Thursday, 31 December 2009

COP15 Part Five

We arrive at our accommodation, a school in one of Copenhagen's suburbs, around 5.30am. I am impressed by the school which is well designed and warm. I wonder why British schools can't be more like it. The school children have written welcome notes along the lines of' 'welcome to our school, enjoy your stay and please put everything back as you found it before you leave.' There's a large Christmas tree and child-drawn-decorations saying 'God Jul' or 'Happy Christmas,' It's very sweet.

After our welcome from, I think, the Headmaster, we disperse to populate the various classrooms and lay down our sleeping mats and have (hallelujah) hot showers (Christian Aid had suggested their party bring swimming costumes as the showers were communal). I find a space in room 7B and inflate my mattress, although I dont plan on using it tonight.

After we're sorted, I go and find Joanna.

We agree that if we sleep, we'll never get up for the flood at 8am. The flood; is Friends of the Earth's Copenhagen march stunt.

A couple of hours later, having survived communal showering by angling oneself right and stuffing a couple of jam-less rolls down the throat, around half the coach party brave the dry and bitter chill to meander our way to the metro.

Friends of the Earth have negotiated discounted travel cards which are neatly printed yellow cards the size of my Co-operative bank card (which I later lose, but that's another, uninteresting, story). The Danes on the Metro smile at each other. At one stop a Muslim woman in full hijab, abaya but not niquab, gets on and I think this must be the only time of year it's a relief, in terms of the weather, to wear one, although the material looks a little scratchy, like a habit. 40 minutes later we are getting off the metro and heading over the road to the Klimaforum, meeting point/exhibition hall/platform for speakers.

(The pink flag will be unfolded later, it is the Stop Climate Chaos coalition flag).

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

COP15 Part Four

A friendly Austrian on our coach acts as translator, going out first to talk to the police about how the three hour search is to be conducted. He comes back after what feels like an eternity to relay the information back to us. Joanna follows this up with information from FOE (Friends of the Earth).

After interludes of cigarettes, yoga, star-jumps, cigarettes, coffee, some toilet trips ('spinner in der toiletten?' I use my terrible German to ask the police lady who searches my person. She shrugs.) and a photograph of Daniel with a friendly police officer who, I think, looks a little like Orlando Bloom,

we are all back in the coach.

We see a van that looks a little like an ambulance out of the window as we are about to pull away. A man disappears into it and a blind in the window being pulled down confirms what we all feared we'd have to go through when we were pulled over...the cavity search. Shudder.

A woman who is covered head to toe in purple drapery starts to irritate everyone. I consider binding and gagging but imagine I'm just being rude in my head because I'm tired.

I try and amuse everybody saying it would be great if Derren Brown was on board because he could click his fingers and send us all to sleep (I can't sleep on coaches). We won't be sleeping tonight, now that the Eurostar,searches and breaks have made us nearly five hours late.

I muse that hypnotism doesn't work on me as I like to be in control.

Purple-clothed woman asks if I let my guard down during sex. I duck behind my seat so I don't have to look her in the eye. I can't believe her audacity. She merely takes my action as a 'no.' I want to push her out the emergency exit and ask the driver to step on it.

Meanwhile cavity searched men are being handcuffed and put in a van. Someone makes a comment bout how unfortunate it would be if they were immigrants caught up in all of this, an issue to be dealt with another time.

Monday, 28 December 2009

COP15 Part Three

Three hours (or is it two?) and a watch change later we are in Brussels, where we board three coaches waiting outside the station.

Having formed a bond with Daniel, we sit next to each other on the coach, behind Tanya, who works as a fundraiser amongst other things, at the CAT (Centre for Alternative Technologies) in Wales and Rory, who as I mentioned earlier works for the Woodland trust.

We travel for a long time through Belgium, Holland and Germany. I take photographs of various Windmills in Holland through the window.

I film Rory talking to Tanya about climate change, with interjections from Daniel about the possible hope of algae.

(Youtube won't take the film at the moment, it's too long).

We're getting increasingly delayed because our two drivers are required by law to take a break every four hours. On one of the breaks Daniel buys a massive can of beer (1 litre) and I buy some apple flavoured vodka which tastes sort of like Apple Sourz. I give a little taster to a training doctor who is with us.

After many hours, in Germany, we are pulled over at a police check-point.

Apparently, the Geman police are working with the Danish police, as the latter have deployed their entire force to the centre of Copenhagen, understandably.
Thankfully, St. Andrews educated Joanna speaks French fluently and it able to humour our coach drivers as well as negotiating for one of them (apologies for not having a name) to make us all a much needed coffee.

The police have to search everybody one by one, for which they have erected a staging area (or marquee). Each person has to take their luggage from the hold and themselves to said marquee to be felt up and have their things gone through. Just like at an airport, which ironically some people are beginning to voice a desire for at this point.

Two hours in, when it's finally my turn, I bound toward the staging area with much excitement. The police are very friendly. They do not go overboard feeling my chest and don't feel my crotch at all. I am pleased that I obviously convey something which continuously allows people to have faith in my honesty (or am mortally offended if it's because they don't find me attractive enough to cop a feel).

Outside, one girl has decided to go through various yoga positions, much to the amusement (or bemusement?) of the police.

I film some of us making the best of the stop by doing a WAVE.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


On my way to work I pass not one, but two streams of frozen piss. Forking out like
2D white trees on the concrete. I haven't seen anything so subtly disgusting for a while and just hope that no pregnant women, small children or infirm slip on the frozen reminder of your drunkeness. And if they do, may I be the one with the rewind button to send your carelessness back where it came from, (keeping it still frozen).

Saturday 19th (?)

