im back babey // late july blues

18.07.2019

(adele voice) hello… it’s me… da da da da da da da da da i don’t know a whole lot of that song

yes, yes, my absence has been lengthy as the mourning of a victorian spinster for her wealthy uncle, albeit a widely disliked one. second year has swept over me like a cloud of midges & left me with a financially devastating addiction to almond butter, shockingly robust mental health, & a habit of bringing up how shit capitalism is at inappropriate moments, like when on the phone to a customer services rep from the book depository. also quite a nice 40% of my english lit degree in the bank, which i ain’t mad about.

for months i’ve been trying to mentally compile one of these posts & sort of shying away. there is suddenly (not that suddenly, actually, it’s been a good six months) a certain amount of Romaunce in my life & while i am very good at romanticising, as regular readers will know, one cannot really romanticise the romantic. or you can but it’s sort of obnoxious when you’re talking about your real life.

however: in reality a great deal of Other Stuff is readily available for the keats treatment by yours truly. i have done some silly things & read some excellent books; i have done some excellent things & read some silly books. silly thing exhibit a: i cleverly decided to write my 2.5k shakespeare coursework essay on both hamlet & twelfth night. as if this wasn’t enough, i ended up writing it whilst on a lovely seaside holiday with a certain Lofty Redhead & his family, in-between barefoot trips to the rainy dunes, & ended up uploading the thing after perhaps one glass of wine too many. while i escaped with my grades intact i really need to stop doing this sort of thing. i think i get myself deliberately into these Academically Complex situations just to prove that i’m clever. wherefore art i so full of shit?

(now racking my brains for the excellent things i’ve done for the sake of narrative balance but the only thing i can come up with is my brave lone trek out into the dangerous, yet fruitful lands of brewing water kefir. yes, over this year i have become a full-blown coconut yogurt-munching, sweet potato wedge-worshipping, avocado-toast-crunching villain. it’s delicious fun. i ferment, my friends.)

meanwhile my novel ferments also. reader, it ferments in its own narrative corpulence. trying to drag myself over the finish line of something i really just do not want to write anymore is every bit as tiresome as i remember from the last time (i was twelve, the book was magic misfits at an evil school, one of them had magical hemp-growing powers). the jostling line of new & exhilarating projects i have waiting for after i finish it doesn’t exactly help.

also, i’ve been busy. since turning in my last piece of coursework (an epyllion about a lesbian underworld-nymph) i have dashed across the country & back in service of a family member’s probably-not-a-fatal-fungal-infection, done my time at hippie camp with Lofty Redhead, repainted, de-iced, de-moulded, bicarb-scoured & otherwise sterilised the filthy ruins of poor dear edric after his year of student warfare, & travelled back north for summer with a second-hand suitcase full of poetry.

as things stand, i have four days left of teenager-hood, & incidentally also four days until i start lifeguard training at the local swimming pool (where, urban legend tells, the water hasn’t been changed in thirty years). hilarious fun! the weather has been back-&-forth between grey & chilly & swelteringly bright here; thus also my mood. i’ve started to find parts of sheffield representative of my least favourite qualities: dusty, polluted & filled with other people.

but i’ve managed to get my head together & Thrive nevertheless. at three p.m i have just returned from my second trip to the forest so far today; burying myself in greenery is really helping at the moment. it’s so good to smell the trees, the mossy ground, the river, anything that isn’t car exhaust. i’ve been prioritising seeing my beloved pals. i had some quite excellent sourdough toast at the steamyard with my mummiest mum friend, who called me a cliche & made me feel a great deal better; tomorrow ibby & her sister & i are going to make banana bread & bingewatch gentleman jack. i’ve reunited with an old partner in mischief (as children we invented a game called Tampon Javelin) & soon Lofty Redhead is visiting for, presumably, a weekend of arty horror movies & midnight capers.

& then i need a job, because, like, capitalism.

Lofty Redhead & i did have one rather excellent Caper last month but it’s so very writeable that i really think it deserves its own post. perhaps that will motivate me?

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(after decimating my kingdom)

so, yesterday i went through this blog & locked about a hundred old posts, i.e most of my old spn stuff. i’d been holding off doing it because i’m still proud of the amount of time & effort i used to put into meta essays, even the ones that were completely batshit. but when i looked through them yesterday i didn’t feel like i was reading about a t.v show; i was reading my teenage psyche, as it was at a difficult time of my life. i found them painful to look at. i also found myself cringing at the bossy knowledgeable tone i often took, as well as choice bits of implicit social commentary. i’ve grown more sensitive & well-informed since then, as one would certainly hope would happen between the ages of fifteen & nineteen.

i’m grateful for the audience that writing about supernatural gave me, & i’ve met some lovely people through this blog. i also haven’t actually stopped talking about supernatural on here, but this is not a fandom blog anymore, & if i’d known how far this page would move away from its original purpose after i started writing here again i would probably have let it be & started again somewhere else. frequently terrible writing aside, the main reason i finally took down my old VS posts was because i felt like the ghost of my fifteen-year-old self was still halfway controlling this page, almost drowning me out with that desperately self-serious academic voice of hers, & it was stopping me from writing. this is no longer a blog about only one thing.

i don’t expect anyone to be too upset, although i do expect my stats to halve, as i’m pretty sure those posts still brought in an embarrassing amount of my viewers. i’m not posting this to justify deleting a ton of four-year-old bullshit from my own page. it just made me a little bit sad, because those shitty old posts were a surprisingly clear window onto how my mind used to work, back when writing was my only real crutch, & now i’m doing the thing where you listen to ludovico einaudi & Reflect on the Past whilst ruminatively sipping tea.

also, i may not be the same person who started this blog, but i’m the admin & i can do what i want. sorry, past self, & maybe try starting that novel you’ve been thinking through, eh?

 

i’m a responsible adult human. yes

when i started writing this post i was sitting in a deli writing a blank verse epyllion whilst drinking a very blue butterfly pea latte, & since you can only say that sort of thing every so often i felt that i should take advantage of the opportunity to sound edgy & productive. however, it is now two weeks later, & i am now very hungover in my dressing-gown, annoying ANT BOILER & LCYRD by playing florence too loudly. endeavour as i may to sound like a glamourous hipster, i can only sustain the illusion for so long; i am merely a scruffy ferret who owes my friend georgia for last night’s taxi.

anyway:

a) excuses time!

the longer i put off writing a post the harder it got, bc over the past few months a LOT of stuff has changed for me. mostly for the good. also, it’s been dramatic as fuck around here lately.

b) so i guess i’ve been up to stuff?

including, but not limited to-

-i life modelled for the first time a few weeks ago! this was one of those ‘made on a whim but possibly shouldn’t have been’ life decisions (see also: chopping all my hair off, my creative writing dissertation, almost all my uni applications. also my trip to loft last night). to contextualise: uea’s life drawing sessions are run by the art society, & last year i went to a lot of the sessions to draw. the models are almost exclusively artsy, languid students with anklets & interesting hair. i was envious of the confidence i assumed it must take to laze around naked in front of a roomful of people for seventy minutes. i would have liked to be someone who could do that but it didn’t seem even remotely possible.

& it didn’t seem any more possible this year, but when an ad for models came up on my facebook i felt successively that i would like to be capable of that, & then annoyed at myself for feeling incapable, & then of course it followed that i had to do it. & once i’d actually signed up i felt pretty okay about it. i made LCYRD come along to the session for moral support, & she was very stoic & this gave me someone to tease & generally rag on to hide my burgeoning nervousness, but to be honest when we actually started the session i was far more physically uncomfortable than mentally. university carpets are fucking scratchy, man.

