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A fight at the pub on a Saturday night
They thrashed wildly at each other, a blur of lean muscle trading blows. Hands swollen, their bodies aching from the pummelling, the frenetic pace began to slow, but they laboured on, resigned to their Sisyphean struggle. The gathered crowd cried out for one last push and in a final heave of violence one of the fighters fell. The crowd roared its approval just as the police arrived.
Join The Club
It was the same every day. She was mocked everywhere she went.
By the TV screens with the adverts showing Bambi-like models with their glossy hair and straight white teeth.
By the plates of left-overs that the kids wouldn’t eat. “Eat me, it’s a waste to throw me away,” she almost heard the pizza plead.
By the elite mums in the school yard with their immaculate outfits and make-up. Who had time to polish their shoes before a school run anyway?
But the final straw was the window cleaners van. Someone had written a message in the grime on the back of it but all she could see was “lean me”.
It was time to stop the endless mocking and do something.
Opening the door to the village hall she hoped the slimming club was the way forward.
“Lean on me,” you say, as we run from the bus stop to the pub. “There’s room under here.”
I grab your arm and we squeeze together. Elbows and arms braced through winter layers. Shoulders getting wet under the flimsy brolly. Fingers, exposed to the cold, touching.
“Wait. Let’s wait.” We stop at the door. I can feel the damp warmth within, hear the heightened voices, rejoicing in Great British Weather Chat. “What a storm! Where did it come from? There was no mention of it earlier.”
Your fist slips down over mine, still holding the umbrella. Your cheeks are damp and your nose is cold. I want to brush the raindrops from your hair and feel them wet on my fingertips. The air between us disappears.
The rain keeps falling.
The Last Lean
When I first visited my grandad in the hospital I remember distinctively, not the conversation, not his appearance or voice, but the goodbye we shared. I remember the simple parting clearly. I leaned in to receive his warm peck on my cold cheek, yet felt a barrier preventing his comforting kiss from warming my skin. The impediment was of course my many strands of tangled hair that always seemed to get in the way.
I left him feeling as though I'd received an injection of regret. Our goodbye felt incomplete. Luckily it wasn't my last goodbye.
However now I find myself floating in a world that bleeds this same fragmentary feeling of regret. Not because of a barrier, but because of my disillusion and naivety that it would not be my last goodbye, my last lean in to him, my last sight of him.
Once again our goodbye feels incomplete.
The fishermen knew death when they saw it: in the gills of their catch, in the oozing of blood, the coagulating and lapping at their hulls, the red-wine gleam.
Yet, on a far away shore, the villain washed his hands, washed and scrubbed and rinsed. And the more he wrung, the more blood slipped from his palms and fingers.
Islanders snatched their babies and ran in terror as carmine crept up the beach, bleeding darkness into sand.
But still it came.
How the man is haunted, rubbing and scouring, knowing the king’s blood will coddle him to the end of days, a cloak about his shoulders, and the sea will suffocate in gore unless this murder is avenged.
Soon the water will still itself and wait, a drying scab under a lean white sun. And the fishermen will bleed and die, for they know despair when they see it.
The old tree had been split by lightening years ago and seemed to lean out across the water as if gazing at its own yearly changing reflection, green to gold then bare brown while the water rose and fell, silver in sunlight and grey under a cloud filled sky
For us though it was just a platform for a dare. To jump out over the water and grab the overhanging branch, swing and spin back onto dry land. An annual passage in those teenage years.
I never though to feel that exhilarating mix of fear and triumph again. But today as I took hold of my case with the same fierce grip as when I held onto the rough branch and slammed the door I swear I could hear the echo of our screams and I heard the rush and gurgle of the water beneath my feet.
In lean times Mousey provided credit to the estate’s poorer families. We were told to say: “Mousey... my mother said “Put it in the book” or “she’ll settle up with you on Friday, when my father gets his wages.” Hitching his trousers over his swollen belly, Minihan would grunt and scrawl the latest charges with his stubby carpenter’s pencil in his dirty cloth covered notebook.
Bills were usually settled on Fridays when the men were paid their meagre wages in the bacon factories. A father too fond of his glass meant that there were often weeks when some families couldn’t pay.
For all his bluster and bad temper concerning requests for credit, Mousey didn’t care. Like the town’s pawnbrokers of old, he knew that the poorest families were perpetually chained to him in order to get by.
Deciding to Stay
Her feet are on the edge. Thirty floors up, right at the top of a vein of concrete. Breathing hard, the wind catches and the space taunts her. Lean, that one choice. Tilting forward or back, back and she's safe. Forward and she dies. Tears roll. She wouldn't accept it. Sister, you are me and I am you. Her gut is numb. A part of her is already dead. A voice. She looks behind. The stranger walks cautiously, closer. His body heaves over the edge, legs swinging. She doesn't want him here, now she hesitates. Toes hang on the line of solid and air. The stranger stands, wobbles. Calmly, takes her hand, makes her skin warm. Time stops. The remainder of existence is their hands. Tied in damaged pain. She inhales again. Feels the oxygen seeping through her lungs, vein, heart. She turns, jumps down, her heart still beating.
My knuckles are sore as I rap the door too hard, slumping against the frame and groaning, the alcohol I can't help but lean on making me squint as my head spins.
Jack opens the door, cautious that he has a visitor this time of night, but his expression shifts to one of disappointed recognition when he sees me grin and lurch towards him.
"There's my best friend!" I slur, wrapping my arms around him, but he stiffens.
"Angie, not again!" he scolds sadly, his voice too loud for the silent, black street. He assesses me, taking in my messy hair and too-short dress hem tightly wrapped around my thighs, and gently tugs me into the house.
As I steady myself against his wall, the spinning quickening, he runs his hand through his hair and copies me, exhausted with me. I pretend I don't know what I'm putting him through.
End of the road
A thin line of rough set cobbles stretched away into the gathering dusk. The houses on both sides of the lane leaned inward, ensuring little light reached ground level. Townsfolk scurried about their business, keeping well into the shadows, ducking under the protruding masonry as they must.
A lamplighter worked his way up the hill, leaving a trail of flickering streetlights which did little to dispel the gloom. Giselle sighed and trudged on, peering at the house names. She must be getting close - the houses here were bigger and further apart.
She glanced at the statue ahead. A great brute of a man, bearded, arms akimbo, planted squarely where a second street crossed this one. She'd have to ask again if she hadn't found it by the time she reached the crossing.
As she drew level, the statue moved.
