Old Woman Blues

The Cyclops & The Wildebeest Album Cover

When testing out this blog on my mobile I discovered it had a huge great ad at the bottom saying “make-up for old women” . Immediately I felt insulted, apart from it being rather ugly in itself the ad seemed to be saying this was a blog by an old woman. Now I look back and wonder why is “old” an insult? the ad was unsurprisingly about how older women should put on make-up to appear younger. I have long preached the values of getting older, yet still I find being called old insulting and I shouldn’t. I know it is used as an insult a lot in our culture, particularly towards women, but I am surprised at myself for having gone along with it.

Obviously the aches and pains that come with age can bring one down, and I know too well the fear of approaching disability and death, but surely ageing is part of the beautiful changing process of life we all go through. The idea of not being part of that cycle is to me ugly.

So too look on the bright side – am I reminding anyone of the last scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian here? – I am a hell of a lot happier now than I was when I was a teenager. I remember when I was about 14 a friend of my mum’s saying to me “enjoy life now because its all down hill after this”.  I have to say now, to my 14 year old self , that no, no it isn’t! I was a spotty, greasy haired unlovable geek then. Life has had many ups and downs but I am definitely far happier in myself now than I have been before.

I find with the passing years I worry less and less about fashion and other people are concerned less and less with how I am dressed. My clumsy, disorientated tendencies (which come with the brain disease that I’m sure I shall whine about in a later blog) are accepted more as eccentric behaviour and people are more helpful and empathetic than they were when I was younger. Now days I’m pretty much invisible to teenagers on the bus, and that is great, I can just potter along at my own speed unnoticed by the yobs that used to poke fun out of me. I know what is important to me, and who really matters, I know how to stick two fingers up to a lot of the crap that goes on.

I used to work in an office in my twenties, I hated that, perhaps even more than being a teenage geek. Me and the Rude Mechanicals did a song about it recently called Paperwork, the video for which, by Mat Green, is to be released this autumn.  Below are some images of the recent art installation I created in an office as part of Hammersmith Festival. It felt great getting the chance to mess an office up, chuck the paper everywhere and smash up the computer!

At the moment London economics, offices and people in suits are seen as the most important thing in the universe, but me, you, and the trees know, one day all that will disappear and the forest will return.

The Installation is called After and includes the works of Jill Rock, Marina Young and Gardyloo Spew

Perhaps this all makes me sound very old indeed, I’m hopefully barely half way through this changing process.  I enjoy my work, my friends, my flat and the very grumpy cat. I find the world incredibly beautiful, the tinniest detail can hold a million secrets and wonders. This is perhaps the desperate need for optimism in the face of incurable reality, but still – “Always look on the bright side of life…”

Stalking part 5. The Knife

Performer naked in mask - Oil painting by Jo Fisher Robers
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The dustbin of The Desired is nearly always a let down, but I did find an old steel knife, 9cm long, amongst potato peel and Kleenex. I hid the knife from Sasha.

A knife can have a funny affect on you. You know what it is capable of,  it knows how weak you are. So on a cold hard night when I couldn’t sleep the knife gave me the idea to sneak out of my family house; the drama to keep me going through the dark pouring rain; the arrogance to wait there in front of his house. It knew me well.

I stood leaning against a roadside tree, watching what I thought was his bedroom. The light was off. I imagined him asleep, I pressed the knife against my hand in my pocket and realized how very alone I was.

I had pretended to know him.  It had been an intense passionate relationship in my head, he was a brave hero who looked after me come what may, in my head, my very own personal Jesus, in my head, but the knife told me it was all a lie. With that lie there were many more lies, friendships evaporated, what was Sasha to me? Or I to her? Who was my brother when he wasn’t with me? Right there standing in the cold rain outside a stranger’s house the knife was my real friend. I knew it was real because it hurt when I pressed it into my flesh. I picked up a chestnut lying on the ground, took the knife and cut into the shell,  it slid open easily, inside it was empty accept for a shriveled old skin. The rain became huge great shards of ice between me and everything else, and I was just a cold shell, hollow and hard.

