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

 

Liz Bentley feeling sad her Tesco Delivery Man can’t come in, while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man for a long time….

IMG_1918

 

It’s strange now to think that Tesco Delivery Men have hugged me, got up close and leaned in when I’ve been doing a selfie with them. That feels such a long time ago now. I’m not isolating alone, in fact much of the week there are four or six of us (my husband and I both have two children we share a home), but I am acutely aware how isolation is hitting.

My 92-year-old uncle contracted the virus Polio, age 18. He was in the Army, doing his national service. He told me recently it was a strange thing, like coronavirus, you couldn’t really tell where you contracted it, and why did my Uncle get it but no-one else who had been around him? He knew only one old school friend who contracted it and died. That was then and this is now. My Uncle said he felt this was worse for the kids than the Second World War, schools were still open then. “It’s the isolation” he said. God, I miss the schools and the teachers, and my friends and my family. (You may have read from my last blog what a shite home tutor I am, it causes me huge stress and highlights my own failings, I have so much to learn with all this, without having to face the trauma from my 1970’s education again).

Nevertheless, we are all actually doing really well. Each day we survive another day, we ARE doing really well, my glass of wine has turned into a gin and tonic, my yo-yo life of coronavirus, one minute I’m performing a comedy song in our communal garden, or clapping our NHS with neighbours, the next I am working or on the phone chatting and supporting friends and family who are struggling with different issues to me. Somehow all our struggles collide. This trauma is still, and always will be, everyone’s trauma.

As per my previous blog, the deaths I am hearing about are more from suicide or accidental death. My niece who is training to be a paramedic (training put on hold, she is now front line), is dealing with the trauma of suicide attempts. I start back work this week supervising student services staff at Lewisham College, I am bracing myself for more trauma, we had enough before coronavirus.

Self-care is very difficult for anyone during this time; self-care is different for everyone, it may be a bath or reading a book, my self-care is a gin and tonic to get me though, is that self-care? I’m drinking it now. It is the first blog I have written under the influence of a gin and tonic. Is that ok? Am I blurring my boundaries? Is it better? Am I more honest?  In my last blog, I wrote about my computer playing up while I was trying to have my own therapy session, my last session I forgot I even had a therapy session. In 25 years of having therapy, a lot of the time, I have never forgotten a session. That’s how it is, I forgot! And I rarely use exclamation marks, and there is one. I forgot my therapy session, my self-care. Watch out Bentley, big note to self. And this is where creativity comes in.

What can we laugh about now?

During a spontaneous gig in my communal garden with some Perverse Verse neighbour fans, I read out this poem I wrote probably 20 years ago. I had won money from an MS Society Millennium award to run a writing as therapy group in one of the pods in the amazing brand new (then) Peckham Library.  We were a group of disabled writers, some with MS, some with ME and one carer. During the 12-week group there was a fireman’s strike, meaning lifts couldn’t be used in public buildings. This became a nightmare for my group. The poem/song (and the second bit of the poem can be sung in Aled Jones-style ‘I’m walking in the Air’ – yes I know it wasn’t him but I can’t be arsed to research and I like Aled) is about a fart, and I was thinking that Coronovirus is like a fart, you can’t see it, you never really know how it travels, and it really can be deadly…however, there is hope, and we all need a bit of hope right now, so read ’til the end and keep up the hope…

 

The Lost Fart

 

Wafting fart, waft away, through the trees, through the clouds, up to the sky

Up to mars, where water has been found

A fire was found in Peckham, but alas, the fire brigade were on strike

I felt sad

Lifts can’t be used during fireman’s strikes.  This strike went on for some weeks during which time I took tea and biscuits and coffee and sugar and sold them to the people who were waiting by the lift at the bottom of the stairs of Peckham library

Each day of the fire brigades strike I made more money

Each day the our library debts increased

I felt sadder

 

It’s cold, there’s a draft

The lost fart wafts through the doors, into the library, slips up to the fourth floor, reads a book, and is found again

 

I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting up the library stairs

A light brown film surrounds me

Some say I look like a tree

 

I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting in the sea of life

Was lost but now am found

High above the ground  – in the library

 

Who is this?

Sitting by

Drinking tea

Forlorn

Who is he?

I cannot see

But he is reading porn

 

I’m wafting in the air

I’m wafting by a man’s wheelchair

He smiles at me with grace

I poof right in his face  –  in the library

 

He lights a cigarette

He puffs out so much smoke it hurts

He lifts it high above

And stabs me in the heart

I’m a dieing fart

 

(BTW in those days you could smoke most places)

 

White woman in crows mask, white shirt playing a ukelele in a garden

 

Liz Bentley observing the 2 metres apart with her nearly extinct, Tesco Delivery Man

Blone white woman and black Tesco delivery man stand arms aloft, observing 2 metres of social distancing in front of the delivery van

What a crazy world it has become. I’ve been busy, transferring my private therapy practice, online and working with Student Services at Lewisham College, by phone. I am very concerned about our mental health in this crisis, in my work I am hearing more about deaths from suicide, than from Coronavirus.

