November 15th

Good morning on the half-way mark for November and the Your Messages project! Here's your Message for today.



There are lists that are useful …

and those that aren’t:

There are lists that make your stomach turn …

and those that don’t:

There are lists that bring you pleasure …

and those that don’t:

There are lists that motivate you …

and those that don’t:

There are lists that aren’t important ...

and there are those that mean far, far too much ever to list.


  1. Kev left me a bunch of teenage love letters starting with Dearest … He wanted them back when we broke up, he was embarrassed. But I refused. I read them when I feel old.

    B. left a lasting impression on my upper lip. We went to the seaside. One morning in bed, he started tickling me. I fought back, hitting him with the pillow. He didn’t stop. I tried to get away from him and I hit the nightstand with my face. When my split lip swelled, he kissed it, causing me more pain.

    Janet enters the room as I go through my memorabilia. I manage to cover the box before she sees anything in it. “Mom, what are you doing?” she asks with a petulant teenage voice. Her t-shirt barely covers her breasts. Her jeans are too tight even for beanpoles. “Going through some stuff.” She scoffs, “Oh, your nostalgia again.” She doesn’t know she’s part of it. Gary P. never gave a damn about her. Or me.

    I pick up a flannel shirt and place it into the box with the rest of the items. I met Jay on my vacation. He taught me to ride and shear sheep. He wanted me to stay. I couldn’t tell him about my ruined marriages and a daughter I adore but can’t control. I snuck out during the night and walked all the way to town to catch my bus home.

    I couldn’t tell him about my other scars either. About losing Janet’s half-sister and the ability to have children again. That was John’s legacy. He hit me and I fell down the stairs. I had a concussion and a painful miscarriage.

    My life seems to consist of lists of things men left behind or took with them as they left.


  2. When Marcel bit into Madeleine, it wasn’t the taste of her that got him going, it was the scent released by teeth that transported him back to a time of his youth. Smells sneak up on you.

    You can list what they do: reek, pong, stink, stench, waft, fleet. You can list what they are: fragrant, sweet, redolent, fetid, gamey, rancid, putrid, malodorous, corky, stuffy and even unscented. You can list how you catch them: whiff, smell, scent, trace. You can list what they’re like: rotten eggs, skunks, roses, frangipani, baking bread, cigar smoke, vanilla and musk. This last list is endless. But if you haven’t smelled any of these, how do you know?

    Smells can seduce you. Or they can slam you in the solar plexus and get you where it hurts. Take the frangipani. It has a strong smell. Exotic. You’d tend to link it with friendship. In Hawaii they welcome you with leis of the stuff. But the frangipani also has a thick cloying smell. It can make you dizzy. It can make you feel that you’re suffocating. It can represent all that you wanted to escape when you left home so long ago.

    You can make as many lists as you like, but there’s no way that they’ll help you get to the bottom of what smells can do. They’re slippery. My poison, your lei. And not everyone likes aniseed or asparagus soup. I’d throw up on the latter for ages. It was linked somehow to a slap I got from my mother just before dinner. Smells are tricky. They bypass language and go straight into your body, plumb the depths of hidden undergrowths and explode. Nose in on them and you’re lost in a jungle of associations. That might be better list, if you dare.

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  4. As she half closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep, the grey of the dormitory walls dissolved into the frames of the cold metal bunks which to her fragile ten-year-old frame, were as tall as skyscrapers and she imagined that the spaces between the berths unfurling blankets from within were open windows in the absence of any real ones. Underneath, the lino glared at her, shooting a beam of neon reflected from the corridor lights through the open door and yes, you’ve guessed it, that too was grey.

    The teacher whose name she could not remember now, had come to tuck her in and say goodnight . She had a long face, pulled down by the gravity of responsibility and her age. She wondered how this woman - who in other more familiar circumstances was remote - approached this bridge towards such a gesture of comfort and how she would turn back afterwards, back to the classroom.

    She couldn’t fathom how she came to be there; she remembered a form that she had taken home to her mother and now here she was, a tiny fish in an ocean of sharks. The other girls, all older, jostled for the mirrors over the sinks and paraded around in their huge fearsome bras and she could see that she was well out of her depth.
    This evening had been rough and the disc jockey had played ‘Don’t Rock The Boat Baby’ twice as the ship listed violently from port to starboard and she was the only one who hadn’t been sick.

    Tomorrow they would be in Mykonos.

    Later, when she tries to remember this, her computer shuts down without warning to install updates, deletes her file and the memories are lost again. Next time she will make a list before she starts.

  5. Wollemi is Aboriginal for Look at Me. The Wollemi pine is the oldest known fossil: 90 million years old. It was thought to have died out two million years ago. Then in 1994 David Noble, a National Parks officer, abseiled into a hidden Australian valley and discovered lots of them, alive and growing! Now you can buy your own Wollemi pine in the garden shop. The Wollemi pine is a close relative of the monkey puzzle. Sue says the amazing thing about Wollemi pines is they’re all one tree, natural clones. It spreads by cloning (it’s given up sex).

    Spring 1987, a month after Dad’s death. Mum and I visit Nymans garden in West Sussex. We’re looking out in particular for the renowned 100-year-old Turkey oak. We can’t see it anywhere. At last, rounding a corner, there’s the oak, lying full length in the grass. If we’d only come a week ago... Despite this setback, Mum and I are commissioned to write a guide to English gardens (the wife of the publishing firm’s chairman liked our piece about Nymans). That summer we visit the gardens of Kent and Sussex. The Great Storm in October flattens most of them.

    Helen’s impression of Mum and me going round a garden: “Oh that looks a nice plant, what is it?” “I’m not sure, it hasn’t got a label.” “Never mind, then.”

    One tree in Kew Gardens had been looking sickly, but after the storm it flourished. This tree was lifted right out of the ground and dropped back again, freeing the roots, which had become badly compacted. The gardens staff learned a lot about the importance of root management. Kew’s tree collection had become old and decrepit, it needed regeneration and rejuvenation, says Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum. The storm did that.

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  7. She was going to change her life. Stop trying to plan everything down to the last detail, and live in the moment. How hard could it be? She'd start by giving up lists. No more virgin white page in the spiral-bound notebook, the biro's smooth movement seducing her into the illusion of control. No more satisfaction from ticking off an item. She'd find contentment, instead, from noticing the world around her. Surely there was more pleasure to be gained from a dew-strung spider's web, a perfect cup of tea, the smile on a friend's face? Oops, there was another list, sneaking in when she wasn't looking. No More Lists!

    But how could you start a day without making a to-do list? Think of one thing, probably, and do it, then think of the next. Okay. Breakfast… there's no milk. So, shopping then breakfast. That's not a list, that's a sequence, it's not the same at all.

    Shopping! Without a list? Would that be fun? Might be expensive. Could be a waste of bloody time if she didn't get everything she needed and had to go out again later. Or was that what people did, who truly lived in the moment? Should she only go to the shop for the milk, now, and again for the next thing when she needed it? Maybe she could look through the cupboards to think of what to pick up, not making a list, exactly, just putting some stuff in her head.

    This life changing business was harder than it seemed. Maybe she'd just count the kitchen floor tiles. Wait, though, hadn't she decided to give up counting floor tiles? No, that was last week. She was giving up lists today. So she could count the floor tiles. Good. It would make her feel better.

