Sleet Feet

streett lamp copy

Sleet Feet in an extract from the fictional novel: Casual Nexus, currently being written by Alison Little. No characters or events depicted are based on real life.

 

Sal looks up towards the sky, daylight was only just beginning to make its way through the intensity of the waterlogged clouds. She looks up towards the street lamp, sleet is falling heavily, the cold ice of the snow combined with the raw whipping of the rain. The lamp shines from the centre, enlightening the heavy grey of the skies expanse. The sleet flickers across the illumination lashing towards the ground before it disintegrates and draws its way through the drainage systems. Sal shivers slightly, her feet were cold as her trainers were worn badly, the soles almost coming away from the main body even after being glued back together last week. Her mother had insisted on buying her new trainers for her return to college in September, because of the lack of money Sal had opted for a cheap pair and they were in tatters. She decided she would get a new pair at the weekend after she was paid off her part-time job collecting glasses. She wouldn’t be left with very much but there was a bit extra from the evenings she had covered to avoid Jack. The icy water seeps into her shoes, making its way to her toes as she shakes on the winters morning.

It is Wednesday of the week her brother Jack is home on leave from the army, Sal had been up and out before he had even got out of bed. Since his return on Sunday evening, she had managed to avoid any real contact with him. Apart from an obligatory ‘Hello’ she had either been out of the house or been able to make an excuse to go to bed early. This evening was, in fact, the only one where she was not covering a shift in the pub except Sunday, he should be going back on Monday, then she would be safe again. That afternoon Sal had stayed late in six form, there was an informal table tennis contest going on and she joined in, playing well in view of how distracted she felt. When everyone began to drift off she stayed until there were only one or two others then began to make her way slowly towards home. The darkness had returned, bringing the sleet and ice of the rain with it as the sunset. Although a fast walker Sal took her time, wandering from side to side making progress like a ship lost at sea, circling the expanse of the ocean.

Toes begin to blue as the ice from the sleet seep into the over worn trainers, Sal returns to the smell of her Mum cooking dinner. When she inquires about the location of Jack her Mother explains that he had going to stay with friends for the evening. Relief floods into Sal’s mind than through the tense muscles of her body. Later that evening she decides to boil pots for a bath, as she lies back, her small breasts covered by the bubbling foam bath she hears the rain rattling as it cuts intensely through the black of the night.

She thinks about how she will be safe tonight.

 

In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral

Fabric of fa 019

In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral is a poem written by Erin Belieu which appears in her latest book Black Box. The textiles based machine embroidery was created by Alison Little as a response to the poem. Erin has kindly given her permission to use the poem as the subject matter for the artwork and for the poem to be reproduced for this article.

 

In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral

—ERIN BELIEU

1.

I root through your remains,

looking for the black box. Nothing left

but glossy chunks, a pimp’s platinum

tooth clanking inside the urn. I play you

over and over, my beloved conspiracy,

my personal Zapruder film—look,

here’s us rounding the corner, here’s me

waving at the crowd. God, you were lovely

in your seersucker suit. And weren’t we happy

then, before the cross-fire triangulation?

Answer me, dead man.

Wait. Here comes the best part,

where my head snaps back and you crawl

blood-addled and ferocious

from the moving vehicle….

2.

I am undead and sulfurous. I stink like a tornado.

I lift my scarlet tail above your grave

and let the idiot villagers take me

in torchlight

one by one by one by one….

Your widowed Messalina, my soprano

cracks the glasses on the buffet at the after party.

I know you can hear me.

Is my hair not coiffed like the monster’s bride,

lightning bolts screeching at my temples?

What electrified me

but your good doctor’s hand alone?

3.

I’m a borscht-belt comedienne

working the audience from behind

your headstone.

I shimmy onstage between Pam

And Her Magic Organ and

the gigantic poodle act.

Your coffin is a tough room.

Mourners talk through my set,

down schmutz-colored highballs, wait

for the fan dancer to pluck

her scuzzy feathers. But you

always loved

the livestock, didn’t you?

I say how many of you folks are in

from Jersey?

The microphone sweats

like your cock did in my hands.

4.

I help the Jews drape the mirrors. I peel the foil from

the Protestant’s bleak casseroles. The Catholics and Agnostics

huddle in the parking lot, smoking a memorial bowl.

My dear, even the worst despot in his leopard skin fez

will tell you: the truth doesn’t win, but it makes an appearance,

though it’s a foreign cavalry famous for bad timing and

half-assed horsemanship. History will barely remember that you

were yellow and a cheat, a pixilated bi-valve who consumed

as randomly as the thunderheads pass, and yet, how strange,

how many of us loved you well. So tenderly, I’ll return

what you gave me—a bleached handkerchief, a Swiss army knife

bristling with pointless blades. Tenderly, I return everything,

leaving my best evidence in your bloodless lap

5.

I go to our Chinese take away,

where the placemats say I’m a snake

and you were my favorite pig, though

astrologically you were a wasting

disease and I’m the scales of justice.

Coincidence?

Get down on your knees

and cross yourself all you want:

all systems are closed systems, dead man.

I keep my saltshaker holstered in my garter belt,

ready to spill.

6.

I recite the fairy tale

in which only I can save you: it’s our story,

so there’s a swamp instead of a forest,

and no trail but a river agog with water moccasins

winding through the cypress knees.

