Thursday, 29 January 2009

Phoney Sex

I am in a bit of a happy swirl today as I have received my very first blog award! Isn’t it beautiful! The ‘bunch of beer’ makes me exceedingly happy. Thank you so very much for nominating me Gordon! I am jumping for joy!

Talking of jumping up and down I think I may have mentioned my ‘urban rebound’ class at the gym? Well, the class is quite tough and there is a lot of panting and gasping in the breaks at which point the instructor always makes the same dire jokes about how we could all earn money by manning phone sex lines. This is irksome after the 15th time and the other day I nearly let slip that I actually had once descended into the murky underground world of phone porn.

It was admittedly a few years ago and I needed some instant money to help pay my rent. Oddly enough it was my mother who found the advert in the local paper.

‘Look,’ she said. ‘These people are looking for voice over artists.’
She had her thumb over the bit that specified ‘adult material’ but I got the gist when I called about an interview.
‘Do you mind reading pornographic material into a mike?’
I wasn’t sure but up for another life experience I said I did it all the time.

The address was a scruffy warehouse lot near a new entertainment complex and I had an interview for 4pm.
There was no sign on the door just a series of buttons, which I randomly pressed and eventually a teenager still in school uniform opened up. I was a bit taken aback and shuffled on the doorstep muttering something about the ad in the Evening News.

‘Oh Dad’s upstairs,’ the teenager said brightly and led me through a wide space stuffed full of bits of electrical equipment, old instruments and metal poles hung with stage lights.

Upstairs were three studios and a small office. The ‘dad’ was a pleasant looking, chubby man in his mid forties in a blue and yellow patterned jumper and brown corduroy trousers. I began to wonder if I had the right place.

Another child of about 11 poked his head around the door. ‘Dad..can I have some toast? ‘
‘Guitar practice?’
‘Alright then but don’t let it burn or the alarm will go off again and we are going to be recording.’

The interview ended up being a distracted chat about his son’s rock band and the fact no one played the old stuff anymore. After a couple of minutes without a glance at my CV he asked me if I had done voice over work before. I said yes. Her handed me a script and a mike.
And I read.

The script was filthy and so badly written it made me cross-eyed.
‘Its not very good,’ admitted the dad-man. ‘I have to write so many and its generally all the same stuff required. It’s hard to make anything original. It really down to you to make it sound convincing.’

And so it was I ended up in a studio one afternoon, reading utter filth to a man who looked like he could have been a presenter on Good Morning TV.

‘That’s jolly good,’ he says, impressed with my ability to moan in several different regional accents. ‘Could you try with a Scottish lilt and go an extra three seconds on the final orgasm? ‘

I recorded three scripts. One, a very basic ‘come hither and put in your credit card details’, one revolving around a couple in a car in a park….you get the drift and then there was the standard dominatrix.
I sipped my tea and did Ms. Whiplash through a couple of times and it was all over.

Back home I sit feeling a bit strange looking at my pile of cash. Mum asks me how it went.

‘It was surreal,’ I say. ‘Easy money,’ but I begin to feel queasy thinking that my voice, no matter how disguised, is out there alone at the end of a phone line ‘helping’ some random man with his ..err.. private life.

By the time I get a call, a week later when the next batch of scripts are ready, I have found a full time job that doesn’t involve heavy breathing and am about to move to the other side of London. The man says he is really sorry to lose me and asks if I know anyone else who might be interested. He says he is desperate to find older Asian women.
In the background I can hear children squabbling.

‘Good luck with that.’ I say and hang up.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Its raining....that cold rain that somehow drips into the top of your shoes and catches you on the ear even if you are wearing a hat and twirling a brolly. I went for a walk in it to try to snap myself out of the lethargy that has cocooned me this afternoon but it just made me more melancholy. I had to go to Boots chemist to get some sun screen for my trip to Zambia in a couple of weeks and in a moment of irrationality I sprayed myself with a perfume called ‘Sensuous’. Not just my wrist but my neck too. (Well it said ‘Sensuous’ and I am ever hopeful). It reeked. The man next to me in the checkout queue began to choke and I had to rush out before I caused an international incident. I have been leaving a tell-tail stench behind me like the vapour trail of a Boeing 747 since leaving the shop. It will probably take two baths and a whole lot of extra flannel to de- ‘Sensuous’ myself.. Sigh….

