Sunday, 25 July 2010

Jessyka Hoop: An A to Z

Anthony Winter was the first person I made love to. We did it above a newspaper shop in Burnley, England. I was 14. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Afterwards, we played Nintendo, ate Monster Munch and smoked Berkeley Reds. It was remarkably unremarkable. I thought he was experienced, but a few months later, his brother told me that Anthony had been a virgin too. His brother later got sent to prison on paedophilia charges. Anthony’s mother, like mine, died in childbirth.
Birthdays don’t trouble me. Tomorrow I will be 31. I am sat outside a Café, on Avenue Something, Saint-Maxime, waiting for my ex-husband, Statton. He is a member of the English aristocracy and is notoriously unpunctual. We met in Hawaii in 1997 when I was 17. He was 33, and had set up a London-based publishing company with a school friend. He was photographing the ‘dark side’ of Hawaii in Downtown Honolulu for his first publication, a style magazine called UGLY. I was working in a bar and we fell in love instantly. Statton photographed me grinning on the beach, naked but for my tampon string. The image was in stark black and white contrast, save the tampon string, which he picked out in fluorescent yellow. It made the cover of UGLY #1. Apparently this photograph is now referred to as ‘iconic’ and ‘era-defining’. After he took the photograph, Statton and I made love on a rocky outcrop, which was deeply uncomfortable. On my lower vertebrae, I still bear the scar.
Carburettors blend the air and fuel in an internal combustion engine. Karl Benz invented the carburettor around 1885 and it was patented in 1887. It works on Bernoulli's principle: the faster air moves, the lower its static pressure, and the higher its dynamic pressure. Carburettors were the usual fuel delivery method for almost all petrol engines up until the late 1980s, when fuel injection became the norm. My father taught me about the carburettor. He taught me everything he knew about cars. It staggers me to think of how much I remember considering that I haven’t played with an engine for years. The last car I fixed up was my friend Patti’s Ford Escort in 1998. The valves were sticking. Patti stood talking to me whilst I worked. We shared a whole packet of Garibaldis.
Disaster struck when my father died. He fell off the roof of the garage. That put an end to my career as a car mechanic. I was 14 and went to live with Bunicuţă, my Romanian grandmother. She lived at Mocha Parade, in Salford. I called her Buni. She had fled to England during the war with my grandfather, Nicolai Dragomir. They were both aged 13 and desperately in love. Buni kept a silver locket with a photograph of Nicolai in it, which she would kiss ceremoniously saying ‘Good morning husband’ or ‘Good night my dearest’ before each kiss. We lived together for three wonderful, carefree years. Buni taught me how to cook mămăliga and before every meal, she would say ‘dragostea trece prin stomac’ which means ‘love passes through the stomach.’ Before she died, she made me swear I’d travel extensively. She thought it was the best education.
Education, for me, began when she died. I was 17 and completely alone. I stayed on at Buni’s flat for a couple of months but then sold everything except for the silver locket and a 1950s biscuit tin. On the tin was a picture of a beautiful hoola girl on a beach, playing the ukulele. She was surrounded by flowers. I thought that looked like a good place to start my education so I bought a plane ticket to Hawaii. My plan was to stay there for a couple of months and then travel through America. As it happened, I met Statton. I’d only been there for three weeks when he came into ‘the bar with 101 different rums’, Rum Fire.
‘Fire in My Heart’ by the Super Furry Animals is, apparently, about me. I don’t know if this is true but I secretly like to think so. Gruff Rhys and I met at a party in a Welsh castle, sometime in 1998. By that time, Statton and I weren’t speaking. He had decided to pursue his ‘gay side’ was fucking every willing male model on the London ‘scene.’ He had always been open about his bi-sexuality: his view was that cheating was okay as long as it was with a member of the same sex. Looking back, I guess I thought this was ‘cool.’ Perhaps it was. After a while though, I got sick of it. I got sick of Statton and how easy and pointless his life seemed to be. He had been to the best schools and travelled the world but nothing seemed to hold any meaning for him. He was constantly bored. He didn’t care about becoming a better person. Nothing like Gruff.
Gruff approached me at the party. I was sat against a Monkey Puzzle tree in the grounds of the castle, playing my ukulele and humming.
Hummingbirds are the only known-species of bird that can fly backwards. Whilst in flight, they have the highest metabolism of all animals, except insects. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute. They also consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight. I wonder if it’s possible to see the same hummingbird twice?
Iceland was where I went when Statton and I divorced. It was January 1999 and I was feeling very low. I felt cold and figured I may as well go to Iceland. It wasn’t as cold as I imagined. For six months I lived in Hafnarfjörður a town outside Reykjavík. I worked in an Irish bar called Paddy’s. An Icelandic woman called Dögg and her husband (Paddy) owned the bar. They had terrific rows. One night she bust his lip open with a heavy glass ashtray. Dögg was a violent woman but I liked her. She was fond of me too. The night before I left Iceland I gave her a painting of a hummingbird I had done. She cried. We made love, quite violently, in the bar after closing time. Dögg kept screaming ‘já! já! já!’
Jalapeño peppers and/or anchovies improve virtually ever meal. This much I know.

