She awoke to the pitter-patter of rain. The downpour predicted by all weather apps. Music to her ears, the sound lulled her back to sleep.

Take two: She awakes again with the blinding light of the sun. The stones and concrete give warmth. The sun glares at her from every mirror – from glass windows to ceramic tiles and the white polished cobblestones of Lisbon’s streets and alleyways.

Sunday is laundry day. So she bundles a dark-ish load of sports bras, beach towels, lace knickers, cotton dresses, and black leggings.

The only denims she dare wear with her  child-bearing hips are denim shorts. The kind with frayed edges that ride up her cracks ever-so-slightly in the summer, when she searches for a quiet spot to play with herself.

When she strolls on the beach, frolics in the woods, and climbs the hills and stairways that snake through Lisbon’s tunnels and in between buildings.

She hears the bleep of the washing machine some 60 minutes later. It is time. The fragrance of lavender fabric softener perfumes the atmosphere, carried by the coastal winds deep, deep, deep into the nostrils of neighbours and

Grandmothers mock her folly, as ominous black clouds lurk on the horizon. The windows on every street lay bare and naked without the garments of freshly washed linens. Still, the dew on the copper line glistens as she dextrously pins her clothes outside her  kitchen window.

On most Sundays, when the sun blazes at 30°c or more, without the interference of rain, there is a competition to see which house has the best smelling laundry.  The fusion of fragrances are distributed through windows for all to savour, and make love with the salt of the sea.

But today is not such a day. Today, work is done not for glory or fame, but for her very survival in a world where the demand for laundry services has spiked significantly.


From interconnecting each garment to preserve the number of clothing pins available to categorising each item next to each other – bottoms with bottoms, tops with tops, each action is fulfilled with the utmost thoughtfulness so as not to be gripped by vertigo.

The clouds hold back tears. Through the methodical productivity. Despite the pain. Prevailing in the acknowledgement of heartache. In the refusal to be consumed by torture inflicted by one man. Knowing there are so many more enriching experiences life has to offer.

As each action is driven by deep intention, she creates magic.

The rain does not pour.

Others, seeing that she is successful in putting nature to the test and admiring her knowledge regarding the mind of the weather, begin to cautiously follow her example.

The Alien Hitchhiker I picked up at a Vintage Bookstore in Manchester


I wasn’t sure exactly what I was reading. Were these simply the chants and mantras of a fanatical cult leader who found meaning in abstract nonsense and coincidences?

Or had an alien from some extra-terrestrial realm attempted to contact me nearly two years prior to my discovery, leaving clues and hints of an impending invasion hidden within the pages of ‘The UFO Report 1990’?


These were the questions I asked myself as I reflected back to that rainy, Saturday afternoon in March 2017.

Wandering the streets and alleyways of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I happened upon the ‘Manchester BookBuyers’ shop on Church Street. The sign above the entrance promising ‘2nd Hand & Rare Books’ beckoned me to visit. My eyes, curious as ever, could not refuse.


As a fan of all things  personal and inter-galactic space, ‘The UFO Report 1990’, with its torn cover and retro images containing an array of astronomical phenomena quickly found its way into my handbag in exchange for a tidy sum.

Unfortunately, however, I am also a hoarder and procrastinator. Upon returning to my house in Whitefield, the book was soon lost in a pile of other literary works and promptly forgotten for two years.

One night, after a hasty house move and hours of unpacking, I sat alone drinking wine in my new living room. My eyes drifted towards the bookshelf, where ‘The UFO Report 1990’ jumped out to remind me of its presence.


I cracked it open and discovered an array of interesting, curious, and peculiar doodles scribbled across the margins and blank opening pages. Within the heart of the book itself were scribbles of messages and captions, along with decimals and illegible mathematical equations.

At first, it felt as though I was intruding into the intimate and private life of a cult leader or UFO conspiracy theorist gone mad. But as I ventured deeper into the heart of the book, I wondered whether an alien was attempting to integrate with society. Leaving messages specifically for me, where no one else would ever suspect they existed – in a vintage bookshop in Manchester.

But what did this hitchhiker mean by leaving eccentric and repetitive texts hidden within the pages for my eyes only? I have some theories…

The first theory starts with the year the UFO sightings were reported and documented – 1990, exactly one year before I was born. I believe an alien descended upon the earth in a UFO, abandoned in West Yorkshire due to its curiosity for all things human connection.

His name was Xolphex. His downfall was his integration with humanity.

A Tree in Winter


Xolphex was abandoned in the winter, upon the moors surrounding the Astronomy Centre in Todmorden, Huddersfield. An amateur astronomer, drunk from exhaustion and one too many nightcaps, had carelessly left a copy of ‘The UFO Report 1990’ laying next to a Horse Chestnut tree.

Xolphex snatched up the in his slimy hands and studied the tree bark before him. Engraved were the words: ‘A tree in Winter’. Was such a label to be taken literally given the season?

Or was there a deeper meaning etched into the rough flesh of endangered perennial plant life? One which stood defiantly in the cold, dark  winter’s night, despite being stripped of the splendour of its green leaves? Despite its siblings being mercilessly butchered by the hundreds each year?

Not finding the answer to his questions in the cold of night, Xolphex clutched the book to his chest and ran swiftly into the night. Better the tree be the only victim of injury inflicted by a species that was fast proving to be both thoughtless and inconsiderate.

A British Perspective


Xolphex moved to Manchester, where he explored the concept of numbers and tested his knowledge of algebra. Although he knew a great many things about ecosystems and living organisms, he was not a numerical expert by any means. And so he sought to apply the order of mathematical logic to his rather illogical life.

However, he soon grew bored of such study, and directed his attention elsewhere – the exploration of human nature.

Clapping Is So Stupid


Xolphex also learned that clapping his slimy hands together made a very peculiar sound. One which drew hostile attention toward himself. He already felt self-conscious that he had to conceal his scaly body beneath the cloak of darkness, or in daylight, a suit and a top hat.

The pickle he found himself in, however, was that the only way he could feel happiness (on this stupid planet he now called home) was to clap his hands. And so it was, that in his continuous pursuit for happiness, he was always clapping, always subsequently beaten, and always profoundly embarrassed.

Clapping is so stupid!

The Soviet Union Of Lovers


Xolphex liked to read, and the ‘The Soviet Scene’ in the ‘The UFO Report 1990’ sparked a memory from long, long ago. He remembered lovers torn apart. Those careless creatures who foolishly anticipated each other’s embrace, only to be blinded by the light of alien invaders.

They were not featured in the book documenting UFO sightings, so Xolphex added the largely unknown, ye somewhat catastrophic historical event to the record.

He did not document the moment that came next…lovers fleeing blindly into the sea, never to find each other again.

UFO – So Many Faces


“Beware, they will come again, bringing with them Michael Jackson and an elephant they abducted many lifetimes ago.” – The faces on the page cry out to me.


Who else have they taken? You father, mother, brother, or sister? What has become of the people we once knew. Those we held so near and dear to our hearts? Have they been murdered, or have they been transformed?

Know God. Know love.

No God. No love.

They are coming for us all, because we refused to know them as they are now.

Whatever became of Xolphex the alien?

I am still waiting to hear a word from him since I unraveled his clumsy communications scribbled into the book I purchased at a secondhand, Manchester bookstore. I wonder if he will visit me in my sleep and clap his hands over my head to get my attention.

I wonder whether he will invade my office in a magnificent starship and whisk me off to galaxies unknown. I have since moved to Portugal – one year after I began writing this strange, strange tale.

I look for messages in the stars. I write messages in my own heart.  Astronomical space. Personal space. But he is always watching.

Someday, he will come for me.