Tag Archives: Vegan

Self-Love-Hate

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Yesterday I created a collage out of a pile of old ‘Diva’* magazines. I’ve called it ‘Self-Love-Hate’ because it mirrors the way I often feel about myself and my writing. It also represents the shifting internal homophobia that many lesbian women experience throughout different points in their lives.

I got the idea from Julia Cameron’s ‘Vein Of Gold: A Journey To Your Creative Heart’, which is a companion volume to her acclaimed self-help manual,‘The Artist’s Way’. First published in 1996, Cameron describes VOG as ‘a pilgrimage’, ‘a journey of healing’ and ‘a prescription for artful living’, and it includes advice on how to combat creative stumbling blocks as well as over a hundred inspiring and imaginative exercises which focus on ‘inner play’. (I have been working through this book for over five years now, and although it has produced several light bulb moments, I’ve sometimes found it to be a bit of a slog)

Anyway, yesterday’s cut-n-paste task appeared on page two-hundred-and-fifty-five in section six of the book which is entitled ‘The Kingdom Of The Relationship’ – the book is separated into seven sections each one dealing with a different aspect of creative restoration. Here, along with other recommendations on how to evade destructive interactions, it is suggested that you collage your most toxic creative relationship. This was initially a bit of a puzzle for me, because having read several of her other books I am more than familiar with her thoughts on how to eradicate the people she refers to as ‘crazy-makers’ and ‘creative monsters’; and I realised that after doing many of Cameron’s exercises (and attending one of her conferences in London last year) that I’ve successfully managed to ditch, diminish or diffuse all of the other negative influences in my life. So… the only person left was myself.

The thing is, I have had several small successes over the last few months: I’ve finally finished a collection of short stories and a novella, as well as receiving a hundred percent on four out of five of the assignments related to the distance learning crime fiction course I’ve been doing. But often these tiny wins are only enough to stave off doubts for a few hours or (if I’m lucky) days; and then I’m back to storming through the house like a tasmanian devil, threatening to destroy every word count and manuscript in my path. And I don’t know why I’m like this. Or when it started. (I suspect it’s been a gradual disintegration of confidence over the years that one day suddenly snowballed.) There’s no point speculating though. It only leads to procrastination and then frustration because I could have been using that wasted time to solve a plot-orientated issue.

It’s no surprise to me (or to Antonia who once received a rather risque Diva-inspired valentines collage from me) that my hotch-potch of clippings included naked ladies; there were also three pictures of Wentworth’s Nicole Da Silva (aka Frankie Doyle) alongside Orange Is The New Black’s Lea Delaria (Big Boo) and Laura Prepon (Alex). The word ‘queer’ appeared three times in different fonts as did the word ‘vegan’. The collage wasn’t intended to be a masterpiece. I simply cut things out willy nilly as I skimmed through the pages, so any subtexts that may have arisen are accidents. And in retrospect I think it’s far too cluttered, and I could have did without captions such as ‘study this’ and ‘I’m changing my name’ and ‘how to write pulp’. It was a worthwhile exercise though, and I enjoyed doing it. But I’m still waiting for the ‘clarity and relief’ that Cameron claimed came to her when she worked on this same theme.

I asked Antonia what she thought of my new magnum opus and how it fared in comparison to my previous collages. She simply shrugged and said: ‘I don’t know, hen, they all look the same to me.’