Your faithful Gerta, true sister

in my red pinafore,

I’ve tracked you doggedly for miles,

appearing at the critical moment,

when you take the Turkish Delight into your mouth.

I’ve arrived just in time!

It’s impossible to miss me, eager as a stain

behind the Swamp Queen’s white shoulder,

your tattered avenger, your loyal roach, who’s wanted only

you in every suppurating hut, who’s belly-crawled

through the shit-filled bogs to find you,

to whom you gave your vow, my will undone, family

asunder, my home disappeared by the charm of

your girlish tears…

and that’s it. Nothing comes next.

That’s the moment you decide, dead man.

You look into my face and gulp her

candy down. You shoot it like a bad oyster.

No matter

how I tell it, this world ends when

you swallow.

7.

I was never your Intended,

never meant to be the official widow

like that plain, chinless girl I refused to recognize

or comprehend.

But the plain ones are patient, aren’t they?

I’ll admit, she’s earned her orchestra seats

at this burial the old-fashioned way.

She’s up front, next to your mama,

that Chanel commando baked medium-well

in her spray-on tan. A rare example

of the real Southern lady, how many nights

did it cost her, patrolling

the family compound for Jezebels like me?

Your women, dead man. From here

they look like two snap peas squatting

in the same pod.

And they did their job, didn’t they?

They made it easy for you?

But later, once the ladies go,

I’ll climb down to you again.

I’ll come to you in that dirty box

where we’ve already slept for years,

keeping our silent house

under their avalanche of flowers.

8.

EYE AM THE PROMISED VISITATION

PRIESTESS OF BLACK POPLARS

MY TREES R HUNG W/ BRAZEN BELLS

EYE HAVE AUGURED THE PREGNANT SOW’S INTESTINES

RORSCHACHED                    THE PICKLED WORM

GLUED TO THE BOTTOM OF YR SHOT GLASS

EYE BRING U NEWS OF                  THE UNIVERSE

AND THE NEWS                 AINT GOOD               DEAD MAN

B-HOLD!

THE ZOMBIE COCKTAIL HOUR            OF THE YEARS TO CUM

A PURGATORY            UNBENDING AS
A BADLANDS

HI-WAY

IN THE T-LEAVES               EYE SPY YR OUTLINE

YR CORPSE                  SNORING IN A VINE-

STRANGLED HOUSE

REBEL DRAG MOUNTS THE WALLS                    LIKE A CONFEDERATE

HARD ROCK CAFÉ                O! THE BLURRED DAYZ

COLLAPSING INTO DINNERS                  WHILE THE MAID BURNS

THE FAMILY BISCUITS                  & YR WOMAN BEATS

THE GRAVY STIFF                  U ARE LOST
GANYMEDE            GONE THAT BOY

WHO POURED HIMSELF                  WHOLE INTO THE SIBYL’S

LOVING CUP                NOW EYE CUM
TO BURY U

4 EYE AM
THE GHOST OF X-MAS PAST                      AND YR FUTURE

BEGINS          NOW                 DEAD MAN

9.

I do not desist in my delusion    do not permit the victor’s history

will not admit your fake religion    what jams your fingers

in the dry vagina of tin idylls    will not    will not    go quietly

your evil goody    who cries me in the marketplace    who knocks

my ear to the pillory with false instruments    my crimes never

crimes    for firstly    I be the pretty pony of all plague    slant-gashed

a coil beneath my scum of loveliness    No!    I was    I always am

your yellow roses in a beer bottle    your weakness and reward

one organ    conjoined in the blue tipi    of floating whistles

doubled thunder coming    in my wicked mouth    to eat you and your

grandma    too    Name her! Name her    who bites you harder    little girl!

Will not say    for seconds I am filth    dirty as the damaged apple    I bore

not yours    never yours    that unspeakable sunshine    Turn your head!

Turn your head    and I’ll kindly cut it off    Yes Yes    the best reason    I am

left only    the mother of a great sun    you would go blind and    blinder to look

upon its number and    for finally I am not    of your being    being Queen

of the flat kingdoms what crop your emptiness    I do not admit these    nor

I lied    nor I betrayed    nor I am starving    for you    nor can you make me

never    Will    I disappear

10.

I peel myself

and wherever these rubied

feathers drop, a poppy unfurls

in the graveyard, each head plush

as a stitched lip.

You’re right,

it gets me high, how thin I am, my

love, the substance uncontrolled.

But this molting becomes me,

your naturally-occurring razor,

your baby I.V. Now I am fashioned

the gun so truly fired

I blast like a magic cap through

my own skin. So go on,

throw the bones

to your hairy pack and let them gnaw.