"You'd be the governess. I've been waiting for you."
Say it Nicely
“We need you to lean on Baker, make him see things our way.”
The orders were always phrased in soft euphemisms: lean on, persuade, remind, tidy up. Even take out, the command for killing someone, sounded like they were asking you to give someone a pleasant spin in the countryside with a picnic lunch thrown in. Ironically, it did sometimes involve a drive out of town, but it was usually in the middle of the night, with a shotgun and shovel on the back seat and the ‘guest’ tied up in the boot.
Perhaps it was their way of morally disassociating themselves from the task. If they never said it explicitly, they weren’t responsible for the consequences.
At least this job wouldn’t involve cleaning the car upholstery. Just three photographs in a brown envelope and a call that would make the bottom drop out of Baker’s world.
No Oil Painting
‘In your dreams, I mean you of all people. No offence but look at you, you’re no oil painting are you?’ The sarcasm hurt, the giggling became louder. ‘I think you are imagining it love.’ I finish my coffee, leave the house and head off to work with my stomach churning. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut.
It all started as a slight lean against my body, a brush on the butt cheek in the corridor. Now it’s progressed to a squeeze at every opportunity, lewd comments, rude gestures, all in private of course. A little office flirting, a bit of banter maybe, whatever it’s called, I don’t like it.
Shall I tell my boss, put in a formal complaint, will he find it funny too? Thing is, no one else has seen it, but it’s happening and no one will believe me, even my bitch of a wife.
"Lean in", that's what Facebook's CEO tells young women they should do. "Lean in - yes you might some day want a career break to have a baby, but don't set up your whole career path on that basis. Work it out when you get there".
For a while I thought that was good advice and I stopped suggesting my teenage daughter be a school teacher or physiotherapist or some other job that had flexible working built into it. I encouraged her to go for it. I thought times had changed since I started out in the early 80s.
Then Donald Trump happened. I talked to my daughter about what he had said. And as I did so, I realised that times have not changed at all. I have just got older so I am not the target any more. He has set women back so far, it hurts.
Thee, Thou, Thine
Some words are too lean. What if I said I love thee instead – lingered on those rich vowels that stretch way back to when we met.
I'd driven through a storm, the air filled with yellow spray. It was as if my car was sailing an ocean and I was searching for land without a tiller.
When I arrived, I found thee, cross-legged on the ground opposite me, haloed in sunshine. Another world – earth and fire.
It was all I-thou between us that week. Nothing fancy, just real. The trees knew. Even the ancient cedar that had seen a thing or two.
There's few words that can truly sum up what thou art, but this I know. My heart is thine.
Two characters missing from egg faces. Cracked though. Clowns that juggle protect identity using facsimile on shells. They sing and dance for children. Have buckets filled with confetti, not livers and lights, as scare-ums.
This pair leave no clues. Despite trails of blood.
A paring knife handle stained black with old blood , blade red wet, with fresh, works hard on a goats sized limb ... Disney watch near one joint. The white cake faced butcher muttered and drooled as he cut thin. pink slices dripping onto a plate marked 'His'.
Behind in ballet shoes trying to force a child size dress over dirty acrylic hair a clearer voice happy at the soft opaque lumps filling 'Her' plate
Jack Spratt could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean
The writer (not published, doesn't deserve a name) sat in bed holding his iPhone. Not much point even getting up to use the laptop. There were no words to write. It would only mean putting the heating on, using up the electric on not using an appliance, wasting precious calories on moving, being awake, living. The man (hasn't typed a word today, doesn't deserve a word like writer) was going through a lean patch. No ideas, no emotions, no wisdom, not even an amusing typo. He had been advised to 'lean into it'. So, a man (a waste of space, doesn't deserve the definite article) sits up and forward. No leaning on pillows if you want to succeed. Hunched over his phone he poises his thumb purposefully over the digital keyboard and types 'lean' into the online dictionary and thesaurus. Jobs a goodun. The writer leans back to browse Facebook.
Lydia sits in the Starbucks, rips her paper napkin into bits, drinks a fifth glass of water. Must avoid caffeine, maybe a cup of tea once Rose arrives. The coffee smell is a comfort though.
What is appropriate in a situation such as this? A hug would be too much: “It’s okay that you haven’t spoken to me all these years- I love you unconditionally nonetheless.” Must protect herself but appear somehow open as well. Maybe a lean into her with a light pat on the shoulder….
Stuffed animals, tea parties, their secret treehouse. Up late talking in side- by -side beds. In their thirties, Rose cut her off.
A perceived slight, or maybe a thousand real slights….hard to remember exactly.
She starts as she sees an oldish woman that looks like their mother through the window, walking towards her. She rises to attention.
Rush Sweet Flight
Staggering to the cliff edge the sea is far below and perilous.
Chin to the clouds, shoulders pushed forward and arms out-stretched.
Lean into the gale, suspended until thrown onto the frozen ground.
Muddied anorak and roaring Chaos are a celebration.
Kick heels in a dance with the sky before falling in gravity’s tug.
Cry laugh jump into the wind, a kite without a string.
Two feet off the ground, knocked back through bent grass.
Rush sweet flight never high enough, pretending to be a gull.
Hunker down neck to the storm, drink from a flask, warm lungs.
Screaming into the howl for fleet moments at what can’t be repeated.
Taken to the limits of dreams, never give up striving for an altitude beyond.
Breathe, lie down akimbo, and listen to the cold ripple of currents on skin.
The Hard Embrace
She’d always had terrible taste in men, until she didn’t that was.
Jess smiled at the memory of getting it right. The heady days of passionate kisses and star gazing, happy just to be in each other’s company, shooting the breeze.
She leans into him. All the memories of her love are in that motion. The proposal followed by white satin and roses. Spooning together in a king sized bed, waiting for the movement of little knees and elbows.
His arms reach out to embrace her pulling her close, his lying, betraying arms. Does he think she doesn’t know about the other women? That she wouldn’t find out? He left a trail a mile wide on his mobile and his credit card bills.
With one arm she returns the embrace, pulling him tight against her. The other plunges the knife deep.
Really, her taste in men has always been terrible.
The mirror did not lie – I looked the worse for wear. Sure, I was still lean, but on the whole I resembled a smashed tree. I checked my face to notice any other blemishes and then I left the bathroom.
The funny thing was that the place was tidy despite me having a wild party the night before. I was celebrating the fact that I finally got a job that gave me good money. Of course, that included lots of drinking, which was not good for my brain cells.