& i ended up agreeing to do it again (i mean, £20 per session. you can get a lot of peanut butter for £20). so… i guess i’m sort of vaguely a life model now. very weird being on this end of the pencil for a change. it’s funny because i thought that afterwards my confidence would be through the roof, & it isn’t really, but i do feel that i’m capable of bravery now. so that’s something. & while i don’t do morals, i feel that it certainly bears saying: do shit that scares you every so often. (i think my favourite thing about this, the cash aside, was that i now have some very nice pen-&-ink nudes of myself courtesy of LCYRD. artist friends come in handy, lads.)

-i can’t remember whether i’ve mentioned this before (or whether i actually chose to exercise caution on a public blog, amazing) but our housing sitch has kinda fallen the fuck apart. we are now in this absurd situation wherein one friend lives in the room above her ex-boyfriend & passive-aggressive tension is impossibly rife. another housemate has absented himself almost entirely. we haven’t seen him in months (LYCRD, fortunately, remains our rock). & while i love our house in all its long, twisty, melodramatic inconvenience, we have a 1:5 people-to-bathroom ratio. pissing in one’s garden should not be a familiar element of student life, but alas.

anyway, with a view to this i am jumping ship with my faithful LCYRD & ANT BOILER. we’ve found a house on the other side of unthank, & while aesthetically aged enough to satisfy my sensibilities this one actually seems to have functional double-glazing. (also two bathrooms! TWO!) it has a slightly cottagey feel & is much less draughty & melancholic than dear edric.

-third year is bearing down upon us, which is absolutely terrifying because second year has winked by. when it comes to university i feel that i am yet but a babe in the woods, when really i’m sort of a veteran; i’ve wandered round the lake at all times of day & night, in all shades & colours of light & mood, i’ve made more enemies than i know what to do with, i’ve survived halloween at the lcr. i’ve turned up to my shakespeare seminars  covered in hickies, performed my lucifer poem at dragon hall, had the full range of ecstatic-terrible waterfront experiences, matched on tinder with half the campus, & am able to passionately take sides in the ‘which senior academic is the hottest’ debates. still haven’t visited the catholic cathedral, tho.

-i’m also in a new relationship, which i find myself hesitant to write about at risk of being unwittingly obnoxious (as opposed to my default setting of semi-ironic conscious obnoxiousness). also at risk of tmi-ing on the internet, obviously. but it just happens to have sliced so that a lot of my funky tales atm are coupley & don’t really lend themselves to blogging. i’ve been trying to feel out how to write about what’s going on in my life without severely oversharing. which is difficult because boundaries are hard n shit.

-in a similar vein, i’m considering making this blog more private. at the moment it’s still connected to my (disused) twitter & my (overused) insta & my full name is on here in a few places. i did that because i wanted to own my crap somewhat, but now i’m missing the freedom of an anonymous space where you can say whatever bullshit you like. i mean, heck, my dad has this blog url. (hi, dad!)

-so, yesterday was pretty much the last day of the semester for me. one final utterly excruciating elizabethan lit seminar for which nobody had done the reading, & then i was very sensible & went home, made pea soup, & settled in for an evening of writing & vanilla chai, briefly dropping into georgia’s pres to have one g&t before coming home, reading sir edmund orme, meditating, writing out my work schedule for today, & going to bed at half-past-ten.

except, dear reader, it was not one g&t, & at four-thirty in the morning i inexplicably found myself bellowing ‘shake it out’ into a kareoke mic on the ground floor of a grimy gay club, clutching a double vodka in one hand & georgia’s ponytail in the other, as we were pretending to be a couple in order to ward off the straight guys who kept closing in like birnam wood marching on dunsinane. georgia & alice & i walked home through the bluing dawn, wincing at the morning chorus, whereupon i devoured several slices of toast & crawled into bed at just-gone six a.m.

i’m going to a house party tonight too. reader, pray for me.

-anyway. i go back to sheffield for easter on monday, so i’m going to head out into the lovely, unseasonably warm sunshine & stock up on vodka (for tonight) & vego (for the suitcase). oh, & i suppose i probably ought to pay my rent, too. whoops.

i will leave you with this photograph of me in steampunk beer goggles.

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2018: wot i read*

*disclaimer: i have drunk a LOT of hot chocolate & this post was written on, hahahaha, a massive sugar high

i haven’t posted in months! because i had some kind of unpleasant insomniac episode & screwed up a coursework submission & now my uni is coming after me, & also my housing situation has gone to s h i t, & also some weird shit is going down with my Personal personal life. also i’m writing too many things at once.

i’m in the process of getting my sleeping problems sorted out (i had an appointment with a campus doctor who pretty much just told me to google it), & i’m getting back into a routine with my running, i.e the cornerstone of my mental health. jo & lucy & i have had to find a new place for next year, because our asshole landlords didn’t tell us they’re planning to turn my bedroom (MY bedroom, as in the CUTEST bedroom, which i SLEEP in) into a bathroom this summer. but it’s okay! because we’ve found a super cosy old house with an actual fireplace & an upstairs bathroom &, wait for it, that ultimate luxury: double glazing.

also: do you guys think i should cancel my gym membership & buy a waffle iron? because i’m starting to think i should cancel my gym membership & buy a waffle iron. i don’t know, guys, it’s been a weird few months.

anyway. my favourite person in the whole wide world is visiting me soon. & i’m reading a very unknown mervyn peake novel. & i’ve got into dandelion hands. i need to wrap up this post & go to bed. basically: my reading in 2018 ran the gamut, as usual. i only included books i read cover to cover & individual short stories, so the high doses of mallarmé & t.s eliot & keats aren’t on there, nor are all the academic essays & random bits of seneca & martial & dryden that you read when you do a 17th century lit module.

i’ll be back with more bullshit soonish, depending on how far i get my life together this week!

 

  1. Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh

i finished 2017 on kind of a waugh kick, & read this over a pretty terrible few days in early january. it’s bitter & brilliant (generally speaking, with waugh everything funny is sad & everything sad is funny). i just wish i’d been able to appreciate it more at the time. anyway, i thought this passage was beautiful.

“Don’t you think,” said Father Rothschild gently, “that perhaps it is all in some  way historical? I don’t think people ever want to lose their faith either in religion or anything else. I know very few young people, but it seems to me that they are all possessed with an almost fatal hunger for permanence. I think all these divorces show that. People aren’t content just to muddle along nowadays… And this word “bogus” they all use … They won’t make the best of a bad job nowadays. My private schoolmaster used to say, “If a thing’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.” My Church has taught that in different words for several centuries. But these young people have got hold of another end of the stick, and for all we know it may be the right one. They say, “If a thing’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.” It makes everything very difficult for them.”

  1. Among the Bohemians, Virginia Nicholson

i enjoyed this so much. it was one of the few things i could get really interested in over those few weeks. there’s loads of fascinating stuff about the bloomsbury circle & some very juicy anecdotes. my JAM. i want to go hang out with all these guys. especially viva king, goddamn.

  1. Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson

this one struck… close to home. her writing stops my heart.

  1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger

a reread on the train back to norwich in the new year. not my favourite salinger (that’s prolly seymour: an introduction) but there’s nothin like this book for when you want to punch something. how figuratively do i speak? maybe i just beat the shit out of my copy every time i get mad. you don’t know me

  1. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

i’d never read it before & i enjoyed it so much. i love the way vonnegut invents verbs whenever he needs a new one.

  1. Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo

this was one of the weirdest things i read for my course this year. think mexican wuthering heights, except chronologically it goes all over the place & also you aren’t quite sure who’s dead & who isn’t, because practically everyone seems to be a ghost.

  1. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

unbelievably i had never read this before. it’s very good but i like her fairy tales much more. i was amused by how much i related to this, tho.

