Poem 13, day 14: I Stood at the Window

I Stood at the Window


The end of the sofa was flattened from my weight

As I leant on the sill, blew smoke into air 

And watched the cloud thin to nothing.

Below they passed, with hands in pockets and faces

Looking forward to a street with a postbox,

A sign cracked with time, a stained white pub

Where they gathered in the doorway, and sat upon the step.

I saw roof tiles slick with damp as evening came

And softened the ending of day.

Footsteps slowed, streetlights shone,

Trees became a shadow, one long shadow

Silhouetting itself against the stamp of night.

The cushion knew the mould, the dip of my toes

As I leant on the sill, stood at the window,

And in the turning of hours from morning through dusk

Watched the smoke clouds thin to nothing.


Poem 12, day 13: The Fight

The Fight

They argued last night,

Long after the others had gone to bed.

It wasn’t supposed to be that like.

Earlier they’d been happy,

Laughed at the word said at the same time,

Shared thoughts before they were said.

He’d kissed her cheek, and, for a while,

The conversation was a tune played by both.

But, later, even with sleep about to call,

There it was, the misplaced comment,

The reaction fired from that confused place;

The smoky heat between them burnt

And blinded, for the time being, amidst the fog,

It was lost; everything, lost.

Poem 11, day 12: Reminder



The footsteps from then remain,

Hidden beneath weathered stone,

The stamp of new,

Concrete sealed by grey.

Still, they were there.

Like a name etched in bark

Of a long fallen tree,

The cool grip of a door handle

Gripped in a palm.

We made our mark.

Stood bare-limbed on the corner

By the red brick wall,

Flicked the switch of the lamp 

With the missing bulb,

Touched each other in the dark

While we knew they slept;

Felt the risk of a game gone wrong.

It was only the start.

Nine o’clock came and then twelve o’clock passed.

The liquid sunk in the glass.

The pull of the curtains ceased the outside,

The winner became less clear.

Day by day the mould of the mattress

Gained the huddled form of two.

Every turn at the bend, each swerve of the tyre,

Added miles that can’t be erased.

Now, sometimes, we again walk those paths,

Only forget to glance

At the window, 

Where we began.


Poem 10, day 11: Young



I watch his eyes as they fix on the screen,

A gaze interrupted by unnoticed blinks sweeping lids

As they have done for years.


Hard to imagine, now, his face,

Smooth as a bowl, before time carved each memory

In the autumn of skin.


I wonder at those years, those times,

As his hands clasp together, as if cradled in his palms is

A mind, caught in youth. 








Connecting with the world….

Since becoming an active user of twitter less than two weeks ago, I’ve been overwhelmed not only by the  messages of support I’ve received but also knowing that there are people from all over the world who will take the time to read my work. It would seem that social media really is a way to connect with like-minded people who share the same love of poetry and fiction, indeed writing of all kinds that I do and which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. A writers world doesn’t always have to be a lonely one.

Here are some blogs that I’ve come across and that are worth taking a look at-









Keep writing!



Poem 9, day 10: The Walk

The Walk


She dances in the wind on jarred rocks

Too rough for feet.

The land stretches

Muddied arms, swollen mounds,

As I stand on the peak

And watch;

The gentle shake of a foal in a faraway field,

The wave of the wool caught fast in the post.

Yet I taste not the air of a heavy sky close;

I feel not the breeze caught in her bark,

I’m there- where it’s warm, where we’re safe, where it’s dark,

Where my mind isn’t one,

And your body’s not far.


Poem 8, day 9: The Gambler

The Gambler


I saw the mask again, I’ve not seen it in a while.

A feigned ignorance on my part,

For I know, it never truly leaves.

Stone. Hard. Distant.

Where does it go, the warm body I hold?

Lost are the eyelids I kiss, the freckles I count,

The shared mug replaced,

By vacant words that I nudge with the truth;

Push, kick, spit at until they crumble.

They lie on the floor, these words;

Bare, open, obvious, yet you grasp at the shards

That will continue to cut until it’s too late,

For the mask to ever be removed.

