A book review of ‘On the Other Side’ by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I know this is very different to my usual post of a poem but I wanted to write something about this book whilst it was fresh in my mind.

First of all, WOW. Carrie Hope Fletcher, the incredible sister to Tom Fletcher from McFly and amazing actress who was playing Epoinine in West End’s Les Miserables and now plays Truly Scrumptious in the UK tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has written a glorious book which, for a reader who enjoys fantasy and realism wrapped in a little bow of a subtle love story that isn’t the focus point at all but does keep it together (like a black bow around a rainbow coloured wrapped up present), I must say that I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

Now, as an avid reader but someone who very rarely reads quickly and wants to pick up the book for as long as possible, this book definitely had things to keep me wanting the book to stay open from the great detailing of descriptions to the realistic, wholesome characters overall made me want to keep reading to the point I finished this book within 3 days (probably my fastest read of a book yet!) and I will definitely go back to this book knowing I will enjoy the book and cry again (at happy AND sad points) as much as I did the first time round  due to the sheer brilliance of the writing.

In short, thank you Carrie for such a wonderfully exquisite novel and if anyone wants to enjoy the joy I have felt from this novel  it is available in all good bookstores.

 

WARNING: Carrie herself notes to those who may read her book that there are swear words and hints at sexual activity and advises the book is aimed at readers aged 16 and over.

 

The day

I have been waiting for it to arrive
This day
Our day

In which we’ve planned what will fill every minute of the day
“It will be perfect.” 
We whisper to each other in between the sighs of
“I miss you” and “I love you”

This day is going to be spectacular;
A day planned by two lovebirds
For the said lovebirds,
To enjoy each other’s company and embrace
Until the sun sets and we snuggle into our small single bed;
We’ll talk about everything and nothing at all
With hopeful wishes
And the dream

That the day will not end.

Perform

Whispering silently,
Bags rustling, trying not to disturb
But I hear them anyway
The way the person gasps as noise causes my head to turn and I lose focus
Briefly

Then move on.

I keep on with my act
I keep on singing
I will not let this break the focus I had
The work I have done to this point
Will not be in vain.

I begin to sweat in fear
My face and hands tremble
As I feel my focus slipping

I am slipping up
My words begin to fumble
Tumbling into a broken mess
Onto the floor that was all mine
Is all mine.

I sigh.

I feel relief and regret
As the applause begins

And I look at the crowd in disbelief
For I feel the applause is wrongly placed
But then,
As the regret slips away
A smile brushes across my face.

Me day

I am having a me day
The time for myself to unwind
To finally let down my hair and focus on

Me.
No phone calls will be picked up today
For I am engaged in an important matter

Myself.
It has been long overdue.
Perhaps I will find an unfinished book from months past and finish it today
Or I will write a hundred poems and find myself spread amongst them

rather than between the essay I need to write
and the words I need to learn
and the story I have for a deadline
and the friends I need to see

Maybe I’ll just be me
Tomorrow?

Books of the poetry kind

I bought my first poetry book this year
I found it on a warm afternoon,
After hours walking round town,
And decided to treat myself to gaze inside a bookstore.

I stepped inside to feel a sense of joy
As if the books all turned and smiled as I entered its quiet walkway.
I breezed across to my shelter –
Made out of the sonnets and ballads
And found it.

The title grabbed at me to push me aside
“No Matter the Wreckage”
It left questions in it’s wake I knew it had the answers to
So I stole it back from its hiding place behind me
And held it in my hands.
The smooth front cover covered in swirled waves and a woman on a boat
Question: Is that Sarah Kay?
I ask the book
It whispers “You have to find out inside”.

As I began to read I found the words as smooth as the front,
Perhaps smoother,
And I plunge deeper,
Discovering the words I heard Sarah speak herself
(I call her by her first name because I feel
That I know enough of her to call her that)

And so she came home with me that day
And since then we two have brought up her poems
Sat by her pool and listened to the different ages and times her poems etched into her skin,

While I find more.

I went back to the same bookstore
Hoping there would be another smiling face
And a welcoming warmth to cut through the bitter cold outside

And so, now,
I have Carol Ann Duffy accompanying Sarah.
I cannot call the first anything shorter yet
Her poems are only just entering my blood
And breathing companionship in my ear
But I am patient.
And I will wait.
I will understand

And then the bookstore will call me back to find another.

Dream

I hold my eyes still,
My arms motionless around the cuddly toys in my bed,
Yes I should move them,
But they comfort me
When you are unable to be there to embrace me;
The times when all I can do is return to the way I was before,
And hold some inanimate object and make believe
Until
I fall
Asleep.

I feel my eyes open with a sense of urgency,
You were there,
Grabbing my hand to run back to the car like usual
‘Come back to mine’ you said
And I would have done
If it weren’t for me kissing your tender lips
And feeling…

Nothing.

