Short Fiction



In the light of the USA President-Elect’s intention to build a wall to secure the border between USA and Mexico, I remembered i wrote a Pink Monkey story (it’s a story for kids) a while ago that tackles a similar topic … Here it is, if you’d like to read it!




PINK MONKEY’S BUILDING PROJECT A PinkMonkey story by Shelley Day Sclater STARRING Pink Monkey, and Maddy and Barney Webber!

Pink Monkey was sitting up at the table consulting a large manual.

‘Uh oh. What’s he up to now?’ said Barney.

Maddy shrugged and rolled her eyes. She went over to the table and looked over Pink Monkey’s shoulder.

‘What’s that you’re reading, Pink Monkey?’ she said.

‘I’m not reading,’ said Pink Monkey, ‘I’m consulting. If you must know. This is a Building Manual.’

Barney sauntered over to the table.

‘Looks to me like you’re reading,’ he said.

‘Well I’m not,’ said Pink Monkey, flicking over page after page after page. ‘I’m actually looking for something. Something important.’ Pink Monkey continued flicking over pages in the manual.

Barney and Maddy watched him for a little while. Then Pink Monkey seemed to have found whatever it was he wanted. He flattened out the pages with his paw and peered closely at the pictures.

‘Ah, this looks like the very thing I need,’ he said.

‘Looks like what?’ said Barney.

‘Fencing materials, that’s what,’ said Pink Monkey. ‘How to fix them together, you see, I’ve been having a bit of bother with the nails …’

Maddy and Barney looked at each other. They hardly dared imagine what was coming next. Pink Monkey was always getting himself into scrapes …

‘Fencing materials?’ said Maddy. ‘What do you want fencing materials for Pink Monkey?’

‘Because,’ said Pink Monkey with a disdainful tone to his voice, ‘because,’ he repeated, ‘I happen to be building a fence!’ With that, he clapped the manual shut, jumped down off the chair and scampered out of the room and disappeared out the back door. Maddy and Barney followed him into the garden.

Only a few months earlier the children had built a special hut for Pink Monkey so now he had his own little place, all to himself.

Outside Pink Monkey’s house the children now saw Pink Monkey had already fetched and carried numerous planks of wood. Now he was scampering about, measuring and sawing, lining bits of wood up (with what seemed to Barney to be very odd angles, but Barney decided not to say anything, Pink Monkey having a tendency to be a tad sensitive when he was in creative mode.) There was Pink Monkey, clambering about on the wood, dashing in and out of his house, measuring, trying things out for size, sawing off a bit more, hammering a nail in here and a nail in there.

Maddy and Barney gazed on in amazement. They couldn’t begin to think what on earth it was Pink Monkey was building. Just then Pink Monkey lifted up a queer-looking piece of his construction. He lifted it with some difficulty, and he began to manoeuvre it, whatever it was, through the door and into his house.

‘Crazy!’ said Barney.

Maddy nodded. ‘Let’s go round the side and look in the window, see what he’s up to.’

So the children ran round the side of Pink Monkey’s house and looked in through the little round window. They were amazed at what they saw. Pink Monkey’s bed was now completely surrounded by random bits of wood nailed together at all sorts of strange angles …

‘What on earth …?’ said Maddy.

Barney shrugged. ‘You never can tell with Pink Monkey.’

Maddy banged on the window with the flat of her hand to attract Pink Monkey’s attention.

‘What on earth is that?’ she shouted.

‘Aaaargh!’ said Pink Monkey. ‘You’re too annoying Maddy! Can’t you see what it is? It’s a fence!’ and Pink Monkey continued with his hammering, trying to straighten his ‘fence’ into something that resembled an actual fence around his bed.

Maddy and Barney came round to the door, crouched down low and crept into Pink Monkey’s house. (The house was tiny, having been built for Pink Monkey and not for people-sized people, so the children had to crouch down almost onto their stomachs to get through the door).

Why exactly do you want a fence in your house?’ Maddy said.

‘Most normal people normally have fences in their garden, not normally in their houses,’ said Barney.

