Wednesday, 31 March 2010

or, if you prefer a poem

It was supposed to be fun, she
said “This side of things, it was supposed
to be fun.”

She thinks about the word affair and it sounds
almost translucent. It sounds like
picnics and wicker baskets and the baking summer.

She imagined a vacation from the wrack of reality,
with kisses like feathers,
their embraces fat, fuzzed bumblebees.

He punches the wall, the wall
that always wins and he swears

he will end this, because
the wall is concrete and his fists and heart
are loose scabs.

He swears, but she is
a wall to him, too, and
he doesn't know how.

an easier affair

It is supposed to be fun. This side of things, she said, it is supposed to be fun. There is place plenty for the real world in her real relationship and this one, the other one, it is supposed to be fun. She thinks about the word “affair” and it sounds light, ephemeral, it sounds almost translucent. It sounds like a thing that can be rolled over the tongue, it sounds like picnics in dandelion fields in baking summer with wicker baskets. It sounds like the small leather straps that hold the plates in place and it sounds like pushing one another, laughing, off the warm rocks and into the icy-cold water, of splashing, of laughing. It is supposed to feel like a holiday from the real world. It is supposed to come without responsibility and it is supposed to weigh nothing. She should be able to carry this and many others without a care in the world, barely noticing, she should be able to stuff her pockets with these boys and vacation to them when she feels the wrack and ruin of reality. The kisses should be feathers, the embraces should be fat, fuzzed bumblebees. Her back should not be breaking.

They are sitting in the small corridor beside the bed and they are pretending not to hold hands. This is difficult, because they are drunk. They believe themselves to be cocooned in the thick liquor cloak of invisibility and they think that these hands, their hands, are subtle explorers shrouded in disguise. They are not. Everyone in the room can see they are holding hands, everyone is not mentioning the fact that their hands are making their way into one another and their eyes are grinning. Everyone is not mentioning this fact because everyone wants to believe in the myth of the weightless, translucent affair. The room is playing dress-up at being bohemians and insisting that we can all kiss and swap and swoop on one another and it won't hurt at all.

The room is lying. Somebody is going to go home in tears. Somebody is going to punch something and someone is going to forget the wall always wins, we shouldn't take on the wall. The wall is made of concrete. Your heart and your fists are cast from loose flesh and reopened scabs.

Nobody is having fun. The moment of first kisses and topsy-turvy love has passed and the first rush of spring they'd thought they were promised has given way to another snowfall. It is cold and I don't want to get out of bed. I don't need to, I am alone with the duvets pulled close. There is place to sprawl. I lock the buttress walls and pull the portcullis, and I take my own vacation.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Cat Bag

I am thinking “who let the cat out of the bag?” and I am thinking about Schroedinger and I am wondering what it is about all these cats in containers and the secrets they hold. I am bad with secrets, at least with my own. I have a face like a billboard and a propensity to drink. This makes me confessional. I can't help it. I want you to know the soft spots beneath my skin.

I would like to think of this trait as charming, disarming, adorable and fine. In truth, it is probably none of these things and, undoubtedly, there would be dignity in restraint. Perhaps I could be like Bacall if I just shut up. Tilted my chin and looked to the sky and kept my mouth firmly closed. Or open just a smudge, like a pout.

But I am not this way, I act like a fool and then I spread out for the world to observe. I am a storyteller, always, full of extraneous detail I peddle to the world. Wandering with a sack on a stick from town to town, crying out with a bell what we got up to last night. Ignoring the monkeys with the hands on their ears. Babbling about cats.

It would work out better if I could just smile. Grin a harlot's grin of secrets tied up with silver bows, say nothing. All you really need to hear is this: things are going well, I'm happy. Things are wonderful. The world is fine.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


you should know by now how I feel about cheerful pornography and garter belts.

dance party please

It has been a while since I have been out dancing properly and I am thinking about Friday with a gleam in my eye. I plan to do it properly, let me tell you. We will start early and start slow, huffing hairspray and painting our faces with glitter mixed into Vaseline, to stick to our cheekbones and reflect the lazer beams. I will eat lightly because all my attention will be focussed on piling my hair into some elaborate concoction like the coiffure of Egyptian princesses and gluing feathered eyelashes to my face and sipping beer. There will be music beforehand, during and after. I have been getting excited about music recently, remembering how much I adore it. Sometimes I forget to press play and sit the afternoon in silence. I don't know why. Sometimes I do other ridiculous things too, like wasting a summer Sunday on Facebook or dating a boy who isn't quite in love with me. Well – no more of that! There will be synthpunk on the stereo and vodka shots, just because, because. We will feel severe and Russian, and I will put on Polish electronica and cackle. Then I will force everyone to listen to High Pressure Days on repeat until they get up and leave.

