Wednesday, 22 April 2015

If you walk in the crowd you won't leave any trace.

Let me tell you the worst thing you can possibly say to me about my tattoos.

I have this one tattoo. Black across my lillywhite gypsy skin. Down my forearm, that reads “this is not for you”. If you're interested, it's the opening lines of the first book I was given by the first boy who can say he had my heart. The first book that blew apart all the previous rules of writing. My own and otherwise. To say this sacred tome has haunted my life since is an understatement. It's the one book I keep passing on, giving away, falling over, being spooked back too. I currently have two copies, one that I consciously remember buying, the other that came to me I don't know how; and the oddest thing is that when I got this tattoo I became even more of a collector of it's stories. This book, THE book, it has a life of it's own. Someone was in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, and it fell through the remote front door, cover ripped off. Someone else regained their fear of the dark after reading it. Another guy....well it goes on. You get the idea.

These days I to hold onto my faith in the general public. I try to brush off their strange remarks as nervous attempts at banter, but when you point at my tattoo and say “aren't you going to be alone forever?”, this is a button pressed. Especially when it's three minutes after the train home was supposed to arrive to the calm of my sky-palace sanctuary and my little black cat. So, I hit back, facetious, maybe I want to be alone forever. I don't, but I'm an angry child thrust in the face of a stupid question, my sass and sarcasm the last shields I throw up when I'm knocked off key.

It's just, I'm frustrated. I've been sick forever, in so many senses of the word. Sore-throat sick, soul-sick, body wants a baby sick, Saturn's return sick,; that I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep. Possibly in someone's arms, although that last part is optional. I probably need some Erythromycin and an Uncrossing Spell, but who doesn't these days? I'm on the platform at Shepherds Bush and the crowd is growing thicker and thicker and the train is getting later and later, so when the train arrives my conscious mind is off in the liminal space I reserve for storytelling and vivid-dream premonitions.

And the train is rammed. Instantly, I'm squashed up against four bald men, all fairy-tale giant ginormuos. Every single one of these men has seen me thirty seconds earlier get accidentally punched in the tit by a yammering lawyer, so they shuffle their feet and lean back politely. I'm grateful for the extra space, because I can feel four types of material unwillingly pressed against lower parts of my body; it's just that busy. The dawning summer brings thundering with it a muggy sense of urgency, one that's transformed in the Overground carriage to thick air. Nose-neck thick, hot-body sex thick, Mardi Gras thick, meat-sweat, cat-breath thick. Echoing through the whole train. This many people this close, the air conditioning might as well save it's sweet time and join the hot-air party. There's one, only one advantage to a train packed this close. No-one's gonna steal your stuff at least. No-one can even move. Let alone make a bid for your phone. Basic rush-hour logic, and I guess at least the men are being kind. I guess.

By the time this train gets moving, everyone's off in their own special place. This is how they deal with the chaos of the packed train. Music, books, diving into WhatsApp, each small little versions of their own private nirvana. No-one is really all the way there, but we all have the rush hour to deal with. When most of the passengers drop off at the next stop, our aching communal heart takes one harsh beat, pressing itself against our paper-thin chests in one clear air gasp. Clean god-damn air. It'll be the last for a while, but we don't know that yet.

I have this moment where I'm staring at the fresh air come crashing through the doors with this knowledge I need to get off. In life, but mostly of this train. Whilst I'm negotiating the impulse the door swooshes close and I have one clear thought break my rush-hour mantra. Oh. Oh well.

Then the train pulls off. Speeds up. A little faster than usual, but we are late. I'm off somewhere else in my head, swaying in the soporific lullaby arms that it hits my body first. Like I've been punched in the stomach, a cramp, it staples my stomach together with a sobering jolt. How many stations have we passed? Sometimes I phase out for what seems hours and it's just seconds, and I'm god-damn sure it's just that, right? But there's still that feeling in my stomach, like a cigarette burn through my oesophagus, an unknown stab. Maybe it's just stress. Maybe it's just cramp. Maybe I kicked the wall in the night and pulled a muscle I didn't even know I had...or maybe it's something esoteric I haven't worked out, or codeine withdrawal. It could be that. My options, I'm cycling through like a bullet train when someone further down the car realises before me.

