17. Elsie’s Pragmatism

Future birdCertain moments replayed endlessly in your head, is that love? The irrational desire to relive tiny fragments of time over and over? What is a person? What is it to know someone? What does it mean when they become your default thought? Danger I’d say.

This is how it was for Elsie, but she told herself she did not love Abel. She was obsessed with Abel, she’d admit that, it was irrational but somehow necessary. When she first discovered he had gone she’d looked for him down the tunnels of the Piccadilly line, crept through god knows what for days in the darkness. A stupid crazed search which now, in the light of the Arts Admin office, she saw as a type of madness. A breakdown perhaps.

For what had really happened? Abel had gone off without telling her where he was going – that was very like Abel – and a drunk had told her he’d gone down the tunnels under London. Why had she believed what a drunk had told her? Why had she risked her own life chasing after someone who should be capable of looking after himself? Someone who certainly wouldn’t bother chasing after her!

So she stopped. Forced herself to be sensible about it, got back to work, got busy, tried to forget. She always remembered though, in the quiet periods, those moments when he’d seemed so close.

Although it had been the potential rock-god Abel that first attracted her, it was the weak, vulnerable Abel she had perhaps fallen in love with. The one that couldn’t cope with complicated situations. The one that needed a hug. The one that kissed her as though he really needed her. She knew by the next day he’d forget her. Even she would admit that it was partly the uncertainty, the waiting and wondering, that fuelled her obsession, made her desire him like nothing else.

Now though she was being pragmatic. She had a good job, she had prospects, her boss needed her.

Changes were sort, she vaguely dated other men. What was Abel to her? Just a series of moments now past. Or at least that was what she was trying hard to pretend.

16. The Sin Eater

15. Douglas, the charmer.

Man looking out over a theatre audienceThe term Twilighter started being used in the early 2000’s by the arts council of England to distinguish between respectable people and the type of person who was not worth counting as potential audience. They were poor, single, disabled, in temporary accommodation, in unstable employment if any. Elsie’s boss Douglas was one of the art consultants that first came up with the term Twilighter. “There’s something of the darkness about them” he said.

Douglas was a very determined man, there was something of the missionary in his righteous zeal, not religious, no, unless you called the religion Douglas.

He wasn’t a horrible man, on the contrary, he was one of the most pleasant people Elsie had met in the art world. Intelligent, witty, passionately engaged in his profession. In his fifties now, director of a large arts company, millioniaire arts dealer,  father of five children by three women, regular judge at big arts prizes, one of those men who, despite the bad teeth, balding head and long grey ponytail, could still manage to flatter a woman with his attention. A well respected and charming man, yes, charming. He was also a sociopath with a grand plan.

14. Betwixt and Between

13. The Alter

12. Malformed and Obscene

11. Her Pet Project

A Secret, an Old Story and a Whispering Maggot

Tulip growing from bulbThe story is about a friend called Lucy I knew at school, but it is also a very very old story, told thousands of times, probably as old as history.

Lucy was obviously very clever, she had been dumped in the Special Units at school because of her troublesome behaviour and managed to get out of them a term or two before  I did. Lucy lived with her mum in a tiny flat on a council estate. Her Mum was an alcoholic with mental health issues, there was no Dad. Lucy was a superb shoplifter, who whenever caught would deliberately breath so hard and fast she’d give herself a seizure. If she did this at school I was always the one the teacher chose to sit with her, I don’t know why, my epilepsy wasn’t diagnosed till much later.

Lucy was tall, dark haired, creamy skinned, high cheekboned and beautiful, which is what caught Richard’s eye.

Richard was very In with the In crowd. He was cool, fashionable, good looking, good at sport, not all that bright but then being too bright would have spoilt the image. Richard was in the middle band at school, being a very middle kind of chap, and it was his class Lucy managed to move up in to from the Special Units, and where I followed later.

I remember the biology class with maggots. The screams as they were thrown across the room, boys trying to stick them down girls shirts. I remember Lucy being cornered by Richard and a maggot, her squealing, him with the maggot between his thumb and forefinger and a sneer on his lips. This may have been where the romance started, I don’t know.

Lucy asked me into the girls changing room for an important talk. “I’m going out with Richard!” she said in an excited whisper “but you mustn’t tell anyone, it’s a secret”. I knew why it was a secret, she was a Special, like me. If you came from the Units you were a Special and there was nothing you could do to change that. A fashionable boy like Richard could not be known to be dating a Special.

Lucy was crazy about Richard. In love. They slept together. For 15 she was very sexually confident, I remember her once brashly informing the biology teacher, as he tried to demonstrate how girls walk,  that girls and boys were different not because of the way they walk but because “he has a penis and she has a pussy”. She  of course told me the details of her and Richard’s love life, as teenage girls do tell their friends. She was so happy how could she resist telling me? And Sasha, also from the Units, and a few other friends that could perhaps keep a secret.

The relationship went on for over a year. Lucy arranged it so she had lookouts, so her and Richard could have a snog behind the bike sheds without anyone finding out. Richard didn’t mind Lucy’s friends from the Units knowing, as we didn’t count. The secrecy excited her obviously, but still she longed to be accepted as equal. In class Richard became increasingly cold and cruel towards her, she’d often be in tears after School.

