28 December 2009
No, I fail in being Dr Who in many ways. Much to my shame. But there are rare occasions when I think we share some powers. In terms of time control. Time can stop for me. I am a Timelord.
I was stomping about in the snowy woods, all alone with my deafening thoughts and my mother's bracken-crushing walking boots, when a moment froze. Across the steep forest flora and fauna, through the framing trees, I spied a deer. It was looking right at me. Eyes connected with mine and time stood still. As time ceased to be, I could not say how long we were locked in this quiet state.
Nothing snapped, nothing burst; the deer merely turned and walked away when moments began to follow one another once more.
And I ran. In a downward direction. Stumbling, tripping, feet disappearing in powdered snow, like a little fearless child. The best kind of running.
A Tardis is not needed with my Time Power. My Time Power and my running feet.
21 December 2009
Postcards were on sale for 20p a pop. They were piled up in a box on a shelf, and lurid colours lured me in. Some were stamped and were scrawled over, evidently donated once received by the relatives of travellers. I sifted through the collection, picking out ones that particularly caught my eye. It was only when I was reading them through later, that I realised I had selected three that were addressed to the same person. The Bramwells of The Bungalow. Two of the three were sent by the same sender. Therefore I am granted an insight into a family...
The first is from Amsterdam.
'I'm staying in Amsterdam for the weekend, with Christine, who was at school with Mum. I just suddenly decided yesterday to come, and rang up to ask if it was convenient. Today I've been to the Rifkamuseum with Stephen - it was great. Then we went on to walk around Amsterdam looking at shops, buildings etc. Thank you for the letter, Grandad. I'll write soon. Love Vanessa.'
The next two are written in a more adult, indecipherable script.
This one is from Australia.
'Dear Auntie Evelyn, We are having the usual good time. Visited Cook Town. Had a superb sea-food meal. Oysters, barracuda, prawns, scallops! Mouth watering! Could barely walk away! Then we had an equally superb meal at a German restaurant in Cairns. The flight up to Cook Town was very interesting, flew low over the Great Barrier Reef. Off to Thursday Island & Yorke Island. All love, Barbara xx'
This last one is from India, and dated 4.12.75.
'Dear Auntie Evelyn, Early morning bathers in the Ganges! Saw sunrise over the Ganges, watched the Hindus bathing & taking blessings from priests. (Priests under the umbrellas!) Saw a body being burnt - only saw a foot! & another body waiting in Delhi now. [Squiggles that I can't decipher] city having lots of ice creams! All love, Barbara'
I think I would like to meet this well-travelled Barbara.
Postcards are so much more joyous than texts, so much more heartening than twitter updates. These supposedly outdated means of happy communication may have constraints as to word counts, but pictures can say a thousand words, and handwritten jottings can lift a thousand spirits.
15 December 2009
(I am) a Lotus (Floating on the River (of Life))
Coffee with Kate is never just coffee
The buzz isn’t caffeine
Nor the sugar rush cake.
It’s band names and tip-offs
And costume and customs
And strutting whilst twirling
The microphone wire.
It’s underground murmurs
And what’s up’n’coming
And why a kimono’s
The best thing to wear.
It’s French words that ‘drift’
And prostitute paintings
And undoing apparent
Foundations of punk.
It’s song-swapping snap
And scribbles on paper
And mille fuille allusions
With eye-linered blink.
It’s Verlain, it’s Sickert,
And suave Jean Genet
And bowing at altar
Of Baroness Elsa.
It’s the merits of brackets
And the pleasure of Trash
And maintaining the buzz
That keeps finger on pulses.
It’s Dada and Dada
And dada and dada
And dada and dada
And dada and da…
Coffee with Kate is never just coffee
It’s more than just coffee
It’s more than just cake
It’s Dada and Dada
And dada and dada
And dada and dada
And dada and DA
7 December 2009
Unnervingly, I have discovered that I am Florence from The Magic Roundabout.
Messy crop, a fan of bows, sticky-out skirt, blank expression, terrible posture. Me.
Easily distracted by flowers, wide-eyed with awe in the face of distress, driven by a desire for everybody to be super-duper lovely and happy all the time. Me.
Jerkily graceful as she floats through a stop-motion, psychedelic, technicolour seventies world. Me.
A puppet. Not so much...
Maybe it's not unnerving. Maybe it's actually FABULOUS.
1 December 2009
Of course this is in NO WAY connected to the brilliant story of this beat poet being visited by Blake. Following masturbation, Ginsburg experienced a vision: Blake reciting 'The Sunflower' and 'The Sick Rose' over his contented form. What a happy apparition. Blessed by Blake in bliss.
And, when one thought it just couldn't get any better, our Allen was the one who coined the phrase 'flower power'. Awesome. Listen to his drug-addled genius, with a nasal twang and devilish revelry... http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=1547
21 November 2009
A cracker full of anatomical accessories kicked off proceedings, sprinkling the table with 'taches, glasses, noses, toothy gumguards, giant sequins and jokes. A balloon crown was bestowed on the birthday girl, and bunches of bright helium were attached to each wrist. She was given no choice but to weigh herself down with cheesy nachos, fries, filled potato skins, and a whole rack of ribs. This was the counter-attack on balloon elevation. There was no excuse for the rest of us...
Straws slopped out of Marguerita tumblers, 'taches wandered creatively over rosy faces, forming monobrows and mutton chop sideburns, eyes were made large by absurdly round specs (all the better for reading literary lesbian porn, whilst chomping on chips), and spider-leg eyelashes crawled their way over the thick black rims. Diners transformed into Professor Trelawney, Geography teachers, and seventies Glam-Rockers.
'Happy Birthday' was sped up and confusingly altered, so we sang our own tunes whilst the cake was punctured with fireworks before being sprinkled with cocoa-coloured ash. I spooned around the carbon and chemicals... A lone balloon weaved its way through those feasting, held at eye level by a levitating nose. 'I was never very good at chemistry', he said.
A slurp or seven of Oreo milkshake later, and the revellers departed. 'I'm mad, me' was emblazoned across the flushed face of the one wearing a mane of silver strands atop her disco-destined head. A flash-forward to her middle-age, and madcap antics when alone with her cats.
