Dodging germs

There’s not a lot you can say to somebody who’s ill.

Somebody who coughs like they’re allergic to oxygen

and can’t find clean air to breathe,

somebody who sniffs and snuffles and talks in a muffled

croaky, woe-is-me voice, fractured and afraid

that the common cold might kill them.

I’ve had plenty of illnesses, plenty of bugs,

I’ve swallowed plenty of tablets and drank Lemsip

from plenty of mugs, ’til my face turned lemony, bitter like a nettle,

and my breath started smelling strangely like Dettol.

I’ve had a handful of flus, a handful of UTIs,

I’ve thrown a sickly shade of green up in front of teenage guys

on a green in Kew Gardens, when the liquor had hardened

in my stomach

and I sat with my head in a bin, spewing the remnants of a Subway sandwich.

I’ve had McDonalds food poisoning and full-bodied chicken pox

the former had me chucking up bitesized nuggets

the latter had hands, grandfatherly rugged,

spraying my back with tepid water

while I listened to the faint voice of his beloved daughter,

– my mother

the one who’s ill now and spewing her guts out

and popping paracetamol ’til she reaches the goal

of numbness.

There’s not a lot I can say to her,

except “get well soon” or “I hope you get better”

and give her a pat on the back or blow her a kiss

staying away from those leperous lips.

She woke me up with her violent upchucks

two nights ago, tossing to and fro,

I could hear her writhing in amongst the sheets,

internally mumbling a chorus of “why me’s”

but in the morning there wasn’t much to say

except “oh you poor thing, I hope you’re okay”

and wait for her illness to latch its greasy claws onto little old me

I’m sure soon I’ll be spluttering

and turning Hulk-green.


Cockroaches are underrated

They’re universally hated

For being oh so dirty

And a little too flirty

With mess and food

And people’s shoes

So they’re stamped on and crushed

Or down the toilet they’re flushed

Gut reaction is to squash

And give your hands a good wash

People don’t realise

A cockroach can survive

Atomic bombs and other disasters

And at playing dead they’re total masters

So how about we cut ’em some slack

And refrain from taking a WHACK!

Planes, trains and automobiles

People rush to shove their bags overhead Like a herd of wildebeest and you’re mufasa.

They prance and prowl about in this tiny aisle, knocking you sideways.

Before reaching far-flung corners of the world,

They’ll fling their luggage tags at you,

Run over your big toe

And elbow you in the cheek, arm or collar bone

Without any sort of apology.

Overhead space is like prime real estate

Because we’ve got so much stuff,

So many creams, so many serums,

So many outfits and hair products

A ball of mad capitalism.

Tall, quick-footed parents step over you to claim their space,

Older lemon-faced ladies moan at the lack of legroom,

Children sit scared in their seats and tap away on their Samsungs.

And the stuff piles up, high above our heads,

Weighing us down both here and there.

Dirty ramen

It’s impossible to act like a princess

when you’re eating ramen.

I pull apart these stubborn chopsticks,

and watch the wood splinter,

like lovers scorned they leap apart

and drown in an oil-soaked, soupy bath

where mushrooms bob up and down

like caramel apples and

bamboo shoots cling to beansprouts

for dear life.

My lips are smothered in broth

napkin smudge-ridden, turning from white to brown

I slurp back sinewy noodles

knotted and silky, drenched in stew

and feel the sauce ooze down my chin.

Teeth no doubt stained

face no doubt smudged

mouth no doubt dyed with soy sauce.

Stop objectifying chicken tikka.


for the stomach


for the soul

masala mayhem ensues.


A creamy layer of coconut and almonds

topples on top of chicken chunks

and lips are licked

while throats yawn open

like snapping crocodiles.


In and out

feeding frenzy

bite and swallow

love at first sight.


Indian food, will you marry me?

so I can plant a sloppy kiss on your spiced cheek

and live happily ever after

in one big billowing poppadom orgy.


Chutney smothering my chops

Naan bitten and torn

ripped and ravaged,

undressed, unpeeled

on our first night together.



for the stomach


for the soul

my ever-lasting love affair

with chicken tikka masala.


18 vs 25

At 18 I lusted after boys with big hair

And curly tendrils everywhere

Like Chase from Zoey 101

Or the late but great Jim Morrison.

We got dolled up and went to clubs

Were hit on by married men in pubs

Who wanted nothing more than to grope our bums

And pray we didn’t tell our mums.

At 25 I don’t kiss in clubs

Or humour middle-aged men in pubs

I’d much rather sit and have a natter

With fresh-faced friends who actually matter.

At 25 I don’t look around the room

Desperately searching for my potential groom

Instead I shuffle those size 6 feet

And shun the stares for a monstrous beat.

