I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

Missed: Mrs America?

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Wednesday night saw the TV series Mrs America hit our screen in the UK. The series dramatises, more than documents the path of second-wave feminism in the United States.

The initial episode centres around Phyllis Schlafly, played by the Hollywood great: Cate Blanchette. Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist who lead the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Many hold Schlafly accountable for the bill never being passed and eventually abandoned in the early eighties.

Schlafly, the women who Betty Friedan, mother of seventies women’s movement, insisted should be burned at the stake. The Republican who led a league of housewives, home-makers and churchgoers against the progressive feminists of the day.

Growing up during the great depression, Schlafly had a modest upbringing, her father of long term unemployment. Motherly support of her education steered her towards a scholarship place at the now named Maryland University. In tangent to her studies she worked as a model, but she also ‘Test fired machine guns’ for the largest munitions factory in the US, World War Two raging across the Globe. Eventually studying post-grad at Harvard, then becoming a researcher for the Republican Party.

Marrying a wealthy lawyer, fifteen years her senior, resulting in six children. Author of many publications the most notable: ‘A choice, not an ego,’ selling over 3.5 million copies, highlighting matters in opposition to National defence strategies.

After another unsuccessful run for Congress in the early seventies, she turned her attention to women’s politics and battled successfully against the ERA. The main policies were in favour of women remaining exempt from the Draft, Vietnam was at war and American troops were being sent East. Other motions looked to protect social security benefits for dependent wives. Although her eldest son was openly gay she stood by conservative policies against single-sex marriage and anti-immigration.

The dramatisation brings the seventies to our post lock-down TV screens. Brown patterned floral prints, chunky jewelry, twin sets and hand knitting. Hairnets and curlers creating the bouffant of the day. Although an anti-feminist, Cate Blanchette portrays a strong, capable woman, more than a little opposed to being assigned the role of note-taking. We see a true beauty parading the national stars and stripes in the form of a bikini.

In opposition, we encounter bad sex aesthetics not spoken about during the decade. When exhausted she submits to undesired intercourse with her demanding husband. Lying back motionless as he ploughs internally with no regard for her pleasure, indulging in merely his gratification.

What next for the series?

Although slaughtered by Gloria Steinem in person, her character was introduced and takes the limelight in the next episode.

A drama to be indulged, not a doco to be scrutinized!

Watch on BBC iPlayer

The Loss

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‘Silhouette; burnt orange’ by Charlotte Hodes

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

The Loss is a short fiction works written by Alison Little. It was produced in responce to ‘Silhouette: burnt orange’ by Charlotte Hodes which was exhibited as part of The Errant Muse exhibition held at the VG&M in Liverpool.

The Loss

Sunlight brandishes down on the desolate beach location, she lies stretched out on her front, body twisted towards the horizon of the sea. Hand raised above her eyes, blocking the sunlight attempting to obscure her vision.

Eyes scanning the spectrum for him, she has lost sight into the expanse of the ocean. Only out of sight she assumes, hidden between waves lashing against the rocks of the coastline. Her rear is arched slightly, enhanced by the slender fit summer dress. Knees encased by the warmth of the dry sands. Earlier, her feet had kicked up joyfully towards her rear, playfulness re-connected in adulthood, now tensed. Below her, the sands burn a deeper orange.

A hand crochet blanket, hours of pain, distraction-seeking hooked yarn, covers the sands she rests on. It was the only thing for her to do, removing her mind from the loss. There was no point in making any more baby clothes, she didn’t know what to do with the collection she had already made, laid out in the draw she had lined. They would decide in unison after the negotiated break.

Vision streaming further into the ocean, she could still not see him. They had waited four weeks since the miscarriage to get away, both needed to arrange time off work. Making the blanket had kept her mind occupied, kept the tears from flowing full force. They had come to Swanage in Dorset, easy to book a B+B at limited notice. The main town beach had been packed full of babies and children, grown into what their foetus would have once become. He had taken the initiative to suggest walking to a more remote beach around the coast. He was trying to be strong for her but he was grieving the loss in tandem.

