Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Monday, 22 December 2008
because her journalism has really been driving me crazy.
I sauntered downstairs once, the sun streaming like a hot ball of fire through the crystalline glass of the windows into my hallway, before wandering into my sister Xs room, pondering on what I will do with my boyfriend ( I have an amazing boyfriend you know, he’s like a cross between a dandy Don Juan, a pirate and a philosopher from the early twentieth century – a bit like me really which is why we get on so well, I love him and will probably stay with him until I dump him for a guy in a band who totally gets my restless dreaming soul and will take me to all the parts of America the tourists don’t go to and marry me) when I see my sister X sitting at her desk, putting objects into her mouth.
It turned out she’d discovered this totally new thing called eating, a way of tasting edible items, digesting them and transferring the solid object into a mystical energy that allows you to, like, live and move and dance!
Luckily I am getting paid to tell you about food because I like, totally know that if I don’t write about these things in a way that is reminiscent of a romantically inclined GCSE student – with metaphors that dig the way the sunlight dances in a dappled manner through the window, then you would never know about them, or get the chance to follow my trend lead.
Next week I will explain music to you, I discovered music the other day and you really need my guidance on it because it may totally blow your mind - it has transformed my life like the karmic cycle of the dharma wheel. And I’ll tell you some more about my boyfriend.
Did I mention my dad is famous?
Monday, 8 December 2008
A trudge, I suppose it is these days, more than a walk. No longer for me the swish of my arms and cocky angle of my chin, feet kicking my skirts out of the way as I walk along, feeling untouchable, feeling that the streets will belong to me, forever. Now I trudge, a hobble almost, shoulders hunched over, looking sideways, along the streets past the market, selling the odd cuts of meat that look positively indecent, pink and shiny, dotted with the black flies that make you feel slightly dizzy in your stomach at the prospect of eating them, of course you would wash it first and it doesn’t do much harm but still, flies on meat, flies on fish, flies on veg – it seems that the market is more flies than produce some days.
Tucking Mrs M into my coat, hidden from the prying eyes of the bus driver, I lift myself delicately onto the steps of the bus. A seat is free near the door, it’s the right time of day for the bus, mid morning, the workers and the school kids safely arrived, the tourists not yet up. Not that there are any tourists in this end of the city of course, not where the houses crookedly shelter pound shops and kebab shops, where the litter on the street sits in the corners, building up higher and higher, a rat’s paradise, and the smell of Kentucky fried chicken and McDonald’s fries fills the air with a sodden, sickly scent, wrapping it around your throat that closes up at the thought of eating it. I think briefly about the Lyons Tea Room. No rotten smells coming from there, just a steaming cup of tea and a cheeky slice of cake, a safe smell, with a cheap luxury of sitting on the seats under the white scalloped ceilings, passing the time with a never ending pot of tea, staining the cups with tannin. But what am I at, thinking about Lyons. I almost laugh out loud! There’s probably no one on the bus that remembers the Lyons Tea Room, probably no one in a five mile radius.
I look around at the other passengers. There are a few older people, not as old as me, I judge, but old enough to be outside the commuter hours. A mother and a baby and a mother and a toddler, looking tired, more weary than tired maybe, and I wonder whether I would have looked that way, if I had chosen to have a baby, rather than just a cat. The mad cat woman I think to myself, the bogeywoman, living alone with a cat, the crone, the witch. But no, it’s just me! Just the same as I ever was, with thinner hair and less of a face, but the same really, never one to become a crone. Not enough bitterness in the blood to cause trouble.
My favourite people on the bus are the morning-afters-the –nights-before, as I choose to call them, wide eyed with sticky mascara, heels rubbing against pained feet, silky sequinned finery dusty and dull in the cold morning light. Some smiling with a secret joy of memories from the night, others looking sad and drained, and none of them knowing that I was once one of them, different patterns of dress but the same expressions, none of them aware that they may one day be me too.
It’s a grand old bus ride, it really is. Along the Hackney road, into Shoreditch, now overrun by “fashionistas” and artists, no longer the slum I remember of course, now it’s the swank, you’ve got to put on a little swank, that’s what my friend Mary always used to say, a little bit of swank will get you further than much else in life, and it hasn’t done Shoreditch badly at all. I love the bus rides through the City, city with a capital C, the winding streets that have stood in the same place since the Roman times, the houses that lean to over the streets that are dusty with the history, ghostly footsteps and horse’s feet clip clop under the roar of the traffic. Past the buildings that are imbued with a sense of money next to buildings that stood over cholera infested slums that even I am too young to really remember.
