Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lines and margins

it's a funny thing, when I was younger I used to like writing on blank paper. It didn't matter too much about the colour, although when I look back at old bits of writing they often seem to be on white, lilac or yellow. I suspect, though, that it was more about what was to hand than any real preference. A lot of it is in biro as well - probably for cheapness.

Now however, I can't writing in biro, the ink doesn't flow fast or smoothly enough. I find it hard enough as it is to write down an idea quickly enough (when I have one of course!). I went through a phase of using fountain pens and gel pens but am curenetly favoring more expensive ink pens.

Nowdays I prefer the quiet containment of the lined page. I like thinnish lines, given the choice, and without margins. Margins always seem like a waste of valuable writing space. The worst kind of lined page for me is like a childs exercise book - wide lines (and few of them) and a wide margin.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

happy new year

Can't believe it has been more than a week since my last post - and not all due to christmas - I have been beavering awy like mad on my assignment which is due in in just over a week. Anyway once it is handed in normal service will be resumed.

I would like to wish all my regular readers and anyone a Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back to Music

Tinsel Town
Originally uploaded by pupski.
I am having a music fest this week as my noisy neighbours have gone away. Freed from their noise I suddenly felt the urge to play all my cds and that is what I have been doing. IMusic used to be what I lived for when I was younger but sometimes now I go days even weeks without listening to much. The trouble is that when you have noisy neighbours when you do get a quiet moment you want to relish it rather than fill it up with more noise.....

top tracks for the week:
1) Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me - The Smiths
2) Each Moment New - Lou Rhodes
3) The Guns of Brixton - The Clash
4) Sahara - Gerardo Nuñez
5) The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone - The Dandy Warhols
6) Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
7) Black - Pearl Jam
8) Accidents Will Happen - Elvis Costello
9) Guess who's coming to dinner - Black Uhuru
10) All Sparks - The Editors

Friday, December 15, 2006

Brick Lane and other Literary Gems

I am still struggling somewhat with this concept of the literary novel. I tend to agree with the Provocative Cynic that it is more about style and language than actual content. I have been doing some research this week about media book clubs (like Oprah and Richard and Judy) and was slightly stunned to read what Amanda Ross had to say about Monica Ali's Brick Lane. She considers this to be a literary novel and says "There's only one book I regret choosing for the show, Brick Lane by Monica Ali. i only put it on because I thought it would make the list look broad, but have you actually read it? It makes you want to give up after 40 pages."(Hattersly, G. 'She's Choosing Your Books', Sunday Times, 13/08/06)

I can't help wondering if Miss Ross is a bit dim and why is the multi cultural book still only on her list as a token choice when there are so many great and popular books about other cultures out there? Well I have read Brick Lane, I read it last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was one of those books that once I got into it I couldn't put down. Which probably explains why it was so popular, but I wouldn't necessarily have flagged it up as a literary novel - perhaps because I found it easy to read. It is easily more accessible than Nabakov's Speak, Memory or anything by Salman Rushdie.

What is does do is give a fascinating glimpse into other peoples lives - specifically that of a young bride brought to London from Bangladseh for an arranged marriage. Maybe the characters in the book are too hard for Amanda Ross to relate to but I loved this book exactly because it gave me a window into a world that I have no personal experience of. I think that is why books about other cultures are so fascinating, they allow you to become part of a different world for a short time. When I was younger I loved the work of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala for this reason and recently I have really enjoyed books like Brick Lane, The Bookseller of Khabul and The Kite Runner.

What I find slightly worrying is that according to the British Press Amanda Ross has a huge amount of sway over British publishers, influencing release dates and covers and a slot on the show can make or break a book. My question is should one person have so much influence over the nations reading habits?

"I suppose it's a bit odd for the most powerful person in publishing to admit this," she laughs, "but I really don't know anything about books at all."
"(Hattersly, G. 'She's Choosing Your Books', Sunday Times, 13/08/06)

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Winter lethargy and story tapes

I am struggling this week, with a winter cold and a lethargy that seems to have arrived with it. I just can't get motivated and there is so much to do: christmas shopping, my critical studies assignment, writing christmas cards. I think the reason I haven't done the cards is that I am beating myself up for not having made them. Every year I make my own so to have not managed to this year feels like a failure.

On a more positive note I realised today that most of the presents that I am giving (and the ones I hope to receive) are books this year. I just can't seem to get enough of reading at the moment. My mum is suffering fro the early stages of cataracts and listens to a lot of books on tape and cd so I thought that I would get her a couple for christmas. She gets most of hers from the library but they are very mainstream and left to her own devices she has more ecclectic tastes- I was lucky enough to find an unabridged Alice Hoffman on ebay, but had to order a Louise Erdrich set from the USA, through Amazon. I don't know why I didn't think of doing that before - it means I am able to broaden her listening material and make her happier - hooray for amazon!

Monday, December 11, 2006

What makes a Literary Novel

What is a literary novel - it's a term that I hear bandied about but it is ver hard to find a definition - even on the internet. I am currently reading The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan and wondered if it came into this category, it certainly is not "chick lit". I have read a wide range of books this year - poetry, fiction, factual and autobiography. I must confess though that I got rather stck reading Bob Dylan's Chronicles. I think it is because he includes very little personal detail. When I read an autobiography I like to hear about the writer's personal life, their emotions and what makes them tick. Dylan includes none of this, which is a ral shame as I suspect that it would make riveting reading, instead he tells us abou cafes he played in and how he made various musical contacts.

At present I have at least ten books in my pile waiting to be read and some of these are worthy reads (does that equal literary?) - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossseini, Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels, Lost in Translation - Eva Hoffman, autobiographies - e.g. Marc Almond and more mainstream fiction - Julie Myerson and Tony Parsons.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big Brother is Listening to You

I was alarmed to read, as I settled down with my Sunday paper, that the government is thinking of installing microphones on the streets of our towns and cities. The thinking behind it (allegedly) is that they will be able to register the change in the pitch of noise that will indicate when trouble is brewing. Considering the fact that almost everything we do in the Uk these days is caught on film - don't you think whoever is watching all those cctv cameras would see if a riot was going on. After all we're not even allowed to hang out in big groups any more - isn't it breaking the law.

I was a staunch Labour supporter in my youth. But this is going to far. It really will be big brother watching and listening to us. Everything we say in public could be recorded and listened to. Woe betide that you might make a joke, it might be misconstrued and you could end up in jail. We are already one of the most filmed nations on the planet - and we have accepted our fate with barely a spark of protest - even though when we think about it too much it does make us feel uncomfortable. What is most worrying is that this technology will be sneaked in under our very noses - no public votes, hardly a murmur of protest and before we know it we will have secret police who arrest you for saying the wrong thing. Ludicrous? Perhaps but this technology has already been installed as an "experiment" in some areas of London....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tense and Point of View Problems

I can't believe that nearly a whole week has past since I posted on my blog! I have been busy doing my college assignments - working hard.

This term has been a challenge for me but I have so much it has been an invaluable experience. I am still having some problems editing my fiction piece though. I find that the point of view swaps and changes and often I don't even notice until someone else points it out. I also overload my work with adjectives (as I have said before) and I also seem to have difficulty sticking to one tense. I guess I will learn to overcome these obstacles eventually - or is that why novelists have editors?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Secret Hell of Wooden Spoon Girl

Deadlines fast approaching so posts may be a bit thin on the ground for a few days. I had been working on a piece using wooden spoons, text and photos but I have all but given up on the wooden spoon idea for the moment - it just doesn't seem to be working. Inanimate objects sometimes just won't cooperate. The lazertran is too fragile once applied to the wood and flakes off at the edges - and I also haven't come up with a satisfactory way of displaying them. I like the ones with the text on them though - But I feel like they are not enough on their own the ones with pictures on would have pulled the whole thing together.

