Am I Regressing? 

childhood, grief, loneliness, Self love, soft toy, teddy bear, therapy, writing

Last night I slept with my childhood teddy bear Patchy in my bed. If I said that was the first night since I was a kid. I’d be lying. It’s been a few nights. Over the last few weeks. Possibly months..

I was given Patchy when I was two. He’s not your normal teddy. He’s pink with purple ears, a purple patch on his left eye and a pretuding purple belly button. He used to have a tongue but that fell out. Really wierd looking soft toy come to think of it. But I loved him. He might have been my first love to be fair. I always fall for weirdos.

He came everywhere with me, every trip or family holiday, every sleepover or party. He got left in shops, on busses, at picnics, once on the ferry from Dover to Calais. We always got him back.

patchy in minorca

Patchy, me, mum and my brother, Spain 1990.

patchy 2

Portrait of Patchy, by me 1992.

patchy 1

Patchy today, 2017

So why has this relic from my childhood made a reoccurring appearance in my adulthood?

I’ve felt lonely, really lonely, for a while now. I live by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I fully love living alone, enjoy my own company and am actually quite panicky about having to share a bed with someone else for ever, but night time can be quite hard. I don’t sleep well, never have, so sometimes I search for comfort in those hours. Of course, there’s my cat, who is a total don and fully affectionate, but she’s not one for actual cuddling and usually fucks off at night to survey the garden perimeters and chase foxes. Witness the savagery here.

I’ve never been one for inviting people I don’t know well or feel strongly about in to my space for comforts sake. Since reading the work of Nayyirah Waheed, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Rupi Kaur, Lalalaletmeexplain (seriously, follow and read these intelligent, brilliant women) I have felt empowered, strong and even amused by my loneliness and vulnerability so have been very mindful not to feed in to the insecurities and fears that lead to regretted action, though there have been some moments, and I forgive myself for them. I have known that no matter how much I want to feel the comfort of another body next to me at night, I want that person to be my partner, my best friend, an absolute don, who is up for cuddling AND chasing foxes away.

So I was wondering last night, is my want for a partner the reason I am reaching for something to hold at night? Or am I reaching for the relic of my childhood to fulfil some other need? I’ve had this weird looking bear nearly my entire life. A whole 31 years together. The same amount of years I had with my dad. Did my need to find my partner become stronger since losing my dad? Yes, of course. He was the first man to take care of me. He was the first man I took care of. I miss that care, both ways.

I was never the kind of girl, or women, to daydream about getting married and having a husband and kids. I was never particularly inclined either way. But now, I find myself wanting a child, a family that I’ve started, with someone I love who loves me back.

Kids are fucking mad and absolutely terrifying. Nearly everyone I’ve known from childhood/teen/twenties has kids now and some are on their second, and some are trying for their third. It’s amazing and surreal. I just heard that a girl I have known since nursery is now pregnant with her second child. This same girl came to my house when we were 5 stood in the middle of my room, cried and pissed herself for no reason. Kids are nuts. I want one.

Some of my friends are born mothers. They raised younger siblings and have wanted the dream husband and babies ever since playing at make believe weddings in year 5, hanging sheets off their heads like veils. I was once made to be the groom. I remember being really bored. For some it is devastating that they’ve made it this far in life, and still haven’t got there. Imagine longing for something for so long that you can’t be in control of achieving. Well, you can achieve it, even without the man, but for it to actually be right, with someone you love, seems to be a lot harder than first imagined. And there’s pressure of time, and biology, and there’s a longing, and something missing every day. I’m starting to feel this way, I never thought I would.

Anyway, back to the question, why am I tucking in at night with my childhood bear?

Yes I’m lonely, hugging something (albeit a poor substitute for holding a warm human body) feels comforting. Yes I want to meet someone fall in love and have children with them. Yes, I miss my dad. Yes, this alien teddy bear has held all my tears and secrets (especially as he no longer has a tongue) for my whole life. But actually, it doesn’t feel like he’s back for the adult that I am, it feels like he’s back for the child that I was.

I’ve done a lot of work on myself and my childhood experiences in therapy. It’s been painful but absolutely necessary. I had a good childhood, I was loved, there were shit times though, there always is.

