My City

A garden wrapped in wool

pink, yellow and lavender

Hill

London flits through my mind

noise of birds, the bustle and smell

it’s quiet here

coastal

Bird calls are my sirens

crashing waves the south circular

this garden my Clapham Common

I’m home away from

home

A city that I longed to escape

pulls at me

Tugging at my hair, my skin, my nails

My breath comes too freely here

I gulp to fill my lungs with smog

just a salted sea breeze

Swansea croaks with fresh air

The spines of my books cracking with salt.

birds cat calling in the trees

I am isolated here

a child with her parents

escaped back to

home

From there to here

I long for what I had had

enough of

of London

 

January 2019

I’m sitting in a uncomfortable chair. Chin jutting forward towards the screen of this computer. Crossing and uncrossing my legs.

But it’s not just the chair it’s me. I have shifted somehow and feel uncomfortable in myself.

It’s not the first time I have felt like this.

It’s the age old question. But who am I meant to be? What am I meant to do?

I feel I am stumbling purposely from one thing to the next. Nothing really seeming to fit.

Or maybe I am stopping things from fitting. Resisting stability. I am only 26, does it really matter this unsettled feeling?

Yes, because I am feeling it. I have read what others have written expressing similar sentiments. Feeling lost, un-tethered and porous like a sick amoeba.

I adjust the way I am sitting, back straighter, pelvis tucked. Little to no difference. Ugh.

Last week and over the Christmas break I threw myself into yoga and swimming, peppered with a little rowing and running. If I felt uncomfortable I just moved. Moved away from the feeling. Was I running away?

My first week back at work and back in London was really hard. Walking up a slow steady incline with a cart laden with heavy books and a dodgy front wheel. Hauling myself into the new year.

Heartbreak is indeed a slow burner. It has been around 6 months now and still flares up burning in my head and chest. An ice cold heat. Rejection. It takes quite a bit of my energy (and some from friends and relations) to keep on stomping in my stomping boots.

When obsessive thoughts kick in it can drain away the work I have done to ‘heal myself’. What did I do? What’s wrong with me? Was it my anxiety? Was it my body? Am I disgusting? Does he think I am disgusting now? I start to believe my negative answers to these questions and tirelessly seek reassurance from my close friends and mother.

I start to feel that I must be a tiresome friend. I start to see weary expressions on their faces. Projections of how I feel about myself.

Ignoring these thoughts and suspicions I continue trundling up the slow and steady incline.

I don’t know when I will reach the top.  I will that there is a plateau just around the corner or maybe I will find a floor pump to pump up that dodgy wheel.

£25,000 bonus

Dear colleagues

I am afraid

There isn’t enough

Money

I am afraid we have

significantly more than others in the sector.

But there isn’t enough

After an exceptionally successful year in 2017/18

There is not enough

We just can’t

There is no money.

We are hugely sympathetic

And thank you

but there is uncertainty ahead

We can’t invest in our staff

It would be irresponsible

We can’t open this up for discussion

There just isn’t enough money

But if you are eligible there is

£25,000

A sweet steal

As I pocket more than your years salary on top of mine.

Thank you.

 

Fiscally responsible but socially irresponsible

London

Today a grey misted rain coats the streets and river. Obscuring the tops of the tallest buildings, flattening the city. Large droplets fall from the leaves above that have become heavy with gathered mist. Pattering the canopy overhead. A smaller and closer city on days like this. Searching for dry warmth indoors or at bus stops.

A Friend and a Father

I remember lying on my bed looking out the window

Two pigeons on a ledge

No sheet on the mattress

I was changing it

You called.

Your father is dying.

We talk

I offer you what I can

Not much

I listen

You do not cry, you won’t yet.

Making your armour with words.

I listen.

You talk.

I never met your father.

Though I feel I have

When you talk of him now your eyes shine

With the wetness of tears

But also with a fondness

A love unique.

Hen Hangover

World outside my window, bosom shelves and cupcakes, salt and vinegar crisps with semi skimmed milk.

Slug trails on trees like trace glitter from a hen party clinging to your breasts.

Shrill screams and L-plates. Waves of love slosh and swirl around your wine glass, even if you like the Sainsbury’s basics best.

Ping, a basket through a red door, a yowl from a small cat.

Sky so piercing and blue you could stand on the edge of the window ledge and push off up into it.

One day you will.

70s disco overthrown by Robbie Williams and the Sugar Babes.

Blue cheese and cheddar rise and fall on a tide of prosecco as a miniature pink tumescence winks at you from the hall table – go on eat me.

