Sunday, December 30, 2007

I have a dream...

...of Jack White and Shirley Manson, hopefully both on tour next year: Jack White and those Cherry Lips

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chatterboxes and Control Freaks

Right brain versus left brain? Personality inhibiting output? Oh, just somewhat today, tonight and forever. My head hurts, my back hurts and the inexorable deadlines creep ever closer. So why the title? Well, the inimitable Ms Roselle Angwin is supposed to be providing the muse today via her tome ‘Creative Novel Writing’. In particular I have been reading chapter five, Right Brain Writing. Good god, learning the craft is tedious. No wonder I get sidetracked with thoughts of Richard Armitage half naked, or the tenth Doctor fully clothed (funny how that works, but my cerebral side pines for a fully dressed doctor when my more lecherous visual side has already seen what Mr Armitage hides under all that leather. MEOW!).

Anyway she witters on a little about Jung and journeys into the spiritual, arriving at a physical destination without quite knowing how you got there. Could this be the reason I can’t drive, I ask myself? See, when I drive my imagination takes flight. I imagine the accident before it begins, the twisted sheets of metal that pierce through my skin – and that’s if I’m lucky. If I’m unlucky it’s a scene from the Towering Inferno (substitute car for tower block – its hard but it is possible). Likewise my fear of flying which manifests itself by my being able to visualise the drop between myself 30,000 foot up and the earth below. Tuck your head between your knees they say. Yeah, right – just so my body doesn’t shatter on impact and become impossible to identify. You just want me to keep it whole for your convenience.

Who am I talking to? Does it matter? All I know is I’m tired, I’m bored and I’m easily distracted by unimportant things like idiots who write gushing reviews about crap books on Amazon.

Gratuitous Richard Armitage Picture Alert! My, don't I just like the brooding dark ones with big noses?

What have I learned today then? Well, the right brain is the creative heartland of my soul. It is the unconscious side of me, the ‘nourishment for all that we are, including the world of the ego, the conscious mind.’

…words fail me…well, maybe they don’t but I don’t find the words I wish to find. So! Of chatterboxes and control freakery. There is apparently ‘monkeymind’ and ‘tidy mind’. Monkeymind is incessantly busy, and apparently ‘slavers over absolutely everything soaking up info like a sponge…much of it is trivial’ (that’s me then). Tidy mind is the critic (and hence left brain real world dweller). Apparently this is the voice of my mother telling me I’m pants and will never write anything of substance. I should bin this mind, and unlock my monkey mind. Oh woe is me.

PS. in case you’re wondering why we bother with left brain at all, its because it is apparently THE creator. Skating very close to theological issues here, Miss Angelle is. Or maybe she is really Yoda.

Today I am: drinking red wine to dull the pain despite a post Christmas IBS flare up, listening to The Arrow on me swanky new DAB radio, reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and wondering why I never noticed before it was a pre-cursor to Wikipedia, nursing a sick, elderly dog who had a funny turn last night but is milking the tea and sympathy as much as possible, bless her stinky little socks.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Reflection...

It's the time of year for award shows and talent show finals. Normally I would produce a shiny top ten love / hate list or some such for the year, but whilst musing on this I realised that whilst on a personal level things have moved and changed significantly I haven't broadened my cultural horizons very much at all this year. In fact I have stagnated a little in the music and books I've been reading which I think is very much a comfort thing. Therefore a general statement on 2007 is probably more appropriate.

Thank god it wasn't: 2006. In no way shape or form was this year as dreadful as last year. Yes I had issues with the Chicken Factory earlier in the year and I was totally exhausted by April but thankfully due to a sympathetic doctor, some extremely good and wonderful friends and a chance opportunity for the part time job of my dreams that particular issue has been ironed out flat. Yes, I am imminently unemployed (April 08) but that's a minor issue for next year! I've been able to spend the latter half of 2007 resting, recovering and meeting some fabulous people through university and work, reflecting on how I got here, which leads me to...

New music revolution? Passed me by entirely. I've spent the majority of this year wallowing in the music of my youth. The majority of cds I've purchased have reflected this - Fat Lady Sings, Cocteau Twins, Tori Amos, Garbage. I haven't bough anything remotely recent other than the Greatest Hits of Girls Aloud, which some would say is a shooting offence! I don't care. I'm finally beginning to be happy in the fact I'm getting old and its ok to think that the tortured vocals of Kate Nash are crap and I don't have to like her just to be hip. The old guard such as the Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson and Red Hot Chilli Peppers have produced music of total mediocrity. There are two exceptions to this: Queens of the Stone Age's Sick, Sick, Sick (someone bring me Josh Homme on a platter, now PLEASE) and the wonderfully barmy singalong chants of Reverend and the Makers who I surprised myself by liking very much indeed.