Nonetheless, I recalled that it was time for breakfast. I entered the kitchen, it seemed different than usual. I opened the fridge and took a yoghurt. Once I made a sip, I noticed a stern man, who gazed at me. I had no clue who he was, yet he shouted at me.
'What are you doing in my flat?'
In Sickness and In Health
He appeared from behind the cubicle curtains as though he were a star on stage; all eyes fixed upon him. Already he was leaning heavily to the right, despite the numerous pillows attempting to prop him up. A thin trail of saliva hung from his mouth, pooling on his freshly changed gown. I was more prepared this time and swiftly wiped his mouth with a hanky. He would despise all this fuss.
"We'll leave you to enjoy the fresh air," the nurse said brightly, "he managed very well."
Her colleague was returning the contraption that had assisted him into this monstrosity of a chair. Never before had getting out of bed been considered an achievement.
"Is he showing any improvement?" I heard my daughter ask the nurse.
I began to wheel him away. I didn't need to hear her reply to know that things would never be the same.
"Let go of the reigns! Lean! Go on I dare you!"
"I'm not going anywhere!" Her voice was tranquil, not troubled.
"You will never be alone".
"You stare at me, yearning. I see that you question the endless opportunities and possibilities of my love. I see the times you thought I was punishing you."
The laugh that followed gently cleared the mist that the tears had created.
For a moment her heart skipped a beat, she forgot to breath and she was in peace. I took the crucifix from her hands and placed her blankets over her while she slept.
Her silence gracefully filled the room with memories of all the precious times her love had so often leaned into me.
"Penny for your thoughts" mum asked
"Grandma's woolies, honey and cakes...we can all lean into love, if only we can truly let go, can't we mum?"
Love Thy Neighbour
He'd done it again, thrown grass cuttings over the fence at the end of the garden. How did he think he could get away with it?
I thought after the last incident he would get the message, I mean no one wants that find that in their morning mail.
It did seem a shame to waste the lovely lean piece of sirloin steak on that whining mutt of his, but the game needed to be notched up a level.
The bottle read "PREVENT ACCESS TO BAIT by children and non target animals, particularly dogs, cats, pigs and poultry". With the skill of a surgeon, I sliced the steak in the middle and inserted the pellets, then carefully folded the meat back on itself to prevent the poison from spilling out.
If the phone hadn't rung at that moment and I'd been more careful, my Denzil would still be alive...
A Husband and a Wife
On the ground, pleading with her husband not to swing his fist, the woman sobbed. She desperately attempted to crawl away from him; roll down the stairs; something. She cried out in pain as a blow landed to her lower back, her legs going numb for a brief period. She gasped in a breath, choking on air, gasping. Her husband yelled something, but she couldn't hear well anymore. Leaning to the left to attempt to avoid another blow only resulted in a kick to her stomach. She clutched herself and curled into a ball.
"I'm sorry," she plead, "I'm sorry!" She didn't know what she was sorry for. Her husband continued to beat her until she remembered no more.
The Bastard's Eulogy
They're cremating him on Tuesday. I don't know what killed him. When they told me the news I deleted the voicemail that had sat waiting to be heard since the day before yesterday. I didn't want it to change the way I'd remember him.
He always smelled somewhere between coffee, cigarettes, and trains, perpetually moth-eaten and lean, the sinews of his emaciated soul masked beneath the uniform of depravity: trousers with belt-loops torn, collar crusted-black, shoelaces frayed and unapologetic. Some men, I suppose, are born in rags.
They'll scatter his dust to the wind and if he can he'll find a way to suffocate us. He liked to leave a lasting impression.
Well, Dad, they could lobotomise me and I still wouldn't forget you.
Death hits hard, but not as hard as you did.
Those furnaces are hot, but not as hot as Hell.
Arthur did not consider himself a dull person; he just preferred what he found familiar. After all, with familiarity came comfort. His wife on the other hand would argue the contrary, as she turned her back on her current form of self and created a whole new persona to live by. This tended to happen fortnightly. He often wondered whether she would eventually tire of him. He was never spontaneous and unlike her, he did not have the inclination to redecorate the brickwork on the south side of the house at five in the morning; nor did he feel the need to dress as though he was colour-blind and eat only rice and apples that have fallen from their branches.
“Definitely not,” he muttered to no one in particular.
“Eh?” the butcher slapped Arthur’s order on the counter, “Your usual,”
“Lean,” and with this response came Arthur’s immediate comfort.
There he is. It’s been almost twenty years; feels like more, feels like less. He pushes open the door of the restaurant as I stand up.He walks over and leans in to kiss me on both cheeks. How European.I sit down again and scan the menu. I think I’ll order Salade niçoise. I can be European too.‘You’re looking well,’ he says.‘Liar. I’ve aged about a hundred years. You, on the other hand, look younger than you did when I last saw you.’He shrugs. ‘I went to the reunion last night.’‘How was it?’‘Would’ve been better if you’d been there.’‘Not necessarily. Endless small talk. It’s not my thing.'‘Elspeth.’ He takes my hand. ‘It’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.’ ‘Really?’ Weak rays of winter sunshine fall on our hands, our wedding bands, the ones that don’t match. ‘Of course.’Liar.
Lula likes horizons, lakeside moons and city boys. She drives her beat up VW out in the woods, lays her blanket in the dirt, rests her skinny, rawboned body down. She lies with ribs marked like the gritty tines of an old BBQ grille, eyes closed, lean as a wildcat raging, dirty wild. This here’s a place out east beyond Fort Unicorn where she meets lumber trucks under the trees. Those big wheeled trucks come bouncing down the deep trail in the ruts. Park up to rest. Those lumber company guys bring dope, Buttsurfer CD, guitars cranked high, music to feel deep in the gut. Then Pau Marquez rides out one day and says he plans to set a big brush fire...Lula gets a notion… says she plans to burn a whole six eight. Goes bad. That’s how she got them scars, burn marks, that fast track NYPD trace.
Father Oswald’s Buddha-like passivity would chafe at Father Anselm daily – they had too few vegetables out of the garden, too poor in quality; their sleeping cells were dirty, delinquent cobwebs everywhere; there were too many broken door handles and window clasps; a leaky roof where slates had slipped their moorings and smashed potholes in the flags; a panoply of minor breakdowns never kept in check. Anselm was tired of taking things in hand himself, remediating everything, so lately tended more to hold his tongue, and drift as passively as he could through his days, contriving to omit the everyday, prosaical reality of rot. Even when the monastery began precariously to lean; the stone font shattered in the nave; the vaulted choir crumbled
and evensong was cancelled; even then, he held his breath, said nothing, praying with a perverse sense of longing now, to watch the slow inevitable collapse of everything.
