Ask me anything: Q&A The Fun Edition

If you were ruler of the universe; what three laws/codes of morality would you implement?

  1. Selfishness/greed would be highly frowned upon – from those people that pretend to be needy which ends up taking from someone actually in need, or people who put their interests above the greater good or those that insist that they must come first for everything.
  2. Anyone that has hurt a child, an animal or harmed others repeatedly would be chemically castrated, face high security mental institutions or max security imprisonment dependant on crime. Regardless of how small a life – anything like that would mean that your junk would be rendered useless.
  3. Education would be free and you would be encouraged to take classes at least once a year – this world would be highly educated, so no decision would be ill-informed. History would be mandatory up until post-grad – so you will know political history, societal constructs, the mistakes of the past etc. You will need to pass a politics test to vote. And then you can do any classes you would like – from yoga to advanced maths. Coding to farming. Our country would be stronger, no one would be unskilled.

 

What animal would you say that you are most like and why?

A Staffordshire bull terrier – I like a wander but am happy in bed, surrounded by my toys and food. I am the land-seal/pig of the dog world. I can look cute or rough but my heart is in everything that I put my mind to. I am also short and stocky.

 

What is the top of your bucket list?

Fulfil my nans wishes. Make her proud of me.

 

What are your three guilty pleasures?

  1. Prosecco
  2. Haribo tangtastics
  3. Sleep

 

If you had ten million pounds what would you spend it on?

I’d pay off my mortgage and any debts. Buy a house next to mine and create the ultimate house. I’d buy a few investment properties to rent out. Take the kids on a few holidays – though keeping my youngest in mind with them as I wouldn’t want to overwhelm him. I’d pay for my partner to get trained up in any job that he wants. Fix up a few bits on my car. Get my partner the rat bike of his dreams. Sort my mum and in-laws out with whatever was needed. Kit out the ultimate office. Get a life coach, councillor and also build a business to work from my home as well as continue being a writer. Not overly spendy, but would actually help the whole family and enable me to be here for my kids – especially my youngest as I could not have anyone look after him, he needs that routine and security.

 

Where would be your ideal destination to visit and why?

I would love to visit New York again. I’d go to all the tourist places, the museums, wander in central park, go to a Broadway show and soak in the busyness of the city, whilst writing and taking a ton of photos.

 

If you could ban one food item, what would it be and why?

Peanuts. Absolutely hate peanuts. Even the smell makes me nauseous. To me it tastes like dirt and crunchy poop. Earthy, sour and rank.

 

What is your top 10 music tracks?

  1. The Sound of Silence – Disturbed
  2. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
  3. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
  4. Cruz – Christina Aguilera
  5. One of Us – Joan Osborne
  6. Born Slippy – Underworld
  7. Sweet Nothing – Florence and the Machine and Calvin Harris
  8. Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morrisette
  9. Mad World – Michael Andrew Ft. Gary Jules
  10. Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Rey

Hard to pick just ten but I listen to these the most at the moment.

 

Who do you admire most?

  1. My kids – all different, all with their struggles – I admire them every single day. Byron for his sweetness and loving nature. Pauline for her strength. Henry and his special brain. All are wonderful, unique creatures.
  2. My mum – had a lot to deal with and still a super positive, supportive mum.
  3. My nan – she worked so hard her whole life. Heart of gold. Beautiful and strong.

 

What are your most useful skills?

I learn things quickly and am good on any operating system, can update my own computers and good at finding solutions for problems.

 

What are your top three movies?

  1. Natural Born Killers
  2. Goodfellas
  3. Dawn of the Dead

 

What four series would you watch time and time again?

  1. Sopranos
  2. Girls
  3. Sex and the City
  4. Dexter

 

If the house was on fire but you could only save one object (people/pets are already safe) what would it be and why?

Well I keep my tech by a backpack or in a backpack – so it’d take to seconds to throw it all in the bag. I really look after my tech so I’d rescue all of it. I couldn’t pick one and I keep them all together anyway. I love my laptops, I love my phones, I love my watch… boom saved.

 

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Not having any responsibilities and being carefree.

 

What makes a person beautiful?

Their attitude. Their smile. Beauty fades but someone can stay beautiful by being kind, caring, being gentle, loving and positive.

The Empire: Outtakes

Some of these have been for writing activities within my Masters degrees so may or may not actually be used within the book that I’m working on. But I thought I would be share, to give you, my audience, a hint of what is to come – feel free to let me know what you think:

The empire: Work in progress – this is written in diary form in sections – this one is about the death of the main characters’ mother by the hands of the government due to her not adding to the empire due to disability. The three POVs will be from one of the guards of “The Peoples’ Army”, one from the mother and one from the narrator. I want them to be connected, yet clear so have to think about how to weave them together. This has to be written with the idea that the diary may be read by someone who may use it against the protagonist. 

November 19th:

The wind bites; colder than the last month and threatens us all with snow. Before I go for a mandatory run with my assigned partner, I have taken what rations I can. Not nearly enough, when the overseer’s back is turned, I work swiftly. Since my mother no longer gets benefits for her spinal condition, her bank account has emptied from the government take-over and they have not provided her much. Luckily she doesn’t live too far. Wait a minute, there’s a knock at the door. I can hear someone outside and the knock was both heavy and official. I better go see who it is.

