Thursday, 29 March 2007

musical treats again

another update:

At the end of my last musical update I'm sure you would have been happy to see the list ofthings i was looking forward to, and last week they all happened! even bass clef and steve reid and kieran hebden which i thought i would have to miss, but i didn't , indeed no.
arrived the cooler on wednesday 22nd march to find the place filling up as fast as you like, which was an odd experience seeing as last time i was there i was 17 and they were playing suede to a fairly stupid looking and rapidly emptying crowd. tracked down rlf and had a big hug, then settled in to see mr hopkinson's computer play. he opened with his cover of 'where is my mind' and i have to agree with the review on his myspace page, that there is somehing weirdly heartbreaking about a computer singing. i think maybe this relates somehow to the disembodied mechanicalism of the vocal, with what are really poignant and sorrowful lyrics. i guess it kind of taps in to this idea of the dissociation of depression, the flatness of the voice seems to emphasise the pain in the song. i also thoroughly enjoy his personality, that self effacing sweetness. popped out for a bit but came in in time to hear him duetting with audrey 3000 on odb and kelis' 'got your money' which was a lot of fun, and a good switch of direction from the more familiar songs. a little secret is that the last tune was unexpected even to dave and mr hopkinson's computer themselves, but seeing as it was big party track and by this point the place was heaving and fully up, so even if it was a mistake, it was a very pertinent one.
Next up was Bass Clef and it has been a long time, not since the Black Swan. I think that the Cooler needs to think a little bit more about its sound, i'm not sure the mic was high enough on the trombone and the speakers were in a bad place, but nothing can detract from just how great a performer rlf is. Was great to hear new tracks and those off the album, 'cannot be straightened' sounded fantastic, and '5am on stokes croft' was crazily good, i love the bass line on that track, and the crowd were really enjoying it. i guess bass clef is pretty dub step these days, but also he has kept a real recognition of the wider range of influences and the musical background of past projects and records, which builds to a real richness of sounds and avoids him becoming homogenic. who else plays the trombone and the theremin like that for instance? and he has huge energy on stage, and really makes the audience spellbound on his side.
plus he is lovely.
the night finished with steve reid kieran hebden, 'robotic morris dancers' according to my good friend chris. really powerful sounds, huge cacophonies of electronica and folk twinges, it was very intense and very interesting, really good. (sorry, i was drunk by that point as usual so my review of the headline is as sketchy as ever)
Thursday 23rd saw the Friendly Fires at the Cooler. Such a shame that it was so quiet, especially with it being rammed on Wednesday, but the boys played well. Again, they were tight and worked so well together, and although the dust buster stayed hidden, again it was a fine use of variety and sampling that really make them stand out.
and no, jack assures me, not nu rave, but disco pop rock, which i much prefer.
had to stagger back to the cooler on friday morning so they could pick up equipment before heading off to support !!! and then after VERY YUMMY but very overpriced breakfast from boston, headed to london, caught up with beautiful andlovely friends in drunken venues, then on saturday was Bristol meth at the Spitz.
Again, shame it wasn't busy, but those who were there enjoyed it. jay le surgeon was on the decks playing an eclectic mix that really suited the variety of acts playing. he dropped in mos def, roots manuva, white stripes, nicole wilis, james brown, spank rock sounded excellent, good reggae beats for the quieter moments, a very representative big ting set in fact, backed up by his shouting 'big ting' on the mic periodically. lots of bristol music too, a few hombre tunes amidst others, to keep the spirit of the night happening. mixing sounded good, and the great scratching that we expect from him!
francois and rozi plain took the stage first, playing live to their films. the films were gorgeous, very delicate animation worked over live action, the combination of the whispering music and the elegant visuals was quite moving. lovely use of locations around bristol, everything was very dreamy with a note of something sinister perhaps. soft lyrics and vocals were accompanied by keyboards, accordian and i think a harmonica, all together creating something delicate and beautiful.
was amazing to see 'cutting up my friends' again. i love it so much! dave is such a talented filmmaker, everything in it fits together perfctly, it takes you on a journey through bristol, through its people and personalities, and it doesn't miss a beat, evreything is cut to make sense and create a rhythm and flow that fits together through leitmotifs. and it is really funny, and that is its charm, the creation of something so clever and effective, whilst being completely unpretentious, it is just a real celebration of music and place and people.
Next up was Vexkiddy, Time Travelling Victorian dandy scientists Cuthbert and Strangeways searching for vexkiddy. Brilliant! First of all the two of them create their characters so perfectly and naturally, talking and joking with the crowd in a completely convincing way, before launching in to some hectic and crazy drum n bass and gabba rave (? im trusting jay, im shit at genre) that lies completely at odds with the prim and proper victorian image. it was intense and sheer weirdness, but also really great sounds, fast and interesting beats, loads of distortion and odd samples floating in and out ("hello, im bernard cribbins"), whilst the two of them flew all over the stage, to a bemused but i would say appreciative audience. im not sure that i am writing it properly, because it does kind of defy description, but then i suppose that is the point of victorian drum n bass isn't it? recommended anyway.
mr hopkinson's computer headlined, and all i said about his performance on wednesday was pretty much confirmed by his cover of portishead's 'roads', a song which is pretty heartbreaking in itself, and again, there is something in this weird dichotomy of something emotionless singing so emotionally, its very disembodiment adds this poignancy. the world would be a worse place without singing computers that's for sure.
sunday saw roast dinner and beer in the swimmer before heading home, sigh! but tokyo on monday and apparently going to a musical festival over there, so exciting!
meanwhile, until i tell you all about my japanese exploits, i would ask you to read 'bianca' as i am intrigued to what people think of it.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

