Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Trees

image source:

Dawn breaks with ethereal light streaming
Through rigid trees and palest cloud
The naked lake, is tranquil, gleaming
Leaves assemble, rustling crowd.

An illumination is the Sun
Trees hum their soul song of the morn
One fleeting moment is the one
With fluttering leaves on crumbling fawn.

When delicate birds sing their song too
The trees rest for a while
To listen to the young ones’ tune
Weaved from freedom and from guile

The trees know though they are ancient,
That youth is the idyllic state
So they hear the tiny birds in patience
Whilst the trees cast the laws of fate

The birds will sigh and end their lives
All eventually
The leaves pass with fluttering cries
No one hears them but the trees.

It Was All Whirlwind, Heat and Flash

image source:

The media bombards us with information and images, telling us that life is short and that we should live each day like it’s our last and constantly be in a state of adventure seeking. However, life is the longest thing that we will ever experience, we have a roughly 1% chance of dying today- so it is likely not your last- and maybe we’re too tired to seek adventure and would rather snuggle up for a TV marathon instead. 

I scroll through my Instagram feed gripped with a kind of paranoia that everyone else is doing more than me and that that consequently means that they are leading more fulfilled lives. I see photographs of exotic locations, fun days in sunny parks with friends, dates in cute cafes and other such FOMO inducing aesthetics that bring to question, ‘are these people living their lives more/better/in a more worthwhile way than I am? Should I be outside trying to replicate these adventures?’

I have never been frightened of seeking adventure and find leaving my comfort zone quite thrilling. When I was six years old, sitting in my grandmother’s sundrenched back garden in the middle of summertime family get-togethers, my older cousin would ask me if I wanted to ‘go on an adventure.’ Of course I did. I had been waiting all day for him to ask me that question. We would leave the garden through the back gate and walk amongst the suburban neighbourhood of garages and corner shops. Although walking round the block no longer holds the same tantalising fascination that it did ten years ago (unless I am listening to ‘Pure Heroine’ whilst I walk), I like to think of it as a metaphor for the more adventure seeking parts of my personality now.

A few years ago, instead of giving up something for Lent, my friend and I decided to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity for 6 weeks. We attended Spanish film club though neither of us studied Spanish and we entered a school gym competition (and came second!) though I’m hopelessly inflexible. Somehow I have tried to carry this philosophy through to today.

Adventures in books and films have an unshakable glamour about them that is often difficult to translate into everyday life. Going on a walk somewhere different and letting yourself get lost for a few hours or driving with no destination can feel like an adventure. But where do we draw the line between healthy escapism and adventures where the main appeal lies in their danger? Teen years are a time when this kind of adventure appeals the most. It is a way of escaping the clutches of routine, asserting independence and a way of coping with everyday adolescence stresses and struggles. Every new experience can seem like a new adventure. However, in this mindset it can be easy to glamourise terrible situations such as engaging in sexual activity that you’re unsure about or taking drugs just because you want to know what it feels like. At a party last summer, my friend and I lay down on the grass and looked at the stars and likened our situation to Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’. In reality, we were both just a bit drunk and had leaned out of a game of spin the bottle in which we hoped we wouldn’t have to kiss anyone gross. I have started to sneak out in the middle of the night just for the sake of it. One time a friend rang me when I was ready for bed so I got changed to meet her in the middle of the night but I left still wearing my retainer. Perhaps these factors make such adventures less glamorous, but at the same time they make them much more epitomising of teenage years in a nostalgia ridden way.

These are things I have been thinking about a lot recently because there are a lot of things that I would commit to under the pretence of adventure in order to escape the singing regret that I fear will grip me as I lie on my death bed some day in the future. Adventure is definitely an important way to feel free and the text on the cover of Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’- I STOLE MY SISTER’S BOYFRIEND. IT WAS ALL WHIRLWIND, HEAT, AND FLASH. WITHIN A WEEK WE KILLED MY PARENTS AND HIT THE ROAD- still sounds edgy and exciting to me but, in reality, killing your parents wouldn’t be that great. I’d rather go for a walk or something.

As published in Issue 4 of Cherry.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Moonlight, My Old Friend

image source: wikipedia

I saw you with tangled locks, who looks wide-eyed
Rheumy, back through the glass at nightfall, move
Your devil eyes towards the day
Which rejoices with its approach, shrink away!

The voices spit together, and the stabbing
Feelings listen; all senses turned
Inwards to the bleak emptiness; come forth
The gothic butterflies of my soul!