  1. The Garden Party and Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield

read for my course. this is full of bright haunting images. in my head all her stories look like monet paintings.

  1. Reckless, Cornelia Funke

an old favourite from when i was a kid. it’s strange, though- altho it was marketed as a young adult novel i’m not sure it really is. the protag, jacob, is twenty-four- too old to be the hero of a kids’ book, really- & difficult, tough, strange. he’s a fantastic character & the book is terrifying in the way of really, really good fairy tales. i reread it while the beast from the east had us snowed into our flat & everything was white & glittering & me & lucy were making proper hot chocolate every day, the kind you make with a big bar of really good 70% dark. good days. i love cornelia funke.

  1. Pére Goriot, Honoré de Balzac

this book fucked me up. some of balzac’s character analyses… whew. i got so hooked on what he’s selling that i ended up writing the most dramatic piece of coursework of my life on it. see:

Goriot’s love reduces him to an undignified asceticism- because it is real and the real makes demands, lines one’s skin, drains one’s fortune. Easier to do as most of Balzac’s Paris does: renounce it and live in comfort. ‘Our heart is a treasure chest, and if you empty it out you are ruined’.

  1. Henry IV, William Shakespeare

also studied for my course. love this play. it’s a happy place for me. falstaff! also, i find hal to be a really acute portrait of a certain sort of person- well-meaning but calculating, with a theatrical performativity that isn’t quite spontaneous, with a perfectly sincere streak of heroism & the ability to shape-shift at will. you think i’m joking?

  1. Anne of the Island, L.M Montgomery

i reread lucy maud’s books about once a year, when i get the itch. i wanted to reread this one bc it’s anne’s uni experience, as well as maybe being my favourite of the anne books (up there with house of dreams). i just… i will never be tired of these books. the emily trilogy is easily my favourite of lucy maud’s inventions, but the anne books just make everything seem brighter without ever being preachy or condescending, or seeming to skip over the really tough stuff. i owe a LOT to l.m, i really do.

  1. The Vicar of Wakefield, Anthony Goldsmith

the less said the better.

  1. Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare

what the fuck even is this. it’s ridiculous. it also has this piece of stunning poetry dropped into the midst of a bunch of utter STUPIDITY:

For Orpheus’s lute was strung with poets’ sinews,

Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,

Make tigers tame and huge leviathans

Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.

  1. Chronicles of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

i remember only one of the stories from this, the fucking hilarious hurrying of ludovic. i love how well-known characters just scurry in & out of the frame all through this book. also, everyone loves anne SO MUCH, & talks about her in such flattering terms, like… how does l.m pull this off? if any other author did this about any other character i would call bullshit. but because it’s anne- & because we know that anne is a wonderful whimsical sweetheart who occasionally exudes HUGE dumbass energy- it works.

  1. Further Chronicles of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

clearly i was on a kick.

  1. The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare

big yikes.

  1. Henry VI Part Two, William Shakespeare

i was super confused for a second until i remembered that i started with this one bc it’s thought to have been written before parts one & two. i remember absolutely nothing about it.

  1. À Rebours, Jean-Rhys Huysmans

oh, fuck me, this book. it’s a nightmare procession of decadent BULLSHIT. it’s all crack to me. fellow wilde disciples: this is thought to be the book that corrupted dorian gray. you know that chapter of dorian that everybody except me seems to hate? the one that’s basically just a torrent of jewels, books, flowers & half-hinted debauches? (the one that happens to actually be my favourite chapter, whoops.) this book was obviously a huge inspiration for that, because that chapter kinda reads like a riff on à rebours. except des esseintes is somehow even more horrible than dorian. & there’s lots of stuff about my boy gustave moreau. no, i don’t have a the sirens laptop sticker. no, it isn’t next to my cartoon oscar wilde & secret history quote & birth of venus stickers.

  1. Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend

a lovely whimsical book about a lady who ditches conventional spinisterism to go live alone in a village & become a witch & also possibly a lesbian. what a fucking icon. also there are some sensuous metaphors, y’all.

  1. Henry VI Part Three, William Shakespeare

there are two terrifyingly brilliant soliloquies given by gloucester (i.e richard iii) in this, & i take my copy down & reread the last one when i hate everything.

  1. Bluets, Maggie Nelson

so good i can barely talk about it. pure poetry, tbh.

  1. The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith

the novel the movie carol was based on. it’s very good. highsmith gives me shivers. those little cogs & wheels that showed the hairpin turns of ripley’s brain are just as effective when it comes to all the terrifying twists & plunges of a love affair. read this over a weekend visit to see one of the most important people in the world to me.

  1. The Blue Castle, L.M Montgomery

i read this whenever i need to get shit STRAIGHT in my head. it always fixes me right up. some of l.m’s most gorgeous nature writing went into this. a seasonal montage chapter sounds like a terrible idea but it’s so gorgeously done here that it makes me want to ditch this century & set up camp on mistawis w/ barney & valancy & their dumb fat cats. no, but seriously: this book reminds me of what is real & important in life. it’s also deeply, deeply funny.

  1. Henry VI Part One, William Shakespeare

i remember liking a lot of stuff here, but like… there’s these big symbolic set-pieces of dialogue that read really weirdly. but it’s one of his earliest plays, so, you know, dude gets a pass.

  1. Wise Children, Angela Carter

all about the sweat & glitter & greasepaint & uh, incest of a huge showbiz family (one side well-established shakespeare actors, the other side taking whatever dancing gigs they can). it’s hilarious. i adored it.

  1. Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

so… that happened

  1. Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector

this was so vivid to me that it made me terribly uncomfortable. it’s a story about a girl living in abject & miserable poverty in brazil, told in bizarrely luxurious prose, the kind of rich & textured writing that lives in weird colours & gets inside your head. i read it in the same day that i read the last act of titus andronicus & the combination made me feel like i was absolutely off my head for days.

  1. Anne of Avonlea, L.M Montgomery

this has some of my favourite characters & episodes of the series. just… miss lavendar… & davy… & the bit where they all go for a picnic in the woods… & mr harrison… incidents that are more alive to me than a lot of my own memories.

  1. Captive Prince, C.S Capat

this trilogy is NUTS. i read the first chapter, wasn’t convinced, & then went on to polish off all three books in just under two days. i was up til four, five in the morning reading. it’s a trilogy with a dumb tropey concept straight out of fanfic but it’s about sexual tension. it’s agonising & you can practically feel the whir & tick of character development beneath the whole thing. i really wasn’t expecting to like it as much as i did. there’s a lot of humour there, too, without which it would have probably sucked.

  1. Prince’s Gambit, C.S Capat

this is my favourite book of the trilogy. it’s so much fun!

  1. Richard III, William Shakespeare

terrible segue: i have a teddy bear who my friend ibby & i decided one day to name by opening my complete works of shakespeare at a random page & picking the first name we saw. he ended up being called catesby after richard iii’s evil valet.

  1. Kings Rising, C.S Capat

filled, hilariously, with political machinations.

  1. The Fiery Pantheon, Nancy Lemann

i aspire to be walter. i love the weird rhythms & patterns of lemann’s writing.

  1. The Comedy of Errors

what the hell, honestly.

  1. Magic Flutes, Eva Ibbotson

the marketing of eva ibbotson’s romance novels is so stupid & patronising it makes me furious. yes, it’s a good thing they were reissued at all, but with those stupid captions i’m surprised anybody read them. they even changed the titles, for god’s sake. anyway: i love these books. they’re pretty magical: really funny, carefully-drawn modern (ish) fairytales. this one involves a huge austrian castle that is pretty much a character in its own right & a heroine who was the reason i wanted to hack all my hair off when i was eleven. this book is also everything i know about opera.