Eventually of course, as maggots munch and school girls gossip, the secret slid out. Fashionable people were sniggering at Richard in the corridors, whispering about him in the Gym. To think that he was seeing her!

What could he do but create a scene? Demonstrate publicly his contempt for her.

It was Friday afternoon break time, a hot summers day. Lucy, Sasha and I had dumped our bags on the grass in a pile outside the music huts and were lounging on the grass a few feet away.

A football is kicked over on to the bags, Richard comes running after it, but instead of retrieving the football he kicks Lucy’s bag into the air.

“Richard, that’s my bag!”  Lucy giggles, hoping that Richard is going to pay her some attention.

Richard carries on kicking it.

“Stop it Richard”

“Why?” he says, “it’s just cheap crap like you”.

“Richard?”

Lucy runs forward to try and grab the bag, by now a crowd has started gathering round and cheering Richard on as he dribbles the bag between his feet. Lucy reaches forward and grabs Richard’s arm, he pushes her off, she tries again, he knocks her to the ground. She’s lying there crying looking up at him with big puppy dog eyes. He kicks the bag into her stomach hard and spits on her.

“Fucking slapper!” he shouts “get back to the Units you stupid dirty whore!”.

Laughing and cheers come from the audience as Richard struts off.

Lucy stays lying on the floor, her head buried in her arms, panting. I try to calm her down, get her to stand up. The audience disperse, not wanting to be seen as responsible for what’s happening. She can’t get up but roles over into a crouching position. I sit there next to her, not a lot I can do now. Snot and tears and saliva merge into a constant trickle flowing from her chin, she is shaking, swaying, gulping and choking, turning every colour and eventually blacking out. I just sit there. I know it will pass, as all things do.

I knew also that there were planted little maggots in our heads munching on brain matter for the rest of our lives, and the maggots whisper  “No one can love you, because you’re just a stupid dirty whore from the Units.”

Brain Porn 2 -The Grand Plan

Miss Roberts in a wedding dress and crownSo finally, after tearing my hair out over it for a whole year, I was brave and said yes to the operations to have the Alien removed from my brain (Brain Porn- Notes to Self) I was terribly pleased with myself for getting up the courage to do that. Then the hospital tell me if they start the operations but find they can only make the Alien smaller, not get rid of it all, then it may be more dangerous than if they’d just left it alone. Oh.

So I may just be left to rot.

Good news is it is unlikely to be causing dementia, bad news is it is likely to be cutting the link between my brain and my words.

But brains can adapt can’t they? I’m sure someone told me that black cab drivers brains actually physically enlarge when they do the knowledge (though that could have been my uncle John boasting). A doctor once told me that I was probably meant to be right handed but because the left side of the brain was damaged it decided to swap over and use the other side. So if I can do that with my dexterity I’m sure I could do it with words. If I just write and write and write, and read and read, and perform, and just keep going it’ll find a way to adapt, surely.  (It is compulsory that you agree with me here, the alternative is me screaming AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  which may never end )

So there is a plan. There must always be a plan. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous having a plan is to my circumstances, no matter what the chances of completing it, it has to be there and it has to be grand. And capable of being rehashed and re-presented as and when required.

The plan is to produce an album/Sci-fi detective novel. I had previously been planning to do a solo album on RIM Records, and a musical with the Rude Mechanicals. Then when I thought I was going in for the operations it was an album come novel in 8 parts linked to the operations. Now it is floating. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going to start it. Had a chat with the mysterious Erreth Sondabeng, borrowed some equipment and am going round recording sounds. I need sounds from underground, tunnels, underground water.

I think I want a rhythm tapped out on a table, that gets repeated at various points, on various different objects. Altered, distorted, transformed, lost, and brought back again. And the sounds of those objects should be tasted. In any single note there seems to be many many sounds so I ‘d like to explore the different sounds without worrying so much about key. Though I imagine its like colour and the possibilities are endless so you have to pin it down to a readymade system in the end, but I’m going to start with found noises and the tapping of objects and see where it takes me.

And it is still vaguely based on The Time Machine.

Note To the gentleman who read the  first Brain Porn blog and accused me of washing my undies in public:
Too right I am! Waving them in your face I am! Dirty no good private brain porn. Why? Why not? Because it doesn’t fit well into polite conversation, and if I write it here you don’t have to read it.

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…

———————————————————————————————–
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 4. Truth

Derek
Derek - the man in my loft

Truth is an awkward thing don’t you think?

When I started telling you this story I said it would be the truth about Derek, and I am trying very hard to tell you the full truth. But it’s slippery. My memory has wobbly parts. I remember when I came round I didn’t know who I was, I had to piece myself back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Remembering what a bath was, remembering how to get out of it, remembering that there was a world on the other side of the bathroom door. So much stimuli hitting me, using me as a punch bag. Such a strenuous and desperate process fitting each piece into the correct space, and knowing which pieces to ignore because they’re part of a different jigsaw altogether.

How long did I lay in the bath? How much water did I cough up? How long did it take me to open the bathroom door? Truth is supposed to be “in accordance with fact” as it says in my computer dictionary here. Me on my own alone in my flat, entirely dependent on subjective experience percieved through my own battered senses, ordered in my error riddled brain, how can I ever be in accordance with fact? How can I alone ever tell the full truth?

It is just as well then that I was not alone that night, for the fact is I had a man in my loft.

I decided to call him Derek.

To be continued

Part 5.