palestinian scarves

if you read my article further down, raging at capitalist jokers, then you will know how incensed i have been lately about advertisers using great and radical art and demeaning it to become associated with their products.
now i turn my attention to the kaffiyeh as fashion statement.
it is a cultural and political symbol, not an accessory. i find it insulting to the palestinian struggle that young men and women swan around in these scarves not because they have any sense of or solidarity with the war in israel and the occupation, but because they look cool.
it is like che t shirts. half those kids didn't know who che was, and even when they did they were living in cloud cuckoo land and thinking he didn't kill anyone because he was a goodie socialist.
i ask you.
it is another example of the fashion industry taking what was politically active and important and inflammatory and turning it into a product, a commodity that could be sold. how can anything have any meaning when everything has a price tag and a cool kudos value? what about the values that matter? what about giving a damn?
ok. so if for every kaffiyeh they sell in topshop or urban outfitters or wherever ( it'll be m&s next.) they donated ALL the proceeds to helping the orphans in occupied palestine, if for every purchase of a kaffiyeh the buyer was forced to read about its significance and the history and the problems of israel and palestine and sign a petition or do SOMETHING, then ok, fair enough.
but we know that isn't happening.
if you wear the keffiyah because you want to make a political statement of solidarity, then kind of fair enough, although there are better ways. but if, like im sure most of you are, you wear it because it is oh so pretty, then for fuck's sake, go buy some principles.
they're on special offer in selfridge you know.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

quick update of musical treats

been to loads of good musical events of late, but haven't really had time or skill to review them sooo...

DMZ, Gatekeeper, Wedge, Appleblim and Ed (sorry hon, i forgot your dj name) at Soho.
my god! amazing. firstly, it wasn't just the free laughing gas that put a smile in my face. storming set from the lovely appleblim (he may be my most favourite person in the world right now) who, as he put it, seeing as the dubstep was fairly covered he could play a bit more of what he wanted. this resulted in a bit of rhythm and sounds which is always a pleasure, plus another time out for that turbulence tune 'notorious' which i adore (always a fixture at flat parties let me tell you) and witness dub. some people weren't too keen on dub come save me, but i liked it. felt that it kind of stripped down witness to its basic musical elements, then lapped something over the top to give it something different. hmm, that sounds a bit trite. i know what i mean.
anyway, i think appleblim judged his formula right, the night needed these tunes to build in to the dubstep extravaganza it was going to be - and of course we need reggae and dub to look deeper in to the origins of the music, it was a perfect set up for what was coming.
next up were gatekeeper and wedge of hench, who moved things in to a steppier arena. the bass was just gorgeous - going right through you and keeping the crowd completely excited. gatekeepr dropped a few of his new tunes which sounded wicked (they did, they did!) and ok, so i am biased, but i do think he is really great and you can see how he is getting better all the time (that is not meant patronisingly btw), the tunes are gaining in depth whilst still keeping a kind of rawness or visceralness. (is that a real word?)
i like. i still like the alicia keys sampling one the best. kind of dubstepromance if you will. with dark side that you need in romance.
when dmz got on the decks i was fucking blown away. i felt like when i went to see madonna - i couldn't wipe this stupid smile off of my face, i mean, these guys practically invented dubstep, and it shows. their tunes just have this immense sound and completely enthrall the dancefloor, the bass rips through you and all the layers work up together - yum! i wish i could write it more professionally and succinctly, i just have to express the complete joy and brilliance that they are.

