I must be Miss Liverpool!

Miss Liv image copy

I must be Miss Liverpool!

We are seated, lined up, eventually at the final of Miss Liverpool. The seats of the room arched around, judges desks empty for now. They have demobbed to a side room, making the final, ultimate, life-changing decision.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

It’s taken me four years to get here, I am twenty-two now, applying since eighteen, each time getting a little further, this time to the final. The extra cash borrowed for botox being the bar heightener. Four years of casual work to fund; hair, make-up, nails, extensions, tanning, designer brand gear and finally botox.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

When Daniel Lloyd won it she really became someone. She got Miss Liverpool, Miss GB and even got put in the Miss World contest. She did FHM, Playboy and even bagged the Face of Ladbrooks. She should have won Celebrity Big Brother, if it hadn’t been for that Shilpa ‘Shitty’. And then after having three kids with Jamie O’Hara, I bet the divorce settlement was massive. That’s want I want, a line of footballing boyfriends to make me the ultimate WAG.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Then there was that Christine that got married to Paddy McGuinness, she was only eighteen and him in his forties. I wouldn’t mind being with an older fella if you got all his money and the celebrity lifestyle. She even got to go on ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’.

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Lots of the winners get signed by Impact modelling agency. There the best glamour agency around, on your page you model in just your bra and knickers and they list your vital statistics. Image, everyone who wants looking at you, men wanting you and women wanting to be you.

The judges are coming now, I look down and chant:

I must be Miss Liverpool!

Through my teeth, I repeat the words as the third then second placed are revealed. This is my last chance, I will be too old next year at twenty-three.
I must be Miss Liverpool.

I recoil as the winner is read out. No, not her, barely eighteen, a bookworm at college, a bore. Actually looks like she let her hair dry naturally and it’s not straightened or dyed or anything. Her heals are only three inches high and that’s not even a designer dress. I cannot believe it, with the title she wants to go the Alder Hey and visit the cancer ward as she has promised her Aunty who is a nurse there, ridiculous!

No night club openings, no botox, no boob job, simply visiting boring sick kids. What could have been, I could have been a leading WAG, I could have had my own line of product, gone on ‘Celebrity Love Island’, I could have married a footballer…. I could have had another boob job….I could of had a maximum divorce settlement.

I will never be anyone!

‘I must be Miss Liverpool’ is a flash fiction works from Alison Little. It was performed at the The Athenaeum as part of the Light Night 2019 festival.

More about Light Night

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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.

Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

Miss Liverpool copy

The ritualistic process of crowning a Miss Liverpool is an annual event in the city of Liverpool. Initially, relating to the ancient custom of Marriage, the ball-like gown paraded by the contestants often being the traditional white. The notion of a maiden passing of age is also conjured up by the generation of the contestants, the latest winner; Elli Wilson, being a tender seventeen, most entrants are in there later teenage or early twenties in terms of age. A tall slender figure with a bikini perfect body relating to the process of fertility selection. Often a ‘Barbie-esque’ girl, a typical Arian with pure long straight blond hair. Images of Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty are conjured up by this fairy tale heroine, types of girls. Equally, does the pageant relate to the Debutante Balls so common with the Aristocracy and the Jane Austen novels we treasure as a society? Is the crowning of Miss Liverpool so different from the most recent Royal Wedding of Megan and Harry?

Should a contest be based simply on looks, it this merely an act of male objectification and is this wrong? Do modelling agencies like ‘Impact’ who often sign contestants degrading to women in the way in which they present the model’s ‘Vital Statistics,’ measures in terms of the figure and cup size of her bust?

Lucy Whittaker, former winner, Impact modelling

Does the beauty pageant relate to sovereignty and are the winners so different from Kate Middleton and Megan Markle? Is the process similar to a traditional Debutante ‘Coming Out’ ball and do we need this in contemporary society?

Does the Miss Liverpool contest promote child pageanting, is this the sexualization of children and is this being encouraged?

Are we happy with Nightclub culture, the final awards ceremony for the contest being held at the Olympia in West Derby Road? Does the winner simply go onto make nightclub appearances worthy of a role model figure? There have been long term associations between the Olympia and the Grafton Rooms which has long been known for prostitution within the city. Is the contest helping to create a rape culture which we should be aiming to suppress?

Is the Pageant simple a tool for creating minor celebrities leading to appearances on hyper-reality shows. Was the former winner, Daniel Lloyds appearance on Celebrity Big Brother a positive or negative matter? Many of the winners seem to become minor celebrities, fund cosmetically enhancing boob jobs and is this a process we want to be part of?

Is the contest simply a symbol of White able bodies hierarchy? Winners are seldom from minority groups, in term of ethnicity Miss England has only ever been won by a singular Muslim girl. Are those with disabilities, same-gender sexual orientation or trans women ever present as winners or participants?

Previous winners

Does the concept of beauty contests, celebrity culture and the vanity which surround our advertising agencies lower self-esteem and put pressure on women to be more beautiful and ultimately younger. Is the contest ageist in term of participants and winners?

