Author Archive

By Susie Wild

Location: Wilmslow Road

The warning signs are there. Jo’s voice is rising in pitch. There is going to be a row. Or tears. Possibly both. We are all hungover, off to see our mate’s mate’s band play for the second night in a row at the same venue.

Fuel; we sure need some.

Manchester is losing its grimy shine, the but-we-aren’t-in-Wales gleam of adventuring appeal. Drastic action is needed. Trailing behind the whiners and need-to-be-drunk-again ditherers I catch Kate’s eye. She knows the drill, the nod is almost imperceptible. She grabs my wrist and we take a sharp right down an alley, careering, our limbs windmilling into the first bar we come across.

In the dimly lit pub we lean summer-sticky arms on the syrup-sticky bar, order two house triples and down them. Apart from the barmaid we are the only women there. Around us the smell of Brylcreem and urinals permeates the air; rows of quiffs compete with each other for vertical space. An overweight Teddy Boy is singing one karaoke song after another, in tune but lacklustre, his beer gut heaving up and down in time to the music, wiggling his skinny tie like a worm. The room ignores him.

We march up to the cuddly teddy and grab the songbook. Choose ‘Big Spender’. Belt it out. Loudly. Tunelessly. Giggling like the schoolgirls we are. The room ignores us. We love that. We order another triple each, down it, and then leave the surreal Lynchian pub. Run back out into the night, eyes wild, shrieking. Finding the others smoking in the queue outside the gig venue. Jo’s eyeliner streaks her cheeks, but she is exhaling laughter with her nicotine. A storm has passed.

Susie Wild is one of Parthian’s Bright Young Things. Her debut collection of short stories, The Art of Contraception, is out now.

By Sarah-Clare Conlon

Location: Oldham Street

She looked at the sheet of paper again. The first time, she’d merely glanced; now she stared, scared. ‘Missing,’ it said, along with a description of the lost item and a number to call and report any details regarding its whereabouts. There was no picture, just words, in heavy black type. Arial. The ‘Missing’ was bigger than the rest, to make you look, make you stare. She was staring.

The flyers had appeared overnight, suddenly fluttering their whiteness in the breeze of dawn, as abrupt as mayflies or snowdrops, changing the landscape in a fingerclick so she awoke to a whole new place. They were everywhere: sticky-taped to bus stops, cable-tied to posts and poles, drawing-pinned to trees, Blu-Tacked to the insides of early opening newsagents’ windows, scrunched-up in bicycle baskets. Some were clamped under the windscreen wipers of those cars that had not yet been moved, others shoved into the clasp of letterboxes. The one she was studying was glued to a graffitied rollershutter.

She retrieved her phone from a back pocket and jabbed at the Contacts icon. She tapped on the screen, waited a couple of seconds then entered the digits into the memory, saving them as ‘Missing’. The notice had stirred something deep within her, jogged a memory, rung a bell. She felt she had seen the thing that was gone and perhaps if she looked carefully enough, she would see it again. She vowed to keep an eye out, keep an eye on the pavements as she wandered. Perhaps she would find it lolling in a dirty doorhole or imprisoned in one of those weird whirlpools of sticky leaf clumps and chip papers and cat hair and discarded ideas and broken promises.

She took one last glimpse at the sign before running away, back up the street the way she’d come.

‘Missing. Reward offered. Please call 07276 059439 with any information. Last seen in or around the Northern Quarter on Wednesday night. Missing: my sanity.’

Sarah-Clare Conlon is an editor, writer and press officer based in Chorlton. When not telling tales of death and destruction, she can be heard swearing on bikes and boats.

By Charlie Rawcliffe

Location: Curry Mile, Rusholme

Indie Kids drift out from Saki Bar carried on a wave of their own pretention
They maraud down the sunset strip we know simply as curry mile
A thousand takeaway wrappers catch a thousand heated updrafts
And drunken artists mix with switched on individuals
Echoing chants originate from the top floor of magic buses
And those with anything to hide find it thrust out in the open
This country’s next golden generation huddle over piles of vomit
As rain clouds threaten but recede and drift by
Neon signs illuminate a thousand hopes and dreams
As you board a 142 to Piccadilly
Blushed cheeks hiding dreams of a quite temperate life
A longing glance at the John Rylands goes unnoticed by all
While the unmistakable stench of Sambuca clogs the air
It’s the heavy breath of human sacrifice
Factory bouncers crack knuckles in preparation for long overdue fights
This is Manchester
And this is Friday Night.

Charlie Rawcliffe is an American Studies student at Manchester University. He’s 19, originally from Nottingham, and has been writing seriously for just over six months.

By Gill James

Location: St Peter’s Square

Christina de Vries checked her watch. Nine thirty. With luck, she would be home by ten. The students’ showcase had gone well. She was pleased, but she’d be happier still when she got home. This was Manchester and it was a Friday night. She hoped the tram would come soon. She was a bit anxious about the short walk from the station in Radcliffe as well: she’d not been able to get on the car park earlier.

The tram must be due soon. There was quite a crowd on the platform. Every twelve minutes they were supposed to be.

One of the youths who were waiting at the far end of the station started singing Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red. He’s got a good voice, thought Christina. He was actually singing it better than Chris de Burgh did, she reckoned.

Except he wasn’t quite singing the right words.

‘Lady in grey,’ he crooned. ‘You’ve never looked as old as you do tonight, I’ve never seen your hair so almost white, I’ve never seen so many men look so askance, running if they’d get half a chance…’

Cheeky bugger, thought Christina.

Well, she wasn’t having this. Even if she had got a very significant birthday coming up soon. Loads of people had asked her if she had highlights put in her hair. She was very happy with how the grey was just in the right places and looked almost blond. She was still very brunette in places. But she was wearing a grey coat and scarf. She supposed he had a point.

She looked at the other people standing on the platform. They averted their eyes, embarrassed, apathetic.

I’m not having this, thought Christina.

What to do, thought, what to do? Should she phone the Police? No, that was probably over the top.  Should she confront him? No, that would probably make it worse and be even more embarrassing. She looked at the young woman standing next to her on the platform. The woman looked down at the ground and half-turned away from her.

Right, thought Christina. I’m going to do this thing.

He had a really nice voice. Baritone she thought. So, he was singing a bit lower than a tenor. Pity, she was a tenor. But she couldn’t get down quite that low. Could she find the harmony? She thought she could.

He was on the second run through of the song. ‘I’ve never seen that jacket you’re wearing,’ he sang, ‘or the highlights in its folds that catch your hair. I have been blind.’

She had the harmony in her head. Now all she had to do was sing it. She took a deep breath.

By Justin D. Dooley

Location: Worldwide Supermarket, Rusholme

I watch them from my window scuttling
with their arms clutching crying bundles.

They are catching starlight in puddles,
scurrying around full bins and loose tins

and cars and trolleys and the trees with
their beggared branches reaching out, as the

sharp moon scowls. They slosh through
yesterday’s slush prints as leaves mulch

beneath their feet. Pleas sketched on scraps
with white knuckle palms pressed together.

Escape is not an option, there are
no passports for people pending.

As the curtains close, you slide into
the shadows in silence.

Justin D. Dooley has just graduated from MMU with a degree in Business and English. He is one of the founders of UNSUNG, an organisation that has been producing a free magazine and various arts events throughout Manchester since 2008. His writing has been published in Mental Virus, Best of Manchester Poets and Bewilderbliss.




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