Further, into the ocean, a longboat jammed full of tourists heads towards deeper waters. All the trips they would never take their unborn child on, the picnics they would never consummate, the family games they would never play. Into the abyss, the no-more, her hand fell onto her reduced stomach. A light tear joins her face, panic sets in, she couldn’t see him. What if she had lost him also, drawn out to the infinite seascape. As she is about to stand several petals drop down onto her smudged checks. Looking up, he is scattering wildflower petals over her, their eyes connect and they smile in unison. He joins her as they wrap into each other, minds and bodies link, they know everything will be okay again.

The Errant Muse

Charlotte Hodes has two further exhibitions later in the year:

Remember Me, Charlotte Hodes Papercuts & Ceramics Solo exhibition, National Centre for Craft & Design, 11 Jan – 22 March 2020

Most Admirably Improved by Art, Hestercombe, Somerset, 29 February – 28 June 2020

A Void

womb

A Void

In this, I have agreed to what was termed ‘A life modelling process’ for an artist seeking volunteers for a project he is working on. I stand before him in my dressing gown, nude underneath and wondering what he wants me to do, he tells me:

‘Don’t worry, I have done this lots of times before.’

From this, I am somewhat reassured, but still, air a little caution.

‘I just need you to lie down so I can paint you with latex.’

In this he shows me the latex, it’s white and when he paints a little of my arm it feels cold but pleasant on my form. I agree to the process and he helps me untie my dressing gown belt, although naked I feel comfortable in front of him, he has put me at ease.

I lie down under his direction and move into the position he needs me to be in. He starts painting around my neck area, slowly but surely working his way down. He is careful but professional as he covers my breasts, making sure he only touches my nipples with the horse hair bristles of the paint brush.

Working his way further down my body he comes to the groin area. I become nervous again, worrying about what he is about to do.

‘Relax, I have done this many times before.’

I let my muscles fall low, then with warm air, he blows gently inside myself. From this, like magic, I open right up like a great white shark about to launch an attack.

‘That’s right, good, you’re doing well.’

He directs, then he moves onto his back and slides his head and upper body inside my womb. From this, he begins to paint, carefully and professionally, coating the walls of my womb and ovaries in latex. When he has finished he edges out carefully and puts each hand delicately on the inside of my legs. Then without touching me with his lips he sucks air from the inside of myself. I return to my normal size, at ease with everything going on, amazed at what has been performed by this genius.

From this, he works down my legs in a similar motion. He then turns me over to work on my back and lower body. So relaxed with the brush motion I am almost asleep when he finishes:

‘We just need to wait for it to dry.’

He whispers, in this, he picks up an old fashioned guitar and begins to sing folk songs.

He wakes me up to tell me that it’s time to peel the latex off. I stand up for him and he begins stretching off the suited coating, carefully going over my breasts. After my ribs he stops and places a hand on each side of myself, then he kisses my forehead, gently and childlike in motion. As I smile he gets back to action, working the form off down to my lower body.

After a gentle shake, my womb falls out. Before me, I see its squashed in structure, perfect on the inner coating, but de-revelled on the outer. My ovaries flop out almost deformed and entwined, messy and forlorn. Ahead of me, I see the babies, I will never give birth to and the children I will never raise. The bedtime stories I will never read, the play parks I will never go to, the football matches I will never go to and the school plays I will never attend. In this he finishes the removal process, then he shakes out the body-like creation. He clips it onto a line, in this, it stands tall and strong, an independent being, strong, singular, but of great value.

Alison Little

A Void is a flash Fiction works from Alison Little. This piece was first performed in the Hornby Rooms, Central Library, Liverpool for International Women’s Day in 2018. The subsequent year it read for an event marking the same celebrations held during the 209 Women exhibition marking the centenary of women being able to vote in the UK (Although restricted to those over 30 and with property).

