27 October 2008

Anna of the Remedial Stream

There are times when it is as if you are disembodied from yourself and you see a scene objectively, like it is being played out on a stage. Take a step back and view things as they appear to others. It is worrying. Eyes are opened.

I had such an experience the other day, in an old, beige and brown, musty seminar room. The one with the huge black and white Renaissance portrait just outside it. It was as if I was floating about the peripheries of the room, watching events unfold. I saw myself in full technicolour. Bright pink oversized jumper, knitted by my mother when she was my age, belted tightly at the waist with a man's brown woven buckle belt that belongs (well, belonged...) to my father, with the excess flappy bit held in place with an old hair bobble. Five year old, three pound floral skirt peeking from underneath knitted affair, with its burn hole in the front, scorched through by a hot rock falling from an enormous joint as it was passed across me by a stoner known as Jeff, (whose name was not Jeff) at a hippy-dippy summer garden party a few years ago. Ancient battered Converse encasing my feet, with only one Converse sign still affixed, bearing mud from the Blue Mountains of Australia, the grounds of Leeds rock festival, the fields of Brampton folk festival, and many compulsory countryside adventures besides. A second hand paperback Penguin copy of Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year in front of me, bought for a couple of quid from a northern emporium of cast-off books. The ubiquitous John Mullan loudly denouncing me as 'Anna of the remedial stream' due to having a silently altered version of the text, but dismissing his harshness with a jolly 'Oh, but she understands I mean it ironically'. And me actually loving that I'm being insulted by this cocky, arrogant, esteemed Literary Figure.

Because he writes for the Guardian.

He asked us for any instances of mistaken identities in well-known works of literature, or of lapdogs cropping up in novels as he left the room for his mid-seminar Ribena. It seemed totally off subject, but I knew what he was referring to - his weekly column in the Review section (which turns out to pay for his weekly groceries). I was cringeworthingly eager to show that I read it and that I knew what he was on about. I saw myself. I saw myself as that goddamn archetypal 'Guardian Reader'. I engaged him in chit-chat about it, half wanting to actually know the answers to the questions I asked, half wanting to just show that I read the paper to which he is associated. I was asserting this fact. Like it is how I define myself. Liberal, slightly hippy, self-indulgent 'arty' degree-taking, middle class bloody 'Guardian Reader'.

Oh the shame. But true.

Sometimes it is good, and indeed rather liberating, to unapologetically embrace stereotypes. 'My name is Anna, and I am a Guardian reader'. Don't judge me.

15 October 2008

A Fleeting Fortnight

When not gadding about the city being either Sally Bowles or Lydia Lopokova or, in more insular, maudlin moments, the Lady of Shalott, I am getting ever closer to becoming the ultimate of my heroines. I now have my very own, rather enormous, spider that lives in my room, providing increased atmosphere for my aspirations of being Miss Havisham. It just needs to make a few cobwebs and settle itself in. Alas, I do not have a mouldy old Wedding Cake rotting in the corner, but on occasion there is the odd furred-up coffee cup, or day old mac-in-a-can lying around. Close enough. And I am without a fading lace wedding dress. A party frock from Primark will have to suffice. The bright-eyed, manic glares, passionate cries, and reputation for eccentric insanity are all present and correct though.

In other Mat Fleeting news, Salsa Queen vomited in her handbag which now hangs on the airer as a reminder of the perils of free cocktails from city boys.
We have acquired a cup in the kitchen which has something to do with not using taps when somebody is showering. It has 'shower cup' written on it in black marker. I do not understand the rules of the cup. Apparently it is an important issue. I let it wash over me, just as I let the ice cold water wash over me in the shower when somebody is doing the dishes downstairs...
Old Clem's electricity paranoia has reached new heights. He actually turned the toaster off at the mains when my toast was in it. It gave him quite a shock when the bread popped up.
A new literary genius has been discovered. On the kitchen wall there hangs a hand-written poem. Anybody who visits is asked to guess who wrote the poem. Answers have ranged from Donne, to Eliot, to Plath. It is actually much more contemporary, and makes the guessers feel like idiots. The first line contains the phrase 'depleted uranium breasts', and it was written by none other than the Pie Jesu lover of this household, henceforth known as Ave Maria, when sitting half naked in her armchair after a drunken night out. This is the most creative and intellectually rich time of day, when one should harness the musings of the soul.

Top youtube finds from the past fortnight have included an original episode of The Magic Roundabout entitled 'The Cocktail Fruit Party', the opening of a German cartoon about a little bee which is the most adorable thing despite having phallic references and a theme tune that is at times reminiscent of Tom Jones, and the part of Disney's 'Sword in the Stone' with the Marvellous Mad Madam Mim.

If the whole Miss Havisham thing doesn't work out for me, then Madam Mim is definitely next on the list of people to aspire to.