Childhood is not actually a time of total innocence. My 3 year old goddaughter who is the absolute love of my life tells quite impressive lies and was already working manipulatively to get what she wanted out of her parents before she even had sentences strung together. Last time she stayed at my house she insisted on sleeping longways on the pillow kicking me repeatedly in the head throughout the night. She also stole a pebble off my shelf. So she’s a thief and a liar. Yesterday she told me that she had become famous on Facebook for her Irish dancing (actually not a lie) and cried because the balloon she had went behind the TV. Her brother who is 5, and recently obsessed with wearing my white leather platform boots every time he comes round, made citrus mascarpone cheese out of curdling milk with a lemon and straining it. It was actually really impressive. He also put granddads fizzy lemonade in the microwave. You’ve gotta love kids.

For my job I work with young people. Some of them are very vulnerable, at risk and with complex needs. I am made for this field of work, and I honestly love my young people as if I had actually given birth to all 50 of them, they are all amazing and have me simultaneously wanting to laugh, cry and tear my hair out almost every day. But I have realised something, I am fully committed to caring and supporting vulnerable people, mostly young people, the majority of them boys, and somehow this has transferred over in to my personal life. I seem to attract men, who are actually lost little boys. For a while the dynamic works because I get a lot of my self worth out of  being the caretaker and enjoy the role within a relationship. It always gets challenging though when I become vulnerable, in need, difficult, throw a tantrum or behave in an insecure way. All of a sudden it’s two children fighting. There’s lemonade in the microwave and uncontrollable tears. With no parent to govern the situation, mediate the argument or distract with ice cream. These men need to heal, to look after the child in them, so that they are able to enter in to a relationship capable of giving the same amount of care that they receive.

Children are self centred and when we haven’t looked after the child inside (especially when the child wasn’t actually looked after when growing up) this can become a presenting behaviour in adulthood. I was once in a long term relationship where I was allowed to be the child. It was a very complex time, my dad was dying, I needed looking after, but I became a total brat. My behaviour became totally unacceptable at times and it was a very unhealthy dynamic. Weirdly, the opposite issue happened here, when I became stronger, less vulnerable, he couldn’t cope and became very difficult. I think he knew that once I realised I didn’t need him, I would realise I didn’t want him. He was right. We went round in circles for 4 years. I will always be grateful to him for his care, I would say he saved my life more than once, but thinking of the relationship now makes my stomach twist. It was very messy. I learnt a lot.

So, Patchy means a lot to me. He represents home. The home that I grew in. The home that I lived in until the day I moved in to my flat. The home I missed when we went on holiday. The home I would come back to after living away in America. The home where dad first got sick when I was at University in Bristol. The home dad was last in before going to the hospice that night. The home my mum has just put up for sale.

He has taken care of my comfort needs since I was a kid and I have kept him safe from any Blue Peter jumble sale, charity clear out or childhood ‘swapsies’ agreement (how bad was the immediate regret after swapping toys with your best mate?! I always got bumped!). He is literally the oldest thing I own, and I will keep him safe.

Until I have a child of my own to take care of, If I ever do, I will take care of the one that I was, that sometimes, I can still feel that I am, and from time to time I will allow the comfort that Patchy brings.

Do You Love Yourself?

Self love, writing

Do you? I don’t want to sound like a chief, but it’s a really important question to ask, and an even important one to answer. So how can I ask you the question before asking myself.

Do I love myself?

Yes. I love how loyal I am and that I will do anything for a friend or loved one. I love how empathic I am. I love how long my hair is and that everyone has always complimented me on it. I love that I’m a Londoner. I love that I’m from Hackney. Born and raised. I love that I love my cat, that I proper – love my cat. I love that I can write – poems, scripts, blog posts, love letters, lyrics. I love that some people think I’m really cool. I love that when I love a man, I love him deeply. I love that I’m covered in moles and freckles. I love that I can make people laugh. I love that I will give everything I have to others. I love how I’m not afraid to cry. I love that I now garden and know loads of plants names. I love that I am not afraid to be silly. 

Uncomfortable to read? 

It was uncomfortable to write. Not because I don’t believe those things, because I do, but because I felt self-conscious about how I would be judged by all of you for writing those things, about myself. We are taught not to love ourselves. Some people may have a brutal childhood where the lesson is repeatedly taught, either through watching those around them treat themselves or each other, or how they are directly treated. Others will experience love and support growing up and will still end up not knowing how to love themselves. Feeling embarrassed, even guilty, if they do. Like you can’t own it. Because that would mean you’re full of yourself, and Bieber * will tell you that – you should go and love yourself. Like that’s a bad thing to do.

