How to Install a Bathroom

My Eccentric Friend

DSC_0579

How to install a new bathroom: cover all floors with cardboard; spread your economically thin dust-sheet on top; tell the woman of the house that it will make a mess; make sure it is a big mess, she is paying a lot of money; find the longest route through the house; tread carefully, your boots are for building-sites not hardwood floors in Newton Mearns; do not spin round on your heels; that interesting circular pattern was not there before; yes it is unique, no, her neighbours will not be envious; wear a mask when you smash the walls, she is concerned for your lungs; do not call her dear or missus; do not let her dog, cat, rabbit, run out through the gate you left open; block the top and bottom of the doors to stop the dust spreading; if you have to stick your hands down the pan, wash them; yes…

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The System

My Eccentric Friend

What is it that pulls you off the beaten path? The path you’ve mapped so that each day follows the next in well-ordered progression. Where love is constant, unquestionable and unassuming as the cup of tea you bring me before work, when my eyes are half open and the bed still warm on your side.

What iXperia May to Sept 2014 369s it that pulls you, no me, from that long familiarity where our hands seek each other’s, unknowing.  Where the beating of our hearts is synchronised to the passing of the day, mornings, evenings and afternoons, in timeless rhythm, as tuned-in as dancers on ice.

I come into the house the way I always do, hang up my coat, throw my bag down, and set out our cups for tea.  But I don’t remember you. Somewhere on the path I got lost, turned away. My hand has forgotten how to find yours. I wait…

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How to Install a Bathroom

DSC_0579

Extract:

How to install a  bathroom: cover all floors with cardboard; spread your economically thin dust-sheet on top; tell the woman of the house that it will make a mess; make sure it is a big mess, she is paying a lot of money; find the longest route through the house; tread carefully, your boots are for building-sites not hardwood floors in Newton Mearns; do not spin round on your heels; that interesting circular pattern was not there before; yes it is unique, no, her neighbours will not be envious;

MVJ 2015

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The System

Extract

What is it that pulls you off the beaten path? The path you’ve mapped so that each day follows the next in well-ordered progression. Where love is constant, unquestionable and as unassuming as the cup of tea you bring me before work, when my eyes are half open and the bed still warm on your side.

—–

What she means is that she will not work for me. I watch him at his desk. He is fast, efficient, he doesn’t ask her opinion but expects to receive it. He does his part, passes papers to her, she does her bit, brings them back, smooth as the Berlin Metro. He rewards her with quick little smiles. She beams; she shimmies past my desk on her click-clicking heels.

MVJ2015

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The Lightness of Her Bones

Extract:

She looked like a piano teacher to me. She had that straight-backed look you get from sitting for hours on a piano stool. She was close enough for me to see that her fingers that clutched the boy’s shoulders were slender but strong. She was tall and middle-aged, and clearly angry.

“I bet she raps their knuckles when they get the notes wrong,” I said aloud, absently.

“What?”

 

 

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MVJ

20 July 2015

Get this

Extract:

There I was, dancing naked on the front lawn of suburbia, my heart pumping to the pulse of the sprinkler, spray-wet skin and diamonds beading my hair.

“Dance with me.” I screamed at you; at your bedroom window, no longer our bedroom window.

______

I saw you cowering behind the curtain. I felt your blood run cold. I saw you turn uncertainly to the woman, no girl, behind you. She is deranged, you would say, and pull a sheet around your nakedness, exposed by my nakedness, outside, not in. Mad bitch, mad, mad. I felt your fear as you saw your world come crashing down. I threw up my arms and laughed.

MVJ2014

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Love Locks

Extract:

“Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?” I asked hopefully.

It was pretty much the only thing I could say in French. I stood  in the  police station and shifted from foot to foot. I was nervous, and my feet were hot.

“Mai-oui, but of course, how can I help you?” He looked me up and down, then looked back to his book where he recorded the time.

“Your name? You are staying where, and for how long? May I see your passport? Now, why are you here?”

“I have lost my wife.”

MVJ2014

 

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Chocolate Brownie

Extract:

There was a woman who walked her dog every day to the woods. She walked past an old man’s house. The man’s name was Alex. He watched her as she came out, and went back into her house. He watched her in her garden, and at night he watched her through her lit-up windows when she did not know he was watching. But she did know because he liked to complain to Fred from the social and Fred knew her friend Jean, but the old man did not know that she knew, so he talked and talked.

MVJ2014

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My Sister’s Life

Extract:

I was twelve years old when I first realised I was walking on water. Before that I was home-schooled and no-one had much hope for me. But I survived. My sister was at private school and would have stayed there had I not hung on. The cost of my tuition was sucking the funds from her education pot so our parents had no choice but to dismiss my tutor, and pull her from the posh school. That is how we ended up at the local academy where normal kids go, and that is when I saw how much her life differed from mine.

MVJ2014

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Living the Dream

Extract:

“What would You know?”

It was the wrong response. The cab lurched forward. The driver barked something unintelligible at her, his eyes pierced hers in the mirror. His soothing tone was gone and she felt the tension mounting as he slammed the wheel back and forth, navigating the sharp bends on the mountain road. He was shouting and shouting at her, spit spraying her face as he turned to yell.

MVJ2014

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Unattended

Extract:

It was the pile of banknotes lying unattended on the bar that drew my attention. We were in a café bar in the centre of Copenhagen in deep conversation about the exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Leaving the gallery we had taken a brisk detour through the normally quaint and picturesque Nyhavn with its pastel coloured town-houses and pretty boats, on the waterways around which the old town was built. Today though it was miserably wet, and cold for August, so we hurried back to the city centre where we were glad to find a café with an empty table. We sat perched on two high stools, just inside the door with a good vantage point to view the bustling city street outside, as well the goings-on within. I had spotted a number of small galleries that we were enthusiastically planning to visit the next day when I stopped mid-sentence, as the strangeness of the situation dawned on me.

MVJ2014

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The Final Prayer

Extract:

Angela came to church but not often. It was Zimbabwe, 1985, and our songs and prayers rose with the optimism and reconciliation of those first years of independence. She tended to arrive late, just after the service started, and seemingly slipped out during the final prayer because I did not see her at the door where we all ritually hugged and asked after family. “They are all right if you are all right too,” and prolonged our goodbyes lest some misfortune befall us between now and the next gathering.

MVJ2014

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