I have also been struggling with my critical appraisals, firstly I am not sure if I am doing them right and secondly 500 words just doesn't seem enough - I keep on editing and my first one is still 670 words.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Fine Art Of Procrastination

I admit it - I am a procrastinator, I can't help myself. I did however manage to do some work today, just not as much as I hoped that I would.

Let's start at the beginning, there I was earlier this week, innocently believing that I had two to three weeks before all my work was due in. I was feeling pretty good - it was all under control. On Tuesday we had a group tutorial and it was then that the horrible truth dawned on me - I have just over a week to finish everything - help! So much work and so little time.

Today was the first day that I knew i could actually get a day at home without any interruptions. I was good - I only played one game of online scabble. I wrote most of a critical appraisal for my visual practice portfolio - now I just have to type it up. It is well over the 500 words though! I made two bowls out of newspaper and polycell (which don't seem to want to dry). I cut out loads of bits for collage. But that's it really - I suppose I did manage to spend two hours looking at printers on the net. Mine is definitely on its last legs. It has had new cartridges, two head cleans, realignment of the print heads and it is still printing liny pictures.

Deciding which printer to buy is a tough call. I have always had epsons and have been happy with them. They do a wide range of prices. I want one that is good for photos so not just the basic model and I think that I will get one that scans as well. These are a little more pricey and I have already ruled out one as it has six colour cartridges instead of four - that would be great for art work but raises print costs considerably.

Surfing the net though is not the best use of time, what I really need to be doing is producing a great work of art - I wish!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tough Art

For once I am feeling like I am on track with my writing - until my fiction tutorial tomorrow of course, which could change everything. Today though it is my visual practice that I am struggling with. I have lots of ideas which I have been following up on - but none of them are quite working in the way that I want them too. That is all part and parcel of the process with art I know, but I have two week until my deadline and I feel like I haven't done a strong enough piece of work yet. It's very frustrating, I had hoped that I would be able to produce something that I was at least marginally happy with. I want my work to be meaningful and aesthetically pleasing but I feel like I have veered of at a tangent, gone off track.

I started by looking at the layers within society and family, starting with the self and fanning out - self, immediate family, wider family, community, area, country, world. I decided to focus on the family, especially the dysfunctional family, I have mad two and three dimensional collage and had started putting image and text onto household objects using lazertran and letracet. I wanted to use comforting and famiiar crockery to convey a deeper message using family pictures and darker text that normally would not go with them. That led me to look at the way certain household objects are used in a less desirable way. For instance wooden spoons are generally used for coooking and baking but it is amazing how many people have said to me that one or other used them for administering corporal punishment. This gave me the idea of putting text onto the spoons and pictures - unfortunately though the pictures don't quite seem to work. I also need a way to display them. I thought that I would hang them up but haven't been able to come up with the right thing to hang them on. Any ideas ir thoughts gratefully received!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Joys of Editing and Tense

I have just spent a blissful (?) hour in the college refrectory editing a piece of writing. This particular piece is now on its third or fourth edit. I had felt ok with it so I posted it onto the college bulletin board and was a left a list of things that didn't quite work. Not that I am complaining - it's good to have constructive criticism, but the downside is that if I have to edit evey two pages this much I will be ninety before I ever produce a novel!

I used to just write but now I am thinking about points of view, tense and who is narrating. I can't decide whteher I should have some bits written in the voice of one of the charcters (the first person) and some in written about them (third person). I have looked at lots of novels and they are rarely written entirely in the third person as this somehow makes the writing less accessible to the reader. I don't think that all of my story works in the first person though. It seems weird to switch narrators too often, so I thought maybe to just have one or two characters write in the first person and write the rest in the third person. Confused? I am too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Behind Pink Floyd's Wall

Yesterday we happened to stray into a branch of HMV. I wasn't intending to buy anything, in fact I was adamant that I wouldn't. I just went in to keep Hunchermuncher company and to have a look. But of course the down side to window shopping is that it puts temptation in your way and I was tempted. So tempted in fact that half an hour later I emerged from the shop feeling somewhat sheepish and clutching a bag containing two DVDs; Westway to the World - a documentary about the Clash and The Wall (the 1982 Pink Floyd film). I had to buy them they were absolute bargains The Wall very rarely sells for less than £19 and there was a special edition version on sale for a measly £10.

So last night we watched the Wall. I first saw The Wall when it came out in 1982. In fact I saw it twice (possibly three times) and on both occasions I had to pretend to be older because it was an 18 and I was only 16. Watching it now I can see how of its time it is as a piece of art. Although it has a kind of story running through it (about a pop star called Pink Floyd who is having a braekdown) it also has many cultural references to what was going on it Britain at the time - riots, the National Front, hedonism etc. It also draws parallels with the second world war and flicks between the present, the war, Pink's childhood memories and the weird visions that Pink is having during his depression. Somwhere along the line reality becomes blurred and towards the end of the film it becomes difficult for the viewer to know whether what is happening is real or a dream. Add to this Pink Floyd's highly evocative music and it's enough to blow your mind.

Well almost. It didn't quite this time but I could see why it did on the massive cinema screen in the eighties. At the time the imagery must have been seen as being controversial and shocking. What I did find interesting is that the films rating has been downgraded to a 15, although after watching it I can see why it was an 18. Some of the images are very disturbing - especially some of Gerald Scarfe's animation sequences. It left me wondering who makes the decision to downgrade an age rating. I think I would have left it at an 18. Are we now so hardened to violent and disturbing imagery that kids can now see films that we weren't allowed to view until we were adults?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Liberal Use of Adjectives

Adjectives are my old friends , I overload my writing with them and it is a very hard habit to break. A creative writing tutor once said to me something like "don't just write hair, write wavy black hair. Describe what you are writing about." I took that advice to heart. Now, however on my creative writing degree people keep saying to me that what I have written is good but I ought to lose lose some of the adjectives. I know in my heart they are right. Too many adjectives can be tiresome, especially in poetry. But it's in my fiction writing that I am struggling with it the most. Hillock doesn't seem adequate enough when I can say "mossy green hillock" it's a dilemma. Do I lose both adjectives or just one of them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Poetic Inspiration - Lorca, Yevtushenko and Other Great Poets

It's funny just this morning I was thinking that I might write a post about my favourite poets. Later on I was looking at The Provocative Cynic's Blog and realised that she had just done one on the same subject. Great minds obviously think alike.

While I was waiting for my poetry tutorial this morning I was rereading "Poem of the Deep Song" by Fedeico Garcia Lorca. I can only dream that one day I will be able to write in such a powerful and fresh way as Lorca. I love the sparsity and simplicty of his poems yet in their spareness they are more alive and evocative of time/place and the senses than almost any other poet I have read.

Another poet that I have been revisiting this week is Yevgeny Yevtushenko, I have an extremely ancient copy of his collection "Stolen Apples". Yevtushenko is not a poet that I have seen in British bookshops recently, which is a great shame as I believe him to be one of the greatest international poets of the last century and he was certainly an important voice in the former Soviet Union.