The bus drops me off at Oxford Circus and this is where I start to trudge again, can’t go any further anyway, according to the lights flashing to warn us all that we have reached our destination. I delicately step off, Mrs M tucked in my jacket, as the noise and scream of the Oxford Street city hits me like a blast. I take in the people moving around me like a brook diverts around a stone. Old people, we are invisible and yet as solid as a rock that people recognise in the peripheral.
I can’t help it when I walk around here, memories feel as thick as a treacle pudding, and if I didn’t have Mrs M to cling onto then I might drown within them, a terrifying thought. It’s terrifying to feel like you may disappear in memories, losing the sense of your own outline amidst the ghostly shapes that you once inhabited as solidly as you now live within your own bodily space. I cut through Carnaby Street and see Mary and I giggling and tottering on our heels and our sequinned dresses, over large mouths painted against powdered faces, wrapped up against the cold with furry collars on woollen coats. Look again and through the fog I see my figure, alone, back from the continent, drained of belief, drained of confidence, my ribs metaphorically broken. I don’t think about that time, of course. But her ghost is always moving along with me on the street, the ghost of the bad times as well as the good.
I get on to Brook Road, where it crosses with Bond Street and New Bond Street, and almost unconsciously gaze at the mannequins in the windows, the luxe products. Now I flinch from the reflection, as my body looking back at me merges grotesquely with that of the mannequin. Remembering, remembering that I thought I would really be ok if I could wear those clothes, if I could go into those shops and boldly hold my head up and say yes, I belong in here, you can’t remove me, I am part of your world. Of course, sometimes, after a windfall, a good job well done, I would hold my head high and demand the service that money could pay for. But most of the time, most of my life I was just too afraid. And now, now I am too old to be afraid, not afraid of the spiders in the bathtub, not afraid of the men who look at you with mocking eyes, certainly never get looked at by men in any other ways these days dearie, and most definitely not afraid of death any more, seen too much of that, for I have lived through history and it loses the power to scare you. Of course, sometimes I am afraid of Mrs M passing, but I know we’ll be ok.
I go passed the big houses in Mayfair, and always pause outside one of them, the one I hold the memories of, the memories now forgiven, the first one who I forgave everything because I had to believe that he cared, really, deep down. If I didn’t forgive him then it would have been admitting that something had gone wrong. So young then, 12 years after the Great War and 9 before the next one started and look at me now! Alive in the first year of the new millennium! We didn’t even think of such years back then, except to wonder if we would be living in space. How disappointing to discover that we aren’t, that in real terms things are similar, even if they all have phones and computers and bombs and rockets. Not living in space and not flying to work, but like I said, we didn’t really think about it then. I was so young then. Easily forgiving, didn’t know any better. It was later, after a second and a third time, a second and a third pain and let down, when forgiveness became the struggle through gritted teeth and stinging eyes, wondering when it was really all going to end. But all that is so far in the past and now I always stop outside his old house, where I would sit and lie, nervously, until the small hours, before it was my time to leave. Huddled into a cab, safe from prying eyes, before returning the next day to repeat it all over again. His is the only house I stop outside, the only one I pay a moment of respect for my past to. A hello, a salute to youth, to naiveté, to a beauty lost but not forgotten. He will be dead now of course. Already more than twice my age 70 years ago, and who knows what happened to him, he may not have even survived the war, let alone seen the decades beyond. I mourned him in my time in a way I never mourned the others, for in him I could mourn the spectre of myself.
Mrs M pushes her warm and soft face up to mine and reminds me to keep walking. Get sentimental too easily now you see, it’s something that happens in the extremes, an overindulgence in sentimentality. Still some distance to trudge before we get to the park!
For the park is where we are going! It’s good to see a bit of green every now and then, healthy you might say, and so Mrs M and I decided that we would make it a daily task to visit the park and see what we can see.
Since the days I first arrived in this big city that has grown outwards like my waistline ever since (for I’m not from round these parts duckie, however much I may drop my h’s these days) I have always come to the parks. I remember walking through these parks for hours, before my legs got so stiff that I can only trudge down to sit happily on the bench. I have seen lovers behind trees and I have been a lover behind a tree of course, doing my bit for the war effort (!), I have walked hand in hand with girlfriends blushing and being “picked up” and whisperingly giggling about the people we see. Now in the park I am invisible, as we old people are. I sit on the bench and watch the people go by, oblivious to the pleasure they give me. I want to laugh at the roller bladers, so clumsily graceful as they swerve from edge to edge. I smile indulgently at the laughing students, smoking and drinking and singing along to a guitar, kissing and hugging and thinking they are the first to discover it all. I listen ear half cocked to the ranters on speaker’s corner. I jump with a start, as I think I see myself coming towards me. It must be me, curl hanging out the brown felt hat, pale face and red lips emerging from the fur collared long jacket, nervous on lace up heels! Walking towards me, my own ghost – am I dead yet? But closer she comes and I see her chatting on a mobile phone and that her eyes are blue not grey, and it is just a someone, wearing the past as a fashion, not myself at all.