Do I love myself? 

No. I hate that I can be possessive in my friendships. I hate that I will go above and beyond for people because I’m scared if I don’t, they won’t like me. I hate that experiences in my childhood still dictate my behaviours in adulthood.  I hate that I am covered in moles and freckles. I hate that I cry all the time. I hate that I can’t finish the script I need to finish. I hate my eyebrows. I hate that I’m so sensitive. I hate that I can be angry when people don’t live up to my expectations of them. I hate that I can be wrapped up in my own feelings. 

I could go on. 

You might be expecting me to say – wow, that was easier to write, I wonder why..? Because so far I’m suggesting it is easier, or comes more naturally for us to hate ourselves. But no, it was equally as hard because once again, I believe those things. I felt just as uncomfortable writing that I am the most giving and loyal person, as writing that I am the most possessive. Writing both and thinking about it being read by all of you, turns my stomach. Because I really want to be seen, and also not seen, for who I am. 

In my experience, getting to know myself, being true to myself, all of me, is how I love myself. Accepting all parts, the wonderful and the difficult, taking care of myself in my entirety. And I’m not saying go to yoga at your gym and eat healthy (not that these things aren’t great) but instead really look after those difficult parts of yourself. How do you do that? By doing the work to process it all, (with a professional can be proper helpful) so that you understand why you behave, react, feel in a certain way. Then you have choices. And when you fuck it up, it makes sense as to why things are going wrong and you try again. Give equal energy to looking after the wonderful parts of yourself too, really celebrate them, really share them.  It’s hard work, I’ve been in therapy for five years now, I bloody love it, but it isn’t easy. It’s messy, and surprising, and totally unsurprising, and funny, and brilliant, and painful, and uplifting, and just about everything you could imagine. Whatever strategy or method you chose to use for self-exploration, hopefully you will really begin to know yourself, and that’s what it takes, to really be at home in your own skin. 

Wouldn’t that be nice, to be totally at home in your own skin, to be, full of yourself. 

So, do you love yourself? 

* despite this being the second blog post where I reference Justin Bieber I promise you, I’m not an actual fan. He has got a couple bangers though can’t deny!

Some words about grief.

cancer, death, grief, multiple myeloma, writing

This Saturday will be two years since my dad died.

I feel compelled to write, although I am struggling to. It isn’t easy I guess.

Death is inevitable, part of our nature, and accepted as such. But it is so weird. It is the surrealist thing I have ever experienced, and also, the realist.  Me, my mum and my brother were with dad when he died. I still cannot comprehend what happened in that moment, where one minute there was a life, and the next it was gone. He was gone.

There was a body. It wasn’t my father.

If you have experienced death, seen it, you may know what I mean. But, it is not for me to say, no two experiences are the same. I cannot know what my mum or my brother experienced in those minutes. Nor them I. All I know, is it was the single most present moment of my entire life.

Writing about death is fairly easy I think. There is death in many great works of literature (and not so great). Death is explored and represented in the creative arts. It is written about in religious texts, and biological text books. It is almost, popular.

Writing about grief is not so easy. Grief is the ugly aftermath. It is not heroic, tragic or romantic. It is brutal, it is complex, it is forever.

It is also unpredictable.

In the days that followed my dads death, I danced. It was an uncontrollable urge. I would listen to music, usually through my headphones, mostly house or RnB and I would dance in my flat. Sometimes it was manic, sometimes it was weary, sometimes it was for hours at a time. It was weird. I tried not to judge it.

Grief can be private. I consider myself a very open person, those that know me would probably agree, those that really know me would definitely vouch for my honesty, particularly when it comes to my feelings. I am not afraid to feel or be vulnerable. Though this grief, this loss, is so huge, so completely incomprehensible at times, I can’t share it. I find myself locked in, unable to open up, even with my closet friends. Wanting to protect it. It is disabling and because of this, it is isolating.

My dad was sick for 11 years with a rare type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. I had always imagined that when he died me and my family would pull together and be comforted in the shared devastation. There were moments of this, but I wasn’t prepared for how alone I would feel. We had lost the same man, but we had all lost a unique relationship, we were not experiencing the same loss, and we were not using the same coping mechanisms. In the immediate days after, my brother panelled the hallway and built a shed from scratch. Mum was either oddly hyper and chatty, or wailing. I went in to myself, unable to be around either of them. It was really hard to connect. We were all grieving in different, and at times conflicting ways. Moving around each other in a fog. Trying to keep breathing. I lost friends. I’ll never really know which ones left and which ones I pushed away.

