More men

illustration of Kit Holdsworth

So. I’m doing that project for fun – Inktober. And all my pictures are of women from history.

The other day, someone over on my instagram feed jokingly commented that they’d like to see more men.

More men. Well, always a welcome thought, attracted to them as I am.

However, I’m not at all attracted to men who slow down behind me in their vans and shout things at me, making gestures and leering. And yes, I am wearing jeans and yes, I do work out, and yes, the sexiness that is a welcome benefit of being strong and fit does make me look pretty hot.* And your problem is?

It’s hard to ignore the talk about this at the moment, what with the guy Weinstein in America and what is undoubtedly the tip of a vast iceberg of misogynistic bad behaviour that has probably been going on since the dawn of time.

And indeed, my girlfriend and I were swopping tales the other day of what has happened to us over the years, and what continues to happen.

And no, I do not want to come over to your car for a chat. I am going to the Post Office. It’s unlikely that I will change my mind, get into your passenger seat and have sex with you. Back off.

How can this have been part of my life since I was 16? Some days, it is no less scary than in those first days, when I thought it was somehow my fault I was attracting this attention.

Now, let me get this straight. I *really* like men, and the men I know are largely kind, funny, talented, respectful – in fact, deeply encouraging of me and everything I am.** And the men I have chatted to online through my blog and social media have so far been the same (as far as I can tell, through words on a screen). Lovely, thoughtful, beautifully polite, a pleasure to work with and for, and simply share a smile with now and again.

I thank you, men. You are great, and you represent what is good in the world, and give me hope for future generations, even in the face of current politics and power and presidential posturing.

And OK, I’ll redress the balance. Let’s have more men, the sort I love so much. I’ll get to work. In fact, my new series of paintings definitely has several men in it. The beautiful romantic poet above is currently on my mind. Mr Kit Holdsworth. I’m going to paint his portrait, hand-write his book of love poems, and embroider his monogrammed handkerchief. There is a tragedy at his core, and yet a zest for life.

I’m a little bit in love with him, a man of my own imagining.

But he’d better not slow his carriage down and shout at me, or there’ll be trouble.

 

*I don’t know about you, but I’m going to consider myself pretty hot until the day I die. Self esteem is the way forward.
**And I like to think, somewhat scared of me lest I roast them on my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

 

National poetry day

Apparently, it’s today, and it has a theme. This year it’s Freedom.

Well, that’s appropriate, as young Felix is about to make a break for it. He moves into student accommodation in just a few days. What a lot of fun and shenanigans he is going to have! (I’m glad I won’t be there to watch, though).

He is fed up of his Mummy by now, but just wait, as soon as he misses my cooking he’ll be crying down the phone. Alternatively, he might just learn to cook properly for himself, which is what I’m hoping. The mark of a real man, in my view.

Anyway, to celebrate National Poetry Day (which should be every day actually), here’s a little poem I wrote for him when he was 2. It’s less of a poem and more of a recording of the anguished conversation we had walking home one day. He was always good at expressing himself!*

I want to stop walking
(for Felix)

I want to stop walking
I want to live
right here
on the street.
I’m too tired to move.
I’ll sleep here!
I can’t get home.
It’s impossible.
Don’t even think I could do it.
I want to stop walking!
I want to stop walking
right here
forever.

 

IMG_4874.jpg

Cuteness.

Good luck, Felix! I love you.
*For that, read tantrums ๐Ÿ™‚

Motherhood in blue

illustration of mother and child with baby

How a Mother’s heart
can ache
the partitioned chambers
beating in time
to the footsteps
leading away
from the front door.

It is eternal work.
Unapplauded hours
of toil
and mayhem
the undervalued craft
of forming
whole people.

Having taught play,
good sense,
mischief,
creativity,
and kindness,
it feels
there is little in return

save perhaps

for the flash of a brilliant smile at the end of the drive.

 

 

—————–

PS: Thanks to my friend, Ahu, for loaning me one of her photos for the inspiration for this illustration.

PPS: That naughty cat of ours has been gravely ill – emergency operations late at night type ill. All very distressing. He’s OK, but he’s in the vet’s cat hospital, and must remain there for the next few days! (Thank goodness we took out pet insurance, though we grumbled sorely about the cost of it! Let’s hope it works).

So much going on in my heart today. I need a hug. And I think I may even have a nap this afternoon!

Feeding the fish

Ah! A poem from long ago days – I found it today in an battered old folder while I was looking for something else. I like those unexpected discoveries. I thought this photo of a recent (sold!) painting would go nicely.

Painting of a whale by trudi Murray

Detail from ‘Never ignore the song of a whale’ – Sold

Feeding the fish

at the tropical house
and they are
big as buses
ponderous and stupid
so many
awful vacuums
hoovering up
toothless
and slowly
what we throw in
from the pot.
I have no desire
to buy a second lot.
It stinks.
Plus, the look
that catfish
is giving me
makes me uneasy,
and there are
marmosets
next
and poisonous frogs
and tortoises,
which I sound out
like testing a a loaf.
They are perfectly done.
Later on
the keepers
drape
a snake
round your neck,
while I hold the baby
and wonder at you.
At nearly 3
you are
brave and exotic,
joining in,
daring and fearless.

You fall asleep in the car on the way home.

After lunch
and while you nap
your Daddy and I
make love
in the pantry.
It is dark
in there
and the black-eye beans
floating in brine
start to haunt me.
I giggle too much
to be useful.

All afternoon
we play
feeding the fish
with a cardboard box and some corks.
And we roll the baby
around the living room rug
our own giant millipede
all his legs
in the air
ticklish & tickling.

Text from Berlin

old german telephone with painting by trudi Murray

(For Alex)

You sent me a text from Berlin:
I’m in a flea market
on my day off
there’s an old telephone
I’m going to buy it, OK?

I texted back:
no
where will we put it
another thing to gather dust

You bought it anyway
and hauled it back
a relic, black and heavy with secrets
it sits
mysteriously
connected only to itself
on a chair
in the corner of the kitchen
guests wonder about it

I didn’t want it,
I tell them.
I said: no
I said: another thing to gather dust.

But then I say
the thing is,
dust is part of the story of life.
It’s proof that people live here.

You sent me a text from Berlin.
I said no.

But I was wrong.

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

IMG_4588

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ AND, I’m still going on that picture book.
*My hero!

IMG_2002

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

 

 

 

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