To ease full stomachs, by lightening the load, balloons were launched outside, into the lights of Leicester Square and far, far away. We followed them to the second star on the right, and straight on to mourning the end of a Surrealist Feast.
17 November 2009
10 November 2009
Author finger puppets. On index we have Leo Tolstoy, the middle bears Will Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf is worn by ring, and Dickens tops pinky. They can act out their epics, perform their prose, make their poetry into a production and generally be puppet prima donnas. War and Peace in my palm, Dalloway on my digits, a Chuzzlewit mit, Hamlet atop my hand. Genius. I am so asking for the set for Christmas. Punch and Judy eat your hearts out - Virginia has a nose to rival that of Punch, and surely could wield a baton just as violently. Watch out little Leo.
These literary legends would surely be proud of making it to the exalted iconographic status of finger puppets.
I'm hoping to make it to the thumb one day.
1 November 2009
One beer and one trauma can render me a rain-sodden, snot-faced wreck of a foetal positioned creature. Red biro scrawled eyes. Eyes wide with despair, staring imploringly into the drizzle. Pathetic.
The eyes ceased staring and began weeping, however, when it was discovered that not only mere objects and the outward trappings of modern society can be thieved, but also ART and TRUTH and SENTIMENT.
Sealed within a first class stamped envelope lay a piece of me, destined for more wild, northern, homely parts. This piece of me was in the physical form of a moustached sea-faring man with a fish for a hat. Above this fish was Charlie Chaplin with a fishing rod, and below the nautical-striped top of the fish-wearing man was a character in a dinner jacket about to dive into a river. A pale blue silver star was in the farthest corner, and turquoise swirls were painted along one side of the fishy figure. The words 'full fathom five thy father lies' were inkily etched amongst these sea-like swirls. This vision opened up to an illustrated message of ardent anniversarial happiness, signed with all my love and elaborate flourish. And x times two, marking the spots to which I owe a lot, both head and heart.
And now it may as well lie five fathoms deep... Unless this thief of my thoughts, this mugger of my masterpiece, this plunderer of my post, was inspired into epiphany and saw the light - the bright light of the red post box, where the envelope wished to dive. It would warm my cockles if Mr Michael Edmund Kirk did indeed receive his piece of me, due to the redemption of a thief. One can only wait. And hope. And pretend to put it down to the postal service and their strikes. Because I want to think of humanity as better than a thief of birthday love.
26 October 2009
UCL Main Library, my second home, is lacking in sentiment these days. So, caused by lack of sleep and Keats' beautiful ill face, I am bringing poetry-provoked tears into the shelved enclaves. They are needed, I feel, as the artistic and literary sensibilities are being slowly quashed by rules and regulations.
Leaflets litter the tables notifying students that they can now be fined for various offences. They (the MAN) can wrangle £20 out of you for 'misuse of library card'. Misuse? Like using it as a fork or something? And £20 for 'exiting via a Fire exit'. Seriously? They want us to burn? Admittedly this was followed by 'except when the fire alarm is activated' in parenthesis... The money, according to the Old Testament Library Commandments, all goes to the UCL Student Hardship Fund. Well, more students will be faced with poverty and hardship if they are continuously fined extortionate amounts, so this seems rather counter-productive. And, one cannot help but suspect, that this implausible fund is actually the pseudonym of the Librarians' Wine Stash. Though a wee tipple could loosen up Hot Librarian, and we could continue our existential chitchat that was started when renewing Blake...
Next to the rule about not having any food or drink in the library, someone had scribbled 'Slightly Draconian?' How very UCL. Classical references to Draco used as witty graffiti backchat. This is almost on a par with colouring bits of the word 'Book' on the various library fliers so that it reads as 'Poo'. Always raises a smile. This maturity is continued in the various scrawls on the desks. Though I did read one the other day that said 'I am honoured to get a chance to start on a clean slate'. It is unclear as to whether they were referring to the wooden desk, or their LIFE. The library, after all, is my place of choice for emotional breakdown, philosophical exploration, Eureka moments and weeping rivers of tears over Keats.
No doubt I'd get fined for dampening the paperbacks.
21 October 2009
Scythrop did not despair. 'Seven copies', he thought, 'have been sold. Seven is a mystical number, and the omen is good. Let me find the seven purchasers of my seven copies, and they shall be the seven golden candlesticks with which I will illuminate the world'.
The crucial thing, of course, is to reach the magical, though meagre, circulation of seven. And not to overshoot this. An eighth purchaser of any treatise or manifesto can cast the whole world into darkness and DOOM.
15 October 2009
He performs songs ‘focusing, dissecting and meditating on the most immediate and pressing of current issues; from the economic downturn, to media manipulation, consumerism and a loss of spirituality in modern Britain.’ The counter culture of ‘new devotees, turning up in their droves’ to hear their Voice of Reason, their beacon of hope in these dark, dark times, ‘the instigator, origin and vanguard of the movement’ are inspired by the ‘uniquely visionary songs the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days of the sixties beat and protest movement.’ With true grace and humility, ‘knowing that he speaks for so many of his “lost generation”, he delivers his lyrics with blood, grit and a wild look in his eye, comfortable in the assurance that if he is speaking it as he finds, his message is unassailable.’ Straggle-haired, heavy-booted and swathed in a Withnailesque long coat, he puts on a revolutionary show of ‘love, black dogs, visions and traditional troubadour balladry’ with the ‘swagger of an early Dylan’. In the shadowy corner beside the stage, his gimp-on-a-lead accompanies him on the harmonica, lovingly and sickeningly gazing into his master and leader’s spotlit face. Spotlit, that is, by a desk lamp placed on the floor by his spellbinding feet. When not breathing heavily into his harmonica, the gimp mouths along to the thought-provoking, cerebral lyrics of ‘Harold Pinter is Dead’, ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Freudian Marksmen’.
A guy named Jerome, a drunkard channelling a distorted Vince Noir and bellowing out a ramshackle cover of ‘I Smell a Rat’, supports the great Messiah. In a bit of pre-performance banter he informs the crowd that he hasn’t slept for three days, he’s that rock’n’roll. He is later called on stage for a collaborative impromptu crucifixion of some Bob Dylan blues. I stumble out of the basement into the dazzling light. And straight into Carl Barat. He too has come to pay homage to the Messiah.
