Where creative writing and general rambling go hand in hand :)

Monday, 31 December 2012

So long 2012..........

2012 The year of the Queen's Jubilee and the London Olympics, the year I walked around London in my Bra!

So clearly you already know how much I love the Olympics and that really has been the highlight of my year, but there are many others that come close.
Walk the walk was a massive confidence boost for me this year, it's not often you walk around London in your bra is it? (well I guess if alcohol was involved you might?)
I have secured a promotion and moved stores, having now been there for a couple of months I do feel I made the right decision and although I miss working with some great friends I think it has made me appreciate them more when we get to spend time together.
I passed my creative writing course, now officially halfway to my degree and am currently coping fairly well with 2 more courses.
I have been involved in the behind the scenes work of a new Anthology of creative writing, which has enabled me to interview some of my favourite authors including Sarah Rayner and Jojo Moyes.

I have lot's to look forward to in 2013, seeing Olly Murs in concert, watching Oliver at the theatre, a holiday to Scotland, starting my final (hopefully) course for my degree.
I will be taking part in Race for life again and hopefully the Dorothy House walk in memory of my Aunty Penny who sadly passed away on Christmas eve. I'm also hoping to walk up Ben Nevis while on holiday, in order to do this though I need to get back into healthy eating and exercise.

I don't make New year's resolutions but I do have some hopes for the year:
1. To get back on track with my weight loss
2. To meet up with some of my Open uni buddies around the country
3. To continue passing my courses
4. To finish the year with the same friends I start it with (I can add to them but don't wish to lose any)
5. To make good things happen for myself and others

I'm determined that 2013 will be a good year and I shall aim to do all I can to make it so.

Happy New Year to all my friends and followers :) xxx

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Rejection is not always a bad thing!

Today the Ink Pantry sent out their rejection/acceptance emails to everyone who sent in submissions for the anthology. I sent in two pieces, both of which are already published on my blog here. Unfortunately I received the rejection email, when you put it like that it sounds awful, it's not.
Originally I wasn't going to submit anything and just help out behind the scenes but decided to go for it anyway. I chose a poem that my tutor had praised in his feedback and my story of my imaginary sister which was my highest mark from the course. I really loved these pieces and am happy to share them in my blog however I know they are not excellent.
Volunteering as a sifter for Ink Pantry has meant reading (anonymously) some of the 182 submissions that came in and deciding whether they deserved a green (definite yes) amber (maybe) or red (no) rating. You can read more about this process over at http://inkpantry.com/.
Some of these submissions were fantastic, (you'll have to buy the book to read them yourself but I'm sure you won't be disappointed) and therefore I knew mine wouldn't make the grade. Receiving your first rejection for a piece of writing is obviously not going to make you happy but you also shouldn't be sad about it either. It doesn't mean your writing is rubbish it just means that someone else's was ever so slightly more gripping or more polished; it doesn't mean you should give up, there is a limit to how many pieces will be chosen. This time may not have been your time but if you keep at it one day it will be.
The word rejection made me think of a few things today.
1. Being rejected by the first boy I ever asked out, yes I still remember it exactly and no I have never asked anyone since!
2. Being rejected for a job. I've had lot's of jobs but actually never failed an interview until about 3 years ago.
3. Being rejected for the job of sports day captain, I know what you're thinking and no I wasn't great at sports that's why I wanted to be captain so I could be involved but it didn't work out.
4. Being a Raggy doll!! yes I know I am not one but it made me think of the Raggy dolls in their reject bin. Look up the words it'll make you smile

So having my first rejection for writing was not a bad experience and it won't be my only one. Some of the authors we've been lucky enough to interview for the blog have mentioned rejections as part of the process. We have to learn from it and move on. I'm really happy to be involved with the Ink Pantry anthology and also with contributing to the blog (you can read my interview with the brilliant Sarah Rayner over there). Well done to everyone who was accepted and to those who weren't don't give up, keep writing and keep sending it off to places. That's my plan.

Monday, 1 October 2012

100 Word stories

Following a recent challenge on the Ink Pantry* (behind the scenes page) I have decided to share my 100 word story on the theme of Autumn, while I'm at it I found one I wrote for a competition a few months ago so will share that too.

Autumn date

The leaves rustled under her feet as she made her way down the road. First date and he had picked the greatest pub she had ever been to; she hoped they would get the table near the log fire that was guaranteed to be lit. Though September was chilly she found October to descend quickly towards winter and her scarf and gloves had become part of her outfit tonight. As she opened the door to The Hare and Hounds she spotted him sat at the table next to the fire, nervously adjusting his clothes. She smiled and walked towards him.

The No. 73
She caught his bus daily, even though it went in the opposite direction to where she needed to go. It took three months of travel before he asked her out and three years of dating before they moved in together. It took another three years before he proposed and another year before they wed. Twins came along nine months after the wedding. Two months later he was gone: a pile-up involving his bus and a lorry, he didn’t stand a chance.
Every day she takes the number 73 bus, just for old times’ sake. She’ll never forget her favourite driver.

*Ink Pantry is made up of a group of A215 Oct 11 Open Uni students intent on making our mark in the literary world by publishing an anthology of some of our work. You can find out more by visiting our website http://inkpantry.com/ or liking our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/InkPantry?fref=ts and you can follow us on twitter @InkPantry

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

London 2012 beginning to end!

Looking back over the last four months of the Olympic and Paralympic build up there have been some absolutely fantastic moments. In May I joined the crowds in Chippenham for the torch relay and was lucky enough to get a photo with one of our torchbearers. 
The countdown to London 2012 had truly begun, unable to afford tickets (as well as travel) to watch any of the events live my TV became my new best friend alongside my laptop enabling me to watch different sports at different times. 
For the Olympics coverage the BBC put on a great show, the presenters were for the most part fantastic, particularly the combination of Mark Foster and Clare Balding throughout the swimming events. Using previous Olympians to present different events worked really well as their enthusiasm showed through and they really got into the spirit of the games. Some of my favourite moments from the Olympics obviously includes Mo Farah's double gold win, Jessica Ennis winning gold and some spectacular results from the velodrome. The rowing however seemed to bring some of the most emotions, often led by Sir Steve Redgrave. Whether the emotions were from not winning, very nearly winning or not believing they had won the rowers were not afraid to show the tears. 

The best response to winning has to go to Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, Katherine's immediate response was to check behind her before she celebrated their fabulous win. This photo sums up their achievement beautifully. 