Action was needed!

Somehow.

I couldn’t have come this far and done nothing. There was meat in that house waiting to be taken. I felt so cold and wet, my mouth watered with the thought of his warm body, the need to clasp hold of it, the need to devour hot red blood fueled flesh. I had a knife in my hand and it felt a strange attraction to his back.

Stalking Part 1

Stalking part 3. We knew he knew he was one of us.

Passport photo of me at 14 years old
A teenage stalker

Please Note: This blog does not in any way advocate stalking!

It was a Wednesday in autumn when we first decided to follow him home. He’d been getting popular at school. The traitor! We’d never actually talked to him, but we knew he knew he was one of us.  Now damn it he was beginning to betray us, finding other friends. We had to take action!

We both bunked our last lessons that Wednesday, spent the time wondering round Erith market looking suspicious. We returned to the school gates at five to 4. It was a large school with 2000 students, a lot of them spending time hanging round the school gates, so we weren’t conspicuous. He came out on his own, late, head down, hands in pockets of a well designed overcoat, looking very much alone. We felt a little waft of emotion, he was one of us! Though the overcoat did suggest a level of expensive fashion that we could, despite our shop-lifting escapades, never hope to meet.

We were quite good at stalking. You might think that as teenage school girls we’d be all giggly and silly. We weren’t, we were taking it very seriously. Barely talking to each other at all, just nods and eyebrows.

He walked fast. Down the small roads and alley ways that cover Northumberland Heath. We had to almost jog to keep up with him. It was only because he stopped to get a coke from a grocers that me managed to keep on his track, though Sasha, red faced and gasping for breath, almost gave us away outside the store . We pretended to be fascinated by the marrows. They were big.

On and on he went, till I didn’t know where we were. It was posher than Erith, big houses and large trees lining the roads. He turned a corner into a wide quiet street full of detached houses, and vanished.

We were exhausted, Sasha was almost bent double wheezing and I was feeling very light headed. It was about 6 o’clock and quite dark, we had missed our usual post school activity of stuffing spaghetti hoops in front of horror movies at Sasha’s. We needed replenishment. So it was agreed we’d continue the hunt the following night but right now what we needed was an extra large Mars Bar each and some Nightmare on Elm Street.

To be continued…

Stalking part 2. The Lust of Teenage Girls

Part 1. A Bit of Old Fashioned Stalking

Part 4.With thunderbirds

 

 

Stalking part 2. The Lust of Teenage Girls

Day dreamingWe took to sneaking looks into the boys changing room after sports. It smelt of sweat and old trainers. It  hummed with chat and laughter to the timing of dirty jokes. He was good at sport. That impressed Sasha who was so rubbish at it she used to pay me to come last in races.

He was muscular and tanned and what with the blonde hair he certainly got Sasha excited. It was the time of the band Bros, that look was what girls were supposed to desire. Sasha was a big Bros fan. She was going to marry one of them she told me.

Sasha was a plumb talkative girl with mouse blonde hair and big breasts that I greatly envied. A couple of years later I would date an evil bastard of the muscular blonde type, not because I liked him or even fancied him, but just to make Sasha jealous.

However, I was NOT into Bros. For me it was Micheal Jackson ever since me and my brother  snuck out of bed to watch an illegal copy of Thriller my Dad’s dodgy friend brought round. Its an even more thrilling (sorry) video when its illegal and you’re supposed to be in bed.

More recently Sasha had shown me her copy of the Labyrinth and we were both madly in love with David Bowie (every word of every song he’s ever written is written for me! Not that I listen to his songs anymore).

I’ve always liked the mysterious and unknown. ‘Bed time stories that keep the curtains closed’, and way back then it seems I was also in to skinny, slightly effeminate, men in tight trousers.

Excitement, thats what we needed. We were bored teenage girls living in a South London suburb as the 80’s turned into the 90’s. Stalking was a means of having fun. We also held seances in graveyards.

