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.

 

 

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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.


Detachment: Like the cracking of an egg.

It’s easier to push people away than you’d hope.

The realisation of this is a hard one because it’s stalked by a terrible feeling of rejection. Feeling un-loved and misunderstood: and shouldn’t a real friend always assume the better of you?

I plough on, head held high, unsure if I’m right or if I’m wrong but ploughing regardless till I’ve cleared the entire field. And if it saddens me so then why do I do it? Hand shoots up erect to the sky, me sir, I know, pick me, I know. Because there’s a long overdue spring coming and I need a fucking clear out. All this clutter, the eggshells so much trodden on that they have become the carpet, it needs to go. So the new broom sweeps clean and if it’s so easily got rid of then it couldn’t have really been yours to begin with.

Sometimes it feels, in this life of mine, that the only thing I don’t lose is weight.  But maybe, I speculate, these things are needed before the real work can begin, for the untying of all those pesky knots. You can’t renovate a house without first removing all the furniture and perhaps in the same vein, you have to deconstruct in order to reconstruct.

But what is it I’m supposed to learn from all these dreams of keys and ducks and walls closing in? Is everything we learn in life simply a lesson in how to die? Tragedy-prone as we all feel we are, can we take lesson from these things and graduate with honours to the big bright beautiful ever-after? To the palace in the sky? To the pacifistic equivalent of Valhalla I dreamed of as a child. The truth has to be that through the acceptance and understanding of death, life will take on new and fuller hues, and perhaps sometimes vice versa.

Losing friends is like the shedding of tears, or the bleeding of menstrual blood. You feel while it happens: anger, frustration, sadness, hurt. But once it’s done what you have left is the slightly exposed scrubbed clean you, warts and all. And you will learn to live with the new found space, fill it with new things, perhaps things that were destined to come to you. But only once you’ve stopped playing that record over and over, stopped finding new ways to beat yourself up for the failings of others, you’ll take yourself in your own arms and be the friend you always needed. Because what I realised is this: the most abusive and unreasonable critic is the one that resides deep inside the mind. If we can conquer him, then the rest is just child’s play.

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

I feel the sun brighten in the tiniest way from the smoggy-smudge of the office window. It’s so slight I could of missed it. But for some reason I didn’t. Music ears in, distracted from my work: because somewhere on my planet there is a war going on. Because my brain is nightmare-plagued with surreal images of men in white dressing gowns and combat trousers. Taking over the high streets, they are everywhere I look, covert but a threat none the less. And these men aren’t just black and they aren’t just white. What defines them isn’t their race or their religion, it’s the hatred in their hearts. They come from all over: not just the children of war but the children of industry and commerce, the children of poverty and riches, of unaffectionate parents and too much private schooling. They are dead behind the eyes. They scare the shit out of me, in all their varieties and forms.

I know today is a big war day for our political mandems. Will we, wont we? I don’t fucking know anymore. But in my heart I hope we don’t. Because I can’t find peace in a violent world. I am that fool that just wants everything to be ok. Everywhere. So I make my little efforts and wish on all the dandelion clocks and loose eyelashes. Hoping that if I fix the conflicts in my own soul, that it will transcend to the external world will catch on. Not because I’m that egocentric but because somewhere along the way I decided that the inner world dictates the outer and that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Surfing a hippy vibe that curves a smile across even the strictest of faces. And what I don’t get is how I still have this weird belief in magik, that things can be conjured and manipulated with a wish and good intention. It makes me feel thick and in it I lose my edge, but it’s true none the less.

I’m afraid of religion and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of politics and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of violence and the nutcases that subscribe to it. And war is the reason why.

I’m afraid of greed and commerce and fear itself because in this art of war, there are people losing their heads.

Beware of the mad woman.

A matt that once sat on her doorstep, warning crossers of her threshold what to expect. And there’s no disputing it, she was mad. She probably is still bring utterly mental and brilliant somewhere else in the universe. I really believe that.

I still dream of her, in a prophetic way. And it scares me how alive she is. Telling me she’s too busy even in the afterlife. Cooking, making tea, washing, bitching. Forever a fingerprint of the woman I clung to growing up. And in her company, I was never afraid.