The reason I write this, is not to make a social comment on how society conditions us to deal with (not deal with) grief, or get angry about the blatant disrespect of the 5 days compassionate leave policy (five days ffs). Nor is it to offer advice or a positive message, if you’re grieving, I can’t ease the pain. But I can hope that someone reads this, and finds even a small part of their experience reflected back. And that they might find comfort in that. I found a description of grief online last year, written by an anonymous writer. He likened the experience to that of a shipwreck with everlasting waves. It resonated with me strongly, you can read it here.

I have learnt so much in these two years. It has been the weirdest, saddest, most destructive, most progressive, ugly, beautiful journey. I have wanted to heal the world, I have wanted to end it. I have been lost, and found. And lost again, and found again.

I understand love greater. And my own strength.

Perhaps it isn’t so hard to write about grief after all. Perhaps.

img_8153

(Dad writing. Corbieres, France, 2012)

*I would just like to acknowledge those people who held me. Brought me food. Sent care packages, sent flowers, sent emails, sent texts. Called. Kept calling. Still call. Took me on walks. Made me join the gym. Made me go to the gym. Danced with me. Cried with me. Listened. Thank you.

“BANKSKY AND BIEBER”

Raves and Waves

Human beings are weird. I know I’m supposed to say that we’re ‘complex’ and ‘beautiful’ etc etc and we are, we really are, but I just spent my 7th annual weekend at Lovebox festival and on reflection, that was a lot of human beings in one place being pretty weird. Myself included.

Homo Sapiens evolved from apes, or at least we shared an ancestor 6 million years back, or some genetic similarities to a chimp, or something (while reading this please bare in mind I was at Lovebox. And today is Wednesday. WEDNESDAY) and although we can be solitary creatures there is definitely a pack mentality within the human species akin to that of the animal kingdom.

This thought crosses my mind from time to time but usually when I’m out raving and especially when I’m raving at a festival.

On the Friday afternoon, I stopped for a minute and watched as hundreds of people threw their bodies about to beats and rhythms all in their own individual way, but as part of a heaving dirty mass, some as part of a pack, and I thought to myself – this is proper weird.

Then Skepta came on and my focus went entirely from my head in to my body. I had a skanking tantrum. For 2 minutes and 33 seconds, it was an absolute SHUTDOWN.

I love to dance.

Not with the same obsessive commitment of a ballerina or member of Diversity, I mean, who’s got the time? But as the most freeing expression of my body. I fucking love having a skank. Especially with my mates.

Here’s some animals that also love a skank.

And here’s some that like to get on it too.

I digress.

Having re-grouped after a toilet/bar break, my pack moved with instinctual purpose through the herd of shufflers emptying canisters of Nitrous oxide in to their lungs and joined other packs similarly migrating from the Big Top tent to the main stage to watch the headline act. Here the dusty planes of Vicky Park became a landscape of ravers, euphoric in unison, as Rudimental rampaged on stage and taught us that Love ain’t just a word and that as a generation we truly had ‘had enough’.

Those words carried a heavier weight the following day.

Saturday was a struggle. The dust was thicker. The air aggressive. The queues were a fucking joke and Snoop played his ‘house’ tunes (he also played I Love Rock n Roll. Why the fuck did Snoop play I Love Rock n Roll? Unless… did he play it?).

The whole day felt like chasing for something you’re never quite sure you caught in the end.

As well as chasing the friends all day who’s messages you get on the following Monday – “Right of the sound stage in the spot for Annie where are you?!!!”

I was right there too ffs. Balloon deflation.

We arrive back home with the realisation that the night is going to be so much longer than wanted sinking in. My tired body slumped on the sofa. My voice dry and raspy. My mind going a hundred miles per hour. It’s 11.30pm. I blow my nose. The tissue is black with dust. If I’d had any moisture left in my body. I would have cried.

We talk about everything and nothing while flicking through the music channels. My best mate decides she has to play cards. There are no cards in the house. She spends the best part of the following hour making a complete set out of primary coloured card. It was both torturous and mesmerising to watch. Almost as torturous as the repeatative ‘we should do the washing up’ conversation post Born n Bred festival. Which also took place during a game of cards.

(After extensive discussion. We did the washing up).