Days like these should be spent in bed with someone or playing cards with friends or juggling children. As a bachelorette I make my own fun…no no..goodness…what filthy minds you have. No I mean sorting through clothes for second hand shops, writing lists, eating soup from the pan to save on washing up, idling on social networking sites and watching the DVDs I only got out because I had a ‘get one get one free’ card from Blockbuster. Vegging out is the phrase I believe.

There is of course work to be done. I had forgotten, in all the excitement of writing a book, that I was supposed to be applying for an MA course at two prestigious universities and I now only have a week to do so. I should be experimenting with my new camera. I should be writing my pitch for the Amazon Breakout Competition. I should be looking for jobs but hell, it’s Sunday and it’s raining and that perfume seems to have damaged my central nervous system. I am incapable of ‘deep thought’ or action. I drift in a cloud of ‘Sensuous’ that is beginning to make me slightly nauseous.

Wonder if it keeps mosquitoes away...?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Barack At Bloody Last!

Tomorrow is Barack Obama’s day! Poor sod. What a world he inherits from the Twit and the Demon Cheney. But he can do it, right?


So we are going to partaaayyyy in our rusty little British hearts, we are going to sing in the bath and have extra toast, we will wear clean socks and we may even make eye contact with our neighbours…well okay possibly a BIT far.

So lets raise a glass to America tomorrow and cross, fingers, eyes and toes that the inauguration in wonderful and what follows leads to better things all over.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Fiddling with the Truth.

I know my last post was a little frugal when it came to profundity. This is the thing: my grandparents on my father’s side were 2nd generation East End London Jews. They came from (my Grandmother) Russia; near Odessa and (my Grandfather) Poland, Krakow. Originally my father’s surname was Shimansky, a name with great history, meaning and magic. The Shimansky’s were healers and wise people.
My grandfather was working in Shepherd’s Bush market when the Second World War broke out and was advised by the British Government, as were all East European Jews in the forces, to change the name to something a little..less..well obviously ‘yid’.

The family looked around and said, ' Oy, so we have a shop in Shepherd’s Bush Market called Bush Stores..lets keep this simple for the punters already,’ and my father became a ‘Bush.’

Note; this was my father.

The Jewish line is matrilineal and my mother was to the immense fury of my grandparents, not one of the Chosen people. This means I am only Jew ‘ish’ in the way that woman is a member of a golf club i.e. I can partake in the festivals and hang out at the reform synagogues but am not expected to really understand the implications of the religion.
I do feel a deep connection nonetheless. My genes jangle when I listen to a cantor’s singing, when I hear the ancient blessings, when I break bread on the holy days. I know almost all the words to Fiddler on the Roof.
(On the other hand I also know all the lyrics for Jesus Christ Superstar and will regularly sing it with my Jewish cousins at Passover. We draw the line at ‘Evita’.)

Many of my relatives disappeared into the fires of the holocaust and this resonated with my father’s generation and down the line to us. I am chilled to the bone by what happened only 65 years ago. I understand why Israel needed to emerge like a phoenix from the ashes of The Final Solution. I can still smell the fear and my subconscious is riddled with the cancerous images of concentration camps and mass graves, exterminations repeated endlessly through history and slamming into the present; Eastern Europe, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan. It is what the fundamentalist fringe of the Muslim world claim they want to do again to the Jews. Exterminate them and those connected to them. Would I and my family once again be faced with death for being Mischlings (semi Jews)? If you were faced with people screaming for your blood would you not, given the historical precedent, arm yourself to the teeth and fire first, over and over and over again?

On my mother’s side, my grandmother dabbled in all kinds of Christian based faiths including Christian Science. She ended up a Christina evangelist living out her days in a bizarre commune in Zimbabwe. She gave all her possessions away to the commune including any responsibility she might have had for her children, (others in the family may read that differently but that was the impression I had as a child.) She praised Jesus with every breath and I hope she found happiness doing it but I couldn’t be sure. The commune made people confess and repent in public a lot and even as a grubby child I felt that it was used as a form of bullying and control. Everyone judged everyone all the time. How tiring that must have been.

At my C of E boarding school the churches we were forced to attend each Sunday were huge, impersonal, cold and painfully, dreadfully dull. My class learnt to swear in sign language as we were not allowed to speak to each other through the service. My older sister found something deeply moving and personal in them though.. My older sister is now a vicar in the Church of England.