“Is he gonna stop?”

I crane my head around to see the screen. Blank. I sigh. Stare out the window, warp-speed blurs of nature's beauty all star bursts of lines, and a station goes past.

Goes past.


We're on the Overground, aren't we?

For those of you that aren't keeping up, the Overground stops at every station.

I catch the gaze of this Chinese dude. I say dude because I didn't catch the gender. On the verge of asking for help, headphones twisted in hands like claws. Burning confusion, but unsure. As though they're not too sure their question is valid, cautionary innocent weakness. So I start the conversation.

“Is he gonna stop?”

By now I'm not the only person wondering. My new-found confidant catches the name of the next station to shudder by in a blur so unrecognisable that the concept of passing another station vanishes like smoke in my consciousness, and the swallow is so audible that I'm sure they can hear it at the other end of the world.

“Hampstead Heath?”

The panic spreads like an STD. This guy ain't stopping. No way. There's a small group of mild-mannered men in suits debating the emergency stop alarm, arguing the semantics of a train driver hell-bent for leather on driving us into the fiery abyss at the end of the line. As the panic waves lash harsh on the few people who haven't quite caught on yet the more vigilant of the suits makes a good point; the emergency stop requires the dybbuk-possesed monster now driving our train to certain defeat to act on the signal, to pull the break. This guy already turned off all the screens and some of the lights, he probably wouldn't, he proposes, act in our favour.

To say were fucked would be an understatement. The panic of being entirely at the mercy of our ghost-possessed driver saturates limbs, shaking hands, furrowed foreheads. Little scratches too hard down forearms and angry red-faced fat little ancient ladies yammering into ancient mobile phone relics. The unspoken fear the train might have been hijacked binds us strange situation fellows. My Chinese friend has gone from banging on the doors to staring at me with a wide, vacant look in their face, expression begging “help!”. Another woman with waist length white hair and a Stevie Nicks coat asks me if I know what's happening, giggling quickly to herself. These faces, staring at me. Well, I have to say SOMETHING, right? All the while our metal cage speeds and speeds and speeds and sparks through more stations, past blurs and blurs and blurs of pink and brown and yellow and green and orange we once called people.

“I guess the track's got to run out at some point?”

Maybe I should have thought of something better to say, but it works. The train pulls into Gospel Oak. Doors slide back knife-edge swipe. The crowd moves as one angry herd, I'm swept up in the current of the welcome escape. I've seen kids run slower from illegal raves. Safety and the chance to grab the soon-to-be-departed next train back in the other direction leave Gospel Oak a sea of thundering footsteps too large to think through and this time, I trust my instinct and stop to read the screen everyone else has ignored.

I've amassed a bunch of followers who obviously think my Zen translates to navigating public transport. What fools. The train on the other platform pulls off as half the travellers realise they're off in the wrong direction. Pandemonium rattles on the door, my little army of the Chinese dude and Stevie, a nurse and a few faceless stragglers thanks me for stopping them jumping on the wrong train.

“Are you going back in the other direction?” says the nurse. “Can I just...follow you?”

Together, we navigate our journey down the hidden stairs. Together, we stop for complaint forms for Stevie and the Nurse and for a few seconds I think I've lost the Chinese dude, but they turn back up as we're all, all ten of us, climbing the platform to the train in the right direction. Together we board the right train. The Nurse likes my hair. Stevie lives near my house. We stand, bound together in a group of otherwise ignorant 6pm commuters, strange friends as we make our weary way home.

Just before I get off at my stop the Nurse thumbs her form.

“You gonna complain?”

“Nah.” I say. “Makes for a good story. I'm going to go home and write it down...”

Monday, 5 January 2015

MirMento Mania

MirMento Mori is taking shape. The world is against me, my keyboard and it's replacement fell victim to some terrible accidents but the story is still in here, these women, the fake ones that I've made my family are screaming to get out no matter how hard it is to do it. Right now I've thought myself into the brain of a 20s Salome veil dancer and I kinda want a hug and someone to tell me they love me because ouch.

