Monthly Archives: April 2012


Comments – i would truly welcome comments from readers – feel free to be harsh and critical

1st Nov

i took part in the NANOWRIMO project last year – this the first couple of sections – not sure whether to continue ot let it die a quiet death

1st Nov
A new month, a new season – the onrush of winter, the need to make sense of what goes on in my head & a perverse pleasure in starting a diary at the end of the year – why wait for Jan, if nothing else, I have learnt in this life, new starts rarely deliver what they promise.
So, a journal that starts at the tail end of this, my 40th year, 40 seems such a strange age, beyond child bearing, except for the botoxed celebrity or the brood mare churning out numbers 7,8 and nine.
But, here I am barren but still linked to some menstrual madness, a monthly pull with even less function than before & and at the other end my changeling child writhes in post pubescent misery, teen & crone within the same home – we are both moon mad, moon changed, hormonal, opposite ends of the menstrual cycle – peddling away in parallel diverging pathways  [ pun intended- sadly at my age, only I find myself funny, the blank stares of strangers reproach me for these comedy moments]  .
My daughter once said that I sleep reaching out for something. My greedy, grabby hands outstretched. As a smaller changeling [ she was never  a child  ] she believed that it was her I reached out for & would trustingly place her tiny sweaty hand in mine. But waking in claustrophobic panic , I would push her away, wondering in that split second between sleep & not sleep who was holding me – consciousness always brought disappointment – who ever  I reached for,   it was never anyone who actually shared my bed.
Curled in foetal memory, in   that moment of womb return, warm, safe, snug against whatever is out there, I seek again & again to re-create that moment of completeness, that time when I was defined by completeness not lack , not absence, no sense of something missing. Like an amputee, I experience you only by your absence. My life has been defined  by what I am not, not have ever been except in some pre-memory, pre-language moment when you & I floated together………………..dear twin what would you have  made of fat, forty & alone [ the changeling makes a virtue of her aloneness, making it clear that companionship is not to her taste at all]
Jan 19th
Dear reader – how deliciously Victorian that sounds – as if there will ever be a reader of these mad scribbling, my pledge to keep a journal fell at the first hurdle, one entry & then silence…………….. I realised that I actually had very little to say, but today is a special day, my birthday. 41 years old, 41 years alive and you, 41 years dead.
As a child, I truly believed that the cemetery was the destination of choice for all special birthday girls, our muted celebration always included such a pilgrimage.  I walked, often in snow & slush – didn’t it always snow in January then, my unsuitable shoes letting in the cold & ice, several paces behind my parents, clutching this years’ choice of soft toy. My mother in front, stiff, unbending, carrying a bunch of hot house forced flowers – a tiny part of me resentful that these gifts, so different from my solidly middle class presents, an improving book, a new winter coat, shiny new felt tips, would be left to age, sag & die in the cold open air.
I can remember the moment, the actual date, when I discovered that not all birthdays began with pilgrimage. April 19th – the 7th birthday of a classmate – my special status ensured that there were only classmates, never friends. She, Joanna Carter, she of the shiny hair & most magically to me, her very own pony, had a mother affluent enough to hold a party in a church hall, but with sufficient social conscience to insist that all her daughters’ classmates were invited. We, the marginally invited were too solidly middle class to hold the true stigmata of dispossession, none of us wore other peoples’ clothes, our hair was clean [ if perhaps the wrong colour], we spoke with pleasant accents, none of us smelt of wee, but even at 7 we understood our tenuous attachment to the social whirl.
We stood, nervous, straight backed, clutching our birthday offerings, unsure of what move to make & hoped desperately for an adult figure to take over & teacher like to impose some form of social democracy.
My mother had no expectations for me, she understood only too well that social success was not the goal for me, but all around me, those parents of the lower castes, the untouchables,   positively twitched with social desire, today would be the day that their child would shine, would move from their default setting  of surly loner to take their proper place within the sunshine circle of small girl popularity.
The party quite simply confused me, used as I was to birthdays inhabited with a general air of melancholy.
All around me, small girls and more perplexingly, large adults, moved in a frenzy of happiness, all seemed equally charmed by balloons, games of pass the parcel and badly wrapped gifts of scented rubbers.
Well brought up, I smiled in all the right places, remembered my manners & took part in all the activities on offer, whilst inside the very wrongness of the event sat lump like in my throat, my facial expression mistaken for over indulgence in Battenberg cake.
Collected exactly 10 minutes too early & escaping in a flurry of best coats & party bags, I walked home slowly, trying to assimilate this new shape of partyness,  to make it fit with my understanding of what a birthday should be.  Looking to my mother, walking her customary 5 yards in front of me, I already knew to say nothing.
I have retained a fondness for graveyards & an anxiety about parties all my life – the changeling shares [ for reasons of her own] my party antipathy but refuses, according to her own agenda, to ever accompany me on my birthday visits to a graveyard .

