Retracing the Footsteps of Our Paris Engagement

I had always said to my then girlfriend Sarah that I would never propose to her in Paris; ‘it’s too cliche,’ I had said, but it was a ruse, a little white lie, that ensured a certain element of surprise. I wanted it to be a surprise for Sarah had hardly dropped any hints about…

The Revenge of the Typo: How a Print Error Nearly Ended My Career

We all make typos don’t we? Of course we do, because we bloggers are human and proofreaders are luxuries. Nevertheless, they’re so annoying, the way they play hide and seek, like little germs, taking refuge in our blogposts till  we hit the big blue ‘Publish’ button, after which point they come crawling out of the…

Cambridge blue and the red herring

Last weekend we went for a long punt in Cambridge; we glided on the glinting River Cam in a  flat-bottomed boat, a punt, pushing ourselves with a pole, drifting lazily past ancient sandstone colleges and perfect lawns which spilled in to the riverbank. The University of Cambridge is my alma mater so we popped in…

The Little Fish Mystery 

This is a true story that happened in my kitchen – it involves multiple murders, male-only breeding, a sex-change and suspected cannibalism. It’s also about my pet fish. It had all started so well: a glass fish tank, pure white sand, aquatic plants, ornamental rocks, a bubbling filter and a small heater that kept the…

The fox in the box

One evening a fox was dying in my back garden. Its fur was patchy, its eyes were sad and watery, and it sniffed pitifully amongst the bushes. I have mixed feelings towards foxes. One part of me, the idealistic, romantic side, likes them. They are beautiful, shy creatures of sharp senses, swift and playful, with…

Going bald: the journey through pain and pleasure 

Once, when I had hair, I revelled in it joyously; I had a quiff that sat up proud like a duck’s bum, sometimes spawning a rebellious love-curl; my side-burns dropped to the bottom of my earlobes; my back and sides were ‘grade one tapered’; the rest, back-brushed in to a bouffant coiffure. I thought I…

My mum, the pilot

Once upon a time, a little girl was told that women shouldn’t fly airplanes … I grew up knowing ‘mum flew planes’. This was one of a series of simple facts in my childhood: my sister and I were born in London; our parents came from India; dad sang; mum flew. She told us stories…

My Lost Brother

Winter outstays its welcome by the end of February – the low sunlight through bare branches holds no warmth,  the waking hours are dark and without birdsong, and the daylight hours stretch with a sluggish reluctance. Half a century ago, at this time of year, my parents lost their first baby. My mother held him for…

Me, Myself and Wine: reflections on a dry month 

Drunk at age 15 months, making wine at age 13. Dry January has given me space to resist and reflect on an old acquaintance. My induction to alcohol happened when I was aged 15 months. Yes, it took that long for an opportunity to  come knocking. That evening my parents were seeing off guests in…

Finding a face in a marathon race

I would run a marathon but I am ashamed that I might get overtaken by a man dressed as a tree … or a gorilla in a tutu. Still, looking for a face … that’s a challenge.

A soliloquy from your discarded Christmas tree.  

Bejewelled and adored for 12 days, the centre of a family. Now jettisoned like rubbish amongst the black bags. I was led on and betrayed. Used once and thrown away. I had roots, you took them away. I had beautiful green needles, taught and tingly. You covered my beauty in kitsch tinsel and golden balls….

The Missing Child

A few years ago, I found a lost child in a shopping mall.  (First published in The Eclectic, June 2010) It’s just another day in the mall. A bustle of people, queues outside kiosks selling mobile phone covers, mums pushing prams, groups of young toughs wearing baggy jeans. I’ve picked up some useless stuff, picture…