  8. It was nice out there, on the swinging seat. Her husband had bought it for her birthday. Only, her birthday was in July, and the sales hadn’t started until September, but she’d had it in time to enjoy the last of the autumn sun.

    Now, in mid November, the cushion was crispy cold; but it was nice to be out of the house, away from the chores. She was not needed just now.
    Her son was at school. Her daughter was at playgroup. The baby was asleep.
    She thumbed the monitor’s dial to ‘nine’ and pressed it to her ear. Breathing: gentle, deep.
    Yep. The baby was asleep.

    She crunched her toes into the ice-white grass, and pushed. The swing swung a little. The air caressed her face with the gentle kiss of approaching winter.
    In her hands was clasped a mug of hot-chocolate, its steamy tendrils rising to meet her dragon’s breath as she brought the rim to her lips.
    Lava oozed down her throat, intruding into the proto-batholith of her stomach, where it settled.
    She glowed.
    The garden too, glowed, the low sun a spotlight for Jack’s dance around the stage. And how he danced.
    As she drifted to and fro, the grass, the twigs, the broken leaves, all shimmered and shimmied to his tune. Here, there, here again. Glistening.
    A pair of robins sang a duet across this nearly-winter wonderland.

    She reached for her book, a funny, heart-warming novel, and flicked to the right page. She caught the falling bookmark (a list of jobs she had written out that very morning) and read the first line: Absolutely Bloody Urgent - MUST BE DONE TODAY. She smiled, tucked it between the back pages, and settled down to read.
    Warm, happy, unfettered, and at rest.


  9. It’s a question of checks and balances, really. At least, that’s how it starts. Checking objectives and balancing outcomes. Checking you haven’t forgotten anything you need to do and balancing the time you’ve got to do it in. It makes sense, in this busy world. I’m a busy woman. I have too many things on my plate. On my list.

    Oh, I love lists. I know it’s a failing, but I do, I do. I love the sight of things neatly ordered, pinned down, prioritised, secure in pen and ink. I love to know where I am, who I am, what I’m doing, how far I’ve got, when I can fit it in. Why I’m doing it.

    Now there’s the rub. Lists don’t help with that: they gaze back, blankly, repeating the suggestions they’ve just made as if you’ve started speaking a foreign language, left them behind. PHONE PLUMBER. CHECK HOLIDAY DATES. PLANT BEANS. FINISH REPORT. Yes, yes: I get it. I wrote all those things down, you know. But WHY is trickier. Not why plant beans – that’s obvious. So they’ll grow. So they’ll be ready to pick next summer. But why grow them at all? Because it’s gratifying, in this commercialised, technologised world, to eat something you’ve grown yourself. Then why live in this way at all, where planting beans is just another task to lengthen the list? Why not cross a few things off so you’ve got more time to plant beans, if that’s what you want? Why give yourself all this stress, live with these lists which never finish?

    You know you’ve crossed a barrier when you start making lists of things you’ve already done. Item – tick – item – tick – item – tick. Then you realise it’s the lists themselves which really do it for you, in the end.

  10. Did I gain an agent because by choosing me you were able to tick a lot of boxes on your list?

    Gender: Female. That’s a good start. No real credit for it but taking a female writer onto your list gives a certain whimsicality to your catalogue.

    Sexuality: Lesbian. There’s a tick right there. You can say that you employ a non-discrimination against gender-preference sexuality policy just from that single answer to your standard questionnaire.

    Health: Mentally disadvantaged. Huzzah! Another tick for you. Now you can represent a genuine victory-through-tears case. You can be seen to champion a cause. £1 of every book sold goes to the McTavish’s Centre for Intelligence Abuse. Let’s not mention that I’m social phobic and anxiety ridden and if-you-call-me-sir-one-one-time-I’m-going-to-cut-your-nasal-hairs-with-an-axe tetchy.

    Family: Two Wyves Excellent. You can use that. You’ll get publicity from the polyamory lobby and from the moral right. Three women all married to each other? How does that work? It’s every man’s dream, isn’t it? Once these three women meet you they’ll stop being lesbians and be your love slaves, surely? Women will think “Hang on. That’s three people who have equal responsibility to work, look after the house, cook the dinners and raise the kids.” They want a slice of that.

    …Children. See? A functioning member of society. I taught them all how to break an attacker’s arm, too.

    …Dogs. Oh. I thought lesbians preferred cats?

    Religion: Pagan. Aha! That’s how come I have two wyves. It’s not really legal. Well, actually it is. Triple wills, Triple mortgages, Triple life assurance, Triple bank accounts. How much more married could we be? Plus, that gives you another box to tick. Minority religion. Or you can call me a witch if it’ll sell copy.

    And I write about angels. Perfect.

    We’ll ignore the demons.

  11. 1996

    Monday, 1st April
    Literary Review’s (LT) letter received from J – my review of “The Rape of Sita” too short for publication
    Will let Nat know tomorrow
    Ring the Barbican to see “Love Labour’s Lost” (LLL)
    Jot down notes on list for things to avoid this week

    Tuesday, 2nd April
    Wrote to Nat. Thanked him for setting up the meeting with his father at the LT.
    Stop by Waterstones to pick up a copy of ‘Delia Smith’s Winter Collection’ must buy
    and to list in notes under ‘Feel good factor (FGF)’

    Wednesday, 3rd April
    Booked an hour long Thai massage session at Cannons for Thurs, 6pm – Can’t wait
    Looking forward to FGF and rating it

    Thursday, 4th April
    Got back from Cannons. Glowed all evening (FGF1000)
    Easily tackled hike to the supermarket
    Family Packs of Crisps x 3
    Buy 1 get 1 free drinks x 10
    Belgian chocolates x 1 box (tempted but avoided more)
    Treacle tarts x 5
    Raison Bread x 11 (oops)

    Friday, 5th April
    Went to ‘Porters’ with a friend
    Gorged on Shepherd’s Pie and Rhubard Crumble and custard (FGF3000)
    Saw ‘LLL’ at the Barbican (FGF2000)

    Saturday, 6th April
    Am feeling up to writing a journal entry

    Drafted up title ‘My Weekly Journal’
    Outline of contents:
    Week went fine.
    Made good use of my time.
    Adopted a philosophical approach to J’s reply to my review.
    Thanked Nat for his kindness.
    Pampered myself and felt great afterwards.
    Spoke to Jo and am happy her literary group’s doing well.

    Sunday, 7th April
    Got up late – FGF100
    Cycled late morning. Co-hosted show at Radio E___.
    Cheered up by children’s choices
    Felt much better – will list a mixed bag of things to do next week.
    Now able to face going to the dentist – will book an hygiene promptly


  12. These are the things we left behind:

    The cooker which we bought from a reconditioned electrical shop in the next village. The man who delivered it had commented incredulously on all the books we had.

    The futon frame with one of the slats missing where we broke it off to try to burn during the long, grim winter. It had been treated with flame retardant and wouldn’t light.

    The worn sofa our neighbours gave us. They had felt sorry for us sitting on a broken futon.

    A drawer full of cutlery we had forgotten about. We had pooled it all from a decade of bed-sits and student houses.