I’m done with the meat. Soon, I’ll be

demolished. I’ll step away free.

at Length

Grown Up Rug Rat

Rug rat image

These are the latest song lyrics being worked on from Alison Little

Grown Up Rug Rat

Saxon curls flow from my head

Skin glows with innocent Beauty

I sleep safely near the parental bead

From birth, I have never been naughty

 

At twenty I have toddler style body actions

Arms stretched up ahead of me

Biting my lip, an infants reaction

Skipping with excitement, full of glee

 

My Daddy wears a Senior Officers Hat

My Body is perfect, I have never been Fat

Oh I never liked Post Man Pat

I am a grown up Rug Rat

 

At twenty I have toddler style body actions

Arms stretched up ahead of me

Biting my lip, an infants reaction

Skipping with excitement, full of glee

 

Trying my best to make friends at Uni

The other girls seem so grown up

They have boyfriends, they can dance sexy

Alcohol is their fuel, orange juice I sup

 

My Daddy is a High up Copper

After Uni I will work for the Police full time

They won’t expect me to try and stop a robber

Or do anything about Rape crime

 

I have been part-time Police for years

I monitor swear words, their usage in reality

The Force does everything to protect me from my fears

My tears wiped away when I cry they copied me

 

My Daddy wears a Senior Officers Hat

My Body is perfect, I have never been Fat

Oh I never liked Post Man Pat

I am a grown up Rug Rat

 

At twenty I have toddler style body actions

Arms stretched up ahead of me

Biting my lip, an infants reaction

Skipping with excitement, full of glee

 

Daddy and I agree, I will remain a virgin

I shall never get my own flat

At twenty I stand, adulthood never immerging

I am a grown up Rug Rat

Rags Boutique & Museum of Liverpool

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The unique mask making workshop showed the Museum of Liverpool how to reclaim last weekend. An onslaught of miniature sized artists, we normally call children, overtook the ground floor space as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival.

Alison Little is the North West based Artist behind the workshop, working across the creative spectrum. Often working around the medium of Textiles, the use of reclaimed materials is key within her practice. In early 2011 she ran a medium term (6 weeks) Arts Project: Rags Boutique. In this, she secured the funding to run the project which consisted of transforming a disused Retail Unit, the Old Paint Shop (Rapid) in Renshaw Street into an exhibition space and workshop venue. This revolved around the theme of fashion from reclaimed materials and was a great success. Liverpool based, working throughout the UK and on occasions internationally. Her initial degree was in 3D Design in which she specialized in plastics as a medium. This is evident in her current practice around the use of heat-sealed technologies for re-working discarded plastic bags. Her working methods vary from hand painting, improvisation of printed digital media to traditional craft practice, all to the highest of standards. She has run workshops for varies Arts Organizations including the Liverpool Independent Art School, Bluecoat Display Centre, Makefest Manchester, The Winter Gardens in Blackpool and most recently for the Liverpool Museum as part of the Irish Festival.

We saw snipping, clipping, sticking in addition to first class creativity in a prime cultural venue which allowed an escape from the gale battering the Liverpool docks.

A glorious day

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Photography credits: (c) E Smith c/o Liverpool Irish Festival, 2017

Liverpool Irish Festival

Museum of Liverpool

Jane

Jane 2 009

Jane, the sculptural form was exhibited for IN:VISIBLE women, full-day conference held at Liverpool Central Library on Friday the 27th October. Simply Jane was the accompanying fictional works read at the event, both were created by Alison Little in autumn 2017.

The following piece was commissioned by the Liverpool Irish Festival, from artist Alison Little, as a contribution to its work about In:Visible Women. It is a fictional piece of writing, created to help readers consider the effects of sexual violence towards women. Although it will echo some experiences, it is not ‘the definitive story’, nor is it specific to a real individual. We raise this not to diminish its value, but to assure readers that no survivor’s story is being misused. This piece is also supported by an artwork, which will be on show during the In:Visible Women day (Central Library, Fri 27 Oct 2017, £5).

Due to the sensitive content relayed in the following piece, relating to sexual violence and rape culture, we advise reading on with caution.

Simply Jane

Jane awakens. Her eyes bolt open, so much so it feels as though her upper lashes are laid flat against her eyebrows. The eyes almost detach from their position as the globes project up towards the ceiling, her pupil’s forefront in their position. Wide awake in panic again from the last eight weeks and four-days since it happened.

Although a chilly night, as they often are in County Cork, she was sweating intensely. Her groin was wet and the undersides of her flowering breasts were drowned in perspiration. She feels down between her legs, wishfully hoping that the damp may be ‘Me Auntie Bid’ finally arriving, six weeks and approximately three days late. She could only feel perspiration, no thicker substance, her optimism fades away as she faces the reality of being with child.

Still anxious, twisted in her bodily position, she begins to think about it again; what happened on that ill-fated night eight weeks and four days ago. She was at a sixteenth birthday party, not far away, just the next village. It was her best friend’s shindig, they had all brought what beer, cider and wine they could get hold their hands and one of the travellers had jigged in with a bottle of Poitín.

In her innocence Jane had got tipsy on the drink, then tipsier, finally slipping into inebriation. One of the older fellas had been dancing with her. She didn’t really know who he was, he must have been from a village in the opposite direction. As she became a little stilted in her motion, he placed his hands on her hips, then guided her towards the open front door. As the cold air had hit her she began to sober up. On his suggestion they went to sit in the barn.

As they sat on some crates he began to tell her she was a ‘Wee Doll’ and how the blue of her dressed matched her eyes. After brushing his wet lips quickly across hers he produced an unopened half bottle of Jameson’s. He opened the lid and took a quick swig before passing it over to Jane:

‘Come on have some’, enticing her into becoming drunk again.