Come over the sea, and let my heart
Meet your mind, and kiss it softly,
Quickly, until the evening breathes
Its rough, sharp breath down my icy neck

O be closer! Night ends in death; leaves
Its ghostly silhouettes haunting the day
The thorny crown of death tearing my mind,
Screaming like an infinite ghoul

Moonlight, plastered in my mind and
Stamped onto my heart, wherever
The darkness lurks it follows never ending
The starry cycle, choking, haunting. 

(as published in cherry)

Monday, 13 October 2014


source: wikiart

As soon as the ship had left the harbour,
A bird stopped in the sky and blurring clouds
And said a prayer to the sea
Applauded by sunlight; flashing, blinding.

Couples drank in the small bars
In the colossal house, still soaking,
Girls gazing dreamily
At the far and wide sea.

Oh! the glimmering fish that swam so deep
And hid underneath rocks that did not move.
Cabin beds were unmade
And the sea howled its song,
Low pitched as a moan.

A door banged closed; in lower cabins
The girl waved her arms,
Understood by the sea,
And nature on land everywhere,
No chains, no bounds; everywhere, freedom.

Blood flowed in the water,
A salted abattoir, in the sea
Where windows gazed deep and dark
Blood and life merged. Currents flowed.

Mrs Smythe played jazz piano in the bar,
Whispered flirtations spread
Like the ship moving across the sea.
Romances set out. Palaces were built
In the chaos of storms of the oceanic night.

Every star wrapped up
Across the ocean wide
Shielding themselves from the bright
And the young--- glittering trance
Of burgeoning beautiful love stories.

Every morning after—it’s winter, they spoke---
Foam rolling along the decks
Lightning like cymbals, drumming thunder
Rise and fall, rise and fall
Oh! precious creatures of nautical nights!
Yet secrets hum through warmed hands
Sharing enlightenment they will know forever
But which eludes us now. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Beginning to Love Yourself

image source:

Beginning to love yourself is difficult. It might even be one of The Most Difficult Things. A year ago I would not have felt at all qualified to write this, but in the past few months I have taken baby steps towards the all elusive self-love.

There are times when even accepting yourself can be a challenge, and liking yourself one of colossal proportions. It makes complete sense for loving yourself to be arduous. When a couple move in together, it tests their love for each other, but even the most devoted and inseparable couple have some alone time; even if it is only when they go to the bathroom. We cannot choose whether or not we move in with ourselves. We already have; and we never truly escape. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we are never truly absent from ourselves. This means that being critical and getting easily annoyed at yourself is an easy routine to fall into, but allowing yourself to become truly embroiled in such troubles- which we are all guilty of doing every now and then- is quite a waste of time when you could be spending those same minutes, hours, days noticing the great things about yourself.

The first step to loving myself, for me, came from being kinder to myself and praising myself for little things. I wrote something today? Great. I found time to watch my favourite film? Awesome. Instead of dismissing the things that I liked to do, I started to view them as important, because they are important. They are important in making me who I am, and it’s wonderful that I have such a strong sense of individuality.

Next I looked for some people to look up to who are big on promoting self-love. Obviously, there’s Kanye West (“I Am A God” is my anthem when I want to feel on top of the world.) Internet famous Joanna Kuchta is also fabulous. Of course one of the perks of being famous is all of the external gratification you receive. When everyone else is telling you how fantastic you are, it is much easier to believe it. However, with fame comes a lot of criticism as well as praise. Other people’s voices can therefore battle in the same way that our internal thoughts about ourselves do. So it’s not like Kanye and Joanna are aliens who we can never understand. Even if you do delude yourself a little bit and post online as if you have millions of fans, you’re not harming anyone by doing this. Be proud of the 10, 20, 30 likes your Instagram photos get, but remember that online gratification does not necessarily translate into real life.

Another obstacle in loving yourself (on top of the inevitable self-inflicted ones) is society’s attitude towards those who do so. Coming across as conceited or egotistical is seen as something to be avoided above pretty much all else, but I would rather be a little bit on the conceited side than go back to hating myself. Furthermore, I have found that being around people who perhaps are verging on the egotistical is more positive than surrounding myself with those who dislike themselves. People who do love themselves most of the time tend to be a lot more positive all round. Sometimes it’s nice to pretend that you and the people you are with are better than everyone else, as long as it’s not in an openly spiteful way.