    A wobbly hanging rail for clothes. One of the screws which kept it horizontal had never tightened properly.

    A back door so swelled from the damp that it wouldn’t open. The farm cats would crown the window vainly hoping we’d let them in.

    An outhouse full of demijohns, bottles, corks and the other paraphernalia of winemaking. It seemed like a good idea for our new life in the country, but somehow we never got around to it.

    A rusted man’s bicycle and a rusted woman’s bicycle. Cycling seemed like a good idea for our new life in the country, but somehow we never got around to it.

    A torn plastic sheet flapping from the drainpipe. We’d put it there to protect the bicycles from the rain, but the cats had shredded it.

    The dust and cobwebs from behind furniture which had not been moved in years. We left too hurriedly to clean properly.

    The ugly tracks across the grass verge where the anonymous van had waited in the cold. The road was so narrow that there was nowhere else to park.

    An image in the rear-view mirror, becoming smaller and smaller – disappearing.

  13. Valerie Gregg
    Lists are for people who know how to write, and I was never one for pencil and paper.
    “Everything I need to know is right up here,” I say, tapping my big fat head. I keep life pretty simple. The only date I keep track of is the day I pick up my social security check and take it to the check-cashing joint on the corner. On check day, I buy myself a McDonald’s Big Breakfast and a milkshake, put $20 in my zip-up pocket, and bury the rest in a Maxwell House can under the library where I sleep. It’s dark under there. I make sure no one’s watching because people will steal the shoes off your feet out here if they get the chance. And I got me some top-dollar boots down at the Salvation Army. Got to have good shoes if you’re living outdoors. Socks too.
    I don’t go for collecting like some do out here. No grocery carts or bags for me. I keep my coat and boots on year round. Keep my hands free. Nothing to keep track of day-to-day. I don’t blow my money on the juice or crack or junk. I won’t say I never tried any of it, but it really doesn’t do much for me. I guess I’m as dirty and tough-skinned as the guy next to me, but I don’t walk around talking to myself or voices inside my head. To my mind, I’m pretty normal. I just don’t like keeping track of too many things or people. I guess it’s the people mainly. When my coffee can gets full, I’ll empty it into that old woman’s mail box up the road and start over. She’ll like that.
    Valerie Gregg

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  15. Dear Santa,

    Pleas bring me thise things. I promise I have been a good girl. You can ask Mommy, daddy did not leave becos of me. It was becos he is a basted who cant keep his dik in his pants or keep a job for even one week becos he drinks too much beer. And becos he likes Alezia more than mommy but mommy doesnt know this only I do becos I saw daddy kissing her outside the Dew Drop Inn when he thout I was asleep in the car. Also do not lisen to wot my little brotha Davy says in his letter becos he is a lyar and a baby and wot he says about me will be made up so he can get a snake rather than me get a hampsta becos mommy says we can olny have one pet.

    angelic dreams barbie
    romance barbie – the one with brown hair in the beutiful wedding dress
    enchanted tales delux princess castle
    electric scooter like Sara has
    princess Tea Time with me bell like Rachil has
    a real angelic dreamz coat like barbie wears
    pink nail polish like Miss Stacies

    Santa, pleas pleas pleas also send a new boyfrend for mommy so that she stops lying on the couch and crying all day when the curtins are closed and not even the TV is on. Also pleas help mommy find a new job becaus I don’t like eating cornflakes all the time and mommy says we can only have more TV dinners when she gets a job. Pleas also make daddy call. It woud be betta if we could see him but mommy says hell will freez over befor we ever see him again but I miss him so pleas just make him call.

    love Gemma

  16. My dad’s roast potatoes; tickling the cat’s tummy, coming home; having a shed to put all the rubbish in; spending money I haven’t got on Chanel No 5; romany biscuits; reading Agatha Christie; the smell of petrol; chicken soup with oxo in; watching Friends; not watching the news; having my bank manager’s mobile phone number; the fact that my aunt is also my godmother; nice stationery; tulips; candles; photos of people I don’t recognise but know are related to me; cream soda; dictionaries; maps; my grandmother’s meat pie; having an afternoon nap; walking the dog, sunshine; getting out the old Christmas decorations; waking up and realising it’s Sunday; being sent flowers; the way my mother used to smell when she came in from the hairdresser’s; trusting my doctor; having two desks – one tidy and one untidy; tawny Pinot Grigio; Bridget Jones; repeats of Inspector Morse; twinkly blue lights in my living room; Dublin; house plants that don’t die; nice slippers; texting; blogging; coloured glass; spiral bound notebooks; putting my feet up; bubble bath; ice cream pretending to be a chocolate bar; my car; garlic bread; fireworks; things that are the same age as my house; eating dinner in bed; Lily Of The Valley; dolls house furniture; Paco Rabanne; reading poetry; French toast; sheets smelling of lavender; clematis; having a bike and not riding it; car boot sales; listening to U2; being obsessed by awful TV programmes; Terry Wogan’s voice; cinnamon; eating out; staying in; scrambled eggs; appearances not mattering; storage boxes; someone else cleaning the house; wrapping presents; unplugging the phone; fish and chips; champagne; reading in bed; brie; starlight; opening a new jar of coffee; crosswords, quizzes and jigsaw puzzles; being needed; a proper wood floor with a rug on it; lettuce sandwiches; remote controls; TCP; chess; clean laundry.

  17. Transferring a list to paper puts it to sleep; in my head it can float around, be ignored, can lie in wait for those nights when I’m staring at the darkness at 3am, can jump out and shout at me.

    I have lists at work. It’s a race between me and my boss, can my to-do list be finished before she adds to it? She usually wins.

    I have DIY lists: things I need to repair, repaint or remove. Each of those lists has other lists sprouting from it: B&Q shopping, costs, tradesmen’s phone numbers.

    These lists niggle in the night, but the one that comes back to bite, the biggie that keeps on growing, is the list of things I’ve lost.

    · Teeth (17): forced out by crunching on toast when I couldn’t stand the wibble anymore (8), ripped free by the dentist (5), wisdom under the influence of giggle-inducing Valium (4).
    · Various pets: rabbits (2), guinea-pigs (1), dogs (2), cats (1), chinchillas (1) and fish (1).

    · A selection of loves: boyfriends, lovers, partners, whatever you want to call them (number withheld).
    · My virginity: sneaking around on New Year’s Eve hoping his parents wouldn’t hear.
    · Days: lost to partying (number unknown).
    · Jobs: mainly due to above partying (2).
    · Flat: ditto.
    · My teenage years: is this a blessing or a curse?

    · Relatives: great-grandparents (1), grandparents (3), babies (2).
    · My memory: slowly seeping away as the lost teenage years recede further.
    · Daily essentials: car keys (1), bunches of house keys (3), my purse (3), shopping lists (almost every one I write), the TV remote (every day), single socks (one from most pairs I own – I blame the washing machine), my temper (at least once a month without fail).

    Nights: lost to making lists (uncounted).
    Lists left to write: to many to list.



    0 - 10

    1. DO eat up all your greens but
    2. DON'T be sick all over granny.
    3. DO remember to do your homework
    4. DON'T cheat.