The first drop of rain hit the brittle land a microsecond before the other drops.
Gregory didn’t notice which fell first, he was just pleased that it had finally arrived. It was the first rain he had seen in nearly a year and as he watched it wet the ground around him he thought about all the crops that had missed their chance to grow.
Most of his farm was barren but there was still hope that he wouldn’t have another lean harvest, last year the rain had come too late and all that grew on his farm that year was his wife’s impatience. It wasn’t his fault that the glaciers had melted raising the water level and causing the annual rains to miss their small farm but she didn’t see it that way.
Gregory’s wife wasn’t a problem this year, she had left the farm with her friend Miguel.
Her Bare Self
She couldn't remember the last time she had an actual friend. Someone to love, someone to laugh with, someone to have fun with. She was in desperate need of someone to lean on, perhaps a stranger would even do some good in her life at this point. Because without that person, she was a complete, terrible, ugly mess. She couldn't deal with herself, couldn't even properly make a bed, brush her teeth in the morning, or anytime really, or even fix her shiny, blonde hair anymore. No, she couldn't do that. Not without a proper glass of wine, or beer, or something to make her forget the pain. No one is like this without any pain to suffer. She has a harsh, bitter broken heart. She has learned her lesson now, not to trust others. A sharp, forever-lasting, stench of alcohol now romes throughout her apartment, until that person arrives...
Teddy’s six-foot-two-inch shadow perched over his opponent, Al ‘Tiger’ McBean.
“I hardly touched him.”
The ref grabbed Teddy’s right wrist and raised it up, “The winner and new champ, the lean and mean other McBean.”
“He’s not moving,” an eruption of bewildered gasps rose from the audience.
Seconds passed with feet of clay wrapping spectators in excited anticipation of seeing a gladiator’s morbid end.
Teddy and the ref’s heads swiveled from spectators to the lump lying beneath them.
”He’s dead,” a trainer shouted, hands scrambling over the body unable to find a pulse.
People swarmed the ring trying to get their five minutes of celebrity status as reporters shot pictures for the evening news.
“Get these ghouls outa here,” shouted Al’s manager.
“His heart. It blew out,” a self-appointed medic announced.
Teddy looked down through glistening eyes at the stiffening flesh, “A champion’s end. You win, brother.”
The Shortest Mile
A calm autumn afternoon; perfect conditions for the task ahead. The expectation of the gathered crowd palpable as the starter's gun fires.
He paces himself, allowing his competitors the honour of an early lead. Remember the training. Mustn't peak too soon. Let the biological motive power of his athletic body discharge evenly. Retain the reserves of strength for the latter part of the task.
He covers the distance. He knows his timing is key. Sprint, now! Lungs bursting. Ventricles pumping.
Lean, sinewy legs straining as the tape approaches.
The spectators roar as he crosses the line to triumph in the four minute mile.
Darkness was a comfort to her.
Movement at the periphery of sight was the kiss of grey at the borders of vision.
A rustle meant the collision of air particles with matter.
She does not jump at an unseen whisper neither does she see shapes in lean shadows.
Darkness was the absence of light, not an evil that ended all life.
Stripped of its moral equivalence, darkness was reduced to a physical existence that meant nothing.
Yet it was an existence that also hid everything. It was the best friend who would never reveal secrets. Who would never look in judgment at mistakes. Who had no expectations.
Its very void was an acceptance of all she was and is.
And if she was a trifle cold and numb, then that was a small price to pay to patch the hollow that he left in the middle of her chest.
No Yellow Brick Road
Rain lashed the pavement like some crazed madam punishing her disobedient slave. Puddles formed, puddles merged, puddles began to take over the world. Plastic bags, soggy leaves, and small children were whipped up by the wind. Clouds loomed within touching distance, squeezing the space between heaven and earth. Soaked pedestrians with useless umbrellas leant into the the storm.
I’d looked forward to this. I’d wished away each hour of hiraeth dreaming of Welsh rain. Funny how the mind plays tricks; conjuring scenes of romantic walks on misty cliffs, wet Welsh drizzle from Dylan’s mind. Not scary, apocalyptic storms when it feels like the house will fly and you’ll wake in Oz, desperate to click your heels and get back to Cardiff. But there’s no yellow brick road or tinman, just a squall of rain smashing into my window pane, then silence. The calm in the eye of the storm.
A Matter of Degrees
Waves stealing across bare toes, he caught sight of them ahead, in-step along the water's edge. Her copper hair flamed in the late afternoon sun which kissed her bare shoulders as she danced along beside him. His hands were thrust deep in the pockets of his faded jeans, his head angled low and tilted ever so slightly towards her. Thick and tousled blonde hair curled at the nape of his neck.
Their pace was slower than his. He drew a sharp breath and raised his chin to call out just as the blonde stranger shifted his weight to lean in and stroke her shoulder with the top of his bicep. A matter of degrees. She turned her head to the side, allowing him to catch a look on her face that he, her husband, hadn't given her occasion for in some time. He exhaled slowly, breath lost to the breeze.
"How was it?" She asks, staring at me. I stab my fork through the cold mashed potatoes sitting on my plate, and shrug.
"It was okay," I reply.
She nods slowly, lets out a deep sigh, and begins clearing the dining table.
She's giving up on me.
The Christmas lights in our apartment flicker, and suddenly turn off. I get up from my chair, unplug the lights, and then plug them back in.
"You don't want us to make it."
I turn my head quickly to see her standing there in her oversized sweater. Messy hair cascades down her shoulders, arms by her side.
"You want me to disappear. I give you everything; you lean on me, and you want me to disappear," she voices quietly.
We lay in bed that night in silence, and the next morning I grab my clothes.
I grab my shoes, I disappear.
Lean into Me
An avalanche of emotion ripped apart my soul and threatened to throw me from the Earth's orbit. I rocked and fell forwards, landing face down in the dirt where no one could see me. They tried to pull me up again, but it was to no avail.
I didn't want to see them, I didn't want to hear their voices, because they didn't look like her and they didn't sound like her. No one ever would again, because she was gone and I was alone.
Then soft hands were about my shoulders, gentle, but firm. They pulled me up and hugged me close, a gentle whisper telling me not to open my eyes.