Friday, 18 December 2009

Slightly Disjointed Interview With Jonathan Neale Owing To Our Mutual Tiredness/Excitement About COP15

Slightly Disjointed Interview With Jonathan Neale Owing To Our Mutual Tiredness/Excitement About COP15

I knew Jonathan Neale in my final year at university. I’m walking around an exhibit at the Klimaforum in Copenhagen on the Sunday after the march, with my friend Hannah, when I spot him out of the corner of my eye. I get a rush of excitement and race over to him.
A man he’s with is explaining to him in a hushed voice that they’re reducing the numbers of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) allowed into the conference on Wednesday to 15,000 … Jonathan says ‘I think, myself, we don’t panic.’

S: I want to hear what you’re doing here.

J: I’m the International Secretary for the Campaign Against Climate Change. We’re the people who have been organising the national demonstrations up until this year when the NGOs stepped in and did it much bigger but we’re er…we’re…um…

S: Tired?

J: Tired? We are shattered, we had… I had a wonderful, wonderful time yesterday.

S: when did you arrive?

J: We’ve been here a week, we’re here for the duration.

S: Wow.

J: So basically that’s what I do with my life aside from what you are already familiar with.

S: I heard a couple of students say they’d seen you on YouTube and I’ve meant to look you up. Are you filming or recording here?

J: No I’m not filming or recording, I am writing.

S: Right, its weird bumping into you. I’ve got my friend Hannah just over there too, she’s with Climate Camp. They arrived halfway through yesterday, I think. I’ve kind of lost track of time a bit because we stayed up all night. We got stopped by the police for about two and a half hours. I came on the coach with the Stop Climate Chaos coalition and the Friends of the Earth, who’ve helped me out with accommodation and travel and taught me a lot about what we are all doing here.

J: right.

S: So what are you hoping to achieve?

J: First of all I’m just part of the movement. Secondly, I’m part of tons of arguments basically arguing for a socialist position. The third thing is we’ve got a campaign in Britain to get a million green jobs.

S: Right, the Green Party were involved with that…

J: Yes, what we’ve now got is the people who might do it, we’ve got a big network of unions and I’m trying to find other people who can do similar things for other countries.

(Jonathan asks me what I’m doing with my life, I explain that my father has been working with the Green Party for the past twenty-odd years of my life…he clarified for me yesterday that he joined the Green Party in 1981… and how we used to be embarrassed by his involvement, when everybody cared more about money than the environment, but now it’s everywhere and really important and I’ve come to be part of it. Jonathan gives me his email address on a business card and asks me to drop him an email).

S: So when are you going back?

J: I’m going back on Saturday.

S: Okay, I imagine you’re going to write up quite a lot of stuff as well.

J: yes.

S: It’s just really surreal to bump into you.

J: When a movement gets real you start meeting people you didn’t expect to meet.

(We are interrupted by a man telling Jonathan about the Danes prohibiting access to the Bella Centre. Jonathan asks if they’re going to decide who’s a good person and who’s a bad person. The other guy laughs. ‘So they’re just going to limit the number of NGOs?’ Jonathan asks him. I think the other guy says, ‘they’re going to limit but there will still be access.’
Jonathan proclaims, ‘This is the Americans, this is them clearing the way for Obama.’ We are interrupted by someone who is looking to interview Jonathan. He says not tonight, maybe tomorrow. I count my lucky stars I know him from back home).

S: I’ll email you. I’d love to hear about what you get up to when we’re not tired.

J: Oh it’s probably just excitement.

S: Yeah, I was really overwhelmed when that guy announced 100,000 of us turned up [to the march] I almost cried.

J: 100,000, by the way, is the official police estimate.

S: Is that true? Other people were saying it was less than that.

J: No that’s the official police estimate.

S: I went on the anti war march in 2003 in London and they said then that a couple hundred thousand turned up… but what I came away with was two million

J: The organisers said two million and the next day in a survey a question was asked ‘was someone from your household at the anti war march yesterday?’ and, extrapolating the numbers, there were people from 1.3 million households on that march, so that’s at least two million people.

S: Yeah, there must’ve been, I mean you could see. Even one of our neighbours who wouldn’t be seen dead at any kind of protest went.

J: Okay, the easy way to do it is…Wembley stadium is 90,000. Ask yourself; was that crowd bigger than a full Wembley stadium?

S: Definitely. Just look how big the traffic jams were, waiting for the protestors to walk past. You can probably work out how many people there were from how many hours people sat in their cars for.
Where are you off to now?

J: I’m off to dinner with a bunch of Socialists. I’m in the SWP in Britain and I’m talking to the Danish comrades. And then there’s a meeting with the NGOs back here at 7 o’clock to talk about what to do about them reducing the number of NGOs.

(I tell Jonathan that unfortunately, if the SCCcoalition are to make the Eurostar, we have to leave at 12am, but that I’ll email him and hope he’ll be able to fill me in on everything that happens that I’m unable to be a part of in the coming days).

J: Yesterday, I mean that’s the beginning of a global movement.

(I talk to Jonathan on a personal level for a bit and wish him luck. As I write this, he’s just emailed me from Copenhagen saying it was good to see me there. He’s shattered yet optimistic. I share that optimism. Reclaim the power).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

COP15 Part Two

The Eurostar train is delayed in the end by an hour and thirty minutes due to a fault with the doors. We await a replacement train at Ashford and then see smiles from the passengers who were on their way to London as they swap trains with us (the doors are only a problem when travelling through the tunnel). The trains reverse their respective directions of travel and we are on our way. I am delighted to hear as I fumble with tracing paper toilet paper, the first time I’ve encountered such paper since school, that as a result of our delay we are each to receive a complimentary single ticket or half price return on our next Eurostar trip.

I am sitting beside Daniel directly behind Joanna, manager of Stop Climate Chaos coalition. Joanna tells us about complaints the SCC received post Wave, which took place in London 5th December. There were the obvious yet ironic complaints that the Wave caused traffic jams and the more out there, someone else mentions a drunk who phoned their organisation that day asking if they should kill their pets if animals were contributing to climate change. Let's just hope the Daily Mail goes bankrupt in the near future. Joanna is a kind and compassionate woman and mother of two.


