Saturday, 30 September 2017

'I just WANT the way you write... change the way I see the world.'


I yell my face off this morning at the sodding crappy Guardian. Usually, I yell that well-worn line at my husband, who now doesn't take any notice of it.

The fact that I am ignored does not change my opinion, not one jot.

Because, if you commit to writing, then you have amazing powers and awful responsibilities. As in:

a) have a bit of passion about stuff;
b) communicate your passion in a way that puts a spring in your word;
c) surprise me with a different point of view;
d) take me to a different landing place than the point we took off.

If odd bits of copy are shite, well I can forgive that, because we each have a living to earn: we need to forgive off-days. But GodHelpMe, don't make your full output a pile of vacuous buggerall nothingness.

Maybe I should blame the newspapers. I mean, look what happened to the Independent! It started out as a real voice and ended up as fuckall, simply helping to create the expectation that copy has no more duty than be off down the charity shop to wrap up broken glass destined for the tip.

Now, if I want to read vacuous empty piles of nothing, then I will read a load of ad copy.

I hope you're not reading, because I'm going to get personal. Incensed I was, that I spent two minutes of my precious life reading this.

What I wanted was some cut-and-bruise copy about student debt, financing, class, income, expectation, social responsibilities, the function of the state, you know, some real hard-nosed truth and understanding of how the world works. And what do I fucking get? An arse nugget of mother-to-daughter wisdom like 'shop like mama and buy a cheaper shampoo'.

Jeez, what I need to do is pass on wisdom like that, and get paid for it. Wisdom like that is why I left the shitty job in advertising. Actually, I got sacked. Because I couldn't write shitty crap like Buy this shampoo! It's cheap! It's exactly like expensive slop Fruit Tropical Mango Otter Fanny AND it's coloured green looking like pewk! Gorgeous eh? You'll stink like a dead badger's arse.

So here's a bit of real advice I take from today.

Grit. Never, ever, ever turn to the Family pages of the Guardian again. You'll waste your life. You'll get hot under the collar. You'll be driven mad by frustration at the way writers toss out crap, void of responsibility or even the wits to engage an intelligent readership. You'll hate the entire news industry and you'll likely never want to read a newspaper again. Then, after stewing on writer responsibility for half an hour, you'll bash out your vile bile to Planet Earth and press Publish before you even had the second, wiser, thought to remove the fucks. Fuckit. I just wanted the way you write to change the way I see the world. Fuck was it much to ask.

PS. What actually flipped me was the pathetic article on Hong Kong education.
PPS. The above requirement on the writtering crafters does not extend to me, obviously, due to the fact that no-one pays for my written wrods. On account of nothing, I can afford to be luxuriously selfish.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Home ed (the 5-minute drive version)

Grit catches sight of a printout of an anatomical drawing in Squirrel's art bag, while running out the house this morning at 8.14 for the drive to school.

Grit: Hey! Squirrel! Get in the car! Is that for your art? Brilliant! I'm interested in the history of anatomical illustration! It's one of my favourites! And bells. I like bells. And locks, keys, gates and doors in Clarissa. But anatomy! Let me tell you about anatomy.  

Yes I've got my lights on. Remember the Middle Ages? The Church sanctioned knowledge and said you couldn't just poke your nose in peoples' bodies. That is against God's law, but I can understand it in a way. Just think of the battles! Disfigurements, missing limbs, odd behaviours. I bet you got them all on the High Street.  

What's he doing? Idiot. I guess the church needed to provide comfort, and say Here's how to live with no legs, rather than Can I poke about in your neck. But then along comes the lens and they're stuffed. Remember Galileo? And what about the Renaissance? And Leonardo Da Vinci? Remember that exhibition in Hong Kong with all his art and science? And then we get the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  

Ha! Traffic lights. I knew we would make the green. Lenses. Lenses were everywhere. The whole medical inquiry thing blew up. Literally. They could see things they couldn't see before. Like the inside of your heart. And they started teaching it. Remember Newton's Optiks? In English? Now everyone knows about it and anatomy is everywhere. With pictures. Oh I want to go back and visit Wellcome.  

