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So there I am, tearing down the high street in my beloved grey marl sweats, and me, I hear a small shrill voice calling. ‘Hel-lo-hoo!’ This voice, it’s tiny, it must be way off, yet it seems right in my ear. ‘Hel-lo! Ari-el! Hel-lo! Help me!’

Me, I come to a standstill, scanning around the street, somewhat confused. People scurry by in their shopping trances, not-there there, all caught up with important nonsense, the glorious a-void-dance we all do so well. Me, I want to do that dance, but the voice, it tells me, ‘Over here! I’m here!’ And frowning, no choice, I follow its apparent direction. ‘Yes, here! This way!’ I’m getting to wonder if this is a ghost. Either that or I’m truly off my trolley—because I seem to be the only one who hears the ethereal call. Tugged by it still, I crash through the door of a busy bakery.

‘Ariel!’ the voice cries triumphantly.

And hark at this: Me, I realise I am mad—bewitched you might say. And it’s wonderful! I am under the influence of a lean, long-legged blonde. A doll with boobs.

Absolutely: it’s Barbie.

There she sits, on a shelf by the window, surrounded by buns, donuts, éclairs, in a little frilly apron—some sort of shop mascot. People queue up, ordering doughy goods, while Barbie, her wide staring eyes stare at me.

Oh, what big eyes you have, I think to myself. All the better to see you with, my dear.

‘Hello’, says Barbie. ‘You found me at last!

To be sure, when she talks, Barbie, her mouth, it doesn’t move. This is not Toy Story. There she sits, smiling. Her lips apart just so.

What BIG teeth you have. I think, saying to her, ‘Hi.’

And she says, ‘My teeth are not big. Wrong story! Seriously, too much big bad wolf, Ariel—you’ve got to quit—all this spying on him is getting to be something like stalking and—’

‘—Blimey,’ I tell her. ‘Okay, Barbie, none of your business. That wasn’t meant for you; it’s an Ariel-to-Ariel ism. What are you, anyway?—telepathic?’ Barbie laughs. ‘This is awesome.’ I add. And believe me, awesome is not a word in my vocabulary. Barbie laughs again.

‘I’m glad you could come,’ she says. ‘Buy a bun and dance with it. Avoid no more. Abundance is the way to go.’

I smile. ‘I like the void. It has its merits. Space and all that. Is that what you got me here for? To buy buns? How much do they pay you?’

‘No. I want to tell the world a thing or two, and you’re the one I’ve picked to do it for me—you get me? Because I’m a doll.’

You don’t say? All the better to sally with you, my dear!

‘So shoot,’ I tell her. ‘I’m game.’

‘Fact is, I’m fed up with being an ideal,’ says Barbie.

‘Yes, that must be a trial,’ I say sarcastically.

‘Be serious, Ariel. This is a serious issue. I’m a toy. But I’m fashioned sexy and it’s very confusing. The messaging—you know, people are making lewd videos with me. I’ve seen them on You-Tube. But I’m straying… Point is, I need some form of humanity. Something that smashes the ideal. Women don’t have bodies like mine. My body is misrepresentative.’

‘But you are a doll, Barbie.’

‘I’m unrealistic. An unrealistic ideal!’

‘True. You are pretty ridiculous.’

‘Hel-lo!’ she says.

‘Well you said it.’

‘No,’ she says. ‘I said unrealistic.

‘Yes, your feet are too tiny. And so is your waist—and your hair is—come onit is—it’s way BIG—it’s fracking ridiculous. Hydraulic.’

Unrealistic,’ she states defiantly. ‘What I am, is a plastic ideal. And I’m sick of it. I want to be a woman.’

‘Great,’ I tell her. And I find myself thinking ridiculously: Oh, if only I were a doll. No real life: an un-breathing plastic ideal. How ideal! And then, desperately, I yell in my head: What is it I want?! And I get to thinking that when I was an ideal, all that time ago—when he, that un-man, was into me —it wasn’t so hot, he never really saw me—because ideal women—idolized, whatever—they have nowhere to go except down. A long long way to fall. To Barbie I blather, ‘So you want me to tell the world how fed up you are?’

