Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mrs Gudhelberg gets back

mrs gudhelberg knew her son was sneaky, sneaky enough to find his way into her house when she and her new husband went away. Mrs gudhelberg knew from the scent of body drenched duvet and the empty vacant stare of the wall cupboards. She knew but what could she do. Her sun burnt, blood pressure endangered new husband on the other hand thundered about the house cursing “that bloody boy” calling down demontopia.

The reverberations of his booming seemed to force her to counter; shrilling his successes and the attempts her third born had made, but even so they both knew, she was only putting on a show. A show that had ran too many empty house matinees.

Mrs Gudhelberg began brushing the floor, standing still and sweeping either side of her like she was paddling some giant canoe, she thought about how come after all these years he had got her still working for him, how did that happen if she didn’t want it to.

Mrs. Gudhelberg was rapidly realizing her boy was a sportsman. That the bloody boy , was in fact, an olympic standard surfer dude. he had always spent every free moment he had roller blading, skateboarding and riding the tubes of water thrown up by an energetic sea. Perhaps this couch surfing was an extension of all that floating on air business? Was he Mrs Gudhelberg wondered hopefully silently as she swept up his skin cells an expert in finding the right place to pick up a free ride, an internationally renown 'freegan', a super person able to guest list the galaxy never paying for anything, living off left overs and washing with soap stolen from public lavatories.Where other boys grown bored of being no fixed abode, he was happily engaged in house surfing as an art form.

She went into the loo for a bit of space from the snorting and general buffalo type sounds her husband was making in reaction to his recycled drinks cabinet.

The loo was festooned with magazines, which was good because it had none of the necessary paper, but Mrs. gudhelberg wasn’t ‘going’.

Oh, she pulled her underwear down as usual and sat on the fresh smelling but not entirely clean seat, but once she was there all she wanted to do was put her head in her hands and weep.

Women blame themselves. Men know it; it’s their main weapon in their ‘get-someone-else-to-look-after-you-game’. for sure mrs gudhelberg had been listening attentively at all the WI assertiveness classes. As she gazed down at the pictures of young men on wheels and boards moving through the universe with nothing but their own gravity defying behaviors to define them, she wondered what she was supposed to learn from this situation.

Mrs gudhelberg believed in spiritual lessons, that life was a series of tests and tasks on the road to inner peace. as she sat there nearly out of wit she asked herself what was it that her mucky scruffy lazy boy have to teach her?

she got up to jam a towel against the bottom of the door where her husband had lowered himself to mutter obscenities and more threats. she waddled over with her pants down because there was no point in pulling them up just to come back three feet to her starting place. but it was in that waddle that Mrs Gudhelberg got the answer she had been seeking.

she sat down again this time with a plan, she even ripped a few inspirational pics out of the mags. when she emerged two hours later her husband had gone to bed so she could go around the house collecting things unabated.

by dawn she had it down. She would light a beacon to call her son back to himself.

the skate park had nothing to recommend it to other users. it was mostly hard rim and long ramp. industrial wasteland the feature backdrop of choice offered a smattering of spray paintings but nothing banksy by any means.

mrs gudhelberg carried a large bucket on one tanned arm and held a pair of long gloves under the other, she probably looked like mrs mop she mused to herself as she put down her precious cargo and hands on fat hips marked out her area.

the main drag was an obvious location but also the chain link fencing was going to need doing.

mrs gudhelberg worked for two hours non stop.

it was not pleasant work but she had a clean bandana tied around her nose and mouth to prevent any inspiration.

it was not pleasant work, pasting all the detritus of her sons droppings onto the surfaces of his skate park with dog poo. it was not pleasant but it was worthy. she was striking a blow for all taken-for-granted wives and mothers of these young men.

as they plucked at the photo’s and used socks, pants, bits of smelly trainers that she had painstakingly cut up in the night into stickable squares. they would encounter the one thing that they had never had to deal with before.

Mrs Gudhelberg knew she was doing all of them dirty boys a favour, because once you knew how to handle your own shit, the world was your garden.

Monday, June 06, 2011

the wall

The wallI just turned around to find that my girlfriend had turned into a wall.

I can’t be sure when it happened but I swear she was normal when we sat down earlier.

Underneath her facade she still has her lovely legs with the strappy sandals she loves but everything else about her is wall, from one end of the living room to the other.

I made a breathy excuse and slipped into the kitchen to reel in the elastic of my jaw, to pull it back from where it had fallen open onto my chest with the shock. I mean one minute you’re thinking about what to watch on telly, the next minute your beloved is plaster and lathe.

Sensing my anxiety she followed me and offered to put the kettle on to make tea. Frightened I would be crushed if she tried to turn around in our tiny kitchen, I feigned an immediate recovery. “Come back to the living room” I solicited, in all probability a little too jauntily but isn’t that the nature of fear-induced fakery? What else could I say?

