Game Over

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I stand Tall
The remains of Mee demolition
The crew:
Mee, the head man, Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Got started last week
The rest of the building knocked down:
Demolished
Kaput
No more

Outsides removed
Core kept in place
Outers ripped
Splattered to the ground

I stand as I have stood for fifty years
A geometric spiral
Staircase
Jagging my way upward
a point scoring-level
Increasing, jumping up

The internals of my handrail run free
Lashed, juxtaposed at angels
Level markers
Reds of point increase indicators
Borders to penetrate
Upper levels to target cross

Heading me off: the control box
The upper cube
Rooftop location
An outer look out
Generator casing
Roof maintenance portal facilitator

But the roof is now gone
The cube stands singular
The rain drip tray removed
The target level of console characters
Rubble to the ground

For the weekend I remain
The tower which survived
Friday knock off time
Mee said get off-ski
Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Made route: nearest watering hole
For two more days of the half century
I will stand tall
Monday morning, I shall fall
Crushed to rubble mush
The ultimate Game Over
No more
No longer
Nothing…

 

Game Over is an illustration and free flow text work created by Alison Little.

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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.

 

I

Best Dressed Easter Bunny

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Easter, Bunnies and Dressing Up.

Let’s get things straight!

How did the Easter Bunny come about?

The Easter Bunny actually came from Folklore, the Pagan Festival of Vernal Equinox fell around springtime. This was replicated with the Jewish Passover then again through Christianity as the Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead after the Crucifixion.

Why Eggs, Bunnies don’t lay eggs?

The traditional symbol of the Easter Bunny is carrying a basket of eggs both relate to each other. The bunny is, in fact, a rabbit or hair and a symbol of fertility, they reproduce actively and give birth to a large little around spring. Eggs are ancient representations of fertility in terms of the cell which need to be fertilised in all forms of life, also relating strongly to birds which lay eggs often hatching in spring. Thus, giving us the pairing of Bunnies and eggs.

Is the Bunny Female?

She is normally given feminine qualities which relate to the traditions of home-making, through the hiding of eggs, nest making and the ability to remember public holidays.

What’s the ‘Best Dressed’ tradition about?

The tradition relates to getting dressed up for the Easter service, wearing a new dress and bonnet for the occasion.

Best Dressed Easter Bunny cards are available from Rubbish cards and on sale from Arts Hub on Lark Lane, Liverpool.

More about Arts Hub

Hand-Held Destinies

Me

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

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

 

Hand Held Destinies

Girls hold hands in friendship.
Gleeful
Elegant in play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alison Little

 

Exhibition continues throughout April.

More about Research Exhibition Lab

Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.

More about Graham Smillie photography

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24 Hour Playwrighting

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

More about Liverpool Fringe Festival

Not to be missed!

Nest in a Goats Beard

A-nest-in-the-Goats-beard-Carmen-Gracia-300x300

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

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

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

The Readings

More about She’s Eclectic

 

Nicknames

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Love them or hate them!

A sense of endearment or a form of mockery?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So did you love them or hate them?

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

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

Fun and Frollicks
Youthfulness
And whatever happened to Bhatti?