so, dubstep done, now moving opposite direction to The Master Chaynjis at the louisiana on thursday. i can't really add much to my last review, except to say that in some respects sam's voice was even better, and once more they were completely gripping in their performance, with that easy switch from intense and raw emotion in the song, to friendly and funny banter in between. i just love 'the bear with a glint in his eye', and i like the way they inject humour in to even the saddest songs, such as 'bird in the hand'.
shame about the support. promising set up of cello violins and piano/keyboard, but my god! you do not do an unironic cover of 'chasing cars' (voted best song of all time by listeners of virgin radio!!!!!) and you NEVER EVER NEVER cover nina simone. that is a rule folks! did we not learn from muse? it is like covering billie holiday, and the only person who is allowed to do that is nina simone, and i still find that a bit tricksy.

friday was surprise turn of jay le surgeon at hermanos, what a set! of course, no one listens in there, but i do, and that is what im there for, official roller of cigarettes and listener. he pulled out a broad spectrum of disco hip hop soul and funk, as ever, james brown, nicole willis, party time, curtis mayfield, oh what else, sugar hill gang (old skool fun), and his mixing was right on target, lovely and smooth with the odd scratch to keep it interesting.
still, four requests for status quo was taking the piss a bit. must have been a drunken bet of 'oh, who can wind up the dj', but really, you DO NOT ask for status quo when james brown is playing.

picked up the spank rock album the other day, it is so cool, really joyful hip hop. jay said it was like a bunch of 14 year old boys giggling over an issue of playboy they found in a bush. that is meant as a compliment. it is just really fun and happy, whilst still having really skilled mc-ing and nice heavy beats. i also got an early gossip ep to see what all the fuss was about ( i see it) and scout niblett's last album, only then for my dvd player to break (my cd player already broken) (with my new mighty boosh live dvd trapped inside it) so all i managed was one listen. has meant i am now proper old skool with my vinyl, tapes and vhs tho. born in the wrong era.

this week i am looking forward to bass clef supporting kieran hebden and steve reid, although i may have to be there merely in spirit thanks to ticket costs. then on thursday friendly fires will be playing the cooler - got a fright seeing jack's face beaming at me from the wall on my way to work today! (working on sunday til ten ruins my life but gives me time to write) so that'll be good. then on friday off to london for mr hopkinson film, francois, vexkiddy and jay le surgeon at the spitz on saturday, yay!

saw inland empire yesterday. best closing credits of any film i have EVER seen, and the rest of it was good too, although makes mulholland drive seem like a realist novel. i kind of thought maybe a touch too long a time to be completely confused, and it did get darker and darker until i was wishing i had someone with me, but as a piece of art just fantastic, just no reason to try and get it. it would be like wanting to know what pj harvey's lover tells her on a rooftop in brooklyn at one in the morning, or what bill murray says to scarlett johannsson. somethings are best left unknown. i felt there was a lot of female solidarity in the film, it was very female.
and great soundtrack ('you've gotta swing your hips now')

i'll shut up then. read the stories, they are much bettter than my meanderings.



ive always really liked Bianca in "Othello". i never felt she got enough credit. what did she think of all that was happening? how did she feel about how cassio was treating her and the rumours that he was sleeping with desdemona? that bit where she fights with emilia is like a rousing call to all women, when their boyfriends or girlfriends get all bitchy about how many men you've slept with, it is the ultimate moment of angel/whore complex, and sexual double standards. the audience is meant to like cassio, but really, the way he talks about bianca, the way he treats and denies her, he's a villain.