Of course, there may be no one else there until I go out, this often happens. Perhaps I will be sat alone with my curlers and my alcohol and my pretty plots for things to happen. But in my imagining of Friday evening the friends I adore are eating cheesesticks in my bedroom and helping me apply temporary tattoos and goading me to trim my fringe. They are telling me stories about the girl they will try to kiss tonight and I am telling them how to go about it, and we are probably laughing because who am I to say? I'm so easy when I go about it. But besides. We will prepare with lipstick and drum machines. I will at least. And if I can dredge up some lady friends and the sequinned hotpants jetset, so much the better.

We will go to a club that spans two floors and where the people who play music are beautiful, but by this point it won't matter what they or we look like. It will be dark and drunken and dancey. The walls will loom and ooze sweat and I will be spinning and giggling and clutching at arms to support me in my heels. Because Edinburgh is small and because I used to be some kind of person in this town, I will run into people that I know in many of the nooks and crannies. Because I am drunk and because it is wonderful I will hug them ecstatically, and then leave the toilet queue and go off to dance. To buy cans of Red Stripe lager. To find myself a new mischief and a new familiar. To make eyes at the DJs and scavenge out some fun that will make the world swoon topsy turvy.

I will dance until my careful hair is plastered to my head and my palms are slick with sweat. I will whirl and whisper and think of dervishes, I will sing the lyrics to songs I've never heard before at the top of my lungs. They will all be wrong and it won't matter one iota. I will thrash and writhe and dance dance dance all night long, until I have lost my friends, until I have lost my mind, until I have made some solemn vows to form a band and begin a revolution of sorts, until I have forgotten my vows, until I have fallen over, until I have woken up again in a ditch with dirt in my eyes. I will dance until the lights come up too bright and shiny, and then I will grimace and duck for the corners and afterparty. We will got somewhere that there is a bed laden with people I like, and we will listen to more music and recline in a puddle of affection. Or we will find a tabletop to dance on an suck down shots of mystery booze and gin. Perhaps we will find laughing gas and balloons waiting and we will inhale exhale inhale exhale until the loops in our head go darling and everything is hilarious. Certainly, there will be more booze. More booze until I can't even bear any more in my mouth, more booze until it is lunchtime the next day in the cocoon of a beer garden and cloudy cider.

I have high hopes and dancing shoes for this weekend. I'm excited. It hasn't really been a while. But it's been long enough.

Monday, 15 March 2010

tom chambers

Just, I like this photo. A whole lot.

Friday, 12 March 2010

one for my ladies

Hey kittens! Hey meerkats! Pretty ladies and wishers of the wild! I'm up for an adventure on this sunny morning. I'm up for pulling on our cherry-print catsuits and curling our hair and leaping over the low door of a waiting convertible. A bottle of Prosecco in one hand and a wicker basket full of dragon fruit and avocado and bubble liquid and crayons, plates buckled in with leather straps and a thermos flask of sangria made from the cheapest gut-rot red. I can't take any more of the leechers and deriders, chiselling clouds into their linings. I am itchy with the idea of fun like the crackle of corn in underwear from a day spent kissing and rolling through a yellow field.

There is a field somewhere with ten sunflowers growing in a glass box, straining their necks against the see-thru ceiling and waiting for the crash. There is a parallel world where you are on day three of a gin-tonic bender, on a sofa in your best knickers, drawing biro tattoos on the arms of strangers. There is, somewhere, behind closed doors and up ladders, a mad scientist trying to irradiate the bones of roses, a pair of lovers washing their feet in a bath of port wine, a masked ball with a spit-roast pig under a chandelier sky. I would like to take some time and find these things, or at least craft our own adventure out of sewn sequins and ankle garlands and open windows and space rockets.

