Chapter One of Simon Says: Perfect Prison #amwriting

 As I decide which one of my crazy ideas I ought to pitch at my agent one-to-one, here’s a piece from an unfinished novel, Simon Says.

 

Chapter 1: Perfect Prison

 

Who knows how she got to that moment? Banging on the kitchen door, demanding to be let out. She was cooking a pasta bake, pasta steaming away, needed a tissue, and she couldn’t get out of the door.

Simon had Louis, their son, their one and a bit year old. She could hear them playing, probably running the ride-on car along the wooden floors of the dining room and sitting room. But if she could hear them, why couldn’t they hear her? She rattled the door again, aware of the newness of the fake-old hinges and the cost of replacing the pitch pine door. She shouted, ‘love, can you let me out please?’

Nothing. She was actually getting angry now. Of course, there was sure to be a reason, perhaps the sitting room door was closed. But this was not part of the deal. And her nose was dripping.

They’d put the bolts on the doors because Simon didn’t want to have stair gates on the doors downstairs, and they didn’t want Louis to get into the kitchen. They had a bolt on the stairs as well to stop him disappearing off. Sarah had managed to persuade him to put a stair-gate on the stairs eventually, though he wasn’t keen on messing up the paintwork. But Simon had spent a lot of time painting the doorframes in Farrow and Ball pointing and he didn’t want to cut into them. He didn’t really want kiddy stuff all over the house.

She shouted again, rattled the door some more. What would it take to break it? But was she really so desperate? She started to make the cheese sauce, weighing up the butter, reserving her energy.

Could she get out of the back door and bang on the front to be let in? She checked the pasta wasn’t boiling over on the stove. It was hard to clean the starch off the stainless steel when she lost concentration and let that happen. She moved through the utility to the back door, turned the handle. It was locked. She was locked in the kitchen. She couldn’t quite believe it.

She shouted again. ‘Simon. If you don’t let me out of here soon, I’m going to break the bloody door off the hinges.’

The door opened.

‘We couldn’t hear you.’

She didn’t look at his eyes.

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Let’s Talk about the Weather: A Review of The Storm Officer by Matt Black – Friday 17 March 2017

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My ticket from Friday.

I haven’t seen many plays recently. The that ones I feel the most comfortable with are Shakespeare and I can’t think of the last time I saw a Shakespeare. Possibly when that lady from Surgical Spirit and Grant from Eastenders did the Taming of the Shrew. I’ve seen (and been in) a fair few musicals, playing the tenor saxophone for Our House and the Strawberry Seller in Oliver most recently.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I went to see The Storm Officer by Matt Black last Friday.

The first interesting thing for me was the musician/actors. The female part also played the clarinet, piano accordion and a bit of guitar. Even a flourish of recorder. The male lead played the guitar and a piano accordion. I’d never seen a play where the actors provided the music as well.

In some ways the play harked back to the double headers of old. The actors played many characters: the female women and the male men. This was signalled through the showing of handbags to signify ‘retired school teacher’, the naming of characters according to what they liked to drink and the wearing of an apron or a cape.

It was very self-referential and I was constantly jolted back into the reality of the theatre when I was looking for a little suspension of disbelief, but then I guess Shakespeare did that all the time.

Having lived in the Lake District, albeit 19 years ago, the accents also took me off guard. Both actors were doing generic Northern rather well, but they weren’t at all in Cumbria. They weren’t even in Lancaster. Somewhere in mid Yorkshire I would have guessed. And despite many people from many places retiring to Cumbria and the Lakes, I suspect there should have been some Cumbrian accents in there.

The local government response to tragedy seemed very real, and the stories of the people seemed real, but there was something too quick about the delivery to take it all in. This would be easily remedied by the actors speaking to some survivors of the Cumbrian floods.

I felt like I needed an interval after the first half, 30 minutes in this instance.

The second half got me emotionally. It was something about the break-up of the tarmac on the A591, given that I lived in Grasmere and used the buses on the A591 to give myself a break from from the brooding Lakes. Others audience members cried. It was still too fast, and I’m really not sure what happened to the Storm Officer at the end – did he lose his child or his job?

The team around the play managed to set off audience participation through a song with memorable lyrics and the final applause was rousing.

I think I would be very interested to see this play again after it has been to Cockermouth for another developmental showing.

© Rebecca Deans 2017

 

 

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My top five tips on #personalsafety #staysafe

My Top Five Tips on Personal Safety

Following the report that a rapist has been caught in Derby, but bearing in mind that a member of Ripley Running Club has been assaulted on Cromford Canal, here are my top personal safety tips. I am in no way victim blaming here. The best way to stay safe is to make sure everyone grows up with respect for others.

1. Nights out: Plan a night out with friends. If your friends ever leave you, they are not your friends.

  • Hide some money in your purse for a taxi/the bus.
  • Use only black cabs or cabs from an office if you are travelling on your own.
  • Take a picture of the number plate/taxi number when using a black cab. If they have a problem with this, get out.
  • If you do end up walking home, walk the bus route.
  • Tonic water always looks like it has vodka in it.

2. Internet dating: No matter how nice he seems from social media/that meeting you went to/internet dating/the supermarket observe him closely. Ask him who he lives with. You might be surprised. If someone invites you to the cinema for a first date, be wary. If the first date is at their flat, don’t go.

3. Running: never run in headphones. You need to be aware at all times. If you don’t like this, you might be better off running in the gym.

4. If you find yourself in a dodgy situation (ie you or someone else is being sexually assaulted or at risk of being sexually assaulted) stay calm, move, talk to a friend and engineer a way out. Report it if you can.

