You thought your smear test was bad?

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Being the feminist, strong-independent-woman type of lady that I am (because, obviously) I’ve been paying attention to the loud and proud ‘smear for smear’ campaign running riot on social media.

Being who I am I also, of course, couldn’t just post a quick boomerang of me smudging my lipstick all over my cheeks (in part because I’m an enormous lipcote fan and my bright red lip isn’t budging, babe) and have turned instead to writing – that being the way I peel open my skin and show you all my insides.

Now; to protect the innocent (and I mean you, not the characters involved) I will be naming no names in the following stories. The first tale is one my Grandmother – the incomparable Nanny B – told me when I was invited to my first smear test and called her to panic on the phone about the process.

Nanny B is a famous face in many of my stories; she was a powerful phenomenon – and her friends were cut from the same cloth.

Now; picture this. You are going for your own smear. It’s awkward. Nobody likes it. Not one of us want to be there, showing our muff to a stranger. Nobody wants to have their private places cranked open and discussed, and poked around. We KNOW we don’t like it. We know, ladies. But seriously – it could be so much worse…

FON (Friend Of Nanny) got The Letter. You know the one. THAT one. “Come and let a nice friendly young thing crank open your hoo-hoo and scrape things out of it. Wear fresh pants.”

And, because she was a responsible-lady-of-a-certain-age, she booked the appointment and went.

When she arrived at the surgery she had a call of nature and – as is so often the case (and, knowing what we do about NHS budgets, we can’t get mad) there was no toilet roll – so (again, being a responsible-lady-of-a-certain-age) she dug around in her handbag for a tissue to take care of business.

Mission accomplished, with an only-slightly-used kleenex from the depths of her handbag, she tootled back to the waiting room and listened for her name being called. When the call came, she was politely asked if she would mind (there being some history that made her interesting) if some student nurses were to witness proceedings, and she said she was absolutely fine with that.

Minutes later, she was lying on her back under a tissue-thin blanket, knickers removed and legs akimbo (we’ve all been there) and the doctor swept into the room with a gaggle of terribly young things (as FON called them) and someone off to the side ran the metal crank (I know, speculum, but crank is funnier) under a hot tap so she wasn’t uncomfortable (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!) and he asked a few questions, discussed the procedure, then lifted the tissue-thin-blanket.

There was a brief pause, a cough and a cleared throat, then things proceeded as expected – nice doctor talked the terribly young things through what he was doing, FON endured with as little discomfort as these things allow, and all in all it was rather brief and uneventful.

Until.

UNTIL.

As he folded the tissue-thin-blanket back over FON’s knees the nice Doctor met the eye of the supervising nurse, and, clearing his throat again, said “could you…” and, giant plastic tweasers in hand, supervising nurse stepped forward and dipped below the tissue-thin-blanket.

FON was a little confused, and felt a gentle tugging down below, then supervising nurse, pink in the face, appeared and thrust her giant tweasers at FON, saying quietly “will you be wanting this?”

Attached to the tweasers?

A second class stamp.

Clearly, the rummage through the handbag for a kleenex when the NHS failed to provide loo roll had some side effects!

 

I made a life

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This poetry writing thing has taken me quite by surprise – I appear to be writing a few a day, at a rate I haven’t since I was an angsty, angry teenager. (The type to write about feeling forlorn, perhaps?)

Some of them I’ve decided not to publish, hence not sharing one yesterday, but I’m aware that this is my own little tiny piece of the internet, and there aren’t many of you waiting on the edge of your seats to see more posts from me!

As I mentioned previously, I’ve got myself a subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine, and I’m still coming back to the prompts I saw in there earlier this week; the next prompt I’m sharing was ‘a first or last breath’.

I made a life.

I discovered another person, inside me
hearts in time and a tiny dance
that swam like our magic, secret world, I held this knowledge tight
until the day my body reached a limit
and an instinct to tear our one to two
that, spoken by the universe, we could not halt
took over
and the world that he inhabited
suddenly
and glacier slow
became a whole new world
apart
from me.

A push, a pull, and life was there
atop of me where once within
and fury filled a face unhappy with this change
of situation
life, but not yet living,
yet
until
a heave of bird like, butterfly chest
breath
creating life so true.

My heart broke
rebuilt
soared
all
in one moment
made anew.

A silver line that binds
my soul to his
stretched ever thinner as he learns to fly
from my soft, love feathered nest
my pride outshining sorrow
as he climbs towards a full grown self
no longer part of me
this journey we’re both on
takes separate paths
as it should be.

 

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Forlorn

As part of my mission to write more, write better, and write things people see so I can get used to people seeing my writing (which is akin to peeling off my skin and asking you all whether you like the way my dermis displays my nerve endings) I have sought out a number of prompts and exercises, some from the Writers’ Forum magazine, as demonstrated in yesterday’s post, and others from elsewhere.