June 21st

Summer solstice – the longest day of the year – so it is ironic that I had the dream again last night , with so little night to squeeze any sleeping, let alone dreaming in, she must have been determined to force herself on to me.

The dream starts as always, I am in a room, my age indeterminate, the furniture looks too large, but when I look down my hands are the hands of a middle aged woman.
There is a feeling of expectation, I am waiting for someone, confident that they will come, but anxious that I am somehow not ready, that I will miss them, will not be paying attention, that I will be caught napping. I must focus all my attention on the window and the door. Child-like, I swivel my head between the two and it is as my dream self fears, while concentrating on the door, or is it the window, she appears at the window or is it the door.
Immediately, I start to feel calm, everything will be alright now, I look into her face, my own face, for comfort and reassurance, stretching out my hands, I fall into her arms. Enveloped, I no longer know where I begin or she ends, it is the most perfect erotic moment, flesh on flesh, limbs wrapped together, two halved linked together to make the absolute whole.
Waking brings the usual despair, I reach out, unwilling to  admit the dream is over, like a lover left to wake alone, I pat the bed, hoping that she has simply moved out of reach,
Then, in that uneasy moment between wake & sleep, I sit bolt upright and give myself to abandonment, arms wrapped around my own knees, I rock and keen resembling nothing more or less than a child discovered in the back ward of a soviet block orphanage.
My own tears wake me fully, a salty shower of misery, the cycle is complete, the dream is over, but today something is different, shaking myself like a big sad old dog, I pad across to the mirror to anchor myself again in my every day incompleteness.  Staring, blearily eyed into the mirror, I experience a moment of complete dislocation the face looking back at me is not mine, but hers.
My mirror twin, exactly me, but not me, not me.
I act instinctively, violently pushing the mirror away from, glass smashing as it hits the wooden floor and stagger back to bed.
When I wake many hours later, I am surprised and confused to find my bedroom floor littered with shards of glass and an empty mirror frame balanced precariously, half on half off my old wooden dresser.

Sept 1st

Summer is almost over, today, I felt the first chill of an early autumn, the summer has almost past me by, wrapped up as I have been in the discovery that she has returned. At first, I saw her own in glimpses, out of the corner of my eye in mirrors, shop windows and once [ perhaps as a joke] she smiled at my from a strangers mirrored sunglasses.

But, as days went on, I saw her more & more frequently , my mirror self, but somehow more finished, more sharply defined than I have ever been. I found myself inviting her presence, loitering in shopping malls, walking slowly past window displays , looking intently into mirrors . I waited for her appearance, but like any distant love object, she was coy, perhaps even distant. I learnt to wait patiently, to expect little and then I would be rewarded, her face staring out at me, smiling, serene, so much more me than I could ever be.
I fantasised about finding an old fashioned hall of mirrors, where I could lose myself in her, where the division between self & not self would finally blur, where perhaps we could fall into each other. I wondered who would leave the attraction; would either of us get left behind?

Some Horsey Pics

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This blog is not really horsey – but here is the big girl in the title – RIP Rubys Jewel