The next thing Jane can remember is that he is on top of her, back flat against the concrete as he fumbles around her dress as he tries to remove her knickers. Jane tries to squirm and say no but he pushes himself into her, she can’t move as he protrudes into her virginal body.

After he had finished, he moved to one side and appeared to fall into a drunken slumber. Jane manages to stand slowly, edging out the barn, away from the light and noise from the party, down long country lanes, bushes each side, moon half visible, night owls coo-ing in the distance, to her village, her front door, her room, bed, her fear.

She lies in that bed tonight, thoughts rushing through her mind about her one sexual encounter. The one she had not wanted and the one which had left her bearing child. She tosses over in bed again, her mind engulfed with thoughts about how to end this ordeal.

Abortion pills? She could order online, but are they safe? What if she gets caught having them delivered? It was such as small village, the Post Man knew everybody and the Post Mistress was always chin-wagging and may even open the package.

Her parents finding out seemed bad enough, but she could even be locked up by the Garda. She could travel to England or the Netherlands; a cheap flight from Ryanair could get her to Amsterdam. Can she get enough money for the operation?

She had no-one to talk to. Her friend who had sprung the party had found her knickers and the barn and all the girls at school seemed to know that something had happened, she felt like they were calling her a ‘Floosie’.

She wanted a ‘babby’ one day. It was his baby she didn’t want. Every day she lived in fear of seeing him again, smelling him again. Even the remnants of her Dad’s malt from his glass brought on the urge to vomit now. The vision of him and the memory of her inability to move as he forced into her innocent body… She thinks of how this baby would remind her of him. It could grow up to look like him, possibly even act like him.

She turns in bed again. She had no choice. She couldn’t have this baby, but how and when could she terminate the pregnancy? An owl, outstretched, screeches in the distance. She envisages the black eternity of the sky under its expanse the owl looking down on her as a minuscule speck; alone amidst the wrongs of the World which make up human existence.

If you have been affected by the contents of this piece, please consider consulting one of the services below:

Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASA) – this is a Mersey based support service, rather than a national service. Please see below for more on wider support services rasamerseyside.org +44(0) 151 666 1392; helpline@rasamerseyside.org If using email, please be mindful of the security of your account and other people’s access to it.

NHS – Sexual assault and violence services are available in most UK cities. To help to locate a service near you, the NHS have a service locator, which you can access using this webpage (successfully accessed 18 Sept 2017): http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Sexualhealth/Pages/Sexualassault.aspx

Abortion Support Network – if you – or a friend – requires access to abortion support services from Ireland, Northern Island or the Isle of Mann, the Abortion Support Network may be able to assist – asn.org.uk To call from Northern Ireland +44(0)7897 611 593; from Ireland +44(0)15267370 (calls only, no texts) and/or from the Isle of Man +44(0)7897 611593 or email info@asn.org.uk If using email, please be mindful of the security of your account and other people’s access to it.

Victim Support can offer assistance with how to handle reporting a crime as well as helping you through the legal procedures of pursuing a charge. For more details of how to use these particular services, use this link https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/rape-sexual-assault-and-sexual-harassment (successfully accessed 18 Sept 2017).

If you are supporting someone you know to have survived a violent, sexual encounter, there are some interesting and useful points in this online article, from The Everyday Feminist (successfully accessed 18 Sept 2017): https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/01/how-to-help-sexually-assaulted-friend/

This is not an exhaustive list of services available or resources you can access, but we hope it may serve as a start point, where needed, for anyone experiencing, supporting or hoping to assist survivors with their ongoing needs, health and wellbeing.

Liverpool Irish Festival

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Eyes Glazed Over

Eyes Glazed Over copy

Eyes Glazed Over is a fictional works, the events and characters are not based on real life.

Eyes Glazed Over

Beginning with an argument, just a brother, sister teenage disagreement. My brother Callum wanted to know where I had written down a phone number for a new customer for his window cleaning round, I told him I had put a square around it in the notepad. I not being able to find the phone number he became enraged, I shouted back as it wasn’t my fault, I had written down the details. The next thing I knew I was behind the kitchen door, with him on the other side. He slammed the door towards me and my hands went through the glass, as if suspended in time I looked at them on the other side of the window. The glass shattered into a thousand pieces, splintering across the kitchen and into the garden. More than an accident but it hadn’t been intentional either, but it was what was to happen next which was the most concerning. As I lye on the ground, I look towards my hands and wrists, lacerations torn across lower my arms, molecules of blood appearing like droplets dispensed from a pipette, multiplying a thousand times to fill the troths of the tears then pouring out over my arms and onto the glass fragments that covered the floor. I looked towards Callum and he towards me, picked up his ladder and his bucket and went on his way. A glazed of stare of nothingness, no emotion, no feeling, no reaction. That was the day I first knew Callum was really sick.

So what had Callum been like as a teenager? Switch back in time to one year earlier. He was the kind of big brother it was fun to have, someone to admire, friends we could share, bands we both liked, clubs we went to together and TV programs were we laughed simultaneously. He was one of the boys off the estate getting into the occasional fight, usually well deserved. A line of lovely girlfriends, Adela then Jenny, gorgeous girls and a pleasure to be around, delightful in more ways than I could name.

