Tag Archives: performance

lost weekend – part 1

Lost weekend

She knows, the moment she wakes, tastes dream food on her lips, remembers a sleeping feast, a table piled high, a dream so real that just for a second,she wonders if somehow she has eaten, more than eaten, gorged, at some point  between 200 leg lifts, last weigh in and half a cup of sugar-free hot chocolate.
She rolls back the duvet, cold biting into flesh, checks thighs, hip bones, counts ribs, can see no evidence, no proof that her body has betrayed her.
4am, first weigh in, standing naked in the bathroom, best of 3, a half articulated prayer to the gods of scales, needs to see good numbers, reward, payback.

The scales are implacable, impervious to any prayer, deaf to her needs, her real hunger.
The numbers stare back….blue digital display, a truth that cannot be argued with and so she trails back to bed, already bargaining in her head, looking for a logic when her own body has moved beyond the realms of reality.

But…like an itch, once noted that cannot be ignored, the dream has woken the kraken of hunger, reminded her, yet again, that the body will have its way, will survive.

It’s Friday and she knows that this will be a lost weekend.
There are plans to be made.
Arrangements to be un-arranged
Things to be done.
And while she says this, maybe out loud, maybe not, she is already bargaining, negotiating, the calorie counter in her head, always ready, ever ready has begun to kick in.

The space, time left is enough for something else to happen, some rescue,  some ambush of her desire, it may still be alright.

She emails….tells X that she is seeing Y, Y that she is laid low with a stomach bug ( she rationalizes that this, if nothing else is almost true), informs A,B and C that she is out-of-town until Sunday and then sits back, appalled by the ease of her lying, the weekend, empty, clear.
A lost weekend.

More plans, rehearsed, familiar in their balletic routine and rituals.
Cash point, lost weekends must be paid for in cash….no paper trail, no bank statement to choke her with shame, recriminations, 1, 2 weeks down the line.
And besides, cash, she has learnt, sets a limit, an end point, imposes some control.

Into the car, lost weekends cannot be provisioned too near home, the fear of her and the trolley of shame, bumping along beside her, laden with foods of colours that no food should be, meeting a friend,neighbour, even a colleague, is paralysing.
The very thought makes her limbs twist with shame, she is the girl who never eats, who sits at meals, an apple sliced into tiny, tiny pieces, while she watches the others eat. She is the one that people no longer offer cake to, no longer ask if she wants anything from the drive through.
She is the girl who never eats,whose body is a silent reproach to those who cannot, will not share her iron control.
And so, the supermarket, this one 5 miles from home, safe enough, but near enough to home that the drive will not last forever, will not cause her self-control to snap, car pulled over, face buried in the first, still warm bakery bag.
There is a routine, a rhythm, a ritual to a lost weekend shop.
First stop
Pharmacy aisle ….

Sugar free chewing gum
Coke zero, 2 litre bottles times many

And then,
The food shop
Today, the fruit and vegetable aisles ignored, no careful weighing out of 4oz bags of grapes, bananas chosen based only on size, miniaturised, apples defined as less than medium.
She knows from experience that it is better to pick the ice cream first, fear of defrosting, of spillage sets a time limit, a sense of urgency, keeps her moving, heading towards the check-out.

In her head, the litany of a list
2 tubs of ice cream
Macaroni cheese
Cauliflower cheese
Pepperoni pizza
Chicken tikka masala
Prawn korma
Chocolate cheese cake

And then a pause….finds herself in the biscuit aisle, knows from hard experience that biscuits have too many sharp edges, too many corners, will stick,catch, hold up the smooth movement.

Instead,cakes, chocolate fudge cake, ripples of icing, she can already imagine her finger nails disturbing the perfect layers of sugar, butter, cake.
Her mouth puckers, waters, she grabs the box before the other shoppers can see the naked hunger, over powering desire.

Final aisle
Toilet cleaner
Facial wipes
Toilet tissue.

Check out, she is nervous, bounces from one foot to the other, jingles car keys, smiles too much.
She starts a complicated story to the bored checkout girl
A family shop, bring and share supper, birthday celebration, a story for someone who has already forgotten the thin woman and her half filled trolley.


The drive home is a blur, it’s always a blur on lost weekends – mind, mouth, stomach already lost, full of anticipation, already calculating the guilt, the self loathing and everything that will come with it.

She parks the car neatly on the drive, grabs the carrier bags, doesn’t look inside and once the front door is opened, the shopping dumped in the kitchen, she goes back and carefully locks the front door.

[ to be continued]

The New Amazons

These are the new amazons, warriors for an age when battles are fought over inches and ounces, ground held firm with a will power you cannot understand and they cannot explain.

Every day when the killing fields is the  site of last resistance,  their own bodies. offered up, suicide bombers all

New bones map out a skirmish won, an enemy routed, another stand made.

The scales record betrayal, defeat, the spirit is strong, but the body weakens, turns tail, offers surrender when all that is required is a tactical retreat….a re-grouping….a re-arming with weapons of mass distraction.

The enemy creeps up in the night, pitches camp, lays siege to the body.

Bared, ready for morning inspection with eyes sharper than a sergeant major and a tongue more vicious too.

Everything must be checked, double checked, you’re in this army now.

The front line moves, an inch here, an inch there, movement hides the cost, becomes just a to and fro, meaningless battle lines with no clear winner…..dug in, all over by Christmas

A war of secret attrition, where the scars are buried deep, not displayed on special days for the curious, the non-combatants,  and those who fell at the first hurdle try not to stare, try not to feel a tiny frisson of envy, a sense of missing out on something big

Mummy, what did you do in the war?