It's been a good ten years since a novel possessed me like this. The more of it I write the more important it becomes to me. It's not just the rampant need to solidify my place on this planet, it's the lack of female mainstream transgression and I want to change that. Honestly. I want to make writing rock and roll again.

Enough talking. I know I'm posting disjointed little parts, but that's because the whole text is a sprawling, pulsing, breathing monster that I have to attack from more than one side but it's all starting to come together. Like magic. Like all the pieces of the puzzle. Oof,

Lemme give you some context here. I have all these accounts of these women, linked  by their unfortunate needs for ECT at various points in their lives. Therefore it's about female hysteria, overreacting or a way of controlling wild women or what? Maybe it even crosses into feminism but I don't know enough feminist theory to talk about that properly. I don't want to answer those questions, at least not directly, I just want to bring them out so the reader makes their own choice about so called female madness.

So we have Miranda. The main character, sort of falling through a semi-dream-hallucination-seizure in her own treatment, who links them all. She was the hardest to write, but she's done now. I wanted to portray the confusion of the dream world as happy because we often have potential nightmare situations in art that are terrible, and I wanted to subvert the nasty things I'm gonna have to do to the rest of the women in this book to make my damn point with something warm and happy and maybe even preferable to reality??

ANYWAY. This is the part where Miranda, who has found the love of her life there with her along the journey to meet all these electrocuted women in her bloodline, has to say goodbye. I like it. I also think I've talked way too much. Maybe the text should have done the speaking for itself.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Smiling At Strangers On Trains

To quote Strindberg and Helium (which is quite wonderful if you haven't seen it, and where Amanda Palmer stole the intro for Strength Through Music from), a peculiar thing happened to me this morning yesterday evening, and if you will indulge me a thousand words or so, I'd be interested to hear your opinions on the situation...


Smiling at strangers on trains.

I've taken too much Tramadol again.

It's a familiar feeling. Floating through the arms of my opiate saviour. Chasing away that relentless lower back pain from the rotting organs inside my body, the ones that betrayed me even before I was born. At least, I guess, I know how I'm gonna die. The day to day effects of it, though, the PKD that's not even at it's worst yet; I'm just another fucking opiate junkie. Wasting the time I don't have, wasted. Oh boy. It's just that I can't work when I'm in pain and this year, the Christmas drama has come early. The obligatory “I'm home for Christmas” text from a childhood ex-lover. That one, the one we all have. It takes all my willpower and opiates not to fall back into the seven year cycles I travelled when I thought that he was my soul mate. Just too respond with my characteristic curt but polite response that fools that don't know me call confidence, or arrogance, or both.

So I've taken too much Tramadol again. To quell the pain, from my body, from my heart, from all of it and everything else I can't tell you. To break the curse of the Christmas drama, even for a little while. I'm up on my cloud like nothing can touch me, floating down escalators and shrugging into seats. One of the things I love about London is that you can disappear down the rabbit hole of yellow lights and dirty tube mice (well, they're sorta like rabbits) and emerge half an hour later, the other side of the world. It's good for my head, these transport links, good for the part of me I inherited from my father that is filled with the eternal urge to run away.

So I'm in my seat. Middle of the carriage. Trying to tell my brain that just because a cycle is well travelled, familiar, it doesn't mean it's a comfort. Thinking about do I trust that I've left enough food for my cat. Thinking oh shit, I should adjust my eye-liner that's no doubt on my chin. When I sat down, the bright, angry colours of the girl next to me's phone screen drew me in momentarily, and I purposely diverted my eyes. Polite respect. She's got her headphones in anyway. I have an instant emotional reaction to her, lovely dark hair, curvy face. Kind, like I'd want her to sing me to sleep. Curvy as fuck and I remember thinking, I bet you'd look so pretty if you just smiled. Maybe I can make you smile, one day.

I pull out my compact and I display with a talent that only stems from a die-hard Londoner my ability to adjust my make-up on my train. I promise you, I'm not so fucked I can't do my make-up. I'm wary of leaning too far into the women either side of me. Puckering my lips and reapplying my lip-gloss and when I think I'm near presentable I flick it all back into my shoulder bag and reach for my Kindle.

There's a few moments when I scroll for my book where the tube lights flicker dystopian, ragged, flashing.

