On the Last Rebellion

To be invaded is a penetration. If not bodily, by blade or flesh, then mentally by a wiping of history, a corrosion of culture, a banishing of the familiar. Invasion takes more

New Start

I don’t know why I let ‘em talk me into coming out. Having to pay to get in a fuckin’ pub. Liberty. I hate this shit. I feel like an alien spectator. Are they really having that much fun, or are they just pretending to fit in with everyone else pretending to fit in? I don’t fit nowhere. Don’t feel like pretending either. They’re all excited about the night and I don’t get it. I

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: L’esprit de l’escalier

We were talking, me and Sue, about why ghost stories were a thing at Christmas, when we got on to what scares us, really. I said playing out the same stuff in every job, relationship, hometown; subconsciously finding people that let me play out my patterns as I let them play our theirs, being stuck doing this. Each New Year’s Resolution really a cover story. Stuck, especially those times that I thought I wasn’t, that

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: As we drove a kind of madness came upon us

As we drove a kind of madness came upon us so that we didn’t regret what we had done. In fact we never did regret it. We didn’t have time. From then on there was never a moment long enough to allow us reflect to consider the solemn awfulness of what had happened. What had happened to us. Been done by us. I used to think that if we had just stopped and considered pulled


On a hilltop in what would become known to some as the Holy Land, two shepherds lift their eyes into a clear night sky, and it is a shockingly clear night sky, for before all the cars and planes and factories began clogging up the space we breathe and all the lights we leave on began dulling the darkness, you could really see the stars, I mean really see the stars, but then I write

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: The Last Christmas of the Cold War

1 StudentenWerk  At Wittenbergplatz, he changes to the U2.  He rides the U2 to the university – the only university in West Berlin – where he will spend the day at the training in the auditorium. This is the year that he is going to be Santa – traveling from house to house to distribute gifts on Christmas Eve – employed by StudentenWerk, the student employment agency. He had never considered it before.  His Christmases

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: Mary Berry’s Festive Handjob

I, am an actress. Some of you might recognise me from my past performances. Others might know me from theatre, or TV, or more likely, adverts. But ALL of you will recognise my hands! No? What if you imagine them made-up? The addition of a few liver spots, the carefully shadowing of the creases to mimic aged furrows, the way I hold the fingers slightly crooked, an ancient echo of a childhood disease? Still no?


The Coca-Cola truck’s coming to town, and Donner and Blitzen, all blazing white neon, dance across shopping mall roof tops, and drive-thrus serve burgers in holly-stamped boxes and polythene mistletoe garlands the entrance to stores where you kiss all your overtime money goodbye, and Santa’s elves work at the carwash. Brightly shines the light o’erhead of Easyjet, the red-eye flight, and unto us a child is given from a far-off land, no place to lay

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: It’s a Wonderful Christmas Chainsaw Tale

I asked my son Toby what he would like for Christmas. Usually I select a present on his behalf, but at almost four years old, I noticed he was beginning to form his own opinions and tastes; It was time for him to have a say in the matter and write a letter to Santa Claus. ‘What would you like from Father Christmas?’ I asked him one day in front of a festive Peppa Pig.

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: The Christmas Disco

5pm Mum is helping me get ready for the Christmas disco. I’m wearing a black velvet skirt with an orange velvet crop top and Mum has crimped my hair and sprayed it with glitter. I’ve borrowed some of Mum’s perfume called Sunflowers. I’m not sure if I smell nice or not, because Jenny says that I smell like Toilet Duck. I think Jenny’s just jealous though. She has to stay in and look at the new

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: The Fortnight After Christmas

Two chunks of Christmas cake are brought back to the house before the New Year. They sit uncovered on a large red plate in the kitchen with a knife to hand, so that anyone who wants to take a piece can help themselves. There is one sliver left, and the house is in the grips of a politeness standoff. In an unspoken atonement for a year of domestic indiscretions, no one wants to be the

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: Father Christmas and the Doctor-Dealer

It was the middle of the fucking party season and the emphysema was starting to become a problem again. He knew it wasn’t a matter of life and death (he couldn’t die) but it was still pretty annoying to cough up thumb sized gobs of blood every time he tried to do anything remotely athletic. He hated too having to deal with the health sector – medical practitioners worldwide had an obsession with the kind


December 1st took off the cellophane wrapper and opened the first box, and immediately the Santa spoke to me, he said, your job is to do as I fucking say. 2nd If you’re going to eat my chocolate, he said, you’re going to have to give something back. Cut a finger and make it rain into the space where it was. 3rd Don’t even open this one, he said. Leave the perforations undamaged, you contemptible

AN OPEN PEN CHRISTMAS: Methylated Spirits

“Nous souffrons par les rêves. Nous guérissons par les rêves.” Gaston Bachelard We apologise for the long waiting times at the tills as I’m pushing or pulling my zebra-patterned trolley. Pushing or pulling with my left hand, my right hand with its fingers wrapped around the handle of a shopping basket. There must be thousands of us, moving chaotically and in different speeds, a whim of hungry and thirsty people who left everything until too

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