Today’s is from daily post and the prompt is a single word, with  which I can do anything. So I’ve done this;

Forlorn

A word is a place we can occupy
when we speak from a secret deep inside
a world in a word we can make our own
and a universe we can call a home

a word is a secret, whispered close
to the ears of a loved one trusted most
a whisper is a promise and a piece of self
a betrayal to the sanctity of mental health

A word can be everything, out on its own
in a universe tailored for pairing alone
souls to bolt two whole beings together
to make anew something that can’t last forever

Eternity cycles from every decision
all of our choices become our prison
as free as we try to believe we can be
the older we get, the more we can see

We are trapped in this pattern, this endless recycle
of living and breathing and dying, desciples
of promises made to a world we just visit
and we question, each moment, if this really is it

A word, whispered tenderly, sharing a moment
gives a piece of ourselves until we’re just the remnant
of a soul, given piecemeal to those we would warn
and our love, given freely, leaves those remnants forlorn.

Image shared from http://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/forlorn.html

I’m writing things

For many years I’ve told anyone who’ll listen that I’m a writer, and that I’m working on a book. This is true – I write for a living, and I’m writing a book. In fact, I’m writing three or four, at any given time. But I’ve never finished any of them. Not got past the first few chapters and a rough outline.

I get that far, then psych myself out, decide I’m a terrible writer who’ll never achieve anything, tell myself nobody will take me seriously anyway, and then quit.

I am so paralysed by the fear of anyone actually reading, and commenting on, what I write that I don’t get anything to a point where anyone can actually read it, in case they voice an opinion and I can’t handle it.

This isn’t very helpful, when my aim is to get a few books published before I croak, and since one never knows quite how or when one might croak, I think it’s time I grew up, stopped being such a fanny, and just bloody write already.

So, from my collection of half-started, unfinished stories, I’ve picked one to finish. I’m going to write 100,000 words, then print it out, hack it up, and edit it. That’s the goal. Maybe nobody will ever read it, maybe it will never be good enough to be published or shared, and maybe that doesn’t matter because that isn’t the point. The point is to DO THE THING.

With ‘just bloody write’ being my mantra now, I’ve got myself a subscription to “Writers’ Forum” magazine (see how this blog about not procrastinating has introduced a method of procrastination that I can pretend even to myself IS NOT PROCRASTINATION because it says writer in the title? I’m so smart…) and I saw, in one piece, a poetry workout exercise, and thought “I’ll give that a go.” then I thought “I’ll do that on my blog, because that will mean people might see it, and I can practice hearing people’s opinions, even if they say it’s shit, because that’s good practice” so here we are.
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First, a poem about an article of clothing that was either appropriate or inappropriate for a particular situation. 

(Hold on, be right back, I just got an email titled ‘how to stop procrastinating’ and it might be a good read…)

(It wasn’t, but I got a cup of tea and dusted the TV stand, so it was worth pausing…)

The wrong shoes. 

Christmas was cancelled the year I was 12
and we smiled, said we understood.
The work had gone quiet, the money unflowed
so we promised that we wouldn’t mind
wrote a short list, and shared our love like blankets
that made the day special.

I don’t remember the other Christmas days
with presents piled high, what was inside the paper.
I remember, vividly, this holiday with one gift,
(Titanic, the video, so long it needed two)
and held my breath to freeze the moment
as we danced and made merry, that Christmas we cancelled.

I remember the tears my Mother tried to hide
When her father laid money on our table and told us to celebrate
and the day we went shopping.
I didn’t wear underwear
not understanding the plans,
singing a song with my sister as we drove.
“Going commando, we’re going commando”

I hadn’t seen the day pan out, the shops we would explore
all trying on clothes, refusing to try, because I couldn’t bear
to press my bare flesh against the unbought cloth.
“you silly girl, you’ll spoil the day!”
I hadn’t known where we would go,
but spoiled it unknowing.

Clothes stayed untried, but shoes caught my eye
Blue and silver, platform trainers
these shoes, I knew, would make me right.
Would make me someone who belonged
these shoes, these bouncy castle Spice Girl shoes
would make me someone who made sense.

I felt like the queen of the world, of my world
when I danced around the store in these life winning shoes
until my sister chose them too
“The same colour, we can be twins”
and I couldn’t explain why I needed this just for me
when she found popular so easily
and I needed this ticket to get through the door.

I took them home, tried to feel the magic once again,
but with their twins a smaller size
sitting by their side
by the door
the magic had faded,
and I felt ungrateful for that feeling.

The holiday faded back into reality,
and school announced a day I walked into with dread
no uniform
my clothes all wrong, my understanding
never explaining the how or the why
just knowing
knowing I was wrong.

I wore my Spice Girl trainers, talked into them again by Mum.
These magic shoes could never make up
for the reasons I didn’t fit, the never-quite-right
way I appeared, though I studied with all my might
the way the others found belonging so easily
and I felt conspicuous, too tall, too bouncy
in the blue and silver wrong decision I’d betrayed.

I turned the corner, can still smell the damp brick
the bristling plants beside the temporary classrooms
thirty years in place
waiting for their chance to retire
and I froze before the sharp eyes of my nemesis
an older girl who hated me
for simply being wrong, for not belonging, for never knowing why.

We looked each other up and down. I waited for the blow.

“Cool shoes.”

The slap of her words, her hair flicked as she turned and walked away
has left a deeper mark than any wound.