With your brain dancing harder than you feet you face plant the pillow, settling down to thumping music and joyful screaming.

 

Love      is        in        the       air.

 

 

A Breakfast Ritual.

Alexis makes churros traditionally. He has in his set-up what looks like a sausage maker which contains the pallid batter waiting to be transformed into one of my favourite Spanish delicacies. As he turns the crank and does a little shimmy with his machine, the batter is forced out through a small opening at the end of a spout. As he works Alexis builds up a sweat, wiping his brow on a small pink towel. He encourages the batter to form a large spiral in the hot oil below. As I watch the batter transforms, like skin under the sun, from palest yellow to a golden brown in minutes. As soon as the perfect colour is reached the churro is fished from the oil. Two long skewers are slid beneath the giant spiral transferring it to a circular silver platter, a perfect fit. As the churro rests here, excess oil draining away, Alexis retrieves his scissors. They are cloth scissors. He snips at intervals along the golden coil, creating my mountain of churros.

Each day I have devoured them at the plastic tables adjacent to Alexis’ stand in the small car park off Frigiliana’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas. This is my morning ritual. My Churreria Church. What makes these so good is their context. An unassuming stand with a humble and permanently happy vendor – unafraid to suggest that a Spanish boyfriend would be most beneficial, to my Spanish. Blink and you could miss it. Although it would be quite a feat for you to slip past unnoticed, with Alexis offering any passer by smile and an ¡Hola! He also speaks perfect English, some French and a splash of German; there really is no excuse!

There are only a handful of gems to be found in Frigiliana, but Alexis’ Churreria has to be a very large jewel in its crown, where you can be certain of the warmest welcome.

Cont-IN-ent not I-sland

I am a continent and not an island.

I do not want to be outside, left in the cold and the rain.

I do not want to cut myself off.

Become isolated.

I would like to remain part of something greater than myself.

Working together, not turning and running away.

Don’t turn your back on the future tomorrow.

Make your mark and step towards increased collaboration, inclusion and democracy.

 

“We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us” – Jo Cox.

Sea Swimmer 

Down to my swim suit, shivering amongst the rocks and sand. I am starting to think twice about wading into the murky water. The wind has picked up, as if I need any more incentive to ditch the swim. This will be more of a bamptism by ice than fire.

At my side is my brother. We have been talking about the possibility of cyclical time and have agreed that I need only stay in the water as long as it takes him to smoke a ‘rollie’. Apparently about two minutes. Thwarting this plan our mother appears over the crest of the costal path. No more ‘rollie’ timed swim for me. There is also now very little chance of bottling it and heading to the pub, as thick as theives pretending to have taken the icy plunge.

Walking down to the water over the muddy sand with voices breaking on my back, I try to pep myself up

“at least the water might be warmer than the air”

My toes confirm my suspicions. It is not. To save face I stride on defiantly, cold water engulfing me, swirling around my legs. It doesn’t really hit me until I am up to my chest.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph”

“Good God”

It is properly chilly. Well there is nothing for it. I gently push off the estury bed into a ladylike up head breaststroke. Quietly swearing under my breath. After a while the water around me begins to feel warmer but there is a gentle burning sensation letting me know it is not. When I emerge my legs will look like a pair of cheese puffs, stinging and numb.

Gently swimming against the current, it’s almost like being in a infinity pool. I feel completely connected to the earth bobbing about at the mouth of the estury, the temperature of the water making me feel giddily euphoric. After ten minuets or so of watching my brother skimming stones I decide that enough is enough and stumble ashore heady with adrenaline and endorphins.

The elated feeling ebs away as I struggle back into my clothes, the cold creeping back in. But in some small and insignificant way I have conquered the sea. And my own aversion to freezing water.

Visibly Invisible 

She had perfected the art of being visibly invisible. It takes practice, many not having the knack only succeed in becoming invisible. Those around her were thoroughly engaged with one another, paying her no obvious attention. But she could feel their furtive glances weighted with questions. Who is she? Why is she here? What is her name?

Anonymity of this kind is comfortable at first but gradually becomes tiresome as not one person breaks the silence around her. An alien feeling begins to grow, surging up and bubbling over. Suddenly she realises she has positioned herself poorly for a subtle escape. Clutching at strings and trying to enter and hold on to any conversation and ultimately fails with doors slamming shut in her face. This is and will continue to be an utterly fruitless exercise. Resigning herself to an embarrassing and loud exit through the chairs and bodies, hot faced she squeaks goodbye and leaves.

The cool night, welcoming, offers her ambiguity. She dives into it. Head first.

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