Archives for category: once was days

Truth is, me, in case you hadn’t realised, I carry around a lot of secrets. They come two-a-penny and fill my pockets like all the worst sweeties. Lil fried eggs, rhubarb and custards… remember flying saucers? And I just can’t seem to unpack them—okay, so that’s a lie—even you know that, if you’ve taken a care to read me—no what I do is, I gorge on them—and I make myself sick. Right? I hide away and chew; suck, suck, sucking on secrets. It’s a folly, it really is.

Me, I’m a secreholic.

A memory addict.

Just how long can I last before I make a whole nother mess?

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t feel sorry for myself. More like I think—blithely of course (remember I’m a spirit and spirits, they are blithe (says Noel of the Coward-y custard kind))—what I think is: Me, I’m an idiot.

Don’t you know it: Things, they get imprinted when we’re scrappy lil kiddies—and we come to believe our own dumb dream. Like, what I’m saying is, I’m saying, Jeanie (=mother), she carelessly laid down this legacy for me. La-di-da: idiocy. Fact is, it wasn’t her fault—she was caught in the cruel clutches of something bigger than the both of us. She just fell far far away, disappeared into bitter sods of alcohol.

I lost my mother at the splendour age of four. When I lost my Poppa.

She was there, not-there. And he was there, not-there.

But what can you do?

Okay, so before you start crying in your soup, hold your horses and get this: me, I was a lucky lil perisher, because I had my Granny and my Granddad, two great wonders of the world. And before you attach to the image of a couple of ancients, know this: they were only thirty-six and thirty-seven respectively! These two loves had birthed their Jeanie (=my mother) just twenty years before. Jeanie had been so bright and happy but now my Poppa was gone she was lost. Granny and Granddad, they were under their own sorry strain, but girded themselves, girdling me. They took a hold of things. They tucked me up, and they brought in the bacon when my Poppa and Jeanie couldn’t do it any more. They saw me through.

Bless them.

And me, I waited. Pretending not to wait. Waiting for my Poppa to return. I remember him saying goodbye. He creeps through the mess of my cubbyhole room, careful not to wake me. Tenderly, he sweeps the yellow hair from my face, brushing it out onto the pillow, giving me the appearance of being caught in a gusty breath of wind. He is smiling and crying all at once, silently. Just one warm drop of him plops onto my cheek. Tomorrow I will discover it, a ring of crusty salt. And remember. He said, he said, I’ll be back, my little Ariel. He closes his fingers around my teddy’s mush, lifts him like that, like he’s a ball in his fist, and nestles him close into my loaf. He says, ‘You are decidedly threadbare. Now you look after her, you old thing, y’hear?’ Then he tilts into me once more and tells me in my dreams, ‘I’ll be back when you’re twenty, Ariel, my little sweet. Don’t worry. I’ll be back. When you’re twenty.’

And then he is Gone.

My Poppa, he came, secretly, that night, and told me he’d come back. He told me he’d come back. He told me. When you are twenty. I’ll be back.

Only I don’t know if he told me after he’d already Gone.

Only I do know.

Only I know.

Life and death, it’s a circle. We separate them, make them linear. Birth to death.

But it’s not like that.

We carry on. We are eternal. We are all one throbbing ball of energy, living together, separate, but not. You get me?

In a Time that was Once, in a land up the road, there lived a little girl with a grand Shakespearean name. The little spirit that she was, she had hung around her Poppa, naked and unborn, for quite some years, indeed since he himself was a boy, determined to materialise, when time was ripe, as his own wee babe in the world. She had wished herself so ardently to human form that the simple touch of her Poppa’s lips upon her mother’s was enough to ignite the egg that was her beginning.

Just like an old wives tale.

Which of course is a bit of a porkie (pie=lie); for after all, immaculate conception is the stuff of stories—is it not? Truth is, her parents did this yumptious thing that you have to do to bake a cookie. Her mother was but a babe herself (=not legal), and she may not have wanted to spring another life so soon had not the tiny sprite (=me) spun a wishing spell to captivate her. I was born to Jeanie (16 yrs) and Jimmy (19 yrs) on April 1st 19??, and a proper little fool I was. Wise and funny, a speaker of riddles. I was Shakespeare’s invention: fool and sprite in one. A magical gift born of wonder to youthful parents into a rosy world. And I became known as Ariel.

