Emerging Writer Member Profile
I was born in 1959 in Northern Ireland. I started writing prose in 2012 while on a MA Creative Writing course at Lancaster University. Basically, my focus had been on poetry but after six months on the course, I struggled with Writer’s Block and wrote my first short story by way of meeting a submission deadline. I was encouraged by my tutor to explore this genre and graduated in 2013 with a set of short interrelated stories. My book (unpublished) ‘Honeysuckle and Custard Creams’ is the offshoot of this process.
I’m not very proactive in putting myself out there though I did enter a few of stories for the Fish Short Memoir competition a couple of years back and one was shortlisted.
(My sample is the first 1,000 words of my book)
Honeysuckle and Custard Creams
Regal Blues and Comics
Hangovers and Orphaned Lego
Vol-au-vonts and Gobstoppers
Ladders and Tweed Skirts
Oil Paints and Stations of the Cross
Spinach and Sweets
Punishment and Snooker Balls
The Calling and Apple Turnovers
Bridge Partners and the Coal Scuttle
Pillow Talk and The Sacred Heart
Robert Mitchum and The Sideboard
Check Points and Maneuvers
Fray Bentos and Royal Blue
Lord Widgery and Treacle Bread
Bushmills and Babycham
For most of the passengers disembarking Flight BA 731 from London Heathrow to Belfast Aldergrove Airport, neither the sleet nor the gale force wind can dampen their spirits. As the hunched figures scurry across the slippery tarmac towards the Arrival Lounge, their arms and hoods raised to combat the biting cold, it feels good to be home.
Unlike so many other arrival lounges, here in Belfast all the Grannies and Grandads and Mammies and Daddies and brothers and sisters and Aunts and Uncles and cousins and friends are already huddled around the conveyer belt where the cases will be collected. In fact, the thump of heavy luggage can already be heard as the passengers tumble into the lounge, animated and excited. The whirr of the conveyer belt is drowned for a while but soon, as cases are heaved onto trolleys and head for the exit, a silence of sorts begins to descend.
A man approaching middle age, bald, unshaven and wearing gold rimmed glasses, has just arrived and is looking around. The shoulders and the back of his beige trench coat are drenched. He’s late. The two hour drive had been arduous. After watching the last two passengers collect their baggage, he moves towards the conveyor belt. The name tag on the lone suitcase brings some relief: Sinead Reilly, 8 Covendale road, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12. Perspiration prickles the nape of his neck as he dries his sweaty palms on the sides of his coat. He hoists the overused case off the belt, seconds before it grinds to a halt. Then he positions himself against a column where he waits for his daughter to appear.
In the Ladies Toilet, Sinead Reilly unbends her knees from where she has been crouched over the toilet bowl. She straightens her back, drags a few strands of wet hair from her cheeks and tucks them behind her ears. Tearing off a piece of flimsy toilet roll she wipes her glasses and her mouth before throwing the paper into the toilet and flushing away the after smell of bile. She then puts her glasses back on and heads for the arrival lounge.
Honeysuckle and Custard Creams
“Sinead, give us that tray and run up to the house quickly.”
Mammy’s face is pretending to be calm.
“There’s a tin of biscuits in the linen basket. Bring it down as fast as you can.”
She pushes me into the living room.
“And bring the tin of tea down as well just to be on the safe side. Go on, get a move on and stop your huffing. You’ll still be ten when you blow out your candles.”
“It’s not the same, Mammy. I want to blow them out today…and I’m not flamin’ huffing.”
“Sinead, don’t you dare be cheeky like that to me. And show a bit of respect. Your father’s mother has just died. Stop acting like a baby.”
What the flipping hell is she talking about? I’m not being flamin’ cheeky. Just because I can’t see what the big deal is? I hardly even knew Granny Reilly for Pete’s sake. She’s been on her death bed forever. And I’m not saying I don’t feel a bit sad. I do. I swear. But why did she have to die right now? I don’t want to be serving smelly egg and onion sandwiches and biscuits at my Granny’s flamin’ wake to a crowd of old fogies and busy bodies who are making Mammy’s temper worse than it normally is in the morning.
And why can’t someone else go get the biscuits? It’s pishing outside.
“Sinead pet, could you get Mrs Doyle a cup of tea?” Aunty Eileen says, just as I’m about to ask if she’s sitting on my coat. She has been on the couch for over an hour sobbing and sniffling like she just got the shock of her life. Sure, has she not been praying for years that the Lord would be kind and take Granny up to heaven with him? Crocodile tears I heard Mammy whisper. And what if I don’t want to get Mrs cross-eyed Doyle a cup of stinky tea? That’s all Mrs Doyle does…drink tea at wakes and get a feed of sandwiches. It’s a full time occupation according to Mammy.
“Is my coat there Aunty Eileen? I have to go up to the house for more biscuits.”
I can play deaf as good as grown ups can.
“All the coats are upstairs in the back bed room”
Thanks for nothing Aunty Eileen.
Right now I’m in no mood to have to pass the wake room again. I feel like boking every time I get near the coffin. It’s my first ever wake and I only looked inside once but I wish I hadn’t. Granny’s corpse gives me the heebie-jeebies with those rosary beads twisted around her fingers like she’s ready to say three Hail Marys and a Glory Be To God any second now.
I’m glad I didn’t see Mr. Robinson in a coffin.
Poor Mr Robinson.
I wonder if his face is ironed out and plastic looking too? One thing is for sure—there aren’t any creepy rosary beads in his coffin. Protestants don’t have rosary beads. If Mr. Robinson was still alive I would sneak up for a visit even without a bunch of honeysuckle…
Become an Emerging Writer Member