my work | writing

Help! I’ve been Anthologised!

July 3, 2015

Well, I’m now a published author. In real life. I have a silly bio line and everything.

Honestly, I feel there’s no way I could have done this without the help of my coursemates and tutors at the UEA. Without them, I’d still be a grumpy teenager sat writing weird fiction in my bedroom. Now, I’m a slightly-less-grumpy adult sat writing weird fiction in my bedroom.

You can read their wonderful stories in Undergrowth, now available to buy from Eggbox Publishing. I’ve included a short excerpt from my own story, ‘Rat Man’, below, just to sweeten the deal.

Continue Reading

my work

The Traffic

August 5, 2014

Hello. This is the traffic news at noon.

There has been a breakdown on the M6 Northbound between Junctions 4 and 5, where a young woman at the pinnacle of her professional career has just buried her face in her hands knowing that wherever she goes from now will be down. Delays are expected as she pulls her self together and fumbles in the glovebox for a tissue, or a wet wipe, or, or something, and wipes the dripping mascara from her eyes so hard the skin beneath turns red, because she is, quite frankly, being ridiculous.

An update on the situation on the A40, where earlier this morning a couple found themselves unable to locate the exit to the ring road and have spent an hour and a half driving up, and down, and up again in a futile attempt to escape: their son has now called, asking if they’re alright and whether or not they’re still coming for dinner. They are, they are, the mother yells, unable to comprehend how to turn the damn thing to speakerphone. They pass the exit for a fourth time. In the ensuing argument, they forget to hang up.

A big hello to everyone stuck in traffic on the M25 – especially the man in the business suit and tie jamming his hand on the horn as though the sonar waves will somehow dissolve the endless buildup of vehicles before you – you know who you are, sir. Next time, just take the train.

There has been an accident on the motorway just outside of Cambridge – two cars collided when the driver of one of the vehicles lost control and careened into the blue ford fiesta carrying a young mother and her child. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and for the rest of the man’s life he will deny that he let go of the wheel to finally feel what it was like to take a risk. Meanwhile, onlookers stare in shock and horror at the mangled fronts of the cars, unable to help and equally unable to drive away – except for one student, who has pulled over beside the weeping child in order to tweet about her awful morning.  ‘How dare they crash and cause a traffic jam,’ she pounds the keys frenetically as she types, ‘on the same day I was going for lunch at the pony club?’ Hashtag : rude.

A man and his teenage daughter have been waiting at a roundabout outside Shrewsbury for two minutes, enough time for the song she is singing – by, he thinks, uh, ‘The Starship Cobras’? or is it, ‘Her Chemical Romance’? He can’t keep track. But she’s quite good. And as she reaches the chorus – music is so repetitive these days, he can’t stand it – his mouth shapes the form of three words, three words that he hasn’t said in a long time. But that would be pretty uncool, and some idiot has just cut him up, and before he can stop himself he’s murmuring ‘SHIT!’ and slamming his hand down on the horn. The noise startles the girl, and she stops singing to sweep her fringe back into her eyes roll them at the sun streaming in through the glass. Vehicle recovery has not yet been attempted.

Traffic is moving slowly on the A5 moving south towards St. Albans –  a bus full of school children appears to have come to a complete stop after their history teacher began to lecture them on the history of what he has dubbed ‘the world’s first motorway’ – how it began from humble origins as an ancient dirt track, and grew to be the most beautiful road in England – don’t you think? Anyone? Anyone?

They will continue to move at this slow pace all the way to what Mr Smith insists on calling ‘Verulamium’ – ‘As the Romans did!’ It is still at least an hour away.

Further delays are expected in Hull town centre later on this evening – A man at a zebra crossing, although initially outraged that his journey home should be interrupted by bloody pedestrians, will suddenly realise that his headlights are illuminating the woman of his dreams. He stops. He stares. For a brief moment his eyes will meet hers as she squints to see past the windscreen. It is dark. She sees nothing. In a heartbeat, she is gone, leaving him to sit there stunned and confused until a fellow commuter beeps their horn and calls him a blitherin’ idiot.

And each and every one drives away. The wheels keep turning, the fossil fuels keep burning. The roads twist and turn. Bad boys with their lights on full race past grandfathers, bipping their horns and screaming wild into the night. Parents wait patiently (or not) outside Welcome Break bathrooms, and promise their little ones McDonalds when they get home. Taxis ferry back and forth, back and forth, 12PM to 6AM to 12PM again. Lights change : lane closed, lane open, delays expected. And we all drive on. We all drive on, and on, and on.

This has been the traffic.  

Continue Reading