Album: 9/Charm

The unlikeable female character

must be unremorseful. Callous

(but lachrymose).

Dark-browed. Stops plucking

after she kills him.



Tiny stories: romance

I publish all my tiny stories at, where you can choose whether you want a love story or not. But who doesn’t want a love story? I wrote these new ones today.

Young and dumb

We were twelve. I’m pretty sure the first thing she said to me was, ‘I don’t think I want to go out with you anymore.’

Please note

We communicated in writing for some years before we met. She wrote the small print for the hair products our company produced, and I corrected unclear wording and checked that all the side effects were included. She rarely made mistakes. When I finally asked her to marry me, she read the forty pages of terms and conditions carefully, then smiled and said, ‘just so long as my statutory rights are not affected.’

Continue reading “Tiny stories: romance”

Books: Michel Faber, Under the Skin

He had a thick moustache which was curtailed severely in line with the outer limits of his great red mouth. His eyes were bloodshot and full of stoically endured pain which only tsunamic revenge and the grovelling apologies of world leaders could hope to cure. Hard wrinkles added a sculpturesque emphasis to a frowning forehead, under a symmetrical haircut combed back like a rinsed paintbrush.

I’m pretty sure it’s only possible to write two sentences about this book without spoiling the story.

Michel Faber has a knack for describing human beings in a way that makes you feel simultaneously affectionate and amused. He picks out the tiny, ridiculous details of the way people speak, act, and style their moustaches.

If you don’t want any spoilers, look away now! And preferably order the book; it’s great.

Continue reading “Books: Michel Faber, Under the Skin”

Story: Making a scene

She pulled off her top in a single, elegant movement and fell backwards onto the bed, dragging him with her so that he fell neatly on top of her. She encircled his neck with her arms and gazed intently into his eyes. She kissed him passionately, lifting her head in such a way as to show that there was now no going back.

But then, just as he was flexing his muscular biceps on either side of her body, she ruined things – again.

‘I’m sorry, this is just ridiculous,’ she groaned, wriggling out from under him.

‘Cut!’ yelled the director, and the cameramen sighed and exchanged glances.

‘Look, the whole thing is just preposterous!’ she continued, sitting up on the bed. ‘Why would she be sleeping with this useless no-hoper guy, when she has such a great life without him? Is it because he’s brilliant in bed, and if so, why do they have sex lying face to face under the bedclothes with him on top and her bra still on?’

‘Antony Charles is not a no-hoper,’ objected her co-star, Brad Clooney, awkwardly straightening up onto his knees and checking his reflection in the bedroom window. ‘He challenges her to be more adventurous. She was a workaholic until she met him!’

The director strode up to the bed, his little eyes looking as if they might pop out of his face at any moment.

‘Enough of this!’ he barked. ‘The scene is in the script. We are shooting the scene, end of story. And this is the fifty-ninth take!’

‘And with each take, I think of three more reasons why it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense!’ retorted Geraldine Wise, whose professional name was Crystal Bright. ‘At the start of the film, she has a great job and loads of friends. Okay, I guess it’s not impossible to imagine her sleeping with this boring barman guy, but do they really have to get married three scenes later?’ She folded her arms over the expensive lacy bra, which was supposed to match her character, but which would probably be somewhat uncomfortable for a high-flying lawyer to wear all day.

‘He’s not just a barman, he’s a talented musician,’ said Brad Clooney plaintively. ‘After all, in the end, she leaves behind her boring job to go on tour with him!’ He made as if to get up from the bed and start the scene again, but Crystal Bright grabbed his legendary bicep and squeezed it rather painfully.

‘Exactly!’ she exclaimed. ‘Does that sounds likely to you?’

The wardrobe mistress, Shirley Thistlethwaite, marched up to the bed, shooed them both out of her way, straightened the duvet and handed Crystal her top.

‘Obviously she’s desperate to get married. She’s meant to be thirty, after all!’ Shirley said, in a voice which brooked no disagreement.

Crystal put on her top, and the cameras swivelled into position. The director gave the signal. She pulled off her top in a single, elegant movement and fell backwards onto the bed, dragging Brad with her so that he fell neatly on top of her. She encircled his neck with her arms and gazed intently into his eyes.

Written at a writers’ retreat – the prompt was “An argument which started in bed”.