It gives me a shudder for all that. You get these fancies. I remember the me, walking through the park, cigarette held nervously between my lips, on my way to the club, whichever club I needed to go to that day. Fantasising for beautiful gowns as now I fantasise for my beautiful youth. What if I stood up and told her, she who had just walked off, that I had a coat and a hat and a curl just like she did, 70 years ago, when I was probably a bit younger than her. But to the young we don’t have a youth. She will have discovered it all.
It’s getting later now, and I want a cup of tea. No Lyons these days though. Just back to my home.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
i haven't written anything since july!! and even that wasn't real!!
but it's ok because i have started writing again. so far it is sketches but i'll knock them in to shape, don't you worry.
in the meantime though, here's the press release for the Representation Mis Representation No Representation project for Bristol Feminist Network and Bristol Fawcett Society are running.
“Representations enter our collective social understandings, constituting our sense of ourselves, the positions we take up in the world, and the possibilities we see for action in it.” – Lisa Tickner
Representation Misrepresentation No Representation.
15th November 2008
How do women appear in the media? Do they appear at all? When we see women in the media, how are we seeing them? These are the questions the Representation, Misrepresentation, No Representation are looking to answer, with a month long community project, culminating in an exciting and co-operative art exhibition.
The Bristol Fawcett Society have joined forces with The Bristol Feminist Network to spend a month exploring the way people experience women in their physical and cultural surroundings. Every day between the 15th October and 15th November, members of the project will be counting and collating photos of women in the daily newspapers, tracking the number of women film directors featured in the city’s multiplexes, photographing the adverts and images they see every day to create a snap shot of how women are represented to us in our daily lives.
The project will culminate at St Werburghs Community Centre, where everyone involved in the project will present their findings. They will then be collected to create a visual representation of women’s representation in the media. The 15th November will see the volunteers and members of the public present and discuss the findings, considering their implications and what future action might be taken. This will form part of a week long art installation at the 204 Gallery on Bristol’s Gloucester road.
“It has become ‘normal’ to see women objectified and scrutinised in the media, from the daily press, lads' mags and women’s weeklies, to advertising campaigns, film and radio. By highlighting the ways in which women are represented, misrepresented, and not represented in a range of media, campaign will question and challenge what is so often taken for granted. If you would like to get involved, please email email@example.com” explains project organiser, Jenny Rintoul.
The project will be exploring representation from media as diverse as digital, newspapers, magazines, films, billboard advertising, radio and the portrayal of domestic violence, to capture and debate the nature of the representation of women in the media.
For more press details please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Number: 20080210
Friday, 11 July 2008
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
this is something else i discovered in the mires of my usb. again, it was just how it felt. technically, it ain't great. but i remember it clearly.
I get along without you very well, sings Lady Day
So so stupid. How could I be so stupid? I'm so stupid, I can't even think of a word to use instead of that one.
I play the record over again, the one that tells me that I get along without you, both me and the crackling voice telling ourselves that we have forgotten you, so long as we don't think of spring, for that would surely break my heart in two.
It's your eyes you see. You didn't think they could do that. I know that I didn't. I always thought you had pretty eyes. She sings a song about them you know, I fell in love with you the first time I looked into / them there eyes. I danced to it giddily in my room, picturing your eyes dancing above mine as I pull you close to my chest, half closing mine in expressions of bliss.
Eyes. I I I I I can't speak aloud, I can't form the words on my lips, they die away before they reach my throat. Like a bubble, everything clear and perfectly rounded, forming in my stomach. Ready to reach out and tell you in Hollywood terms, tell you all that is in my mind, and suddenly I will be transformed into a blonde Grace Kelly in shimmering silver negligee, and you the matinee idol, clichés will leave my lips but you will kiss them away and look deep into my eyes with our eyes and all will be well again. In our silver screen life, all close ups and lit from below; cliché phrases become excusable because this is life lived through a film. And in there I always know just what to say.
i’ve been rediscovering old bits and pieces i wrote at uni and this is what i had to say about Xmas 2005, when i was living in finsbury park, and the christamsses i had in dalston and oxford street.
it was just how it felt.