I suppose if I was pushed my other favourites would be Louis MacNeice, Pablo Neruda, Alfred Lord Tenyson, W.H. Auden, Selima Hill, Thomas Hardy, Bob Dylan and Louise Erdrich (not forgetting George Szirtes of course!).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trials and Tribulations of a Visual Artist

Today I am feeling a little fed up - I bought a product called lazertran which you are supposed to be able to photocopy onto and then you can transfer the image onto any surface. I wanted to use it for my visual studies project transferring text and image onto crockery. But alas so I have been thwarted - the photocopier intensely disliked the lazertran - it disliked it so much in fact, that it chewed it up and jammed its mechanism up! What a waste of money - and it was not cheap.

I do have another pack of lazertran that is suitable for ink jet printers and I hope that I will have a bit more success with that. I may just have to splash out on a scanner after all!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Villanous Villanelle

I am feeling slightly bereft without a poetry task this week. I know that I could set myself one but it just isn't the same - although that is probably just laziness on my part! I liked the challenge of having a set task - although I did struggle a little with the sestina. Maybe I should try and write a villanelle - that seems even tougher to me than the sestina. In theory it should be easier as you are repeating whole lines instead of just words. The sestina is a bit like a mathematical formula which is tricky but with the villanelle I think the important (and difficult) thing is to find lines thatb are powerful enough to be repeated without sounding silly or losing their one does this as well as Dylan Thomas...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Multi Layered Personality

This week I have been thinking in the context of my visual practice about the layers within society. At each of our centres there is of course, our inner self and our internal thoughts and feelings, beyond that is our immediate family - whoever we live with - partners, children, parents etc. Beyond that is our family, the community/neighbourhood we live in, our work place/schoool/college, social groups, then our region, our country, our continent, then the planet and beyond. Then of course there is our physical surroundings. It's like we are each a little nucleus in the centre of a many layered cell sending out ripples that effect the layers around us. Some of us are only able to send out little ripples; whilst others send out ripples that reach right to the outside of their cell.

I believe we are also many layered beings. We each have different layers within us that we show at different times. Like different faces or different outfits that we put on.
I have the responsible face, the mother and up until a year or so ago the pre school teacher. I felt like I had grown into that sensible outfit until it became fused with my skin and that was what I was. But beneath that sensible, responsible, mumsy exterior are lots of other layers to my personality that I generally keep hidden and well locked away. The naughty girl, the joker, the lifelong Clash fan, the girl who lived in a hippy commune, the girl who secretly likes to listen to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin really loudly and jump around the room playing air guitar, the woman who is scared of being hurt.

We all have faces or layers that we present to the world. I don't know why we somehow seem to get saddled with a particular face without really meaning to. Maybe it is societal expectation, the criticism or disapproval of those around us or fear - who knows. Sometimes I look around me on the bus or in the street or cafe and wonder what the secret layers are to the people around me....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Song Lyrics as Poetry

I have been hearing a bit recently about how people just don't read poetry much anymore and I am wondering just how true this is. Yes most people don't read poetry books thes days, but how many people really did in the recent past. My parents were wide readers and they only had two or three poetry books in their large book collection and at least two of those were compilations.

I wonder if song lyrics haven't taken the place of more formal poetry in popular culture. I know there are a huge amount of lightweight and nonsensical lyrics out there but there is also some powerful imagery and meaningful messages. As a teenager I read a lot of lyrics and one of my favourite lyricists was Bob Dylan, my mum had a book of Dylan lyrics that were written in the form of poetry and I found myself coming back to it again and again, long before I really engaged with his music.

Last night I was watching a programme about Paul Weller on tv and was struck by the power and poetry of some of his lyrics. Wasn't early poetry in the form of song? Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that song is a ancient and accessable medium for conveying message and should be just as valid in a literary sense as a collection of poems. i think in years to come we will find that some of the great lyrics of the 20th and 21st centuries are preserved in poetic form and one of those writers will definitely be Bob Dylan.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sestinas, Villanelles and Other Poetic Games

This week I have two big literary challenges. The first was to write a piece of prose using a set structure given to us by the lecturer. We were to make a list of animals or creatures, choose one of them and base our piece of writing on it starting with a partial sentence that was given to us. We also have to incorporate other partial sentence into the piece in the order given. The phrases were such inspining things as: "When I see a..." and "and this in turn reminds me of..." - not phrases that I would choose to use.

I thought that I would really struggle with this, in fact I would go so far as to say that I was dreading it. I thought that the writing would end up sounding boring and stilted. Yesterday evening, however, I thought i would have a go and I found that once I began writing that I had a sudden flash of inspiration. I wrote the piece in about half an hour and I am very pleased with it.

The second challenge of the week is one that I haven't tackled yet. I feel that this task is even tougher than the first one. The brief is to write a poem in the form of a villanelle or a sestina, I won't try and explain what these are her as it is too complicated but if you click on the links you will find a relatively easy explanation. Both forms include repetitions but in a set form. The sestina repaeats words at the end of lines whereas the villanelle repeats entire lines.

I just can't get to grips the villanelle, I have looked at lots of definitions but it just feels like such an alien and contrived style of writing. There is little room for artistic freedom in such a form. The sestina is a little better but it is still a restricting and contrived form of creating poetry. We do have a third choice, which is to write a poem in the form of the rules of a game - in a similar style to the poems of Vasko Popa from a collection called Games.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Finding Your Place in the World

A friend of mine has a teenager that is going through a tricky patch at the moment and this has led me to reflect on how we try and find our place in the world. As an alienated teenager coming from a somewhat dysfunctional family I was constantly trying to find a place to fit in. I suppose what I was really looking for was a replacement for my family, somewhere that felt like home.

It is true that most teenagers look for a way to fit into the world. They want to find their identity outside of their role in the family and often want to be a part of something bigger, to make connections in the world. Many teens go through phases some short some long, I went through a few myself: punk; mod; biker/rocker; hippy. I was trying on all the clothes until I found an outfit that fit. For most people the final outfit is probably a mix of the elements from all the outfits that they have tried.

When something is wrong in your homelife you look to these outside groups to provide that missing validation that you are not getting anywhere else. I think that is why some people take on what might have been a phase as a lifestyle choice and that is how some of us end up getting into drink and drugs (I am talking past tense here!).

As a teen I had a few false starts in finding my surrogate family. I spent a while hanging out with a group of young christians, my friend and I nearly left town with a bunch of hells angels ((I always thank my lucky stars for that narrow escape). There was a community of sorts in the pub I used to frequent. They were a rag tag bunch - a mix of bikers, punks, hippies and us underage drinkers. It felt great for a while, everyone knew each other but I sadly mistook lifestyle collusion for for real family. One day I had a revelation, if someone decided to clean up their act - stop the drinking and drugs, better themselves - the family quickly closed ranks against them. They were a family only as long as you colluded with the common behaviour, kept within their comfort zone. I knew that I wanted more than that and when I realised that I decided that I would have to leave my homme town - I was 16!

My next foray was a little more successful. I went to live in a hippy commune. Surely this was the ideal place to find what I was so desperately looking for. And yes in theory it was - IN THEORY! In reality a community is made up of a group of individuals united (or not!) by a common aim or creed. These people are individuals, they have their own ideas, personalities and motivations. Unless you find a community with a strong religious or motivational focus, you quiclky find that factions form, people fall out etc etc.

