Alli Sutherland
Quality Street Tower

I awoke up at 7:30 in the morning all bright eyed and bushy tailed and lay there wondering what to do with the day. I wanted to see the cookery programme that started at 10am and had to do a shop and some housework, the house is always a tip after a week of long hours spent at work. Then my new red swing Mac started to call me softly from the wardrobe. It was at this very moment that I realised that the red of the Mac was the very same shade of red as my FMB’s acquired last season. I simply had to go to Tesco’s early. Squeezing on a pair of spray on jeans, red rimmed glasses and the, oh so impractically high boots. I grabbed a cute little white vest top to finish off the look and I was resplendently ready to negotiate the trolley lanes.

I dithered at the door of the supermarket I didn’t need that much in the way of groceries but from where I was standing I could see that they had two tins of Quality Street on offer for £9.00 and that the Andrex deal of 12 for £4.00 was tempting. Ibacked away from the sensible small trolley and headed for the huge ones. I rarely get a big trolley since I got the MX-5 because the boot on it is tiny. For anyone who’s not clued up on their cars it’s one of those little sporty silver numbers with just 2 seats and a floppy top. It also helps if you’ve got good knees as the best way to get out of one is to crawl. But I decided that if I over bought I could pile it into the front seat and the foot well; Xmas shopping’s going to be a nightmare.

Off I trundled and bought lots of ‘two for the price of one’ deals and quite a few bulky items, but I’d manage to get it all squeezed in. I paid for the purchases and pushed the trolley out into the car park. My feet were killing me, those boots look great but they totally knack the balls of your feet. I pressed the little button on the key ring and the Mazda gave me a cheeky flash and a cheery ‘Beep Beep.’ Though quite what it had to be so happy about was beyond me…..there it was… rear drivers’ side tyre was as flat as a proverbial bloody Dodo.

Thank God, I thought, Tesco’s have an air machine at their petrol pumps, I’d inflate it there. The shopping was decanted from the trolley to the boot and the passenger seat…and its floor space…. and the back parcel shelf… and the stretchy string baggy type thingy stuck in front of the speakers…but I got it all in. I ‘flop, flop, flopped’ my way to the petrol station part and pulled the car by the side of the air machine. Neatly Sellotaped to the front of the oxygen giving life force was a hand written notice. “Sorry – Out of Air.” Oh, well, I thought, I’m a girl of the World, changed the odd tyre or 3 in my time I could do it again! The boots had to come off though, tyres can’t be changed in 5 inch heels, unfortunate that I’d been too lazy to look for the other cerise pink sock this morning, purple and black spots had indeed seemed a close match at the time. However, staring at them now, I wasn’t so sure.

So, all the bags of groceries were piled on the pavement and I removed the carpet from the floor of the boot and stared at the spare wheel…it was tiny….no, I mean…TINY! I peaked my head round the side of the car and looked at the incumbent due to be removed….it was MASSIVE! Oh, dear I was in trouble. I looked at the shopping and as my gaze descended on it, a bag slipped over and a bottle of wine rolled under the car… Fabulous!

My very first boyfriend would have been very proud of me, for it was he who had spent a very patient Saturday afternoon with me in the lane at the back of his parents house showing me how to use a jack and all such oily things……I changed it! All on my own, without a man or a mechanic or a boiler suited, shaved headed lesbian. I managed all on my very own! Fair dues, it took me an hour and 40 minutes and I ripped the rear of my jeans whilst bending down, my left buttock was now on full view. Plus there was axle grease down the front of my new Mac but what can I expect it’s a dirty job…no getting away from that. If there are any head teachers reading this, I’d like you to please inform all pupils of the female persuasion that alloy wheels have a security nut on each one, and that you’ll damage your eyebrow tweezers if you attempt to use them to remove the little devils. Thank-You!

All I can say is glory to the heavens that the big tyre was flat, because if it had been full of air it wouldn’t have fitted in my little boot. One carrier bag either side of it and that was the boot crammed. There were still 5 VERY full bags still sitting on the ground. Those of a nervous disposition should look away now. There was no way I was leaving my shop just lying there and I had to get to the tyre fixing place right away, so I took the shopping off the back shelf and put down the roof. I wedged the pack of loo rolls behind my headrest, (it only stuck up by a couple of feet) and the rest just got piled right in there. I balanced it pretty well, it only sat above the windscreen by a few inches and I’d managed to leave a gap for the handbrake and gear stick, well done me. At this juncture, I would like to add that I do not recommend sitting on two tins of Quality Street. Especially not when your buttocks are semi clad, ’tis a bit chilly and a bit high too! Did you know that when your head stands proud of the windscreen you get bugs in your teeth? I do!
You want to see the look they gave me when I rolled my wheel into the tyre fixing centre….don’t think they see many women in there, well not ones as dishevelled as me! So I said to the man behind the counter. “Err, could you fix my tyre for me please?” And he replied “Would you like us to put it back on your car for you?” So I fixed him with the Paddington Bear stare that my son taught me and said “Hell, no thanks, I’m looking forward to another hour and forty minutes repeating the process!”
He smiled at me…and the other men who were waiting to get there cars back laughed. I don’t somehow suspect they were exactly laughing ‘with’ me…but at this point in time I didn’t care, I’d missed James Martin and his cookery skills, the weekend was hardly worth living.

