Waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man while recovering from Queueing

Tesco Delivery is great because it doesn’t involve any queueing and the delivery men are personable, friendly, helpful. This week I had to endure queueing to great extent. A visit to the post office (traumatic), and a visit to the bank. At Barclays, I stood with my daughter patientley, meditating. I didn’t have my stick seat with me unfortunately, I forgot. I asked my daughter to wait in the queue so I could go sit in the very empty waiting area of the bank. There is now only one cashier working, anti social distancing and all that, keeping the staff safe, and all of us safe, and all that.

The people in the queue understood exactly what I was doing, we’d been chatting, the man in front of me was an estate agent and had been there 40 minutes already, he wouldn’t get his lunch, the man behind me was a car mechanic who’s branch in Norwood has recently closed. I was wearing my ‘invisible disablity’ lanyard. When I walked into the bank the Barclays masked security woman looked (difficulty to see how she looked in a mask but fear is easy, you can feel it too) fearful. She put her arms out in front of her and shouted “two meters”. I looked about and became stressed as I didn’t think I was standing near her and there wasn’t any markings and I didn’t have a tape measure. I tried to explain what I needed, “the bank closes at 2,” she said. “I know” I said. She couldn’t hear me and the stress (as stress does) went straight into my legs and I couldn’t stand up any longer. She wouldn’t let me sit on a waiting room chair so I sat on the floor, using my yogic skills so I looked like a gliding goddess sitting down to meditate as opposed to the embaressing collapse, of my time before yoga. I continued talking wth her, taking deep breathes, trying to explain my dilemma. She then got a wooden stool from somewhere and placed it outside on the kerb, by my daughter in the queue, but ON the kerb, “I don’t feel safe there,” I said. “It’s too near the road.” She was angry, and at that point I honestly felt that she would have liked me to have been run over by a bus. I put the stool back by the safe walls of the bank and continued to wait.

This is what is keeping us safe. While we’re all keeping each other safe, our banks, post offices, community spaces, gp surgery’s, mental health services (and don’t get me started on that one) are all closing or reducing services. Try to get your ears syringed? I think this service has gone now on the NHS because they don’t want us to hear. Try to get a dental appointment? I think this service has gone now because they don’t want us to talk, you can’t talk if your teeth have dropped out? Try to get a contraceptive cap taken out? (I’m meno but I know someone who’s been quoted £400 privately) they don’t want us to have babies?! My husband has just come back from Rippon where there is no bank, its a small city, the bank van which usually parks outside the city once a week or so has not been seen since lockdown. When I rang Barclays, in the first instance, they told me that the issue I had, had to be dealt by a real life cashier. We cannot exist online only. It’s not possible. Oh for human contact without fear and anxiety.

I didn’t want to rant on this post but I am struggling with this fast changing world, I knew it was coming, I’ve known for years, but CV19 has made this all happen before we’ve had a chance to even think, process, demonstrate, be equipped for, process mentally. I feel like a prisoner sometimes, but not because I can’t go out, because when I go out, I feel like I’m a nuisance because of my questioning or requests for services or help.

But, onwards and upwards, while I breathe I am still very much alive, even though I’ve got gastroenteritis so I can’t enjoy food or beer right now, oh, poooooor meeeeee … apparantly there’s a lot of it about ….

Tesco Delivery Men bringing plastic I have to have and they won’t take back

A white woman in her fifties stands at a doorway smiling holding a plastic bag as a black tesco delivery man peers in towards the camera also smiling.

I hate all this extra plastic (you can’t receive Tesco delivery shopping any other way now), there is no scientific evidence (and even if there was I’m sceptical as science changes so fast, and each scientist changes their minds, just look into Pasteur and Bechamp), you can’t get a virus from a surface or plastic unless someone has sneezed into the plastic and then you touch the snot and put it in your mouth or another orifice.  Reminds me of when I was dating Steven Dayer, me and a friend, and him and his mate Simon, met in the Wimpy. Simon sneezed and snot landed on the top of my milkshake. I was so excited to be with Steve (I was 15 and he was 18, he is my 14th boyfriend in my book ‘From Essex to London in 101 Boyfriends’, by the way I am rewriting in the present tense, sounds better I reckon…)  I just carried on drinking the milkshake until I was slurping with the straw making that horrible noise that my husband complains about when I’m slurping the ice at the end of a gin and tonic.

