UNTOUCHABLE by Ava Marsh – a review

Vicky Newham


“If you start feeling anything for a client – and it does happen – count the money.”

Amongst crowded book shelves, a novel with an unusual setting or protagonist stands out. Untouchable appealed to me as it has both. It is the story of Stella who works as a popular and successful escort. She isn’t a stereotypical junkie hooker with a pimp. She is educated, well read and intelligent, has chosen this profession for her own reasons and clearly enjoys many aspects of it. She contemplates the ethics of her tax return, charges mega-bucks an hour, and when she needs a reality check she counts the cash. The reader quickly learns that Stella’s real name is Grace, and that something happened to Grace a few years earlier from which she hasn’t recovered. She exists. From one day to the next. Then, when one of her escort friends, Elisa, is found…

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Don’t be silent about bullying and trolls and don’t trivialise their effects

Vicky Newham

… and why I won’t be joining the Twitter Silence today.

When I read about the proposed Twitter Silence I knew that it didn’t sit comfortably with me. I get the point that people want to make but, to me, it doesn’t feel the right way of making it. People have been stating their position and this post is my attempt to do the same. I feel very strongly that bullies and trolls should be stood up to. If people don’t have sufficient resources or support, they can ruin lives and careers.

When I was at school I was bullied. I was ten. My French teacher decided to put me into the year above for lessons and that meant that when my own class did French, I learnt Greek. This wasn’t my choice; in fact I asked him not to. One boy bullied me mercilessly for the next three years for…

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Daughter’s Day

Florists burst with fathers and children,
Ordering the obligatory bouquet,
Writing heartfelt messages.
Others, a card from the garage or
Chocolates left over from Christmas.
A celebration of mothers:
The wonderful mother
The ‘good enough’ mother.
But how does one commemorate
The reluctant mother?
Who kept her love
For her own reflection.
Does one polish niceties
And play with pretence?
Or practise forgiveness?
In silent sadness
Filled with shame
And pain.

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© Vicky Newham 2012. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vicky Newham, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Death’s attendant

She hovers outside the window in short sleeves,
Puffy ankles pushed into sandals,
Oblivious to the mid-winter crispness.
She sucks the life out of her ciggie,
Increasing her lip lines with every draw.
Hair dyed so black it’s almost blue,
Scraped up into a top knot
With white roots and scalp peeping through.
The smell of death oozes from every pore of her chalky skin;
Ill-health throbs from bulging eyes
Encircled with smoky black eye-liner.
She looks on as grieving relatives choose wreaths
And wooden boxes for loved ones,
From laminated images in a plastic ring binder.
Another customer, another smile
Through yellow teeth and crimson lipstick.

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© Vicky Newham 2012. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vicky Newham, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Naked orchids

Mid-August,
The orchids in the window
Of the funeral directors
Have not one bloom among them,
Just flaccid leaves, dried out stems
And silvery-grey aerial roots.
The smell of loss lingers –
Death’s hangover,
Mourning’s accomplice –
Despite the shiny leather seats
And lipsticked personnel.
The fairy lights
On the fake Christmas tree
Wink away at whoever’s passing,
Oblivious,
Like a penny arcade
Or Bank Holiday circus.

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© Vicky Newham 2012. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vicky Newham, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Whitstable beach, Kent

The sea’s sounds soothe like balm for the soul:
Waves rise and fall hypnotically,
And sweep onto the shoreline and back out again,
Like large licks of the sand whose imprint fades quickly
Until the next ones swoops in.
Time appears altered, slowed somehow,
Calm and still, an oasis.
Natural vegetation, no hotdog sellers,
A community, a place, from a bygone era.
Squawking seagulls circle,
Flying first in formation, then at angles.
Light reflects off the water like a gleaming mirror,
Casting an ice-like sheen onto the world above.
Wisps of hair flap like kites in the blustery breeze.
Children’s squeals and dogs’ barks muted in the wind.
Siblings and friends collect crabs and oysters
Their tanned, glowing cheeks a picture of health.
Families, groups, couples gather to watch the sun set,
Locals and visitors, drawn day and night, like magnets,
To this simple seaside scene, a magical place,
Their faces and hearts full of joy.

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© Vicky Newham 2012. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vicky Newham, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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