"Lean into me," she whispered, and, as I was reborn into my childish state, I clasped onto my mother with both hands, sobbing into her chest. I was alone, but I was home.
Piloting a Box Kite
“Lean into the wind.” He could hear his father shouting over his own high-pitched yelps. Over the decades. His grandfather would have been pointing the camera, its leather strap over the checked collar and woollen tie he always wore. His mother’s beehive clenched under the black and white polka dot headscarf. Black and white memories.
He could remember the box kite they’d taken to the hilltop. The kite had bucked and strained then plummeted into the ground. He’d run with his father, following the string to its broken frame, downed like a shot bird. The kite had been a present from his grandfather. He could see the old man down the hill. He hadn’t cried over the kite, he’d cried for his grandfather’s disappointment.
He’d been leaning into the wind ever since. Not crying over a broken life, but simply trying to keep it from dive-bombing into matchwood and rags.
Annoyed, she scrutinised the black suede court shoe. The plastic heel tip was ground so far down at an angle that even if she corrected her inclination to lean left, it would be of no benefit to this shoe. She knew that she had a tilt. Her other shoes displayed the same damage, but it felt natural to cross her arms and place her bodyweight on her left foot.
She’d no idea why she unconsciously chose that side, but she wished that she would remember not to.
Sighing, she placed the shoe into the repair pile and stood with her left hand on her hip, surveying the evidence of her imperfection.
It was only when she started tapping the squashy toe-end of her right slipper against the carpet that she realised what she was doing.
Like silent soldiers in orderly rows, the shoes once again bore witness to her ‘leftness’.
We were always opposites. Physically, she was lean and tall and I was small and rotund. Personalities, she was gregarious and confident and I was a silent wallflower. People were always curious as to how two people so different could be friends.
We became friends in junior infants when she protected me from a bigger girl. It was always like that, her protecting me. My superhero in designer clothes. I sometimes thought that she would grow weary of me and move on and away, but it never happened.
When she got the news I was holding her hand and before I gave any commiserations or spouted platitudes, I said “test me”. So here I am hooked up to an IV and a heart monitor. Ready and willing to protect her for once. She is the damsel in distress and now I get to be her white knight.
The training was hard but necessary. You can’t get anywhere without putting in the time and the effort. Without anyone else there I was forced to push myself. Just an hour more, it will make all the difference. I had my own mantra running on repeat in my head. I will win, I will succeed, I will no longer be a doormat.
I had the goal in sight and knew how to get there. As the fateful day drew close I doubled my efforts. I woke up and trained, I went to work and trained, I went to bed and trained. It was a constant effort but it would be worth it.
The night before I couldn’t sleep. On the big day I looked at the door that led to my future took a deep breath and said “I am a lean, mean, machine and I will get this promotion.”
I feel the burn of her and yet make no attempt to douse the flames. I feel the rise of them through my entire body. I fail to quash and quell them. I let them have free reign.
They rage and rage and I enjoy the glow of them. I hear the voice that first ignited them and the flames fill my very being. I lean into the sense of belonging. I have felt passion before. The joy, the love. Yet this passion is of a different nature.
In place of joy, hate. In place of love, anger. It courses through my veins, without barriers. She flares out and scorches those around me. I have no control of it.
She leaves me powerless, weak with rage, and hungry for vengeance. I am filled with wrath and she is my weapon.
Clarity equals power
Monday. 6 am. I loiter by the door of the hot yoga studio. The octogenarian in turquoise has usurped my spot. Scouring the room for another, I spot one at the far end under the skylight. Dazzling light floods my mat. I gaze vacantly into the clear blue sky and wonder if you can get a tan through glass. We progress methodically through the standing series. 'Lean to the left,' yells the teacher, who's flitting around the room like a daddy long-legs on speed. 'Hold it!' I close my eyes. Inner peace. Was. Why. I. Came. We reach the floor series. 'Anyone cold?' asks the teacher. Huge droplets of sweat are ricocheting off the mat and I feel dizzy and delusional. 'Clarity equals power,' she chirps. Then somehow we're on the last posture and the ethereal fairy floats to the door. 'Strong class, folks,' she says with a goofy smile. ' Namaste.'
The Age We Abandon
Her smooth hands dug into the flesh on my arm. Stumbling as she rested on me, I placed her onto the bed. "Mum," she sobbed. As I pulled the soft blanket over her, her body covered in shattered glass from the accident crashed into my mind. I stroked her hair lovingly, hoping to soothe her into the liberation that only a dream could bring.
My mind...it still hadn't abandoned me and danced freely like a child under the first drops of rain. I would care for her forever. Is that why you've removed the mirrors? The thought cracked my resolve.
I wiped away an escaped tear from my wrinkled face. Why would you abandon her? Pulling down my sleeves to cover my aged arms, I whispered back...not willingly. My legs trembled with fragility as my muscles shamefully asked for rest.
How much longer could she lean on me?
'Why won't you be coming back?' Said Ellie, her voice high pitched.Hurt.
' My Daddy says he doesn't like the way our friendship is going.' replied Josie.
Ellie felt a lump form in her throat.
"It...It's me?" she thought, dismayed. " She's leaving because of me!"
'But, where are you going?' Ellie asked desperately.
Josie shrugged. 'I don't know Ellie; it's my Daddy's decision.' She said, and walked away from the playground.
At eight years old, Ellie hadn't known how to name the feelings she had felt that year, that day; but as the years went on, she realised that they were LOVE and LOSS.
In quiet moments, she would sit and lean her cheek against her hand, staring into space, lost in that moment; still sad, in her twenties.
We were best friends all the way through elementary and middle school. At the beginning of high school, I mumbled a hurtful word to Elia when arguing over a missing notebook. She turned away and –despite my apologies– never talked to me again until now, thirty years later. We live far away from each other, on opposite ends of the world. Reunited by a common friend while visiting our hometown, we found out we had both recently been through cancer and chemotherapy. Seated at our friend’s lounge, we talk. The garden trees’ shadows invade the room through the French doors. At moments, I see only half of Elia’s face clearly. “I didn’t even know, back then, the meaning of the word that estranged us all these years,” I tell her. Elia touches my hand with her long, lean fingers. “I know its real meaning now,” she replies. “It was stubbornness.”
‘Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean
So between the two of them they licked the platter clean.’
Maddie convulsed with giggles, sliding under the duvet as Dan contorted his face, licking an imaginary plate with disgusting slurping noises.