7 October 2009
What on earth is Firbank doing describing a typical afternoon of ours in a novel written roughly eighty years ago? The man's a mystic, evidently. So nice of him to include us in his eccentric work of whimsy. He's an acquired taste, just as Distant Vines or liquorice is. The dandy does hit the nail on the head however; I am frequently rampageous. Rampageous is my middle name. 'Watch out', they say, 'Kirk's on the rampage again. Gird your loins and flee this china shop! I hear her heavy boots on the library stairs - a rampage is what she's asking for!' I am, as a rule, rampageous. And me and my Roman nose make a damned fine Athenian.
30 September 2009
In reality it was dirt cheap, the colour of neon blushes and tasted of Ribena laced with meths. And classily consumed out of teeny plastic faux-wine glasses that made the drinker resemble the BFG sipping from dolls' house kitchenware.
That's what comes from shopping in a King's Cross Costcutter. Do not be tempted by the lure of the poetically labelled Distant Vines. The vines may be distant, but the vomit less so.
26 September 2009
And it is no wonder the time he spent there has stayed with him all these years, still conjuring a smile to his now ageing and jaded features. It sounds amazing. Visitors have to wear Gnome hats in order to fit in with the community, so as not to alarm them (obviously) or in any way excite their wary natures to perceived danger. They can be viewed in their natural habitat, going about their chores. All aspects of their lives are open for observation. There is even a Gnome graveyard. It is better to be educated on matters of life and, indeed, death at an early age. And how better to do this than through Gnomes? The hierarchical nature of a working, productive society is even in evidence, with the hard labour being the job of the Pixies. Pixies are represented as lower-class citizens, and are treated with suspicion by Gnomes. It is interesting to note that it is possible to purchase souvenir figurines of Pixies in the Gnomeland gift shop, but not Gnomes. My companion, who I imagine to be the spitting image of Chuckie from 'Rugrats' in his extreme youth, has such a figurine in his attic at home. There is also a wicked Troll present in Gnomeland. Apparently he is always hungry. Hmmm... Demonisation of the needy, perchance? An attack on those who look and act differently, perhaps? Gnomeland serves to be a true microcosm of the greater world methinks.
Yet it was also a fun day out for my companion. One that has gone down in the annals of time as a Thoroughly Good Holiday. Now I understand why he is so attached to his felt-tip picture of Gnome Coward - an interpretive work of art drawn by his flat mate's fair hand after hearing an account of a particularly vivid dream. It should be framed, forever a reminder of a wonderful, and educational, place.
22 September 2009
Highlights of the whole experience include the valiant pair of pro tem removal men being mesmerised by the image of an outsize Mad Hatter hat as it was blown down the street whilst a Chinese girl excitedly declared her love of Alice, a smelly barefooted urchin getting frostbite whilst defrosting a pea-studded freezer, a Moomin trying to hang itself from the threads of a charity shop skirt/curtain, the magical metamorphosis of a sofa turning into a packaged bed-in-bits, two technophobes coming up with a password for the new wireless broadband connection that linked with my special subject essay on sex in Austen, and the most weedy of folk generally trying to be butch as Hell's Angels as we attacked the stairs with heavy and awkward objects. Let's just say we were less than angelic, and probably deserve to go to hell for the language that was provoked during those clunky-bumpy times...
But the Heavenly Heath, Arcadian attic and Empyrean atmosphere more than make up for whatever hellish hilarity may have occurred, hysterical in all senses.
Normal service shall be resumed forthwith.
4 September 2009
On opening a draft post with a swift tap of the keyboard (which, incidentally, is not half as satisfying as ripping open real post, flourishing the letter opener with violent excitement) I discovered I had written the three following things:
Chuck Bass looks like Voldemort.
Tights are NOT pants.
Penn Badgley = HOT
After a moment of mystification, I concluded that I must have been suffering from mental exhaustion, become cuckoo due to too much time spent with only my own lunacy for company, and been not a little bit drunk.
I shall explain myself. Last week I made the grave, grave mistake of getting into Gossip Girl. Yes, the American show that is taking over the world. There is no need to look at me like that, I am aware that I have reached new lows and I feel suitably dirty and ashamed. But hangovers, the big bed of G, and the new-found freedom of lazy days after a week of office slavery does things to a girl... Such as driving her to watch 10 episodes in one day. I am not proud.
I am, however, a working girl once more, so the slovenly rut has thankfully ended. Though my addiction to those irresistible Upper East-siders and their glossy, bitchy world continues. After a long week, a glass of wine (or more) and an episode (or two) is the perfect way to unwind.
And the dapper suited villain of the show Chuck Bass does look like Voldemort. The Queen Bee Blair Waldorf was most correct when she shouted at one of her fawning underlings that 'Tights are NOT pants!'. And the brilliantly named actor Penn Badgley is indeed one of the most beautiful men that ever graced this planet. So actually, I made perfect sense. Even through my overdose fug of trashy pop-culture and wine. Thank goodness I had the foresight to note these gems down... We wouldn't want any of my valuable pearls rolling away now.
30 August 2009
So, unadulterated happiness is...
Backseat delirium travelling back from the Dordogne. Trippy chit-chat and giggles with N whilst on the long night drive. Stopping off for a midnight fast-food feast at an airport-style service station, the salt, e-numbers and post-holiday fatigue making for a happy dream of a journey.
Returning from a Christmas Oddsocks, jumping into jim-jams and settling in the playroom with brothers, a cheesy, family-saga, seasonal film and eating, eating, eating - Christmas pudding-shaped rum truffles and mince pie after mince pie after mince pie. Comfortable and cosy.
A Make Perry Merry evening in C's room. Whipping up butterscotch Angel Delight with a hand whisk and a lot of elbow grease, dunking soft cookies into bowls of pudding whilst curled up on the double bed with my mateys and watching 'A Little Princess' on DVD. Every girl (and Perry) is a princess, says Sarah Crewe. Heed her words.
Heading to Waterloo on a late summer's evening with a like-minded friend (to discover someone who is familiar with The Princess Bride is a rare thing, to find that they have also seen and love both Serenity and ALL of Firefly is positively unheard of!) in order to watch a Spanish farce of a film set in the 1940s, after sharing a bottle of full-bodied red by the prop of a white piano.
