Goodbye to the Ghosts: a short story by Cath Bore


His frown eases as I give him my mouth.

‘You do that every time,’ he says, but only after I’ve finished.

I pretend not to know what he’s on about. ‘What, swallow?’

‘Every time I mention the ghosts, you go down on me.’

‘Well, stop mentioning them and I won’t bother.’

‘I don’t want that! I want…’ He sulks.

‘Tell me what you do want,’ I say.

‘I want you to get rid of the ghosts.’

My heart sinks. ‘They’re not going anywhere.’

The ghosts in my head remind me of things. If you don’t have memories, what

have you got? When I forget, they nudge me and retell stories. He doesn’t like me

bringing up the memories, says they disturb him, reckons the memories are wrong

and my ghosts make them up.

‘The ghosts are from your past. I’m your present.’ He pulls his face.

‘They can share the present with you,’ I say.

‘I want you to stop talking to them.’

‘Not happening. Tell me what you want, apart from the ghosts.’

He starts listing things.

‘Anyone can do washing up,’ I say. ‘And housework.’

‘Not you, obviously. I mean, look at the state of those bedclothes.’

After what we just did, what I did, all he sees are untidy sheets?

‘Just give it a try,’ he says.

And I do. He’s right, I’m not very good at housework, at first the skirting

boards show only marginally less dust than before, but then I learn how not burn

to toast and start putting a meal on the table every night, made from scratch. I get

better at it all and soon build up a repertoire, my mouth kept busy talking cleaning

tips and reciting recipes. The ghosts in my head go quiet and I miss them less, I start

to think maybe they do belong in the past after all. Old memories aren’t much use

now, not if they don’t tell me how to starch a collar or bake artisan bread.

‘Just call me Mary Berry,’ I laugh, one night.

‘How about I call you Nigella?’ He winks.

‘No. Mary.’

The next night he tells me how boring I am nowadays.

‘I want the ghosts to come back,’ he says suddenly, throwing himself onto my

clean sheets, turning them into a crumpled chaos.

I ironed those sheets today, made each smooth and nice and here he is

rolling around in them.

‘Well they aren’t coming back, ever,’ I say.

‘You’re no fun anymore.’ He sits on the side of the bed like he used to after he

complained, thighs slightly apart, expectant.

‘Who says I used to have fun?’ I push him out of the bedroom, slam the door

shut, get on my knees and start to mend the mess he made, flicking the swirls and

whorls flat with my fingers.





Cath Bore is a Liverpool based writer and a wonderful woman. If you would like to see more of her fantastic work or have a nose at what she’s up to you can visit her at




Second Life, a Post by Syndathim

Originally posted over at 

It was wet, the roof had been burnt off but Garrett had to admit that the Old Forge sold good beer. Garrett lifted up his tankard and downed the remaining contents, relishing the liquid that he hoped would erase the memories of the past three months. As good as the beer was, his thanes missing eye would always be a painful reminder of how bad it was in Feorbuend; that town had been a brutal nightmare.

Feorbuend, home of the Hall of Aetheling though currently infested with barbarian orcs intent on pissing on five hundred years of history. His thanes grizzled face once again summed up quite how bad things were. In fact Garrett always maintained that the best thing the Young Bear had was a face like a barometer of life. When things were going to be good soon – the thane would smile. Right now he just looked weary; weary and drunk.

1239899_10153285331305424_1145713650_n ————————-

About a month ago I left Portsmouth and went to field near Northampton where I basically disappeared off the grid for four days and got immersed in my second life at Empire; a LARP system run by Profound Decisions. LARP is widespread enough now for me to safely ignore trying to explain what it is and if you don’t know what it is then just Google it. What I will do is talk more about Empire itself.

Part of me feels a bit weird pissing off and leaving my wife and non LARP friends and family behind when I go off and become Garrett – my latest character. Nonetheless there is something utterly awesome about getting kitted up in badass costume and then acting like something I’m not. Garrett is simply an apothecary who is rude to people, lazy and in all honesty a bit of a brutal sadist. Where else in this world can you comfortably tell someone to fuck off and blame it on being ‘in character’?


