Desire was so damn easy. And honestly it had a way of prostituting sensibility so that even something as distasteful as greed arrived at the ball in a guided coach. Anna flicked back through the contents of her shopping cart and sighed. The fact was that avarice had always been drawn by the horses of social normality. It was probably something to do with the promise of happiness that did it.

Her latest binge had dropped out at the bottom of the first page, but there wasn’t one item in her virtual basket that she didn’t need, that she didn’t deserve. So why did pressing the confirm button just fill her with that same old hollow feeling, the one that seemed to be hanging around a lot more lately?

A few years ago she’d have been dreaming of all this. When she was struggling to survive in a crummy flat with only a pay as you go electric meter and a dodgy microwave to get by on. Every night that other Anna had written in her wish journal and renewed her vow that one day she’d be rich enough to never have to worry about choosing between food and heat again.

And now here she was, successful, admired and yes, absolutely she was rich. Money that had once been so hard to come by, seemed drawn to her. Everything she touched, blossomed and bore fruit… and she had to admit lately there had been a growing thought in her mind that she could poop in a bag, review it as a refreshing face mask and then watch it sell faster than she could produce it. Basically, life had thumbed through her wish journal and granted every single one of them a chunk at a time.

Why was she still so fucking unhappy?

She looked out over the London skyline and took another drink. Maybe it was about relationships? They hadn’t featured too heavily in her dreams back then, and there had always been Luke. She smiled and curled her fingers around the stem of the glass. God, she hadn’t thought about him in years. Luke, the ragged pizza delivery boy she’d met while she was working at the local supermarket. He had looked at her like he’d never seen anyone so beautiful in his life and then he’d blushed. Luke. So sweet, so genuine. So dead end that she hadn’t given him the time of day other than to tell him of her plans to get out of that ghastly hell hole and make something of her life. He had hung around her for a bit, but as her life picked up, she’d pulled the plug on whatever their relationship had been. He hadn’t even asked why, he just said that some people never tipped, no matter how hard it had been to find them.

Hey, it wasn’t like the men in her life now weren’t attractive. They all looked like they belonged in a film, everyone did… here. Of course, they weren’t the sort of men you had ‘Relationships’ with. You had sex, sure. But anything more than that was way too 20th century to paddle in.


But, maybe it was time to do something different to the rest of the glittering pack? After all, wasn’t that what she was all about? And the brand could carry a couple easy enough, if she sold it.

She poured another drink. Funny how Luke had popped into her head like that. That sad, social reject was probably slobbing out on his grubby little sofa right now, playing computer games and drinking his life away. Missing her.

Missing her.

Maybe she would call him up? The thought jumped in her chest. Maybe they could meet up somewhere, out of the spotlight, just to talk over old times? See what he was up to, see if he still had that stupid way of looking at her. See if there was anything still there… between them? And actually, now she came to think about it, he had been really sweet in his own way. Sweet enough so she could take that ragged kid and make him into something. After all, turning lead into gold was what she did best.

She grinned then, tucking her legs up underneath her. She would call him tomorrow and get the ball rolling. It was definitely a relationship she needed.

And that was the other bastard thing about desire, it pretended that it was about getting stuff. But it wasn’t. And the most addictive part of it always went under the radar.



Have you ever visited somewhere for the first time and had the overwhelming feeling that you’d been there before?

This happened to me yesterday. I’ve never been to Scotland before, I’ve never considered that I had any connection with Scotland, I don’t even have any long lost blood ties with the place. And yet when I stood inside a half collapsed ring of fairly average looking stones, something in me broke open. I’m a writer, but I have nothing in me to describe what I felt. The closet I can come is that it was like a reunion or a meeting. I had turned up for an appointment that I didn’t even know I had to keep.

And when I went to leave, I couldn’t. And that made no sense either. I didn’t want to go back to that other life. Each time I pulled myself together and tried again to leave, there was just a profound sense of loss. Even now, 20 hours on, I have a longing to go back there that won’t shift and if I’m honest, that scares me a little.

As I get older, it seems the world just keeps on getting stranger.

If there are any explanations out there, or any similar experiences, I’d love to hear them. I have nothing to explain it other than some vague fancy that we may have all been here many times.

Lost in scarecrow shadows

On that last day the sky had been laid out so sweet and soft with autumn cloud that even the flickers of a distant lightning storm could not disturb their happiness. They had gathered apples and cleaned the presses, pulling water from the lake and swaddling themselves in routine. Even the old men spoke lightly, laughing that something as grand as war would not waste its time visiting their little village.

But their words were built on quicksand and even as they sang merrily to their beds, a strange, picture show light came raking over the ground of their rhetoric. And with it came a dark regiment of scarecrow shadows, sliding their long fingers through keyholes, under doors, feeling out the gaps and measuring up the spaces of entry. The silence of their coming was concealed beneath a golden footfall of leaves and lost in the gentle the stirrings of night, and so they moved among the sleepers unnoticed, curling lines of black powder around their half formed dreams, laying out the first strips of paper, striking the first match. Building a pyre to stoke the bonfire of future memory.

There were no birds to herald the misplaced dawn. It burst upon the village unannounced, dragging the people from their slumber, hurdling them confused and drunk with fear under an absent moon. They saw for the first time how light came dripping from the sky and how the earth rose to meet it in a horizon of fire. And they knew then that everything that had gone before was lost.

There was no sun to mark the coming of that first day, and the people of that small village that war would not waste its time with, were the last to know.