Age is a Number

Two hours, seventeen minutes, nine seconds left to go, according to the ugly green numbers on my wrist. Why she couldn’t have bought me a normal, wind- up watch for Christmas I don’t know. Can I make the walk today? The weather’s holding up for now but the sky in the distance looks heavy, I could always take the umbrella from out the back; I’ll bring it back tomorrow. I probably should take it, just in case. I want to take the bus if I’m being honest but then I know she’ll ask, ask if I took the bus but then if it does rain she’ll know anyway if I’ve walked. The umbrella might keep my top half dry but my trousers will be all wet and she’ll scold, she’ll say ‘why didn’t you take the bus?’ She’ll say that but she’ll think you silly old fool. What she can’t seem to understand is I’ve got two perfectly good legs, I can walk, so why would I take the bus? This damn knee if it wasn’t for the knee I wouldn’t think twice about walking but now it’s not only my back but my knee as well, and what must I look like perched on this stool like some decrepit old man. I can stand, I would stand if it wasn’t for the damn knee and when it comes to working in this grocery store eight hours a day I’ve got no other choice. ‘Here you go, Dennis love,’ said the manager when she handed me the stool, ‘rest that knee of yours now,’ and it killed me to take the stool, just like it kills me to let her talk to me like that but I have no option in either case.


There’s been a racket going on for the last ten minutes. It’s that young boy over there, he’s making all sorts of noise picking things up, moving them to the wrong place. Apples in with oranges, lettuces and cabbages all mixed up. Put the melon down, I’d say to him, no means no and that would be the end of that but the old fella he’s with can’t barely control that walking stick let alone the kid. God knows I’d be telling him if he was one of mine, making all that noise and what’s that he’s saying now? This damn hearing it’s getting worse but I won’t be telling anyone that, I’m not having anyone think I need some hearing aid, I’m not sticking some thing in my ear for everyone to see might as well walk with a walking stick like the old fella and there’s no chance of that now, no. What would she think of that? She thinks already that I need to take buses and wear big coats like I’m her dad and an old dad for that well I’m not, not that it matters anyway. I’ve seen how she looks at me when she doesn’t know I’m watching. She probably thinks I’m blind as well as deaf and incapable of walking to work well I won’t have it, age is just a number is what she used to say. I used to think she was convincing me but now I see she was trying to convince herself, not that easy though now the years have ticked by and there’s her all pretty still, despite the odd wrinkle, and I see that she’s bothered although she promised she never would be. Well, my fault really. I should have seen through it, I should have known that one day she’d see me not for me but for my age, but I won’t have it. I won’t let her be right, this damn knee and back I’ll fight past it if it’s the last thing I do, I’m not some old man like that old fella over there look at him all bent over on the walking stick and that kid’s still causing a scene, still grabbing this and that while the old fella’s telling him put it down, put it down, at least that’s what I think he’s saying anyway. He’s coming over now, puts the basket on the counter, shakes his head. ‘Mr…’ he says, straining his eyes, trying to read my name tag he is, well if his eyesights failing that ain’t my problem. He’ll just have to do with not knowing my name. Mr Peters, but that’s my business not his. The kids at the back of the shop now laughing his head off while the old fella just shakes his head at me, he’s talking to me, he’s saying ‘kids these days won’t listen, not like the old days, not like when we were kids, eh?’ Not like when we were kids? Silly old fella talking to me like I’m the same as him.


The rain didn’t hold up, went and forgot the umbrella as well, didn’t I. I can’t get that noisy kid out of my head. More I try more I think about it, more I see him. Can just picture him now…






‘Bernie!’ Sshh ma, I think, I wish she would stop calling me, it’s early yet the moon’s only peeking above the chimneys over there and the sky’s still navy blue, not black so I ain’t going inside yet, Ma. I’m spying on Alice, my friend from school, like a soldier. Me and Alice were born two days apart, Ma says we’re like two peas in a pod which makes no sense because neither of us look like peas and even though my house is small it’s bigger than a pod. If I had a gun and Alice and her family were Germans I’d go bang bang bang I’d get them all and they wouldn’t get me not like they got my dad, I’m too quick I’d hide behind things like I am now. I can see her through the gaps in this bush, can see right into her window she’s in the kitchen and she looks lovely, there’s a red, spotty bow in her hair it’s holding up all the yellow strands; maybe I could get her a bow like that after the war, a purple one, Alice loves purple she’s told me so, ‘purple’s my favourite colour,’ she said and I teased her said purple’s a silly girl’s colour but I was only joking, I like purple really just wouldn’t want to tell anyone that. I aim my gun at a bird sat on the roof, bang!  I wish it was a gun and not really just a stick I snapped off the bush but one day I’ll have a real gun, I’ll be a solider one day.

