Poems from writing retreat


Her home in two places can be

One her family, is she?

The other a mother.

Life can be smothered

I ritual suffered.

Her fresh bread dedication

A clean house meditation.

Church and then home

Regulated, lovingly grown.

I fail.

I fail the ‘I do’s.’

I fail to choose.

I’m wanting more

I’m taking it all.

She is not me.



It’s beginning to hurt.

James Lasdun, winner of this year’s inaugural national short story prize wrote ‘It’s Beginning to Hurt’ in just 500 words.

we were set the challenge of borrowing one of his character’s and write their story within the same, or near to. time frame.

so this is Beginning to Hurt from Derrick’s view in 460 words.

It’s beginning to hurt

“Good lunch Mr Bryar?” she asked

“Excellent lunch” I heard him lie to Beth our office secretary

“Sorley’s?” I asked out of habit as my senior partner in our firm took his place at his polished walnut desk and I at my budget replica.

“No, some… Chinese place” he mumbled not even bothering to look at me.

“Your wife rang” I’d thrown that comment out into the air thoughtlessly. Inwardly I was cursing myself. She hadn’t just rung because I’d just had lunch with her secretly.

Panic at my stupidity caught the breath in my lungs and I gaged.

Bryar he was now on the phone to her. My heart beat guilty like a judge’s baton against my chest. I didn’t know how long it took for the taxi to take Penelope home from Metcalfe Hotel where we had been together.

Guilt had robbed me of the taste of the signature black and blue grill but not of Penelope’s lips on mine. Heat flushed my flesh at the thought of Bryar’s wife kissing me.

Would she be able to fool him once more?

This was a dangerous match neither Penelope nor I could afford for Bryar to divorce her. I needed his job and she needed his money.

My desk clock ticked as I went over tonight’s murder plan in my mind once more this had to go perfectly like a metronome if we were going to get away with it.


7pm; He takes his brandy in the library. Pea will open the kitchen window and leave Tom’s car keys out on the phone stand.


8pm I will hide behind the shed until the security lights turn off in the yard.


8.20 get into the kitchen and hide in the pantry.


9pm Bryar sets the alarm and goes to bed. Wait until I hear Pea call ‘Goodnight’ to Crème Custard.


Oh dam! I forgot 8.10 – feed Crème Custard AMITRIPTYLINE laced dog treats. That bloody Poodle would bark the place into an up roar if I don’t give him the sleeping pills.

Oh god, I’m going to end up in prison.

He’s not at his desk on the phone. Where has Bryar gone?

“Where are you heading Mr Bryar?” I called after him

“My wife needs a Salmon, see you tomorrow Derrick” came his distant reply

“Night sir? Hope you have a good evening.” I gave my best toadying voice. Did that sound too forced? Was it too obvious? Golly it’s so warm in this bloody office.

Maybe I should write the plan out in built points, then I can memorise it easier.

Hell no, stupid, stupid me.


Ahrr! Oh the door, yes of course it is. Where was I?



Teresa Albor

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24 sculptures in 24 hours

As part of the Longbridge Lighting Festival artist Teresa Albor wanted to make an artistic statement about production and labouring linked to this area of Birmingham (UK) she used items that were all factory produced and used the gallery space that had once been the site of a car factory.

We observed her mid-morning speedily working away. I like the idea and power of the statement. The sculptures were not overly planned out and that became obvious in the quality of the way the items were put together. I would have liked to see more of the items she chose fused together somehow maybe with industrial tools, bolts or even spot welded. Even with the time restraints I think it was still possible to have improved.

Week 4 Creative writing with WEA

Q; Today we visited St George’s church Kidderminster use the experience to write a short story or Travel piece about the church. (Include word count and header)


She stood at the bottom of the long sloping drive once more. Her collar turned up against the cold January wind, the bells were still ringing. Good she was not yet too late for Sunday service.

St George’s tower was a gray monolithic in the Kidderminster skyline. She pondered for the moment how the skyline had changed over the years, yet still he stood tall and strong against the winds of change. She wondered if he were alive, could he see his daughter churches of St Chad’s and St Cecilia over all the scurrying below.

Mandy had been to many places in her thirty years of life. Yet for reasons unclear she would always return to this cold old industrial town, middle England, middle class. She walked past the tall trees along the driveway, not as tall has the magnificent dark green pines of the Northern Rockies that she had lived with. Her heart ached a little for the huge openness of Canada. Mandy missed the clean air and the deep evergreen smell of those cherished days.

Pauls Jeep all shiny and black was parked close to the entrance; Mandy knew this meant Granny was already seated in her old hardwood pew. “Gann’s pew” Mandy smiled to herself, seventh from the back, not quite the middle, not too far away from where the clergy could see her presence but also not so close as to look un-Anglican. It was this kind of English behaviour that would have made her friends in Nevada and Utah laugh so much. There a jeep was used for the purpose it was designed for and very few where in the shinny category. Salty sand of the Great Basin Desert soon put nice paint jobs to brown work trucks. When it rained and snowed all that you could see was muddy wheels and snow covered hoods, not chrome alloys and a sun roof. Still it was good to know she was still going to church, it was reassuring to know that something’s in this world don’t changes as quick as the weather in the desert or the wind in the mountains.

Mandy paused in the towers entrance to straighten herself out a little before entering. How she wished mother had not insisted on her wearing a skirt to church, there was no written rule about this it was another of those “its what’s expected” things. It didn’t matter really she remembered how granny always used to tut at Ms Barkers huge bright colourer dresses and leggings. That lady’s floral patted scarf’s and mad curly hair were perfect for a Sunday school leader. She was brilliant and as good a reason for a young Mandy to have gone to church as any sermon they would preach to the adults.  How strange it was to think back now. Mandy’s mother brought her here on the day she was born to be blessed, here not straight home or to Granny’s house. Years on Mandy too bought little Jessica to show her to family and friends even though both were sick and weak. This entrance she had sheltered her when the big rain storm hit Kidderminster and Mandy had to wait for her farther to rescue her. It was so sad to see the huge gate that had to be install to keep vandals out no one would be sheltering here from the weather unless a service was on.

Mandy hurried along to Gann’s pew, it was one of the few that were left now. The back five rows had already been pulled out and replaced with chairs. Soon all the pews would be taken out and the choir stools too. The winds of change had blown in though St Georges old heavy oak doors, now in order to keep such history as a “Waterloo” church they had to gut it out and kit it up. Like the fire 1922 he will lose some of his history but be rebuilt for peoples use, and like the architect Sir Gilbert Scott they will rededicate stone by stone St George to His purpose.

Mother moved aside for Mandy without out words it was clear that she was expected, granny was waiting for her. “Sorry, I got delayed at Birmingham again” Mandy whispered discreetly.

Granny slowly lent over to Mandy’s ear “Lots of things change in years that pass, yet something’s cannot be changed only added to. St George’s is our family, our home we can return to. There can be no warmer welcome than the prodigal child’s return”