Room to rent

Emma wiped the condensation from the mirror and opened the door wide to let the room cool. She caught sight of herself in the mirror, something she tried to never do, and gasped. When did she get old? She didn’t feel old. When did her deep red hair become streaked with grey? Her hazel eyes were sunken under her sagging eyelids and she could only imagine what the rest of her body looked like. Breaking eye contact with herself, she got back to cleaning. These travellers always made such a mess, whenever they left it would take days to reset the room for the next guest. She almost regretted her decision to rent but once her dear Scott had died she had no choice, rent or move out.

Grabbing the bleach, she set to work on the bath tub. The smell of ammonia hit her and made her eyes water. She remembered the first time she had done it. She hadn’t meant to kill him but he had taken something precious from her. He claimed it was an accident, crying out everytime the frying pan came down on his head, but she didn’t believe him. When she had ornament shattered on the floor, the first Christmas present he had given her after his diagnosis, she just saw red. It was only when she was washing her hands that she realised what she had done. She expected to be hysterical, to scream her head off and call out for help. Not that anyone would come, the nearest neighbour was dodgy old Keith who kept himself to himself about five fields over. Instead an overwhelming sense of calm had washed over her as she worked on disposing the body. It was surprisingly difficult to get rid of a body and portly Richards had taken an exceptionally long time because of all the excess fat. She felt calmer than she had been in years as she worked on mincing him up to feed to the pigs. Of course it didn’t take that long now, she was a dab hand at it.

She stood up, her knees cracking as they adjusted to not being bent anymore. The bathroom looked pristine, as shiny and sterile as the rest of the room. Feeling a sense of pride, she headed downstairs for a well deserved cup of tea. The kettle had just come to a whistling boil when she heard it.

Ding dong. Ding dong. Not even a whimper from Titus who was laying on his bed chewing his treat. Useless.

She walked to the door so fast it was almost a skip, she loved meeting new people. Opening the door she was greeted by a typical traveller. Tanned, hair messily tied in plaits and ropes tied around her wrist that were supposed to make her look well travelled but just made her look messy. Still, Emma smiled.

“Hailey I presume?”

“Yes, hi. Sorry I was just admiring this gorgeous wall ornament. The red is beautiful and the padlocks on it are so mysterious, all different but somehow all fit perfectly, where they part of the design or did you add them yourselves?”

Emma leaned out the door and smiled. “Yes I add them after each of my visitors stay as a reminder, they are like friends you see. I’ll probably get one of you by the end of your stay too”

She stepped to one side and gestured for Hailey to walk past her into the house. Hailey passed her an envelope full of cash without question and took a beeline straight for the dog. Emma sighed, irritated, but started on making tea for them both. As her hand wrapped around the kettle handle, Hailey’ s voice rung out in the background

“Aren’t you a gorgeous boy! Yes you are! What are you chewing on? What you got?” Her voice went through Emma like a dentist drill through her rotten teeth. Taking deep breaths, she tried to calm herself but the girl would not shut the hell up! Her hand tightened on the handle of the kettle until her knuckles were white. As she lifted it into the air, she kept thinking about how good the shiny silver padlock on Haileys wrist would look on her red heart outside.

This was written in response to the Creative Writing INK Prompt

Art is by Alex Block on Unsplash

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A writer that doesn’t write?

I started this blog with naive visions of a community of followers, all desperate to read the next post I put up. I’m not confident in many things, infact not much at all, but I know I can tell a good story. Like Stephen King I write from experience or nightmares, sometimes both, and really throw myself into the emotions of the character at any one time which leads to some fascinating car journeys home from work (I’ve bought on a panic attack once, just to write about it accurately). Within weeks I realised that blogging is not an instant ‘fame maker’ per say but I kept trying. Over the last few years, I’ve stopped completely – the occasional post going up followed by months of silence when viewers didn’t flock to my blog. I would look at people like Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella, Tanya Burr, Louise and other blogger/vloggers who have made a solid career out of blogging, each post getting thousands of comments and quickly spiralled into a deep depression where I questioned my ability to write.

One day I was sat watching Suits with my other half and a character, Jessica, said she had worked hard to build her Company from scratch (actually she’d stolen it from Daniel Hardman but lets not get into that). It was just a statement to move the episode along but it really hit home to me. I hadn’t tried, rather expected it to happen to me. How selfish is that? I want to be a novelist yet haven’t written a manuscript. I want followers but don’t follow people. I expect it to be handed to me on a plate and, at 26, I should certainly know better. It was nothing short of an epihany.

If I want people to reply to my stories, to start discussions surrounding what I’ve written or questions I’ve asked then I need to put the work in. The following are my targets:

* Start writing regularly – at least once a week, on a Sunday, building up to more.

