Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year
Best Wishes
I wish you all you wish yourselves
Kate xxx

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Hazel Brown

Hazel Brown

Those eyes of Hazel-Brown
With suggestions of Amber,
And flecks of Gold,
When lit up with the light
Of warm recognition and love.
Could melt the coldest heart
And save the darkest soul.
© Kate McClelland 2015

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Tar Bubbles

Thought I'd try a short story today.
hope you enjoy it. Kate

Tar Bubbles


It was a very hot, dry day. It was so hot, that the road tar bubbled and hissed like a slimy black cauldron.

You could smell the acrid odour like a strong ‘whiff’ from the cheap rubber-soles of the people walking along. The soles, gradually melting on the scorching pavement.

You could have boiled mercury on it.

Looking down the street, Tilly could see a blue haze shimmering in a dip in the road, like a pool of smoky water. In this built up inner city area of concrete and bricks – there was no shade to be had at all.

Tilly had been sent out in to this urban desert and told not to come back until ‘tea-time’ by Mum so she could take advantage of the good weather by washing the bed sheets and blankets in the tin bath in the tiny yard at the back of their ‘house’ - as were most of the other women in the street.

The ‘swinging’ ‘60’s it was not. Not here anyway.

Any form of domestic emancipation didn’t arrive in this slum clearance area and for the ‘not so well off’ until much later.

The only thing good about the ‘60’s for most women was the contraceptive pill. Being able to decide NOT to have 11 kids by the time you were forty was the main benefit.

Tilly had tried to help her mum, but being a scrawny six year old, she couldn’t lift the heavy, sopping-wet blankets and tended just to get soaking wet.

She had already been banned from using the clothes mangle after an incident where she had gotten tangled up in the washing as she was pushing it through the mangle and got her hand trapped.

Dad had to dismantle the mangle and then put it back together again – accompanied by a lot of ‘colloquial Anglo-Saxon’ and frustrated shouting and the flinging down of screwdrivers.

This day, Tilly was bored. She sat on the edge of the road kerb, watching the tar bubble up and burst like an evil witch’s brew - when she spied an old ice-lolly stick. With a cry of glee, she grabbed the stick and began to pop the tar bubbles with it.

She stared at the road surface intently. Watching the tar like a Kingfisher, waiting for the bubbles to rise to the surface – a signal to the watching ‘bird’ that a fish was ready to be plucked from the depths.

She was focused totally, oblivious to the traffic (not that there was much traffic where she lived as not many people had cars)

Pop, pop, pop….wait… wait… pop, pop. The smell of the tar rising from the road surface invading her nostrils. The stick getting ever stickier as she popped the tar bubbles to her heart’s content. She had a mission.

After a while, she didn’t know how long - a voice pulled Tilly from her trance.

A cheerful little old lady (not that much taller than Tilly to be honest) had tapped her lightly on the shoulder. She recognised her as one of the neighbours, but couldn’t remember the lady’s name.

She was trying to coax Tilly away from the road, asking her to come in for a cup of tea.

Tilly had been told about ‘strangers’, so very firmly, but politely said ‘No Thank You Missus’ and went back to her self-set task.

The lady went back into her house, but then a few minutes later came out with a piece of cake wrapped in a serviette. Cake!! ‘Wow, now we’re talking!’ Thought Tilly.

She had been warned about ‘strangers’, but not about little old ladies bearing cake.

Tilly got up from the kerb, wiped her sticky hands down her frock and gratefully accepted the offering. The lady told her she was giving her the cake on the understanding that she stopped popping the tar outside the house. 

With a mouthful of cake, she nodded in agreement and the lady went back indoors whilst she woofed the rest of the cake down before anyone could change their minds.

Tilly then moved further down the road and started to pop the tar bubbles again.

Tilly didn’t realise that she was causing the poor old dear anguish and that she had been trying to get her out of the road and out of harm’s way. She had thought the lady just didn’t want her to pop the tar outside her house (she came under the classification of someone who ‘scrubbed the doorstep’ and ‘polished the door brasses’ and had ‘Dolly Doilies’ over the toilet tissue rolls for Tilly).

The lady’s net curtains kept ‘twitching’ (obviously checking Tilly was ok) but she felt like she was being spied on.

After about 5 minutes, the lady came out of her house and walked briskly down the road. Tilly was disappointed there was no more cake on offer.

Then out of the corner of her eye, she spotted her mum hurtling towards her with a face like thunder, wisps of wet blond hair sticking out of the sides of her hastily scraped into place hair bun.

Tilly’s mind raced ahead, trying to give reason to her mum’s demeanour.  ‘What have I done? What have I done?’ but she couldn’t think. She jumped up off the kerb.

Mum rushed up and grabbed the top of Tilly’s arm tightly, her fingernails digging in and dragged her towards home, with Tilly shouting ‘What’s up Mum? What’ve I done? Mum! What’s wrong??’