The commune worked well for a while. When I first moved in we had a common goal of rebuilding the house, which had been partially destroyed by fire. We put all our money and energy into this project - it was the glue that held us together. There was no room for slackers. When the end of the work was in sight though, things changed. People's interests diversified and broadened and a more hedonistic faction began to emerge. It no longer felt like my spiritual home. I was coming up to my mid twenties by then and I knew I didn't want to be around drink and drugs again - it was time to move on.

I think it was at that point that I pretty much gave up on the quest for finding the perfect family. I turned more insular, focusing more on individual relationships and my relationship with myself. I do think as human beings we somehow always retain a hankering to be in some kind of a tribe. Most of want to feel like we belong, whether it is to our family, our community, our culture whatever. And there is an inherent attraction to being part of something bigger - isn't that why we have religion, football matches, rock concerts?

Sadly in modern western society we are increasingly seperated and alienated from one another. This is liberating in a way as many of the old constraints are gone but for many people so is a sense of belonging.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


after some very helpful feedback here is the revised version of yesterdays poem!


Boo to a goose, the words hang left unsaid,
for I’m afraid, afraid of life itself,
I am a helpless bird deprived of flight,
in shameful darkness tearing up the night,

interminable thoughts that swim around, around,
unholy dreams unbidden haunt my bed,
then tossed on sterile seas I run aground,
and flounder, flounder, wishing I were dead.

In salt washed sheets I’m doused until the dawn
breaks singing birdlike through soft window pane,
and all falls silent, silent as the owl
that hunts on velvet wings before the day.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Iambic Insomnia

It's a tough call writing a poem purely in iambic pentameter. Especially for a girl like me who likes to write spontaneously from the heart. I can write with rhythm no problem but it's where the stresses come in the lines that I find tough. In iambic pentameter the stresses are short long short long etc - when I looked at some of the verse I have written this week I realised that the stresses were in the wrong place some of the time. Mind you the odd out of place stress in a poem can be very powerful.

anyway here is the final article:


Boo to a goose, the words hang left unsaid,
for I’m afraid, afraid of life itself,
I am a helpless bird deprived of flight,
in loathsome darkness tearing up the night,

interminable thoughts that swim around, around,
unholy dreams unbidden haunt my bed,
then tossed on barren seas I run aground,
and flounder, flounder, wishing I were dead.

In salt washed sheets I’m doused until the dawn
breaks singing birdlike through soft window pane,
and all falls silent, silent as the grave,
and I am overcome with sleep again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Poetry At the Edge of the Comfort Zone

This week I have been trying to get my head round prosody, which is the study of rhythm, meter and intonation of a poem. I can understand iambic pentameter (a line consisteing of five feet or iambs) but I am finding it hard to get to grips with all the other terms and how they work - like the trochee and the spondee.

My task for the week is to write a poem of at least 14 lines in iambic pentameter. It should be simple enough but somehow I just can't get to grips with it. I like to read rhythmic rhyming poetry (like the Lady of Shallot) but I guess at heart as a writer I am more of a free verse kind of girl. I am sure that I will get to grips with it eventually but right now at I am at the limits of my comfort zone. I guess that is where the real learning begins.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Everyone needs a liittle Jethro Tull in their Life

I was recently having a clutter clear and I gave some cassette tapes to a friend who had been bemoaning the lack of music to play in her car. One thing that struck me as odd when I perused my old tapes was the lack of thought that had gone into matching albums up (or was it deliberate) - bearing in mind some of these cassettes are 20 odd years old. I suspect that the reason was merely random availability of albums to tape. If I was making tapes now though i think I might put a little more effort to matching up the a and b sides to better complement one another.

A good example of my discordant mismatching is Terence Trent D'arby. I knew my friend was a great Terence fan - but she is now cursing me - for what did I put on the other side? Why Jethro Tull of course! I do feel sorry for her I really do, but there is also a naughty part of me that can't help secretly hoping that she will grow to like Jethro Tull. After all doesn't everyone need a little Jethro Tull in their life? Mind you whether it will grow on her will very much depend on which album it is (I can't remember!). If it is "Aqualung" she may be a lost cause as this is not really a good first album for the Jethro Tull virgin - you need to be introduced a little more gently before you hit the heavy themes and rock of Aqualung. "Heavy Horses" on the other hand, is much gentler on the ear and brain, although it may be a little too folksy for some tastes - although not as folksy as "Songs From the Wood".

Metafiction Love it or Loathe it?

In my Critical studies class we have been examining difficult concepts such as post modernism and metafiction. Metafiction is something that I can't quite bring myself to like. It is a device used by novelists whereby the author reminds you that this is a work of fiction that you are reading and that they are the author writing. Fowles used this in The French Lieutenents Woman and similar methods are used in both film and theatre.

This is a practice that I find irritating - in fact I recently stopped reading a novel called "the Crimson Petal and the White" precisely because the author was using this method and in my opinion it was going on for too long. When I read a novel or watch a film I like to immerse myself in it. I want to enjoy it primarily for what it is - an act of escapism and enjoyment. I don't want to be reminded every few minutes that what I am watching is not real - I know that already! But for the duration of the experience I am willing to put that aside and I want to believe that it is real - at least until it is over. For me the mark of a good film or book is that I become so immersed in the story that I forget the world around me. I don't mind a bit of narration - like that of John Boy in The Waltons, as long as it doesn't detract from the story or continue throughout the whole film.

Maybe I am unusual in this, I don't know. I know that I often don't notice mistakes in films that friends of mine have pointed out and i think the reason for this is that even if the film is mediocre I still want to give myself over to beleiving in it - to feeling that while I am watching it I am part of the story.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Strangeland, Strange Life

My current reading material is a book by the artist Tracey Emin called "Strangeland". It is a fairly short autobiography of sorts. What I like about it is that she doesn't write in the traditional autobiographical style. The book is made up of fairly short chapters, each one a snapshot of her life or an account of a particular experience. Her life has obviously been hard at times but she has come through it and those early experiences clearly have made her the person that she is today.

Although some of the experiences related in the book are unpleasant or slightly shocking they are not related in the voyeuristic style that some autobiography takes, and becase each account is so short you are left more with a sense of understanding the writer better than before than of reading something harrowing that should have remained private.

I hope that if I ever write my life story that I could do it in this snapshot style. It is easier on the reader, it is more artistic and also means that you don't have to recall every detail of your life. I find that as I get older I don't remember everything about my life but there are some incidents and times that I can recall in great detail. I suppose these are the defining moments in my life - whether they were good or bad.

The sad truth is that we are all affected by our childhood and life experiences, and if our past is full of dysfuntion and unhappiness this can lead to stuggle and confusion later on in life. I do believe though that humans do have the ability to get through these experiences and to an extent get over them - not to blank them out but to let go of blame and resentment that can hold us back in adult life.

I am lucky my life was far less traumatic than that of Tracey Emin or Dave Pelzer, however my family life was difficult and dysfunctional, which in turn led me into some unhappy situations after I left home. I used to feel resentful of this, I longed with all my heart to have a normal happy family, I was jealous of other people who did have this love and support. I have learned over the years though that these experiences have made me who I am now. And although I am far from perfect (too hard on myself etc) I also know that they have given me the stregnth to get where I am today. To bring my son up in a loving and supportive environment, to work and study and the fact that I have done this with little or no support from my family makes me proud of myself.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Children of Men

We went to the cinema last night to see a film called "Children of Men" starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. It is the best movie that I have seen in a while. Set in an apocalyptic future Britain where terroism is common place and refugees from other countries are rounded up, put in cages and shipped off to detention camps like concentration camps. I won't give the plot away but the premise is that there has not been a child born in the world for more than 18 years and Clives Owens character gets caught up unwittingly with a terroist organisation called the Fish. Michael Caine does an excellent turn as a rather eccentric old hippy scientist.