*Diva is popular UK magazine about lesbian life and style

Eclipse Of The Heart

Today is the first time since 11th August 1999 that the UK will see a solar eclipse. It is also the day that Antonia’s brother, Joshua, is getting married. On one hand, this wedding has been a bit of a whirlwind – Josh and Penny only got engaged at Christmas – but on the other it’s been a long time coming, considering that they’ve lived together for the last twenty-one months with their three and a half children (Lucy and Russell from Penny’s first marriage; baby Sebastian; and the one on the way), and were once, many years ago, childhood sweethearts. Of course, there were a couple of disasters at the eleventh hour: Penny falling and twisting her ankle last week on Friday the 13th; and then yesterday the mother, father and youngest sister of the bridegroom almost didn’t make it home in time from Fuerteventura after their plane was redirected… By the time this post is let loose in cyberspace, I’ll hopefully be in the Sudbury town hall watching the lovers tie the knot. This is only the second (full) wedding I’ve ever been invited to. The first was Sophie and Tracy’s seven and a half years ago, although we weren’t allowed to call it a wedding back then. I was one of two ‘best women’. If I ever have a wedding I’d like it to be a vegan one. Antonia agrees. I suppose it’s easy saying that when you have a vegan partner. But then I’ve talked to other vegan couples and they’ve said that they wanted a vegan wedding too but their families objected. When I say vegan wedding, I do just mean the food. Obviously, if I was going to wear a kilt then I’d want it to be a non-wooly one with a sporran that was made from something other than dead animal, but I certainly wouldn’t insist that all my guests had to be wearing faux leather apparel (unless I was paying for the outfits) because that would be a wee bit intolerant. I also wouldn’t say to my omnivrous or vegetarian friends ‘oh sorry, you had a cheese toastie yesterday so that means you cannae come’. Anyway, I may never get wed. And not just because of the vegan thing. Because even though it’s legal for gay couples to marry now in the UK, I still have my reservations. Mostly, I worry about disappointing my parents: a) because I’m never going to be that a traditional bride in a meringue (or any) dress; and b) because my mother has made it abundantly clear over the years that she would prefer it if I were to marry a man. So, of course, I worry about inviting my parents to the wedding. And I worry about not inviting them. I don’t know what would be worse: if my mother were to decline an invite, or for her to appear with her face tripping her all day long. And if I didn’t invite her, how could I invite my dad and my sister? I suppose we could always elope. But then I’d miss the wedding waltz and a golden opportunity to buy a snazzy new suit. I may not be one for traditional customs but I do like formal-wear; and I’ve always fancied myself in a crisp white morning suit with a matching waistcoat and tie… Anyway, this is supposed to be about Josh and Penny… I hope they both have a really wonderful day. I’m sure they will… unless Penny goes into early labour in the middle of the ceremony… but that would make for quite a good story!

Building Up My Endurance In A Literal Sense

I’ve covered a lot of ground this week in terms of both mental and physical goals: a solo trip to Ipswich on Monday; a coffee meet-up in Colchester on Tuesday; and then I jogged from my house to Long Melford and back (just over five miles) on both Wednesday and Thursday.

I thought it was about time I went to some places without Antonia that weren’t simply the co-op or the gym or Caffe Nero; because I’ve been in Sudbury for more than six months now, and even though going out for me means committing extra hours to route-planning and wandering round in circles (when I could simply stay home and write), it feels much more satisfying to do things independently.

I also wanted to re-ignite my passion for running.

A lot of people who read this blog will have seen me out pounding the Renfrew pavements many many times. Because for the best part of seventeen years I was always training for a ten mile race or a half marathon or simply trying to improve my stamina. I used to regularly do a ten kilometre round trip from Renfrew to Paisley and back (because I was scared of varying my route when I was out on my own in case I got lost) and in 2006 during my preparation for the Edinburgh marathon I did this multiple times a day. Aside from that, running helped fuel my writing because I’m a kinetic thinker, and for me there’s nothing quite like striding along with the wind in my hair and letting the ideas bounce around in my brain.

That was until a couple of years ago when I ended up with plantar fasciitis*. And the pains in my feet were so severe that I was forced to give up running for nine months. I tried swimming instead, but it just wasn’t the same. And because my running was so intrinsically linked with the the words I normally put down on paper, my ability to come up with new and exciting stories began to suffer too. As did my diet, because even though I’m one of those vegans who prefers a bowl of cherries to a bag of sweets or a lentil bake instead of a fry up, I stopped caring about what I put into my body because I thought ‘what’s the point?’.

But my injuries eventually healed. And when they did it was my confidence that stopped me from getting back up on my feet, so to speak. I tentatively tried running again for fifteen or twenty minutes and I realised I’d put on weight – not huge amounts, but I wobbled in places I previously didn’t and I felt sluggish and, well, sweaty – and this made it hard for me to get motivated.