Frog-marched along the pavement her mum hissing in her ear ‘Shut up! You’re making a show of me – wait til I get you home, you’re for it!’

Tilly was unceremoniously thrown through the front door into the hallway and she fell against the bottom stair, slightly winded.

Mum slammed the front door and screamed in Tilly’s face ‘OH MY GOD!!– The SHAME of it! Embarrassing me like that!!’

‘Like what Mum?’ Still not knowing what she had done and totally confused.

‘You know full well what you did, you little madam!’ – Tilly was totally perplexed - ‘No, I don’t’ – What did I do mum? Tell me!’

It always annoys me the way adults assume that kids know when they have done something they shouldn’t have. How many times did someone say to you when you were a kid ‘You know what you have done – you’re just playing dumb to get out of trouble/trying to denying all knowledge of what you have done / being ‘hard-faced’ or cheeky – when you genuinely did not have a clue what you had done because you were daydreaming and had the memory of an absent-minded goldfish.

‘YOU’ Mum’s accusing finger of fate pointed directly in Tilly’s face – ‘Were playing in the road! Do you know how dangerous that is? Mrs McAleavey was having kittens watching you in case you got run over!’ She paused for breath ‘She was so worried, she came and got me! You took cake from her! How many times have you been told you not to accept things from people? Look at the state of me! I’m in the middle of doing the washing! I’m soaking wet, my hair’s all over the place and I don’t even have my lippy on. I didn’t know where to put myself!!’

(Mum didn’t go outside the door without her hair and make-up done - ever).

‘Get up those stairs to bed and stay there until your Dad gets home! Just wait ‘til I tell him what you’ve done today – you’re going to get a hiding!!’

Tilly ran up the stairs as if the devil himself was after her, ran into the bedroom and slammed the door.

She wracked her boiled brains as to how bad in trouble she was. Then it hit her – in the road - tar bubbles – neighbour – cake – mum – washing – no makeup!!

‘Oh god – I’m in big trouble. Dad is going to kill me – or worse – leave me alive after the belting I’m going to get’. Thought Tilly panicking.

She jumped off the big iron bed and pushed it against the door with all her strength and then jumped back on it. She sat there like a marooned sailor protecting his patch of land.

‘Dad will have to break the door down to get in. Although, I wouldn’t put it passed him, but he might be too tired to hit me after that’ she thought glumly.

Tilly sat on the bed terrified.

The day went from light to dark, then darker still – Mum didn’t come and check on her and no sign of Dad yet, so she got into bed dinner-less and her empty stomach doing summersaults.

She didn’t waste her energy on crying as she knew it would just made her thirsty and tired. She may need all of her strength later.

Then, the front door slammed open and Tilly listened intently as Dad fell sideways through the doorway, sliding along the wall.

He was well drunk! The smell of beer, cigarette smoke and a chip shop supper wafted under her bedroom door. She felt so hungry she nearly opened it.

Nearly – but she wasn’t so hungry that she would chance getting a beating for it.

There was a bit of an altercation between her mum and dad.

‘Where’ve you been? Where did you get the money to get that drunk? Shouted mum. He’d obviously blown his wages again thought Tilly.

Dad roared back ‘I can do what the fuck I want! It’s my money – Do you want some fucking chips or not? Get the kettle on and some bread buttered and shut the fuck up’.

You know – the usual Friday night chitchat.

Mum knew not to argue back as arguing back was like cigarette smoking – it could seriously damage her health – but immediately. Tilly heard her moving around in the kitchen.

She breathed a sigh of relief. It meant Mum was now too mad at Dad to tell him what she had been up to and Dad was too drunk to do anything about it anyway.

By tomorrow, they would have both forgotten and it was an unwritten rule that if she couldn’t be punished on the actual day she had done something, then it was left unpunished.

She didn’t know why this rule was in place, but tonight she was really glad it was.

A wave of calmness came over Tilly as her little body relaxed and most of the visible tension fell away. She got up out of bed and crept to the curtain-less window and perched her elbows on the window ledge.

She traced star patterns cross the sky with her finger. She loved looking at the stars.

They always made her feel safe. She felt that the stars twinkled just for her to say hello and to smile at her and say ‘everything’s okay’. She took great comfort from that.

A clear crescent Moon smiled its lob-sided smile. Tilly smiled back and sighed heavily. She couldn’t move the bed away from the door now as the noise would have brought some unwanted attention.

She made a mental note to herself to move the bed away from the bedroom door early next morning.   

She said good night to the stars, blew them a kiss and got back into bed.

She snuggled under the candy-striped blankets, wrapping them around her like a protective cocoon. Then telling her grumbling stomach to shut up, she gradually fell asleep.

She dreamt of a starry night and the sea. A huge galleon in full sail taking her away across the waves to somewhere quiet, green and full of trees to sit under and not a tar bubble in sight.


© Kate McClelland 2015


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Dusty Bones – The Halloween Version

As it's nearly Halloween, I thought I would try a scary story.

