I’ve got a head full of stories and a hard drive full of photos; I thought it was time to start putting them somewhere.
I haven’t written anything for many, many years. Please be kind! 🙏
A Hero or a Menace?
Dear Joyce and Eva, You sly foxes. You sneaky, devious women. You duplicitous tricksters. When I came to Lifted Strong, the organisation you founded to help women with HIV in your hometown, I was looking for a good time. I was looking for an interesting experience, an enjoyable trip, a way to do something useful and perhaps claim back a little bit of my soul that was slowly being sucked out by the corporate world. I liked that I didn’t have to start until 11 AM. I was happy that I could finish just after lunch and have most of the afternoon free. I was keen on the idea that it was a place for women to hang out with and help other women. Girls just wanna have fun, after all. Little did I know what you would do to me.
Kids, Kindness and Korea
A few years ago, I attended a talk given by a refugee from North Korea. For around 90 minutes in a small pub in Camden the audience listened, rapt, as a quietly formidable woman told us her harrowing story. Her words wove a web around the spellbound crowd, her voice conjuring a powerful picture of her life up to that moment. You could have heard a pin drop. Many of those watching shed a tear as she shared her experiences with us.
Three years have passed since the town was lost in the forest. At first, nobody noticed. They were so far from civilisation that it was rare for outsiders to arrive unannounced. When Dolores’ extended family didn’t appear for her 60th birthday celebrations, she sighed and lamented her life of sorrows, a destiny imprinted on her the day of her christening. A week later, when Father Julio, an old friend of our Father Santos, failed to arrive for a long-planned visit, he simply shrugged and said God must have called him elsewhere. But after three weeks, when there was no sign of Carlos con la Camioneta and his supplies from the city, people started to fret.
A Bra To Change Your Life
Hey, you! Are you wearing a bra right now? How does it feel? How do you feel about the bra? Are you someone who takes it off the second you get home? Someone who agrees with all those memes about how taking off your bra at the end of the day is the best feeling in the world?
A Day With No Money in NYC
“Your card was rejected,” the waiter said brusquely, handing it back to her. Suzy’s brow furrowed in confusion. It was working fine yesterday when she’d booked her room at the youth hostel. She glanced at her newfound friend (her hostel roommate) who smiled unconvincingly, clearly wondering if she was going to get stuck with the whole bill, and checked her phone.
Flat-Hunting and Bullfighting
Sarah stared at the street sign despairingly. Carrer de Palomar. It didn’t help. She glanced at her watch feeling panicked. 4:15. She was already a quarter of an hour late. She hurried down the street, and then a few more, hoping against hope that she’d somehow find the one she was looking for. At half past she gave up. She’d missed the appointment. The woman on the phone had said people would be visiting all day and 4 – 4:30 had been the only viewing slot left. At least, that’s what Sarah thought she’d said.
A Night At The Pantheon
Smiling skulls danced and twirled around her. Drums banged and fireworks exploded overhead. Children in costumes littered the pavement, some pretending to stab each other, some pretending to be dead. Adults in their colourfully embroidered finery painted their faces and adorned their heads with flower garlands. Rainbow paper streamers fluttered in the night breeze, and skeletons and skulls grinned down from every building, every corner. And everywhere were the glorious orange marigolds, a carpet of bright petals leading the way from the zócalo to the cemeteries.
An Unexpected Guest
Annie timidly pushed open the old barn door and peered in. As her eyes became accustomed to the gloom, she could make out a dusty tractor sitting in one corner, a stack of disused tools in another, and piles upon piles of hay sitting in the old stalls where horses used to live. At the very end was a ladder leading to an open attic that looked out over the rest of the barn.
"Have you eaten rice?"
No, they’re not actually asking if you have eaten rice, although that is the literal translation. In fact, “밥 먹었어요?” (Bap meogeoseoyo?) is a common way of asking, “How are you?” And you should answer “네 먹었어요.” (Nae meogeoseoyo – “Yes, I have eaten.”) Even though you’re not actually talking about eating at all. Confused?
Life On Mars
A371 rubbed her eyes as the overhead lights began their sunrise simulation. She always woke up right at the start of the daybreak sequence. She didn’t mind. It meant she was first in the showers. She climbed down the ladder from her fourth-story bunkbed and padded quietly across the large dormitory, past the many rows of bunkbeds where other women were beginning to stir and stretch. She stepped under the water and enjoyed the early morning peace. As she continued out the other side and into the changing room, she saw the queue beginning to form at the entrance to the showers.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
I still remember the day I got the dark circles around my eyes. I don’t remember how it came into my possession, but I had a torch. When my dad said it was time to finish the chapter and turn the light off, I did as he said. Then, listening carefully until I was sure he was at the bottom of the stairs, I picked up my book, pulled the torch out from under my pillow and carried on reading.