Plastic, plastic and more plastic bags, it’s horrible, and as for the masks, I keep seeing them littered everywhere I go, I don’t go many places, there is even a black fabric one outside my house, it’s sinister. I hate it. I am fortunately exempt from wearing a mask, I can have this little hate masking wearing little chat to myself and it doesn’t matter, but I don’t dare bring it up at the dinner table as I am berated by my family for my anti-mask views. My daughter wears her mask with pride, and she is a pretty dab hand at the tarot cards too, something she has been working on since homeschooling. That and dying her hair blue. Oh, and we got her passport back. It was found by immigration at Gatwick, her Dad took her there on the train to get it. There was a bit of a kafuffle because she didn’t have any ID on her, she has grown so much in the last two years she doesn’t look the same.  Anyway, they let her have it on the basis of ‘who would come all the way on the train to Gatwick on one of the hottest days of the year?’.

All this plastic and rubbish reminds me of a poem I wrote when my daughter was a baby. I feel similarly now re getting away, this Monday I’m going to stay in a cabin, rather than a bin, since menopause my girth is a tad wider so I may not fit in a standard bin anymore, having said that, I’m older and shrinking so it might balance itself out.

Did anyone notice the spelling error on my last blog? I spelled eyesore, isaw.  I wished I’d had the dyslexia tests, but, who cares, I reckon anyone reading would have known what I was going on about…

 

My Great Big Green Bin

 

I really enjoyed cleaning out my great big green bin

I used a broom to get out the grime

It’s so big, I’m so small, I nearly fell in

 

Some of my neighbours pay a small company to do it for them

I don’t know how much it costs, it might be £10 a month but that’s not the point

A truck arrives after the refuse collection

But cleaning my bin gives me so much satisfaction

 

Flash, flash, it’s clean in a flash

Flash, flash, it’s clean using Flash

I get inside and stay for a while

My house is full, so is the shed

In the bin it’s quiet as a mouse

Not like the house

 

I went to B & Q to buy a roof light

So I can read in my bin

I’ve never read much

I didn’t go school much

Or go to college

I’ve always been out of touch

 

I’m staying in the bin for as long as I can

I did, but fell asleep and into a dream

A magic carpet that took me back to B & Q

There was a man, looked like my father

I was trying to read the instructions of a power drill

And he shouted “No, no

NO, NOOOOOoooo”

 

I awoke, with a filled nappy bag landing on my head

The morning poo from my baby

I’d been in there all night

My partner thought I’d met Jude Law in the local pub

And decided to stay out

But that, unfortunately, could never happen, again

 

A big sheet of plastic on a kitchen bench

 

No Tesco, too busy having fun at airports

photo of a womn being tested with a swab being inserted into her mouth and screens around her
Covid testing at Corfu airport

…I am in one of the those ‘little boy in the Emporer’s new clothes’ moods where I am screaming “listen all, Covid 19 is a political pandemic, the world has gone mad, don’t be afraid, don’t panic about anything, the more stress and cortisol you reap in your body the more you will be affected by everything, even toothache… don’t be fearful, this is NOT normal what is happening, wearing masks isn’t normal, just stop and think, don’t read the news, don’t listen to the media” but nobody will listen to me anyway, I can carry on, but then I may be attacked and called a ‘nut job’ and I’ll have to accept that with grace. It will take years to repair the psychologial damage of this Politial Pandemic.  Poor Liz, she’s a bit bonkers. So, I will be a nut, doing it’s job and the nut job went on holiday and here is how it went.

To celebrate my shielding advice for 1st August (i.e no longer necessary because the sun turned one day), I took the first flight out of Gatwick at 5.55am.  Ariving in Corfu at 11am. From the half filled plane load, I seemed to be the only one to be dragged off for testing. I don’t think it was a proper test, I asked the Dr not to hurt me and could my daughter take a photo and she did and he didn’t. He just waggled a stick about in my mouth and I never heard anymore about it. At the same time the Dr was waggling, my phone rang. Eager to hear our taxi driver Nikos’s voice, I was surprised to see the call was coming from Turo in Cornwall. I nearly didn’t answer it and then remembered that my son is in Falmouth, he is at uni there, having lots of fun and thinking similarly to me re CV. He also should be writing his CV to get a job, there are jobs in Falmouth apparently as half of Britian are holidaying there.

“I’m okay,” he said, sounding not okay

“I’ve just arrived in Corfu, I’m having a covid test, what’s going on?”

“I couldn’t remember Dad’s number.  I’m in hospital.  I fell off a roof.”

