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I confessIt was chilli. It was always chilli. Not the spicy kind that would upset Mother’s cancer-ravaged stomach, but a sludgy sickly tomato-like soup that played host to some mince and a few kidney beans. Every Sunday night I’d be surroundedby condensation and the undeniably sweet scent of his chilli.In the new Wickes kitchen that Mother had droned on andon about for months until he relented and coughed up the dough, he’d slope around, all bad posture, stirring, prodding the wok filled with the blood- red concoction. As he opened the packet of Uncle Ben’s rice to whack it in the microwave, Mum would shark about the scene, sprouting the occasional ‘Mmm, smells good!’ and ‘Ooh, I’m starving’.He’d whip out his long white crusty baguette, cut it into sections and cut each section in half. The bread was an essential component to this Sunday night ritual. The man never ate a meal without a large smattering of salt and basket full of bread. And every Sunday night without fail I would offer to smother this bread in its marg.I offered because it gave me the chance to taint his feast. Once buttered, I’d carefully lick the entire length of his bread: not to remove any of the marg, just to smooth the surface and discretely leave my mark.As I’d watch him gobble it down, I’d smile. Satisfied I’d secretly ruined his one domestic accomplishment.It’s been four years since I last had to endure a Sunday night chilli, and over 15 years sinceI tasted that... taste. I can still feel the rebellion and I do feel shame. I’m ashamed I didn’t put my mouth to better use.SOPHIE O’KELLY is a freelance copywriter and journalist from South East London. She has written for many brands, including Burberry, Net- a-Porter, Visit Britain and The Argus. Sophie hopes to pluck up the courage to write more frequently about the things she feels passionate about.To submit your creative non- fiction confession (up to 300 words) see p80BLACK MENTORS Misan Sagay, best known as the screenwriter of Belle, is working with the Tisch School of the Arts in Florence to create a programme that will partner aspiring and establishedBlack screenwriters. Sagay is known for speaking out about Black representation in film and television – especially in screenwriting, where Black characters in the hands of non-Black screenwriters have resulted in misrepresentations and stereotypes. In an interview with the Guardian Sagay said,‘If the outcome of diversity isto give white men more work writing about Black women like me, we’ve failed.’ The partnering programme should help address this imbalance. Earlier this year,.... Short Story Heroes continuedcouple: ‘... break bread, scoopup white cheese and shrivelled, sour olives. Outside it is raining again. Their hotel room is nota place that invites intimacy. The cold marble floor. The thin blankets that are not warm enough for December in the Algarve. Two single beds are pushed together.’The wife’s recurrent fantasy of betrayal, on the other hand,is infused with hidden warmth and desire as her husband:‘... sits at a table with his admirer eating almonds. Easter cakes, iced white in the shape of small bells. His admirer is strong. Desire has made her strong. Her skin is tanned. Her eyes and hair are black. She shakes the three green bracelets on her wrists ...’A whisper of journal keeping enriches ‘Roma’ and many of Levy’s stories, the accumulation of interesting, albeit ordinary, details at home or abroad thatSagay joined the writers’ branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the second-ever woman of colour to be selected.TONIC’S ADVANCE PROGRAMME CHALLENGES INEQUALITY Tonic Theatre’s Advance initiative, currentlyin its third year, investigates why talented women inthe performing arts are underrepresented at the top of their professions. For example, their research with 179 major theatres, including the Almeida Theatre and the Royal Opera House, revealed that only 37 of artistic directors are women. Their work involves fact finding like this, as well as more detailed investigations into where the barriers are – and advocacy about how those barrierscould be dismantled. Their practical hands-on advocacy includes running ‘awaydays’for decision makers, actionplans to ensure time is set aside on busy schedules to address gender inequality, and setting deadlines for making changes. Issues that emerged includedare intensified by their selection, and become meaningful because they have been isolated and written down in a notebook.The extraordinarily precise detail in these pieces make me wonder about their provenance. I can imagine Levy on trains,in cafés, noting down what she sees. The quality of her imagery makes me also wonder if she keeps a dream diary.Who needs elaborate narratives anyway? Levy’s stories indicate that plot doesn’t have to mean an intricate unfolding of circumstances based on causality. Her tales are spare, but strangely commodious,like an expandable suitcasefor her original and allusive ideas. Simple plots let Levy’s glorious prose, her imagery and economy, the intensity of her language, both lyrical and spare, dynamic and resilient, sparkle and flare. ❐women’s reticence about pushing themselves forwards, and a blinkered attitude to the roles they could fulfil. Sadler’s Wells looked at why emerging female choreographers are less likely to advance than their male counterparts; the National Theatre focused on whether their mode of operation resulted in a bias towards male voices.QUEENS OF THE NORTHNewcastle upon Tyne's Northern Stage and the Greyscale Theatre Company are presenting a Spring 2017 season of great female stories and storytellers. Selma Dimitrijevic adapted the headlining shows, Dr Frankenstein and Hedda Gabler: This is Not aLove Story, and is directing the latter. The plays feature strong female protagonists: Victoria Frankenstein, an English visionary, who goes to Bavaria to study medicine; and the eponymous Hedda Gabler, a fiery woman who must decide between submission or defiance when she is expected to become the quiet wife of an academic.EMILY OWENSplot doesn’t have to mean an intricate unfolding of circumstances based on causalityMARGARET WILKINSON is a prose, stage and radio writer. Her short stories have been widely published and her radio playshave beenbroadcaston BBCRadio 4. Sheis a SeniorLectureron the MAin CreativeWriting atNewcastleUniversity.WHAT'S NEWSCRIPT70 Dec/Jan/Feb 2016/17 mslexia

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