Flash Fiction, Essays, Articles and Monologues.
Here are extracts of some of my shorter pieces of work.
The Silent killer (An article written for VOSPA, Spring 2016)
In places of work, healing, education and public buildings a silent killer lurks. Referred to as a deadly epidemic by the Party Parliamentary Group, official figures show that five thousand people will die prematurely this year as a direct result of exposure to asbestos. That’s three times the number that will die in road traffic incidents.
It’s estimated that around half a million non-domestic, and a further million domestic premises in Britain contain asbestos in one form or another. It’s found in lagging on pipes and boilers, sprayed onto plumbing in cupboards and confined spaces. Asbestos matter can be found in cement, roofing, wall cladding, guttering, pipes, water tanks, tiling and wall coverings.
Research has proved that instances of lung cancer (mesothelioma) are more common in workers engaged in maintenance, refurbishment, construction, demolition and the trades. But that doesn’t exclude employees in other occupations such as shop workers, accountants, nurses and teachers from the dangers of asbestos in the workplace. That’s not to say that everybody exposed to asbestos develops lung cancer. Some will develop chronic illnesses like asbestosis.
There is no safe threshold of exposure to asbestos. Official Health and Safety Executive advice concerning the management of asbestos in the workplace states: “provided the asbestos contained products are in good condition, and are not likely to be disturbed during the normal use of the building, the recommendation is to leave the material where it is and manage it in place.”
Considering that many office blocks today were built in the 1970s and 80s, it’s reasonable to assume amongst their structure there is asbestos. But it is less likely that inside these buildings are pipes, boilers, lift shafts or even cupboards that haven’t needed any maintenance in all that time, making the management of a volatile material even more hazardous.
Concerning asbestos in the workplace, 2012 regulations state that all non-domestic premises should be surveyed and asbestos related material inspected on a regular basis. But in a survey of six hundred schools only twenty-eight per cent of respondents said: “the presence of asbestos containing materials were clearly marked in the workplace.” If these statistics are correct it’s concerning that the remaining seventy-two per cent of schools surveyed not only neglect to monitor the presence of asbestos in their environment, but may not know it’s there at all. The Committee of Carcinogenicity has recently concluded that: “children may be more susceptible to develop mesothelioma as a result of exposure.”
Regulations are only effective when the people that they are designed to regulate are aware of what they safeguard them against, and are trained appropriately. In 2014, out of five hundred tradesmen interviewed by the Health and Safety Executive, only thirty per cent were able to identify the correct measures for working safely with asbestos. The All Party Parliamentary Group believes we need a new law, eradicating asbestos in public and domestic premises.
If we are to prevent more lives being lost to this invisible killer and protect future generations of Britain’s workforce from exposure to the lethal airborne fibres of asbestos, we need to ensure the workforce is asbestos aware, regulations are followed and each employee who comes into contact with the substance is trained and aware of the dangers. The silent killer must be removed.
The Perfect Ending; something I can never have.
A Flash Fiction extract.
In the hotel pool all I want to do is sit on the bottom until the convulsions give way to unconsciousness. But I can’t. Indoctrinated little fool I am! I’m not programmed to be selfish. No! I must consider how scared the families all around me will be, how their holidays will be ruined by my bloated lifeless body floating face down in the water.
How very selfish of me it would be to chose today of all days: the first, middle or last day of their holiday to end the miserable existence that I have the misfortune to call my life.
Nine fresh bored holes in my belt, one is sure to fit just right, cutting off my air supply and letting me slip into hazy unconsciousness; enough to feel the life slip from my pitiful body. One final tug and it’s over.
I can’t now though, the maid came to the door. She smiles sweetly, handing me tomorrow’s activity schedule. How can a man seriously contemplate suicide when greeted by a maid in black and while uttering Buenas Tardes, Señor? The activities schedule foretells how marvellous tomorrow will be? Water aerobics in the main pool at eleven, and bingo at two-thirty.
Why does suicide now seem so pathetic, when I could be Hotel Bingo King?
I’ve got so much to live for!