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TADPOLES

Scooped from the Mallard pond 

like tapioca on a spoon,

and plopped in Mammy’s tatty bucket, 

the seething silver jelly

boils grey in the sun.

Kids queue for the squirming quarry:

2 bob a bag. 

And you,

with size-5,

8-up,

Doc-Marten boots,

extinguish the enterprise.

1000 lives expire

on the slick shining path.

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Take a stand

Please note: this piece contains strong language

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Technical Issues

I’m fairly looking forward to retiring after exams are finished for the year. After over thirty years as a teacher, I can’t wait to do a wee bit of travelling and get over to see the grandkids in New Zealand. 

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Teenage Kicks

A pathetic act of pure middle class boyish rebellion - but one that decades later still brings a smile to my face.

The setting for my rebellious story is the WH Smith on Hemel Hempstead High Street.

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Thanks - but no thanks!

The knarled, twisted tufts of root are still caked in sandy, red earth - grains clearly stuck fast in the crevices and knots, pressed against the clear, tight plastic wrap. I absent-mindedly toss the celeriac toward my trolley.
"Sh**- oh, sorry, excuse me" I mumble as the slippery ball escapes my grasp, hits the floor with a dull thud and rolls away along the aisle. Sighing I crouch down, rummaging on the floor beneath bemused and slightly irritated Saturday afternoon shoppers. I’m painfully aware my neck is reddening with embarrassment.

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The Angela Merkel Challenge

I’m on the bus, after another dispiriting day at the office. At home, trite TV, back chatting teens, dinner drudgery and an unresponsive partner await to sap me further. Out the window I see a row of beleaguered plane trees, their stark, clipped limbs burdened with Christmas lights and decorations. I feel like one of those pruned trees these days. These years. And rather than making me stronger or healthier, I feel only the snap of disappointment and how close I’ve come to breaking. I sigh. Could I catch an airplane?

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The Blazer Run

When am thinkin aboot the times when a’ve been rebelious, it’s sad tae admit that it mostly happened in the past. At school, tae be exact. Since then a’ve been pretty obedient unfortunately.

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The Book

I have a book.

It is a little book.

It is a book where I write down the names of all the people who have been naughty.

Jim has been in it, more times than I can remember, Lynn has been in it a few times and Mike too.

I am not a rebel but I think maybe everyone else is.

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The Brighton Adventure

Warning: this piece contains strong language

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The Changing Room

“Go on!”

The curtain parts—a shaft of light—and then the hand appears. Something yellow with blue dots swims before my eyes.

“Go on!”

The voice comes again, insisting, inciting. I sit back on the little bench. The changing room is no bigger than a cupboard. A mirror, too big for the confined space, swallows me whole. The dress hangs on the wall like a corpse. I try to imagine myself inside the dress. I imagine mum, her eyes swimming with pride at the two of us, identical yet not identical. Her two little girls like ‘two peas in a pod’. A mirror image.

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