    10 - 20

    1. DO eat regular meals but
    2. DON'T make them all Pizza Hut.
    3. DO feel free to have your
    friends round but
    4. DON'T have them sleeping in the

    20 - 30

    1. DO buy your own flat/
    maisonette/house but
    2. DON'T take your washing back
    to mum's.
    3. DO cook your parents a 'thank
    you' meal but
    4. DON'T forget to do the washing

    30 - 40

    1. DO an Open University Degree
    course but
    2. DON'T let the kids suffer
    because of it.
    3. DO visit your ageing parents
    regularly but
    4. DON'T build a granny annexe.

    40 - 50

    1. DO your best to stay young but
    2. DON'T think you're fooling
    3. DO feel it's OK to dye your
    hair but
    4. DON'T say it's just your
    natural colour.

    50 - 60

    1. DO enter the London Marathon if
    feeling in a healthy frame of
    mind but
    2. DON'T expect to win it.
    3. DO remain fashion conscious but
    4. DON'T borrow your
    granddaughter's sparkly

    60 - 70

    1. DO enjoy country-style line
    dancing but
    2. DON'T wear skin-tight jeans
    with slippers.
    3. DO take pride in your
    appearance but
    4. DON'T forget to put your
    dentures in at all times.

    70 - 80

    1. DO wear purple but
    2. DON'T wear the matching
    3. DO embrace modern
    technology but
    4. DON'T mistake a mobile phone
    for the remote.

  19. I am the Anti-list, chaos incarnate, fear me. I will come to you in the night and disorder your life. Those best laid plans of mice and men, are mine. Put your list out of sight for only a second and I will appropriate it, and only relinquish it back to you when it is too late to do anything about the most important thing on your list.

    Do not think for a minute there is the possibility of order in your life, I am the butterfly on the far side of the world, setting in motion a chain of events so tortuous you will not plan for the consequences. There is only me and fate to control your destiny. Faith and prior planning will not avail you anything.

    I will wake you in the night, with a forgotten list, with that one thing you must not forget, the date not in your diary. A single obscured digit in the phone number to save your world. Do not take me lightly, I will reduce your itemised shopping list to dust, lost in the sands of time. The wedding planner despairs when my cold hand hand rests on their shoulder. That one simple thing you went into the shop for, the one you forgot when you saw the glossy magazine, it is all in my domain and I am a demon of details.

    My list is not of order but of random acts. Murphy knew me personally, he just didn't know my name, how could he? I am everyone and no one, the lost pen, the unwashed shirt and the washed out address in your shirt pocket. Everyone is prey to my whims and I know no mercy. I have toyed with kings and queens, magi and masters. Be Afraid.

    Jim Barron

  20. My list of lost loves would start with Jack Wilde the precocious lisping cockney boy who was The Artful Dodger in the film of Oliver! and then progressed to the psychedelic world of H R Pufnstuf. He would be followed by Gilbert O’Sullivan singing Nothing Rhymed in his wistful thinness echoing another age and Catweazle in his world of spells; not for me the saccharine Osmonds or dreadful Bay City Rollers who, at the best of times, looked like morons in pyjamas. Teenage lost loves can be real and imagined but it is the imagined list that stays with me. The real list goes something like this – Julie Moore, Mrs Dunn, my friend Rosemary, Andrea, Alan Kiernan, Rita, Stephen Wright, Jeremy Lamburn. The imagined loves start with Penelope Lively and her dreamy children’s books in which the supernatural was an obvious part of life – then Herman Hesse, David Bowie, Bix Beiderbecke, Robert Lowell, D.H. Lawrence, Louis Armstrong, Anne Sexton, Christabel Pankhurst, Francoise Sagan and the face of Greta Garbo.

    Lists can show you why life is, sometimes, a disappointment.

    I no longer have separate love lists – just the one that reads – John, Linus, Christy, Julia, Matthew, Oscar, oh and God. The rest of the cast are less certain. And all those on my hate list, as a younger woman have disappeared from my life. My children and my husband are my list now – they occupy my mind, calendar, diary, heart, dreams.

    I have an unwritten list too of funeral hymns but hope not to use them for some seasons yet. I’ll make a final request that everyone joins together to sing Hail Queen of Heaven. I’ll ask for a tribute to the mother of God, just to annoy all my atheist friends. One last time.

  21. A List of Grievances

    You’re going to the hairdressers? Fine. Listen to me before you drive off. I’ve spent four hours in the garden raking up leaves. Yes, I know I use the motorised mower to pick them up, but now it’s died on me and I’m going to have to get Crofts to take it away for repair. Not only that, but Gerald and Barry have been and collected their gear and left me a bill to end all bills just for painting a few of the outside windows. Oh, of course they gave me a quote, but you know what happens – one thing leads to another and before long you’ve had the whole of the exterior re-done. And Dave came to service the boiler while you were out. I didn’t know we’d made an appointment to have that done. You made it, did you. It can’t be a year. I hope you checked the last invoice. And Sally came of course as usual, but says she won’t be in next week because she has to go to Court. She told you? She didn’t tell me. I know you always have these things in hand, you don’t need to say that like that, but she seemed to think I’d know all about it and I didn’t and I felt a fool. Don’t speak to me like that. Well - let me finish – to put the lid on it Mr. Clark and Tom came to clean the windows. I thought they were here only last week. They seem to come every few days. No, I don’t think I have no idea about the passage of time. I know exactly all about the passage of time, and about how money pours out of the account like water out of a colander…

  22. When you left me you gave me everything back. Stuffed into a ball in the boot of my car: the notes I left stuck to your fridge; my CD’s mixed with loose tampax and half empty bottles of dried up nail varnish; the used lavender soap with its slime squelching into my walking boots and socks; my academic year planner, worked on just this week ready for the new term, with its blue tac still clinging to the back.
    Everything you could think of that was mine or that I had touched since you uncovered me: even the spices and the packet sauce mixes with the ‘Do not use boiling water’ instructions on the reverse; the uneaten cake with its cracked icing on the top, like part melted freezer compartments, and plastic skaters whirling across a lake of burnt sugar - all still cocooned in its cardboard box. And a crumpled carrier filled with last year’s wrapping paper and the Christmas cards that we never quite got around to recycling … Oh yes, and at the bottom of the bag, a stone with a perfectly rounded hole hewn in its centre, picked up from Chesil Bank and given to me as a keepsake by my latest lover.
    An array of belongings is splayed out in battle order on the grass verge; a grotesque car boot parody. No prices though. Pull off the road and pay what you can, or better still, just take them. Underneath the carpet off-cuts I have found what I need: the spare tyre awaits me and I am already busy with the jack, slipping smooth and seductive between my oily fingers.
    The emergency phone lies dead in its hard shoulder cradle. Gunmetal shadows hover over me: I fear a loss of grip strength in the darkness.

  23. The earth moves.
    Techtonic plates, like ships at night leaning into the same wind, look neither forth nor back, they shift unseen. From Salton Sea to San Francisco, shoes which a hundred years have lain by beds are pulled on sockless feet and useful buildings fall in on themselves like ancient opera divas.

    Beside the Gualala river a farmer splits a plank strip, makes a prop for a "for sale" sign, placing it with care between two furrows. His old horse, once a film star's jousting charger in a medieval movie, five turkeys and a sow are now his only items of inventory.