  1. A Company of Swans, Eva Ibbotson

the love with which eva ibbotson writes of brazil floors me. also, her characters are wonderful.

  1. The Prelude, William Wordsworth

i studied this for reading texts. there’s some sublime passages. it’s kind of an epic poem about the experience of reading.

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

read because i adore the ghibli movie. the book is even funnier, although as pure fantasy i think the film hits more of my personal sweet spots.

  1. Love’s Labours Lost, William Shakespeare

hahahaha. there’s some serious zingers in this. i think it’s suffered in comparison with much ado, but this is funny as hell in its own right. moth & armada & biron & rosalind & the princess are all brilliant characters.

  1. The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon

not sure there’s anything quite like this. it reads like a song. one of the best books on isolation i’ve ever read.

  1. Sarrasine, Honoré de Balzac

you wander into an empty theatre. the stage is covered in statues of apollo. on closer inspection, you realise that the statues are of young girls. there is dust on your fingers. the statues begin to sing. you notice that you are holding a trowel. what are you doing here? the girls are laughing at you now. you do not know why. perhaps your tie is knotted wrong.

  1. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman

i lost my mind & blew over a hundred quid on a sandman folio box set in second semester. i don’t read many comics but the sheer scope & creativity here- even in its earliest stages- blows my mind.

  1. S/Z, Roland Barthes

this was the most intellectually gruelling book i’ve read since (& possibly including) ulysses. i found it so hard to get my head around that when it actually started making sense to me it was so rewarding. it’s a very thorough deconstruction of how our minds & our narratives interact & work, & the underlying systems that hold stories together.

  1. The Sandman: The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman

um, this one is fucked up. it’s also the first issue i ever read of sandman. i was thirteen, obsessed with neil gaiman, & had to get my mother to write me a note saying i was allowed to take it out of the library, because the sandman was prohibited for the under-16s.

  1. The Sandman: Dream Country, Neil Gaiman

so beautiful. i adore the midsummer night’s dream story.

  1. A Song For Summer, Eva Ibbotson

in general, i think this is the weakest of her romance novels, but there’s still loads of really charming stuff about it. to be honest, though, a lot of this one just gives me dragonfly pool deja vu; the concept of the Extremely Liberal School Filled With Rich Unpleasant Children And Surrounded By Palatial Countryside was done so well there that it kinda overshadows this. still: i love marek. her heroes & heroines are all very well individualised (to say that they often belong to the same trope system), but i don’t think she has another character quite like him.

  1. The Sandman: Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman

so brilliant. the artwork for hell is spectacular. i’m a huge sucker for lucifer narratives in general.

  1. The Sandman: A Game of You, Neil Gaiman

wtf. kind of a heartbreaker.

  1. Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

rereading this felt like reading a whole different play to when i read it for school aged twelve, probably because my school sucked. it’s so much funnier than i remember. & i know this gets said about shakey all the time, but it really is all about the language w/ this one.

  1. The Sandman: Fables & Reflections, Neil Gaiman

‘soft places’ knocked me down.

  1. A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson

i refuse to use the stupid new title. i’m so bitter. anna is one of my favourite ibbotson heroines. (& muriel might be one of my favourite ibbotson villains. she’s so awful it beggars belief.)

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

SEXY.

  1. Richard II, William Shakespeare

one of my favourites. over the course of the play- as richard falls from political grace- he has to grapple with who he is as a human being now that he is no longer a king. & in this way his humanity blossoms, he struggles, there’s lots of narcissism & christ comparisons- & also a really silly funny scene where aumerle receives & issues so many challenges to duels that he runs out of gauntlets & has to borrow one.

  1. King John, William Shakespeare

two things MADE this play. a) the bastard of faulconbridge (he got his own post). & b) queen constance’s grief speech. listen. i had goosebumps.

Death, death: – O amiable lovely death!

Thou odiferous stench! sound rottenness!

Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,

Thou hate and terror to prosperity,

And I will kiss thy detestable bones;

And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows;

And ring these fingers with thy household worms;

And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,

And be a carrion monster like thyself:

Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil’st,

And buss thee as thy wife! Misery’s love,

O, come to me!

  1. Notes on Cafes and Bedrooms, Rosemary Tonks

the first collection included in bedouin of the london evening, which is amazing. i studied this for a conference at the end of summer term. the conference ended with me getting ostracised by a whole bunch of people & us kicking someone out of our housing arrangement, so… whoops? people are really sensitive about books over here, you guys.

anyway, i posted the speech i gave here.

  1. The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

yes anti-semitism but also: shylock is complex. the prejudice is 100% present. but shylock isn’t a stereotype, he’s a fully realised human being. portia made me gag a bit. but this has some of the most beautiful passages i’ve come across in shakespeare. (the film adaptation is bangin, too.)

  1. Iliad of Broken Sentences, Rosemary Tonks

the other part of bedouin. lots of greco-roman myth gets dragged into this one. it’s jazzy.

  1. Henry IV Part Two, William Shakespeare

oh, god, this play makes me sad. you can feel the cosy grubby world of part one crumbling away. falstaff 😦

  1. Ada or Ardor, Vladimir Nabokov

one of my favourite books i read last year. wrote about it here.

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

i’d never read it before. i really liked it. holly is so WEIRD.

  1. House of Flowers, Truman Capote

read a few of his short stories after tiffany’s. i barely remember anything about this one.

  1. The Diamond Guitar, Truman Capote

on the other hand i have a super vivid memory of this one. read it while my mother was driving me back from uni with a carful of luggage at the end of june. it’s a #nohomo story about a prison romance, basically, complete with wrenching betrayal & heartbreak.

  1. A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote

nope, the memory’s gone.

  1. Vathek, William Beckford

another favourite. wrote about it here. i really want to read beckford’s travel diaries.

  1. The Merry Wives of Windsor, William Shakespeare

falstaff gets the shit kicked out of him by a bunch of irritated, fabulous ladies.

  1. Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare

i was laughing so hard reading this that my mother knocked on the door to ask if something was wrong. such bliss, my brothers.

  1. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

i have no idea where to start. everyone else knows this already, because everyone else read this in like 2007, but the hype is real with this one.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K Rowling

i started rereading the books in the summer & had a great time. i honestly don’t care what stupid shit j.k’s said on twitter this week. these books gave me so much joy (& scared the shit out of me so delightfully) when i was a kid & the magic’s still there for me.

  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K Rowling

rereading the books for the first time in ages reminded me just how weird & funny they are. a lot of that seems to have got lost in the transfer in the past few years.

  1. The Folding Star, Alan Hollinghurst

god, this was such a find. i didn’t really like the swimming-pool library, so i was surprised to find how much i loved this. it’s full of dust & shadows & prose so gorgeously (over)wrought that it physically hurts. reading it took it outta me but in a weird way i couldn’t put it down. i think i finished it in about three days, despite how dense it is.

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K Rowling

i just love this one.

  1. Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin

read for my 19th-century russian lit module. it’s very, very funny. pushkin is razor-sharp when it comes to absolutely trashing onegin. he does not spare his characters. his rendering of tatiana is a perfect balance of tragic & hilarious.

  1. A Hero of Our Time, Mikhail Lermontov

maybe my favourite discovery of the year. it’s a fierce, unsparing look at the psyche of one very weird character- a guy who is privileged, charismatic, ruthless, creates scenarios & manipulates people into feeling for him & then keeps on falling into his own play-acting. is he a sociopath? he’s capable of great feeling. it’s one of the most tragic & passionate & desperate things i’ve read all year. it’s about what it’s like to feel like a patch of darkness, wanting there to be something good in you.

  1. Sejanus His Fall, Ben Johnson

brilliant terrifying play about rome as a totalitarian police state. stunningly reminiscent of stalinist russia in a lot of ways, particularly the chinese whispers aspect of everyone telling tales on their neighbour.