My favourite person of the whole games though has to go to Bert Le Clos, father of South African swimmer Chad Le Clos. Bursting with pride for his son after he beat Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly his comment- 'Unbelievable,unbelievable, look at him he's beautiful' has made him famous online with thousands of views on you tube for his interview with Clare Balding.Bert, you are beautiful and the UK loves you.

After a small break we then had the Paralympics, the coverage on channel 4 was not great and certainly not on par with the BBC (in my opinion) however I managed to keep up with as much as I could. Difficult to keep up with so many medalists in the Paralympics, it didn't take long for the GB team to smash there total from Beijing. Like the Olympics I managed to nearly lose my voice a few times shouting at races such as Hannah Cockroft's amazing gold wins and nobody could forget David Weir's fantastic four gold medal races. Will bayley's reaction after getting through to the gold medal match in table tennis was a definite highlight as was David Devine's bronze medal finish in the 1500m and the 800m. 
Jonnie Peacock's race against Oscar Pistorious almost made me lose my voice again.
The medals kept coming, in particular in the swimming which gained 39 medals in total. Ellie Simmonds started her Paralympics off in the best way with a gold medal, following that with another gold, a silver and a bronze. One to watch though was Steph Millward whose home town of Box is only 5 minutes away. Certainly not disappointed when Steph came home with 4 silvers and a bronze. The Paralympics is totally inspirational and proof that despite having disabilities that affect your life differently to able-bodied people you don't have to be held back by it. Every single member of Paralympics GB are an inspiration and should be proud of themselves for being part of London 2012 and hopefully onto Rio 2016.

Not content with just the TV for company I decided I had to go to London to see Our greatest team parade. A 4am start,3 hour bus journey and a 4 hour wait for the start time was most definitely worth it to see so many of Team GB and Paralympics GB being celebrated. 

Perfectly positioned at Mansion house I managed to find time to get on the underground and see the parade twice, over 200 photo's later my favourite has to be this one of Greg Rutherford.
And so the London 2012 celebrations came to an end and I thought apart from searching for gold post boxes that would be it. Tuesday morning though and back at work I was delighted to see Stephanie shopping where I work and when she offered to show us her medals I was certainly not going to refuse. Very kindly Steph posed for photo's with us and even let us wear her medals. As a massive fan of the Olympics and Paralympics (just ask how annoying I was on facebook!) I can honestly say I am delighted that London 2012 came to such a delightful end for me by actually seeing (and wearing) a Paralympic medal. Thank you so much Stephanie Millward :) 

Thank you Team GB and Paralympics GB for what has been the most fantastic summer of sport, 185 medals, hundreds of inspiring athletes and a country to be proud of. Thank you London 2012 for making us proud to be British, here's to Rio 2016. 






Sunday, 29 July 2012

Holiday for one

I decided to spend my bonus money on a little holiday for myself, after looking around on line for different places to visit I settled on the Isle of Wight. I had previously been to the island twice, once on a coach trip to black gang chine and once to Osborne house with school; as both of these visits had been at least 25 years ago I thought I would see what it was like as an adult.
Price wise I found my trip quite reasonable, the return train from Bath to Portsmouth, the return catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde and 3 nights in a B&B totalled less than £140. Travel around the island was also fairly cheap as with an NUS card you can travel half price so a 48hr rover ticket cost me just £7.50.
Monday - Travelling light?
Leaving my house at 6.40 am I was packed up with a rucksack, a satchel and a handbag as well as a travel mug of coffee to keep me going. My bus to Bath was on time and I waited at the train station reading one of my books ( I took 3) to pass the time. The train journey was uneventful and I managed to get even more reading done. Arriving at Portsmouth harbour I headed from the train straight down the slope to the Catamaran terminal and was able to get on an earlier crossing than the one I booked. The crossing was lovely, helped by the gorgeous weather and the fact you could sit on the sundeck. Once in Ryde I walked down the pier (you can wait for a train) and headed for the bus terminal to pick up some information and a timetable. Not long to wait for a bus into Sandown which was where my B&B was, though I was slightly too early to book in so I sat alongside the beach and soaked up some of the sun. Having asked for directions to the correct street I walked to the B&B (http://www.bertramlodge.co.uk/) to book in. I was met by a very friendly couple who showed me my room, the dining area/living room and explained that it was okay to come and go as I pleased, no time limit to be in by as a front door key was included with the room key. My room had a single bed and an en suite shower room just perfect for me, a TV with freeview, large chest of drawers, wardrobe, dressing table, full length mirror, in fact I thought it was quite big for a single room.
Having been in contact with a fellow OU student I spent the evening at The Reef, by the beach in Sandown with a nice glass of wine and lovely company. Once back at the B&B I made plans for the next 2 days.
Tues I would go to needles park and Shanklin chine
Wed I would go to Osborne house and the Zoo.
Tuesday - Newport to Needles
Following a lovely cooked breakfast I caught the bus to Newport in order to catch a further one to Alum bay- Needles park (travelling by bus means getting through a lot of reading). Having planned out my day last night I headed straight for the chair lift down to the beach. Armed with my camera I started snapping away at the view before realising quite how high up I was! Jumping off at the bottom I went straight to the Jetty to join the boat trip to the Needles and lighthouse, plenty of photo opportunities here.
Not wanting to brave the stairs back up to the top, I took the chair lift back up where they very kindly take a photo of you on route!!!
Back up at the top I visited the sand shop,glass blowing, gift shop and the pantry for some lunch (where in all honesty the staff could do with some customer service skills!) following lunch I took the open top bus to the needles battery which gave some beautiful views of the needles and out to sea. Awaiting the bus back to Newport I overheard a lady talking about the Queen visiting so decided to investigate when I returned to Sandown. Back in my room I found the details for the royal visit Wed in Cowes so made a change of plan to my day in order to take in the Queens visit. Later in the evening I caught the bus to Shanklin to visit the Chine once it started getting dark as they light it all up. I walked around the old village as well as around the chine.                                                                       Wednesday - A Royal Morning, A roaring afternoon         So due to my change of plans I had to miss breakfast in order to get to Cowes in time to see the Queen, her majesty had a lot to answer for! ;) once in Cowes I found a spot near to where the boat would dock and hoped I would be able to get a photo at least, thankfully I did.



