Tuesday, 18 June 2013


He was a relaxed enough guy I thought, but there was something that really riled him about last-minute changes. I delved. It didn't seem to be an anti-spontaneity thing, he was quick to roll with a new plan, as long as it somehow fitted into his bigger picture. It was more about a change which involved some loss of control, resulting in a kind of pre-ordered (or preordained) fun-factor. Let's not go home and box set, let's, have some beers and Find the Night! I hadn't quite figured out his issues, but it was something about someone else owning the right to his successful times. Perhaps.

I shared how I am absolutely driven by a spontaneous change of plan, as long as I had no hand in its instigation. Can you work tonight? Yes, money sounds great and I have nothing to do. Sorry I can't make our picnic date, am I utterly selfish and are you mortified? No that's fine, and I actually have a feeling of great lightness and upended freedom, so cancel away! Something excites me about the way things are, not being quite so. We plan our days, fill our weeks, organise our lives away, in fact. With my A6 Moleskine week-to-page, fortnights spread across the open book look worryingly brief. It makes me wonder whether my squandering achievement level isn't directly related to the size of my diary. Perhaps an A1 flip chart next year?

Despite my winsome crusade for the unknown, I recently suffered a countering wobble. Excitement disappears when actuality falls short of our ever-optimistic hopes. When face to face with THE WAY THINGS ARE IN MY HEAD NOT TURNING OUT THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE. This isn't the way it was supposed to be! And far from being more impressive and liberated than what we'd expected, everything is just worse. I suppose you have to take all results with the knowledge that anything could have happened, but only this one thing could actually have happened. Take the light with the heavy.

So today I was to meet a friend late pm, which I swapped for a spontaneous waitress shift, that I was then beaten to, which resulted in lying out in late mosquito sun, and meant I could once again make the outdoor screening of Harold and Maude (perfect for this mood). Break plans for something better, call it Making Better Plans. But be prepared to change. Again. I certainly flourished in the rays of shifting options, my surfaces sufficiently prickled and whirled to create a larger area of seeping potential. Logical living is all well and good, but the unknown if where the good stuff (might) happen. Is it too paradoxical to cultivate a wildness?

Saturday, 18 May 2013


I've been gabbing on about authenticity, not to anyone other than myself or anywhere else other than in my own head, but the gabbing has been considerable. It seems right that I should put it into practice rather than just standing on the kerb thinking, that looks like a smooth, inviting, freshly-laid idea. I got back from London over a week ago, and have not yet managed to shake the mood I returned with. Within 2 days of arrival I was calling a moody shop assistant a bitch, huffing and grumping all over the transport network, stepping on people, being stepped on. Rich West terraces, overheard cafe society, people putting on such a self-show of equity that I'm now unaccustomed to.

What I always identified London as still rings true; it's a place to take your wares to peddle, ideas to tout, meet benefactors, do deals. It's not a place to hang out, timelessly appreciating beauty and the universe, generally having a nice time. If you're not pushy, you won't squeeze on that train, if you don't run just a little bit, you won't get there till tomorrow, if you don't shout, no-one will even see you, never mind hear you. There's stuff to buy, the cream of the best of the next, capital promises of fulfillment to dull the missing. You earn your money, you buy your things, and if you fit and it fits, well done, it works. But if you find yourself working too many hours, seeing not enough people, and the patches become, patchier, it's time to move on.

Five months ago I followed a light to a better place, and I couldn't wait to retrace my steps. However, on returning, a disgruntlement has set in. Maybe it was the aunties at the party, maybe it was beaming friends looking to vicariously breathe in a projected exoticism. But each time I answered awe-expecting questions about how life is exclamation mark, I diluted my meaning slightly. Notions repeated detach from us, unclaimed, words turn back into letters, turn back into shapes, curls spikes forms with no definition. We're stood here, suddenly unlabelled. Surely the glow counts for something? Stay glamourous, she said, though I doubt it counts as an occupation.