Then all of a sudden, the pretty girl to the left moves for me. Pulls her headphones out of her ears, holding them in one snow white hand, and she lifts her wrist. Dives for my face, cupping my chin in her hand. For a nanosecond, and I react, lean out of her reach, back onto the woman on the other side me. I usually have some clever and quick witted cutting response, for situations like this, but it's all happened too quickly and I'm just stunned. Staring there, I've instantly gone to swipe her hand away. Quick hands palms out like they teach you in all the self-defence classes for young, single, angry fuck-you women.

She stumbles over her words.

“You gotta bittofa-”

The quickest response I can muster is “Don't touch the face.”

She's French. That sexy accent that I'm always a sucker for. I'm torn between the horror that an absolute stranger has felt the need to touch my face, and the intimacy that her gesture, had she managed to grab a hold, would have created. Do I feel like this because she is pretty, or is it something else, something to do with my ex-lover's obligatory Christmas hello text? Some self-preservation screw you buddy urge?

The French-girl, she realises that she's overstepped her mark. Instantly looks down at her feet, turning half-red and mutters a quick sorry; because I'm so still in shock, I don't tell her that it's fine.

However I'm to English to move. Not that there's anywhere else to sit at half seven on the Victoria line to Stockwell anyway, and my kidneys still hurt despite the Tramadol haze and I don't want to draw more attention to myself than I already have anyway.

So I sit. I ferment. Her touch has woken something inside of me, some distant memory of my ex-lover. No, of all my ex-lovers. The one nights and the long terms and the maybe might have beens and the never weres. The ones that meant everything, ones that meant nothing. The ones that meant nothing that ended up meaning everything. The ones I was in love with, or in lust with, all the things that fell apart that I over or under reacted to given the point I was at in my life. I wonder, at any point, if one of those men or women had touched me like that, I would have just widened my eyes and smiled like I do when I want to get laid. Why then, was that okay? For them to cup my face out of the blue, for me to inhale and close my eyes and smile into their kisses, feeling something close to the harmony of love? I feel the echoes of a thousand loving touches burnt into my skin, a surprisingly levelled reaction, seems my love life is essentially me reacting very calmly to a series of unfortunate events (this is the name, by the way, my mother commonly uses to refer to my romantic exploits). Surely, if I'm still mourning the loss of the last glorious touch from a heaven-sent sweetest and beautiful boy, then her touching me like this is fine? Sexy, even, and why is it such a violation of my boundaries just because the pretty French-girl hasn't even told me her name?

My train arrives at Stockwell before I come to a decision, and I still can't decide if I'm a fool for letting my old lovers touch me or if I should have just asked her fucking name.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

As much of a blog as I'll ever write....

I am not having the best week.

Maybe it's the blood in my veins that've turned to wine, or the fact my occasional urge to fucking chain smoke has become near a full fledged addiction, or the fact I stayed up to watch the sunrise from the wrong side like I love, or the fact my Oyster card is all screwed up, and I've been charming my way on and off the trains since Tuesday night, or the fact that I realised that someone in my building is stealing my god-damn post, or maybe I'm just so happy right now that my anger at what it is to be a pretty white girl who pretends to be classy but came from a shit-box is raging, or the fact that cab driver just said “have a good night” like he thinks I'm a hooker, or the fact I don't sleep when I accidentally forget to take my mood stabilisers, or maybe it's all of this, or something else but I'm not having the best week.

There's this crash of relief that happens when I come up to my apartment block. Like this place feels like home but I'm still frustrated, and it's rare for me to be frustrated, so the emotion creeps up my spine like the cold fingers of no booze no opiate sobriety lashed at me earlier. Hey, we all have to try it sometime. I'm usually the calm little centre of the universe. So used to calm that my calm pulls people in. It's a talent I have, really, but I'm not having the best week.

