Sunday, 3 September 2017

London. A glorified mass of tube stations stitched together with memories and might-have-beens.
There's the one with the first kiss.
Then there's the one where the guy you were seeing surprised you by ending his night early somewhere else just to walk round the block and back, holding your hand.
The one with the last kiss.
That one with the awkward joint tube ride after your first-ever first date, and no kiss at all.
The one where we didn't even say goodbye.
All of these stops on the journey of life with one or both of you always wanting to get off; brief interludes of fleeting connection that steal away across the city sometimes never to converge again.
Tube stations, however, are also functional. They're functional, ubiquitous, and hard to avoid, memories or no memories; TfL, and life in general, gives no fucks. If your heart hurts, get off at the next stop where absolutely no-one will be able to assist you due to staff cuts, coupled with your complete inability to quash that aspect of your personality that seems to reveal itself after a certain amount of time and render you completely unloveable from hereon in. You know the one.
There's lots of London you re-walk time and again in different shoes. First time's a charm, while second time you haphazardly paper over cracked memories and forgotten laughter as you subconsciously make a note to wait a while longer before a third.
For a big city it has a habit of feeling very small. Right place, wrong time as you find yourself casually strolling past people from the past and wondering why, or how, you both could have possibly come to be there, at that exact same moment.
But then that's the burning question. These people we meet, these interchanges in life; why, and how do they happen? Maybe they're lessons, maybe they're lovers, or maybe it's all completely out of our hands. Or, maybe we're all just thrown together by sheer coincidence and size of population and it's all just one big scramble for profundity and meaning.
Comforting, right?
In all this though, one thing is certain: London, exactly like time, waits for no man, and I'm increasingly convinced, that neither should we.


Salted air ruffles dusk-red hair.
Amber headlights grow large
and sweep away
across the gentle crash of
dappling moonlight.
On the periphery like dots, houses twinkle
while distant gulls mimic distant pub chatter and smooth pebbles grate under the weight of shifting water.
Cold fingers clutch a warm phone
at the bottom of a deep pocket.
In the distance the horizon shimmers, and the vast silver-black rolls on

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Acknowledging Sadness

I love London in the rain.
Not that I have much choice right now, with this excess of love that needs using up somewhere. It might as well be on the city that's made me.
I like the shiny surfaces. Lights reflected, nighttime projected, and the overwhelming sense of washing something clean.
I like the way it permeates. You feel cold, you feel, well, icky. You feel aggrieved, you feel resentful, but make no mistake, you feel.
Rain is noticed. Its presence is announced and it does not come quiet. Hunched shoulders, screwed up faces, and the retreating of toes from the ends of shoes that you once would have sworn were waterproof.
I like the way rain makes you hurry towards safety. No matter where you're going, you speed ahead, safe in the knowledge that the space you'll soon occupy will be drier, and better, and imbued with a new-found sense of joy, no matter how simplistic.
I love this city, because at least with a city you always know it will be unrequited.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Day 2 - "This has made my day."

"This has made my day!"
"Like, I'm not even kidding, the rest of the hours might as well take the rest of it off and just chalk themselves up to tomorrow. Today has officially peaked."

He grinned at her in amazement. Camel coat studded with grey and black fluff from that enormous scarf draped loosely around her shoulders, dirty blonde hair not quite grown out enough to stay behind her ears; the strands hastily and ultimately fruitlessly pushed away with a habitual nonchalance at rapidly successive intervals.

A video of a dog riding a tiny bike.
That was all.
You'd think there was free money involved, but no.

That something so simple could elicit such a genuine, heartfelt and arguably even excessive joy was one of the many things he loved about her.
I mean liked about her.
As a friend.


The expectant look from under rapidly descending hair suggested a question had been left unanswered. Fuck any question that wasn't "Why aren't we kissing?" quite frankly, but he got the feeling that that particular declaration would elicit nothing even close to dog levels of joy and, quite frankly, he didn't want to spoil what had been a lovely afternoon.

"You should get a hat."

"What?" The scarf slipped from her shoulder, exposing her neck with an almost clichéd shiver.

"If you're cold," he felt his hands move to catch the falling material, and quickly grasped the lining of his pockets instead, "you should get a hat. It would stop you being cold and keep your hair out of your eyes: cosy and efficient."

"How did you know my Tinder bio?" The flash from both baby blues and pearly whites plunged straight to the pit of his stomach.

"Ha. I'm uh, I'm not sure efficient isn't some kind of a back-handed compliment. Maybe that's why you're not getting any matches?"

The flush in his face pulsing right to the tips of his ears, her eyes eventually darted to something way off behind him.

"Maybe. Or maybe, I'm just looking in all the wrong places? I mean, they do say you should surround yourself with the things you love and everything else will follow, right?"

He swallowed.


It clicked.

"Pets at Home. You're talking about Pets at Home, aren't you."

"Maybe... I mean, they're baby rabbits, but that's almost as good as baby dogs."

"You are a complete and utter-"

But his feet were already heading in the direction of the pet store, pulled by the physical embodiment of a joy so infectious he couldn't help but laugh.

"LOOK at them! Why would you look for love anywhere else!?"

He smiled.

"You're right,"

He watched as she leaned closer over the pen, hair all-but cascading in front of her face as she pushed it repeatedly back across her cheek, delightedly making noises that he was sure no self-respecting rabbit would ever recognise or respond to.

