"No Pasaran"

My roots, such as they are, are somewhere in the docks of the Eastend. My family, god help them, really were pretty much born within the sound of Bow Bells. Politics - in its essential, grass roots form- has been part and parcel of my family history: my great grandmother was a Suffragette by accident, she was in service to a Suffragette and participated in Suffragist actions; one of my uncles was a communist activist and helped galvanise union actions on the Docks; another uncle was a T&GWU steward at Ford's vast - and now shut- Dagenham factory, getting lifts to meetings with Ron Todd; my mother was a voluntary International Officer for Unison; my sister an active Labour Party member; even I joined CND, protested against Clause 28, Student Loans, Apartheid, fascism, the BNP... you know the sort of thing.

Seeing as it is political party conference season - and the Cameron Tories are trying to distance themselves from the Old Right wingers (nice blog David - shame about the content) - I am reminded that not every encroaching move to the right is inevitable. I hear so much anti-arab, anti-muslim, anti-immigration cant, that it almost seems mainstream to accept this knee-jerk prejudice. We seem to accept so much without question and look to the "big" parties to guide us, but instead of guiding, they add to the spin.

Reading this story in the Guardian reminds me that direct action doesn't have to be some organised and sanitized affair, but can come as a spontaneous reaction to events. It teaches us that sometimes we shouldn't listen to the "organised" voices, but should go with our gut instinct and common humanity.

I don't know that I had any relatives at Cable Street, but I'd like to think I did - maybe Uncle Jim's dad or even my Great Grandmother - but the upcoming 70th anniversary of this iconic event serves to remind me to question and challenge more. No pasaran, indeed.

the day the nazi died

we're taught that after the war
the nazis vanished without a trace
but batallions of fascists
still dream of a master race
the history books they tell of their defeat in 45
why did they all come out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

they say the prisoner of spandau
was a symbol of defeat
whilst hess remained imprisoned
then the fascists they were beat
so the promise of an aryan world would never materialise
so why did they all come out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

the world is ridden by maggots
the maggots are getting fat
they're making a tasty meal
of all the bosses and bureacrats
they're taking over the board rooms
and they're fat and full of pride
and they all came out of the woodwork
on the day the nazi died

so if you meet with these historians
i'll tell you what to say
tell them that the nazis never really went away
they're out there burning houses down
and they're peddling racist lies
and we'll never rest again
until every nazi dies

I dunno, does this just about sum-up how I feel right now?

Laugh when he jokes, slap him when he chokes...

... it's time to give up the smokes. *

And it is. I quit for two years, then in a moment of, "ahh fuck it all" I started again. I was living alone, after all - I could do what I damn well liked - I would go through all my old bad habits one by one just for the sheer hell of it and there would be no consequences.

Up to a point.

My most delightful dinner companion looked me up and down yesterday and, after a moment's deliberation, declared that I should start using moisturiser otherwise in ten years time I would have a face like a knackered handbag and she wouldn't be seen in daylight with me (or words to that effect). It gave me a moment or two's pause for thought. I'm really not sure if it was a joke or not...

It's no shock to learn that apart from cancerousness et al, long term smoking kippers your skin and makes you look like a shrivelled apple at a time when you really want to clutch on to the last of your vanity. So, apart from poverty, an inability to walk at any great pace without wheezing like a clapped out accordion, smelling like an ashtray and gaining a grey pallor and yellow teeth, I now have to contend with fast encroaching wrinkliness and a lonely old age....Someone get me to Jenners' beauty counter, quick

- and along with that portent of doom, I quit smoking again yesterday. My bestest boy buddy pointed out in a well-timed email that I am the only person he has ever met who can smoke with application and seriousness and then quit on a whim without batting an eyelid, so I'm reasonably confident I'll stick with it. *sigh* Procrastination- and eating junk, naturally -would appear to be the last truly bad habit left (unless others could tell me differently). Ah well. Welcome to the Cheap Seats indeed.

* And ohh when he cries don't wipe his eyes,
take the wine from the swine,
and remind him of his crimes.
Ohh in another world............
yeah he could wear a dress.
Imagine his surprise when he opened his eyes,
and I'd run the lawnmower over his thighs.
Imagine the disturbance,
at the time of the occurrence,
when his life became a burden,
and we laughed at his cries.
Welcome to the cheap seats,
where your life's seen through cracked spectacles.