This is the worst part of my job. But no one is safe from the will of the empire. It’s bitterly cold out, almost as cold as my next assignment. No one wants to do this, but you have to do what they tell you. They. The invisible force that has transformed our country and soon the world. They, the higher-ups, have designed this system to be hard on the less fortunate and golden for those able to keep up. I know someone is in, and the person I am here to see should not be out, as soon, they have to fulfil their duties too. I know they aren’t going to like what happens next but it is necessary. I am here to ensure all is done as it is supposed to be. Not the nicest job; it hurts my heart to have to do this, and I have to ensure no one runs from this. After the girl is collected, soon, we will depart.

I wonder what is taking so long; I’m cold, wrapped in a knitted blanket, sat in my wheelchair, surrounded by old plates cemented with leftovers. I can’t have the heating on and it hurts my bones. I try so much, to move and not dwell on the past. I voted for this, I voted for my grandchildren’s future. Where did it all go wrong? A bag sits by my back door, filled with empty wine bottles. Oh how I would kill for a glass! I’ve run out of my medication, I ran out ages ago. And if it wasn’t for my daughter, I would starve. She’s been my rock and I wish she had more time to linger here, chat to me, help me tidy up like she has done for years. But since the rise of the Empire, they’ve had her on a strict schedule. I know she will get in trouble if found here, but I need her. Now, more than ever.

I’m sorry, dear reader. It has been a while since I could continue this diary. I’m afraid my tears will smudge this ink. My hands hurt, my heart is shattered into a million pieces. Where did we all go wrong?

She opened the door; the girl I am here to collect. I see the worry etched on her face. Usually my presence would mean trouble. That hasn’t changed, but it is not what she thinks. I introduce myself and tell her that I am here to collect her and she is relieved from duty today. She instantly asks why. It is unusual to be allowed off the runs and meetings and work duties, though she is now given compassionate leave.

“Why do I need companionate leave?” her voice raises a few decibels and then I reveal it. I am here to escort herself and her mother to Sleepy Hollow’s – she doesn’t know what it means, I have to explain. This is the government-sanctioned facility to relieve patients of their mortal coils. To relieve the empire of it’s burdens. I am here for her mother. I see the whites of her eyes as it hits her. Today, is her mothers’ last day and we must leave immediately. She shakes her head and mutters “no, no, no” softly, then walks straight out and follows me into the black van.

Finally, my daughter arrives, I see her shadow and know that someone is with her. Someone who is carrying a large gun. My nerves fail me and I shake like a leaf. I sit here in prayer, god, please let me have not got her in trouble, her kids need her, I need her too! But she walks in, I can see she has been crying, and the man follows, looks around at the mess at my bungalow in the old peoples’ complex and sighs. She hugs me, longer than normal and she tells me “mum, we have to go now.” Her voice cracks, I can see she is trying so hard to hold it together. I ask why, and she says that we have to go to a hospital. I see her waiver at the word hospital. I ask her why she is upset, and she says that it is because they have no choice and she grabs my hand. “Mum, I love you so much. I am so sorry.” The man helps take me to the van, he barely looks at me as the driver starts the engine and we begin the unknown journey.

My mother is my world. I lost my grandparents a few years ago. One to cancer, one to kidney failure, both within a few months of eachother. Somehow we propped eachother up. Got through the darkest times of our lives. I watched my mum fall into a pool of depression, drinking more to escape the physical pain, escape the pain that ripped through her heart and soul. Somehow she was also strong, inbetween those moments, she gave me strength to pull myself out of the abyss for my children. My mum was my best. The person I’d talk to everyday. My last link to the memories of my family. My dad was never around, it was always me, my mum and my nan. I don’t know how I will cope.

A nurse was waiting outside of the entrance with a wheelchair. The girl stayed by her mothers’ side, trying to be strong. A hand on her mothers’ shoulder as myself and my assigned partner followed. I have a brand new pack of cigarettes in my pocket, I don’t know if she smoked – nowadays these are near impossible to get hold of, but I was allowed to offer her as much as she needed, I had water in my belt and weapons to hand should they try to escape, though I really don’t think they can or will. Still, we are prepared for anything. My partner stays with the mother as she is checked in, I call the girl out and offer her one of the smokes. She takes it. I light it. Then the tears fall like a fountain. I am not allowed to apologise as it would be admitting the Empire is wrong and I don’t know who is listening. Instead, I stay quiet, except to answer questions.

They have taken me to a bed where a nurse is now fussing for readings. The other man who drove us here is stood beside the bed. Holding the large gun. I ask why I am here, but he stares through me, like the nurse. I can feel it in my gut; the feeling of dread. I look around and see many people in chairs and beds. People in fatigues, like my daughter, look distressed. I have a feeling, a bad feeling. When I hear the tone. I heard it before on TV; I used to love watching medical dramas, wishing that I could’ve been a paramedic until my condition got in the way. It was the tone of death, and it came, one after the other, after the other. It hits me. Like a ton of bricks. I’m here to die.

