This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to the Hull Freedom Festival, which is quite possibly one of the most excellent things that can happen to any writer with connections to the city. I was asked to write a short story to accompany a series of sculptures placed around the Festival, to the prompt “Knowledge Is Freedom”, and to facilitate a Creative Writing workshop for local people to create their own work to the same prompt. The work we created would then be displayed at Hull Central Library, and visitors would be invited to add their own contributions.

That’s me, trying to describe in words this astoundingly cool piece of sculpture:


My story was called “The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head”. And there she is! In the flesh! And growing from her head are the poems and short stories we all created in the workshops.

Look at her wild, beautiful, bookish hair:


This is me standing with her and trying not to drip water all over her (it was pouring with rain that day and we’d walked right round the Festival before finding her).

The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head

I added a little thank-you on the day to the creator of The Girl:


A massive, massive thank you to everyone who took part in the workshops – it was a privilege to create work alongside you. If you’d like to read some of the brilliant poems and micro-fictions that were written in the workshops, take a look at the Freedom Festival twitter feed or drop by Hull’s Central Library where they’re on display in the Girl’s hair.

I’ve also had a few requests from people wanting to read my short story, so here it is.

The Girl Who Grew Books From Her Head

Once there was a girl who grew books from her head like hair. Whenever she thought of a question, a book would grow with the answer. Her parents, frightened she would never find a husband, sold their daughter to a man with sharp white teeth and a long wolfskin coat.

The man locked the girl in a tower with no door and no windows. He surrounded her with quicksilver mirrors and cut the books from her scalp and burned them, crowning her with a lustrous golden wig, and whispered to her, See how lovely you are when you’re not thinking.

Each midnight, the girl stole silver scissors from beneath his pillow, cut free a book and hid it behind the mirrors. She grew books about physics and engineering, architecture, demolition, and wild tales of escape, until the man woke to find the mirrors replaced with books that together spelled FREEDOM.

The man pursued her to an ocean, but she plucked a sailing manual from her scalp and sailed over. He followed her to the mountains, but she plucked another book and climbed. She came to a beautiful city with wide streets and green gardens, and knew she had found home.

When the city’s leaders heard what the girl could do, they said, This girl is precious and should be locked away! But the girl laughed, and replied, Knowledge must be no-one’s prisoner. So she planted her feet and became a tree, and passers-by picked books like fruit from her branches.

Me: Cat, I was actually trying to quilt this –


Watson Corbyn

BREAKING: Jeremy Corbyn is “going to live on a lovely big farm with lots of room to run around and plenty of nice people to play with,” Tom Watson has told the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Of course we all love Jeremy,” Watson explained, “but we all know he hasn’t been happy here for a while now, and we have to think about what’s best for him. So I’ve arranged to have him sent straight off to his new home on the farm. Really nice farm. Nicest farm in the country – no, I’m not crying. Why would I be crying? I’m really happy for Jeremy. This is definitely the best thing. Definitely.”

Watson then left the podium, claiming he “had got something in his eye” and joined a man with a kind smile and a large syringe waiting in the wings.

Watson was later heard sobbing loudly into his handkerchief and declaring that Corbyn “had always been so full of life” and “no-one can ever take his place”, before commencing a frantic search on Politicians4Homes.

Today, we woke up to the referendum results. 52% of us said we should leave; 48% said we should stay; so we’re leaving, because that’s exactly how democracy is meant to work. I was one of the 48%, so it’s safe to say this isn’t the very greatest day of my life so far. So I thought I’d go to IKEA, because I’m basically quite shallow and looking at stuff with funny names and buying things I never knew I wanted makes me feel better about the world.

Unfortunately, everything they are selling today is horrific. Some examples:

This heap of dead rabbits:

Bright eyes, burning like fire

Bright eyes, burning like fire

This vat of slaughtered piglets:

Somehow rendered worse by the perspex sides

Somehow rendered worse by the perspex sides

This bin full of rats:



This child-sized cabin-bed (with integral night-time boogeyman):



This headless armless dummy dressed in a blue strait-jacket that wants to sell you an apron:


This surgical experiment combining a frilly blue fish with a human eyeball:


It gets worse the closer you get

The closer you get, the worse it becomes

This giant-sized photo of a leather vagina:


This man who regrets his robotic hands:


This woman being eaten by her own skirt:


Finally, this psychotic bookcase coming to crush the other bookcase while the lamp and sofa look on helplessly:


But hey, the Swedish word for “biscuit” still appears to be “kaka”! So that’s still fun.




Stripeycat: I need you to open the door.

Me: The door’s already open.

Stripeycat: No, the other door. I need you to open the other door.

Me: You want me to open the front door?

Stripeycat: I do.

Me: Even though the back door is already open?

Stripeycat: That’s right.

Me: And you know that the front door and the back door both open onto the garden?

Stripeycat: Yaas.

Me: So you’re going out of the front door. Not the open back door. Or the open downstairs window. But the front door. Which is closed. So you need me to open it.

Stripeycat: Your point being?

Me: No point really. Just checking. There you go.

Stripeycat: ‘kaythanksbye, I’ll bring you back a dead mouse!

Me: No thanks, I really don’t want a –


Knob shop

When you go to the Knob Shop and come home with four knobs

Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D'Orsi meeting the Queen during a Buckingham Palace Garden party

Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi meeting the Queen during a Buckingham Palace Garden party

D of E: Hey Liz at the party shall I do you and you do me
Her Maj: Sure why not
D of E: Got the idea off Cammo and Boris


When the cat licks the

Cheese, you *could* throw it out, or

Simply label it. 

Is My Cream Whipped Yet

In my kitchen are

Eighteen tins, but none of them

Have tomatoes in