Jean hated to clean, she could see the dust but just couldn’t be bothered with it. Quentin Crisp once said “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse”.

Jean reached up to the bookshelf, pulled his book off the shelf and wiped a layer of dust from the spine. She opened it and looked at the inscription “To Jean from Quentin Crisp” she had been a true fan of his. She agreed on the dust, dirt is dirt, however much of it there is, however it doesn’t go away unless you do something about it.

Jean needed a cleaner but she also needed a holiday, she longed to travel see some more of the world before she turned to dust herself. She thought she might start in New York and see what, if anything, would open up from there.

Jean put her little house on a holiday letting site, the place you would put your home for short term lets, she was very careful about the photos she took. It wasn’t long before a six month let was agreed and Jean paid for her vacation with the deposit, packed up and left.

Jean just closed the door on the dust, this she thought, was a much better option than getting cleaners in to do a deep clean. References she had received for the tenant, described her as an exceptionally clean young woman. Jean just knew she would return to a spotlessly clean home in six months, now all she had to do was to work out how she would find the already spent deposit!

“The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us” Quentin Crisp


I wrote this story after helping my sister clean her new rental for two days before moving in. I couldn’t quite believe how much we had to clean and however messy she is over the next six months the owner will still be returning to a home that has been deep cleaned! I suggested to my sister we were paying forward, that she wouldn’t have to clean on leaving, but that is silly, it is not in her nature, after all she was well chosen!

The owners name wasn’t Jean of course, this is a book that used to sit on my mothers bookshelf 🙂





She turned the toothbrush away from hers, she didn’t want the bristles meeting. Those bristles that touched his mouth, she didn’t want them touching hers.

She thought back to when they first met, how she had loved everything about him. she remembered watching his mouth as he ate, remembered how it looked so beautiful, so warm, so tender. But that was then, all those years ago, before the words were spoken, before those words of hate left his mouth, left both their mouths.

They stayed together now for the children, well for Charlie anyway, as Faith had left home now. Shacked up as she was with Jack, in love as she once was herself.

She thought about their toothbrushes, she wondered if they faced each other, was this a sign of lasting love, could you tell from how toothbrushes were placed, the state of a relationship. It wouldn’t be long now until Charlie left for university, another year and she would be free. They had agreed that they would wait for the children to leave, give the last one a year to settle.

She picked up her shopping list from the night stand where she had left it the night before. Glanced through the things she needed to buy and took a pen from her bag. New toothbrush she wrote, in bold letters.




They called her brassy, big, loud and larger than life. Maude was a gentle and loving soul but this is not how she portrayed herself. Maud liked to wear tight fitting clothes over her well covered body. The more gentile women would tut as they walked past, they had decided from a distance that she was a woman of a certain kind and best to be avoided.

Maude fitted into the mould she had created, she wore far to much make up, far to many chains around her neck and wore her hair up with an added hairpiece, a look more fitting for a girl than a more mature woman. Maude created the personality she believed would get her through life, it had, it gave her the confidence she needed but never the love she desired. Maude always met the wrong man because she had no idea of how to attract the right one.

Maude’s childhood had been difficult, she had not experienced love from her parents, she always felt and was told she was an accident. She wasn’t wanted, she was ignored for the most part and verbally and physically abused at others. Maude left home at the earliest opportunity, falling for a local lad who showed her more interest than she’d experienced before. Maude was pregnant at fifteen and married at sixteen, a girl herself, she found herself responsible for a family.

Maude learnt how to work the system, her husband Bob put what money they had over the bar of the local tavern and if she was going to feed her family Maude needed to tell the odd tale or two. She realised early on that to be listened to and noticed she had to create something quite different, she had to hide any vulnerability, show no fear and charge at the world head on, Maude was certainly a force to be reckoned with if ever there was.

Maud had so many layers that she didn’t really know who she was, so many walls around her that even she couldn’t break them. Maude believed she fitted the lies she had created, she recognised herself in the person she had become. Maude had tried to cover her fragmented and difficult beginning in life in an attempt to become whole and yet the whole Maude created had nothing to do with the person she was. Maude was her own work of art and yet it was not in her original style, quite simply, Maude was a fake.

The day Maud was knocked over on that crossing was the day she went home, home to her childhood and home to who she really was. Stripped in hospital of her clothes, jewels and make up, Maude found herself. She found herself in the people she spoke to, she found herself in the kindness of the nurses and she found herself in the girl in the next bed who was interested in what she had to say.

Maude was in a coma for six weeks, it was felt unlikely she would survive, but she did, she did more than that she broke down her own walls. Somewhere in the space of the coma, in a place she was safe and at a time just right for her, Maude found home. A lifetime of being someone else, a brassy tart, evaporated. Maude survived and in surviving realised she didn’t need to create anymore, she could be herself.

Something about the respite from life gave Maude a second chance, gave her opportunity to recreate and in doing so she chose to be herself. Surrounded by care and love she felt at home, she allowed the love she had buried to resurface, the gentleness to cross her brow.

Maude’s recovery was slow but her transformation miraculous, a lifetime of lies got knocked over that day but Maude stood up.

The moral of this story is we all get knocked down, but each time we get up we are closer to ourselves.





Watching You Play

Have you been here before little one, I think to myself as I watch you play. Lost in your own world as you sit in the corner of the room with your toys. The sun steams through the window upon you, as if lighting you up for the world, but you my darling, are lost in your imaginings and I am impossible to see.