There are no terms and conditions for self love. Don’t just love yourself after going on a 5K run or receiving a compliment; love yourself after eating a donut; love yourself when you’re dancing alone to your favourite song. There is no one size fits all formula for happiness; we’re all just doing our best. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Taste of Drama

image source: A Taste of Honey, 1961

Charlize put on her black coat and exited the theatre into the cold, damp night. She felt sick as she tapped her foot on the ground and chewed the inside of her cheek. Three hours prior to this moment she had texted Adam to say: 

“can you meet me after rehearsals this evening? I need to tell you something.”

So now he must be on his way, turning over in his mind what could possibly be so urgent and important. Gently, Charlize perched herself on the edge of the bench next to the nearby restaurant. She stared at the cars as their headlights flashed past; their passengers so near to her but so detached, so wrapped up in their own lives.

Charlize stood up at the sight of Alex approaching. She plunged her hands deep into her pockets and scowled at the ground. She saw his black Doc Martens stop in front of her. He said, “Hiya” cheerfully, but this genial greeting went over Charlize’s head as she built herself up to greet him with, “I’m-just-going-to-say-it-straight-away-I’m-pregnant” she rushed as if the words were poison that she needed to spit out in order to survive.

Charlize started to walk in the direction of home, still staring at the ground with her hands in her pockets, as she waited for Adam’s reply. 

He followed Charlize in silence for a few minutes as they walked up the sloping, street-lit pavement. Then he began, “Is it m-?”

“Of course it is” Charlize retorted violently. 

Another long pause followed, until they were walking down the road of Charlize’s primary school.

“Shit” Adam said.

Charlize rolled her eyes at that unhelpful remark. 

As they walked past her old school, Charlize thought about how much simple joy had taken place there and how different things were now and about William Blake and about Adam. Back then she could find joy in making up new games to play in the playground or swinging on the monkey bars and bad days could be cured by crying whilst her mother stroked her hair and told her that everything would be okay. Now, the lack of joy in her life had to be compensated for with stupid actions like having sex with her best friend one Thursday in November after school. And a bad day or a bad week or a bad month or a bad year could not be remedied because there was no one to stroke her hair and tell her that it would be okay. Adam did not love her. He liked her. He liked spending time with her and they had a laugh together, but he loved another.

“I’m getting an abortion” Charlize said, as abruptly as she had made her first announcement, when they reached the alleyway by their respective houses.

“No you’re not” said Adam.

“What?” Charlize looked up for the first time that evening.

“Our baby belongs to both of us. We need to discuss it. You’re not the only one who gets a say in this” Adam answered.

I’m the one who has to show all the signs of it; who’ll be ridiculed and humiliated. And, you know, morning sickness and weight gain, not to mention labour!” Charlize said, “And what about Matt? You don’t want him to find out about what happened?”

Adam pondered this for a while before saying, “Just don’t tell anyone who the father is.”

“I can’t do that, Adam! You can’t expect me to do that. It’s bad enough being pregnant at fourteen without everyone thinking I’ve slept around so much that I can’t remember who I’ve been with” Charlize said, trying not to cry.

“Make someone up then” Adam suggested.

“What about my family? They know that you’re the only boy I ever see” Charlize said. She could not believe that Adam was being so unexpectedly cruel. 

Adam scoffed, “You’ve been talking to loads of guys about hooking up with them.”

Charlize’s jaw dropped, “Loads of guys? One. I talked to one guy, and then he stopped replying to my texts.”

“Well, say it was him” Adam said.

“No. I don’t even know why we’re still having this argument. I’m getting an abortion. Matt will never know about us and you can go back to being a happy couple” Charlize sneered.

“But you’re killing a baby!” Adam protested.

Charlize was silent.

“You’re killing a sperm!” Adam shouted.

At this, Charlize burst out laughing. She prepared to make a sarcastic gibe about what a pathetically ignorant exclamation that was, but then she found herself crying uncontrollably. Adam continued to shout at her as she sobbed. There was no way she could go through the pregnancy, but she couldn’t imagine life without Adam as a friend either.

Adam stepped closer to Charlize. “Don’t look but there’s someone watching us and listening. We need to go somewhere else or this will become gossip.” Adam was looking up at the first floor window of the house that they were standing next to. 

Charlize looked up, despite being told not to. She saw the face of a girl not much older than her leaning out of the window. Then the girl was gone.

“Come on” Adam said softly, “Let’s go.”

“No” Charlize said. She had not forgotten her situation and Adam’s behaviour; of course she hadn’t. How could she? Tears still streaked her cheeks, but she did not move to wipe them away.

