The sun and old people and the madness of fashionable burning.

What is it with old people when they come on holiday.

Mister, to achieve the shade of “pink” you’ve bravely opted for,

You might as well have stuck your head inside an oven

And roasted like a turkey.

Put some sprouts around your mouth

Stick some ‘tatoes round your buttocks,

And a pretty pink gobbler you’d make.

Mrs Saggy Bottom, do you not KNOW the danger of too much sun exposure?

A dollop of cream might banish that neon red line

Around your neck.

And to you Sir, the one I spy

Sizzling away on a sun lounger slumbering,

Haven’t you a bed that could provide more comfort,

Or do you delight in dyeing your back a deep shade of lobster red?

Sore in the morning, blistered to touch,

And yet you’ll get up and do it all over again the next day

No wonder you look like an old leather boot.

Hello, eternal lover.

He pushes his hair out of his eyes and grins. I’ve got Ketchup smeared over my chin.

A noodle ran amok and painted a pretty picture on my face.

Lunch is the best time of the day, I’m like a lioness ready to pounce.

A juicy gazelle smothered in sauce, a side of nachos, dripping with honey-laced pulled pork,

Sits before me. I feel my mouth water.

I’ve come to the conclusion, and am willing to accept,

That I am (how shall I put it?) engaging in a steamy love affair,

With food.

Feed me and you’ll have me in your pocket.

Polly pocket pig rocket,

Exploding and oinking in oodles of pleasure and zesty grunts. Roll me in sour cream and let’s have ourselves a party.

Lunch and dinner may be the highlights of my day (is that sad?)…

Saucy noodles can use my face as a canvas for all I care,

And sticky doughnut sugar can brush against my lips and tease my tongue.

Cheese can slide down my throat, fatty and unforgiving,

Choke my arteries. (If I can’t see it then it mustn’t be true, right?)

I’ll dump shrimp carcasses, burger lettuce and pizza crusts in the bin,

But food will never dump me.


Slumped on the couch like a wrinkled potato, thumb reaches for the light beside. Boredom is a curious thing; one thing they don’t tell you about working in the evenings is how monotonous the mornings become. Still slumbering at sunrise means I miss the birds singing and the engines burping their dreary sludge into the atmosphere. Trying to become best friends with my alarm clock is an arduous affair. When 10am rolls around I haul myself out of my pit, eyes squeezed like two jam doughnuts and legs like jelly, I am faced with a wall of nothing. To do lists seem are no good, the boredom still creeps in. Productivity stunted, brain turned soft like marshmallow, I reach for my phone and scroll scroll scroll.

Hotel buffet blues 

At the start of every day

I say

I’m going to be a vegetarian. 

But then one sweaty Sunday

A hotel buffet calls,

Rows of striped bacon, fluffy eggs

And spongey sausages which flutter 

Down my gullet…

I saunter up for a third helping

Delights piled high on the plate,

A leaning tower of meaty Pisa.

Let’s stuff ourselves to the brim

More so now than we’ve ever done 

Because it’s free of course,

Gotta get that dollar’s worth

Even though the bacon fat

Will choke our hearts. 

Thirteen glasses of orange juice 

And a bucket of coffee later

I’m nauseatingly full.

With a ketchup-stained mouth

And greasy fingers

I swear not to do it again

Hotel buffets are a blessing and a curse

For those with never-ending stomachs. 

The Gran Canarian heat

The Gran Canarian heat has me sprawled across the stony floor like a starfish.

Pores open, chest red from sunburn,

Three showers a day is a common occurrence.

Deodorant stick runs frighteningly low,

Armpits stagnant after a hard day’s labour,

Teaching the youth of today and tomorrow.

Donning long sleeves to look presentable, more business-like, like I belong,

The fabric only clings to my fruity skin.

Famous for our lack of air conditioning,

Parents implore we purchase more fans to keep their children’s brows free from sweat,

But even when they’re blasting, and kids

With snotty-noses and grotty fingers brush their fingers along the tables,

We’re still roasting like English potatoes.

The day I got pummelled by a wave 

The waves crash around my ankles in a desperate display of purple fury
Each and every one poised for a destructive landing

A very violet sandstorm. 

Wading in to be whipped, my body tenses

Feet tapping and drifting away from the ocean’s disgruntled bed

One of them finds me, sizes me up, and then punches my body with its crackling foam

Knocked onto the sand, bikini bursts and breasts fall open 

I bounce from grain to grain, submerged and breathless, au bout de souffle, 

Steadying myself, my feet fight with the monstrous current

Metres from the shore feels like miles.

