Ghosts of Partners Past

They say that every time you end a relationship, a ghost of the person stays with you. Every time. Can you imagine the noise? How crowded, how busy your space would be? And never mind you, how busy must those ghosts be? Do they have to split their time haunting all their other exes? Do they split their time or their essence? If their presence gets thinner, I suppose you can tell they have been through and ended another relationship.

Let’s not forget, you ended things with them for a reason. You decided not to spend the rest of your life with them. Surely they do not remain willingly either. Surely neither of you can move on while they linger. Do you get a say in who stays?

How do you quantify a relationship anyway? How long do you get to make up your mind before you have to either break things off or get stuck to a soul for eternity? Or both? And what qualifiers let you know that someone is an essence you do want to be doused in for the rest of time? Do vampires ever really know what they’re getting into when they turn someone? Why am I writing vapid questions like Carrie Bradshaw?

Perish the thought… can you ever leave yourself? And if you do, what kind of ghost are you left with?

I am followed by no less than Stephen, Stefan, James, Jamie, Ryan, Aaron, Nathan, Martyn, Chris, Tom (sorry, Thom), Pete, Pete, Pete (shut up), Jamie, Carl, Brindle, Mark and… phew, no, that’s it. So, that’s seventeen, if you’re counting, and some of them are rowdy fucks. God help me if they were all to surface at once. I think I’d be surrounded by the most intense of British unease of difference of character; the poets, the thugs, the clowns and the cheaters.

That sounds like not much that’s nice to say about you as a collective. Which is a shame, really, given my ethos of honouring the connection, of respecting one’s past decisions. Maybe I’m not so upstanding after all. Maybe I don’t practise what I preach. But there’s time.

#98

Dear Héloïse Letissier,

Having just watched your music video for the song Christine, I know that we are meant to be together. As sisters, lovers, soulmates.

Yours sincerely,

Here For You

I’ve gone through a few changes of perspective over the past few years. Maybe it’s just been in the past year. It’s certainly been more concentrated in the past year. “Everyone seems to be having babies and getting married and settling down.” That’s been a thing for a while, and, as I’m in my mid-twenties, I’m sure it’ll continue to be a thing for a while yet.

About eighteen months ago when my youngest brother was born, I held him in my arms for a few hours and had a huge cry. A big fat, ‘Where is my life going?’ kind of cry. I wasn’t thinking about the funeral we were going to that day, or much else in any kind of structured way really. Rather, the feeling of sitting there, quietly, spending time just looking at something small and delicate, breathing, just blew me open. My whole body heaved out a release of emotion with no real instantaneous cue. I felt aghast at my own reaction.

I think there was a lot of pent-up confusion inside me then, which was possibly just a time bomb waiting to go off at the slightest sneak of a smile from something that didn’t yet know politeness, like a puppy or a baby. Some hint of pure, unguided affection. But the baby did eke it out.

These days I feel a lot more relaxed around babies. I don’t need to be around them. Don’t get me wrong, your baby is adorable, and fascinating, and I will more than happily babysit, but first, I came here for you.

There is a silent tragedy playing out in the lives of a lot of new young mums. People make a bee-line for the baby and tend to forget about the mother. They stare at the little one, desperate for cuddles. Desperate to assert their stamp of maternal maturity. People who had no interest in the mum before are suddenly clamouring to see them on a regular basis; good friends forget about them and get that Christmassy level of excitement about spending time with Baby. They forget about what would really display an expert level of maternal understanding – knowing what’s best for the mum, and for the baby. When to entertain and when to be calm, when to give baby back. I’ve noticed that some people don’t really get this. They think that, in ‘wow’ing over the children, they are flattering the parents, and to a certain extent I’m sure that’s often true. But I see a lot of parents slipping into the audience when Baby takes centre-stage. It’s interesting to notice the look of someone who is not being watched.

It’s understandable, when you see this, that a lot of mums get jealous, or depressed, in the early days of motherhood. Or, indeed, the later days of it.

I’m here to tell you that I love your baby because it’s yours and I love you, but that’s as far as it goes. I understand the need for adult conversations, reality, and down time. Yesterday I caught up with a friend who has a one-year old daughter, and we ended up chatting for ten and a half hours straight. Ten. How often do you get that kind of time? It was uninterrupted fun. Her daughter was there, sure, and we had a few cooey moments, no one was ever ignored, but it was ultimately about us. Which was fantastic.

Life goes on, babies grow up, and this fascinating and captivating thing about tiny little people is a transient phase. And that’s fine. Because I came here for you. You may be a mummy now, but you’re still my good old friend.

What are your thoughts or experiences of introducing new babies into families and friendship circles?

