More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

October

Writing everyday in October. The Wedding (part 1)

Writing everyday in October.
The Wedding (Part 1)

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The bride was as boring as fuck, I mean honestly, I saw some paint drying that was being bored by her. The thing was though, when I was talking to her, she walked off when I was in mid flow, as if to say I was the fucking boring one!

Wait a minute, I’m getting ahead of myself now, let me start from the beginning, way before this disaster was at the brewing stage. My best mate, Jeff and me go way back. We met on our first day nursery school; I was shitting myself, both literally and metaphorically. After the teacher had got me cleaned up, she shoved me in the corner with Jeff who was playing with a load of toy cars. I Don’t really remember our first meet, but Jeff says he does; Jeff says that at soon as I sat next to him he knew we were going to be best mates, weird I know, but it was true. We did everything together, from school to scouts, collage, university and drugs.
Jeff’s new wife, she don’t do drugs and even now is totally convinced that Jeff is a clean living lad. He did tell her that he used to dabble in a bit of hash and once took an E, but that was all in the past. Is it fuck in the past! His stag night went on for five days. I don’t quite know how we ended up in Amsterdam snorting coke of some prostitutes arse; I mean we started the weekend in one of those weekend retreats in Norfolk. It was his brides idea, she said they had a spa there and that

we could go running in the morning and then have a sauna and stuff in the afternoon.
Thank fuck her dad ended up not joining us…or maybe it would have been better if he had then we could have put a stop to this sham marriage. I mean, it’s not like he had to marry her, she not up the duff or anything like that, she just has this really weird hold over him.
The first time I met her, she took an instant dislike to me which was fine by me as the feeling was mutual. Although Jeff was unaware of our pure dislike of each other, I think he was a little relived that I wasn’t flirting with her like I had in the passed. I could kick myself for sleeping with his last girlfriend, Mandy as she was shit hot, a great laugh and could keep up with our drinking and snorting right from Friday afternoon until she had to get the train to work on Monday morning.
But this one, she was…I was going to say frosty, but she wasn’t even that interesting!

So where was I? Oh yeah, snorting coke of a prostitutes arse, two rolled up notes, each taking a snort of each cheek, fucking ace. I don’t need to go into the details about what we did next, you’re all grown up enough to fill in those details; all you need to know is that we lost two days and had to spend a fortune on getting replacement tickets back. I tell yah, if Many was there we would have got a fucking upgrade. Now don’t go calling me a sexist, I’ve seen her do it, pushing her tits up and talking all breathy, like Marilyn bloody Monroe; works every time. Such a shame Jeff ditched her.
Jeff didn’t look to good on that plane ride home, I kept telling him he would be fine and all he needed was a cheeky snort I’d lined up for him in the toilet. When he got back there was a double J.D’s, two cubes of ice, just as he likes it, waiting for him. AS he sat down he shook his head, but I just gave him a wink, downed my drink. I nodded at Jeff, telling him to get the drink down him but he said he wasn’t feeling so great, so I grabbed it from his tray and necked it for hi. I swear it was from that moment on he started to lose his own sense of self. Even when she was miles away that woman was draining his very essence and I had to put a stop to it.

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Writing everyday in October Part 3, Ronny’s comeuppance!

Writing everyday in October: Hate, Part 3, Ronny’s comeuppance:

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Ronny squatted over the bucket and roared as the fermenting concoction brewed and spewed from both ends: one in the bucket the other in the sink. Ronny’s groans quickly turned to screams as his insides tensed tighter and tighter in their desperate bid to rid themselves of the poisonous prawns Ronny had so greedy gulped all in pointless pursuit of getting revenge on a neighbour he had never met.

Ronny had not anticipated his plan to backfire (quite literally dear reader) with the force of a huge ‘wet shot avalanche’. On and on went the evacuation with such force that Ronny thought he was going to be turned inside out. After what felt like a life time, Ronny’s guts took a breather, allowing Ronny to catch his breath and thank his lucky stars that the worse was over, but unbeknown to Ronny, that first explosion was the first of many more to come. Ronny gingerly lifted himself off the bucket but this just allowed the gas inside him to shift and expand as once again his whole insides contracted and forced what they could through every single orifice. At one point Ronny thought his eyes were going to pop out, such was velocity of his body trying to survivor its poisoners assault.