Knowledge is like a drug. The more you get, the more you want but mostly it feels like you haven’t got any. That’s how I felt when I returned to England. I wanted to write but it never felt like the right time. I thought I should probably make a load of mistakes instead. Statton was the first. The second was Lando.

Lando was named after the Star Wars character, Lando Calrissian. He was a Californian mentalist. We met on New Year’s Eve, 1999/2000. I was wearing one of my father’s old shirts, with Buni’s locket and a pair of banana yellow stilettos. Lando was a sculptor, exhibiting in Stockholm and London. Our affair ended when I told him I was pregnant and he battered me to a pulp outside a Turkish restaurant in Dalston. I came round in hospital, having woken myself up by whimpering. I lay there in pain, watching the death throes of a kamikaze moth.

Motherhood perhaps wasn’t to be. No?

November came and I broke down. I was disturbed by what had happened with Lando. Statton heard about it, and was very kind. I stayed at his family home in Somerset and helped run the estate for a while. It was pleasant and I felt thankful and sentimental about our relationship. Any potential mawkishness was instantly erased however, when Statton used his contacts in the art world to completely sabotage Lando’s career, which I felt was an unnecessarily bitchy gesture. I left, angrily, on the eve of my big 2-0.

Otto Preminger, my favourite film-director, inspired the next move. Buni got me into Preminger. She had all his movies on VHS, which we used to watch, sometimes two or three back to back in the living room with the curtains drawn. I found his biography in a charity shop and Christmas 2000, headed to Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, New York to visit his grave. Other notable burials include, Herman Melville, Joseph Pulitzer, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin and Franklin Winfield Woolworth. I loved and still do love New York. My life really got going there. I got a job in a Romanian bakery called Nita’s and I started writing properly. New York is also where I met Vincenzo. We met in Nita’s and became good friends before we started dating. I can still remember the first time I saw him: he was wearing a black T-shirt and his dark hair was long, down to his chin. He had, and still has, beautiful hands. He was twisting something round in his fingers – a spark plug.

‘Plug Hole Babies’ was the title of my first book. The New York Times called it ‘an incendiary neo-feminist polemic against the biologization of technology.’ I find that barely decipherable. It was just a story about a woman who was hopeless with computers. It did well though, which was lucky for me. I dedicated it to my mother, father and Buni and I made enough money to buy a brownstone in Sunnyside, Queens.

Queens is great and I still visit Nita almost every day. She treats me like family. I’ve told her all about Buni and Nicolai and she has seen the biscuit tin with the hoola girl on it. It was Nita’s constant nagging that got me writing. She has kept all my press cuttings, including the crazy New York Times review.

Reviews don’t bother me at all. This was not always the case. My third novel, from the Hole Trilogy, ‘K-Hole Rape’ received a scathing critique from a writer at The Daily Telegraph. Statton emailed it to me with a post-script that read ‘Ignore this silly little bitch Jessyka darling, she can’t suck cock for toffee.’ Bloody Statton. He is becoming increasingly vile and senescent.

Scent is the main factor when it comes to attraction. Vinnie is my favourite smell. Even in a morning, when he has drunk too much the night before or after he has been playing what he calls ‘soccer’, I have been known to lick the sweat from his chest. He moved into my apartment in Summer 2003 and we made love several times a day for many weeks. We have since been making love several times a week for many years. I’d like to keep it that way. Vinnie’s full name is Vincenzo Lombardi and he is a talented furniture designer. His first gift to me was a writing desk he made from a piece of English Oak. My first gift to him was a miniature football shirt on a keyring. It was that of his favourite player, Francesco Totti.

