Incarceration of a Flower Child – Prologue

This is the prologue of a story I started writing a long time ago. I one day hope to come back to it – I’ve written over 12,000 words for it so it’d be silly to give it up…

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I guess, all things in perspective, it started back in 1963, two years before the band really took off.  Ian and I were still at the polytechnic, and we’d met a very pretty, nineteen-year-old American girl from the art college. Michelle from Maine, we called her back then. And, well, that was pretty much where the truth ended; she was actually just-turned sixteen at the time, and attended the secondary school round the corner from my house. Ian’s younger sister had recognised her one time when we were hanging out. Sixteen or nineteen, Chelle was gorgeous and, with hindsight, clearly had a thing for me which I should’ve acted on – she was beautiful. Ian and I used to skip lectures to get lunch with her and her friend, Polly (Christ knows how they got out of that school). By the time we found out that they were actually three (and in Pol’s case, four) years younger than they’d said, we didn’t really care. These girls were cool, and they’d become a pretty integral part of our friendship circle.

It was through them that we were introduced to Jean Tobey (dead now. Breast cancer in 1998, there was a tribute on the telly), seventeen at the time, who was 4’9”, and had the biggest sex drive (and Napoleon Complex) known to man. But she was the one who got us the spot at the White Rabbit which kickstarted our entire career. By which I mean, she did the manager a couple offavours’ and we were booked.

Thinking about it, if I had pursued anything with Chelle, I wouldn’t even be in a position to write this. Even as family friends, I only spent so much time at the house with Jude and everyone because I was very, very keen on his sister, Sarah. However, as fate would have it, I saw right past my opportunity to make it with a gorgeous, blonde American, and instead got to see my childhood best friend stumble down a path of destruction that I – we – didn’t exactly help to prevent.

BOOK REVIEW: Paulina and Fran

Note: I’ve never written book reviews before – as in, ever. This is an experiment, if you like. It’s not perfect, I know, but I feel this is a good way for me to explore more content on this blog, which is certainly lacking consistency.

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I’d thought of writing book reviews on here because of this book, actually. Written by Rachel B. Glaser, I admit that I ultimately didn’t find much pleasure from this book, but I do have to admit that there was something about it which made me determined see it through ’til the end, and not just because I don’t like to leave books unfinished.

Glaser frequently switches narrative, between the two titular characters, and does so in a way which means there’s rarely a lull; she has perfected the art of knowing exactly when to change perspective. The novel follows the characters through a fairly long timespan, from their days at art college, past their graduation, to when they’re in their mid-twenties, which should give the reader ample time to get to know our main characters…

…which is both a good and bad thing. I decided against using the word ‘protagonist’ in the previous paragraph, and this is due to the fact that neither of the characters come across as people you want to see succeed, as you would with, say, Frodo Baggins or Jane Eyre. Fran is dull and overly, infuriatingly naïve, and Paulina, to put it bluntly, is an absolutely horrific human being with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

I can see what Glaser is attempting to do, and that is to show the power imbalance in the friendship. Paulina is supposed to be confident, arrogant, domineering and strong-willed, and Fran, by contrast, is much more innocent and unsure of herself, and, as a result is captivated by and dependent on Paulina’s more extroverted personality. How this comes across, however, is Paulina being needlessly cruel and vain, and Fran as being simpering and, ultimately, a bit dim. About three or four pages before the end of the book, she makes a decision which very nearly made me put the book down in exasperation and not see it through to the end. I just cannot comprehend how none of these characters, including the various side characters (with, perhaps, the exception of Fran’s friend, Gretchen), have changed at all from when they were at university, and I think this is the biggest problem. There’s no character arcs, for any of them. Paulina starts off as a malicious, self-obsessed bitch and remains one for the 6+year timespan of the book, never getting the comeuppance you as the reader really want to see her receive, and Fran is so hopeless it stops being endearing and makes one want to shake some sense into her.

Another thing I’ve noted, is how dismally this book depicts art college. Everyone seems overly scathing of each other’s work, and jealous and bitter of others’ successes. No one seems to have a positive word to say about anyone, and while a fair few of the art students I’ve met (cough*film*cough) are fairly stuck-up and dislikable, the vast majority of university students aren’t that dismissive of each other. Some of the commentary in relation to being an art school graduate are interesting, however, and it can be engaging to see how these characters fair in the post-college world – although, is New York City really the only decent, dare I say acceptable, place to live in the USA?

