Running free

What do we need, where do we go
When we get where we don’t know.
Why should we doubt the virgin white of fallen snow,
When faith’s our shelter from the cold.

There was always a bit of him in every bloke I fancied. He set the precedent, created the mould. With his long blonde hair and his keen light eyes.

One day I was a child and the next I wasn’t. Turning the metaphoric (as well as the actual) corner to find him, sitting on the steps outside the off-licence in his ripped jeans and Megadeth jacket. He was new. 3 years older but still new. And from them on, so was I.

Of the gang of boys secreting from the estate, he stood out. Poisonous soulless fuckwits who revelled in hurting and humiliating wherever they could. I suspected a kindness in him that years later I would discover to be real.

So I became a collector of things connected to him. I immersed myself in things he liked, so by default perhaps I would become one of them. And it’s an embarrassing thing to admit that a lot of who I started to become was built around the interests of a bloke.

My crush on him forced me into a world of fiction. With pen kissing paper I crafted everything the way it should be and not the way it actually was. Lined A4 pads filled with romantic scenarios and how the two of us would one day come together. And I cringe now when I read them because it’s hard to take your first crush very seriously when you’ve been around the block so many times. If I was lucky enough for him to look at me or speak to me, I’d squirrel the encounter away ready for my wordy hibernation. Entire books based on scraps of something that could have been. And through him, I honed in on what I really liked and what I really wanted.

In later years I would discover that I could talk to him not just from within my head but in the real world too and finally came the time for me to put down the notepad (for a little while at least) and see how the real world compared. Although he never really had the same affect on me, there was always an appreciation, a softness I suppose you could call it, whenever I saw or heard of him. And those feelings, inexplicable at the time and now so very familiar, are still the basis for whether I really like someone or not.

I can conjure him at any given moment: walking with his hands in his pockets, wearing an oversized lumberjack shirt, flicking his hair out of his eyes. He smirked in a way that immediately made me think of sex, regardless how young I was or how little I knew about it. Him screaming ‘bacon’ at passing police cars, him putting my hat on his head on my 13th birthday and leaving behind the intimate scent of his hair, winking at me unashamedly while he pissed a heart shape on the floor of the underground car park and making my face burn with shyness when he asked why ‘I ♥ CB’ was scrawled all over my rucksack.

Hearing word of his death stunned me. Not high pitched and insane, not shaking and crying but somewhere still and adolescently sheepish within me. Not just because we were close in age but because despite never having been a part of my adult life, he somehow always seemed to feature. Characters fashioned from the essence of him made it into two of my finished novels and it occurs to me now that for him to have never faded in my mind, he must have burned so very brightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t lick da mutt’s nuts

I once had a hand me down t-shirt that had a picture of a British bulldog sitting with his legs apart, showing off a massive pair of bollocks. The slogan read ‘you can’t lick da mutt’s nuts’. At the time, I was pretty convinced it had something to do with being British and being untouchable; an immovable force, someone to be reckoned with. A position of great advantage, like the family pet who can do the one thing his owner can’t; tongue his own testicles.

Thinking back, I’m aware I had a sort of thickness when it came to phrases. A constant source of embarrassment and misunderstanding while I grappled with the language that eventually I grew to love.

  • You can’t have your cake and eat it – A diet mantra for the overweight?
  • Life’s a bitch and then you die – Male dogs are immortal?
  • It’ll cost you an arm and a leg – body parts are legal and acceptable tender in some shops.
  • Beat around the bush – shrubbery designed to conceal parents smacking their children.
  • Cut the mustard – trimming your facial hair (I was raised by Greeks and my English wasn’t so great back then).
  • Wouldn’t be caught dead – A ‘to-do’ list for the afterlife.

