I’m in one of the many theme pubs we’re blessed with here on the Molly Coast, the theme being “nice little boozer with weird shit on the walls”. 


It’s Sunday and the various hangovers and comedowns mixed with the sharp promise of February and the low winter sun give the city a washed out feel, purged and cleansed, pulped and bleached by excess and rinsed through with sin and ready to start the week again.


Past the parties that mark the first half of Winter, December is a dead month full of loss and while being down here amongst the freaks and ghouls has been good for me, it means I’ve been even more isolated from those I love while they deal with whatever Winter has taken.


‘Put on your own oxygen masks before you help others’ says the sign but it doesn’t tell you how to deal with watching others struggle to breath while you do.


I’ve decided to write off winters – not necessarily hibernate but set the bar for success just above ‘survive’ and just under ‘function’ this will have no real terms difference in how I act during these months, the main difference  being the pressure I can stop putting on myself and getting rid of the compound disappointment I have to process for not reaching the standard of ‘thriving human’.


Kindness to yourself can look like many things I suppose.




One thing about living down here is there is a surfeit of a certain type of shop. Now I’m at loath to call them ‘corner shops’ because they rarely appear on the corner, and I’m reluctant to call them ‘newsagents’ because they rarely contain news – even if they do carry newspapers. You know the ones, my parents’ generation called them a slur, even if the owners were from Pakistan or not. Something I objected to from a very young age, to me they were not that slur, they were Hamish, a kid in my class, and his family.


Where I live there are four of these shops less than a minutes walk, one I go to a lot because my bus drops me outside it and I’ve become friendly with the gentleman who works there. He’s an older asian gentle man with a large nose, oversize beanie, and foulest sailor mouth. 


We chat about many things; Money vs bank card (only about %20 of transactions are actual money, which is honestly more than I expected), the rain (“fucking white people moaning, they dont know gods blessing when they feel it), and the packages that people pick up (A pile of them next to the door just before Christmas, I asked why he bothers, he told me that he gets about 20p per package which doest sound a lot, but its about the profit he gets from a can of coke and it brings people into the shop). All of these delivered deadpan with a wicked shadow of a smile.


One night I had to nip to the shop for something, I threw on some clothes and went down, minutes after walking back through the door I’ told we need milk. I go back down and wordlessly buy the milk. No comment, not even a eyebrow raised, just as I’m walking out the door, he shouts 

“Don’t worry, were open until eleven”.


Last week I went to a different shop on the other end of the street. I happened to be coming the other direction and the couple of minutes diversion didn’t seem worth it. I get my stuff and walk up to the counter. And there he is. Same hat. Same nose. Same damn slight smile.

“I’m his brother” he deadpans “we’re everywhere”




A man called Twiddle has just recognised one of the various cultural shibboleths I affect and gave me a warm hug, then he leaned in thick curly hair brushing my face and asked if I wanted to do some mushrooms. I politely declined and left before I changed my mind.


which, for me, is progress. 


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