Despite my complaints, and I appreciate there are many, though, I can’t say it’s terrible. It’s gripping, and, to be fair, you do want to see what happens to these characters (namely, that Paulina faces some consequences and Fran finds her feet), but you don’t enjoy doing so. I wouldn’t necessarily say not to read it, as other readers have loved it, the narrative is captivating, and the concept intriguing if you’re a social drama fan. Just, give it a miss if you like to root for your characters.

It Started With “Hello” – Spoken Word Piece

So, for the past three months or so, I’ve been trying to write spoken word poetry, after being inspired by the Poetry Slam I watched at WOMAD World of Words. I appreciate that this isn’t the same effect as listening to it (although I may record it at a later date), and that it probably needs a lot of work – I’m still learning!

Another thing I want to mention, because I’m paranoid, is that this is a completely original work, and the only place I’m going to post it) as far as I know, is my Wattpad account (also GoldDustLizzy).

Anyway. This is a poem about love.

It Started With “Hello”

It started with “hello”,
A wave across a room,
A friendly smile,
And a suggestion that we meet for coffee.

He told me that he came from Reading originally,
But grew up in a small town outside of Windsor.
His parents divorced when he was ten,
And his older sister is married with a son.

And he was beautiful.
His eyes were kind,
His face elegantly angled,
And his voice was soft, like an angel’s song.

I asked him out for drinks, but he faltered;
He had plans with another girl.
I guess that’s fair enough –
He was an Adonis.

I asked what she was like,
But he refused to talk.
It doesn’t matter, he said,
They were going for dinner.

The next day, I persisted, and asked him about her.
He seemed more open.
They’d had a fight over…
…lasagne, or something?
He shrugged it off like it was nothing, but I saw my chance.

Their fights continued,
From what I can see.
He’d come in dejected, and I like to think
That seeing me would brighten his day.

He said he’d told her about me, once.
That she hadn’t been happy,
That she’d asked questions,
Interrogated him about me,
And I hope he said good things,
Like he said he did.

One night, he texted me,
Saying she was freaking out…
Again.
And could we talk about it tomorrow?
I said, “of course!”.
My face was glowing.

After that night, he was happy to see me.
We got drinks between lectures,
With no faltering this time.
He bought me a rum and coke,
Even though I’d offered to pay for it myself.
Yet, still, he ran back to the other girl.

What did he see in her?
She didn’t make him happy,
That much was clear.
What did she have that I didn’t?

It all made sense, when I met her later.
She was gorgeous.
Long hair, dark eyes, slight frame.
Little pout, shy mannerisms.

But how she shouted!
When she was set off, the heavens would shake.
So much anger in one so small.
Why did he put up with her?

Months into our friendship, he’d confide in me.
Many things would make her angry.
She was constantly distressed, and
I told him she wasn’t worth it, but he denied me.

At least, his words did.

“She hates how I -”
She hates you having fun.
“She hates when you -”
She hates you having a life.
“She hates how I talk about you.”
Because you can talk to me.
“She hates when I see you.”
She hates you having friends who aren’t her.

It was me he could trust,
Me he could confide in.
But she tied him down,
Relentlessly,
Angrily,
His freedom was compromised
As long as she was there.

I yearned for the day
When he’d finally realise
That she really wasn’t worth his commitment.
She’d never give him what he wished for.

I could.
I really could.
If only he’d see that.
If only, if only, if only…

Then, one night.

One strange, wonderful night,

He kissed me.

His lips were soft and sweet,
Like cotton candy,
To be cliched.
His touch was desperate,
Passionate,
Intense,
Clawing for affection
In that dingy nightclub,
Pulling me towards him,
As though he were clinging for his life.

He’d finally realised,
His decision was right.

Her?
She’s a problem no more.
A distant memory,
A wall between our love.
A wall which now has crumbled.

He and I were meant to be.
A love which was pure,
A love like no other.
She was just a jealous bitch,
Incapable of realising
That he was better off without her.

She is gone,
Her reign is over.

