Jane Eyre’s Diet Coke


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What lies between you and a morning boaking?

Diet Coke, probably.

My legs hurt. I have done nothing – nothing – to incur the wrath of any leg gods. I came here on the bus, I’d like to add. Hardly taxing. Yet they feel as if I’d scaled a mountain, straddled a cannon, done a brief line dance up the Royal Mile.

My head has coalesced. Or rather, the thumping within it, but for a while it was sufficiently strong to constitute the entirety of it, or any part worth mentioning.

I’m editing.That’s why I’m here. Editing to a tight deadline that this week has eaten up. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know anything. Which is fine, and nice, but the problem with knowing so little is that the bits you do know, the brain flattens into factual millponds, when they are supposed to be little sluice-waters of potentiality, all spilling into each other with gay abandon.


There is no gay abandon here folks. Just regular abandon. The brain as an empty, burnt-out chateaux. Essentially, the ruined house in Jane Eyre.


Somewhere, a blind bigamist is wandering around in my head, being comforted by a woman who ought to know better.

If he could come and get this stuff down to 5000 words, and remove the thigh pain (ooh, Mr Rochester), and soothe the North Sea that is my stomach, then I’d be grateful.

Bertha Mason, if we’re stretching this analogy tighter than a launderer’s washing-line, is the sloe-gin in all this. The delicious, then suddenly deadly, sloe-gin. [Unexpected, volatile?]


Little Beauties


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Something gossipy for your Thursday.

A friend sent me this this morning, and I think I accidentally woke my housemate up with it:

Other nice things include:

The fact that tomorrow, I will be here, among erroneous actresses, an unlikely new restaurant, space.



Beyond that? I’ll be ironing my best beak and prinking my opera glasses for Swan Lake.


In book news? Read these. You’ll love them.


1. All The Rage, A.L. Kennedy. Like you even need me to tell you.

2. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Do you like Baptists? Do you like the Congo? Do you like ants and miracles? THOUGHT SO.

If, for any reason you want to read reviews by me that are less full of nonsensical rhetorical questions, then you can find a couple here: http://dura-dundee.org.uk/

[SPOILER ALERT: I am essentially allergic to the posy short-story, like printmaking but arguable don't understand it, and have a Major Problem with Jeremy Reed. No surprises there, then.]


Have a delicious weekend. I’ll post you a puffin.

That passeth all understanding


Life is a little sub-rosy. Nothing huge, and the secret, ridiculous gratitude lists I keep indicate there is more good than bad (although, today, ‘raw kale salad’ topped the list: clearly, some days have lower peaks than others).

I’m slight sick and slightly sad. Both are being worked on and there are a number of strategies, some free on the NHS, some expensive, some involving getting more sleep and not eating wheat or worrying so much.

(Wheat and worry were a point of potential analogy. Alas, they lack anything in common except the ‘w’. Worry does not grow in fields, although I suppose it is an unsustainable crop, if we’re *really* flogging that dead horse.)

This little transition part of my life (the sixth months my lizard-brain has had to get used to New Country/New Career/New House/ New Friends/New Colleagues/New Stresses/New Levels of Freezing Cold) was always going to involve a little bit of wailing, a tiny gnash of teeth.

So whence the gloom? And more specifically, whence the flatness of this post, the dull explicitness?

I’m sorry if I have cancelled plans, been pants at making an effort, seemed distant. I almost certainly *really* want to hang out. And I am sorry. Being *bleurgh* can also make me self-centred and bad at plans.


Anyway. I miss you. And I’d like to see you soon.


Bus Stop Butty and the Winds of Alteration


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You can quite neatly offset a lack of proximate desire, the lack of potential for further emotional engagement, with a bacon roll and a fudge donut.

In fact, it comes recommended: Gregg’s ought to do a second line in heart-attack encouragement as heart-break prevention. For the princely sum of £2.70, and the biting wind at the bus stop, you can stop up your arteries and your woes as if they were equivalent.

For lunch, I ate leftovers of fancy bubble and squeak (I, in my own way, strive to enter, in a blaze of glory, the London ‘make cheap food posh and expensive’ movement, with my own gourment bubble and squeak ‘wagon’, each dish flavoured with the dripping effluvia of London Bridge).

The bubble and squeak was supper, the sort of Nigel Slater rustling-up where you talk mournfully into the camera waiting for a guest who won’t ever come.

Mine came. I’m no Nigel Slater, bound forever by the sadness of my Labrador face. But we left separately in the morning, limbs restrained to the broadest circumferences of personal space.

Its the food that I will remember (when is it not?), because I make things with love in that angry Miss-Trunchbull-and-the-chocolate-cake way. I made this! Eat it! Love me! Don’t stop until you’re sick!

I was listening to the radio, seasoning the leeks with the wittering radio drama about independence. God, I hate political radio drama. Talk about something important by pretending you aren’t talking about it at all: the first rule of radio drama, and the rule most regularly ignored.

*The second rule is ‘don’t give people maths textbook names’. You know the ones: Our Lady of Guadaloupe, Josephine Breeze and Jamal go to meet Ignacio and Sierra Leone at the cinema. How tall is Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand?


Anyway. Someone was doing a terrible impression of David Cameron, whilst allegorically interpreting a painting of two stags in Holyrood House. A nightmarish half-baked artistic idea.


And so the night passed, as is its wont, sort of, unless there is an apocalypse. There wasn’t.






Recently, several people were camped in my bed, variously knitting, fidgeting and answering embarrassing hypothetical questions from a prompt pack, the name of which entirely eludes me. American ice-breakers that occasionally assumed specific cultural knowledge, lacking in the German and the Scot (NFL players amongst the tallest omissions).