    While the rose red glow of evening turns momentarily to lurid lime, a silver grey twelve metre yacht heels over, beating up to the west coast from Point Arena to Cape Mendocino. The skipper's stomach turns, the first time in his life. He cocks his head and cups his hand, straining to hear.
    Halfway across the world, six times the water gathers itself then flings a thousand thunders into the lives of countless mothers and their children.

    Beside the golden gate a cocktail sipper on a blue chrome stool runs a finger of her free hand on the raw edge of her dress. Accustomed to perfection she's affronted by the defect and angry that she missed it. Still, the feel of the slip edge gives her pleasure.
    In his cups the lounge piano player drops his play list. From Barry Manilow to Brahms and back again, wondering if anyone spots the difference. Tonight he'll be let go. How could they?

    The wake-up claw of best forgotten things, the lure of times as yet unseen and everywhere the swelling sound of shifting goal-posts.
    Nobody is listening.
    And no one finds it moving.
    San Andreas?
    Ca ne fait rien.

  24. Yippee! I feel so free, so excited. Studying is over - at last - and now I can have holidays galore! I'm going to make a list, and I'm going to travel absolutely everywhere.

    Two holidays abroad, I think, and if the money starts to run out we can book a cheaper hotel, or just stay for a few days, but oh! how I'd love to visit New England and see all the colours. New England in the Fall. And Madeira. Let's go to Madeira. The island of flowers, and that's just what I want. I want to get back to flowers and trees and nature.

    But, of course, we'll have time for this country, too. I've never been to Chester and I've heard that the architecture is wonderful, and shame upon shame, I've never been to Oxford, and they say it's just as nice as Cambridge, if not more so.

    Art galleries and the theatre! How I've missed them. We must do London. Let's visit every single art gallery we can find, and we can go up in the London Eye at dusk and see the city twinkling below. We could be all posh and have champagne in our pod. Oh, and did you know that the new station at Kings Cross has the longest champagne bar in Europe? Or is it the world? We could have lunch in Paris! The train takes us all the way there without having to change.

    This is going to be such fun. You want to come too, don't you? You will come with me, won't you? There are so many places I want to go to.

    Except your bed. I can go everwhere, but for some reason, not to your bed. And I don't understand why. I'm so very sorry.

    Yvonne Moxley

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  26. “Shhhhhh, someone’s going to hear us.”
    “No one’s here. Come on.” The deserted old house is creaky from the wind. Dusty and cobwebby, several boards are rotted in the floor. “Come on.”
    We make our way up the stairs. The narrow hall leads past three closed doors to a door at the end of the hall that’s ajar.
    “You’re sure no one’s here.”
    “Does it look like anyone’s been here? Don’t be such a scare baby.”
    I grab onto your coat. We walk down the hall. Inside the door there are stairs leading to what is probably be the attic. It should be dark as pitch up there but light filters down.
    “Do you think someone is up there?” I whisper.
    “No, just come on.”
    We begin to make our way up the stairs when suddenly there’s a skittering noise and we are running back down the stairwell and through the hall. Suddenly you stop.
    “It was probably just a bird or a mouse or something. Let’s go again.”
    “Are you crazy?”
    “Oh come on, I don’t want to go alone. Come with me.” You take my hand and I look at your face to see if you understand the warmth spreading up my arm and into my heart.
    Again we make our way up the stairs. Cautiously, quietly, you before me ,but still holding my hand. At the top of the stairs you smile.
    “Oh wow, look!” I come up behind you and see that the wind, and time have blown off half the roof and we are open to the blooming ornamental pear with its snow white petals falling all around us. We walk to the center of the room and there for the first time in the 13 years of my life, I am kissed.

  27. The other night in the pub you irritated me so much and on the way home we had a fight.

    After you’d gone I settled down to write a list in two parts. First I wrote down all the things I loved about you (past tense). It was a short list. Then I wrote down what I hated about you (present tense). That list went on over the page. I thought about it for a while, but decided we were done with. It was over.

    When I phoned you to break the news, you did that sweet thing you do – took the blame yourself so I didn’t have to feel bad about it. I didn’t feel bad at first but then as days went by I began to recall things I loved about you and I started a new list:

    the way your hair sticks up in tufts first thing in the morning
    the smell on your skin after lovemaking
    the way you wear your shirts one size too large
    the way you fuss around me when I’m ill
    the way you curl your legs around mine when we sit and watch TV
    the way you buy ice lollies every weekend in the supermarket like a child
    the way you fidget through an entire play rather than let me go alone
    the way you burst into song in public places
    the way you defend me against my mother, and my father, my brothers and my friends and your friends, even though I don’t need defending.
    (Present tense)

    My new list is almost the same as the other list (present tense).

    I realise love and hate are not so far apart.

    I recite the list to your answer phone until the tape runs out.

    I will always love you (future tense).

  28. Supermarket:
    freshly baked bread, semi-skimmed milk, apples, melon, rice, spaghetti, chicken breasts, painkillers, mature cheddar cheese, baby wipes, non-biological washing powder, frozen peas, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, salmon, salad, white wine, magazines, expensive strawberry jam, Danish pastries, cashew nuts, coffee, chocolate…

    accounts to be finished for audit, start bookkeeping, plan Open University assignment due very soon, go to voluntary group committee meeting, attend steering group meeting, help out at support group, start research for novel…

    take children to therapy appointments, go to school parents evening for youngest, book dentist, replace lost school clothes, drive kids to clubs and activities, get hair cuts for both, visit elderly parents, buy Christmas presents, save up for new trainers and coats, replace vandalised speakers on computer…

    tackle ironing pile, order repeat prescription, clean toilets, tidy up house, take old clothes and books to charity shop, ask husband to take rubbish to tip, sort out the recycling, arrange plumber to check faulty heating, collect dry cleaning, ask for a bigger overdraft facility, repair broken chair, order writing desk, choose new colour scheme for bedroom, stay in for home delivery which won’t arrive at allotted time…

    finish second BA degree, apply for Masters, complete novel, find agent, land great publishing deal, give up work, ring new acquaintances, rejoin gym, do yoga every day, listen to more music, read a novel without feeling guilty, compose a difficult letter of complaint, spend less time on the internet, lose weight, read yesterday’s newspaper, book smear test at doctors, rearrange appointment with counsellor, take time to meet neglected old friends for coffee in Starbucks, try not to moan at husband, write on blog, aim to keep up with chat on forums, check watched items on eBay, stop procrastinating, write 300 words for Your Messages…


  29. You try to wash your hands of them; free yourself from the lists. But they keep your life within neat, well-defined limits: controllable. Every action is timetabled, ordered in your head, laid out in advance. It stops you slipping up, losing the plot, swallow pills, wash your hands, bleach floors, check windows, lock the door. You mustn't get sidetracked, check doors again, lock the window, bleach floors, wash your hands again, and again and again till the skin crumbles and your blood runs free into the clear water.

    When, or if, your hands heal, the coarsened skin shines like the polished glaze of your white porcelain cups – perfect, pristine; like sunlight on your bleached cream tiles or the windows that smell of disinfectant; like the stainless steel tap reflecting cracks of the kitchen and your own perspective; like the seamless flow of purity into the sink – transparent, clean; like the bar of wet soap rubbed round and round until it bubbles and foams; like the eyes of your lover watching you wash again and again and again, like...