The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Born in 1957, caught in December 1957 in Sichuan, and moved to Peking Zoo in January 1958. The Austrian animal broker acquired Chi Chi in and brought the animal to Moscow Zoo. After a rest of a week the panda went on journey to Tierpark Berlin. By then Chi Chi had already been sold to a zoo in the United States, but the American government had ceased all trade with communist China for political reasons. Thus, Chi Chi was refused entry to the USA. Frankfurt Zoo provided a temporary home for the panda until it was decided to hire the animal out to European zoos for limited time. Next visit was Copenhagen Zoo, before Chi Chi arrived at London Zoo on 5 September 1958. Although Chi Chi’s visit was originally planned to last for only three weeks, it was decided to buy her. There were unsuccessful attempts to mate Chi Chi with Moscow Zoo‘s An An. Chi Chi died on 22 July 1972 and was mourned by the nation. A post mortem was conducted. Her remains, now a stuffed exhibit, sit in a glass case, at London’s Natural History Museum.[7]
The best thing that ever happened to me.
I don’t go out much anymore, the light hurts my eyes, my old bones ache – I am tired of the whoops, the shouts each time I appear – I stay inside. That fact is well known – a sign outside my enclosure warns the public against disappointment.
There is nothing to see here, not for you, not for me. I have lived in this concrete approximation of my home for 14 years – really there is nothing to see here, move on, move on.
It is summer, or what they call summer, sticky, hot, the smell of fatty food in the air – these are the only summers I remember clearly, but when I sit in the dark, my back against the wall, I can remember another time – a time of cool green, of the taste of fresh bamboo a vivid moment of crunch in my mouth. The memory teases me, not quite caught, not ready to be pinned down, examined, understood.
it’s gone quiet now – the constant drone of voices is over, all I can hear is the murmur of far away traffic and of course my own heart, not beating as strongly as it used to – a little hesitant now – a tiny pause between each beat, each breath.
The man stays, my breath is ragged now, each heartbeat an effort, the pauses longer between each gasp – the jungle thread begins to pull me back. I feel the dappled sunlight against my fur.
I am going home.

Valentine’s day

I’m in the van & I’m late & I’m already proper narked off cos Roz has given me what for & yeah I know its valentine’s day & all that, but like I said to her as we both stomped around each other doing that early morning stuff
“when you’ve been married for 23 years, why bother?”
And then there’s a pause, and I really want to fill it, so I just keep talking and it sounds ok in my head, but somehow, it doesn’t come across like I want it to
“Tell you what love, you go choose something nice, treat yourself, and use the business credit card”
And the moment I said it I knew I was for the high jump, she did the pause thing she does and I thought – ok here we go – but nothing, she just turned away, picked up her car keys & she’s out the door and I’m left stood standing there, cuppa in hand and I dunno, just a feeling that this time I’ve really upset her .
But like I said, I’m running late & I’ve got a new job on the other side of town & I need to get over there, get the lads started, cos I know full well if I’m not there then its bacon cobs, radio 1 & messing on their phones till I get there to shake their sorry asses into gear.
So, there I am, white van man and I light the first fag of the day and it’s all good & I’m just starting to lose the feeling that I’ve done a bad thing at home when the traffic just stops, nothing moving, all 3 lanes gridlocked,  it’s come from no-where & all around me you can see people’s heads come up, shoulders tense, windows open .
But me, I light another fag, turn on radio 4 – I may be a man in a white van but I’m not stupid and start looking around  – I like watching people in their cars – it’s like they forget that  everyone can see them – so they go about their business, putting on makeup, on their phones, inspecting their noses & I’m just watching & then I see her – don’t know why I haven’t noticed her before – given that her 4×4 is beside me –but something makes me look to the side & there’s this woman & she’s crying and I mean really really crying, her head’s down on the steering wheel and she’s sobbing, shoulders shaking – the whole works & I know  I shouldn’t, but I just can’t stop  looking – its like something  out of those foreign films that Roz likes – so she weeps  and I watch and the traffic is going nowhere & it’s like we’re in this bubble thing & cos its Valentine’s  day, I can hear some stupid soppy tune from a car up the way a bit and somehow  that makes it even more like being  in some stupid chick kind of film.
And I don’t know why, but I really want her to look up , I want to see her face and then it’s like she feels my gaze , she looks up & she looks directly at me & it’s not pretty at all, its nothing like the movies – her face is all red & puffy and there’s make up all down her face and we just stare at each other for a moment & then she runs her hands through her hair & wipes her nose on her sleeve & kind of shakes herself like a dog and puts her head back on the steering wheel.
And I can’t stop looking at her – I’ve never seen anyone cry like this – well not in public anyway & she doesn’t seem to care – she must know I’m looking at her but she just doesn’t stop sobbing and I really want to know why and I’m almost out of the van to tap on her window, to ask what’s going on – but I get a grip – cos I’m turning into some kind of madman here & then – thank you Jesus – the traffic starts moving and the mud covered 4×4 & the sobbing woman are out of my life.
And then I flash back to Rozs’  face this morning and I suddenly see that she wasn’t angry, not really, she was crying & I’ve got this horrible picture on her in our car weeping in front of a stranger and you know what it proper shakes me up & next thing I know, I’m off the main road  & I’m heading for her work & somehow I’m driving like a proper nutter & I touch my face & it’s wet .
I just need to get to her, to try & make this better.
Cos I reckon, one sobbing woman on Valentines’ day is enough for anybody.