I don’t feel Christmassy yet, and with just over a week to go, what to do what to do.
Two years ago I lived on Oxford Street. It was easy to feel in the festive season then, everywhere you turned a bombarding with the trimmings of a commercial Christmas. Woken up at some God forbidden early hour by a builder or electrician employed by Westminster council to attach hanging lights from just above my window. Open the curtains to see dangling wires and bang bang bang of the hammer and drill, then Kaboom of the lights coming on and shining through each evening. Standing by the window with my high upon cloud view of the shoppers milling and pushing, the Sinner Winner man screaming, children stumbling and everywhere a sense of stressed buying and looking as the shops play records that will stay with us forever when they should have been buried. Mad World playing over and over as people discussed how it was appropriate for a song reflecting on the mess of things, should be the song we use to define a year where, we all reflected, things had been made a mess of. Woken up another morning, typically hungover, as the Salvation Army play a medley of carols, wondering if it is a really big sin to want to shoot the army of God. Look out the window one Thursday to see the brass band flanked on either side by the Israel Palestine protesters outside Marks and Spencer, free free Palestine, rahdirahdah Marks and Spencer, oh little town of Bethlehem. Spending my last night in London kissing the boy I was sleeping with as he passed out on my bed so I couldn’t get into it.
Sitting in my new room, with no view, wondering who lives in that room that looked out on Christmas and wondering if he/she sees the same sights as I once did, and was woken up so rudely. I wonder if they feel Christmassy yet. Maybe they are more concerned by Hanukkah.
Last year we lived in a dark house which we tried to brighten with fairy lights and a tree as big as me that I carried for a mile down Essex Road, which started off with festive lights in Angel and disintegrated into no one cares about this end of town dilapidation, as I moved from feeling full of festive cheer, to being broken backed and knackered from lugging the branches and needles back to our house. I put on Fred Astaire as we decorate the tree with what we had found at the pound shop, and someone bought a record of Christmas songs, which I battled over with my copy of Santa Baby. We cooked a huge meal for all our friends and I started peeling the veg at half eleven in the morning, and somehow lost out on much praise. We none of us had much money, but inspired by the song of that year, we donated what we had to the Sudan. Chris Martin droning that it is Christmas time, we had no need to be afraid, we laughed at Joss Stone (’they gotta eat, oh man, they gotta eat!’) as I said look Ms Dynamite! and we cried at the images of dying children. We had every need to be afraid in that house. The darkness was pretty encroaching as we watched the world get drowned under the huge wave and the Sudan became forgotten, whilst we all struggled to keep afloat and left the fairy lights on to keep the blackness of the rooms at bay. I stumbled around the house that was too too cold in a multitude of jumpers, yet the tree made me feel warmer. When we cooked the roast, I squatted next to the oven to absorb some of its heat.
I wonder who lives there now and how they battle the elements.
But I don’t feel Christmassy this year. On this side of Seven Sisters road, we have no lights. They stop at Hornsey Road. My flatmate has lights in her room though, but I don’t seem to have made the effort. My room is pretty lacking in effort all over, been here a while now but still feel only half unpacked. I made some presents and have made all the cards, I’ve been to a Christmas party where they had a tree, I’ve even resurrected my copy of Santa Baby. Maybe it is the lack of a song – what is the Christmas song this year? Rumours are it is the Crazy Frog, oh yes, he is back. Maybe it is because what really defined this year was the presence of that odd looking entity and his blurred penis. What, with bombs and war and the election.
What is the deal with Christmas this year anyway? Apparently it is a forbidden word. But no one has made clear to me why or what the appropriate replacement is, so excuse me if I over use it.
I asked my friend who never feels Christmassy if he did this year. I thought maybe we had swapped roles, and he was pulling the crackers as I moped in my small flat, wondering why the ’winter lights’ stop before they get to my stretch of the road. I swear, I felt more Christmassy in the autumn, when the shop I was working in put up their decorations. September. Middle of.
I had a flick through the TV guide to explore the treats of festive television. All yer favourites are there, Dr Zhivago (I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with Julie Christie, she makes me misty) vying with the Wizard of Oz (watch out for the suicidal munchkin) as someone dies on a soap or two. It kind of made me feel comforted. I may not feel that festive, but at least some things don’t change.
I always try and make Christmas as perfect as I can. Child of divorce rings in my ears as I remember Christmas past and the long discussion of who got to have me on Christmas day and who on New Year’s Eve, even now that I’m twenty one trying to negotiate who buys what present without finding out what is being bought because still after all these years they won’t communicate. Doing this again this year I wondered when things would change, and the static nature of the holidays stopped being so comforting.