Boob readjusted, wedgie loosened, the sea retreats and oxygen invades

I stumble out of the deathly surf like a drunken banshee woman

Withering like a rose, wobbling like jelly. 

Week nights.

I took to my bed like Janis Joplin to her Southern Comfort. Diving down between the sheets… earplugs in because the TV’s a-cracklin’ in the living room. Fleeting thoughts about one of my students whose curiosity puts his classmates to shame. Wondering if I’ll ever have a kid like that. Couple of Spanish words bicker inside my brain, pushing them lightly to the side, I slumber. Phoebe’s clawing outside the bedroom door… it’s 1am and the TV’s still moaning but the air is black and stuffy from my snores. He’ll come to bed eventually, I say. Phoebe will tire eventually, I say.

I awaken in the deadest of hours and open the door to her furry feline face. The TV has tired too and switched itself to mute, boyfriend sprawled across the couch with a bag of weed and a dirty jar or gherkins beside him. Midnight snacks are always devilishly peculiar, I say. Phoebe is whimpering at me, rubbing her dainty little furs against my warm shins and peering up at me with two eyes like glazed donuts. The dry food bowl is still plenty full and there’s a ring etched into the sofa from where she’s been sleeping beside her master. Hoisting my pyjamas down in the bathroom, she follows me in, dearth of any human need for privacy. All too willing to hear the gargle of the toilet just for a few measly pieces of her Whiskas luxury tin. Finally, I’m forced to scurry back to the bedroom at lightning speed to avoid her following me in. She’ll hide under the bed and then crawl on my face, I say. Like Flash, I’m gone within seconds, and poor Kitty finds herself in a state of (what she would call) starvation once again. Let her nibble on the toes of Boyfriend, I say.

Too many teachers spoil the broth

They all filter into the classroom like the condensation on my Coke can. Four of them, all older than me, all wiser than me, all infinitely better at life than me. One sells properties to banks (at least, that’s what I gauged from his clumsy L1 expressions) and another wears too much eyeliner. Funny, isn’t it? How I comment on the guy’s profession and the girl’s make-up. Unintentional, I promise.. they were the two characteristics which came to me first. I could have said he does crossfit for an hour after every class because he makes a point of throwing up this very riveting fact in pitifully broken English just as he’s notioning to leave. “Crossfit nooow.. one howerrrr. Si?” “Yes, yes, very good.” Maybe think about putting as much sweat into your irregular verbs exercises. I want those sheets to be dripping in human juices when you tug them out of your bag next class.

The other two are teachers. We have three teachers in the classroom in total. Chaos ensues and I, the “main” one, am judged and pecked by their beaks for a full sixty minutes. Vultures who peck and sneer and tell me they don’t understand me, “what did the muchacha say?” Yes, because I can’t explain for toffee when you’re eye-balling me like I’m the last papa con mojo left on the table. A small, rounded, youthful potato waiting to be stabbed by your fork. Breathy, I feel my throat clench up and suddenly I feel like I might actually die. Panic radiates through my kneecaps and I wither like a flower, pen pointing shakily at the board, as if I actually know how to write in a straight line on one of those things. As I attempt an explanation, I start to confuse myself about when we use get on, get up, get off. “Get down?” she asks. And all I can think about is Kool and the Gang.

Desiring only speaking and listening practice, the hour passes and I feel my heart thump to the beat of the creaking ceiling.. (leaky pipes, we suspect. Possible zombie? Hard to tell.) I’m a third of your age, but somehow I’m omnipotent in this room of horrors and it’s up to me to provide insight. Yet she, with her Goldilocks should-be-grey-by-now barnet, who towers over me even whilst seated, plagues me with her questions and commands and “escribeme ese muchacha” without even a por favor gracing her lips.

I know I’m mousey and fragile-looking. I know I have the demeanour of Tweety Pie and as much presence as that abandoned stapler, flung to the floor without a care, but I mean something. Here, I am the goddess with all the answers, and you are all peasants, seeking refuge in my moth-eaten knowledge and comfort in my flat-chested bosom. I might hunch my shoulders forward when you address me, and I might stand at the front with my feet shuffling because looking natural has never been my forte. But I mustn’t feel bullied by your heavy glare or weighty experience, because I’m learning. Nobody should make me feel smaller than I am. I’m already only 5ft3.