Friday, February 26, 2010


Jacqueline can’t bear it
when people call her Jackie.
She wants you to remember
that her name looks and sounds
like lacquer,
like the very lacquer
which coats and crusts her golden hair,
a protective guard.
An irksome grandchild
once clambered up her
Roland Mouret
and tapped a grubby fist
on the rock-hard helmet hair.
Jacqueline grimaced.
He knew nothing about manners,
but then she knew nothing about children.
Her own had been raised
by soft-spoken
soft-haired nannies,
with Irish lilting tones
and a firm grip on nutrition.
Jacqueline was too busy
and streaked in front of them always
in a glossy blur,
their glamorous mother
who shouted at people of lower rank,
the under-10s included.
She didn’t feel the need to tell them
what she did for a living;
a firm ‘Mummy’s busy’
was enough to keep their curiosity at bay,
not knowing that eventually
that would push them away.
Jacqueline networks,
and always is adored.
She glides through rooms
and waves her hands
telling people what to do.
Her scent is thick, cloying,
an ageing smell
of tea-roses and something darker,
and she lives in constant fear
that someone will uncover
the history of madness in her family.
It lives behind her eyes
and the men whom she snared as lovers
are the only beings
who braved that icy grip
and know what it truly is
to be close to her.
This is something her children
gratefully never learned,
and now Jacqueline lives alone
ignoring letters from her lovers
and not answering the door
to her alienated grandchildren
and sips rosehip tea
and will always live to spurn.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I want Rainbow Drops,
sticks of Juicy Fruit,
Wham bars, Irn Bru bars,
and chalk-lolly lipsticks.
We are wearing your Mum's shoes,
her navy sling-back shoes
and clopping to the shops.
I'm not allowed to go
to the shops
on my own
so this is Really Exciting.
We've got handfuls of pennies,
and are doing impressions of
Victor Meldrew,
thinking we are hilarious.
It's sunny
but there's cold wind stinging our legs
bared in school summer dresses
and our feet in too-big shoes.
Mine have elastic straps
which are flapping round my ankles,
yours have one big leather buckle
which is clanking on the ground.
We are sporting plastic sunglasses
and spying from behind them,
laughing inexplicably at old ladies
who tut at us in return.
We really don't need the sugar rush
but here we go,
we are choosing,
20ps worth of fizzy cola bottles
making our mouths water,
stinging our lips with sugar like salt,
and you think you might have wrenched a filling out
with a penny apple chew.
The man in the shop is getting annoyed as we eat while we shop,
putting the wrappers in the cardboard bowl
so he knows what we've had:
stealing really isn't our thing,
it's what the tarty girls do
to make the boys like them
but all we really want
is just the sweets.
My mum comes to pick me up
and I don't want any dinner,
she asks me why and I say
"Oh I had some biscuits round at Jessie's house"
and hide the Wham bar wrapper
in my school dress pocket
in a sticky, sugary palm.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I am thinking
about all the things that I like
about you,
about us;
Like how you don't go on the Tube
so we get buses
or walk
and find weird pubs
and Dickensian street names
and see random celebrities
who would never have got on the Tube either.
I like remembering how excited you got
when you bought that Spiderman sleeping bag,
never mind that your legs were too long for it
so sleeping in it meant you were freezing cold,
but you loved the matching pillow that came with it
even though you thought the label on it
was a moth in the night.
Or how you get really competitive
when map-reading
'cause you know your way around a city street-finder
better than anyone I know.
I like thinking about
how you call yourself a slow reader
but what you do read
you take in and pore over,
and get really enthusiastic about
and read whole passages out to me.
I like how you adore the Saturday paper,
and read out every item you find interesting,
whizzing through the supplements
while I am still digesting my first article.
I like how happy films make you,
and how you know all about the directors
and what they worked on in the past,
how you guess the Bafta and Oscar winners
and are almost always right.
I like how we can have involved discussions
about the characters on Coronation Street
as though we live there too
and know them all intimately.
I like how you love classy older women
like Lauren Bacall, Meryl Streep, Eileen Atkins.
I like how good you are at accents
and that we can have a whole phone conversation
in pseudo-Russian.
I like how you hate Valentine's
and that you would prefer to be romantic
on any other day.
I like how you always, always laugh
at the way tiny dogs' legs walk
and that I can see it coming
when a terrier approaches.
I like that you are unique,
a one-off.
I like that you like me too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ode to Ms. W.

Denounce my faith,
forget everything.
Give up
on what we fought for.
Embrace my pastel-coloured, italic-font
paperback stereotype,
become that weakling heroine
who waits by the phone
and dots her ‘i’s with little hearts.
I will buy into tummy-slimming pants
and pinch my feet in heels
about ordering a beer.
Make ‘his’ dinner every night,
assume every ‘she’ has a ‘he’.
Give up on nagging, girls,
give up on nagging him to pick up his dirty socks
This is my doctrine,
These are the new ‘Rules’,
This is how we are going to roll.
Men across the nation
hurl their dirty left and right socks down
It finally happened!
Do this, fellas, and she will pick them up
Top marks, Ms. W. Top marks.
Thank you for all you have done.
You walked into my office.

I wish I had thrown socks on the floor.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



Just a quick note to say that one of my poems has been commended in a 'Tiny Weeny Writing and Drawing' competition by Leaf Books.

The competition was to write a poem small enough to fit on a postage stamp and my haiku 'Stones' made the shortlist.

Many thanks to Leaf Books!

Ray x

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A note on being bored working in a seaside gift shop in 1999.

Pick the lacy cobwebs
from the ‘Please ring for customer service’ bell.
Re-arrange the sympathy cards in colour order,
from blue through grey.
Raid the stockroom fridge;
Make cup-a-soups to fool
your growling stomach.
Suck Nutella fingers
straight from the jar.
Try on the wigs.
Re-stack the plastic champagne flutes
filled with yellow-ish wax gel
to make Millennium Champagne Candles,
£3.99, or 3 for £10.
Re-discover your obsessive
compulsion for alphabetical order.
Arrange the seaside sticks of rock
into pink,
Knock over a stand
of personalised Winnie the Pooh key rings
and put them all back.
Start with Abbie,
end with Zach.
Adjust the silver star ‘sprinkles’
on the black tablecloth
on the millennium table display
and add more party poppers.
Create a Subbuteo-style game
using glass nuggets (remember them?)
and packets of silica gel.
Display the mermaid figurines
in height order,
like marine suspects.
Shake all snow globes,
tap each captain’s bell with a fingernail,
straighten every fisherman book-end,
watch the lifebuoy clock.