‘Bernie Peter Banks! Where are you?’ Go away, ma! I want to keep watching Alice, she’s eating her tea now I wish I could see what she’s eating, I could see if I had binoculars. That’s it, I need binoculars, I know there’s a pair in the special box that Ma keeps by her bed but they were my dad’s and she’d give me one hell of a slap if I took them and she found out, but think how closely I could see Alice then. I bet that food tastes good and the fire’s going too, the orange flames are spitting and giving her kitchen a cosy look and making the shadows out here even darker. It will be warm inside and Ma will have tea on by now but the problem is once I go in I won’t be going out again tonight, that’s for sure.






‘Don’t start, Maggie. I fancied a walk.’

‘Dennis! Look how wet you are, what were you thinking I’ve told you before…’ and she keeps talking something about buses and colds and muddy footsteps but I ain’t listening, told her before I ain’t gonna listen when she talks to me like that so a nice warm cup of tea it is. I’ve been thinking of that cup of tea all the way home so I’m gonna walk straight past her into the kitchen and make myself one. Time was when I’d get in and she’d stick the kettle on second she heard the door, but she stopped doing that around about the same time she started talking to me like an old cripple. I ain’t gonna have it.

‘Dennis! You just walked past me like you didn’t see me!’ Kettle on, mug out the cupboard, where’s she gone and put those teabags now? I swear she’s hiding them from me, why move teabags from cupboard to cupboard? Bet she’s trying to convince me I’m mad as well as everything else now well I’m not and I’ll show her, she might be younger than me but my mind is saner than hers and I know that for a fact.

‘Dennis! Why won’t you listen to a word I say?’ There’s the damn teabags, hidden in some tin now, are they.

‘You know what, I give up. I’ve had enough, and I mean it this time.’ Kettles boiled, door slams, and silence. Finally.






The calm is unnerving. The clouds are still, they’ve paused in their tracks in shapes and forms that look like dragons chasing squashed figures and my feet are silent upon the street; even the breeze cooling my neck blows with an unusual reserve. The quiet appears new to me yet I can’t remember a different time. Somewhere in the back of my mind is a noise, an anguish, been there for a long time now but I am trapped by the feeling and cannot relate them to any event. Maybe that’s because there was no event, I’m walking the same street I always do, I’m going to go and get a coffee from the little red cafe on the corner, sit by the window and watch nothing pass outside like I do every day. I wonder if Margaret will be there, she’s been there three days this week, if she’s there I hope she speaks to me again and I hope I don’t stutter this time. She’s so young, and beautiful, and she reminds me of someone. I thought of the name Alice when I first saw her, couldn’t tell you why, though. I hope she doesn’t notice the grey stubble in my shaven beard that caught my attention with a blow when I looked in the mirror this morning. When she spoke to me she talked to my eyes, didn’t look once at the scar or my old clothes and I think I really like her. What’s she going to want with me though? Mustn’t get carried away with myself, she’s fifteen years my junior at least and so beautiful but there was something in the way she looked, I knew it somewhere despite the noise and anguish which I wish would shift; even when she asked my name there was an anxiety and I was ashamed to realise I didn’t  know, gave her an answer that I’m not sure of myself; a name came from somewhere, Michael Bernard Denning I said but the truth is I think I made it up. January fourteenth 1947 reads the date on the Daily Herald where not a single newspaper on the stand moves in the breeze, yet I feel like every day is January fourteenth 1947. There never was another time.









‘Let me out, ma!’

He’s at it again. Eyes fixed on the patio door, hands gripped to the arm- chair rests, shirt buttons straining over his belly as his breathing quickens. I’ve not seen him blink in the last few minutes, I don’t know what he’s staring at but I know it’s not our garden. The lovely garden with its tomato plants and the little pond he dug, this living room with the patterned Oriental rug that my daughter Alice brought us as a gift from India, our two bedroom, semi-detached, red brick house paid for by my inheritance and his savings, none of it is really ours. It’s mine, but these days he sees nothing but his past. He looks straight past the furniture we chose together, the gold carriage clock I gave him for our anniversary, the photographs of us, my late parents, my two daughters and son and my seven grandchildren; he has no photographs, when I asked why he shrugged and said ‘where’s the need? I don’t need a picture to remember.’ He looks straight past me, he walks less and less through the rooms that I had re- painted and wallpapered in what I see now was a vain attempt to create something that’s ours, and now he rarely moves from that chair. The chair was one of the few things he brought with him when we moved here. The horrible, faded pink, shallow armchair that’s got to be at least twenty years old. It was the day that he turned the armchair from the fireplace to face the window that I knew I’d lost him.

