Hand-Held Destinies

Me

Wednesday evening saw the opening of; John Moores Painting Prize, the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, at the Exhibition Research Lab of John Moores University. The fresh white interior of the John Lennon Art and Design Building provided the exhibition venue, brought to life by an evening of the performance. Stimulating music, spoken word and monologues were accompanied by illuminating visual arts responses.

Hand Held Destinies is a spoken word piece written and performed by Alison Little on the evening. Created as a response to a photo exhibit from 1968 of two girls playing in the sea shores of New Brighton:

 

Hand Held Destinies

Girls hold hands in friendship.
Gleeful
Elegant in play

Eight years old
Born in 1960
The decade which changed Liverpool, Britain and the World

1960 saw the introduction of the pill
We had effective contraception
Birth Control
The Sexual Revolution
Smaller Families
We got richer

As they play in the swath they are attractive in their childhood. Swimsuits made for play, hair it’s natural colour, tresses they are not afraid to get wet. Sand grit, Sea and the salt of the shores adorn their sun-soaked bodies.

Today we have the modern day falsehood of youth. Primark churning out padded bras for pre-teens. Claire’s accessories piercing collections of hoops and studs to the lobes of innocence. Youthful visions of success; to appear on celebrity love island, becoming a WAG or to acquire a cosmetically enhanced bosom larger than Jordan’s.

An era when British beach holidays ruled the waves. Stripped deckchairs, the bucket and spade, splendour of Punch and Judy. Taken over by the package holiday: routes to the warmer destinations of Southern Europe. Made redundant for a second time by the cheap flights of the digital buyers market.

Background, we have sea vessels and the Albert Dock, it’s function then for shipping. Today, as the girls head to retirement we have shipping in its last days of decline. We have a dock surplus of its intended purpose.

Sea Faring industrialism replaced
A cultural haven
The Waterfront
The Tate
Museum of Liverpool
The Maritime
A new Future
A future of tourists
Culture Vultures
City Breakers
A cheap flight destination
The ‘Must take in’ city of Liverpool
A city revived
An end of mass unemployment
The striking city no more
The legacy of the Capital of Culture Year

Their playscape is now a Metropolis challenging globally.
But to the padded bras, the stud lined ears and fixations with celebrity culture we have the bucket.

A return to the beauty of innocence bathing in the optimism of the future.

Alison Little

 

Exhibition continues throughout April.

More about Research Exhibition Lab

Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.

More about Graham Smillie photography

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24 Hour Playwrighting

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The 24 hour hour play is returning to Lark Lane as part of Liverpool Fringe Festival.

At 10pm on Friday night, the Old Police station on Lark Lane is aligned with 6 writer, 6 producers and 24 actors. They are grouped together:

1 writer + 4 actors + 1 director

We have creative micro clusters and that will, if nothing else, guarantee fireworks! Over the next 24 hours the play must be written, the lines must be learned, the process must be directed, and finally, it must be performed.

This year, writer, Irene Stuart returns to the creative chaos of the 24 hour play, we catch up with her about playwrighting and her plans for slumber-time scribbling:

So Irene, it’s you second year of writing for the 24 hour play, can you tell us a little more about last years event?

Last year’s event was definitely exciting. Staying up all night, writing a play from scratch and then seeing it performed, all in 24 hours was amazing.

We all turned up in Lark Lane for 10pm on the Friday, names were drawn from a hat and I was lucky enough to draw two wonderful female actors: Gemma and Hayley, Margaret Connell was drawn as the director. I arrived home around 12pm and immediately started to write. I came up with a spin on a dating show and called it Mr Loverman, a comedy. The actors really got into their roles and the audience were very appreciative. I was amazed at the quality of all of the writing and how quickly all of the actors had learned their lines, there was no script in hand and as far as I could tell, no fluffing of lines. It was a great experience and one I’m looking forward to reprising on 12th/13th April.

Was it simply a matter of getting home from Lark Lane then churning out dialogue or did the idea’s generation process take you into the early hours of the morning?

I’m quite lucky really as I can think on my feet and the idea just came to me the minute I sat down at the computer. It was the drafting, then redrafting which took the time and I wanted to give the actors something to get their teeth into while making the lines short and sharp given the short time span they had to learn them.

Have you worked with any of the actors, crew or director again since last year? Did you develop the ‘Mr Loverman’ scratch further or re-visit the theme?