I turn up early at St. Pancras after no sleep due to traffic outside my welcoming sister's Kentish town window. I'm pleased that the London bus service has run smoothly enough to have brought me here. As everyone travelling with the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition converges, I notice an ice sculpture adjacent to us standing as an ironic nod to capitalism, a blonde woman stands in front of the sculpture with a mic negotiating an item for the television. It's 4.45am and she's smoothing her hair before take after take holding the mic up to the frozen sculpted people, pretending to interview them. I have come alone. The first guys I speak to are Daniel, who is representing UNITE and Rory from the Woodland Trust. These are just two of many good people I'm to meet and spend my time in Copenhagen with. I'm asked how I came to be where I'm standing. My first answer that comes to mind is that my father has been campaigning on behalf of the Green Party in Bristol my entire life (I'm twenty-three). I used to be embarrassed by it, when everybody was more conservative and the socks with sandals were doing nothing to impress the still-married-mothers in my primary school playground. I'm proud now that he saw this coming when I was too young to. Daniel is a big guy with a backpack that has a large, folded UNITE flag protruding from it. It is the first time he's done anything like this. I think he's a little nervous. Rory wears glasses with string to keep them from straying from his neck. He's muttering something about a Danish friend who is now in charge of foreign affairs.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Train Rant

It's raining and my Nivea moisturiser has resurfaced on my face as I walk past a seagull corpse on the track at Temple Meads wondering if they'd leave a dead human clawing the air there too. I'm not in the best mood for what I'm about to realise.
As the man at the cashier's booth asks if I have ID for my railcard I almost burst into tears and yell, 'twenty-three, twenty-three,' to see if willpower alone can magic a hologram of the old railcard I've left at home, cut to pieces so that I could look twenty-two for another year. But he's a good man. After I've made my purchase I head down to the subway passage to look at the train times. While scanning the screens I realise I'm hungry so enter the glowing pasty shop. These guys know there should always be filling in the crust, do I look like a coal-miner?
So I buy my pasty and cup of tea (only 99p when you buy the pasty) and move to my right so that a slightly overweight nerdy looking bloke can get his.
"I'd like..." he begins quietly, hands clasped together. But he's cut off by a guy behind him in a neon-yellow reflective waistcoat with a hands free piece in his ear and a tenner ready in his hand who makes his order instead. Unbelievable. The geeky kid looks down and says nothing, embarrassed. But it's not his embarrassment to have. I know the pain of the mumbler and wait until neon-jacket has left and say,
"well that was rude. I hate it when people do that," loudly (I don't mumble in the face of injustice)
"never mind," the cashier says.
The geeky guy smiles and very quickly meets my eye but says nothing. And I think, 'well if I don't fight for us, who will?'

Sunday, 6 December 2009


A small, elderly lady who I've likened to the dwarf from Don't Look Now only because of her appearance (she's a kind lonely woman in person) and who I call 'bluecoat' frequents the shop I work in. She's making her way to the nearest member of staff who will spare her some time and starts talking about something, anything. The Christmas shoppers are milling about like idle turkeys. If you walk into one they'll probably blink a couple of times look at you through glazed eyes then change direction, bobbing over to a different bay to pour over Clarkson or Delia (who is the best at preparing Turkeys). The elderly, hunched woman pretends to be part of the crowd but the minute she realises I'm free and, hallelujah, actually there specifically to answer questions on the shop floor, she makes a beeline for me.
"I've got so many books," she says.
"Hmm," I mumble.
"I've got so many books I can't fit them on the shelves anymore."
"Hmm," I repeat.
I don't doubt her, she's in enough to have accumulated a library's worth of empty paperbacks. This gives me an idea. I suggest she visits the library to help alleviate her storage problem.
"It's not very good," she replies.
"No, I agree," I say. I do, Bath Central Library is abysmal.
I've run out of smalltalk and I think she senses this. I am not prepared for what she says next.
"Do bats have bollocks?" she asks.
My eyes widen with surprise.
"And do ants have ar-seholes?" there's a west country twang in her voice.
I laugh as I realise she's talking about the New Scientist books. This satisfies her and she trundles away.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Making Quince Jam

Stanley Rd. West

It's very early in the morning on the first day of December when I wake up having had a bad dream. I can't get back to sleep. For some reason I remember the quince bush outside my old house in Stanley Rd. West. What if the new tenants don't realise they can make jam out of them? Has the fruit already fallen? Is it slowly rotting and wasting on the stones beneath the bush? A wave of injustice passes over me.
As I can't get back to sleep, I forge a plan to save whatever is left. And then I think more about Stanley Rd. West.
Our shared house was cold. Really, really cold. A lot of houses in Bath get cold because Bath stone is porous (I think that's why anyway). The beams beneath Sian's room were rotting, so it smelled musty. Mould attached itself in there to things under the bed, including, sadly, a rather expensive poker set. The beams were so rotten you could bounce up and down on the floor and it would follow your feet on your ascent and descent. The living room wasn't really a living room but a hallway and toward the end of our tenancy, part of the plug in our bath went AWOL and the living room ceiling collapsed under the pressure of shower water leaking out from the gap. When the plumber came over he joked about people having sex in the bath, which I laughed off (we weren't those kind of students, I don't think). When he pulled up the floorboards he showed me underneath and explained that in days of yore everything was so they say 'swept under the carpet' quite literally. My room was a good size - the walls weren't necessarily entirely straight and I could hear the wind howling in the boarded up wall-papered over chimney in bad weather and pigeons cooing either inside or above it most of the year. Once I even heard scrabbling in there. But it felt good in the house. The carpets were atrocious, particularly the grey monstrosity with the pink roses printed at random intervals on its surface circa 1973 (approximately) and we weren't always sure it was our hair we vacuumed up with the Vax vacuum (circa 1983). But it felt good. The back garden was uneven but it had a pink-blooming rose bush at the front and deep red roses at the back in Summer. In the Autumn it had blackberries, until someone got over zealous with the strimmer. I never, ever went into the tumbledown shed for fear of spiders.
When the power cut off (only very occasionally) and everything went black, the first time, I hadn't bothered to find the fuse-box so had to ring the neighbor's doorbell. A kind woman with short (dyed) blonde hair who always smiled hello at me answered and offered her husband to help. He was bald and obviously had a very bad back as he hunched and touched his hand to it from time to time for support. He raised an eyebrow but came over with a torch and insisted that he get on a chair to look at the fuse box. It made me wince watching him climb with his back the way it was and I tried to insist he didn't.
All year round from my bedroom window I could see him pottering around his garden with his fluffy cat which had its own dog-house. In Summer he'd lie in a deck chair topless apart from the gold chain around his neck and catch the sun with his chest.
Anyway, I'm thinking about stealing me some quinces. I like them because of their name's proximity to the word quim and I like making them into jam (delectable with red meats, especially cold). When I cook jam it heats up even the coldest, dampest kitchen.