Time is running out for Statton. I have been waiting for an hour. He wants to talk about the film rights to ‘Plug Hole Babies’. He’s going to make me an offer. I have smoked three cigarettes since I arrived. With the end of one, I draw a horseshoe in the ashtray. A dirty, grey U.

U-turns characterise Statton. He involves himself in projects and then instantly retreats. Luckily, he is rich enough to leave the cash intact and usually has secured someone with more brains and less money at the helm. UGLY is still going as is his publishing house-cum-production company. His salacity keeps him in the British tabloids but I think he has settled down somewhat. Last time we spoke, he was living at Somerset in ménage- à -trois with the actress Samantha Dance and her husband, Calvin.

Vinnie is flying to France tomorrow. We are going to meet in Paris and then take the Trans-Siberian Express from St Petersburg to Beijing. I still travel, a month of each year, to honour Buni’s wish. Usually I go alone but this time Vinnie is accompanying me, which will be great. I hate going without sex.

Xavier, the waiter, brings me another coffee. I shall give Statton 15 minutes. Lighting a cigarette I see that Xavier is giving me ‘the eye.’

Years have passed since Lando kicked that baby out of me. He made such a bloody mess I assumed the incident left me infertile. I’ve missed a period though and this morning I vomited into the hotel sink. I think I’m pregnant. Vinnie doesn’t know yet. I won’t mention it until I’m certain. I don’t want to get his hopes up. This cigarette is making me dizzy.

Zylina Dragomir. My marvellous Bunicuţă. If I have a girl, I will name her after you.

A Bird in the Bush

Thursday June 2nd, 1994
18:34 hrs

Today has been a bloody scorcher and fairly uneventful. I was on duty with Deeks. We got called to a pub in Harpurhey but it was nothing, just drunks in the sun. Everyone at the station was in good spirits and Deeks was flirting with me all afternoon in the patrol car. Men are like dogs when it gets hot. He wanted to go for a drink after our shift but I declined. I’ve got bad period pains.

Friday June 3rd, 1994
08:07 hrs

Detective Sergeant Vickers has assigned me to my first missing persons case. I will be working with Deeks, Harvey and Ostafijczuk. We have just received the brief.

Listed as missing on Police National Computer at 22.18 on 02/06/94
Name: Raven Kershaw (Caucasian female)
Date of Birth: 29.10.79 (aged 14)
Place of Birth: Unknown
Eyes: Green
Hair: Brown
Height: 160cm
Weight: 40kg
Distinguishing features: Severe scarring on both arms and legs. Slight limp.

Extract from Initial Investigating Officer’s Report: 03/06/94 03.00hrs
Raven Kershaw was reported missing by her foster parents, Sandra and Alan Garner, at 21:00 on Thursday June 2nd. She was last seen at 15:30 when, having returned from school, she left the house to run an errand for Mrs Garner. She was wearing her school uniform (Hope High School, Salford).
Raven Kershaw has serious mental health issues and is currently undergoing psychiatric treatment.
Please see Social Services file and psychiatrist’s report dated 27th March 1994 (both attached).

An enlarged photograph of Raven Kershaw has been pinned to the corkboard along with her name, handwritten in black marker. She is standing, hand on hip, at the gate of a small semi-detached house. Her expression is like those on old Victorian photographs, serious, as if she doesn’t know how to smile. She is painfully thin and her hair is short and mousey - it looks like it has been cut with nail scissors. She is wearing a navy blue Sweater Shop jumper, white leggings and a pair of trainers.

Several teams of officers are searching the area and will start making door-to-door enquiries in the next two hours. Harvey and Ostafijczuk are going to Hope High School to interview staff and students. Deeks and I are to search the house and speak to Mr and Mrs Garner. We will reconvene at 12.00.

14:29 hrs

I am sat at my desk smoking my fifth cigarette of the day. Deeks plonked an egg custard next to my files a few minutes ago. It has already started to crack and sag in the heat. It is almost twenty-four hours since Raven left the house.

