nominative determinism

When I was a young teenager, we once talked about nominative determinism in English class. Mr. Death made us laugh uneasily and then we fell silent. It was the last lesson of the day and of the year. After the summer break the new teacher did not know where Mr. Death had gone.


On the park bench she remembers the fights and the lies and cries a little. Midday clouds part and somehow life is clearer. In the supermarket she stands in line, tight white knuckles on pram handles highlit by the overhead tubes. She is not frightened when the night comes.

Written for Derby Book Festival, May 2023

Until the end

His shadow led him away from evening. Turning to catch the falling of the sun the path of his life was clear, scuffed through the grass of experience and forgotten lovers. He turned away again and closed his heart. Forward, always forward, until the end.

Hello dear

Hello? Oh dear. Oh well, I’ll leave a message. Hello dear. You know I always love your presents, they’re always so thoughtful. That time you printed out that album of photos from my phone. I could never have done that on my own. Write Your Own Will – that was a useful book – all done now! But you know that. This year though I’m confused. Should I press this big red button on the clock? 

published on 27 December 2023