‘Be that as it may,’ said Pink Monkey sticking his nose in the air in a very superior way, ‘I happen to want a fence inside my house, and as it’s my house, and not your house, I’ll do what I want with it. And I’ll thank you not to interfere.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Maddy. ‘We didn’t mean to upset you Pink Monkey.’

‘We were just curious, that’s all,’ said Barney.

‘Well,’ said Pink Monkey, ‘since you’ve asked me more nicely, I’ll tell you. I am putting a fence round my bed to stop the nightmares and the monsters from getting in.’

Maddy and Barney had to try very hard not to laugh. Pink Monkey could get very upset if people sniggered at his strange schemes, and the children had learned a long time ago not to laugh. But it was difficult. They had to cover their faces with their hands and pretend to be coughing.

‘Pink Monkey,’ said Barney, in as serious a voice as he could manage, ‘I don’t know who told you that fences could keep out nightmares … but, er, whoever it was, I think they might have been … er … well … wrong …’

‘I knew you’d say that!’ said Pink Monkey, clearly offended. He threw down the handful of screws he was holding and stomped past the children and out of his house.

‘Oh dear,’ said Maddy. ‘We have some repair work to do here …’ She ran out after Pink Monkey and across the grass and caught him up. ‘Look Pink Monkey,’ she said, ‘you don’t need to go stomping off in the huff, we were only trying to help.’

‘Well if you want to help,’ said Pink Monkey, ‘you can do something constructive. To keep the nightmares and monsters out.’

Maddy sighed. ‘Pink Monkey,’ she said as kindly as she could, ‘A fence won’t work, it’s full of holes for a start …. And besides, nightmares don’t come from outside

WHAT?’ screamed Pink Monkey before Maddy even had time to finish what she was saying. ‘WHAT?’ Pink Monkey yelled again. ‘Don’t be daft Maddy! They do come from outside, I know they do. I’ve seen them, sneaking in at the window; I’ve seen them, slithering in under the door; I’ve seen them, sliding down the chimney. You can’t fool me Maddy Webber,’ said Pink Monkey, his voice full of self-assurance, ‘you can’t pull the wool over my eyes, because I know where nightmares come from, and if a fence won’t stop them, why, I’ll build a WALL …’

And with that great impassioned speech, Pink Monkey ran off and was last seen gathering stones to build his wall ….

When the children came home from school that afternoon the first thing they did was to run into the garden to see whether Pink Monkey had paid any heed to what they were saying.

He had not.

There he was, inside his house, putting the final touches to a very high wall that went all the way round his bed. All they could see was his tiny hand way at the top of the wall spreading cement along the top of the stones …

‘Oh dear,’ said Maddy.

‘I think we’re too late,’ said Barney.

The wall was so big you could hardly get into the house, it was taking up most of the room. Pink Monkey’s furniture had been shoved outside and was all stacked up in piles outside the front door.

‘Oh no,’ said Barney. ‘ I feared this would happen …’

The children peered in at the door but they couldn’t actually see Pink Monkey at all. He was completely concealed behind the wall.

‘Hello!!!’ they shouted, ‘are you there, Pink Monkey?’

The children knew he was there because they could hear Pink Monkey still scraping and cementing with his trowel.

‘Where are you …? they shouted. ‘Come on out! We’ve got peanut butter sandwiches …’

‘I’m in here,’ said Pink Monkey. ‘I’m just putting the finishing touches to my nightmare wall. I’ll be out in just a jiffy. You just wait outside. And keep a peanut butter sandwich for me.’

Well, the children did have to wait outside because there was no way they could squeeze into the house, not any more, not with that great wall taking up all the room.

They waited five minutes. They waited ten. Fifteen. After half an hour there was still no sign of Pink Monkey.

‘Wonder what’s keeping him,’ said Barney, ‘I’ll go and have a look.’

Barney came back out in a second. He shook his head.

‘He’s stuck,’ Barney said to Maddy, ‘Pink Monkey is well and truly stuck.’

Maddy went to have a look. She too came straight back out.

‘You’re right. He’s totally stuck. What are we going to do?’

‘He’s walled himself in,’ said Barney.

‘He can’t get out, and we can’t get in. So what do we do?’ said Maddy.

‘We’ll have to get Daddy,’ said Maddy. ‘I’ll run in and see if he’s back from work.’

