Saturday, 15 August 2009

Going back though not backwards

I'm taking my son to my parents tomorrow. My brother's going to drive us which is cool. My mum and dad are moving house so I have to go through my old stuff and decide whether I save it or chuck it out. Photo's mostly of school and social life in my late teens and early twenties. Letters, tons of letters as I was a prolific letter writer when I was younger and kept what I received.

Things, tons of things, like my brownie badges, t-shirts I kept from so many adventures: Bonheur 2, the yacht I worked on, the Barcelona Olympics, the dragon boat race I competed in in Japan. A signed school shirt from my premature eviction aged 16. People say "Been there, done that, got the postcard." I was very much "been there, done that, got the clothes". There are alot of postcards too though.

Most of it will have to go. I hang on to the past through objects as a way to remember it. There's no space for it here though. It will be a wrench. It's good to let go of the bad stuff, but the good, the good, it's always good to go back to the good...

I'll have a little ceremony or hell's bells, see if I can bring it all back!

Fire starters at Papier Mache Towers

My son is home, hurrah! And today he suggested a picnic on Hampstead Heath. We lay about, larked about, lazed about in the breezy sun then popped into the playground before heading home.

In the little playground outside our block, the little boy from the 4th floor tells me a group of teenagers started a fire on the ground floor inside but he called to his mother whose emphatic tones made them scarper. I looked up and his mother was on the phone to somebody. The police? I wondered.

The two boys with little J were telling me there were five of them, two of them girls, up there smoking cigarettes before they went on the rampage for telephone directories left outside people's doorways which they could set alight.

Once in the block neither myself nor my son could resist climbing up to have a look. It was still smouldering next to the lifts so I poured what little was left of my water onto it. I then went up to the fourth floor to ask the mum if she'd called the police. She hadn't. I thought we should. Just so it could be logged, you know, should it happen again.

The police ask me if it's worth calling a fire engine and I say no, it's smouldering but it should be ok. Camberwell wasn't long ago though was it? Six people died in that Papier Mache Tower inferno. Started by a fag butt if I read it right.

WOOO WOOO WOOO goes the big red fire engine for our tiny smouldering pile. I suppress a laugh because it's not funny. The five teenagers are standing across the road watching it all unfold. I've seen them outside the block a few times. They're not 'ours' which is why they play here. Crime; crime's increasing here at Papier Mache Towers, it's getting worse, says the mum on the fourth floor.

The firemen said the kids might see their presence as some kind of game to be played and do it again. I'm hoping the kids will see fire as a game best played outside, if played at all.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Big Chill

It was AMAZING!!


Fletch texted: "What was the highlight?"

Why, the people I was with!!! The fantabulously fabulous Annie and her fantastic Age of Stupid crew!!!


Oh happy daze!!

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Big Chill

Sleeping bag? Check
Torch? Check
Army knife? Check
Pants? Check
Shorts? Check
T-shirts? Check
Dress? Check
Flip flops? Check
Something warm? Er, kind of check
Toiletries? Check, ooh, must pack loo roll
Shopping list for snacks and booze? Check
Tidy flat to come home to? Unchecked but sod it, I've got next week to sort that out!

Wee heeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm going to a festival, I'm going to a festival, it's free! It's free!
Going to have a lovely time
Going to chill and drink some wine
Going to dance to tunes I don't know
I'm gonna let the good times flow
Wee heeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Thanks Annie!!


I texted the Foca yesterday asking if our son could phone me. When he did it was on my Mother Out Law's phone. I chatted to her briefly, the line was bad. When my son came on it cut out. I howled.

They tried again minutes later. In between breaks in the line my son told me how his dad had bought him a wetsuit and did I like the card he made me. He sounded so grown up, not the soprano babble I'd heard from my neice when I spoke to my mother earlier.

Feeling somewhat dead emotionally, I went onto Facebook and found Luke, my shit school aquaintance. "How are you Mr?" He answered, as I knew he would. Good blokes do.

We talked, then he said "Bye."
"Have a great evening," I answered, "What you up to?" So much unsaid, I couldn't let go....

Then, "This is crazy... I miss you..." and as I read, tears fell down my cheeks, gently, like a caress. He let me go. I let him go. I didn't want that but had to, for both our sakes.

