It’s the most beautiful time of year in London when the trees turn gold and shed and men go to work in long black coats with the collars turned up. Tourists dress as though we are in Siberia and street corners smell of caramelised nuts in paper ones. The gloom and dark evening crave a need for warmth, pumpkin lattes and exploring shadowy corners no summer has left.

It has been long since I have written but not much has changed. I still eat Tesco sandwiches on concert benches by the Thames and decamp to Starbucks to work on my online shop that has not sold a single thing since April. That was a second hand pair of leggings. The ‘charity’ landlord are still hinting for somewhere for me to live where I can pee without the weird neighbours banging or stamping up the stairs behind my bum. But life in Brackenbury is mellowing more. My graduation is in a few months. I am not going as it feels like a second wedding without a husband. I haven’t declined in the hope they are left calling out my name, holding up events as one last mistake I made as the thickest student they ever have

 

What can an MA in English Literature get me as a 33 year old who has never had full time employment and has a CV showing hula hooping and two years of illness selling junk on eBay?

Anyone want to employ me?

I just want to live on a houseboat. I want nothing more to live on a houseboat….and have somewhere to do aerial hoop.

Any takers on magically transforming my life please get in touch because living in a free West End vintage flat is safe and the houses look pretty but, boy, is life snobby and dull here. I like unicorns. The neighbourhood like property investment and Mazdas. You get my drift?

 

I

post academic rant…

(skip to last paragraph if you just want to read the few lines of fiction/thought)

Something I wrote ( last paragraph) at the start of my last philosophy class for a course I have failed if I can not claim mitigation for another entire semester of neighbour induced stress, sleep deprivation, daily paralysis and despondency. We discussed institutions and I sit between two women – one rationally opposing the others cocaine-like ranting on the future of civilisation. The latter can only attack her points and I wish the lecturer had electronic buzzers attached to our seats. I sit like a glum child trapped at the dinner table while their parents argue. Come on Sas, press a button and zap her arse of ‘everyone must be localised (to my order) and exist autonomously (to my dictatorship). Actually no, in the imaginary world of buzzers under our arses zap mine: at the point of her spurting that there are too many people in the world, those in desert communities will die or the rest will get cancer and aids (like she really hopes we all do then the worlds all hers to reorder)…zap my butt, open the trapdoor under my desk let the crowd boo and me drop out the room when I so miss actually being applauded and told by audiences that I inspired them to dance. I’m not an Academic Get Me Out of Here! I try to catch his eye to communicate in a nano second that I actually do live in an institution for the disabled that screws our rights that will be sold to profit the ‘charity’s’ directors, that life should be full of wonder not politics… ranter activist bangs on that if another tribe disliked hers thay could just go emigrate somewhere else. I can’t even emigrate to Oxford and write stories, no philosophy just simpleton storytelling…

I can not catch his eye. It is all quite amusing in its horror on my tired brain that feels like that moment you drop bread dough onto a work top of flour from lack or sleep. Shit metaphor I know but I have a bread dough brain.

…this debate is brilliant but can you just do it in whispers and maybe smiling? My eye balls ache….

One more class to go on teansgender narratives than I have finished the University of Westminster. Mitigation would mean submitting in July next year. No fresh new year but uncertainty of disability benefits having to be reapplied for, uncertainty of home, urologists, cyptotoxic drugs and burning drops in my eyes wires to my brains activity (toast or bagel results?).

Another six months the reincarnation of Vivien Eliot (Tom’s preferred spelling). The more I read of her remaining words the more I find another affliction we share: eyes, brain, skin, no sleep, poor writing, failed dancing, I got flu sniffing over her leather notebooks with my leather notebooks and our faint pencils. Could Vivien read her own writing back as difficult as I do in pencil? Students are doing dissertations on linguistics and colonialism in philosophy- I am trying to resurrect some importance in a woman who just wrote for a while and felt sick a lot and the literati disregard. I am trying to point out that writers like Vivien are buried under too many intellects.

I want to walk into a book shop and buy the slim volume of the writing of Vivienne Eliot (with my own foreword and no typos would be my version of wearing Cartier). Vivien would have snapped at the class debate as beastly (she probably would have written her own headache with it too).

‘A clamour of inanities…’ (F.M/V Eliot  The Criterion)

Anyway here’s what I wrote in class while everyone chatted about what bar to go to…

I’m distracted by a window lit outside across the block. It is like that moment in Nadja when she says the window will turn red. Do you ever stare into windows at night in the hope you will see something no one else is noticing because you are the only one who hasn’t the mind to be here in class. And those inside the window will never know: something obscure or a melodramatic, Hitchcock style moment- anything other than discussing Derrida and Kant everyone pronounces as cunt….I’ve already written all I dislike on Kant for a frail pass grade on whether life should be found through action not thinking about thinking

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?