My mum stared at me when I came back in and asked “they’ve taken me here to die, haven’t they” I was struck dumb at her awareness and could simply nod. “Mum, I am so sorry. So so sorry” I reply and hold her hand, I can’t stop the tears once they’ve started. I watch as a nurse adds a line into her arm and my mother doesn’t even flinch. She steps out leaving the two men and myself alone for a moment. I can see she’s trying to stay strong for me. It kills me inside. I hate that I feel so powerless right now. The machine beside her, beaps with each heartbeat. And the little blip where she has a hole in her heart. Not long after, the nurse returns and nods to the men beside us and states “it’s time, now. I am going to administer this. You won’t feel a thing, it will be like you’ve fallen asleep” then, without a pause, she begins. My mothers eyes flutter “I love you” and as she gets to the You, the machine lets out the screaming tone of no heartbeat. It was over too quickly. I hold her hand and lay my head on it, crying like my insides were being clawed from within me. Now, I am all alone in the world. Parentless. Grandparentless. Less of a person. Less. I whisper the lords prayer and silently hope that heaven exists and she is heading there with all the people we’ve lost. They allow me this. A few moments with my mother uninterrupted before once again, staff follow suit and wheels the bed away whilst another one waits with a new bed. The guard who has been by my side through the whole thing asks “smoke?” I nod, because what else could I do?

These places remind me of conveyor belts. I do not think it is fair how quickly the turn around is. And I know all the dead will shortly be thrown in the furnace and the ashes then put into holes in the ground. It isn’t right but it’s not my place to condemn. She’s in pain, the girl, and I don’t think they’re given enough time to prepare. All I can do, is offer what I have and am allowed to give. After this, I am collecting another person from the same complex. At least this woman had the girl, some people have no one. A lot come out of their trashridden homes looking like skeletons, some never leave at all as the weather changes and the lack of heating has done the job of this facility. I’ve known the odd person to make a run for it, and we are then allowed to disable them as they will be destroyed anyway. I’ve known family members to fight but that means re-education and a missed opportunity to say goodbye. The girl did her duty, as did the mother. I will report only positive things and she will be allowed extra rations, I will also petition for her to be allowed to keep something from that bungalow of her mothers, as she won’t get the ashes. Before the place is reconditioned and the belongings claimed and recycled, before a family is assigned the emptied place. The girl will get a week to recover and a letter from the Prime Minister of the Empire, basically telling her how she has done her duty and because of her, a worthy family has a home and her family will be rewarded. It’s no solace, I know. But it is our duty for our new country.

Writing activity

Reflect on the relationship between the kinds of character you write (ideally in your ongoing project, though you might like to think about how far this typifies your approach to character more generally) and the style and world of the fiction they belong to. Write a 500 word reflection on this and share and discuss with your fellow students.

I am currently working on (for myself) a story called The Empire; Britain has voted in a party that promises to “Return the British Empire to its former glory”. Considering its current tension filled climate, I wanted to take a deeper dystopian world of what could be.

The main character, Cilla, is both the narrator and mother within this story. It occurs after The Empire has taken power, and families have been militarised – every household has a “maid” or overseer who sees to the house and children but also keeps an eye on the husband and wife to ensure that they are doing their duties. This is written in diary form, as she keeps a diary to write out her thoughts, even if they end up getting read. She fears being sent to a re-education camp, so tries to be careful as to not write anything damning about The Empire.

Generally, the type of characters that are write are female, dealing with a darkness within them. In this instance, Cilla is dealing with external forces outside of her control. She doesn’t like the overseer, as she seems too harsh with the kids, particularly the autistic son. She watches her daughter take on duties with ease (as all children must not only go to school, but also must go to a form of Empire Cadets), her husband works long hours on the Railway infrastructure, she tries too look after her mother between her exercise drills, before meeting with her assigned partner, as all sort of aid, benefits and medical help for elderly and disabled has been ceased. She also has to watch her mother die in a government sanctioned assisted suicide building. She is no longer allowed to mother her children, and has to handle policies that include a five-child minimum, a society where telling on your neighbours in encouraged, and very little alone time to collect herself.

Compared to my other characters, Cilla was a normal mother, whilst other characters like Lana Lane (Black Moon Rises: The First Book) is a victim of abuse, and the abuser changes her whole world into become a part of werewolf society. Both are victims of external forces, but Cilla is a stronger character. She has to adjust or lose everything. Lana ran from everything and tried to build herself a new life.

Whilst Lana Lane’s world is purely imaginative, Cillas world has roots in real events – the Nazi take over of Germany was a big inspiration; as they completely changed society to build their versions of the ideal “Aryan Race” – as I have visited Auschwitz and researched extensively during my Undergraduate History and Literature Degree, I wanted to model some of that world to Cillas.

Cilla and her family are also modelled on real families; a mother, father and three children.

Writing activity

Write a 500 word piece in which you emphasise the anti-heroic qualities of the narrator or main character from your work in progress. Even if you have never conceived of your character in this way, it is vital to grasp their inevitable imperfections.

Think about how you are going to do this without losing the reader’s engagement. Maybe we sense a hidden depth or vulnerability; or a tragic lack of self-knowledge; or the voice has so much energy (wit, inventiveness, verve) that their faults become irresistible; or the character is pitifully unsuited for what they hope to achieve.