I try to connect to your thoughts, link in with your world but it is impossible to reach that place in childhood that is just too innocent and wonderful for adults to enter. The cat lifts her head from the sofa and looks at me, I must have disturbed her but you my lovely one, are still lost in the wonder of your toys.

I want to cry as I hold you in my sight, my love for you being so strong. I feel a tear upon my face but I don’t brush it away, letting it fall into your world. I think this love will last forever, I feel it throughout my being. From the moment you were born, the love I felt for you became part of me, it defines me, it explains my very existence.

I roll a marble across the floor in your direction, it rolls to the left of you and stops. I see you momentarily glance at it before resuming play. You are not interested in the marble today. I sit in my chair in the bay of the window and watch you, I have all the time in the world.

Your play is disturbed by the sound of the ice cream truck, playing its tune as it turns the corner of the street. You stand for a moment, coming closer to the window, to watch the truck go past. Do you remember your first ice cream, sitting as you did in your high chair with chocolate ice cream everywhere? Oh how we laughed, there are pictures of it somewhere, your chocolate kisses all over my face. We must get granny to sort them out for you, they will make you laugh.

As if by magic granny enters the room, your warm smile greeting her. You throw your doll to the corner and run into grannies arms, to be picked up and swirled around. The cat lifts itself and stretches, it’s dinnertime and she too wants to be noticed.

In grannies arm you head to the mantle piece to look at the photographs displayed. Granny gently touches my picture as she does every day and tells you again about your mummy who loved you very much. You listen again as you do every day and kiss her eyes and cheeks. Although she is smiling we can both see the sadness in grannies eyes as she talks of me, keeping me alive in the memories.

Granny does not notice you as you point to the chair in the window I am sitting upon but I do.







She liked the rain, it washed away the dust and grime of her life and freshened her surroundings.  She sat  for a while and listened to the gentle patter on the window, watching the long streams of water as they trickled slowly down on to the rotting sill.

It had been a long time since it had rained here and it brought about a new and interesting mustiness to the air.  This was the change she had been waiting for, this gave her something to think about and broke the monotony of a Sunday, the longest of days.

The garbage would have a better scent she thought to herself, it was a long time since it had been collected and the stench of fish guts and babies nappies trailed through the walkways like a cancer.  Tomorrow the air would be cleaner, the concrete washed of muck and the flower pots washed down and flowers fed.

A crack of thunder lit the horizon and the lights went out.  She sat watching the shadows of the trees in the distance bending, as beaten by the relentless and torrential storm.  Behind her door she heard the unmistakable crash of gates closing and further in the distance cries from the murky shadows.  She watched through her prison window and thought about the fresh dawn of tomorrow.



The Reading


Daily Word Prompt – Playful

The energy was different, almost playful she thought, she couldn’t quite work it out.  Sparks flew through the air in magical colours, dancing and twirling in the light.  ‘I wonder’ Cassy thought as she placed the silk on the table and laid out the tools of her trade.  Crystal ball in the middle, tarot cards to the left, a candle to the right and a selection of crystals.

Today was the village fair and she had been asked if she would do some readings for charity, it was for a good cause so she willingly accepted.  Cassy hadn’t done readings for some time in public, she wasn’t sure she was up to it after the embarrassment of being called a fraud in the local paper by that reporter.   She had toyed with the request for a while when she was initially asked, but reasoned what was the harm, it was for charity anyway.

Cassy had retrieved her crystal ball and bits and pieces from the box in the back bedroom the night before.  She had put them away after the article was posted through her door, she didn’t want to be seen as the oddity in the village.  That had been several months ago and now she had been asked to get them out again.  She did hope it wasn’t just to mock, she didn’t want to ask the cards if it was a mistake to go ahead, she wasn’t even sure she could anymore.

These last few months had been difficult, the long dark evenings and on her own again.   It would be good to be out again today, mixing with people.  She would love to find some friends here in the village, to hope for anything else was beyond her wildest dreams.

The fate was well under way before Cassy had her first customer, she had been sitting head lowered in a dreamy state when someone sat down in front of her.  She looked up and caught the playful twinkle in his eyes, she held her breath for just a moment longer.   ‘I know this is just for fun, but would you give me a reading’ he said smiling across at her.  Cassy handed him the cards, knowing even before she turned them over this guy was going to be special.

The Cane

‘Your just too soft on them’ she blurted out ‘How will they ever learn right from wrong if you always let them lull about like that?’ She wouldn’t usually have got involved but this was just too much to bare, they were out of control and downright messy to say the least. They needed boundaries, they needed to be pointed in the right direction, he just wasn’t doing them any favours at all.

Last year they had lined up neatly, bowed their heads, they were a delight to see. Today they looked a mess, there was no uniform and they were beyond control just sprawling on the ground as they were. It was disgraceful and more than that it wasn’t fair that she had to look out at them all day!

Frank didn’t say anything, just chewed on that cigar butt and looked out over the garden. He had switched off, he wasn’t listening, she would have to show him it was the only way he would get it. She didn’t want to appear cruel telling him how horrid they were but you had to be cruel to be kind and he needed some help.

Sandra disappeared into the kitchen, returning moments later with a book in her hand. This will help, just follow the instructions and use the cane like it says, if you do what it says you will have a fine, tidy line of perfect green beans in no time at all’.