I've been listening to: Well, the top 25 on the Ipod would testify to the strange nature of my listening habits this year, with Muse's Super Massive Black Hole still reigning at the top of the pile, closely followed by Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1 by the Flaming Lips and All These Things That I have Done by the Killers. Plus a smattering of perfection from the Raconteurs (easily this year's best live performance). Then storming up on the outside is the pop tarts - Oops I did it again (Britney), Biology and Love Machine (Girls Aloud), Hole in the Head and In The Middle (Sugarbabes). Hmmm....2007: The Year of Dumming Down. And did I mention I have tickets to see Kylie and Girls Aloud (five rows from the front!) next year?

Reading hell / heaven: hell is Trainspotting. Easily the grubbiest book I have ever been forced to read (university sucks occasionally). I hated it all. Heaven is in the re-reads. I'm rediscovering Thomas Hardy (Jude the Obscure is peerless). Still loving Jacqueline Carey (disposable, well written and slightly debauched fantasy) and the beautifully constructed worlds of Tad Williams on the fantasy sci-fi side. Another old love refound is Terry Pratchett, whose Wintersmith was effortlessly charming. It is absolutely heartbreaking that he's just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but true to form he's facing it with a smile and good heart. However, this is also a year of growing dissatisfaction where new fantasy is concerned. There is so much dreadfully written trash out there being marketed as 'exciting, vivid new voice on the scene'. Absolute toss. In particular Trudi Canavan and her appalling, one dimensional tat. Closely followed by Fiona McIntosh. By all means write for teenagers but at least attempt to make it well constructed, lucid prose. And don't get me started on the schizo viewpoint...

Film / TV: again, I go backwards. Buffy is still without rival for my affections. I do adore Bones mind you, and its developing in the third series into a much more well rounded character study of the crew but with enough gore, nerds and sinew to keep me entertained. Also loving Gray's Anatomy, even P finds it funny though he tries desperately hard to hide it. UK TV? Redeemed from mediocrity by one thing only: The Doctor and a peerless episode called 'Blink'. Freaked me out in the best possible way. Film wise I loved Running with Scissors and not much else (except Pan's Labyrinth which I think was 2006).

My Newcastle Love Affair: I still love cupcakes, in particular the cakes from Sencha are to die for, although their website doesn't do them any justice at all. The local paper does it more favours and it is a fabulous people watching spot just across from the old Grainger Market which sports some interesting pond life indeed. It also house Scorpio (seen here in the background with a giant red boot on the roof) which has both the cutest shoes and goth boots in town, and by far the most effortlessly charming and gorgeous boy staff. Yummy.

Good grief that was exhausting...

Today I am mostly: nursing a cold, awaiting the arrival of the Saturday papers, listening to 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou?', doing the Christmas pre-clean, inappropriate dancing and slightly high on an assorted mix of cleaning fluids.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

When did Christmas become a chore?

When it comes to present wrapping, card writing and special post issues. I hate wrapping gifts. I am so cack handed that I often think people would prefer it if I just left them naked instead of struggling with shiny paper and long streamers of silver ribbon. Still, t'is all done now and I can give a gusty sigh of relief and slob down again with a pot of herbal tea.

I found some of it entertaining. My Secret Santa pressie for work was for the lovely Big Jim, outwardly austere and forbidding, inwardly of an impish viewpoint and wicked sense of humour. I purchased a PostSceret book for him (he's also a bibliophile) and then set about making my own secret to leave inside:

Following this I then compiled the annual 'Little Box of Crap' for my best friend, Heather. This year it is an alternative relaxation kit, complete with salacious heroin memoir from an ex Motley Crue member (her heroes), a Hello Kitty craft book and fridge magnet, lots of jelly beans, a mini VW Camper van complete with 'pull back and go action', a mini fondue kit and - my favorite - a large pink hammock. Its so bad it's beautiful. And a personalised mix CD of tunes from yesteryear, complete with this delightful picture taken in the now cruelly demolished and desecrated Mayfair Rock Club:

Of course, now I made it I can't stop listening to it. All the tunes are personal, starting with Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator and topped of with two crowning glories - Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart and Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights - possibly the greatest necking song ever written. OK, so its pure hair metal. Apart from Temple of Love (Sister of Mercy) where we get to do gothic hands!

