Life under Lockdown

I have driven twice through this whole thing and now I feel like I have lost my driving mojo AND I swear my perception is worse. 

It’s a fact of the effects of his horrendous virus that I write whilst sitting in my lurid pink dressing gown, resembling Hagrid meets a bespeckled old woman.

I’ve always been a homebody, so not leaving my house for 6 months whilst trying to encourage learning with 3 very different children hasn’t been as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. My eldest and I have sifted through what work she needed to do in a mixture of texts, screenshots and a knock on the door with the words “just try your best, that’s all I want from you and I will always be proud” as well as the words repeated “unprecedented times”.

I have had to be strict; with parents on both sides having health conditions, a question mark over mine [a cold gives me a chest infection] as well as the true unknowns of having several children [and most conditions, underlying, don’t always come out when they are young: from my mothers’ own experience] my 13 year old daughter – a social and popular butterfly – watched as friends would still go out in groups yet she could not. A tantrum or several later, she understood why. As friends’ lost someone to the cursed virus, she looked at me one day and said “you really do care about me, I get it”.

Recently, we have discussed the vaccines that are being reported on across several world medias “If I get the vaccine, can I go back out?” she asked me with hope in her eyes. I told her that the whole family would get it. And yes. If you and we, are protected, there is no reason why she can’t, though she will still have to take precautions as there are people that would refuse it. She silently nodded and carried on messaging her friends. 

The younger 2 boys have been pretty oblivious though are fully aware about “the virus” and “lockdown” they have simply enjoyed the relaxed schedules and together, we have taken a more organic route to education. 

My youngest, being on the [autistic] spectrum, found sitting and doing paperwork unsettling, he was not interested so nothing could get him to focus. I had to take a step back being the flexible, positive & adaptive mother that I am and work out how to get him to learn without glazing over or falling into the spiral of meltdowns. I took a new approach; child-led learning. 

My youngest has always had a particular cleverness yet emotionally, he is a much younger child – balancing the two sides has at times been incredibly frustrating, yet he is also wonderfully gifted. Having taught himself to read before he started year 1 and has excelled in memory, reading and yet struggled with writing. He also has a keen interest in computing; he types very well for a [then] 5 year old and navigates, changes and recreates videos with the confidence and knowledge in some ways more advanced than a full-grown adult. He expressed that he wished to learn more about Macs, Windows and a little bit of Linux. So there was the main area, we focused on and he soaked up the knowledge like a sponge. 

To encourage his writing skills, I would get him to write shopping lists and we would do maths and spelling challenges with rewards for both boys at the end. We baked cakes, we made slime (though my youngest liked to watch – he would not touch it!) and my partner would take them on walks far from the public. 

I remained indoors; paranoid about my own health concerns and that of others. A little powerless and worried that I would make a mistake and we would catch it all. 

My eldest boy – or the middle child – found focusing incredibly difficult but using techniques that I did with my youngest and keeping in mind that it is [once again I use the overused phrase] “unprecedented times” I encouraged him to write a story about the virus, write lists, read things to me, help with chores and watching him game whilst asking questions as well as encouraged him to make posters and things he’s most interesting in. He is more of a do’er than someone who could sit and fill out a workbook. 

After months of days that seemed to run as one, the kids were then to return to school. Much to the chagrin of my middle child. Even my eldest had concerns and rightly so! The cases in schools seemed to spread like wildfire and when one had been exposed, they all stayed home. At one point, we were all home back-to-back for a month, though I had been told to send them in and just keep the exposed child home. 

If your child has siblings, you understand that keeping them separated is nigh impossible, not to mention the fact that based on heavy-research, people do not have to have symptoms to spread it! 

I found the UK news to be quite uninformed compared to the rest of the world, so since the beginning of this whole debacle I began to research what the rest of the world was doing. Sifting through mis-information, false-facts, conspiracy theories, scare-mongering to uncover action plans and ensure that my family were safe. I was pretty adamant that we were not being told everything and it was clear that we still aren’t which has allowed these “inconsistencies” to flourish. 

So now, in Wales, we have been through two lockdowns; a vast number of the public initially not following rules until the virus in the area of which I lived, became a real problem. Now though, people are beginning to take it more seriously though lapses in judgement and following antiquated “rules” as well as a diluge of Social Media comments selfishly proclaiming “we have to live with it…” to “it’s just like the flu” and even “anyone who have died haven’t died because of covid but because of [other] conditions”… “[the virus] is a tool to control the population“ is still prevalent. 

England is currently under lockdown, with talks of it being extended over the Christmas period, the US is under siege with the virus, numerous vaccines being touted and mix in the US elections and Brexit “talks” you have a world that is on the precipice of conflict. Biden won the elections but the country was split, the UK prime minister bubbled through several countrywide discussions and a youth that has sacrificed a lot – their social development, their freedoms restricted and they have seen a lot more than anyone has seen in several generations; vocalising their discord across several social medias. 