I took statements from the foster parents this morning. Mr and Mrs Garner are both in their fifties and have years of experience fostering ‘difficult’ teenagers. He took early retirement from the council and she still works part-time as a cleaner. Raven came to them in January having been removed from several children’s homes in West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Mr Garner described Raven as ‘a very sad and disturbed little girl.’ She didn’t speak for the first two weeks of her stay at their house and would barely eat. Mrs Garner said it was ‘nigh on impossible’ to get Raven to take a bath or wash. She was ‘smelly’ and ‘didn’t seem to care’ about her physical appearance. ‘If anything, she wanted to make herself ugly,’ said Mrs Garner. She hacked most of her hair off about a month ago with the kitchen scissors.

Despite this, both foster parents said they had felt that they were on their way to gaining Raven’s trust. Mrs Garner involved her in household tasks such as washing up and running small errands. Yesterday, Mrs Garner asked Raven to ‘pop to the shop for a bottle of milk’, a short trip which would only take ten minutes or so. Three hours later they were giving initial statements to the police.

Raven had no friends and distanced herself from the other children in the neighbourhood, of which there are many. Is it worth collaring some of them later?

Whilst I interviewed Mr and Mrs Garner, Deeks was poking around the house, which was small and well kept. Mr Garner keeps Bonsai trees on the kitchen windowsill. I joined Deeks in Raven’s bedroom when I was done with the statements. It was small and spartan. On the bed was a peach and grey striped duvet and a Forever Friends teddy bear, bought, I suspect by Mrs Garner. There were no pictures or posters on the walls and the only furniture was a small bedside cabinet (empty) and a white chest of drawers. We went through these together. There was nothing except neatly folded clothes, underwear and balled up socks.

Pulling the bed out we found nothing. We took the mattress off and checked the bedclothes. Behind the furniture it was the same, nothing. I wanted to yank up the carpet but Deeks said to leave it for now.

I have yet to read the Social Services file and mental health report in full. They are very bulky. I’ve just been scan-reading bits so far and highlighting them…

R was removed from her birth parents’ by West Yorkshire Social Services two years ago when she was 12. Both parents are serving lengthy custodial sentences for the systematic and ritualistic abuse of R. She was raised in a pagan-style sect and forced to have sex with other children as well as adults and animals from a very early age. It is thought she may have been conceived purely to act as an accessory in depraved and sadistic ‘ceremonies.’

Vickers has contacted West Yorkshire Police regarding the other ‘sect’ members. He thinks it may give us some leads. I have a lot of respect for DS Vickers but I think he’s wrong on this one.

He’s got huge sweat patches on his shirt and is clasping a can of lemonade as opposed to his usual tea with two sugars,
‘McEvilly, Deeks, I want you two out on the estate,’ he says, ‘speak to the kids. I want sightings. Harvey and Ostafijczuk, get back to that bloody Happy Shopper at the precinct. I want to know who else was in the shop. Get the CCTV videos, put some pressure on matey boy. Did she buy owt else besides the bloody milk?’
‘Right-O Sarge,’ Harvey replies, ‘come on ‘Czuky egg’ he coos at Ostafijczuk who rolls his eyes at me and Deeks.

I need to read these reports. Vickers sees me bite my lip, ‘What’s up McEvilly?’
‘It’s nowt Sarge, I just feel like I should’ve read these by now. Surely it’ll help? There must be clues.’
‘Take them down with you.’

The patrol car is hotter than the sun. We get in and roll down all the windows.

There is no news from the search teams. We are to reconvene at 18:00.


Raven Kershaw’s socks and school shoes were found at 15:20 near a skip on Cambridge Industrial Estate, about half a mile from her house. There are still no reports of sightings but when Harvey and Ostafijczuk pressured the shop assistant he admitted selling her a pack of Bic razors. She never bought the milk.

I’m still scanning the psychiatrist’s report:

R is volatile, paranoid and appears to experience flashbacks. She hears voices and therefore could attract a mis-diagnosis of schizophrenia in the future. My diagnosis would be of borderline personality disorder.

A full-scale search has now been mounted by Greater Manchester Police and DS Vickers has spoken to the media with an appeal for information. West Yorkshire Police have taken several people in for questioning. There is still suspicion that Raven may have been in contact with one of them prior to her disappearance. I don’t think this is the case.

R carries razorblades in order to feel safe.