Today's rereading of Jane's Diary circa 1988, we discovered the day we popped our cherry (it is so cringe worthily embarrassing I can barely read it...I seemed a bit ambiguous at the time, mind you and didn't go near another bloke for three years - obviously a highlight!). The top night in April appeared to be a Wednesday night student stalking in Newcastle. Yes, we would pay our ten pee bus fare (twenty cents) and wander the streets in our rolled up jeans following students covertly. We were so desperate to go to university, so desperate to be cool, hence Judith always toted Chairman Mao's Little Red Book (before she became capitalist queen of Gateshead (and her gothic hands are special. Really special) she was an avowed commie) and I would be trailing whichever tome of Thomas Hardy I was swooning over at that particular point in my life. Probably Jude the Obscure, which looked good even if I only understood one paragraph in ten. Jude, aged 16:

Today I am mostly listening to Anthems for Dim Youth (the aforementioned mix tape), reading Grimm's Fairy Tales, thinking I should be reading the Bible (not that I need saving, just I need to refresh myself with the bloodiness and calamity of the old testament) and eating bloody marvellous home made omelettes. My cooking skills are just exceptional...NOT!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dishwasher Blues

I'm supposed to be emptying the dishwasher. This is fact. Instead I'm sat here pontificating on the vagrancies of life and why the hell I never take a brolly with me when rain is forecast. I'm sporting the 'drowned rat' look right now, which is always appealling.

In today's mini-research session I've been thinking about Aesop's Fables. A charming young lad called Scott once cycled eighteen miles from South Shields to Blaydon to give me a copy of this when I was twenty year old hairspray harpy. I chose Chris over him (I'm shallow - Chris drove a tank, that was far more impressive than a poxy racing bike...) but I still have the book. There is a complete website dedicated to the Fables, which differentiates between tales, parables and fables:

'The tale, the Parable, and the Fable are all common and popular modes of conveying instruction. Each is distinguished by its own special characteristics. The Tale consists simply in the narration of a story either founded on facts, or created solely by the imagination, and not necessarily associated with the teaching of any moral lesson. The Parable is the designed use of language intended to convey a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained in the words themselves. The Fable partly agrees with, and partly differs from both of these. It will contain, like the Tale, a short but real narrative; it will seek, like the Parable, to convey a hidden meaning, and that not so much by the use of language, as by the skillful introduction of fictitious characters; and yet unlike to either Tale or Parable, it will ever keep in view, as its high prerogative, and inseparable attribute, the great purpose of instruction, and will necessarily seek to inculcate some moral maxim, social duty, or political truth.'

Crivens! I never realised that fables were such moral beasts. Perhaps the lovely mop headed Scott saw through my superficial choco-munching goth facade and decided I was much in need of moral instruction. I decided that my moral compass needed resetting and therefore I currently have the rather lovely book he gave me on my knee, deciding to trust to whatever page it fell open at. Well, it would be the wine fable now wouldn't it? Deep and meaningful my giddy aunt:

The Old Woman and the Wine Jar

An old woman once found
A wine jar lying on the ground
But though it had been drained
The fragrance of the lees that still remained,
When she sniffed was so fine
That she exclaimed, 'What a wonderful wine
You must have contained
If its ghost smells so divine'

Apparently the hidden meaning of this story is 'the memory of a good deed lives'. And so this tale comes full circle, because I still remember Scott. And I still wonder which direction that parallel path would have taken me down if I'd chosen him and not the tank driving Kiefer alike Chris (although to be fair, I did get handcuffed to Chris for two hours at a party and there was really nothing better to do...)

Today we are mostly...reading 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova (100 pages in and liking so far though Amazon reviewers have been unkind), listening to Girls Aloud (I really got over my pop shame in my old age, now didn't I!?), looking forward to the cultural desert that is the final of 'I'm a Celebrity', mourning the fact I am not allowed any alcohol until I've seen the doc on Monday. Pah!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ray of Light

It's been a good day. I am a smug git who has completed their Christmas shopping. I have discovered a new second hand book shop within ten minutes walking distance of my house that is charging so little for their quality books I almost felt sorry enough to tell them. But not quite. As I was on shank's pony I contented myself with three large hardbacks and three softbacks, plus a cd. I will be returning. Three lovely books on British history, one on the history of cartography, Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Garth Nix's Mr Monday. For a whole ten pounds (twenty US dollars)!!! BARGAIN!

