Friday, June 30, 2006

statue of limitations
Sometimes I walk up Whitehall rather than over Waterloo Bridge - I like seeing the Palace of Westminster in the early morning sunshine - but one thing always makes me cross: the statue in memory to the women of World War 2. Actually, Googling it has made me even crosser - the reason given for its design is the very reason I dislike it, "It depicts the women's working clothes and how they quietly took them off at the end of the day, hung them up and let the men take the credit." Everywhere else along Whitehall there are statues of "heroic" men looking "glorious" and the one statue devoted to women denies their individuality, champions the roles played rather than the players. I'd have rather seen one woman honoured than none.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

we are not alone
It’s hot, I can’t sleep and I’m cranky. I’m playing balls on TA’s PDA. TA is asleep, but not for long because out of the corner of my eye I spot the mouse. We have tried – unsuccessfully it seems – to trap the mouse, poison the mouse, deafen the mouse and starve the mouse. My pleas for a cat have gone unanswered. I’m at my wits end – I do not want a mouse (or, god forbid, mice) in my house. I’m willing to cede the loft to the furry lodger, but only if it pays rent, has references and a deposit – no, not that kind of deposit. I have instructed TA that he is to resolve the mouse situation once and for all, but fear that he is as clueless as me when it comes to successful pest prevention. Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

boy wisdom
Not an oxymoron, as some may think, but rather an occasional series devoted to TA's bon mots. As background, when I was growing up we were told: "Pudding? You can have fruit, yoghurt or ice cream." This is a tradition we have continued, minus the ice cream, at the Sett. TA and I were walking into the West End together yesterday morning.
Me: I was going to have porridge for breakfast this morning, but in the end I decided to be good and had a banana and some yoghurt instead.
TA: So, what you're telling me is that instead of having one breakfast you had two puddings?
I'll admit, he had me banged to rights!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I said, 'Every time I see that shirt I think "quilt".' And you laughed - said something about taking the shirt from your back. And, as it fell on the bed and the shot cotton turned from deep, dark purple to iridescent blue, I thought of that first date and how our lives have changed, but how your eyes are just the same. I thought of grape skins and how much beauty there is in the world. And I thought: I love you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

renegade childhood
Sometimes I just surprise people and equally their looks of amazement surprise me. I mean everyone thinks that their childhood was "normal" more or less, even when perhaps some oddities are admitted. Let me say right here for the record, I think my childhood was pretty good actually - loving parents, comfortable home etc, etc. But...
I was having lunch with some co-workers who were discussing things they'd been forced to do when they were kids: scouts, piano lessons, ballet. I said, "That's nothing... I was sent to meditation lessons with a man called Guy who was convinced he had been a Native American in a previous life and who told me to imagine heat in my base chakra!" Cue horrified stares around the table and a swift moving on of the conversation by my freaked out colleagues. But really I should have told them the rest of the story - Guy had long hair and a hawk nose, he wore (when he wore clothes at all) big moccasin slipper-boots and jogging bottoms along with fringed leather shirts. He lived with a wonderful woman named Ayjah (sp?) who worked in the healthfood shop. He was fairly charismatic and insisted that they had lived many lives together. They left the village for a while and went to live with "Guy's former tribe", but returned chastened several months later - perhaps the tribe thought he'd been bad in his previous lives because apparently they made the couple do all the chores! He ran off with another woman for a while - "pah!" said my mother, "some men never learn, no matter how many lives they live!"
I went to meditation class with two other girls. On walking in one day - we were always careful to ring the bell and give them time to get dressed - Guy said, "Look at those legs, they never end!" Which ex-beauty therapist E and I still drawl at each other and giggle about. The third girl only came once or twice - when asked what she had seen she said, "I couldn't really say I saw anything - I was kind of blinded by the light." G&A thought this was a sign of her amazing spirituality, but afterwards she confessed - I meant the lightbulb in the room.
My father still sees Guy sometimes on the ferry going to a gig - he plays the guitar and sings. In fact I think they have a CD somewhere - on the cover is a picture of Guy in full country and western-style get up. And his stage name?
The Renegade...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

prozac nation
Apparently I won't be skipping through daisies anytime soon, it's likely that I will require a much higher dose before I feel less, shall we say, compulsive and I have to go back in two weeks for a check up. Oh, and I got the usual "no wonder she's fucked up" look when I complained about the nurse and her adoption freak out and the usual look of wonderment when it became clear that yes, really, I'm walking and talking perfectly normally and yet I am hydrocephalic. That stuff added an extra ten minutes to an already lengthy appointment. At least she didn't want to cop a feel of my shunt like most doctors do - ooh, sweaty palms!
On the bright side, I jumped on a bendy bus and dodged the fare; the inspectors caught me...but the validation machines on the bus had gone down! Perfecto!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

