Leaving

Child
when you pushed your green plastic wheelbarrow
out of the door
in protest at the new baby
and marched off down the street
and right round the corner,
I didn’t realise at first.
A woman had found you
and had a hold of you
by the time I flew up there,
clutching a nappy
and an astonished newborn.
I had a baby last week
I panted,
I think he’s upset.
Age 2, you said:
I’m not upset. I’m just leaving you.
The woman let you go and still you wouldn’t
come back to me.
I called your bluff and walked back down the street
without a backward glance,
heart breaking & pride shattered,
giving you space to follow.
A risky strategy.

That was your first leaving.

A mind like yours
does not come along often
and
the responsibility of it
has always been heavy.
I taught you to read before you were three,
allowed you to take apart the hoover
and answered questions
every day
on metaphysics & microwaves
before I even woke up.

The time you threw all the shoes
at the door
in a rage
because I could not remember
Einsteins’ theory of relativity

That was your second leaving.

There were countless others.
You left us all behind so quickly.

Child,
I don’t know where you are in London
what you are doing
and with whom.
I don’t know when you will be getting home
or how
and via which kebab shop,
and you are not answering your phone.

It’s 1am.
I don’t know whether to go to sleep not knowing.
Or whether I should call your bluff
and walk down the street without a backward glance

Hoping that one day you will come back to me.

Pressure

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With free ghost, a concept which is going to keep me giggling for the whole year.

 

The problem of making work in an over saturated world is compounded by the noise of social media.

Being plugged in constantly to several different channels all at once, doing my best to keep up online*, as they say one must* when doing business in 2017, is exhausting at best and at worst, creatively destructive.

The best way I have learnt to cope with it is to try to remain ahead of the pressure and just do my own thing, relentlessly. So the trend is xyz. Well, pfffffft. Who says? Social media influencers? Really. It’s all going to burn down, one day, you know.*

So a part of me is always re-evaluating what I’m up to. Am I being true to my own self and originality? Is my spark burning low? I suppose it must, at times. All this is pretty intense, you know.

Well, apart from tea, gazing out of the window, reading a lot and regular chocolate biscuits, the other thing that helps keep everything original is A NEW IDEA. Not just a little one, a big one. One that will last a whole year.

On Saturday, walking round an antiques market, I was struck by a bolt of lightening, an idea from nowhere. I had to sit down on an expensive re-conditioned chair made out of an old warthog and catch my breath.

I CAN NOT WAIT to put this idea into action, though it’s going to take a lot of planning. I’m going to need to learn how to bind books, make artefacts and models and put them into bottles (it’s going to be dementing so great), find a gallery owner who catches my vision (oh my goodness, this is the scary part), catch ghosts, write hundreds of poems and paint a series of large exquisite paintings. As you can see, I’m going to be busy.

Should I test the market for likely commercial demand for paintings, poems, ghosts and handmade artefacts in bottles first?

Mmm. What would Picasso* do, do you think, the man who made monkey models out of toy cars?

Yes! Exactly. I’ll follow my heart.

——————————-

*Writing this blog is definitely not keeping up online, for me. It’s a total joy. I love it more than anything.
*They do say this. I agree, most of the time. The internet does bring work (and friends).
*What will I do with my time without the internet, though. Oh, see paragraph 7 🙂 AND, I’m still going on that picture book.
*My hero!

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Baboon and Young by Picasso. I saw this in Paris in the Picasso museum.

 

 

 

The sweetness of Holger Marsen

A friend of the highest order,
five times my height and ten times as strong
Holger
makes chocolates
and sweet delights
with the lightest touch
in his five star kitchen

a natural salesman,
who can resist
his
melt in the mouth
confections
and his disarming
twinkle

– I can’t.
We are all
under his spell.
I could
greedily eat
Holger’s
clotted cream fudge
for the rest of my life.

It’s not just that.
Those days
when we used to
dawdle back
from school
chatting and pushing the bike,
Holger
patiently talking me down from the ledge,
always behind me,
always believing in me

and even now
reminding me
calmly

I can do it.

Holger:
when you and Tanja bought that painting,
one of the first,
it meant more than anything to me

and still does,
when I see it in your hallway.

I imagine
you & Tanja
floating at night
on a bed of
chocolate and raspberry ganache

(with mint leaves
in appropriate places).

The unrivalled kindness
of you both
is addictive:

thank you for being the sweetest.*

 

*in case you were wondering, this includes the too-much-champagne incident, and the driving lessons we will never have haven’t had yet 🙂

Holding up

illustration of leaning houses

It’s not easy, holding everything up. I don’t know how people do it. I don’t know how I do it, sometimes. Heck, I never asked to grow up!* That wasn’t the plan.

There are things that certainly help – friends, lovers, and a sense of humour, and I prescribe a daily dose of all three, perhaps especially the sense of humour. A smile will always help, even at the worst.

I especially appreciate people who make me smile. If that’s you, if that’s ever been you, thank you (I send you a high five, and love). You trade in my currency, the small change of chuckles, lifting my spirits every time I reach into my pocket to pay for some sweets.

One blog I have enjoyed of late is Paul Green’s Mindfump. I like the way Paul writes. He never fails to raise a smile, at the same time tackling all those issues that trouble so many of us.

