The Best Possible Distraction for You…

When I was miserable with a drunk schizophrenic neighbour and chronic fatigue I scuttled off to my old circus institute ( as I type this the song from my debut trapeze act is playing in the coffee shop) and the ex teacher and CEOs of the Hangar told me to not do aerial dance anymore; what makes my soul soar. They suggested knitting.

The title here is from a letter from Wyndham to ex girlfriend and fellow Vorticist, Jessica Dismorr. She had a nervous breakdown after being a nurse in the First World War.

The doctors told her she must no longer paint. Wyndham told her otherwise, that once she was stronger the best possible distraction for her would be her painting, her striking Modernist way of painting.

I think he just became my hero in a Casablanca watched on rainy Sunday’s kind of way.

I must cast quite an absurdity on the eye in my mothers fur coat, Hilda Ogden headscarf and pin curls, using a white cane along Regent Street. Under my arm a puce A5 clump of a book with Blast in diagonal bold print. No matter how many times I see it I still misbelieve it looked that way in 1914. It is retrieved from the library like gathering a mud riddled Great Dane dog from the park that has terrified all the pugs in quilt coats. The spine shoves another student I didn’t see and I apologise the same way the dog owner would with amused shame.

The dissertation title still alludes me. After a girly cry turning Wyndham corners soggy, I got off the library steps determined to find the room the second time around. It is a gaggle of twenty something’s with Topshop tabs and I am, well, Hilda Ogden…..

The seminar proves to be very helpful and reminds me that once apron a time I did want to study literature. The best advice was that to find my title I should think what drew me to the topic and what I want to find out,


I was drawn to Blast opening it on the front seat of a double decker bus in rush hour. It took up both seats. It shouted and mocked at those behind me in print so big you couldn’t ignore. It looked a bit fascist in style. It was like trying to introduce Johnny Rotten to your father with a tongue in cheek grin.

It’s only a book. No one sat next to me on that bus.

It was punk when university felt like a terrible mistake.

Wyndham, darling Percy, became an ally to my fragmented. Tantrum of an intellect. And then T S Eliot became the genius in the mirth.

I quote The Waste Land every time I cross the Thames, my invented superstition to cross London and survive. How do I tell tutors that. It is not academic it is an over emotional loss of reason.

And then I read Dismorr’s June Night poem and by the end could not see the words but only the images, my own journeys into London.

And so what do I want to know from these little, one time, London Vorticists?

What do I want to know?

I want to hide under the table in that William Roberts painting of them all. They would never have let me in.

Can anyone else figure out what I want to know.

February 9, 2015Leave a reply


3 thoughts on “The Best Possible Distraction for You…

  1. sara

    do u want 2 know how london got 2 what it now is, how different groups of people influenced it’s evolution, whether they really made a difference 2 the place they lived in, long term?

  2. sara

    what u want 2 know is if the modern architecture of london is influenced by the geometric style of vorticism OR why art took on 1WW’s violent, sharp edges to replace pre-war romantic curves of landscapes & nudes… oh i dunno!!!

    1. Lynsey

      It was the other way round- the angles and violence, machine age and the mostly not mentioned humiur of Wyndham and co was before WW1. Please please google and read FR Marinettis Futurist Manifesto and then Wyndhams Vorticist Manifesto like I had to in uni last year. ‘we are not your wives or tailors’ was the line that got me hooked and still makes me giggle.

      It was the war that kind of rained distopia on Vorticism.

      I don’t know what J want to know because everything I want to know is in the Blasts and keeps me amused.

      I think the small group thing, the anarchy is important but haven’t figured why. Have to write a 500 wrd abstract…what is an abstract?

      This was the problem with my last dissertation, I cab’t find an argument. Other girls are doing Darcy, Ulysses, Holmes….I am doing a defunct magazine from 1914 that was like the Edwardian Sex Pistols!

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