5. Remember that some men (and women) are actually nice. I know. Hard to believe sometimes!

© Rebecca Deans 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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My first publication in 17 years This is My Refuge in @womensdayderby magazine #herstory

I am proud to announce that one of my poems has been published in Women’s Day Derby’s magazine. This year, alongside the programme of event, they published a selection of poems, blogs, thoughts and biographies to inspire. They also provided a safe space to read, so I sang my song, ‘These Streets’ a capella and read ‘Fragment of a Folk Song’ and a new version of ‘Shred’.

Here is the poem again for your perusal, or you can check out all the works at https://womensdayderby.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/iwd-magazine-2017-printed-mercia-version.pdf (though the text is not currently showing). There will be a longer version published later in the month.

 

This is my refuge

All is calm and white and open. Nothing

Is perched, ready to fall. Surfaces

Are clear and useful. Bookshelves

 

Empty. Words

Drip onto the page but never stick.

 

There are too many changes to track

too many tracks to change

and you never listen.

 

Dreams run on emptiness.

 

You held me down so long

I came out of the other side.

Now watch me fly.

(c) Rebecca Deans 2015

 

 

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Guilty #internationalwomensday #amwriting

Guilty

Feel guilty for Lent

Feel guilty for the war

Pack your bags, have a tab

And get drowned in it all.

 

Feel guilty for sunrise

Feel guilty for cloud

You’re a mother, like no other

Don’t be quiet, be loud

 

Feel guilty for chocolate

though it gives you energy

We need to eat, we need to breathe

Food is not the enemy

 

So break your high heels girl

And make your own track

Find your voice, make your choice

There is no going back.

 

I’m not sure this is finished, but here’s my first offering for International Women’s Day 2017.

And if anyone has a rhyme for haemoglobin, can they give me a heads-up?

(C) Rebecca Deans/Becky Deans 2017

 

 

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Why planning policy is like #WW1 #LestWeForget

Why planning policy is like #WW1 #LestWeForget

 

I like to read Twitter. It’s a great source of news. Better than Facebook, which is very inward looking and often tries to guess what you’re thinking. You do, to some extent, get news from Twitter, though it’s best to find and follow the right people.

 

A hashtag I often see at the moment is #WorseThanBeeching. Now Beeching was the analyst type that carved up the railways. He’s very famous. But I think we’re talking about social engineering here.

 

I may have watched completely the wrong history programme here, but I understand he was a bean counter who would see how many people were waiting for a train and then record it. Like a secret shopper perhaps. And if he went to the wrong station at the wrong time, poof. Like a secret shopper on acid if he didn’t get to you at the right time.

 

We’re still trying to correct the mistakes of Beeching. Building a new station at Ilkeston, for example.

 

Places with train stations have become terribly genteel, it seems, unless you’re in London and that’s a whole different ball game.

 

Belper, for example, is a victim of Beeching. It has a train station and I believe you can mosey up to Matlock or even get to London, if you change at Derby. I’ve never tried it. Have you ever tried to drive to Belper? It goes on for ever. I only go there midday.

 

For me, Belper is interesting. Really really cutesy centre, lots of Chelsea tractors and backward facing car seats. (I didn’t even realise that was a thing.) Signs saying you can’t wee in the coffee shop unless you buy a coffee. You can do baby sign and baby step and baby karate and everything there. (I may have made that bit up.)

 

But it’s also a sprawling mess of planning. It’s gradually being joined up to places like Heage, Bargate and Kilburn because it’s a victim of its own success: it has a train station. It has become desirable, because of this Beeching chappy we’re talking about.

 

When I started campaigning, the cries from the Tories were all about ‘well what about Belper?’ Yeah. Right I get you. I found the centre of Heage a couple of weeks ago trying to get from Belper School to my IT tech. It’s a planning disaster.

 

But why, you say, is planning policy like #WW1?

 

Because they are building on our green lungs (so people are dying due to traffic pollution)

Because they are building on our fields where children used to play (they are now more likely to be kept inside – lack of Vitamin D etc etc)

Because they are making other areas flooded…or just building on a flood plain and going ‘flood plain? Really? Oops.’ (Then someone has a nightmare to sort out – generally the public sector.)

 

Which land will you sacrifice for your children and your children’s children? I’m guessing it’s not your back garden unless you’re desperate.

So developers:

 

  1. Make sure all your brownfield sites are built on first – this includes you supermarkets.
  2. Make sure all empty houses are filled.
  3. Old people sometimes need to live in smaller homes so build some bungalows too.
  4. Make sure your ‘social housing’ is big enough to swing a cat in.
  5. Insulate your homes properly.
  6. And stop making gardens smaller and smaller and smaller until they’re no bigger than a postage stamp, or a back yard, unless you’re rich and can get round planning legislation.

 

 

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Another Grandma Poem – Queen of Cakes –#amwriting

002I am currently very interested in the therapeutic aspects of creative writing, which is a good thing as I’ve been selected by Derbyshire County Council for an Arts Council and DCC funded project to deliver writing sessions in the community. Called writing ambitions: Derbyshire Residencies, the scheme includes five training sessions and mentoring by Cathy Grindrod. I am really looking forward to exploring therapeutic writing (though all writing is, of course, therapeutic) and helping my chosen community group to find their voice.

Here’s a poem that came out of a writing session at Ripley Writers’ Group, though I had already done some prep work for it. It was using things that remind you of people as a stimulus, so I chose my grandma’s button box. I do not think that this is finished, but it shows what can happen with a good creative exercise.

 

Queen of Cakes

Who knew when you weren’t baking

You were knitting together your family?

Captive every Saturday morning for the market then the Co-op,

Sunday for cakes, scones and your life story.

Melting moments.

 

Cousins under the dining table

Trying to find patterns, matches

From buttons harvested from clothes over years.

 

Queen of cardigans

Your dress code was sweater.

Your currency buttons

You knew what to press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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