Deeks and I spoke to some of the kids on the housing estate, a lot of them were still soaking wet due to a large-scale water fight. They were reluctant to talk to us and all we got were small descriptions of Raven’s character: ‘a bit weird’, ‘dead quiet’ and ‘creepy’ were mostly what they said.

An ice-cream van has just pulled up. It’s playing the tune ‘Boys and Girls Come Out to Play’. The kids are running indoors to get money off their Mums.
‘Do you want a Mr Freeze?’ asks Deeks.
‘Yeah, go on then. I’ll have a blue one, thanks.’

We are now to join the teams of officers searching the industrial estate.


Deeks and I are stood outside a disused spring factory. Raven was found in there an hour ago. Neither of us has said much. We just keep smoking and giving each other looks, as if to check we’re still here. I can still hear blasts of that ice-cream van tune in the distance.

She is still alive, just. I don’t know if she’ll make it through the night. She’s lost a lot of blood.

Ostafijczuk found her laid in a big cardboard box at the back of what was the work shop floor. She was naked and unconscious. It seems she had performed some kind of ritualistic ‘ceremony’ or operation on herself. She had taken the blades out of the plastic casings and cut her arms and legs considerably. Her hands and genitals were mutilated and she appears to have inserted a dead bird into her vagina. Harvey said it was a sparrow. Both him and Ostafijczuk are very shaken.

Saturday 4th June 1994

Raven Kershaw died an hour ago.

I am back at my desk. I don’t want to go home. Vickers is still here too, writing up his report on the case. He keeps absent-mindedly humming snippets of that bloody nursery rhyme. We’re knackered. I sit back in my chair and watch him chewing his bottom lip. I finished reading the psychiatrist’s report a few minutes ago…

It is likely R will continue attempts to recreate the rituals she encountered growing up, as these were the only consistencies in her otherwise troubled childhood. Although completely depraved, she knew what was going to happen and may seek comfort from the fact that these were the times she received most recognition for simply being her. It is a common strategy for self-soothing.

The egg custard that Deeks bought me at lunchtime has dried up. I pick it up carefully and bin it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


I am sat in the back of a Nova SR. I am 14. I am wearing a back to front Kangol hat and a black puffa jacket. I’m also wearing a pair of jodhpurs but I have never ridden a horse in my whole life. I have boots on from River Island that are ‘suedette’ aka fake suede. They have chunky heels and I’m about 5’3” in them.

Two weeks ago I lightened my hair with ‘Sun-In’. It’s gone the same colour as ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.’ It’s down to my shoulders and curly. The roots are coming through but you can’t see them because of the Kangol hat.

On my face is concealer and powder from Boots 17. On my eye-sockets there is white eye shadow up to my eyebrows that I have plucked quite thin. I’ve also got smudgy black eyeliner on my top and bottom eyelids and loads of mascara on.

Hiya, I’m Louisa, it’s nice to meet you!

My mate Kelly is sat in the front as she is going out with Luke who’s got the Nova. He is 22. We’re going to Rochdale Town Hall car park which is where I’m meeting my boyfriend John-Paul. He is 20 and we’ve been going out for exactly 2 weeks. He is my first proper boyfriend. I love him so much.

We met at the Town Hall on 4th May 1996 at about half nine at night. I was just walking over to the bushes because I needed a wee. He was sat in his XR2i, staring right at me. He had a navy baseball cap on and must have been about to light a cig when he saw me because he had one in his mouth but it wasn’t lit. I just went and had a wee.

When I came back he was still there and he sort of, smirked as I walked past. He nodded his head for me to go over which I did. People say he is a psycho weirdo coz apparently he keeps a picture of Rose West in his fridge and he’s always alone. But I just thought, so what? He said, did I wanna go for a drive. Yeah, alright I said.

His car smelt dead nice of cigs mixed with red Magic Trees. He smokes Bensons and when he blows the smoke out he gets these dents in his cheeks that makes him look like a male model.

It felt well mint sitting in the front of JP’s car. In the boot he has this massive sub that makes your ribcage rattle and your eyes vibrate. As we drove off the car park I could tell everyone was staring because he went dead slow.

He didn’t turn the music down or speak to me, or anything. He just drove right up Manchester Road at 65mph. We went to the services off the A627M and he parked up where the lorry drivers stop. He leant over and said my name. I don’t know how he knew it. Then he kissed me. His lips were cold and so was his tongue. He tasted like mint and cigs. My mouth was warm. He cooled me down and I warmed him up. I pictured warmth running though him like red and blue running through me.