I’m only twenty one and yet after the twentieth Christmas I already feel I have to prepare myself for the questions of why I am lonely this Christmas, as around me couples coo and kiss like damn pigeons. The single status rarely bothers me, but when your younger brother insists on asking why I still don’t have anyone, as he gives presents jointly with his lady, it is needed to grit the teeth. Too much work I mumble in reply to the self satisfied expression of contentment and the sighs of the father.
Leading up to the festive season, I’ve been sleeping with a friend of mine. I’ve had a crush on him for years, but we pretend this isn’t the truth. We pretend that it is just sex. We pretend it is just a fling. We pretend that I don’t mind him sleeping with other people, and I pretend to go and flirt with other men and women to pretend to even the score. At night I pretend it was different, then we pretend that we don’t. I don’t mind this pretending. I’m happy that it happens. It is a nice Christmas present. I make him a card and a tape. I picture how his smile will be when I give it to him, as I picture his smile when he laughs at what I say on the phone. Sometimes I feel sad, but this is the way of things. It just doesn’t aid creating a Christmassy mood. Like all holidays, the Christmas one is aided by coupledom and money. Not sitting in a half unpacked room wondering where the next rent cheque is coming from, praying to the overdraft god, listening to Nina Simone. Approaching Christmas like a woman, I think, yet it breaks me like a little girl! Ha!
Go to my parents next week. They are waiting for me before they put up the tree; I always get to make the star. I’ll see my friend and angst over whether he will sleep with me again, and how to explain to the surroundings my situation. I’ll watch the ever repeated Christmas TV on a screen that doesn’t flicker and eat more food than my groaning stomach can take (I eat chocolate now, is this Christmassy?) and ache for a cigarette, dance at New Year and drunkenly reflect, as I do every year, that the next one can’t be as bad as the last one. They are never that bad, not after the one that was truly the worst and conversely, one of the best, never bad enough to warrant such reflection.
Next year I will sit in a different room, with a different set of half unpacked boxes, a different view and maybe a different proximity to lights. We might be allowed to say Christmas by then, there’ll be a good Christmas record, my divorced parents will decide between themselves who buys me what and no one will judge me.
Until then though, I go on a search to feel Christmassy.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Sometimes I think I do these things just so I have something funny to tell you guys in the morning," I giggle nervously, as I walk in to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, wearing last night's clothes, to be greeted by raised eyebrows and slaps on the shoulders from my housemates.
Is that true? I ask myself. Is it all to the contribution of the great overriding project, the novel, the persona, the bohemian dream? Or is it just boredom, the boredom of liking the wrong one, the boredom of trying to fill the fucking void left by the wrong one, by the endless stream of laughing about it with my housemates when I get home in the morning.
Fuelled by jealousy and anger and a desire to be seen as full of a mysterious existential glamour, needing no one, needing nothing, so bruised already under the fresh cheeks and bright eyes as to click clack forward in my heeled pumps and take what I want to get my morning tale, delivered with yawns and black circles under my no longer quite so bright eyes, sipping on black coffee and sucking on a roll up. existentialist. glamour.
I see myself, not as I am. I see myself with a mouth slashed with red lipstick that doesn't slip off as the night wears on. I see heels pointed and sharp, pointed and sharp as I see my nails that I want to scratch down the backs that have slammed a door against me as I stand, not as I see myself, but as I am myself, crumpled, with one sock missing.
A dirty flow of karma moves me forward on this journey of clawing for the look, clawing for the aura. Hurt once, driven to hurt someone myself. Where does this leave you? Kicked out of bed one morning, sock missing, to slamming the door carelessly on the next one, in my heels, to being left to cry in my own bed by the wrong one, again. curled up against my cat, sobbing until he picks me up again and leaves me somewhere else, curled up, sobbing. where do you take revenge? on the willing and grateful mouths that take your lipstick off, play the revenge out on them. too scaredy cat to face the truth. to scaredy cat to avenge yourself on the ones who strum the hurt. too scaredy cat to fight them.
Modernity. the weight of it behind you in the mirror. clasp the bracelet to my arm and zip up the vintage dress - the vintage dress that makes me oh so modern and full of my modernity, in my confidence in adopting the past as part of the persona. bind the necklace through my neck and pull the hairbrush through my knotted hair, worn and torn from yesterday's pillows. modernity and its disposability.