Very soon Maddy and Daddy came running back across the grass.

‘What’s going on?’ said Daddy.

‘Pink Monkey’s gone and walled himself up in his house,’ said Barney.

‘He was trying to build something strong to keep monsters out,’ said Maddy, ‘and he’s succeeded in barricading himself in … totally …’

There was no way on earth Daddy could get through the door of Pink Monkey’s house.

‘Pink Monkey!’ he shouted. ‘You’ll have to dismantle that wall … I mean take the wall down … start at the place where you finished, and take the stones down, one by one …’

‘I can’t,’ said Pink Monkey. His little voice sounded very thin and pathetic and as though he was about to burst into tears.

‘Why can’t you do that?’ said Daddy. ‘Just do like I say, and we’ll have you rescued in no time …’

‘I can’t take the wall down,’ whimpered Pink Monkey. ‘The stones are all stuck with cement and I can’t get them off … I’ve put extra strong layers. To keep the monsters away.’

‘Omg,’ said Barney. ‘Pink Monkey’s going to be stuck in there for ever!’

‘OMG!’ said Maddy. ‘Do something Daddy! Pink Monkey’s REALLY stuck!’

Daddy scratched his head, trying to work out a way to rescue Pink Monkey.

‘The only way to get him out,’ Daddy said after a few moments’ reflection, ‘is through the roof. We’ll have to take the roof off.’

So, the next half hour was spent dismantling the roof of Pink Monkey’s house.

When they got the roof off Daddy reached in and lifted Pink Monkey out while Maddy and Barney looked on anxiously. Pink Monkey was frowning the biggest frown the children had ever seen, and he would not look them in the eye.

‘He’s alright,’ whispered Maddy to Barney. ‘It’s his pride that’s hurt more than anything!’

Daddy carried Pink Monkey on his shoulders across the lawn and into the house. The children followed close behind.

‘Pink Monkey’s always doing daft things,’ sniggered Maddy quietly.

‘You’re not kidding,’ laughed Barney. ‘Pink Monkey’s a proper liability!’

Pink Monkey looked down from where he was perched on Daddy’s shoulder.

‘I know you’re whispering about me,’ he said.

‘Yes we are,’ said Maddy. ‘We’re just whispering how much we love you Pink Monkey. Even if you do dream up the daftest schemes …’

‘I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Pink Monkey,’ said Daddy in a serious voice. ‘A big wall is not the answer. A wall can lock you in where you don’t want to be. And a wall can keep a lot of nice things out. No, really, a wall’s not the answer!’

‘And anyway,’ said Barney, ‘what a nightmare you’ve had Pink Monkey! Getting stuck behind that wall!’

‘I’d say that’s far worse than any nightmare you’ve had in your sleep!’ said Maddy.

The children laughed, and Pink Monkey joined in. He had to admit what they said was true. He’d had the most awful time. But now it was time to start tucking into some peanut butter sandwiches.









I was one of 100BookPeeps, talking about how Morvern Callar inspired me


A tiny wee piece here, from Scottish Book Trust’s Secrets and Confessions

A Policy of Constant Improvement. My debut short story collection. Coming 2017.

Meanwhile, here are 20 small mediations from the Logan Botanic Garden 10 August 2016