Sarah insisted on peaceful, routine-filled bedtimes. Dan went for full-on crazy - fairy-tales, funny voices and the joyful wildness of soft toys hurtling through the air.
“Just like you and Mummy.” Maddie’s words muffled by the cover and her laughter.
Dan stopped his mock licking.
“What do you mean?” Quirking one eyebrow at his daughter.
“You like different things. She has tea, you drink coffee. You eat puddings, Mummy doesn’t. You stay home with me, she’s always rushing out.”
She flung her arms around him.
“I’m glad I’ve got you both.”
Planting a soft kiss on her plump little cheek, Dan wished he could say the same.
Her neck was arched backwards, Her lipstick twisted, smudged. My arm circled her waist and we set off, steps out of sync, on heels clattering on wet cobbles. Within twenty metres she stumbled to a bench. Her beautiful, blonde hair caught in the flow of her own stinking vomit.
‘I’ll find a taxi.’
I looked down. Only one shoe. She tried to lean against me.
‘Want to be sick again,’ she muttered and retched at the side of the river, her head bent forward.
‘Come away from the edge!’
I pulled her arm and her skirt towards me.
‘Stay here. I’m going for a taxi.’
I hurried back to Coppergate.
Later, they asked how long it was since I left her.
‘About five minutes.’
Then I saw the shoe near the nightclub, gold sequins turned blue by the lights on the police cars.
‘That’s her shoe,’ I sobbed.
Like many people, I have a strong dislike for fatty meat. I like the lean cuts, light marbling for flavour, but little fat to hack through. The idea of "chewing the fat" makes me shudder, even if that saying is only metaphorical.
I dislike excess, in fact. It is why I find myself so frequently at odds with today's culture of crass, disposable... do I have to call it "entertainment"? Ironically, I have been called many things because of this, from "cultured" and "classy" to "snob" and "creep". C'est la vie.
Natural beauty always catches my attention and she was no exception. Pale skin, emerald eyes and auburn hair. Her smile was shy, but no less appealing. She would turn many a head in a crowd, particularly dressed so finely for the show. A dancer's figure, lithe and fit.
Lean meat, perfect for my table.
The wind kicked up the dust and carried it far across the wide open plains. When the dust reached the shack that leaned over at a peculiar angle, driven almost to the point of tipping by years of constant gales; it piled against the side of the ramshackle building.
A crack echoed out across the vast expanse of the desert. One more grain of sand came to rest upon the pile beside the shack, enough to finally pass the tipping point. The last strong splinter of decaying wood gave way like the sound of gunfire from days of old.
The crack was followed by a groan. The groan followed by rapid loud snaps. Then the snaps were followed by an almighty crash!
The last structure of man had finally fallen, with no-one around to bear witness. The wind picked up the dust once more and continued across the desert plains.
For A Change
He re-read the note on the bedside table and smiled.
When we were kids you protected me from the school bully I always knew if I had a homework problem I could come to you. It was you who helped me get my first job. You were Best Man at my wedding and loaned me a thousand quid to deposit on my first house. How many Sundays did you give up to work on my old car? Redundancy came you put me in touch with Fletcher’s and a new career. When Alice died suddenly who was the first to offer a supportive arm around my shoulder?
Nobody has ever had a better brother.
So Joe, once you are out of hospital and hobbling around on that broken leg I want you to know one thing. For a change you can lean on me.
Remain or Exit
She had no solid reason, no preconceived opinions but if pushed she would have to admit her views tended to lean towards the remain campaign.
With age, change had become a word she no longer wanted to know.
The younger entity, that was once Rose, would relate the word to something you would get from a ten pound note. Something you did to bedclothes each fortnight and your underwear daily.
This was saying goodbye to lifestyles, people and even places.
At the age of eighty one she had to make a decision with a simple cross in a box.
Exit or remain?
She thought of her children and grandchildren. They had voted for their future.
She put a bold graphite cross in the remain box and as the planes and ships left she waited for climate change to come and get her.
Eradication in cold blood
“She got into the way.” He answers simply. Josh stares at Simone's lifeless body, whose blood was staining the wooden floorboards. “She didn’t deserve this!” Josh yells again in disbelief “You comments are getting repetitive,” The man huffs, “Boring.” “What do you want from me?” “Nothing, really, just like to have fun.” He laughs and pulls out a swiss pocketknife. Holding it gingerly as Joshes eyes freeze on the slim obejct. “W-what are you-“ Josh gets cut off “So boss knows I’ve done my job.” He says carving a ‘M’ onto Josh’s wrist. He then proceeds to walk forward. Josh leans against the rail, there is no way for him to escape his inevitable fate. He shoots Josh once in the forehead, with no mercy in his eyes, and watches him topple backwards, vanishing over the railing. He whistles a familiar tune as he walks away.
We had grown Cold.
His tea had gone cold, but still, it sat there. It stared at me. A relic of him, proof he had existed. He had been here. There was a draft in the air, I could feel its tug. He had gone, but his tea was still here. My tea was still warm, I tighten my grip, I could feel numbness in my fingers. I should really pour his tea down the sink, wash his cup and put it back in the cupboard. Put all traces of him away, but I still lean against the counter and the draft still tugs at the hole in my chest. I could feel it getting wider. It was cold in here. I was cold. He had shut the door behind him but yet it was still cold. He had taken my warmth with him, maybe that is why his tea had gone cold.
Dennis and the Tractor
We still talk about Dennis driving the tractor into the pond.
He turned up wanting harvest work and the Guv’nor took one look at the enormous man with hands like shovels and gave him a job.
The Guv’nor let him live in a corrugated lean-to and Dennis squeezed his mighty frame inside as happily as if it were a mansion. Always wore the same clothes, the only concession he made for weather was the one button on his moth-eaten waistcoat.
The Guv’nor showed Dennis how to drive the tractor. ‘Got it?’ he asked.
‘Uh huh,’ Dennis grunted.
‘Right then, take us down to Fifty Acre.’ Dennis pulled away driving good and straight. At the bend he kept going straight.
‘Turn!’ shouted the Guv’nor. The pond loomed. ‘Turn!’
The tractor plunged into the shallow, silted water.
‘Why didn’t you turn?’ shouted the Guv’nor.
‘You didn’t teach me that,’ Dennis said.
Robert Zimmerman wins the Nobel prize.