I chuck away the razor that clears my legs and tut as I realise my 2 year old phone is going to need replacing any day now, now that the batery only lasts 6 hours. I look at the discarded tights on the floor and think they need chucking, before they ladder any further. it's so easy to throw things away! its fucking modernity. nothing lasts. we've got the weight of history on our shoulders, and what has it taught us? nothing lasts?
I let myself be taken home by the boy I know has had a crush on me. I kiss him in front of a friend I have a crush on, having the day before seen the wrong one with whom I'm in love kissing his ex girlfriend. I let myself be lowered on to the bed, giggling from the beer and from the absurdity of the theatre of it all. it's a French farce, it's a rhinoceros, and I want to laugh at the journey I have made to get here, until the boredom hits home again. the boredom of feeling someone crawling over me just so I can extract a revenge that won't even be recognised. even
my revenge is disposable.
does it matter, anyway? is it really hurting anyone? I think this as he kisses me, my brain telling my body what to do whilst it focuses herself on her musings. is it hurting anyone? I'm responsible for myself, and he seems to be enjoying himself. what does it matter. its disposable, its modernity. nothing lasts?
I get to the pub, wearing last night's clothes, circles under my eyes, ordering a pint. "Where were you last night?" laughs my housemate, mimicking concern.
I groan and take a sip of my pint. "Sometimes I think I just do these things so I have a funny story to tell you guys in the morning," I giggle, nervously. We sit in the sun, as more friends join us, I pose in my sunglasses and we remember times we have seen one another naked, a disposable nudity, now to be revealed to others, and it is hilarious and it is loving, because from there was born a beauty of this honest and frank love of friends. and as the sun beats down I think, what does it matter, anyway. it is a moment of beautiful revelation, as I recognise that right here is my happiness. here is my home.
When he calls I say I'm busy, when we see each other I flirt prettily, one eye on him, one eye on the friend, one thought with the wrong one and his ex. I stroll round a charity bookshop and buy a copy of Tess and in my summer dress and flip flops I feel happy, and I treasure the moments I have of this purity, taking as my own what was thrown away, a private revolution against the disposable.
where was it born, then? when yes stopped meaning yes. when no stopped meaning no. when everything in between got lost. the first awareness of being watched. the first waiting for the call that didn't come. the first stutter. the first secret. the first frightening obsession when you are cornered. how many times can you take that? how many times until you turn it into a funny story to be thrown away with last week's Heat and Guardian.
I wield the high heeled and red lip sticked power on another, exacting an unnoticed revenge and I feel so tired. my mind wanders to the charity bookshop, to the sunny exterior of the pub, as a clammy hand grips my breast and a wet tongue slides over my lips.
"What's the point anyway," a girl friend sighs to me, when she realises she has been left alone. "Is it just so you don't have to do things alone? But what is wrong with doing things alone?"
I sigh in recognition. I try and pinpoint romantic moments, sitting and walking in the park with the girl who later got obsessive and when once more, yes didn't mean yes. kissing behind the door with the wrong one and soaring over my own head as I realised with ecstasy that he didn't need the existentialist glamour, only to crash down again when I was curled up next to my cat. They're bodies and it is contact. what is important? Is it bodies? I remember all the happy moments, the sunny exterior of the pub, eating take away and play fights with my friends. All the city walks taken alone, with the loneliness a liberation as I saw sights I never expected and sipped cocktails I never tasted before, all done in solitude, all done with a sense of beautiful freedom. Were all the frightening nights an aid to destroy that space I cherished?
If modernity teaches us that nothing lasts, it also teaches us to cling tight so we aren't alone when the bomb comes. We aren't free from all the disposable things we buy.
Whilst I was busy wielding revenge, the friend I have a crush on at last nervously kisses my hand. from hand it isn't long until my legs are wrapped around him and we are lying, exhausted, on the bed. I wonder about our mutual friend who had a crush on me who I left breathless. I wonder if one will ever know about the other. I wonder if this story will be swapped between them, as I have just been.
this time, the heels are left behind. the bold and brave slash of lipstick across my mouth is a dirty smudge. it is all crumpled with one sock missing. a secret, he says. I should have expected. I knew what this was. I knew who was at home. But it leaves me confused. Who do I avenge this one on? I'm already half way through an avengment. My head is swimming! Has it gone too far?
what does it matter, anyway? he seemed to enjoy himself. I'm responsible for myself. its disposable. its modernity. but this one won't be funny story. this one will be avenged on some one else. the spectre of the wrong one with his ex hangs over me still.
