Faber QuickFic - Sunburn

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I entered another Faber QuickFic the other day and, unsurprisingly I didn't win, but it's always good get your brain moving! Here was the prompt picture and my entry:



Twenty years on, I still long for the days of that stifling Summer in Italy. You smelled of sun cream, sticky and sweet; of warm peaches and coming of age. The sun illuminated you like a God, bronze and lithe, and I had wanted to get endlessly lost in the hollows of your skin as we lay side by side next to the lake.

I remember it all. The mountains in the distance. The trees reaching up to the cloudless, brooding sky, praying. The hot wooden jetty that made us dance and hop and curse on the run up to the water, holding hands and diving in, again and again. Laughing, wrapping limbs around one another; too in love to let go.

Near us a brother and sister had squealed with delight, jumping recklessly into the water as if for the first time in their lives, arms spread out like wings as they flew from the jetty. Your eyelashes cast shadows on your cheeks as you squinted into the sun and said, “That could be us and our children one day”. I never wanted that moment to end. My sunburned skin tingled as the air turned cool but we stayed in that lake til sundown.

Eventually, like that Summer and the marks it left, you came and went - silently at first. Then screaming. Then hot, salty tears and burning throats at Midnight. I married someone else. But I still long for the days of that stifling Summer in Italy.
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Using Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

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If you're interested in Social Media, particularly for business use, I touched upon the subject last year here. If you're not interested in Social Media, you might want to look away now.*

*Just kidding. Keep reading. 

Like all temporary phenomenon, Freak Shakes have been doing the rounds in my area. Last night, one of my local pubs put up a Facebook post advertising that they had started to sell these diabetes inducing creations, urging people to come on down and clog up their arteries. Knowing my penchant for all things bad for me, my other half tagged me in the post saying we should go down and try one. Having a private joke with my other half, who knows that I am freakishly concerned about the cleanliness of kitchens in places that I eat in, I joked about what the ‘Score on the Door’ would be. Two minutes later she replied with a screenshot of the score on the door (a 2 – as in ‘2 low for me to eat in’) to which I responded something along the lines of ‘it’s a no from me then’ *crying laughter emojis*

I promise there’s a point to this story and this is not about me being a germophobe – this is where it gets interesting. Within a few minutes, our conversation had been deleted by the pub in question. Working in Social Media, I’m a firm believer that no comment on a page that I am managing, no matter how bad, should ever be deleted unless it contains something offensive or racist yadda yadda yadda. People practising bad Social Media Etiquette just gets my goat! So obviously, not one to shy away from letting my thoughts be known, I posted again explaining that they might want to avoid deleting negative comments as it rubs people up the wrong way. And that’s when whoever was controlling their Facebook account started trying to internet fight me in the least professional thing I’ve seen since that restaurant in Manchester trolled a hen party group who left them a slightly negative review on Trip Advisor. (Mentioned in the post I linked to above, so you better go and read it).

The pub in question started private messaging me, stating they had deleted my comments because I ‘didn’t have my facts straight’ and that they were in fact rated a 3, not a 2 (although the rating was given on 31st March this year and it stated that all details were correct on the local Council’s website on the day in question? Go figure) and that they were going to approach the Council to ask to be given a 5, the highest rating, because they had just had a new kitchen installed. They sarcastically invited me to come and look around the kitchen to check whether I felt it was clean enough for me to eat in, they looked forward to showing me around, they were a small business and did not need this kind of negativity etc, all scattered with winky faces and kisses. Then they informed me that they were deleting all of the other comments I had made and ‘trust that they will not hear further of the matter’. Hold up - 


  1. Why are you threatening someone from your business page? 
  2. Why not just explain in the first instance that a new kitchen had been installed and you are getting reassessed soon so to keep an eye out? 
  3. Are you that busy that you can afford to insult potential customers and make sure they never visit your establishment? 

I am a huge advocate of Social Media being used as a customer service tool, and I see this error being made time and time again - companies or businesses completely missing the opportunity to take the beginnings of something negative and turn it around. More often than not, from a customer point of view, having a bad experience is not a deal breaker when it comes to reusing that company’s services or products again; but the way that the complaint is dealt with is. It astounds me that so many people seem to be unaware of this. I’ve seen big, multinational brands fight back to complaining customers and then delete the evidence once people of the internet start trolling them. I’ve seen people who work in PR for upmarket brands (and state who they work for in their profile) commenting on bloggers and influencers Instagram posts, tagging their friends in body shaming comments about the original poster. On their own picture. Who does this?? It’s not rocket science!

We are of the generation who want instant gratification, we’re self-obsessed and we want what we want, when we want it. We want our grizzles and grumbles to be instantly placated, like a child being given sweets to make them feel better after hurting themselves. In the day and age where everyone has a space to rant online, we believe our voices deserve to be heard, no matter how small or trivial the rant may be. We want a response there and then, we want to be told what we want to hear, we want everything to be the way we think it should be. Traditional customer service skills, or lack thereof, just don’t cut it in the social media world. Being trusted with being the ‘face of a brand’ online is a completely different kettle of fish to tagging your friends in a cat video and liking your friends selfies on your own Facebook. You are not Amanda or Peter or Mark or Julie from Spalding who likes The Big Bang Theory, a takeaway on a Friday night and a spot of cycling. You are M&S, Vodafone, Topshop or the Hungry Horse on the A5. You are not you, you are an entity. You can’t take back what you say online. Nothing can ever truly be deleted, everything has the chance to go viral or to be screenshot and shared with thousands of people.

So going back to the issue I experienced last night, I personally may have overlooked the low hygiene rating of the pub in question if they had dealt with my comments – not even aimed at them but at my partner - in an appropriate manner (how wrong can you really go with ice cream anyway?) But because I feel that they tried to mug me off, I’ll make sure I go out of my way to go elsewhere next time I want to give myself a frozen heart attack.

Social Media is the most powerful tool in making or breaking your business and the more people understand this, the better.
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Snow

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I never believed that I was malleable, having been raised in the cold.
A constant state of hardened pressure, ready to explode; like a diamond that didn't quite make the cut.
I thought I had it covered, was an expert, inpenetrable. But even the thickest ice can melt and sub-zero survival techniques won't defend you against the rage of a forest fire. Nothing can prepare you for the blistering heat, the stench in the air, the searing agony of your own flesh peeling away from your bones and the ache that comes after it. Jesus Christ, the ache. You don't get to think about that when you're burning and your blood is racing through your veins like an electric current and your heart is pounding in your eardrums. No, you don't get to think about it. It's afterwards, when the silence is deafening, and you're watching the charred remains of everything you love flutter down from the sky like acrid, blackened snow. That's when it really hits you that you let the fire in of your own accord, and it destroyed you.
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Kafka on the shore

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Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
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Flight

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She was an injured bird
and I wanted to tend to her delicately
because I knew what it was to be flightless.

But she had no interest in her wings
and I could not clip my own
to nest, motionless, forever.
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