I was rather worried about seeing this as I am not a fan of violent movies but in this film the violence is integral to the plot and is not gratuitous. The most disturbing thing for me is that I can see that Britain could easily end up like this and that thought is terrifying to say the least.

I have always had a fascination for films and books that have an apocalyptic vision of the future - maybe it stems from being brought up during the cold war and with the nuclear threat hanging menacingly over our heads. In the 1970s/1980s we were fed a diet of films like "Protect and Survive" films and booklets and there were serials on tv like "Day of the Triffids", "Survivors", "The Changes", "Quatermass", "When the Wind Blows" and "Threads". My parents were involved with CND on a local level and as a teenager and young adult I went on marches and protests including a big one at Greenham Common, where protesters linked hands around the perimeter of the airbase. So all these ideas about war and destrution have been very much part of my psyche for as long as I can remember.

Anyway this is a film that I would highly reccomend if you like your cinema to make you think as well as entertaining you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Love of Poetry

I love poetry. It is a mystery and a wonder to me. It is full of magic and holds me in it's thrall.

People have often said to me that some of my poems would make good pieces of prose if I expanded them - but to me there is just something about a poem. It's the use of less words that makes it so special. Prose can sometimes flounder in superfluous words, whereas (good) poetry is more succinct. It gets to the point quicker and without losing the reader along the way. It gets straight to the heart of the matter. One of my favourite poets is Lorca who uses very few words but they are incredibly well chosen and are able to convey powerful imagery and emotion. In his work the silences between the stanzas add a kind of power to the work that is hard to explain.

Only the Desert Remains (And Then) From Poem of the Deep Song by Federico Garcia Lorca (translated by Cola Franzen)

The labyrinths
that time creates

(Only the desert

The heart,
fountain of desire,

(Only the desert

The illusion of dawn
and kisses

Only the desert

This is not an argument for poetry against prose, but rather a rejoicing in the poetic. I love prose too, I am an avid reader and have written plenty of prose myself. But over the years I have found myself coming more and more back to poetry, just as I always end up back at the sea. Maybe it is because poetry is so closely connected with music and rhythm or maybe as I increase in years i want to get to the point quicker without too much pussyfooting around, or maybe it's just that over time my appreciation of the use of language has increased. Who knows it could be all these reasons but somehow poetry feels like coming home.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

13 Obscure Single I had as a Teenager

Thirteen Obscure singles that I had as a teenager

1…. Seven Days of Splendour - Jameson Raid
This is a single by a little known band although I did manage to find a link that you can view here. I think they were from Birmingham, I purloined this single from the communal collection at the commune I used to live in - nooone else liked it.
2....Hollywood Tease - Girl
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
My friend Rae and I absolutely loved Girl, but listening to them now I can't think why they are absolutely terrible! Maybe it was because they were pretty boys and we were young. Or maybe it was because noone else knew about them. I remember how excited we were when they got on Top of the Pops. Their guitarist Phil Collen went on to play in Deff Leppard.
3....Bad News - The Xdreamysts
I heard this single on the John Peel show and ordered it from my local record shop. It took weeks to come. It came in a clear vinyl sleeve with pink writing and it smelt divine. As you can probably tell this band wasn't even a one hit wonder!
4....Cecil B. Devine - Blazer Blazer
Another 70s rock band that didn't quite make it. I think I bought this from the discount box in my local record store. I liked it a lot at the time.
5....Women in Uniform - The Skyhooks
The Skyhooks were an Austrailian new wave band that never made it very big over here, which is hardly surprising given the sexist sentiments of the song. I was surprised to find that they are still going strong - click the link above to see a truly shocking photo!
6....Frustration - Purple Hearts
The Purple Hearts were part of the late 70s mod revival and they were great. I never heard much about them after this single though. I used to have a tape of them supporting The Jam in concert.
7....Laser Love - After the Fire
Semi new wave. This single is opaque dayglo orange vinyl. I bought it in Rumblelows, which was an electrical shop. I liked it a lot but went off them when I discovered that they were evangelical christians - yes I know it is prejudiced but I was a teenager! They are also still going.
8....See You Later - The Regents
Not to be confused with the American 60s band the Regents, these Regents were British and punky. They looked but they might be big but then drifted into obscurity.
9....Time For Action - Secret Affair
Another superb Mod revival band. Ian Page was fantastic, and although this song was a hit I never understood why they weren't bigger.
10....Don't Be a Dummy - John Du Cann
This was actually John Cann, forerly of Atomic Rooster, although this was a very new wave style track. It was used for a levi advert and became a minor hit.
11....Which Way Did the Wind Blow - Grand Prix
Another heavy rock band with a terrible name! I liked this a lot at the time - they were like a cross between Foreigner and Whitesnake, and yes I believe they are still going.
12....Passion Killer - One the Juggler
Don't really know how to describe this band. They looked like a bunch of gypsies and sounded like a cross between Split Enz and Crowded House.
13....Teenage Warning - The Angelic Upstarts
Punk with a vengence, best known for the violence at their gigs and later became admired by the skinheads.
1. amy
2. shoshana
3. christina
4. brony

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Artists and Personal Suffering

Talking of artists who use their own life and experiences to fuel their work one should not overlook Frida Khalo. Most of her work is very personal reflecting her turbulant realtionship with Diego Riviera, her years of pain caused by the injuries that she sustained in a bus crash when she was a teenager and her experiences of miscarriage. She had a difficult yet full life and altough I do not like a lot of her work I can't fail to admire her. I think her work is somehow a bit too raw and painful for me, as is that of artist Hannah Wilke who photographed and filmed her expeiences of cancer. It is moving yet distressing work to view - Wilke eventually lost her battle with cancer in 1993.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Coughing and Poetry

This was going to be a post about art but as I haven't been able to post images to my blog for a few days now I will leave that post for another time. This weekend has been about poetry and coughing - you couldn't get two more disimilar things if you tried. I have unfortunately succumbed to some horrible virus that has been doing the rounds that every now and then sends me into paroxysms of coughing. It's like having a monster inside my chest trying to burst it's way out and every now and then it sneaks its little claw up into my throat too.

horrible ... but luckily although colds normally seize my brain up - this one doesn't appear to have had that effect. Yesterday evening I found myself writing poetry - riddles, haikus and prose. Not bad for someone who felt like they were on deaths door a few hours earlier.


Soft shingle shifting,
Beneath cool salty water,
Such a sensual sound.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Three artists

I have become interested in several British artists in the course of researching my for my visual studies portfolio. I was looking for artists who have explored their past and their family through their artwork. The two that immediately sprang to mind were Tracey Emin and Richard Billingham. I have never much like Tracey Emin's work, I think partly because I didn't like her much. I found her abrasive and in your face and that is not the kind of character that I am usually drawn to. Plus I had found all the controversy surrounding her bed to be annoying and gimmicky.

This week however, I watched a video about her and now that she has ditched the drink and the bad girl of art personna I found myself warming to her a bit more. It's clear that she had an extremely dysfunctional childhood, and has often had a difficult time as an adult as well. I admire the way that she has explored and come to terms with the difficult times in her life through her artwork - although this can be viewed as narcissistic or egotistical. Introspection is always a good quality to have I think, as long as you deal with your issues and move on and don't become obsessed and hung up on things that happened in the past. I also wonder whether to be a really good artist or writer you need to make some introspective work. It can add depth and emotion to your work and how as artists can we make work that is not related to our experience of the world?