At Empire I feel I can do as much or as little as I want and still enjoy the event. I can drink, dance, sing, laugh, fight, plot, whatever. It’s a second life in which I can choose to be a lazy scrounger or, if I was more motivated, the Emperor of the whole freaking game. In fact, some people are getting so ingrained with the plot that naturally they now need to worry about getting protection just in case someone admires their extreme wealth and power. With each event that passes there is more depth and complexity and just like in real life you can be overwhelmed with the detail. Unlike real life you can comfortably not give a fuck and not worry about ruining your life (well your real life at least).


I’ve been to two events so far and the weather was shite at both. One reached -14 degrees Celsius at night and the other was so wet that most of the paths became boggy. I didn’t care in either case because I had such a good time regardless.


I could wax lyrical about how great the battles are, how awesome the camps look and how peoples costume is sometimes jaw dropping. There are still improvements to be made but these will be achieved in time I’m sure. Ultimately there’s as much point me talking about my second life in the real world as there is for Garrett to talk about real life at Empire. All I can say is that if you like glamping, amateur dramatics and Game of Thrones then come to Empire.

LP review: Gaunt Story – Companion Waves (White Label Music 2013)

companion waves

(Originally posted on Bring Your Own Wine)

I should probably start this with something of a disclaimer, insofar as I know and am friends with Rob Ashworth, the puppet master behind Gaunt Story. However, this disclaimer is redundant in my opinion as I became friends with him at first through his musical projects. With that out of the way, let’s begin…

Companion Waves is the long-awaited follow-up to 2008′s masterful debut This Gaunt Story, and Ashworth has been a busy fellow indeed. What we have here are eleven new songs that Ashworth has clearly spent a great deal of care crafting over the past few years. Gaunt Story is possibly the archetypical example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and you can certainly listen to both LPs consecutively without troubling your eardrums too much. Elaborate acoustic fingerpicking? Check. Bizarre lyrics that somehow make sense? Check.

Which is not to say that there isn’t a definite sense of maturity and growth with this new batch. Indeed, there is more a sense of introspection here than previously, whether in coded lyrics (“you are Glenbeulah, Glenbeulah it’s you”) or in explicit outbursts of frustration (“will you stay around to see me go and fuck it up this time?”), Ashworth has clearly had a lot on his mind. What is also impressive is the array of instrumentation underlying a lot of these songs – backed up by drums, chimes, the odd flourish of electric guitar – with glorious production to boot, Companion Waves has both a musical and lyrical depth that its predecessor on occasion lacked. One cannot make the comparison without also mentioning that on this LP Ashworth is the sole performer (as opposed to the six or seven musicians who joined him on the debut).

The Elliott Smith influences are still there, bubbling under the surface with melodies that twist and turn this way and that, particularly on opening track Blue Charm & Silver Stoat and the title track itself. Bon Iver also comes to mind, with delicate harmonies tugging at most of the songs, and in the one minute and thirty-seven seconds of Hopeless & Wrong one can detect Will Oldham’s gloomier moments. However, Gaunt Story is much more than the sum of its influences, and has definitely created a sound of its own. This is in no small part down to Ashworth’s vocals, which have noticeably developed since 2008. Ashworth has a warm reassuring sort of voice, one that you wouldn’t mind having on your satnav to be frank. This is particularly resonant on the glorious White Walls and the closing track Lottery Reception. It’s hard to hear lines like “mother wept in the kitchen, which translates as it’s your fault / It’s not your fault” (Rails to Broad Oaks) and not be moved by the poignancy.

Clocking in at just over half an hour Rob Ashworth has created a thing of sublime beauty with this LP, with see-saw rhythms abounding that pull you into his private universe. Ideally you will consume in one sitting, as a whole piece of art it sits together so well. Frankly if we have to wait another five years for the third album I’ll be having stern words with the chap myself.

Official website
Listen to and buy Companion Waves


Women have breasts, now get over it!