So what exactly do I believe in? The Force, of course, Narnia, Rock and Roll and the fact we really haven’t a bloody clue about what is going on or why we are here. I’ve been evangelised by Scientologists, The Jesus Army and worse. I’ve seen people running from witchcraft, healed by magik, comforted by atheism and made stronger by a profound belief in dark matter, quantum physics, Ganesha, Buddha, and the number 42. I need to believe in the power of constancy and kindness and yep..sorry..but I do very much have to believe that love is vitally important because otherwise someone will start building those gas chambers again. It is bound to be someone who purports to be religious too…so one thing I don’t believe in… I don’t believe in religion..

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Surviving Gaza.

Nope, I am not someone who flourishes in the cold. I am in fact such a wuss that I have a tendency to clean my teeth in warm water. As Cambridge freezes around me I withdraw muttering and whimpering to pace around my little flat in search of warmer socks. I try not to keep the heat on all day but its hard when working from home (when I say ‘working’ I mean glaring balefully at my unedited book and checking facebook every two minutes to see if anyone has said anything ribald or interesting.)

However I broke my usual winter hibernation and finally went out for a jolly evening at the pub.

‘What do you make of the Gaza situation?’ asked my friend as we settled in by a roaring fire with pints of warm ale. I had wanted to make some joke about the fact that I had turned on the TV the previous night to watch ‘Surviving Gazza’ only to realise too late that it was a documentary about the alcoholic footballer Paul 'Gazza' Gasgoine and not the West Bank but it didn’t seem like the time to be flippant.

What could I say? I haven’t been there and haven’t studied the history of the area in detail. Could Hamas have spent these few years caring for and within their communities and quelled the bickering and corruption? Could they have won the hearts of the West with a call to self sustenance rather then a call to arms?
Whatever the situation, Israel’s retaliation is ‘disproportionate’ in the way that me gouging out your eyes and slashing your throat for stepping on my toe would be ‘disproportionate’

I have no truck with anyone, no matter how provoked they feel they may be, who tries to justify the deliberate bombing of schools.

That Britain mostly stands back and allows what is increasingly looking like a ‘collateral genocide’ ensures that we will face further terrorist attacks around the world and that the self destructive cycle will continue. I can only state the obvious and ask ‘why?' and where are the Buddhists when you need 'em? ’.

That conversation petered out and we stopped and stared at the fire before shaking off the gloom, buying another round and getting down to more vital discussions about who was doing who at the gym. Its all about balance you know

(Disclaimer: please note all rather weary assessments of Middle East situation are authors own, riddled with ignorance and disinformation and come with inbuilt apologies to those who actually 'have a clue'.)

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Back in the flat.

Hey there! How was your Christmas/ Hanukah/ holiday season? I’m back in Cambridge. Its cold outside, grey as concrete with frost in the air. 2009 seems tentative, nervous like my brother and my mum’s partner who like lunatics decided to swim in the sea on Christmas day! I kindly stayed out of their way and took photos.

Bro and John (avec Xmas hat) and the freezing sea! Luckily it was gorgeously sunny!

I was in Cabrille, Spain in a wooden cabin in a semi deserted holiday resort with my Mum, John and my Bro. We somehow managed around the little central table eating and drinking and catching up on all things. Mum had decorated the little cabin with treasures they had collected from all over Europe including oranges from Seville and pine cones from the forests of Croatia. The weather turned stormy on Boxing day so beach walks were out but we got to the lovely city of Tarragona for paella.
The only down side was the mattresses in the ‘kid’s' room where Bro and I slept. They seem to have been filled with powdered brick and were slightly convex which meant if you didn’t cling on you slipped off and if you clung on bits of your body went numb. Consequently I didn’t get much sleep in and was rather emotional on the flight back when once again I was bought a wheelchair when I requested assistance. Thanks to Mum and John for being so supportive during my 'where is the dignity in disability' rant. You rock.

My Beautiful Mum!

Christmas Bro.
Well, as I am a bit post holiday flat and anxious about editing my book, bombs in Gaza, finding a living wage and my photography project for Feb; (I have the new camera! it is gorgeous but I have yet to figure out how to take a photo on it), I will sign off for the moment. Thanks for coming back for a read after my few days away! I'll catch up on all things and be back with you later in the week.