Since then we’ve seen each other loads and mostly we just drive around and listen to music and then park up and kiss and do other stuff. At first I was a bit nervous because I didn’t want him to touch me inside my knickers. I’d only been fingered once by Paul Blackley who later went and told everyone I had a tight fanny which was obviously really embarrassing. When that happened, Kelly said, don’t worry you’ll soon loosen up, Luke can get his fist inside me. But then all the lads call her bucket fanny so it seems like a bit of a no-win situation. I don’t really want to end up with a massive fanny.

Anyway, JP has been really sweet. He hasn’t said owt. I mean, he doesn’t really say much. He just stares at me with those eyes. His lashes remind me of a gentle animal. Sometimes I feel scared because we don’t talk, but the bass makes me feel okay. He always asks me if I’m hungry. If I say, yeah, a bit, we go to McDonalds and I get a Hot Apple Pie and he blows on it so I don’t burn my mouth.

Tonight I am going to his house. Tonight is the night we’re going to do it for the first time. On Monday, I told him I wanted to do it with him but I said I didn’t want to do it in the car or outside.

When Kelly lost hers to Carl Buckley she said he had dead bad nob rot and loads of warts. She sucked him off and they did it on the school field, then she had to go to Baillie Street medical centre and get the warts frozen off. I had to have a veruca frozen off my foot once and it killed. Imagine that on your fanny! No thanks.

I know that JP doesn’t have anything gross on his nob because every time we’ve seen each other I’ve given him a blow-job and it’s always been nice. I still can’t imagine what it must be like to have it inside me though.

‘Aw, he’s waiting for you Lou,’ says Kel.
My heart feels like someone’s just yanked it up to my throat. Luke laughs as he turns the tape over. It’s Dreamscape 10 with LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad: pretty nice atmospheric jungle and darkside hardcore.
‘I know’ I say, I can see his car. ‘Oi, Luke, mate, giz me tape back will you?’
Luke’s a fucker for nicking my tapes. He’s still got my Club Kinetic mix which I keep mithering him for. He chucks me Dreamscape 10 and Kel gets out so I can get out.
‘Good luck chicken’ she says and kisses me. Kelly’s lovely. She’s got loads of freckles and always smells of Vanilla Impulse. I wear White Musk.
‘Are you gonna come back out later?’
‘I dunno…maybe.’
‘Well, I’ll be out all night. I told my Mam I was kipping at yours. Come back here if it goes tits up, right?’
‘Yeah, alright.’ I give her our bezzie look and say see you to Luke.

JP’s going through his tapes when I open the Fiesta door. He’s straightening the tape out on one that’s been overplayed and gone crinkly. His last stereo kept chewing up his tapes so a lot of them are wrecked. He’s biting his bottom lip as always.

‘Hey’ I say through a grin. We’re both gurning like demics. He revs the engine and I burst out laughing.
‘Don’t laugh,’ he says, but he is smiling too.
‘Can I put a tape on?’ I ask, pulling Dreamscape 10 out of my pocket.
‘Go on then.’
I lean over and kiss him a nice kiss on his cheek as he sets off. His skin is so cool and he smells of Brut Aquatonic which is nicer than Lynx. I don’t like it when lads wear too much perfume. Luke wears Joop! For Men and it fucking reeks. It’s sickly sweet and gets stuck at the back of your throat.

‘Y’hungry?’ he asks me as we wait at the Asda lights.
‘Nah, I’m alright ta. Shall we just go straight to your Nan’s?’ JP lives with his Nan. He turns to face me really slowly and narrows his eyes.
‘Do you wanna?’
‘Yeah.’ I smile.
He pulls a U-E and we head back up past the Town Hall out towards Littleborough. It’s 8.30pm and the moors are getting shadowy. I love it how you can smell the grass and the trees. The air is so new and perfect. I wind the window right down, take my hat off and stick my head out.
‘WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!’ I yell and it makes my stomach feel funny and I can’t breathe. ‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!’
‘You’re a fuckin’ nut bar Louisa.’ He says. I like that. He always says I’m nutty or nuts, a fuckin’ nutter or a nut bar. And I’m not at all but I like it when he says it.
I’m excited about going to his house.
‘What about your Nan? Where’s she gonna be?’
‘She’s out.’
‘Where’s she gone?
‘Where does she work?’
‘What’s with all the questions?’
‘I’m just asking.’
‘She works in an old peoples’ home on Halifax Road.’
‘Oh right. How old is she?’
‘I don’t know. Not that old.’
“Right. Is she out all night then?’
Well that’s good. Not that I have a problem with old people but I don’t really fancy chatting shit with his Nana.