And this went on for several months. Until I moved house. That’s when I made a decision to start again from scratch, to forget about races and medals and fitness targets and simply get up out of bed and do SOMETHING. Within two weeks of living in Sudbury, I joined the local gym and I started going to karate and yoga and jogging for a few kilometres on the treadmill twice a week. (I also went along to a running club but that didn’t work out because on week one I stopped to tie my shoelace and the others left me eating their dust; the second week they abandoned a sixteen-year-old newbie at night in a secluded woodland area who had no clue where she was going – I was one of two people who ran back for her and after that, I decided it was the wrong club for me.)

Last week I did fourteen miles on the treadmill whilst watching the entirety of eighties’ movie ‘Inner Space’. It’s the longest time I’ve ever spent on a treadmill and the furthest I’ve run in about three years. And although I was pleased I’d managed it, there was also a feeling of anti-climax, because at the end of the day I was still in the same place. And I knew that if my writing was ever going to go anywhere again, because it has been stuttering along recently, then I had to put myself back out into the world.

I chose Long Melford as my fledgling destination because I’d been there a few times, and because it’s pretty difficult (even for me) to get lost, seeing as I only have to walk to the end of my street and cross the road and keep running in a straight line. And I simply woke up on Wednesday morning, got my trainers on and just went for it; no procrastination, no stopping, no looking back.

Antonia says she might come running with me some time. She’s been getting back into her tennis and wants to sign up to the gym too. It feels nice getting fit together, and I’ve been manically reading lots of superfood and wholefood recipes so that we can cook tasty healthy things – I’m not going overboard with it though, and no way am I going without my cherry pie from Co-op!

 

*Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining or tearing the ligament that supports the arch

Our Four-Year Beanniversary

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On Tuesday, Antonia and I celebrated our four-year beanniversary. That’s four years since the date that she asked me to officially be her girlfriend.

Now a lot of people don’t know this (because we used to be quite shy and would subtly brush the question under the carpet when asked) but we originally met in November 2011 on Pink Sofa, which is a dating and networking site for lesbian, queer and bisexual women – and in fact, we were so impressed with the site that we recently rejoined so that could meet more likeminded ladies in our area (of course, we’ve so far sent more virtual hugs, kisses and bunches of flowers to each other than actual messages to other people, and all whilst we’ve been sitting together in the same room.)

Anyway, we decided to go to Norwich for a ce-les-bratory shopping trip / lunch. The plan was to buy each other house coats and a pair of slippers (I wanted fluffy tiger claws and she wanted hairy hobbit toes) but we couldn’t find any we liked, so Antonia ended up with a stripey jumper and I got a plain white shirt; she also chose two early birthday presents for herself but I’m not letting her have them for another month… I’m really not…

For lunch we went to a vegetarian cafe called ‘Wild Thyme’. It took us a while to find it – and we were quite ravenous when we arrived – even though it was smack in the middle of the city centre, inside a wee courtyard above a very colourful shop called ‘Rainbow Wholefoods’, and the website had explained this quite specifically! The menu was almost completely vegan and both of us had trouble deciding what to choose because it all sounded so tasty. In the end I picked the mexican black bean burger with melty cashew cheese and sweet potato wedges, and Antonia got the Japanese noodle salad; and then because we both liked the look of what the other had, we swapped our meals half way through. This fifty-fifty dinner-swapping is a common practice for us (and I can’t remember the last time we went out to eat and didn’t do it) and I suppose it’s one other thing that can be added to a long list of reasons that people think we are a wee bit weird. Both dishes were equally amazing and I was completely stuffed; despite this we still ordered a vegan brownie with soya icecream between us and scoffed the lot.

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After that, we went downstairs to Rainbow Wholefoods and I bought some non-dairy cheese slices with chopped mushrooms through it and a jar of rice syrup. I was particularly excited by the rice syrup because I’ve only ever seen it in one shop, in Glasgow, and that shop shut down about three years ago.

photo 3 Next, we visited a new age place where Antonia bought me an egg-shaped piece of opalite (which is apparently for love, passion and eroticism as well as spontaneity – but she didn’t know this till she looked it up in her crystal bible) and a bit of celestite (it helps dysfunctional relationships amongst other things according to her book, oo-er) and a cute wee pin badge with an angel on it; she also bought herself five tiny slivers of quartz but I haven’t dared to ask what those are for yet…

Then lastly, having shopped, eaten, drank and giggled our way around the town, we took some silly, squinty, god-awful coupley selfies in the rain before waddling back to the car.