This is actually based on a poem I wrote about a recurring nightmare.
I hope you like it.
It's 1691 words - which, if you turn upside down is - 1691!
Hope you're Halloween is 'spooktacular' (so sorry, I really couldn't resist that one! - I'll get my coat :0))

Dusty Bones – The Halloween Version


It’s midnight, on All Hallows Eve and I am already in bed.

It had been a disaster of a Halloween party. Chase had turned up already very drunk and preceded to puke up over the finger buffet and kind of killed the party mood in one fell swoop.

I threw Chase out and Jake offered to take him home to keep him out of trouble. Chase shouting back to me as I slammed the door ‘Sorry Ginny, really sorry. GINNY!‘

The others sloped off to Murphy’s Bar for a ‘lock in’, but I really didn’t feel like going. So I cleared up the mess (swearing under my breath ‘Chase you will pay for this, you jerk’) and went to bed early.


The red neon numbers of the digital clock showed -11.59 - then ‘blinked’ and changed to -00.00-.

Sleepily, I registered the change – two pairs if red hollow eyes stare from the black clock face at me for exactly a minute and then they ‘blinked’ to show -00.01-. I rolled over on to my side.

The weather outside had taken a turn for the worst. I could hear the rain batter the windows with its hundreds of tiny fists, demanding entry out of the cold outside.

The wind kicked over the pumpkin lanterns and trashed the plastic bat decorations from around the front door onto the porch floor. It grabbed huge handfuls of the larger icy droplets and lashed them against the sides and roof of the house.

They clattered like tiny bits of gravel or shale thrown against a wooden shack. It growled down the chimney like a disgruntled ex – trying to demand my attention with his ‘listen to me, listen to me’ moans and shrieks!

The wind, angry at being unable to rouse me from my bed, turned on the lonely weeping willow that still stands in the garden at the front of the house, whipping him around and twisting his branches like a pretzel before allowing him to uncoil and return back to his normal hunched state.

The willow threw his wind-beaten arms downwards as if trying to grab the earth to hold himself to the ground. 

I am lying folded up inside the duvet of my bed, like the lemon filling in a meringue. To my sleepy eyes, the shadows of the room billowed and waved like dark muslin voiles in a breeze.

I suddenly realise in my semiconscious state that a dark shape is emerging on my right - someone is leaning over me – looming in the darkness.


It flits through my befuddled mind not to be silly - that no-one is here.

I close my eyes and think ‘I’m in my bed cosy and warm. It’s the trick of the shadows and my imagination is running wild because of the date and a few drinks’.

I chuckle and whisper ‘Stupid’ to myself and pull the duvet further up and over my nose.

Again, I feel a presence loom over me again - leaning to stare? No, it feels like it’s studying me.

It has an aloofness about it – a bug collector pinning their new find to the pegboard for the curious to look at.

The light suddenly brightens in the room and I realise I am NOT in my bed.

A thick box-shaped glass case surrounds me on all sides and above me as well. A soft glow ceiling light shines down, straight in my face, as if to highlight my features.

I am still me, I think, curled up in my usual foetal sleeping position – No longer snuggled up in my bed, but lying on a large beanbag cushion, draped in candy-stripe blankets. I also appear to be surrounded by paraphernalia from across the decades of the 20th Century, like grave offerings.

For some reason, my hair has been pulled into a high ponytail and I appear to be dressed in a pink jogging suit and matching sneakers that I wouldn’t be seen dead in normally!

Seen dead in…


I find that I can’t move any part of my body.  My head is resting on the crook of my right arm – my face positioned so it’s looking up through the right hand side of the glass case.

Another figure looms over me again, then fades.

Suddenly, my senses return to me and in my shock and complete creeping, skin crawling horror, I realise that I’m an exhibit in a local museum!

On display like a gassed butterfly or formaldehyde-soaked fish.

Panic takes over my mind, I try again to move, but I can’t, not a single inch.

I try to shout, but I can feel years of dust coating the back of my desiccated throat and not even a death rattle can be raised.

I try to move my fingers, but see that they are withered and the colour of old leather. The tips of the finger bones, finger nails still intact, showing through the shrivelled-back skin.

I want to cry, but there is nothing there, apart from maybe a residue of salt in the tear ducts.

Trapped – my spirit alive and well, but residing in my seemingly very long-dead carcass. The panic rolls into despair and grinding horror. Is this a room in Hell perhaps?

A pile of dusty bones and skin, preserved like beef jerky and dressed as people of the future might think ‘we’ in the ‘past’ dressed.

To be put on display, gawped at and prodded in the name of science from ‘9 to 5’ every weekday except weekends and high holidays.

Another shadowy figure materializes in my short field of vision and finally comes in to focus.


She is a beautiful middle aged woman with long, straight silver-grey hair, parted in the middle. A proud, strong face, full of character - of First People decent maybe.

She is wearing a plain straight buckskin coloured dress with a black beaded belt with little flecks of Lapis Lazuli and a black owl pendant hung around her neck, resting on her chest.