There are no victory parades for these ana warriors, no wreaths of Flanders poppies, no awkward silences, praying that your phone won’t go off….not now.

But, just for  a moment, I imagine them, the ranks of girls, for they are legion, arms whipcord thin, collar bones as sharp as the creases in a demob suit, knees buckle under the weight of banners, but these are the ana warriors, spartan in their stoicism, shrugging off the costs of war.

To save the village we had to destroy it.


some biggish news……

Regular visitors to rubiesandduels will have noticed the Hunger Writing Project – an exploration of food, eating, hunger, body image and restriction.

Most, although not all of these, have been written with performance in mind and several have been already performed at Open Mike slots in Leicestershire.

But, I’ve felt for some time that I want to do something more formal and larger with them………………….so…………………..

with support from Leicester Writers’ Club and Carol Leeming – local arts promotor, i am working towards a one woman show in summer 2014, with performances in Leicester and hopefully beyond.

There will be more new pieces and re-writes of some of the current work and some supporting visual inputs……I’m very excited, if a little nervous, I’m not a performer by training or even inclination.

watch this space for  updates and more information.

The last Ping! Of 2013

So, 27th December 2013 and the traditional post Christmas Ping! cornucopia of music, performance, poetry and more……
If you live in Leicestershire and love/are faintly curious about spoken word events and fancy a very supportive environment to try your hand at reading your work to audience…..come and check it out.
The last Tuesday of every month @ Duffys Bar on Pocklingtons Walk in the city centre.
This may or may not be a selling point…..but you can usually hear rubiesandduels read something.

And some ( sadly not great quality ) pics from the post Christmas evening….an evening that celebrated queer culture, metro-sexuality, traditional Indian music, jazz and the spoken word.






The eternal, ever-giving, fun loving clowns…..at the end of the show.

This is the final part of the clowns sequence, I think there is perhaps another segment or two to put into the body of the work, but, the ending has been floating in my head for a few days now, so it’s been written out of time, rather like the clowns themselves.

Out of sight of the children, away from the crowd, the curious onlookers, the clowns’ shoulders slump, the clown dog paws at the legs of the biggest clown, cocks his head and finally, pulling out the biggest crowd pleaser, sits and begs, waiting to be picked up and carried back to the buff coloured bell tent. The tent is dusty, leaning into another broken wall,another ruined space.

The smallest clown stretches to his full height, his upturned palms almost, but not quite reaching to the biggest clowns shoulders and then drops his arms, lets his palms hit the floor outside the tent.

Today, the ground is dusty, dry, a few yellow rocks, yesterday, they walked, trudged up to their knees in deep clay mud, the day before that, on feet that felt every mile of their journey, the stepped over poppies and the remainder of long ignored wheat fields.

Inside the tent, there are 3 steamer trunks, faded blue leather, scuffed brass clasps,


The 3 clowns move in economic unison, balletic exhaustion and each sits on his steamer trunk, while the clown dog jumps or falls to the ground and lies, belly to the air, panting quietly to himself.

There is nothing to say, just the ritual of putting away, packing the tent and moving on.

The biggest clown opens his trunk, removes a tiny jar of cold cream, the packaging worn, letters faded,
P…..something ….D and begins to rub the white cream into his face.

The smaller clown leans down and pulls at his bright red clown shoes, the feet that come out are small, prehensile toes, suddenly released, scratching into the dust at his feet.
The shoes, abandoned, lie next to him, waiting to jump and swoop and cartwheel again……later.

The smallest clown, the junior clown, bustles around the space, still in his stage persona, a little irritating, a little too busy, a little too much.
He pulls off his clown nose, gives his clown bow tie a gentle spin,checks the bulb of the water spraying rose and then is still, finally quiet.

The biggest clown delves into the trunk and pulls out a once gaudy scrap of fabric, the hint of what is left of an over used silk scarf, demoted from juggling to neckerchief and now finally, a rag to remove cold cream.

As he rubs, his own skin, greying, tired begins to appear from behind the white greasepaint, his less than impressive eyebrows, sandy rather than the definition of those painted on with thick black lines, emerge and his nose, surprisingly retroussé under the bright red bulbous nose, is a daily surprise even to himself.

The smaller clown is more careful, more precise, he uses a small mirror, dabs cream onto his face in neat blobs, blends them together, ghost skin, paler even then the moon white, lead white clown finish.

The smallest clown, spits onto the hem on his shirt, notices a little more fraying, a little more fading and then uses the almost damp shirt to rub, rub hard against his skin,feels the pull of the fabric against his nearly beard and spits on the hem again.

The three clowns group together

And stare into the tiny, chipped mirror, their faces distorted by dust and decades of wear and tear on the glass.

Their reflections stare back at them, faces cleaned, almost cleaned of clown makeup, except of course for the row of tears, roughly drawn in thick black line, tracing a path from eye to chin.

The clowns have long since given up trying to remove these tears, in truth they hardly notice them anymore.

And then, with an economy of movement based on long, long practise, they pack away the tent and walk away, down the ruined road.

And a clown dog snapping at their heels.


A bit of out and about…..and a new hair do

A kind friend facilitated me attending Word! @ the Y theatre in Leicester, I read a shortened version of the clowns piece, which I think went down well.
Oh and I may have dyed my hair pink..it’s just an age denial.


Strawberry Fields Festival

Rubiesandduels headed off to deepest darkest Leicestershire today to deliver 2 sets at the spoken word space.
A lovely day, even some sun, good company and even some dancing.
A huge thanks to the organisers and the audience.