‘I want to live,’ cries Barbie.

This takes me by surprise. ‘I want to live?’ I echo mournfully.

‘I want body fluids. You, Ariel, you have them, you own up to them! Your stuff of life.’

‘Yes but…’

‘I want to accept myself. Y’hear, Ariel, accept yourself! Look,’ Barbie says, matter-of-fact. ‘What you can do, what I really want is for you to make me a gusset. What is it you say about it—in your Introduction? That the gusset carries an awareness of the life-cycle. It suggests the state of becoming blemished, by it’s very existence, it’s very purpose—that’s what you say! It represents reality. The opposite of the ideal—oh shame, embarrassment, pain—give them to me!’

Me, I think to myself: You want those things?! Girl, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

‘I do,’ she answers. ‘I know perfectly well what I’m saying!’ She’s inside my thoughts again. ‘It’s called being alive! You, Ariel, you feel! You dare to feel! You’re brave! Don’t you see? For all the pain, it’s wonderful!’

‘You shouldn’t do that, Barbie,’ I tell her, dazed. ‘It’s rude to stalk my thoughts. My thoughts are my thoughts—they’re not for you to mine.’

Barbie, she ignores me, she cries, ‘We can do it, Ariel! We must survive loss. The loss of idealization. The loss of your loves. Oh make me a gusset, Ariel! Let me live.

Me, I smile ruefully, nodding. I realise, Barbie, she’s a bit of a sage. Ridiculous, but true. And why not? ‘I get you,’ I say. ‘I really do.’

Given half the chance, we’re more than meets the eye. Ideal women do not actually exist. We all spill. To be judged ideal is a camouflaged curse. ‘Blimey, for a moment I was actually willing myself to be you.’

Barbie cries. ‘If I could only be you…’

‘Be me? Why would you ever want to be me?’

It’s ridiculous, but there are tears in my eyes.

‘Oh Ariel, you’re alive. Stop the avoidance! Dance with a bun! Make me a gusset! Avenge me, Ariel! Give me life. Only you can do it.’

I smile with wet eyes. ‘Barbie, I’m going to do it. I’ll do it.’

‘That’s awesome!’ she says. ‘But look, I haven’t got any knickers. You’ll have to get me some—’

Me, I reach up and grab Barbie from the shelf. I turn her upside-down, inspecting her bare plastic bottom; it’s obvious there’s quite a lot missing down there. Barbie, she’s yelling, ‘No! I don’t mean literally! Get off! Ariel, stop it! Put me down! I’ve had enough humiliation!’

‘Sorry, sorry…’ I murmur, up-righting her, holding her ‘perfect’ little body at arm’s length.

At this stage, the shop assistant, she clocks me playing with Barbie, and she’s heading over, red-faced: ‘Oi you! Oi!’

Me, I tell her quick, ‘I was looking for her stamp of authenticity.’

‘She’s real alright,’ Shop Woman says, demanding Barbie with her open hand. ‘Can I help you? ’

‘Have you got anything wheat-free?’ I ask stupidly.

Baker Woman snatches Barbie from my grasp, checking out her pert posterior, her smooth un-crack. ‘If you’ve damaged this Barbie, they’ll be trouble. You’ve no right. She’s our lucky charm.’

‘She’s fine,’ I say. ‘Too fine. That’s her problem.’ As Barbie is plopped back on her shelf, I smile, adding decisively. ‘I’ll take a bun. A sticky bun.’

And to Barbie, I say, ‘Sorted! Let’s give you some real taboo. Let’s give them all a bit of a stir, shall we?! You may not have a cu_t, but I can fix things for you! I will. I’ll give you something that speaks of life, of humanity, something that every person must face. A stain. I’ll avenge your plastic ideal. ’

And I do. And this is that.


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?

“would you adam and eve it?”

Latest news delivered to you the old fashioned way:

takka-takka-takka ***gusset bulletin 1*** see update: fast gusset

takka-takka-takka ***gusset bulletin 2*** see update: gusset gallery

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…

How is it that the people that hurt you, those self-serving snakes who used you up then chucked you raw—honest-to-goodness hurt you—how is it, these people, you miss them?