Blank

Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a second memoir.

I thought I might call it ‘Blank’ because as well as the obvious connotations it has with writer’s block, it also relates to gaps or ‘blanks’ in one’s memory, and to the ‘blank’ expressions I am often accused of wearing.

My first book, ‘Cracked: Recovering After Traumatic Brain Injury’ was launched in December 2002 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and in it’s two-hundred-and-twenty-four pages it documented the early years following my accident: from the initial struggle to receive a diagnosis, to my incarceration inside an adolescent psychiatric unit, and my eventual descension into bulimia and anorexia, as I failed to cope with school and exams and ordinary teenage nuances on top of memory loss and other cognitive impairments; before, finally, recounting the positive search for a new identity as I learnt to accept my limitations.

I was young when I wrote that book, and if I could go back and pen it all over again I’d definitely do it differently. I’d mention some things that I left out, and leave out a couple that wormed their way in. I’ve been told that it helped a lot of people (both brain injury survivors and their families, as well as doctors), and that pleases me because it was not originally written with publication in mind; because writing for me was simply a cathartic outlet, something I did to make myself feel calmer, and to understand myself and those around me a little better. However, I also noticed that ‘Cracked’ had received a one star review on Amazon last year by someone who said it was ‘a ridiculous waste of money’, and who claimed that it provided no insight for them into the condition at all. Well, whilst I’m inclined to be of the mindset that you simply can’t please everyone, I do concede that, perhaps, the book only described the tip of the iceberg when it comes to explaining what living with traumatic brain injury is like, and that a sequel is in fact long overdue.

I was not out as a lesbian at that time – in fact, I was only in the early stages of realising and understanding my sexuality – so I didn’t have to navigate my way around a countercultural gay world with it’s separate customs and fashions, as well as the usual mainstream one that was already highly confusing. Neither did I have to put up with others’ desexualisation of me or the assumption that my girlfriend was simply a carer.

I was also still living a rather sheltered life at home with parents, free of financial worries and responsibilities; and aside from a weekly paper round, a trial run as a silver service waitress, and an unpaid work placement via the brain injury rehabilitation centre I attended, I was completely ignorant of the world of employment and it’s complexities.

Being a person with a brain injury hugely affects the way I react to the world and in turn the way the world reacts to me: I spend a lot of time nodding and agreeding with people simply because it’s easier (and often less offensive) than saying, ‘I haven’t got a fucking scooby what you are talking about.’

 

It’s also a lot less tiresome than making the effort to tell people that a) I have had a brain injury, b) most people with brain injuries have trouble receiving and processing information (which basically means it takes longer than average for words to sink in) c) because it takes longer for words to sink in I’m still thinking about the first part you said so I’ve totally missed the second, and d) I don’t understand what you’re saying because of a), b) and c). Of course, usually when I have to explain that, I either forget what I’m saying half way through or said person gets bored and cuts me off midspiel by saying something completely dismissive like: ‘oh, that happens to me all the time’.

And believe me, having someone who has never had a brain injury tell you that they / their mother/ father / dog / most people they know have trouble understanding what folk are saying, is a bit like being vegan for seventeen years then having some clown who recently gave up red meat and dairy (‘except cheese’) tell you they are ‘basically vegan’ too.

