EVENT: Reading at the Chester Literature Festival

This Friday, 14 October, I’m doing a reading at the Chester Literature Festival!

It’s an extract from my memoir that I’m currently writing (working title “Transformations”) about my recent diagnosis with a rare autoimmune disease and subsequent disability.

The event is on the theme of GOTHIC and will feature readings from members of the Chester Writers group.

“Chester Writers, Chester’s monthly writing group, fills the Gothic Town Hall with Gothic tales. Come along to see how Gothic stories, like the characters therein, can take on many forms…”

It’s in the Council Chambers at Chester Town Hall from 4-6PM. It’s a free event but you need to book a ticket via the Storyhouse website. Please come along and bring your friends!

My novel “This Is Not A Love Story” is available exclusively on Kindle from Amazon. As a special offer for the Chester Literature Festival you can download it for free between 14-18 October 2016.

My short story collection, “STASH and other stories” is available from Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd and Barnes & Noble.

I’ll be the one in the black eyeliner and velvet cape. See you there! 😉

Lisa Margreet | designer | writer | teacher | farmer | image

The Cat And The Money Spider

Everything is going to be alright.

Yesterday I went and sat outside in the yard for a little while and thought about my “sit spot” for my rewilding project which starts tomorrow.

Actually, truth be told, I went outside to bring the washing in, a more mundane activity, but one that’s good hand therapy. Who knew that clothes pegs could be so tough to prise open? Anyone who’s suffered a wrist drop, I guess.

Mabel came up and rubbed her head against my legs and the washing basket. I think me being out in the backyard gave her the courage to come out. She rolled about on the warm tarmac, purring loudly, then started playing with a stone.

I felt sad that I could no longer provide her with an outside like at Oakcroft. She loved Oakcroft. So did I.

She was having such a nice time playing with her stone in the warm sun on the tarmac though. She wasn’t thinking about the loss of Oakcroft, she was just living in the moment.

It’s like that picture which sometimes surfaces on the internet: Reasons why your dog is happier than you. It shows a person and a dog walking side-by-side through a park. The person’s head is full of images of the things they need to do. The dog’s head is showing just one image – the dog and the person walking side-by-side through the park.

I’d heard a woman with dementia talking on the radio. She talked about how it wasn’t so bad having dementia, you just lost a lot of time. She said she couldn’t remember yesterday, and tomorrow she wouldn’t remember today. But it forced her to live in the moment, and that was a good thing.

It seems like that was my lesson for the day. A reminder to be present, and to live in the now.

I sat for a bit outside on the ledge by the fence, wondering if this might make a good “close to home” sit spot for my rewilding course if I’m too ill to go too far into nature. It’s already taught me one lesson.

After a while Mabel jumped up on the ledge and sat beside me. We stared at the ground for a bit, watching the shadow of my legs swinging against the wall, feeling the sun on our faces.

I ignored the detritus left in the communal yard by my messy neighbours who just moved out. A random collection of rubbish, including an incredibly large amount of tiny balloons. They reminded me of another occasion, one of the parties at mine and AMP’s flat in Glenkerry House, when loads of tiny balloons inexplicably appeared and we called them “tiny ass-balloons” (hyphenation correct). But that’s a story for another time.

I ignored the cardboard box which they couldn’t be bothered to break down and put in the recycling bin right next to it. I ignored the broken bike frame, and the sofa minus it’s cushions. I ignored the dog shit that they didn’t bother to clear up from one of their two Staffie’s. Maybe it’ll turn white if it stays there long enough, like legendary dog poo from the 70’s.

I focused instead on the occasional waft of lavender on the breeze.

A large lavender bush grows unruly in a patch of soil that seems like it was just dumped haphazardly in the corner of the yard by the sheds. It also has some nettles growing there, and some ivy. I put in a tiny stem of mint a few months ago, but I’ve now discovered that the housing association spray weedkiller in the communal gardens. I’m not sure if they spray it here in the backyard too so I’ll determine that before I cultivate this random patch of soil for food and medicine any further.

But that doesn’t affect the lavender aroma.

A seagull squawks above and both Mabel and I turn our heads to look at it. A seagull? In Chester? We’re miles from the sea and the nearest rubbish dump. Perhaps it’s lost.

Mabel decides that’s enough outdoors contemplation for one afternoon. She delicately jumps down, mindful of her arthritic back legs, and saunters towards her route back into the flat, via the recycling bins under the open window of my study.

I pick up my washing basket and follow her, taking the longer route back into the flat through the doors. My lumbering gait requires monumental effort, even to go this small distance. The physios still aren’t showing any interest in helping me with my foot drop recovery.

A short while later, when I’m doing the washing up, I notice a money spider abseiling down a thread from my hair to my shoulder. Some childhood reflex makes me grab the thread and rotate it three times around my head, wishing for money.

I’ve been channeling abundance and wealth so perhaps this was a reminder, a little wink from the Universe, to say that she hasn’t forgotten.

Maybe she was saying, “Go outside. That’s where you’ll find wealth and abundance.” I was hoping for something more material at the moment as circumstances are rather dire, but I’ve learnt not question gifts from the Universe.

