Mid-life Crisis

So here we are at the end of January. It has been a difficult month for me, and my neighbours sewage is still gurgling and grumbling it’s way into my bath. I’ve called it Gertrude.

Will be seeking advice from lawyers and MPs this week.

A friend of mine was discussing the possibility of him having a midlife crisis. To do something exciting and life changing now. I think I am having the opposite to that, I had my mid-life crisis in my twenties and became Miss Roberts. Now I find myself attracted to the idea of a steady job, owning my own house in the country with some cats, a dog, some ducks, a goat. There would be a wood at the end of the garden so I could sit and daydream or forage for materials to make paints. The problem would be that I’m not allowed to drive (epilepsy) and I like being near my friends, so I will have to take them with me. A small commune in the country…

My first mid-life crisis was when I got diagnosed with this old brain desease of mine. They said the creature was very big and buried very deep in my brain. They said I would have to have 6 or 7 operations followed by laser treatment to zap it which would all take years and years, but if I didn’t have it I would be dead in 10 years. After a lot of indecision i decided not to have the treatment, I enjoyed my life and didn’t want to spend it in hospital on what was only a 50% chance of being cured.

So, I thought to myself, if I’ve only got a little while to live I’d better do something exciting with it. Now I’d been a quiet child, and a sulky teenager, I barely spoke, but I loved the stage. The idea of getting up on the stage and performing thrilled me. I said to myself “well Roberts if you are going to die in a bit you’d better get yourself a wig and a fancy dress and get yourself up on that stage”. It was an excuse to misbehave.

So Miss Roberts arrived, and slowly the world around her became a somewhat less terrifying place, people (some of them) became worth talking to, and the monster, although it has given me occasions to think “right this is it, it’s going to kill me now” hasn’t yet, and ten years has come and gone.

Maybe I’ll marry an accountant or lawyer, that would be a good turn around for me.

Below is a picture of me as a child. A friend on the phone last night was telling me how he was a happy sweet child with lots of friends. I was the opposite to this, I was the scary child who never smiled and wore a black coat with hood up that I never ever took down.

Oh, and just thought I’d mention I’m making short video logs every evening (well most) that I’m putting on YouTube. The are on my channel, though I’m not sure what that’s called or how you get to it. If you find out let me know.

Dressed to stalk


So far this month things have been grim. Firstly my friend Sheridan died at the start of January. A lovely man who devoted his life to helping others. I met him in the late nineties when I offered to volunteer at a community art project he had got started in Islington. We got on well and he helped me out at a time when I was very confused and unwell. He moved to Manchester and would visit London now and then when we’d go out and get hideously drunk together, put the world to rights and plan new projects together. It’s been about five years since we last met up though, when we planned for Rude Mechanicals to hold a night in the venue he ran in Manchester. Wish I’d got the band organised and gone and done that!

I’m still trying to find out what happened to him.

A lot of my friends have died over the last year, both young and old. I miss them, they are holes in the netting of my mind.

As you may have seen on my Facebook page, the sewage is still coming up into my bath and sink. It is like a large swamp monster is living under my bathroom, it gurgles and growls and vomits up sewage into my bath. Two months this has been happening and getting worse. Seven plumbers with fancy laser jet equipment have failed to stop it. It’s a health hazard, the council call it an emergency, then blame it on different department. Help!

My Facebook friends have been very helpful with suggestions of what to do, and I’m slowly progressing through them. Will be attempting the builders foam next.

Below is a picture of a swamp monster possibly living under my bathroom.

Happy New year! And this year’s resolutions…

I looked up my resolutions for last year and realise I’ve broken all of them apart from the first one and the last one. I’m very happy I succeeded with two, though admittedly my organisation abilities have only improved enough for an ant to recognise

This year:

1. Get even more organised, so much so a creature the size of an elephant might notice

2. Make lots of money from my art work (thus expanding on last year’s successful 6th resolution)

3. Get fit – yoga, gym, swimming – for god sake woman just some form of exercise!

4. Finish the tree book Or at least read through it – the other year I wrote and illustrated a book about my explorations of trees – the first draft is written, I now need to build up enough stamina to read it through without cringing

5. Go to bed and get up earlier

6. Eat less sweet things (these last two are boring resolutions I will almost certainly break)

7. Drink less. (Spent New Year’s Day being hideously ill, someone remind me my tablets don’t mix too well with alcohol)

8. Apply for grants for the Library to get a permanent residence?? (Again, really?)

A very happy new year to everyone who reads this! Below is a lucky dancing gnome/elf seeing in the year.

My drawing of a gnome-like-creature dancing in the new year

Insecta – the starting history of a small book

I sold a handmade book to a gentleman in the States. I posted it last weekend and presumably it is now floating, or flying, somewhere between here and America. I miss it slightly as I miss all my carefully crafted works. It was also a difficult piece to create. Why, you might ask, did I make by hand a book about insects? Because they are great is the answer. Yet it didn’t start as a book about insects.

It started with me making a simple accordion style book with handmade paper. I’d made a lot of books before but not many with handmade paper. Once made I had no idea what to put in it. I mean that’s the thing with making books, once you’ve made them something needs to go in them.

I took it around with me as a sketchbook, but it didn’t really work as that, it felt like a book that needed a purpose. I tried it as a snake like sculpture, but that wasn’t very interesting. Then a friend asked me to do a reading of a folk spell at one of her art exhibitions. I needed somewhere to write the spell down where it would be easy for me to read in dim light. At a loss as to what to put in this book I decided to write the spell in that. It looked old and kind of magical so it seemed appropriate.

It worked well for the performance but afterwards the book just sat again, without purpose. It didn’t seem to want the spell, the spell was empty and didn’t belong. The book came with me from grotti little art studio to grotti little art studio like a faithful pet but nothing seemed to suit its pages.