Aren’t breasts great? As a clumsy, socially awkward male my encounters have been limited over the years but the few boobs I’ve been allowed to view up close were very nice indeed. As I have grown up from a sniggering schoolboy desperate to know what girls were hiding under their blouses, the novelty has worn off though. I get to see my wife’s breasts (if I am lucky) about twice a day and friends who had kept their boobs hidden for years are suddenly slapping them out in public to feed babies without fear or shame. I have even managed to cultivate a decent sized pair of my own through years of overindulgence, although their practical uses are minimal and I am assured they are not attractive.
Yes, boobs are indeed one of God’s greatest creations. What they are not though is news. Somehow, the use of bare breasts as a marketing tool for a newspaper is a “National Institution” and the forty years or so Page Three has been around is something to celebrate. Each day, the leading female image in Britain’s most popular newspaper is accompanied by exposed breasts (normally young, pert and large) scoffing in the face of feminism. Any woman who questions the validity of Page Three is generally discredited, ridiculed and bullied as if objections are born from jealousy at the attractive female form rather than rational argument.
But in other areas, sexual content is a bad thing and restricted. We have a 9pm watershed for television channels showing adult content and the BBFC website states “There may be nudity in 12A films but sexual nudity should only be brief and discreet.” Porn magazines in newsagents are put high up on the top shelf, out of reach and eye line of children yet a ‘family’ newspaper can freely print naked images in prominent positions around supermarkets. Internet providers offer parental controls to limit the on-line content children may find in the home but in shops, cafes and on public transport they can be exposed to images of topless women all in the name of ‘fun’. If I were to walk down the street naked, I would firstly find myself ridiculed but then face indecent exposure charges. If David Cameron has his way we will have to ask permission to view porn on the internet but funnily enough he sees no problem with Rupert Murdoch publishing nude photos in a family newspaper.
People argue that it is just a bit of fun, that kids can see nudity anywhere, it’s been around for a very long time and we all have the choice not to buy The Sun. These arguments though ignore the problems that the gratuitous displaying of bare breasts as a marketing tool have on society. The ‘fun’ that men get (and it is solely men whom Page 3 is aimed at) is outweighed by the pressure young girls are put under to develop their own bodies in a specific way. Every day the prominent female image in The Sun is naked specifically for the delectation of male readers, as if women in history have never invented, created, won or organised anything without the use of their bodies. There are many things that were around in the 1970s that we no longer consider acceptable (racism, violence against women, Jim Davidson) and Page Three is the only outdated relic left standing.
And the “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it” argument really isn’t enough anymore. I don’t buy The Sun yet I am still subjected to its sexism in newsagents, through other people’s copies and in how it permeates into society. Page Three not only tells girls how a perfect body should look, it says that showing off breasts is the only way for a girl to gain attention. Boys are not just titillated, they are presented with females as sex objects to be rated and treated as masturbation fodder. Observing how women are treated in the street, pubs and the workplace, the link between Page Three and general attitudes to women is stark. Regardless of whether I buy the newspaper or not, I remain offended.
I am not saying that sex and nudity should be considered taboo, far from it. If we were less repressed about sexuality we may find a happier, less violent society. But Page Three isn’t about education and when it presents the female body in such a vulgar manner it belittles women and patronises men. Sex is the most natural of human instincts but that doesn’t give a newspaper the right to trivialise it in the name of free speech. Anyone would find a naked penis an inappropriate image to see every morning so why do we accept the bare breasts of Page Three?
We can’t ban The Sun from publishing what it wants, we can however highlight the hypocrisy and misogyny that Page Three breeds. Of course it is sexist, crass and childish but above all, using tits to sell a newspaper is downright pathetic. If you want sexual excitement, knock yourself out! Pornography is widely available on-line, on DVDs, in magazines and in any number of clubs that offer the chance to view naked flesh in an entertaining environment, all with appropriate age restrictions. Freedom of the press is wonderful but it doesn’t give the newspapers the right to peddle inappropriate imagery. The female body is a beautiful thing and if you want to view nude pictures then go for it. Just don’t pretend that its news.