Once I managed to get out of the huge crowd I found a lovely cafe to have some breakfast http://www.eegons.co.uk/ and very lovely it was too. Following directions from the lovely staff I walked down to the floating bridge in order to get across to East Cowes to continue my Royal morning and visit Osborne House. Viewing the house as an adult is a lot more interesting than as a child(from what I remember anyway) Unfortunately I was visiting too early to be able to see the beach that they are now featuring, maybe that's a good enough excuse for another visit. On returning to Newport I caught the bus back to Sandown and went straight to the Zoo. Disappointingly it's a very small zoo and didn't take long to walk around at all; however the lion's and tigers are beautiful to look at and the white lion made me think of Aslan from Narnia.

After a walk back along the seafront I treated myself to chips by the sea and had a walk along the pier, spending money in the amusements at the same time. A lot of walking having been done today I took my tired legs back to my room and started packing for the journey home.



Thursday - homeward bound
All packed and ready for home, breakfast eaten and room paid for, now what? well I had plenty of time before my trip home and had arranged to meet up with my fellow student again before I returned so I took advantage of the sun and spent the morning on the beach. Needing to cool off I went for some lunch and a bit of shopping (not easy when loaded up with bags!). My friend arrived and we went off to visit Arreton craft village for an ice cream and look around before going on to the Roman villa for a drink before returning to Ryde pier head ready for my return trip. A slight delay on the train to Bath resulted in me having to run between platforms, with 3 heavy bags and wearing flip flops!! in order to catch the last train back to Chippenham. Made it just in time though and managed to finish my 2nd book before returning.

I had a great time away and didn't experience any major problems being on my own (except not being able to suncream my back) the Isle of Wight is easy to get to and easy to find your way around, there are plenty of places to visit many of which I missed this time around so maybe I'll have to revisit the island sometime soon. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London 2012

Yesterday evening saw the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic games which has, it seems, gained mixed reviews already. In my opinion I thought it was fantastic, as a follower of the Olympics I think we represented Great Britain in the best way we could.
From the Children's choirs singing national anthems to the lighting of the cauldron,Danny Boyle, the performers and all the volunteers did a fabulous job. 
Isles of wonder took us from the industrial age, featuring Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, right up to the digital age featuring mobile phones and the inventor of the world wide web - Tim Berners-Lee. We saw representatives of the suffragettes, including direct descendants of Emmeline Pankhurst, music from The Beatles to Dizzee Rascal (and the man himself). The Queen arrived with James Bond, Mr Bean played chariots of fire and J K Rowling read to the children. The combination of Mike Oldfield and Children's Literature was absolute genius, I for one LOVED it. Staff and patients from Great Ormond Street hospital and many NHS nurses featured alongside a giant Voldemort and several Mary Poppins' while tubular bells accompanied them. 
Though it takes a long time the entrance of all 204 teams is also interesting to watch especially as the majority of people have never heard of a lot of the countries. The difference in outfits is lovely and the enthusiasm shines particularly from the smaller teams. The speeches from Lord Coe, who appeared quite emotional and Jacques Rogge were set off by the backdrop of the hill of flags.The Queen officially opened the games and we all awaited the lighting of the cauldron.
From the Thames the torch arrived by boat with the aid of David Beckham and Jade Bailey and was handed over to Sir Steve Redgrave, though it seemed clear from here that it wouldn't be him actually lighting the cauldron. When he entered the stadium his route was lined with the construction workers responsible for the Olympic buildings. Handing over the torch to one of seven young athletes awaiting it Sir Steve stood back and watched as they took turns carrying it around the stadium. Seven of Great Britain's best known Olympians, Sir Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Dame Mary Peters, Shirley Robertson, Duncan Goodhew, Lynn Davies and Dame Kelly Holmes each nominated one of these young athletes in order to inspire a generation.
Rower Cameron MacRitchie, sailor Callum Airlie, London 2012 Young Ambassador Jordan Duckitt, runner Desiree Henry, runner Katie Kirk, javelin thrower Aidan Reynolds and runner Adelle Tracey. Each of them lit one of the copper petals which combined to make the cauldron, it looked spectacular.
That was that then, the ceremony complete the London 2012 games were officially opened and what better way to finish it off than get a British legend to sing us out? unfortunately they chose Paul McCartney!!!! I'm sure there are better representatives of British music to have finished the ceremony but I guess you can't please everyone.
Overall the entire ceremony made me smile as well as being a little emotional, everyone is entitled to their opinion and here's mine.
London 2012 opening ceremony did us proud, I loved it and it made me proud to be British. Let's hope that Team GB can continue to make us proud over the coming weeks. :) 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

We Walked the walk ..............................

So it's been a whole week since myself and my mum walked around South London wearing our tropical bra's;surrounded by hundreds of other women doing just the same we didn't feel out of place. The aches and pains have subsided but the memories will remain with us. 
I have done many charity walks before including several race for life's and the Dorothy house midnight walks, the longest of which was 10k, therefore the challenge of walking a half marathon was a massive one for me. Although my mum has walked the distance before I knew it would also be a massive challenge for her too due to recent health issues. So the physical challenge would be a big one but so would the mental one. My mum is someone who won't walk around in public wearing a strappy vest top and though I have no problem baring my arms (bingo wings included) I do have an issue with the size of my tummy, although I have lost a decent amount of weight I still have more to lose and the people of London are just not ready for the sight of my belly. So despite knowing it would be a huge challenge we signed up anyway!! when the theme was announced as tropical we set to decorating our bra's appropriately, when I say we I mean I helped choose the material but left the sewing to mum :) 
We picked some pink material with ice creams on it and used some flowers from a Hawaiian lei to decorate the bra itself.
Clearly however this was not going to cover our bellies! so we bought a grass skirt and pinned it to the bottom of our bra's.