The best memory I have was when we had all gone to the fair at Wooburn Green, myself, Callum, Jenny, her sister Karen and quite a few others. There hadn’t been a fair on the Green for several years, in the late eighties it had been the scene of the fatal accident where a carriage on the Egg ride had become loose and broke away killing the occupants. At the fair, we asked the Egg Ride Operator what had happened? If he had left a gate open or not checked the mechanics before the ride was started. He explained that he had taken over the ride after the accident and that the man who had the ride originally had gone into hiding. The chain on the carriage had been shut, but even if it hadn’t been it wouldn’t have made much difference, the motion pressure of the ride would have kept the passengers in place. He showed us the mechanisms and he the only thing to check was if a coat or bag or perhaps a shoe had fallen into cogs and none had done. The fault had been put down to the fabrication and the Police were not prosecuting them for the fatalities they were actually looking to bring Man Slaughter charges against the Manufacturers.

His problem was that he couldn’t get anyone to go on the ride today, the Egg carriages just kept going round and round, the crowds from the Village Green Beer Gardens watching the empty motion with morbid fascination. In recognising that he was telling the truth we all went away to talk about what to do next. Callum then tried to rally all the lads around him saying they should all go on the ride and that nothing would happen. Some of them were in two minds, Chalky, one of his closest mates, his once joker friend was the most reluctant saying that they would be ‘Crazy’ to go on the ride. I went to Craig and I told him to leave it and I would sort things out. From there I went over to Karen, Jenny’ older sister to see if she would go on it with myself, but could she not spin the carriage upside down.

Karen came on the ride with myself and I enjoyed the experience without spinning upside down, rather a nice view of the Green, the Village and across onto the fields. After that Callum had no bother getting the others to come on with him, every single one of them going without question. Heads held slightly down, but with determination, even Chalky had lost his reluctance. Then all the adults that were drinking in the nearby beer gardens started to come over and asking questions about what had happened. He covered what had happened with the carriage and the Fair Ground Owners were, in fact, taking the manufactures to court themselves to try and reclaim the cost of the ride but it was likely to take years. They hadn’t wanted to because of the casualties but the ride had cost in excess of ten grand so it was too much money simply to write off. So the curse of the Egg ride was broken and much fun was had at the fair again.

So what had happened to Callum one year on, where had the fun-loving courageous, but fundamentally good brother gone? Jenny, his girlfriend had gone although she still cared about what happened to him she couldn’t be with him any longer. There had been narcotics usage but nothing too serious, just a few party drugs: weed and amphetamines. But Craig had changed mentally, on that day as I lye on the floor, the droplets of blood multiplying watching him walk away eyes glazed over, there was something severely wrong.

From the kitchen floor, I managed to get up and staggered through the house and out of the front door. From here one of my neighbours found me and got me in his car to take me to the hospital. I was sent through to see another nurse not so involved in the caring side of her profession. As she bandaged my hands she began to ask questions about why I had not gone to the nearer Accident and Emergency department at another hospital. She then began a long lecture on how it wasn’t fair for the staff and resources at Wycombe General Hospital to be stretched to the degree they were being.

On coming out of the cubical my Mum was there, on seeing the blood both my parents had rushed to the Hospital, on recognising that I was basically okay my Dad had gone straight to the Police Station. Mum then waited with me as I had to be X Rayed for glass and my cuts glued and stitched back together. When we were ready to leave she went to book a Taxi, a Police Officer came to interview me about what had happened. I started to explain what had happened where he had pushed to the door and the glass had smashed through my hands. The Officer then started to scream at me telling me I had said that he had pushed me through the window and I was now saying he pushed the door against me. Trying to clarify what had been said was no good, I then tried to cover what had happened with Callum when he had walked off with his eyes glazed over. He wouldn’t listen to a word then explained that he wasn’t ‘Nicking’ him for anything. In response to that, I informed him that I didn’t want him to ‘Nick’ him as he was ‘My brother’.

So what became of Callum? Well, everything had to get worse before it was to get better. He had developed an illness we commonly know as schizophrenia. This involved visions of things which were not real, disillusionment and paranoia. A short spell in a young offenders institution turns of rough sleeping this was eventually followed by a period in a mental health unit when he was able to start recovery and the correct medication. The nightmare of earlier years was over and the life of adapting to living with a mental illness was to begin. Callum has a nice life now, never married but he has a home and he works hard, visiting Art Galleries and shopping in Sainsbury’s on his weekends off work. Truth be told though, although he is a nice man with many good attributes, he is not the same man he would have grown into as a boy. Something in him was lost to Schizophrenia, a part of his mind was destroyed by the illness, a part which can never return.

Alison Little

Starlet

Starlet image copy

Starlet is a fictional work from Alison Little, none of the charters or events are based on real life.

Starlet

She brushes her hair after her mid-morning bath, her routine so much more leisurely than her childhood days of rushing between casting and filming. She had become a star at the age of three, the Americans and due to the nature of Hollywood, the rest of the World took her into their hearts. A little lady who took the people away from the misery of the Depression in the thirties for a few hours in front of the big screen. The girl that had had everything any child could dream of: leading roles in the latest blockbusters, starring with headline grabbing names. Routines of hair and make-up, no-one ever questioning the sexualisation of the pre-teen, the beautifying process to ensure she was truly gorgeous on the big screen. Her own range of commercial products and, every girl’s dream, her own doll moulded to her features and dressed in her clothes; Black and sassy, hair dark and glossy with bright red lips. Her childhood years were spent marking the milestones of her mothers next high profile marriage. As a Hollywood star herself her Mother had ensured that she pushed her daughter in the same direction after all, fame and fortune was all every girl needed, all anyone should ever desire. She secured the best parts for her daughter and demanded she made the most of them. There was not too young an age to learn that appearance, to be envied by women and to be desired by Men was life’s primal goal.