What do you think of when you think of a maid? A drudge? A cleaner? A subservient worker at your very beck and call? No. We are not what you must think we are. Take my belt for example. A belt has a lot of functions; it holds up your clothes, you can attach things to it. But here, my belt plays two main parts. A punishment and attached, a holster to hold another form of punishment. We are told, that we can use them on disobedience, what ever the age. And a little punishment doesn’t hurt anyone. I remember getting the belt. I was about the same age of my assigned families youngest, about 5 years old when I felt the sharp sting across the back of my legs for wetting myself in front of my father. My father never had patience but nevertheless, I certainly did not wet myself in front of him again. The difference this time though, is we also get the use of an electric device. Something we had a little basic training for. A tazer.

Now, you may think that I am an awful person. Going around hitting and attacking anyone that disagrees with me. In some cases, yes. I must be harsh. Kids need discipline and they also need to model what The Empire wants them too. I am in charge and they have to respect their elders. Their parents cannot go attacking us either. I’ve heard of other maids being beaten for simply giving a well-deserved punishing to a child who needed to be rid of their bratty ways. This Empire has absolutely no tolerance for brats.

Talking of brats. This family has a particularly wild youngest child. The reports said he is a “high-functioning” branch of Autistic. Yet, he is very oppositional. And it is taking a lot more than a few cracks of my belt to get him to do as I tell him. He tries to run to his mother, but she knows the look. He is my responsibility, and if I do not keep him under control, then he could be recommended for destruction. Though, he has been advocated for, by his teachers for his excellent mathematical and reading which is currently two years ahead of his peers, eclipsing that of his brother. His potential to aid The Empire, certainly outweighs the resources for his very life, so he was allowed the privilege to live.

My child wasn’t given that. So when I see him, screaming and flapping, crying like a two year old. I feel angry, In those moments, I feel myself reaching for my holster. I question whether his behaviour is worth his potential, because what is potential if it is hindered by immaturity? The threat of the tazer is sometimes enough. Once they are in bed, I have heard his brother comfort him. And it is in those times that I sometimes regret my reactions. Yet, for The Empire, I must continue. I allow the brother to quietly comfort him.
Because they are no longer allowed the comfort of their mother.

 

 

Self-Care

I have been concentrating a lot recently on self-care. Something I’ve learnt in “group therapy” is that self-care is necessary to a healthy state of mind. So these are the things that I’ve been doing to improve mine:

  1. Taking my meds. This one is most important as these meds not only help with my insomnia, but balance my moods which in turn has helped my depression, anxiety, PTSD and though I am still fully capable of the rainbow array of emotions, they are not extreme. The dreams have been pretty epic too! So creativity has not been lost (my biggest fear!)
  2. Vitamins: I cannot take normal vitamins as I vomit them straight up, so have turned to gummy versions. During Black Friday, there was an offer on from a reputable company (Wicked Gummies) to get 40% off their ranges. So naturally, I took advantage and got their whole bundle. I emailed to check the dosage, to ensure I do not OD as vitamin OD’s can be pretty serious. Luckily, they do not interact with eachother negatively and focus on certain things so 2 of each x 4 (Happy Tummy, Multivitamins, Vitamin D, Hair and Nails) then 2 of the Peaceful Sleep ones an hour before bed means a healthier body. As someone who’s body struggles to absorb things and pretty intense IBS, these promise to aid in these issues. Plus they do not taste bad at all! Oh and they are Gluten Free!
  3. I dyed my hair and due to the frizziness and brittleness, I turned to a special Coco and Eve hair mask (you use a good shampoo, towel dry the hair, then coat and brush into the hair, leave for a minimum of 10 minutes, then rinse. I left it in for 30 mins due to the condition of my hair) and now my hair is shiny and looks healthier!
  4. I have started a full-body skincare routine – for body, I use Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum cream all over (not face) and use the hand cream and body spritz to finish. For face, I remove all makeup, then apply Dr Pierre Ricaud Renaissance de Nuit Night serum and Sarah Chapman Skinesis. I know it says day cream on it, but I use it at night after using the serum. as well as Eborian Yuza Sorbet Eye Serum. For the day, I use Dr Pierre Ricaud Luminexpert first thing in the morning. Then I use Eborian Yuza Sorbet Eye Serum, Pink Perfect Cream, CC Eye in Clair, and CC Cream in Clair. If I’m having a bit of a breakout, I use CC Red Correct. Or extra glow, I may dab on a bit of Glow Cream. This stuff doesn’t ever react with my skin and it seems to balance out my skin tone beautifully. Then, I move onto makeup.
  5. Makeup gets to ready to start the day – when I have a bit of makeup on, I get in the mindset to get started. My favourite brand has to be Charlotte Tilbury and I have been lucky enough to be gifted with a fair bit! So, Foundation has to be Airbrush Flawless or Magic – which has fantastic coverage. Then I use the Airbrush Flawless Finish brushed on with a foundation brush, Kiko blush, C.T Gold Bar for highlighter and bronze, and then C.T Too Bad I’m Bad Hollywood lips. I love C.T Palettes too, so go between Walk of Shame, Pillowtalk Palette of Pops or Starry Eyes to Hypnotise depending on the look, finishing with Supermodel Brow Pencil and Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara. My makeup looks does get compliments and these palettes are perfect!
  6. Routine: I have a set routine in the day and once I manage to get the kids upstairs, I try to catch up on a bit of TV. Though my youngest often comes down or needs me for support due to his Autism, I keep his routine to the letter so he feels a lot more calm. Of course, every night is a bit of hard work but he is happy and I can easily pre-empt his needs. I also enjoy my time with him, as it is just him and me throughout the night, and sometimes, he just wants a cuddle – even if he does not know how to fully express it.
  7. Perfume – if you smell good, you feel good. So I always take a few seconds several times a day to have a spritz – my top 3 at the moment are Charlotte Tilbury: Scent of a Dream, Thierry Mugler: Alien and my nans favourite that I had given her: Penhaligon: Endymion – which I got for free a few years ago – I only use it for special occasions or when I need to feel her close to me – I have very little left of it so use it sparingly.
  8. Food – in the worst of my mental health, I would go days without eating anything. Now I am on my meds, I make an active effort to eat regularly. Yes, at times, I find myself feeding the kids and forgetting myself, but I do try harder, even if I throw together a salad or a wrap. Food nourishes the body AND the soul.
  9. Reading and Writing. I am a writer and as I’ve been told, a pretty darn good one. But through the routines, time can be a massive issue. So I always have my sidekick baby ipad loaded up with a ton of ebooks and I make time to write. Even if my writing is purely for coursework. Which brings me to:
  10. My Masters – keeping the brain active and exploring the psychological intrigues in my writing is a great way to get the internal hidden emotions out. Writing is Cathartic and aiming towards a masters feels good. I have grown a lot in my degrees and this is no different. This was a promise to my nan, who wholly believed and pushed me in my writing. Because of her, and her wishes, I have taken this as well as learnt to drive!
  11. Get out of the house, even if simply a trip to take my mums dog out. Fresh air clears the cobwebs and gets the blood pumping. Exercise is good for you. If I did not make an effort to leave the house, I probably never would. I learnt to drive – a HUGE achievement as a burst into tears several times, whilst learning. But my nan wanted me to learn – “… to be more independent” if it wasn’t for her, I probably never would.
  12. My “Alter” it is where I light candles and give thanks. Being thankful and remembering the people I’ve lost and having the serenity, gives me peace.