Making Jam From Stolen (shh) Quinces.

First, pick some (11) quinces by reaching over the wall of your old house and putting your finger to your lips so the builders staring at you like you are the weirdest person on Earth know not to tell your old neighbors. Then go to town and eat breakfast at the Jazz Cafe because it's the best, before heading to the Christmas market. Buy something from the Lithuanian artist who is very, very good. Like him. Finally, later return to the quince bush and perform acrobatics over the garden fence so that your weight is supported on your stomach while you grab three fallen quinces.

Now make your get away.

Go to Somerfield at the bottom of the road (it's there) and buy shit loads of sugar in different forms so you can choose which one you want later and still have some to replace the negative amount you have left for cups of tea.

Laugh off the cashiers comments about how much sugar you are buying.

At home, peel and core all 14 quinces and put them with a guestimated amont of water in a really big pan like this:


Now, you still need to make dinner for your entire (almost) family, so think about making a pie from the left overs of last night's beef stew with some broad beans thrown in because you aren't exactly going to eat left over broad beans on their own, are you. cut some red and orange peppers and red onions dust them with olive oil and drown them in balsamic vinegar then shove some happy pig sausages next to them. Like this:

now add 500grams of soft brown sugar and probably 500grams of granulated sugar. (I used to boycott Tate and Lyle because I heard they treated farmers like shit but apparently they're now 'Fairtrade' so I've lifted this personal embargo).

Now you probably have too much water in there so let it evaporate for the next four hours.

While you are waiting take out the pie, sausage, mash and roasted vegetables and serve them up:

Once you've eaten that up make your way back to the jam. Stir it for a bit, get bored and go and watch television. Get bored of television and go back to the jam and vice versa, again and again, until hey presto, jam is done!

remember to sterilise the jars and lids in boiling water for ten minutes before ladling the hot jam into them. Decide to use greaseproof paper over the tops of the jars and slam the lids on.
Leave jars and mess to cool off. Deal with mess complaints the following day. Lick the spoon.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Chauvinism: A Guide

He stood on a seat at the edge of the deck in the dark and used it as a stage to give a live performance of 'getting his cock out.' I was engaged in conversation and missed the spectacle but my friends, voices bitter with mild distain, filled me in. Obviously elated following his show, he sat down on a chair and leant back, dinner jacket agape, arms in Lincoln-esque power-recline pose, and looked me in the eye. I recoiled before he opened his mouth. When he did it was only to congratulate himself on his performance. In the same way I've heard a small number of men referring to a small number of women as 'sweaters' I nick-named him Dinner Jacket, or Blazer for want of short semblance. I watched as a friend of Blazer's spat heavy amounts of saliva onto the wood beneath his feet. He screwed up his face in a way which suggested both discomfort and remorse for his fading dignity which he was unable to stop from fading post intoxication. Embarrassed, he put his head in his hands. Cocky Blazer, whose hairline, I noticed, was receding, although only in his twenties, asked if I was a student. I said no and asked which university he went to. He told me to 'fuck off asking,' as if aware I may be judging and said he worked for HEFCE. Oh God, I thought, no wonder our country is in a state.
Feeling sorry for his friend, I asked Blazer to get a glass of water for him. 'Shut up,' he replied, and with those two words I was raging. venom flooded my mouth. How dare he speak to me like that, how
dare he? Vile ignoramus. And to make matters worse, as we were leaving, a woman accepted his invitation for a kiss. A little piece of me died.
I suppose I lost the upper hand as we walked away from the Thekla, by vividly imagining stamping on his head with my leather boots until small fragments of his flimsy pink brain were scattered on the pavement, each individual bit of which I stamped on again, repeatedly. But if he'd just accidentally fallen overboard...

Sunday 22nd November 09

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I'm walking up the road from the Prom bar where I've been sitting, greasy-haired and half properly dressed, half pijama clad, biding time, escaping the banality of unemployment. I would have ventured in the opposite direction to my friend's house, but the loneliness I feel tonight doesn't call for feeling lonely with someone else. So I'm walking up the Gloucester Road, instead of down it.
As I go past the white-fly-postered HSBC cashpoint, a gruff voice calls to me,
I look in its direction.There's a man sitting on the pavement behind a fortress of boxes, the back ends of which all face towards me. He's wearing a long grey coat and has drug-shined eyes that sparkle in the streetlight.
"What did you say?" I ask.
He looks blank.
"Auburn? As in auburn hair?" I run my fingers through my side-spilling ponytail, which I suppose is sort of auburn.
He looks blank still.
"I want to go home," he says. And again, "I want to go home."
"You want to go home?"
He looks blank.
"We all want to go home," I say dumbly.
"Are you cold?" he asks.
I think for a minute. Metaphorically yes, but no, I'm not cold.
"No," I reply, "are you?"
"Not yet, I might be later on."
"Is this your home?" I ask.
He nods or shrugs, I think, and says, "Where do you live?"
"Just around the corner," I point.
He nods.
"Well, tomorrow's another day," I say. And I think he mutters "thank you" a couple of times - unless it's my mind trying to give me peace.
He watches through his mirror eyes as I walk up the alleyway.
The loneliness doesn't fade for either of us, but at least it isn't cold.