Still happiness does not good blogging make so I'm dedicating today's post to the angst speckled diary of my sixteen year old self. I was a teenage goth - crimped hair, fishnets, a crucifix the size of a small pony and my beautiful kitten heeled goth boots with six little skulls buckling either side. Purrrrrr! I came across this when hunting my brother's school reports for my niece. It makes very funny reading (to me) full of 'bizarre love triangles' (I loved New Order and our lives were full of apparent romantic conundrums). I obviously had a mania for writing lists then as well, because there are the top five gorgeous men, top tunes etc etc. I understand Robert Smith's inclusion, Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen) topped every weekly poll for two years but then I saw I'd included Griff Rhys Jones, bookish big chinned and serious chappie. I can appreciate him now but bloody hell I was only sixteen...did I have no life?! Was this the pattern forming for two distinct sets of men in my life - the nerds versus the rockers? Anyway, please compare and contrast...


Ian Mac (Still lush)

Anyway, I Tunes must be tapping into the nostalgic mood here in Whitley central because it just randomly started playing the Sisters of Mercy. Which is fine because they are one of the eighties bands I'll happily admit to liking. However, reminising with P the other day about Christmas reminded me of the bands I secretly liked but didn't dare admit to because it wasn't cool. So here for old times sake are the five worst bands of the eighties and yes, I really, really loved them:

  • Spandau Ballet. My first ever proper concert (I'm not including the Spinners). I was totally smitten with their smooth saxophone playing Steve Norman. Their faux-soul was music to my ears and I warbled 'I'll Fly for You' with gusto and apparent lack of irony over Mr McCulloch

  • Banarama. Oh, the Stock, Aitkin and Waterman PLC! Reviving the Narna brand with catchy tunes like Venus for all us teen non-rebels. We used to dance around Angela's bedroom warbling this at the top of our lungs whilst she applied orange fake tan. Which was always a bad move.

  • Duran Duran. I used to think lyrics to songs like Wild Boys and Save a Prayer were so profound. I used to think Nick Rhodes contain the secrets of the universe behind those cool green eyes. I used to fantasize about running wild in the woods with them, and I think that is where this bullet point should end...

  • Erasure. Now these electro pop gaylords are becoming retro popular again, this probably doesn't seem so shameful. However, in 1988 when you're polishing up your glossy black edges and living for liquid eyeliner, the local cemetary and snakebite and black (always made me puke, ghastly stuff) it WAS NOT COOL. They didn't have the dark edge of Depeche Mode (or Dave Gahan), they were pure pop bitches and I totally adored them. 'STOP! Before you break my heart, before you make a fool out of love!'. Etc.

  • A-ha. Finally, the great love of my tween years, Morten Harket (along with Marty McFly, but he didn't sing. Don't think Michael J Fox did either). Those cheekbones. Those cute Scandanavian accents. And they really did write some cracking tunes which I still play. 'Hunting High and Low' is a wondrous ballad, 'Take on Me' still fabulous. But 'Touchy' was a pop step too far. To remind myself how gorgeous Mr Harket was I found this picture. Blimey!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Origin of Titles

I created this sub-blog to Angel several years ago and then promptly never used it. Whilst the displayed title 'The Repository' has always been fluid (good for reflecting my state of mind!), the blogspot name remained the same. 'Pieces of me never seen' was taken from a Tori Amos lyric - 'Tear in your Hand' from Little Earthquakes which is possibly one of the most beautiful tragic records ever created.

As I have made the non-giant leap from angry to explanatory I revisited the lyric to the song. I knew that Tori was close to Neil Gaiman (he based the lovely Lady Delirium on her) but I'd obviously never payed close attention to the rest of the lyric. She's hanging out with Neil and the Dream King. Lucky cow...! Here's a Tori-esque representation of Delirium:

All that aside, it's a lovely song. As today is about starting anew I'm posting it to remind of where I've come from. And cause I also look a little like Lady Delirium, although sadly withour the little fishes.

"Tear In Your Hand"

All the world just stopped now

So you say you don't wanna stay together anymore

Let me take a deep breath babe

If you need me

Me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king

Neil says hi

By the way I don't believe you're leaving

Cause me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream

I think it's that girl

And I think they're pieces of me you've never seen

Maybe she's just pieces of me you've never seen well

All the world is all I am

The black of the blackest ocean

And the tear in your hand

All the world is danging...Dangling'...