Explain yourself. Pin your meaning. Let me place you. Situate yourself before you even decided where to drop anchor. The gap between leaving and arriving; why am I here, why did I leave? The stories we tell people. You can tell a plain tale with vigor, or talk down a dream; it's not what you do, but the way that you relate to it. When the floor is moving all we can really rely on is our own authenticity, hopping onto each slab and enjoying the freedom of not yet knowing where we'll land. Make mistakes, perhaps look a tiny bit ridiculous, and don't be afraid of truly being seen.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Who am I kidding, every artist loves a restriction. Bruce Nauman came straight to mind as I hopped around the flat in my high-waisted heel-holed tights, desperately trying to fix a bra strap hook into it's rightful place, managing one hook, deciding the gamble for both was just plain greedy. I laughed at the absurdity of such an everyday act made into a challenge of might and ridicule. I can do this. Like the time I was definitely going to fix the blender spindle, and definitely didn't need a boy in the vicinity. Once I'd decided, it was made; the physical result just lagged behind a few tools purchased on eBay, and gentle cajoling from a flatmate who ate couscous 80% of the time and probably couldn't see the point of the blender anyway.

Bruce paces his square, tick tock, restrictions. I bag my bandages up for another shower, quick now at the taping and tucking. I sit in the bath at the wrong end and rest the arm outside of the curtain, on the perfectly placed sink. The worker begins lathering and soon they're having a kind of conversation, a bothered caregiver being hassled by a helpless dependent: You alright? Yeah, I'm just working at the moment. Oh ok, I'll just wait over here. Yes you relax, are you ok? Yeah I'm ok, achy but you know. Yes, you have to be patient. I know. I bloody know. They become characters, an unlikely couple, one fixed and forward, one timid and prone.

Several moods come over the restricted party during the next week. Impatience figures quite prominently alongside fear, mistrust, frustration and confusion. Immense tiredness, who knew an arm needed so much sleep all to itself, 13 hours in 24 on some days. It develops a box set habit and luxuriates on pillows. It cancels social occasions, I'm sorry, the arm needs to go to sleep, so we can't make the talk/film/party. It becomes the physical object of my current obstructions. Almost nice to see it outside of my head, crooked equally helpful and bound by a gentle tattooed man at 1am last Friday.

Restraints or constraints. It reminded me of the Oulipo; if you don't know where to start, take something away and forced invention follows. A dancing hand types for two, sleep is interesting angles, forks work as knives, a t-shirt whips off in one, a cape snatched like a table cloth laid with china. Puzzles are solved. There's a whole Mary Poppins aspect to it, it becomes kind of fun. Embrace limitations and accept impossibilities. There's no way you can pin up a hairstyle with just one hand, but it consequently now flips the opposite (more pleasing) side for the first time, so a positive result.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Who am I talking to?

At the moment, it's an intriguing confusion between many unestablished voices, multiplied by their potential destinations, and spread out across my limited experience. Endless possibility... some days exciting, sometimes soul freezing. I am putting myself through The Artist's Way, a method from the 90s for unlocking creativity, and building some faith in this wilderness. I'm actually getting into it, though the lightness does of course come back around and poke me on the shoulder, asks me to add a bit of cynicism to rationalise the experience, but I'm just saying no. For once I'm on the bandwagon, it's a pretty good view from up here, there's some softly worn fabric cushions of faded brights to sit on, and some pleasant maybes to pass the time. For the moment being, cynicism can hide under a rock, but it's no coincidence that the contemporary reprint of the book omits the old tagline of 'A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity'

Maybe it's just because I went to yoga three times this week. As much as I do it at home all the time, especially now as I am unemployed with boundless time, class makes me forget my body as well as my brain, and fully immerse in the philosophy. I don't know what it was yesterday, but I kept getting really profound flashes at the oddest moments, by the end I'd devised a menu of points to take away, starter,main, dessert, along with the word allow. Quite boring just there, but at the time, it glowed. The plans that made sense to me within that two hours, once I'd had a kebab and got to writing them down, it just dissipated. Revelations turned into plain English sounded watery and thin, like explaining a dream, it was so much more thrilling and involving at the time, I guess you had to be there.