The illustration was also created by Alison Little using a bamboo dip stick pen and Indian ink. It feature a close up of a womb and creates an impression of scarring. She is looking to make a sculptural piece from latex later in 2020 to represent the works.

More about 209 Women exhibition, Open Eye Gallery

1950’s Girls Annuals: the Homemaker

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Seventy years on from when the girls annual of the 1950’s were being read in the  pink bedrooms of the post-second world war generation we look back at there content. Where they looking to inspire the girls who would grow up to lead second-wave feminism through the seventies, or were they looking to indoctrinate the next generation of Housewives?

Girls literature of the 1950’s painted a world of domestic bliss. The role of sewing, the adoration of flowers and the wearing of impractical clothing prevailed across the pages of mid-century girls annuals. Poems encourage the practice of cleaning, baking, being house-proud, having the most perfect hair and awaiting the kiss of a man. The role of the party planner is put forward, a caregiver role projected. However, not to be forgotten in Britain, the concept of making tea in a crisis is ever-present.

Pressures on young girls to be lady-like

The continual pressures on young girls to be lady-like. Any matters of rebellion from this notion are lame and akin to stories of naughty schoolgirls. Images of impractical sports clothing, skirts worn for tennis and golf. Dancing is in full costume and skiing is shown to be gentle and relaxing. With sports like rowing, women simple sit back as men take the oars. Similar scenes are shown with motor vehicles, males are strong and take the wheel, steering away from danger and girls watch on. Generally, the women are beautiful, appear to be sunning themselves as the men do all the work. They are gorgeous, pale-skinned, flushed cheeks with bouncy blond hair adorning their slim bodies. Looks of women pleading with men as they carry all the heavy items. Delicate women prevail as they receive kisses on the hand from admiring men. Many of the tales inscribed simply escalate to men saving the day as the women look on in awe.

Boys literature of the period was in starch contrast to that of girls. They masqueraded daring adventures, escapades and the dangers of warfare so prevalent on the minds of those growing up in the years which were the aftermath of World War Two. Presenting depictions of action sports, space exploration and tackling monsters. Many of the tales bore similarities to the ever-popular Westerns of the time, cowboys, Indians and hunting. Cops and Robbers was an ever-present theme. We were also introduced to the world of large, expensive motorcars, Bentley’s of the era. Top athletes, racing and highly competitive sports dominated the pages of the 1950’s annuals. Men were shown to be strong and capable, getting into fights and adventures took place across the globe. Incidentally, many of the representations of black people were tribal in origin. Images of women seem simply to depict a gorgeous girl who sits there as the man wins her with his actions. Cigars are also present, as a male indulgence, not something to be discouraged. Work and logic puzzles were headlined around ‘Shoot’ and ‘Hit’, evoking a strong sense of competition. Practical skills were encouraged through narrative’ around tools and making exercises were played out.

Contemporary girls literature has modified immensely from the 1950’s. Positive, empowering statements ‘I can’ and ‘You can do anything’ embrace our pages. Girls are now dressed as action figures and take on space exploration. Females from ethnic minorities are now included and girls vary greatly in their appearance. We are presented with different faith groups and the idea of unconventional family groups are put forward. Those with disabilities are shown and take on powerful roles.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them.

Inspirational positions and occupations are presented as life choices. Becoming a ‘Leader’ is suggested, women are no longer here simply to do as men instruct them. Positive real-life role models are presented through photography and text. Girls are shown to be practical, using tools and building projects. The former male domains of math’s and science are promoted, the aesthetics of wearing goggles for experiments put in a positive light. Environmentalism is a new agenda, current affairs and politics are embarrassed. Tea parties are now of the fair trade variety and healthy pursuits of foraging for food are encouraged, taking from the male hunter, gatherer role. Making projects develop skills in science, numeracy levels and encouraging activism.