Richard Billingham is another kettle of fish altogether. I saw some of his work a couple of years ago at the Saatchi Gallery in London. He had taken a series of photographs of his parents. The work was very controversial at the time and ther was much debate in the press as to whether Billingham had exploited his family, however his family seemed quite happy with the work. Billingham used his work as a way of coming to terms with his dysfunctional parents who were alcoholics, he took a series of pictures of them as they went about their daily life - these photographs included them drinking and his father lying on the floor drunk. I'm not sure whether this is exploitation or not.

I have also been looking at the work of Michael Landy. His most recent work was a life sized reproduction of his parents house "Semi Detatched", which was in the entrance hall to the Tate Modern earlier this Year. Landy also did an installation afew years ago where he destroyed all of his possessions. An interesting idea - I'm not sure I could do it though.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lots of writers have used the medium to explore their pasts and come to terms with them. Although I am not sure that I would want the whole world to know about my past (shame issues?!), I think that the act of setting it down on paper can be extremely cathartic. My counsellor has suggested to me that I could use my art to somehow explore my issues with my family and sense of identity. I think that this is probably a good idea, although it is hard to know where and how to start.

Some of my recent collages have been about these issues and I would like to explore them further. My personna and view of myself is very much bound up with other peoples perceptions of me - both my family and society. Whether these labels are real ones that people have used, imagined ones that I feel are applied to me or ones that I give myself, they often feel limiting : single mother, bright, fat, lazy, daughter, sister, carer, ex partner, difficult, student, mother, reflexologist, pre school teacher. All these labels are so limited when taken on their own they don't say anything about the real person. Sometimes I think I should make myself a series of hats that I can wear when I am playing a specific role - the trouble is I would often have to be wearing several at once! Maybe I should have one hat with fuzzy felt labels to stick on...

Sometimes I find myself struggling when a particular label is used, somedays I don't feel like being a carer, a daughter or a mother even. How do we reconcile our own inner life, our ego, to the way we are related to by other people? Sometimes being labelled can cause resentment, people don't look behind the label to see the real person. Or occasionally someone will give you an inaccurate label soon after meeting you and will never review that label even if it turns out to be far from accurate. I am not innocent myself here I am sure, although years of working with pre-schoolers has taught me that sometimes it can be well worthwhile to persevere with someone that you find difficult to begin with.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wordy Wednesday - Much Improved Poetry

I am learning a lot on my course already - I really am! I am writing and changing my poetry until it turns from something I like to something I can be proud of. I was intimidated at first - I looked at the poems posted on the bulletin board and was awed. I thought my poetry was pretty good - my friends are always telling me so - but what do they know. Some of the stuff on the bulletin boards was amazing - I looked at it and my initial thoughts were "I can never write like that, it just isn't in me" now I am not so sure.

I love writing but haven't always had staying power. I often dash off something that is pretty good, but then become precious about it and want to leave it unadulterated. What a mistake - some of those poems could be so much better with a bit of tweaking, a word changed here or there. Anyway last week I wrote a poem about my son who has just turned 14. I liked it, but after a bit of feedback and reworking I am really pleased with it. I don't usually share poetry here but will make an exception goes. Let me know what you think...


Fourteen years old today.
Shaggy haired, stretch limbed,
Like a boy doused in miracle grow.
Will fourteen trip the hormone switch in his brain,
Send him falling helter skelter,
Tangle legged into the world of irascible awakenings?
Might something stir within him, monster like
Driving away the boy we know,
Leaving instead a belligerent alien with a child’s face?
At the door he stumbles
Foxed by the stilts that once were legs
Tripping over his clowns feet,
His voice ripped from his throat,
And replaced with that of a man.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What is this Postmodernism Anyway

Just a quick post this morning as I feel that I have been neglecting my blog this weekend. I have spent the last couple of days grappling with such terms as postmodernism, metafiction and fabulation for my critical studies homework - nothing like throwing you in at the deep end - and we haven't even had a critical studies class yet!

It's postmodernism that has foxed me most though - I understand that loosely it is a mixture of old and new, basically anything goes, but there is so much written on the subject that it is easy to get bogged down and a lot of it is hard to understand.

What I can't get to grips with is when did modernism stop and postmodernism begin. I may be naive but I thought that anything new was modern. But modernism seems to be ideas that conciously break with the past and try to be different. Although of course it is dabatable as to whether anything can be truly original. So postmodernism differs in that it uses both new ideas but also elements of what has gone before. Like using opera in a pop video, or a gothic arch on a modern building. It's all very confusing and I haven't even got into the philosophy part yet! and that's only one question of the six we had for homework...better get back to work!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Emotional Inspiration

I was flicking through the tv channels last night, when really I out to have been going to bed and I found myself watching the tail end of a programme about Nick Lachey. Nick Lachey is most famous for being in the band 98 Degrees and for being married and soon to be divorced from Jessica Simpson.

He seems like a nice guy but I have never really been a fan of his schmaltzy style of pop music but I found that I actually quite liked a couple of the tracks that they played off of his new album. So what is the difference? Well he wrote this album during his marriage breakup and it is very much an album from the heart. It's a great thing how some artists are able to turn personal tradgedy into great art/music/poetry. In fact I know that I have written some of my best poetry when I have been feeling insecure or completely miserable (or both!).

So I got to thinking are there any more great break up albums out there? and two that immediately sprang to mind were "Blur" by Blur - Damon Albarn wrote some brilliant tracks after his much publicised split with Justine from Elastica, and Face Value by Phil Collins made after the split with his wife. I am sure there are probably many more.

It's not that creation is better when we are miserable it appears that it might be to do with experiencing extremes of emotion, as may people write fantastic stuff at the beginning of a relationship as well - Lou Rhodes new album Beloved One is a good example of this.

I am sure that the author Julia Cameron would disagree with me. she has always maintained that great artists etc don't have to be depressed, flaky, alcoholic or drug addicts. She advocates keeping up a steady practice of creating every day and that if we do this great things will come. Well I am sure she is right but I can't help noticing that those extremes of emotion give my practice a little - or large boost!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Inspirational Tracks

10 Inspirational Tracks for a Tuesday

1) Starlight - Muse
2) Wondering - Dirty Pretty Things
3) Rock and Roll Doctor - Little Feat
4) Pretty Persuasion - REM
5) Ghosts - Japan
6) Sleep - The Dandy Warhols
7) Man Out of Time - Elvis Costello
8) Changing of the Guards - Bob Dylan
9) Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
10) Sail Away - David Gray

Some of these tracks I have rediscovered or discovered for the first time watching dvds of The Old Grey Whistle Test and some are more recent. I never liked Little Feat much when I was younger but watching their 1970s performance I was amazed. If you get the chance the series is well worth a look.

Monday, October 02, 2006

(CD) Wow I'm a Student

Yippee I finally got some cd vouchers from HSBC after quite a lot of chasing on my part. I talked to someone else last week who had been enticed by HSBCs offer and had chosen an MP4 player, which surprise surprise never materialised. Anyway I was determined to get my promised 10 cds and nearly jumped for joy when at last I got an email from cdwow saying my voucher had arrived. Not 10 as promised though - it was two, apparently they will issue two per month - why two per month is a mystery. Perhaps students can't be trusted with more than 2 cds at a time. Perhaps they think we will get so over excited that we will spontaneuosly combust or be so busy listening to them that we won't get drunk or do any work.