I sigh internally,
Fully aware I am now in a dream
But seeing you makes me want you more;
To feel your warmth against my cold,
To embrace you,
(Or rather the other way round
I am too small to truly embrace you)
To whisper in your ear sweet nothings
And see your smile as I smile back to you.
Even in this dream state your smile lights a fire inside of me
And I outstretched my fingers
Hoping to reach across to you somehow
Through some invisible barrier set between us
But now
I
see…

Nothing.

I open my eyes and sigh.
I wanted that dream
To reincarnate as my current reality,
I wished and wished as the sun rose
And saw the cuddly toys staring at me.

In that instant,
My eyes feel heavy again
As sleep takes me back,
Perhaps back
To you.

Little things

We drove along the windy paths,
Each little village filled with homes
That seemed so precious and warm
Compared to the chill inside that four wheeled contraption.

The route was long,
Much longer than expected,
And they lost their patience alongside you,
But I kept calm,
Each house,
Each village,
Making me mellow and somewhat distant from the yells of the automobile.

As we arrived nearer to our destination,
I squeezed your hand tightly,
Part out of fear,
Part out of checking you saw what I saw;
Dozens of acres
Filled with hundreds of trees of all kinds;
The air was bitter
But oh the moment’s joy warmed me to my core.

As the car drove up past all of the history,
I felt a sense of belonging amongst the stone and mortar
Then we began crumbling
Crumbling…

We drove away back through the hills
A tear rolled down a reminiscent cheek.
You laid still beside me,
Allowing my head to slumber on your shoulder
You claim I felt like fairy dust upon there
And I thank you for this white lie
As you try to straighten your neck after my hour long nap.

When we pulled into that little car park,
Just off the M5,
You questioned me as I began to cry.
I replied
“The little things mean a lot”
Your response made me feel special
As you joked about my little height meaning a lot to you,
And I smiled at your profiled grin
And fell in love again until the car pulled back to yours;
I never remembered the length I stared
Because I lost myself to you and your gentle ways.

From that nap until our final rest,
You – the comforter of
Me – your saviour from the abyss off the edge of that little bed.
We joked that our small palace could not fit the 11 foot 7 that swarmed the bed
But we managed.

And it was that last little thing
That warmed me up that night as it woke as a bitter morn;
The little things that I woke to alongside the candyfloss sunrise.

Bedroom dream

I’m sorry for the incessant yawns
With which I stretch my fingers and and arms out wide;
The hums and aaahs that escape my lungs
As my mouth opens wide to reveal-
I am tired.

I rub my eyes incessantly,
(Although you find it sweet
as I mutter under my breath
And intertwine our feet)

The covers are our borders;
Just enough for two.
I snuggle deep into your arms
And focus on just me and you.

The way you breath in your sleep
To your face when you first wake
This may sound soppy and cliché
And may be one big mistake
But I know you think it too
Before you fall asleep:
Is waking up with me
Ever more than just a dream?

It has happened once,
A magical dream come true
But I want to know what it’s like
To spend every night next to you.

Outgrown

I have lived here since after my third birthday,
A newly one year old brother, a mother and father in tow
As we travelled away from what we knew as home,
A small village across a river as part of a bigger city,
To a slightly bigger town in a much larger county.

I would say that for a 3 year old,
Moving away from what you know seems confusing,
They don’t understand that the house
(That was more like a flat with two floors)
Was too small, despite how vast it seemed to small eyes.

Now I see the same here,
I am kicking at my blanket,
Something anyone would do in their sleep,
But here it is to cover myself with the security blanket around me,
Somewhat protect me from what lies ahead.

I allowed him into this bed with me,
And I felt safer and prepared,
But now?
Now the blanket is too small for even one.

The blanket matches the room,
I feel like a giant swarming my tiny chair and desk
As I glide across and slip under the door
All seems almost too familiar.

I have outgrown this setting
And I am to move onto bigger places

It is the only way.

Bittersweet

I look into the dark night
As I peer out of the door
I have buttoned my coat
My gloves and hat and scarf warm my very being
I breathe out.

Smoke appears.
Or rather the millions of water vapours that escape
As I open my mouth and pretend I have a cigarette
I am too improper to have an imaginary cigar
So I keep with my fingers tapping and lifting
Until…

Until I become a dragon.
My mouth blows,
In an oval shape,
Creating some rings of smoke
As if I have just burnt some soul and this is all that remains;
The grey thick smoke against the thin black sky;
Simply broken as the grey cuts across and lhides the street lamps above.

By now I am halfway to where I need to be.
My nose is feeling the bitterness the rest of me is sheltered from.
I feel my cheeks turning rosier with each step;
Creating a redness to show the pain of thawing my face in the midst of winter.

I feel I know my way.
The odd car passes me with the odd face and the less odd driver;
I am almost there.
Steps away from my destination
And I can sense the warmth flowing from inside your house
Knowing I have warm arms and soup awaiting me,
To tantalise me as I wish
I wish
That I could have the sweetness
Without the bitterness I have had to face.