This is the bastard roundabout I hate. Anyway, then it goes sinister because we get the nineteenth century. Now a bunch of men start arranging dead women in poses with breasts exposed and legs akimbo, and they just say Pft It's Medicine, we can do what we like. Bastards. Which gives them a licence -so they think- to start getting their rocks off at dead women. And I put Over Her Dead Body on your feminist bookshelf. Look over it. It is excellent. And remember the woman who ran the marathon without tampon or pads? That was a brave thing to do!

Here's the turnoff. But it's like saying This is Blood and it's part of the deal if you want humans walking about this planet, so it's not something to be ashamed of or brush under the carpet. Menstrual blood you should celebrate. Why should we have to worship penises everywhere? Why do they get all the glory? They'd be stuffed without the menstrual cycle. So what I want you to do in your art -and here is your challenge- is produce a piece of work that references the history of anatomical drawings but gives it a woman's twist and places menstrual blood right at the heart. When you create it you should be empowered by that work, and so are people who look at it, because it changes the way we see the world.  

Right, are we here? Got it? Woman's anatomy. Power. Subvert history.

Squirrel (looking like she's been hit about the face with a cricket bat): I'm doing the theme of transport. But I'll bear it in mind.

For the further engagement of those who can endure a Grit lecture:
Over Her Dead Body

Thursday, 28 September 2017


As I walk through my days, conscious of pains, bruises, aches, I sometimes forget there is another half of life; it's the half that snaps and tingles like an effervescent sparkle on the tongue. It's a sudden surprise: a present given freely, without condition, from an unexpected place. It's the bright, bright light broke through the days of grey.

Today, I walk and photograph the colour yellow.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Loved Mother! (Hated IT)

One of the bestest presents I've ever given myself is a Cineworld pass.

I need to stop there. Because just writing that, I feel I am a proper sad git, spending lonesome evenings with the other single seaters, interspersed twixt couples and groups, me with my single cine-seat pressed against the wall so I don't spoil the atmosphere.

But it's not like that, not at all!

I have wrapped myself in the experience of the pictures since I discovered this wondrous art form along with the rest of the Bash Street Kids, aged five, at the Saturday morning ABC minors club at the Metropole.

Towed at the ragged edges of the kid crowd I learned how to flow into the cinema all arms and legs, past the ticket seller and into the musty dark.

If I made it that far, and wasn't collared on account of not having my tanner, I was in, and it was heaven. The place stank of sweat and damp. We had to find the route past the long red curtains hung with dead smoke and old scent, and into the close darkness choose a seat with an eye not to the screen but to the curl of the balcony over our heads. The kids up there would rain missiles down at any point of the drama, beginning, middle or end, and if it was a lighted match, be hopeful it wasn't coming your way.

But the ABC minors was safe, relatively speaking. I was surrounded by other kids, and we ran as a pack. We could, to some extent, look after each other, and pass on wise advice like, don't sit at the back row. But if you want to earn ten shillings, sit in the row just before the back, and wait to be tapped on the shoulder. Those were perils indeed, because what came next was bargaining, and I hadn't any confidence in that skill.

But from the pictures, I was never deterred. That wondrous screen was the best ever. Into my life it brought cowboys and Indians, magicians and talking cats, space rockets and submarines, death-defying acts, betrayals and double-crossings, loyalties and bravados.

I still keep hold of that moment of anticipation as the screen shows me the contract, the movie name, the BBFC rating, the signatures. Then, kapow! And what a film to love! Mother!

Mother! You give, and you give, and you give. The more you give, the more is demanded. The more you give, the less it is respected or valued or acknowleged. And the more you give, the more you simply become a stepping stone to something else and someone else. And to my thinking, that is a bastard song of truth of how male/female relationships can pass. Thank you to the man who made that film.

