Sunday, 29 June 2008

A Crock

I am here! I have just been doing a bit of dashing around. Will catch up tomorrow but in the meantime does anyone know what this tree is? I came across it in Kenya last December. They call it the Crocodile Tree...Isn't it gorgeous!!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Milking it.

You know when you listen to your recorded voice..if you hear yourself on an answer phone or on an old cassette…and it sounds daft or just odd? Well, I feel the same way when I catch sight of my reflection or see myself in photos. 'Who is that ridiculous woman?' I hiss. 'What a funny face. What an odd shape.'
It has always been this way..ever since I was a child. I feel like this face and body are nothing to do with the internal me. Not a good representation and I don’t recognise myself. Inside, on my good days, I am sleeker, taller, fearsome! Inside on my good days I am Riply AND the Alien. I am the Angela Carter werewolf who wears her fur on the inside.

On my bad days I am much smaller and old, brittle, fragile and sad, sad, sad but the less said about them days the better…

The idea behind being ‘aware’, ‘alive’ in its deepest sense was explored in the eye-opening film by Julian Schnabel ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’. It is extraordinary, profoundly moving…the story of the French editor of Elle Magazine, Jean- Dominique Bauby who at the age of 42 had a massive stroke and woke up 20 days later paralysed except for his one eye with which he somehow managed to dictate a book about what he was going through, about his deep love for his family and huge appetite for life.
I remembered hearing about the publication of his book back in the '90s and had been meaning to buy it for years but baulked when I heard it was to be made into a film. How could this man’s inner journey be filmed for Gods Sake without making it excruciatingly sentimental and phoney? Schnabel however came from inside out – you will know what I mean when you see it – and crafted with light, colour, soundtrack and point of view a film moving, funny and ultimately hopeful. He does not suck up to Bauby does not make this vain but charming man a saint and this somehow makes his story and the end of his life more deeply affecting.

Also downloaded this week's 'Dr Who' (BBC One). Holy crap it was great!!! So gripping, disturbing and some real skin of teeth performances from Bernard Cribbins (aww what a coup of a casting!) and Catherine Tate. Near perfect apart from the very large plastic stag beetle that the effects department came up with. The original must have bust at the last minute and some poor runner had had to dash to Toys R Us. The writer Russell T. Davis is just beginning to become brilliant as opposed to bloody annoyingly clever. What next, what next??

I am hiding behind TV criticism. As way of apology I give you one of me favourite poems written some years ago…on a fearsome day!


Got Milk?

Only blood and water
Plasma and piss

But boiling and bubbling
and coiling and spluttering
Souped up gizmo
I should coco
Whole new mojo


Give it to the babies
And Witches' tit me,

Monday, 23 June 2008

Running my mouth.

Did I run? I did not. Partly because I got a text at 5am from a bored friend trapped at Luton airport, thought ‘ah well… I’m awake now I might as well get up,’ and then promptly fell into a deep abyss of dreamless sleep and woke up only just in time to scramble over to the CAB offices to answer phone calls from distressed, depressed and occasionally extremely unpleasant folk in various stages of crises. Kind of lost the will to live after that.

Citizens Advice Bureau, having said that, is an incredible place.
And why?
You sir! Your wife leaves you for your brother-in-law and becomes your sister-in-law (once removed). What are your rights as to the house or your children?

You madam! Yes you with the lop sided leer. Say you are waitressing and on your shift the customers at table 8 do ‘a runner’. The restaurant manager says you have to pay their bill or work an extra shift? Is that legal?

And you two, just over from Poland and working in a drycleaners. But you ma’am find out you are pregnant and are worried about the chemicals. You want to leave until the baby comes but you are not sure if your job will be there when you need it. Do you have any rights?
Well do ya? Punk?

And you reading this. Think you wouldn’t need CAB eh? How about the fact that you, after a healthy trek in the Himalayas are struck down with lurgi, face 6 months of illness and can’t work. Can you claim benefits?
If you fall into debt after investing with some Nigerian internet firm, can someone advise you and advocate for you even if you cannot afford a solicitor?

Citizens Advice is there because none of us has a real clue to the constant changing torrent of legislation that affects every part of our lives. And yet, even though manned mostly by volunteers the CAB is constantly facing closure and disruption due to lack of funds. It is very strange and I suspect it is being badly managed at the highest level and I intend to find out why so few people know or understand or care about this remarkable charity. Knowledge is power and should be free for everyone after all.