i found this on wikipedia about bianca, and she is kind of reduced to a plot device, which is how she is always reduced. like mariana in "Measure for measure". but worse in my opinion, because i could never get along with what an awful idiot mariana is, although she is treated a lot worse than bianca i suppose. bianca has more fire in her, and for me that makes her more than a plot device. she is a woman with a history. anyway, here's the quote:

"Bianca is a character in William Shakespeare's Othello, whose name is Italian for 'white'. She is the mistress of Michael Cassio, but is used by Shakespeare as more than just that. She is used for the comparison of jealousy. She becomes jealous after Cassio gives her a handkerchief, and this rational, normal jealousy is compared against Othello's brutal, murderous, revenge seeking jealousy. Also, in the eavesdropping scene, Iago jokes with Cassio about Bianca, but Othello thinks they're talking about Desdemona, sending him into a furious rage."

hope im not infringing copyright with that.

so all this preamble is basically for me to introduce my version of bianca. hope it is ok. who knows, maybe one day i will write a whole series and rescue mariana from the moated grange and cleopatra and cressida from whorishness, give lavinia a tongue and exlpain just how utterly pissed off hippolyta was with theseus.
but for now it's just bianca:


He loves me he loves me not I sing to myself as I pull flower petals off the stem and fling them in to the sea, it is a pretty pose, don’t you think. I lose, and so I play tinker tailor soldier sailor with cherry pips and laugh to find my happy fate lies with the thief, because truly my heart has been thieved by this damn soldier, and I think both the flowers and the fruit are not lying.
He does not love me, I know that much, but I think he needs me, and that is something is it not, is it not, because for as long as I am needed then I can see him, and the more he sees me, then the more he will realise that he needs me and he will grow to love me. It is a fallacy I know but what else do I have to go on.
‘Are you ashamed of me?’ I asked him point blank one night, a night where he sat by my side and introduced me to no one and allowed me one touch on my knee as if to reassure me that he still cared. But behind the closed doors of his room then his hands move from my knees to send me shuddering and him short of breath. ‘Are you ashamed of me?’ For why this awful denial, this pretence that we are nothing but acquaintance, before the press of his body against mine filling me up with a love that I can never suppress. He told me no, of course not, why would I be, but just like my fantasy of his realisation of his necessity, it is a fallacy. He hates to be asked such questions because he wants to admit nothing. He refuses to recognise what we are, and when I try and say such things aloud he calls me brash and coarse, and I am forced to turn it in to a joke, so that I can be his monkey once more.
That is not love.
Now I feel that whatever he feels for me is more akin to hate than love. Something in him revolts from me, he hates the passion I inspire in him, I know it so well, for I am not the right kind, for I scare him. He calls me monkey and gipsy and says they are endearing, but I know his secret. He sees a wildness in me that is out of his field of control and I know that when I show off the ecstasy that he brings in my bright face, he is somewhere inside recoiling in horror.
My eyes are too bright and my hair is too curled and my skin is too tanned and I know that to him I represent excess and lushness and an honesty that cannot be endured by the politesse that surrounds his world. So he denies me in front of all, and I strive against all my instinct and all that makes me what I am, and demurely accept his repulsion.
But why should I accept, my heart tells me angrily! I am who I am, I I I I I I say I over and over, me mi a me mia donna like a scratch across the grooves in my brain, repeating like a mantra to try and bring myself back in to this equation of two. Where am I to find myself as I allow him to take over all that it is that I love in myself, all the passion that makes me happy with what I have become, all the fire that he wants to reduce in to ice.
Sick of it! Sick of the men who take all they can from the flames in me so that they sputter and I can feel me being reduced, so that I have to keep repeating I I I to remind me, I need to remind me of me, before I lose myself in the mires of their lusts. I want my self back, I think. But it is too late now; I see that more and more. He has taken too much and I bend and flex to his will, to his want, so I keep quiet, even though at his revulsion part of me revolts, but I am learning to hush, to accept, to be silent.