27

It was my birthday this week. The inevitable internal stock-take becomes me. The past two weeks, I have mostly been:

Playing Yellow Car
Performing nightly in an original Fringe show, and enjoying it more each night
Wandering the Brighton seafront
Painting myself grey
Trying to read, but getting distracted by good company
Playing tourist at museums and stately homes
Giggling at the names of roses
Sharing rooms and swapping beds
Reading reviews
Meeting my friends’ families and loved ones
Watching free live comedy
Having vivid dreams, and apparently grinding my teeth, which is new
And, of course, thinking about a boy. Frustratingly dull, but true, and perhaps a pattern I am destined to follow always.
Thinking about the largeness of life, the wide, open world of opportunity and excitement and new connections and journeys
Feeling inspired and relaxed to a point of meditation, by the sea
Feeling proud of my company and our ideas
Feeling closer to my companions

I said a week ago that I felt “old and tired”. I think this is somewhat untrue since then. I feel refreshed and ready to move on to a new phase of life. My company is taking exciting new steps this year and I am very happy to say that I think we are making personal progress together too.

I am sorry I haven’t written in a while – I had been distractedly working on a series of posts about music, but have been suffering on and off from insecurity, or apathy, with my writing over the past several months. I have neglected a habit which used to serve me very well. More to come, and soon.

25 Things About My Family

I spent Christmas at Home with my family in 2012, for the first time in about five or six years. It was an absolute joy being amongst people so like-minded, whom you have that connection with which will never fade. That wonderful level of understanding. Having an impromptu holiday of two weeks is just wonderful, and I didn’t even succumb to the temptation to do work while I was there. To keep that at bay, I did do a little exercise in procrastination. I give you, 25 things about my family:

1. My mum was an editor of a TEFL magazine, and a TEFL teacher. She tried going back to teaching English in the last several years, but the updated training was quite dragged-out. I think what topped it off was her placement in the local secondary school. The place where my year 5 induction day saw chips and doughnuts for lunch, and a group of us being shut in the sandpit. (Who has a sandpit at a secondary school anyway?)

2. My great grandmother was Thai. My mum went on a sort of month-long pilgrimage to Thailand to see what it was all about a few years ago, and I’d like to do the same one day.

3. I think my brother is the best man I’ve ever met. Not the baby one, he hasn’t proved himself yet, but the only-slightly-younger one. I tend to measure people (men, at least) against him. Sense of humour, spirituality, maturity. We’re in tune.

4. My brothers’ names lend themselves very well to Winnie The Pooh shortenings; Reuben = Roo, Tiernan (meaning ‘Tiger man’, apparently) = Tigger. I suppose that makes me Eyeore.

5. Every one of us (except my brother) seems to have a kind of inferiority complex and a slight bitterness about being working class.

6. Every one of us has been cheated on.

7. My dad, predictably, hates my tattoo.

8. My brother talks to me when he’s serious about love. I appreciate it.

9. My mum believes in fairies and the Catholic Saints. To this day, Saint Anthony works for me for finding lost things.

10. My dad’s worst habit is saying, “Um…” as you’re leaving the room, and then making you wait once you’ve come back, before he finishes the sentence.

11. My brother has a Forest of Dean accent, while my parents and I have pretty non-regional ones.

12. My auntie apparently practices a form of witchcraft.

13. My other auntie was adopted. She and her husband dine with Charles and Camilla.

14. My mum has written hundreds of poems, which she has never shown to many, if any, people.

15. My step-mum’s cousins are The Magic Numbers.

16. My mum uses text slang. It makes me feel sick.

17. My parents were always older than of all my friends’ parents, but people always commented on how young they looked.

18. One year, we all stood in my grandparents’ back garden, along with quite a gathering of their friends, in Cradley Heath, to watch two blocks of flats get blown up. I think someone even filmed it.

19. To my knowledge, I am the first one interested in theatre, or the arts at all as a career.

20. I was supposed to be a Clark. Both my parents changed their names when marrying, and took the name of my grandmother’s maiden name, because they liked it.

21. My maternal grandmother wrote, and published under a pseudonym which was her real name spelt backwards. She consequently got fan mail addressed to, “Our little Indian writer, Duam Semaj”.

22. My dad always grew vegetables, in London and in the Forest, and cooked with his homegrown produce, which was always delicious.

23. My parents ran an alternative health practise together in London. Ben Elton came and interviewed them once, and made fun of it.

24. My mum’s sister is the head of what I deem a perfect family unit.

25. My mum’s first heard words were apparently, “Oh botheration with you!” Up till that moment she had stayed silent in front of her parents, but had been coming home and teaching her younger sister what she had been taught in school each day. This was in response to my auntie not understanding the current lesson.