I am sure if we head out there into the big old world there will come a moment when it all goes wrong. We will find ourselves hot-thumbed and without a ride. We will wake up hungover in a field surrounded by our own detritus, mouths tasting foul, eyes too puffy and pissed off to look at one another. In a bar you, or I, will get too drunk and head home with the asshole with the neck tattoo, just for a change, and because he shared his full pack of cigarettes and bought round after round of bourbon. And you, or I, will wake up feeling sordid and empty, like a charm bracelet where all the charms have fallen off so that all that is left is the chain.

But this is no time to be morbid! If this happens, we will be fine, like we are always fine. We will crawl back to each other with bruises beneath our eyes and look hangdog. By the time the sun is high in the sky, all transgressions will be hilarious or forgotten. We will write our own pirate treasure map and cover it with kisses and find presents at every cross. We will bandaid the spots that bleed and we will nap in a field of dandelions until we wake up and everything is fine. And hilarious and happy and ever-after, until the next mishap crawls under our canopy.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

oh coffee


Coffee, the rabid explorer who comes with a scythe and clears the path from brain to fingers.

Coffee, powering up like a computer hacker and clickety-clacking over synapses, reprogramming, working a way through the fug and wilted flowers and the smudged stains of ash on the carpet.

Coffee is all I got, sometimes, because before coffee there are not words, there is just a long flight of stairs to stumble down and a tangle of vines to tear my satin skirt. Before coffee I poke fingers in my eyes and imagine I am leaping head-over-heels into an icy pool in a jungle grove, where the monkeys cackle and a waterfall pounds so high and so hard that all you can hear is white noise, ears full of water and static.

But then there is magic and unpicking and rewiring and clearing and scrubbing, and in my bra and pants I start to come alive again like a drunken cicada. I yelp and coffee yelps back, and perhaps the morning isn't such a challenge, perhaps the world is not a complex and heavy place full of trials to sit heavy on shoulders.

Perhaps the sun is shining and there is a mountain, and you are sitting on a rock near a high peak, drinking coffee from a tincan hot from complex brewings on a hand-gathered fire. You are alone and it is brisk but the sun looks intent on working its way to the very peak of the sky and bringing things up a notch.

Or you are in a small Greek taverna with the shadows of last night's ouzo lapping at your eyes, and an old man brings over a tray of coffee that is thick with silt and high with sugar and you learn how to heal yourself. Again.

Or you are late-night and still-up and it is balmy New York, you are sat on a stoop drinking iced coffees because you are scared of closing your eyes, of sleep, of what you might miss out on if you are not here to dance and to see.

Or you are just here, in bed, sneaking flirtatious glances at the window, wondering what promises the outside has to offer as the sunlight creeps in. Thrilled with the knowledge that the percolator is still warm and there are plots and plans afoot for the day. Ready to drink another cup, lift the window high, and dive.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

yet another thinly disguised Jane story

ElectroGirl is wiring her fingers up with LEDs, braiding baby-doll lace into her hair, dying her knee socks fuchsia. She is tired of not causing a stir. She is bored of the vitamin-junkies and the shoe-lacers and the look-both-wayers, the ones who are normal and unconsidered, the ones who never wonder whether automatic doors get depressed if you don't go inside. They are out there, the kinds who have never staked a dollar bill on the waxing of the moon, who don't collect pencil sharpenings in their toolbelts for confetti, who never lie awake at night in terror that the earth is a great shard of rock with fire in its belly, hurtling through the inky-everlasting, even when the sun shines. It isn't easy to subsist in the same strata and zipcode as these people. It takes finesse and patience, and a long and dampened fuse. Unfortunately, ElectroGirl has only the first of these and gets by on her wits and wings. If nothing else, she can make a hasty exit when a hasty exit is required. ElectroGirl has daddy-long-legs and isn't afraid of tripping at all.

The party is to celebrate the fact that the weekend has finally shown up after the long mulch through the working week. This doesn't mean much to ElectroGirl, who has spent the past few days trading candy hearts with a jack-in-the-box and trying to train the spiders to lead a revolt against the flea circus, but ElectroGirl gets lonely sometimes and has to scuttle around the real world for an hour or two. If nothing else, there will be people and dancing and she can try and convince herself that she really exists. Sometimes ElectroGirl gets nervous that she doesn't. Sometimes it's hard to tell. The rest of the town swarms around like stop-motion animation flies and she sits and wonders if the words in her mouth mean anything, or whether they are just small crafted curiosities made out of spaghetti-Os and pygmy dust and cats cradles, little use to anyone at all.