For I have realised slowly that to win his love I have to change, and once the self in my is abandoned and left, then he will see the woman he loves in me, and then it will be the time when we walk down by the canals, my hand will be in his, and my head will be lowered respectfully. It is a struggle though, a struggle to keep my blood from rebelling against my heart. Angrily the little cells gang up on the muscle that it is instructed to obey. She pumps hard to keep the rebels in line, and some day soon my blood will be tamed, and I will be quietened as he wishes. Then I will have learnt not to fight anymore. The fighting will be left to his sword.

Flushed with wine and with swaying steps I found him on the bay with his men and I laughed too loud and spoke too clearly, placing my arm around his waist and proclaiming him as my lover, yes! he is my lover and yes! I love him and yes! I have held this body so covered in finery and uniform, bare and sweating in my own moist palms. My tongue was loose and I tried to press it against his, whilst he nervous and fidgety told me to run along, and his friends they laughed, they laughed at my dress slipping from my shoulder and called me a whore and pushed me hard against the wall as I struggled to find my soldier. They pushed me hard against the wall of the bay as I shouted out to him, but he had snuck away, ashamed of what I had done.
Yet somehow still I love him.
So I sail on this boat to his side but I know what I will find there. For even in the heat of the dry arid landscape he will only see what is dry and arid, and no amount of sun will lighten the coldness of his attitude to me.

As the bay laps against the shore, the ship tilts and heaves as does my belly. The belly from which should come life, the life that he wants to take. I lie alone in this bed, in my cabin in the heat, and I see his face bending over mine. I toss my head against the covers and close my eyes to try and stop this imagining. For if I look at the sight of his face I don’t know what my mind will tell me I see there.

He words me girls, he words me, as Cleopatra says, and so I can’t let him go.

I arrive on this island, stepping off the boat with my head held high for a moment, a moment when I can allow myself some pride. Soon my head will duck down and I will be silent against his voice.

I see the general’s wife and she is all that he wants me to be. All I hear is of her, of her and her beauty, of her and her sweetness, of her and her purity. And I think well whose fault is it that I am not so sweet, whose fault is it that I am rendered whorish, when I am no worse than she, really, I am no worse than she. If it is a damned life I lead, well by god it is an honest one. We are both women and we both bleed, and if the breaking of blood was not spilled by a husband, then who is to say that that was my fault. And how dare he talk to me of this? He who values purity so highly has no trouble pressing hard against my breast, he takes what he wants from this body he so despises and then blames me for not keeping to the picture book version.
And I want to gnash my teeth and I want to shout and yell and riot on the street that he so drunkenly fell about on, and scream why won’t you be mine like I am yours, why do you refuse to see that I am no worse and she is no better than me. I think he loves her and I think of what I hear, and who knows if I think wrong, for I think I hear that the general thinks he loves her too.
It’ll all end badly, I think I know that much.

He sends me to my room with this damn piece of cotton, this damn strawberry patterned token from some woman’s hand in to his, and I have to laugh, I have to pretend that I don’t mind. I flirt prettily of how I could not bear his absence, whilst I hide that to be from him is too painful for me to bear. But he thinks I came here because my slut body needs its satiation. For god forbid that a woman like me could love him tenderly, for how can my lust for his body be matched with a love like that which I feel. What woman would love the feel of the body against her own, could feel passion and heat, love is not for the demure! Damn him and his refusals! Damn him and his denials! He will not be seen with me and I beg my foolish head to release me from this, I tell myself that I will not be seen with him, and I laugh, I laugh I laugh, for what punishment is that for him?
I must be circumstanced.
I know that he laughs. And I know I won’t be his.
So although my heart aches to control my blood my passion rises and I shout and I yell and accuse him of loving this other, this pretty lady who is so pure and who is so sweet, and after I cry and I cry, for I know that so long as my head refuses to settle for that which he offers, he will never offer more.