The nostalgia of the fifties is enjoyable to re-collect, the role of the mother and the home-maker not to be discredited, contemporary girls literature id clearly more inspirational. Modern-day girls Annuals promote positive female aspirations, leadership and activism, not being lady-like and waiting for a man to save the day. Female literal sources which will create a more positive power balance for women of the future.

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Sinister Smiles

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Sinister Smiles

Folded over
Strapped down
Sectioned off
Cajoled, centrally

Dropped down from a disheveled Heaven
Tossed out of Godliness
Rejected from comfort provision for the afterlife
No longer good enough, surplus to requirements

Perhaps pushed out of a boot
Uphill reversing, then shoveled out the back way
Redundant of domestic interior requirements
Rendering green space urban wasteland

Alternatively, a body encasement
A wrap-around, makeshift coffin
A heroin-induced fatality
Disposed of under the extremities of degradation

But from the sinister tatters
We see a smiling face
From the angled geometrics
A striking grin works through
Turning the corners of our mouths
We smile back at the sinister grins face!

 

 

Sinister Smiles is a flash fiction works in response to the mattress shown in the image above. The image was originally posted on social media and the comment made helped to generate the literal works. Originally located in Everton Park, Liverpool, the mattress is no longer present and appears to have been disposed of by the authorities.

Bongo Bongo Bangs…

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James Bongo bangs on…..about many matters. The conscious Poet, humanitarian and ascending master performed at last weeks Fringe Festival Open Mic Night at Frederiks. He talks to us about poetry, life and beliefs.

In choosing from a collection of over fifty poems to perform at the event last week his work reflects his varied beliefs. He doesn’t abide by any religious controlling mechanism or any other ‘isms’, feeling that they are detrimental to society. However, he does believe in God, the Universe and the energy of love. His interests lie with social unrest and true history, not the nonsense we have been force fed.

Born in Liverpool and raised in the city centre, then Croxteth the youngest of eleven of an extensive very loving Catholic family. His parents and siblings liked a drink , this seemed normal to him, after his Mum and Dad passed away he drank to mask the pain. Things escalated:

‘I hit the wall with the booze.’

He knew he had to stop, he was harming himself, his family and his partner. They helped him through alcoholism so he could face life again. In cohort they fun an exciting family business, ‘Practical Magic Vintage’ based in Newington. James has been free from alcohol addiction for six years.

Attending college in old Swan he decided against Uni in favour of self-education. He looked at many sources of literature including Sumerian Texts and the Gospel according to Thomas. Studying ancient symbolism, he re-addressed the Bible, the Quran and other religious readings. In terms of writing, he began to produce works relating to the control of the masses through religion and schooling. Reflecting his view; ‘We are born free, we enslave ourselves in the mind prison, we need to free the mind and free the soul.’ His major works include ‘The failed indoctrination of a broke entrepreneur gospel, according to Jimmy Bongo’, this will be published in the autumn. In addition to the poetic works, he includes writings about his life and growing up in Liverpool under ‘Thatchers Iron Fist’ and those he has seen dye from drug and alcohol abuse.

Organizing several nights in Liverpool he is a leading figure on the spoken work front. ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a platform for performers: poets and musicians, to do their own thing, building a community of people to voice their beliefs. Second to this he holds fundraisers to help a domestic abuse charity, ‘Out of the Corner’. A friend of his, Dr Karen Johnson, set up the charity and is a survivor of domestic abuse herself. The night is a mix of poetry and music and a cause James is passionate to support. He is helped with both nights by his friends. His other life long friend peter, an expert with filming and technical matters we all strive to master.

The next Freedom of Speech night will be held this Sunday (05.05.19) at Dr Feelgoods, 57a Bold Street, Liverpool. There will be performances from many including, Electric Shakedown, Just Joe and not forgetting 1 cool Poet.