She looks me straight in the eyes with such pity and ‘knowing’ as if she can see that I am still here, even in this mummified state.

She is holding a large, hard-backed book which has faded, red leather triangular corners and spine, with a mottled front. It looks like books from centuries ago, but oddly it has no ‘title’ or author’s name anywhere on it.

She opens the book and is trying to show me some of the pages, trying to communicate something to me – a way back perhaps, an escape from this dried meat and fabric prison, a way to release my soul from this entrapment and purgatory.


But she is suddenly and unceremoniously shoved aside by a large meat fisted troglodyte and his brood– who really should be under this glass case instead of me.

She tries again to position herself next to me, still holding the book open.

I am using what little there is of my sight to claw any information from the open page as I can, frustratingly, it’s not in a language I can understand but the illustrations look like depictions from the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ I had studied whilst at college.

To my total and utter soul crushing shock, she is moved on by a museum official and advised that her ‘time is up’ and to move along to the next exhibit. She fades away from my sight, her sorrowful face blending back into the darkness out of the reach of my poor vison.


The troglodyte takes a quick glance at the flotsam and jetsam in the case with me, not even glancing in my direction and then moves on, shouting for his brood to follow him.

But one of his charges, a young teenage girl, stops to take a closer look at the ‘funny mummy’


 She stares into my face – she the ‘observer’, expecting me to be the ‘observed’.

A moment flits by – she frowns in disbelief at what she sees as we stare straight into each other’s eyes.

She sees the observed is now the observer and she stands, silently agog for a moment.

Comprehension dawns across her face - she becomes wide eyed with terror and dreadful surprise.

Backing away from the glass case, she puts one hand over her mouth, the other hand pointing towards me. The rest of the brood crowds around her wondering what the problem is.

Their faces follow to where her outstretched hand is pointing and turn towards me - quickly moving from denial to open mouthed horror of the fact that they can all see two very much alive eyes staring out and looking directly at them from the dried out cadaver in front of them.

I see their ‘about to scream’ faces as they all point towards me ‘AAARRRGGHHH…………



And that’s when I found myself sitting bolt upright and shivering in my bed. The meringue duvet in lumpy submission on the bedroom floor. I grab it back and swathe myself in it like a life jacket. My ears catching the last remnant of the scream and with shock I realise - that it’s me screaming.


God knows what they saw – For I feel they were real people, and that it wasn’t a dream, but a vision maybe? Or even some sort of ‘time slip’? Did they see a mummified skull screaming back at them, eyes bulging in abject horror?

Or just the skin shredding terror of realising they were being observed by a preserved corpse at a local museum.

Who was the grey lady and what was she trying to tell me?

Is this a glimpse of a possible future for me?

To end up as dusty bones in a glass cabinet, kept in a gloomy annex of some obscure provincial museum.

No ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’ for me, but an unnamed relic with just a sticker on the side of the glass box stating:

‘White, Female, Homo Sapien Sapien – 21st Century’


A mouldy exhibit, never allowed to finally rest.

Screaming silently again and again….

For all eternity

© Kate McClelland 2015



Friday, 16 October 2015

A Bus Journey Home

I'm trusting you guys with a story.

I know people say 'keep blog entries short', ' keep it snappy', 'don't wear out the reader', 'short, sharp & shocking'  is what you want to go for.

But sometimes, don't you want a little peek at something that's not zingy and mind blowing?

A gently rolling, monolog that may not rock your world, but is comfortable and goes well with a cup of tea and a plate of cookies.

This is one of my 'cup of tea' stories.
I really hope you enjoy it.

A Bus Journey Home

It’s 31st October - Halloween.
The start of a long day commences with the shrill alarm clock screeching in my ear at 6.30 am. Makes mental note to change that setting from ‘shrill’ to ‘buzz’.
I can’t have the alarm set to ‘music mode’ as my brain rejects music as a ‘wake-up’ call and tends to make it part of whatever dream I am having at the time. Instead of rousing me gently from my sleep, it floats me away into a REM state.

I drag my dead weight of a body out from under the duvet. I want to sink back in and stay there, but I reluctantly have to peel myself away from the fluffy cotton cocoon.
My fingers push through unruly bed hair, getting tangled in the ginger filaments explosion that is my ‘crowning glory’.

Tweaking the blinds, I see it’s still pitch black outside. Going to work and getting home in the darkness with only beige walls in between - all the colour feels washed out of my life.
I can feel my body’s Vitamin A, D and E evaporating through my skin as I stand under the florescent bathroom light brushing my teeth.

The bathroom mirror (I hate mirrors) shows my ‘winter’ skin that is pallid and dry. The subcutaneous fat layer however, is doing really well.
Jowls and waistline getting thicker and thicker. Fat stockpiled over the last few months through comfort eating (consisting mainly of chocolate, creamy curries and more chocolate).