Despite his nervous denials, I find him there in my room. The distress from all that is happening here is lined clearly on his face, and my heart appeals out to him. It is love, I think. For like a woman to a child, to see him sad leaves me sad, and I wish his sadness on to me to carry as my burden. I press my palm against his cheek and call him my darling and my love and my sweet thing and all kind tones I can think of. He needs me you see. Some part of him must know this, for what else would explain his presence here in my room. The secret muscles with their own programming kick in to action and lead him to my door. He has no conscious choice.
And he returns my caress with his hand stroking my cheek. But I know what is concealed in his hand, and it is not love that provokes his action, it is desire. And if I am to be what he desires, then I have to accept what he holds there. The paintbrush in his palm smears itself across my cheek, and replaces it with softer, rounder, dimpled ones that smile. They are pale and milky, and blush to a perfect rose that signals a brand new modest innocence. The sharpness of my cheekbones are filed down, and that angry flare that brightens what was once my face is subdued. The bristles rub out my eyes and colour them blue, drowning in that sea the lust and fire that resided there formally. He is perfecting me in the image he wants, and I let him do it, and I submit. I lower my head so that he can wipe out the darkness from my hair and when I timidly rise my eyes to his I see in them reflected the one that he wants. His desire pushes me inside of myself, and I curl up there, out of sight, lying safe in my belly.
And once he has hidden me, then he can take what he wants. As I lie covered deep down deep, the fresh brightness of my skin reflects a light that gives him the image he is pleased to see. The brightness blinds the dark flashes hidden under the painted blue so that they lie blank and white staring. He doesn’t see the damage that this desire has. And I accept, I accept all because I tell myself over and over that if I accept then he will love me, he will have to love, how could he not do otherwise?
But still I rebel, my body won’t obey what he inflicts on it! I can’t control my passion, I can’t control my response, and I know that if I don’t try harder I will throw myself out from behind his new portrait and he will be forced to confront the truth in my face. I grit my teeth and order my blood to halt its rush, but she doesn’t listen, and the soft pink cheeks they won’t listen either, they melt away under the pressure of the fight in me, and although I strive to keep her hidden, I can see as I look in his eyes that she has escaped, and he rolls off, frustrated with me, for I could not succeed in keeping the picture of his happiness.

And I lie prostrate by his body and I know this is the end.
I know this is the end.

I'll be around

this is for all the stupid girls like me.
and is inspired from:

i'll be around by miss billie holiday

"I’ll be around no matter how you treat me now,
I’ll be around from now on.
Your latest love can never last,
And when it’s past, I’ll be around when she’s gone.
Goodbye again and if you find a love like mine,
Just now and then drop a line
To say you’re feeling fine.
And when things go wrong,
Perhaps you’ll see you’re meant for me,
So, I’ll be around when she’s gone."

and dusty springfield
"baby if your new love ever lets you down, come back, i will be around, just waiting for you, i just don't know what else to do."

and kylie minogue
"if you say you love me, oh boy, then i can't ask for more, i'll come if you should call'
i think this is one of the saddest lines in music. in fact all these lyrics are heartbreaking.

but enough on inspiration, here's the story:

I’ll be around.

It is your power I guess, you have the power so that now I am trapped here and how can I find anyone else when still I sit under your spell, your god damn fucking spell that simply refuses to set me free how can this still be happening.
Like a dog, like a dog I lie on the mat of your door waiting for you to crash back down from wherever you have been when you are not with me, and I’ll take you back in my arms and stroke your hair and tell you that everything will be ok, and like a dog I am hopelessly grateful for any whisper of a caress you return to me. A kiss on the corner of my mouth sends me shivery and into paroxysms of possibility that surround me.
I watch you with her, and when it goes wrong you know that I will be around. When she twirls her hair around her finger and looks lovingly into your eyes, I’ll leave now that that is good for you, I’ll be around when that no longer is enough.
Like your shadow you fall back on me when you no longer want what she so temptingly has offered you and like a cushion I take you in and you tell me how it all went wrong and I pray and hope that because I have stayed around you’ll want me again.
I feel like Dusty Springfield and Billie Holiday and Kylie Minogue just waiting just waiting for you to finish with the her, the next her, and come back to me because I’ll always be around.
I don’t know how else to behave anymore. Being in love with you has become this horrible attachment to my side and I can’t shake the feeling off, no matter how much I want to leave this alone now. Let me take myself back, I beg of you, I beg of her. Stay with this one so that I can no longer be around. Take her away with you and leave me behind and then maybe one day when I am alone again I can shake away this that surrounds me, like a dog shakes water from it fur, like a dog.

