A new Rude Mechanicals video about my dismal days working in an office and how I escaped. Many thanks to Mat Hamilton Green of MHG music videos for this.
Oh dear, this is taking me rather longer than I’d thought, and the gig is on Friday, I’d better speed up!
I feel I ought to say here that when someone says ‘bitch’ to me my instant thought is of my grandad’s old black Labrador Suzy. She was a lovely dog who was my grandad’s best friend for many years. I’m not referring to her when I use the term here, but the pleasant childhood memory of her lurks.
It is coming towards the Rude Mechanicals gig and video launch – on Friday 13th July. Don’t ask me why we picked a Friday 13th, seemed like a good idea at the time. We are launching a fabulous video done by Mathew Hamilton Green for our song Paperwork. (Farr’s Dance School in Dalston, London, UK, to anyone who can venture our way)
The only problem is we have three new songs, which is good, but my little brain can’t remember things so well anymore so I’ve decided to draw them out in pictures to help me remember. I’m also going to post them up here so you can sing along on the night if your there and the moment grabs you.
First we have a song called Money, though I thought about changing it to Rich Bitch. I wrote it after I had a dream in which I had everything I could ever want, I lived in a palace and drank cocktails and holidayed on luxury boats, but I was very miserable and nothing would cheer me up.
This is just the first verse, next one coming real soon…
I just ironed. That’s the second time this week. I hate ironing. What is going on? Some kind of attempt to live an ordered life in defiance of my vast junk yard of a brain? The word discipline always makes me think of the song by Throbbing Gristle, but I’ll talk about them another time. Amazingly I managed not to burn myself on the iron. I saved that till later when I burned myself making a cup of coffee.
So I’m in the classroom 15 minutes before the lesson. This is adult education. One woman has turned up early and is talking to me about her time in Africa, only she starts slowly turning into an octopus. A very large orange and red octopus, but instead of octopus tentacles she has birds legs and huge great birds claws, loads of them clawing at the air. She keeps on talking. She is fully octobird now. I can’t understand anything she says though I’m trying really hard. I stand very very still indeed and say nothing. With time and patience this passes and I push it off with the excuse of bad hay fever. I feel rubbish but am very good at pretending and the class goes reasonably smoothly.
Epilepsy has been in the news last week after a boy had his cannabis oil taken away from him at customs and then was in hospital with a seizure a day later. I think I’m going to try to get hold of this cannabis oil. It wouldn’t be hard to be an improvement on my current medication. Three to five seizures a week is far too much to cope with and hold down a job. Though experiencing life as one long LSD trip does have some interesting insights.
Today the pavement, the shadows and the leaves of an overhanging tree merged together and surrounded me whispering to each other in a strange language important secrets. Then the sound took over, there was nothing but sound, it was alive and conscious and I’m inside it. It tears me apart till I’m just… not.
The teenage cyclist that found me curled up on the ground was very concerned, then zoomed off at great speed doing wheelies once id told him I didn’t need an ambulance.
How to stop myself fading away. The epilepsy plays havoc with my memory. I accidentally took money from work, lost my glasses for the umpteenth time, lost my keys, my favourite linocut knife, failed to turn up to the doctors appointment even though it is very important I go. I’m going to try and conquer this chaos with strict order. Yes, I, Miss Roberts, am going to become an ordered person. It is happening slowly. I have blackboards, and note pads and calendar on my phone, pill boxes and diaries, lots of diaries, so when I write one wrong I can check another. Slowly but surely I shall become ordered, in my usual tortoise like way. And decisive, I’ll be decisive! More ironing…
Trial Linocut of a Cyclops by me. I think he’s lucky.
Real life, huh! That is a bit of a joke when you have a brain with a tendency to hallucinating, but I digress
The art installation I mentioned last week went well, some people loved it, some people hated it, some tutted, some giggled, a lot got it and said they had worked in an office and knew exactly what I had felt. On Friday I rolled around on the floor in paper for a performance, which was thoroughly enjoyable, barricaded the audience off with the desk turned on its side and at one point burst out crying for real. I don’t know why. I never really know how these performances will come out as a lot of it is created by that particular moment in that particular space.
