‘But do you really mean, Sir, that there could be other worlds all over the place, just around the corner, like that?’ — C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

As a child,

I believed,

small hands reaching to the back of wardrobes,

seeking tameless branches snagging my bobbled sleeves,

But Narnia,

when we found it,

one night in a new-build hall of residence,

was so improbable,

we both laughed

We had learnt by then, aged twenty, to not believe too much in magic,

to expect always woodwork against the tips of our fingers,

so we tumbled, helpless…


Around this time last year, I developed Dromophobia, an irrational and total terror of crossing the road. It came from nowhere. A van almost hit me, and that, I guess came from nowhere, although everything that comes from nowhere comes from somewhere, really. The guy shouted out of the window that I could have been killed.

A few days later it thundered, and I found myself terrified walking to meet my David in a restaurant. This was in the brief interlude between lockdowns 1 and two, and we were going to our favourite restaurant which had just reopened, only I…


One day, when I was seventeen our neighbour Liz,

took me dress shopping from school

Liz was a make up artist on movie sets,

and before that Lambert & Butler salesgirl,

flitting round pubs with a tray under her breasts,

Red suited Liz more than anyone I’ve met,

And she crackled like a spring bonfire,

With the wrapper of a Crunchie in the drivers’ seat,

‘Less calories than a sandwich and I’ll enjoy it more.’

I was too afraid of her,

to say ‘fewer,’

and dreamed of her taking me in hand,

snappy fairy godmother,

with eyelash curlers which were…


Mr Amygdala is an old ‘un,

A folklore dad from way back,

Jealous protector from the far flung end of time,

Dodo tripwire in our iPhone brains.

He says, hey I can’t let you cross that road,

Don’t you know those cars are tigers?

He says, that jogger’s gonna murder you,

He shouts, something terrible’s about to happen!

Then whispers, sing-song, that he can’t tell you what,

Freeze, he says,

Or run,

Or grab your keys, or bare your teeth,

Pah, logic! he says,

vanquishing it to freeze you to the road,

and send you scuttling back to the curb,


Walking Stick

I own an electric eel-blue walking stick, or a walking stick I thought was the colour of electric eels until I Googled them just now, and saw they are a kind of camouflage-y green. My walking stick is the shiny blue of foil bows with sticky backings which you put on top of Christmas presents. It is the blue of disco. It catches the light and it feels cold in my hand, except the plastic bit at the top, and except when I am panicky when it feels hot, and my hand slides off it.

It concertinas open…


Before us, There were Daffodils,

I mean millennia before

the most ancient human history,

you can get a coffee table book on, maybe with a vase of daffodils on top,

So say, when a philosopher drank hemlock,

Or golden cities burnt,

Or someone came up with the idea of scratching symbols on stone,

The daffodils had seen it all before,

Not that they cared for anything but the sun

Before us, There were daffodils

And they were ancient

and newborn every year,

And they were not at all like trumpets,

Because trumpets didn’t exist,

When daffodils, rampant, savage, a yellow all of their own,

Though not called yellow,

Or called daffodils,

filled the earth

Before us


Ten weeks ago I spoke on the phone to a new agent, a lovely, kind, warm agent, who seemed less intimidating than the last agent, except for being a literary agent and all, which kind of makes people intimidating.

I had just written a piece about being frozen; the girl who walked everywhere and now couldn’t cross a road. I stood instead, frightened on the curb as the traffic rushed by, wondering how I ever had the courage to just walk, to know something wouldn’t hit me. One time, in August, I started to cross a road while talking to…


When I was nineteen, my parents moved out of the squat little cottage I’d grown up in. It was owned by an estate who wanted to turn it into holiday accommodation. I loved this cottage, in the careless way you love things you never realise you’re going to lose. The carelessness was part of the love, so I don’t regret it.

They had to move into a new cottage, rented from another estate, this one seeming somehow friendlier, a little.

Within ten months of their move, my brother would die of cancer and my parents would up sticks again —…


When I was twenty-one I was scared of trains. I didn’t trust myself. I had the thought, I could jump, and although I didn’t want to, or really, because I didn’t want to, it terrified me. The possibility was there. It seemed so possible, so overwhelming, that when a girl in my tutor group said she was taking a train to London for a weekend, like it was nothing, like she just could, I looked at her in awe. When she came to the following weeks tutorial I was even more overawed. She had taken a train, to London from…


I knew the rejection was coming one day before I got the email. You know that thing, where you kind of know things? I used to have it with scratch cards. I was walking along a high street, or in the chiller aisle of a supermarket, and suddently I knew that if I bought a scratchcard there and then I would win a small sum of money, and I was always right. Then I started trying to force it and it stopped working. …

Hope Estella Whitmore

Edinburgh writer library girl

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