The 1st July arrived and we left home at 4.30am to get to Swindon in order to catch the bus to London and then walk the mile or so to Battersea park where the walk would begin. As we walked into the park we were greeted by hundreds of women, men and children sporting decorated bra's and tropical outfits. We stripped off our t-shirts and joined the bra wearing people to warm up by the stage. By 10 am we were queueing at the start line waiting for the off, with staggered starts we set off at 10.18. That was it, no turning back now 13.1 miles to go!
I'm not a big fan of London but the route was a great one, it took us past the millennium wheel, Buckingham palace gardens, and past many Londoners and tourists who wondered what on earth was happening when they were suddenly surrounded by all these people dressed in bra's. Though I can't remember fully this is the basic route we took. http://runkeeper.com/user/sharleene/activity/100423197 . I'm sure we will all feature in some tourist photo's and videos in our spectacular outfits. Some of them were cheering us on as we passed, we had hi-fives from a group of German tourists near Buckingham palace, a big issue seller with the brightest of hats on was cheering us all on as we passed him and blowing kisses. Some people were taking no notice of us (presumably they are used to it in London) and others were cheering us on or asking what we were doing. At no point on this walk did I feel embarrassed by my attire, even when the grass skirt was blown around in the wind baring my belly to all! After one toilet stop we returned to the finish line in under 4 hours Amazing!
We were expecting to take more than 4 hours to complete the walk but keeping pace with others helped us along and we were extremely pleased with our time. Receiving our medals while Levi Roots was performing on stage made our tropical experience even better. The entertainment was brilliant and wasn't even dampened by the downpour in the afternoon. We would both wholly recommend this walk, don't worry about your size or shape or even how long it will take you (just make sure you train before the day). We had an absolutely amazing day, there were some amazing bra's appearing and some great complete outfits too.
We would also like to say an absolutely massive THANK YOU to each and every volunteer who helped out at the Sunwalk, the one's collecting bags, answering questions, guiding people on the walk, cheering us on through tunnels, across bridges, helping us cross the busy roads, telling us all what a great job we were doing, handing out water, presenting our medals, handing out more water, banana's and rain macs and generally just keeping us going. Without all of you we would never have made it Thank you :)
Now to beat my longest ever walk, anyone up for the full Moonwalk next year??
http://www.walkthewalk.org/Home

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

They think it's all over ..................

So the A215 Creative writing course has come to an end, the EMA has been sent and the result is in the hands of the tutors. We are now in for a bit of a wait to find out how well we have done. In the mean time I will be pre-reading my set books for the Children's Literature course which starts in October which I shall be taking alongside the Advanced creative writing. I will also be partaking in some reading for pleasure which I haven't done really since I started studying.
This will be my first break in study time since I started with The Open University in October 2010 and I plan to fully enjoy it.
At the end of my break, before I start again I am excited to be meeting up with some of my OU study buddies in Cardiff.
As always I would like to thank my friends and family for supporting me through my studying and listening to my whinging and also thank you to all my new and old study buddy friends for the same :)
Good luck to all fellow OU'ers on EMA's and Exams xx

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

TMA05 - Creative writing (fiction)

A degree of dissatisfaction 

The office is quiet, well as quiet as it can be with the cleaner and her hoover doing the rounds. My mobile is vibrating on the desk flashing the word home on the screen, I’m trying my hardest to ignore it but I can’t stop staring at the big white word. I should have been home a couple of hours ago, two and a half to be precise and Sara would be precise if I answered. I can’t go home though. I can’t ever go home again, the email I received at 11.48 am today put paid to that. I’ve lost everything now; my reputation, my career all of it gone in a moment of madness. Sara will never forgive me for this.
* * * * 
I’m so angry with myself; in fact I’m angry with her too. She promised discretion; although why I believed her I’ll never know. It was the company Christmas party and Sara had to pull out at the last minute when our daughter Eleanor came down with flu; I offered to stay home with them but she insisted I go. I disliked social gatherings but as it was my company I had to make an appearance. Not wanting to turn up alone I contacted an escort agency and sent a car to pick up my ‘date’.
             When she got out of the car I was gobsmacked. I mean I’m a happily married man but I’m also still a red blooded male and this woman was drop dead gorgeous. Elizabeth (her chosen name for the night) had shoulder length glossy brown hair which had a natural wave to it. She was wearing minimal make-up as requested; well I didn’t want her to look like a tart did I?’
             ‘Adam I presume?’ she held out her hand and I was unsure whether I was supposed to shake it or kiss it. I had never done this before, Sara and I were childhood sweethearts I had never dated anybody else. I chose to ignore her outstretched hand and merely smiled.
             ‘Nice to meet you Elizabeth, shall we go in?’ Her smile made me feel weak. I made a mental note to try and avoid eye contact with her for the evening, though now I’m not sure why I thought that would be successful.
              The night involved all the usual office party antics. There were those who usually hate each other Monday to Friday suddenly becoming best friends or snogging partners. Some are overheard slagging off each other, although that happens regularly in the office anyway and dancing on tables becomes the norm when alcohol has been consumed. My P.A Gemma arranged the party, she does it every year and it’s always a success. I often wonder if they would have a better time without the boss hanging around then I realise that would mean they would have to pay for their own drinks.
               Elizabeth had been amazing, mingling when necessary and flirting with most of the male staff. We had arranged on the phone that for tonight she would be my sister-in-law. Nobody at the office knew that Sara was an only child, why would they? It’s only at Christmas that I socialise with them anyway. Half of them probably don’t even know what Sara looks like, let alone know anything about her. By 9pm I had consumed a fair amount of lager following each pint with a shot of Jack Daniels. I’m not a regular drinker so it doesn’t take long for me to feel the effects and I plonked myself in the corner of the room feeling a bit worse for wear. I was beginning to get a bit emotional. I sent a text to Sara asking how Eleanor was, she said she was sleeping but it looked like our son Sebastian was coming down with it too. I was about to reply when Elizabeth sat next to me, distracting me. Her short black dress rose up her caramel coloured thighs as she crossed her legs, barely covering her modesty. Her dress was fairly simple but on her it looked stunning, maybe it was her long legs that did it. Sara would never have been able to pull off such a simple dress but then she’s only 5’4” she doesn’t really have the legs for it.
                I reluctantly dragged my eyes away from her legs and looked up at Elizabeth, she looked sad, her mouth was smiling but her eyes weren’t.
               ‘You look bored Elizabeth, would you like to go home?’ she tried forcing a smile but I wasn’t buying it.
               ‘No I’m having a great time; your colleagues are lovely Adam’. I suspect that for the rest of my life I will regret having asked the next question.
               ‘What’s wrong then? You look sad’ Elizabeth took this as a cue to spill all her life problems. Why she started escorting - to support her son, why she was a single parent – her ex used to beat her, why she chooses the names she uses and what they mean to her. Elizabeth was the name of her first boss, a powerful successful woman with a huge amount of confidence; I have to admit she played the part well on our ‘date’. I’m glad she didn’t use Trixie, the name of her first cat which happened to be a hairless species. I interrupted her when she was about to explain why and when she uses this one; doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. After twenty minutes she was in tears and I felt all eyes on us, so I took her to my office for some privacy. The party was in the office building but we have a large function room downstairs with enough room for a temporary bar. My office was the only one on the top floor, well unless you count Gemma’s office but there was no fear of her disturbing us up here. She likes to oversee everything that’s going on at the party, I should pay her for the hours of the party actually it’s like she’s still working.
                 I felt sad that Elizabeth needed to do this sort of work because she couldn’t find employment elsewhere. I couldn’t decide whether hiring her for the night meant I was helping her or making things worse. I explained to Elizabeth that she could do any job she wanted if she really tried.
                ‘I can’t I don’t have any qualifications’ she snivelled. I passed her the box of tissues from my desk and sat down.
                ‘You can be whatever you want to be Elizabeth. Qualifications are overrated anyway, I don’t have any and look at me’ I blurted out, the influence of Jack Daniels becoming apparent. I tried to cover up what I had just said but I could tell by the confusion on her face that she had heard.
                 I’m a highly respected lawyer with my own company, I rarely take on clients myself anymore but I have managed to get by for several years without actually having a law degree. If anyone found out I would be finished and the clients I have represented would certainly not take too kindly to the news. Now I’d let the cat out of the bag to someone I had known for little more than five minutes. The whiskey clearly didn’t agree with me as I felt the need to reveal the whole story to this woman, so I did. I spilled out everything to her, she listened intently without interrupting. Sat in my comfy brown tub chair I felt like I was talking to a counsellor. Elizabeth made me feel relaxed, well the combination of her and the drink obviously worked well together. She sipped from her wine glass while I explained how I failed at university and still managed to convince Sara that I passed. How I bought a fake certificate, hired a gown and got photos taken at a pretend ceremony. I managed to get Sara to book a girly holiday that accidently coincided with my graduation ceremony to avoid making excuses. I learned enough at university to get by and with the help of two other lawyers who did actually graduate, I built up my own company. Sara and the kids are used to our luxurious life and I do my best to ensure that nothing catches me out. Until now that is.
* * * * 
I’m sat in the office now my phone is still ringing. I’m going to have to answer it I don’t want Sara worrying, well not yet anyway.
                 ‘Hey sweetie, sorry I’m running a bit late’ I’m trying my hardest to sound convincing but I know Sara picks up on the smallest of things; she’s known me for too long not to.
                  ‘What’s wrong Adam? You sound worried’ I can hear the TV on in the background and Eleanor shouting out.
                  ‘Is Daddy on his way home? It’s film time’ Friday night is family night in our house, we get takeaway for tea and veg out in front of the TV watching films and eating sweets.
                  ‘Nothing’s wrong, I just lost track of time. I’ll be home in half an hour I promise, tell Eleanor she can pick the film tonight’ my stomach flips when she ends the call.
                   ‘Okay sweetie, we love you.’
                    Why did I think I could get away with it? I have to go home, put this to the back of my mind and worry about it tomorrow. Before I leave the office I re-read the email that Elizabeth sent this morning.