We revealed ourselves into the evening.

A boy called Tom once photographed me naked. Kind lens, warm night, demob happy in the week before graduation. High-jinks, doubtless now deleted.

Others too. We wondered where our naked pictures were, all hoping that exes were not malicious – or that if they were, we weren’t enough to look at, really, to make it worth their while to distribute us.

There was an element of pride. We are close to the meniscus capping our twenties, replete with edge-cares. People speak about babies. Some people have them. Amongst us, home-owners spring up, money arriving shrouded in mystery, the proper British way.

In bed, our margins were smaller, a four-footed plot of land enough to support only the lightest boasts, the unbuttoned ones. Talking to each other about the valency of our desire.

I am, I am, I have been naked. I have been naked and seen, regarded and understood.

Where the gaze bestows personhood everything is tricky, grainy with gender politics and validity, expectations of form and aberrations that facilitate erotic desire.

But encompassing, filling over and containing that difficulty is joy. A good friend, from her bed on the other end of the country, talks to me about Life Modelling: the time for thought, the friends she makes, the pride that her body, everyday and also marvellous, is drawn and painted, warped and beautified.

When she is naked, there, she is seen and then imagined, held in someone else’s eye. From her, a maze of angles and the light hitting millions of millions of cells that are skin [dodgy science] radiates out of the church hall. I like to think she nudes the university town.





without help or encouragement

 seven ribbons

frippery a larder

the coils

silk worms that hold

the tensile strength of steel in her

wrap the gullet

find the lungs

poke with cauterized ends

unfurl to mimic intestinal motion

Object Lesson


The answer to the crossword clue is: GLISTEN, LAMBASTING, SILK

The pull and fizz of chatter held like a charm against the push of pain.

And glancing beauty: castle, blazer be-panda’d, the heat coming off the plate of haggis.

Talking good talk, the pleasure of pleasurable sound, the fabric texture of company, all bedecked with outdoor-cold-scent, worn round their shoulders like mantles in the grey dawn.


Twenty Small Things (Sunday Procrastination)


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1. I am disproportionately vain about my hair. Its no great shakes, but its mine.

2. Beneath is all the fiends’.

3. Quick talker.

4. If I don’t feel guilt, I miss guilt.

5. Particular about length and involvement of cuddling.

6. constant attempt to balance: the mathematics of time; of hours left; words typed; tea drunk; sometimes calories, more prosaically, food items. Numbers come hard, and the maths of these is always wrong. The worst is ‘things one can do in a day’.

7. Snobbish when miserable: c.f., my old job. A good job, a great job, a job I am not equipped for. 

8. Dislike of films is the same as fear of relationships: one invests, one is usually heart-rent or scared, spends the next few days wandering around un-numbing, the same unpleasant feeling as blood into dead legs. And other people find that entertaining.

9. You’ve no idea what I think. I’ve no idea what I think. Previous interactions trained me out of articulated opinions. I am training myself back in, slowly. Opinions still surprise me.

10. I like to touch things to my face, my tongue and mouth and nose, to understand them.

11. Our flat kitchen warms in the sun, emits a slow smell of decay and greasy oven. I adore it. Makes me feel safe, loved.

12. Fond of lying on carpets, face down, breathing in the horizontal. 


13. Tea too hot, tea pushed to back of desk, tea found, and drunk cold. Hence no milk.

14. I worry about then men who stagger back under my window late at night. ‘Take care’, I think, ‘they drive like lunatics round that bend at night’. Impotent Madonna of the Inebriate Male.

15.  Scented candles make me think better, then reach too powerful a dispersal-level in the air and promptly give me a headache.

16.Often cheerful when resentful.

17. The thought – not the reality – of new cafes is always complicated, and reminds me of Magical Realism. You may expect something, but what will actually be there?

18. As tall as I can be, as tall as I’d want to be. Whatever happens up there, count me low, grounded, content.

19. Intense joy like flying: often, unpredictable, prompted throughout spring by daffodils.

20. Happiest amongst hills and fast-flowing water, happiest in conversation.





Convert me to a reasonable font!

You can hear it most prominently in copy & pasted quotations, ariel, rounded and smug. They taste of cheap tea and the plastic taste you can generate from the end of a pen if you chew it minutely for hours.


(Chewed too hard, there is the plastic-snapping taste, the heat generated by the force, and of course the small matter of shards. The shards taste like being made to wait at bus-stops that have been vandalised, in the dark.)


Calibri. Coffee beans. And the sound of crunched grave. Painful to type in, painful to think in.

Up here I have secrets. The secret is learning how to push myself, learning how to hold the conversations I miss too acutely to dwell on with myself, and then, tentatively with others. Making friends: the same sensation as lurching toward a blurry shape – open armed parent? open fire?  - as a toddler in corduroy, baggy at the bum to allow for the provision of the nappy.


I seek surety. The list of important people I am not networking with is vast, as vast as the ‘think of your career’ well down which I am half-lodged, half-oblivious, but oblivious only because I don’t know anyone well enough to talk myself into a terror.


I need to convene things, set things up. I need to type in Baskerville like an idiot to keep the thoughts, poor as they are, legible to Captain Crosswires in the HMS Brainbox.

I need to breathe, but who the sweet fuck wants to meditate before they’ve reached the end of the Sisyphean to-do list?

Nearly the right place, nearly the right time. Adjustments required. At the old place too. Its all a matter of grit and tools, the sort that deform men over time down mines. Get those out, or shoulder the stone, or shatter the pen, or wherever we have ended up.






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