All righty, Monday rant over. My neck is killing me from sitting all day at a computer and my eyes seem to have a thick paste of Vaseline and glitter over them. Pretty but not practical. Best turn ‘em off and turn on the radio for a break. More tomorrow!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

New Year all round.

So here I am in the next year of my life.
To tell you the truth it feels a little bit like the last one only a bit stiffer.
As still feeling hungover from lovely gentle birthday bash in rain I will keep this short. Also will have to get a decent nights sleep as I promised myself I would start running again in the mornings. What kind of an idiotic birthday gift to self is that? Why didn't I promise myself more time to write or less spent on organic food and more on decent wine? Ah well..perhaps that will all happen too.
More soon me dears.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Birthday Solstice

Holy smoke..what heppened to the time? must have been that vintage cider!

Ladies and gentlement, tomorrow is the summer solstice birthday. Tis all a bit bemusing to be off an age where most people have children, mortgages, bald spots, and savings. I have over active imagination, an exhausted liver and always the feeling of discombobulation that makes me feel that i am still searching for something elusive , strange and truly beautiful.
Maybe this year eh?

I want to say thank you for everything and everyone so far, even those who can't be here this solstice.

I am alright tonight..calm. I give you a poem what I wrote instead of usual ramble.
With much love:
The point.
I have done Gym
I walk a hell of
A lot
On knobbly pavements,
In Cold rain
And still my belly rolls
and yaws
This little rotund body of mine
Stomping on along the snakes and ladders of
The calander.
A perfect
Head cocked;
My anxiety

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fairly magik

Yesterday I went to the Town and Country Fair with my floaty neighbour.. The weather was chilly and sunny in equal bursts with occasional splodges of fat rain drops …there is nothing quite like the English summer. My eyes have been a bit difficult this last week so at first I was subdued and sullen wandering around between the organic jam stalls and the sheep shearing.

Things brightened up considerably after I bumped into the vintage cider stall however. A swift glug or three and it all became 'perfekedly charmin’. '

At the far end of the field were two Suffolk Punches. From a distance they just look like big horses but when you are close they tower above you, all massive and golden and sweet smelling, with hooves like buckets and liquid brown eyes and soft grey noses. There are only 420 in the whole world. Even the Giant Panda has better odds on extinction. There is something otherworldly and magical about them as if they are moving through a slightly different air to us..

As I stood slightly hypnotised by the creatures, several men strode past with falcons on their arms, two sheep dogs rounded up some Indian river ducks for a wildly applauding, enthusiastic crowd, a group of glassy eyed, mid-exam-up-the-yazoo students shared a Wild Boar burger with chips and a toddler in wellies was virtually smothered under the weight of the five-foot long stuffed tiger her Dad had just won at the fairground.
‘You can’t make this up’ I thought heading back towards the cider tent.
And I didn’t.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

You Lookin' At Me?

Taxi driver: You got tunnel vision then..

Me: I..err. well ye…..

Taxi driver: Its that stick what give it away. I saw it and I thought that one’s got tunnel vision. I was going to give you a hand but then you was in already.


Me: (realising I was supposed to comment) Err …so you know about …tunnel vision..

Taxi Driver: Yeah I meet lots of them people and their dogs. In fact I am in charge of organising a training thing…um..whasit called?

Me: An awareness training?

Taxi driver: Yeah, yeah that’s right. Awareness training.

Me: That’s great. What on earth made you decide to do that?

Taxi Driver: Well we have to really. One of our drivers ..he’s foreign ..he wouldn’t take this woman in his was the dog. He just refused..and it was raining and that.
Poor thing. She ended up going on her way crying and it was even night…and then there were complaints.

Me: (Poor, poor, poor woman) Poor woman.

Taxi Driver: The bloke wouldn’t believe he had done nuffink wrong. He took it all the way to Crown Court before they threw it out.

Me: What an ass…idiot. So its because of him..?

Taxi Driver: Not really. His mate. See, he gave his taxi insurance over to his mate and his mate won’t take them people either. I’ve given him a warning..I’ve told him that as a licensed cabbie he bloody has to unless he applies for special dispensation for allergy or that.
I mean I take them all the time. Just have a hoover in the back for the dog hair. Its no trouble. With a hoover. I like dogs.


Me: (Oh good grief..more?) So you are organising an awareness…

Taxi Driver: Yeah that’s right. That one will be there. The one what won’t take them people. He’s foreign too. I think they probably eat them dogs or something in their country…that’s the problem.