My son is lucky to be a alive, he landed on concrete on his feet, he got away with stitches in his head and a few weeks on crutches (bring on insomnia and dreams of falling off buildings for the entire holiday).  On arrival at our wonderful accomodaton in Pelekas, where I have been staying for over 35 years, we met with old friends. A few hours later of stress and worry and phone calls to many people, and my son’s Dad – we sorted what was to be done. At the point where I thought I could begin to enjoy my holiday, I slipped over water on the floor outside the toilet, re stessing my meniscus scarring which meant I could hardly walk, MS is bad enough, each step is fully meditated and I actually can’t walk wearing a fucking mask, and I can’t hear people either because I lip read a lot, stop Liz, get back to the holiday (I’ve always wondered why I never knew the colour of all my boyfriend’s eyes).

The following morning we decided to hire a car for 3 days (we were only there for 6 because our original flight got cancelled, in cohoot with Covid shielding probably, stop Liz), and just before we went to pick it up, my husband realised he had forgotten his licence. Nondes, who knows us, let him have a scooter to help ferry us all to the beach etc. I had also forgotten how difficult the dynamics between three teenage girls might be.  Ho hum.  And then the storm came down, very unusual for rain in August there.  It passed over and everything dried out and we celebrated Belguim Spiros 50th birthday, his big party had been cancelled, we made up a few numbers.  I don’t know Spiros well but I do now, Pelekas is like that. He bought lots of B52’s.

On a half empty Pelekas beach I was pleased to find Yannis bar (Yannis is about 90 now) was alive and kicking and serving the best and cheapest food and drinks.  His very young wife Sonya was wearing a mask and tending to his poor toe which is doing that overlapping thing, it looked nasty.  The nasty, isaw of a chain hotel the otherside of the beach was closed. Good, lets hope sprouting olive trees disturb its foundations and claim back their space.  I made another new friend who was doing his rehab there.  We’ve been facebook friends for years but I’d never met him.  He was 11 days in and doing well.  More friends were arriving as we were leaving. I was very excited to find that the new bar they have just built in Corfu airport is called Bentley’s. Finally, to top off the holiday in style, at Gatwick, my daughter left her passport on the plane. It is lost and we were the last to get out of Gatwick that night, like Nondes, our very lovely taxi driver, Ahmed, waited for us but berated his boss because he said he really shouldn’t be taking the five of us.

Remember:  Mask mask and Screens screen ….  I need a holiday now.

Here is another poem I wrote when I went to Pelekas the day after my mother’s funeral, Gatwick features in it too, making it even more relevant for this blog.

 

The Lilo of Double Standards

I had a holiday booked when my mother was dying

She had days to live, it was just over a week I was due flying

I rang the funeral directors but they were unable to book

She had to be dead first, but they did have a look

At the diary where a bank holiday appeared

My mother had to die that day

Or I would not get to go away

 

The thunderstorm stopped her heart

Crematorium – Terminal – her depart

Gatwick – North Terminal – my depart

 

Twenty four hours it took to book

My dad with Alzheimer’s got out his check book

My sister was pleased, she had to get back to Wales

To her husband working on the farm

Before he did any self-harm

The funeral went quick and well

I necked back the whiskey and danced til the last bell

The next day I stepped into the Ionian Sea

And grieved on the lilo of double standards

 

 

photo of a sign for a kitchen bar hanging from an airport ceiling
Bentley’s bar comes to Corfu Airport

Waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man – Rejection and Resignation, and trying to find the sense in the Chaos

Liz with Tesco Delivery Man
Liz with lovely Tesco Delivery Man who nearly delivered to the scary house

One of the reasons I love writing this blog for DAO, is that my work is totally accepted. I’m not told it needs structure, or that there have been more than 5 submissions an hour during lockdown. I love that I write and my writing gets published in it’s sometimes chaotic state. There is always so much to learn as a writer, the learning is as painful as my therapy was to get it out in the first place.  I think what I need is a mentor, yes, that is what I need. One who has the time, like my old therapist had, to go through it, the process with me, and make sense of it all, get the disorder into order.  Or is this me just feeling resigned?

What I have learned about the Coronavirus is that I do not resign myself in accepting anything. I disbelieve everything I am told by our media, government or our World Health Organisations. I stay local, I ask my neighbour who is an ICU doctor in St Geroge’s hospital, I observe what is going on in the streets of Peckham, and I listen to my clients stories, they have families worldwide, they tell me about the bigger world. This is what I take in and where I make my judgments, if at all. I am a maverick.

One of the dilemmas of being sometimes ‘choatic’ is that I’m trying not to be but I can’t help but be. This blog is chaotic already, I have moved from writing about writing in an ambiguous way (I am starting to send my work to agents and am beginning to acquire the rejections letters) to writing about the Coronavirus.  When I listen to a story, when I dig a little deeper, the story is so much more complicated, and yet somehow, somewhere, I need to make my story less chaotic, get rid of what is not meaningful. My life’s work as a psychotherapist “whatever you tell me is valuable, whatever you write is right” it is all part of the story, but it is has to be condensed into something that is tangible. That is the hard bit.