I contacted both actors a month or so after Mr Loverman as I had written a play about a female who had been the victim of a serious sexual assault. I thought both actors would be perfect for two of the roles. Unfortunately they were both performing in other plays. I see the director regularly as she is the artistic director of Lantern Writers of which I’m a member. I haven’t done anything further with Mr Loverman as I’ve been involved in a number of other projects. You have now however inspired me to revisit it and perhaps perform it again.

Great, now there are to be some changes this year, the newspaper article as a start point is to be abandoned and the actors have been asked to bring props. How do you envisage this alter the play writing process and what was the first prop which you imagined being brought into the Old Police Station?

When Sam (Lead Co-ordinator, Liverpool Fringe Festival) mentioned this year’s change, I imagined a wooden prop of some kind, I don’t know why, perhaps a yard brush with a wooden handle? I don’t think adding a prop to the script will prove problematic as the play doesn’t have to be written around it, it just has to appear in it at some point.

Wood, fantastic, I was thinking elephant, but that’s irrelevant. Have you any idea’s about an outline or theme for the performance or is it simply a matter of waiting for performers, props and likely pandemonium before you can make any decisions?

Hopefully nobody will bring an elephant! Sam said there is no theme, I suppose that’s good as we’ll have to start from scratch like last year. It all depends on which actors you’re given and whether your brain is in gear to come up with something worth performing. That’s what makes it both challenging and fun.

The 24 hour play will be performed:

Saturday 13th April 2019

Lark Lane Community Centre

Tickets £7 (Concessions £5)

To Book

More about Liverpool Fringe Festival

Not to be missed!

Nest in a Goats Beard

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Nest in a Goats Beard is an abstract print produced by Carmen Garcia. It is currently being exhibited as part of the ‘She Eclectic’ exhibition at the Victoria Museum and Gallery in Liverpool. This is a section of flash fiction created by Alison Little as a response to the piece:

The image topples round, propelled up by some kind of yellow bubble making machine launching abstract forms. Patterns which expand, texture which can be touched. The machine: a cross between the yellow submarine and the Liverpool tower. A gigantic but equally girly form. Almost folding out, mounts, triangles positioned above the ground. The main form taking the shape of a sixties modernist detached estate disappearing downhill as it stretches away. Floating forms emerge, a kind of balloon making cartoon pistol firing out at comic-strip enemies. A fun-filled water game set within a reclaimed play arena. The form of a shoulder combined with a jumper suit, powering over engrossed in the imaginary of re-enactment.

North End Writers is based from the Victoria Museum & Gallery, holding their monthly meeting there last weekend. The writers read extracts which were written in response to works in the exhibition in the Gallery Space:

The Readings

More about She’s Eclectic

 

Nicknames

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Love them or hate them!

A sense of endearment or a form of mockery?

I look back through mine, first, there was ‘Ali’ from ‘Alison’, an obvious shortening first used by my elder brother who was struggling to pronounce my full name.

On a week in Ross and Wye with my Primary School class lead to being named ‘Barbie’, this was due to my proportionally long legs and a kind of scissor step I carried out in the dormitory. At the time I didn’t mind but now I am glad it is firmly in the past mainly due to the frequent comments I make about ‘Barbie being an airhead’ and my loathing of the use of bleach-blond hair dye.

My Uni days were the source of many a great nickname. In my first year, I was ‘Dougal’, my frizzing red hair being the origin of the name. This was celebrated by the purchasing of a soft toy Dougal bag and giving him a piercing to match my own. ‘Chemical-Ali’ was to follow, this was due to my undergrad dabbling with party narcotics and not any connection to Ikeda. Again, rhythmic chanting took over and in my final year I was christened ‘Scally-Ali-Oh’, which was eventually shortened to ‘Scals’.

My first role after graduating lead to being dubbed ‘Chewy’, due to my ability to chew every Biro in the office, I habitual I still partake in on occasions.

On moving to Liverpool my Southern accent combined with my sophistication when smoking cigarettes entitled me ‘Penelope Pit stop’. I cherished this immensely as she was one of my favourite cartoon characters as a youngster.