    Stop it! Stick to your proper list, you fool! Don't let other thoughts in or doubt will take hold and start to make its own lists of single items repeated again and again and again. No, ignore the shadows that dirty your wall, the itch of something staining your spotless hands. Chant your list like a mantra: sacred and unquestionable. Wash your hands once, dry them once, swallow your pills once, switch off the lights once, check the doors once, shut the windows...Keep following your list till it's time to start over again. Don't look back, don't stop to wonder, deviate, divine the life that's lost in the lists that keep you alive, that stop you listing and sinking.

    Sarah James

  30. It has taken Joe nearly six months to graduate to where he is today. Shuffling down the table a row every month or so, when somebody falls from their branch, or can`t be bothered with the business of life. Today he is sitting right opposite me, skilfully juggling the words of his dream high up into the air. A strong sun waking. His warm blue gaze locks onto mine, and I know, in that first minute, that my troubles have begun.

    In his dream he took me away on a weekend trip to Paris. Neither of us could speak French and on that first morning, Joe ended up buying an enormous square birthday cake that cost us two hundred pounds in English money. This was nearly all of our spends for trips and food. We didn`t mind, he explained, there was so much to see and we were too excited to think about food. I wanted to stop him at this point and ask him if we were in separate rooms; and was the cake iced? I didn`t. I asked him instead why Paris? It was all connected to a list he`d written over twenty years ago, when his Anne died. Item number two on this list: A trip to Paris. When I asked him what number one was, he blushed and said he`d already achieved that. This is the poem Joe wrote after his dream:


    I have banked my love
    Inside a soft box for thee.
    It lies rose red, shimmering
    Against a midnight sky.
    It won`t mock or bite,
    Only melt and soothe
    your worried hand,
    It will mop your tears and
    drink your wounded smile.
    I have banked my love
    Inside a soft box for thee,
    Too afraid till now to
    Dare to set it free.

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  32. The key to achieving list resolution is not to list all the things you plan to do, but to list all the things you’ve already done. Then you can survey your list, heave a sigh of intense satisfaction and repair to the sofa for an afternoon of bad TV. And seeing it’s your list anything could go on it, like:

    1) Wake up to the sound of dustbin men starting their dawn crashing at the top of the street (Tick)
    2) Wonder if you’ve remembered to put out the rubbish (Tick)
    3) Start frantically pulling on a jumper over pyjamas, then remember pulling out the wheelie bin at 2am while giggling in a pair of ridiculously high heels (Tick)
    4) Wonder why you were giggling (Tick)
    5) Remember drinking seven vodka and cranberries at that chic bar on the high street (Tick)
    6) Feel sick (Tick)
    7) Lie, staring at the ceiling, trying to brave out the wave of nausea that’s about to crash (Tick)
    (8) Stumble to bathroom (Tick)
    (9) Hurl (Tick)
    (10) Wipe mouth, return to bed, sleep for three hours (tick)
    (11) Wake with hamster cage mouth (tick)
    (12) Struggle weakly downstairs (tick)
    (13) Stare at horrible mess in kitchen (tick)
    (14) Wonder how it got there (tick)
    (15) Count empty bottles of wine - three. Count half-empty bottles of whisky - one (tick)
    (16) Feel nauseous again (tick)
    (17) Sink to floor and rest head against wall (tick)
    (18) Dribble, slightly (tick)
    (19) Crawl up the stairs, groaning and take rest halfway (tick)
    (20) Return to bed (tick)
    (21) Notice a body in bed - a man’s body (!!) (tick)
    (22) Peek at man’s face (tick)
    (23) Reach for mobile and text girlfriends(tick)
    (24) Wait for man to wake up (tick)
    (25) Plan wedding (tick)
    (26) Sleep (tick)


  33. It's terrifying, this journey into cyberspace. They cut me off because there was a flasher in the air waves. The new wi-fi is giving off health warnings.
    James Thurber's aunt would not haveliked it at all. She couldn't get to grips with the concept of electicity; thinking it would leak out from plugs and from light fittings in the ceiling.
    Then there was F's aunt,in - I think Bleak House. Sitting silent at the dinner table she would wait for a pause in the conversaton, then interject a totally irrelevant story.
    I am linking into a chain of 'Aunts'. There were so many in my own family. Aunt Gerry who threw one, if not more, of her best gold-edged Minton dinner plates at the wall, in order to re-assure my mother thatitwas of no consequence to accidentally break one while washing up at Christmas. My mother was so upset,she wept.
    There were all the flowery aunts living together overlooking the sea..Daisy,Ivy, Pansy, Lily..and Jessie, in a chalet, who never washed her long black hair, but oiled and brushed it for hours.While on the beach in a Pullman caravan, Auntie Birdie cooked shrimps we caught for tea.
    Even Mrs.Lye, down thw road at home, who gave me scissors to dead-head marigolds was addressed as 'Aunty'.
    The aunties Gladys and Ada sold best quality wools and cashmeres in their shop. Izzy was artistic and lovely to talk to.
    Alas, there's no space left for my mother's Welsh sisters.
    Meanwhile my Cyber teacher is bribing me with promises of bars of chocolate when I have succeeded in sending him an E-Mail. No luck so far, it keeps saying there are syntactical errors in the cc box. Am I in the wrong place again?

    15.11.07 Geraldine Cousins

  34. She wrote her shopping list yesterday, thirty-one items, stowed it away in the most accessible part of her handbag. She’s getting less forgetful; even remembered to bring her own plastic bags. Once inside Tescos she puts the milk in her trolley straight away, doesn’t need to be reminded of that, no need to dither over it – six pints of skimmed and six semi, she loves her children coming home. When she has a long list, she always brings a piece of Blu-tack. She takes it from her handbag now and presses it firmly on her trolley ready for the list. She’s very pleased with this small innovative idea; able to see at a glance what she wants, just tick off the items. She has her pencil in her hand.

    She looks in her handbag for the shopping list, readily accessible -except that it isn’t. She must have put it in the main zipped pocket, with her wallet, credit cards and purse, how silly. She searches there, confident at first then begins to grope frantically, turning everything over, remembering her mother doing this, how it irritated her to watch the procedure, especially as there were never more than about four items then. But then her mother always seemed to be foraging in the depth of her handbag for something.

    She wanders vaguely up and down the aisles, it’s hopeless. She stands riveted by fresh pork sausages, lying fat and smug on the counter; no one likes them now. She leaves with assorted loaves, chicken pieces and washing powder. It’s pitch dark as she searches for her car; it seems to have changed colour, no wonder she couldn’t spot it.

    Standing on her doorstep she takes the front door key from her coat pocket as her list flutters to the ground.