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is reading. I am writing books yet I don’t read many. My husband used to joke about it, four years into our relationship he pointed out that I had the same book by the side of my bed from when we had met. Those years were particulary difficult for me. I went on a holiday soon after and re-read the book. I had started it about 20 times. Hanif Kureishi, Something to Tell You, it is about a middle aged therapist.  I am a middle aged therapist, I can now remember nothing other than that about the book. It clearly wasn’t internalised.

What is a book?  What book do you remember?  What books stay in your mind? I worry I am losing my memory. My mother got vascula dementia, my father alzheimers, is it early onset? Sometimes my husband and I decide to watch a film, sometimes ten minutes in we look at each other and wonder whether we have seen the film before, often we have.

Moving on, in my chaotic style, in the photo I am holding some watercress, I am not worried about getting Coronavirus because my homeopath is as good as the Queen and Prince Charle’s one, I am more worried about getting liver flukes from the watercress as I didn’t wash it.  I am notorious about forgetting to wash my veg. Hands yes, veg no.

Here is a poem I made into a song about my father’s Alzeimers.  It goes, la la la la la ,  B minor, 2/4 time.

Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead

Where’s the dog?
The dog’s dead
Where’s the dog?
The dog’s dead
Where’s the dog?
The dog is dead

Oh yes, he was doing piddles on the kitchen floor
No Dad, he collapsed and couldn’t get up anymore

Where’s your mother?
My mother’s dead
Where’s your mother?
My mother’s dead
Where’s your mother?
My mother is dead

Oh yes, she’s next door making sure their cat is fed
No Dad, she died in a hosital bed

Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead

I was out when Tesco Delivery came and home schooling ends

Front cover the DVD of Eraserhead, a white man with wild eyes and very tall hair
DVD Eraserhead

I was out when Tesco came last, my husband received the Delivery Man and put the shopping away. He did it really well, I could find everything and there wasn’t any wierd food in wierd places.  I found carrots in the freezer recently. We are all very busy and very stressed and anxious at times and do wierd things. I can’t find my glasses when they are on my head and I put my door keys in the fridge. I often get to the top of the stairs and wonder what I’m doing there. This is all normal.

Last night we watched my all-time favourite film, David Lynch’s ‘Eraserhead’.  I hadn’t watched it for a long time but had bought the DVD at some point when I knew I would want to watch it again.  We sat down with our 3 girls and put the blinds down. By the end of the film, only our 16-year-old remained on the sofa.  “That was the wierdest film ever” she said. In the morning one of our 14-year-olds asked me what had happened in the end.

I watched Eraserhead for the first time when I was about 17. It put me off quails for life. I cannot describe the film, you have to watch it. When I first got pregnant I had nightmares that I would have an Eraserhead baby, my unconscious deciding that I could only produce a monster.  When I was diagnosed with MS everyone wrote me off in the ‘having kids’ department. My Dad told me that he knew a woman with MS and she was happy with no kids, or a husband.

20 years ago, just before my first pregnancy, I began writing a novel called FERTILE. I sent it to about six agents. One agent asked to see the full book, I finished it quickly and sent it back to her. Her comments were:

“It is too personal and has too many descriptions of bodily functions for my taste.”

I took one of the chapters of FERTILE to an open mic spoken word poetry night, people laughed. That’s how my sit-down comedy began.

I have returned to FERTILE to re-edit the book, after 20 years. It is a book that has been under the bed, waiting for the right time to come out. Now, we can be more personal and bodily functions are all the rage, even though we have to wear masks to keep some of the more infected ones at bay.

I have written a letter to agents, after my next edit over the summer when I take time out from work, I shall send out to about 666, and collect the rejection letters. I kind of get a kick out of being rejected, that is the masochist in me. I know my writing is good enough, so it doesn’t matter, it is all subject to taste. If my favourite film is Eraserhead, it is befitting that my writing could be the weirdest you’ve ever read.

Hooray, homeschooling is nearly over and my carpenter husband is back working in his workshop and has just come home.