I shit my Pants

Jesus was a Chonger

Grab a Granny Night

Maggies Children

More about Out of the Corner

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Stalking>Victim Blaming>Police

Stalker

Earlier this week the Police and their treatment of stalking cases hit the national news. This extract is from the fictional novel Casual Nexus in which we see the accumulation the pressures of the main character Sal being constantly stalked.

 

The art school was open to the public for the two weeks of the degree show. The busiest evening had been the opening last Friday, after that there was only the odd person wandering around. Many were potential students looking at courses or former students looking at what was going on in the tower of creativity by the central ring road. Quite a few people who had known Sal from the bars where she had worked had been there for the opening night and a few of her neighbours had popped in to look around on their way back from the town over the last few days. As the second coat of the prescribed ‘Pink’ dries, she cleans the spray gun and ensures the nozzle runs clear, she decides to go and ensure her exhibition space is tidy.

In walking into the studio, come, make-shift exhibition venue she encounters an individual she is becoming weary of beyond reason. Jumping out at her, the figure, as always dressed in the anonymity of greying black, lurching forward. Head held forth, arching off the helm of his inclined shoulders. Vision led, his upper body runs from Sal’ face, down through her shoulders, around her breasts. Covering her torso, through her baggy denim-clad legs then slowly back up the same route to her face.

Sal begins to shrink into herself, everything is getting too much for her; frustrations over her artwork, ongoing arguments with Tex, the approaching one-year milestone of the attack in Maine, and now the avid attentions of her stalker. Too exhausted to explode in combustion of stress factors, emotionally she felt herself crumble from head to toe. Herself, becoming simply remnants, grain pilled into a human size knoll.

The course leader had placed himself only feet behind Sal, he had come through when he had heard a whisper about the stalker. Recognising the character instantly from the glimpse he got of him from the office window earlier in the year. On encountering the stalker he had tried to engage him in some kind of conversation, but as usual, the grey/black adorned personage was unable to vocalise any form of structured sentences. His next move had been to talk to Kelly and Claire, they confirmed he was Sal’ stalker, then he checked to see if he had been untoward in regards to them:

‘No, he’s just like that with Sal.’

replied Kelly, Claire added:

‘Yes, it’s the way he looks at her, it’s obsessive. No, he isn’t interested in anyone else, just Sal.’

Progressing, to see if any of the other girls could be of benefit. Be-Be was almost in tears with fear, running into the ground, draining down her body, a wet blanket soaking on the ground. Digressing, he had turned his head away in disgust as Kate began the rhetoric of blaming Sal:

‘Her fault…he could start following me…..things like this are always happening to her….’

As standard, there was no logic to her chain of thoughts, a stream of resentment filled consciousness following from self-obsession embedded in her thoughts. Next, he chose to wait for Sal to make an appearance to gauge how bad this situation was through his reaction to Sal.

As Sal stood there, body crumbling the course leader stepped in:

‘Sal can you come through to the office please, I have some paperwork to go through..’

She needed no further encouragement, escape from the status quo, to get away from the stalker, to remove herself from everything and everyone. Strapping her crumbling emotions together, she managed to walk through to the Office and began to answer questions over how avidly he had been following her around.

In the office, Sal sits on one of the staff swivel chairs. Although this would normally feel like a luxury to a student, her mood could not stretch to appreciating the soft upholstery of the rotary form. Head looked down, she was not fully aware of the dialogue she was expressing in response to the details being requested. Fatigue has taken over, months of weariness accumulated, the stalkers appearance was the pinnacle of all her impediments. His appearance was the devil’s version of James and the Giant Peach landing on the Empire State Building. Sal wished she was the same age as James again, that everything that was happening around her was in a book she was reading. If only she could return to her adolescence, tucked up between pure white sheets with her brother Jack safely away on camp, reading the words of Dahl and engrossed in the images of Blake.