After an hour of constant extraction, Ronny was left crawling around the floor, covered in array of bodily fluids with every inch of his body racked in pain, and still his innards continued to contract.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Ronny, after helping transport the soul of Ronny’s last victim, Death had decided to stop in the flat below, knowing that Ronny was next on his list. Unfortunately for Ronny, his attempts at trying to piss his new neighbour off had not gone unnoticed.

Death had tried blocking out the disruption during the hourly news reports, but was constantly distracted by Ronny stomping around in his boots. This, Death had tolerated up to a point, as he knew there would sure to be another death and destruction story within the hour of the previous one. But when Derrick’s dirty tricks had caused Death to lose all concentration during Only Connect’s, missing vowels round, well, Death was not happy. But it was when Ronny had gone all out with his bombardment of noise the next day when Death, guessed wrongly who the murderer was in Miss Marple’s, A Murder is Announced: that for Death was the last straw.

With just Death living below Ronny’s flat and no one above him No one heard Ronny’s please for help as over the next twelve months Ronny slowly began to decompose, feeling every single pin prick of pain, every nibble from the maggots, every drip of blood congealing diamond sharp in his veins.
Ronny begged for death to come, but the one thing you never want to do is piss Death off.
You see, Death was pleased to make Ronny wait as she took a break, slipped on some earphones and worked her way through box set after box set of crime, comedy and horror dramas that she had been wanting to catch up for a very long time.

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Writing everyday in October: Waiting

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I remember quite clearly, well nearly. I’d had this huge argument with a neighbour. What the argument was about now I am not so sure. It could have been over my apple tree hanging over her side of the garden. I just don’t think her taking apples is right, do you?…Hang on, I’ve just looked, I don’t even have an apple tree! No, what was it? Was it she who came round and complained about my washing machine being on at an unsociable hour, is 3 p.m. unsociable? or did she say i had the full spin on at 3 a.m …oh I remember now it was…no hang on, it’s gone. You see, the main problem I’ve been having is lack of sleep, which all started when I had an argument with my neighbour about…no, it’s gone again.

At first I ignored it. Not the neighbour, the not sleeping bit. I was so sure my neighbour was spying on me after that incident that I can’t quite remember that I decided the best thing to do was to keep an eye on her. Where my bedroom window is, I can see right in to her garden. I’ve now got the dressing table mirror set up so I can nearly see her back door. I can almost watch her come out, which gives me enough time to duck out of the way. She hasn’t been out yet, or at least I don’t think so, but when she does I’ll be ready for her.

It was only when my back started to ache that I realised that I had gone three whole days without sleeping a wink!

If only I could remember what it was she had done in the first place that had started this whole thing…oh, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, but it keeps slipping away again. Now, you must understand, I’m not paranoid, I just know that if I stop watching then she will take her chance and come out and….Damn If I could just remember what it was she had done.… I had stepped into my garden, she then said…no, it’s gone again.

I feel really pleased with myself, you know I’ve stayed awake now for twelve days.
In the beginning I found it difficult, but in the beginning I took an hour off from looking while I had my dog, Ginger, stand by the window while I gathered a few supplies, food, water and a bucket to you know what in. I knew that if my neighbour even glanced up at my house, then Ginger would have barked, but she was quiet, that is I mean, Ginger, not my neighbour who did that thing that I can’t quite remember. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Ginger in days, I would go and check but who would keep guard of the window? Oh I’m sure she’s fine. She’s very clever, if I had the time i would teach her to do those tricks that woman who cheated on Britain’s Got Talent got her dog to do. Ginger is a good dog, a clever dog; she would have got into her food cupboard by now, that I’m sure off.

Yesterday I suddenly became aware of a terrible smell. At first I thought it was the bucket but was really surprised to find out it was me! I think that’s why Ginger stays out of the bedroom.
Ginger?! Ginger?! No, she’s having one of her moods, I can well imagine she’s curled up on the rug downstairs.

It’s funny the things you get use to, the routine of looking, the smells getting ever more pungent, not just from me but from downstairs too, I think it’s the bin, it has to be the bin, what else could it be? My hair is quite matted, I should have grab a brush at the same time as my other supplies, but it’s not essential, not when I have this important task at hand.
Nothing is more important to me then catching my neighbour, if only I could remember what it was she had done, perhaps when she come out into her garden I can ask her.

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Writing everyday in October: Don’t Scream!

After all that screaming, the quiet seems deafening. Looking around, nothing is normal. That stain over there will it ever come out. Strange the things you think of as important but on the grand scheme of things that stain that has a life of its own is the least of my worries, and yet I do worry, always have. Worried what my mother thinks, worried what the neighbours think, worried what my more successful sister thinks, worried what people at work think, Blimey, I even worried what the cat thinks!