So, I'm doing The Artist's Way, and glad I have centuries-old back-up to ward off the Americanism that my inner cynic bites on. I do skip paragraphs where intention is lost in language, cringe, and fill in my own gaps.  Each day I'm writing 15 minutes of Morning Pages, designed to take off the cream, or the scum, and my classification of 'morning' can sometimes be lax. After just 2 weeks you can notice a pleasing attitude change to such practice, along with a change of results. As I write the 4 pages in an orange Rhodia A5 notepad with a medium blue Muji pen, I scribble loud ideas with a 2B Stadtler pencil onto a Muji B4 scrapbook, underneath. Two tracks. I have an on-the-go notebook which feels like an external brain, impartially capturing thoughts and potential leads as well as boring crap. Three. I've started expanding autobiographical shots which would here become too narrative somehow, into small descriptions of under 1000 words. These are not (yet?) stories, because no-one is sad, nowhere is surreal and nothing really happens. Fourth. A blog like this sometimes presents itself. I don't know if it should, what it does, or how it operates, only that it mixes the methods mentioned, and adds a whole other realm of broadcasting and qualitative issues.

So there is the writing as verb, the writing as philosophy, the writing as theory, the writing as illustration, the writing as noun. They happen on different timescales and crawl towards a variety of endpoints, as yet unexplored and undecided. Flashes of thought seeds, completed pictures that merely need writing up, words that happen as you make them, a variety of distances between you and the Work. Possible destination must be deciphered by me but belongs to the words - Poetry, short stories, novellas, novels, creative non-fiction, art writing, art critique, art theory, philosophy, and all this before you approach paid-for words and modes my naivety hasn't found yet. It makes the question 'What do you write' a difficult one to answer. On the spot, unpracticed, cold. People want empirical examples, but some things you can't put into words.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Resolution time

One of my new years resolutions was 'Be hot'. It was quite a loose list, more like nice motions, one of which was made up from a friend's chat typo ('No Ransom', I liked it, something about not being constrained within your self, reminded me of the letter Sol le Witt wrote to Eva Hesse). The list had a lot about freedom and youth, things I had quit my job and moved location to find in myself again. I was 29, I felt old, tired and bored, I didn't want to look back and have an empty mind, wasted body and absolutely nothing to talk about. I'll be someone who lies on their deathbed and if some young writer doing a piece about the regrets of the dying comes along to question me, they'll be sadly disappointed by my lack of material.

Be hot. What do I mean by that? People still now look at old photos of me from Before him and say, 'I looked hot/cute/etc when'. It was a mixture of untainted youth and chemically applied brightness, and of course we'll ignore the heavy editing involved with the coming of digital images. Anyway, I've moaned about wanting to get back to that Before stage for quite some time. It isn't just about getting a dye job or being a size ten, though these cheats would lead part way there if only by association. It's no longer about the cattle market of Going Out, hitting bars and dance floors with some idea of appropriated sex.

Now, I'm actually taking the focus away from them and putting it back onto me. What makes me worth it? Validation from the inside glows outwards. It follows on from the shunning of definition by the external factors of work or relationships. Those times I 'looked hot' were yes a time when someone was in love with me, but I added that extra layer. I admit it's often easier when someone else has proved you first, you're not starting from scratch, but if you can muster it all from within then that is some heat. I always remember him saying, that seeing a girl out dancing in a bar by herself, doing her own thing, is irrevocably cool (read, hot).

I lead a pretty bodily-praising lifestyle, yoga when warm enough to take socks off, dancing everywhere but the supermarket (big coats hide sneaky street moves). It's not that I'm afraid of letting the world see me. I've been carrying a layer a emotional insulation that I think will drop in time. Starting as physically close to the inside as possible, I've done a fair bit of underwear shopping this week.  I've hung out in a variety of changing rooms with perspex walls, feature cut-out doors, or scant curtains, which when coupled with mirrors give outsiders the perfect perve. But I didn't fight it, didn't feel prudish or imperfect. I'm young, vibrant and exciting,  and I let you see me. Such openness and candour belongs to everyone. That's hot.