All stories


by Russ

‘Why is Tarzan’s monkey named after a cat?’

This was going to be a long four hours.

‘Good actor though, eh?’

‘I think it was a c…’ I stopped myself and took a sip of coffee instead, it burned. That’s what you get for buying train coffee, I suppose.

‘So, where is it we stop first, Paree did you say?’

‘Paris. It’s Paris. The capital of France.’

‘Nah, that’s…’

Don’t say it.


He said it.

‘F! Get it?’

I got it.

‘So what’s the plan then, in the city of lurrrrve?!’

He actually winked.

‘Well, it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a wet weekend…’

‘Oi oi!’

Oi oi? He was from Bolton. Under the table, I instinctively pulled my legs together.

‘So it’s shenanigans in le chateau is it, babe?’

I’m not sure what he was doing with his tongue, possibly practising his Cheetah impression. I tried to retrace how this had happened. This was my interrailing summer, I’d planned it for months, years really. I’d planned to go with Jenny. Two of us together, discovering our way around Europe. Culture, coffee, wine, cigarettes… men, maybe. Then she got together with Josh and decided she’d rather spend the entire time watching him play Xbox, and that was fine. Just fine. I’d go on my own and I’d have to spend far less time worrying about her Instagram, and it would be fine.

Except I got nervous, didn’t I? So when I catastrophically failed to eject this boiled ham of a boredom fuck after the first night, and he asked me what the map on my wall was for, I somehow let an invitation fall from my idiot mouth, and that was that. Not only had I not mustered the impetus to kick him out of bed before he fell limp, I’d then spent a month bottling the deinvitation. Now I have to deal with this shit for six whole weeks.

‘Is Hamsterdam where hamsters come from?’

‘It’s Amsterdam.’

‘Orwight! Is ‘Amsterdam where ‘amsters come from?’

‘Are you sure you want to do this? I know you’re missing…’

‘Babe! We’re on the train. I’m doing this! I’m well excited about Chomping down the Eleesees, and crossing the Sad Bridge…’

‘The sad bridge?’

‘The one that sighs.’

Oh, God.

‘Besides, when else am I gonna get the chance to bosh you in all the different countries, eh?’


He made a circle with the thumb and forefinger of one hand and moved the index finger of his other in and out of it while, I believe, his eyebrows were having a fit.

He could fuck right off.

‘Tunnel time!’

The carriage went dark.

‘Echo! Echo!’

‘We’re still inside…’ Never mind.

I thought about murder.

‘How many pizzas do you think they needed to make that tower?’

I needed a distraction.

‘Do you have that Travel Monopoly in your bag?’


‘Please, get it out…’

‘That’s what she said!’

I thought about suicide.

I thought about wine.

‘Do you want anything from the buffet car?’

A damn good travelling

by James

Not the best shag of Anne Marie’s life, but man, was it satisfying. In the first, she got to watch Georges Travell’s eyes turn to saucers as she took off her cardi and practically dangled her breasts in his duck confit. This man, so suave, so aloof, become horny teenager, all hands and corny lines as she hustled him down the narrow corridor of the sleeper train to her tiny cabin. In between slobbering kisses he actually said it to her – snorted it more like – who’s in the mood for a damn good Travelling?

Laying back as he whippeted above she blessed a silent prayer to God that the man was as crap a shag as his supercilious hand tailored carefully coiffured image suggested. In wider parlance, to be Travelled didn’t mean to suffer the indignity of a mediocre screw in the tiniest of tiny sleeper cabins on the night train to Edinburgh. More usually, it meant to be on the receiving end of a different kind of screwing; the verbiage kind. The man was a restaurant critic of such acid renown that potty mouthed Michelin starred hell chefs were known to turn pale when his name turned up in the diary for dinner at eight. To be Travelled was the kiss of death for many restaurants.

Well, how’d you like this review, sucker?

Thirty minutes after he left her berth and it was online. Thirty hours later it was viral, and a week after that she received the letter notifying her of the libel action he was taking for her online review with the byline Magnificent frontage giving way to flaccid interior.