Now, I want to return to the school yard and the period of adolescence. When children become adults, when nicknames can be loathed but equally loved. My massive mop of wild red hair crowned me ‘Birds Nest’. We had some standard names which every school has, Montgomery became ‘Monty’, an extremely popular Kevin ‘Bell-End’. The girls matched these with a ‘McScab’ and a ‘Sticky-Vicky’ a few years above. One of the boys in my form group had unusual grey toned hair for a teenager, this resulted in ‘Just for Men’ being procrastinated in his vicinity. The wearing of non-uniform for six form brought in new opportunities, GI Jane being assigned to one of the lads after wearing a desert combat jacket not long after the film was released.

The ultimate nickname from secondary school was given to a large Asian boy named Bhatti. He had spent his first few years in the shadows and keeping to himself, remaining fairly anonymous. Then, the mid-nineties phenomena; Ali G took to our TV screens, his school days changed forever. Anonymity no more, when he walked across the canteen or the school yard crowds would part and someone would shout ‘Batty Boy!’ This was a great source of amusement for all including himself.

So did you love them or hate them?

Were they despised at the time, but on looking back do you laugh?

I enjoyed mine, the illustration above shows ‘Birds nest’ in full glory!

Fun and Frollicks
Youthfulness
And whatever happened to Bhatti?

The Police and Consent

consentEarlier in the week we were presented with an array of news articles over children to be taught about the nature of consent in school. This extract from the novel Casual Nexus tackles issues around consensual and the Police. All evens and characters are fictional and not based on real life.

The Chief Constable in charge sits looking at the paperwork in front of him, Sal’s files with all the open cases, none of which had come to any sort of sensible conclusion. She was causing him nothing but trouble, as she had always been, at home and whenever she went abroad. From her late teenage years they would have girls of their own in place, recruited as babes, lookers that would normally take the centre stage, then Sal would simply turn up with messy hair and not as well groomed and knock them out the way. The Police funded regular hair styling and top high street brands like Oasis and French Connection didn’t seem to work against Sal. To have any chance of getting there own way they had to send the best looking girl they had, the coolest kid and a real joker. Even then it rarely work, Sal had this way of effortlessly outdoing the majority of females they employed. It had been easier when she was still at school, it looked like the fear of her Brother Jacks activities had stunted her confidence and made her easier to control, one of the standard blond types would normally have done back then.

Out of coincidence, across the Force they had tried to take the attention away from Sal by sending classier, wealthier girls many of which had turned out to be the daughters of Senior Police Officers. He knew in his head what had happened, Sal had taken centre stage again and he now had a long list of Senior Officers trying to insist that Sal was jealous of their offspring. There were also several cases being investigated as Police co-ruption, Devi and Fat Fiasol fathers both serving on a Senior level. Then on the other end of the phone, he had the FBI and varies rape investigation units wanting updates and progress reports. The only way he could escape this ongoing pressure seemed to be to prove Sal to be some kind of obsessive fantasist, a stalker of Men and a telepathic liar. Then he could put all these open cases to bed, the constant ringing of the phone would stop, his staff could be proved to be effective again, internal investigations and the FBI could go back under the stone they crawled from underneath.

His mind began to work through the list of undercover Officers he could send, there were numerous who would claim a girl was in love with them when they weren’t really interested. This case might be different though, Sal and the crimes she had been subjected to were very well known across the Station and they might think twice about messing up a high priority FBI rape case. He would need a complete ‘Arsehole’ he thought to himself, slowly but surely C-I-S-S drips into his brain. Perfect, he had made several checks on his conduct himself previously, a proven track record of constantly writing reports about how desperate women were for his affections when in reality many showed little regard for him. There was one case he had checked personally when Ciss had claimed a girl had been constantly texting him when her phone had actually been in Police hands. Her lodgings had been burgled and they had recovered the property the next evening, the following morning Ciss had filed a report about receiving more text messages from the girl from all over the weekend. He had debated reporting Ciss to internal investigations himself but decided to move him away from investigating single women indefinitely until he could become of use, and of use, he had become.

Sal was sorting things from boxes in her new flat, it had been time to get out of her parent’s place again. Jack and her Dad worked together and he had been coming around for lunch. Her Mother would start making plans for Him, Dee and the children to coming over, Sal getting dragged into their plans often without even being consulted on her intentions. Although the flat, well more of a flat come bedsit, was small she had her own space again, a door where she could lock out the outside World, Jack and his wife Dee, in particular, giving her the mental space she needed to think independently. She was arranging her art materials into her desk drawers, there was limited space but room to be creative at the same time. She decided to start on some exhibition pieces for a small arts centre in Dartford who were asking for submissions. This evening she had a party to go to, last week she had been in the pub adjacent to the block on the instigation of her new neighbour and one of the regulars had invited them both to his moving in do this evening. She was looking forward to it as the new crowd looked fun and besides which nibbles, beer and dancing were hard to avoid on her part.