Four years later and hers is still the name on everyone’s lips. I could still easily piss myself laughing thinking of the things she said. Phrases so harsh and hilarious, said so vehemently in a flash of passion, then followed softly by a smile, aware of her audience’s reaction. From her I learnt all the harshest phrases; Shisto mavro, morre butana, yamo tin havra sou, yamo tin ratsa sou and pushto betho. And I don’t need to translate these for you because even my English friends know what they mean.

Four years to the day that she left us all to get on with it and man up without her. I’m quite sure she’d have a thing or two to say about everything that’s been going on. Fuck knows she likes to tell me often enough in my dreams. But she always finish off with ‘I love you’ and that funny squawking excited noise she made when she kissed me goodbye, told me to stop eating so much and waved me off at the door. But I’m certain she’s somewhere in the universe still, with Marroulla and my dad, with cousin Sugar and aunty Anastou, with Dylan and with Bapoo:winding eachbother up, cackling and wheezing, playing cards and being brilliant. Even if that place is only in my head.

Delivering Happiness: Amazing People. (And all the other things that make my beard itch.)

Rejection: like the stinging of a cane across your soft bare arse when you really did nothing to deserve it. It hurts and you’ll be sore and angry about it for years to come. Another harsh lesson in impermanence that life dishes out. Another thing to feel cynical about.

Splitting a bond like an atom and there’s bound to be a reaction. I can’t bare to think of my day without them there. The people who watched me get married. The people who know how brave and strong I can be when inside I’m fucked. The people who kept me coming back, day after day, just for the jokes and the piss-taking, if nothing else. The ones who i ‘stick it to the man with’, the ones who I talk food with, the ones who know when my farts smell like peanuts. I can’t face the soul-drudgery of a 9-5 without them and I long to do something drastic. To revolt. Show them all how much I love them and how personally I take injustices against them. But I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got the sweet-hearted woman who begat me and a grumpy arse cat who depend on me to keep my mouth shut.  And i cant let them down, even though every fibre of my being screams for action: to rage against the dying of an artificial light, to rage against the machine in the way I would have in my teens (or when Dawn and Owen left). Those who know me best know how hard it is for me to ‘keep calm and carry on’ (and all the other pacifying poster boys I can’t be doing with).

And who would have thought that after failing GCSE maths 3 times, I’d spend my days pretending I can add without using my fingers. Pretending I did learn my times tables and all the other useful maths tricks instead of dossing around in car parks looking for good hub caps to steal. 8 years later, I’m unrecognisable to myself. Not just chubbier, but more diluted. And now, this is the only place I write. Because I don’t have time and when I do, my eyeballs reject the screen like the biggest case of rastaburn you ever saw. This is the ‘short term’ job  that came about from a deal I made with Phil whilst laying on a bean bag talking about the universe. He said he would move back in with me if I promised I would stop walking out of jobs and knuckle down for a change. In turn he promised he would take me seriously. Maybe now he’s gone that deal doesn’t stand? Maybe there is some poetry to the fact that everything around me is being snatched away prematurely, like the baby I had and the dad who always made me laugh. Or maybe I over-dramatise (as I always do) for the sake of my prose. 

Where you invest your love: you invest your life. And that wisdom works the other way around to. So you see they aren’t just colleagues. They aren’t just people I stop thinking about after hometime comes. They are people I’ve grown to love, people whose secrets I keep, people who deserve a fuck load better than they have. I can’t just shrug it off that they wont be here anymore. I can’t rest easy when I see their heartbroken furious faces. But there’s fuck all I can do about it but hug them and swear and try to reassure them that this wasn’t what they were destined for anyway. And in a funny way, we are all redundant.  

Delivering happiness: amazing people. This statement is truer than anyone knows.  It’s a shame that the people delivering it don’t have it reciprocated.These people are amazing, and they’ve been the backdrop to all my dramas and daydreams. They’ve made me laugh at times when happiness felt like a fairytale and I wont fucking forget that as long as I live.  And when a decision is made from so high up the management chain that no ones sees the mess it makes when it drops: it’s easy to be callous, to be cost-effective and keep the capitalist dream alive.