Not that I have got drunk yet. I am obviously not a traditional student. It must be to do with being so mature! Sadly I think my drink and drugs days are long past! After a roller coaster of emotions last week I now find myself feeling strangely calm about the whole thing. Someone pointed out to me that far from being a disadvantage, being a mature student who is not caught up in that whole party scene will mean that I can really focus on my work and get as much out of my course as possible.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Image Versus Music

I have talked a bit in my blog recently about image and branding in the music industry and how I feel that this has sadly now become more important than the music - to the point where there are probably countless budding Elvis Costellos and Ian Durys out there who probably won't even get a sniff at a record deal in the current climate.

Today I had thrust in my face on a channel 4 music programme a perfect example of this music versus image scenario in the form of The Pussy Cat Dolls. Pussy Cat Dolls are a mega success both here and in the US but largely because of the way they are sold. They have little musical talent, they don't write their own material and their songs are at best forgettable. So what is it that sells those shed loads of records - image of course. and with the Dolls it is all about SEX. Their latest video is little short of soft porn (although they do almost keep their clothes on). In the 60s and 70s you would have probably had to go to a seedy cinema with a long raincoat on to watch stuff like this. They suggestively rub their bodies, they heave their bosoms, they open their legs provocatively - it's classic stuff. And they look good, they are thinner than any normal person could hope to be without resorting to bulimia or illness, they are so brown one wonders if they have ever heard of skin cancer and they are shiny - yes shiny.

But I can't help wondering how things came to this. Music used to be about guitars, drums, a great voice. Yes image still counted for something. But often those great artists seeemed sexy because they were talented - lets face it if you met Tom Jones in your local supermarket you might think he ludicrous with his open shirts and medallions, so what is it that gives him the edge. It's talent, the great voice. Something that a lot of current artists seem to be lacking. Asked in a years time to sing a pussy cat dolls song most people will be stumped, at best they will remember the gimmicky one that encouraged the ordinary lad on the street to be discontent with the looks of his girlfriend - nice!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thirteen Snippets of Great Songs

Thirteen Snippets of Great Song Lyrics

Thirteen Snippets of Great Song Lyrics

1…. What It's Like - Everlast
"Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love
He said, "Don't worry about a thing, baby doll
I'm the man you've been dreaming of."
But 3 months later he say he won't date her or return her calls
And she swears, "God damn, If find that man I'm cuttin' off his balls."
then she heads for the clinic and
she gets some static walking through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner
and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose."

2...Touch and Go - The Lightning Seeds
"Oh was it star-dust or just lust
Well one touch is just not enough
Faces change but somewhere in the passing crowd
The face you just can't live without

Nothing changed but nothing seems the same
Remembering a thousand things I meant to say
The past's a sea of boys and girls
Who disappeared without a word
All friends of mine who had their time, then drifted away..."

3...Headmaster Ritual - The Smiths
"Belligerent ghouls
Run Manchester schools

Spineless swines
Cemented minds

Sir leads the troops
Jealous of youth
Same old suit since 1962

He does the military two-step
Down the nape of my neck..."

3...The Rain Song - Led Zeppelin
"It is the springtime of my loving - the second season I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing - so little warmth I've felt before.
It isn't hard to feel me glowing - I watched the fire that grew so low.

It is the summer of my smiles - flee from me Keepers of the Gloom.
Speak to me only with your eyes. It is to you I give this tune.
Ain't so hard to recognize - These things are clear to all from
time to time."

4...Civil War - Guns n Roses
"My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars"

5...One in Ten - UB40
"My arms enfold the dole queue,
Malnutrition dulls my hair,
My eyes are black and lifeless
With an underprivileged stare
I'm the beggar on the corner
Will no-one spare a dime
I'm the child that never learns to read
Because no one spared the time.

I am a one in ten a number on a list,
I am a one in ten even though i don't exist.
Nobody knows me, but im always there,
A statistic a reminder of a world that doesn't care."

6...Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day
"I read the graffiti
In the bathroom stall
Like the holy scriptures of a shopping mall
And so it seemed to confess
It didn't say much
But it only confirmed that
The center of the earth
Is the end of the world
And I could really care less."

7...Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
"There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."

8...Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
"And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?"

9... Sail Away - David Gray
"Crazy skies all wild above me now
Winter howling at my face
And everything I held so dear
Disappeared without a trace
Oh all the times I've tasted love
Never knew quite what I had
Little Darling if you hear me now
Never needed you so bad
Spinning round inside my head."

10...Young Americans - David Bowie
"Have you been an un-American?
Just you and your idol singing falsetto 'bout
Leather, leather everywhere, and
Not a myth left from the ghetto
Well, well, well, would you carry a pistol
In case, just in case of depression
Sit on your hands on a bus of survivors
Blushing at all the Afro-Sheeners
Ain't that close to love?
Well, ain't that poster love?
Well, it ain't that Barbie doll
Her heart's been broken just like you have."

11...Nightswimming - REM
"Nightswimming, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming."

12...Southern Cross - Crosby Stills and Nash
"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
You understand now why you came this way,
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small,
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day.

So I'm sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a-dyin',
And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship and all her flags are a-flyin'.
She is all that I have left and music is her name."

13...Changing of The Guards
"Gentlemen, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards."

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Mac for Winter

Having been on an extensive tour of the art college today, I am getting the feeling that I should have bought a mac instead of an ordinary laptop. Almost every computer on campus is a mac. I just hope that I can transfer word files. It just never occured to me when I bought it - I chose one that would be compatible with my pc and that I could do writing on - and of course one that was within my price range. I probably couldn't have got a mac for that price. Ahh well we live and learn.

On a more positive note it was a beautiful day here in Norwich, more like summer than autumn and the absolute opposite of the torrential downpour that we endured all day yesterday. It was so bad on the coast that there was floooding apparently. The weather has become so whacko in the couple of years I don't know how any government can deny that we are suffering the effects of global warming. I miss the real winters we had when I was younger - they were hard sometimes - when I lived in the countryside we got snowed in a couple of times. But when those winters ended you really appreciated it!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too Old for Creative Writing?

Today I enrolled for the creative writing degree and at the grand age of 40 was the oldest student by at least 10 years. Did I feel old? YES! Did I feel like quitting before I had even started? Hell Yes! Did I quit? No not yet and hopefully I won't - it didn't feel comfortable though - I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I was hoping that there would be at least one other oldie in my group - I know that there have been more in previous years.

What is putting them off? Not the course content, a lot of people come to creative writing when they are older - maybe it is the new tuition fees that came in this year. The government have a lot to answer for! It nearly put me off too - but sometimes you jsut gotta follow your dream. So thats what I'm trying to do - just have to conquer those feeling of inadequacy and being out on a limb first!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Laptops and Dreams

It's arrived! The laptop is here although i can't do much with it until I install word and get a wireless router - which hopefully courtesy of amazon is on it's way! It looks good though! Not that that is the issue of course.

So I am almost set up to become a student again. Not only that but I switched my bank account to a student one and now my overdraft is interest free and I can choose 10 cds from cd wow - can't be bad. As you long as you can cope with the years of debt when you finish the course....