Needless to say after all of this the space was even more of a mess, paper scattered everywhere, mud, bits of old office equipment. It had to all be cleaned up by Sunday and I was working that weekend and couldn’t get there till Sunday evening. To be honest I didn’t think I was going to manage to do it. But then the fairies arrived.
But before I go into the fairies I have to say a huge thank you to Sheila who really helped me out, packed away the table for me and found the vacuum cleaner and mop and bucket, and also a big thank you to Martin who organised the show. There are other people to thank but this blog would just turn into a long list of names so I’ll skip that bit and go on to the fairies.
They would hate being called fairies I’m sure. They were two boys, roughly ten years old I’d say, identical twins. There mum had had a piece showing in another part of the gallery and I think they were meant to be helping her. They had liked my installation a lot, they saw it as aliens taking over, or the apocalypse, which I like. They said because they’d liked it so much they’d help me tidy it up. Now at first I was a little worried about this, I know what boys are like and that tidying up can often mean the vacuum cleaner is a bazooka and the art work a hand grenade. Although this was obviously the case, and many deaths occurred in the tidying up of my space, they were miraculously good at it. Master of the vacuum that I had been deeply perplexed about, adapt at scrubbing walls. Truly wonderful, and they managed not to ruin and artworks either. They even got me a glass of red wine from the party going on upstairs once we had finished. Remind me in future to make my art installations look like something out of an Alien film.
And this really was being rescued. I got quite ill last week from all the running from east London to west London. I was having two or three seizure a day at one point which really does make things truly impossible to deal with. I probably ought to apologise to the friend whose shoulder I bursting out into tears on in the middle of a tarot reading. Everything seemed so very dark and out of control. It’s how having multiple epilepsy turns makes me feel. You know I think the crying in the middle of the office performance on Friday was good for me and the help from the fairies saved me. I’m very happy this week.
Below is a sketch I did of a praying mantis which I drew at the Natural History Museum Thursday evening, a very relaxing activity indeed. It’s first gift to its children is the head of the Dad. I think the fairies might like that.
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…”
It has been a busy week and I am exhausted, my head is thudding and the ibuprofen isn’t working yet. Thought I’d write this to keep my mind off it and before I start on the codeine.
The Library went well on Tuesday. The Library is currently my small front room and every full moon I hold an event there. This full moon it was Kathryn Davis giving a talk on quantum physics. It was fascinating, I still don’t have a clue about it apart from some things really remind me of The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy, like the improbability drive. I was a young child when the Hitchhikers guide began, my dad was a big fan of Douglas Adams and we were brought up with the guide as a kind of religion, along with Star Trek. In fact, for a long time now life has generally worked out for the best if I just regard it all as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
The epilepsy has been bad this week. Not surprising as it always gets more whenever I’m busy and I also have decided to take myself off the lyrica because it was doing my eyesight in. So it’s just good old Tegretol at the moment and my new faith in breathing exercises, which reminds me I missed yoga this week. Anyway I’ve been getting a seizure almost every time I wake up, which is really weird. I’m in a bad enough mood already when I wake up and having a turn pretty much ruins the entire morning. This week they have involved sharply coloured and intensely patterned spirals and twists enveloping me, they were like those famous silk patterns with tear-drop motif – paisley I think – but very conscious, exceeding powerful, and somehow gut twisting.
My dreams have also been disturbing this week. I keep getting this dream where I’m being chased by this sinister man/force. He is like a cross between William Blake, Beethoven in that famous portrait when he is older and very stern, and the twin peaks hero turned evil in the more recent twin peaks. He chases me though corridors and woods and tunnels. I wonder if it is anything to do with the installation of a ruined office I’ve been doing in Hammersmith this week. Will write more about that in a later blog, because the whole exhibition is huge and very worth while seeing but my head is just not together enough to explain such things as location write now.
On a more easy note I got some wonderful gifts for the Library this week, a box of postcards of botanical prints, a beautiful Aspen leaf necklace, a huge heavy book on Occult Philosophy that is big enough to stun an ox (Laurie Anderson quote, couldn’t resist), a catalogue of the Natural History and Science Emporium from New York, and a lovely card catalog box so I can order my books properly.
I have also sold almost all my Biro Beasts. Just one of the original 10 left, and I’ve started drawing more as they are good to draw and seem to get some of the mess in my head out.