A Room of Ones Own

  I ranted and raved at the thought of being forced to leave my studio flat because of Dementia Lady. And then they put the worlds loudest woman next door. Her 2am ciggies and phonecalls cost me the time and pleasure of full day research in Oxford. The lack of sleep for 16 months and shocked awakenings has left me fat and frail. Next door was a guest flat but she found it better than what she had and bullied the housing staff to keep it. 

Last week on a 1a.m before a hospital appointment and seminar I was jolted awake by inane voices in the garden below my balcony. Her flat was the other side of the estate but she decided with her daughter to smoke and rant under mine. 

I went out braless and barefoot to rest my head in my hands. 
“Can I not get one fucking nights sleep? Just one night? Do you not understand how your ruining my appointments and all the other stuff you deprive me of?”

“Stuff and what?”

“That you deprive me of!”

“I’ve not been here,” she grunts indifferent. 

“But you’re here now it’s one in the morning, you are ruining another morning…just another morning. 

And she stayed to finish her smoke and bitch about me while I shivered to the sky wishing I was a crow or some free thing of nature. 

I missed uni again. 

On Saturday she moved in and dementia lady returned from hospital despite forever saying she can’t be moved from her top floor flat. 

So I have moved my futon to a ground floor garden view with an aubergine carpet, dead mans commode and knick-knacks left here. 

The balcony has been windowed in to create a little lightless conservatory. At night I light candles that reflect in masses. The windows open on to the Japanese maple and the foxes route. It is so quiet. Of course I hear the men pee and doors shut but there are no disturbing shouts or wails. 

I sit by candles and write for my tutor what I want to say about Vivien Eliot and the poetry I wish you could all be allowed to read. 

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The guitarist on Oxford Street makes me sad. He plays by a dark wall notes like insects on a river. The christmas lights are already up. Switched off they are more beautiful like gathering moons. 

I didn’t speak a word in class. We had read Dorian Grey, I only read half. The exhaustive toil of home only made me read half. Not real home- the compound for the blind embossed with mental illnesses unbound that I reside in. I thought of things the others said and thought I maybe understand for once. 

I had cried in an empty purple common room. No one will help me get a woman with dementia moved and now they move the loudest woman next door in what was a guest flat. I am ill from a decade of no sleep because of mentally ill people. Soon I’ll join them. This is how I spend my last years before blindness. 

Gardens in Literature

Sometimes the settings and locations in books can be as captivating as the characters. Here are my favourite books featuring spellbinding gardens. The gardens of these books are places of secrecy, escape and encounters. 

Rebecca

The gardens of Manderley in Daphne Du Maurier’s sumptous novel surrounds the English country estate with its own woods and bay by the sea. The descriptions are rich and intricate so that your imagination can almost smell the roses. Kept in ornate splendour, the garden, with its winding drive of high wisteria, is also what gives Manderley an atmosphere of seperation from society and builds what becomes an isolating and entrapped life as the new wife of Mr De Wnter. 
Atonement

Evocative of long summer days the gardens in Ian McEwan’s  novel recaptures the golden summer before outbreak of war. For the children and teens the gardens are a place to escape and relax, sunbath and swim in the lake or play in the meadows beyond. The film adaptation also depicts an atmosphere of humid ennui before family disaster. 
The Thirteenth Tale

This has been my read of the year, read in bed until dawn. Again the garden is a place of escape where childhood and its games can run free in twins with no discipline, left to there own terrible pleasures. There is a contrast between the topiary gardens and overgrown woods that fester their own family secrets and demise. It is in the gardens, both of the past and present,  where mysterious characters are seen playing or singing in the night. This book is fascinating. 

Villette

Compared to the other novels featured here, the gardens in Vilette are enclosed in narrow alleys and overlooking windows. From those windows the comings and goings of Charlotte Bronte’s semi autobiographical girls school in Brussels can be spied. This is a city garden under lock and key of half seen people at dusk, buried things and where love intrepidly grows. 

Pyrography:burnt poetry

I got my dad this Fire Writer pyrography tool by Antex for his birthday. This morning we tried it out on the patio in the sun. 

It takes a bit of practise to figure out the pressure and how slow to move the nib to get an even burning but I think there could be endless ideas on creating artwork on wood and leather. 

There is a lovely smoked wood smell as you work. Pyrography is something I have not tried before but I was surprised at how fine details and even shading can be acheived on wood.  

I would love to slice logs into disks with the bark still on and burn lines of poetry-poetry trees. Considering I’ve not yet mastered my name successfully yet think a bit more practise is in order. 

Alexander Palace

Fishmongers with knitted glittery fish displayed like the real thing was not something I expected to see on my Saturday. 

Having attended the Knitting and Stitching Show for several decades now I think this years exhibitors were some of the most unique and inspiring for combining art with textiles. 

While you can pick up all the yarn and sewjng machines you would expect at a stitchy trade show, there are some really luxuries to purchase. 

Today is the last day to pop along so if you are intending to and times lacking I recommend visiting the smaller hall near the palm court. Here you will find hand dyed silks and spun yarn. This is also where the textile art exhibition pieces are. Another highlight of eccentric sewing were the couple making large breasts, bulging bellies and pubic hair as over size, fabric wall hangings. This has inpired me to make ceramic saggy boob and overweight body parts.  There was also the most intricately perfect embriodery from Japan and photographic insects. 

I bought recycled sari fabric asmy last   stage costume was made from it. I also bought some blue handmade felt and silk threads to embroider something again to Mellies A Trip to the Moon silent film. 
  

University is…

…humiliating? Beyond my brains capacity. I think someone should give me a certificate just for finding the correct door.

London leaves me breathless. There is no physical device like a cane or wheelchair to clarify chronic fatigue to the masses. And like how your legs grow pace down steep hills, London doesn’t let me slow. By the time I reach uni I am panting and the lifts are full of those that can still run up stairs. 

The carers called on Dementia Lady without shouts today. Still the slams jolt my concious like gun shots. One rasping, African accented wail was on the edge of my sleep. My spirits still wane after yeserdays insults on me being a dumb female and Christened ‘Essex’ the place of stupids, unaware it’s the earth I grew from.

The students are so ambitious, see life in textualities and visual narratives. Their dissertations raise the politics of education, everything utterly everything is capitalism. Capitalism has executed a joy of books.  

My dissertation is on the forgotten writing of a sick woman who died in an asylum. I don’t believe she was mad. I think she endured pain and the wrong group of aquaintences. Her poems look up to the moon, the sky, moments after moments. 

And then comes those beastly moments to discuss in groups and what do I think? Nothing really, nothing at all. I don’t really know the question. I need an hour to form a thought. 

Tomorrow I am back in Oxford, back in the Big Book of Vivien to compare her drafts. Oxford is like my dream city; I watch punting on the river, teenagers mocking it, feed the ducks and walk around lush old buildings to the library. The library is cool and quiet, I study without interruption, with space and lovely silence. 

Oxford does not push you along like London in stampedes of suits and umbrellas. 

I am in class and all the clever young people consider politics. I consider how beautiful the bustle is of the Victorian lady’s photograph  on the whiteboard. How do I put Vivien’s words in a dissertation without anesthatising them to academia?