Dear Adam, 

                 The party was great thanks and so was our chat. You gave me a lot to think about and I’ve decided to get out of the escort game and start a new life with my son. To do that though I need money and that’s where you come in. You see I pull the crying card on most dates I’m hired for but none have come up trumps like yours. I recorded our conversation that night and you have a choice to view this as either blackmail or buying my silence. I’ll return the tape to you on receipt of £1 million. It may seem a lot (though probably not to you) but it will keep me in the luxurious life that your wife and kids already have but that me and my son deserve. I’ll give you a week to reply to this email to arrange this, if I don’t hear from you I shall make copies of our conversation and forward them to all appropriate people. 

Thanks 

Elizabeth 

                    I don’t have that sort of money to pay out, yes we have a luxurious life but most of my money is tied up in the business and our house. There is no way I can let anyone find out what I told her. Sara would be distraught; I know she would leave me and take the children with her which would break my heart and I couldn’t live with that. I have a week to come up with a plan. Instantly I realise I don’t need a week, I know what I have to do. I pressed delete on the email and opened up the Google page. I clicked the little white arrow in the search box and typed in ways to commit suicide. I had a quick look through the information that popped up on screen and found the perfect idea. I’ve managed to fake being a lawyer for years; it would be easy to make murder look like suicide. Now all I had to do was find out her address. For now though I’m going home to my family and film night. I am looking forward to watching cool runnings for probably the tenth time this year, maybe we should stop letting Eleanor pick the film.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Dog-napped or holiday treat ?

My baby Rolf has been dog-napped by my parents and taken to Scotland. I should start by pointing out that Rolf is my cuddly dog that was given to me for my 21st birthday :) This is the picture they sent me 4 days into their holiday to tell me they had him.

The clothes are not his so clearly he has got into the spirit of the holiday already. Although I am worried that his head may be getting cold as his cap (which belonged to my late Grampy) is still at home ?!
I'm hoping that there will be plenty of pictures to share of his Scottish adventure on his return :) 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

TMA 04 (highest score yet) :)

This is my 4th creative writing assignment which has gained me my highest mark so far for the course :)