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  36. Remember these things and you'll remember me:
    Listen to your mummy, she speaks for me.
    Eat five fruit and vegetables every day (except for cauliflower and Sunday).
    Laughing is good, smoking is bad, and Grandad Cioa Cioa with a hangover is plain ugly.
    Wash behind your ears (where the potatoes grow).
    Snuggle up close to mummy to keep her warm.
    Put funny words in the place of real words when you're talking to people and watch their bananas light up with joy.
    Daddy crying at the end of the Railway Children.
    The capital of Mongolia is Ulan Bator and the capital of Burkino Faso is Ouagadoogou (remember to wiggle your hips).
    Daddy's car had an ejector button for the back seats where naughty children sat.
    There really is people inside the television set.
    Sitting on my knee as the restaurant closed and I began another story.
    You shouldn't outlive your kids, we're conforming to the natural order of things.
    We're off, we're off, we're off in a motor car, sixty clowns are after us, we don't know where we are, turning round the corner eating apple pie, clown says give us a bit, I sloshed it in his eyes.
    Charlie Chaplin, big screen, orchestra playing, you crying at The Kid.
    Talking at bathtime.
    Walking to school on a Wednesday.
    Queuing to see Cinderella at Disneyland Paris.
    Pushing Daddy into the swimming pool.
    The Tickle Monster!
    Don't stare at strange-looking people, especially that very small fellow we see in Tesco's or the one-legged waiter in Shandar Balti.
    It's OK to stare at the one-eyed cat in the Close.
    I walk with splayed feet like a penguin.
    I only ever got cross because I love you.
    My face.
    My laugh.
    My smile.
    My dancing.
    My hugs.
    My kisses.

  37. The most vital thing I would love and must do is to clean my kitchen before going to bed,
    Wash the utensils, the oven and swipe the granite platform with the aromatic detergent
    So that the next day morn dawns for me with a straight fresh aroma of coffee and my mind
    Reverberates, with a list of my long bending issues for the day. I prepare some south Indian
    dish to be preserved in the hot pack, before that it is imperative for me to clean the dining
    table to be cleared up of all the mess and a shiny teak wood table would be invitatory notes
    for your breakfast. I have a time bound programmed lists for the day: going to the bank not
    to draw money but to request for a fresh check leaved book, then go the post
    office before one to pay up my telephone bills, next water tax, property tax, then to my son’s
    school to deposit his school fees, and last comes my tailoring wherefrom to collect my newly
    stitched blouse pieces then ,on the way back home to buy fruits and vegetables ,to vegetables
    first to be in the list which would stay on for a week or so a mini list in the listings, and rush back
    home by an auto; bin all the bills to go for a fresh shower, the bath tub with the foam of lovely
    lavender soap , for years my household luxury. There is a knock by the customary flower vendor,
    whom I have ignored because I was not satisfied the way she measured the garlands with her hand
    and openly reprimanded for her niggardliness which she would take it in a jovial manner.
    The day ends with a log into Followed by many websites.

  38. Saints and sinners, form a line:
    Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline,
    Halle Berry, Matthew Perry
    Grace and Will and June and Terry,

    Please don’t wander from the queue,
    Titchmarsh, Don and Flowerdew
    Michael Palin, Michael Caine
    Richard Sharpe and Richard Blaine

    Rooney Wayne and Gascoigne Paul
    The Smiths, The Cure, The Farm, The Fall
    Which side should we put you on
    Edwards Huw and Craven John?

    Aggers, Arkle, Lamby, Thorpey,
    Warney, Beefy, Freddie, Chalky
    Tinky Winky, La-La, Po,
    Stephen Ovett, Lord Seb Coe
    Jamies Theakston, Oliver, Foxx
    Courtney Love and Courtenay Cox,
    You stay here and you go there,
    Fozzie, Bungle, Yogi Bear.

    Tom and Barbara, Margo, Jerry,
    Bryan Adams, Bryan Ferry,
    Who is going on the right,
    Lesley Garrett, Willard White?
    Or maybe here with Brian Clough?
    Steve McClaren, mazel tov!

    Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Doc,
    Virginia Lake, Patricia Roc,
    John-Boy, Grandpa, Mary Ellen,
    Jason, Jim Bob, Ben and Erin.
    Eric Morecombe, Bobby Ball,
    Henry Ford and Henri Paul

    Brucie Forsythe, Jimmy T,
    Melanie Chisholm, Melanie B,
    Men whose names begin with O,
    Mailer, Archer, Allen Poe.

    Now the list is getting shorter:
    Bush’s son and Clinton’s daughter,
    Edward Elgar, Philip Glass,
    Alfred Hitchcock, Alfie Bass.
    Wolfie, Fenning, Ken and Shirl,
    Richmal Crompton - birthday girl!

    Bambi, Dumbo, Nemo, Flik,
    Ducky Donald, Mousey Mick,
    Noggin, Bagpuss, Dai and Ivor,
    Sommers, Austin or MacGyver.

    It’s all written in The Book,
    Peter Pan and Captain Hook,
    David Niven, David Frost,
    Series 34 of Lost.
    Penny Pitstop, Ant Hill Mob,
    Hopkins Tony, Hoskins Bob.

    Squirrel Nutkin, Hartley Hare,
    Mary, Mungo, Midge, beware!
    Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt,
    Baddiel, Newman, Dennis, Punt.

    Everybody born in Gwent,
    Doctor Who and Arthur Dent,
    David Jason, Jason King,
    George and Mildred, Bob and Bing,
    Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones,
    Spock, Uhuru, Scottie, Bones.

    Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Brown
    Leslie Crowther,

    Come on down.

    alex johnson

  39. My 21st birthday coinciding with my first day as a teacher. Forty-one six year olds stampede into the classroom like a herd of elephants. Their limited attention span seeps away my confidence. An exhausting day with no energy left to enjoy a celebratory evening.

    The lesbian headmistress standing too close in a too small cupboard. Her breath smelling of pear drops, her flesh of lavender soap suffocates. Her change in attitude from gushing to frosty on my engagement.

    The stalker who waited outside the school for me each day. Harmless but scary.

    Reading in the Evening Standard of a cute kid from my class found murdered at the hands of his father.

    School inspectors, SS guards striding between desks, hard eyes missing nothing. The one who told me I was headship material. But I never made it. The family came first.

    The single loo shared by a mixed staff of sixteen. The head had her own.

    Never use another teacher’s mug. Never!

    The joy of identifying a child’s need. Watching him blossom.

    The delightful lad who never mastered writing his name after three years of graft.

    The obese child whose mother blamed me for his loss of three pounds in weight in one term.

    The mother who accused me of slapping her child. I had not. I wouldn’t have stopped at slapping – he was more in line for a thumping.

    The end of term play: ‘St George and the Dragon.’ Casting the class rebel as the dragon. He terrorised everyone but the parents loved it.

    My fit as a flea pregnancy when I craved sawdust, stuffed packets of digestive biscuits instead. Nauseating school dinners, even the treacle puds.

    Taking P.E. lessons in the eighth month of pregnancy. Ending up in hospital with a kidney infection. The bliss of maternity leave.

  40. Only the brain dead make lists. Mine is extraordinary, more like a computer stacked with files, storing everything from holiday dates and places visited, to the Latin names of herbs.

    Making lists is senseless. How many times have you been to Tesco and forgotten yours? I see women, not forgetting men, with worried frowns walking from aisle to aisle racking their brains for something to jog their memory. My visit is supersonic, whiplash sharp. I’m out in a flash – who wants to hang-around there?

    And those who trail through ‘contacts’ on their mobiles until they reach the desired number - why not just jab it in. Try it, go on, trust your grey matter.