Answer the ultimate question: Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

A) Yes, she is the ultimate female idol.
B) Yes, it’s just intended as a bit of fun, she can be seen as someone to aspire to in addition to leading women from other industries.
C) I would prefer for the Miss Liverpool contest to be changed to eliminate objectification and to promote skill and intelligence of women and to include women from BME communities.
D) Miss Liverpool must go….

Please Comment below.

Fluctulation

Fluctulation Image copy

Fluctulation is a poetic form written for National Poetry Day, 2018 around the subject of change.

Fluctuation

When I am up I am alive
Answer every question, phone call, email
Positive moves forward I strive
Bounce and jump, free I sail

When I am down I hide away
Into bed, into covers, I crawl
Unpeel my skin in disarray
In the darkness, hide, two feet tall

On a high, I paint and draw
Forwards I roll
Content reading, write some more
Ten feet tall

Falling lower, bottom of the glass
Nicotine on hand
Clutter surrounds on mass
Swollen gland’

To the sky, I want to fly
In love with life, I seek romance
Absorb, with joy I cry
Excitement, sing and dance

Fading, grab another beer
Regretting every faceless man I screwed
My confusion, these men sneer
Recalling their attention, lewd

Rising up I demand success
More desired, fight to get there
Onslaught of thoughts, less
Mind ignores the growling bear

Drawing down I pour to the rim
Regretting every joint I ever rolled
Ecstasy pills that made me grin
Narcotics that made me bold

Well again, head is clear
Visions of beautiful sights
Falling down again I fear
Try to control my minds flights

Up, I am positively ruthless
Down, visions of myself toothless

I will push to control my mind
Not to fall, put positives on downwind

Alison Little

Fluctulation: Early plans for Installation

Augustus: Head

Augustus

Augustus: Head is a flash fiction works in response to the Meroe Head of Augustus which was exhibited at the Victoria Museum and Gallery in Liverpool earlier in the year.

Augustus: Head

He stands above us
Looking down
Piercing eyes
Looking through us to a greater existence
Baby-faced, framed with cropped curls
Winged ears arch out
The emperor to become God

‘I am your leader
I will conquer
You will support me’
Head of Augustus

Ruler, the time of Christ
Mediterranean made Empire
The riches of Egypt conquered.

Trophy head taken
Conquering Sudan
A one-eyed queen
Buried beneath Temple steps
Walked on
Trodden over
Belittled, degraded
The Conqueror was conquered

August is still August
A God he remains
The Empire has crumbled
But the Head still stands tall

 

Alison Little

More about the Meroe Head of Augustus

 

All the Fun of the Fair

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Last week saw the ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ installation take over at Bold Place. This weeks blog shares the original fiction works which was the intial sourse point for the installation.

All the Fun of the Fair

She felt low down, sank down, fallen through into a space only six foot by two foot. Crammed into a recession, three similar sized walls behind her to head height, two long stretched walls either side of her tapering off towards her feet with a small final surface encasing her body. Her weighty box-like cell, mahogany Formica panelling, lined with a thin cushioned faux silk, imitation gold handles surround the outer casing of the coffin.

As she begins to regain consciousness she raises, lying flat, floating upwards in a gravity-defying motion, out of her prison. The coffin was not real, the mahogany panelling on the walls of a cheap motel room. The handles belong to the dresser, the faux silk is the bed sheets, but they are not sleek and satiny, they are rough and bobbled and begrimed with the spills of what had occurred. Unable to move fully she can feel the presence of a body beside her, a giant of a man, not fat but colossal in size. Although he seems to be moving slightly as he breathes he appears to be unaware of her presence on the tiny mattress space she is embedded upon.

What had happened? She thinks, her brain encircled by storm clouds from being unconscious, she begins to place last night’s activities, her short term memory had been shredded into a thousand pieces, the sections still there, but only making sense when entwined together. How had she got to the tiny mattress space she occupies? She had been out drinking with one of the girls she had been working with for her summer job. They had been around a few bars and were really quite inebriated. Approached by a man, her friend first, then she remembers kissing him on his direction. Next, he grabbed her arm, almost dragging her, plucked from the bar, a predator choosing his prey; not being hauled through the doors, but not fully consenting.

To the unbeknown, nearby motel room, he took her, unsure of what to do she kept walking with him, still quite tipsy from the evening; should she try and push him off her? From entering the motel room he lashed her down on the bed, in a frenzy, he was on top of her, she was morphed like a giant lobster engulfing her, its claws gripping her down as she was smothered by the body. The antenna’ worming over her face and the walking legs combatting the struggle of the body. She couldn’t move and she couldn’t breathe, his chest pushing in around her throat and nostrils. She struggled with an inward thrusting motion like the crusher claw had reached down from its front line position, forcing its path with no care for the flesh it rips open. Her groyne muscles were trying to fight it, clenching together at their full will, trying to push out in conflict. No oxygen, no more strength, then black.