Thank you for reading this. I hope you are too doing something for your own self-care. You are more than welcome to share!

Kelly

 

To those that hurt my nan

Have you ever loved someone so much that you would give your life for them? Anything to give them peace and to feel loved?

No. Not you. You wouldn’t. You didn’t.

Let me tell you a little about the beginning of the end. My nan. My hero. My heart, knew her cancer came back, even when we tried to console her that the surgeon got it all. She knew. And she was a smart cookie. She put things in place because you caused her nothing but pain.

My nan loved her flat; close to the bingo, close to the buses, close to everything, she loved it. Though after her first surgery to remove the cancer that had spread within her body, and caused her a serious hernia, she needed care. You threatened to put her in a home and in no circumstance was that an option. She had to move with me.

My mother; with complex care needs herself acted as nurse, loving for and caring for her mother more than herself. But where were you? That’s right, you changed the locks as soon as my grandmother stepped outside of the door, though she should have stayed longer. Rented it out quickly and illegally. YOU. Who only contacted her for something, took over her bank account, run up debts in the flat, even landed my grandmother with a CCJ. YOU. Who tells her friends and everyone who would listen how you cared.

Here’s the tea. You did not come to even one appointment. You never cleaned her, or changed her or helped her. Your motives have always been clear. Fuck your family, fuck your mother. You wanted the flat and you made her life a living hell. HELL.

YOU. You never watched her cry herself to sleep. You never heard her cry about coming here with only her clothes and a few belongings. You never saw her look tearily up from her bed and exclaim that if it wasn’t for me, she would be in a home (her greatest fear), you never heard her talk about how hard she worked only to have nothing of her own. Because of you, she missed out on relationships, she never even really knew her other grandkids. You never saw the embarrassment cross her face as I washed her and comforted her. Because of you, my nan lived in pain.

But I promised her, peace.

Did you know I have PTSD? From seeing her laying in a pool of her own blood, after I was only minutes sorting her medicine away from the children. To come down that she had tried to go to the toilet by herself, quietly, but then could not balance, and tipped until she smashed her head on the corner of my bath. To see that image, which haunts me to this day, as I go to my bathroom I still see her there. Do you know what it is like to make a phonecall to the ambulance services and scream, like my voice wasn’t my own. To then learn that she had a bleed on the brain.

Fast forward to her home and from then, she was not the same. She was dying. In and out of the hospital with sepsis, to be told to do a DO NOT RESCUCITATE form. To have to make that choice. To fighting everyday to get her home, as was her wishes. To make her as comfortable as humanly possible.

Then to hear the death rattle. I barely slept, moving a sofa bed in just so I could be there day and night my mother came. Helping her eat and drink until she could no longer.

Do you know the guilt of cooking and eating when the person you love most, couldn’t? No? And you… every text, every call, not asking about your mother, but her will, the flat, what YOU could get.