  1. Dentaphilia, Julia Slavin

i was assigned this as reading for a cw class. it’s brilliant. horrifying. the narrator is an awful human being, as far as i’m concerned.

  1. A Real Doll, A.M Homes

more cw reading. when i read this i started laughing out of sheer disgust. i say that as someone who has been known to give dramatic campfire readings of thomas the tank engine pornography. it’s about a teenage boy & his little sister’s barbie doll. i think it’s kind of great but huuuuuuuuge yikes.

  1. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol

oh my god, this book is OUT there. i love nabokov’s analysis of it.

  1. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower

i read the short story (again, for cw). some of the prose is extraordinary. i dreamed of some of the images in it- the field of heather like the fleece of a giant animal tossing in its sleep, for instance.

  1. Fathers & Sons, Ivan Turgenev

the last page killed me. i was on a silent study floor of the library at the time & i was crying so hard i think i disturbed several history students who were trying to work.

  1. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Nikolai Leskov

chilling. this feels incredibly modern (something that comes up again & again in nineteenth-century russian lit). i love his flat deadened tone. really scary.

  1. Crime & Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

gah. what do i even say. this book is, for me, a reference point for so much stuff in my life.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

i’d read it when i was twelve or so but i connected with it more this time, which prolly doesn’t say great things about the progress of my maturation. i relate to patrick a whole lot.

  1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl

this book is so ridiculous & kind of irritating but it also really got to me. the ending is genuinely devastating.

  1. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson

love jeanette winterson. loved this book. the dog-woman is marvellous. the twelve dancing princesses section… whew.

  1. Dangerous Liasons, Choderlos de Laclos

this was one of the books that i read this christmas holiday, when i was still reeling because i could finally read for pleasure after the crush of coursework. i enjoyed it so much. it also contained what is easily the hottest line of anything i’ve read this year, possibly ever, which is Very well: war.

  1. The Box of Delights, John Masefield

my dad showed me the old bbc series every christmas when i was a really little kid, & i kept remembering it & getting super nostalgic, so i read the book. i’m glad i finished the year on this. his prose is poetic & dreamy & kind of perfect. there’s a very interesting thread of paganism running through the book in its myths & history, as well, & masefield doesn’t seem to fear that; it becomes part of the narrative, even the central narrative of the thousand-year-old cathedral.

*

so there you have it. i’m gonna post a list of the stuff i intend to get read this year, i think. in the meantime i’d love to hear what you guys thought of any of the stuff i’ve banged on about here.

happy new year ❤

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this is from that one time i got to feel up some old-ass books & it was great

smoky days/identity theft/operation jo march

hello & welcome to your latest episode of Isabel Cannot Time-Manage For Shit

here is a picture of me trying to eat my glasses

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my last post was in september. or october? anyway, since then i’ve done a bunch of dumb impulsive shit, most of which won’t make it to a public blog, & we’ve had a good deal of personal drama. also, uni’s been nuts. now i adore 19th-century russian lit, 17thc lit is fascinating, & creative writing is my OXYGEN, but it’s all sorta come down on me like a ton of bricks & i’ve been scrambling to make my deadlines whilst doing things like, you know, sleeping 5+ hours a night & eating things that aren’t hummus on toast. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

it’s a smoky day. it was even before i crawled out of the rolling stack at five p.m to find it was already all dark. there’s a grain to the air like we’re being shot on 35mm, & the trees are all bare & black & wavery, & everything still smells a bit like leaf-mulch & wet earth, & possibly you can tell i really, really love autumn. especially bonfire night. i slay at apple-bobbing, obviously.

i’ve fallen asleep watching fireworks out of my window for a couple nights running now, because our dumb asses kept forgetting to go to an actual bonfire & now none of us can be bothered to get out of bed (we’re coming down from a waffle house trip). there’s something about norwich on days like this- the arabesques & spires & winged gargoyles, the swaying catkins on the fir trees on the uea broad, the still-leafy lamp-orange tunnel of the avenues in the dark, the grim romance of it all- that makes fireworks seem extra-beautiful. like thrown handfuls of vanishing stars, sliding down the cathedral roofs.

anyway, a catch-up.

-so on friday i melodramatically hacked off my hair. £5 scissors from superdrug & jo scuttling around holding up a smeary mirror so i could get the back. i figured i’d probably regret it- my contingency plan for if it looked terrible was to shave it all off- & i thought i’d at least miss my pretty luna lovegood curls. but i don’t regret it at all. i’m too busy raking my hands through it & buying pretentious hair gel. ever since i was eleven or twelve there’s been a part of me that’s wanted to do this, just grab scissors & get hacking, or at least go to a hairdressers’ to get my hair cut short, but- excepting an appalling dorito-esque haircut when i was eleven & wanted to look like leslie from bridge to terabithia (it didn’t work), & an uncharacteristically sleek bob when i was fourteen- i never did. i’d always kinda wanted a really messy androgynous haircut, but when my hair got long & wavy again i worried about regretting it. i thought it would be a waste to get rid of it because it was pretty, & everyone else seemed to agree. anyway, somewhere around thursday midnight i went to the bathroom & out of nowhere got completely sick of my hair, & even sicker of feeling like i had to keep my hair, so the next day i bought the aforesaid scissors, asked several friends whether they thought i should do it (‘um, no’ being the general response) & after fortifying myself by eating quite a lot of pasta went ahead & did it anyway. (people ask why i didn’t go to a hairdresser. the truth is that a) i had a physical urge that had to be excised & b) i had no idea how to express to a hairdresser that i wanted sebastian-flyte-meets-blue-is-the-warmest-colour hair. i may also still be suffering with post-traumatic stress following the whole dorito incident eight years ago.) i have a long coiled-up ponytail in my drawer next to my unopened gianduja bombe truffles. is that weird? i kind of want to do a nick cave & pin it above my bed.

oh, uh, also i love my new hair.

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-the night before halloween, which was freezing, by the way, i caught myself dancing around on my bed to spooky scary skeletons, at which point i decided that this had gone far enough & messaged angus to ask if i could use him to gatecrash the predrinks he was gatecrashing through someone else & bop along to the lcr with him later. an hour later (which was mostly me whining about not knowing which of my six black chokers to wear) we were heading off through a glittering frosty night, marvellously underdressed (angus had rolled up in a green t-shirt & announced he was going as shaggy from scooby-doo; i, velvet-jacketed & demon-winged, was going as myself) to the aforesaid predrinks. about a third of the way into the bottle of shitty white wine i’d brought my memory started going flaky & from then on my recollections devolve into snapshots. angus & i jamming wildly to there she goes, my beautiful world in someone else’s ribbon-strung living room; somehow negotiating myself, through a drunk-typing haze, an lcr ticket from a girl on facebook, which i managed to acquire fifteen minutes before we got there; dancing for hours under a haze of shifting neons, in that kind of nightclub double consciousness where you’re completely beside yourself from the strange lights & the alcohol & time isn’t a thing anymore & yet your blood is pumping & you can feel the music pounding in your sternum & something at the root of your brain feels acutely aware & alive. flailing arms to come on eileen on the steps of the pit, which was a moving sea of sweaty people stained in fake blood & red spangles, & every inch of the floor was crammed with empty vk bottles. scrubbing someone else’s black facepaint off my chin with damp loo roll in the lower bathroom, bullying angus into borrowing my jacket on the walk back when i turned up my street. i was wearing six-inch chunky platform boots & looking up at the stars i felt like they were the only thing rooting me to the ground.

apparently i woke lucy up by clumping in around four a.m, which is actually kind of an early record for me. of course the upshot of this was that i spent oct 31st as grinning, woozy, nauseous trash, swilling ibuprofen with my coffee.