We’re getting near the lake and the sky is the same blue as my school shirt. JP turns onto a street I’ve never been down. We get to the end of the road and he pulls up outside a house with steps going up to the front door. Next door is boarded up with loads of weeds and ivy everywhere. There’s a big conker tree out front too.

‘God, that’s creepy innit? Are you not scared sleeping next to that?’ I peer out of the window at the house. ‘It looks well haunted.’
‘It is.’
‘Aw, shut up.’ He’s winding me up.
‘I’ve never seen owt but you can sometimes hear someone crying late at night.’
‘JP, stop-it! Really? Have you?’
‘No, you dick. Course I haven’t. I’m winding you up. Come on.’

JP opens his door and gets out. I do the same. It’s gone cold. I push the lock down and go over to him. We kiss and he locks the car door. I follow him up the steps.

He opens the door and I follow him through to the living room. It’s cold and quite bare. There’s just a green couch and no chairs. On the coffee table there’s an ashtray and a mug with tea dregs in it. There is a TV/video, stereo and JP’s SNES. But there are no pictures on the walls and there aren’t any curtains. JP’s Nan must be pretty poor. No curtains seems weird.

I sit on the couch and JP picks up the remote. ‘Men Behaving Badly’ is on. I snuggle up to him and he puts his arm around me. It’s so cold. He pulls me on top of him and we kiss really passionately. He bites my lips quite hard and digs his fingers into my back. I like it.

We stop for a minute and stare at each other. I can’t weigh him up. His face looks so blank I don’t know what he might be thinking.
“What?” I say in a little voice.
“You’re a good girl aren’t you?” he says, his voice deeper.
“What do you mean?”
“Shift a sec.” I slouch to the side and he gets up. ‘Stay here and just wait for us a minute. Don’t move, right?’
He leaves the room and runs upstairs two at a time. I sit there and just watch the TV. I hate that programme though and I’m so cold.

I might as well make us a brew. I get up and go into the kitchen. I don’t bother turning the light on. The kitchen’s small and bare. There’s a kettle though and a box of PG Tips on the side. I check the water level and flick the kettle on. There are two cups on the draining board. One with a flowery design and a ‘Wispa’ one. JP can have that one because it’s blue and he likes blue. I have flowers. We both have two sugars. I go to the fridge to get the milk out. There’s a ganja leaf sticker on the front and an old Sunkist hologram with a crocodile wearing shades. When I open it I see on the top shelf a pack of ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!’ and a picture in a pink wooden frame. It’s a picture of Rose West. It’s that picture that was in the papers with her wearing daft glasses like Timmy Mallet.

There’s no milk either.

I shut the door and feel a bit weird. Why has JP got a picture of Rose West in the fridge? It must be a wind-up.
“JP?” I shout out. No answer.
I head for the stairs, ‘JP!’ I’m laughing my head off. ‘John-Paul you freak!’ I laugh as I bound upstairs. I get to the top and fumble for the light switch. As the light goes on he grabs my hand and squeezes it hard. He’s got gloves on.
‘Aaaaagh, what are you doing?’ He is squeezing my hand so hard and bending it back to my wrist. ‘Aaagh, you’re hurting me, stop-it, you’re really hurting me.’ I look into his face. His face is the colour of mushrooms and he looks blank again. I try to prise his hand off mine with my other hand but he smacks me hard three times in the face.

It’s all hot and I can’t see. I feel something snap in my hand and a horrible sound. I’ve never felt so much pain. He lets go of my hand and shoves me on the floor. I crouch and hold my hand. What has he done? Blood drips off my face onto my hand. My mouth feels massive and my nose is throbbing and all spit and snot is dribbling out. I try and turn round but I can’t. He grabs my arms and yanks them around my back and then stands on my hands. I scream out. He sticks something in my mouth. I can’t breathe. My nose is all blocked up. He’s putting something around my neck. He’s putting something around my neck.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Joyce (57) yanks the fitted sheet off the mattress for the second time today. She bought this one in the sale at Dunelm Mill, a local outlet which specialises in ‘luxury’ bedding. She normally saves the ‘good stuff’ for the classier customers or her husband (estranged) but the washer has packed in so… she has no choice.