* Reading/subscribing to other blogs I enjoy – simple really, share the love!

* Submit to competitions and really work at creating a ‘brand’ of myself – how can      people read my writing if I am not writing anything

* Be more personal – I am natural quite a recluse but I want you to get to know   me as well as my stories, often they overlap anyway

So I may not be Stephen King or Jodie Picoult…not just yet…but I am Sarah-Jayne, sometimes known as chronicles, and I will get my name out there! Now to find a pen…

Return of the Queen!

The water lapping against my body was a welcome feeling. I was so warm and it offered a little bit of relief, just a little. Opening my eyes, I tried to take in my surroundings and figure out where I was. Think back Charlotte I thought, the fog that encompassed my mind trying to thin itself and let memories seep through but they were patchy. A phone, a gold dress, pre going out cocktails, a text, a man and then… then… then nothing. Frustrated I sit up and look at my wrists for any stamps or signs of where I have been but they are plain except for a small scrape on my inner palm. Did I fall over? Running my hands over the rest of my body, I look for any more injuries, I have a bruise forming on my knee and a deep cut on my right hip, its tidy and clean, more like an incision then a cut. I place my hands on the floor and start to push myself up before a sharp stabbing pain rushes through my wrists and I fall back down, its jarred. Definitely fell down.

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Flash fiction: A sailors protection

Michael clung on to the edge of the ship with all his strength, the large waves crushing his body and loosening his grip each time they hit the boat.  He felt his hand slipping; he couldn’t hold on for much longer, he was going to die.
Once he hit the water Michael continued to sink in the direction of the ship. The vacuum caused by the sinking vessel was dragging him in and removing chance of rescue. Looking down, his blurred eyes just made out someone – or something in front of him – that couldn’t be real, could it?

Swimming from the sea floor in the direction of the ship, was what looked like a human. It swum smoothly, not needing air at all, like a fish. Stopping when it met his eye, it passed him apparatus he did not recognize; she motioned for him to put it in his mouth. With nothing to lose Michael did and immediately his burning lungs took in oxygen and he could breathe.

Dragging him to the seas surface, she waited until he found nearby debris to float on, and then disappeared. Frantically searching, he saw only a single opening oyster to show she had ever been there as the flashlight of the rescue ship circled around him.

Have we truly moved past homophobia?

The BBC are facing a row over homophobia as they cut the ‘lesbian kiss’ from their Asian airing of Doctor Who.

On the 23rd of August 6.8 million people tuned into BBC One to watch Pete Capaldi’s premier as the new Dr Who, a figure that had risen to 10 million by this morning.  Although widely received well by the audiences, a kiss between Madame Vestra and her human wife Jenny Flint.  There were six official complaints made to the BBC but Twitter went made with people stating it was ‘inappropriate’ and a ‘blatant gay agenda’.

The scene in quanigif_enhanced-25819-1409584217-1estion was depicted as an oxygen transfer rather than an interspecies kiss.  Jenny Flint, Madame Vestra’s human wife, was struggling to hold her breath to avoid being noticed by the robots attacking them.  As Madame Vestra’s lungs held a huge amount of oxygen, she transferred some to Jenny.  This scene was only shown for a few seconds before the scene carried on.  This was met with mixed views on Twitter from fans some of which that were happy to see the kiss and, as mentioned above, some thought it was a blatant gay agenda.

Ofcom have responded in a anti-homophobic way stating that it will not be investigating the complaints, explaining that they do not discriminate against scenes depicting opposite, or same sex, couples.  However, this step forward was cut short as the BBC has cut the scene from episodes that are due to be aired in conservative countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore amongst others.

This action by the BBC is a major step backwards for the UK’s progression.  When a law was passed on 29th March 2014 meaning that gay couples could be wed, the world rejoiced as a major step forward for a society who had progressed from slavery, racism and  supposedly homophobia.  The BBC released a statement following the editing of this issue stating

 “in order to comply with broadcast regulations in Asia where our BBC Entertainment channel airs, BBC Worldwide made a brief edit to the first episode of Doctor Who Series 8, but did so without detracting from the storyline”.  – http://www.buzzfeed.com

 

A quick glance through the broadcasting rules of Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong shows that the BBC are telling the truth. Images that promote a ‘gay lifestyle’ would be banned from their televisions, meaning Dr Who would not have been broadcast anyway. However, by editing scenes from Dr Who in order to placate those who do not believe in same sex couples, have the BBC not told them that this view is OK to have.