I'm fumbling for my keys and I don't know why but I look up. I always look up, especially in big cities, no-one ever looks up. One of my favourite things ever is looking up. I have this whole rock-musical in my head about the apocalypse and people not looking up but I need to learn to write music properly first. Now, I'm in central London here, so the lights across the city are usually so bright that the stars are gone. I miss the not-London city-stars like I miss that fierce mother-figure I never had. This is a case of nature winning out, and somehow, I don't know how, the whole sky is empty and clear and pure and I can see the stars. All of them. I sit down on the wall to my building, and I swear to you, I swear to you, I can see all of the constellations and the colours of the planets and the stars, they shine. They're so damn beautiful I make that sound like I don't know if I'm crying or laughing and I realise, my bad week, it's gonna be okay. All right. I'll figure out my Oyster card and I'll figure out what rich privileged ass-hole is stealing my post and all that other stuff doesn't matter anyway, and I think, this might be my version of maturity.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The End of the Road

I ran away for the long weekend to The End of the Road festival...after a very tumultuous few weeks it was nice to be in a festival environment out in a field where you could see the stars for miles and miles. I like nature, in small doses, and Larmer Tree Gardens where the festival is held is the most beautiful of them all.

The clear air gave me a lot of time to think...I'm starting a new ghost writing set of novels soon and being away from the hustle and bustle let me solidify things in my head. One day I should like to have a little house in the country where I can retreat to and write my new best seller. Maybe with a little log fire and giant trees for the birds to sit in and clear clear skies for miles and miles on either side. A vegetable patch when I learn to grow things without everything dying on me. My cat.

I took too many photos at the festival. Here are my favourites, the rest are on Flickr. Be kind, my poor little camera is sick, it's scratched on the lens. I need a new one money money. Blah blah blah.

I think the thing I love the most about festivals is that everyone around you is a victim of the power of music. It's like this great unconscious force that brings people together and automatically binds us to each other; the power to relate to someone's innermost feelings. The admiration at the nerve it takes to express them. I saw people from all walks of life together singing along down the front before the acts and it was beautiful, this feeling of community that exists in the ether of music shows. I think that I shall be like my father, frequenting the backs of smoky gig-halls for as long as I live, and maybe even after I'm gone. Being a ghost in a venue wouldn't be that bad at all.

Some highlights:

Cheetahs who sound like My Vitriol. The Black Lips who had the most excellent banter of the entire festival "I see a lotta English people wearing sunglasses in the rain" and "Thanks, enjoy the sun". British Sea Power and their dancing bear and fairy-lights and forest of reclaimed branches.  A secret St Vincent Q & A in a tiny stage surrounded by browning trees. The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger spooking me back to the 60s. Tuneyards turning the main stage into a carnival. The Felice Brothers barn-dance party with added fiddle, the blaring message in my head that I WILL finish my sci-fi novel one day.

The Flaming Lips.

(not my photo, I was having too much fun, click to go to the site for more)

The Flaming Lips.

How can I describe the whole thing properly? When I came away from the performance I was sobbing. I couldn't speak. I'm usually such a cold-hearted bitch. There was a moment when I was in the midst of the glitter, having been thrown out by the glitter cannons, that I looked up as Wayne Coyne was atop a giant LED screen with visuals of a naked woman in greens and reds and blues, as he stood there in an electric blue spray-painted suit swinging four giant blue lights that I realised that the only place in the world I ever wanted to be at that exact moment was right there. It's hard for anything or anyone to make me loose my mind completely, but I was so in the moment I forgot who I was and where I was and it was glorious. Other highlights, a black-milkesk body suit with tinsel cock and matching jacket and tinsel feather-boa, a giant balloon saying "fuck yeah end of the road", Wayne Coyne like above in a big old zorb-ball rolling over the crowd, a baby and a strobe light from behind like a religious icon, a sing along to Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds with that smile that I've seen here and there of pure happiness on Wayne Coyne's face. So much glitter. More boys should like glitter. All the lights, everywhere, all around. By the end, everyone was crying. Giant blow up aliens, giant blow up sun, giant blow up...whatever. If you'd asked me right after they stopped playing I'd have told you I was in love with Wayne Coyne. I think I still might be, just a little bit.

At one point when I was alone I went exploring in the forest. Larmer Tree Gardens Forest is a sprawling interspersed with benches and greenery. The parts you were supposed to walk round were littered with fairy lights and art installations...

Including games and little recording studios...and a piano that I never got a chance to try and play.