The course leader began to probe all the information he could out of Sal, gently but confidently easing out the information compressed in her memory. He had seemed to have started following her around last summer before she had gone away to the States, but it had become more obvious when she returned and he had found her new digs. Lingering about waiting for her to set foot outside the front door most days, except Tuesdays. This appeared to be because the rubbish was collected on this day and it looked like the bin men battered him as there was a persistent void in his presence on this day. Sal talked amiably about the bin men and had stated how great they were. It amazed the course leader how many people Sal knew in this city. Most students had no idea who their refuge collectors were, Sal was on conversational terms with the crew.

Sal held back her tears as she poured out her annoyances over the stalker, his repeated appearance, ‘You again!’ rapping on her brain. After the flow of distress, she became quiet and still, almost childlike as she composed herself. A peg doll, cut short and pressed into the upholstery of the desk chair.

Sal is oblivious to what is happening around her as the plastics lecturer swerves into the office carrying several off-cuts of acrylic;

‘Who is that guy in grey wandering around?’

She inquires brashly as she enters, the Course leader whispers towards her:

‘He’s the stalker that has been following Sal around.’

Sal’ mind is occupied by a place far outside the office, the city or perhaps even the Universe. She hadn’t noticed the presence of the plastics lecturer, she had not heard the question spoken.

Sal’ head and hearing ranges returned to that of the Art School Office as the plastics lecturer slams down the sheets of perspex. White molecules of dust from the workshop shoot into the air and begin the linger before the inevitable descent:

‘Oh great, now he’s going to start following me around!’

she screeches in wretchedness. Looking towards Sal, holding her fully accountable for his presence. The resentment she felt towards this student, running through the glare she directed down towards the distressed girl. The course leader and Sal looked directly back towards her, their gut reaction of utter disgust penetrating through the stale air of the internal office space. Not only did she have to cope with the continual presence of the stalker, but Sal was also now footing the blame for his potential to stalk others. Not only was it improper to blame Sal, but it was also equally invalid. The stalker was clearly fixated with Sal, he had no eyes or thoughts towards any of the other women, she was his sole focus, his desire, his obsession.

The Plastics lecturer looked back at the two faces of anguish looking directly into the aura of self-obsession which encased her white machine coat. Her next move was to leave, neither the Course Leader or Sal were prepared to tolerate any more of the extremities of her vileness. After shutting the door and walking back along the corridor she began to rant isolated mutterings. A torrent of thought about how Sal should never have been given a place, ‘Her fault’ and ‘Me’ focussed rhetoric.

Her thoughts fell into chimes with Kate’s, ‘Me’ mutterings resonating around the studio. Her eyes inquired towards the fear-soaked form of Be-Be. Someone she could use, she began to debate returning to the office, insisted that Be-Be’s fear was due to Sal putting her in danger from the stalker, then she could try and push the vulnerability of the sheltered fool draining in front of her eyes. She remembers the anguish on the faces in the office, she decides against any more confrontation and makes her way back to the workshop.

In the Office Sal and the course, leader looked at each other. Both were speechless in regards to the levels of self-orientation paraded by the plastics lecturer through the encounter. The course leader began to think on his feet, he told Sal he would phone security to escort him off the premises. In this directing Sal to stay in the office until he had gone. His next thoughts were to see how he could stop him for following Sal around the rest of the time. The Police was an option, ‘Stalking’ had recently been made an offence, perhaps the Officers of the Law would be able to do something. Relief ran through Sal’ body, he had made her feel safe again.

 

It emmergies throughout the novel that Kate is employed by the Police. Her character represents self obsession, narcissism and, most promonently, victim blaming culture within the Police Force.

A second character is reveal to be working for the Police: Be-Be. She highlights how extremely weak and feeble the women the authories recruit can be through their actions. We are presented with a girl who would never be capable of doing anything to protect anyone or anything being assigned a public protection role.

The plastics lecturer highlights the failing of Higher Education Institutes to take positive actions in regards to dealing with sexual predators.

Casual Nexus is looking to be published later in 2019.

 

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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.

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24 Hour Playwrighting

A3 24hour copy

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

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Not to be missed!