‘There ain’t gonna be any more bombs today, ma, now let me outside!’

I can’t listen any longer. I move towards him with two mugs of tea in my hands. Whether he’s happy with the two sugars I’ve given him today or not I’ll have to wait and see. Some days he likes one sugar in his tea, sometimes two with no milk, sometimes milk and no sugar, sometimes no milk or sugar at all. It’s a small thing but it can be the hardest part, everyone should know how their partner takes their tea, but then I don’t have only one partner; I have three or four. He doesn’t know who he is any more. I put the tea on the mantelpiece and place my hand on his shoulder. ‘Francis, I’ve made you some tea, love.’ It takes a while but eventually he turns to me, slowly, then he smiles.  His large, grey eyes are clear, his smile creases his old face further but it’s him, I think, it’s Francis’ smile. I will him to speak.

‘Margaret, you’re looking lovely. I was hoping you’d show.’ He says, finally. The sharp pang never gets easier. ‘How are you today, my darling?’

I rub his shoulder, keep a straight face. An expression I’ve practised. ‘No love, it’s Milly. Remember?’

‘You do look lovely, Margaret.’ His hand reaches towards mine. The fingers that rest on my knuckles are warm, and chubby, and I remind myself that it is still him, the same fingers I’ve held many times. Margaret. His ex-wife. They divorced ten years ago for a reason that I’ve never known. My husband died, nearly fifty years we were married. Then I met Francis in a little coffee shop just outside town, and that was it. I’ll not leave him, no matter how hard it gets.

‘It’s Milly, Francis. Please try, love.’

His eyes shrink as he glances down. He looks away, removes his hand. ‘Francis?’ he mutters, ‘no, no.’ Some days he’s Dennis, others he’s Bernie. He’s even been Michael once or twice. He increasingly knows me as Margaret, I’m rarely Milly to him. Time is the enemy, he gets worse as the days roll by, and I yearn for time to stop, just for a little while. Alice called round the other week and Francis insisted that wasn’t her name; Alice was dead, died in the war, he said, ‘who are you claiming to be my Alice?’ 


Francis settles back in the chair and looks again towards the window. ‘Looks like rain,’ he says. His thinning hair points in all directions, curls at his ears. I’ll need to trim it for him later.


Too Many Colours


I met Maria in university. She was studying film, I was studying history. We met when I was a ‘lad’ and she was bewildered yet struck by me, I guess. I remember the mornings, light- headed, dry mouthed mornings when I would lead whichever girl it was that time to the door, kiss her goodbye on the cheek, of course, avoiding breaths stale with sleep and alcohol, and return to my room. I would pass the kitchen, and every time Maria would be there, early bird that she is, sat at the table eating muesli and scrambled eggs, a combination that I couldn’t understand then and still fail to fathom now. I’d glance in the kitchen doorway, nod hello, but her eyes would already be looking. Her small, white, flawless face saying far more than her mouth ever did. Her lips always had the appearance of lipstick, which she never wore, her dark brown hair swept across her forehead and the hill of her cheek as though it were moulded to never move out of place.  Maria is European, she was born in Sweden but moved with her parents to England when she was a toddler. Despite her perfectly spoken English she retains a curious foreignness that reveals itself in moments like these; quiet mornings alone where the light has barely risen yet she sits fully dressed, listening to the smallest sounds, a fly hitting a window or the lone drip of a tap, watching for the flutter of a stray scrap of paper indicating an opening door. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to know her thoughts. I think the same could be said for everyone in our block of halls. I often wanted to ask her, but that would have meant intruding on the silence emanating from her sleek body when the growing dawn appeared to belong to no-one but Maria. Instead, I would return to my room and bury myself under the nest of covers until my former state returned and the nausea and fogginess felt a few hours before were as forgotten as the majority of the night itself.