It's that time of the year, month, week, day where my thoughts turn inexorably to what I haven't achieved yet and what to turn my energies to next. But I'm stuck (and not in a kind of positive Billy Childish career as a media whore for the rest of my days kind of a way). It's good to keep a journal and - sometimes, under strict supervision - it's good to reread and remind myself of my previous goals. So it was that I realised that five years ago I wanted to have a home, a relationship, a Masters, a pension and a career...oh, and have written a book. Five out of six isn't bad going is it?
I blame the glossies. TA and I went to A Taste of London on Saturday. And mainly London tasted "yum" with a side helping "oh. my. god." and an amuse bouche of Michel Roux Jr who is simply fabuloso. (Mummy, when I grow up I want to marry...oh, wait, crap.) But I digress, I picked up three magazines that were being given away free: the Evening Standard mag (which always makes me grind my teeth), Delicious. and some kind of Homes and Gardens-type effort - ah! - Living etc. When we returned home TA settled in for an evening of online merriment, courtesy of Neverwinter Nights, while I devoured the pulp (I hope no trees were harmed in the making of this drivel).
Somehow the editors of all three (food-themed) mags had conspired to feature profiles of the kinds of couples that make me want to weep, wail, gnash my teeth and take a chainsaw to myself, my life and any innocent bystanders who happen to get in my way. Are you familiar with the genre? Good-looking exhibit 'A' followed a bohemian path, never quite settling in to normal life (was raised by rock gods/ artists/ gypsies/ drug-addled aristocracy [delete as appropriate]); travelled the world, fell in with others of a similar ilk; started an innocent cottage industry/ decorated a friend's palace/ started singing in a bar/ opened a cafe; met exhibit 'B' (a record producer/ artist/ photographer/ sculptor/ mountain climber); they moved to the country/ an abandoned warehouse/ an island/ a yurt; and live a delightfully poised, perfect existence where they both awake each day with vim, vigour and beautiful offspring gambolling through organic meadows of bliss; they work long hours but it's not work really when you follow your dreams is it and anyway there are always so many different projects on the go. The fuckers, seriously, where do these people come from?
And why aren't we these people too? And perhaps we could be - TA could be an amazing digital artist, game developer and RPG guru, if only somebody would give him a chance; I could be a great novelist/academic/organic farmer or perhaps entrepreneur, if only I'd give myself the chance.
Is it bravery? Self-belief? An inability to accept compromise?
So I need new dreams, bigger dreams - I need to raise the bar and start my run up. Because I've got a stunning record of achieving what I set my mind to - and a less than glorious record of landing, having cleared the bar with elan, only to look around and think well, this really isn't enough is it? Witness: the lovely flat, husband, good job (as these things go), approaching financial stability.
I work with a woman I really like - she's ten years older, husband is an artist/drugs therapist, they have a three-year-old daughter, live a comfortable life in a great apartment in Camden. What we've got, but better. And she's desperate: her job doesn't feel rewarding, she wonders where her life is going, she's dying a slow death day by day. We walk around Covent Garden at lunch time and I think I don't want to be feeling this way in ten years time - I don't want the same thing as I have now done better, with nicer clothes and more expensive comforts. The only real difference being I'm dragging a child through with me (a consolation and a burden both).
I want to taste life with every breath. I want to jump out of bed in the morning knowing that in the next eighteen hours I'm going to work my socks off doing something amazing, create something - anything, no matter how tenuous - that has real meaning to me. I want to feel alive.
And TA asks, but WHAT? What is it that you want to do? And I just don't know. I'm stuck, stuck, stuck and not in a manifesto-writing, record recording, paint the town kind of a way. No, I'm stuck in the kind of way that sends me to the cupboards searching for an answer at the bottom of a packet of biscuits, the gold at the end of a tub of ice cream, the wisdom that can only be seen through the green glass of an empty bottle of el plonko. I'm stuck in the way that my journal reads like Groundhog Day. I can't seem to break the cycle. Have I really been like this all my adult life? Am I really this dull and predictable?
It's time to resort to drugs. And more singing out loud. And dancing. And writing and doing more of the things that make my heart sing. Because it's not rocket science is it? And perhaps I'll winnow out some truth, some focus. Perhaps I'll be featured in a dreadful glossy in a few years and my story will have been painted in such broad strokes that it will attain the slick look of inevitability. And somewhere, someone will read it and spit blood, but we'll know the truth. You'll have seen the callouses and - no doubt - somewhere I'll be writing about how dissastisfied I am with life and wondering what hoop to jump through next. Or maybe that's what the Prozac will stop?