The Wonderstuff, "Welcome to the Cheapseats" . Ahh.... nostalgia!

Comfortably numb...

I saw my dentist today (I see my dentist so regularly I wouldn't be surprised if people in the surgery were beginning to talk... *raises eyebrow* ) Often we exchange shopping for Doc Martens tips, share a nostalgic sigh over English beer and its scarcity in Scotland, reminisce over childrens' TV programmes de temps perdu - basically, she treats me like a person, not just a set of stained enamels and amalgam filings with periodontitis. This is good in a dentist, I find. Good in anybody indeed.

Today however, she did something above and beyond the usual dental duties: having heard my tale of dental woe from the last time I was at the dental hospital (I'm adrenaline sensitive and can't have regular anaesthesia... the drug I need is no longer manufactured in the UK and the US version isn't licensed...the "next best" anaesthetic wore off before procedure finished... sutures duly sewn without pain relief... agony beyond compare...yada yada yada...) she hastened to her drug cupboard and handed me four vials of anaesthetic to take with me when I next go for surgery. I left the surgery feeling like a drug courier and a lot more optimistic that I won't have to suffer in quite the same way again. What a gal!...

In other news, I had a chat about a possible PhD yesterday. Like all "informal chats" I treated it like a slightly conversational interview and attempted to dazzle and shine. I don't think I achieved shininess, but my nodding, grinning and expostulating (accompanied by appropriate gesticulation) must have shown enough enthusiasm to be taken seriously: my interviewer has lent me a book ("...so you have to come back") and is arranging for me to meet some other dcotoral candidates in similar fields in order to help me prepare a proposal...

I haven't been this hungry for studying since... well, ever! I have to keep telling myself, "Don't fuck this up" - fingers crossed, eh?

Making a spectacle of myself

Today I shall be collecting my new glasses (if they are ready, of course....). I dilly dallied with contact lenses for a bit but something of the optical luddite in me actually prefers specs. One of the things I like about them is that when you take them off the world goes fuzzy and soft and you don't have to touch your eye to do it. Another is that they are "acceptable" jewellery in many respects: even the most non-adorned dyke can get away with face furniture on the grounds that it is necessary (having said that, I'm just about to paint my nails and am pondering which necklace to wear with my shirt... so perhaps I am less unadorned than I think I am...)

Choosing specs has always been a bone of contention and, funnily enough, I'd never chosen a pair entirely on my own before - I had always gone with parent, friend or partner. My first choices have always been dismissed as horrific/unsuitable, so I am curious as to how folk will react to my new bins... Have I made another horrific choice or were my instincts as to what would suit me been spot on, and I merely too easily swayed? Time will tell... At least I will be able to see myself clearly in the mirror to judge for myself!

+*update*+ Of course the bloody things weren't ready. Be too much to ask that they would be ready on the day and time they specified, eh? They did ask if I could wait for two hours so they could prepare them: I wondered what they'd been doing with them all day... trying them on maybe? Oh well... The "did I make a good choice or not" conundrum will have to wait for another day: tomorrow to be more accurate. Bah... and hurrah! New specs tomorrow! Something to look forward to!

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman...

yes it is a knitted womb from www.knitty.com pattern fans

I've just woken up with eeeevil period pain. To be fair I haven't exactly "just" woken up - I more or less woke up at 1ish and now can't get back to bastarding sleep. It feels as though I have an anvil crushing my innards and some mad leprechaun things knocking seven shades of shite out of my lumbar regions. I'm not going to mention any other effects in order not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities...

& I say "get back to... sleep", but really I've been drowsing, tossing and turning for a couple of hours - fun, fun, fun- and my bed now looks like a heap of discarded rags. Most relaxing and appealing. No position I lie in is helping - and the smallest crumb of comfort is that at least I'm not waking anybody up and thus making myself feel guilty. Having said that, having someone to moan to, cling on to and treat as a human hot water bottle would be nice... but that's just selfish.