It was a trudge to get to work today, but the journey’s mood was elevated somewhat by a pleasant encounter with a co-worker. We used code and nicknames so no-one would know what or who we were talking about like a pair of school kids.
The bus route has been diverted to accommodate the only growth industry there seems to be in this city - road works.

I swear that the city councils and utility companies wait until the most inconvenient times to dig up road surfaces. I reckon there are even joint committee meetings to decide which roads would be the most disruptive to dig up and bring the road system of the city to a standstill.

The day is relentlessly busy. Churning out paperwork, emails and phone calls ('smile when you speak – people can hear it' phone sticker). Not exactly physically strenuous but wearing a person out mentally through alternating sheer boredom and brain-crushing stress. Repetitive, constant, mind – numbingly boring interspersed with frequent periods of manic busy-ness.

What happened to the ‘paperless office’ we were promised in the 1980’s? They can make fabric invisible, regrow damaged spines and find water on Mars, but the paperless office eludes even the most inventive of minds.

Anyway after 10 hours of emails, phone calls, printer disassembly and reassembly, calls to the I.T. Department (surely one of the levels of Hell and/or Purgatory depending on what end of the phone you are on) ‘Can I have those reports in 15 minutes for a meeting I didn’t tell you about’, ‘smile like you mean it’ all day, I was bone-tired. If I had a sleeping bag, I would just curl up under the desk for the night.

I leave work - it's dark. I drag my protesting bulk through the shivery darkness to the bus stop for the return journey.

Waited – no bus
Waited – no bus
Waited – no bus.

There is supposed to be a bus every 15 minutes, but I have been waiting over an hour by this time. Cold is seeping into my bones and ligaments. The timetable seem to be of no use at all except maybe as something to read or to burn to keep warm by.

Sometimes you get to the point when you have been waiting so long that you start thinking - ‘Are they running? What if there’s been an accident?’ ‘Should I walk or wait a bit longer?’ and you dither for a bit longer, then you decide – stuff it, walking it is.

So, I walk down towards the bus stop outside the supermarket, opposite the pub, where I can still get my normal bus if it turns up, but I can also get an alternative bus. It has a more meandering route and takes longer, but if that turned up first I’ll be happy to get on it. At least I would be out the now biting cold.

Of course, 'Murphy’s Law' comes in to play and half way between bus stops, my (empty) bus sails right passed me. Thumbing its invisible nose, miming ‘nyaw nyaw nyaw’ at me from its rear window.Expletives abounded under my breath as I continue trudging down the road mentally kicking myself.

When I finally get there, a paper sign shoved in a clear plastic bag has been hastily duct-taped to the bus stop post – ‘This bus stop is closed until further notice -please go to next bus stop. Apologies blah, blah more road works blah, blah, blah’

I sigh heavily, wondering how long it is going to take me to get home. I don’t have enough money to get a taxi, so completely fed up and with much teeth chattering, I walk on.
A small but gnarly looking group are standing around it made up of very agitated people. I could hear them muttering as I approached, turning from bus-waiting customers to a possible lynch mob for the next poor bus driver.

A frail looking guy, unsteadily weaves in and out of the people, mumbling to them in turn and being ignored or told to clear off in no uncertain terms. English is a great 'universal swearing' language - Anglo Saxon must have been a very lusty, boisterous language I think.
I am livid! Positively livid! First the car, now the bus, might jump a taxi – yer, yer okay - Laters’ says the bald guy into his mobile phone. ’This is doin’ my head in.’ . he throws the mobile phone into his leather jacket pocket and seethes quietly.

He has the appearance of a tough nut from a London ‘bad boys’ TV show – shaved head, ‘tan-tastiqued’ to well-done barbecue sausage level. Wearing the ‘uniform’ of a black leather jacket, black open collar shirt, black chinos and ‘polished to a glow’ black shoes.
Adding to this ensemble is a thick gold neck chain (which could probably pay for a student nurse’s tuition and accommodation fees for a year), a sovereign ring and big ‘divers’ watch – cushty! Why do they want a ‘divers’ watch? Is that in case they go to ‘sleep with the fishes’ and need to see how many feet underwater they are and an illuminous dial to count down their last seconds at the bottom of the boating lake?

The nearest he’ll ever get to use it is at the gym when he’s power swimming his way up and down the pool, trying to impress some emaciated, micro-bikinied, ‘tansational’ female. She, lounging at the side with an expresso and a fashion magazine, (not in the pool of course – can’t look ‘cool’ with chlorine soaked hair)

A couple of girls in their very early twenties, or maybe younger (I can’t tell sometimes) totter up, adding to the throng.

One is dressed in pink ©Betty Boop pyjamas, with a small pink velvet jacket thrown over the top and her blonde hair ravelled up in huge plastic and foam curlers (lately de rigeur look for ‘pre night-out’ shopping in town it seems). On her feet are a pair of Ug boots that look like they are made from the feet of a Yeti. All I keep thinking is that she should get a proper coat on or she’ll freeze to death.