You can support the campaign asking to “Take the bare boobs out of The Sun” by visiting

Beach Sloth Reviews The Curiosity Cabinet

Now that we have our new website, it feels fitting to post the review of our first ever issue onto it. Beach Sloth wrote some awesomely kind words. If you want to know what’s going on in the lit world (especially that of the ‘alt-lit’ community) then give his blog a read and follow at


The Curiosity Cabinet is quintessentially English. I knew that immediately. Didn’t even have to do any ‘research’ I felt the English in my bones. Look at the cover. Read the title. A cabinet full of curiosities is such a traditionally quaint way of saying things. It beats the American way of introducing things, with the uglier language. ‘Oh yeah, in that cabinet are some shrunken heads and drugs’. If you call it a curiosity cabinet though, you’re fine. Nobody is going to bother you. They’ll think you’re a perfectly charming young lad who has a penchant for curiosity. And I do like this little publication. Everything is here, a lucky list of seven: art & photography, poetry, film, short stories, musical things, a diary, and articles.

                Elise Cochin begins the photography section. Her work appears to be ‘on the fly’. The way she puts it is ‘capturing a sincere moment’. I like that she uses both color and black/white. Her photos seem warm to me. Chris Sutcliff presents a piece of art dedicated to his long-lost red balloon. We lose red balloons as children. Those are the balloons of our innocence. ‘You aren’t your job’ really strikes me. I remember somebody telling me ‘Your job defines you’. I hope that isn’t the case. I want to be more interesting than a mere office worker. I want to create beauty in the world not simply exist as a paper shuffler. Andrew John Craven likes his steampunk. The pictures have a silly quality to them. My favorite is definitely the last one, which is really absurd. Wonder why he doesn’t remove his jetpack. Peatree Bojangles has the best name. She creates dark, weird pictures.
                Alexander Mark Kennard writes about forgetting time in airports. To me, airports don’t represent time. They represent an absence of time. Airports kill more time than any other location. Nor does it even matter with all the ‘time zone’ rubbish going on. I’m here. Yes, I went across the pond to find my own curiosity cabinet. Let me know what you think about it.  James Seymour writes about her. You might remember her from places like ‘your dreams’ and ‘other people’s dreams you happened to stumble upon late at night’. I like the simplicity of the piece.  Connor D’ Arcy gets lost in a fairy tale. Feel he would have been better off nibbling lightly on the poisoned apple.  Keziah Hodgson writes four affectionate poems. They are dedicated to someone; I’m not entirely certain who. But they are rather tender.  Dave Shaw (different from the Canadian poet Dave Shaw) clearly dislikes some night creatures. I’m talking about ‘party people’. In the daytime they dissolve, melted by the sun. At night they run amok.  Adam Johnson has a bleak vision with ‘A Day in Your Life’. At least you get to dance. That seems good.
                Emily Jane Curtin and Michael Burrin have a nice, quiet little movie. This is a really tender piece. I like some of the shots they have. Probably my favorite visual is the shot down the staircase. It looks so domestic. Think that is the sweetest angle in the movie short movie. Even ‘father’s’ voice has kind, pleading quality to his voice. I also like how rarely they rely on dialogue. Most of the film is driven by the visuals, by the sunlight streaming through lonely windows rather than any ‘over-explanation’ of the situation.
                Max Dunbar writes an incredibly bleak short story. It is beyond brutal. A few times I felt extraordinarily sad about the process of aging. Guess that’ll happen to me someday. I’ll be all old and gray living alone in a house with nothing but silence. Ian Adamson deals with the story of a non-joint bank account. The details feel a bit bleak, bus rides and long lines. Glad I live on the internet instead of real life. Real life is hard. Evie Lola has an entire story about wonderful, wholesome family fun. Feel it is pretty darn enjoyable. Refuse to actually give away the plotline. Expect a lot of violence. Amy Louise Crossley writes about the power of dance music. I love dance music though I never really got into the ‘club’ scene due to my extreme lack of energy.  Sian S. Rathore and‘E’ kill it. They defeat emotions. One of brings up the past. The past dies. Apparently E’s friends have ‘eager hands’. I hope E’s friends are using their hands for good, like constructing roads and bridges. Love the exchanges between them. They make me long for more articulate friends.
                Amanda Coban writes one of those ‘live music reviews’. I feel a bit nostalgic reading it. Perhaps I will begin writing about the concerts I attend once more. Now that it is the summer I can start doing that again. I love the name of the band, The Darvaza Hole. Anybody who engages in obscure geographical references is alright with me.
                Renee Boudoir is a burlesque newbie. She apparently travels rather far to live the burlesque lifestyle. The burlesque lifestyle includes cupcakes. I may join the burlesque lifestyle for this only reason. I promise to tease very, very slowly.
                Jonathan Paxton reminds me of my hours spent in front of a computer. I spend hours on each tweet yet others get over 50 re-tweets for stuff like ‘Ate some food’ and ‘Hey’.Let me be the Ringo Star of the alt lit scene. I’m okay with that. Phil Jackman digs, well, it’s a complicated issue.
                The Curiosity Cabinet is a sweet, optimistic collection. I like the dedication. Usually these sorts of things have only poetry. Diversity is good. Different forms of art help to show off the many different ways of expressing oneself. Sometimes I forget about the visual. I get lost in words. Here in this cabinet I’m lost in everything. That’s a good thing.