I wonder if it’s the same rule as red wine? What was it my mother swore by, salt on the stain or was it white wine that has some kind of magical power. I would give her a call but she’ll only ask why its so quiet. I could look it up on the computer, but that is stain splattered too! Such a messy screaming match!

Seriously though, bleach is the only thing that’s going to shift it, I’m so pleased I managed to get out of the house yesterday and got the weekly shop done… there will be a fresh bottle under the sink…and some clean cloths, but that is such a waste. I’ll get the rag bag out from under the sink and use them.

Now as I sit here I feel so calm, something that has been missing for months! The neighbours will be pleased. I almost want to pop round and tell them, knock on every door and say that  all those months of shouting has now come to an end, but they will find out soon enough.

Maybe it will be best if I just leave things as they are, I wonder if it will be like on the television detective shows when they have those all in one white paper suits.

Oh my! I’ve just seen myself in the mirror, I’ve still got the hammer in my hand, I thought I was feeling quite relaxed now that the shouting is over, but I can’t loosen the grip, thankfully it isn’t that heavy. Not much more then a toffee hammer, but it has done the trick, shut him up once and for all. All that screaming, all that shouting; looking at him you wouldn’t think he would have said boo to a goose, but behind closed doors…

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Writing Everyday in October: Telephone.

IMG_3655Telephone.

The toilet had been a place to step out of the engulfing fog more then anything else. Thankfully it wasn’t one of those rank smelling ones Jess found herself in, in fact it looked like it had only been recently opened to the public.
Not wanting to look like a creep, Jess stepped into a cubical, tipped the toilet seat down with the tip of her shoe, and sat down. She was about to get her phone out of her bag when she saw a phone number neatly written at the top of the door. Jess paused as she went to call her parents to tell then that this time she had left George for good this time, but instead she found herself punching in the numbers from the toilet door.

It was only when the phone started to ring that she realised what she was doing and hung up. She then scrolled through her list of M’s until she got to Mum & Dad and pressed dial but only got the engaged tone.
Thinking how silly it was to be sitting in a public toilet, Jess stood up when she heard someone else come in the toilet. Without thinking why, Jess called out, “Hello?” but no one answered. She tried again, but whoever it was ignored her call and went into the cubical next to her.

Jess sat back down again and leaned forward enough to see a pair of black leather boots with a spiked heel through the partition.
Jess stared at the boots when suddenly her phone rang. Jumping up, she rummaged through her bag and saw it was, Mum & Dad calling. Now with someone else in ear shot, Jess felt really conspicuous as she pressed answer and whispered, “Hello.”

It was her mum on the other end, “Jess? Is that you? It’s a very bad line.”
Again, Jess found it difficult to speak up, without really knowing why. “Yes, mum, it’s me. I’ve left George.”

Jess’s mum raised her voice, even though it wasn’t necessary, “Sorry darling, You’ll have to speak up. George called said you and he had had an argument and that he was worried. He said you had taken the car. Jess, are you there?”
Jess raised her voice above a whisper as she heard the person next door move, their heels clicking on the tiled floor, “Yes, mum, i’m…” before she could continue, her phone bleeped telling her there was a call waiting. Pulling the phone from her ear, Jess looked to see the number was from the toilet wall, without thinking, Jess pressed answer. At the same time the person next door left their cubical and tapped on Jess’s door.

Jess held the phone to her ear, a voice said, “It’s time Jess, come on, i’m waiting for you outside.

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Writing everyday in October: Room Number 4

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Okay, this is the plan to write a short, short story for fifteen minutes each morning. Some will be complete, some, I’ll return to either later in the month or for a different project.

 

 

 

First up,

Room 4

The receptionist to the little guest house looked up and said, “I’m afraid only number four is free.”