1.45am 19/11/09

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Grandma's Fruit Cake.

Donated by Lu (Sophie 3RW, Cherry 1H)

This is Sophie and Cherry's Grandma's recipe for useless cake makers like us - it's foolproof and requires no cooking.


12oz (340 grams) finely crushed digestive biscuits
2oz (56 grams) raisins lightly chopped
3oz (85 grams) glace cherries
3Tbsp golden syrup
3 oz (85 grams) butter/margarine
7 oz (200 grams) dark chocolate


Melt butter, syrup and chocolate together gently (preferably over hot water) until chocolate is melted.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Smooth into buttered 1 lb (.45kg) tin and chill.
Turn out onto suitable board or plate.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Killing Fields

The monument holds sixteen shelves
of skulls and bones,
those with large blows at the front.
Teeth, rooted in the ground
and clothes strewn over and under the earth nearby,
must have been put there for effect.
But this is no intentional museum,
those teeth were recently punched out
There’s a praying mantis attached to a tree,
I’ve never seen one;
And take a photo before you point to a sign
which says; ‘the killing tree’
that children were taken to be beaten against.
The mantis and the butterfly flourish.
Purple flowers rise from the graves,
A tourist with a camera round his sunburned neck
asks if we’re in the Killing Fields—
I stare at him in amazement.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Crow

November 3rd

It started a few weeks ago. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed I was being followed. Followed by a large, black, beady-eyed raven. It has been pointed out that due to the small numbers of ravens around these parts, it might more likely be a crow. But I know it’s definitely a raven. If it’s a raven I can draw analogies to Edgar Allan Poe whose raven spelt doom. If it’s a crow I can only think of the darkness of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven – one of the most needlessly disturbing films I’ve seen, which really only provided a door to the twisted inner sadist workings of the writer’s mind. So it’s definitely a raven. At first it was perched atop a chimney top, watching. This went on for a few days. And then yesterday it was at my feet, staring up at me inquisitively poking around scanning the windows to my soul trying to convey its message. It beat its large wings and flew up in a flurry of jet feathers. I’ve not heard the message yet but know the beast will be back. I live in fear.


I'm nearly twenty-three years old which is too old to be payed to babysit, so I'm not overly impressed when my neighbour gives out my number to a friend of hers. The friend calls me up at work and begs me to help her out and because I feel guilty that I'm allowed out all the time and I know it's hard for parents to get the opportunity I sheepishly give in. On the day I'm feeling pretty low, lower than I've felt in a while and meeting strangers isn't top of my list of fun activities. I put on an old shapeless gun-metal blue jumper which screams I-don't-care-what-I-look-like-today and head out.When I arrive the couple are late so briefly introduce me to his eight-year-old daughter. I ask her if she'll show me where everything is so she will feel in charge which makes her smile. Her dad and his girlfriend leave. When they're gone I get let into their world. The girl tells me her father is working his way through the alphabet but thinks this one will last, which makes me laugh. If not it'll be 'O' next (he's already had three 'Ls'). We go into the living room and from my memory of babysitting I'm expecting the usual middle class CD collection (Terence D'arby, Tracy Chapman a bit of Radiohead to show they can be 'edgy') but what I actually find is far, far better. There's a cabinet with fossils from all over the world and not just your standard ammonite, there's a sloth's claw and armadillo skin, a suffocated crab and an entire fish. In another cabinet there are small boxes with drawers in them, each labelled with the names of countries and each with a camera symbol on the front. Sliding one open, I find (to much excitement on my part) slides inside. I haven't seen slides in years. I say to the girl, who is quite happy to give me a running commentary on my findings; 'do you know what these are?' 'no,' she replies. 'These are slides, look if I hold one up to the light you can see the picture on it.' So she takes one in her hand and asks me to hold it up to the light for her (I'm taller). And I think how wonderful it is to show old things to young people.

Oct 17th

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Halloween 2009

Creating a Posada Print Inspired/Day of the Dead Costume for Halloween

1. went to Artrageous. Bought face paint and feathers...(more expensive than you'd think)

2. took hat bought at WOMAD a couple years back with
mud to prove it...

3. Used old pages of Yellow Pages to cover hat with PVA/water mix.

4. Created 'feathers' from cereal box...covered with paper then realised I'd created what could be mistaken for a demnted origami turtle so rejected grand feathers (alright rejected feathers later after deciding they were a choking hazard)

5. covered dried out hat with a layer of blue tissue
paper which I was pleased was incredibly cheap from

6. Painted flowers using ancient acrylics I found
in a shoebox. Can't remember those Art shoes...
I got a D in A-level art but this was not to deter
Added far less grand feathers.

Um, I tried it on?

7. Hey presto a week of hard labour later...

I was going to do a step by step face painting photoshoot but the frustration incurred from paining ones face in a hurry then having to walk friend's dog with friend dressed this way before we went out and dog nearly getting eaten by other dog whose owner said 'this has never happened before' meant I could not be arsed. Ho hum.
Compliments ranged from a guy in Bath (Green Park Tavern) dressed as something out of the Young Ones taking my photo while speaking Spanish at me and lifting his shirt to reveal a massive skull tattoo, to being called a whore and a man in the centre of Bristol. Ironic considering I was covered head to toe and many girs were almost totally uncovered. I HATE the centre of Bristol on a Saturday night. Who bred those people?
My eyes still have blue paint on them.


