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.

10 comments:

Yer mam said...

If you say it in a Gaeordie accent it doesn't sound so bad....and could really be ironic or something. Gosh, and him ont the telly too being rude to me bairn. I hope he checks his typos, which is more than the Grauniad does most of the time.

Yer mam said...

If you say it in a Geordie accent it doesn't sound so bad....and could really be ironic or something. Gosh, and him ont the telly too being rude to me bairn. I hope he checks his typos, which is more than the Grauniad does most of the time.

Yer mam said...

See what I mean - if you read the Guardian too often this is the sort of thing that happens - you get two articles the same with slightly different spellings.........

Nicky said...

I had a Ribena the other day and it was the most amazing thing. Let me set the scene...
It was chilly, foggy and inevitable busy half-term newcastle. Blakes was choca and the birds were pissing everyone off. Two young, charming and unbelievably fairytale-esque handsome teenage boys overweeningly struted down the street when the sharpest looking one declared in his soft, seductive voice "Im just going into that corner shop because i would quite like a Ribena." And, as in his words, were his actions. He emerged with the most delightfull look on his face preeching the wonders og Ribena and humanity in general. He left Newcastle for home that day a changed man. From that day forth he no longer exploited his ravishing looks and showed them off to those less fortunate. He appreciated them and took pity on the f*ck ugly...
Now thats a story. Yet suprisingly true.

Nicky said...

After reading over that, i realise it's been let down by: '...wonders og Ribena...' instead of '...wonders of Ribena...'
I apologise for that typo. it, believe it or not was not deliberate but occured due to the Guardian newspapers bad grammer and spelling forced upon me by my malicious parents and sister.

Ma said...

Anna, the child can write!

anna said...

Ahh, my young padawan may be ready to venture into the great literary world, heeding the words of his Jedi master. A proud, proud day. Better get his autograph now chaps... and save all his flamboyant, random, creatively spelled scribblings - could be worth a fortune on ebay one day.

Nicky said...

mMy spellings are actually perfect :p
I take great pride in them.
And on a seperate note, yes i will be selling signed copys of my latest memoirs, so called 'scribblings'and general notes of annoyance etc at this years National Literary Festival.
Make sure to be the first in line.

yer mam too said...

Is that the title? Scribblings and General Notes of Annoyance? Its a good one.

Nicky said...

Ive been writing it for about 15 years, i think its my greatest masterpiece. It's nearly as good as My first novel 'More Religion in Western Culture.' I thought about perhaps writing the prequel first 'Religion in Western Culture' but that means i would have had to spend alot of time explaining the basics and i can assure you, that is the height of tedium.
N xx