-also, jo & i dressed up as each other for halloween. we bought wigs- the jo wig was called femme fatale on the packaging, the me wig (of course i hadn’t cut my hair then) was gothic temptress, & as jo is really quite terrifying & i’m a massive flirt this was rather uncannily accurate. i wore one of jo’s many floral dresses, plus petticoat, dainty red shoes, pearls (that, incidentally, i gave to her in the summer) & even her little silver watch. she donned my purple trousers, velvet jacket & choker, oscar wilde graphic t-shirt, demon wings, & william blake docs (which gave her ankle scars). the effect was unsettling. we discovered several fundamental truths about ourselves. it’d probably be a great short story idea. i looked sort of like a drag queen, not helped by the fact that i kept manspreading, & jo looked sort of like she’d just stepped out of twin peaks (season two). jo & i occupy very different places on the butch-femme scale. i think we gave several lecturers the heebie-jeebies.

-in re: literary pursuits, i’ve mostly been trying to get my 19th century russian lit module by the throat. at its most intense this involved three sleep-deprived days during which i basically camped out on floor 2 of the library to get through all five hundred-plus pages of dead souls in time to give a presentation on it for my wednesday seminar. there was also the rainy train journey to leicester when i listened to glass animals & read lady macbeth of mtsensk in one sitting. the morning i read the last page of fathers & sons- sitting on a silent study floor of the library- & started uncontrollably weeping, probably confusing/annoying/concerning the people in the booths next to mine. the scribbled, crisscrossed essay i wrote (in a breathless two hours) on pechorin’s androgyny, sitting scrunched up in the russian literature bit of the rolling stack with my boots off. but what, then, is the inapprehensible mysterious force that draws one to thee? why is thy plaintive song heard, why does it resound, unremitting, in the ears, as it carries through all thy length and breadth, from sea to sea? what is in it, this song? what calls, and sobs, and clutches at the heart?

-the other thing i’ve been flipping OUT over is thomas browne’s religio medici, which i read last week for 17th century lit. it’s idiosyncratic & personal & there’s the odd moment of sublimity- like a passage where he talks about metempsychosis which gives me the fucking chills- & it also reads in places as a love letter to ambiguity, to paradox, to the dark spaces in faith that let imagination run wild.

-also: it took me two years but i’m finally catching up on spn. i blazed thru s12 & am one episode into s13. i have, hoo, a lot to say.

-oh, yeah, & jo & i watched the grand budapest hotel last night. i loved it i loved it i loved it. i don’t even want to sort thru my feelings about it yet. but it was dreamy & eccentric & silly & lovely- & yet at the end  there’s a moment where a curtain lifts & all this bitterness & compassion comes through- i thought it was wonderful. ‘monsieur gustave was also the most liberally perfumed man i have ever met.’ ENCHANTING.

anyway, this is the part where… i go the fuck to bed.

goodnight.

00:33, nov. 6 2018

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et in arcadia ego

pretentiousness rating: 3 barrels of oak-smoked decade-aged ennui. we’re livin the dream.

*

hello! it’s been a month!

night’s creeping in at the mo; i’m sitting by my window tryin to prop my eyes open long enough to write this.

-somehow it is late september, & late september is a good time to be in norwich. jo & i’s contra mundum month of grilled peaches & rainy days is now behind us; lucy, will & mantas have moved in. NOIRWICH flyers & shouty notices jostle for space on the pinboard, the “meat drawer” is leaking, no snacks are safe, & bathroom access may be determined only through ritual combat. i am sleep-deprived from reading francis bacon til two a.m, & living off oreos & leftover vegan wok takeout, & i have spent a disgusting amount of money in antiquarian bookshops, & i’m happy.

-this month is like one long, languid golden hour. it’s scarf weather but it isn’t coat weather. the chill in the air is nice & friendly & smells like a deep dark dreamy autumn ahead of us. there’s glossy conkers scattered all over the paths of the avenues, & pink leviathans of cloud when the sun sets, & stars scattered recklessly all over the night with no care for good taste.

-our darling spidery victorian house is becoming slowly more ours. i’ve ordered some pre-raphaelite art posters & we’re going to have a louche little housewarming party with our favourites & a gloomy jazz playlist. i just strung fairy lights all over my room; jo keeps moaning about being cold & then nicking my blankets; lucy’s room is a cave of yogurt pots & history books. as for will, i have initiated a prank war by filling the lining of his peacoat with broccoli.

-we also had a rather hairy saturday a fortnight back. the hairiness began at mr postles’ apothecary, which is a gorgeous early-victorian style bar with antique mirrors & swoony jazz music & deeply recessed leather seats, deserted & dimly glamorous when we went in. the nordic giant at the bar put dry ice in a cup with a silent flourish, & plumes & billows of white smoke slid out of it to trail across the polished walnut surface. cocktails were consumed- cocktails ranging from something involving blowtorched cinnamon & apple vodka to the virulently blue screwball i started out with. we got very plastered & staggered off to gonzo’s, identifiable by one battered, chunky neon sign. you went through a long thin corridor to get to it; it was a cosy, battered space w/ sofas & all sorts of random posters & pictures overlapping each other on the walls & glistening hangings on the backs of chairs, cascades of gold sequins. that bit’s all rather a kaleidoscopic blur, but it was followed by a rather lynchian sequence at a blue-lit indian resturant & a disgraced totter back to maison edric (during which i went into the deserted graveyard at st giles & flopped down onto the grass to jo’s long-suffering sigh). i ended up alone at midnight on the black expanse of the uea broad, drunk-texting lucy: i feel somewhat doolally & i’m broke again & have you missed me & BUNNIES! & luuuuuuuuuuuucy i’m bored taaaaalk to me gosh darn it

-lucy is being sensible & saving her money. jo & i? pah! my favourite unnecessary purchase of the past month is a faux leather backpack with black demon wings. also i now own william blake docs, which is really all i ever wanted out of life. i’m waiting on a velvet blazer in the post, alongside a shit-ton of books & a straight-up black lace fan. i also really want some creepers & the entire collection of beauty in decay books, but i’m trying to restrain myself at least til thursday.

-i’m reading a lot of different stuff at the moment- anna karenina, paradise lost, special topics in calamity physics, some pushkin, & i want to write about them all but my brain feels all gummed up. i think that’s mostly a sign that i need more than five hours knockout time tonight. i’m gonna try & be back in a few days with a post in re: the folding star.

-jo & i have had an enormous amount of fun with movie nights. we take it in turns; her recent suggestions have included paprika, millennium actress, moonrise kingdom, loving vincent, the grand budapest hotel, & heathers. mine have been crimson peak, jane eyre, only lovers left alive, bright star, & (next up) a girl walks home alone at night. all stuff i want to write about. all stuff i’ve been too busy working, or hanging out with people, or ringing up uea to sort out admin bullshit, to do. hopefully that’ll change now.

-uh, wow, this is pretty much just straight blathering. i should post this bullshit & go read some erasmus or something.