Thursday, 8 October 2009


I'm sitting next to this girl on the train. She's talking animatedly on her mobile and all eyes are on her. She has a folder open in front of her with a book lying at its centre. The book is a textbook about psychotherapy but she does not sound like a psychotherapist. She might be talking about her course but it's boring so I've tuned her out. I'm trying to read and I'm doing just fine even though she's talking loudly and all the eyes on her suggest she's got everyone else listening. What actually distracts me is her smell. What is that scent? It smells fresh and familiar. It's not a scent I would wear, I wear subtly intoxicating perfumes day-to-day or olfactorily offensive ones like Coco Chanel to interviews. I think of my sister and realise that I have worn it because of her. Then I remember that it's Clinique Happy. And now I'm no longer reading my book but thinking about the scents that are important to me. I'm going through my olfactory memory. Beech trees in autumn are my primary school playground. Bleach my nursery school. Home is the scent of home, it isn't the washing powder or the food but us. My friend's homes all have scents that are them. suncream is the beach and coffee my Grandfather's house. the smell of overheated drains is Greece and the smell of dried fish Bangkok. The smell of white musk is (embarrassingly) my father, yet so is the smell of imperial leather which he washes his weather leathered face with.

Thursday, 8th October 2009

2pm Thursday

I'm making pasta with Tuna and tomato sauce in the kitchen. I get oil over my fingers and wash them. Though my hands are clean I can't resist eating some of the tuna, satisfying myself by separating the layers of steak, sliding them up and over one another to create a pyramid which rises above the can. I wash my hands again and turn the radio tuner to a random station. 'We have a guest on in a minute but't remember the name,' says the presenter. 'We have a telephone number you can contact us on but can't remember it off the top of my head.' What station is this? I think. I'm answered by the presenter eagerly remembering the website, unsurprising given that it's and the channel is BCFM. The station is run by volunteers from the Malcolm X Centre in St. Paul's. A Welsh ska band are put on with lyrics that are something along the lines of 'you can't know what it is not to stand until you've lived in the Mumbles,' followed by a Russian guy reading out a beautifully written comparison of Chaplin and Hitler. The elderly sikh couple who go for a walk up my road, through the park and back again every day go past the window. She wears a mustard coloured sari and walks as elegant as ever.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Crying over £2

my boss keeps me a few minutes later than usual because she's stressed out. This means, if I'm going to make dinner, I have to run down the hill to the station.
When I get there, I run onto the platform through the gate by the carpark. I think I've missed my train as one is just pulling away from the platform but mine is a minute behind so I make it.
Relieved, I plonk myself down in a seat at the end of a carriage.
The ticket man comes by and I end my phone convesation to be polite. I start taking my money out and he asks, 'where to?'
I say; 'Redland, with a railcard.'
He says 'you can't use your railcard because you didn't buy the ticket before you got on the train.'
'Because I was running to catch it,' I say, 'I didn't have time.'
But he only repeats what he's just said.
'How much is it then? I ask.
'£5.90,' he replies.
I want to say, 'I split up with my boyfriend of four years yesterday, even though we still love each other and my boss kept me behind when I'd worked a nine hour day for near minimum wage FUCK YOU.' But I just say 'whatever,' push a tenner into his hand, wait for my ticket and change and stare out the window. Prick.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Saturday Night

So I'm sitting in this bar in Bath so tired I want to rip my eyes out just to get some shut-eye. The girls are all dressed up but I've just come from work so I have to borrow eye-liner and mascara from a stranger to feel at all comfortable. My clothes are still too shitty for the place I'm in and I feel desperately unattractive (okay, that's an exaggeration) though the girl in the barbie-pink crop top makes me feel less so.
So in the hallway of this bar I watch all the girls in their little mini lycra dresses, some so short you can see their cheeks peeping from under the hem. A group of unattractive young males are gathered in a corner. One (seated) is poking his finger at his friend's fly. After a while the guy just undoes the fly and lets his cock out - semi-erect (which is rather disturbing) and smallish - in front of everyone, like a child, as if it's the most normal thing in the world to do. A drunk woman with a bob and large teeth sits down next to me and asks if I'm 'alone tonight.' Although I say no, that I'm waiting for friends, she still threatens to 'adopt' me and so, fearing I may smack her in the face, I get up to find my friends.

Monday, 23rd September 2009


The man who cleans the Severn Beach Line train has grey hair cropped short on top but in a rat tail at the back. He wears a gilet with holsters for his cleaning solutions and sweeps around your feet with an extended dustpan and small brush. He has blue eyes and wears glasses. He trails a clear polythene rubbish bag containing emptied coffee cups and chocolate bar wrappers behind him. He also has a moustache. He doesn't talk.

Monday, 21st September

Further Musings on the Train

A painted alien on the bridge over the track smiles at us. It's hot in September and I have my feet out of my pumps so I can stretch my toes. A stout lady in a blue shirt, wearing sunglasses that shelter her eyes, is holding a lead being pulled taught by a scruffy grey mongrel excited at the commotion caused by the train and the vibrition of the platform. A boy and a girl are sitting in a car park cross legged and facing each other. Fit basketball players, arms dark and toned, are wearing loose vests. They are with a girl who looks stunning in a blue backless sports dress, texting on her mobile phone. Three Sikh children run into their house making star shapes in the air with their arms. The smallest in a bright magenta top with her hair pulled back.

Monday, 21st September 2009

Elderly Couple Waiting for a Train

"An elderly couple ask if they can sit down and the woman next to me apologises for not noticing them.
When seated, the elderly woman says to her husband, who has a face that is gentle and lined from similing, 'I shall miss this place Rog, I shall miss it.' and again 'I shall miss this place...' until he replies,
She talks of some relative who has arranged to have them moved.
'To the Straights,' Roger says.
'Yes,' she replies and then, 'where're the Straights?'
'You know when my father came over to Fishponds?' Roger asks.
'That was the Straights'
and then missing any poetic intention her husband might have had, she starts talking about their new garden and bedrooms and how it will all be fine, awaiting his agreement after every line but she is really only reassuring herself and when the train comes and they stay on the platform I really hope they were supposed to.

Monday, 21st September 2009

Acoustic Singer, Looking for a Guitarist for Open Mic Nights

'I never look at the ads in Tesco. But for some reason I did and there was this ad: 'acoustic singer looking for a guitarist to play open mic nights.' So I contacted her and she's coming along,' he said smiling.