    And who makes Christmas lists of friends and relatives due presents, cards? Surely not you? I send well over a hundred and fifty cards each year – no problem. Addresses, even telephone numbers pop up instantly and that’s it. Mission complete. Naturally, it’s the same with pressies. I know automatically the right present for the right person. The ‘thank you’ cards I receive are numerous but I feel they are well deserved. I expect you would make a list of those, too. Please!

    One of my friends pays a fortune in the library books she fails to return on time. That’s what I call chucking money away. Shouldn’t she make the effort to remember them, take them back a day before? I’ve never forgotten. Now she might be the very type who should have a list – she’s more than a bit on the vague side, poor dear.

    Naturally tax forms are no problem to me. All the figures are at my fingertips, no desperate hunting for stats. driving people to the edge. Pure hysteria.

    My advice to you, sad list makers. Let the brain take the strain.

  41. “Is that supposed to happen?”
    “Um…I don’t think so.”
    “Where’s it coming from?”
    “How should I know?”
    “There must be a hole somewhere.”
    “You don’t say.”
    “I think we’d better turn round and go back.”
    “What do you think I’m trying to do?”
    “So why aren’t we?”
    “Why aren’t we what?”
    “Turning around.”
    “Because the bloody thing is getting heavier by the second…why don’t you try helping instead of asking stupid questions.”
    “What do you mean stupid questions?”
    “Exactly. Now are you going to help, or do I have to sort this out by myself?”
    “Do you think they’re angry?”
    “WHAT? Who’s angry?”
    “The ducks.”
    “What are you doing? Why has your face gone purple?”
    “There’s people laughing now. They’re pointing at you.”
    “Shut…the …fu…”
    “They are you know. Angry. The ducks I mean.”
    “Shit, shit, shit. JUMP!”
    “Listen to them squawking at us.”
    Are you deaf? Get out of it. NOW!”
    “The pointing people are laughing now. Lots of them, laughing and pointing.”
    “Ignore them. Just get out and keep moving.”
    “Do you think the fishes are big?”
    If I have to come back for you, you’ll be sorry. Now, MOVE!”
    “Do you think they bite?”
    “Right, that’s it. I’m leaving you here. Make your own way back.”
    “I can see one.”
    “I’m walking away now, I can’t hear you…”
    “Why are people laughing and pointing at us?”

    “It’s very dirty you know. How can the fish breath in this?”

    “There’s a man in uniform, waving and splashing towards me. He’s screaming something about clearing the pond.”

    “This is very cold, its making my legs hurt. Why are you stood over there shouting at me with the pointing people? Why’d we go on the silly paddle boat anyway?”

    “Should I be glad the water isn’t very deep?”

  42. He who is tired of London, is tired of life.
    She who is tired of martyrdom is tired of being a wife.
    Tired of a role
    Tired of being me
    Tired of the droll, lost liberty
    Tired of moaning
    Tired of tired
    Tired of feeling uninspired
    Tired of babies, feed\’n’, weaning
    Tired of weekly window cleaning
    Tired of mirrors
    Tired of preening
    Tired of life devoid of meaning
    Tired of dust and dirt returning
    Tired of dreaming
    Tired of yearning
    Tired of Brillo, Mr Sheen
    Tired of Daz, of Windowlene
    Tired of hope
    Tired of needing
    Tired of pain
    Tired of bleed ‘n’
    Tired of pads and thongs and things
    Tired of panty pads with wings
    Tired of shaving
    Tired of plucking
    Tired of sagging
    Tired of f**king
    Tired of dust
    Tired of sweeping
    Tired of trust and
    Tired of weeping
    Tired of aging roots all grey
    Tired of checking every day
    Tired of jogging, hopping, flopping
    Tired flexing, creaming , brushing
    Tired of bending , stretching, rushing
    Tired of guilt and
    Tired of blushing
    Tired of manners
    Tired of hushing
    Tired of fitting, sucking, squeezing
    Tired of dressing
    Tired of pleasing
    Tired of dresses getting tight
    Tired of breathing in all night
    Tired of trying, posing, wearing
    Tired of caring
    Tired of sharing
    Tired of living
    Tired of giving
    Tired of guilt and
    Tired of blame
    Tired of all the bloody shame
    Tired of choosing, always losing
    Tired of solitary boozing
    Tired of P’s and
    Tired of Q’s
    Tired of the PM blues
    Tired of time rushing past
    Tired that good things never last
    Tired of being such a whiner
    Tired of blaming my vagina
    Tired of feeling rather strange
    Tired of choosing not to change
    Tired of choosing not to see
    Too tired to see the problem’s me

  43. Broken wings lay scattered just inside the door. Filoplume and semiplume, powder-down and bristle, tail and flight. She was quite precise. And quality was essential. Whatever didn’t make the grade must be discarded. Left to rot. There could be no deviation or mistake.
    Further discards littered the floor of the hovel. Little heaps of bones and fur, here and here, there and there. Small islands of death.
    His feet were wet from the salt marsh and his clothes were damp from the waterfall spray. The tiny bells around his hat tinkled softly as he moved closer and closer to the fire, closer and closer to the cauldron.
    The witch stirred, her movements wide and sweeping and slow.
    Three rabbit skins, three foxes’ scalps, three wolf claws and a jackdaw’s beak.
    Every time she added another ingredient, she glanced over to him. Noting there was no change in his demeanour, she was forced to continue.
    Five cat’s teeth, five smoked toads, five chopped hares, and a pint of black bear’s blood.
    She glanced again, but still nothing.
    He stopped watching her, for the briefest of moments, to look at the dial on the ancient clock. Too close, too close. Would this be the night that they failed? When his love would be lost for good? Agzetha was waiting for his return? What was the matter with him?
    They would have to act quickly.
    In an instance, the witch left and returned with a new-born boy. She slaughtered the baby in front of him.
    Success, as the jester sobbed. The witch gathered her final ingredient and added it to the brew. The tears of a clown.
    It was getting harder every year. As the jester drank, he thought of the time when Agzetha would be left in her immortal hall without him.
    Fi Benson

  44. Dear __________,

    This letter will be difficult to write because:

    A: I don’t like you.
    B: You’re ingnorant and
    C: I’m pretty sure that this letter will fall on deaf ears
    1) Because you’re a man
    2) And men never listen.

    Several things that went wrong with our date the other night but my favourites were:

    A: When you told me that I reminded you of my mother.
    1) and the fact that this turned you on.
    B: That you said a woman should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen
    2) and your subsequent description about how you would get me pregnant.
    C: When you told me that your idea of culture was fart humour
    1) and then proceeded to fart in the middle of your restaurant
    a. Which caused you to snort into your lobster bisque.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been so offended and embarrassed in public. I was willing to forgive you for your horrible manners at dinner because
    A) You’re a man and
    B) You have lower than average intelligence.

    I was willing to forgive all of this until you told me that you
    A) Wanted to make love to me like I was on sale for $19.99
    B) Wanted me to come over to your place so I could see your blow up doll named “Emma”
    C) Wanted me to meet your friend Cindi, who would be up for a threesome.

    I have never, ever, been so embarrassed in my entire life. Where did you get your manners? I can only think of three guesses:

    A) The Playboy Mansion
    B) From prono videos or
    C) From the newest issue of Stupid Men Monthly.

    I hope you find a woman to love you but, thankfully, I am not it.



    Jamieson Wolf


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