As the months rolled on Maria became a constant presence, even when she wasn’t  around. It was something new to me, to find myself thinking of her smile, her smell. There were times when I’d hear voices in the corridor and would think of an excuse to leave my room in the hope of it being her. I started to get up early to join her at the kitchen table, I began drinking coffee despite hating the bitter taste simply because she offered to make me one. She drank black coffee with no sugar which I never understood any more than the eggs and muesli. Those mornings were never long enough. It turned out that when Maria trusted you enough to start speaking she would never stop, it was as if she was in command of time; the hours waited on her every movement, her soft fingers brushing against my wrist, her voice that retained the innocence of a child, the wonder of freedom first experienced. Maria loved to walk, would reel off the reasons why maple leaves turn a scarlet red, why swallows fly low in cold air as we walked in autumn through parks where trees resembled a child’s finger painting, imprinted against a mellow sky were blotches of rusty bronze and pumpkin orange that I never would have noticed until Maria took my hand and pointed out ‘that’s an oak, that’s a birch, did you ever think it was possible to see so many different shades of yellow?’ She couldn’t wait for winter when the leaves would have crumbled to the earth in the shadow of the bare trees that once housed them, leaning skeletons that in Maria’s eyes were frozen reminders of the strength of nature, bent forms trapped by their roots and at the constant mercy of seasons taking turns to batter and burn and snow upon them. We would walk and walk, and Maria would speak, while I would follow, caring not for the beauty of the surroundings she so admired but for the consuming, addictive beauty of Maria herself. Never again did I have a one night stand.






When university ended I moved to central London and Jack went to America to study for a Masters at California State University. ‘Listen, Maria,’ he said. ‘It’s only for a year. I’ll be back at Christmas and you can come and visit any time. I love you.’ I didn’t want him to go, when summer came and the reality of living in another country hit Jack didn’t want to go either, but he’d talked about wanting to study in America since I’d known him. I’d helped him apply, feigned happiness when he was accepted. It’s only for a year, I reminded myself. I never expected to fall in love with Jack. I believed I’d never fall in love with anyone, and not because I was fearful of anyone ever wanting someone who’s hair could be longer, who’s lips could be fuller, or who’s indifference to people was often mistaken for arrogance, it was because I’d convinced myself I never wanted to. I’ve always been wary of the emotional strain caused by allowing someone else to have an impact, to affect a decision that otherwise may have been obvious. I saw it with my parents. My Daddy held my mother in such high regard that the discovery of her sleeping with a work colleague knocked him to a place he never thought possible, where even waking up became a struggle in itself and the air surrounding him grew thick with the lies, deceit, and his own regret. I saw how his life for the past thirty years had become not only his but my mother’s also; she was a constant shadow in his view, his blood warmed with her touch, her words, to the extent where he imagined the warmth halting without her and chose to forgive. I remember what my mother said to me, ‘there’s a very thin line between right and wrong, Maria. If you’re not careful the two can get blurred.’ I disagreed with her, and knew that I’d  be careful, that the distinction for me would always be clear and that my time would be spent doing everything I could to do whatever I wanted. I wanted to be a film director.


Jack looked at me the same way my Daddy looked at my mother. As frustrating as it was, and as hard as I tried, to detach myself from any emotional connection proved too difficult. It scares me to let people know what I’m feeling, but the ease I feel when I’m in Jack’s company replaces my habit of over thinking to the point where I analyse every thought. He never used to say much, would just listen to me, accept whatever I said and reply with an honesty that came naturally to him. As our time together increased he began to reveal himself more, his cheeks turned pink when he told me how he takes dog biscuits when he goes to the City for the dogs he passes at the feet of beggars, I’ve seen his ability to read past a straight face and understand when there’s something not being said, when he speaks of his family he smiles. I know Jack now like he was a part of myself. He is, in a way. The one thing I’d never expected to happen has, despite my determination to avoid any involvement. We’ve been together nearly two years. I was disappointed with myself when he first moved away; I woke up at three thirty am every day for a week missing the smell of my apple scented shampoo on his hair as he slept with his nose buried in my neck and his half hearted snore that soothed me to sleep. He always uses my shampoo and shower gel, even my shaming foam, I’ve never seen him buy his own. Just like my Daddy with my mother, it seemed that every thought was geared towards Jack, and for the first time I was beginning to understand the tug that refused to let her go. We’ve been living away from each other for four months, in two weeks he’ll be back for Christmas. The days I’m not with Jack I spend wishing I was. Still, I love London, and I’ve seen Jack watching me with a look that tells me he’ll never want anyone else no matter where in the world he is.