Horrible Histories comes to Milton Keynes Museum

History was bought to life at Milton Keynes Museum last weekend through the hard work of volunteers who braved the cold weather to bring you a little piece of all your favourite eras.Tod Booth, organiser and re-enactor, hand picked all participators to ensure that all displays were authentic. ‘Nothing you see here would have been out of place in the chosen era, I won’t allow it. All volunteers have slept overnight on the grounds as that is what would have happened’.  Relenting slightly on the second day; Tod gave the option for some of the actors to get tea from the cafe on site but only if it was placed into cups of the period.
Walking around the various displays and demonstrations that were held through the day, audiences were offered a chance to participate and learn a little more about what it would have been like. The War of the Rose’s display encouraged members of the audience from all ages to join John De Vere, the 13th Earl of Oxfords, personal army. From holding the weapons to learning the war cries, the audience were enthralled.

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A display by the musketeers of the English Civil War showed just how far these actors go to show their passion. ‘All weapons are replica’s of the originals and are firing live ammunition’ explained Christian Towers ‘we all purchase these out of our own pocket and hold gun licences to carry them with us’.  Being interviewed by Milton Keynes Hospital Radio; Christian went on to explain that the volunteers travel around the country to events and stay overnight at all the locations, no matter what the weather. ‘We do have the option to check into a B n B but no one takes it, it is more fun to stay out, we sit discussing things over a fire’.
Not to be misdone, a Roman tent displayed all types of instruments used in medical procedures of the time, all of which had been made by the re-enactor from replicas found on archaeological digs. This tent was definitely the place to scare the children at the event. Stall owner Fiona, Roman name Flora, showed her knowledge of Roman times by explaining what every tool was used for – and where it was used. ‘ I think a lot of the principles we have in medicine today started with the Greeks and the Romans because we have the Hippocratic oath. Things have progressed but it is clearly from the Romans.’
In the tent next to Fiona’s was her partners, and here you could watch the instruments being made and, for the avid historian, even purchase some.

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 It was not all dirty and unhygienic living. The 1940’s display showed viewers what it would have been like during the war when rationing was around. The poor re-enactors were determined not to go to the Cafe and instead painstaking boiled the old fashioned kettle to have tea.  Passing the time by playing Croquet – it was nice to see the children get involved in the game.
Interviewing a member from each period, the enthusiasm for this was apparent in all of them. All actors knew copious amounts about not only their own period of time, but also each others, and were happy to talk to anyone who wanted to learn. With various displays over the two days and an ‘open tent’ policy were people could walk into their tents and learn a different trade – this really was a good day for children and adults alike.
Museum Director Bill Griffiths was pleased with the event but expressed his frustration at the weather; ‘This has been a brilliant weekend, and visitors have had a great time. It is frustrating that the weather forecast scared prospective visitors away but I’m still pleased with how it went.’

Taking away literature in prisons…really?!?

I have a daily ritual of reading my Daily Mail showbiz app (please don’t judge, I am a celebrity junkie) followed by reading The Guardian and topping this off by watching BBC News to ensure that I get the latest headlines from different angles. I have skipped the BBC News as an article in The Guardian got me so aggravated that I had to share it with you.
The headline reads ‘The prison book ban will cause a real catch-22’ and the article is far from a damnation of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling but instead shines a light on the failures of the prison to provide enough, if any, literature to prisoners. According to the article, prisoners can still take 12 books out at a time but does not clarify how much access the prisoners have to the library. If, therefore, they wish to have their favourite books sent in – it is then that the ban is set. Prisoners can not receive books as gifts.
The comments section made for excellent reading as people came out in their droves to criticise the banning of books with one going as far as to say we should force prisoners to read whilst in jail.

When I was younger, I did have a huge issue with prisoners getting degrees and learning trades whilst in prison, feeling cheated that I had to pay a lot of money to learn a new skill when all they had to do was commit a crime? It didn’t seem fair and I would happily argue with anyone who said otherwise. I then became close friends with a person who had just come out of jail and he told me that the idea of working daily (in a small garden), using the gym and reading filled his days with purpose and made it so that he behaved through fear of losing his privileges.

I understand the idea of not letting prisoners recieve books as presents due to the ability for the pages to be laced with drugs and messages being hidden inside as guards and security can not feasibly be expected to read through all texts sent in but would it not be possible to provide more frequent access to the library or more books in so the choice is more extensive?

Bored prisoners surely are more likely to cause problems just to have something to do so, in the long run, by making these items more accesible they are doing themselves a favour in the long term?

Reading peoples views, I have found that the main problem appears to be lack of resourcing that is affecting access to the library. The prisoners will need supervision which requires man power and staff- something that the ever dwindling funds of the prisons can barely afford and prioritise. This being said, with the lack of material to help rehabilitation, the likelihood of reoffending is dramatically increased meaning that they will spend more time in jail thus spending government resources. It is a ever spinning circle.

So what do you think?