 

Today I got my spirit level

With my sliding bevel

I screwed in with the impact driver

Today the random orbital sander

Came in handier

Than the scraper

And the stud detector wasn’t sure

Whether to use the circular or the Japanese saw

 

My cordless drill, will with the offset chuck

And the moisture meter will tell me

If you are ready to fuck

Tonight

 

Whether you wear the PVA or the PU glue

With my forstner bit I will screw driver you

We can have a bit of fun

With the pincers, moll grips and the

No nonsense foam applicator gun

 

And if the sash or G-clamp gets too much

I’ll use the Vernier gauge and edge with the edge

bander

1\4 inch or 1/2 inch router

And belt sander

 

Now it’s time for a biscuit

Joiner and count my chisels

 

Tomorrow I’ll get onto the woodturning lathe

And mortisser (which is not set up yet)

And have a go with the bastard file

Though this is crossing a line

And verging on metal work

 

It’s time for bed

With my long nose plyers

Quick check in the mirror

At the pillar, drill

And reciprocating saw

And laminate trimmer

 

P.S. When I saw Eraserhead, first time, I remember my boyfriend’s Mum (at the time), sat on the sofa, trying to get off with one of his mates…

 

A birthday, a funeral, and a Tesco Delivery Man

Last week I performed an ‘Artist Presentation’ for DAO. Here is the link if you weren’t able to join me live.

Thank you to all who were there and asked questions. If there are any unanswered questions, please do comment below and I will answer.

On my birthday, the following day after the presentation, I went to a family funeral in Southampton. My sister stayed with me, she drove up from Wales. The fear of the virus is more prevalent where she lives, despite the fact there have been no cases in Ceredigion.  Her peers and colleagues were shocked that she would drive to Peckham and then to Southampton.  They, in fear of her bringing back the plague, but she is a key worker, she is needed to work, as more in fear are furloughed, isolating.

A white woman standing at a door while a black Tesco delivery man brings crates of shopping to it
Liz and all the plastic with Tesco Delivery Man

The Crematorium bouncers allowed 18 of us in, my husband was no 19, but he sneaked in, I was fortunate I could be with him. The chairs were spread so my sister couldn’t sit with us.  After the beautiful and honest ceremony, our family hugged, we could not do it without hugging.

So, now, I am another year older, 56, that’s older. I never expected to live till I was past 25. I had a suicide pact when I was 16 with one of my boyfriends that at age 25, we would kill ourselves. We decided that being an adult with responsibilities was boring. We did not know at that time our brains would change and these feeling would subside, most of the time.

Our beloved Kay’s feelings of suicide did not subside, although she died of cancer, her fight for what is right in the treatment of child abuse, kept going. She was a mighty strong woman to have survived so well. She was beautiful, inside and out.  When she was well, she would care for others in voluntary settings, of course she would understand.  I am so happy I spent the new year and my last birthday with her and my cousin.

RIP Kay

What is a conspiratorialist?

I am.

Lock up and hide.

Social distancing divide

And conquer

Fear and more fear

We are all infected. We all have pieces of the virus in us. The fear compartment of the virus within us will make us take a vaccine. But what will be injecting ourselves with?

Coming soon, Covid 19.2, to a town near you

Dependency on a socialised system.  Controlled, over everything.

The media

Trump, the most powerful man in the world.

Chlorinated chicken.

And here is a poem about turkeys and being socially correct, it is always a worry to me. I never want to offend. It is about Christmas too, that is Perverse because we are the furthest, we could be from Christmas and yet it looms as the earth circles the sun each day. Or does the sun circle the earth. I am no scientist. Does it matter?

PC Turkey Lurkey

Turkey lurking in the freezer

Friends with children over for tea

“I’ll get the ice-cream,” says a mum

“No!” I shout, “I’ll get it, don’t look in there”

Nobody must see

Except you and me

Bernard Matthews has a nice smile

But his voice is sinister like a paedophile

No its not, that’s a terrible thing to say

He’s probably a really nice man and gay

No, I can’t say that

He’s just a nice man who’s into poultry

 

Tesco bigger and better plastic bags
Covid and more and more plastic

 

 

 

 

 

Husband Rupert assisting Tesco Delivery Man

A white bald man stands at a doorway as another white bald man in a tesco delivery uniform stands on the other side with crates of shopping
Husband assisting Tesco Delivery Man

Here is a photo of my husband with the Tesco Delivery Man, in theory, as I am home shielding, I shouldn’t have been sleeping in the same bed as him, or enjoying baths together, or indeed eating together, for however many weeks it has been.

Lord Baden Powell’s statue has come down.  My dad would be turning in his grave if his ashes hadn’t been thrown off Southend Pier.  My mother’s ashes were thrown off Cromer pier where we used to go on holidays. My sister and I hoped that if they wanted to be together, they’d merge somewhere along the English Channel and the North Sea.