Unspoilt perfection. And things to dwell on whilst doing the dishes, paying deposits and unclogging plugholes.
28 August 2009
That I really can't see
Why we shouldn't go on'
This sounds like a snippet of nonsense verse, or a children's nursery rhyme. It's got a nice ring to it, and could have been penned by the likes of Edward Lear. However, it actually comes from one of the 20th century's most groundbreaking, seminal, glorious novelistic explorations into the human condition: 'The Well of Loneliness' by Radclyffe Hall.
I may be gay in the sense that I'm happy and full of vim, and I may be queer in the sense that I'm just a little bit odd, but I am not homosexual. Despite my own mother, on seeing my newly cropped barnet, declares 'My, you do look rather like... well... a boy, don't you?' Thank you, Mother.
Of course I don't take any issue with homosexuality. In fact 'some of my best friends are gay...yada yada'. I'm even sleeping in the bed of one of these friends. Alas, he's not here with me... but still.
Carrying half the Homosexuality Lit Crit section of the library around Bloomsbury probably doesn't help with any suspicions, displayed with the titles evident to the world due to my bag already being crammed with the Romantics and Shakespeare. And the other day I did catch myself sitting in a coffee shop openly reading a paperback entitled 'Lesbian Feminist Fiction', the conspicuous cover in full view. This particular work was produced by the Radical Feminist and Lesbian Publishers. Which I think is fabulous!
(I also learnt from one of the short stories in this book that a woman is worth seven cups of tea. Make of this what you will.)
I may love Coco Chanel's outfit to the fancy dress ball, with its nod to cross-dressing, but that's about as far as it goes. And I'm too plain scrawny to pull off butch. And, frankly, my future husband Jeremy Northam/Greg Wise/Gael Garcia Bernal, whom I shall scandalously leave for Carlos Acosta (naturally), is the target of my Eros-arrowed affections.
22 August 2009
One sunny day his travels took him to Hampstead Heath. The sun's rays were bright and gently warming, though not particularly penetrating. The young man, however, felt unusually hot as he settled himself amongst the buttercups. 'It's a bit George Michael... a bit Wham', he thought to himself, absent mindedly adopting the lingo of the little rascal that often snapped at his Conversed heels. He began to worry that he was ill, perhaps suffering a mild cardiac arrest. In an attempt to cool his moistening personage he undid the top button of his chaste checked shirt. It was not just coils of manly chestnut chest hair that this exposed however. The unmistakable sight of a pyjama-top collar could also be glimpsed. He was wearing his nightclothes still.
On further investigation it transpired that he was also pyjama-bottomed, fettered in both flannel sleeping-chinos and tight denim skinnies. The young man was alarmed. It was not his body that was ailing after all, but his mind.
In a semi-conscious daze he must have skipped a morning step. He was dapper, well turned out, smart as ever - but wearing one too many layers due to delirious oversight. The young man had walked through London town oblivious to the fact that he was in his pyjamas and madness was in his soul. Now that he knew, he leapt like a live-wire, all a-flutter and embarrassed, and hopped hurriedly onto the nearest bus. He was not dying of a heart-attack, as previously feared, rather of mortification.
As evening drew on and the rascal arrived, she was regaled with this tale of an addled mind and signs of insanity. Horror still resided in the young man's eyes as he imparted the sorrowful story, yet the rascal's weary spirits were cheered. She laughed. She laughed and laughed until she cried, forever grateful to the young man who wore his pyjamas out in the world.
16 August 2009
I was given an all access pass to the most amazing crampypants space in the literary world, and for this I am thankful. It is even better than the wardrobe that leads to Narnia.
It is The Book Cupboard.
Crammed to the rafters with brand spanking new, yet to be published books that I lovingly (albeit rather manically and excitedly) liberate from their Jiffy bags and heavy-duty cardboard packaging. If only you knew what these awestruck wide-eyes have seen - from the latest Margaret Atwood, to a proof copy of the new Barbara Kingsolver, to a children's anthology of Carol Ann Duffy poems, to a graphic novel of the life of Bertrand Russell, to a translation of a Japanese modern fairytale about a woman whose toe turns into a penis, that has been highly acclaimed by readers, literary critics, philosophers and academics alike, to Alan Bennett, Nick Hornby, John Banville, Joshua Ferris... I could go on. All pristine, and in varying degrees of completion. And I get my grubby mitts on all the above before the general public can even glimpse 'em.
I had a Bad Book Cupboard Experience. Yes, the cupboard of my dreams (even better than Carrie's Sex and the City closet) may have turned against me.
All alone, ensconced in said cupboard and pretending to be bookseller/philosopher Audrey Hepburn in Funnyface, I was opening a new book. A thriller. I read the blurb. It was about a young boy who writes to an imprisoned murderer, asking where the body of his butchered uncle is buried. I'd just comprehended the basic plot when out falls a piece of paper from inside the book - a handwritten note in pencil that asks a murderer where a body is buried... Then another bit of paper fell out. A biro scrawl from a prison inmate, replying to the boy.
Totally freaked me out. They looked real. Genuine. Not mock-ups. Sick joke? Marketing strategy? Most likely. But chilling nonetheless.
I shall not be reading this book.
9 August 2009
A place to escape to, loaded up with kegs of beer and a couple of ounces of weed that smells of rosemary. A group of lads hellbent on oblivion, driven into the wilds by the one who's passed his test, in an old motor that's about as battered as the guys intend to get over the weekend.
A place to recoup, after years of travelling across South America, Mexico and beyond on a moped, meeting all manner of madness. A cottage where the faux-foreigner can become immersed once more in the beautiful drizzly Cumbrian countryside after the colour, adventure and dangers of backpacking throughout the world and growing an impressive beard.
A place to live in, The Good Life meets The Edge of Love. Pottering about in wellies, floral dresses and woolen cardigans. Making soup from home-grown veg and writing novels longhand with a fountain pen and elderflower wine opening the mind to a rich vetch of inspiration.
All planned for Jockey Shields, the cottage of childhood. But need it always be associated with the past? Perhaps it could play a part in futures too...
If it were even for sale, that is. Hmmm.