Earlier I'd been flirting with the idea of going to see Von Trier's Antichrist. Slated and applauded by the reviews in equal measure, I wondered if I could do horror on my own. Perhaps I should go and see Cloud 9, a gentle German film about love in old age. I'll be old one day, give me hope.

The rain tore down outside. Antichrist it was.

Critics said it was sexually explicit and violent. It was but not gratuitously. It plundered the emotions of grief, pain and despair. In the prologue, the protagonists played by Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are making love as their son falls out of a window and dies.

Gainsbourg is brilliant as the mother torn apart by grief. I found this hard to watch. I would want to die too. They go to Eden where she'd spent the summer before with her son. Her husband, a therapist, projecting his pain, all rational and contained, onto her.

It's a journey into the human psyche. The ugly, distorted aspects of our nature as we battle emotions more powerful than ourselves. Aspects of ourselves that offer no redemption. The film offered no redemption. Perhaps the title is the most controversial part of this film. I was glad I'd gone to see it.

I came out and the Trumpet Player had sent me a text. "You are a freak of nature."

Right! OK! If you say so!

Me, the freak, is off to the Big Chill in an hour. The perfect antidote. My nature in nature, dancing, chatting, having fun with other natures who are there to dance, chat and have fun with other natures. It's what it's all about isn't it? Chilling out!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Dobbie's written back

An envelope embossed with House of Commons has plopped onto my door mat. Thank you Dobbie.

He's let me know that unfortunately he hasn't yet arranged to meet with a delegation from Camden and he doesn't know if he'll be able to include me "because of all the tenants' leaders who will wish to attend". However he says he will write to me again nearer the time.

Perhaps I should write another. I've been responding to emails from tenants' leaders today. We are all cc'd for greater transparency. There's a whole Broo Ha Ha over what should go on the NO SELL OFF's flyer. Someone at the meeting on Monday said "Your home next" should be included so I wrote that I agreed with that as there are so many homeless, people in hostels, temporary accommodation, on the Private Rental Scheme scam affected by all this. Man from the Federation of council tenants doesn't agree and nor does the man from CASP (Camden's Assocation of Street Properties). They say it's scaremongering. Casp Man doesn't think anything should be mentioned about the privatisation of caretakers on the flyer as that hasn't been 'mandated'.

Another woman wrote to Fed Man asking him to stop having temper tantrums over it all, which I found very funny. Honestly, emails go back and forth, back and forth, with some wanting this or that included, others saying NO! I'm too new to care too much at this juncture but I must say, I am enjoying the debate!

So yes, I ought to write to Dobbie again and say I will be representing homeless people and families. You never know, he might say OK. However, I'll see if he writes to me first.

The boredom of bidding

Only two of the ten properties are council ones this week. The rest are housing association. Wasn't shortlisted for any of the four I bid on last week. Won't be shortlisted for the one I've bid on today. Drone drone. Drone drone drone.


Old Shit School acquaintance emailed me about a month ago asking if I wanted to do something with him while my son was away. I replied as honestly as I could: "I really want to see you but I'm very confused about how I feel." This I was, I am. He asked me to marry him. I didn't reply in case it wasn't a joke.

I've not heard from him since but I know this is because he is waiting to hear from me. If I call, he will answer. He's that kind of guy.

I didn't tell him I was going on a date with a Trumpet Player though. I met him a couple of weeks ago at the Squatters Family Gathering Festival. The Trumpet Player's jazz punk band were performing. I got talking to him afterwards, bought him a drink, chatted to him by the bonfire while my son shouted 'look mummy look!' while writing his name with a stick dipped in fire. The Trumpet Player asked for my number, I said "OK". He said "You're not married are you?" and I said "No."

On our date he asked if I'd had a relationship since the foca left. I said "Yes." He didn't ask more than that, which was lucky, as I wouldn't know what to say.

Will I see him again? Maybe. He's interesting company. He's younger than me though, not much younger but he is. And I am old, I am very old. I am 200 years old.


I had to leave the meeting about council housing sell off's just as it really got underway as I had to go and meet the Trumpet Player (yep, sorry folks, not the French Horn...)

The housing meeting was good. There were about eight of us. I certainly felt like the new girl and was very quiet amongst this vocal bunch.

They talked about deputations to councillors and moratoriums and I thought must look up the meaning of those words when I get home.