Recently, I've not been finding it easy to get to sleep anyway - the not having a job thing has been weighing on my mind. It's not just the lack of money, but the total lack of routine that is getting to me. I also have a fear that I'm unemployable and the more I worry about it, the less I sleep and the more my semblance of a routine falls apart. The past few weeks have been chaotic enough without my body being in rebellion too. Bah. Bloodyfannyingbastardshittingfuckfacebollockypisswankinghell.


I don't even have a hot water bottle or heat pad (not that that would do any good: I don't have a microwave to heat it in either) and ibuprofen don't even touch the sides of the "discomfort" (I am refusing to really call it pain - I've had dental surgery where the anaesthetic has worn off before the procedure was finished: that was pain...feeling every last suture and not being able to do a damn thing about it but count from one to ten over and over again *shudder* Happy memories. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch Marathon Man again. Not that I'd want to, but I'm sure you get the point). Camomile tea and lounging about until it subsides seem to be the only options open to me...


Sometimes it's hard to be a woman? No shit, Sherlock. I'm almost looking forward to menopause. No, really...

Running to stand still

I try too hard, sometimes. I try too hard at the wrong things and when it all goes wrong- or not even wrong, just not as I envisaged it- I turn inwards and brood, or outwards to slash and attack. You can call it Quixotic if you want to be Romantic, but really it's just plain misguided. Don't get me wrong, it isn't in trying to compete or being influenced by someone else: I do it to myself, no-one else, nothing else but my own unrealistic expectations and a sense that I should do or be something that I'm not.

Oddly enough, I want to have an slow-paced life, to be able to observe the simple things: to climb a mountain at my own pace, to watch things grow, to grow myself and to watch others grow. I like the idea of allotments, novels, the Slow Food movement, watching children grow up, oil paintings, stalagtites and stalagmites, the lighting of an open fire then watching the coals slowly glow and burn, sitting on a beach and watching the tides, seeing dawn creep over the horizon. How often do I really take time out to look and do and be?

Sometimes I rush at life like it was something you could actually catch: I feel myself becoming a volatile mass of volition, kinetic energy rushing, crashing and breaking like a wave and taking all with me in a mass of destruction. (Remorse comes later, of course... always remorse) I don't see the end result, I don't even take notice of the moments I am living in, I just rush and push.

Other times, I feel the world rush by as I become impassive and rocklike, being ground down by every gentle lapping movement. Again, I do not see outside myself. I don't think about the effect on others I just remain stubbornly rigid, getting worn away bit by bit.

I won't get worn away, of course, I won't let myself. In my moments of clarity-increasingly longer moments, bit by bit- I see the effect it has on me and those I love. But I can feel that unless I either stop running and rushing or stop standing stonily still the gradual grinding will wear me thinner and smaller, or the crashing and wracking will break me apart - if I let it.

And I won't let it. I have too much to lose. I want to see the slow things grow. I want to grow slowly now.


...but no wiser. Maybe a bit wiser -wise enough to know I'm not that wise, anyway.

Yesterday, I pivoted my thirties. 35 years old. Mid way through the three score and ten. Horribly grown-up sounding - for someone quite obviously not that grown up: no mortgage, no job, no kids, no lasting legacy...

Birthdays are funny. Peculiar, more than laughable, obviously. I woke up oddly contemplative (and in hideous post-dental surgery pain...) at three in the morning. Every birthday since my mum died it has felt as though I've been a phone call and a card short. At three am I felt as though I needed to phone home. I didn't of course. That would have been entirely redundant, but the ache was there. Iwiped my eyes, returned to bed and woke again at a more sensible time, the pain -in both senses- having passed.

I spent my day in the best company I could want -gloriously no pressure on me to do or be anything but myself - and so sofa-snoozing and the watching of DVDs, along with the preparation and consumption of toad in the hole, onion gravy and garlic mash, suited me well. It probably sounds dull as a Barrett flat to most, but there is something to be said for quiet, understated contentment.

I am starting out on my 36th year with something of a purpose: I will be looking into the possibility of a PhD; I will refresh my teaching career, maybe take it more seriously; I will take my health more seriously (and myself far less seriously) and I will love my friends, my family and those closest to my heart like the world is ending - I've seen the news, you know: it very well might be ending, it really jolly bloody very well might...