Don’t totally know what I’m doing with this story yet, but I went to Kielder Observatory last week and it was spooky-good, so I’ve nicked bits from that. There’s a new constellation I like, though obviously it will never beat Orion. I’m hoping that if I just blow a load of iron filings over the ‘paper’, this story will magnetically arrange its own architecture. General continents of shifting, surfacing ideas. There’s no Christmas this year, last year we were in hospital with Steven, and I’m not interested in transposing that image with hollow Hallmark. I suppose this year is for remembrance and thoughtfulness. Having said that, I’m enjoying the new range of festive drinks and penguins with sparkly bottoms and scarves and scratching my head about whether I do or don’t need to book Star Wars. Have also hatched a plan to have pink Christmas hair. But I think going forward is just that – forward motion – we need to layer new shapes and patterns over what has gone before. |Maybe that’s what this story will end up being about. Here’s a quick-slow extract from the WiP.

On Roker beach, Anth notices people moving in strict orbits, ushered along by the wind. The pointed woman with the collection of greyhounds spraying out ahead of her outstretched arm, as if she is playing at being superman. The dogs, still-galloping against choke chains. A particular breeze flips his and her hair, like a lid. He clips a photograph; a still of the woman, bristling with her and the dogs’ kinetic action, that elemental force. When he reads it back, the sea is caught, mid-action, rising up to either suck in or blow out. A fine skin of sand whispers, gusted, up the beach.


In the pub, the wet heat beams, a large spaniel flat out near an indulgent fire. The barmaid rests her forearms on the top and forks her fringe. He wants to take a picture of her concentration. A couple argue discreetly in the furthest corner but their terse conversation scuttles, patches slipping into his throat as he sips Guinness. A beautiful woman eats alone, poised and out of place with the tired sofas and unwashed carpets. She checks her watch. The girl in the couple is convincing the man he was definitely eyeing up the woman. He is convincing her he wasn’t. His eyes meet Anth’s; he’s lying. The woman crowds over her Yorkshires and Anth wishes it was alright to ask – why are you here? Why are you alone? Is it like me?


An alien whooping sound, a steady whirr churns into the blackness. He follows the red dots up the wooden plank. A door opens, heat and yellow, buttering out. The light throws up the larger shape of the structure. Anth hooks his camera bag higher and thinks of his earlier shot on Roker. If he could layer that picture with the one his mind’s eye captured of the woman. Stillness against vibrancy, the brightness of beauty. But there is no picture. Life propels on. Like the woman on the beach, strides away before he had refocused. Stutters of missing time.

‘You’re late,’ someone says, but his eyes are kind. He rubs his hands together, grips the fingers, smiles, thumb fixed over his fingers like an allen key.

Anth dips his head and tucks into one of the spare chairs at the edge of the murmuring crowd.


The whump-whump-whirr of the electricity generator. He remembers the windmills, their rainbow plastic. Tick-ticking at the beach on a leaden day. Daddy. Raspberry cheeks. And his legs, spooling on, chin to sky to kite.

He stares straight ahead for the presentation.