Sunday, 30 May 2010

Human sex

As part of the East London Printmakers I'm taking part in a print exhibition at the Freud Museum next year (great recent BBC documentary about the Freud Museum here).

Researching pictures of dancers and acrobats for my prints I came across La La La Human Steps, & this purely amazing, androgynous dancer Louise Lecavalier. I vaguely remember them from 1985 (I was 14 - wow, a lifetime ago) and catching a glimpse of her on TV jumping into the air and spinning horizontally, parallel to the ground. It made you want to rub your eyes in disbelief.

Anyway, here is the video for their show Human Sex from 1985, you can watch her in action.
(Can't embed the video for some reason, but it's worth clicking, believe me. )

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Girl With The Swedish Longeurs

Okay, I'm nearly there, though this is the longest book I think I've ever read, and I've read Middlemarch. I'm fed up with stories about women being brutalised though. They are all over the TV and all over crime stories - there are other types of crime, que no? What about some environmental crime, some corporate crime, piracy, war crimes, genocide - that doesn't ring any bells for people? No, we just like stories about beating up women. (It's okay if your heroine is a badass and gets her own back though, that makes it feminist.)

We have moved on in some ways though. Have you noticed with the Bradford murders, how they've switched to saying "women who worked as prostitutes" rather than just "prostitutes"? Bravo, the media. Maybe next we can leave out their job descriptions altogether.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

In hospital

It's hotter than hot in the hospital, I've chosen the hottest day in the year so far. I'm so thirsty. The doctors and nurses are suffering in the heat. I've been fine, waiting, it's when they call you into the cubicle to strip off that it starts getting real. The surgeon comes by briefly to draw on you, the nurses check your records, the anaesthetist talks you through the process. All women. You sit in the TV room idly reading your book, it's quite absorbing, but you jump up the instant they call your name.

The nurse is small, blond & pretty. “I've just come to check you're ready for theatre.” She chats to put you at ease. “Jump up on the trolley.” What do you do? Oh, you work with kids. What age? Are they cute? They talk about the weather, the anaesthetist is Indian, they talk about the heat in Kerala. Have you ever been to India? All the time they're adjusting things, inserting the canula in your hand (“Sharp scratch” she says). When the anaesthetic hits it's like a cloud, a snowstorm shaken up suddenly, blooming from the back of your head. “Starting to feel sleepy...” Mmm hmm, I say, almost feel rude at no longer participating in our conversation. There's no need to count back from 10, I'm out.

I'm dreaming about work, I'm teaching in class. “Wake up Anne!” says the Chinese nurse urgently. Shit! I fell asleep at work! I wake up with a start and want to leap out of bed, but there's something on my face, something in my hand, a dull pain like a siren going off in my left side. Blink, blink, I'm trying to blink the anaesthetic away. How strange, my body has just gone through something that my mind has no knowledge of – how I must have been wheeled out of that room, into the theatre, undressed, operated on, stitched up, wheeled back like a rag doll – all totally unaware, whilst dreaming of something else. They said you might feel tearful, I don't cry but almost, having a moment of gratitude that it's all over. When my sister comes by I'm eating a sandwich ravenously. A nurse I saw before surgery spots me "So soon!" she says.

Hurrah for the NHS.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


It looks like I will have to have surgery after all, thought I'd got away with it then. It's nothing to be scared of though, is it? Jordan has it all the time, right? Maybe I should get them to upgrade my cup size while they're at it.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Buggered if I know why this was so popular. I fear I've been sold a pup.

I'm on page 86 and it has only just got to the main plot point on the blurb. It's not looking good. I know it's translated but this is some of the clumsiest writing I've read in ages. Clunking great paragraphs of exposition. Show, not tell, remember? Too many characters, thin characterisation, plot jumping all over the place, taking ages to get going, no ear for dialogue, waiting for the "thrill" part of the thriller to kick in - I'm giving it to the end of the chapter and if I'm still not hooked it goes straight onto the tube. Which is annoying as I bought it new and you just know it will end up filling the charity shops in a month or so. Feel cheated.

Unless you persuade me to stick with it. Did you read it and like it?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


I feel it coming. Do you?

I might hide under my bed for the rest of the week.

In the meantime, I leave you with Florence and the Machine, which sounds quite positive (lyrically) but suitably quite apocalyptic (musically...)

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Jerusalem was magical. It was that rare experience (rare for me, with the theatre anyway) when you come out still so absorbed in that world, that the real world seems flat, dull and unreal. It was state of the nation stuff, but so funny and acutely written, it wore its politics lightly.

It's about Johnny Byron, a kind of modern Falstaff and king of misrule, a spinner of tall tales, living in a caravan in the Wiltshire countryside and playing pied piper (and dealer) to the local kids. The kind of bloke that is great at a party and a nightmare to have as a neighbour. It begins with him being served with an eviction notice by the local council, after complaints from people in the posh new flats nearby who object to his all night parties. It takes place on St George's Day, the day of the local county fair, and meditates on English history, culture and freedom, and the modern tendency of the state to try and stamp out anything it doesn't directly control.

Mark Rylance was amazing, and Mackenzie Crook, and it was a great cast. It's finished now, but surely will come around again, as it attained instant classic status, I'd recommend anybody to see it...

But... it was bloody expensive. We paid £48.00 a ticket, and that was right in the upper circle, and you couldn't see half the stage. (Everyone was leaning forwards, until a stroppy usher told them off.) I'm sorry, but that's a disgraceful rip-off. It's one thing paying over the odds for the West End, but not being able to see the stage? The theatre is elitist enough, but even after forking out, who's going to come back when they can't see what they've paid for?