Hello there faithful curios… I thought I would give you a little update with how our re-launch issue is coming along.

We are working along side the amazing James Seymour (who is actually a knitted dinosaur) to make this new BUMPER issue look spectacular. We can’t wait to showcase your amazing work and let you read and download our new issue in it’s full glory.

We can’t wait and hope you can’t either!


bear cub


I was born with a physical disability called Arthrogryposis which if I quote Wikipedia is ‘.. also known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (AMC), is a rare congenital disorderthat is characterized by multiple joint contracturesand can include muscle weaknessand fibrosis. It is a non-progressive disease. The disease derives its name from Greek, literally meaning ‘curved or hooked joints.’ You can get this in both of your legs or arms or both. I have it in my arms which if you have a sense of humour means I look like a T-Rex, which is what I have taken to telling young children when they ask ‘What happen to your arms?’.

May I apologise now if I go off on a tangent or offend anyone.

Anyway, my disability has never really been an issue, yeah I’ve needed help with a lot of stuff growing up such as opening certain things or getting dressed but over all I’m pretty independent. My parents had a choice of sending me to a ‘special’ school or mainstream school, they chose to send me to a mainstream school and I’m grateful for that. I’m lucky enough to not need a great deal of help so going to mainstream school was pretty easy and I fit in, my disability was never an issue at primary school or high school. It doesn’t define me, it’s just a ‘thing’ about me. Due to myself and others around me never seeing it as an issue I’d never really sat thinking about it. Of course I’ve had things shouted at me in the street from anyone of any age and gender but you soon learn to get better at come backs, believe it or not when I get ‘spaz’ shouted at me in the street it doesn’t offend me, I call myself that and I’ve said a lot worse about myself. So have my friends for that matter.

The reason I wanted to write about disability is mostly down to recent events over accessibility when it comes to disabled folk going out on the town or just generally leaving the house to do every day stuff. As I have said I’m quite lucky enough to be independent not to need a day to day carer so I can wander into town for a few hours by myself and not worry, well that is before I’ve been to the toilet a number of times. I don’t have something wrong with my bladder, it’s more down to not being able to go to the toilet on my own in town without the need of someone unfastening/fastening my trousers. Before transitioning, on nights out with female friends it was easy to go to the toilet with them as I looked like one but now I have transitioned being a bit drunk and needing a slash when I’m with a female friend is hard work, like actual effort to go find the manager of a bar or club to ask them if they have a disabled toilet so I can use that and not have the awkward conversation/argument I’ve had with many toilet attendants stating that I’m going to use the female toilets cos I have to, due to the club not having an accessible toilet. Even if the place has an disabled toilet most of the time it isn’t fully accessible due to cleaning equipment being in there or it not being big enough to fit a wheelchair in, yes really!