  1. That feeling when you walk alone into a garden for which you have a season ticket. A season ticket is good because it means you belong.
  2. The blue of that hydrangea is neither the blue of the outer petals nor the blue of the inner ones but an impression, a blue you see though it’s not there.
  3. That Calceolaria reminds me of something Martin introduced me to in Cambridge years ago. I was 27. Cambridge was a departure in many ways. The time came and I left it. I left it more than once, having taken what it had to offer, and feeling disappointed with the rest; disjointed with its withholdingness which has a long history, not to be dented by a single subject.
  4. You could say that one thing or another let you down. But you won’t. You know nothing lives up to expectations; on the whole, this is a good thing.
  5. Places are more interesting when you go in through the back door. You can easily  forget that in your scramble to get in through the front door.
  6. Through the creaky paint-peeled door, a flight of stone stairs twisting up and up, an enclosed stair, narrow, cold, it also spirals down. Necessity bids you follow it, one way or the other. Once started, you don’t stop; you don’t understand your choice, fear sets in, terror grows thick, the compulsion to carry on, opaque.
  7. Another time you are lifted up the outside of a very tall building in a great glass elevator and the journey to the top is infinite and everything down there gets smaller than small. The walls are made of glass and the ceiling is made of glass and the freedom you seek is made of glass and the whole experience is partly the result of nifty technologies and partly the result of vertigo.
  8. You like lined paper but you rarely stick to the lines. You’ve often tried. Many times you’ve wished you were the kind of person who could stick to the lines. Stick to the tracks, they said, Stay on the rails. But Mummy but Mummy, there’s blood on the tracks, The man over there told me. He said you get diseases from other people’s blood. Get off of the tracks, the train-man says, Trespassers are prosecuted. You need to appreciate the implications of contradictory advice early on.
  9. You have to believe in something. It doesn’t matter what. It’s the fact of faith that matters. Trust. The act of believing.
  10. Something had happened which meant that suddenly there were shadows everywhere.
  11. The Agapanthus reminds us of your father. He’d put the tubs out in the summer and bring them back into the greenhouses as autumn drew closer in. In gone years, he’d done the lifting and carrying himself. But later, he’d had to rely on help, on paying people, who never did it right, who never listened; they never bloody listened and consequently never got anything right.
  12. The bark of Eucalyptus trees can have a twisted appearance, the more so in the older tree. Also, the older the tree, the longer the leaves grow. The bark can, in some species, become quite gnarly. In others, the leaves stay squat.
  13. I had an orange shirt once, the colour of Crocosmia. I can’t imagine wearing that colour now. It was of a soft, almost fleecy material and came, I think, from my mother’s Freeman’s catalogue. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with style, and it with me. It’s one of those desires, never realised, upon which I’ve projected disappointments and envies while looking quite ridiculous, to which many photographs bear witness.
  14. I’m being as honest as I can, she said, thinking about what it actually means to be honest.
  15. In this garden, with its Cordylines standing tall in the sun against the clear blue sky, I am transported; today, to California, waiting for your motorbike to pull up outside my door. It’s Tuesday, early afternoon, and you’re stopping by for a coffee on your way to deliver something to someone. You carry the parcel in. You undo the tapes and show me what is you are delivering. The coffee bubbles up into the top half of the pot, but we are still looking at the painting.The sun is shining through the open kitchen window, the sun and the breeze through the leaves of the trees outside makes dancing shadows on the floor. You fasten the tapes back up and you return the painting to the specially stiffened area in your backpack, the specially made area for carrying things fragile. You kick-start the bike, wave a gloved hand and I watch as you head off along the wide open road.
  16. When I wish for things, they’re mostly ordinary, things that could be possible, even though you know they won’t be, they could be, possible. Always reaching out.
  17. A child’s voice yells, ‘Dad!’ You don’t yet know how important this is. People hear these things, and they don’t realise how important they are.
  18. A pond was being renovated in the Botanic Garden at Logan. There were metal barriers all round of the sort police and local authorities employ in political demonstrations, but hopefully no guns.
  19. When things become familiar, they close their eyes.
  20. You dream of a yurt, 5m in diameter, overlooking the lake, on our bit of land in Norway. You build it, with your own hands. You build it in the mornings when the first light wakes you. You carry all the tools and materials on your back all the way up the Engelsti. You carry the sound of your footsteps on the stones, the sound of the wind in the birches, the hopeful spring-time hollering of the birds. You build the yurt piece by piece as the tiny rosy flowers shine out on the tyttebaer. One day you will stand back because it’s finished, you’ll stand back and admire everything. You’ll sit in the doorway and look out across the mirror glass Feforvann, you’ll look out across the mirror glass and see the new world reflected, hear the old world still rumbling on. Take up your binoculars. Across the lake there are people; a family, picnicking. Children splash about in the water, the sounds of their voices carry in fragments. One child has a small boat tethered to his wrist by a string. Keep tight hold, his Father says, Don’t let go! as the little boat drifts the length of the string. The child’s eyes are green, the colour of reindeer moss after rain.