A deputation is the act of appointing somebody to represent or act for another or others or
The person or body so appointed or authorised.
From what I gathered not alot of councillors want to climb on board, particularly the Tory or Lib Dem ones.....

A moratorium is a suspension of activity or an authorised period of delay or period of waiting. Stop the sell off's, get a consultation going before the council privatises caretakers.

That was the order of the day. Oh and getting more 'grassroots' on board. People like me. Tenants. They are going to put out leaflets. There must have been much discussion as to what should go onto this leaflet going by the number of emails I've been cc'd in since.

It's a big campaign. Huge. A battle on two fronts - the council flat sell off AND the privatisation of caretakers. I have such little energy for it but I must, I must find some.

So it was good to go and sink a glass of wine and not talk about any of it with the Trumpet Player. He turned up late with a white shirt unbuttoned to the navel showcasing a hairy chest which I found quite funny; Magnum without the tash kind of thing.

Oh and I wore boots. A black dress and brown biker boots. I applied lip gloss in the Crown and Goose loos on my way to our gastro pub venue. I was neither glam nor Milly Tant. I was just me. It was good.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Council cock-ups

I've received a letter from the council this afternoon. It reads:

"I am writing to let you know that you are due to have a Housing Plan Interview on 30/07/09....
Please note: It is important that you attend your Housing Plan interview. Failure to do so may result in your housing application being suspended."

When did I receive it? Today! 4/08/09!
When is their letter dated? Why whaddayaknow, 30/07/09.
They want me to attend the interview the same day they are writing the letter informing me to do so.

They will penalise me. They have done before; suspended my housing application. I attended the interview when told to do so but then they sent me another letter a week later telling me I was due my six month check. I couldn't get through on the phone to tell them their cockup so they suspended me instead. In the end I had to cycle down to their offices. I can't get through today either.

If they compensated me for their fuck ups I'd have a million points. I'd be housed now.

The council, the government, none of its operatives have the brains they were born with which is why millions of people are in the same situation as me.

Don't get me started, I have to go out. A housing meeting against council sell off's followed by a date with a french horn player. I don't know what to wear. Don't want to go to the housing meeting all glammed up and don't want to go on the date all Milly Tant.

Oh that life was more simple. Grrrr.

My beauty routine


Accepting access

I accept that my son needs space away from me. I accept that I need space away from him. It doesn't mean I have to like it though. He's only six! It's been four days, there's another ten more to go. I want to see him, give him a hug, kiss his cheeks, rub noses! I want to see him now!

Izzy whizzy must keep busy
Plenty to do
Get dressed
Send an email to he who said he'd publish my Book That Will Never Be Published
Must do that
Read the last Harry Potter so I can find out what happens at the end
Declutter the flat
Declutter my mind
Declutter my flat

The boy's away, his mummy plays

I've had a great time since my son went to Ireland.

On Friday I went out with Anne, Em and Hus to the Meze Restaurant in Soho. The Evening Standard are doing a meal for a tenner promotion. I stuffed myself royally. We then paid a fiver to get into the club next door to Bar Italia and boogied to cheesy tunes well into the night. Fab. It was fab.

On Saturday I met my old college friend Kelly and her sister. We did a mini pub crawl around Shoreditch with Kelly's Corona promoters. Guzzling for free in the Light Bar and then Bar Kick was followed by a meal in The Breakfast Club in Hoxton, which houses The World's Smallest Disco in the loos!!! We then had a final drink in The Far Eastern Club? Great Eastern Club? Can't remember... Corona swiped my memory and Google's chucking nothing up.

On Sunday Annie was having a picnic on Hampstead Heath to say farewell to friends before she goes to New York for the global launch of the Age of Stupid. Sublime! The sun showed it's pretty face after the world cried it's eyes out the day before. Me and her uni friends from her BA days basked in the long grass with a plate in one hand and a glass in the other. Glorious!

Yesterday I finally wrote the Parent's Perspective for the Safeguarding Report that's coming out in the Autumn then ran into a stigmum who's daughter used to go to my son's school. Turned out it was her birthday. Do I want to join her and friends for a drink she asked? I do so love a birthday!