My parents lived for Scouting. As adults they became members of a Methodist church Scout guild and they remained members throughout their lives.  Both my parents helped produce Scout Gang Shows and my father was the store’s manager every four years when 2,500 Scouts, from all over the world, descended on Belchamps, in Hockley, for the Essex Scout Jamboree. The 1980 Jamboree is documented in my blog ‘From Essex to London in 101 boyfriends’ (it is now a book called ‘Jigsaw’ which will be published soon, I hope, well, in the next two years).

As for Baden Powell and Hitler, one night I was performing at a cabaret night, wearing my Brownie Uniform (it still fits) at an Edinburgh Fringe venue (my shows were daytime and in the evenings I guested at various comedy and cabaret nights).

“You look like Hitler Youth” someone said as I got up on stage.  On researching the link between Baden Powel and Hitler, it turns out that Scout groups did join up with Hitler Youth for camping trips etc. There was a play written by Glenn Chandler and put on at Edinburgh Fringe last year, “Baden-Powell instigated it. He was fooled by Hitler, who he thought was fighting communists”. Glenn Chandler says about his play “The Good Scout”.

We are all fighting the ‘Virus’, well we think we’re fighting the virus. The virus is part of nature, we are fighting much, much, more under the surface.

Perhaps the statue could be left up, with another two built either side, one of a the “Good Boy Scout” and one of a “Hitler Youth” boy, two vulnerable children with two very different ‘fathers’.

This blog is not as long or polished as the others because I am working on my artist presentation.  Keep the time in your diary free, 24th June 3pm, Facebook live! With a Q and A. Can’t wait, I have a surprise guest appearance.

 

Here is a poem about one of the many boyfriends I had at the 1980 Essex International Jamboree.  Just me and a friend were helping my father dole out the food to the 2,500 scouts.  We were the only girls camping there.

 

Austrian Boy Scouts

 

Korben Rupert

Lovely

 

 

Liz Bentley photographing Tesco Delivery Man, no selfie as was in a bikini

 

Tesco Delivery Man and Van

I didn’t take a photo of me this time. I was sunbathing on our Peckham Patio in my bikini. When Tesco delivery man arrived I couldn’t find my clothes, just like Barbara Windsor in the Carry on films, but I’m older than she was when she did that sort of thing.  So I let the man in, then flustered around hopelessly looking for my shorts. He came into the house and brought all the shopping in, he was a fearless Tesco Delivery Man, and rather lovely, as they all are.

I’m doing dry June. I’m bored of alcohol and lockdown and lockdown and alcohol, I’m bored of so much right now and struggling to express my feelings because everyone is feeling so different so much of the time and I am concerned I may offend, be taken the wrong way. And frustrated, upset, angry about so much.  We all have our family crises inside and outside of our lockdown situations. The ism’s are bigger than ever, if we are prone to OCD, the OCD is ever more present, if we are prone to denial, we will be in denial, if we are an abuser, we will abuse more and doors are closed tighter. A loved one is in ICU, not for CV, but for years and years of being a ‘number’ in the mental health system, drugs more drugs and more drugs, rotting her consciousness and everything else including her body ignored, drugs will shut you up, but destroy you, slowly, and now they are.

I remember performing at a  ‘hearing voices’ conference years ago at the Welcome centre with Dolly Sen. I will never forget the chorus from the audience “We want our voices heard”, not dumbed down. A voice is so real to me and I hear it echoing from the ICU.  It’s not fair and it never will be.

My 92 year old uncle Peter always says “there is no such thing as a problem, just a solution” yet during our last phone call he resited this:

“It’s the rich wot get the pleasure

The poor wot get the blame (and the pain (my addition))

It’s the same the whole world over

Ain’t it a bloody shame”

 

To find a solution to any of the feelings I have re all this world change feels impossble. Another reason to cut out my alcohol drinking, I need to have the clearest head possible, and I’m preparing for a 30 minute artist presentation for DOA, to be aired on 24th June at 3pm.  To be given this opportunity fills me with love for DAO and the organisations who have helped me to create and keep me sane. I want the presentation to be brilliant! Liz Bentley brilliant, that means, raw, honest and perverse.  Here is a new poem, but before, how the fuck are car showrooms so important to open sooner, and how the fuck did this government pass a LAW that having sex with someone from a different household is now illegal? A law.

 

The Gaze I Crave

 

I didn’t want masks, to mask

I didn’t want sreens to screen

I didn’t want Brexit

I didn’t want, I never wanted a Tory government

I didn’t want my kids education to be interruped

(How the fuck does my son do a popular music degree online?)

