27 June 2010

Fanny Brawne can only 'flirt and sew'. I think only of 'wool and fairies'.
We both love ribbons and bows and triple-pleated mushroom collars.

And Keats.

But, oh God, the dead butterflies.

21 June 2010

Smudging My Rouge

So she's a consumptive prostitute and he's an idealistic naive who constantly witters on about some vague concept of 'love'. But they get me every time.

I went and saw Moulin Rouge five times when it came out. The only time I have paid money to see the same film more than once at the cinema. I cried each time. I had to choreograph a piece for ballet a year or so later, and I chose the Roxanne Tango music to arabesque and pirouette to. My meticulous tiny tutor with the scraped back black bun and enormous kohl eyes did her best not to bat an eyelash at the fact that my inspiration happened to be damned ladies of the night... I bought the soundtrack and listened to it a million zillion times throughout teendom.

And this weekend I sang 'Come What May' at the top of my voice whilst painting a room in Hampstead, wielding a paint roller and wearing duck egg blue-blotched leggings. We tried to split the parts (are you a Nicole or a Ewan?) but ended up belting out both, swept away by the heady paint fumes and the melodrama.

We watched the film the next night, following my purchase of red satin Satine shoes. It has been years, but I know every word. Except I noticed the line about the 'tantric cancan' afresh, which I had perhaps previously skimmed over...

It is ridiculous, over the top, implausible (how does Christian not end up with TB too?), infuriating, completely fantastical. Etcetera, etcetera. But I love. And weep and bawl and get covered in snot. It's 'Come What May'. That's what does it. A secret song, just for the lovers. Spoken, whispered, sang like a lullaby, given full lung power as it crescendos over the theatre.

Typewriters, sin, red lipstick, Toulouse Lautrec and a secret song. Yes.

18 June 2010

The Amazing Misadventures of... Rectumface aaaaaaand Snaggletooth!

Wheelers and dealers of embarrassment and mortification, imprinting London with chaotic Converse footprints, and taking on the city one madcap antic at a time.

Coming soon to an attic above you.

13 June 2010

Little House on the Prairie is a charm. A charm of my little girl days, that is all plaits and pinafores and bedrooms in barns and perfect fathers and Sunday afternoons in a half-remembered memory montage.

It is a mix of Laura Ashley, the Amish, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I wore my Little-House-on-the-Prairie-dress, aged seven, at my parents' wedding. With a quilted floral Alice band.

Parents that spoil me rotten fifteen years later. Yummy meals (now sincerely enjoyed, and not before time) and high-tops and Nancy Mitford and nostalgia and invitations to my best friends and studying fine and fading Renaissance drawings and saving me from lovely-but-scary camp dressers at Hobbs who try to insist on red dresses that just aren't me. London travel and Robin Hood/Princess Bride/Neil Gaiman geek chat and bringing me Barbara Trapido and impromptu semi-embraces on the tube and indulging my fascination with Gordon Square worms. Being the perfect antidote to staring out the window on the number 4 at midnight, with an adoring young couple sitting behind me, listening to a mix tape over and over as it takes me both years and seconds to get home... They spoil me, and I try not to love it.

Then, on the Sunday afternoon, I track down the best chocolate ice cream London has to offer, with The Observer in my hand and a fellow intrepid ice cream seeker by my side. The scoop is studded with ginger and topped with a thick layer of hardening chocolate sauce, eaten with a wooden spoon, melting into a space that is also filled with a new floral romper suit. A romper suit with a Little House on the Prairie lace bib detail and puff sleeves. I wear remnants of the past on my sleeve, around my neck, and on my chest.

7 June 2010

It's all about Alan Rickman's voice

I eat sausage sandwiches and read Mrs Dalloway. And discover that Barbara Trapido's thumbs bend backwards, just as mine do.
I am asked to kill a wasp at work, I don't think twice, I murder it with a rolled-up Times. I am a vegetarian. And awful.
I have cheesecake for breakfast and drink Red Stripe with boys.
I explore a wizard's attic, in which a wizard sleeps. He must not be woken. He gets grumpy and his spells go awry. We turn like a pair of wind-up toys in a closet of mirrors.
I am followed by Leonard and Suzanne and Marianne wherever I go. Followed to all the best places.
I carry a purple delphinium. She would buy the flowers herself...
I think about writing poetry in which occurs 'in about the proportion of cherries in a cherry-cake, certain words that she described as "of a smouldering nature", such as loins and lovers, the root, the seawrack and the shroud.' Then laugh like a car-horn, and draw half a moustache instead.

I hang daisy-stamped gowns and lightning bolts in my room.

I think about fairies and wool less and less. But fall over my feet and my thoughts more. And use 'I' far too often. Ssshh. Less 'I' and more silent eyes.

1 June 2010

Doves and pomegranates/And peacocks with a hundred eyes

I turn twenty two and wait to use my toothbrush...

Then later I watch Mary Poppins, lying on my stomach in a button-up floral all-in-one. A spoonful of sugar makes the growing old a little sweeter. A french-plaited dungaree-clad girl sugars petals for me, and meringues softly peak all over the kitchen.

Strawberries turn to coulis, seeping into cotton, and chocolate cake is sliced as I become militant over paper plates. We're all beneath a patterned sheet, parading inside a Chinese dragon, and begin to run down Parliament Hill, tripping over our extra wool and licking our lips after the final macaroon.

Words are wrapped in music: proverbs and rhymes in parcel-taped manuscript paper. The perfect present is bound up in the Guardian Review, both Amy Pond and Shakespeare. The glitter-stickered accompaniment shows two old ladies, black and white, wearing hats, me in fifty years... Appletiser and Muriel Spark poetry from a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead are sparks of thoughtful loveliness.

Sitting on the floor, amongst the many chair legs, finishes an evening and makes me feel five years old again, seeking out and drinking the dregs from wine glasses left out by parents' party guests.