A few weeks ago some friends of mine in Scotland had gone out in Glasgow to celebrate getting an award for their contribution to further equal rights for LGBT people, they decided to head to a placed Polo Lounge but were refused entry once the bouncers saw that Robert was in a wheelchair due to him having Cerebral Palsy, the bouncers reasons for refusing him entry? ‘ facilities for him at their venue’. I mean what the fuck, first it’s blatant discrimination due to him being disabled and secondly the bouncers just assumed that he wouldn’t be able to manage. Robert told the bouncers that it was OK and he didn’t need help so to prove his point he got out of his chair and pulled himself into the doorway where the bouncers called the police to have him removed. Nathan, who suffers from arthritis, asked to go sit with Robert but the bouncers picked him and moved him away from the front door. Sadly when I read this on their facebook’s I wasn’t surprised not only down to the clubs lack of accessibility but the door staff being complete wankers to them. Unfortunately for Polo Lounge they picked on the wrong guys, Robert and Nathan have since received an overwhelming amount of support from friends,families and strangers who have all promised to boycott Polo Lounge.

This blog is long sorry.

Something else I have noticed since being with my girlfriend (yes, I’m talking about her again) is that we get stared at quite a lot. It doesn’t bother me but I do notice it. I’m not sure if they are staring because I’m disabled or cos I’m white and she’s Jamaican. Who cares. The reason I’m bringing it up because we were in Nottingham a few weeks ago walking back to the hotel where we past a bunch of ‘lads’ (dick heads), when one of them saw us holding hands and when he past us shouted at his mates to look at us. This is clear that he found it hilarious that a disabled person could have a partner. Believe it or not we don’t just sit in our homes waiting to die. We can love and have sex, shocking as it may seem to arseholes like him. It really bothered me that he felt the need to point us out, usually I can ignore people but he really pissed me off that night.






1. The act or process of forming something or of taking form.
2. Something formed: beautiful cloud formations.
3. The manner or style in which something is formed; structure: the distinctive formation of the human eye.
4. A specified arrangement or deployment, as of troops.
5. Geology The primary unit of lithostratigraphy, consisting of a succession of strata useful for mapping or description.

Yeah we can skip point 5.

This is my third attempt at writing a blog for this delightful E-Zine. Every time I have put finger to key I have been met with a barrier of self-criticism that forces me away from the keyboard in horror. At one point I wanted to use a metaphor of a tree growing outside my house in order to illustrate my point about how human beings evolve under pressure. Unfortunately I also remembered that Steve Coogan used this in the Alan Partridge Autobiography. Epic fail. In the end I settled on using a definition from a little known book called the dictionary. This being a blog and all and requiring me to use words to articulate my point, I felt I owed it to the English language for allowing me to string together these paltry digital scribblings. It’s is incredibly difficult to write a blog with your fists mashing the keyboard but luckily autocorrect manages to turn this Gothic script into something more palatable.

Lager would be the official reason that this current blog is being formed. Some old dance music from 2002 is also spurring me on. In fact both combined helped me to ‘achieve’ my 2.2 at University. I did manage to get honours despite spending most of my third year with (amongst many others) some Northern blokes, the daughter of a Polish abattoir owner and a Brazilian girl with fake tits who pissed all over her passport in a night of drunkenness. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at university and regardless of my general apathy that developed during my course I did manage to meet my wife in the process.

I’m from Devon originally and once I got caught knocking one out of a picture of Madonna. I still hang my head in shame. Otherwise Devon is glorious and I miss it dearly. Oh yeah! I haven’t even said where I am now. I live in Portsmouth. It’s famous for boats and war.

The formation of anything truly awesome takes many years. Luckily this blog won’t take quite so long because it is both short and mediocre; a winning combination that will no doubt enable me to write for the Daily Mail one day. Going back to my main point though, think about all the awesome things in the world that have been formed. The Pyramids, the Great Wall, the M1. All projects of phenomenal magnitude which inspire generations of people (maybe). Anything that is truly brilliant takes years to create. Human beings are no different – they start off cute and all that but they only get really interesting when they can chose their alignment; Good Neutral or Evil.

We are wonderful creations that are capable of so much. I find it fascinating that people often forget that behind all the ‘stuff’ in our lives lay human beings who are incredibly talented. The tapestry of this world has been formed through brilliant people who have aspired to change the face of this planet; and not always for the best reasons. What makes me more excited is that you and I are are more than capable of achieving the same greatness in our time. Disagree? Well I’m pretty sure that when I last checked Bill Gates was still a human. Nelson Mandela was just a baby once. Adolf Hitler was a little kid, as was Osama Bin Laden. It’s funny to think that behind every brilliant or horrific human being there was a guardian who helped that baby grow to a child.