I didn’t want to homeschool my daughter (she’s at the age of trying to separate from me, I’m the last person she wants in her face over her studies)

I didn’t want computers, I remember when the first computers came into the office I worked in

I didn’t want them, I didn’t want the training to learn how to use them (see certificate)

The Gaze I craved was gone and my 45wpm typing speed didn’t matter anymore

 

I didn’t want the internet, I didn’t want internet porn

One of my boyfriends got it first so I went into a chat room

It excited then disturbed me

I didn’t want mobile phones

My best friend who I met on a nudist beach in Greece, she lives in Cambridge, I met her in the early 80’s, when we were in our early 20’s. We kept in touch in a more intimate way than on Facebook posts

I so so so so did not want the internet

I did not want to have to remember passwords, maybe one would be ok, like that of a secret diary, but not a book full of numbers, letters, higher case, lower case, pound sign, star, & ….. I didn’t want an Email address

I didn’t want to be a number

I am a number

The home shielding team rang and said “How are you?”

I said “Are you really asking me how I am? Do you really want to know how I am”

“What’s you gp’s address?” They said

I am a number

A human

No, I am a number

The gaze I craved has gone

 

my first and only computer certificate 1983
‘this report is based on factors observed in class and should not be taken as a prediction of future performances’

 

 

Liz Bentley anti-social distancing with the Tesco Delivery Man

 

Liz Bentley antisocial distancing with the Tesco Delivery Man

 

Apart from this week being horrendous, and my worse lockdown week ever, some thoughts have emerged about the past and the present.  Many psychotherapists are working very much in the present, and so am I, to an extent. However, while some of us have been going through our old photos, I have also been immersed in the phenomena that is nostalgia, and remembering how we are all unique in our thinking and experiencing of past events, particularly from childhood.

I have joined a new Facebook group, set up for us oldies living (or having lived) in my home town of Rayleigh in Essex.  I have been having great fun, posting pictures, reading anecdotes and coming across old school friends etc. There’s the fun, now here’s the darker side to this nostalgia.

I didn’t read the posts mentioned, but there was clearly some accusation of teachers being abusers, which had to be stopped, i.e. people naming and shaming, not on, but to me, it hi lighted again the abuse in the 70’s, the Saville years, and how much of it went on, like it was okay. What was encouraging about the Facebook group was that friends were able to at least discuss the dilemma, as opposed to remembering ‘just’ the good old bits like the chocolate blamonge and marbles.

I am curious to see if any of the three girls that beat me up on Charles and Diana, royal wedding day will appear in any of the feeds, they are likely to have different surnames, and strangely I remember those more than their first names, but I remember the main girl, the ringleader. What will I do if they are on there? Do I ask whether they remember the day when ….?

I have already been connected with one of my oldest best friend and an old boyfriend (Yes, one of the 101), he wondered whether I remembered him, of course I remembered him, I remember them all, I have anecdotes with him, some in my book under a psyeudenum). Then I worried that I’d been nice to him back then, I think I was, I must have been because otherwise he wouldn’t have made himself known, I guess. I was so troubled back then, still am when the going gets tough, but years of therapy have given me everything I have now.

I wrote my ‘Thank you Universe’ and it is published in my 2nd poetry anthology, ‘£500 a line and other poems’. That assault from those girls was never forgotten by me, forgiven yes, but it fucking hurt. Neither was the inappropriateness of my flute teacher, it was disgusting, and he was called Mr Long, but what was going on at home was just as bad, it follows you around …… difficult to shake off, like a virus.

Here is the poem, I am still thanking the Universe for everything I have, but there is still room for feeling disgruntled, upset, worried, anxious, angry, jealous, shamed, guilty, all those normal human feelings. The world is bi polar but we don’t have to adhere to that label. (p.s. I don’t have a Vauxhall Zafira anymore and I was a big fan of Jeremy Irons before he did that worrying interview and Mr Long didn’t work at my school, he worked in the Saturday morning music school at Dene’s)

Thank You Universe

Thank you universe for those beautiful hand embroidered pictures that auntie Brenda made last Christmas that I forgot to thank her for.

Thank you universe for our times of celebration, Christmas, New Year, Easter, Divali, all those wonderful bank holidays when we get together with our families.  Thank you for the happiness and great joy it brings to us all.

Thank you universe for the amazing gift of life, Jesus’s life, Jeremy Iron’s life – all life. Thank you to my mother and father for bringing me into this life.

Thank you for the wonderful education I had, without which, I wouldn’t have been told recently how unique my ignorance is.

Thank you for the joy of love, sex and sexually transmitted diseases that gave my sister and I something in common.

Thank you for my boyfriend Mark Sidnell for not walking me home from the pub on 29th July 1981 so that Janet Bloomfield could beat me up in confidence so I will never forget the date when Charles and Diana got married which often comes up in pub quizzes.