Then I ended up visiting the natural history museum every Thursday evening after hours to draw insects. It was great! Such delicate beautiful creatures.

I hallucinate insects a lot. It’s part of the rare brain disease I have. It’s not that I have overdosed or taken too much of anything. I think it’s just something that is easy to hallucinate. Tiny creatures crawling across the floor, the table, the bed, up my arms. Lots of them. The initial reaction is “Yuk” with a very slight panic , but then I usually realise it is just a hallucination and will go if I don’t panic. Panicking is the worst thing, then they will crawl over me and I will start scratching. But my hallucinated insects never look as fascinating as real insects. Real insects can have a movement to them that reminds me of old stop-motion animation, and there colours can be incredible. Even the humble dug beetle (the name says it all) has a bright purple underbelly) I could tell you stories about the dung beetle, but not now, maybe later.

So I covered each page of the book with fine semi-see-through Japanese print paper, meaning bits of the original spell can be seen underneath, and drew real life insects, sketched at the natural history museum, on top.

For insects help the cycle of life continue. Although I don’t want them crawling up me or floating in my soup (real or imaginary), they are amazing and fascinating and necessary.

So is there significance to a witches spell in a handmade book covered in pictures of insects? This thought crawls across my brain in search of a purpose.

The problem with perfect

Perfect is a closed circle, static, fulfilled, existing out of time. An idea that does not really happen in nature because of the need for change and adaption in order to survive.

Take an oak tree. Imagine for now it is born from the perfect acorn in the perfect soil, it has every potential of becoming the perfect mushroom shaped oak seen in picture books. It grows into a stalk, and starts to develop leaves, but there are big holly bushes next to it, so it’s leaves can’t get much sunlight to photosynthesise. It is going to have to grow much taller than them. In its 30th year there is a harsh winter, so it drops some of its lower branches to conserve nutrients. In its 50th year a house is built to one side of it preventing sunlight reaching it from that side, so to make up for this it grows more on the other side giving it a somewhat crooked shape. The tree is a healthy oak that will live for a couple of hundred years, but it is not the perfect tree, it does not have that neat mushroom shape, it is crooked, tall, and sparse on the lower branches. It is the ability to change and not remain perfect that has meant it can live a long healthy life.

Now we imagined a perfect acorn, but evolution being as it is, that acorn probably wasn’t perfect, a genetic difference may have slightly altered the tree’s bark, or made it extra tasty for a particular insect. While in one case this could have been an annoyance and potentially damaging to the tree, in another the bark difference could make it particularly resistant harsh winds, so if it or one of its future acorns ended up on the Scotland Highlands it would have a better chance of survival than one that didn’t have that bark difference. Equally so being tasty to a particular insect could be damaging in one instance but if that insect happened to eat another more deadly insect that could infect the tree then being tasty to the first would be an advantage.

That is just one simplified example of the need to adapt and how the our idea of the classical closed perfect organism would not survive because it can not change and adapt to its environment.

If you get a compass and draw a circle on a piece of paper it may look perfect, you can call it perfect and others will agree. Yet time will smudge and fade the ink, it will tear and rot the paper, till eventually your perfect circle is nothing but mush. This mush will hopefully be put in the ground where if can feed another seed which will eventually grow into another plant that will feed another animal or maybe even a human who draws another perfect circle.

Oak tree in a woods

Time, the circle and the devil

The old confused brain goes on a bit of a wobbly again, thinks the government along with American billionaire’s are in it together, slowly killing off my friends one by one. What is the use of poor artists and musicians these days, in an overpopulated world? But then I suppose this was the basic plot of the still not yet finished spletzer-martin story, so no new thought there then.

The devil has also come back in the form of a very nice sophisticated man who takes me on long walks around London, to see art exhibitions and drink martinis. He wears a red shirt sometimes, looks good in a waistcoat and says he would like to be the 18 stone wife of a wealthy banker…

I am of course very sane, in so much as I write this blog as a way to present the ridiculousness of my thoughts and therefore diminish their power over me.

What if Everything originated with the circle.

The circle that is hand drawn, a stick on a rope scratching through the mud.

The perfect circle cannot exist in time, for time instantly makes it imperfect.

Life is wonderfully imperfect

Last Friday I experienced the pain of being the kitchen door, I don’t know what to do with that pain now. They call this epilepsy.

I’m tired, my cat wants feeding and it is time for bed. Tomorrow we shall talk about potential sins over wine and bubbly. Tomorrow I shall try to avoid another spider’s web. Tomorrow is a gig in Deptford, London, at Sister Midnight records, where I hope some of the spirit of Screaming J Hawkins will scream through me. Tomorrow will be today very soon. Goodnight.

When I grow up

It is 1pm, I’m still in bed. I’ve been lying here thinking I should get out of bed for the last hour, but it’s not happening. The cat is asleep next to me and getting up would wake her up. So I’ll lie here and write a blog.

When I grow up I’m going to be an old woman, yes I said an old an old a really old woman.

Can’t remember who sang that, but yes I will be a really old woman with extremely long white hair that slithers down my body like a snake. I’ll sit on a tree stump in the middle of a woods muttering to myself. You will visit me there, and I’ll probably spit at you and you will be pleased that I did. Though by then you will be really really old too. Unless you have had large quantities of plastic surgery to keep you young, in which case you probably won’t register as living to me, who will be talking mainly to the trees.

If then you are really old like me, bring a good red wine or bottle of champagne along with you and we can sit in the wood and drink the night away singing old half remembered songs. We will be so old by then we won’t worry about health conditions or waking up in the morning. Maybe we will take off all our clothes, so we’ll be really old and naked in the woods, and we’ll dance around all wrinkly like the trees.