Before I had a chance to question her concern, a man, her husband I guessed, was by my side. He picked up my suitcase and nodded for me to follow him.
As we reached the top of the first floor he looked down at my key fob and said, “Oh”.
There was a bit of a pause before he added, “Your in number four.”
I jokingly asked if number four was haunted but he just shook his head and said, no, that will be number six”.
I was about to ask what was wrong with number four but had a sudden pang in the pit of my stomach.
A cold sweat form on my top lip as the husband gripped the door-handle to number four and pushed the door open.
A smell of fresh laundry and soap filled my nostrils. The husband hurried across the room, flicked the light switch, hurried back while ushering me in. he then stood in just outside of the threshold and said very quickly, “The bathroom is just down the hall, tea and coffee making facilities are in the corner, breakfast is served between 6:30 and 9:a.m, if you need anything either my wife or I will be on call at reception until then, a night-porter, Derrick, will see to your needs thereafter”.
The husband then took in a deep breath and hurried off back down the hall.
Dusk was thickly disguised by the thick fog that had been building up all day and was now wrapped firmly around the guesthouse. All thoughts of checking out the nightlife were put on hold. Besides, what I really wanted to do was a soak in the bath, something I only allowed myself when staying someplace else and an early night ready for tomorrows funeral.

With my small case unpacked I grabbed my toiletries and made my way down the hall. I had expected to hear the voices or televisions in any of the three rooms I passed, but each was silent. I checked my watch, 8pm, too late for dinner, perhaps the other guests were down in the main reception room having drinks. I thought I might join them, but I really wasn’t in the mood for small talk. So instead locked the bathroom door behind me and ran the bath.

While the water filled, I checked myself in the mirror, the family are going to comment that I’ve got older, but then if I have then so will they.

Turning of the bath taps, I quickly undressed and gingerly dipped my toe in the bath, the water was on the right side of hot, the water stinging my flesh as it engulfed my skin. I let out a silent, “ohh-ahh-ohh” as I lower myself into the water until I was submerged up to my neck when I became aware of someone on the other side of the door. It was then I noticed that someone had slipped a piece of paper under the door.

Although I was in fully immersed, I knew I could not settle until I had read the note. Pulling myself out of the bath, I quickly dried my hands and pick the note up. Someone had scribbled with some haste, ‘Leave room 4 while you can!!!!’

The four explanation marks seemed a bit excessive,  but still they unnerved me. I turn back to the bath, pulled the plug, wrapped a towel around me, grabbed my toiletry bag and scooted back to my room.

to be continued

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Holiday! Celebrate! 2

Holiday! celebrate! (2)

 Sicily.

I visited Sicily earlier in the year and loved it. Why? Well, I loved the balance between history and good taste versus the craziness of contemporary life, mad driving and bin strikes. Somehow the beauty of the past came alive by the casualness of the contemporary residents. The food was amazing, served with an ease that only tradition could offer. We dined in a cave by the sea where we pointed at the fish we fancied on the way in the door. The grumpy chef then shrugged and nodded towards a table as his wife plonked a jug of unnamed wine in front of us. What followed over the following hour was possibly the best meal of my life. 

Sublime. 

J.P.

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In the time it takes you to drive from Brighton, to Leicestershire (3hrs) you could be basting in the sunshine of the beautiful island of Sicily.

Sicily, a collection of nine provinces, each linked to the mainland (with the exception of Enna) giving travellers a host of experiencers to explore. Furthermore, the inhabitants of Sicily are extremely friendly, proud of their heritage and eager for tourists, particularly families, to have the best holiday during their stay. 

San Vito lo Capo.

For sun-lovers, the temperatures starting at a pleasing 19c (60f) at the start of May and  can reach up to 26c (79f) during July and August. Even in the later months of September and October, the heat is still a pleasing, 24c (76f), 21c (69f respectively. This of course mean stat the crystal blue waters are equally warm, making the whole summer experience so much better.

Catacombs of the Capuchins

Villa Romana del Casale

Mount Etna

 

However, Sicily is so much more than just a place to catch some rays, it is also a place steeped in history; from the fascinating Catacombs of the Capuchins, where thousands of preserved corpses dating back from the 16th century are on display, to something less macabre like the Roman mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, or to get your pulse racing visit th worlds most active volcano, Mount Etna.

Even for the most seasoned tourist, Sicily continues to surpass and delight on each returning visit, with sunshine, good food, excellent hospitality and a breathtaking landscape that reminds you just what a fantastic holiday destination you have arrived in.

Sicilyian pasta Sicilian cakes

Sicely Fish

Sicely shell fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting there: Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Manchester, Birmigham and Dublin airport each offer direct flights to Sicily

Accommodation, Places to Eat: Sicily has a huge range of hotels, B&B and apartments to rent: www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g187886-Sicily-Hotels and equally some stunning places to eat: www.baroquesicily.com/sicily-ten-must-eat-treats

So, while the weather continues to lash and bash outside, do yourself a favour and book that bit of summer sun now. 

P.S. Random New Year Eve fact about Sicily: An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year’s Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck. “

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