Sophie’s Adventures In Veggieland

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Lynsey, Antonia + Tash in The Veggie Red Lion in Great Bricett

In a break from the normal weekly blog as written by Lynsey, for a change this week, we have a guest blogger, Sophie Norman from Glasgow who has spent the week visiting with Lynsey and Antonia in Sudbury. 13 years ago I spent a year vegetarian. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love my food; and that year was a challenge that tested my love of food to its breaking point. At the time I was a student living in Edinburgh with flatmates, one of whom had been vegetarian for years and the other two avowed carnivores. I became vegetarian when I first moved into the flat thinking that it would be easy to survive eating similar things to the vegetarian flatmate. However, I soon discovered that my flatmate seemed to subsist purely on a meal of pancakes with spinach and cheddar which she cooked seemingly every day. While delicious this quickly became very repetative so I quickly started making meals for myself. My meals were a disaster. I love to cook but had no idea what vegetarians ate. Also being a student I was very poor and I soon found out that vegetarian cooking on the cheap is a lot more expensive than its more meaty counterpart. I found restaurants a challenge. At the time in Edinburgh there were a splattering of vegetarian restaurants, mainly pretty poor fare, and trying to convince non-vegetarian friends and family to come to a vegetarian restaurant was a non-starter; so I would be forced to go to restaurants whose idea of a vegetarian option would be macaroni cheese (a dish I detest) or a dish of mushrooms in a cream sauce (ditto) or that most ubiquitous of vegetarian options, the salad. This was very disheartening, and after a year I had enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back however was getting a new flatmate who cooked almost exclusively steak and the smell drove me wild until I finally gave into temptation. Jump forward 13 years to this week. I have been looking forward to coming to Sudbury since I heard that Lyns and Antonia were moving down all those months ago, but knowing that they are vegan, and not knowing much about the area I mentally prepared myself for a week of restaurants serving rabbit food salad. How wrong I was. Lynsey and Antonia eat well. They eat very well. Sudbury itself has no vegetarian restaurants, however just a short drive away you have the rustic Veggie Red Lion restaurant in Great Brickett. This restaurant completely annihilated my expectations of what a country pub vegetarian restaurant might be like. The food was simply amazing even though I ended up eating pancakes with spinach and cheese, the very same meal I became so sick of all those years ago. The following day Lynsey and I went to Colchester. There we found the Viet Kitchen; a restaurant serving half carnivourous – half vegan food. Changing the habbit of a lifetime I went for the vegan option of a tofu noodle soup, and well the smile never left my face. Leaving Sudbury to go to Brighton the standard of food jumped from merely brilliant to out of this World, super-duper, orgasmic food. Restaurants such as the Infinity Food Café, VBites and Food With Friends were enough to convert even the strictest carnivore, however the crème de la crème was Terre A Terre. The standard of food in this restaurant blew way even the very best non-vegetarian restaurants I have ever eaten in. The night we arrived in Brighton we ate in there and new previously undiscovered emotions were felt; but even this was trounced by the afternoon tea we savoured the following afternoon. Who would ever have imagined that the pinacle of culinary art would be achieved in a vegetarian restaurant?

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Sophie Norman + Antonia

So, after all this, will I be returning to vegetarianism? Well no, probably not, but I will definitely be exploring more veggie and vegan restaurants and meals at home will be far less meat dominated and have a lot more tofu.

When Vag Met Veg

It has been a very exciting week: first of all I managed to buy the first ever edition of ‘Vegan Life’ (a mainstream magazine which promotes cruelty-free living in the UK) in my local WH Smith; then my much-anticipated copy of ‘Out There’ (the first Scottish writing anthology in over twenty years dedicated to showcasing the work of LGBT authors) dropped into my mailbox. Throw in an episode of ‘Wentworth’ season two, and a tasty romantic meal in a Vietnamese restaurant in Colchester where the waiter didn’t even blink at the two thirty-something gay ladies cozied up in the corner sharing their vegetable spring rolls, and life really couldn’t get any better. Or so I thought.

Earlier today, Antonia and I reached the highligh of our week when we took a trip to Cineworld in Ipswich to see ‘Pride’, a movie about a London-based gay and lesbian group who changed history when they campaigned to raise money for the families affected by the Welsh mining strikes in the summer of 1984. Now, I rarely find new films these days that make me laugh out loud, never mind ones that pack an emotional punch that leaves my guts twisting and my eyes watering at the end. But this one did. And I recommend that everyone – gay, straight, in between or undecided – buy a ticket to see this.

