On the long bus journey through Guatemala, I was
so tired I couldn’t keep my head
straight. Several miles and easily an hour before I plucked up the courage to ask the large, delightful Greek next to me
Throughout that journey I had snuck
furtive glances at the flesh of his shoulder.
Wide and round, firm and padded, oh it would be divine, I knew.
Heaven in my periphery, lust for his edges, I wanted
to rest my cheek against that shoulder and dream.
Hours until the next town and no pride
to lose, I asked.
He smiled and stuck it out extra
gladly, ready, his beautiful curls shining around his face.
I shuffled my bottom
for the manoeuvre of relief;
the full lean.
and nodded into my own world.
For days, I think people wondered
if we were orchestrating
some kind of romance.
And it’s true the event brought us
that sometimes we would talk about books
into the night.
That at least once more I pressed my face against his warm cotton T-shirt.
But, oh, that fat, ripe, beautiful, strong, shoulder.
Then, in Las Vegas –
I don’t believe I was drunk –
I asked a man
if he would sleep in my bed that night.
Not to do anything
(I said multiple times; important he understood)
but so I could feel contained in his arms.
He had the physique I needed
and a gambling habit I wouldn’t want.
Perfect. He thought about it
from his great height
and told me it might not be a good idea.
He was not made for single beds and he would irritate me, wanting to sleep or to act, knowing he could do neither.
Then the hand I held down an alley
in Indonesia; slipped digits, black
and white, laughing
because it made me feel magical, like a child, high, and I wanted to show him the frogs and he wanted to swim at night, in secret, under the thunderstorm.
The fresh sheets made him itch but he called me for breakfast, called me ‘fine art’, still sends photos of dinners he is making, still presses into my possibility, the rightest fit for that changing season.
- The soundtrack was this (in my own voice, though most of the lyrics forgotten to the extent that it was more a refrain of the first line, over and over):
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love Continue reading
I’ve just had a text from my casting agency asking if I have any military experience (if so, I must reply regarding a new feature film). I find the entire concept of me having military experience so hilarious – images of me in some kind of uniform, marching, straight arms (no flow to the wrists), maybe a hat unjauntily angled – I am simply going with the non-reply and snort-to-myself-quietly option.
I am the star child of schooling, really – straight As (unless A*s were an option) – and a genuine enthusiasm for most subjects. I had highlighters, musical instruments, calculators with slide-on covers – the lot. But uniforms were more tricky for me. Within the approximate boundaries of school regulation colours, I preferred Continue reading
– Best Self: I think I’m going to have a boyfriend again.
– Worst self: Um, terrible idea.
– Best self: Why?
– Worst Self: You might die.
– Best self: I’m hardly going to die.
– Worst self: You were so miserable last time, remember.
– Best self: Only because he was the wrong man for me. Another man – the right one – will make me happy. Or keep me happy, because I’m already happy.
– Worst self: Sounds horrifically claustrophobic to me. You’d be locked in to being whoever you are when you meet him. Won’t be able to change or develop. Sounds hellish, actually. That panic in your throat right now; you know you’d hate it.
– Best self: Not true. He might be someone who is interested in learning and self development and who I can have interesting conversations with. In fact he almost certainly will be, otherwise I won’t be attracted to him in the first place.
– Worst self: You’d have to meet his family. Continue reading
Only the third was a lucid conversation; the rest were dreaming-while-awakes.
- I’ve created the base of a helicopter. It’s a smooth, shining, navy blue body. No hard edges, utter grace. My hand runs over its contours; can’t believe I’ve made this! Had no idea I was going to do this. I’ve literally made a helicopter on a whim. Then the propeller: I’d forgotten completely that it would have a propeller. What a bonus! A propeller arrives from nowhere (maybe heaven), drifts down to it and settles perfectly onto the top, and the whole thing lifts and flies away. Beautiful.
- There are millimetres in my house. I tell them to come outside. They hate each other, so instead of pouring out together, as though from a jug, they each thunder down the stairs into the front garden, stubborn and furious. Drops of water with legs and scowling faces, they stand there in a line, obedient and cross, with folded arms.
- My little doggiewoggie, poorly and normally a difficult eater, has eaten 3 portions of chicken-and-rice-for-Luna before 2.30pm. We are all very impressed. Telling her she is a little darling, I say ‘my little piglet, you’re going to turn into a chicken,’ then: ‘Don’t worry though, I’d still love you. I’d still carry you about and call you my little-darling-Lulu.’ It would be a new lease of life; a whole new animal’s lifetime she can stick around for. I picture her with amber feathers nestled in the cradle of my arms.
A sort of bubble – enormous, glinting all the colours there are in its wavering rim; around me. Or something solid, made of wood, with grains like eyes and ridges to ease a thumbnail along without thinking. A deep space under the earth, damp, half-lit, messy where I whisper things to you and you only smile; dip down into it, into you, seven times a day, just in between things. A complicated, clever, worldly mechanism, made of all the things I don’t understand; the relief that someone else is those things and I can watch. Mostly, the voice, which doesn’t change, and the gentleness of it, the quiet tones, the breath, pulls me from my stomach, jolts me, leans me in. Sometimes, stray words that buzz around between us and repeat themselves in places and things. The pressing. The heat. The sleep. The distance, so I can do things. The closeness, so I can be calm. A ready gaze, ready for changing, for mine; the seeing all things and knowing there’ll be more. The new life of your yeses. Sometimes I think I am bigger than I am meant to be, and growing bigger and bigger, and am taller than the earth. But made of fog and droplets. You can catch them, and water yourself with me, and other things too; be my size in different form, some other element; something certain and hot and your own. The hold, so I can dissolve, reform, forget everything after all. The space, in a smile, in an eye; the flashes which come from the ending to the beginning; the middle, which is where I am.
Nursery rhymes. Utter abandon. Twinkle twinkle little star. Then Disney (every single word to the Sing-along Disney video cassette with my older brother). Later, Nintendo 64, and idle humming – the soundtrack of concentration when zipping along, jumping for coins and racing racing racing (I always came second; I think this was my most relaxed). My favourite was Goldeneye, best game ever, though I don’t think I sang along to that – too scared; my younger brother could jump from behind a wall and shoot me at any moment if I didn’t hold my entire body taut or if I blinked.
Singing in the chorus of Orpheus & Eurydice. ‘Do not listen, Eurydice; Eurydice stay.’
Relentless a capella versions of Destiny’s Child’s Emotions in Design & Technology (the teacher wanting to encourage, but also wanting us to shut up). A 60s-style miniskirt (so short; I still have it) sewn with wild thoughts of becoming an internationally famous girl group (my friend was posh enough to have actual singing lessons at her house, which I was welcomed to once or twice when I was at her house after school. We sang two part harmonies which I can still remember to the T. She had a deadly serious idea that we could compete for the title of ‘most roly-polys in one minute’ and made us practise on a garden mat. She sucked a dummy. Her Mum served desiccated coconut with pitta bread at dinner time; I thought it was incredibly exotic. She is now, I think, an actual singer.) Continue reading