If you explored a little further there were secret boxes and hidden things in the bottom of the trees. I confess I walked the whole thing, even the parts I wasn't supposed to...where the most beautiful plants and ponds were, and this tiny little grotto made of flint with a god inside of it. I like to imagine he controlled the weather so I gave him a little high-five to cheer him up and it was sunny for the rest of the day.

If I ever found myself in the situation I think I would like to get married in Larmer Tree Gardens. I can imagine setting signs up for my wedding guests to the little grotto, making them walk the long way in their outfits through the nature. Kissing my faceless lover in the grotto in front of a few of our friends, sending them all back through the forest littered with fairy-lights like it was for the past four days. Small wedding big party kinda deal.

Now I'm back in the comfort of my beautiful slice of heaven in North London. I've decorated my balcony with lights and fake ivy to remind myself of the beautiful forest...tomorrow it's back to work and off into a detox from the inevitable carb-fest a gluten-free dairy-free girl ends up eating at a festival anywhere other than London or Brighton. You wouldn't believe how much my body is craving fruit. I have four days worth of inspiration to write down, but first, some real sleep...

Love love love, in all it's great forms. x

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The East End Literary Salon

I wrote a little play for this wonderful new night starting on Sunday 7th'll be the first time something that I have written will be read out by someone OTHER than myself. If you're in London do come along and hold my hand - I am ever so nervous that it won't come across the way I wrote it or it sounded in my head...

Notes from dreamland

I am in love with London; it's like this hidden part of me is coming back to life and flowering with every step I take in the thick, smog-covered air. Kissing the pavements. It's obvious really; I am a big city girl at heart, a gypsy by birth, no real home and the big city lights on my face as I wonder through the streets do nothing but fuel the fires in my heart. I don't sleep; I can never sleep, but at least now those endless hours are filled with reems and reems and reems of words. I never thought I'd be so inspired by sitting on a bus; it makes me wonder why I ever left. I'm a scream of hot-red writing fire, and I apply for everything I can get my hands on. I will scream and scream and scream until someone takes notice, then I will scream some more until the stars fall out of the sky.

Too many highlights to mention. Lunch at Mildreds, drinking in Garlic and Shots, Adam Ant on stage suddenly at Aces and Eights, an all dayer and all-night conversations about feminism and cats. So much breakfast. Joanne Joanne. A dog on the roof. Dinner by candlelight in a soon to be abandoned car park.

The unknown poetry of the world. My secrets at the Southbank, in an exhibition for all to see. Love, in it's many forms, our love, the old terrible thing I thought would only strike me once shown off and immortalised for everyone to see. In a way it's done the one thing I never managed with my words, it's there, but below glass, it's art and it's not our secret any more - everyone knows.

From my little balcony I can see for miles and miles and miles in each direction. Across to the river or back, north, up to the place I was born. I've made a little haven of it; I sit out at night swaddled in my giant blankets reading my horror stories. I have found a slice of peace in the middle of north London. I talk to the ghosts in the building and I cast the love spells of the generations of women before me and I am the calm little centre of the universe.

Tomorrow I set off to dance in a field for three and a half days.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Lost lights, big city, feels like home.

Stories to Make You Nervous has now run off to the big city to find her fortune amidst the chaos and hubbub of London. I stroll between everyone. I have my kitty and my fish and record player. The charity shops are full of designer clothes and the health food shops are stacked up with tofu, and the library is across the green on the corner of the street. Bliss. It's all a girl needs.

Last night I drunk gin from a teapot with an old friend then went and danced in a dark corner of a room whilst the beautiful boys in make-up sold me their hearts over the microphone; then we wondered home, and just the sight of Kings Cross and the buzz of the city at midnight had me unravelling on the pavement. Right there in the heart of me, every time I get back I feel like kissing the ground. It's good I was with someone who got it.

I fell through the unforgiving lights of the tube back to my new room at the top of a converted mansion, fairy-lights, fake flowers and DVDs everywhere. Bookshelf feels like home. I can see the London Eye from my bedroom; I drifted off to sleep and I spoke to the ghosts in the building all night; they're friendly, you've got no need to worry.