28 May 2011

Scary Monsters

I tried to think of the most harmless thing– something that I loved from my childhood, something that would never ever possibly destroy us….

I must have seen this film fifty times. I think we had copied it from the TV and I used to watch the video over and over when I was a kid. After that we used to watch the cartoon spin-off series every week.
I have always loved horror and ghost stories for as long as I can remember - as an adult I still seek out the creepiest goriest or scariest ones. Freddy Kreuger, Jason, Chuckie and Pinhead were all household names to me. They don’t bother me much when I consider the real-life atrocities that can be seen on the evening news. Yet there is one film that frightened me more than the rest of them put together. I had another Ghostbusters nightmare last week.

It’s not the eggs frying on the counter, it’s not the fridge with the swirling and the building and the ‘Zool’ voice. It’s not even the ghost in the library that suddenly goes ‘rawr!’ (when I used to watch that scene I always had my eyes closed until I could hear the jaunty piano music play as our heroes fled the building). It’s those damned dog-things with the red eyes. Those are the monsters that have always scared the bejaysus out of me.

It’s the way they are lurking silently. There might be one in the cupboard and you might unwittingly throw your coat over it. They don’t get angry, they just emit a low rumbling growl, and observe you calmly with their red glowing eyes, maybe tilting the head to one side. They are waiting patiently to collect you. It might be on a quiet evening when you are alone watching the telly and next thing you know, their claws are coming out of your armchair, pinning you down, covering your mouth, stifling your screams.

They don’t care where or when, so there’s no point running or sleeping with the light on. They can chase you across central park and maul you in front of a crowded restaurant. They don’t care who sees. They have a job to do.

When I was a child my parents had a clock-radio on their bedside locker with a red LED. Every time I glanced into the room, when the lights were out, I was reminded of those eyes. Of course I would do a double-take and read the numbers to make sure it was a clock and not eyes. But sometimes, I just hurried past, afraid to glance again, just in case, this time, the glow was not from a clock.

And now, twenty years later, those monsters still hunt me down in my dreams. You would think I’d have more important things on my mind, but I couldn’t help it. It just popped in there.
I actually got a bit creeped out just adding this picture.

23 May 2011


Brigid was a city girl. She was never far from people, and not too shy of crowds. She scrounged for whatever she could find, helping herself to leftovers, nothing wasted.

One day she felt attracted by a sweet smell and scurried towards it. In a few jumps and a little bit of a scrape, she dived into a bin full of morsels of food to nibble on and a delicious pool at the bottom of it to lap at. She buried herself down deep, sampling and sniffing as she went.

Suddenly her world lunged violently and began to rumble. In terror she scrambled for the surface, her little toes gripping desperately to the shaking contents as she climbed upwards. Finally she surfaced and jumped clear.

She was in the hall of a house under the glare of a lightbulb.

One of the people screamed. She darted for the safety of a cupboard under the stairs and squirmed away into the darkness. After a moment the door slammed and her chink of light disappeared.

She could hear the people walking about outside, running up and down the stairs above her head. They tucked their trousers into their socks. Outside the cupboard, one of them put on wellies. One of them pulled a hood over her ears. One of them opened the front door and opened Brigid’s door and poked a sweeping brush around angrily. She shrunk down further and kept still.

The people in the house named her after their landlady who wouldn’t let them have a cat.

After an hour or so the cupboard door opened again and a trap was placed inside. It is still there, baited with chocolate spread. Brigid’s sense of smell is keen. From her corner of the cupboard she can smell it.

The house is quiet. The people who live in it are wondering if Brigid will gnaw her way to freedom. 

They are waiting for her hunger to betray her.

They are listening for the snap and her screams.

21 May 2011

The Rapture

“What time is it?”

I rolled over and leaned out of the bed to reach my phone.


The deluge had stopped and the evening sun had broken through the clouds.

“Hey, we survived The Rapture” I said.

 “Well, actually, the way it works is that the saved ascend and the forsaken are left on earth, which will become hell.”

From the bed I could see a corner of the convent outside my window. “I guess that convent is mostly empty then, except for one or two naughty nuns.”

We looked at each other and laughed nervously. The bathroom door creaked in the breeze left by an open window.

We got dressed and went downstairs to an empty house. There was food still cooking in the oven but the kitchen was desolate.

The torrential day had given way to a still evening, leaving a soft breeze like a sigh of relief. Everything out in the street, drenched and dripping, glistened in the yellow light. 

14 May 2011

Women's Interest

What’s the difference between Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Woman’s Way?
Cosmopolitan teaches you how to have an orgasm, Vogue teaches you how to fake an orgasm and Woman’s Way teaches you how to knit an orgasm.

Sometimes when I’m travelling I feel tempted to buy a copy of Cosmopolitan. I love reading it to compare the lives of women in different countries. For instance the Asian ones have adds for skin-whitening products, and the British one, skin-oranging products. The fashions change with the climates, and the reviews give a snapshot of local trends in chickllit and chick-flicks. In the American one, the erotic fiction page usually ends in love, but in the UK edition it ends in, well, orgasm.

That’s always been the main selling point though. Cosmo always entices the reader with the inevitable promise of “mind-blowing orgasms” and I ask myself who wouldn’t be tempted by the lure of reaching untold ecstasy by leaning slightly to the left. It promises to answer all questions about female sexuality - even the ones you hadn’t thought to ask. Who wouldn’t want to learn of the delights that may be discovered from a combination of simple household objects like a plunger, an egg-cup and a pair of marigolds?

Fortunately there’s no need to feel embarrassed when buying this monthly manual, there is enough content on celebrities, lifestyle, fashion and health that you can pretend you bought it for one of the other articles. Much of these are made up of helpful tips on HOW TO PLEASE YOUR MAN. And don’t worry if you don’t have one yet, the rest of it is dedicated to solving this catastrophic problem. Don’t get too smug though, there are warnings and advice aplenty on how to keep him once you’ve snared yourself one.

I recently picked up the latest issue and had a flick through to check in case I was missing some enlightenment. The front cover not only promised a list of amazing sex tips, how to never get dumped, and how to make bullies leave you alone. Not wanting to be an arrogant know-it-all I had to check, of course. To my horror I discovered that I was doing everything wrong! For example, I didn’t know that pet-names are out.  ‘Sweetie’, ‘sugar’ and ‘honey’ leave a bitter taste in the mouth these days. Calling your loved-one by their full name is more ‘adult’. My clothes and make-up were of course not up to the standard of a ‘beautiful confident woman’. There was even a helpful quiz to prevent the reader from deluding themselves into thinking they didn’t need advice.

That’s all right though. We all know I’m reading this for the list of amazing sex tips that were promised on the front cover. Disappointingly, it turned out that random men were interviewed on the street to talk about their ex-girlfriends and what they did wrong in bed. It turns out you can’t please everyone. You can, however, be too gentle, too aggressive, too cruel, too kind, too coy or even too savvy. It’s a minefield out there. I shrugged to myself and thought, well, at least I don’t recognise any of the contributors. I decided to read something with a more forgiving attitude, so I bought Bizarre magazine instead.