And, it makes me think:
What is it like,
To be the other girl,
Desperate for affection,
While his solace comes
From the arms of another?

But, never mind.
His choice was made.
A happy three years came to naught.
But, me? I’m fine.
I’ve won.
Now, she’s but a distant dream.
Now, she must realise
That nothing halts a true love’s path.
She gave her life to him,
I know,
But, now, his life is all to me.
I know she’ll find another man,
But at this point,
I couldn’t care less.

A Day Alone in a New City

I know I’ve not written in ages, but I’ve been very, very busy with moving to Brighton. I’m hopefully going to get more of a chance to write, I’ve got so many drafts saved at the moment. I’d like to do something on leaving home, maybe, or fresher’s week? I’m not sure. Uni will be strange.

Anyway, for now, here’s a piece of creative writing, inspired by my first day alone in my new flat.

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New places usually left her with a night’s sleep which was wanting more, but she awoke surprisingly refreshed, and proceeded to try and figure out the shower. The bathroom was still a bit grimy. She remembered that she was going to try and get the soap scum off the bottom, but forgot in favour of getting a bit pissed instead. It wasn’t a decision she regretted; the alcohol-induced wooziness was probably what made her sleep okay in the first place.

The water came out cold, as was usually characteristic of unfamiliar showers. They were a mystery akin to the Enigma codes. Or, at least, that’s how it felt, standing naked in the bathroom, desperately trying to figure out why, no matter which way you turned it, the water still came out at arctic temperatures. Eventually, she realised that the previous tenant had probably knocked off the knob at some time or another, and had managed to put it back upside-down. Cold meant hot. She’d have to remember that.

And, God, the neighbours were loud. She wasn’t sure if the door upstairs slamming was someone going in or out, but she could still hear his voice. He sounded very self-assured, to say the least.

She strolled through the underpass beneath the station, nearly tripping over a small child who’d stopped suddenly in the middle of the pavement to try  and catch a Pokémon. Coming up from the other side was a family with suitcases, so she climbed the step of the shop beside her to skirt around the congestion. People-Dodging really needed a companion. The subsequent complaining made it more fun. She shrugged, and tried to navigate the twists and turns in the Lanes. To be specific, that was which ones had cars going down them, and which ones didn’t. It was odd, really. The roads were open to traffic, evidently because it was a weekday, but it didn’t seem any less busy than the Sunday before, when pedestrians could stroll freely, without fear of some wanker in a BMW about to run them down.

You could quickly see who were tourists and who lived here all year round. The resident Brightonians, the ones who fitted the vibe, were the alternative crowd, minding their own business as they weaved around the holidaying families with surly, tracksuit-clad teenagers who sneered at them. As she passed, they sneered at her, too. She wasn’t sure if she should feel self-conscious or proud. They thought she was one of them. She fitted in here, after arriving from a place where she so often stood out like a sore thumb.

Pride aside, the Lanes seemed to have lost their charm in the peak season. She wistfully recalled trips with her boyfriend in the spring months. Colder, yes, but the character was there. The shopkeepers were calmer, happier, more relaxed. She looked forward to those months again, silently punishing herself for doing so.

You were a tourist, too, barely a week ago.

Guilty though she felt, the part of her which could quote BN1 as her postcode provoked her onwards. Get what you need, then you can go home.

The roads still scared her when she was alone. Brave, experienced shoppers charged through as the buses pulled around corners at alarmingly high speeds. Best to wait for the green, now make a run for the mall itself. Churchill Square is always crowded. She fought her way through the hoards of schoolchildren, staring wistfully at clothes their pocket money wouldn’t stretch to. She remembered those days, and then she yearned for her old job, back home. Home? Climbing the stairs of Urban Outfitters, they walked in rows of 5, silent and sullen. She edged around them and ran for the homeware shops. Too much effort. All she’d wanted was a toothbrush holder, anyway.

Arriving home, after pushing through more crowds, all she wanted was a cold drink. Typically, her family, before leaving the night before, had finished all the apple juice, and she really didn’t have the energy to go back out again. All that was left was wine. She shrugged. She was alone. Her house, her rules, and while wine at 4pm wasn’t a rule, it wasn’t frowned upon, either.

Taking a sip of delicious Sauvignon, she smiled.

Home.