Me: (Sweet Jesus!) Yeaaahh….I think it is to do with issues of cleanliness and purity..some conflict with religion although I have not ever met a mullah who says Guide Dogs are unclean..

Taxi Driver: Mu..wha?

Me: Never mind..It’s great what you are doing.

Taxi Driver: I say I had to really. There will be this blind lady telling us stuff and her dog and her daughter. You know and we’ll even take her out for a nice pub lunch after.

Me: I am sure she’ll be really pleased..

Taxi driver: Yeah well.. its hard for these people..they don’t have much of a life do they…

Me: (?!!!***?) Apparently not…Oh sorry..must answer my phone….….

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Obfuscate (Tanvir Bush(c) 2008

Monday, 9 June 2008

Fag Ash Bill

In an attempt to cheer myself up I send out invitations to an impromptu BBQ for Sunday and then I get all lycra’d up and head to the gym.

I slip past two innocuous middle-aged men standing into the doorway of the gym. They are smoking.

‘Smoking outside the gym? Very brave.’ I josh

‘You have a problem with that?’ replies one flatly.

I glance over my shoulder at him. His tone was really nasty. The other chap had laughed with me and now looks at his friend and falters... This mean one is fatter and redder. He wants to fight me. He actually want to fight me… the morning …with the sun shining..and for nothing more then the fact that he thinks I was being sarcastic about him smoking……I stop, astounded and he stares at me with narrowed piggy eyes, oozing such hatred I feel like he has already pushed his smouldering cigarette into my face.

‘I..err.. no.. ‘, I try and keep my tone light. I am past him now. ‘I just thought it was funny.’

‘Oh reeeally,’ the man says sarcasm streaking his voice with bile. He turns his considerable bulk and is now set for a physical confrontation. He is twice my size.

I have choices and consult my inner me(s);

Stressed-Out-Hippie-Child-Me has had enough and suggests just sitting on floor and screaming until they come with white coats and take me away. ‘Interesting’ I tell Hippie, ‘but potentially bad on the CV.’

Psycho-Ninja-Me wants to dive into a forward roll and power up on the man’s left side (he is a right handed smoker) punching upward, with the knuckles of my right fist, smash his nose sending shards of bone up into his brain. It would take me under 30 seconds.
This I like and linger over however the potential karma problem makes murder a little unappealing. (Plus shards of bone in this man’s frontal lobe may actually make not one bit of difference at all.)

Me-In-The –Real-World sighs and ensures I do the only sensible thing; turn around and walk away.

This episode clogs up my mind and I feel a little poisoned by it all but it is too late to cancel the BBQ.

My neighbour floats wide eyed as per, into the house an hour early. (I have left the bloody doors open)
I leap out of the loo where I have been attempting to put eye drops in.

‘God you look exhausted,’ she says with interest.

I scowl.

‘That doesn’t help,’ she says floating off.

I put on make up too thickly, only caring that people can’t see the bags under my eyes. It results in me looking like a slightly melted half price version of Stevie Nicks circa 1984.. I put on dark glasses. I then take off the dark glasses so I can find my way to the garden.

Guests come. I feed them, sit and chat for a few minutes, then run to the bathroom and whimper. There seem to be a lot of guests and a lot of running to the bathroom and after a few hours I give up on the whimpering as I am worn out, I realise that actually it is a lovely day and the BBQ is going down very well with everyone. I lighten up.

Eventually I am alone again with enough food to feed a small Zambian village and none of it..of course..freezable ..ah the guilt.

I am cheered reading my friends news from around the world. In Nogorob House my friend faces down lions in her dreams and stares into the hearts of elephants. In Jo’burg another gives thanks for Cape Town storms and wine and in Toronto the Beautiful A’s gallery blossoms. Another friend debates the intricacies of forgiveness.
I think about the mean man from the gym. He must be actually quite miserable to be so defensive. And he smokes poor sod. And he made himself look like an idiot in front of his mate. Ah sod it. I forgive him. (But – and here’s to you ‘family affairs’ I won’t forget!)

Friday, 6 June 2008

Mugabe and the Vasda Nerada

Mugabe walks up to the UN podium stiffly, like the terrifying spaceman taken over by the Vashda Nerada in Dr. Who last week. I know I know…this is possibly not the most academic when it comes to serious political analysis but the Vashda Narada in Dr. Who live in the shadows, are deadly and are called the piranhas of the air, reducing anything that comes in to their path to bones and dust. A comparison has to be made surely. They have taken over and have feasted on any humanity left in Mugabe’s silk suit encrusted body and now are going on to reduce Zimbabwe to a pile of skeletons. . The walk gives it away.. (You’ll thank me for this when the truth comes out…)

I am very tired. Last week was difficult indeed. Someone I don’t know very well but am fond of, is very ill with a severe psychiatric disorder. I had imagined myself going to their house and helping her cook and clean whilst her partner finally got a break and went to work. I imagined I could ease things, help her rest let her poor battered boyfriend rest. I saw myself all sensible, coffee and cake, matronly ableness.