How over is over?

i wrote this in january this year i think, then got pissed off with it and shelved it, and wrote 'something else' instead (which is how it got its name, me being frustrated and just typing "something else" to get me started). then yesterday i found it and it wasn't as bad as i thought, jsut needed some tweakin here and there. it is the silent argument between an unwitting triangle, eek, that sounds so cheesy, but it is a realistic situation and one that it is all too common and all too easy to find yourself in.
it prob needs a hell of a lot of polishing, but here it is for now.

How over is over

Anyone looking at them could see they had been lovers. It was in the way they held each other’s gaze a little longer than was necessary, a flick of the head, the notice of something deeper that was invisible to anyone else. A longer touch.
‘It’s over now,’ she would shrug when questioned. ‘It’s over now.’
But it was obvious to him that it wasn’t over. It wasn’t over now. He would watch them talking with a wry expression that aimed for somewhere between indulgence and something less tangible. He wanted to look that he was so confident that he didn’t mind her talking to someone who everyone must know, everyone must know, had once seen her in a state that was now reserved for him.
It was the helplessness that he felt; it was this that stung hardest. Because he knew it was over. Because he knew if he brought it up, all she could say was that it was over. But it wasn’t over enough. He hated that she wouldn’t see this. He hated that she hated that he wouldn’t see that she couldn’t make it any more over than it was.
‘What do you want from me?’ was all she could ask. ‘I’m not going to stop seeing him. He’s been around longer than you. It was over before you.’
It was an ugly thing, his jealousy. It would tug his toe, and grasp up his body in a shudder that he would excuse as ‘sorry, someone walked over my grave,’ and she would laughingly stroke his back that would execute the second shudder. This anger borne from the roots of his body as they clung to the ground, trying to avoid the cloud fantasy where his hate was realised. In his mind, he saw a goblin mocking him, shrivelled skin and wide smiling lips glinting in malicious fury. He would see him laughing in her eyes as he flinched from the sight of her in his other’s arms.
Was it that he, the other half of her, the other one, knew her in a time that had forgotten him? Or was is the more basic carnality, the thought of her clutching against the back that she now wrapped in her arms in a welcoming hug? Did he feel a fool knowing that the others in the room were imagining the same sight?
But he could never ask her.

She sensed his confusion, and would try to restrain her actions. She mentioned him less in conversation. Yet she worried this would make it worse. It would make it look like she had something to hide. It was all too late, she realised, the blueprint in her response had been formed. She could not no longer touch him, or not hold him in her gaze as she had not done before. Her reflexes had switched to that point and it was no longer part of her controlled response. But she couldn’t understand the jealousy. It made her stupid, it made her cheap. It hated parts of her that she treasured, her past that was part of her body. It was as if he looked at her and declared that he hated the sight of her left arm. Without her arm her body was incomplete. Without her past, her body would be disfigured. She hated that he didn’t see this. If she loved him, then why couldn’t he understand that every experience she had was etched on to the body he reputed to desire, and if she rubbed those out, she would lose her self.
‘You just love what you want to love,’ she would cry. ‘You want to erase me.’ But he never understood. And the frustration drove her in circles. How could he not understand that the love of the other had made her in to this shape?

‘It’s over now,’ she insisted. But she knew.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

experience to share

i'm going to send this to the guardian weekend column 'an experience to share'. although it seems strange to me that my childhood could be counted as an experience, recent rows about gay parenting have made me think seriously about my childhood. no one asks the kids when they start bitching about how evil lesbian mothers are! and who else really knows what it is like, except the children? the archbishop of wherever didn't have a lesbian mum, so how can he judge how it effects her child?
i DID have lesbian mums and every day i am grateful for it. so i have written this to try and show the world why it isn't wrong for the child. if a child is loved, then it needs not much else.