She really did have it all, but at the age of twenty-two, she decided to give it all up, apart from a few cameo roles acting, singing and dancing were no more. Her Mother dictating her life’s direction was no longer, she made her own decisions.

A soft bristled brush, she quickly neatens her hair, a shorter more practical cut now, still naturally dark but sleeker towards her jaw. Thinking back to her childhood she remembers how she had used to give her hair one hundred strokes to ensure it stays shiny as it lies down her back, again at her Mothers insistence. An exercise in vanity while the other girls played with the dolls modelled on herself. Walking into her wardrobe to select her clothing, opting for a neatly waisted skirt and fitted top. She will look smart and decisive in this attire. She looks herself up and down in the dressing table mirror. Very competent as a well dressed she would ensure she appeared to be a happily married mother of two children she thinks to herself. Her mind turns to her recent disappointment, her husbands latest affair had come out in the gutter trash of the daily press. She had not realised that he had been having an affair, not a new one anyway, there had been so many she had lost track after their second child was born. This time it was more of an embarrassment, he a celebrity artist they had met early on in his career, he had returned from fighting in Europe in the War. He had built up fame ass an abstract painter, his celebrity status excelling when they had begun dating. So as she stepped out the lime light he had stepped in, as he became more famous the headlines began to refer to him by his name, not simply husband of Starlet, Hollywood’s legendary child star. This time it was more of a humiliation, even bigger headline news, the women he had been having the affair with was his life model. Although abstract painters didn’t use life models the press had jumped on the notion as a great story. He had been amidst an alcohol fuel period for several months. She had been avoiding him and ensured the children didn’t see him during these bourbon flavoured patches. He would spend much of his time at his studio, his paintings very dark during these periods. Many of his evenings were spent at endless parties accompanied by various women, other than herself. It was at one of these parties he had been photographed in an embrace with the so called life model come high-class hooker she thought to herself. It had knocked her terribly, she would put a brave face on things for the children and wait until he begged her to take him back. She didn’t know what she would do, say yes or no, it was still too fresh a wound to determine if it could be healed.

Then she looks in the mirror again, the vision comes directly from the heart: she remembers herself as a young girl and she sees a girl of stone. Transfixed and still in motion, no breath, no heartbeat, fixed solid as a rock like form. Her beauty is her shell, her outward appearance, her internal organs are dead to life and emotions. To the outside world she sings, dances, acts and socialises, on the inside, she is frozen still. The dark haired Starlet had become a mature mother who no longer sang and danced, but she was still the same, she must project an image of confidence and success to the World, she may be facing a marriage breakdown but she would continue to allude confidence.

Slowly she moves towards the window, she takes a cigarette from her pack of twenty and she lights it with the marble weighted table lighter. She feels the weight of the marble in her hand, she looks through the expanse of the window of their lakeside Mansion. She thinks about tearing her arm backwards, aiming forwards then projecting the shot put through the outstretched glass pain. A vision of a missile exploding, shrapnel in pursuit of every direction as it projects into the horizon of the lakes edges.

Calming herself, she inhales slowly enjoying the nicotine rush, they were only just beginning to talk about the health risks of smoking now, she had no intention of giving up, her lifelong habit would remain her many vices. She gazes out of the window, her eyes scan the lake: the mountains standing tall in the distance, the expanse of the lake stretching out for miles into the horizon. The pine trees surround the lake looking tall and healthy, strong and worldly, the American way. On the left shore she can see the small cluster of cherry tree’s, she thinks back to the cocktail that had been created in her name. The mixture of ginger ale vodka and tequila topped off with the finest cherries, a highly toxic variety which seemed appropriate for the US dark haired icon.

She looks towards the glass she had been drinking from until late last night, the gin bottle with still quite a bit in it was free to consume. The ice had melted and the lemon had dried up, the tonic was warm but still neatly assembled on the tray which was brought up to her last night. She considered calling down to Ebinger the Mexican housekeeper who came in on weekdays. It was eleven in the morning and she didn’t want her to know she going to start drinking so early in the day. He had sent her over the edge, into the abyss to alcohol added depression, the worrying over everything and seeing no positivity in the future. She made do with warm tonic to accompany the gin then fuelled her mind with another cigarette.