I think the part of the film that resonated most with me was when Gwen, an octogenarian Welsh lady played by Menna Trussler, asked the principal female couple if it was true that all lesbians were vegetarians. One of them replied, ‘Actually we’re vegan.’ This prompted a gleeful response from both myself and Antonia, and since then I can’t stop thinking about Portia and Ellen Degeneres and Ellen Page and all the other visible celesbivegans. (The jury’s still out on Anne Hathaway’s bisexuality) Not that I am suggesting that all lesbians have an aversion to animal products. Or that all vegans have a predisposition to gayness. It’s just that in the days before I joined the VEG (Vegan Edinburgh Glasgow) group, the only vegans (or lapsed ones) I’d ever met were queer women (or ‘leaf munchers’ as I like to call them).

Anyway, I remember having this conversation at VEG before, about what can happen when one persecuted minority group meets another persecuted minority group, and I think we all agreed that people who opt for an ‘alternative’ lifestyle are usually more openminded and have more sympathy for others who are in some way marginalised.

Personally, I found coming out as vegan more problematic than coming out as gay. And it was other folk’s attitudes and the scarily aggressive stance they took when they found out I was a meat avoider which hindered me: ‘But it’s not normal,’ they’d say looking terribly offended, or ‘well, I don’t agree with only eating vegetables’; and heaven forbid if I was to suggest dining at a place that didn’t serve steak.

To quote Wentworth’s Nicole Da Silva aka Frankie Doyle: ‘I don’t eat sausage… I’m a vagitarian.’

And I’m bloody proud.

In And Around The Rabbit Hole

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So yesterday, after several weeks of planning our first post-move-to-Sudbury trip to London, Antonia and I managed to miss the 9.30am train. Personally, I was raging because I’d booked an appointment at ‘The Rabbit Hole’ – a vegan hair salon in Shepherd’s Bush – I’d never been before, and I didn’t know where it was, and I wanted to walk around then go for lunch at To-Fu, a vegan Asian-fusion buffet, which was only a few minutes walk from the hair salon.

Antonia, non-chalantly, suggested we go to Waitrose so that she could have her daily cup of free tea, whilst we waited another hour for the next train. (This is typical of her, because she used to spend the Monday afternoons she had off college in IKEA with our friend Sophie Norman aka ‘the original bean cruncher’, just to enjoy unlimited cups of tea) She’d also brought some homemade blueberry muffins with her. Sorry, ‘enchanted bluebell’ muffins. Apparently, they’d been ‘energised with crystal magic and love’. Hmm. So that’s what she was doing in my kitchen the other day when she was dancing round, swinging a quartz pendulum over the cooker, whist making dinging noises.

When we finally arrived, it turned out the Asian-Fusion place had shut down. This was doubly disappointing because a) we only had an hour to eat lunch then find the hair salon and b) the words ‘vegan’ and ‘buffet’ rarely go together. Instead, we found a lovely wee place called ‘The Green Café’, which although not specifically meat-free, did have the best hummus and falafel wraps I’ve ever tasted – everything was homemade; and it was a bonus that the wraps were made from dairy-free naan bread, because naan usually contains yoghurt.

From there, we walked around the market and I commented on how I’d never seen so many women wearing veils. Antonia said it reminded her of the Glasgow Barras. I couldn’t quite see the connection myself: a traditional muslim woman hanging around the East End of Glasgow, in a full body burka, is more likely to receive abuse than a stall to sell her oriental vegetables on.

Dori, the Hungarian hairdresser, who owns The Rabbit Hole messaged to say that the place was ‘hidden’ inside an old barber’s shop with a yellow door – there were in fact two barber’s shops in Goldhawk Road with yellow doors so if it hadn’t been for Antonia, I might have ended up with a Sweeny Todd special.

It was dark inside The the Rabbit Hole, and as I moved through the entrance I had the vaguest feeling that I was floating inches above the ground, because I couldn’t see my feet. I was met by a hat-wearing hairdresser who didn’t actually work there (yet), but she looked like she fitted right in with the tea pot wallpaper, and the white rabbit mosaic, and the beautiful bespoke light fittings with the tea cups on the ends. Neither Dori nor Natalie the hatter seemed phased at all when I said I wanted ‘rising phoenix’ hair.