Slipshod Sugary Female Thinking

(… Thank you, Mary Poppins.)

IMAG1038

This year’s greatest achievement so far…

Happy new year! A pinch and a punch for the first of the month, and no returns. And other traditional nonsense.

Today I am filled with excitement and optimistic energy for the coming year. I feel rested. I have had a rare week off, with absolutely no agenda, so sleeping and enjoying oneself have taken vital priority over the Christmas period. I am sitting here watching A View to a Kill with a good friend and the dog, and probably going to watch The Hobbit for the second time later on. Banana bread has just come out of the oven, (my second batch in two days; I intend to cook more from now on) the house is clean thanks to my brand new Henry, and I have furniture and finishing touches for my bedroom on order. I am wearing Mary Shelley around my neck.

For the first time in about five years, this year I went ‘home’ for Christmas. When I say home, (I have a few hometowns) I mean the Forest of Dean (or rather, Gloucester this time, as little bro’s all grown up now and has a place of his own, where I stay) and then Ivybridge, in Plymouth. I got to see my mum and oldest younger brother, (twenty-three) which was lovely, and then my dad, step-mamma and baby brother, (nine months) which was just as lovely, and different. Christmas was a quiet, subdued affair compared to the drinking, music, large family gatherings and games that I have been used to.

In the place of forced tradition and routine and scheduled fun, we spent our time ambling around at a leisurely (very, including the spa day mamma took me on) pace, doing exactly as we all wished, eating, walking, watching films, and going to look at animals (perhaps a trivial-sounding activity but oh-so-revered in my humble view – visiting Pets At Home is something I like to do regularly, just for a quick fix of furry company.)

I taught baby bro to wave, which he apparently now does at Guinevere on Merlin, (they think she must sound a bit like me) and anyone who waves on TV. He’s a bit of a screen-lover, and grabs at phones whenever they’re in sight. He loves Skype, and phonecalls, and seems to respond to familiar voices now, which is absolutely lovely. He has skipped crawling and gone straight to walking while holding onto nearby thumbs. He loves being outdoors and near water, and squeals every time a dog goes past. A man after my own heart. I had a great time staying with them and can’t wait to go back. Saying goodbye was actually quite hard, simply because I remember how far away I am.

Last night, per tradition of a few years, I spent new year’s eve with a bunch of my closest friends up North, drinking and catching up and dancing like fools to nostalgic tunes from our teenage years. I was then, and am now, filled with warmth and gratitude for what and whom I have around me, because it’s all pretty damn great.

A few things I will take from 2012:

  • Day-jobs are okay as a part-time compliment to your true passion. You can benefit from different kinds of work bringing respite from each other, and challenging and exercising you in different ways.
  • Sometimes, love is not enough.
  • I am capable of change, but I find it quite incomprehensible until it happens.

And I think that’s enough for now. :) I am going into 2013 with an open mind and heart, and a bit of slipshod sugary female thinking. I wish peace, love, health and happiness for you all.

Bizarro Me

Image from Wikipedia

How hard it must be to write about the polar opposite of yourself. How are we to know ourselves? And when describing our opposites, thus defining ourselves, surely our desires and ambitions of self-image will come into play, skewing the resulting image. For example, I think the Bizarro me would be completely carefree and easygoing, without worry. But is that just a quality I aspire to myself? Yes. How do I know where I fit on that scale? I also guess my opposite would be sexually promiscuous, because I am loyal and careful myself. But again, the promiscuity comes up in fantasy for me. Perhaps that’s what our opposites do? Act our our unulfilled dreams? Achieve our aspirations? Or would my opposite be someone who dreamed of opposing qualities, but was equally unsure of how to achieve those things, or indeed whether they had already? Food for thought…

One thing I know I do is value honesty. So my polar opposite would be very dishonest, or closed. She would hate James Bond and period dramas, be good with people and streetwise. She would have strong self-discpline around food, sleep and love. She would be ‘cool’. She would rarely smile and be difficult to amuse.

Another, slightly connected thought going round my head tonight is: When do I turn into a proper woman? When do I become good at baking and sewing and crochet and stuff like that? I see a lot of social network updates on cakes and other handmades, and think it’s all really impressive. I used to make cakes. I used to cook a lot of things. Before shift work took over my life and all my energy. I used to make a mean curry. I used to host an open mic night. I used to be good at a lot of things that I have kind of lost sight of recently. Perhaps just a void in my creative satisfaction that can be filled when we build up our cabaret and festival presence as performers. Doesn’t take long for that hunger to come back after a show finishes.