Once restored to our former positions in the lounge my girlfriend seemed to fit her surroundings more naturally, I sat pondering on this strange situation. I began looking her over, surreptitiously, for chinks. I could not find even one. The intact nature of her wallness belied any suggestion that she had ever once been any different. As she sat smoothly reflecting the glow of lights bouncing from the TV screen, nothing was there to distinguish her from any normal wall. Smooth as if she had been freshly rendered, still as a Buddha, she had become part of the fabric of our house, serenely integrated into its structure, she was at home. For a brief moment I envied her connection, envied her stillness. For myself I was terrified.

How would I be able to cuddle this wall of a woman? I could not imagine myself holding her in my arms or us dancing cheek to cheek to a slow song, even though I supposed, this was still technically a possibility. How was I going to even kiss her, where was her mouth even located?

“How do you feel my love?” I enquired cautiously, hoping to spot an opening.

Immediately she was guarded; “why?”

She spoke so quickly I couldn’t be sure I saw anything move, not a single hole or a mouth shaped dent in her skimming.

“Just asking” I retreated and casually returned to Saturday night, strait family viewing.

For a while we sat next to each other like we always had and I tried to imagine our new life. I envisioned hers as one of increasing placidity with perhaps occasional calls from the builder if anywhere became damp.

Inwardly depressed, I presumed mine as one of increasing isolation from social society.

Suddenly a gripe in my belly forced me to shift in my chair as a thought arose fully formed into my mind, a terrifying sickening thought. ‘What about bedtime?’

I tried to think it through logically perhaps she would stay down here where she seemed to me so much to belong.

Then I remembered how she had followed me into the kitchen and I knew she would want to come to bed with me as usual. I could swear I’d heard the floorboards groaning the last time she’d crossed her legs.

What if she wanted to make love? What if she wanted to lie on me? Or she rolled over in the night and crushed me?

“I think I’ll go for a little walk,” I cooed to her, jumping up to get out without her. I didn’t even make it to the door. “Me too” she intoned as though her voice box was starting to harden. I backed away, grabbing the door handle covertly whilst trying to dissuade her.

I claimed my head ached and that I needed some “space”. I told her it was raining and a myriad of other lies; she just stood there, implacable. Then I said what I had been trying to avoid saying in case I would alert her to her own predicament. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”

It was after this that I turned to flee, I managed a sprint to the road. Panting, not fifty yards away I watched horrified as she tried to get out. My ears flinched as screaming wood protested it’s splintering. A hideous rending of masonry heralded her attempt to push through. Unable to move I saw part of her gable end emerge and her shapely legs running on the spot but the whole of the house was disintegrating without her load bearing abilities.

I jammed my hands over my ears and then my legs set me off running. Driving my feet into the pavement, hard.

I wouldn’t couldn’t, stop now.

By Maj

Saturday, June 04, 2011

spiralling onwards and upwards x

26 June 2004

A camper van driver on the dole. A heart yearning for the open road romantically at odds with the shitty city life I have found myself stuck in. All dressed up and wanting to find a nowhere to go.

Rainy summer day. The grass so heavy with seed that the slightest wind appears as great gusts. Bending them to the ground. Great grass swathes. Oh how quickly we forget the immensity of winter. A Saturday of rain. A rainy summer Saturday. When the weather has been so breathtaking. Hot by nine o’clock every single day morning.

For those who work have heavy hearts. Rail against nature for her lack of care. Not me. I have soaked in the sun. Watched bees make love to flowers. From the shade of the ash tree I live below. I have tended to my garden. I have sat summer nights by my fire gazing up at the clear star sky. Free to do what I will when I want to. Do you wonder if I am rich? Oh yes I am rich. I am loaded with better than money. Do you hope it isn’t true?

Journey to Shepton Mallet. Code word for boring. But I went there and it changed my whole life. Perhaps it wasn’t to Shepton Mallet I went. But someplace hidden there, made there. A field decorated by flimsy fabric. A circle, a spiral. A secret, invisible to naked eyes.

300 ordinary women, twice as many kids came into an open secret circle. Soft grass, bare feet running. We are living like Bedouin. Cooking with fire, washing in bowls, shitting in dirt. Singing everywhere sometimes drowned by screaming laughing. We play games all together. The age line, all along in a row, side by side with our age group. Seeing how many of each age is there. We notice as she does who is at the end, oldest. Wonder, how does that feel, how would that feel for me? Next we group into star sign. How many air signs! We all agree too many, we want more elemental diversity. More earth signs. More fire, a little, but not too much more water.