Oh that's good is that. a man who takes the name of a poet wins it's greatest prize. For what? A few lean poems and songs scribbled years ago when the fight was more obvious than it is today. You told us the times they were a changing and you asked Sara whatever made her want to change her mind? You did Bob, my friend. You or one of your incarnations started a revolution and like today's politicians didn't like what you'd started and bottled it. Yes, that's the greatest disappointment. You could have taken us to the southern uplands, dragged us into the promised land but you left us on the border, on the shores of the Rio Grande, unable to swim, unable to support the women and children you had encouraged to join in the march.
Enjoy your status up there with the greats. Woody's watching and smiling.
Not to Blame
Stuart always felt he had good friends to lean on, but when his relationship with long term partner broke up he realised the truth. The accumulated stress of his physical illness had seen him fall into deep depression. When David ruthlessly hammered in the metaphorical nail and moved out, he felt alone, so turned them for support. Unable to motivate himself to even leave the house he desperately tried to get in touch, but none responded. No one bothered to ask how he was; they were all on David’s side, saying on social media, that David deserved a better life and was totally blameless. So much for undying love and friendship! After all it was David who’d left, apparently he couldn’t cope! If you love someone and they’re ill surely you should help them? Apparently not! David had moved on. Until three weeks later the police knocked at his door.
Stella watched as the tiny circle of orange light hovered erratically at the end of the caravan's wooden steps.
When Jimmy lit his cigarette, the sight of the small naked flame catapulted Stella back to the horrific inferno that had taken the lives of his entire extended family, scarring the travelling community forever. Nobody in the cluster of six caravans had survived the gas-bottle explosion and fire. Twenty-eight people had perished, including ten children and four babies.
Tears brimming, Stella peered into the darkness.
She watched Jimmy lean into the caravan frame and carefully place the still-lighting cigarette into the gap where the door curtain flapped. She watched him climb the steps and close the half door, trapping the curtain.
It took 10 seconds for the flames to start, 30 seconds for the fire to take hold.
Too late, Stella realised what was happening.
Caravan 7, with Jimmy inside, burned into the night.
I enter the brightly painted waiting room furnished with plastic chairs and a side table stacked high with magazines. I take a seat. A couple enters and fills two of the unoccupied chairs. Let me guess, their marriage is hitting bumps. The door opens. A young woman with a sad face. I have seen her before. Depression.
This is my special game. To diagnose the patients while waiting for my turn.
I enter the room and greet him.
“How are you today Mrs Johnson? Take a seat and tell me about your week.”
He dots notes on a pad.
Half an hour into the therapy session, his cell phone rings. That’s quite unusual.
“Sorry about that. Just give me a minute.”
He leaves the room.
I lean forward and my eyes fell on the upside down words in my file.
Diagnose: Multiple Personality Disorder
Tasha’s smile shines from the photos on the bedroom wall. In one, she hoists a rucksack as she prepares to explore the world; shivers in another, coatless and oblivious, on a school trip to Edinburgh; stuffs cake into chipmunk cheeks at her sixteenth birthday party.
Clare sees the bags, hats and scarves which hang from hooks and handles; remembers her daughter’s insistence on the right shade for each occasion.
Here, a life had expanded. Within these walls and in this family, Tasha had grown from toddler to child. Teenager to woman.
Around the room, perfumes and lotions swarm on every surface. Clare flicks at a speck of dust which she’s missed.
And the pain bites again. How could she be so careless?
The walls lean in and her head spins. She sees Tasha’s mangled body on the mortuary slab, her beautiful face covered in blood and windscreen glass.
I am disgusting. Nobody was home and the wrenching pit in my stomach threated to swallow me and now the whole tin of beans is gone, and four slices of toast, plus all the biscuits.
Useless, ugly flesh. Every wobble is proof of my failure. No wonder nobody can love me.
When I am skinny, I will wear a singlet in the sunshine and feel the cool breeze against my tanned arms. A delicate bracelet will catch the sun as I lift my hand to my mouth, covering a throaty laugh. You will be enticed by my lean, lithe limbs, and reach out to brush a strand of hair off my face, softly tucking it behind my ear.
Your initials on my thigh are so good and warm; the candle wax is still drying. I can take control. You will see. Tomorrow is the start of skinny.
This is a race, just one big race. Everyone running in a big circle, like a hamster wheel made for some twisted God's amusement. Round and round they go, same thing, day in, day out.
Some are faster than others, they outsprint everyone leaving them lagging behind. But sometimes they slow or trip and fall, much to the amusement of those behind them.
But you must not stop moving, never stop moving, even if you feel you are moving slower than anyone else, you cannot stop moving, because if you stop.
If you must stop, try not to lean on anyone for support, you might take them with you. But what if one person decides to run in a straight line? What then? Do the others join? Or do they keep running their endless circle?
Only one way to find out.
Ready. Set. Go.
When You're Not Strong
Some...times in our lives... Brenda sings in her head.
She gently places her left foot behind her and her right forward. She imagines she is dancing with Jed. She swallows hard. Breakfast tastes like cardboard. Gone is the fragrance of honey and peaches, of almonds and yoghurt. The island sun has sapped her senses.
...We all have pain... she feels Jed’s pain, his leg, and now his stroke. And the sadness written on his tanned face ...we all have sorrow...
She stops to take a sip of cold beer and looks out at the harbour. At the fishermen beating squid, hearing the thump of each beating ...but...if we are wise...
Andreas waves, she sees but ignores him ...that there’s always tomorrow...
The she lets it rip, ...lean on me, when you're not strong...
I’ll be your friend, somebody to lean on...
Then Brenda bursts into tears.
An old man, dressed like Nosferatu, is walking through the graveyard. He stops at the bench and follows my eyes to the withered tree beside the path.
Though it sits in the lee of the church, its trunk twists and writhes in the slowest motion, stretching farther sideways than upwards. Moss clings to it, loving it. Someone has carved their name in the bark: JASON.
My cigarette crinkles. I accidentally blow a smoke ring but pretend it’s no big deal. Nosferatu turns to me. Hooded eyes, ringed with centuries of bad sleep and B-movies stare past me, through me. His skin is awful: red, patchy, pockmarked. He leans in - too close. It’s a funny old tree, isn’t it?
And then he’s gone. Not in a puff of smoke or on the wings of night, but in solemn, jerky steps, along the path and through the old, crumbling gate.