I’m sat staring at the trees. I couldn’t tell you which ones they are. The branches are thick with leaves, green leaves, and I’m struggling to find another shade like Maria would. It’s a lovely day, the grass is dry, fried from the sun which even directly under I can’t get warm. The air is so still that the corners of the letter at my feet don’t even flicker. A part of me wishes it would blow away. It’s a letter from Maria, she speaks of how each day every thing she does is with me in mind, for us, and our future. She says how she misses me with a physical pain, and the weight on my chest grows. She talks of Christmas, but I don’t want to go home. I watch some Collie dogs play with each other in the distance, and I wish life was as simple. It’s not simple, it’s fucking hard. I came here to try and remember. Maria loves parks, and I love parks when I’m with her. But now, looking at the trails leading off into woodland, similar paths to the ones I’ve walked with Maria hundreds of times, the memory no longer belongs to only me and her. I’ve walked through parks with Maria, and I’ve walked through parks with Sophie. Thinking of the two of them in the same sentence reminds me that I deserve neither, but the pull that’s been tearing me in half for the last two months remains equally strong between them and I have no idea how to cut either one. Call it naivety, or a youthful belief in a current happiness lasting, but the times spent with Maria convinced me that the connection experienced in those moments would never be matched. I believed that wouldn’t change, and the hardest thing is that for Maria it hasn’t.



The two Collies have run off, in opposite directions, towards the whistle of their respective owners. My phone starts to ring. ‘Sophie’ flashes on the screen, my eyes glance to Maria’s signed name on the bottom of the letter. I can’t bring myself to answer. I can’t appreciate anything around me, not the cloudless sky or the lake in the distance laced with silver in the light. I’m jealous of the serene expressions of the dog walkers as they pass, moving with a calm that suggests no trace of anxiety. Touching my skin the warm air turns cold as it senses my guilt. Sophie tries to ring again, and I feel an urge to hear her voice. Somehow  guilt disappears when I’m around Sophie, her constant grin, her light hearted attitude that presents itself whenever a need for laughter arises is infectious, has led me to yearn for her presence despite every voice inside me telling me I shouldn’t. Trouble is I hear those voices less and less. My neck itches. I shut my eyes in an attempt to rationalise the situation. I’ve never felt such a cloud of confusion and no matter what I do now someone who I love is going to get hurt. I never thought I’d be that person, and I’m struggling to pinpoint when it was that I changed.







He’s not answering the phone. I don’t know where he is, I haven’t heard from him today and I’ve grown so used to saying good morning to him that the absence of his voice is far more apparent than it should be. Perhaps he’s thinking of Maria, and the idea hurts. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be, and I know that, but in the couple of months I’ve known Jack each day has formed a memory that would otherwise have been left in the pile of insignificant hours passed had it been me and someone else. I knew he had a girlfriend from the start. Maria Markusson. I can never bring myself to say her name out loud, as if acknowledging her gives the name a life, brings her into my world where so far I’ve avoided, or at least tried to, the fact that she does exist. She lives in a different country, I couldn’t tell you what she’s like, whether she drinks whole milk or half fat, whether she enjoys her work or hates going in, and when it comes to the similarities that bind two people I tell myself that whatever factors brought her and Jack together are insignificant in comparison to the connection we share. I see her only as a picture, a fleeting fragment of Jack’s life which he loved, as much as I hate to admit, but which is in the past now. I know, in reality, she’s not the past. I don’t know if she ever will be. I know that I have no right to feel anything for Jack, or that whatever morals prevent people from acting on instinct in these circumstances appear to be absent. Does that make me a bad person? Is it not just life? Everything is a web of complications, things aren’t black and white, they are a crazy, confusing whirlwind of colour. Scarlet, yellow, plum, lime, warm pink; lust, happiness, guilt, envy and the moment when you realise love. Emotions and morals twisted together in a knot that can’t be undone without a string being torn apart. Jack Cole, Maria Markusson, Sophie Young. Three of us, with only space for two.