At 25 I’m paying London prices

But the student union booze-fest still entices

50p shots with £2 doubles

Always made for some serious trouble.

At 18 I puked against the Sobar wall

Was told to leave and stop being a fool

Took my weary frame off to bed

Woke up to a head as heavy as lead.

At 25 I guzzle water like no tomorrow

In a bid to minimise next day’s sorrow

Memories of my 20th still make me shiver

As I downed neon shots and messed up my liver.

The House of Meat

I recently moved back home

and I guess I didn’t realise

How much meat is sliced and diced

Within these blistering walls.

Every day there’s chicken in the fridge

And pork in the freezer

A mint jelly pot lying dormant in the cupboard.

Chicken and veg sitting stupidly on a Sunday, Tuesday and Friday plate,

Chicken noodles rammed down my gizzard

At least thrice fortnightly.

Burgers on a brushed aluminium barbecue,

Flipping and flopping and spanked by a spatula,

Juices ooze and red sizzles.

I’ve had enough of meat,

I’m sick of chicken,

Fed up of pork,

Had enough of beef.

I never did like turkey

So thank Christ that never makes it onto the menu.

Maybe when I move out

I’ll start to live off pasta, rice and veg again

Because here you can’t eat anything

Without a little bit of chicken

Slipping into the mix.

(Sorry, Mum.)


Sundays are the worst.

That choking pre-work anxiety

Creeps in like Sunday doom.

Rain spits at window panes

And boots line up by the front door,

Caked in mud, smothered by weekend walks

And forest frolicking.

That insufferable discomfort

Of wanting to do everything and yet nothing at the same time

Creeps in like Sunday doom.

Hours in front of the TV feel wasteful,

Next to the promises of Instagram’s brunches,

Bottomless, boozy and bubbly –

Outings with the #girls.

Gym trips, sweaty brows,

Abs everywhere you turn

And asses everywhere you swipe.

They swap the cardio for avocado

And weights become waits,

Long ones outside cafés,

Bruising noses up against glossy menus

And fighting for seats beneath rainbow parasols.

Summer Sundays suck

Unless you’re chugging prosecco

And scoffing smashed avo.

Coughing frenzy

I say a massive “fuck you” to the cough gods,

For leaving me a spluttering mess at 1am.

Gasping for air, choking on imaginary bile and stupid cat hair,

Spray leaves my mouth in a hideous display

Of air-desperate fury.

A tickle turns into torture,

Ribcage about to burst through skin because it’s been ravaged raw

By the surly beast that lies within.

Laying here like a purple blob,

Window wide open, inhaler in place, water ingested,

I’m the latest victim of a particularly nasty, heinous cough

Which I can’t seem to expel from my body.

Books upturned underneath my bed legs,

So I’m sleeping diagonal, head inches from the wall and feet slumped over a lavender duvet.

Moments pass and the cough lies dormant

Before erupting into an abysmal growl and I start spraying my innards into the palm of my hand,

Wretching into the toilet because I think I might sick up tonight’s chicken and veg,

My nemesis slides back in and leaves me a quivering mess on the bathroom floor.

Mental note: 1am is when it wakes.

Like mother like daughter

I’ve started donning flowery knee-length dresses,

Reminiscent of Squires garden centres and Japanese cherry blossom,

And I realise I’m turning into my mum.

She likes floaty, bell-shaped gowns with kaleidoscopic floral patterns,

The likes of which can be found in Monsoon, Oasis or Next,

Where the flowers are on steroids.

Be it tops, shirts, hats or skirts,

Madge laps them up, arms clad with fabric tulips

And strawberry-coloured petals as she waits at the checkout.

Like mother like daughter, I’ve been sucked in to these flowers,

Like a bee to honey.

In a similar vein, I get excited when buying new sponges

Fancy crockery and rainbow-coloured place mats.

Cleaning day has turned from “I don’t want to do this” to “I fucking love mopping”

And that’s how I know I’m her Mini Me.

With a splash of Dettol on that magic wand, she’ll leave cookers glistening

And floors so clean you could eat your dinner off them.

Wafts of lavender emanating from bed-sheets

And bathtubs free of pubes.

I used to stomp my feet and abhor said tasks,

But now I relish in a tidy kitchen, sweet-smelling bathroom

And smudge-less mirror.

Give me a fresh sponge and my night will be made,

Let me mop ’til the water is muddy and I’ll be satisfied.

For years I mocked mum’s love of cleaning,

Snorted at her anal ways and willingness to iron socks and knickers

‘Til the cows came home.

I guess I’d best start flinging disparaging remarks at myself,

Because I am her. And there’s no one else I’d rather be like.