Danglin' for me darlin'

You don't know the power that you have

With that tear in your hand

Tear in you hand

Maybe I ain't used to maybes

Smashing in a cold room

Cutting my hands up every time I touch you

Maybe maybe it's time to wave goodbye now

Time to wave goodbye now

Caught a ride with the moon

I know I know you well Better than I

Used to haze all clouded up

My mind in the daze of why it could've never been

So you say and I say

You know you're full of wish

And your "baby baby baby babies"

I tell you they're pieces of me you've never seen

Maybe she's just pieces of me you've never seen

All the world is all I am

The black of the blackest ocean

And the tear in your hand

All the world is danglin'...Dangling'..

Danglin' for me darlin'

You don't know the power that you have

With that tear in your hand

Tear in your hand

With that tear in your hand

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Little Miss Muffet

One reason that the Pirate and I got along so famously was due to our mutual appreciation for folk lore, myth and history. One of our last discussions concerned the Greek Goddess Amalthea - however she has a much greater tale to tell than what can be outlined here, specifically how she lost the Cornucopia, her right hand and ended up in Whitby in the process. So more about her later when my research is more complete.

In the spirit of research I stumbled across the pictures of Arthur Rackham, a Victorian born English painter. Good grief! How could I not have seen his work before? It brought dim and distant memories flooding back, not least the nursery rhyme of Little Miss Muffet:

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on her tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Down came a spider

and sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away!

Leaving aside the obvious fact that Little Miss Muffet is completely wet and overtly feminine, the accompanying picture is rather lovely. And to me the spider looks rather gentlemanly like, with his mandibles resembling a fine old curled moustache.

Actually, looking at the picture again, she not half resembles the pallid Gwenyth Paltrow. One hopes the spider eventually ate her up in great big mouthfuls but sadly he probably only scored for the sloppy seconds of custard. Curds and whey, the dish Little Miss Muffet enjoyed was a dish known as junket, a custard-like food made of sweetened milk. Junket was taken to market in little reed baskets called jonquettes (from Latin joncus, reed), from which the name was derived.

These days a junket describes a politician's luxury trip charged to the taxpayers, which could lead to you thinking that Cherie Blair spent her entire time as PM's wife as a Junket Junkie. This use of the word dates back to 1814, when a picnic basket was known as a junket basket. The politicians were having a picnic at public expense. Curds and whey was also an old name for cottage cheese with the curds being lumpy and the whey milky. Sounds almost as delightful as eating vomit. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Friend called Jack

This story is dedicated to my friend and pirate twin Gary, who sadly left me on 8th November 2007. For you I will always write.

Like rats we chased one another through the rubbish strewn corridors of Knotts Flats. Like vermin we grew into teen awkwardness with little more than a sense of home, a time, a place. Our territory expanded into the surrounding urban wilderness – the sharp metallic ruins of Victorian railway architecture that was filled with endless possibilities from its shattered iron and steel construction, coupled with the relief of thick vegetation that crawled with life and small boys when private refuge from public mischief was required.
We cut feet and teeth on the shore below the flats, angling our kicks on the sharp rocks to ensure that the limpets that lived in harmless state would fly loose from their rock sanctuary to face the internal inspection of small fingers before being cast aside indifferently to a certain death. There were worlds within worlds on our shoreline, and you created and embellished their stories with each breath that you took, a story teller dressed in thin skin and scrawny sinew. Your bright eyes could see beyond the mundane greyness of adult explanations that sought to strip the glamour you painted from our childhood views.
There were casualties amongst us. All childhoods hold some form of tragedy and ours was no exception. The industrial heartland of our playground was cruel. Tommy was lost, crushed by the fall of gigantic machinery at the shipyard, illegally accessed one balmy Sunday evening, prompting the bile to pattern my boots as you stood wide eyed with distress as we watched the light fading for eternity before adult support arrived. Soon after, following the path of the freight giants along the tracks we found so little of Petey Harrison’s father left by the sleepers that all I recall now is the sharp stench of diesel and the faint cast of rotten meat spilling from his sad remains.
We were chased by the dead as we scaled the cliffs at the Priory, then hunted by the living, a chorus of disapproval from the good folk of Tynemouth who despised the sewer children of social housing. No respect, they would mutter, as we ran gloriously free, too wily to be caught by their lumbering, well upholstered bodies.
You wove these times into your tales, embellishing our small victories and painting a vivid world of colour through which your joy for life shone. You incorporated the sharp phizzz and SLAM! of the call to sea for the rescue crews, a sign of ships in distress in the harbour. We’d rush onto our respective balconies and hang precariously over the edges as we shouted and waved at the small craft flying past into the harbour, then we’d watch anxiously for their return, carrying the hopes of all sea dwelling folk in our small prayers.