As she begins to come round she cannot move, in placing together what had happened she couldn’t fully understand, not then, not for many months, then many years later she would be able to accept what had taken place. She found some safety in the fact he seemed to be asleep and unaware of her presence. She still could not move as she lay there for what felt like an eternity: static and unreactive.

ceiling tiles

wall panels

carpet

eyes moving

body still

motionless

over and over, rhetoric

unresponsive body

thoughts, idea’s, existence

Then salvation comes: a feeling like water rushing through her body starting at her head then zigzagging across her form, over her spine and down to her feet, she could move again. Purity flowing through her being, release from deadlock, allowing her muscles and head to function in sequence. From this she managed to get up, moving as quietly as a semi-functional person could. Unsure of her clothes and her bag, she seemed to have most of them on, she began to look for the door but she couldn’t find it. Fumbling over the mahogany panels as they engrossed the space, she tried them all looking for an escape hatch, her vision blurred, only capable of seeing a few feet in front of her. One must open, but which one, then he spoke:

‘Doors over there’

He had been awake the whole time not asleep as she had imagined. Dismissive in the way he casually said the words, like nothing, had happened, dis-guarding the girl after she had been stripped bare to her skeletal form. Oblivious to what he had put her through, no remorse, no sorrow, no regret, nothing…

Alison Little

Take away Lobster to Liverpool

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‘All the Fun of the Fair’ is the latest installation from Liverpool based artist Alison Little. As part of the Liverpool Independent Biennial, it is being exhibited at 5 Bold Place. She presents a scene based in the American seaside resorts of Maine Country where the lobster is king and sold from the takeaway food stalls which litter the coastal towns.

Alison Little is an Artist and Writer, though her work she looks to combine her creative practice across visual arts and literature. ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ in its first concept is a short story of a young student who is raped during a summer placement in fairground town in the United States. This was written by Alison Little and has been published on her Blog in addition to several zines. This has been developed into a full chapter for the novel she is writing: Casual Nexus. In combination with the creative writing process, Alison produced a giant, man-size Lobster made from a process of creating a polythene shell and filling this with shredded paper. As an artist, she has been developing this technique for several years and often identifies similar subject matters of sexual violence and mental health. The lobster was exhibited for Sound City in the Baltic Triangle in combination with a reading of the original fictional source in May of 2018.

‘All the Fun of the fair’ the installation suspends the giant lobster form in the windows of Bold place. The inner side of the works contains statements related to the violation which can be read when looked at the mirrors located on the lower level. Sand runs across the bottom of the installation, covered by an arrangement of broken beach toys and discarded low-cost trinkets. These elements suggest American, Maine County, in particular, beach holiday debris. We present a New England seaside town where the lobster is prominent on the takeaway food stalls which line the Seafront.

In the initial short story, the rapist is transformed into a giant lobster, the girl unable to move throughout the act. To the underside of the shelled creature, we have a collection of statements relating to sexual predication. ‘Invade’, ‘Assailant’ and ‘Molestation’ are all prominent terms amongst the others present. The broken mirror is positioned to the lower side of the giant sea creature, this allows the viewer to position themselves to read the terms from different angles.

The ground space of the installation is cover with sand to suggest the golden beaches of the North American seaside towns. However, the beach area is covered in litter to suggest adverse lifestyles. The discarded freezer blocks and pick nick cups, in addition to food stall waste, set the scene for an unpleasant beach holiday. The prominently positioned coffee cup displays a label from Maine County, combined with a Portland Take away lobster box indicate the New England North Atlantic Coast. The end of games and childhood fun are presented through the broken and lost assemblage of outdoor toys. The burst and deflating paddling pool suggest an end to the innocence of infancy. An indication of celebration but also destruction are introduced by the exploded firework and the burst balloon. Could this be a fourth of July party gone wrong? Cheap State side Larger is forefront in the window display, Budweiser cans convey a seafront drinking party where the cans have been swigged down at pace. The presence of rough sleepers, or more commonly terms vagrants is given through the squashed, toxically coloured cider bottle. The American term these individuals ‘Bums’, they are present in these towns during the summer months, they travel to the resorts when the population swells to solicit the tourists. On a darker note, we are presented with narcotics, the indication of a luminously coloured crack pipe, surrounded by packets of Rizzla, cigarette papers used to inhale cannabis. Do we have a scene of destruction where intoxication of controlled substances is a factor? Ultimately, we have a final item of sexual debris, a Durex wrapper, the Transatlantic term being ‘Sheaf’. Has there been a sex act gone wrong, a liaison which has ended in devastation?

On first inspection we see a Transatlantic beach holiday representation, on deeper investigation we see a holiday gone wrong. We see destruction and devastation, we see negativity and hostility.

Dates: 3 August – 3 September, 2018
Location: 5 Bold Place, Liverpool, L1 9DN

See Map

Times: 07:30 to 23:00 daily (viewing from street)


Art In Windows is a small organisation that works with landlords and artists to commission and curate temporary and permanent art works for display in empty windows in and around Liverpool.
Art in Windows

The Liverpool Biennal Independents runs from the 18th of July until the 28th of October.
Independents Biennial

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