The little girl, she was very happy because she had everything she wanted. She did not know the land of cornucopia in which she dwelt would one day be shattered. She did not know that her wishing herself into this world was the quiet beginning of a calamity. For all she was a spirited sprite, she could not divine her destiny until it was upon her. For all her clever ways, she could not realise that her very name ensnared her in a Tempest from the beginning.

Now she is all grown up and beyond, she understands she is imprisoned in a tree, which is her body, with no Prospero to free her. She lives in a world of symbols. It is the only way to keep her situation all sewn up.

She is a bunny, a pussy, Ratso Rizzo and Travis Bickle; she is a little blown up human, a walking-talking-catch-a-story living doll. Me, I am more than meets the eye, less than you could ever imagine. A red representation of woman on a euphemism door…


Me, when I was seven, I had this bully friend and she, this hurly-burly fiend, she had this fetish for Lucky Knickers. In her world, it was a dead cert that if she wore them she always won a fight, always had her way, and was boss-girl supreme. This pig-headed gnasher, she would parade herself about with her hands on her hips, elbows jutting out, her mean piggy snout looking for trouble. Me, I was her pathetic little slave, lamely pulled along inside her shadow by her darker forces. I dreamt that one day, one day, I would give her a knuckle sandwich for tea, a juicy steak of fist, while meantime I yelled yellow insults at her from inside my head. Wazak! PIG! Ah me, I never did think to name my knickers Lucky and lick her when hers were in the wash.

Bunny that I am, me, I get to brooding on the other side of luck. The ‘Un’. Like the time when I was nine, and I was walking home from school through the woods and had this urge, this terrible urge to go—you get me. I needed a poo. Smack out of nowhere. I stopped and I waited, wringing my pegs one around the other, and I begged and I begged, sweat sopping my brow, heat mauling my mug. But try as I might, my crinkled little kiss of a bum-hole, it just couldn’t stop the journey my poo was bent on making, from out of the tunnel of my curly bowels, into the light of day. Yes, out it snaked, happy as Larry, slow at first, then packing my pants in a slurry of stinky ploop. Some say that Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet, while others dissent, but it’s widely accepted he came up with the ballcock. Had he been thinking environmentally he might have come up with an earth loo, a self-composting situation. But I digress—although who’s to say Crapper wasn’t wearing his Lucky Smalls when he was flushed(!) with his nutsprick idea?

But luck, surely, it’s simply a state of mind—no? It’s an idea. A concept. It doesn’t actually exist—does it? You can be feeling lucky and circumstance can overwhelm your mind-state and unlucky things can happen. Equally, your mind can tell you you’re lucky and you are. The power of the mind is at issue. Plus cultural mind-set, superstition, belief. Is luck a religion?

Me, I get to thinking, it could be useful to wear your Lucky Knickers on important dates: with a boy/girl you fancy; for an interview; for an exam. I suppose Unlucky Knickers only become so after the event, and then spend the rest of their days knocking about, abandoned in the bottom of an undies drawer…

Once, I was a princess. I had long yellow hair and I lived with a man I was mad about. I loved him ardently. I would do anything for him—and I mean anything; I gave him everything he wanted. But, me, I was never quite sure if he loved me back. Because he wouldn’t tell me—and he said he didn’t know what love was. Turned out, it was just the chemistry he loved—my body, my scent, the way that I grooved—it was pheromones and fairer moans, the ecstatic delights of the flesh.

Me, I’ll tell you now, I’m no princess no more. I hacked off my locks and locked up my heart. I threw everything away. The tale was told that the beast turned into a prince when you kissed him—but this prince, it was the other way around, he turned into the beastly wolf, big and bad as you like. The truth was, when I opened my eyes and finally admitted his dark heart, it was too late: he was carrying death in his arms. Death to me. To us. Death to love.

I saw the truth. He looked at me.

And I ran.

And before all that, a long time before, I used to be an angel, can you believe? I used to be my Poppa’s girl. I was born that way and I stayed that way til I was four. My Poppa, he was an angel too. We gloried in our shining light. Perhaps you wouldn’t remember those tiny toddling years, but, me, I remember every bit of them…until, in one foul swoop, I was angel no more. Poppa left and there was no one else willing to uphold so much heaven.

I suppose I waited all my life for the hole he left behind in my heart to be filled once more with love. And me, as you see, I was fooled by a wolf in man’s clothing.