IT. The Goonies are now ruined forever.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Brussels. Pft.

Me and Dig go to Brussels. Dig goes to speak to a lot of translators and interpreters at the European Parliament about the English language in a post-Brexit world. I go to make sure he doesn't fall down stairs.

While he is being important, I am forced to hide from the torrential downpour by walking the 360 degrees round the European Parliament Exhibition. Experiencing a long dark tunnel of existential despair sounds preferable, and then I discover they actually have that tunnel as part of the introductory Euro-fun.

It doesn't get any better. I can harken to tales of Euro-joy in the next long gallery of pain, and then I can sit in an armchair to have nails driven into my face.

As far as I can see, Brexit isn't mentioned, unless you count the statement 'The UK is fully committed to Europe' at the end of another tunnel where they then gather my good wishes for the future of all Europe. Someone before me has typed the offering Penis and signed it Penisman. Make of that what you will.

The best bit was when two English speakers tried to leave the 360 degrees of Euro Fun by reversing out the entrance. The guard icily told them this was not the correct way out and they should walk the 360 degrees properly if they wanted to leave. In the end they just legged it.

I am sorry for the Pft. Take it as the sound of a whoopee cushion, deflated, without the whoopee (or the cushion), or much joy at all.

I am sure Brussels offers much, but I cannot say I had a whoop-de-doo time of it, although it is clearly WTF territory, with their penchant for giant plastic horses dressed up as zebras, enormous chunks of unfathomable kitch pretending to be sculptures, and people doing inexplicable and bewildering things in public.

I did quite enjoy seeing the angel though (no photograph, sadly). And car-free Sunday made me awful regretful that we don't do the same all over England.

If you are seriously interested in Brussels, with or without pft, there is only one place to go.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Geography, You have a Problem.

And your problem is Squirrel. She is going to take a bag of rocks to your next lesson.

She plans to lay out her rocks on the desk and suggest you all look at them, because rocks are interesting.

They might also serve as a reminder of what you are doing when you study erosion.

Dear Geography, might it also imply that your lessons are boring?

In Squirrel's (extensive) experience, a teacher who gives the instructions Make notes on page 130, then complete the exercise on the board falls somewhat short, of what Geography is, and should be, as a subject.

But worse. Geography then closes the window blinds. Presumably to prevent the fortunate students being distracted by the outdoors.

(I would be delighted to help Squirrel locate the perfect rock.)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Let's be British

First days at school for Squirrel and Tiger. For Shark, it is her first ever experience of 'Back to School'.

The children have each, at their respective institutions, experienced the propaganda presentation of the school talk called British Values.

The anarchist parents suggest they should each shout at the end, I don't agree! as a concise demonstration of what we really should value about being British.

Monday, 4 September 2017

All Normal at the Asylum

Thank Goodness for the Asylum! The annual Steam of Punks, Post-Apocalyptics, Subversives, Ne'erDoWell's, Burlesques, Prop Makers, Theatre Costumiers, Alternative Reality Types, Tinkerers, and Grit With All the Grittylings, who each dress splendidly and made a show of being normal.

But so many other successes from the long weekend! The Knickers Empire did splendidly, and was invited to a Faery Festival to celebrate faeries. Definitely not the girly type who lose their handbags, but the type to dance you to death, steal your first born, then piss on your face. That sort of faery.

Then Shark bought her first corset and Mother Grit was Very Proud. Tiger projected a menacing image of latent violence and contemptuous disdain, as only the teen-steam can. She looked either like an assassin or a bodyguard, depending on where you stood. And to top it all, Squirrel won the Carroll award in the Grand Exhibition. The Carroll Award - thank you to Lewis Carroll - celebrates WTF in imaginative design. Squirrel proudly displayed her Cyborg Slug, which was common in the Cyborg Empire Wars of the 18thC. This one is looking for a new Cyborg Tamer, hence the false hand.

It all made sense in the Asylum.