Since her daughter was born six years ago this mother has never spent one night away from her. Not one. I can't imagine that, can't imagine it at all. My boy comes back in ten nights time. I want him back now. I need him back, I need to dry out!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I miss you mummy

I opened the card my son made for me before he left for Ireland. He still occasionally draws the pictures on the back, which he's done this time. He's swimming in the sea and there's a stick person with a jelly belly splayed out on a beach towel soaking in the sun, which I'm assuming is me.

Inside he's written:

To my mummy
I miss you
I just want you to come. lots and
lots of love


I miss my son before he goes. So it seems he misses me too as he waits to leave. I'll wager that right this minute though I'm the furthest person in his mind as he has lunch with all his cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. He's giggling and telling funny stories.
I don't want him to miss me. It's heartbreaking when your child phones in tears and there's nothing you can do.
I want him to have a blast. That's what he's doing, having a blast. So I am happy and the only thing that's welling up in my eyes is love.
How I love him, how I do....

Meeting the Foca's girlfriend

Me: Do you know your boyfriend has given us two different truths?
Girlfriend: What do you mean?
Me: He told you I really wanted to meet you and he told me you really wanted to meet me. Neither is true is it?

I had wanted to meet her reader, when I first became aware of her existence - a year after the Foca left and our son could speak. I'd ask the Foca if I could meet her and he'd say "yeah yeah, I'll sort it."

About a year after that the Foca and I meet to discuss access. As he prepares to leave he says: "My girlfriend's moving in with me. She really wants to meet you."
"Oh is that so?" I say. "Now she's got her feet under the table you are happy that we meet. Well I don't want to anymore." And I didn't. I really didn't. I'd been asking for a year. I suddenly lost interest.

Oh but the Foca pushed and pushed. Even got his mother to call me. Finally, to get them all off my back I agreed to meet her, in a coffee shop, in Camden.

I knew only what my son had told me, that she was blonde. The Foca's got a string of beautiful ex's, so I imagined this one must look like Kate Moss or Claudia Schiffer. I wore a light patterned summer dress from Oasis, my green platform wedges and minimal make-up. Keep it simple, I told myself.

When I got to Cafe Nero, I saw quite a few blondes. One wore glasses, one was reading a book, one twirling her coffee with a spoon. Which one was she? I sat at a table at the back and I waited.
A non-descript looking blonde walked up to me. "Are you Sue?" she asked.
"You walked straight past me," she said.
"Well I didn't know what you looked like. You have the advantage of having seen photos of me."

She'd secured two armchairs in the middle of the cafe. We started talking.

She was wearing a white floaty hippy type skirt and matching top. She looked normal, neither beautiful nor unattractive. She seemed alright, which was a relief given she hangs out with my son every other weekend.

She failed to unravel a few mysteries for me though. I was still none the wiser as to when she'd got together with the Foca. He'd said he'd met her at work (when still with me) but wouldn't say when they got it together. the Foca's mother, my ex Mother Out Law, said the pair of them had spent the weekend with her in July. The girlfriend said they'd got it together the following October. I didn't know who to believe so I chose to believe my ex Mother Out Law. I have a relationship with her.

The girlfriend also said she didn't send the stream of vitriolic texts that came to me from my ex's phone when he was bringing my son home from a bank holiday weekend a few months earlier.
"So he was stopping the car every four to five minutes to write and send one?" "No," she answered.
"So he was texting while he was driving?" "No."
"Well what then? He wrote them while he drove, he stopped to write them, or you wrote them for him, texts don't just write themselves?" "No, I don't know, I don't know." She was getting flustered so I dropped it.

Then fate intervened, in the form of a thief. My bag which was by my side, had gone.

It's always a surreal moment when something is stolen. There's that momentary disbelief where you think perhaps it wasn't by your side but under the chair, behind the chair, under the table. You search and search.
"It wasn't me!" she exclaimed as my eye caught hers.
"I wasn't suggesting it was!" I answered.

Fluster fluster, "I'll lend you money," she said which I accepted. I had to, I needed a bus fare to the housing association to get the spare set of keys.

I've spoken to her once, since. I told the ex I didn't want her and the new baby to come to our son's 5th birthday. Showcase his new family on my son's day. I called her to explain why so the Foca couldn't distort it. She was cool. "I wouldn't like it either," she said.