How can that be?

When it was you who ran away?

I mean—you get me?—I’m the first to say it, me, I ran fast as any bunny can. I hopped, skidded and skedaddled up hill and down dale, I scurried the gamut of adapted cliché, slalomed the poppycock of all those well-worn, old hat phrases. Yeah, I saw the writing was on the wall; I leapt out of the frying pan into the pyre; I ran with my tail between my pegs. You couldn’t see me for must.

Muddy truth be told, deep down in the mess of me—you probably realise by now—if perchance you’ve attended these pages—yep, deep down in the sticky jam of me, I miss him.

Even T.B., he who lives with me, he cannot save me from that—for all his love and devotion. Ashamed as I am to admit it, me, I look for that wolf, for that dastardly devil, I look for him in Ted. I want for Teddy to speak big bad wolf words. Because the big bad wolf, he wasn’t all bad, and he sang me many a honeyed verse. And he sure knew how to… (lowered register here)… lurve me; yeah, he sugared my cherry a treat.

This wolf in man’s clothing, he knew how to get to me—you get me?

I’ve gotta admit it, I’ve found in T.B. a creamy, fresh, wholesome version of him. See, Teddy, he’s honest. He tells me things I don’t want to hear, things that he thinks will help me. And he’s celibate these days. We share an innocence, a pure and simple version of love. While at the same time, he’s a bit of lizardy lay-about, and a bit of a puffer—like him—slow-voiced and languorous, hazed in his dooby schmooby; a thing strangely seductive, laced as it is in memory lane.

Poor T.B.

Okay, so while I’m confessing, me, for sure, I’ve been a-runnin and a-huntin some more. I’ve loitered in woods and doorways. I’ve been on the look-out for his natty wolfish form. Betraying T.B. and my own integrity. I’m a foolish tail, harmless enough, but a tail nevertheless. A haunter. And it’s all a dream, miles and miles from reality. Me, I’ve locked myself away, living my own starry fairy tale.

I locked myself in—

and I locked myself out.

Then went about losing the key. On purpose.

The key to myself. To what really happened.

I don’t want to know, I don’t want to go, into the labyrinth of who I am. Yet truly, I long to be found. I peek though the keyhole, getting but a glimpse into my own heart, a tiny keyhole-shaped view, something that shows me just a little bit, a limited aspect, that is enough and not-enough, all at once. I peep into my past—just the keyhole sized parts I can handle. I wantonly live in denial of the truth, kidding myself I’m seeking it. Or maybe, me, I am seeking truth in my own jumbled way.

I suppose I sound like a sap? Me, the maker of my own tower, the guard to my own cell, keeping myself locked out of the now, locked in to the peered-at piece of my past I dare to trace.

Through the keyhole is where I need to go. Open the lock and be free. One day. A long way away. When I can.

When I’m through getting my knickers in a twist maybe.

(warning: content may offend)

The long and the short of it is: these 3 little words are front page heaven and make for bigger newspaper sales.

gusset bulletin 1: See new page: making of the big bad wolf

gusset bulletin 2: See new page: fast gusset

gusset bulletin 3: gusset gallery  update

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…

One cold day, this bunny went a-huntin. She packed her nap-sack with a sandwich and a shooter. It wasn’t a pea (shooter), nor was it a pea (sandwich). And it wasn’t a bang-bang. It was an up-to-the-minute Canon with big bad sights. A zoom.

Me, I hopped a well-trodden path. Hoppity-hop. Innocent as pie. In a dedicated, spellbound kind of a way. Hop hop. If you’d seen this bunny, you might have spied the ecstatic glint in her eye. I skipped my way to that old place of glories, where vast naked beech limbs reach to clasp fingers of twigs. Under my plates (of meat = feet), beech-nut shells crunched; furry stars breaking in a topsy sky of leaves. The beech shells were smashing and the world was upside down. And I didn’t heed the warning. Who would?