I force myself to eat a ham and pineapple pizza, that despite taking what I was certain at the time was over an hour in the oven is somehow well underdone. I hope in vain that ingesting carbohydrate will somehow reverse the inevitability of the ever looming Sunday ahead.

At approx 2am, after an extended game of black jack I retire to the bedroom by myself and listen to Justin Bieber on my phone. At this moment in my life, I honestly feel that Justin Bieber is the appropriate choice of music. I listen to four of his songs on repeat. It’s a jarring loop but I don’t feel I have the power to do anything about the situation once I’m in it. At about 3am my friend’s sister comes in.

“Anna, it’s time to stop listening to Justin Bieber”.

Yes, yes it is. I rejoin the living room.

My best mate is lying on the floor with her arms outstretched.

“I promise you, the length from the end of one arm to the other is the exact measurement of your body from head to toe”

It actually is.

At what time my dusty head hit the pillow for sleep I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that it was light outside, and that we had watched a documentary on Banksy in New York. The only thing I can tell you about it is that one of the Americans kept pronouncing it ‘Banksky’. More jarring than Bieber.

BANKSKY

The following day we lay broken on sofas and under bedding watching Nev and Max uncover a Catfish of a three year relationship that turns out to be the girl’s best friend’s baby daddy. Rah.

Human beings.

Complex? Yes.

Beautiful? Not always.

Weird? For sure.

SKITS, SCRIPTS AND SHITS.

BANJACKS AND PERVIS, DOITLIVE, Film and TV, LA, Los Angeles, nyfa

5 years ago today I met my best mate Claudia. (well actually, it was yesterday but I just stayed up till 1am making gifs for this post) We stood opposite each other in line at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. 5 hours later, we were tucked up in bed in the Burbank Ikea showroom. The first of many beds we would share over the years. I can’t actually fully put in to words the journey of eternal glory that we have been on since that day. Instead here’s a condensed version through visual expression. A montage if you like, because quite frankly, everyone loves a montage. First things first. We were adorable.

19152_238642546021_5727042_n

#milkshakedates

We ate club sandwiches every day

Image-1-4

And watched the sun set on Venice Beach

Image-1-5

Leonard Nimoy’s son was our tutor

23667_349713476021_2065307_n

Seriously

143134d54d4d00a21008cb53faa4591a

(Image credit: capoutoftime.tumblr.com)

Oh yeah, and WE WERE HELLER GANGSTA.

THIS WAS OUR WHIP #SEBRING 

Image-1-2

17249_276059599818_1522147_n

THIS WAS LUNCH #CLUBSANDWICH

Image-1-6

THIS WAS OUR BEST MATE DANNY “MACHETE” TREJO

http___makeagif.com__media_12-01-2014_dD6pgV

WE WENT TO VEGAS…

19352_271630261021_1578933_n

AND LEFT 12 HOURS LATER. COS WE JUST ROLLED LIKE THAT 19352_271630506021_5886413_n

WE MET PAC (Disclaimer: This is not the real Tupac Shakur. This guy was a postman)

409180_10150479890666022_410037132_n

WE TUCKED OUR NAPKINS IN OUR SHIRTS

http___makeagif.com__media_12-01-2014_CH35aP

COS WE JUST MOBIN’ LIKE THAT

396090_10150439490131022_18016072_n

WE DROPPED IT LOW EVERY TIME J COLE “WORK OUT” CAME ON

393350_10150439498381022_845398784_n

WE ROLLED WITH PACO

27294_336172936021_1777747_n

WE ROLLED TANDEM

http___makeagif.com__media_12-01-2014_U0Wmzu

ON EVERYTHING

http___makeagif.com__media_12-01-2014_CLwl1h

LIKE A COUPLE OF “VENICE CHEAPSKATES”  WE SAW THE LAKERS

400795_570409200414_117665679_n

WE INSTAGRAMMED THE SHIT OUT OF THESE KIGUS WITH A FILTER 398519_573257871654_400244322_n

WE STARTED SOME SERIOUS FIRE IN THE BOOTH

24709_332223474818_7478403_n

WE ATE MORE CLUB SANDWICHES. THIS TIME FULL OF EMOTION Image-1-7

WE RE-UNITED IN HACKNEY AND DICKED ABOUT WITH PIGS FEET

198965_10150138661641022_4558113_n

AN SPAT ON LONDON FIELDS IN VINTAGE FURS

206788_10150138660641022_5412376_n

AND WROTE A CHRISTMAS HIT “PISSY CHRISSY”