31 July 2009
Tomorrow I think I shall channel a slumbering Victorian maidservant given experimental license with the ragbag of a seventies art student who is nostalgic for the Summer of Love.
I find days are given more focus if one has personalities to play with and costumes to dress in.
*Sweet in the way that teenage boys use the term? As in, 'Wanna come play Fifa mindlessly for thirteen hours solid, only breaking in order to piss on the loo seat and eat a packet of Tesco Value Jaffa cakes?' 'Yeah, sweet man.'
Or, 'Dude, that is one sah-wEEEEt-ah piece o' ass, hot damn!'
It is possible that sixteen years ago the word may have connoted something infinitely more innocent and cherubic. Those days are gone.
22 July 2009
And I have come to the conclusion that I was a Prime Bore. All pictures of me in the second stint of my adolescence are of my forehead. And a pimply forehead at that. Due to my nose being in a book, or newspaper, or instruction leaflets on 'How to be a Morose and Tedious Teenager'. Jeez, dull as dishwater. With the odd snap or scowl thrown in.
Sofas and sleeping bags are snuggly, but there comes a time when one must break out of these comfortable cocoons.
So this summer - my Summer of Buzz - I have been doing the butterfly jive.
I rave to techno Greek/Jewish folk music in tents, clad in wellies, with my mother. I wear stripy orange 'clown pants' (much to the chagrin of too cool Dopey-Doobie). I get tattoos from tea-drinking wiggas, who have posters of masturbating naked ladies on their bedroom walls. I spontaneously make banana bread pudding, with extra spice. I hoy wellington boots over my head. I sit in the rain in yellow and pink culottes, twirling a kitsch kitten umbrella. I watch Wayne Sleep overact in fishnets and leather pants at the Kit Kat Club, and fantasise about living my life as a Cabaret, old chum. I paint my nails green like Sally Bowles. I drink Amaretto Sours, made with ice crushed by frying pans. I dab glitter on my face and wear flowers in my hair.
And, as is often the case, art imitates life. To wit, this year's Mercury Music Prize nominees. A large proportion of which are girls who PERFORM. Huge, dramatic alter-egos. Glitter, glam, wings, wigs, feathers, other-worldly words, synthesised and distorted delirium. Who will win? The ONLY way to decide is a glitter face-off.
This picture illustrates my point beautifully. A solid foundation of books. (Which should be by no means disregarded.) But the paper lantern lights that adorn the heavens are just crying out to be swung from. Wild revellers and those with their heads in the clouds can drape themselves around the orbs, and flick them on and off, on and off, to create a firefly party atmosphere. A party that you have to invite yourself to. I'm jiving til the small hours this summer.
15 July 2009
Let us not beat around the bush (and why would anyone ever beat around a bush - what does this even achieve? - so let's just not do it). Basically, I want a hologram headstone.
Not right now, obviously. That would be weird. But when I'm dead and surveying all humanity with a wry smile upon my face and a knowing glint in my vacant eye.
Being the modest girl I am, I don't require the likes of extravagant angel adornments or legions of cherubs bedecking my final resting place. A simple headstone will suffice. As long as it bears a hologram of myself. That is all I ask. A perpetually winking, grinning hologram of a youthful Anna, doing big thumbs up and pointing 'Wassup? Check me out!' hand gestures. This will cheer mourners and give an air of cheesy kitsch which, in my experience, is never inappropriate.
Hologram headstones make an appearance in the film Serenity. I won't mention who for as I wouldn't want to spoil the 'plot', but let's just say that I'm not sure I shall ever forgive that ginger-bearded genius, Joss Whedon, for killing off a certain character. (Jeez, talk about o-bitch-uary.) Anyway, the amazing hologram headstone that marks where they lie is the least that they deserve. I, like the killed-off sci-fi star, am a leaf on the wind. Watch me soar...
And watch me wink in my jazzy hologram image for all eternity.
8 July 2009
From satsumas to Spancels. Named after the rope with which domestic animals were hobbled, the Spancel is an old Arthurian folkloric notion. Though it is more of a piseog* than a great magic. It is a tape of human skin, cut from the silhouette of a dead man. Begun at the right shoulder, a sharp knife cuts down the outside of the right arm, round the outer edge of each finger as if along the seams of a glove, and up the inside of the arm to the arm-pit. It then continues to cut down the side of the body, down the leg and up to the crutch, and so on. It cuts until the circuit of the corpse's outline is completed. A long ribbon is thus formed. A slightly more gruesome satsuma peel, as it were.
Find the man you love. Throw the Spancel over his head whilst he sleeps, and tie it in a bow. If he wakes as you perform this act he'll be dead within the year. If, however, he sleeps throughout the whole operation then he is bound to fall in love with you. Simple as that. And they say that the course of true love never runs smooth... It runs as smoothly as a knife through dead man's flesh actually.
If you don't fancy making your own Spancel, there are apparently several in the secret coffers of the Old Ones. Though these are, of course, secret. So good luck finding them. And good luck finding the man you love too. Lets hope he's a heavy sleeper.
*the old Irish for superstition. And my new favourite word.
2 July 2009
This 'study' is Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson.
Of course there are the usual 'issues' (a severely disabled older sister in this case) and the token blonde bitch, but these are by the by. The real interest lies in the descriptions of the girls' birthday parties.
They come up with their own themes - picnic party, swimming party, daisy party for Daisy etc - and, most importantly, their own fun, e-number laden party spreads. This is what any child's birthday party is all about anyway. Pool-shaped cakes with blue icing and marzipan figures, three-tiered affairs with each tier being a different flavour, white and yellow Victoria sponge, cut to look like a daisy...
This book has everything: realistically portrayed friendship troubles, girly silliness, a lovely Daddy who sorts out problems, true justice being served, the most amazing literary character ever in the cuddly Bella who is a wee bit dim, completely harmless, obsessed with chocolate and eats ALL the time, lashings of nostalgia for those halcyon party days, and cake. Lots and lots of cake.
So it came to pass that, in honour of my 21st birthday at home, I requested a Candy Castle Cake. The cake of my childhood. The King (or should that be Queen?) of cakes. The cake that my mother shall be eternally remembered for, a legacy she should be proud of. A solid sponge sandwich, coated thickly with butter-icing, topped with ice-cream cone turrets (also smothered in artery-clogging sugar paste) and studded all over with brightly coloured sweets. Chocolate MUST be included somewhere. Or everywhere. And ta da! A feast fit for a Princess. Albeit a diabetes-destined Princess...