She drags a small ‘hot pink’ coloured case on wheels behind her, looking worried to death. She clutches hold of the long handle as if the case has the Hope diamond inside. I assume it holds her Halloween outfit.

Her friend, who makes it clear during their conversation that she thinks dressing up for Halloween is ‘naff’, is diametrically opposed in look. Dressed in black and silver leopard skin print shorts over thick black tights, black suede pointy shoes with big silver and purple buckles, a black boob tube with a ‘kidney freezer’ black Bolero styled leather jacket over the top. Her eyes are thickly lined with kohl. On her head was a ‘fro-styled wig which seemed at odds with the post punk outfit she wore, but each to their own. At least she was looking forward to their up and coming night out, unlike her worried friend. They are so different I wonder how they became friends.

‘Blondie’ was having a mini crisis over whether she had brought enough makeup, or the right outfits (she had brought several in case someone had the same) - if ‘Mike’ was going to turn up, she felt sick, she didn’t want to go - no have to go in case ‘Mike’ is there babble, babble, fret, fret.

Her friend just rolled her eyes in a total ‘OMG I couldn’t give a flying fig’ look that only close friends can give each other without causing offence and tells her to ‘chillax’. There’ll be tears before bedtime I’m sure of that.

Finally the bus arrives. Why do people always shout at the bus driver if the bus is late?
’Do you know how long I’ve been waiting? (As if he/she will know)
Where’ve you been?’ (Like the driver is some errant school kid or wandering spouse)
What happened to the missing buses?’ I’m sure the driver would like to say something sarcastic like ‘They were abducted by aliens on the by-pass madam’ but they don’t because they have a *mortgage to pay.

I’ve always thought of this as odd. After all - this driver turned up, they are doing their job. Shouldn’t they be shouting at the bus company instead? Filling in a ‘How can we improve our service’ form or ringing Customer Services will do more than giving the besieged driver a rollicking.

There were plenty of grumblings at the bus driver of:
This bus service is dreadful! Been waiting hours!’ And then:
Does this bus go to the city centre?’ asks a slightly inebriated young woman shushing her boyfriend as she spoke to the driver.

You need the stop on the opposite side of the road love’ said the driver.
Crap’ replied the girl, pulling her boyfriend off the bus.

A muffled ‘Told you, you never listen to me, I think we should go home. Please let’s go home’ from the boyfriend as she pulls him with her as they try to cross in front of the bus.
Can I get on with this?’ The driver is proffered an out of date train ticket held by a giggling, very slightly built, but staggeringly drunk man, as he holds himself up by holding on to the door frame. It's the guy from earlier.

He has come to the end of his Halloween night early (probably run out of money) his skin has a slight tinge of yellow and I think he looks a lot older than he actually is.
The driver lets him board the bus, saying to him:
‘Okay, get on, but behave yourself. No bothering the rest of the passengers or throwing up’ for which the drunk is as pleased as a kid in a sweet shop.

Thanks mate, thank ve’mush’ he slurred, giggling.  He thinks, in his inebriated state, that he has tricked the driver with the out of date rail ticket. The driver however, lets him board because it's safer than the guy weaving in and out of the busy road traffic asking people for bus fare (as he had been doing before the bus arrived).

We all eventually get on the bus and settle down for the journey. The drunk chuckling and talking to himself at the front of the bus.

A current of warm air permeated around my legs from the heating system, thawing them slightly. Bliss.
I was sitting near the two young girls listening to the chunnerings of ‘Blondie’ - still panicking over her outfit – more eye rolling from her kohl-eyed friend.

Suddenly -‘BANG, BANG, BANG’!!

A few teenagers were throwing raw eggs at the bus, splattering egg yolk and shell all over the windscreen. A bit late for ‘Mizzy Night’ I thought.
Everyone jumps with shock, but the bus driver doesn’t even flinch (kudos to the driver by the way) and just turns on the screen wash and wipers to clean off the mess as if it was all in a day’s work. He doesn’t even glance at the teenagers, but drives on shaking his head slightly.

The bus trundles on and I start to see children walking along the pavement as we weave our way slowly through the traffic.

They’re all dressed as ghosts, ghouls, vampires and witches, holding on tightly to their ‘trick or treat’ mini plastic buckets. They are followed closely by their Mums or older siblings - some of them getting in to the Halloween spirit and dressing up also.

Through the open window I can hear the squeals of joy from the children as they pirouette and dance and chase each other down the road, swinging their little buckets in their hands. Is there anything so joyous to watch as children enjoying themselves with such abandon?

We next stop further along the route at the cinema complex. I, Blondie, her kohl-eyed friend and ‘tantasique’ guy alighted from the bus. I have come to like ‘Blondie’ and ‘Kohl-eyed’ and now feel a bit sad I will never know if ‘Mike’ ever did turn up. They carry on their way, whilst I walk over the crossroads to get the connecting bus home.