Yes, they have been blessed to be a technologically advanced generation; but being taught about wearing masks, keeping away from people and the effects of staying in, is starting to come out. Mental health of the world has suffered and the sufferers are being left with intense anxiety about the future. 

Yet time will tell, how we will all recover from this virus and it’s resulting hangover. How we will move forward will define this generation in the history books. For now though, thank you for reading and stay safe. 

Kelly-Anne Tomlinson-Docherty

Writing exercise: Under the mask

The trouble with being creative is you get this sort of itch. An itch to do something. Something that feeds your body and soul. Music, food, sex, alcohol, reading obsessively, reading everything you can. Seeking a new high to make you feel. Like a rising fire Scorpio priestess; your soul calls to the full moon at full roundness. The wind carried your secret words like whispers of a ghost.

Being trapped in a bubble under the Covid regime, you find yourself fighting yourself. Pushing your impulses down as deep as they can be squashed. Because life demands a perfect mother architype. When you, the person who understands this, is a wolf wearing the coat of a placid sheep. You have teeth and hunger like nothing else; you could eat people alive and haunt their dreams. The incubus, the nightmarish banshee, the burning flame that could burn everything down.

You weave a spell so wonderfully wrought. People have opinions of you. Thoughts of who you really are. Only you know you. But their imaginings are fun to play with. The strands of their own stories come together like a wonderous tapestry; it feeds you like a chocolate fudge cake. You feed off of their energy. But there is a truth that only you are truly honest in expressing; everyone wears the perfect porcelain mask with a badly painted smile and a softness that you crave to wrap your fingers around until it smashes into shards and pieces, cutting into your palm as your crimson blood litters the ground and burns their worlds like battery acid.

The faces reveal themselves to be both ugly and something so brilliant as your blood, ruby red, shines like diamonds on their perfect canvas. You trace the edges of their psyche to see how far their ugliness creeps and who they really are.

Sometimes you want to run to the middle of the forests, get lost in a sea of reaching hand-like branches and scream louder than the wind can cover as you fall to your knees and grow roots in the rampant and fertile earth, as Cernunnos claims you for his bride. The horned god, who’s footfall follows each step of yours. His hot breath, musty from the magick of the call. He knows you and you know him.

You have power. Unknown in the natural world. A power of rebirth and intensity so strong that warriors would tremble before you, bowing as their armour crumbles. You are a creator and destroyer. But, you hide in this world behind a mask made of stone. Hiding your truth, but aware of it. Seeing through the carousel of life.


Dear wonderful audience


During these unprecedented times of a pandemic-status viral outbreak, I am sure that like me, you are checking websites and news outlets daily as the unknown is certainly scarier than the known.


Rumours and whispers circulating hints at more extreme measures becoming imminent, already being in place across the world.


As a mother of three children; a teenager, a six-year-old and a five-year-old – each needing a particular style of parenting as they are all different. If you have been following my journey, you will know that my youngest has certain challenges which means that our whole parenting style has had to evolve to meet his needs. The need for routine and constant communication in regard to routine has been a necessity to his health and wellbeing. Now, with the threat of school-closures long term and very few warnings about when this is happening, leaves little time in regard to preparation.


So, with that in mind, I am suspending all activities that are not family-focused. Giving myself time to plan home-schooling so we are all prepared if it does indeed close for months. Not only that but with the risk of losing wages; with one of us being zero-hours contract and the other being a full-time parent carer and student, we need to work out contingencies. We also have our own parents that fall into the “high risk” category and will have to go into the mandatory self-isolation. I should be joining them as a chronic asthmatic, but as a parent, I cannot. Though we will be severely limiting our risk by not going out and trying to make our last shop carry us through.


What I will be doing will be creating timetables that are broken up, so my kids continue with their learning, I get my own coursework done (which is harder to do with kids around) creating engaging lesson plans that work around my youngest due to his energy and lack of attention span. Creating tailored lists and fun things that will keep them busy and engaged. I also need to work out food ideas; due to my youngest’s food restrictions (fussiness) as well as having the last deep-check to ensure I have ingredients to make what we don’t have as well as ingredients to create things within the lesson plans. I will also use this time to have a deep clean and sort out of our filled up house and preparing the unused room to be used as an office once this is all over – that room should have been my youngest’s but is unused as he and all the kids sleep better with him using the sofa as a bed (he will only settle there – at a reasonable time. He cannot sleep properly in the bedroom). I will also be trying – in between all of this – to focus on my own mental health. I have started counselling and was told to find time for myself.