Soon sneaking looks through into the boy’s changing room just wasn’t enough. We pinched one of his exercise books. It was disappointing. All he’d done was write his name in blunt pencil. No that wasn’t enough to satisfy our needs. We wanted detail. We wanted dirt!

To be continued…

Part 1. A Bit of Old Fashioned Stalking

Part 3. We Knew He was One of Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of old fashioned stalking

Stalking, what is it these days?

The idea of a Facebook Stalker is perplexing to me. So you put something up in a Public Space with what amounts to an advertising board notifying others that its there, but anyone you consider to be undesirable who looks at your page more than once is a stalker? Is that how it works? To quote the Urban Dictionary  “It seems to be that the term ‘stalker’ no longer means what it used to mean–the pathological ANONYMOUS follower and tab-keeper of another person or persons”.

Now I, and this may disappoint some people, have never been a Facebook Stalker. I try occassionally, but get insanely paranoid (he/she can feel me looking) so it never lasts more than one click. I have been stalked in the real world, in the old fashioned way, it was terrifying! And I have, in the old fashioned way, stalked…

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When I was about fourteen a new boy started at school. The school was the rather run down remains of a secondary modern with 2000 students and a reputation for hooliganism. My best friend at the time was Sasha.  We had both started the school in what were termed “the units”, a dumping ground for all low achieving/problem children.

By the time this story is set we had both just managed to scrape ourselves out of the pit of abandoned “specials” into the next more respectable level. But to the other children in our new class Sasha and I didn’t belong. We were freaks from the lower level who would never manage to fit in. Thats why this new boy was particularly interesting to us, he didn’t fit either, but for very different reasons. He had been at public school.

What was a public school boy doing at a place like this? He spoke “posh”. He was fairly good looking with blonde hair and an expensive haircut. Expensive watch and expensive shoes.

My best friend Sasha and I were exceedingly curious to know more about him. And once you are labelled a freak it is easy to behave as one.

To be continued…

Stalking part2.

Derek Part 6. Fear

Heads of Derek
The Derek heads I made to place under my bed.

I imagine you who have followed this Derek story think it to be just a story, a made up piece of slightly odd fiction. It’s not though. It is all true. Or at least was at the time to me. To the left is a photo of the Derek heads I made, out of old bed sheets, pillow foam and strands of my own hair. They were made to protect me from the real Derek in the loft. Fifteen of them in all.

I am a coward. I pretend to be brave. I do all sorts of stupid and humiliating things to pretend to myself and others that I’m brave, but I’m not.

I don’t have my brain operated on, not because I’m brave and can live with the alien, but because I’m absolutely terrified of some bloke rummaging around inside my head with a glue gun.

I deal with things by turning them into stories, jokes, games, things not to be taken seriously. I couldn’t tell anyone I was really afraid there was a man living in my loft, they’d think I was mad. So I turned Derek into an odd poem, which I performed on stage whilst wearing a large blonde wig. I then turned it into a silly song I recorded on an old children’s Fisher Price tape recorder. The guitarist from the Rude Mechanicals  created a riff for it and it became the song that the band now play. All to deal with Derek.

No one knew how really scared I was of him.

So the Derek story had to have an ending where I somehow dominated Derek, turned him from the large dark presence watching me from the loft, to a silly lovable character I could deal with.

To be continued… Part 7.

Derek part 5. Pink and Naked

Derek crouched painfully in my loft

Derek is a big man, he must be he’d been making such a lot of noise up there in my loft. I could picture him as I lay naked and shivering under my duvet, still drying off from the bath. I could picture him naked like me, and vulnerable, a big man crouched painfully in the tiny corners of my loft.

What did he eat? How could he survive up in my loft with nothing to eat? Well he eats the dust and bugs to survive of course, and drinks the water from the hot water tank. I breath in deeply remembering the smell of sweat in the loft, that was the smell of Derek. I imagine his pink bulky body filling that dark space above my head.

But then I think to myself, what if Derek were to come down from my loft to live with me in my flat? What then?

To be continued… Part 6.