Friday, June 16, 2006

seeing red
er, hello. Sorry, I would say I’ve been busy, but it’d be a lie. The truth is I just got out of the habit of writing and then it seemed harder and harder to come back. But there are some days that just beg to be written about, one way or another. Wednesday was one of those days.
I had the rage. You know, the rage of woman – when anyone who dared to step to heavily, breathe in my vicinity, speak or type too loudly was liable to suffer agonizing death at my hand. Then there had been the dreams – two nights of terribly disturbing and intense narratives, leaving me exhausted and perturbed upon finally waking. So, the day did not auger well.
I had to leave work to register at the GP surgery – a chore I had been avoiding. At the bus stop a man was rifling through the bin. He picked out a banana skin and an empty tobacco packet. Poor desperate soul, I thought. Then he proceeded to “decorate” the bus stop with detritus! The world was full of loonys.
I had to stop off at the sett to pick up my NHS card. I let my guard down for a moment, thinking – after a terrible bus journey – that now at least I was in the fresh air and sunshine…when I managed to interrupt a schoolgirl having a wee next to a hedge. Lovely.
The GP’s surgery – recommended by TA – scared me a little (the waiting room smelt of BO and there was a prayer “to be said before starting work” taped to the wall above the receptionists’ tea rota).
I filled in the form they had given me – transferring all the information from my NHS card and writing carefully “not known – adopted” next to all the questions about family medical history. I handed the form in. Visited the loo to pee on a stick (perhaps that’s what the schoolgirl was up to) as instructed and waited to be called to see the nurse.
The nurse’s office was full of Catholic paraphernalia. Wonderful. For the next ten minutes the nurse asked me for all the information I had spent the previous ten minutes carefully writing on the form, which she then typed (with one finger, as if using a keyboard for the first time) into the – circa 1970 – computer. Her: Where were you born? Me: Portsmouth. Her, typing: P O U. Me: No, Portsmouth: p. o. r. t. s. m. o. u. t. h. (thinks – Jesus, where did she qualify?). Any serious illness? Me: I’m hydrocephalic. Me: h. y. d. r. – pointing to the screen – there: “hydrocephalus” as the list auto-populated. At this point I was beginning to wonder not where, but *how* she qualified.
She asked the inevitable family history question, to which I replied “I don’t know. I’m adopted.” I had to repeat myself as she gave me a blank stare. And then she said, with a look of nervousness as if I’ve just told her my family died in a plane crash, “I’m so sorry…”
Breathe, Lisa. It’s nothing to take offense at; she’s just a bit tactless. We continue laboriously inputting my personal data. She takes my blood pressure, and manages somehow to rest her ample bosom on my arm while she does it. Breathe, Lisa: if it doesn’t bother her why should it bother you?
We reach the end of the form. I see on the screen that there is space for additional notes. I watch with interest as she starts typing. She writes “does not know family history – claims she is adopted”. What the fuck? I think about it for a couple of beats and then say quite calmly: I don’t claim I am adopted; I am adopted. In my head I make excuses for her poor word choice, but then she says: “Well, I don’t know that do I, you’ve told me, but I don’t know that.” My belief is beggared. I manage to keep calm, just, and say quietly “It’s a matter of public record. I’m adopted.” And so she changes the wording to pacify me. I AM NOT PACIFIED. I’m still furious. The rest of the registration process is abbreviated as I rush to get out of there before I stab her with whatever sharp object comes to hand.
And so, at my first appointment with the GP – next week – I shall, once I’ve persuaded the doctor to put me on Prozac in an attempt to put a stop to my galloping bulimia, be lodging a formal complaint about the witless, insulting, offensive nurse.
Wish me luck.