I set up a TV in her room, with a USB full of Father Brown episodes. As she forgot us all she never did with my eldest boy or myself, until the last day when I simply became “nurse”. When she forgot the world, due to the bleed, she thought she was still married to grandad and wanted to get home to him, she asked to go back to her home in Kennington, and I had to tell her that her home was now with me. The look of confusion on her face when she saw my mother – because to her, she was but a little girl. She never asked for you, or mentioned you at the end. She forgot you, and thank god she did. Because in those moments, the pain you caused her was forgotton.

Then in the early hours, as I ran in as the sound of her breathing was so spaced out. She took her last breath, not alone. And my little boy sang to her body “I’ll be your sweetheart” and he also sang to her as the priest blessed her within the white box containing her ashes.  You had the audacity to text my mum asking for some of her remains. But no, it was her wish to remain with me. Intact.

They say time heals. But it doesn’t. Not at all. Not in my case. I miss her, I yearn for her. When I need her, she’s no longer here, no longer here to drink from her favourite cup or give me strength to take on life. I wanted to be with her so badly, that my depression almost led me to take my own life. Something I have not admitted to anyone. But when those thoughts consumed me, I knew that she did not want that, and god knows if I would have met with her. In Catholicism, suicides do not go to heaven.

Do you know what gives me comfort? That she has been reunited with the children that she lost. She told me about the baby she lost, and I know my uncle was waiting. I know grandad was too. Though she would never admit it, she did still love him right up until the end. I hope her mother gave her a hug and took her to heaven, she deserved heaven.

You wasn’t there when she saw the ghostly people pop into her room, she wasn’t scared, she would talk to them like old friends. Everytime I asked her “nan, do you know how much I love you?” she nodded and the last day, squeezed my hand.

I kept notes as I cared for her, so the Macmillan nurses knew in detail, every day what we did. I watched her skin mottle. And threw out my back carrying her to the toilet. Until I could no longer. She still wanted to go even with a catheter. But we kept her comfortable. I prayed for her, when she stopped talking.

My nan in life was THE STRONGEST woman that I had ever known. I was proud she was my nan. She would have given the last penny and clothes off her back for other people. Even people she did not know well, because she was that sort of person.

But you weren’t there.

And now I have gotten the best solicitor that money can buy to fulfil HER wishes.

You didn’t even come to her funeral, though you were invited. Even people she did not know sent love and prayers for her… you? “What about the flat?” others talked crap about what should be, never asking what she wanted. My mother and I listened to her, as she had told us in detail exactly what she wanted. We fulfilled it to the letter.

Yes, what about the flat? She left it to my mum. She never had dementia. Nor did I have power of attorney. I cut you and yours off to let her have the room to die in peace, do you know why? Because you lot threatened us, threatened my home, my children, my partner. Who did nothing to you. Did you know within a few days she had to be taken to the hospital as the stress caused her heart to go into arrythmia. You can thank your son, the chip off the old block for that.

My nan was a clever cookie and all we want is for her to have true peace. If that means that I have to spend everything I own, and more. Then I will. I will take on everything, I will tell people how you really made your money because you never had a proper job in your life and have lived on benefits. I will sue you, I will not stop until that flat is gone and debts paid.

You lived on lives Including claiming carers, which let’s be frank, you never cared for my grandad either. He’d call us to tell us about him worrying about his things going missing or how you want rid of him. You had your bathroom redone when he did not even live with you, he was back in Thailand or Cambodia. He went back early because you wanted rid, because of that he died, if he was here, he would not have and you cost him the last visit with his most beloved daughter Pauline. Mark my words, he knows everything now. His soul knows exactly what you did.

You never told my mother until you were boarding a plane to Thailand, 5 days after he passed. My mother and I could never be that cruel. We notified you, the morning of my nan’s passing.

How can you even look at yourself in the mirror? Are you that disgusting? She never raised you to be so heartless. Yet here you are. Contesting something that she wanted. She never left you the flat because of what you did in life. You destroyed lives. You made hers a living hell, for so many years. Yet I know what you have told others, because your ‘friends’ – well some of them know what you are REALLY like.

You have hated me. It’s sad. All because I have looked after your mother since I was 15 years old.

I am making her proud though. I have learnt to drive and am finishing my master’s degree – both things that she wanted me to do because she believed in me. I have my own demons to fight but even they agree that until she has peace, none of us will stop fighting. I kept receipts as the saying goes. We will use everything we have to make you face up to what you did.

You will. Hell is only half full.

Grief is a long road….

Over a year has passed… a year without my best friend, my grandmother, my confidant. It has been beyond hard. I have cried endless tears. Prayed for signs and truth be told, i have been lucky to have them; dreams of hearing her voice. But it doesn’t stop me missing her or the accompanying loneliness. Mix that with the responsibilities of being a parent and some days, I am simply broken. Add to that further, having a child with special needs that don’t understand their actions, their particularness to impulse control and sensory issues and the worst days can have me feeling even more alone. It all reminds me that I cannot simply go next door with a cup of coffee (for me) and a giant cup of tea (for her) and to simply talk. We used to talk about everything and my nan gave me strength. Sometimes, I feel like that since she has passed, she has taken my strength and happiness with her. Sometimes, I think how the hell do I move forward?
I try to give myself space, I try to be kind to myself. But sometimes, those tears flow and for that day, it is impossible to stop.
For my nan and my family, I put one foot in front of the other and spark that last bit of fight that I have. Because what is right, and good – I cannot stand the thought that people who could have caused so much pain for my nan could carry on in her name and cause more destruction in their paths.