Experience to share

I am four years old and we have just dropped my dad off at the navy base, when Helen suggests we go to see ‘Kathy’. I thought she meant go to a cafĂ©, so I was fairly surprised to find that we are at someone’s house on top of a hill. Kathy answers the door and lets us in, giving me and my three year old brother a Paddington Bear toy and a Pink Panther duvet to play with. Sarah is sitting in the grey chair against the window. Everything is a bit dark, but I think that is the effect of distance on my memory, rather than actual lighting.
This is my earliest clear memory. Not long after, my mum left my dad and Kathryn left Sarah and we moved in to the house at the top of the hill, and they have been a couple ever since. That was eighteen years ago.
My parents’ marriage was pretty much over before my mum met Kathryn. She wasn’t some kind of home wrecker. And after the divorce my brother and I continued to see our dad, at first regularly and then more and more sporadically as we got older. However, we have both always maintained contact with him and his wife. It was a hard decision for her to leave him, and to start a new life as a lesbian. For a long time we couldn’t tell our grandparents where we lived, as they wanted to put me and my brother in to care, and a lot of my mum’s friend severed all contact with her. However, Kathryn was always really supportive, and had a wide network of friends in the city, when I look back on my childhood I always feel surrounded by people who were willing to look out for us.
As me and my brother grew up, we weren’t really aware of what a lesbian was. Mum and Kathryn never sat us down and had a conversation about their sexuality. I remember thinking as a child that if you didn’t have a dad, then naturally you would have another mum. My dad had settled down with a new girlfriend, so why wouldn’t my mum be the same. I think my mum felt that if she had made a big deal of discussing it with us, it would have made my brother and I feel that we were different from the other children, that our family was somehow wrong. As it was, we were the only kids at school for a while with divorced parents, something which seems crazy now, even though it was only eighteen years ago. Children are so adaptable, and we were no exception. By never making an issue of it, her sexuality never became an issue for us. This did, of course, cause some embarrassing moments for my mum, if me or my brother inadvertently would say something that gave her away (“and then we went and woke up mummy and Kathryn and all climbed in to bed”) but she believed it was far better for her to privately blush, then for us to feel we had to hide our lifestyle, as if it was somehow shameful.
Of course, as we got older this changed, and as ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ became insults that kids used against each other at school, we became more aware that my mum’s lifestyle was not exactly accepted. We became a lot more private, and at one point I was inventing convoluted excuses as to how we all lived together. I hated hearing people say ‘uhh, that is so gay,’ because I felt that they were insulting my parents. However, it never made me resent my mum or Kathryn. Instead, it made me more determined to fight the prejudice that I encountered. Now I am completely open about their relationship, and if people have a problem with it, then it is their problem, and not mine.
Every day I feel happy for my childhood. I often think how different it could have been if we hadn’t had Kathryn. Financially we would have been much worse off for a start. But emotionally also. All my life I have lived with two people who love and care for me, and it is this that is most important for a child, two loving parents, it doesn’t matter what sex. Kathryn raised us as her own, and even though children were never part of her plan, she never made us feel that we weren’t wanted around. She supported us financially when mum was studying and in marginal employment, and she looked after me and my brother when my mum was in hospital, as well as pulling my mum through her illness. Nowadays, Kathryn is like a rock to me. She is the person I can turn to when I am stressed or unhappy, and I can’t quite face telling my mum about it. It is like having an extra best friend, and if I need my mum to know some issue or problem, but am too shy to approach her directly, I know I can always talk to Kathryn first. When I was going through depression, one of the things that helped me through was the knowledge that I had a strong support in my immediate family, and that no matter how bad I felt, I would never be completely alone.
Having lesbian parents also made me a lot more secure about my own sexuality, and when I ended up with a girlfriend, I didn’t have any of that fear of telling my parents or worry about how they would react. It also made me aware of the options I had sexually, and I’m proud of my bisexuality. Because throughout my childhood, I was confronted with the problems caused by small mindedness and prejudice, I have grown up to believe in equality and how all discrimination, be it racist, sexist or homophobic, is inherently wrong, and this has informed my own work, study and future career plans.
There has been so much talk in the media lately about gay parenting with the recent adoption row, but no one ever thinks to ask the children what their experience of being raised by gay people was. And surely, no one else is in a better position to judge than they are.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

ive got this line in my head - where to take it?

and i, who as i looked at Death wink her blue eye at me, laughed, or so they say.