

High and dry, they waited at this junction.

She wondered why she’d said Pilates? Probably because Jen had been at lunch. The girl who sat opposite her. She was really nice. A pity she lived so far out. This guy seemed nice. Reading a book. Intellectual. Bit old. But better than young, in her experience.

‘You work round here?’ she asked him, setting her bag down.

‘I do.’

‘Me too. So where do you work?’

‘Oh, nearby. Towards the tube there.’

‘You want a nut?’

She held out a small bag, towards him. She bought nuts and ate them in large quantities, and often.

‘Ah no, but thanks.’

‘So any plans for tonight?’



‘Look, I got to get back.’

He stood up to go but stopped, turned and with a smile said with something more than just politeness, ‘Enjoy your Pilates.’

He looked back just before turning the corner (as he told himself he wouldn’t and knew that he would). She was looking vaguely in his direction, eating her nuts steadily, like a habit, hand to mouth, fixedly, blandly and with an air of indifference that seemed to him then to be the most remarkable thing about her.

He headed for the tube, he’d get another twenty minutes there. Almost twenty minutes.


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The London Lit Project….

They are only wee, only short, but I like them and so it seems did they. They being the London Lit Project.

They do literary flash pieces on a great website…. and they are all based around London. Little sketches of this city, little blasts of prose and poetry that is gradually building into a patchwork picture of London….. and these are mine. Oh and they are all either 60 or 250 words exactly, which presents an interesting editing challenge.

One more thing I feel I need to point out, given how many pieces I have on the London Lit Project….. it’s not run by my Granny. Nor anyone else I know.

We just seem to click. Submitting to journals and websites is a funny thing. Writing is subjective. It’s the same on Twitter. Sometimes its just works and things flow – you are on the same page. When I try and write for the LLP, its not easy, but it comes. That’s it. I don’t want to analyse it any more than that.

…and … the September competition winner….

And my Flash Trio I’ll just post the first one – there are links to parts 2 and 3 … its my Lord of the Rings… if you like them, please leave a comment…

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Brimming over with Pith and Vinegar here….

Absolutely brimming full of pith and vinegar this morning. A weekend of broken sleep may not have helped but I can’t but think that the reason I am so reviled by this new basstad sitting beside me is that he is an absolute aching backside.

He is South African – so in fairness the cards he has been dealt by the lottery of where we are born have not been kind.

Consider the following:

Colleague #1 ‘we went to Waggamammas.’

ME <<makes face>>

Colleague #2 ‘Yeah it’s not really my cup of tea.’

ME ‘It’s for tourists really.’ (this is meant to be withering. It is withering. But he is not a man who receives anything other than, simple messages very plainly and loudly articulated).

NEWGUY starts quietly saying TGI Fridays to himself. He is sitting beside me. I can’t ignore it.

ME (to him). ‘Sorry?’

NewGuy ‘TGI Fridays is a good place.’

ME ‘Hmm?’ (not enthused about that notion).

New Guy ‘They have some great food in there.’

MC ‘Not my sort of place.’

NewGuy ‘You don’t like meat!’ –SHOCKED-. Really quite shocked.  

I thought, hello we may have a problem here. I found it odd. That was a big jump. This is the crucial exchange.

I don’t like TGI Fridays – so I don’t like meat. Jesus f88king Christ, this is why we need to teach philosophy in the schools. Could it be NewGuy that there may be other reasons that I don’t like “TGI Fridays”. That it is in fact precisely because I do like meat that I detest “TGI Fridays”. That I dislike their habit of serving bad meat badly, pouring vast quantities of sugary sauces over the top of it and serving it with Fries whilst blowing a trumpet in my ear. Oh and by the way why are you so shocked by the idea of someone not liking meat. FFS!

This, this, this is what it means to take your toil in an office. This is the daily grind and misery of working in an environment that throws together such disparate souls ladies and gentlemen. The humanity the humanity…

I said, and please bear in mind I had had a week of broken sleep and I am a grumpy basstad in the morning at the best of time, and it was a Monday. I said, ‘well yeah, and I think they give you a balloon if you finish everything on your plate.’

Waspish, snippy, quite possibly unnecessary.

Entirely justified.

Bear in mind also that he called me Mike – that thing that blokes do.

‘I’m Michael.’

Hi Mike!’

And he nearly broke my hand shaking hands.

This was all within 5 minutes of meeting him. I have filed him as a three time ****. Card marked. Bring me some deliverance.


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Tufnell Park

I saw a really strange thing in Tufnell Park the other day… I saw a woman, on Huddleston road juggling fire… you don’t get that in Tunbridge Wells. Then I saw a flat, one bed, for £235,000 – it truly is mad round here.

Ah. property. Let’s just leave that.

But I really did see a young woman half way up Hudd road, not actually juggling, it was a stick that was a-flame at either end and she was twirling it around in the air. It looked fantastic, in the gathering dusk, and of course like any sight of fire slightly frightening, just enough.

And about a month ago I was walking around the same area, in the evening, with herself and the wee man, and I looked into a front room to see a string quartet practicing.

I love Tufnell Park. Not in a – I will find a way to like, or love my area, and bore people to death with tales of popping down to the Farmer’s Market and having tea in the Literary Cafe (I find it a tad over priced and the Farmer’s Market is more comedy than quaint). No I am not going to get a mug that says ‘I heart Tufnell Park’, but there is something that’s rather right about round here. I have always liked North London.

Loads of creative people, not too far from some greenery, and the streets, the houses and the trees are just beautiful. Could do with a better pub. But its a real little gem.





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