Friday, April 22, 2016


Welcome to the life of a Greg. Every morning, for five days a week, I inhabit the rickety, sweat-filled 7.32 train across to Manchester for 62 juddering minutes. Surrounded by what I can only assume to be a plethora of Gregs in their uniform of a grey suit, grey tie, black shoes, we ride together solemnly and silently. Fidgeting now and again, we jostle along with the train’s movements as one.

But not me, not anymore; the misery ends today. This affliction will haunt me no longer. No longer shall I be one of these lifeless chumps by whom I now find myself surrounded. You fools! Can you not feel the tedium of your lives? Do you not see the meaninglessness?

Wake up!

It's time for a new name. A new name, a new life. But what name should it be – what name is really Me? I could be Ignacio, the imperious. Hawthorne, the heroic. Reuben, the rascal!

How about Keith?

Keith! I know anything is a step up from Greg, but Keith? Well, for now you'll just have to call me Not Greg.

Hang on. What am I doing here? This is no place for me, for Not Greg. I've got to be out there, in the real world! But I can hardly do anything about that right now; I am trapped in this numb, Greg-filled metal tube. Well, what should I do when I get off then? I'll have to plan it – does Not Greg make plans? Maybe Not Greg is the spontaneous type. How should I know how to be spontaneous? This is all new to me.

Okay: spontaneity. Spontaneity. Perhaps if I walk about a little something will come to me. Here goes. Take a good look everyone. Experience for a moment what it is like to be in the presence of a Not Greg. Steady now, Not Greg, keep hold of the chairs. Where shall I go? There's not really anywhere to go on a train. Just to the end. The automatic door is getting larger, closer. Click, hiss. Open, I can go through. It's calmer here. There's nobody about, no chairs – only a door to the outside world and a window through which to see it.

Oh my goodness. I've never seen anything so green, so brown, so raw. Those hills, they're full! Full of gnarled trees, prickly bushes, gentle people – life! This is where I need to be – where Not Greg needs to be. It's all moving so fast and brilliantly. Now is the time. I can almost feel it on my skin. The real world. I am going out there. How do I open this door? Click, hiss. A roar! The wind beating on my face. I can smell the hills; I can feel their cool breath.

Greg, wait!

It's Not Greg, damn it! Haven't you been listening? I am Not Greg, and I’m going to get to those hills.

Artwork by Ellie McCaldin

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Five Lies Creative Writing Teachers Tell

I quite enjoyed this article recently from 'Writers & Artists'... 

David Savill busts a few 'golden rules' that we're taught for creative writing.

What do you think? Do you agree with him?

Post your comments below!

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Oldest Member

The Oldest Member occupied his usual seat, by the window, looking out over the golf course. As he sat his mind drifted back to the time when the view was of manicured greens, lush fairways, neatly pruned trees and bushes. The fairways and greens had been long subsumed by The Wild. No golfers measured their stately progress round the course any more, stroke by stroke. To venture out now would be instant death.

His domain had shrunk to these few rooms on the first floor of the clubhouse. The ground floor was uninhabitable, at least by his kind. He knew that his time here was limited too. Every day the creepers reached higher, and the animals and god knew what else became bolder. He lived in squalor, eking out a miserable existence, always on guard, never truly relaxed, never fully asleep.

But he was The Oldest Member. Muirfield Golf Club had always had an Oldest Member, and he was damn sure he wasn’t going to give in to the savage world without a fight. When he had first joined the club, as a young boy, before The Fall, whoever had held the post had been a venerable age, usually in his 90s. He was 42. The rest of the members had fallen to the savagery that now colonised the world. 

He and four other members had made the decision, scarcely a month ago, to set up base here, thinking that it would be easier to defend than a town, which had been the focus of the savage attacks right from the start. Perfidious nature had shown itself, over the next few years, to be extremely red in tooth and claw. And purposeful. The purpose, it had become clear, was to destroy mankind, to wipe it off the face of the earth. And who could blame it? Mankind, as The Guardian had put it in its final issue, had brought this on itself by continuing to abuse the planet, blindly, until it could take no more.

His colleagues, fellow members, friends all, were gone now. He was alone.

A sudden noise behind him brought him to his feet. He swung the barrel of his gun round and caught a brace of baboons, teeth bared, full in the chest with a hail of bullets. He would have to find the breach, repair it quickly. He dropped the empty magazine on the floor, took a full one from the canvas bag at his feet, slammed it in. He lifted the bag. Empty. With a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach he stepped over the fallen bodies and through the open door.

by Ross Burton

Monday, April 4, 2016

Your Love Is Like Istanbul

Your love is an injury time winner 
in the World Cup Final; a knockout punch.
It's overtaking on Beckett's corner,
or winning the National by ten lengths.

It's a treble-twenty, a perfect score,
a one-four-seven at the Crucible.
It's the game, set and match at Wimbledon.
Your love's like Istanbul, it's beautiful.

Your kisses are a number one single
at Christmas; a festival headliner.
An anthem through the last term of High School;
a slow dance at a Wedding in summer.

They’re a disco beat with a hook to match;
they’re spitting rhymes and waxing lyrical.
They’re the Motown hits with the fingersnaps;
your kisses are like Smokey, a miracle.

by T. J. Dennett