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“brooding on the vast abyss”

so, i just realised i haven’t posted in eleven days, whoops. i do however have an excuse: i seem, somehow, to have acquired a job. for the past five days i have been working as a paid fundraiser for a charity (which shall here go unnamed), which basically means knocking on people’s doors & asking them for money. the experience has been… mixed. it’s a really cool job in some ways- like at least you’re outside & walking around (my GOD are you walking around) & i’ve had some really nice guys in my group. you talk to some lovely people, too. but it’s also kinda mentally & physically exhausting- you have to be mentally ‘on’ all the time, & if you know me you’ll know that i have trouble being mentally ‘on’ for ten bloody minutes. you also tend to walk about fifteen to twenty miles per shift, so i’ve been crashing when i get home every night. snacks are the key. i’ve been surviving on plums & pecan pie nakd bars.

after my first shift, i wrote: it was nerve-wracking & disheartening & difficult, but at least i got to see the pale evening sky, & the gibbous moon bearded w/ mist, & sea-foam roses in someone’s garden, & the stars above a tiny train station in the middle of nowhere. & that’s true: i’d rather do this than some soulless retail job.

yesterday, though. oh, boy. yesterday was a fucking catastrophe. our train was cancelled (due to someone jumping in front of a train somewhere in essex), so we were late to shift (which meant we didn’t have a break, &, listen, when your shift is six hours of walking around as fast as you can you really, really need a break). five hours later, we were exhausted, we hadn’t got any signups, a woman had been a complete bitch to me. then, just as we got our route very tangled up & were wondering whether we’d knocked this street before, a massive storm hit. i had no umbrella & was wearing a little purple hoodie. r.i.p. for the next hour i was knocking doors in the pitch black with water streaming down my face, holding my rain-smeary glasses between fingers that had gone numb fifteen minutes ago, having to get my group to point out which bits of the houses were the doors because i was blind as a bloody bat.

it took me two trains, fifty minutes’ walking, & nearly three hours to get back to edric, after which i had the longest hottest shower of my life & woke jo up so that i could bitch to her. man, it’s a good thing i’m getting paid by the hour.

in other news:

-jo & i made the best cookies of our LIVES last week. i joke not. the millies’ cookies recipe on bbc goodfood, guys: it’s idiot-proof. if you want lil round cookies that are super soft inside & taste like annie lennox’s voice w/ added chocolate chips, i highly recommend. we made bonfire toffee tea & watched princess kaguya & then howl’s moving castle to cheer us up bc we were both crying our eyes out. listen, i want to live in that film. i just really relate to howl, okay. i too live in a cave full of glittering paraphernalia & exude large quantities of slime when i’m frustrated. (jo claims kinship w/ sophie.)

-i’ve started reading paradise lost, which, DAMN, son. i have fallen unabashedly into the lucifer camp. listen, he’s so bizarrely sympathetic! he’s arrogant & self-sacrificing & remorseful & independent & there’s some GORGEOUS lines on his black-winged flights through the gloomy deeps. i’ll do a proper excerpts post later.

-i’m also reading eugene onegin, which is unexpectedly very, very funny, & also rather moving & beautiful & full of flickering movement & life. the stanley mitchell translation is so good!

-also, listen up, fellow spn dudes: the new hillywood parody. oh my GOD. tears of joyous mirth, my brethren.

-anyway, after the shitty day i had yesterday jo & i are engaging in some hardcore r&r, which means we’re debuting the grimy takeaway down the road & watching submarine. there may also be grilled peaches & red wine involved, & writing, & coconut frozen yogurt.

 

greetings from MADGE THE SNOOVER & CAPTAIN OF THE FEMALE DANDIES.

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on heroes

i wrote this in december 2016. it’s still my hands-down favourite of my own poems although there’s probably quite a lot wrong with it.

*

Now he’s a myth. A half-seen figure

alive in the heart of a green bonfire.

Spangled in glory, silver thread at his seams

edged from behind in the neon of dreams.

Handing out stars like boiled sweets

and the cosmos that tangle like hair at his feet.

 

He lay down with a spine-bird in a bed of rushes

killed milky-eyed monsters and leather-winged wonders

kissed gods in the snow beneath a bright old lantern

stole a pearl from the devil’s pantry.

Carved faith from seaglass, collected dead flies

and walked on the ocean with flames in his eyes.

 

And beneath all this, this gorgeous skin

this djinn-dream, this envelope of ancient yarns

he’s thin, curly-haired, with gentle-veined wrists

barely more than a child, barely been kissed

a mole like a moth on the pale of his throat

exquisitely threadbare in that awful coat.

 

Rode a sheep into a dusty courtroom

wore his flesh like a dancer’s costume

cracked his knuckles, bit his nails

never learned his piano scales

tied his shoelaces all wrong

quietly humming sad old songs.

 

And his lover explored with whalebone hands

the fantastic clockwork of his lungs.

 

And now there’s no-one left to remember

how his ink-bloomed fingers used to tremble

lighting a cigarette, or wrapped round a razor

or how he bought violets day after day, but

only to scatter the petals to sea

and stare down a pale horse before taking his leave.

 

He’s joined the halls of the old ones now

stories without eyes or noses or mouths

last week they heard an angel’s deathwatch howl

tomorrow Blodeuwedd won’t be flowers or owls.

And now our animal hearts must beat

In the terrible knowledge that our gods are meat.

 

Perhaps this is how it could end

left with a pit of stripped skeletons

and poking through myth-guts with rowan sticks

and smashing through legends with crumbling bricks.

Perhaps they had mothers. Perhaps they had lovers

and perhaps they had fathers and sisters and brothers

and perhaps sainthood sang in their bones

and perhaps they listened to their sky-ships groan

and gazed into booming and heavenly dark

and shivered with feeling, and shivered with feeling

and peeled down and naked they all look the same

and we’re left with the gorgeously dead and their names

and the cry of the stars and the roar of the moon

and their beautiful faces with their beautiful wounds.

 

bright young things @ maison edric

i have moved into edric, & my poor dear squid whisperer & i are experiencing true student poverty for the first time in our lives. i am only allowed to go into one second-hand bookshop per week, & she is allowed to buy only one new variety of tea. we subsist on minestrone soup & make a lot of jokes about milk, peppers & cocaine.

-it is 31 degrees over here & i am currently holding a tub of salted caramel ice-cream to my head to try & cool the fuck down.

-edric is a beautiful house. he is very tall & thin & rambling- rather dilapidated- wooden floors, light-filled corridors, two squishy old red sofas in the lounge. we’re slowly making him ours: my catcher in the rye poster in the lounge, a bathroom fully weaponised with bath bombs & rubber ducks, books all over the bloody place.

-my room is the crows’ nest, right at the back of the house, a tiny place which is about 90% enormous bed. it’s like a goddamn island. there’s a big window right by it, so i can see the night sky when i lie down. if i hang backwards out of the window at a certain angle i have an excellent view of the stars. i’m going for kind of a tatty black-n-white quasi-retro thing with it; black posters, victorian photographs (alice liddell, oscar wilde), black bedsheets, my books stacked in piles on my desk & chest of drawers. they also fill up the entire bookcase in the lounge, because of course they do.

-jo’s reading ulysses at the moment (she’s on the aeolus chapter, which is the one i find most confusing, but i’m nevertheless very excited for her) & i’m reading the folding star. we are in constant battle against falling-down posters & the very dodgy oven, which operates according to some dark agenda of its own.

-i have been adopted by a goth moth; he is a huge black velvet creature who keeps hanging around my room, probably attracted by all the black. i can hear him crashing repeatedly into the lampshade right now.

(three days later.)

-it’s a grey, rain-silvered day, & i woke up to a view of the garden all dark & lush & secretive. the garden is very green & overgrown, with a tiny tumbledown shed at the end. sort of ramshackle-dreamy, like the rest of the house. beyond the trees i can see the spire of the catholic cathedral.

-it’s so quiet here at nights. in all the places i’ve lived, & there’s been a lot, it’s never been this still before. i’m used to the buzz of main roads, of surrounding flats. but here it’s just the trees & the creak of the boards & the rain.

-also, my room + rain = some cosy y.a novel bullshit.

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-we’re trying to get the neighbours to like us. i’m hoping jo, as the pretty soft-voiced one in pearls & floral sundresses, will be our public face. she’s written a nice note to the teachers who live next door, to which i added a scrawled postscript. i’ve been playing quite a lot of music by the open window, so let’s hope they like antique beat.