“Oh don’t cry, Charlie” Adam said soothingly, as if he had only just noticed Charlize’s distress.

“Adam, I can’t have this baby” Charlize shook, “You can’t expect me to. We’re too young. I’m too young. It would ruin everything.”

Adam stared at the ground and sighed.

“Say something” Charlize urged.

“You’re right” Adam sighed again,” I-I’m such a dick. It was just- I didn’t- didn’t expect it. I never imagined this. I didn’t know how to react. No. That’s no excuse.”

Charlize did not reply, but when Adam put his arm around her waist as they walked she did not pull away either.

“You know it’s kind of ironic that this has happened whilst you’re playing Jo in A Taste of Honey” Adam quipped.

“Yeah, I realise” Charlize said bluntly, before adding, “I’ve got the gay friend.” She put her arm around Adam’s waist, “And the fascist mother. Now I just need a charming black sailor to sweep me off my feet.”

They walked along the road; arms round each other, and the girl in her bedroom above watched them from her window. She hoped that they would be happy. 

Originally published in Pretty.

Monday, 1 September 2014

"Most People Are Other People"

image source: wikipedia

Oscar Wilde once truthfully said that ‘most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’ The search for complete originality is rather a futile one, as people have been pointing out for some time. It is far easier to let other people’s traits permeate into our being. 

When I sit down to write I always feel stunted by the fact that the people I look up to are so much better at writing and cooler and funnier and more talented than I am in every way. I have stuck quotations from my favourite people all around my room with hope that I will somehow absorb their genius. I even wrote a Wilde quote in my maths GCSE exam. It was an impossibly difficult question that I had no hope with even trying to answer so I simply scrawled, “In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer’- Oscar Wilde.’

I am other people. I am my parents, who raised me, friends from the past, who influenced me, friends of the present, whose mannerisms subtly slip into my own behaviour. However, (without discrediting those people who I know in person) more than anything I am Coco Chanel. I am Morrissey. I am Allen Ginsberg. I am Oscar Wilde. I am Tavi Gevinson. I am James Dean. I am Edie Sedgwick. Just a slightly less cool version.

I have an obsession for each of these people I call my ‘heroes.’ They are my idols, my influences, the books I read, the music I listen to. And I do not hesitate to say that without them I would not be the same person I am today.

However, where must we decide to draw the line with how much these strangers influence our lives? We are constantly bombarded with reasons why celebrities like Lindsey Lohan and Pete Doherty are negative role models but many still idolise them and their lifestyles. Then of course there was that ridiculous and inconceivably insensitive ‘cut for Bieber’ trend on Twitter last year. Celebrity culture is weird and sort of messed up. With the decline in religion people are turning more and more to their favourite celebrity to comfort them and give them guidance. 

A friend once told me that she was glad that I was obsessed with Coco Chanel and James Dean as opposed to Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj. However, Coco Chanel was allegedly a Nazi and was constantly embroiled in affairs with married men. James Dean had an often unpredictable personality and, somewhat ironically, was a dangerous driver. Hardly ideal role models, right? 

There’s admiration and then there’s imitation and sometimes I worry that I’m slipping into the latter category. It was Morrissey who penned, “If you must write prose and poems, the words you use should be your own” but it is sometimes so tempting to want to fully become the people you look up to. I even managed to paraphrase two Morrissey lyrics into my English Literature exam last year. Morrissey himself wrote the anti-plagiarism line in response to being harangued about using the line, “I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice” in an early Smiths’ song ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ as the line originally came from Shelagh Delaney’s play ‘A Taste of Honey’.

I love the idea of escaping myself to become somebody else. Coco Chanel once said “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” I cut my hair to imitate Coco Chanel. I sometimes find myself daydreaming about styling it in a quiff like the teens imitating Morrissey in The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before’ music video. I want a bongo drum and perhaps a motorcycle like James Dean. I want a collection of fashion books as vast as Bill Cunningham’s. I want to dress like Tavi Gevinson. I want to write poetry like Patti Smith. I want to make witty quips in conversation like Oscar Wilde. I will just have to live my life with the worry that one day I may perhaps be serenaded with the song ‘Lighten Up Morrissey.’

I am definitely other people and my life is mimicry, my passions a quotation. However, I have not altogether lost my individuality because I am yet to find another person influenced my all these exact same people. Sometimes I feel like I am having a complete identity crisis but, at the end of the day, aren’t we all a product of the things that we love? The things we like can be just as telling about a person as what we are like and because of this I think we should move forwards and imitate whoever the hell we want to.