Then the call to war caught us tight in its implacable march. Separately we were deployed, you to the Navy, myself with the foot soldiers. Without your bright chatter I entered the iron giant that I’d watched constructed, with childhood awe stripped away and replaced by fear, a fear left to gnaw at me silently without your light tales to turn it into something new. I imagined you on your separate metal warrior, cresting the waves with aplomb as your charmed your new companions with your memories of the girls you’d flattered at the fish quay, your patter woven with charm and flattery as you spun their beauty into your starry world.
Before leaving we had strutted in our uniforms, brisk with purpose and bonhomie. I will never forget how you turned to me when the bright eyes of the girls were distracted, and clasped my hand tightly. You spoke quietly, with hesitation so unlike you I was concerned. You spoke of your fear, and it burned into my very bones as you spoke. There were no fancy words, no false bravado, and as my gut clenched in agreement I hated myself for the cheery platitudes I made myself spout to calm your fears. You smiled briefly, I remember, and briefly clasped my rigid body before turning back to our bright haired companions who’d come to wave us off with furtive kisses on our separate journeys.

No need to write of the horror of war. We were both medalled for honour, although in truth I felt nothing but numbness at the reward for peddling death. There was no return for you however, no long evenings for us to spend at the Comrades Club sipping our stout, me your silent companion whilst your tales drew in the young people. The raconteur of Knott’s Flats was forever silenced beneath a grey sea, the same sea in which we sent countless small molluscs to certain death. The sea that coloured our dreams with the sound of the wash upon the banks below our childhood home, that same endless body of water we blithely ignored daily. She claimed your tales in tribute, I believe when I think of you - this the first thought I had when all eyes in the Flats watched the slow progress of the sailor bearing the telegraph to your mother. My dreams are still peppered by the piercing sound of her keening as she fell to her knees before the young man whose eyes were swimming with unshed tears as he stared straight ahead.

There were to be no more childhood tales from your lively tongue echoing those concrete corridors, Jack. Childhood ended with the silencing of your vibrant voice and the marshalling of mine. I took up your mantle. I became a tale spinner, widening my eyes to the unreality of life and the bright beauty that dances all around me, even in the bleakest of northern industrial life. I sought to enchant the generation of the jaded and exhausted. To carry on with your voice that implored that adults ought not fall into greyness, your greatest fear, but to show that even from apparent ugliness the most beautiful seeds can be sprung.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Immortal ChloeDoll

Chloedoll lives in a pink palace that is populated with glitter dolls, pullips and blythes. She lives in a world of white chocolate and lace, customised beauty from second hand clothing and polka dots. She eats mangos and pineapples and sweet delicate fruits that make her glow and sparkle and in Chloedoll’s world everything is always perfect, with curved edges and white chocolate sprinkles...

‘Hey! You stupid bitch.’ The foot thuds into her back, and she falls, sprawling onto her knees, hands planted on the wet tarmac, picking up grime and particles of discarded food. Her sparkling tiara falls from her pink hair, and she snuffles slightly, afraid to look up.
‘What the fuck do you look like?’ the voice sneers. She knows it well, intimately you could say, knows the bland stupid face it belongs to, the wide cruel mouth and the small, small pig like eyes. Dead to anything other than blatant bullying and humiliation.
Chloedoll wonders what happened to make Tequila so reactionary (the name possibly? Only the dumbest of parents would saddle a child with a moniker of their favourite tipple). Her musing cut brutally short, Choledoll finds her head forced back at the point of a fairly large and non to clean trainer. Her tiara is sliding down her face. Much like the soft tears that are clinging to her eyelashes in mute testament to her helplessness. She pictures her image in her own mind, the glittery mascara running down her cheeks, the tragic heroine in distress…
But where’s that white knight? Where’s her shining Aragorn to rescue her from her desperation? Take her away from the grey concrete slabs that fill her horizons. Rather like the white trainer she is currently contemplating.
A sudden release, and slump down onto her elbows, Choledoll realises that Tequila has backed off due to the sudden proximity of authority. Welcome relief, or added insult to her humiliation, that she be witnessed scrabbling on all fours amongst the detritus of her fellow students? The latter, as an unsympathetic hand reaches to pull her onto her feet, and the glistening moustache of Miss Singleton begins showing spit and recriminations on her.
‘Really, Chloe, you bring this on yourself. Look at the state of you, pink hair and the like. What do you expect, standing out like this?’. And on and on and on the drone, until she transmutes in Chloedoll’s mind into a whirring, women headed mosquito, grotesque in her human mask.