Disgruntled people at the new bus stop as well – ‘What has happened to the bus service today’? I think to myself.
Been waiting 20 minutes already’, ‘It’s bloody freezing’ etc. going on.
I move to the back of the bus stop trying to shield myself from the wind when a bus pulls up and most people get on.

Unfortunately – it’s not my bus. I'm envious of the passengers, warmly going on their way.
I and a couple of teenagers are left behind.  A boy and a girl - who obviously feel very awkward, dressed for Halloween as a skeleton and a witch – shop bought costumes, but none the worse for that. I guess from the icy atmosphere between them, (which is nothing to do with the weather) that this is a regretted first date or an ‘about to break up’ date.

I then notice there is also a guy dressed as an ‘old time’ entertainer. He has an expertly coiffured black moustache, he wears a gold coloured waistcoat, a white shirt with rolled up sleeves and black suit trousers. He has on a black bowler hat with a ‘key board’ motif around the middle – his bus pass sticking out of the hat band. I half expected him to have a bow tie that lights up, but no (unless he’s taken it off).

He's leaning against the bus stop. Maybe he had finished a party early or was gearing himself up for a later gig. He has a half empty bottle of Lucozade precariously dangling out of his trouser pocket and a battered sports bag with all of his accoutrements in, lying next to him on the floor.

Out of the blue - he started singing ‘oh what a crap public service’ to the tune of ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ loudly to us, but stopped and fell into a sulk when he saw he had no audience as we fastidiously avoiding any eye contact with him.

By this time, I just want to get home, I've had enough ‘quirky characters’ for one day.
My bus finally arrives and everyone piles on, glad to be out of the now frosty air.

The ’entertainer’ plonks himself in the seat In front of me, resigned to his anonymity. He pulls the bottle of Lucozade from his pocket and takes a slug of the contents.
Whatever is in that bottle is definitely NOT Lucozade! The smell was overpowering! I think it probably could be used to dull the shine on chrome!

I feel a bit sorry for him now. I imagined that he had a gig earlier and got himself drunk when it hadn’t gone too well. He had been ready to ‘cheer up’ the captive audience at the bus stop to build a bit of self-esteem, or maybe a bit of camaraderie - but no-one had been interested. (lets face it - it's flipping Winter & its NOT Wimbledon in the rain!)
The bus pootles off on its way into the icy darkness. I settle down and go to ‘switched off’ brain mode. Suddenly, there is a loud heavy ‘thud’ on the window next to me. I look out and some guy dressed as ‘The Scream’ from that horror movie has thumped the window with his fake rubber hands and put his masked face right up to the window to try and scare me.

Unfortunately for him, I am too tired and jaded by this time, I couldn’t have cared less if it had been the real ‘Scream’ at the window. So I just stare at him with a ‘meh’ look on my face.

He is not happy with this reaction and starts churning himself up on the pavement for a second launch at the window. I just look him straight in his mask and yawn, giving him the ‘two fingered nose scratch salute’ as the bus picked up some speed, leaving him running alongside the bus for a few yards, impotent.

The ‘entertainer’ alights outside an off licence and with a slight swaying, - two steps forward, one step back - he makes his way towards the door to obtain a refill and an early night (I hope).

I eventually get to my stop with no further shenanigans and walk the last few hundred yards home.

Key in the lock, close door, coat off, shoes off, throwing my bag into the corner of the hallway. I go straight to the kitchen.
I am met by a sink full of dishes, bowls and pans still there from the night before. Three pairs of muddy footie boots strewn on the floor. A pile of clothes stacked up next to the washing machine.

Lovely! Welcome home’ I say to myself. The house is empty as everyone is out. A note left under the fridge magnet says ‘Don’t make tea for us. Gone for Chinese with the lads, love you’

I throw a pasta ready meal into the microwave. Then after changing into my ‘slobs’, pour myself a glass of white wine - gulping down half whilst waiting Impatiently for the microwave. I swear if we had teleportation, someone would still press the ‘start’ button several times as it wouldn’t be fast enough.

The microwave ‘pings’ I burn myself (again) peeling the cover off the meal.I top up my wine glass. Can’t be bothered pouring the meal out on to a ‘proper plate’ so I grab the oven glove to rest the very hot microwaved meal bowl on and flop in front of the TV.

I grab the remote and press ‘on’ to find a Halloween episode of ‘Futurama’ showing.
I raise my wine glass to the TV ‘Happy Halloween guys’ I say and snuggle down with my big soft dressing gown wrapped around me and - vegetate.

(*mini detour – the word ‘mortgage’ means ‘death pledge’. Makes you think, doesn’t it).
© Kate McClelland 2015

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A Child’s Flip Flop

A Child’s Flip Flop

From my seat on the bus

Held up in heavy traffic for what seems like on eon

Product DetailsI spy a child’s flip-flop, garishly green

Discarded on the urban street

What story could it tell?

One of a clumsy refuse collector maybe -

The rejected shoe escaping as he emptied the bin?