We all can achieve whatever target we set ourselves in life. Some people aspire to be great, I aspire to be happy and writing helps me to get close to this goal. Over time I know my abilities will improve, my range of ideas and my past experiences will help shape my future copy. This can only be achieved as long as I continue to allow myself to be moulded by the world around me. I can chose some of what impacts against my own personal life narrative but ultimately I feel that most of humanity will be buffeted by outside influences. All those people and places (bar the M1) that I quoted earlier were the products of the world that surrounded them.

My blogs will continue to evolve based on whatever the world throws at me. I hope that from the Tetris style foundation that I have set up here you too can help shape my future work. I feel that.

V/H/S/2 (2013) Review

When I initially watched the 2012 horror short anthology V/H/S, I had a fairly mixed reaction, like most critics. That is, however, to be expected when viewing anthologies. Especially ones that vary in content as much as V/H/S. Ultimately, though, I did enjoy the movie as shlock more than anything else.

V/H/S/2 delivers more of the same but offers something different and, fortunately, superior. To those unfamiliar, the V/H/S films are horror collections in which random characters are paid to break into homes and go through bizarre videotapes. Unlike the first film, there are only four segments to V/H/S/2 (five if you count “Tape 49.”) The first movie suffered greatly from overcrowding. By cutting down on the amount of entries in this sequel, V/H/S/2 immediately takes a step in the right direction.

I’m going to skip over the wrap-around story, “Tape 49″, simply because it’s really not even worth mentioning. It fails to live up to the prior film’s prologue/epilogue and honestly is the worst part of the movie. If there is ever a V/H/S/3 (and I suspect there will be) then I’d advise the filmmaker(s) helming it to avoid this cliche and just get into the horror shorts.

Clinical Trials Phase 1

Adam Wingard’s “Clinical Trials Phase 1” is the first of the four part collection and it is undoubtedly the weakest. Everything feels forced, rushed, and the ‘sight gags’ don’t really work. Being privy to ghosts through an implanted eye is an interesting concept, but it wears off once we’re shown the unimpressive, very typical looking undead.

Eduardo Sánchez’s “A Ride in the Park” was a step up from Wingard’s “Clinical Trials”, though plodding. I really liked the fact that we were given the perspective of a zombie for once and I thought the concept was well executed. Though the short could’ve benefited greatly from having 5-10 minutes shaved off for pacing, it’s still decent as a whole.

Safe Haven

Gareth Evans’s “Safe Haven” was the short I was most looking forward to when going into V/H/S/2. I’d heard much praise about it from pre-screening reviews and was excited to finally get to it. Evan’s “Safe Haven” delivers, yes, but gets a bit too over-the-top for my taste. It’s like Evans had a brilliant and genuinely creepy idea for a short and was forced to make it more ‘horrory’ for the sake of the film, so he just went completely crazy and added a half-dragon/half-goat creature. Spoiler alert… Anyway, up until the last 5/6 minutes or so I really loved this short. I only wish it had been focused in an alternate direction.

Jason Eisner’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is probably the most well rounded of the four shorts. We’re given a startling, captivating, and fun story from a unique perspective with humorous characters that you can get behind. On top of that, it’s not littered with shitty CGI or any story-killing elements. In an odd way it also captures an authentic Amblin feel, despite its dark overtones. Something that J.J. Abrams’s Super 8 failed at in 2011. Completely enjoyable entry.

In the end, I would recommend V/H/S/2 to any horror fan. It’s a fun little collection of shorts that is sure to entertain. Each of the four stand distinctly apart and gradually get better as progression is made. It may have its flaws but V/H/S/2 is a definite improvement over the original.

Overall Rating: B+

What Has My Dad Ever Done For Me? (A Blog For Father’s Day)



This blog actually wasn’t inspired by Father’s Day, but as I got the idea for this blog only a week or so ago, I decided to hold off until Father’s Day when we’d all be thinking about our dear ol’ Dads anyway.