"This has made my day."

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Day 1 - Blank Space

It's that ear-rush of silence.
A blinking cursor betrayed by a heavy, laboured e. lip. sis.
The inked equivalent of an ineffectual, trailing "...and, so, yeah."
It's flat and stark, as far as the eye can see.
Face down, cheek to the expanse.
A goldfish mouth of words that escape without forming.
Distracted isn't the word. Distraction requires a distracting thought. This is a lost train of thought run aground. Standing room only; no survivors.
At least a (writer's) block makes a noise when you strike it; an empty screen still hums.
The silent, blank-paper stare shows no remorse.
Then again, if those looks are killing unjustly, then why don't you have something to say?

Monday, 6 April 2015

Day 35: Dear Me

Dear Me,
Right, deep breath.
This isn't going to be easy, and you've been putting it off for nearly a week, but it's ok, you've got this.
So, firstly, it's not OK. Not really. Not at all in fact. About a week ago, you received one of the two calls that every child dreads, the one that boils down to your Mum being in hospital and it not looking good.
It's not looked good since.
It's not looked good since you sat sobbing on that last train from Paddington, the first train you could get on, wracked with fear and despair and an overwhelming sense of the world being dragged from under you.
It's not looked good since you were first ushered in to that cubicle in A&E, through the ambulance entrance normally not even open to the public, or since the heartbreaking but strangely calming conversation with the organ donor doctor.
It's not looked good since you re-entered that room in ICU, at 6:30am, coming on 24 hours awake, ill-prepared for the next 6 hours of watching the life slowly drain from your own mother's body. But then, I don't think anyone could ever be prepared for that, not really, and neither do you, not really.
You've been scared of writing this, I know. Scared of what it would do, what it would mean, and scared of what it might do to those going to read it who have been going through this too.
But in truth, it has happened, and it is awful, and heartbreaking and devastating, and all those other gut-wrenching adjectives and it is precisely these reasons why you should write about it.
It is because of this writing challenge that your Mum was able to read how much she meant to you, still means to you, a few short weeks ago, on Mothers' Day no less, and to know in no uncertain terms how much you loved and still love her, and how grateful you are to have been blessed with having her as your Mum.
It still hasn't sunk in and it won't for a long time, perhaps it never truly will, but for now, there is a small comfort in knowing that you were able to express those things to her, in your own time and on your own terms, as a qualifier to all those other things you uttered sat by that bed, grasping her hand with all your might, tears streaming down your face.
At the end of the day, that's precisely who this is not about: you. This is about your Mum who raised you, and loved you, and was fiercely proud of your writing and creativity and who would have wanted you to carry on.
So, that's what you must do now, and keep choosing to do every day, in every sense, because she was and still is your Mum, and that is how you were raised.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day 34: What's The Point Of Twitter?

When I was first given this topic on day -2 of this writing challenge I will admit to briefly considering the true, but admittedly rather generic platitudes I could envisage throwing its way: 'Twitter is about community, and togetherness.' etc, etc.

Today, those inverted commas crumbled.

Today I was privileged enough to be in the room at Channel 4 as a group of incredible young people entered in to an impassioned dialogue with MPs and senior Channel 4 staff about what would change #IfWeRanThings.

Privileged enough to not only be in the room, but to be on Twitter capturing, pushing and furthering the conversation happening both among attendees and those outside the room: a frenzied stream of opinion, observation, sheer expectant energy and a whole load of selfies. People not in the room, at their day jobs, at school, somewhere across the country, the other side of the proverbial closed door, engaging with, informing and even just witnessing the conversation, in all its nuanced, fast-paced and damn important glory.

Pretty cool, right?

Today, in that room, the point was made that social media is power, and that young people are so incredibly powerful. Twitter, social media, is a tool for mobilising, uniting, sharing, a tool for seeking, and connecting, and amassing a movement on a global scale in a way that generations before us simply couldn't, in ways they simply didn't have access to. The instant connection, the spread of a message, the force of conviction and the promotion to power in every which sense, right from the traditional to the newly-conventional: we are the most powerful generation there has ever been.

Twitter is part of my job, but it's more than that: there are up to 5 accounts linked to my phone at any one time including my own personal one and I make no secret of the fact that community management and the power of social media for good is something that can often be relied upon to get me out of bed of a morning. (I have a life, honest)

A tweet is an expression of a moment.

I have witnessed first-hand the power of being called out to directly, albeit as a branded identity, in a moment of solitary anguish, and conversely being essentially CC'ed in on celebrations of youth, and of life, and know the vital power of being able to engage with each of those moments, across the whole spectrum, and ensuring that in those moments, those young people feel heard.

Twitter is not a broadcast channel, and to treat it as such belittles both it and its users. All 288 million of us.

Twitter is designed for dialogue, be you brand, band, or bank, and every time you start that conversation there are 288 million people listening, 288 million potential connections.

That may sound daunting, but to me, that says 288 million possibilities.

Yes, Twitter may seem without a point at times, but, when what you see on the platform is entirely curated by you, to that I would counter that you're just not following the right people, and with 288 million possibilities, you really are spoiled for choice. And if you're not following me, @abigailchantal, then quite frankly, on your own head be it.

After all, Twitter is power.