Everyone told her she had to settle. She had to pay the man off. She had to issue a retraction. With his money, with his lawyers and his clout, there was only going to be one outcome.

In the days before the court case she doubled down. She posted tweets quoting lines from the review.

The limited pleasure promised is over in seconds, not with a bang of near orgasmic delight, but with the fetid whimper of regret.

A cheetah would not have sprinted away faster

A monopoly of awfulness

Or, her favourite:

A microscopic chipolata, wallowing in the juice of a wet weekend

To see his smug face again in the courtroom was a joy. To see him try and stop that tight little smile from slipping as a parade of ex-lovers trooped in one by one to laud his prowess. And then to see him smirk as she began her own defence, all by herself, without legal counsel. She read out the review she had posted online, word for word. That was it, that was her defence. The packed courtroom murmured in confusion.

Anne Marie spoke at last, and she was looking straight into the eyes of Georges Travell as she did so.

‘This isn’t my review,’ she said. ‘These are your words. I’m simply quoting, from your own review. From the July 1985 edition of the Parkhouse magazine. It was a review of my father’s restaurant. The last review of his restaurant, because it didn’t stay open much longer after that.’


by Lewis


Must include



Wet weekend

The famous Caravan No.6

by Jenny

I had never seen Dad so excited. He had been talking about it for weeks, showing us old photos and telling stories, digging out random things from the backs of cupboards and exclaiming things like ‘just the ticket’ and ‘bit of spit and polish and that’ll come up nicely’.

And now the car was packed, the sun was shining and we were finally about to set off.

Mum sat in the passenger seat scrolling on her phone. I was wedged into the backseat among the suitcases and boardgames and walking boots. Dad was poring over an old AA map spread out on the bonnet of the car.

“Shall I just…?” said Mum, waving her phone, but Dad shook his head.

“No, we don’t need any of that rubbish, do we Soph? A good honest map will get the job done. Am I right?”

I giggled and nodded excitedly. Mum rolled her eyes and went back to the endless scroll.

But after the fifteenth wrong turn things were starting to wear a bit thin. The Monopoly was digging into my arm and I really needed a wee. Worse, the sky ahead was growing ominously dark and Mum’s battery was getting dangerously low.

Dad remained cheerful. “It’ll be brilliant. We can just walk down to the beach in the afternoons for a swim with the blow-up cheetah. Lots of lovely walks and fresh air. Beans on toast for tea and board games before bed, eh Soph?”

But the best I could summon this time was a half-hearted shrug. I wanted to go home. The blow-up cheetah’s deflated head stared balefully at me from under the suitcases. I saw Dad’s face tighten briefly in the rear view mirror.

When we eventually pulled into the caravan park the rain was coming down in sheets. Dad sprinted out to collect the keys from the old man at reception then hauled the car up the gravel path to the famous Caravan No. 6 - the place of magical boyhood adventures.

It stood, lopsidedly in its plot, ready for us. Rust streaked up its sides in orange-brown stains and greenish mould spread across the plastic windows.

Inside was even worse. It smelled damp and rain dripped onto the floor behind the plastic coated sofa. There were two tiny bedrooms, a shower cubicle streaked with mildew a fold down dining table and a risky looking electric kettle. Dad flipped a switch and a strip light stuttered into life.

Mum nearly cried when Dad offered to make a cup of tea.

“Hugh, we can’t stay here.”

“What do you mean?” cried Dad “Bit of damp, bit of weather - it’s all part of the adventure isn’t it?!”

It was no good.

“Sophie, come along. We’ll find somewhere on the seafront to stay. There’s bound to be some hovel somewhere that will be better than this.”

She held out a hand, impatient and imperious. Dad’s relentless grin had frozen into a sort of desperate grimace. The kettle began to bubble, steam curling from the spout, misting up the windows. Three cups stood to attention beside it.

The Monopoly waited expectantly on the fold-out table.

“Bit of weather is all part of the adventure, isn’t it Dad?” I said. “Shall we play Monopoly till the rain stops?”