We play all week. We wear whatever we want to bits of hand-stitched cloths for skirt or shawl. Morning breakfast circles migrate to the centre at the sound of a shell. The ritual of the day begun. Women offer workshops. Things they know about or want to talk about. Even-tempered women offer childcare. Some take their turn at the gate making tea for new arrivals.

I arrive at a tipi for a workshop called “soul searching”. I am late. I am still clutching a precious mug of tea it has taken me all morning to make. The women have started going round the circle introducing themselves. I listen as light lazes down the centre of the circle and the talking stick comes towards me.

I am making a journey. I am trying not to lie. The women sit on old carpets, maybe found in a skip, now elevated to luxury furniture warm way to sit but still be on the earth that is our role model now. The weave of carpet has never been so fascinating. Where has this carpet been? Did some one throw it away? How I love it. Never met it before and yet want to talk about it to everyone who will listen.

My speech about the carpet is not required, they know.

They have each taken off their shoes in homage. They know the value of things these so-called ordinary women. They are my judges. I have elected them to be. To show them me. For the very first time to be really me. I know they will try to like me. Try to find an understanding of everything that is me. Like mothers they will try to love me. Get my jokes. Resist my distractions if I pretend. They will see through me and I will see through my self.

Each has granted me the privilege of having her eyes on me, her mind focussed attention donated to me, to foster, nurture, support me. As I will be soon doing gladly for them.

Each one with a different perspective. Some have tattoos, flowers and spirals. An arm, a foot, a finger, painted with majik. Some hold themselves relaxed. Some sprawl sideways happy to be fat.

All are them and all of them are part of me. I am making a journey toward them and they are making journeys towards me. I am different, city girl gang dyke. They are hippy gentlewomen loving women. We are becoming a movement. We are taking the earth on a journey. But here in the circle we are just talking about what it means to be.

From here my journey took me away from the city. To see the land of Britain from a truck never to return to the domesticated female domain but instead to huddle over a fire in winter hoping someone will tell a story, sing a song. Learning to live with women on the earth. Trying to tread gently. Is it naff to say spiritually?

My life is now about the weather and I am part of it, a student of it.

I am the elements indivisible. I am the swallow's child coaxed into flying. I am the back hedge lined never driven on pathways of the hay scented life sustaining country.

I am the rainy Saturday in June, a glad garden getting watered.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


I wave, but Alice doesn’t wave back, though we have known one another for years, have lived together, shared meals, sat in morning meditation for a what feels like a decade, so her not waving back now, means we must both walk past one another in the ear breaking; mind messing; blood rushing silence of knowing we aren’t going to be friends again today.
Unable to bear to watch her look through me, like I am empty of meaning, less than an obstacle, I lower my eyes to the ground, so my eyes see her boots come level with mine, my eyes seeing how both sets of boots are far more similar than they are different, both sets of boots encrusted with mud, both being fiercely functional, waterproof, nut kicker style, dyke boots, boots that say ‘we don’t care what people think about our footwear, what people, think women like us are like’, our boots, come side by side now like family members, sharing paths as well as treads, treads as well as traits, traits which are busy with metaphoring how strong we show ourselves to the outside world. How deliberately innocent we are of that world’s expectations, how coherently we choose to ignore those ridiculous, dangerous expectations; how ignoring them is our sign to each other how capable we are to choose for ourselves good footwear, safe, strong, easy to run in shoes that will take us as far as we need to go, away from the people who demean and demand from us, a big fuck you to any desires of us to be nice girls, shoes that walk us through fields, clamber over ditches and beyond sexism, beyond patriarchy to here, here and these valleys of our remote location, our separate space, out of their way, out of harms way in a place to repair our wounds, our tiny piece of land where we can rest, to rest and to find our feet, our feet that have walked us so far away from the traps and prisons people keep ready for us, feet armoured in shoes, in strong, solid, reliable walking kit that we proudly bought and paid for, so proud that somehow we have out prouded one another, used our boots to keep on walking, keep walking even if it is now away from each other.
Alice has turned to see my boots, my body and my soul as different again from hers, different to how I once was to her, that I have fallen short of her expectations in some irreconcilable way, fallen foul of her invisible trip wire, the trip wire that she uses to keep the boring or bad people away, she has found me guilty of being that ‘other’ that she needs to separate herself from, that category of person no longer entitled to her friendly wave or company.
Her boots disappear out of my line of sight, boots once used to walk towards one another as home, now stomp away, leaving me to hold tightly silent to my thumping heart, trying hard to stop the feeling of distress that these close encounters bring, to be brave in the face of these daily pretendings that I am invisible, don’t need to exist, I try not to feel it, try to pull myself together by some handy bootstraps to remain a militant believer in Alice’s freedom to walk on by, even in the face of how hard it is for me to bear the loss, the heart breaking loss of the look, from the eyes of a long loved, now greatly missed, even when she is only a few feet away, friend.
Maj 2010