I don’t know how it came across, a baby bubble like me, wearing a t-shirt of a union jacked dog. A plump little kebab of a child, unruly hair poking out the sides of my pitta. But I wore it regardless, even though I wasn’t sure what I was telling people. And if truth be told, I’m still not sure what the fuck it means. I can tell you this though: the first answer in a google search, who’s redacted text seems to be answering the question, will actually take you to a website called Instabang which throws live porn videos of ‘horny girls near you’ or even more worryingly ‘naked pics of someone you know’ in your face. Unwanted flick-book images of overly tanned munters eating their own nips dominates my screen, till my frantic clicking of the ‘back’ arrow finally sails me safely to the search listings.

Even without all that pop-up-punani, the listings still don’t give a definitive answer. As a politer way of saying ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’, The Mutt’s Nuts could mean anything from an old printing term describing a full colon followed by a dash introducing a list :-, to a Meccano factory faux pas for the best kind of packaging: The Box Deluxe.

I resolve that I don’t actually need a half-baked bit of cyber cod’s wallop posing as fact to understand the phrase, instead I’ll come up with my own conclusion because today I feel a bit like that cute-stupid little shit who barely knows her arse from her armpit but grins affectionately regardless.

  • Why does a dog lick its own bollocks? Because it can.
  • The truth is like a dog’s bollock: easy to find, if you dare to take a look.
  • You can’t lick the mutt’s nuts – in a hierarchy, the dog’s bollox is top.

Though you may be slightly lower down the pecking order than you’d like, restrained on a too-tight leash, dump and dinner times dictated to you by the arsehole Alpha’s of the group: there are still sweeter things easily and exclusively within your reach, pleasures they will never know unless they are you.

 

 

The first stone

 

“Oh heaven, oh heaven, I wake with good intentions. But the day is always just too long”  Emeli Sande

If it weren’t for the fact that I am guilty of almost everything, I would be the most judgemental person on this earth. In this way I can be thankful (almost) for my mischievous nature. Because it gives, at least, some understanding and acceptance of the misdemeanours of others. If I wasn’t such a bitch, this quality would most likely make me a better friend to have.

And just like the song says, with each new dawn I’m at it again, new fuckeries to add to the long list of charges. There’s no solace in the knowledge that at least my sins are not crimes. No. This noteworthy distinction isn’t enough for me to let myself off the hook, and it isn’t for you either. Because I know I’m not alone in this denigration of self. This perpetual dispute over actions and covert intentions resulting in all manner of conclusions but leading invariably to one thing: guilt. When I really think about it, it’s no wonder I am so afraid of nuns.

A new year carries with it more weight than a new day and as such, we find ourselves seeking ways to clean the slate. Sprucing up the self is always the best place to start. I thought about it for too little time whilst in the bath and resolved that I would seek out this self-assurance that at the time seemed such an attractive quality to me. In the time it took to dry my toes, I had changed my mind. Seeing it as an annoying form of arrogance: too restrictive a territory for this turbulent traveller. And the research that it involves would certainly dilute my well-intentioned enthusiasm before I knew it.

Sniffing around the scene idly, surely there was something important I was getting at. A grotty skirting board somewhere that needed a clean. Self-assuredness is great en’all but when we really want to do something, we’ll always find a justification to make it possible…or else spend our days what-iffing. Bringing us back nicely to guilt and regret: the two most popular postcodes for people to reside.

But all things have their place and guilt surely helps us stick to the right track doesn’t it? Or is guilt a smothering straight jacket supressing the life and lust deep within? Either way, you’ll feel it regardless, even when you try not to. And I really envy those self-serving pieces of shit that don’t feel it at all. The ones who will always do what suits them best. They’ve got the right idea. Because as my new favourite Nan told me, “life is such a quick thing. Before you know it there’s no time left at all.This isn’t a revelation of any sort but coming from the nicest and most elderly person I know, it’s a rightful incitement to a little selfishness now and then.