Thank you Auntie Brenda for never taking me to France like you promised because I eventually went to Paris via the Channel tunnel instead of a crappy old boat trip to Calais

Thank you princess Diana for dieing on 31st August 1997 and making my day trip to Paris so much more exciting and memorable and making me want to thank Auntie Brenda even more.

Thank you Janet Bloomfield for apologizing for beating me up because you got the wrong person and thank you to my mother for giving me her passive-aggressive genes so I would forgive Janet Bloomfield but suppress my anger that then made my legs numb and my eyes blurred.

Thank you Dr Bari for diagnosing these symptoms as multiple sclerosis, without which I would not be driving my brand new motorbility Vauxhall Zafira 2.2 with air conditioning and power steering, complete with the blue badge for parking, the freedom pass and exemption from the congestion charge.

Thank you Ronald Mac Donald for providing me with soft white toilet paper for all the years I was unemployed and thank you Ronald Mac Donald for putting locks on your toilet roll holders, giving me the incentive to look for a job.

Thank you to my old flute teacher Mr Long (a short man who abused me at school), without him I would never have gone into therapy, psychoanalysed my MS symptoms away and found a career in therapy and thank you to all the other Mr Longs out there who keep me in employment.

And lastly, thank you universe for the Rasta Father Christmas’s that can occasionally be seen inside a whole peanut if you look really closely.

Liz Bentley feeling the grief and extra happy to see the smile from the ever more important Tesco delivery man (or occasionally woman)

White, ginger Tesco Delivery Man standing in a front doorway giving thumbs up as a white blonde woman smiles next to a piano.

I really didn’t know what to write about today. I asked my friend, and before she could answer, I said “Grief’, loss”, that’s it. That really is the only sense I have right now, two deaths that are closer to me this week, one from cancer, one from CV, and the new knowledge of CV deaths at the college I work for. I feel very much in the front line of grief this week.

Another direct personal loss was my MS nurse who has supported me for the last 8 years. I received a phone call from another nurse who needed to ‘tick boxes’ on her new register. I asked where my usual MS nurse was? The new nurse mumbled something about her being ill and not coming back, but then retracted and said she didn’t know her at all. I said I was sad and that I wanted to say goodbye, to thank her for all the support she had given me.

Eight years ago, when I had to give up my beloved job in the NHS, my nurse was there for me, she listened, and supported me in taking the next steps in my life’s journey. I sent an email to the new nurse to pass on my letter of thanks but I doubt she will ever receive my thanks. Has she died? I don’t know and no one can or will tell me. That’s just how it is, my new nurse knows nothing about me, and was distracted by her barking dogs.  She told me that from here on things were changing, consultations would likely be by phone or through the screen.

It reminded me of when I had to leave my NHS job, taking with me years and years of knowledge about patients I had been looking after, IAPT weren’t interested in my findings, my stats, my concerns, and how I’d done a successful job.

We are numbers, only to be seen through a screen or through a mask.  As a psychotherapist, working for decades to get rid of my mask, my ‘false’ self (as Donald Winnicott would say) only to find the universe is requesting I put one back on. And to be a number, I must be jabbed, marked somehow.

Below the photo is a poem I wrote, inspired by the ‘The Wing Assignment’ arts project. As Rachel Pantechnicon poet would say, ‘life is partly nice, partly nasty’. I was admiring the poppies at Peckham Rye then stepped in dog shit.

Photograph of an urban park, with poppies and trees and a block of flats in the distance

Bingo Wings Flapping in the Sun (Everyone has Bingo Wings)

M wings are over 5.5 decades old

In over 5.5 weeks of lockdown

The slow metabolism of carrying weight

As the wait of uncertainty

Begins to create

The worldwide break

Down of life, as my wings knew it

My bingo wings flap

 

What goes up

Must come down

40,50,60,70, lengths of the Pioneer pool

Will not change time

I stretch my arms up and down

And down and up

The wings still hang, wise and weary

 

Writhing in the snake pit below

As the divide strengthens, to conquer

I look up at the sun

Soaking in the vitamin D

That will conquer CV

Eros, equated with the sun

Breathes the spirit of life

The erotic, the creative, and in the psychoanalytical world, it is sometimes said ‘you live your life in the same way you experience sexual intercourse’

 

My bingo wings, flapping in the sun

Over cum ing, Cummings

And his dread of death

 

The voices behind the WHO (not of the Roger Daltrey kind)

Have clipped my wings

The little boy in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ screams

“It is the soil, not the germ”

As we learn

My bingo wings WILL keep flapping in the sun