Since then I don't like it when the Foca drives up to the block with his family. Or I hadn't, until Friday. If I don't see his "unit" I don't have to acknowledge it, I don't have to acknowledge anything, how he's moved on, living in a nice house with a garden with a wife and kid and another kid on the way while I live in a benefits bucket fighting a council which turns a blind eye to the needs of my child and myself. While I live in a kind of limbo, trying to move forward, then being pushed back.

In the future I'll walk up to their car if my son is in it. I won't stand peering over a balcony up in the sky desperately wanting to see his beautiful face. Nor will she have to crane her head out of her window to take a look at me. She'll be able to have a bloody good look, if that's what she wants.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


It was a good idea to go up to the Heath yesterday, I had a nice time. Only I didn't bank on the Foca ringing saying he'd forgotten our son's passport and he'd come by to collect it when on route to his holiday. Ah, I'll see my son again, I thought. Only I didn't think did I? Didn't think at all. Just lay on the grass in the sunshine watching wispy clouds disappear into the sky.

Sometime later, back at home, the buzzer goes. "Mummy, will you come down with my passport?"
"Of course I will lovely boy."

Now in the past I've asked my ex not to bring his "unit" to my front door. After he got married he'd rock up with his wife in the car and I told him "nothing's changed now she's your wife" so he now usually parks around the corner where I don't have to see his life. I don't have a problem with his wife. I have a problem with his "unit". Him and her together. Him and her and their kid. Him and her and their kid and my son.

I see my son and I give him a hug and the Foca tells him "Come on, come on, we've got to go," and my son skips out excitedly. I watch him run out, see the car and do not follow. I go back up the lift hoping to reach the balcony in time to see them drive off. No danger of that not happening, it turned out.

I look over as the Foca is strapping our son into the back seat. I see his wife's dismembered arms sitting on her lap. It's only when she peers out of the window and looks up at me that fury overwhelms me. Or perhaps the thought came first: "Take a good look you fucking stupid cow." Either way, I now know I'm angry because in reality she isn't a stupid cow. She might be, I don't know, I don't know her.

I try to look if I can see my son through his window. I can't. The Foca's checking the suspension on the racks holding the bikes on the back of the car. "Oh for fucks sake leave," I find myself thinking. He checks the left side, then the right, then the left again, meanwhile I'm feeling more and more exasperated.

A van comes up the road. The Foca gets into the car and eventually clinks in his seatbelt and switches in the ignition. At last, they're off. "What NOW?" I peer over. They are stuck behind the van as a child gets out and the driver chats to her.

Eventually, after what seems like a million years, they go. I enter my flat desperately wanting a beer but instead down the cup of tea which has gone cold on the table.

I'm in a self destruct mood. I want to go out and drink myself into an oblivion. I don't want to talk to anybody. I don't want anybody to talk to me. Rage, rage, rage fills my tiny flat. All that won't be acknowledged, all that can't be articulated, all that should have gone into the pond, instead clings to every bit of paper, every dying flower, every reflection in the mirror as I decide not to wear red lipstick. Blood red. Black eyes. AAAAAAAAAAAARGH.

Instead of going up in the lift, I could've walked out to the car. I could've chatted to my son as his father arsed around. Not imagined him as I stood watching the car window from so far away.

Even after all these years, I'm not one of those mothers who are really cool with her ex and his new family. Not one of these mothers who are friends with the couple, happy making small talk, happy to hang out with them.

I can't let it go, any of it. The Foca is so inextricably bound to where I am now. Seven years ago I moved out of my bolthole to live with him because he said my studio was no place to raise a baby. I haven't forgiven myself for ignoring my instinct to stay put. Twice I've taken my son to the Homeless Person's Unit. Who knows what will happen when the lease runs out here next year.

Alcohol is a great anaesthetic but I didn't drink myself into an oblivion. I met my friends and I told them what happened. "Do you have a problem with your ex being with his wife?" asked Anne. "No I don't, he's welcome to her, she's welcome to him, I never want him back." The housing they know about. It was good to talk about other things.

I do have a problem, but it's mine. I'll see myself out of the darkness and into the light. One day.
For now I need to have a bath. I'm out with another old friend tonight. She works for the drinks industry so we'll guzzle on expenses. I'm only human, not much a dancer. Yet. (The Killers)