This is Chloedoll’s daily routine. This is her reality, which she chooses to cover with a carapace of silk and seashells, clams for a girl and razor clams for the boys, with tiny effervescent periwinkles to decorate the gaps. It allows her to ignore the indignities of education and the ever present horror of hearth, where the bottles fly and the anger is always turned up to factor 10. She can step through this with indifference, provided she can remain forever Chloedoll, preserved in immortality like the Lady of Shallot, laid on her flower filled bower.
But she is not the Lady of Shallot. She is a mere girl child with ‘issues’ that she wishes to end. Preserved in perfume and patchouli oil, her beauty never fading. As the light fades, in her head at least she will always remain the pink princess of the glitter planet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Big Country - Just a Shadow

I caught myself singing this today, from the recess of my mind.

Just a Shadow

It went so well for you
With a place right where you wanted
And the ones to fill it too
But some blows break the spell
That it hits you everyday
Until you need to hit as well.
It's just a shadow of the man you should be
Like a garden in the forest
That the world will never see
You have no thought of answers
Only questions to be filled
And it feels like hell.
It all seems fine for you
Till the struggle of ambition turned in violence upon you
Sometimes a landslide comes
If you're hiding in that avalanche
You need a place to run.
It's just a shadow of the woman you should be
Like a garden in the forest
That the world will never see
You have no thought of answers
Only questions to be filled
And it feels like hell.
Did we ever have it good?
While we lived in El Dorado
Did we find the gold we should
If it really was the truth
Why are faces filled with anger
That should only shine with youth.
It's just a shadow of the people we should be
Know there is no need for what's been done
I know there is enough for everyone
But frustration brings a heavy hand to bear
And there never is a hand outside that cares
Still the promise comes of living fit for it all
If we only get our back against the wall
I look at backs that push the wall for years
Scarred by many knives and too much fear.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

List Mania 1

Smells from my childhood

  • Burnt potatoes, dug fresh from the garden and charred on ignited logs
  • Stale cigarette smoke hanging in the bar
  • The sharpness of lime cordial stolen from the optic with my mouth
  • The cloying smell of death found at a cave mouth from the carcass of a rabbit whilst potholing in clay caverns
  • Beer. Both stale and fresh, adorning my father, adorning his customers with its wreath of madness

Things I've seen

  • The man I love but hated on the floor with a knife in his hand
  • My father chase my mother with a kettle full of boiling water
  • The blossom chasing the metro as I sat at the back and wondered at the beauty of it all
  • The perfect clarity between sea and sky as the clouds descend into madness and water
  • An ice floe over a mountain, frozen into blue glass by the passing of time
  • An African sunset, followed by an African night peppered with golf ball sized hail
  • Pete Bog, suspended in time at the British Museum
  • The British Library Reading Rooms in all their understated glory, and the rabbit warren of book stacks that hide behind the walls
  • My university bend and shape with the advance of modern education
  • The awe inspiring Macedonian tombs in Greece

Things I've never seen

  • My child born
  • My child conceived
  • My parents die
  • Morning on a hospital ward
  • Scars fade
  • America, outside of a lens

Advice my mother gave me

  • Never sleep with boys
  • Never sleep with anyone, even when you're thirty five and married
  • Never give anyone your money unless it goes with strings
  • Never wear your hair long and straight (I do)
  • Lose weight because you’re a fat monster
  • Put weight on because you look unhealthy
  • Sell your house
  • Don’t sell your house
  • Stay in the same job for the rest of your life and be thankful you have one…

What my father did every Sunday

  • Failed to collect me for lunch as agreed in the custody battle
  • Drank himself insensible with the punters
  • Had lunch with people who weren’t his family

Pleasing things

  • Books. New books, old books, graphic novels and library books
  • Red wine, and the glug of the bottle as it pours into that first glass
  • Not working whilst at work (this applies to the current job only – when a job engages me I will work above and beyond for my employers)
  • Buying friends ridiculous presents
  • Sleep (a recurring theme)
  • My dogs. My furry, smelly, stroppy and demanding dogs, who love me regardless