The water laps the rocks which align the edges of the tides path, her eyes focus on the jetty. The small lock up at the end proudly parading the star spangled banner at full mast. An array of brightly coloured kayaks lines one side of the landing,

She thinks back to a movie she had made not long after the second world war. She was all of sixteen and playing a naval Seels sweet heart, she stays loyal to him as he sails seas and coverts with women on the South Pacific. She had not been keen as they had wanted her virtually nude in many of the sex scenes, but her Mother, as usual, had decided it was what was in her best interests. She thinks back to the days of making the movie, a chance to escape her domestic nightmares, her mothers latest husband, she was now on number five had decided he preferred the junior dark haired Starlet to the mature beauty of her mother. He had started walking in when he knew she would be changing when she started blocking the door way with furniture he began ensuring he walked out of the bathroom naked when he knew she was the only one in the house. She made sure she was never alone in the house with him, staying late and making new arrangements to avoid his company. One of the older actors on the set had realised that something was wrong, he had spoken to the director, an old friend of her mothers he had come to the same conclusion. He tried to raise the matter with her mother but she would not believe a word of it, rejecting the logic put forward. Starlet continued to suffer enduring him at meals and more frequently over the festive season. As she looked for escape her domestic nightmare her drinking had begun, eventually leading to the meeting of her current husband.

Looking towards the other moorings her eyes focus on a small motor boat, the stern facing towards the expanse horizon. To take the boat and plough at full speed towards civilisation furthest outpost, how easy it would be to end everything, for the weight of her boulder shaped organs to drag her to the bottom of the lake. Her slow and solid lungs to fill with the water from the basin of nature’s whirlpool. The starter motor of the heart pumps sludge slowly through her internal organs to fail to kick in. The once long dark hair intertwined with the weeds at the bottom of the cycle of life, she would be no more……….

A Way Through Everton Brow

Skull Everton Brow colour

A way through Everton Brow is a fictional works from Alison Little, none of the events of characters are based on real life.

Approaching the entrance to Everton Park I encounter a group congregated around the steps area. In having walked up from the town, then I decided to take a short cut through Everton Park, a pleasant walk through the eighties formed geometric botanical scape of the former slum-like dwellings. The steps ahead of me, encased by artificially positioned rock structures arching in my vision. Topped with beacons of the decade, semi-sphere finished, imitation Victorian meeting eighties manufacturing of plastic vacuum forming, lolly pop lighting. Many of the semi-spheres have been broken, the closest having fallen down from the teenage revelry of what looked like the previous evening. Up the hill to the left, there is the famed Everton tower, the moss lined former sweet shop which became an iconic symbol of the multi-million pound turnover of today’s Premier League. Towards the top of the hill, the soil of the parkland has been churned up, its annual transformation into a wild flower meadow taking place. A touch of England’s green and pleasant land of the rural communities bought into the inner city green space of North Liverpool. The distant tree’s masks the vision of the back-to-back housing which crowds the brow.

Coming up from the Netherton Road, a well-known prostitution zone, to my rear is one of the cities hostels for the homeless. The group look to be from this establishment, they are slouching on the steps and one of them is swagging cider from a toxically coloured bright blue plastic bottle, spilling much of it onto the white encrusted black T Shirt he has crawled into earlier in the day.

A motley, tooth lacking, hair overgrown crew, assembled in layers of clothing which looked to pad out their malnourished forms. As my eyes twitch slightly, the late afternoon sun distorts my vision. Two globes of the street lighting become eye sockets and the encircling steps become reflected into a mouth-like arch, smiling as the brick become teeth. I see the vision of a human skull, decaying, but deliriously enthused by its demise.

I consider walking around the long way, but on my approach one of the men slides to one side to allow my passageway through the group. There is a smell of fried chips from earlier in the day, proceeds of an afternoon spent begging.

As I walk closer I notice one girl amongst the group. An army like jacket combined with sprawling matt-like lengthy black hair trailing onto the ground, sweeping the debris from a day of spoils. A bag to her side looks to be her worldly possessions, easily lost and often replaced. A year, possibly two of grown out dark, dirty-blond ended hair from a cheap home dye treatment. She sits with her hood drowning over her face, the oversized jacket ruffled into her body stretching down over the well-frayed denim of the jeans. Legs entangled awkwardly, the knee joints almost too large for her frame, her upper limbs animated motion as she speaks. I look towards her face, the skin is pale, translucent and muddy in texture, common in the appearance of a heroin addict. As I pass through the group, her arms in moving, I hear her say:

‘If you could just lend us twenty quid’

She pleads, then in begging tones, she repeats her request again. As I walk forward and up towards the top of the brow I ponder over what her life must be like, reduced to the bleak state presented to myself.

In twitching my eyes again I am confronted with a new vision. I am in Everton Park when it first opened, the grasslands newly grown, the dusty smell from the demolition work still present. The trees are young, growing being guided, nurtured into what will become strong features of this green space. The lighting is new, the semi-sphere’ all intact and there is an air of excitement and optimism for this newly formed natural breathing space allowing an escape from the urban sprawl.

The swing park is alive with children’s games, delighted by their new found play-scape. Back and throw on the swings, mothers pushing younger children, grandmas and granddads holding coats and bags. Chase games over climbing structures, up and down, rhetoric, over and under. Spinning at full speed at the roundabout encircles while the occupants cling on as it reached optimum speeds. Concrete still fresh, neatly finished off with a waist height fence in line with the latest trends.

Outside of the fenced area, we have several dog walkers, one Staff is off its lead, squatting down. The owner blasé, no need to pick up, poop bags and scoops a thing of the future. Just left to rot as nature intended, a child standing in it simply wiping their shoe on the verge, no fuss, commonplace.