Although this is keeping me busy; I love spending time with my children and I am concentrated on removing anxiety within these uncertain times. So I will be taking a step back. I will be still vocal on my social media and will share credible information via these platforms.


So I wish you all well, you will all be in my thoughts.







Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Stay at home advice

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.


Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms!


Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
  • Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.


How long to stay at home


  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.


Urgent advice: Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days


Use the 111 coronavirus service

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.


How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (social distancing)

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.


It is particularly important for people who:

  • are 70 or over
  • have a long-term condition
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system



  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • only travel on public transport if you need to
  • work from home, if you can
  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • avoid events with large groups of people
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services



  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family
  • The NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You’ll be given specific advice about what to do.
  • Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted.


How coronavirus is spread


Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.


Travel advice


There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.

If you’re planning to travel abroad and are concerned about coronavirus, see advice for travellers on GOV.UK.


Treatment for coronavirus


  • There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
  • Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
  • Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
  • You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.

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.



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.


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



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.


i-i-i-I’m s-s-s-s-orry


(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?



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



(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.


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


Nah, untie him, you can go.


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






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


Thanks. Great news.


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


Now where were we.


F. Scott Fitzgerald

I understand F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am the first to say that I too, am both insecure and passionate about my own abilities in writing. From the regular existential crisis’ of “what the capital F am I doing” and “I’m not good enough” to the belief that “surely someone will get it”. I am completely imperfect; certainly not knowledgable and my punctuation and use of grammar certainly needs work. I like stories to be linear unless the break feeds into the linear narrative, but even then, my mind can spiral. I live with depression; self-medicating with legal alternative therapies in the form of vaping liquids procured through health farms, too much wine and allowing the rollercoaster ups, downs and dreamscapes from too much sleep take hold, unless I’m an insomniac for that particular week. I feel like I will fail everything; becoming another negative government statistic. Taking a step or trying to focus IS hard! *deep breath* F. Scott Fitzgerald died feeling like a failure. He struggled financially, personally and did not get that critical acclaim until after his death. What do I want? Not fame, nor a lot of money, not intense recognition nor critiques. Thinking about it, perhaps all I want is freedom. To write, to take pictures, to travel, and things that I do to be read and actually enjoyed. I want to feel pride in myself and a nice regular income, from the safety of my own four walls.

How do you feel?

What do you want?

Revelations of the flu

Sadly, I have been infected with the dreaded lurgies, which has, for over four weeks, left me in a state of complete and utter disrepair. Not only have I appeared gross, but my energy has been pretty much null. Leading me to be a silkworm wrapped in two bed-covers. Somehow, I have put one foot in front of the other and kept three children alive. Not always easy, mind. The tiredness alone has been all consuming.

On another note, linking to my last blog. I am a published writer! Woot. Win. Awesome sauce eh! Though I really need to get out of the house at some point; work on the photography aspect of my artistry. I had to give up my full-frame but I have a replacement and wish to play with it, with a defined goal. I thought about revisiting the half-burnt carcass of Mountain Ash Hospital; if it is even reachable. I have also thought about exploring more of Cardiff, or revisiting London or even just taking a train to nowhere in particular. The world (or at least the UK) is my oyster and considering I’m usually stuck in doors, getting by with life stuff, I need to get out there!

I’d love to revisit New York too – that city has always held my heart with how grand and concrete it is. I would love to see San Francisco too. Well, one day I may just get the chance.

But for now, I will work on what I can. I need to revamp my website, and this blog needs a facelift. Gotta plan how what and why. Read textbooks and illuminate my still-tired brain. I will get there, I always do. It’s a mix of energy drinks and will that will get me through the mountains that I have to climb. To be the best you gotta put in the effort.

On another note, I have submitted a major bit of coursework yesterday. A post-apocalyptic story of a man who loses everything, is unable to mentally leave his flat so ends up wanting to commit suicide, tries and fails. Big twist as to why. Found writing the commentary hard, but I am not good at spinning words in that way. More of a intuitive writer. My next part of the course starts next week – screenwriting, scriptwriting and creating a 15 minute play. Something I know nothing about but enough books to sift through.

Though reading textbooks; is it just me, whose brain puts the most boring mental voice to them, to the point that you cannot concentrate and end up wanting to fall asleep… no? no??? Help me… lol.

Today is my 12 year olds’ birthday, so I will sign off with – have a nice day. She is growing up too quickly, though the tantrums and hormones drives me bananas. Love her to bits though. Will always fight for her, forever and ever. Even if I have to be the bad guy at times. Life of a mother, eh?



My debut novel “Black Moon Rises: The First Book” is now available via Amazon!



“Imagine having a perfect life, to have it ripped away by an obsessive ex – who just so happens to be a werewolf. This is the story of Lana Lane; once just a girl, now forced into a world that she never knew existed.
What would you do in her position?”

Let me know what you think 🙂