I had a lovely afternoon. And despite the whimsical backdrop, the weirdest thing that happened – apart from my crazy mane snapping a brush in two – was when two strange men barged in like mafia during my shampoo. (It turned out they were father and son, and the older man was the previous owner who’d apparently come over from Cyprus to reminisce)

It was nice being able able to say ‘yes’ to a cup of coffee with almond milk, and nicer not having to ask what was on the ingredients list at the back of the shampoo bottle. (A visit to the hair dressers’ really shouldn’t have to involve worrying whether the stuff they’re putting on your noggin contains dead prawns or some equally unpleasant animal cadaver but often does for vegans.)

When I emerged over four hours later with my new copper and blonde bonce, I had worked up an appetite. And Antonia was in a brilliant mood because she’d gotten a gorgeous new cut-price ’do because it turned out Natalie was there for a trial at the salon. So we caught the tube to Itadaki Zen at King’s Cross, where we took photos of each other eating a lot of very tasty vegan Japanese food that we couldn’t pronounce. And I dropped my chopsticks thirty or forty times and chased my rice around the plate for an hour before Antonia asked for a spoon on my behalf.

Back at Liverpool Street Station, Antonia still wasn’t completely satisfied until she’d bought a cup of tea to drink on the train whilst eating one of her magic muffins. I couldn’t eat anything else because I’d scoffed her sushi and half of her miso soup as well as my own.

When I got home it was nearly midnight, and I was so tired I didn’t even watch Wentworth.

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The Angel And The Phoenix

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The other day I had an idea for a short story about a married lesbian power couple who are also superheroes: one is an angel from a upperclass heavenly family who likes wearing black, and the other is a water-pistol-toting phoenix with an intense fear of cats. Their names are Victory and Amber Rose and they have two children, Celeste ( four) and Jesse-James (six).

The angel, I’ve decided, is based on Antonia, although I might make her blonde. The phoenix is a very loose depiction of myself – with flaming red hair obviously, plus she’s a lot more kickass.

I suppose rewriting myself as a regenerating mythical firebird is quite fitting when you think of it – I mean I am a firesign after all, and I have had copper and gold highlights through my hair a few times; and there’s also that whole reborn-at-the-age-of-fourteen-and-cant-remember-my-past stuff. I’m rather excited by the prospect of creating a mighty me on the page, who is probably going to end up being just as ridiculous as the real me, but with better biceps and the ability to juggle poi.

I’ve already started to imagine several conversations between Victory and Amber and their brood. In fact, I think their dinner dialogue might go something along the lines of this:

JJ:                        Mums, can I get a mohawk?

Celeste:            I would like a Tweetie Pie bird.

JJ:                        Mums, can I?

Amber:            (Grinning at Victory) I think that would be incredibly cute.

Victory:            (Horrified) Over my dead body.

                        (Pause)

Amber:            Where were you buried again, sweetheart?

JJ:                        So… can I?

Victory:            No.

JJ:                        (Looks at Amber) But you said…

Amber:            Your mother said no.

Celeste:            What about my Tweetie Pie?

Victory:            Both of you be quiet and eat your tofu nuggets.

JJ:                        (Under his breath) Tofu is gay.

Amber:            What did you say, mister?

                        (Silence)

                        Jesse, go to your nest, right now.

JJ:                        Aww but…

Amber:             Now.

(Celeste giggles)

Amber:            And what is so funny, Madame?

Celeste:            Jesse J is gay. (Finds this hysterical)

Victory:            You can leave the table too, Celeste.

                       

After the children are gone Amber and Celeste clear the table together and then sit hugging on the sofa.

 

Amber:             Ugh, remind me again why we had kids?

Victory:             (Smiles and ruffles her wife’s feathers) What for? You’ll only forget in the next incarnation.

Amber:            (Sighs) One of us needs to have a word with our son about the use of the G-A-Y word.

Victory:            Be my guest.

Amber:            Aww but… can’t you…

Victory:            Honey, I’ve got three guardian reports to write; Touched By An Angel is on in half an hour; and I want to stretch my wings at some point this evening…

 

Amber pouts. Fade to black.