A mother is pushing a young girl in a buggy. The mother sports a purple dot dye blouse, no collar, large baggy sleeves cuffed inwards. A knee length skirt gathers volume in tiers, the purple mix of dyes finished off with a tie cord fitting. Her large curls flow in the wind as she pushes the buggy, a navy and grey MacClaren stroller, four wheels and the hood up to protect from the sun. The bottom compartment packed full of what they might need for the day, wet wipes and a well planned packed picnic lunch in addition to a few carefully selected outdoor toys.

Content in her push chair the daughter is happy for her mother to guide her, taking care not to hit any larger stones. Hair neatly combed into bunches, a glossy full fringe finished off with plastic animal clips. Her top is light green, wasted but with a short skirt built in. Micky and Mini mouse are in discussion on the front of the top. The girl pulls up her blanket, it scrunches around her and her sun hat seems to fall forward, she suddenly seems morphed by the buggy, then I hear her say:

‘Mum, can I have £2?’

I see before me the girl in the camouflage jacket thirty years ago. I see her when she was innocent and pure, unspoilt by the evils of life.

Reflecting on her upbringing, loving and good, decent and playful. I wonder again what had happened to her, where had it all gone wrong?

Walking towards the exit near the brow the strange eye twitching sensation happens again. I am now in a terraced street, the road ascending steeply ahead. To my right, the houses back onto the pavement, gated containing small yard area’s and possibly even outside toilets. To my left, there is a row of terraces front on with steps leading up the main doors. Only a few cars, one is parked up not far ahead, it is racing green in colour with a long stretched bonnet and a soft top, as it glistens in the sun I identify it as a Ford Thunderbird. I contemplate what its owner was doing parking a classic car of such high value in these dwellings and how it was in such good condition?

As I ascend further up the hill I pass two women chatting, both are wearing dark coats and head scarf’s, one has a loaf of bread under her arm, brown bagged and looking to be purchased from a traditional baker. I gaze over the new location and further up the street I see a woman sitting on her front step, she has a can of cider in one hand, to the far side of her, there is a baby in a well used Moses basket. As the baby cries out she shakes the basket and spits out ‘Shush’. Hardly more than a teenager herself she devours the can of cider. I hear a radio playing:

New release…..Sargent Pepper…….the Beetles.

Now I know where I am, it’s 1967, the Summer of Love, I am in Everton Park before all the demolition work and the housing schemes made way for the park. I look towards the baby, she was dirty from her mother’s lack of care, she tries to wipe her face clean with her hands having given up on crying due to lack of response. A purple dotted cardigan has been clambered into her, in need of a wash but still nice in appearance, it looks to have been a gift. A man staggers towards the group, leering as he sways, the Mother appeared to know him:

‘Lend me a few bob will ya?’ she slurs, ‘I need to get stuff in for the baby!’

Her honourable intentions being clearly unconvincing, her feet littered with crushed cans of cider from earlier in the day. I realise who the group are, the baby is the mother who was pushing the pram earlier and her mother would be the original girl’s grandmother.

My mind questions the trilogy, an alcoholic mother, a child who grows up to be respectable, tried to raise her own daughter well, her child growing up to be a heroin addict. A gene pool skipping a generation laid dormant waiting to strike again. Environment and upbringing cast aside, genetics have re-surfaced in the form of a truly destructive lifestyle.

A brow well travelled.

Blackpool puts the Flags Out

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Last Saturday the many holidaymakers and locals of Blackpool showed up they knew how to put the flags out.

Liverpool artist Alison Little took her innovative art workshop Rags Boutique to Retrospective at Backpool’ Winter Gardens. Aunty Social, the Blackpool based Community Interest Company presented Retrospective, the Parasol Parade held at the historic Theatre and entertainment venue. There were an array of acts: flag making to film screenings, puppetry to plate spinning, penny farthings to the ultimate parade. A glorious day was much fun was had by the families which ventured into the spirit of the seaside holiday venue.

Often working around the medium of Textiles, the use of reclaimed materials is key within Alison practice. As a creative professional she has worked on a variety of arts projects including numerous public art commissions: Go Superlambanana’s, Go Penguin and the Horse Parade in Cheltenham. In early 2011 she ran a medium term (6 weeks) Arts Project: Rags Boutique. In this, she secured the funding to run the project which consisted of transforming a disused Retail Unit, the Old Paint Shop (Rapid) in Renshaw Street into an exhibition space and workshop venue. This revolved around the theme of fashion from reclaimed materials and was a great success. Liverpool based, working throughout the UK and on occasions internationally. Her initial degree was in 3D Design in which she specialized in plastics as a medium. This is evident in her current practice around the use of heat-sealed technologies for re-working discarded plastic bags. Her working methods vary from hand painting, improvisation of printed digital media to traditional craft practice, all to the highest of standards. She has run workshops for varies Arts Organizations including the Liverpool Independent Art School, Bluecoat Display Centre and Makefest Manchester.

Retrospect was her first visit to Blackpool as part of her creative practice:

It was an amazing day where a vast collection of flags were made to brighten up the beaches of the North West coast.

Explained Alison. The day saw little creatives come in their masses. Plastic was layered, vinyl was cut, heat applied and flags were assembled to posts. There were many smiles, sequential new experiences combined with some inevitable tears. Every child had a newly created flag to add to their latest sand castle formation.

A Joy, a pleasure and a day of family fun on the Fylde shoreline.

Aunty Social

Winter Gardens

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