And no, it is not an ancient-Greek phallic cake (which they DID make, back in the day) - those are turrets. Delicious TURRETS.
My party would blow all those Sleepover shindigs out the water.
Though it may have trouble competing with this...
I know of a girl soon to turn 21. She is thinking of celebrating this milestone at Ikea. A magical place of flatpack furniture, simple Swedish interior design, the mysterious and wondrous jungle of the basement, platefuls of fries, meatballs with that curious cranberry sauce and, best and most party-appealing of all, infinite lingonberry juice re-fills!
Party bags will naturally include those pencils they have dotted around everywhere that one nicks as a kid, and a Dime bar.
A wild way to mark a birthday. Not even good old Jackie could have come up with something quite so awesome.
The cake will probably be a Candy Kitchen, rather than Castle!
28 June 2009
12 June 2009
Hours filled with fairy lit basements of Eds, and the odd Ned.
And long Harringay hills and hot-pink florists.
Twilight consumed with cherry risotto and 'getting off one's Maynards'.
An evening wiled away with a beer keg baby, chit-chat of travel, egg-shaped shakers of a blue hue and playing, ad hoc, on the omnichord.
Time taken up by Portuguese aprons that exude culinary love, poems in profile (though which is his best side, one wonders, as he searches for the light), and printed pictures of Polaroid snaps.
Moments drowned in 'oceans of gin', whisky demands and red wine spillages.
A mortifying, though liberating, lifetime of stumbles through drunken mispronunciations, of misjudged french words, before taking one's leave half-heartedly with 'half past eight a.m.' excuses.
A blurred-edge bus journey, a 29 ride, an exchange of bohemian boasting between siblings, a panic and a pudding later... Panic due to forgotten keys and visions of street-sleeping. Pudding to soothe these (thankfully) unrealised visions away. Then wide-eyed once more at 4 in the morning.
I woke up and it was hours, not dreamed, but lived later. And it is these unexpected evenings that make the days of screen-staring more of a Barbican than a Barbican't.
10 June 2009
4 June 2009
Posters fall down, and people get 'leg hernias' on their birthdays.
Chocolate brownie cake gets smeared on carpets, and violet creams get devoured after cider with almost disastrous consequences.
Doors to poetry bars are locked, and light bulbs nearly get sat on.
The BNP, Ukip and Christian Party are all front runners in local elections, and keys fail to cooperate.
And that is barely the tip of the iceberg.
HOWEVER, tips of icebergs can also be cherries on the top. Can they not? Work with me on this one...
As a very wise amour of mine repeatedly (and ever so smugly) whispers through an amused half-smile, 'It is all part of the Comedy of Life'.
Pink party frocks can be enjoyed, and bedrooms can be the glamorous make-up boudoirs of backstage theatres.
A casual Carlos Acosta can be spotted in the street, and free blow-up inflatables can cushion numb bums in twilit Trafalgar Square.
Jokes can be made publicly about the medium of dance, and purple glitter curtains can bedeck bars booked for private soirees.
Undone bow ties can grace slender necks, and lace can be layered to form a special, special garment.
Hampstead Heath can be buttercup brightness, or wine-drenched sunset. Rugs and mugs can always be conjured, and friends will always be friends...
And, if in doubt, at an all time low, or disillusioned with the world of dancecrobatics, one can always cut to an 80's dance montage... Fact.
29 May 2009
Then I rock up with two cohorts. Carrying various items of crockery.
A prettily dressed leggy lady, lumbered with a huge hiking backpack strapped to her intrepid explorer frame. A smart-shirted young man in desperate need of a toothbrush, and armed with a ladle (brilliant defence against tube muggers - bop, bop, bop on the head).
And I. In my pyjamas. Tucked sexily into socks. Socks which don't even belong to me. Sporting yesterday's make up, a floral scarf at my throat, and all topped off with a slightly sickly smile at the situation.
The large chap across from us - eyes closed, huge shiny purple origami bird in his hat, with a rune-decorated staff with a crystal attached to the top in one hand, two silver balls which he fondled contentedly in the other - no doubt thought we could easily be recruited into his cult, being, as we were, tube-travellers of a certain ilk. An ilk of eccentricity.
Thankfully we escaped his clutches, clattering crockery as we minded the gap. Then home for a shower, teeth clean and a change into silk stockings and fresh coat of lipstick, ready to await a 1940's war hero.
23 May 2009
17 May 2009
9 May 2009
Dreams are a funny old business. Ominous, foreseeing, inward eyes of DESTINY.
Or just the crazed ravings of over-active imaginations and the result of too much cheese/sugar/weetos before bed.
C had dreamed that if F wrote about a particular tale in the exam (one which muses on dreams in fact - oh, the bitter irony!) then she would fail. Along with all of us. Basically, it would be a code red situation if F mentioned proud cocks, the wily fox, or any priests associated with nuns. C decided to withhold this dream from F until after the exam. Thankfully F did not wax lyrical about the tale of doom, so are skins were saved!
All the more disturbing, however, was G's dream. We, according to the cogs concealed within his fine cranium of concern, were all in the exam hall, about to get down to business, when a sniper entered and started shooting everyone. Dramatic. I, alas, was first to go, having been used as a human shield by C. (A very foolish choice of human shield I must say, not being the most substantial of students. The long frame of F would have proved a much better method of defence. Not because she's broad or anything...) Anyway, G survived. He would, it being his dream and all.
So bloodshed, carnage and, ultimately, death were foretold. No wonder G looked a bit peaky first thing.
What grieved me the most, however, was the fact that G only attended F's funeral in the dream. We know where his true loyalties lie... He said it wasn't up to much though. Mine would have been an absolute p-a-r-t-a-y, so his loss.
And anyway, this comes from the chap who once had an almost sex dream with Charlotte Bronte. She was about to take off her dress but G was like, 'No. Charlotte. Don't.'