I can’t decide where to set this story. I was thinking Edinbugh or Brighton perhaps. Antonia, between sips of tea and reading a fantasy novel, interjects to say that I should create a whole imaginary city.

I think she should be quiet and paint me a picture of two gorgeous winged ladies in a naked embrace… I think that would be a very inspiring visual image to work with… I tell her this. She ignores me and goes back to her book.

Call To Adventure

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Today is my thirty-sixth birthday and I am moving four-hundred-and-one miles to a new house in a new country, to Sudbury (in Suffolk), the hometown of my English artist girlfriend.

Antonia and I have decided not to live together and she thinks this makes us like Frida Kahlo and Diego:

I said: ‘You can be the one with the monobrow then.’

To this she replied: ‘You’ve obviously never seen a picture of Diego Rivera – he looks like a cross between a pit bull and a pig.’

Later, she chased me around the bedroom whilst brandishing a pair of slanted tweezers, and when she caught me and pinned me down I got my revenge by accidentally farting in her lap. This, of course, is just a typical day in the life of our three-and-a-half-year-old relationship. The teasing, the laughter, the intimacy that comes from allowing another person to know you bottom burps and all – that’s what we call ‘Bean Love’. Of course, usually it’s me accosting her with the tweezers.

By the time this blog goes out to the world I shall hopefully – weather, traffic and pee-and-tea stops dependant – be crossing the threshold of my new abode. However, there is always the chance that Antonia’s father (who is normally a very reasonable and laid back individual) will maim or murder one or both of us en route, or perhaps just abandon us outside a random motorway service station with our cardboard Costa Coffee sippy cups, our pre-packed vegan sandwiches, and (if we’re lucky) a big yellow polysterene thumb to attract a lift from a friendly driver-by…

It took me nearly two months to plan and pack for this journey. This was partly due to my constant petit mal seizures and my memory problems which caused me to misplace objects every few minutes or forget that I’d already boxed them; and partly because I made the decision to sell, gift and recycle about seventy-five percent of my possessions. (Antonia – who is as far as I’m concerned is a DIY genius – very cleverly upcycled the writing desk she bought me three years ago as a birthday gift into an over-the-bed sliding table so that it would fit into my gorgeous but miniscule new apartment.)

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It wasn’t easy letting go of my old life though, and over the last few weeks I’ve felt like a human conduit exorcising a myriad of demons and angels alike: I’m leaving behind family, and friends I’ve known for over a decade; over a hundred fairly decent paperback novels (and a few dreadful ones), plus a really rewarding job as a writer-in-residence at the local young offender’s instituation.

But the time is right for me to move on.

I have lived in six houses to date – and aside from a ten month hiatus sometime around the millenium when my family moved five and a half miles along the road to Erskine, all of those houses have been in sleepy Renfrew. I’m hoping now that my itchy feet and my desire to experience new parts of the globe will lead me to lucky number seven.

I suppose the Achilles’ heel in this whole plan is that I am good at abandoning things at the eleventh hour, especially creative projects, and promises I’ve made to myself; I came close to leaving once before when I almost went to Aberystwyth to do a creative writing phd; and only last week I began having second thoughts about this whole going-to-England adventure after discovering that my new street hadn’t been hooked up yet with fibre optic broadband. Pretty ridiculous, I know.

Antonia says it’s all self-sabotage. She says it’s like that time a few weeks ago when I went indoor climbing with her and our friend Amanda: I got seventy-five percent of the way up the wall and then suddenly aborted because I couldn’t figure out how to reach the next hand hold.

And she’s absolutely right.

My new house is conveniently placed on a main street near a sports centre, a library, and a coffee shop that sells tasty egg-and-dairy-free cherry scones. What more could a budding novelist want? It is also diagonally above Caffe Nero’s where I can totally imagine myself getting my morning mango and orange cooler fix whilst people-watching behind a pair of oversized dark glasses and my laptop…

All that besides, the deposit on the new pad is paid, as is the insurance premium; and I’ve signed up with EE for a year of unlimited internet access and given official notice on my old flat… Whatever happens now whether it’s embracing homelessness or life in Suffolk, or crawling back to my old box room at my parents’ house, my life is about to radically change…

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