(Whilst I’m telling you about my Dad, it would serve the magic of storytelling well for you all to be aware that he is, in my Mother’s words, “Over 6 foot tall, and built like a brick sh*t house.” and through most of my youth, I was a tiny, ginger dot that nearly blew away in the wind more than once.)

It started on a walk to work on a particularly glorious day, I saw another route and thought, “I should go that way for a change.”  An innocent enough thought, except that I was instantly reminded of all the things I had forgotten about my youth.

You see, growing up was a little different in our house.  My Mum became disabled when I was very young, and walking any sort of distance became tough for her without a wheelchair or crutches.  I don’t want anyone to misunderstand, she is the best Mum that anyone could wish for, but things like walking the kids to school were left to my Dad.

At Primary School we lived literally over the road from our school, so my older brothers would go running off to school and crawl through a hole in the fence.  Unfortunately I was too little, (think Piglet-sized), so my Dad would have to lift me over the gate to school.  I can remember running to the gate with my brothers and then just standing and waiting for my Dad to pick me up and lift me over.

When I started Junior School, my school was across town, so obviously my Dad would walk me to school.  It was a reasonable walk, so we had plenty of time to be silly.  I would walk alongside him and try and keep my feet in time with his, so he would quickly change his footsteps with a little hop, and I would desperately scurry to try to keep in time.

The thing with my Dad is that he has a very short attention span, and walking the same route every day just didn’t appeal to him.  Every now and then we would take a different route, and he would say it was to avoid some sort of enemy.  It changed every time, but my favourite was always in the winter when we would have to avoid the Bulgarians with the poison-tipped umbrellas, which caused us to run away from anyone carrying an umbrella. Which was everyone.  We would hide behind walls, sprint to find the next cover…  Obviously this was an absolute riot as a child, but it wasn’t until just a couple of weeks ago that it really sank in what he was teaching me.  Quite simply, to have fun.

I often hear back from people that they saw me dancing in the street, and people have genuinely assumed that I was absolutely wasted (or even on drugs) because I was doing something “embarrassing” in front of people.  The fact is, being silly in public so much as a child has lead to me genuinely not caring about enjoying myself.  If I want to dance, I dance.  If I want to do teddy-bear rolls, I do.  If I need to sneeze in the middle of a karaoke song, I damn well do it!

Even little things would be a source of fun.  Having 5 kids, my parents once had an 8 seater Nissan Serena.  The advantage of this was SLIDING DOORS!  I would take the trolley back after shopping,  my brother would be waiting in the back with the door open.  I would run back to the car, throw myself in and shout, “GO! GO! GO!”, whilst my brother slammed the door and my Dad made the tires skid and squeal against the tarmac.  We posted letters the same way.

It wasn’t all silliness though.  I remember once my parents had decided I was old enough to walk to school alone, and my Dad would leave the house just after me and walk 100ft or so behind me.  I could never really understand why, until one day we had the thickest fog you’ve ever seen.  I quite literally could barely see more than a couple of feet ahead of myself.  It was a bit scary, but just knowing that my Dad was behind me there somewhere was the biggest comfort in the world.

When I was younger, our “thing” was to watch Bond movies together.  My Mum can’t stand them so she would always leave the room, and it would just be Dad & me watching James Bond, and of course discussing how silly he was to get captured and how *we* could have avoided it, because we are smarter and cooler than James Bond.  Indiana Jones was a favourite too!

Then, when I was older and had my first job, I had one late night a week where I would finish at 9pm.  My Dad would come and pick me up from work, and knowing that it had doubtless been a stressful day, he would take me to the supermarket to buy red wine, and what we have always affectionately called “fat fats”, which is yummy baked goods that make you fat.  Now, whenever I need to relax I drink wine and eat cake.  Which is why I’m a chubby alcoholic. (J/K kids, alcoholism and obesity aren’t funny.)

So, Dad, if you’re reading this… You shaped my life into what it is now, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have spent a portion of The Burnley Blues Festival doing cartwheels in the park, and I definitely wouldn’t have a huge crush on Sean Connery.  (I didn’t inherit that one, that’s just from watching James Bond.)

I love you!  Happy Father’s Day!

P.S. Mum, you’re great too!

– Evie xx