I take myself out for lunch. I relish the solitude. I don't care if the waitress looks at me strangely. I would rather enjoy every mouthful of this salmon alone, then have to share it with someone with a big wallet that pays for it all. All. It is here that I am content, I realise. Here and on the sunny exterior of the pub. It doesn't need bodies.
Maybe it is all a colossal amount of self pity. When do we grow up? Hurt once, twice too many times and then, bam! I have to have revenge. But it isn't revenge, not really. It's carelessness.
Whose carelessness? Mine?
It starts early, for us all. It starts with the first consciousness of self, with that, the arrival of the watchers. the first recognition in a pane of glass, the first hint of a reflection in a polished surface, the first time Eve saw her face in the pool in Eden, and the path for her was set. you start to watch. others start to watch. behind your eyes, staring back at you back to front, from the glass, the pool, the surface, gather the other eyes. you look back at them, you look past them. you block the eyes out of your consciousness, pretend they aren't looking. but you know they are there. from that first beginning
The watchers. they made me nervous, yet it was unconscious. so used I was to all their stares. I didn't realise or remember any other way. tightropes and precipices, were the only walkways open. so I learnt to walk them, until it was easy, the only way to walk. twirling on my toes, kicking out my heels behind me, putting my best foot forward. you absorb the eyes.
watched from every corner.
it is only now, now that it is over, that I recognise the eyes that have followed me my life long day. now that I have ended the performance. something has settled, in eyes that look back in to their double of mine with a frank honesty that breaks through the layers of watchers. play me songs on the stereo that I haven't heard, songs by girls who sound from the sixties and boys who sound from space, and my stomach settles. lift me down from the ropes and precipices and offer me an open stare that never watches.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
A woman they interviewed said:
"Supporting prostitution is supporting violence and hatred of women. There is no place for it in a civilised society."
She was a former prostitute who left after being raped and beaten so badly she was in hospital and couldn't walk for days.
At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, i hope all those people who thought Billie Piper looked like she was having loads of fun in that TV show, and that prostitution is about consent, and not about sheer misogyny and power, feel sick with themselves.
Monday, 21 January 2008
i typed p 'mariana' in a real hurry and didn't tell what the story is about, so am just going to give a quick background/context.
regular readers will remember "bianca" - a story or monologue that told the story of bianca in Othello, a marginal character who plays Cassio's lover, and a prostitute. I liked the idea of writing about silent women in Shakespeare, so thought I'd test it again on Mariana, a character in Measure for Measure. If ever there was a plot device, then Mariana is IT!
IN Measure for Measure, the Duke of Venice decides the sexy rough and tumble of the city has gotten well out of hand, and decides to leave it in the hands of Angelo, an austere sexual puritan, to see how he will deal with controllng the excesses of the city. Angelo was once engaged to Mariana, but dumped her when she lost her brother and her dowry, and she retired to the moated grange to weep. (im simplifying here folks). One of the first things Angelo does in power is condemn a man named Claudio to death for having got his lady, Juliet, pregnant, before marrying her. Claudio asks his nun sister, Isabella, to plead for his life, and the cold and chaste Angelo immediately falls in lust with her. He promises Isabella her brother will be freed, if she has sex with him.
She's a nun so this suggestion isn't great for her. But, the Duke has meanwhile disguised himself as a monk, and advises Isabella to ask Mariana to disguise herself with a veil, and have sex with Angelo in her place.
So, you can see what i mean when i say Mariana is a plot device. Her body is the solution to the plays problem. (in a way, it gets more complicated still later on). Shakespeare uses her sex as a means to an end, and she is used. horribly.
i wanted to see what mariana thought of it all. whether she is as helpless and compliant as the play may suggest. she begs for angelo's life at the end. but did she have her own reasons?
hope that clears up the background to her monologue.
Thursday, 17 January 2008
i have weird experiences with memory. a lot of the time i will notice a smell that may exist just in my imagination but which reminds me of my auntie's farm. a particular disinfectant has me washing up dog bowls in the shed, or a certain oatiness places me in her food shed, spooning feed in to the horse's bucket. salt on my skin crystallzing from having been walking along the beach nearby on a windy day, and the scratchy feeling of wool against frozen fingertips.
i was listening to missy elliott and like a thundercrack between the headphones and my ears and my brain i was back in my old house, paralysed and screaming because a lie had been exposed, and i was the object of the lie. the force of the memory made me gag, like the smell of the wheelbarrow after mucking out the horse's field.
its a throwaway thing, it can be, someone's body. like a newspaper with a headline about britney spears. it makes no difference the following morning, it has no impact. it can be brushed away like a lie.
it isn't so easy to throw away your own.