The Chief Constable makes some calls and directs Ciss to be sent to his Office as soon as he is available. On his arrival, he briefs Ciss on the identity of Sal and where he was to engage in her company this forthcoming evening. Bating him readily; he explains there had been numerous examples of Sal being over possessive in the past, excessive text messaging and clear signs of an obsessive personality. Ciss is enthused, it had been ages since he had been sent to investigate any single women. A prime opportunity to prove women find him irresistible, one with massive scope and he had heard about this girl she was a top looker as well. The Chief Constable explains that they have an Officer next door to her, he would get her to the party, his way in was with another one of the pub regulars, he was to inform people that he was his brother.

Ciss began getting ready late in the afternoon, bathing then washing his hair with shampoo then an extra dollop of conditioner. He dries himself thoroughly and dresses in the bathroom, looking in the mirror. His hair is a dirty blond managing to be an awkward combination of greasy at the routes, dry and frizzed out towards the ends. Although not anaemic his skin was pasty in appearance around the arched areas of his nose and cheeks, then flaky towards his jawline. Over his pigeon-like chest and narrow shoulders, he slips on as well YSL shirt, overarching his shoulders and outstretching his arms to form a T junction. Ducking his head down he fastens to his purchased as ‘Tight fit’ jeans which were, in fact, loose on him. He shakes his legs and a foot at a time then opens the bathroom cabinet. Rummaging around his collection of bottles he finds Hugo Boss aftershave. Slapping plenty on he drops his hands against the sink, puffing up his chest he looks directly in the mirror and thinks how irresistible he is as he looks himself up and down.

Sal’s neighbour taps on her door mid-evening to see if she was coming to the party. She grabs her coat, then they pop in the Pub first, but stay only for one drink as most of the regulars were already down the road. They made their way to a small terrace several streets away, Sal was in a good mood, she didn’t have much in common with her neighbour but they were finding things to talk about. The party was packed when they arrived, the entire pub seemed to have re-convened in this once Victorian dwelling. Drinks in hand they began to mingle, Sal talking to all the people she had met last week first, then some new girls which everyone else seemed to know. One of the men who had taken a shine to Sal last week passed her a glass of whiskey. Throughout the evening every time she seemed to finish the glass he glided over to top it up instantaneously.

Following his appointed counterpart, Ciss arrives at the party. Although he knows very few people there and only briefly he puts on his unsure air of overconfidence; arching his shoulders, raising his arms to each side and cusping his hands. He begins to work his way through the room, talking to everyone he had met previously as if they were lifelong companions of great standing. As Sal was getting her tumbler of malt topped up again the Officer spots his prey. She hadn’t really dressed up for the party but looked great in her fitted denim jeans, simple top and a delicately knitted cardigan. Her hair was messy as usual but it swept nicely to one side to reveal her slightly drunken smile. Excellent, Ciss thinks to himself, looking great and on her way to being wasted, just the way he likes them. He decides to linger, leave her to get some more drinks down her before he makes an approach.

At around eleven o’clock Ciss takes his chance, the bottomless servings combined with larger and a couple of glasses of wine got to Sal. She began to stagger slightly moving towards the fireplace, Ciss grabs her by the hips to steady her motion. After carefully manoeuvring her through the departing party goers they arrive at the front door. The tempter who had been pouring Sal the whiskeys could only stand their and watch, he had been hoping to get closer to Sal later that evening. Ciss negotiates Sal through the main exit, people moving due to his outstretched arms. As they head towards Sal’s flat she tries not to fall against any lamp posts as she staggers home thinking of bed.

Ciss uses Sal’s keys to open the door to the bedsit then slides her towards her bed. As she begins to fall into sleep mode he pulls off her top, out of for sight he moves quickly. His jeans and shirt come off almost in one instantaneous action, then he removes her trousers followed by her underwear. During Sal semi-slumber he begins to penetrate her, in his mind imagining she is enjoying this thrusting, her mind not fully aware of what was going on.