Invisible me, Imaginary you



It was the summer of 1982 when everything changed between me and my brother. Before then he doted on me from the day I was born. Simon is twenty-two months older than me and the first born; when I came along he did everything for me. He shared his toys, played games with me, checked I was ok all the time and even spoke for me. Anyone who knows me well knows that I talk a lot but that wasn’t always the case, when I was younger I was far too lazy to talk so Simon done it for me.   
              ‘Mummy, Sharleene needs the potty’, ‘mummy, Sharleene wants to play outside’ Of course he also used it to his own advantage ‘mummy, Sharleene wants a biscuit so can I have one too please?’
               Once while shopping in town Simon convinced my mum that we both wanted our photo taken behind the curtain (it was a passport photo booth, but we didn’t know that then) he kept on asking so eventually she gave in and let us. It’s probably one of the last photos taken when it was just two of us. Mum’s big belly apparently meant that another baby was on the way. Simon was excited but as far as I was concerned I didn’t need another brother as he was doing a great job at being a big brother and I didn’t need a sister as in my mind I already had one.                   
               Simon had made lots of new friends at playschool which took up more of his time and when he knew there was another baby on the way he lost interest in me, so to occupy myself I created an imaginary sister. She never had a name she was just my sister, I think she was only around for a few months but I still think of her a lot thirty years later. My sister and I did everything together. She helped me to grab some balloons one day from WHSmith. I don’t know why she wanted them because neither of us could blow them up, it didn’t matter anyway because as soon as mum realised we had them on the way home from town she took them off us and spent the day panicking that the police would arrive. I was two and a half years old I didn’t know you had to pay for things. I had some really fun times with my sister, sometimes we would just sit on the big blue blanket on the lawn and play with the big yellow teapot. Often mum would put the cassette player in the kitchen window so we could hear the music outside and have a dance to it. Simon had started being mean to me, he wouldn’t share his toys and would do anything to wind me up so I spent more and more time alone with my sister.        
              At nearly five years old Simon found it funny that I had an imaginary sister and made fun of me a lot telling me she didn’t exist, this one day at the end of June he took things too far. I was playing on the swing in our back garden, it was a red metal frame that was getting rusty and the grass under foot had a patch worn out where we scuffed our feet to stop the swing. Depending which way you sat you could either face the neighbour’s garden or over the park, the park was always my preference because you could often see people walking their dogs over there. Sometimes you would even see our own dog Shandy over there when he wasn’t supposed to be. Shandy was a Heinz 57 as my parents described him, a mixture of different dogs, he was a sandy colour and a little bit dopey but so loving and he often took himself for walks mostly being bought back by the neighbours. On this day though he was led in his kennel looking grumpy and tired, I think he had just been told off for going wandering again. I had been on the swing for a few minutes when I got off to let my sister have her turn, I had to push her as her legs were obviously too short to do it herself she was shorter than me after all. Simon came out in the garden and demanded a go on the swing, he was becoming really annoying.           
               ‘No I’m playing on it with my sister’ I cried, well he wasn't having any of it                                                                      
               ‘you don’t have a sister give me the swing’ with that he stopped the swing and sat on it squashing my sister. I was devastated and began to cry to which his reaction was to laugh this just made me worse and I was sobbing when I ran indoors to my mum.
             ‘what on earth’s wrong, did you fall over?’  at first I couldn’t stop crying enough to talk and had to try and catch my breath before I had a chance to get out what was wrong Simon appeared behind me,                                                  
             ‘I’ve finished on the swing you can have it back now’ he taunted.  My mum then presumed I was crying because he wouldn’t let me on the swing but that wasn’t it. I was heartbroken my sister was gone, squashed into oblivion by my big brother and he didn’t care. I managed to get the words out eventually ‘he sat on my sister’ I wailed at my mums face. I’m sure my mum didn’t know whether to laugh or not, how are you supposed to react when your toddler tells you their imaginary sister has been squashed. Well at the time cuddles worked I spent the rest of the day clinging to mum and ignoring Simon, my tears calmed down until Dad came home from work and I had to tell him what happened. After a day of driving school children around in a coach the last thing dad wanted was more whiny kids at home, but he listened when I told him the swing story and he told Simon off. I had a cuddle from dad too which were always great because he’s like a big teddy bear. That evening I went to bed sad that I had lost my best friend and sister and sad that my brother was so mean. A week later on July 4th 1982 only eight days before my third birthday, things changed again when my real sister was born.       
           Samantha looked nothing like my imaginary sister; she was purple and screamed lots for a start. Simon loved her though, I did too of course but she replaced me in his eyes and he did everything for her as he had done for me when I was younger. She got to share his toys and play games with him when she was old enough. This would have been the perfect time for my imaginary sister to return but she never did, perhaps I didn’t really need her after all.
         I started playschool a couple of months after Samantha was born and made loads of friends. There was one boy who followed me around all the time which meant I always had someone to play with, I didn’t need Simon I had someone who wanted to be my friend. He was always by my side, he was with me when I played with the big yellow teapot and when I tripped over and cut my lip on a tricycle handlebar. He was there when I returned from the hospital after having some purple liquid put on my swollen lip and he was there trying to make me smile for the yearly playschool photo. Nobody managed to make me smile for this photo, my mum tried, my friend tried and the photographer tried but no smile. He sat next to me when we had our afternoon snack of milk and a biscuit. The milk always came in spotty cups and when given the choice I opted for the blue one and he always chose the green. We always had malted milk biscuits, the ones with the cows on them.We both used to eat around the raised edges first and then nibble around them to leave just the cows left to eat. He would follow me to the toilet too but always waited outside. It would always be the two of us playing together on the climbing frame and slide while waiting for our parents to pick us up, my mum was always there first and I never saw either of his parents.When we left playschool and went our separate ways to different primary schools I knew I would miss him. I was worried that I would never make any other friends like him and I cried on the first day of every term.I did make friends but none that followed me like he did; I wonder why I can’t remember his name?

 
 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Luke

I wrote this poem as a christening gift, with permission from Luke's parents I am now sharing this :) 


Luke


Ten precious fingers.
Ten precious toes.
A smile that melts any heart
and a cute button nose.
 
You're a gift that keeps on giving,
a love that will last forever.

You'll be kept safe and cherished,

by family and friends together.

 

Your parents are so happy

to have you as their son.

You've now become a family

as three merge into one.

 

Luke Alexandar Michael Bush

A beautiful little boy.

Memories began the day you were born,

Bringing your family such joy.
 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Fast Forward >>>>>>>>>>>>

Having lost 4 stone in a year and then being almost stuck for the whole of the following year my slimming world consultant Jacky suggested trying the fast forward plan to get a boost.
The plan is a restricted version of the slimming world plan and is designed to be done for 7 days only in order to give your weight loss a boost. Last week I followed this plan 100% and lost 5 and 1/2 lb, which is a great loss so why am I a little disappointed ??
Well I know that if I follow the ordinary slimming world plan 100% I can lose that and more in one week (clearly I don't follow it 100% very often) so after the fast forward week I expected more from myself.
Having had some time to think about it, and listening to advice from others that I often give out myself I have settled on the fact that it is actually okay !! I know that my previous weeks weight gain wasn't as bad as what it should have been and providing I follow plan this week I should have a good loss again at Thursday's weigh in.
So my initial disappointment has turned to hope, if I lose more than 3lb this week I will be at my lowest weight and in a new stone bracket which is a massive achievement.
Fast Forward a few more lb's and my 5 stone award shouldn't be too far away :)

Thank you Slimming World

Monday, 5 March 2012

Successful failure


This is the 3rd of my TMA poems and the most personal as it is based on a true event that someone once told me about. I hope that I done the story justice :) x

Successful failure

No note left to say goodbye.
Pills swallowed; I awaited death
to release my broken heart.

I'd failed at family life
and now suicide it seemed.
Death evaded me that night.

My daughters are my whole world,
they need me in their life.
My heart can break no more.

No note left to say goodbye.
I was successful at failing,
that is all you need to know.

If dreams were chocolate I'd be really fat


If dreams were chocolate I ‘d be really fat

Dreams of riches and what we could buy.
A new house and car, we could learn to fly.

Get our own plane; head off to the sun,
take all of our friends for two weeks of fun.

When we return we’ll party all night,
no job to wake up for what a delight.

We could go where we want and spend what we like.
We’ll even buy Granny a brand new bike.