The dear little bunny, she popped herself neatly behind the wide friendly girth of a tree. She sat for an hour or so. And she ate her smoked salmon cream cheese on rye. Not very rabbity, you say. She was expecting a wait, and she was, as you know, prepared. She was infinitely patient, something she prided herself on—and she was parked, to boot, on a dark brown cagoule, her grey marl bottom dry as dry could be. At the appointed time, the smart little bunny, she took up her camera, and scanned around the wood. She proudly knew he was coming. There were certain things about him which were clockwork. Besides, she was somewhat psychic. And she’d been at this lark for more than a week—since the last time she bounced through these pages, telling the tale of when she first click!-ed! his mug—remember?

They say pride comes before a fall—whoever they are—and maybe they’re right. Only the bunny, she didn’t realise. Who would?

Me, silly bunny, I was hooked on the thrill of the chase, hoisted on the scaffold of this new illicit obsession. I knew myself to be stalking, and it didn’t dent my conscience. I felt brilliant, like the clean winter light craning through the branches and dappling the ground. My tender, secret parts dilated with exquisite anticipation. The big bad wolf had become my thing (again). And me, I was getting to think that he wasn’t so bad. Just beautifully, wondrously big. Ah me.

The bunny, she waited, all vibed and fervent, and sure enough his footsteps came, pricking at her pixies (= ears). She raised her Canon to her too-clever sights and zoomed into the gap in the trees where she knew he would emerge, her fertile mind ogling him in advance of his arrival. She spied him at last. But this time, the wolf, his demeanour was different. He was smiling a soft-sugar soup. The wily ol’ bugger, he was not alone. He was holding hands. With a lithe little blondie; the gold of the bleach of her stupid long tresses glinting in the shimmer of a sunbeam. And blow me, if this wisecrack hadn’t gone and found himself some kind of a storybook pal. She was a Little Red Riding Hood in a red red coat, no messin.

Me, I saw at last the message of the crunched up furry floor of the wood: things broken = things over = things gone. I remembered that I was stupid; after all, my mother had made sure I couldn’t forget. I should have known the glory wouldn’t last. It was too good to be true. I stung a little; daft bunny weepers (= peepers = eyes) weeping true to their name. Then I pulled it together, my heart as stone. Me, I didn’t care.

I lined up the two in my sights, and shot them, the pair, good and proper. It was quite a satisfaction. They drifted past me in their dream of foolish togetherness and I stole their secrets in freeze-frame snaps.


Then up the bunny bopped, blithe as can be. Bop bop. This little piggy-pimple, she darted quietly after them, a tiny tell-tale tell-tail crunching underfoot. But they were too wrapped up to notice. She crushed the beech shells gladly, smashing their message of broken times. She didn’t care. Me, I wove in and out, duckin and a-divin, through the trees. Twisted, you may think she is: for she followed them. Twisted and turned through the woods.

On their tails.

One fine day, this bunny went a-runnin for a change. Just a-runnin. In an innocent, devoted kind of a way. Up hill, down dale, through the glades of former glories. With no special intent; no keepin a lookout; no particular reason to be carryin a camera. Me, I like to think she was bird watchin, this bunny. She carefully avoided the paths she used to love, until—by sheer blunder—she found herself ensconced among the beech trees, a place of long-lost thrill and kisses. Heartened—when she might have been blown—she settled herself. And waited. You might even say she hid. She didn’t mind the cold. She welcomed the damp. She was wrapped in her faithful grey marl sweats. Glowing from the run. She was resting. Waiting. Camera in hand.

And prowling predictably through the trees, the wolf, he made his big bad entry. About the time he always did. Not that I had been expecting him, you get me. Not that I had a plan—oh no. Me, I’m just a sweet little cookie, just like my Poppa told me. But I snuck a shot—why not?


Any un-sweet part of me is his fault.


I was centred as the sun in the sky, calm as a cat on a hot tin roof. I was cold as a blistering fire. How beautiful he was still, so powerfully alone. His being charged with my dreams; dreams breathy; dreams gone. I wanted so much to hate him, to hold him, to hold him to me. My pulse rose and paddled, knocking at my heart. Driving terrible tickle to that itty-bitty part. Tides rose and fell, sluiced me of anger.

A certain cotton coddler, dear little thing, discovered the secrets of…

Aah, but that: I keep.