11.39am. Carol’s head felt like a fire in a neglected pedal bin. The vodka had been a mistake, the downers a larger one. There would be no chance of making it to her aunt’s luncheon now and all hope of a reconciliation would be gone. She picked up the novel she’d found by the bed, but it was no use: she couldn’t consume words in this state, much less those of wittering self-obsessed suburbanites. The smell of basic supermarket jam from the other side of the room caused her insides to churn. Which c*** had left it there? Another hour of meaningless, wasted life, never to be regained, trickled away from her. “This is not my house,” she finally realised.
£2.55 Housewife Pillow Case (1974)
Brian’s vision of wandering the bars of Soho, seducing the thirsty divorcees of the Home Counties and collecting memories to retell in lavish retirement somehow never quite played out. After another night of dashed hopes, here he was, yet again, alone, and the bed had never felt so big. Time was running out and he suspected his prostate was not functioning how it ought. Once again he pushed it all from his mind and reached for the light switch to blot out the plush bohemian lie of his surroundings.
Exceedingly Comfortable With A Nice High Back (1975)
50 mile per hour winds and sleet had been forecast and, due to that, plus many other factors, the four friends – Norma, Clive, Bob and even Gina – had initially all had their reservations about the long weekend break in the fells, but day one had worked out exceedingly well. Now, in their separate honeymoon suites, still dressed in their best hiking clothes, they discussed the evening ahead and all the magic it might release into their lives.
Apicella At Home (1973)
The Edwardian child ghost had been moving the apples again, like the little pissface she was, and Charles was drunk and barely hanging onto the ledge of everything by his fingertips, wondering how it had come to this: an internationally renowned architect, pouring sherry for an apparition. “OK HAVE IT YOUR WAY, AND WHY NOT HAVE A FUCKING BREAD ROLL AS WELL,” he had shouted, laughing maniacally after the terrifying vision had stolen his early supper then caused his future classic dining table to levitate. The girl child just cackled back. In less than an hour, the man from the magazine would be here, and Charles would be acting like everything was fine, speaking with gruff calm authority about his clean lines and signature stone staircases. “That’s an interesting picture,” the journalist would say, looking at the child as she had been in 1906, not needing to say how out of step he thought the frame and portrait was with the remainder of the decor. “Mmn,” Charles would mutter, concocting a story. “My late mother, Daphne, in her boarding school days.” He’d move it from the wall one day, put it face down in a cupboard, maybe go even further than that, flee the house, just break away, change his name, leave all this high end mess behind. It was not as if he couldn’t finance such catharsis. But he was as yet unable to summon that kind of courage, even with the assistance of strong continental wine.
Enamelled Steel Legs With Plastic Tips (1973)
As Anita took notes for the much-anticipated Scunthorpe meeting, Roy admired her soft yet precise hands and the penwomanship of the various folkloric doodles she had included in the margins. He wished he had hair exactly like hers and thought about all the nice photos he would pay people to take of it if he did. It was precisely seven years since he had last killed a man and this evening he would celebrate.
“It’s time,” thought Melissa. “To stop being so hard on myself. All I wanted was a cat I could love and who would love me unconditionally back. I stole a cat and it was not the right cat for the job, that’s just the way it is, and soon I will drive the cat back to its original home under the cover of darkness, and set it free.” Outside the rotting sash window whose flaws she had repeatedly painted over, it was a beautiful day, and all of Worcestershire, with its countless other cats, was out there. There were, she concluded confidently, definitely far worse people in the world than her.
Cushy Left Hand Arm Unit: Nine Equal Monthly Payments Of £14.31 (1973)
Neil brought the beer. Jeanine brought the shortbread. They met by the ornamental fountain in town at 5.15pm and pooled their resources, just like last week, but both sensed more significant events would transpire this time. Jeanine was impressed to see the pressed leaf Neil had left as a bookmark inside a pristine hardback guide to the great 17th Century alchemists, which was a notable contrast to her last boyfriend, an oily-fingered repairer of commercial mowing equipment who kept his own book collection in very poor condition. As Jeanine began going down on him, Neil’s father’s old radio played ‘Lily The Pink’ by The Scaffold, puncturing anything faintly hallowed about the evening. Neil confessed it had been the best he had ever had, by a marked distance. Jeanine grinned, hoping it might be less awkward next time and patiently awaiting her turn.
Indian Cotton Durries (1971)
It was the first day of spring and Cheryl put on her best trousers and the blouse she’d appropriated from her sickly sister and proceeded to beat the living shit out of the tough cotton rugs, as she always did when Joel had reneged on a promise and left their bedsit for yet another outing with the ice hockey boys. She alternately gazed at the eclectic rugwork in front of her, handwoven and died by craftspeople, then back towards the bathroom and bedroom-diner-kitchen that she and her vast husband had scrimped and struggled to make their home. “It is possible that we own a number of these that is excessive for our needs,” she thought.
All the writing on this site appears free of charge but you can subscribe to it and help support it via the homepage, if you choose. Every donation is much appreciated, and helps keep writing appearing here more regularly.
I also now have a Substack newsletter and podcast, which you can subscribe to here.