47626_476684274818_7547627_n

WE CREATED “BANJACKS AND PERVIS”

381170_342788145734791_909561070_n

AND OUR COMPANY “DO IT LIVE

253462_10150203258184819_7277345_n

WE RE-UNITED AGAIN IN SYDNEY. #PORKYS

397973_10150421187866022_2073467293_n

AND WE WROTE A COMEDY TV PILOT CALLED “DEAD BROKE”

401074_570743605264_1825938964_n

AND WE FILMED IT. ILLEGALLY. BECAUSE GANGSTA.

424234_10150624649829061_1988568418_n

IN THE NEVADA DESERT. COMPLETELY NAKED. BECAUSE GANGSTA. 523174_580142988824_1152791179_n

WE WORE THESE SHIRTS. BECAUSE GANGSTA.

420253_10150574618301022_1155657053_n

AND SUNG THE SHIT OUT OF R. KELLY. BECAUSE BUMP N GRIND.

431709_10150574618216022_427264636_n

WE LIVED BY THE MANTRA #WWGD. BECAUSE GINUWINE.

218048_10150155871986022_6349818_n

CLAUD’S MUM HAD ACTUAL CONCERNS THAT WE HAD ACTUALLY BECOME GANG BANGERS.  YOU CAN READ ALL ABOUT IT ON CLAUD’S BLOG HERE TO BE FAIR, SHE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO WORRY. COS ONLY A TRUE GANGSTA WOULD DO THIS

http___makeagif.com__media_12-01-2014_zqUpy2

OH AND IF YOU LOT ARE WONDERING WHY THE ‘SHITS’? ONLY TRUE FRIENDS WHATSAPP EACH OTHER THEIR MORNING DUMP. #PILEHIGHCLUB

Image-1-8

YOU CHANGED MY LIFE C-UNIT. #gosapinjeforlife

Ain’t about that casual life

Jobs n ting

Several things in life can be casual. Clothing, relationships, your attitude towards politics or Sushi.

The most casual thing in mine has been my work history, and when I mean casual, I’m not talking about the ease and simplicity of it, I’m talking about the contract. I have spent my entire working life on a ‘casual contract’. In fact, my phone contract has been the only piece of paper I have ever signed with any real commitment of time to it, and even that took me a few years to build up enough credit history to have it in my name. I also didn’t have an actual signature until I was 21 and realised that any bastard could forge my basic seal of authenticity. That, however, is all about change, or so I hope. Two major things are about to take place:

1: I am going to exchange on a flat. I will have a mortgage. I will own a home. Prang.

2: I now have a ‘proper’ job for which I am set to receive my full time contract.

Big movements out here.

One issue however, is that my arrogant manager is attempting to lord over me for a further three months by extending my probation. Purely because he thinks I’m some kind of mug who will take the fall for his mistakes.

Am I a mug though?

No.

I have appealed (even though the company I work for doesn’t have an ‘official’ appeal process for me, the lowly worker) and am fighting to get my newly improved signature down on paper not only cos if I lose this job I risk losing the home I have spent a year of being gazumpt to find, but also because, to be blunt, I am not fucking having it.

Now I could rant about this moron for days but he gets enough air-time as it is. Instead, I’m gonna do a run down of my top 10 (there’s actually 11. Don’t clock the double 8) casual jobs so you can get a casual picture of the casual journey I have been on since I was 17. Illustrated by my casual sketches.

1: Casually ran the guest list with my mate Sarah for Fresh n Funky club night even though we were underage (China Whites, Funky Buddha, Ten Room. Back when raving in the West was the best)

IMG_6654

2: Casual worker for childcare agency. Casually hated this.

IMG_1054-2

3: Casual bar staff for Gastro pub with my casual mate Selena.

IMG_8843-2

4: Casual front of house usher at a theatre. Casually promoted to casual supervisor.

IMG_4902-2

5: Casual exams invigilator. At the college where I casually sat my A Levels. IMG_9700-2

6: Casual call centre for a casual ticket company.

IMG_7332-2

7: Casual ‘casual’ for said ticket company working various casual jobs including front of house, reception and despatch. For a casual 6 years on and off.

IMG_2799

8: Casually removed paperclips and rubber bands from documents heading for the shredder. In a windowless basement. For £6.95 per hour. With my casual mate Dave. For a casual two months.