So we move forward, past the wishes and expectations of others and into a new undiscovered realm. Fresh and untarnished by anyone else’s wants, this place is uniquely ours. We are the only dreamers of this particular dream. And it’s everything it should be and more…the sun stings bright happy eyes, playful blinking, lips lifted flirtatiously like the hems of skirts revealing some leg or gums. Frolic and flounce with all the fucking frivolity of a dance thoroughly needed. Exhaling. Muscles slumped, one on top of the other like a bum sits nicely on the heels of your feet. Looking around, like a baby blinking into existence, you see that you’ve achieved more than just the aesthetics of your dreams: in this place of unabashed insistence you realise that you’ve found yourself.

This is where we experience the flipside of guilt. The un-sulky and much more deeply rooted kind. On the verge of liberation from the combined misfortunes and self-inflicted sadness of the past, we notice a fire-exit like a giant green flashing angel. But we realise that by walking through it, we are condoning and accepting the hideous happenings that we have spent our years hating. Because on the verge of acceptance, comes that one last pang. “If I take this final step now, it means I have gained from the severance and loss of a child. It means I have benefitted from the loss of a soul that deserved his life certainly more than I do”. Or at least that’s my deepest fear. And when you see someone, whose womb has seen both life and death, smiling sincerely from the snag of their stubby toes to the flick of their bottom lip, you have to know it doesn’t come without repeated mental punches to the gut.

So we stay on the precipice, looking through the window at a feast we will never enjoy. Hungry, hurting and self-loathing but not entirely unhappy in our darkest of places. Arms folded smugly across my breasts, hair unmanageably long: I watch from the window as children swarm my street on their way to school. Like happy woollen kebabs, padding around blindly with just their noses poking out. Warm necks to the sky as the first of the year’s snow falls. And I can’t help but be softened like butter slip sliding into the pores of my toast.

Letting yourself off the hook isn’t as easy a thing to do as it sounds. But you must because hating hard on the unprejudiced unpredictable strike of lightening that once struck you and invariably despising the crispiness it has left you with is a rash that will prickle over the whole surface of skin. Slowly driving you insane with its itchy creeping demands. Till you’ve scratched and scratched and there’s nothing left but the dabby stickiness of blood and sinew. Boiled blistering skin, parched thin, scarred and weeping, no longer any use to anyone at all.

And maybe that’s what it means to burn in hell.


I want this one

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century

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Image result for blossom

In the gentle swaying of the trees, somehow she eclipsed me. Like weather: the way we are going to feel is seldom certain.

I have spent too long moderating the way I feel, for fear of being hurt and of hurting others. But there has to be one true place that’s just yours in this world. Where you can boldly be with respect enough for the past and for the future. If only I could find it, I’d go there with her and we could flail around like a couple of happy pricks with complete abandon.

She makes believe that time began the second I walked through her door. Because willingly she wiped out the test-runs of the past. And I betray her in the sense that I don’t, or more aptly, that I wont. It has to be a form of self perseveration or perhaps the endeavour’s of pride: that I struggle under the weight of my bygones like a bag-lady. Bringing with me everything I ever had, everything I ever was and everything that has at one time or another touched me. It’s a wonder she has room enough in her soul for me and all my shit.

Five years ago today I left some words on a page, like a time capsule, for my future self. Although written with love and joy, the strokes of my pen slashed across my emotions like a rusty nail. Because life then was so different to now and I could not have anticipated the horrors yet to come.

But in the same way that the world is sometimes unkind, it is also nurturing. Perhaps if I were a nun I would say ‘when god closes a door, somewhere he opens a window’. I want this to stay forever true.

I think I now see the value of both the memory box as well as the hope chest and I treat the two the same, like a pair of incessantly squabbling brats, each selfishly demanding attention over the other. I acknowledge them, I thank them and through love, I tell them both to shut the fuck up. Because in this moment I want to give her something. Just for her. Something she can palm and keep close to her heart. I love her now.

And what I realise is that loving again and moving forward with your life is not an insult to everything that came before. The newest blossoms of an old tree pay a pretty homage to the pollens of the past. The tireless cycles of nature depend on them, so we do what we can to force out a flower from the ends of our lonely sticks. And who knows, maybe this year’s blossom will prove to be even more fruitful than the last.