28 April 2009
Have gone to Planet Chaucer. Ascended through the atmosphere by way of Eagle Airways, and staying at House of Fame Hotel. Run by this dodgy bloke who goes by the name of Geoff. Think he's ripping me off to be honest. An empassioned couple, Troilus and Creseyde, have the Honeymoon Suite - though not sure how long this honeymoon period will last... Met a few drinking buddies down the local tavern. Some right characters - the Wife of Bath and Pardoner drank me under the table! Don't think all this ale agrees with me as having some very vivid dreams. One might even call them 'visions', and they are always in verse...
Weather currently stormy, but am hoping that the clouds will clear, the mist will rise, and that I shall soon see the light.
Maybe I should have just gone on a road trip to Canterbury instead...
Hopefully be back soon,
P.s. Cancel the papers for the forseeable future (and the future is always forseeable on Planet Chaucer - according to the sponsors, Boethius and Fortune, at any rate) as unfortunately I cannot read them whilst on this holiday from hell.
15 April 2009
Mangle enthusiasts (and who doesn't love a mangle?) can travel the country, mangle to mangle. Simple as that. Why hadn't we thought of it before? How has it not been done before?
Coach trips will run throughout the tourist season, taking in Beamish, Kirkhaarle (where there is a beautiful specimen within a cosy cafe), Robert Burns' House (which has the added charm of chattering old ladies, eager to inform), and the piece de resistance of Arran Heritage Museum.
I would be most grateful for suggestions of any other mangle-centred locations, especially in the south, as this is a decidedly northern-based venture at present.
As a sideline to this business, I am going to produce souvenirs. Based on mangles. Obviously. Tea towels, fridge magnets and mugs will bear such legends as 'You can wring my bedsheets anytime' and 'Can you handle my mangle?'. These will be targeted towards those mangle-loving dirty weekenders, of which, I am reliably informed, there is a rather large market.
I may also manufacture some mini working models of mangles. Pocket-sized so that you are never caught short without a mangle. They will come in multiple colours, and will surely appeal to the young manglophile, those still new to the growing national obsession and who will be receptive to the dinky dynamism of these nifty collectables.
Me and Brother the Younger will split the profit 70/30.
Is it just me or is the word mangle beginning to lose all sense and meaning...?
4 April 2009
Back in the day (and I am not sure as to the exact date of this legendary 'day') the residence of Woodside Villas were known, rather wittily, as the Woodside Villains. Which adds adventure and theatricality to our somewhat reserved street.
The divulger of this information (written in blood on thick parchment by way of a scratchy quill, folded and sealed with ruby red molten wax, and arrived through my window attached to the leg of a carrier pigeon) did not care to elaborate as to how we were villainous however.
I like to think it was due to the nightly raucus flapper parties, wild drunken orgies, the rampant espionage, blackmail, and cloak and dagger goings on, and the enthusiastic twirling of our dark moustaches.
Of course, it could be nothing to do with the rather disastrous shindig of five years ago, when rivers of vomit ran in our drives, paint splattered the walls and carpets like the aftermath of a gory murder scene, windows were smashed, and high heel shoes spiked through table tops. Heaven forbid.
Alas, I feel the heyday of the notorious Woodside Villains, when they reigned supreme over these dark and shadowy parts, may be over. Though the banter over constructing the herb patch can border on villainous when the heat of the sun burns through the gathering clouds. Boos and hisses follow Ma and Pa as they swish their dark velvet cloaks, and scheme over fennel seeds.
I hope the villain is merely lurking, hatching evil and dastardly plans, and plotting an epic return to these mean streets in the near future. The Villas were meant for Villains!
25 March 2009
Devised by me and my travelling band of cohorts, around a table full of condiments in a dark trendy boozer that had spoons on display, Kirkus' Circus will be my life's work and inspiration. Not to mention source of substantial income as the punters come flocking in.
I, naturally, will be Ringmaster Supremo. Red tail coat and everything. I may also make a spotlit appearance as a sad Pierrot clown, complete with floppy velvet bow tie.
Twinkletoes Taffinder will be tightrope walker, her lycra-clad willowy frame lurching precariously as she tiptoes through the sky with elegance and grace.
Madame Pichon will be lion tamer, appropriate due to her tousled lionesque mane and penchant for growling. She shall crack her whip with gusto, and no doubt be fetishised by all.
Oddie will have a grotesque ventriloquist act, with Perry as her dapper dummy, placed stiffly on her knee. Lewd and crude one liners will be spontaneously conjured with quickfire wit.
The caged freakshow will be populated by us all. Dare not put your fingers through the bars, they will be bitten clean off!
Candyfloss of every colour will be available, as well as champagne poured over pyramids of babycham glasses. Punters will guzzle as they would at the fountain of eternal youth.
The set and costumes, and general ambiance, will be based on the trippy art house Derek Jarman film version of The Tempest. Dwarves dressed as Marie Antoinette, masked mannequins, Toyah Wilcox overacting Shakespearean verse, dancing sailors, monster-men sucking from their naked and obese mothers' nipples, flashes, crashes, flickering, disappearances, appearances, magic... that kind of thing. I shall travel the world with Kirkus' Circus and my troupe of dedicated performers! We'll probably be huge in Transylvania...
And if my vocation as Ringleader of my very own circus falls through (Heaven forbid!) then I always have the career of Literary Hostess to fall back on. If Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Morrell of Bedford Square could carve such a career path, then so can I! I may have to work on a more impressive name beforehand however. And befriend the glitterati of Bloomsbury. And be embroiled in an open marriage. And become bisexual. But it shall be ever so intellectually stimulating, yah, yah!
16 March 2009
Three beautiful black bairns, barely beyond toddlerhood, lick Mr Whippy from cones. They get the sticky gloop all round their faces, and chuckle with gleeful mirth at each other's messy mouths. Their giggles are infectious. They run and stumble round my ankles, laughing and pointing and hanging on their mother's skirts with mucky paws.
And when I take the binbag out (at arms length and double-bagged, yuk) an Afro-haired tomboy in luminous leggings is sticking her legs into the slot for cardboard.
'Are you recycling yourself?', I ask.
'Well, I'm trying to' she replies good naturedly, 'but my bum's getting stuck'.
She is joined by a chatty little blond bespectacled girl who promptly asks Perry if he's Australian. They really hit it off. She has an eyepatch. Which he admires.
There is a third member of this miniature harem who is mute. He dangles from a tree in the background. Just watching.