'Put her on next to fill time before we put the good acts on,' I replied.

She walked into the room in a grey flat cap with a large pendant round her neck and muttered to herself in the corner. Then shouted encouragement to the man on stage.

'So what do you do then, just solo stuff or do you need a guitar?' he asked her.

'oh I just make it up,' she replied.

He slid his hands deep into his pockets, 'you mean you make it up on the spot?'

A smile tweaked the sides of my mouth.

'Yes I just open my mouth and it sort of comes out, it's a gift from God,' she said.

'Right,' he said, straight faced as I shook with silent laughter.

'On you go then.'

What else could he say?

She walked to the stage took the microphone and with the lungs of Lulu belted out:


I tried to take photos but I was shaking so much that I couldn't. The audience were hiding in each other covering their faces. I had to leave, it was overwhelming, my sides hurt.

Then I thought, while standing in the toilets pulling myself together;

she wasn't actually that bad.

Friday, September 11th 2009

Canteen: Out, Out, Damned Spot.... or The Case Of the Metaphorical Jizz

The boys flock to our table, arms flailing like characters in A Clockwork Orange.
One, in a waistcoat, gets particularly excited. He goes from swinging his hips like he's got an imaginary hula hoop round them into a full pelvic thrust directed at our table. His groin hits the table and a fittingly phallic candle falls from the centre. The flame is extinguished and wax sprayes over the table and me. Then he just leaves and the wax will not come out.

Tuesday, 8th September 2009

Sainsbury's, 3pm

At the supermarket there's a toddler with short blonde curls waddling up and down in the bouncy way toddlers do wearing a pink princess' dress. She's holding a foil helium balloon that says 'happy birthday' on it and the ribbon is too long, so the weight trails along the floor behind her and I wish, just for a second, that I could dress up as a princess and do my shopping around the aisles of Sainsbury's with a balloon and people wouldn't look at me and think I had discharged myself from a mental health unit, they would think; isn't she gorgeous.

Sunday, 23rd August 2009


On platform two a little girl of about four is sitting next to her mother seconds after someone has knocked her head with the door to the ladies toilet (the girl had only cried when the adults started fussing) A conductor walks down platform one, my side of the tracks, and the little girl points at him and says loudly, 'mummy, why does that man sreyt, why does that man sreyt? The conductor does not turn but continues the straight path he walks. When no answer to the girl's question arrives she points at the plastic disc he uses to signal trains to go and says, 'mummy, why's that man holding a spoon? Why's he holding a spoooon?'
Oh to be the age again when massive objects that resemble small objects could be one and the same thing.

Sunday, August 23rd 2009

Night Bus

Sometimes, riding the bus at night wearing a jacket with a hoodie underneath as they do in Dogma, I like to pretend I'm going through Brooklyn or Harlem. Even though I've never been. I hum the theme from Requiem for a Dream and give people sideways glances. I notice the lights in the police station illuminating a young man with a bulldog on a lead taught away from his body staring out at the free world as he awaits his judgement. Some Asian kiddies blast D.R.E Next Episode from their speakers and smoke weed so strong it seeps through the open bus window infiltrating my nostrils.
I ask myself why I'm making allusions to backstreet America. Why is it so cool?

Monday, August 3rd 2009


When I arrive at the station at nine in the morning, the trainspotters are out in force. Two of them photograph the train we are on, a shitty two-carriage local train that's probably pretty old. One of them is wearing a beige blazer and has a very smart camera, as if these things help him blend in. He could be any normal businessman walking down the street, no one knowing about his dirty little secret. Which gets me thinking... are trainspotters like early stage or well behaved crack addicts? Both try and look as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on, both wake up desperate to get their fix and both look ashamed if you stare at them too long. Do they go to trainspotters anonymous, the NA of the trainspotting world? the TA.
The spotters get very, very excited when the 9.09 to Weymouth arrives. I, embarrasingly, have read the notice on said train and happen to know that it's an old train called back into service. But I am not salivating and holding a video camera, I'm staring bleary eyed on a Saturday morning and thinking- with the cost of our transport system can we not afford new trains?

Monday, August 3rd 2009

Things That Scare Me

The filthy pit of regurgitated nothingness
that is the education system.
The terror of China.
The terror of Capitalism.
The uncontrollable population explosion (we are like rats).
The death of the natural.
The reactionary squirm in members of said population upon mention of above taboos.
The disturbing result.

Monday, July 27th 2009

Festival Bar

One beer, two beer, three beer four 3.20, 6.40, 9.80 more...
can I see some ID please?
I'm like nineteen or some shit.
can I see some ID please?
left it behind.
Can't serve you then.
one beer, two beer, three beer, four 3.20, 6.40, 9.80 more...
What can I get you?
er... (dilated pupils stare into space)
what do you want?
one beer, two beer, three beer, four 3.20, 6.40, 9.80 more...
four quarter full pints are sitting on the bar.
are those done with? (asks a ten year old boy)
er... I can't give them to you
one beer, two beer, three beer, four 3.20, 6.40, 9.80 more...
do you have any warm water?
what do you mean?
do you have any water that's not been in a fridge?
yeah that water has been in here all the time.
(I hand him a bottle of water)
This is too cold, it is not room temperature.
one beer, two beer, three beer, four 3.20, 6.40, 9.80 more...

Monday, July 27th 2009

Bee Cause

T: Oh thank God, somebody normal!
I've taken 2C-Bs
I've taken 2C-Bs
and tomorrow I have to dress up as a bee

S: why?

T: I'm so fucked

S: why are you dressing up as a bee?

T: I am so drunk

S: why are you dressing up as a bee?


S: yes but why are you dressing up as a bee?