I do plan to use my time outside from my “rewilding” to do some nature writing. So it could have been a gentle nudge from the Universe, encouragement that I’m going in the right direction after all, for both material and spiritual wealth and abundance.

After it’s thrice turn around my head, the money spider didn’t return. I felt bad. Did I throw it off into oblivion with my selfish desire for wealth?

A few moments later I felt a tickle on my cheek, then saw the money spider resolutely abseiling down onto my shoulder again. This time I let it finish it’s descent and go on its way.

The Crippling Cold

I’ve been home for over two hours now and I still haven’t managed to warm up. This will be my first autumn and winter since becoming ill that I have been independently active, as in able to get myself around outside. Today I went to a planning meeting with my writing group, the Chester Writers, as we are doing an event at the Chester Literature Festival on Friday, 14 October (I’ll be reading an extract from my memoir). I had to get into town on my mobility scooter and it was raining hard, and very cold. It seems that October has brought the cold weather with it.

Regrowing your nerves is a strange thing. After half a year of constant pain, I now have heightened sensitivity. Since I’ve come off the morphine, my sensation is returning along with my mental aptitude and feeling much more like “me”. My bed is suddenly incredibly uncomfortable, and it seems that I have greater cold sensitivity. Maybe I’ll become more empathetic too.

By the time I got home, the function in my right hand, which is usually stronger, was much worse than in my left. My grip was bad and I’ve struggled to pick things up which would usually not be a problem to me. I think I may have to have a long hot bath before I can finally warm up! I never really thought about the phrase “the crippling cold” before, but I think that this is a phrase that’s going to have greater meaning for me this year. Time to dig out all my handknitted and cosy items.

My creative writing MA starts today. I’ve chosen creative non-fiction as my primary genre, with fiction as my secondary. I’m going to be focusing on life writing and working on my memoir about my illness and recovery. I hope to blog much more, and will be using it as my notebook for my writing and other thoughts. I’m also experimenting with using dictation software, as typing is not an option for me at the moment. Especially with these cold crippled fingers!

A rainbow of yarn.

Lisa Margreet Payne's photo.

A rainbow of yarn. Each of these remnant balls has a story. I could tell you what I made, who I made it for, if I bought the yarn or if it was gifted. Where I was when I bought it, or was making the item.

So much of my personal history is tied up in these leftover balls of yarn. There are stories of love, birth and death. Illness, wellness and courage. Funny how something that seems so mundane can hold so much meaning.

That’s why I love making things. We, makers, turn time into tangible objects, fused with meaning and memory, using only our hands and, with knitting, sticks and yarn making loops on loops.

Love Sick in “Out of the Shadows”

Exciting news! My short story, Love Sick, is in “Out of The Shadows,” an anthology of women’s writing, which was published this week.  The anthology features nine stories by women writers, and has been described as “strong writing by strong women”. Perfect for reading in short sittings over the summer and discovering new authors writing about strong female characters in a variety of settings.

Out of the Shadows | A short story anthology by L M Payne and others









We all met through our membership of ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors and are located around the world. After each story you’ll find an author bio so you can read more about each author and find details about how to get hold of more of their work.

It’s available for free on Kobo, and Scribd and will be appearing on other platforms shortly. Alternatively you can drop me an email and let me know if you’d prefer a PDF, epub or mobi file.


Love Sick (Extract)

by Lisa Payne

The name space on my clinical trial notes says: LB0072415. I rather like that, the random letters and numbers that signify ‘me’. “Hello, I’m LB0072415.” It makes me sound like a spy. Further down the notes, I see myself referred to as ‘Patient A’. Does that mean that I am the first? Is there a long line of letters of the alphabet stretched out behind me? I’m reading all this upside-down while the receptionist checks on her screen for when I’m next due in. We’re not meant to see our notes, I’m not sure why, but they’re always kept just out of sight.

The spot on my upper arm throbs a little where they put the injection in. It doesn’t help that they used the crook of my other arm to take the blood tests from, now both arms are out of action. They usually do the tests in the same arm so that only one arm is affected, but they couldn’t get a vein in it today.

“Happens sometimes, when it’s cold outside.” The nurse had said. “Always try and wrap up warm when you’re coming in for these tests. Makes it a bit easier.”

She looked up then for the first time from her busy-ness around the notes, the form filling, the tourniquet around my forearm, the little tray of swabs and injection needles all lined up with my number on them: LB0072415. She smiled kindly at me for a moment, then picked up the first syringe to fill up with my blood, pre-injection.

I looked away outside of the window while she trilled “Just a little scratch!” I don’t know why they always say that, it doesn’t exactly feel like “a little scratch” when the needle pierces the vein and sucks out the blood.

There was nothing much going on outside of the window, it overlooks a brick wall at the back of the facility. I could see my reflection and that of the nurse absorbed in preparing my next injection faintly revealed in the window like figures in a television medical drama.

I guess we will be part of a medical drama after today, but a real-life one, not a fictional TV special. The press release has been issued and the research team have got interviews lined up all day with all the major news channels. I’ve taken the day off work, although I usually do anyway after the treatment – sometimes it can make you feel a bit funny. I’ve worked out that I can get back home just in time for Dr. Klugsherz’s interview on Radio 4 as long as the tubes are running OK.