I took a seat and found a very old copy of ‘Good Housekeeping’ among the well thumbed issues of ‘Tyre Weekly’ and ‘Motor Sport.’ Then the chap behind the counter shouts to me “I’m afraid we can’t repair your tyre, because you’ve been driving on it…what sort of replacement would you like?” I looked at him blankly, couldn’t he see that I’d been reading a girls magazine? Had I realised I was supposed to cram up on the finer points of Pirelli, I’d have read the Tyre Weekly! I smiled sweetly (having first placed my tongue firmly in my cheek) and replied “Erm, a round one?” ….. “Or failing that…perhaps black?” He then explained in words of no more than one syllable that he meant by price, so being the cheapskate that I am, I went for the one of least cost.

I walked in through the front door as Son was bouncing down the stairs. “Whoa, Mum, you look a state…did you go out looking like that?” I took a deep breath, then demonstrated the talent that crowned me the winner of ‘Miss Arse Kicker, 1985’


William Taylor Jr.
Her Face, the Sometimes Gentleness

Let’s not speak of hope,
whatever it is that gets you
through the day will
have to do for now.

Embrace the hours as best you can,
your failures

and the evil you’ve done drift out
with the eventual tide

and the void forgives all in time.

Think of her face,
the sometimes gentleness of things,

make the feeling concrete in your mind,
hold it in your fist
tight against your breast

and if you want, you can
call it love.


Phil Lucas
Amusement Arcade (A Lost Dorset Morning)

They are here,
this day of each day,
for the trusted promise
of opening time.

Craggy never-beens
and fevered looking hopefuls
shuffle an idle queue,
as Lost Frank
scatters five-minute roll-ups
upon the spit of the slabs.
Ill-fated moths to the lightbulb,

9.00am and come the machines,
Tawdry gold chains
pepper this Happy Shopper Vegas,
where there’s
ten new-pence to win here,
a lone fiver there,
brash Elvis slots,
and tinned beans prize bingo.

Lost Frank
clutches the grubbiest of all pound coins
and mouths secrets.
He trusts
the unruly seed of win
will bud with conniving splendour.
But it’s just a daily peaked dream
along the nebulous plateau.



Do What’s Good For You

“Dirty seaweed,”
mother says.
“Put it down
and eat your burger.”



Michael Estabrook
I just don’t like it

Sometimes I simply want to touch
my beautiful wife’s hand
or her hair or put my arm around her waist,
nothing sexual, merely a simple touch.

But lately she stiffens or shakes her head
or pushes me away abruptly, defiantly.

“I don’t understand why I should
be made to feel so uncomfortable, so guilty
because I like to touch my own wife!”
I’m yelling, angry as a bottle of hornets.

“You’re my wife, why can’t I touch you?
I don’t understand! What am I doing wrong?”

I’m still yelling, and swearing, confused
and tired of feeling like a low-life
over something so simple and innocent.
Finally, she answers me in this hesitant, meek,
almost imploring voice, like when you whisper
in the dark so no one else can hear.
“I just don’t like it,” she says.

Suddenly I understand, I get it,
and my heart goes out to her.
It is clear enough really. This beautiful woman
simply does not like being touched by me
and who can blame her for that, honestly?
We can’t have people touching
the Mona Lisa now can we,
or the Pietà or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.



Felino Soriano
A.M. Conceptual

Continue to bathe sun, too walk
interact among those of the loving
disconnected from your species. Intent
socially compliment the meaning
underlying day’s patterned weather.
Either abstract shape clouds cloud
your language or paths clear with
content twirl-dance towards open
hands, catching decision, serial



Michael McCoon
To Continue

The whiskey slick
As a slug in the drain

The yeast of hours blur
Like the grinning eye

A symphony
Tapping at your skull

The rain like a calming disease
The clouds swarming
Through the windows

As a fly in a fit struggles
In the toothpaste that
Is hardening like plaster
In the jaw of the bathroom sink

I went and found
A long mirror
Peeled nude
Threw my clothes
Out a nearby window
Stared at my flesh
Glowing in the noon light
Like an alien
Dizzy from galactic deeds

I’m maddening
Like a grape
In the basement dark
Thought like
A damaged circle

A tattoo with a
Severed guitar string

I’d gotten so drunk
The key wouldn’t fit
And I cried in laughter
And someone asked about
And I said it was numb
Because I punched the
Tick out of the brains
And kept it for myself

I took a swallow
From the bottom

Grimaced in sanctuary

And the pillow was

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