(then she flew back into the bar)

Monday, July 27th 2009

The Figure Creeps Within Us All

A figure is standing outside the window. Could it be a trick of the eye...for I only looked from the corner. The figure doesn't see me notice it and even goes as far as to bend its head down to get a better look at me sitting infront of my T.V.
I'm intrigued; the infinite possibilities that surround the mysterious figure unfold inside my head and I begin flicking through them. From the ordinary passerby to the stalker I never knew I might have and then I realise that my life is not as exciting as 'Without a Trace' so turn my head to continue my involvement with a fictional scenario in the programme.

The figure creeps within us all...

Found in a notebook from a few years ago


Here’s an idea, let’s give up on looking for a career and agree to say yes to anything going: Female dancer? Ethical street fundraiser 8.10 per hour for a wirthwile charity; get paid to change the world with people who can’t even spell… Smoke weed or show how nasally inserted hormones affect behaviour for Bristol University — £17. Lady models wanted 18+ subject to competition as ad has been viewed 566 times. Alternatively, join the 198 women who looked at an ad for massage staff working in a ‘friendly clean & safe environment.' Or, be a masuer- whatever that is… Lastly, does anyone fancy being a female toilet cleaner in the middle of nowhere?

Monday, July 20th 2009

One For Yesterday: My Magic Stick

On the train, the safety information notice talks of a magical box aboard which contains 'emergency light sticks.' I imagine that the first thing I would think to do if the lights went out following (I also imagine) a horrific crash, would not be to check for survivors but 'get me a light stick NOW!!!' then, light stick in hand, I'd whisper magic words and my magic stick would magic the tragedy away. If YOU notice any suspicious light sticks in the hand of any suspicious looking persons (me) please contact a member of staff...

Sunday July 19th 2009

Help Me to Help You, Help Me to Help You

Let me charm you with humour, let you think I don't know what your talking about. Let me be your dancing monkey and friend, let you smile at me the way a parent or monkey owner might. Let me embrace you and congratulate you on your intelligence, let you pretend you think intelligence is multifaceted and nothing to do with the height of your IQ. Let me be your bard and double up as your court jester, let you parade around the court sharing your ideas about string theory and quantum mechanics, existentialism and evolutionary theory. Let me pretend that my synapses aren't whispering the mysteries of the universe to each other and my cerebral cortex retains nothing academic, muses not over the thought of eschatological verification, does not debate Shakespeare or Sartre, let you assert yourself, explaining everything you believe you know but I do not. Let me be the hunched and hollow shell, let you be full of the praises you are given on a daily basis.

Sunday, July 19th 2009


Shaving my legs makes them itchy... people stressing at me makes me ANGRY, I do not like the rain on graduation day, I like the sun and the way it makes you look great in photos (occasionally).

Friday, July 17th 2009

Dressing Up

Yesterday I went into Topshop with a friend. I said 'if I had money and balls I'd dress cool.' She said 'take what you'd buy to the changing room.'
I picked up a 1950's play suit, a hip hugging lycra pencil skirt, a green corseted top with underwire and a figure hugging gold beaded brilliant blue mini dress. I looked svelte:

If I could wear anything I'd wear cowboy boots, I'd wear a T-shirt that showed my bra when I stood side on and hot pants. On my feet killer fuck-me heels, high platform and probably red. I'd wear Vivienne Westwood and Couture and I wouldn't be out of place on a page in Vogue Magazine (aside from the face), I'd wear a ballerina's tutu as worn in Swan Lake, I'd wear Marilyn Monroe's dress. I'd wear a catsuit.

Thursday, July 16th 2009


There's a man up the road who is locally known as psycho, an homage to Hitchcock. He lives adjacent to his brother. Last night Norman Bates crept out of his yellow (the colour of choice for psychopaths) front door and next appeared in his brother's garden. This was around eleven at night. He spent some time inspecting the window sills as I stood puffing away on a cigarette. Every time I turned my head he had silently disappeared in the blink of an eye. Like a ghost. Then he would return again. I think he's supernatural. And an asshole.

Wednesday, July 15th 2009

I Like the Rain When I Am Inside

I like the rain when I am inside. The way it slyly breaches the dry concrete and grass, slightly at first. The way it falls with more confidence a few minutes later and the stains it leaves get bigger, until they join up. Then the water is no longer drip-dropping, no longer spraying, but bombing it down. Whack, WHACK, WHACK, take that concrete. I like the way the little boy across the street sticks his face to the glass of the window pane until someone opens it for him to listen to it properly. And smell it and feel it, because it’s not tedious yet.

Tuesday, July 14th 2009

Morning Poem... Not Really Poetry

Walking past a cafe early in the morning, a waitress hears the phone go and says, ‘it might be a customer!’ With cheerful mock excitement . A man by the laundrete stands as if he’s supposed to be an art installation, topless, dreadlocks spilling over his shoulders and with jeans the colour of his skin. Last nights green pickled chilis lie scattered on the ground as if they’ve died there. And a postman trustingly leaves his bmx at the foot of someone’s driveway while he delivers a parcel. On the train journey, a discarded football which could be as old as the 80s is rooted to the embankment by the side of the traintrack and the movement of the train is enough to send you to sleep. At the station I get excited about the on platform WIFI I can use while I wait for my connection, until I learn that it’s 2.99 per half hour. The zone name ‘cloud’ suddenly seems ironic.

Wednesday, July 13th 2009

It's Not Heartache

It is not heart ache because it is not my heart. The air in my lungs is thinner, upper arms tingle and I am sinking. I wiggle my toes to see if they are in pain. They are not but the ground beneath them is less real. The eyes are deceptive, the image of the outside world altered, more detached than usual. Reality bends with the air in my body. Then my mother butts into my thoughts when, seeing me hanging out the window, she says; 'you look like a suicide case.'

Wednesday July 8th 2009


Hello, my name is Sophie Collard (SoMiraculous on twitter) I write stuff, which I usually post on Facebook but I'd like to be able to stick photos up too so thought I could do with a blog. You can try guessing my age from my photo but anything past 26 will potentially offend me. So here goes, my new blog.