There will always be an era that belongs to us. Like the hippies in the sixties and the Wonder Years: we’ll have our own ‘back in the day’ stories of the humiliating hilarity of fights, fancies and fucks we witnessed during our time here. So almost a year after my dad died, his words come back to me now more than ever: the best way to say ‘fuck you’ is to be nice.

The science of walking through windows.

So we gave up ‘forever’ for a principle. And now everything I feel is immediate. In the becoming of this new me, I am moment to moment. Like a wasp constantly beating myself against a window, never understanding the ‘science of walking through windows’. And they lie when they say that the ‘here and now’ is psychologically the best place to be. What do they fucking know? Shrinking everything down to the most fashionable phrase. A psychiatric finger on the pulse that monitors the vibe of the most recent global anxiety. It can be just as disorienting as the others, the here and now, and that’s the real reason new born babies cry: they have no concept of past and present. The now fucks with their little heads. I don’t know what I’m doing from one moment to the next. Because in ‘the moment’ there is no time for thought or planning, so you act on impulse and when your instincts drag you away from the party your brain was planning, it splits you in half. Who’s friend are you really? Where do you really want to be?

Unlike a civil war, my head and heart don’t aim to kill each other. But like a marriage, they nag at each other till neither can know with any certainty whose fault it was to begin with.  Two game-show contestants: slam-pressing that buzzer, sweat under their fringes, dry lips catching against snarled teeth. But the heart directs the body far faster than the brain can. And when the heart gets its way regardless of the rules, the brain feels begrudged and fights back. Restless nights, bad dreams, deep rooted anxiety and the uncomfortable inability to look at your own reflection. So instead you’ll bask in the gaze of others. And the better they see you: the better it suits you. But when you’re alone, that’s when it comes flooding back with full force. ‘you just wait till we get home, then I’ll give you something to cry about’.

The problem of ‘feeling’ is like a mesh of string. It’s hard to find the end…or the start…or how many other threads are tangled in with it. Do I miss him? I do. Do I regret my choices? Hard to say. I regret that the longer you are together the easier it is to stop seeing each other as you need to be seen, the less you can hear each other and the less likely you are to choose each other over everything else. Because when you have something so permanently and confidently, you stop seeing how easy it would be to lose it because you don’t really believe it can be lost. I regret that we couldn’t make it work…and suspect maybe it was just that we chose not to. But guilty is how I feel regardless and that has always been true way before the break up. Mediterranean blood in my veins dictates I’m either hungry, worried or guilty. Guilty your honour, because the smugness of my brain likes to remind the heart how kind and loving he was. Replaying scene by scene everything wonderful that he’d ever done for me. The whispered happiness in the ear of morning before your eyes are properly awake. The comfort and contentment that comes with having a joint plan, having a world and a lifetime together. Having had a history and a romantic photo album of memory to back everything up. Brick by brick, eventually you create a safe place to live together outside of the real world. Somewhere way better.

But romance is like a light turned off. Fades to black and retracts with the slow blink-tut of your eyes. Head turned shoulder-wards, body pointing towards the door: who’d have ever thought we’d both give up so easily? And who’d have thought I could be just as stubborn as him? We always said if we fought it would last a lifetime. And some days I feel I could settle for a foe in place of my Phil. Because it makes it easier to move on, and there is something cool about it to have loved and hated so intensely in the one lifetime. But in my heart I cant hate him. I’m talking bollox when I say I do. I am angry, don’t get me wrong I have the bitterness and anger and fury of a generation of in-held breaths and unspoken thoughts, why wouldn’t I? After all I’m a woman and I didn’t get the romantic ending to the fairy-tale romance that hours of Wimbledon and Love Actually promised me I would have. Of course I’m pissed off, who wouldn’t fucking be? But I have no valid reason to hate him, not in the true sense of the word. No matter how hard I try I just cant, and more succinctly put, I wont. Not just because he made me a mum and not just because he married me, but because we grew up together. Because we got stoned together. We saw corpses together. We dealt with heavy shit while we walked to work together. And eventually, after 16 beautiful brilliant hilarious unusual years together: we created one almighty mother fucker of a stalemate together. But truthfully and painfully and joyfully, I properly enjoyed the game while it lasted.