Late Morning Pages
Yawn! Good Morning, miles from writing enough this week, long list of tasks to prioritise... I'm spending less time at the gym and my eating habits are not the best, lean meat and vegetables are becoming boring. Stressed out and zombie like, so many 'buttons' have been pressed, I am a knot, nevertheless, inspiration persists. I enter at least a couple of competitions weekly. Family really should keep me in the loop when they make decisions, so that I understand what's needed when they ask for help. Counting blessings... well, it's been over a year since the last serious flare-up of back pain, I've been getting stronger and more active, adventurous too. How ironic that it should give out while I was cleaning a bath bench yesterday... How thankful I am that today was rest day. A second game of Scrabble calls. Eye drops to administer, gratitude for flow moments.
The perpendicular pronoun is barely standing
1. Domestic. Pronounced Doh/mess/stick. Def. Relating to the running of a home or to family relations
After Donna, that’s her with the trolley, after Donna moved in, the rooms capitulated one after another. Scandinavian furniture, cushions, lamps, rugs, runners; yeah - I said it, runners! What!?! First time I saw one I blarted like a baby. Don’t judge me!
This won’t happen to you though will it; wrong, that inner voice, the one that says, ‘Me? I’m too sharp man, they’ll never take me alive,’ don’t – believe – a - word.
It’s too late for me, I couldn’t survive in the wild, but you? Run, run fast, run far.
‘Yes Darling? The throws? Oh, I suppose I lean towards the blue – righty-o, red it is then.’
You still here pal? Go on, scarper while you still can!
She picked up a conker. There was lots she couldn’t feel lately but here under this tree, shedding its missiles in an indifferent wind, she felt somewhere between dull amusement and outrage at this particular conker’s colour. Until she picked it up, and then she felt disbelief.
It sat in the soft claw made of the row of her bent fingers and her thumb moved over it without traction. The smoothness was addictive. With it cupped there, right thumb stroking its shine, she saw another one three-quarters wrapped in its hedgehog case. Not even stepping, just moving her booted foot to lean on it, she spat it from its case and watched it roll much further than she had anticipated. Other prickly shells lay rotting, the conkers huddled in drains and leaves clustered around them in mulchy piles.
This one, she’d keep. Into her pocket to feel again later.
Rhea was standing next to Monica as she gave her fiery speech to the packed auditorium. For Rhea, the desire to lean towards her, to hold her arm, to hug her close, was intense. Monica’s face was flushed, and the top button of her shirt was open to allow air to get in. The auditorium was hot, and they were sweating despite their cotton clothes and the fans on full speed. Rhea watched the sweat beads form and drop down the neck of Monica’s sleeveless shirt. She imagined opening her pearl white shirt buttons and tracing the outline of her bra before unclapsing it. The bra was orange, its straps visible on Monica’s sunburnt brown shoulders. She decided to allow herself this, later. She was happy being Monica’s friend, but would allow herself to find out if she could also be her lover.
I watched the children laugh at my son for still wearing nappies. It didn’t matter much, because he is too young to understand, but nevertheless my heart felt heavy. My friend arrived with her daughter Emma, and I was glad to see her play with Brady. Emma threw a large rubber ball and both kids ran after it. I talked to my friend and as I glanced over at the kids I saw how Emma – when she thought we weren’t watching – gave Brady a big hug.
It is moments like these that I long to call my grandmother.
I know that Brady will have my own mother to lean on whenever he needs it.
I am grateful for all of it and at the same time, I feel that sometimes, life is too intense.
Any Port in a Storm
‘Be careful,’ you say, after the sixth tequila slammer. We are far from sober, playing spoof at the bar with a handful of coins.
When he absents himself to the men’s room, you lean across the bar and use words like ‘womaniser’ and ‘cad.’ Your watchful eyes cloak in a frown when he returns and grabs my backside. I don’t know whether you’re concerned, or jealous about a previous stolen conquest. You continue polishing the beer glasses with your cloth.
When he tells me he has a yacht on the coast, your eyes roll briefly. It’s a great pick-up line. He might as well have said he owns a Ferrari. I’m pulled in tighter than a jib sailing into the wind.
But when you gently pick me up off the pavement later outside the pub, my lip split and my virtue shattered, I wish I’d listened to you.
All he did was lean in
His body was hard against my soft one, his breath minty fresh against my neck.
He'd dropped something, and needed to bend down to get it - feeling the mountains of me on his way back up.
All he did was lean in.
Ten minutes to go (T-10).
Tilting my body to reveal the better side of my profile, I crossed my legs for effect.
Time zero (T).
My eyes swept over the entrance of the bistro and returned to the book I pretended to read. The upright position is proving to be a strain and I uncrossed my legs to lean against the plush sofa.
Ten minutes late (T+10)
The irritating waiter came over and asked me for my order. My tummy growled in reply and I had to wave him away. So much for wanting to have a flat stomach. How I crave some toast and coffee.
Twenty minutes late (T+20)
I cursed the public transport system. Must be a train breakdown. Why is he not here yet? I shall go to the washroom to touch up my makeup.
Forty minutes late (T+40)
I gorged on a large breakfast set.
With thanks to all the writers who have made this issue possible.Abha Iyengar, Alexandra Davies, Alva Holland, Angel Feather, B. Lūsēns, Caitlin Thomas-Aubin, Carol Leggatt, Charle McCarthy, Cheryl Powell, Claire Smith, Claire T Allen, Clara Mok, Clare Martin, Clover Hill, D.A. Nolan, Daisy Warwick, Dani Mahony, Debb Bouch, Debra Fertig, Deirdre Ann Weber, earwigger, Elaine Dillon, Emily Rebecca Weatherburn, Emma Kay, Eoin Devereux, Gareth Davies, Geoff Linder, Giulia E., Hannah Cheng, Harry Menear, I Shot Pushkin, Ian Boyd, J A Winter, Jay Lythgoe, Jervina Lao, Jill Robinson, John Dapolito, Judy Mitchell, Julia Rizzi, Julie Honeybourne-Price, Kit, L J Apples, Laura Besley, Lisbet Sherlock, Liz Wride, Lola Rose, Louise Mangos, Louise Thacker, Lucyda, Marthe McLoud, Mary Thompson, Michael Rumsey, Michelle Matheson, Mike O'Reilly, Mitja Lovše, MrQuipty, Nicole Lucas, Nora Hajelsawi, Peter Cannon, Peter Harrison, Rebecca Emin, Ricki McLaughlin, RJD, Robert Dudley, Ruthie Banister, S.B. Borgersen, Sharna Young, Steven John, Tom Jordan, Tracey Greenwood, Vicky Newham, Willow Fitz, xxdaydreamerxx
19th October 2016