Joyce hates changing the bedding. It’s a right pain in the 'backside'.

This afternoon she has to go for a ‘sexual MOT’. ‘MOT’ stands for Maximum Operating Temperature, which Joyce feels is pretty apt given the nature of her work.

This afternoon, the dreaded Richard is coming. Joyce sighs as she shoves twenty Berkley Reds into her plastic handbag. Richard is a little man with a pointy face. The tip of his nose is sharp and cold. Vinegar runs through his veins and semi erects his awful prick. Even that’s sharp. And vinegary.

Thirty years ago, Joyce had a ‘steamy love affair’ with a sailor from ‘down South.’ He had swarthy looks i.e a curled top lip, big ‘sideburns’ and very thick black hair.

This afternoon, on her way to a ‘routine smear test’, prior to an appointment with a miserable client, Joyce is thinking about that sailor’s top lip. She hasn’t done this for many, many years. She’s thinking about how she used to stroke the hair on the back of his head which was closely cut and soft, like an animal. She would nuzzle the back of his head here as he lay resting after their sex. Smelling sweet.

This afternoon, completely ‘out of character’ and lost in ‘girlish thoughts’, Joyce doesn’t look as she steps out into the road, into the path of a T reg Volvo estate.*

*which has just failed it’s MOT.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


On the Devon coast...

NARRATOR: The smell of the tomb,
copper in the womb,
He has a dagger, he stabs her balloon.

MAIDEN: Please don't sap my life blood you selfish sod!

KNIGHT: O lose some weight you unfortunate clod

MAIDEN: Why does thou make me feel like such utter shite?

KNIGHT: This be my way love (EXIT KNIGHT)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

I Think We Need to have a Little Talk

Dear Cousin,

Forgive this tardy response to your beautifully drafted correspondence. Events in the Diocese of Salford have plucked me from my writing desk and thrust me into the fray they call romance! Developments regarding my status are occurring at an alarming rate and were it not for the ghastly, brutish, weather, I must confess, I would not be labouring on this composition.

For cousin, O dearest cousin, I have met the man I wish to marry! Your mother and father are presently unaware of this news so I beg of you dear cousin, please break the happy news as I may not return from my sojourn in Higher Broughton.

Forgive me, you must be vastly keen to learn of what I speak. I shall keep you waiting no longer. ‘Twas a mere eight days ago when I was taking a turn in the village of Trinity; the air was frightfully bitter and, lost in my foolish reveries, I had forgotten my muff. Thankfully, I had a pair of Connie’s sheepskin gloves so my hands were not too perishing, although they fit very ill indeed.

I was looking for the first snowdrops peeping out from under the tired bracken when I heard a twig snap. It fair startled me and I spun around in a frightfully unladylike manner to see a very handsome gentleman on horseback wearing regimentals. His hair was shiny like the horse-chestnut and his eyes seemed to show infinite depth and kindness.

Lo! Cousin! The gentleman climbed down from his steed and took a courteous bow, apologising for his intrusion. He introduced himself and when I told him our name he earnestly expressed how glad he was to make my acquaintance. He is called Mr Bertram Pepper. We spoke of his family seat at Ordsall and how the regiment was stationed at Taunton in the summer months. I told him about our frolics last summer at Weston-Super-Mare. It was then he knelt, dirtying his creamy breeches on the dampened bracken, to retrieve a small posy of snowdrops. He looked at me beseechingly and held out the flowers. I felt my face flush upon which, the gentleman promptly arose and steadied my hysterics.

We are to be married Tuesday week and Bertram says we are to move to the Americas upon completion of our nuptials. His father, Dr Pepper, has a thriving business selling medicated beverages.

I do hope, Cousin that you can make the necessary arrangements and join us at the wedding.

With fond affection,
Your Cousin

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Rasta Pasta

Hair in dreads like thick black pasta
Can I play a tape on your ghettoblaster?
You haven’t got one -
It doesn’t matter
You’ve got a milky voice O Mr Rasta.