IMG_2939

8: Casually drove a flower delivery van for a casual two weeks. That turned in to a casual two years.

IMG_2688

9: Casually developed and ran a music therapy workshop for young people. Casually loved this. Which casually lead me to number 10 (on my list).

IMG_8093

10: Casually currently managing a project for at risk young people and NEETS. Casually not casual.

IMG_7722

So, here I am, on the cusp of becoming a non-casual employee, after a casual 13 years of being ‘casual’.

There really is a lot riding on the next few weeks…

How am I feeling??

Casual.

Notting Hill Carnival? Nah.

Raves and Waves, Tupac Shakur

Today is the first time in about 11 years that I haven’t donned a whistle and hauled my arse on the East London Line (Silverlink. If you know you know) to the streets of West London for Carnival. Now, I love to rinse at Rinse, then duty wine my way from Goodtimes, passed 4Play and down to NTS as much as the next twenty-something bound for that inevitable piss squat in Horniman Pleasance but, oh wait, I’m 30. Yeah. I’m not in it anymore.

I’m ashamed to admit that since my first time at Carnival, when I was about 14 and tagged along with my brother and his mates, it has become a lot less about the cultural unity and good vibes for me and more about getting absolutely off my face and searching out a sound system playing Garage for the whole day. I haven’t even seen the parade since 1999.

Like I said, shameful.

Last year I made the mistake of rockin up solo at about 4.30pm on the Sunday, stone sober and so hungry I could have happily feasted on the mounds of chicken scraps in the gutter. I probably would have, if I’d been half as wavey as I should have been to cope with the heaving mass of sweaty, aggie, twisted up party people I was now shoulder to shoulder with.

I bought myself a can of Red Stripe from a guy with only three visible teeth. £4. Fuming. Queued for a good 35 minutes at Soul Kitchen for Jerk Chicken and Rice. No fried dumpling left. Livid. Then perched on the edge of a curb to eat whilst desperately trying to contact my mate Amy, who, having moved to Kensal Rise that year had started the party off right at about 11am and was now in it, deep in it. We eventually did get hold of each other on the phone but by this time she was being penned in by the high-vise army and I was being penned out. Good times.

I left Amy assuming I would probably never find her again, ever, and wandered down towards NTS through the hoards in the hope that I would be able to locate my mate Jessi from her text instructions.

IMG_6300

Miraculously, I found her. She was also deep in it. That one can balanced against the meal had put me no where near the level I needed to be on to catch up, but at least Jessi had rum punch to share. We made a B-line for Horniman, and, the inevitable piss squat. Then linked up with a couple other characters, birthday boy and florist Augustus Bloom and my good pal and actress Chiara Wilde. We sat on the grass, drank, smoked, and generally dicked about for an hour or so to the intermittent rhythm of balloon canisters being emptied. At about 7pm things were winding down to a messy holt so we headed back to Kensal Rise, stopping at St Johns cook out for more food. Gus got absolutely mugged for some tasteless Jollof. He blamed me.

Crammed on a carriage of horn blowers all heading back East I suddenly realised, I was now in it. The rest of the night is a hazy mash up of embarrassingly overtly-sexual grinding to Ginuwine Pony at Alibi (a total fucking anthem for me, reasons to be revealed in a later post) and a Tequila fuelled teary argument with a pointless ex that ended, as inevitably as the Horniman piss squat, wet and in public when it should’ve been behind closed doors. Or better yet. Not at all.

I woke up the next morning and put my head directly down the toilet until about 3pm.

I swore I had gone to my last Carnival.

At least this year I hadn’t lost my big toe nail as I did in 2009 and 2011.

Don’t get me wrong. I have had some wicked times there over the years, and even though my tolerance for, well, most things has got considerably lower since turning 30 I literally tore Glastonbury apart this year, so I do still like a party.

See. Here I am at Arcadia. Quite simply. Loving life.

10487477_10101241794866928_4250356704835372266_n

(Photo by Amy. Yeah, we found each other again)

Anyway, I’m still in my pyjamas, having spent the entire day watching Tupac films and YouTube interviews around the conspiracy theories of his death. By the way, Pac, if you’re chillin in Cuba, holla atcha girl.

When I told someone a few days ago I was gonna give Carnival a miss this year they said “Really? Are you crazy?”

Well you know what

There’s still tomorrow tho…