Late at night when she is alone with her computer and worrying, ElectroGirl trawls the internet for Missed Connections trying to find herself. She is convinced that one day she will recognise herself in the world of subway stations and morning commutes. Somewhere out there someone has been following and staring, and this would be incontrovertible evidence that she is, in fact, real. However, no matter how long she wades through the red-haired girl in striped socks reading Wittgenstein on the L train, and the blond flat-top cutie with the piercings in Trader Joe's, and the stunning one in the dufflecoat picking nervously at her nails near Union Square, she never finds herself. Sometimes she wonders about placing make-believe adverts for the people she sees in her dreams, because maybe in the act of doing so she could bring them to life. But then she thinks that is silly and she logs of and heads outside, trying frantically to make a stir, to agitate the pot.

It is a long climb to the fourth floor on heels crafted from silk bow-ties and purloined gold fillings. The stairs are thick with people and cigarettes and ElectroGirl feels herself tottering. She is not yet cocooned in the fearless coating of alcohol that would render her charming and conversational. She would like to pretend that she is thrilled to be a unique vibrating butterfly, drawing raised eyebrows and glances, but in truth she is terrified. Sometimes she feels like a roulette wheel ball, clattering and racketing around as the world spins faster. So long as she keeps moving, everything will be fine and there will still be hope, but as soon as she stops the world will crystallise and the boundaries will set. ElectroGirl isn't ready for that kind of responsibility or that kind of ending. She keeps drinking, careering around corners, keeps going. She runs up the stairs.


Monday, 8 March 2010

exciting times

I am wondering if it is possible to carry on forever like this. Things are good. Things are awesome. I dance all night on feathered shoes, and in the daytime we bury ourselves in duvets on rooftops and inhale laughing gas and cackle at the airplanes troughing white lazers trails across the sky. I am letting myself kiss and be kissed and think nothing sordid of nuzzled affection. I am being kind to myself. I am trying to be generous. I discovered that I am heart-wrenchingly lucky and I am having fun. The weekends stretch three days four days five days until there isn't any week left at all to worry with, until we are just drunken-soft fetal tissues, curled up together on sofas, crumpled together in pockets. Sometimes I feel as if we have managed to crack a hole in the continuum of normality, we have tricked the universe into giving us away in style. On Sunday afternoons, when I sit addled and breakfasted and pints-again with the ones I adore, I think about forever and I hold on tight. I sigh into the cocoon, into the abyss. Spring is coming. I can smell it.

The time to let loose is starting again.

I can't wait.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

this fugly life

I wake up and the room smells fugly like crusts in the corners of eyes. No breakfast before writing, I say, and I sit cross-legged in my palatial bedspot and try to sort out my life. I have been observing my life a lot recently from the viewpoint of the awed spectator. I have been standing back and observing its great warty heft, and I am shocked by how unwieldy and ridiculous it seems. There are carbuncles and nobbles and unfinished affairs, old bits of string hanging off frayed and tattered and damp with saliva. There are waxy residues and hang-nail skin flaps and the whole thing is bloated and oozing in various directions. It is not a pretty beast, not polished to a high sheen and there is something inherently unstable in the atoms, in the way they crackle and hiss. Nevertheless, I feel taken as a whole it has a certain something. There is finesse in the creak, there is charm. It retains the particular beauty that belongs only to those things which have no actual point at all. I have been standing back and observing and giggling. It is hard to believe that I invented this all and that I know its every corner and grub intimately, like no one else, and the parts that jag and head off-kilter are mine. I tug this beast of a life along with me wherever I totter and sway and I am tickled by its resilience, by its inability to crumble when the machine gun world rattatatts on its soft spots. This life, I expect, will outlive them all, will be there long after the curtain calls, still slumped stage left with a brandy and cigar. Despite everything, it will continue to mutate and expand forevermore. It will be the gnarly elephant farting in the corner when the party comes to a close and all that is left is the cigarette-butt detritus and the dubious stains and the last-dash attempt at a grope in the corner. I am learning not to be embarrassed by this. There are worse things, for sure, and it wouldn't help anyway. Sometimes it doesn't listen to me. Sometimes it doesn't know how to behave.