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Urgent Need for Latrine Light Innovation

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) is offering a prize of $20,000 for an innovative solution to one of Africa’s biggest WASH problems: suitable lighting at night to make toilets safer. When people are forced to leave their homes by conflicts or disasters, they often relocate to refugee or displaced persons...


Reading Women

Quite by accident this year I’ve almost entirely read books only by women. * Many internets-people have declared 2014 to be the year they read more women writers. Some are even going so far as to say they’ll only read women writers. Having usually been someone who says “I only...


Space toilet chocolates

Sometimes a story just falls out of the sky and lands in your lap and says, “Hey, man, the universe is on your side.” That’s how I feel about this story about everybody’s favourite astronaut Cady Coleman. I’ve written before about toilets on the International Space Station because frankly who...


Keep the Lights On

There was nothing Elly liked better than fairy lights, and everyone knew it. As a result she had quite the collection: white lights, multicoloured lights, umbrellas, pink elephants, hearts, horses, all sorts of flowers, even Swarovski crystal. Those had been a gift from a boyfriend, now ex, who had been...


Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic – Pt 1

Is the sum worth its parts? I went along to catch the first part of the two-part Jane Eyre which opened last night (previews) at the Bristol Old Vic. Sally Cookson has translated the classic Bronte novel into a breathtaking mix of music, stomp, dance, lights, gags and, of course,...


The Birthday Party

Having never done this before, he wondered what to do. Obviously, he received his guests with respect. “Thank you for coming. Lovely to see you,” he said, to people he didn’t know. Eventually he grew tired and started to cry. It was his first birthday, after all.


Snow is Snow, You Know

It had been snowing all morning and, with trepidation and excitement, she put on her new boots, duck-down jacket, wool gloves, old brown scarf and beanie and ventured out into the white world. This is what she learned about snow that morning on her way to the faculty: it lands...

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Tick Tock

The clocks are out of sync. He can hear the double ticking in the other room, like a baby’s heartbeat. He stares up at the ceiling, his hands tucked behind his head. The hotel room spreads out around him for aeons in all directions, the dark purple of the night...

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Letter Writing

Many years ago, I stayed with a friend in Kendal. He was a locum in the hospital and was living in nurses’ quarters. The room was nothing much, a tiny space with a single bed, a wardrobe, a desk and a window through which we watched with genuine joy as...

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Pahuljica / People

Sometimes, people are like snowflakes. You walk through a city, through crowded streets, rubbing up against people, constant skin on skin, sleeve on sleeve, and you never feel so distant, so alone. All those people merge together and turn into one blinding homogeneous pile of slush. But individually they can...