The Write Target

Welcome to my website. I am a writer and teacher. Thank you for looking, Nina

The website of  nina macpherson

07854 372633

07854 372633

Nina MacPherson BSc PGCE MEd MA

Writer and Tutor


Austerity and Other Cuts - a short story collection

My collection contains ten satirical short stories, inspired by Osborne’s  “We’re all in it together”, Orwell’s Books v Cigarettes and Animal Farm, Polly Toynbee’s commentaries and Marcus Berkmann’s satires.

They are an antidote to politicians’ homilies in contemporary Britain. Included is an eleventh story, Austerity, which captures life in post-war Sierra Leone, where few have health care, contrasted with Britain’s pampered pets and attentive vets. Other peoples’ lives can be hidden, or are media stereotypes. I aim to interpret them for readers ‒ to provoke and entertain, not depress. Cats’ lives, a recurring motif, show suffering in austerity for some, comfortable times for others. Cuts and strife in schools also triggered my writing.

The collection begins with three stories loosely connected by the effects of pressure in education. All the Responsibility ‒ None of the Power describes a system entrapping a family and deputy head in meetings and paperwork. It is set in the poorest ward in the Bristol environs, where a family’s forty-two inch television screen is omnipotent.

The Inspection is a satire of Ofsted, where cats’ home volunteers judge the suitability of a would-be owner for one of their abandoned kittens. The inspector uses an Ofsted-style checklist to ensure the householder, Ellen, can achieve “outstanding” as a cat owner, thereby risking alienating her and leaving the cats’ home full of homeless kittens. Inspection ‒ to what purpose?  

Single File lampoons three lonely women, who have become their jobs. Two retired theatre sisters, Ivy and Judith, wear aprons which resemble surgical gowns and lay the table as if handling surgeon’s implements in the operating theatre. PE teacher, Ruth, sees how narrow life has become, willing shoppers in town to walk in single file, as if at school, and socialising only with Ivy and Judith. Then she meets a Latvian graduate, who changes her outlook on life.

My novella Life on Earth satirises those who profiteer at a time of crisis. Austerity measures are in place during a prolonged heat-wave in the Midlands, affecting the everyday lives of Isla and her neighbours. Sylvester, the entrepreneur, convinces people afraid of water and food shortages to buy his third-world-technological aids, and rabbits, to prevent starvation. Finally the rabbits escape, the rains come and Sylvester becomes a millionaire.     

Service Providers is a quartet about government interference with the health service and how it affects admin staff, a patient, midwife and nurse. The Receptionist’s Story, (Sans Teeth), shows Jeremy rewarding slim and fit patients when they visit the surgery. The overweight and sick patients fall asleep in the waiting room while the GP sees healthy “service users” who want anti-malaria treatment. Yes, the Secretary of State for Health did dream up a scheme to reward patients. This story ironically depicts such government diktats.   

Finally Gardening Leave and Some Have Entertained Angels reflect the lives of those who are perpetually strapped for cash, with fatal consequences. We are not all in it together!

My Novel

In 1918, in the industrial Midlands, master butcher Eliza Freeman, married to successful  shop owner Will, is the only one of three sisters to have the ‘married women’s’ vote. Younger, prettier Maud lives opposite Eliza with plain cousin Megan, and wants marriage, not women’s suffrage. Older, imperious Phoebe lives in Florence, with servants, in a loveless marriage to Freddy.

Maud feels trapped at home, especially when Megan has a stroke. Thus when Phoebe visits from Italy, with the exotic Andreas, Maud is overcome with desire for him, but fears he is Phoebe’s beau.

By 1924 Maud and Andreas, now selling Italian goods in upmarket Hattingham, are married with a baby, Violetta. Eliza, financially comfortable, with ambitions to expand the business, dotes on Violetta, realising she’s left it too late for motherhood. The General Strike of 1926 threatens Will financially but Eliza opens a soup kitchen for hungry labourers, and thereafter is held in high esteem.

Preparing for her birthday celebrations, August 1930, Eliza is tragically widowed when Will is killed by a bull he is slaughtering. In her grief, her ambition gone, she wants change - a move to middle class Bradmore. When Violetta and her wayward friend Maria almost die in quicksand, Eliza and Maud try to discuss Vi’s behaviour with Andreas, at his shop. There they are shocked at his hosting a cross-dressing party. Maud fears he’s homosexual and agrees with Eliza to banish him to Italy.

Bereaved, and enraged over the quicksand incident, Eliza means to challenge Maria’s parents. Seeing them in the back-to-backs she merely feels pity and offers Maria’s mother a job in her butcher’s shop, knowing the risk; her customers spurn slum-dwellers.

With Will’s legacy and Maud’s unhappiness over Andreas, Eliza decides on the move to Bradmore, buying two houses, one for her and Megan and another for Maud and Vi. Maria’s family leave the slums to rent from Eliza. After moving house, never hearing from Andreas again, Maud sinks into a depression

Months later a neighbour finds Andreas’s letters, posted to Maud, but to the wrong address. In Italy an unhelpful Phoebe doesn’t encourage him to contact Maud. Freddy has left her and she’s lonely. Andreas, unemployed in Florence, plans a business venture in Scotland. Phoebe is left alone in Italy while Maud and Andreas have a passionate reconciliation in Edinburgh.

In September 1939 Phoebe, now considered an alien, flees Italy, travelling across a Europe at war, with no servants and a debilitating stomach ulcer. Waiting for the last boat from Calais to England she is near death. After months of meeting Andreas in hotels Maud finally sees his shoddy flat in Edinburgh, is horrified, questions her marriage and has a miscarriage.

At the end of the novel Phoebe and Maud face uncertain futures. Meanwhile Eliza, ignorant of their plights, settles into comfortable semi-retirement in Bradmore. Friends with Aubrey, an intellectual, she is content that Violetta is becoming an independent woman, determined to vote, rather like Eliza herself.

My Blog

My posts are humorous reflections on modern life, in a similar vein to my short stories. Some reflect the frustrations I have when, for instance, trying to re-stain the garden fence in

It's Not What It Says on the Tin. In What is a Ford B Max?  I aim to illustrate the absurdity of buying an almost-new car, for a very good price,  without ever having seen it.

Young Faces of Britain becomes a mild rant against political manoeverings and two posts from last summer are commentaries on articles in The Guardian post-referendum.

Please feel free to comment on my posts. I have a small regular following.

nina macpherson, writer, teacher nina macpherson, writer, teacher

“Coming of Age”

nina macpherson, writer, teacher

“Coming of Age” promotional models

Nina at a reading

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