Back down to earth with a bump it would seem,
the past five minutes have been just a dream.

Six little numbers just didn’t come out.
We’ll dream again next week, same outcome no doubt.

TMA03 - poetry Spring forward,fall back


Here is the first of the 3 poems I submitted for my 3rd creative writing assignment. I'll just say I am happier with my poems than I am with my result but as some very lovely people have pointed out, it is just one persons opinion :) 

Spring forward, Fall back
Spring brings daffodils and little lambs,
summer brings heat and sweaty hands.
Autumn brings leaves on the ground not the tree,
winter brings snow filling kids with glee.

Often the seasons get muddled up.
Snow falling in spring, winter heating up.
Summer gets shorter and colder it seems,
autumn merges to winter with weather extremes.

The clock changes confuse, which way do we turn?
Twice a year all our lives, will we ever learn?
Our weather will always be a topic of chat,
too cold, too hot, too icy, too wet.

The seasons don’t know where they start or end,
the weatherman is constantly scratching his head.
We’ll still get sun, falling conkers and snow,
but when they’ll arrive we never know.




Saturday, 11 February 2012

Valentine be mine ............

I was surprised today to hear that Valentines day is 3rd in the 'sales boosting' events of the year for retail, after Christmas and Easter. Really ?? yes really !

I'm really undecided about Valentines day myself, I personally think there shouldn't be just one day of the year that you use to show how much you love your other half. However should anyone wish to send me chocolates and flowers etc etc then who am I to refuse ;) The last valentines card I received was from my friends little brother, he's not quite so little now and engaged to be married (perhaps shows how long ago it was).

I am however fed up of the emails and adverts reminding us how many days to go and what offers we can get, as if they're not bad enough we are surrounded by Valentine offers at work. Perhaps as a singleton I notice it more than those that are loved up, either way I'm not buying into it, at least not this year anyway.

If you're loved up I hope you have a lovely valentines day and if like me you're not then enjoy your singledom and buy yourself a curly wurly (that's my plan anyway).


Saturday, 28 January 2012

you'll regret it when you're old !!!

Yesterday I had my 6th tattoo done. My first 5 are all fairly small and were quite quick to do so when I booked my appointment for this one and was told it would be an hour and a half's worth of work I was a little nervous. I had my first tattoo done just after I turned 18 and the other 4 were all within a few years which means its been about 10 years since my last one. With the help of a couple of friends I got a design I liked and decided to have it on my foot and going up my leg. I imagined the top of my foot being an extremely painful place to have it and arrived for my appointment fairly nervous, no need it seems. The most painful part was on my leg near the top of the design and even that wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected. so the final result -

I absolutely love it :)

There are people who like tattoos (but don't have any themselves) that like to admire others tattoos, there are people who don't like tattoos at all but don't hold it against you for having them and then there are those that repeat the line - you'll regret it when you're older, I've heard it many times and each time I reply with no I won't !! All of my tattoo's are easily hidden when and if neccesary and if I didn't do something now just in case I regret it when I'm old then there is alot that I wouldn't be doing.

Don't regret the things you have done but don't live to regret the things you didn't do when you had the chance, take a risk it might just be worth it :)

You'll regret it when you're old !!?? Not a chance :) 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fundraising

This week I have registered for the 5k Race for life along with my mum, aunty and my best mate :) I have now also registered for a half marathon (power walking NOT running). The walking I know I can cope with as training will start soon though I am slightly nervous about walking for 13 miles in a decorated bra !!!
If you would like to sponsor myself or my mum for the half marathon which is raising money for breast cancer you can do so by following this link :)
http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/me_n_mum

Or if you would prefer to sponsor the race for life which raises money for cancer research then follow this link :)

http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/sharleenerawlings

Thank you in advance for your generosity :) xxx

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Creative Writing TMA 2

This is my 2nd TMA for Creative Writing. It scored lower than the first but I received some fairly good comments :) 
(the layout has gone haywire sorry ) 