Chasing Vivienne, A girl from the stix goes to Oxford, Boo Radley and Benches

Well that was a long title but I have multiple literature and academic news. I finished To Kill a Mockingbird in a pitch black garden on a damp bench. Foxes circled in the dark. As the story reached its climax with Scout and Jem being followed as they crossed the school yard alone, I too became spooked by paws padding the grass and rustlings in the oak tree above me. The neighbours were shouting in there phones again of bed bugs and daily itineraries. Not even the garden gives peace from bland, thought draining noises of the tenants around me.
The day before I sat on that bench in pouring rain and heard childrens squeals, a wet goose flying away. I read The Waste Land aloud to drown neighbour’s out. Tom said not even the mountains had silence or solitude (lines I shouted above the music of a mad neighbour. She shoves me into washing machines although she is not fully blind it is her excuse and once, I am told, threw her microwave out of the window in a rage. And I suspect it is her leaving shards of glass on my patch of soil I tiol to grow tea plants).
In the dark I read out loud too and was so overcome with wanting to be away from this, back in the stix, the words could only splutter down my fur coat describing Scout Finch dressed as a ham.

‘I read much of the night and go South in the Winter….’

So farewell to the Finches. It has dissapointed me a little that Go Set a Watchman is written in the third person so that it is now a narrative not the reality Mockingbird created. My only hope is there is moreof Boo Radley; if there were ever a character I wished I could make smile….

But from the stix of both fiction and my own life, I turn back to university. Tomorrow I visit the Bodleian Library at Oxford on the hunt of threads of poetry by Vivienne Eliot. The first wife of T S Eliot has been resigned to the wayside of the mad muse. And maybe my soft spot for Nadja led to a curiosity in the vivacious flapper that died in an asylum.

I was meant to be researching the theories of decadence in The Waste Land for my dissertation but while reading Eliot’s letters was intrigued by a letter from Vivienne to Virginia Woolf asking to visit while she was alone and ill. I started thinking how both were literary wives, writers themselves, both suffered with mental health problems and were left alone to recover. Unfortunately Virginia’s reply is not published. Considering she described Vivienne as a bag full of feerets around Tom’s neck I would be amused to read a response if any.

There was a worry that my dissertation was becoming a version of Jeremy Kyle goes to Bloomsbury. But I got wind that Vivienne wrote poetry. I begun to wonder if The Waste Land was actually more of a carcophony of personal anguishes than the reflection on post war London I initially read.

The more I read on Vivienne, mostly from Painted Shadow by Carol Seymour Jones, triggered fragments of the poem in my mind. It seemed to easily linked though. Too obviously implied.

Why is this poem from the 1920’s that can not be deciphered striking such a chord in me that also can’t be described in my lack of vocabulary? And what is the importance of Vivienne? I cringe at any sugguestions of muses. I actually regard her more of an anti-muse.She was suppressed, shut away, deemed as mad and yet revealing her this century as important is only highlighting the same points.

And yet she did write while married to Tom. I still feel she is in the Waste Land as much as Jean Verdenal, Eliots dearest relationship, ended by war. I still think she was a link to the writers of that era we forget or don’t bother with.

I don’t know….

Maybe her poetry was as god-awful as my essays but why ‘ suppress all that is suppressable even if that was a living being?

I hope visiting the Bod tomorrow (most likely on two hours sleep) will give me some answers on Vivienne the writer not the mad wife.

You Won’t find enlightenment in an essay

Wow never thought I would hate a writer more than Frued Kant said enlightenment is man emerging from immaturity. Immaturity is not being a free thinker without the support of others. Not from lack of understanding but from lack of courage or laziness. 

Yet uni is totally against that! I was failed for writing my own extensive experiences because I didn’t support it with the theories of other!!! What if choosing to be immature, dancing with the glee of a child, having water fights in your 30s is actually more enlightening than having to think what uni tells you?!

I found a Dissertation Title! 

It’s been in my head a while I thought it was naff ( probably is) and was adamant I would do it my beloved Wyndham Lewis and Blast II. 

Last week I thought I would do A Clockwork Orange as that was the book that made me think I must do something with all my reading and study. Little did I know (and I know little of most things) that study literature is 99.9% making anything and everything about capitalism or objectifying women! I hoped it would be all gushing about characters over coffee and…..well yes I know the worlds moved on since Brideshead Revisited but I thought I’d have one book loving tweed wearing friend. 

Think of all the Vivienne Westwood shoes I could’ve got for this course fee.  Don’t let uni see that sentence, they aren’t big on girls that ‘dress up for hours and take pictures of themselves.’

So, all the full timers are probably well into their dissertations by now but as I don’t submit mine until January (never to return again), I let indecision reign. 

Every night my pretending to be deaf neighbour whoops and hollers like a voodoo hunsi raising spirits and my head throbs and the essays aren’t touched. 

So I sat in my canal boat sized kitchen on the floor, back injured shoulders against one cupboard, knees pressed against the opposite cupboard. And I read the wasteland aloud again. I like changing accents and doing the cockney/Essex for the pub scene ‘goonight’….

It is probably the only literary thing in my thought Every day as I cross the Thames. 

So here’s my draft title uni will probably nit- pick and make me feel thick for.