Things that are unpleasant to see

  • Your partner trying to kill / harm themselves
  • Fighting, whether it be in pubs or at home
  • Roadkill, because its pointless
  • Wife Swap and other related mindless reality shows
  • She Devil, any time, any place

Things that should be kept covered

  • She Devil!!!
  • My legs
  • My husband’s past few years

Things that should be kept uncovered

  • My eyes
  • My gaydar (woefully inadequate)
  • Women’s faces

Places I've lived

  • A stumpy bungalow on a new build 1960’s estate, that had beautiful lavender roses in the front garden
  • A Victorian public house next to a bus station and a busy conclave of shops servicing aforementioned 1960’s estate. There were riches to be had under the filthy seats ever Sunday morning before the cleaner got there first
  • A council sink estate, which was a whole lot more fun than you may think
  • As a lodger in a seafront flat with a wonderful en-suite bathroom that was perfect for beer bottle blowing
  • A flat that should have fallen down but that became a wonderful, beautiful, cavernous home, complete with a troll in the basement
  • A house surrounded by goons (the Fat Actress (aka Donkey Woman) and the Hippy)
  • A soulless house with too much emptiness and a meadow in the back yard

Sunday, April 29, 2007

In which we discuss the past

I recently had the pleasure of reading two books by Andrew Collins about his relatively sane, idyllic childhood. This made a welcome change from biographies of untold misery, of which I have read many and which I am now endeavouring to avoid. Andrew has an advantage over me - an almost complete set of diaries he has kept throughout his life (barring the one he destroyed in teen angst).

This is not a biography, more a loosely collected group of memories and probably photos from my pretty(ish) days. I sometimes dwell a little much on the issues and traumas of my youth, and no doubt this will creep in, but I rarely play the glad game. I'm seeking to rectify this here, partially in an attempt to make me write more and structure my thoughts whilst honing my editing skills (never a pleasure, always a chore).

So this blog is about the people - past and present - who've made my life what it is, and in doing so enriched me in ways that I truely appreciate but rarely acknowledge.

Ps...did I mention the lists? There will be lotsa lists, as I'm consious they're taking up to much of my main blog. Random, non-sensical and probably boring as hell, but all reminding me of something I want to be reminded of!

Todays random list: 6 books that hit me like a shovel when I was younger:
  1. The Hobbit - where would we be without JRRT? Gifted to me in glorious illustrated form for winning top prize in English (ain't won anything since!), this is a book I will never tire of reading
  2. The Enchanted Wood / The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton - I loved all Blyton's stuff as a kid, all her Secret books, the famous five, etc. But the stories I loved the most were the Faraway Tree stories, not so much for the characters but because of the dizzy reality that you could ascend a tree with such ease and find a host of new worlds and new pleasures hidden at the top, where adults would never interfere and houses were quite often edible. I always had to eat bread and cheese reading Blyton books.
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett - the children in this were quite dreadful, spiteful nasty little gits who shouted at one another and were filled with their own pomposity. However, their's is also a tragic tale, having lost either one or both parents they find themselves in a locked and walled garden of delights. I always wanted that garden, I wanted the straggling roses and the tree swing.
  4. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis - not for me the irritation of Lucy in the LWW. No, this series started with the Magician's Nephew, and I recall buying the grubby paperback from the newsagent's next to the pub and finding myself in pure bliss as the many worlds washed over me (hmmm...there's a definate theme emerging here!).
  5. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell - I cried when Ginger died, I really did. This book spawned a lifelong love of horses that endures today, despite my allergies. It's a heroic tale of bravery and the cruelty of men, I still own my mother's copy and have resisted every urge by my dear brother for me to give it to his daughter - selfish maybe, but its something I truely treasure,
  6. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge - a homespun tale of 19th century life through the eyes of Katy, a strong vivacious and sometimes thoughless girl who finds herself following a serious accident. I guess I fell for the moral tone, the valentine's day celebrations and the rich and vivid depiction of a girl child's imagination at work.

I wonder when this wide eyed engagement with escape and other worlds began? It certainly hasn't ended. There are other stories missing from there, not because I didn't enjoy them, but because I need to go to bed! There's Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, The Silver Brumby (about a wild stallion - this prompted many months of me believing I was a horse...), Winnie the Pooh, anything Roald Dahl ever wrote, The Borrowers - it appears I didn't read any contempory fiction until I discovered sci-fi / fantasy at my local library and the librarian turned a blind eye to my borrowings from the adult section!