My nan never wanted the proverbial noose of others’ greed around her neck. She used to tell me that she worked hard all of her life, never run up debts and tried her best to bring her children right. She used to cry that if it wasn’t for me, she would have been put in a home or worse. She used to say to me “I’m sorry for being a burden” she never was. I know, though she was embarrassed to be getting help for the basics of things, as I said to her, she helped raise me, and I will always look after her. She knew how much I love her, past and present tense – even at the worst of it, she would always nod when I asked her “do you know how much I love you?”.
I still get flashbacks of her last few weeks. How I had to bury every bit of emotion I had to ensure that she was looked after alongside the little ones, an older one who was still reeling from the death of their father and in a sense acting out, because their last time to see their father was cruelly taken by the actions of another.

I had the house, the dog, the kids, the nurses, my partner, his parents, we all tried to rally around. The dog would lay under her bed day in and day out. My mum kept her company through the day whilst I’d try and keep the other plates spinning.

I put a sofa bed on the other side of her bedroom wall, kept the doors open and would check on her several times, and call out nurses to make sure my nan was pain-free. She passed the early morning, I awoke as the laboured sound of her breathing ceased.

Walking into the bedroom, the bedcovers haven’t moved since she was last tucked in. A simple line of fluid rolled down her chin and her skin began to whiten as the blood stopped. “Oh, nan” was all I could say. I touched her hand and repeated, “do you know how much I love you?” I then called my mum.
My brave mum. A woman who struggles day in and day out herself was there within 5 mins and I left her with nan. Whilst I had to think of all the practicalities. This woman, my mum, has always been by my nan’s side through cancer the first time, the second time, the appointments and then her funeral. Pretty much, it was mum and me (and my little family) through the whole thing. My grandmother deserved more than how she was treated by other family members. She deserved more than she received in life – and I know things need wrapping up for her to have peace. ALL I can do is try to give that to her. Because I love her.
Her ashes take pride of place in my living room. With a sweetpea candle burning by it, a bonsai tree beside her, and a glass of never-dying flowers. I talk to her every day, wishing that she could answer me, or just to sit with me and watch Homes Under the Hammer.

I refused to let her ashes be split up like my grandfathers’, I kept her whole and undisturbed. I reached out through my anger and offered an olive branch by inviting all to her funeral service (she was cremated the day before and followed the request of a peaceful sendoff) yet no one but my mum, my family bothered to reply and attend. Byron (my oldest boy, then 4) sang “I’ll be your sweetheart” as the priest blessed her. At least the only people who ever loved and cared for her surrounded us. But people who still pretend to love her never uttered a sound except for the question of “what am I going to get” as my nan said before – she did not raise them like that.
All I can do is allow my heart to journey with this grief. Feel it until the tears cannot come anymore. Light some candles and pray that everyone i have lost, finds peace and unending, enduring love. In this house, we remember. I try not to let the anger eat me up too. Anger at those that should have cared about my nan, not simply what they could take from her.
This all can hit from the most innocent of things and it can crash into me. The grief is like a black horse that sits on my shoulder and kicks me with the pain of grief. Bites with the blackest rage at my heart. But for my family, I have to be stronger.

One day, they will have to answer for all that they have done. And I am sure there is a few awaiting to see them again because my nan is not the first and won’t be the last of the people that have been damaged through those people.
One day, I will be reunited with her and the others that I have loved and lost. We all have to face our maker, stripped away and the truth of your soul laid out. I have nothing to hide. I have never been perfect and I accept my flaws. But my heart is broken and I wonder, will it forever be so?

Thank you for reading. I know this is a charged piece but today, i needed to explain.

Love and light ❤

A Writers Rambles on Writing

The art of writing combines dexterity with imagination, stamina, procrastination and insane mental journeys. You have to be worthy of being a criminal mastermind as well as be worthy of an asylum [at times]. You must also write. A hurdle in the process, but one necessary. Be prepared to feel bewildered, afraid and feeling the sweat of anticipation, precipitate on your brow. New life flows from your fingertips so you may need to relax before you release the hidden truths locked in your very universes. Writers are gods of the hidden realms and the keeper of the keys of knowledge. Weavers of magic and wonder, the storm winds of change. They are the ones that have made history and recorded it. The beginning and the end.

 

Your very body is composed of words in your own language spoken internally, a voice that never stays quiet. Writers are the ones that can transmute that disquiet into something new, something real.

 

So as a writer, I live in those pockets between existence and ethereal. I fall into them without trying to. New voices and destinies cascade across my very dreams. Their lives live out in disquiet, wanting their truths known. The living and dead exist together, like threads bound to this world. One golden thread shimmering with breath, heartbeat and roaring noises screaming to the sky. The other, a thin translucent line, glittering like glass, whispering like the wind. The hidden. Clinging together and staying true to its course. I write for the whispers because it is only then, that the noise makes sense.

 

You. You fascinate me.

Why?

We are our own universes… how you live, who you are, the things you love, your day… everything is beautiful and unknown to me. I want to know. I want to watch you. I want to breathe you in. I want to love your ways. You are like a veil; I want to see what is underneath. Yet, I do not want to move amongst you, I am comfortable, happy even, in my own cave. I am a child of heavy black curtains drawn, and candlelight at all hours. The light is not the friend of my own church – the place I get to, to fall into the mode of just writing.