-then there’s the little skinny black cat we’ve been trying to lure into being friends with us, who we see prowling round the street; the fairy lights in the trees down the road; the house two doors down, number 67, which i’m pretty sure is haunted, it’s uninhabited, with a pale blue front door & the dead stalks of dandelion clocks overgrowing the garden; the pale stars of water-lilies on the campus lake. i went out for a rain-walk this afternoon in raincoat, doc martens & very little else, & came back with water sluicing off me in streams. it’s easy to feel alive when you’re alone on the norfolk broads getting stormed on.

-there’s also stuff like making blueberry pancakes in the early sun with oil of angels playing in the background, & serious conversations over which bowie posters would look best in the lounge vs my bedroom (verdict: heroes in my room, low & ziggy stardust downstairs), & getting drunk on my bed & wildly bitching about people on our shit list, & talking each other into buying stuffed animals (a blue octopus & a green llama, guess who bought which) in tiger, & me trying to eat a coconut yogurt with a fork when we had brunch in chapelfields. & this morning i nearly knocked myself out with my own hairbrush. i have a goose egg on my temple. it is very painful.

-i have decided that i like it here.

-jo & i have made some crackin banana bread & have plans to watch paprika, so… off i hop.

 

rivers & rain (& rereading harry potter)

it’s been a breathless & accident-prone week. i have spent most of it rampaging around in rivers. the run-down:

-the past few days have been bright & golden-sticky. the other day my pal/mom friend caiti & i waded up a stream in rivelin woods, in a shady mossy spot of river where the leaves cut out funny shadows on the water. i was in flip-flops & she in granny sandals & we slipped & slid around on the underwater rocks, & splashed each other when we thought the other wasn’t looking, & had a shouty conversation about books, & once, up to my knees in water, i grabbed hold of a branch to steady myself & imparted to her my theory that my friends & i are actually characters in some sort of pretentiously quirky coming-of-age novel. i have stuck fast to this theory for five years now. it would explain everything.

we found a rope swing by a pool of bright water, & took turns on it, & when it was her turn i lay on the forest floor & stared at the clouds, one of which looked exactly like a huge hand with talons, or a piece of monster munch. i had rivers & roads stuck in my head. i thought, it can’t get much better than this; i felt that i had grasped the crackling centre of the universe.

-after a late-night harry potter marathon with ibby & eliza, i felt that i must reread the books immediately. i’m fifty pages into chamber of secrets. i’m enjoying them so much. starting to remember what it was like to read them as a kid, how edgy & dark & weird they felt to me. i keep messaging ibby at funny hours with variations on BABE OMG HARRY AT THE BURROW IS MAKING ME SO EMOTIONAL THAT BIT WHERE HE SEES THE WELLIES BY THE DOOR I CAN’T TAKE IT. ibby is an angel & has been very understanding.

-i have also acquired a job as a Spider Bailiff. what this means is that i go round the houses of the affluent upper-middle-class with my auntie & her magnificent array of cleaning equipment, evicting arachnids from corners & obliterating their homes with variegated feathery things on poles. there’s also a lot of hoovering & loo-cleaning & wiping down irritatingly shiny expensive-looking surfaces & also rich people seem to have serious issues with stacking dishwashers. i spent about half an hour cleaning suspiciously short, curly hairs off a toilet bowl on friday. i’ve been rattling through abbatoir blues on my headphones & trying to think about it as little as possible.

-i also dropped my auntie’s high-end hoover down a flight of stairs the other day. send thoughts & prayers. that hoover is worth more than my monthly rent.

-this ties into the part where i dropped my phone in a river on tuesday, & walked into a lamp-post on wednesday, & showed up to a party barefoot, grinning & soaked to the skin by a thunderstorm on saturday. spending weeks in Writing Mode does terrible things to my depth perception & motor control. there was this one time in year twelve when i got on the school bus with a cornflake stuck to my glasses lens because i was so busy working out a plot point.

(i put my phone in a bowl of couscous overnight, there being no rice in the house. i now keep finding couscous in my bed. this is deeply disturbing given that i didn’t even take the couscous into my room. does this equate to a recurring scene in my novel, wherein my protagonist wakes up from a visionary nightmare with grave-dirt scattered between his sheets? will i meet my final resting place in a coffin full of couscous? can nobody tell me what this means?)

-there’s also the part where i swallowed a fly whilst out running on thursday evening, & coughed it up two hours later. which… isn’t the grossest thing ever to ever happen to me, but it’s a strong contender.

-in more heartening news, ibby, eliza, rachel, robyn & i went to pride yesterday! we smuggled in peach schnapps in a fanta bottle, spread out a blanket, ibby planted her rainbow flag, & spent an hour scrunching up our faces at the waily awful singing of a drag queen who looked a bit like wuthering heights era kate bush, but kept on noisily mangling madonna songs. eventually even the heavens protested in the form of a colossal thunderstorm, & after ten minutes of valiantly huddling under a spindly umbrella we evacuated with a certain amount of relief & went back to ibby & eliza’s, where we marathoned merlin til three a.m & i nearly bust an artery laughing at the two-parter with uther & the troll. gay culture?

-i also spent about forty-five minutes trying to get my bisexual eyeshadow right, so you guys can appreciate it, goddammit:

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-speaking of the godawful music (much more upsetting than the evangelist nutter at the gate holding a giant cross with red crayon scribbles all over it & telling us we were hopping the fast train to the inferno), i seem to be some sort of Music Magnet. in second semester, i began to hear opera-singing outside my window (in particular, a rich & delightful tenor trolololing it out) almost every night. i wondered briefly if i was having auditory hallucinations of some sort, since lucy couldn’t hear a thing, but then again she was on the other side of the corridor. when i moved back here, the pub across the road decided what it needed more than anything else in the world was atrocious karaoke every night of the week. mostly this means some very loose johnny cash interpretations & abba renditions that make me sweat. yet in the past week or so i begin to hear- yes- the opera singers have followed me, clearly, & they won’t give up. that tenor is back. sometimes the singing worms its way into my nightmares. god only knows what’ll happen at warwick st. especially since i’m considering saving up for a record player (to enable my hipster soul to take wing as it’s always wanted).

-in light of the fact that a certain ANT BOILER & RECKLESS FOOL will be moving in together soon (saturday! saturday!) i have been gathering Things to Hang on Edric, our house. so far the collection consists of

  • a very cool retro-ish mulholland drive print of diane with a disembodied hand over her eyes
  • some black-&-white postcards i found at a rambling antiques centre, including one of a creepy old monument somewhere, & one of a gargoyle in leicester cathedral (caption: THE GRINNING IMP)
  • fairy lights! they’re all warm & twinkly! like little melty snow jewels!
  • a lewis carroll photograph of alice liddell
  • my melting clock
  • a careful selection of my favourite spn & crimson peak posters; i’m thinking we get a bowie one for the kitchen (jo? i know you read this blog, you gay piece of shit, thoughts?)
  • i may or may not also have started a tacky fridge magnet collection for when we get there but we don’t need to talk about that

god, it’s going to be good to have our own space. our own space where we can sprawl. it’s going to be full of books & music & silly lit students crashing about & watching david lynch movies & fighting it out for bathroom access & honestly just thinking about it sorta warms the cockles of my cold-ass heart.

-i woke up yesterday to the rush & scent of it bucketing it down. the rain fell so hard that droplets shattered on my windowsill & sprayed creamy seashells stacked on the sill, the notebook pile by my bed, my glasses. i moved my books out of the way & let it hit. inhaled. petrichor so strong it was dizzying, & god, i love that word.