Vindication. That is what i have longed for most of all, all those days, sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting. Vindication. I'd whisper it under my breath. I'd like the way the syllables tripped off my tongue. slowly. it is a slow process, a slow word.
i have been in his bed, once. even now we are married, the only time i have felt his touch was that once, before our wedding day, when disguised i came to his bed and felt the fervour of fingers, the desire of his tongue, and uncontrolled lust as he called out a name that wasn't my own. And despite the responsiveness that filled my body, i had to control my laughter of "Yes! This is it! This is where it begins!"
i had him then. wrapping my legs around his hips and pressing my cunt against his body, i fantasised squeezing the life from his heaving belly, as he had so carelessly thrown my life, my love aside to leave me sitting and waiting, alone. Choking on my hidden laughter as his hungry tongue gripped my breasts, that his cold austerity, his stinging purity could be so wiped out by a woman's body, a woman's body that belongs to another who sleeps alone with her God. i snatch at his desire, take it between my hands and squeeze it tight to me and think "This is mine, now. This is mine."
They did not understand why i begged for his life. i! who had been so used, so wronged, wanting to see my husband live! My husband, my man. and who was it, i ask, who used me most, eventually? not him, i am convinced of that much. not him and his cold fingers, not him who placed my body on the sacrificial alter, to be split open by the force of his love for another. i gave my body to the joy of many parties, like a savage girl offered up to the gods in strange lands.
anyway, it is immaterial. i didn't ask for him to be saved. it was his life i wanted, but not his salvation. i cannot get my vin-dic-a-tion if he did not live. i had to see him live, and i had to see him live with me, and i had to watch him live, with me, every day, every night, until nature or her God, took him in their own sweet time.
so many days spent sitting and waiting. for a long time i continued to love him. foolish child i was. convinced he would realise his mistake, realise what i was, what i meant, what my love could do. Howling. It was the only way to explain it, the alien foreign noise that i hurled from my body. howls that i willed to travel over the walls of my moated grange to the high windows of the ducal palace where he held the power now, in the duchy which i should possess, where he first laid eyes on the woman who for one night i would become.
to love someone, what does it mean? i no longer really understand the processes. i loved, a past tense. i loved him. blushing and pure, my body intact as he kissed my hand. yet, i was so young then! i was so young and the world dazzled brightly, brighter than i can remember now. a bird would leave me breathless, the freshness of grass under my feet a sensual experience. convinced, i was, of love. repeated to me over and over - you love him, you will marry, you will love him - passive victim of love. was it my love? my love?
i try not to think of these questions. it doesn't matter anymore. whether i loved him. whether i love him. the hurt was there. the hurt was real, was what counted. what matters what drives you, hate or love? i was driven by him.
i feel that i know what my accomplice - can i call her that? felt for me. although she thanked me, although she praised me, her eyes spoke a language her tongue wouldn't speak.
there are many words and that was the word i read most clearly on her motionless face. maybe i was too willing to give up what she holds too dear. but i had waited too long, i had cried and i had howled and i had spent too many nights sleeping with an itch in the back of my head and between my legs to think of propriety, to think cherished jewels. it is my body, and i use it as i wish. it is my body and it is my revenge. it was her face that led to his undoing, but it was my body that was the willing tool. my breasts, my thighs, my belly and my cunt that enveloped him and drew his stern and deadened countenance to liveliness. no matter if my body is the slut. my body is my own. not her's not the duke's, mine.
and now, now we are married. every morning he wakes up to see the body he refuses to touch, having gripped it once before between convlusing fingers. i smile and say good morning darling and one day, from habit of hearing it, he will repeat the words. the air hangs chilly between us at the breakfast table as pour drinks and eat, him chewing each mouthful nervously, as though the tasting of it dries the roof of his mouth and makes his teeth itch. i chatter gaily about the rain hitting the window panes, or the sun that shines through the shutters, twittering like the birds that hop on the branches outside in the grounds he daren't venture beyond, for fear of the mocking town. he grinds his teeth, he sets his jaw. he won't meet my eye.
around us all the time, in every move we make, in every particle of air that makes up the atmosphere of our house, lies the sense of the alternative. it eats him up inside, everyday, the knowledge that i saved his life in order for him to live the life he hates.
The power is mine now.
Friday, 4 January 2008
so ive been off the hook lately, but i promise as soon as i get my new computer i will rebegin blogging again in earnest. just so busy with work and job hunting and not having my own computer.
meanwhile you can read my articles on rockfeedback.com and Bianca was published on thethingis.co.uk
i promise - soon!