All three pick daffodils. Bright yellow and green. Almost as vivid as the kids themselves.
Forget Somerstown. It should be called Springstown.
11 March 2009
I've developed some unfortunate tics,
Spouting pretentious literary lyrics.
For my Romeo, alas, I'm still searching,
Due to resembling a Dickensian urchin.
Thank God we've moved on from Chaucer's time,
So enough with this ridiculous rhyme...!
Basically, I've been getting far too excited by my subject. It is not healthy.
I've been getting overly thrilled by monsters in Shakespeare, too enthusiastic about virgin martyrs having sex with Christ, well and truly fired up by the effect of Dickensian grotesques, and become positively feverish whilst contemplating rakes in Austen (not garden rakes - even I'm not that much of a geek - but the predatory dandy types).
And two members of this household (one being my good self, I'm not going to lie) made reference to the art-critic aesthete Walter Pater, the timid morality hater, in their status on Facebook.
Welcome to Nerdsville.
Never fear however. I am fighting the good fight: Low Culture vs. High Culture. As an attempt to combat this geeky takeover that seems to be occurring I have dedicatedly been swigging Lambrini like billio, committed myself to wearing charvy trakkie bottoms, and have got into the American, O.C-lite drama 90210 in a major way.
I just hope this is enough.
2 March 2009
OCD predominantly under control. Phew.
It is only late at night, in the dark land of sleepless delirium, that I may feel the urge to dash home, rearrange, plump, straighten, and generally put right the cushions of our family sitting room that are so mistreated and abused. Which is progress.
(Actually, the more I dwell on this whilst typing, right here, right now, the more I can envisage an exhausted mother/red wine soaked father/lazy ass teenage boy abusing said cusions this very second. Must swiftly move on before I suffer a relapse and implode...)
Anyway, being aware of my 'little issue' shall we say, it amused me greatly to discover The Serpent at Home. This is a text referred to in The Moonstone by a downright irritating sourpuss called Drusilla, and is treated like her Bible. It shows how the Evil One lies in wait for us in the most domestic of places. To wit: 'The chapters best adapted to female perusal are 'Satan in the Hair Brush'; 'Satan behind the Looking Glass'; 'Satan under the Tea Table'...'
The creme de la creme of this nonsense, however, is as follows: 'Satan among the Sofa Cushions'.
I love it. A woman after my own heart.
Well they do say the devil (or, in this case, Satan) is in the detail, and I am a perfectionist after all.
25 February 2009
What I did see however was:
Actual streets - proper roads with terraced houses and everything.
A perfectly pruned, chocolate-box pretty tree, bearing tiny white flowers, overhanging a little wooden gate leading to one of the terraced houses that is no doubt home to a young family of 2.4 children who call their parents Mummy and Daddy and are already grade 8 standard in both piano and violin.
A great deal of pancake batter*. Not necessarily all in the frying pan.
Perry experiencing a sugar high. Chocolate flowed liberally through his pancakes, chocolate flows liberally through the man's veins.
A living room. Lounge. Sitting room. Whatever you want to call it. The fact is, the flat actually had one. Aah, sofas...
An Oxford educated Classicist attempting to rap about the Emperor Augustus. Braap!
Too many re-fills of red wine.
But no Wombles. Or, indeed, yummy mummies. More disappointed about the Wombles.
*Incidentally, I don't think I will be giving up anything for Lent. I'm not one to emulate Christ. I mean, look what happened to him... I'll take the pancakes though.
Oh dear, the devil and I would have probably ended up being BFFs in that desert.
13 February 2009
It rather sums me up. Especially after the week I have just endured, enjoyed and, pretty much, survived.
Behold, dear reader...
Living with hippy Americans for a weekend.
Travels by megabus, tube, bus, tram and, the transportation system that started it all, my own two legs. Snow, smog and slime all traversed.
Fruit punch (two thirds vodka, one third peach schnapps, plus an orange segment and a twist of lime-rind), party rings, cheesy puffs and cheesy muzak steeped in nostalgia.
Cocktail bar complete with battered leather sofa and talk of naked skiing, religious persuasions, the institution of marriage, boiled eggs in shot glasses, and everything in between.
Raving to drum'n'bass until 3am, punctured by the dramatic muddying of a birthday girl's legs, restraining and comforting a beloved wronged woman, and chucking 99p earrings into grassy unknowns.
Eating Hedgehog chocolate cake at 5am, scooping spikes (thick icing studded with chocolate fingers and flakes) by the fingerful, and going on an early morning sugar trip to buzzy heights.
Settling like a slug in a sleeping bag on less than half a sofa, shared with a long-haired stoner, curled in foetal position and breathing in second-hand dope fumes from 6am until the moment I really needed to Brush. My. Teeth.
Academically analysing French medieval animals: foxes that have sex with chickens, Winnie-the-Pooh-like japes that include liberal use of the word 'whore', cats that claw off a priest's testicles, snails leading processions of a Parliamentary menagerie. Oh, the French, those jokers...
Being one of three hardcore groupies that dedicatedly follow a flame-haired 80's revivalist (through the wind-tunnels of Euston and snow and everything), positioned at the front of a grungy dancefloor, twirling in spinny, sequinned skirts, stripy socks, stick-on stars, and pink heels.
Chatting with Mullan about vaginal douches, Narnia, marveling at one's own cleverness, menstruation, the implausibility of a porn shop street, and whores with hearts. All a morning's work.
Visiting a publishing 'office' (penthouse apartment more like): all wooden floors and windows that stretch to the ceiling, letting the sun stream through. Balcony, view of St Paul's across the river, Penguin Classics mugs filled with milky tea, literary chit-chat, hungover smoking of rollies (them, not me), stroking of beautiful, recently-printed and personal books, free edition of perfectly produced quarterly - my kind of work place. Hard slog? Hard graft? Who cares!
After such a sublime and ridiculous week one must ask 'What the devil is next?'.
Well. Celebrating Valentines night with a bottle of Lambrini, something involving chocolate, soppy film and snuggling in bed with my man. My man,Wilkie Collins. Alas, he is more between the pages than between the sheets.
And I doubt all this would even fill a page of a chapter in the auto-biography. I'd better get out there pronto and acquire more best-selling material.