Thursday, 25 October 2012

Trick or Treat?

Woooo...ooooh! *creepy music* - one of my spooky stories is now available on the Ether Books app, and it's FREE to download.

'Trick or Treat?' is a flesh-crawling tale of a young girl with a big secret. Here's an excerpt:

The bathroom radiator clanged cheerfully, but her skin had tightened with gooseflesh. She climbed into the shower and stood under the gushing head of it without moving, mesmerized by the scarlet spinning down the plughole. She closed her eyes.

‘I’m not a witch.’ She whispered. ‘I’m not witch.’

The man had said she must be – she was dressed like one. His voice was soft, but his eyes bored into her like the priest on Good Friday when he talked about redemption, damnation - words she did not fully understand.  Continue reading on the Ether Books app

Ether Books is a fab short-fiction app for iPhone, iPod and iPad. Simply download the app and search for my name: Clare Kirwan (it's a different - picture of me than usual - see top left).

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bossiepoo and Schnoodle

Dalmapoo and Rough poo ('artist's' impression... ahem)
We had a border collie when I was growing up. Her name was Scooby - we'd been told she was a 'he' at the puppy shop. The Dooby Doo was optional (the Dooby Doo is always optional.)

I'd like a dog but I'm put off by the moulting. In the exhibition currently on at the library there's a nice oil landscape that's only just visible through a thin veneer of pet hairs.  That's the reason for the current trend in crossing other dogs with poodles, which apparently don't shed hairs.

You have probably heard of the labradoodle and possibly the cockerpoo, but there are some you may not have come across:
  • Bossie-Poo (Boston terrier / poodle)
  • Giant Schnoodle (Giant Schnauzer / Standard Poodle)
  • Pekingese / Poodle mix.. wait for it.... Pekepoo!
  • Saint Berpoodle
  • Welsh Terrier / Poodle mix - Woodle
  • and possible the cutest ... the Westiepoo

I'm not making these up - you can see the full, extraordinary list on Dog Breed Info / Poodlemix

Where will it all end?  How to choose between Boxenese and Aire-enese? The small but vicious Yorkieweile, the lascivious Cocker-Pinscher or the alarmist Skye-Pointer? What about a nice King Charles Shit?

Things we have learned from this post? 
  1. Never let a child name a dog. You can call a rabbit Neil (you know who you are), but there are some things you just don't want to shout across the park
  2. Don't try painting with oils in the same room as a pet

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Seeing Jesus in Liverpool

Last night I had some bread and wine, and then I went to see Jesus.

Do you remember they were looking for Jesus on telly a while ago? This is the resulting stadium tour of Jesus Christ Superstar with the Geordie Jesus, plus Tim Minchin, Chris Moyles and Spice Girls, Mel C.

Your host, Moyles as Herod
I learned the songs at school and like the film but I hadn't read any reviews so was surprised to find the show updated to modern times - specifically an 'Occupy' protest. Judas and Mary had dreads, the Romans and Pharisees were portrayed as 'Super Omnes' corporate types with shades of V for Vendetta and a back screen showing news headlines and tweets about '@TheTwelve'. 

Jesus in Guantanamo Bay orange jump suit
Chris Moyles was fun as Herod - a glitzy game show host - and Tim Minchin was a powerful and sympathetic Judas, but I was disappointed in Ben, who I'd rooted for as he competed for the role of Jesus - he seemed too angry in a role that called for gentleness, so when he was crucified on a bank of spotlights (a scene I didn't like) I felt nothing. But it must be hard performing 'BIG' enough to reach 10,500 people while being shown on a screen where the subtleties of film are expected.

I don’t go often to the Echo Arena but I was there at it’s opening event in 2008 when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. That was great fun - especially the very beginning where they played upon Liverpool workmen's reputation for being slow/late/inefficient by having a load of builder types in hard hats still working on the stage as we arrived (left).

Of course, they were performers and after some comic pyrotechnics the screens rolled back to reveal the Liverpool Philharmonic in six stories of individual boxes - which looked stunning! I love the feel of the place, much nicer atmosphere than Manchester GMex.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Breakfasts around the world

Pineapple on a stick, Cambodia
It's a funny meal brekkie: 'The most important meal of the day.' They say you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and sup like a pauper*...  something about digestion.  Even diet experts tell you to have a hearty breakfast, except the extreme ones where you just sniff a piece of celery for a few days until you're so ravenous you're biting other people's heads off (just to get the brain protein).

Sme people are very keen on toast, but I'm told I need iron so I've gone back to Bran Flakes and black pudding (not in the same bowl). I'm a great fan of the full English, too. In the words of the late, great, Hovis Presley:  
 "Bacon, sausages, fried egg, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, fried bread, black pudding, tea, toast... it's a meal in itself really." 
I'm also happy to enjoy the American additions of hash browns, pancakes and maple syrup. (Can anyone explain to me what 'grits' are by the way - I had them once but I still couldn't tell.)

Now I've been around the block a few times, and it may surprise you as you munch your cornflakes to know what I've had for breakfast in other parts of the world:

Grub's up!
Israel - semolina in winter, salad always (it's in the constitution)

India -  green chilli and coriander omelette

Prague - classic Euro meat 'n' cheese, with pickles adding a whole new dimension!

Australian outback -  ok, hands up who thinks I'm going to say 'witchetty grubs'? Nah! Rice Krispie, chocolate spread and marmalade butties...  invented this out of what we had on the outback camping I blogged about last week.

My even-more-travelled friend has added:

Acai and tapioca, Rio
Brazil - rice and beans, and an array of fruit you've never even heard of

Russia - cottage cheese and green peppers

Borneo - curry and rice cakes

Kyrgyzstan - Horse milk yoghurt 

What's the weirdest breakfast you've ever had, or the weirdest place you've eaten it?

* strangely no mention of snacking like a librarian

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Today is National Poetry Day and this year's theme is 'stars'. So here's something I wrote recently an intense experience under the stars during a camping trip into the Australian interior in 2009.


Space junk from nearby Woomera
We hunker for the night at William Creek,
next to rusting Woomera fallout
– bits of rockets gifted from the sky.
I risk an open swag: the flies are sleeping.

Nothing but one pub, standoffish homesteads
for miles around. Beyond that, as much nothing
as you could ever want. Fill your boots.
Black heights til the moon rises, now these

spotted patterns, spelling something - bright
constellations written out in Braille
– a bedtime story to burn your fingers
with pin pricks of light, like biting ants.

Swags at dawn
Glasses on all night, I’ll keep an eye on
the circling horizon, the twist and twirl
of this slow-mo universe in black and white,
the pulse of satellite.  I feel observed.

Quadrantids graze the edge of sight
- free fireworks from space with blazing tails.
Baked and left to cool, bathed in brilliance
I cling to my planet as she spins.