Or a child‘s dropped school bag

At the bus stop - the errant shoe missed

As she gathered up her spilled belongings

Jumping hurriedly on the now-arrived bus?

Maybe even jetsam from a car accident –

Thrown out of the window with the force of the impact?

Or a parent’s ferocious fight that had sprawled out

In to the street,

The flip flop wearing child alternatively

Clinging to her mother’s skirt or

Clawing at her father’s jeans, crying in fear

Wanting one of them to notice her distress

As she stood between them,

Terrified and alone in her anguish

Then being snatched up from the floor

By her still screaming mother

Who threw the flip flop

After the father, as he walked off

Shouting obscenities behind him as he left?

What a story it could tell.

But wait – what’s this?

A little scruffy dog scrambles in view

Scoops up the flip flop like a chew toy in his mouth

Then dashes back to a little boy in holey jeans and wild hair

He pats the dog on the head

Takes the flip flop and throws it again 

Watches the dog rush off after it –

As he stands there beaming -

Wearing the remaining garishly green flip flop


© Kate McClelland 2015©

Even the models (male or female) in photo shoots don't look as good as the finished product. You can't airbrush real life. Enjoy who you are

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Butterfly

The Butterfly

You are sitting in a big saggy armchair

In a so-called ‘living’ room.

With beige non-descript walls,

Full of empty picture frames.

Everything feels dull and grey and silent.

It’s so quiet, you think you’ve gone deaf

But then you hear your own blood

Rushing through your veins.

And hear the sound of your own breathing

 In and out, in and out.


A weak sunlight insinuates itself

Like an oil slick through the grimy, dust-encrusted widow.

Its path impaired slightly by the saggy yellowing lace curtains

That give the light a mottled washed out look.

It meanders across the wooden slatted floor,

Kicking the dust bunnies out of the way

Illuminating a space in front of where you are sitting.

Your chair is positioned just short of the light.

Wishing for its warmth,

You scrape your armchair across the oak floor

Not caring about the damage it may create –

Towards the pool of sunlight.

Your feet and legs quickly soak in the heat of the Sun’s rays

And you feel warmth return to your lower limbs

And the tips of your fingers.

The afternoon solar warmth kneads in to your cold knuckles and shin bones

You find yourself drifting off to sleep,

Cosy in the bosom of the chair and the soothing fingers of Helios

Suddenly, you find yourself on a Dandelion-covered path

Winding its way through the Autumnal forest

You can smell the slightly sweet organic decay of fallen leaves

Mingled with the smell of pine needles

There’s the sharpness of ice crystals in the air.

Dead leaves are strewn along the forest floor

The slight wind, making them talk –

‘Sussurrar’, they whisper dryly.

They cover the ground between the trees

But strangely - none on the path itself

The ‘coo’ of a Wood pigeon and the grating ‘caw’ of a Crow

Permeates through the still air

But the sound is slightly muffled by the vegetation

As you stand there, suddenly acutely aware of your surroundings

You feel a slight fluttering near your left ear

You subconsciously think it’s a fly –

And bat it away

Then - out of the corner of your eye

You see that it’s a brilliant cobalt-blue butterfly!

It hovers to your left for a moment

As if waiting for your attention

Then flits away along the path in front of you.

You follow, curiosity awakened

You walk along, following the path of the butterfly

Senses heightened by the strange surroundings

Wanting not to lose this blue Lepidoptera

You quicken your pace.

The butterfly lures you to a small clearing

In the middle of an overgrown copse

Raspberry and blackberry vines

Wrap around a small cottage

You have just become aware of

A one-story grey stone dwelling

With a grass roof sloping nearly to the ground

The butterfly skips past you and lands

To rest on the window ledge

You take the unspoken hint

And knock on the weather-beaten wooden door

You hear movement inside

Your mind thinks up terrible visions

A deranged crone? A toothless hermit?

No - for some reason

You know you are safe

The door opens, you step back in surprise

You can’t believe it

It’s her – how can it be her?

You haven’t even admitted to yourself

Until now – that she is HER.

She’s wrapped in a large multi-coloured shawl

The earthly smell of a peat fire wafts passed her and over you

She welcomes you in with a smile

The main room is a hotchpotch of

Farm house and old art room

She offers you a cup of pungent herbal tea

And guides you to a blanket strewn armchair

Next to the blazing peat fire

You talk for what seems like hours

She smells of roses and honeysuckle

It feels so natural that at first you don’t even notice

Just as you feel yourself drifting off

She kisses you gently on the mouth.

You awake, startled – finding yourself

Back in your lifeless living room

The room now sunless and drab

You sigh, then notice a faint smell of roses and honeysuckle

Despite the greyness, you feel a warm glow

And smile contentedly to yourself

You snuggle back into the embrace of the armchair

And drift back off to sleep

Chasing the dream of love in a little cottage.

Chasing a butterfly - home


© Kate McClelland 2015