 

As you can see, I have free wrote. I have simply sat here and let my hands and mind speak, freely. Post Malone playing in the background. My heart and soul lay open. Awaiting the crows to peck out my soul. Each crow wears my face; the face of extreme exhaustion, the face of distraction, the face of time going to fast. Deep breath. Stop. Now go.

WORKING TITLE: Notorious

Sharing my latest writing project: It is about a British gangster boss, his life in and out of the job, peddling drugs and sex. He shares his “crown” with four others, dividing London up by location: North, East, South and West. Meeting weekly with the other bosses to sort whatever needs sorting. Thinking this could be a BRITISH series or one off movie. You don’t actually see many about real British modern gangsters, how it can be passed down and the mob mentality of true bosses. Yeah it is only a few pages. But you can see where it is going.

Writing activity

SCRIPT FOR FILM:

FADE UP TO THE MUSIC – TASTE by TYGA (FT. OFFSET)

INT – SCENE 1: Smoky dark underground club – Night – Men are stood against the wall as women dance on strip poles and in cages.

CUTS to a waitress carrying a tray through the crowd, following her, through the music, through doors, the music FADES the further along she goes down the hall, until you can barely hear it. It abruptly stops as she enters into the bright light of a restaurant, you can hear noise of many people talking (it’s busy), she continues through the restaurant, through another set of doors, down stairs, to a basement, where she stands as four men are sat around a large black table.

CUTS to one of the men who nods to her (MARCOS).

CUTS to her smiling

CUTS to her placing the tray at the centre of the table

CUTS to another man taking out a wad of twenty pound notes (VALENTINO), you see her hands as she takes it, cuts to her pudding the money in her bra, smiling and nodding.

CUTS to her kissing the man who paid her (VALENTINO) on the cheek.

CUTS to him smiling as he takes his double shot of whiskey and takes a shot.

CUTS to his hands putting the whiskey down, his hands are full of gold and silver rings, his knuckles look bruised.

UNKNOWN VOICE:

i-i-i-I’m s-s-s-s-orry

CAMERA PANS INTO VALENTINO’s FACE as he talks:

(Calmly) Sorry? (Louder, exasperated) SORRY? Check out this guy… You knew what you signed up for… yet you take money out of my pocket so you can try what you’re supposed to sell. How is that good for business? How is SORRY going to pay me back?

CAMERA STAYS ON VALENTINOS FACE

UNKNOWN VOICE:

Please. I will pay you back – with interest. Please, no more, please.

VALENTINO BRINGS A CIGERETTE TO HIS MOUTH, TAKES A PUFF THEN BLOWS OUT THE SMOKE

VALENTINO:

(Laughs, settling on a smile) Now what kind of boss would I be, If I simply let you walk. You’ve taken the piss outta me. Do I want everyone taking the piss? (STARING STRAIGHT DOWN THE CAMERA) Do I want people going – oh look there’s Valentino, he don’t care about his stash being used, he don’t care, so lets take the piss. Do you know what comes after that? Hmm? Do you? (says slowly, deliberately nods) Challenge. With it? War. Now my associates here, would not appreciate a weak leader, would you fellas.

CUTS TO THREE MEN STILL SEATED, SMILING. NOT SAYING A WORD.

CUT TO VALENTINO as he takes another drag of his cigarette. He stares for a few moments.

VALENTINO:

Nah, untie him, you can go.

CAMERA STAYS ON VALENTINO AS YOU HEAR ROPES BEING UNDONE, CAMERA SLIGHTLY PANS OUT AS YOU SEE THE BACK OF A OLDER SCRUFFY TEENAGER, HE LOOKS AT VALENTINO WHO MOTIONS TO THE STAIRS, THEN TURNS TO THE OTHERS LAUGHING.

Cut to the teenager running as fast as he can up the stairs until you only see feet.

SCENE 2: OUTSIDE THE CLUB, NIGHT.

CUTS TO OUTSIDE, THE TEENAGER STARTS WALKING TO THE TRAIN STATION WHEN A MOPED PULLS UP BESIDE HIM. TWO PEOPLE WITH BLACK HELMETS TURN.

CUTS TO THE BACK OF THE OLDER TEENAGER, YOU CAN SEE THE PASSENGER ON THE MOPED RAISE A HANDGUN SHOOT HIM FOURS TIMES, THEN THEY TAKE OFF QUICKLY DOWN A SIDE STREET. OLDER TEENAGER COLLAPSES.

IT STARTS TO RAIN AS THE CAMERA PANS FROM THE TOP VIEW OF THE DEAD TEENAGER, HE STARES AT THE SKY AS A PASSER BY RUNS TO HIM AND BRINGS OUT THEIR MOBILE.

SCENE 3: IN THE BASEMENT – NIGHT

VALENTINO – Still smoking ends, he is on the phone call.

VALENTINO:

Thanks. Great news.

CUTS TO PHONE CALL ENDING, THE NUMBER READS: H1

He turns to the other three men and sits back down.

VALENTINO:

Now where were we.

END SCENE.