I was tickled pink to be asked to contribute to Mindfump recently, and I made the picture above specially. You can find it here, and read Paul’s great writing at the same time, and explore his blog from there. Sign up! You don’t want to miss any of it.

I also wrote a Guest Post (my name in lights! surely a defining moment) – the true story of how I started properly writing poems. As is typical of all life changing events, it was quite by accident.

Thanks, Paul, for running such a great gig and for being so generous to share it.

 

*I have so far avoided totally growing up, and fight resolutely for the right to remain childlike.

 

Lonely

Romantic week in Paris

 

long days alone,
working,
turn me
again
to thoughts of you
even though
i put you in a box recently and taped you up.

will you not stay in there.

you are too strong for me
and
i’m too lonely.

what was said
and what was nearly said
the danger of words
the temptation
to say them
how i wanted more
much more
but was afraid to ask
how I had to keep quiet for the sake of someone else’s happiness.

i could search
the whole internet
for you
you’re not there

Skip diving

At my recent Open Studio weekend, a funny thing happened.

I had all my work downstairs in the kitchen, as I didn’t want anyone who couldn’t climb the stairs to my loft studio to miss out. It was fun decorating the kitchen as a sort of homemade gallery. Pictures here. I enjoyed the process very much, though it was hard work dragging everything down from the stairs (and back up again three days later! Even harder going back up, as the slaves kids had lost interest by then).

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I’d brought down some painting boards and a palette or two to use as props – just for decoration, you understand, a sort of artistic backdrop to all the (dazzling) work.

 

IMG_4518

 

All these things are actual real life artist’s kit,* used every day come hell or high water. The fact that I climbed into a builders’ skip to ‘rescue’ the boards in the first place is neither here nor there. No one saw me. No one even cared (I hope), and I ran off with four bits of MDF in various sizes instead of having to go to the timber yard and pay for it.

I’ve been taping or pinning paper to these boards, to make paintings, for about 3 years now, I’d estimate. When I’ve finished the painting, I take it off and what’s left is the bits round the edge. All the colours you see here are genuine, organically grown edge paintings (technical term). I was eating liquorice one day and I think that’s why I wrote its name on there.** A whole load of stuff gets put on there. I guess what I’m saying is that they are the real deal, so original you couldn’t make it up.

So when the visitors started streaming in at the Open Studio, guess what happened? Several times, people grabbed hold of the boards, casting the work aside (the real work, people! The paintings! The ones I THINK about!), and started having serious conversations with their partners about where they might hang ‘this one’.

Stupidly embarrassed, and not wanting to hurt their feelings, but not willing either to part with what is actually to me quite precious (I mean, I climbed in a skip to get that!), I had to go up to them and quietly announce that the boards are mine (MINE!) and sadly not for sale.

Crestfallen faces. Oh well. A painting, instead? Er, no thanks. We just wanted the board. It’s awesome.

Incredulous face from watching Mr M, who is an astute business person (BE MY AGENT THEN), much better than me (this is not hard to achieve, to be fair, the 15 year old work experience guy is too). TRUDE! (pulling me into the garden for a pep talk). Next time say £500! Or £5000! In turn exasperated, and not surprised.

Well, I’m stubborn. The next time, I simply repeated myself. The boards are not for sale. And the next time, and the next. I slept with them under my pillow that night, for fear of robbers.*** People, you can’t have them.

But fear not! Because I’m stubborn, but I’m not stupid. I am on the look out for new skips. When I find a promising one, I’ll go back at night. I’ll climb in, steal some more MDF boards in the appropriate sizes, paint on them for a whole year, write poems and stupid stuff on them, love them, care for them, grow that lovely patina of paint and use and fingerprints on them, and then sell them to you.

Price: on application (which is what they say in flashy property newspapers when the owners can’t quite believe the price they’re asking – which seems appropriate for the art world too).

Have a great weekend. I’m off up North for a few days away. I’m going on the train, standard class. I suppose I’d be going in a chauffeur driven limo if Mr M was my agent.****

*Is there such a thing as a real life artist? Oh, wait.
**I eat liquorice every day, especially if it’s from Holland.
***Quite invigorating, actually.
****But probably not, as I like ambling down to the buffet car to get a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat at Peterborough.

404 Not Found

You’re home
again
and I know
you need to sleep
nothing like your own bed
after a long week away
and another trip
starting
on Monday
I know you need to
do your laundry
reorganise your suitcase
count the Euros
and check in to your next flight
to Holland
or Germany
or wherever it is you go
doing business
in a different language
but did you know
this morning
I woke up early
and padded down
to feed the cats
I made some tea
while they twined
affectionate and purring
round my bare legs
I ate Greek yoghurt and honey and strawberries
looking at the garden
and they jumped up
and touched noses
and rubbed heads
with me
sweet babies
I brought the tea back to bed
and drank it
next to you
and then I had a shower
in the clean bathroom
I washed my hair
and put on
some brand new knickers
fresh from the box
at the end of the day
i took them off
myself
and put them in the laundry basket
they were nice to wear
so p-r-e-t-t-y
and even though
at one point
exasperated
i invented a phantom
pain in the butt
and hoiked up my dress
to show you
you still didn’t
notice them
for goodness’ sake man
i’m never ironing your shirts again
—————————
*The 404 Not Found error message is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol standard response code, in computer network communications, to indicate that the client was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested.
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