Selected Writing

Sweepings 1st July

Brush aside the notion that sweeping statements suffice. Brush truth under the carpet for long enough and a lump will form to trip you up

Sweepings 24th June

They watch as September swirls in the window

She is stooped and weak

A-line skirt hanging slack

Bottom lip snatched by a sudden gust

Sweepings 14th June

Vast mouths filtered planktonic morsels; sustainably straining nourishment from the sea through plates frayed into bristles forming a matted sieve, till commercial fishing vessels ventured further and further into Arctic waters to land giants for the sake of fashion, chimney brushes and upholstery stuffing


Lauren meandered through the dismantled market in the late afternoon. Tarpaulins were being stripped back and displays packed down, revealing cobbled-together trestle tables, sawn scaffold poles with a cipher of scuffed PVC tape-markings and heaps of folded polythene sheeting, faded and hardened by the sun wind and rain. It all seemed a far cry from the unblemished merchandise on display just half an hour earlier.

Negotiating a haphazard route between stacked crates of socks and vests, she narrowly avoided being hit full in the face by a rack of beanie hats as she took a shortcut between two stalls. She picked her way through several sacks of potatoes, half a dozen orange nets of onions and a couple of shallow trays of beetroot; leaves wilting and ochre-red skins caked with earth. She passed between two parked vans; their rear doors open. A few sticks of early rhubarb lay scattered on the ground nearby.

Her conscionable logic clocked every health and safety liability. Meanwhile her impulsive mood this afternoon was bent on courting risk for no good reason. She was inclined to step on the cracks; fall between the cracks; crack open the limitations of her habitual life to reveal a dawning idea…

Hanging by a thread, her self-regard was like a flimsy scarf, soon to be dropped. It would be subsumed into the miasma of detritus already discarded on the poorly laid tarmac, undulating with depressions and erupting in patches along the kerb where the grass was reasserting and repopulating every fissure. A whimsical change of priorities was astir…

‘Hidden potential’, the social worker had said. Despite the outward show of low self-esteem and an agonizingly inactive nature. The poor girl had simply ‘had the wind knocked out of her’ by the unrealistic, over critical expectations and obsessive standards imposed at home. ‘We’re not talking about your typical low generational expectations here’

This adult advocate had gone further: She believed this girl could be ‘a blueprint awaiting development!’ The recent bad attitude at school was a new contingency, ‘but who doesn’t exhibit a bit of hormonal dissent at thirteen? It was hardly an expulsion issue.’ Admittedly, the poor grades and careless smudgy handwriting were more persistent problems but she was ‘…clearly not thick… and if a late dyslexia diagnosis was a likelihood, then frankly she’d been let down by the school as well.’

Lauren stepped over a stream of suds trickling into a heap of crushed ice; the hot water accelerating its melt through the grate of a drain. A cheeky bright green sprig of parsley caught her eye. The smell of fish and detergent intermingled in a dubious fusion.

‘Pragmatic.’ That was the term Janet had used to justify the latest round of ‘Streamlining’. ‘They’d have to be responsive in a changing climate, and that meant accepting certain limitations’. Well, no amount of S.M.A.R.T objectives could justify cutting corners on this scale. An appalling lack of scrutiny by weak management equated‘getting the job done’ to ‘getting away with it’. She balked at the institutional apathy! The sound of backslapping was only just muffled by the claptrap being peddled and worse still; no one was watching her back…

At the end this row was a stall selling items without their original packaging. Folding scooters and retro-style headphones displayed alongside water filters, packs of cartridges bundled with rubber bands and rolled microfiber cloths taped into threes. She’d bought a kettle from here a few months ago and it had been a godsend. A slight scratch on the side had all but rubbed out with a bit of metal polish.

She was going to have to think outside the box. She’d been blowing hot and cold with the job anyway.