Always by your side

It’s a beautiful July morning, the sun is streaming through the gap in the curtains and in about thirty seconds our daughter is going to burst into our bedroom. She has been awake since 6.30am but her mum told her she wasn’t allowed to be out of her room until at least 7am.
‘It’s my birthday’ she cries excitedly. Well it was less than thirty seconds but who’s counting? 
          Ellie is a gorgeous little girl (obviously as her father I am biased) she has the biggest blue eyes, the sort that can make you forgive anything when she aims her puppy dog look at you. Her hair is jet black and comes down just past her shoulders; the colour is identical to her mother’s hair but the bouncy curls she inherited from me (though she pulls off the curls much better than I ever have). Her skin is quite pale and we used to say if she had straight hair she could easily play Snow White; of course from a father’s point of view the thought of her sharing a house with seven men never really appealed to me.
          Today is Ellie’s eighth birthday, she is an only child and my wife Sarah and I would never deny that she has been totally spoiled since the day she was born. Eight years may have passed but I still remember that day vividly. Sarah went into labour three weeks early while out shopping with her sister Jac, when my phone rang I was driving so I ignored it at first thinking whoever it was would ring back if it was important. I was right Jac rang back again and again, in fact I had fifteen missed calls by the time I got chance to pull over and answer. I managed to gather what had happened from Jac’s panicky cries down the phone and told her I would meet them at the hospital; as soon as I hung up I went into panic mode. For the entire twenty minute journey I talked to myself out loud. ‘Three weeks early? That’s ok though right? They’ll both be okay won’t they? Of course they will, don’t be silly it’s all going to be fine’ I tried hard to convince myself it would all be okay and for a little while it worked, then my hands started to sweat and my heart began to race. As I pulled into a parking space at the hospital it suddenly dawned on me, ‘oh my god, I’m going to be a dad!’ I sat gripping the steering wheel and staring into space, my knuckles were turning white when Jac knocked on the window.
          ‘Come on Dave you don’t wanna miss it do you?’ of course I didn’t, this was our little miracle about to be born. 
           Sarah and I had been married for fifteen years we were childhood sweethearts, soul mates. We started trying for a baby as soon as we were married but after five miscarriages we decided we couldn’t carry on doing it to ourselves; it obviously wasn’t meant to be. We put being parents to the back of our minds and tried not to think about it, years passed and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never have children. In the early part of May Sarah had been unwell for a few days with back pain and sickness so she went to see the doctor, she was still in shock when I returned from work. Staring right through me as I walked in the door Sarah said, ‘I’m pregnant, we’re pregnant, we’re having a baby!’, I didn’t even have chance to reply when she said, ‘In three months, the baby’s due in three months.’ with that she walked off in to the kitchen and started making dinner. I stood in the hall for a good ten minutes before I dropped my bag and followed her into the kitchen. She hadn’t even mentioned that she’d missed her periods, she said she just put it down to stress at work. So the danger period had passed without us even knowing and now we had three months to prepare for becoming parents, or two months and one week as it turned out.
          As far as birthing partners go me and Jac were rubbish, we’re both born worriers and at one point were told off by the midwife because we were stressing Sarah out. For Sarah though this was a breeze, it didn’t faze her that the baby was early, her labour was fairly quick and within four hours of Jac’s phone call we had a beautiful baby girl and, although I say it was a breeze for Sarah, I also had a rather bruised hand to prove otherwise. We hadn’t got round to choosing names by this point so for two days she was just baby Macey. In the end we settled on Eleanor or Ellie for short, it was the name of Sarah’s great granny who amazingly lived until the grand age of 103, she was actually guest of honour at our wedding which took place on her 100th birthday. 
          So eight years have passed and here we are celebrating our little girl’s birthday, while Sarah and I sing happy birthday to her, Ellie makes herself comfy on the bed beaming from ear to ear its clear to see her excitement. Her grin gets even bigger when Sarah reveals a big bag full of presents which has been hiding under the bed, each gift is wrapped with such care and attention and Ellie gives each one her full attention when unwrapping them. She is one of those children that does everything neatly so the wrapping paper is never ripped, she takes such care that the whole present giving process takes longer than with most kids but she shows her appreciation for every gift. As Sarah hands over the first gift I see a tear fall on to her cheek, Ellie is oblivious as she reads the gift tag out loud. 
          ‘To our darling daughter Ellie happy eighth birthday, love forever and always mummy and daddy’ her smile slowly vanishes and she puts the gift aside as she moves over to hug her mother ‘I miss him so much mummy’
          ‘Me too honey, me too’ as Sarah wraps our little Snow White in her arms I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. The realisation hits that I will never again be able to comfort my beautiful little girl when she’s sad or share in her happiness; I won’t be around to scare off any worthless boyfriends or walk her down the aisle when she meets the one man that deserves her. Never again will I share a bed with my gorgeous wife or walk hand in hand along the beach at Christmas, our monthly date nights now non-existent. I can’t help the tears from rolling down my cheeks at the thought that they can’t hear me when I say ‘I love you both so much, I miss you more than you will ever know but I’m right here I can’t leave you’ I decide to leave them alone for a while and even though I know they can’t hear me I can’t stop myself from saying; ‘bye, I’ll be back in a while’ those were my last words to my family, in fact apart from singing to the Westlife CD in the car (it belonged to Ellie) those were my last ever words. 
          It happened just over two months ago on May 12th, we were celebrating the anniversary of the day we found out we were pregnant as we had done every year since. We had enjoyed a lovely family day out at the zoo, the monkeys were always my favourite but Ellie loved to spend what felt like hours watching the giant tortoises, it probably felt like hours because they don’t really do a lot but for some reason she was fascinated with them. We bought her a cuddly toy one for her birthday but gave it to her that day; she has hardly let it go since. We had been out for most of the day and when we got home decided that a takeaway was called for. Because we could never agree on which takeaway to have then for the fourth year running we chose which one by using our tried and tested method of putting our choices on bits of paper screwing it up and letting the cat choose. Whichever piece of paper she played with first was the one we chose so this year it was Ellie’s choice of pizza hut that won and, once we decided what we were having, I went off to buy it telling my gorgeous girls that I would be back in a while. I wish I’d known that I wouldn’t be back. Ever. I wish I had told them both that I love them before I left. I wish I hadn’t left. 
          I didn’t make it to pizza hut; I only made it ten minutes away from home before I was killed. It was an accident there is nobody to blame although that doesn’t make it any easier. A milk tanker on the opposite side of the road lost control when his tyre had a puncture. There wasn’t much he could do, he tried to gain control but the tanker jack knifed directly in front of me and my car crashed straight into the side of it. From this point it’s a bit hazy, I don’t really know whether my memories are from when I was alive or from after I died. I heard sirens, I heard voices mostly asking me if I was okay, I heard my phone ringing and that was the point I knew for definite that I was dead. I looked at the phone screen which was flashing with the word ‘Home’ then I realised I was stood outside on the passenger side of the car, I looked up and saw my body in the driver’s seat surrounded by paramedics. I wanted to shout and scream at them to work harder, bring me back my family are waiting for me but deep down I knew it was too late. I moved over to the front of the lorry and watched as the police tried to talk to the driver, he wasn’t responding to them; he was alive but deep in shock. His face stared straight ahead and when I looked at his hands they were gripping the steering wheel tightly turning his knuckles white. It made me think of me on the day Ellie was born, two men in shock reacting in the same way; one in shock at the miracle of birth and one at the cruelness of death.
          Since then I haven’t left my family, I went to my own funeral even though it tore me apart to see them hurting so much. I accompanied Ellie on her first day back at school two weeks later and I sat in the doctor’s waiting room when Sarah went to get sleeping tablets. I’m not leaving them ever, I can’t move on. I know they need me.            
          When I return to our room my girls are sat together under the duvet looking at Ellie’s last gift, this one was just from Sarah the rest we had bought a week before the accident and Sarah had gift wrapped them as soon as we got home mainly because Ellie is a bit of a snooper. I watch as Ellie unwraps her gift delicately, this one has different paper to the others it’s wrapped in blue paper (my favourite colour) and has silver ribbon tied around it. I notice when I look at Sarah that she is wearing my jumper, it’s a really old jumper and I’m trying to think why she chose that one. It all becomes clear though when Ellie reveals a silver double picture frame, in one side there is a picture of me and her at the zoo, our last day together and in the other side is a picture of me with her just minutes after she was born, our first day together, the jumper is what I’m wearing In that photo. On the back of the frame there is an envelope which Ellie opens to reveal a locket with identical photo’s inside ‘now daddy will always be with you sweetheart, even if he can’t be here in person’
          ‘I’ll always be here in spirit,’ I whisper. Sarah turns and looks directly at me and starts to cry. She can see me I know she can, as I mouth the words I love you to her she hugs Ellie and mouths the same words back at me before closing her eyes. I close my tear filled eyes knowing that they’re gone now, that’s all I needed, just to know that she knew I was there. I wish I had got the chance to tell her how proud Eleanor is that we named our little miracle after her.