I was a being a bit of a twit.

Her illness makes her very paranoid and her thoughts go in basic circles that won’t release her. She is terribly frightened. Everything is personal; ‘ideas of reference’ I believe this is called. It is not possible to make a call, source a help line, talk to her boyfriend in front of her without making her more anxious. ‘What are you doing? What does it mean? What are you doing? What does it mean?’

She won’t let me help in the kitchen. She won’t eat properly, wash properly; she is hardly sleeping at night and not able to rouse herself in the morning. Her partner is exhausted and has taken so much time off work he worries he may lose his job. .

My presence causes stress but on Wednesday I get her to eat breakfast and then I run away to look for a local Citizens Advice Bureau. I find that there was one…but it shut 6 weeks ago due to lack of funding.

‘What do people in trouble, in confusion, do now?’ I ask the nice woman at the empty building’s reception.
‘Take leaflets…errr…that’s it really.’ She says. ‘I can offer you a solicitors appointment in August.’

I don’t want to but I head back to the house and the woman is a little more composed. We go and pay her rent; we go for a walk in the park and endlessly and on and on and around and around I try to reassure her, telling her over and over again what is happening, how people are trying to help her. She can’t believe anything I say. She is so frightened. Her partner comes home and I bolt.

At my older sister’s house, the vicarage in Staines, I sit with my back to the beautiful garden feeling sheepish and stupid. She watches me, saying nothing, as I rattle on angry, worried, defensive. I run out of words and she lets me come to my own understanding of the implications of the situation.
I become quiet. There is nothing more to be said.
My sister hugs me.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Quickie on Thursday

Errr...did not get the job.

This is going to lead to a miserable weekend

I think i will get back into my real purpose in life!!!

Have a good weekend me dears!!!!!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Sales Pitch

I read that you can sell anything to someone if you mimic them subtly; for instance if you are sitting opposite someone at an arms fair trying to sell your set of Tiger Tanks with cute matching camoflage edging you would do well to watch and then do what your prospective buyer does. He crosses his arms, you cross your arms, she rubs her nose , you rub your nose. See what I mean?

Last night at about 2am on a dance floor in Camberwell I decided to try and sell myself to the man I was dancing with. In case this sounds a bit odd you will need to factor in the 200000 units of white wine I had imbibed previous to the experiment. The man I was dancing with was a lovely old friend who I had a crush on when I was a teenager. He has never expressed any particular interest in me other then in a matey way so I thought, what the hell, I would mimic him dancing and see if that would make me suddenly very, very sexy to him..

Problem is this nice man cannot dance. At all. At all at all.

Soooo by mimicking him, I, who am known for my shuffleishousness on the dance floor, looked as if I was taking the piss.

Problem was the 20000 units of wine made me think the experiment was working and his look of humiliated rage was actually a come hither lear. Poor chap. I nipped off for a quick pee and when I cam back he was cowering weeping behind the bar.

Don’t worry – I ended up canoodling with some huge hunk with tree trunk biceps instead. Apparently he is no longer allowed English girlfriends as he has to marry a girl from his village in Nigeria (even though he is a second generation Londoner) but I know how to snog in Yoruba. So there.

A cracking night in all honesty hosted by my gorgeous Zambian pals, the Munyamas in honour of their joint 40th birthdays. There was a great collection of peoples from all over the place and I felt completely safe and able to use my cane without feeling like a freak when I needed and not use it when I didn’t. (see above)

By the way, I STILL have not heard about the sodding job. Can you Adam and Eve it? I called to ask them to let me know if it was just because my ‘letter was in the post’ but turns out they haven’t made a decision yet.
Ooooo aaarrr…the tension.
Anyway just in case I found an even better job possibility and have applied for that instead. Ha!

Meanwhile I gaze desultorily (how DOES that word work as a verb?) at my bank account and make plans to cut back on the fluffy bits – subscriptions and stuff. Just until I am earning again.
One day just know I'll have enough money not to feel nauseous when I walk past Barclays.