Seriously this student business is a little scary, I look at the course outline that I got through the post and I think wow am I capable of this, and am I kidding myself that I can write. Then on the other hand it is my dream and if I don't try I will never know!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen Things that Happened When I lived in a Hippy Commune

Thirteen Things That happened When I Lived in a Hippy Commune

I lived in a commune for about 9 years from age 17 to 26.

1…. I wrote a book of short stories, although they never got published it was still quite an accomplishment. One story did get published in a local literary magazine, it was about a woman whose husband had died. When it was read out at Thetford writers circle several people cried!

2...My boyfriend and I lived on a converted bus for a year (we converted it). We never managed to get more than 40 miles fom home though.

3...I spent a summer travelling around visiting other communes and housing projects in Shropshire, Leicester, Wales and Scotland.

4...I went on an epic journey travelling from Newbury to Norfolk with: two other women, two horses, two three year old girls a pot cart and a tent. We walked most of the way and it took several weeks. We met some lovely people and some not so lovely people. It is the only way to really se the countryside.

5...I learned a lot about building. Shortly before I moved in most of the house had burned down. We raised money and rebuilt it - ourselves! I tried my hand at: plasterboarding, plastering, rendering, denailing wood, fiberglass insulating walls, interior and exterior painting, varnishing, Carrying tiles up scaffolding and nailing sheets of wire mesh to clay lump walls in preparation for render.

6...I had a 21st birthday party to remember - it is still the biggest party I have been to. We had several bands and several hundred people turned up (quite a lot of gatecrashers!). At one point there were so many people on the landing that we thought that the ceiling would collapse.

7...I nurtured a love of cooking. For some reason I had not really done any cooking at home. I was thrown in at the deep end. I cooked my first full meal for 13 people aged 17 I was terrified it would go wrong.
I did a lot of cooking while I lived there - I had a captive audience, we were supposed to take turns cooking the evening meal but some of the residents were atrocious cooks and everyone was only to glad to have someone else take their slot. I cooked pickles, chutneys, jam, bread, cakes, pasties...and all on a coal fired aga.

8...My boyfriend was killed in a car accident. I was 21 at the time and it was pretty devastating. I went into a cycle of travelling round staying with friends and drinking too much.

9...I spoke at the Labour party womens conference on public transport. The labour party was still socialist in those days!

10...I had a little moped that I whizzed around the countryside on. It was great. I used to get up early on a Sunday morning and head off to the car bootsale at Banham zoo where I would buy LPs. I would pile them in the mopeds front basket. I loved riding through the countryside on an autumn morning. It wasn't much fun in the rain though - I had horrible big yellow waterproof trousers and jacket, they were very unwieldly.

11...I had a bike accident and broke my foot. I was very young and very foolish. I was on my bicycle and someone on a motor bike was pushing me along...not very clever. The speed was too much for the little wheels of my ladies bike and when he let go I lost control and went somersaulting off down the newly resurfaced road. Ouch!

12...I went to a lot of hippy fairs, gigs and ceilidhs. Some of the fairs I worked at either as site crew or with a clothes stall. I also helped to put on some of the gigs - I remember we put on a benefit concert for Greepeace in the local village hall shortly after the Rainbow Warrior was blown up.

13...After the hurricane in the 80s we were without power for several days (we used to get snowed in in winter as well!). It was fun in the evenings, we had an aga so we could still cook and we had lanterns and candles. There was one great evening wher we had a spontaneous candlelit music session evryone was playing pots and pans and anything else that they could find.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Worship Your Inner Attention Monkey

Profit versus Health, The School Dinner Crisis

Woo hoo - the sun is out again today. I have just trimmed some bushes and done some weeding in my front garden. No I know it's probably not quite the right time to prune but it was stopping me getting in and out of my front door!

Last night N and I watched the first in a second series of "Jamies School Dinners". For those of you who don't know Jamie Oliver is a British chef who is campaigning for kids to have decent food. It was rather depressing watching though none of his recomendations seem to have been implemented and although some of the schools he visited are now no longer selling crap, what he didn't seem to realise is that there are thousands more schools around the country that are still selling it.

Take N's school for instance - it is a massive high school of over 2000 kids and that number will increase next year when children go up a year earlier. They aren't too close to any shops so if the school didn't sell junk it wouldn't be that easy for the kids to get it. So have they cut out the junk - no way - they sell sweets, crisps, chocolate, the worst cheapest kind of fizzy drinks, chips, instant pizza. They do have a few healthy items on the menu but N says the queue is always to long. I get round this by giving him a pack lunch and usually he doesn't take money. Yes he still has some unhealthy stuff - crisps or a cake, but the main bit is good - this week it is a tortilla wrap with pinto bean pate (refried beans), grated cheese, cress and black olives - yummy!

It's shocking though that despite the publicity about poor diet and how it affects the children's behaviour and ability to work and concentrate that the schools are still selling this junk to their pupils. It just goes to show that for most schools profit means more than education.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Subway madness and the Great Public Transport debacle

It seems that Subway sandwich stores are taking over the world - well Norwich anyway! It all started with one little counter at the entrance to Castle Mall shopping centre. Then suddenly there was one on Unthank Road, and another appeared by the St Stephens roundabout. And today I noticed another new one near the back of Top Shop. How many sandwich shops does Norwich need? Is it a plot? I looked up the stores on the Subway website and according to that there are only two shops in Norwich - spooky. Are they secretly feeding mind bending drugs to the good folks of Norwich and if so for what purpose?

Norwich does seem to be overflowing with food outlets theses days. Cafes and takeaways must now out number retail stores about 3 to 1. Ironically there are very few places in the city centre where you can buy groceries or other day to day items. We are fast becoming a culture where you can over load with as much cake, coffee and designer shoes as you could ever desire - but try and get a pot of paint and you might find yourself out of luck. Choices for groceries and hardware are strictly limited unless you go out of town, and that, of course, involves a car.

Which brings me nicely to my second bug bear - the pitiful state of British public transport. A girl at the bus stop today asked me which bus she needed to take to get to Dereham or Earlham road. For some reason Norwich chooses not to display bus maps on most of its bus stops so it is very hard for out of towners to find out how to get anywhere.

Then she asked me the price of a ticket and for a moment I thought that she was going to faint. Another shocker - she was from London where you can travel all day on an oyster card for £3.50. Price from Norwich city centre to Earlham road - about a 15 minute walk - £2.80 for a return fare. No wonder cars are so popular. Are we being encouraged to utilize our public transport and leave the car at home - I think not!

All this transported me back in time (no not literally!) to the mid 80s when I was living in rural Norfolk. Our village had several trains a day and suddenly their number was culled to a measly two and none on a Sunday. Our life line all but disappeared overnight. I started a petition and we had a lot of signatures. We took it to the local Headquarters of British Rail (as it was then) and they discounted it - the reason being that some of the signatories didn't actually live in the effected villages. Never mind that those other signatures were from actual rail users, friends and familiy of the village residents, or employees at the local industrial estate. Needless to say the rail services were never reinstated, I wonder if that station has any trains stopping at it at all now.

It's amazing to think that with all the media focus on global warming, the oil crisis etc that we are no further ahead with public transport issues than we were in the 1980s. If anything things are worse now than they were then. Public transport remains costly to the consumer and hard to access for those living in more isolated rural communities. Then we have the wise British Government wagging its knobbly finger of blame at the oil fired power stations whilst using its other hand to build more and more roads. They even let what little industry that was using rail (like the Post Office) desert it in favour of fleets of's madness.....