Within my community of psychotherapists we are acknowledging how much we have to learn, everything has changed, there are no books, no personal experiences, we have to do everything by trial and error. As comfortable as I have been as a Luddite (I only learned this word recently), I am learning to embrace technology but it doesn’t come without its problems. Part of me relishes the possibilities, the other part continues to address the reality of our unique, traumatic situation.

For some therapists, just finding a confidential space in our homes is tricky. For some clients, the best and only way is to take a 50-minute walk and chat on the phone. When disabilities are taken into account, options are further reduced, especially for younger adults and kids.  Whilst I miss my clients physically in my room, I am experiencing my trauma as their trauma, with all of our other underlying traumas coming to the fore. This is huge, at times overwhelming, but we are all in it together, and this is a comfort, to some more than others.

During my personal therapy session, my computer started playing up, the curser began darting around the screen and pop ups popped up, it was excruciatingly frustrating. I turned it off and on, on and off, changed from Skype to Zoom. At the end of the session, my computer went back to its normal, normal state and hasn’t played up since or with my clients.

Homeschooling my 14-year-old has thus far consisted of writing emails to teachers and ringing the school SEN department, my daughter and I in tears, questioning the flurry of emails, pdf’s with enormous amounts of work that has got to be done yesterday. I don’t understand them, then I realise what is being sent, the reality of the pdf’s is just piles and piles of anxiety, being shoved through the internet. I have had at least 5 detentions by proxy. The education system, and most other systems are seemingly, behaving like this is normal, everything is normal, we just transfer everything online, in fact we don’t need anything, we don’t need teachers, doctors, friends, partners, anyone, everything can be done online. Even PE, sex, everything.  No room to acknowledge the grief.  My son’s very practical music degree is now at home in his bedroom, online. The disappointment for all and the grief that I am trying to contain sometimes feels too much.  See, I’ve said it again.

At the end of the day I pour a large glass of wine. It is my reward for getting through another day.  The two social events I have had with friends, have been nice, we’ve chatted, laughed, but then I have burst into tears as the reality of not being able to ‘be’ with them kicks in. But right now, as psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott would say,  it has to be ‘good enough’, it just has to be.

I don’t have an appropriate song or poem, I have a short play I have written that I shall post soon, but for now, I am having the craziest of dreams. I think Jung’s collective unconscious is at work, the first is Biblical, the second apocalyptic, the third could be a scene from Schindler’s List.

Tuesday … trying to get Oli back from Falmouth, weren’t allowed to use cars so I got a camel. The camel was young, and although could cope with my weight ok, its hoofs couldn’t manage the steep rough terrain and I feared falling into the sea.

Wednesday – The door of my house was open, one of my clients walked in for safety and sat around my kitchen table, shortly followed by a man wearing pyjamas who looked like a zombie, I tried to talk with the man but he got aggressive so I calmley pushed him back into the street where there were zombies wandering aimlessly. Across the road there was an old ambulance, a body was being removed from a house on a stretcher.

Thursday – An army official knocked on our door to tell us we all had to get out. I walkedover to the flats to find out what was happening, people were all moving out of their homes, wheelbarrows carrying their belongings , when I returned back to my house I wasn’t allowed back in, my family had all they could get.

Oh just got Boris’s letter, it’s undated, here is a half baked, immediate poem in response to the intrusion….

 

The Good Girl

Be a good girl

You don’t, or won’t know what is good

I have the secret book

I decide when you have been good, or not

When you are bad, you will know by my silence

Then you will be good

 

You will be good at all times

Even when you think good is not good

I know what is good, and bad

Not you

 

Be a good girl, and if you are not ……

Liz Bentley and our mad mad world, no Tesco Delivery Man

A children's play park, with no one in it

“You need to leave.” Said the masked man.

“Why?” Asked the mother, with two small children.

“Coronavirus.” He said.

I watched while the family left the park and the man locked up.

Opposite the park are flats, full of everyone, families, singletons, couples, pensioners, disabled, with no outside space. As I relish getting vitamin d, sat on my pretty patio, I tried to think what it might be like to be stuck in those flats. It didn’t take me long and I remembered exactly what it is was like for me back then.

28 years ago I was living in a one-bed council flat in a far more run-down kind of a block in Bermondsey. I’d had an MS attack which meant I had to leave my beloved job as a Samaritan youth outreach worker and my job counselling women at Marie Stopes women’s clinics.

I was alone in my flat with neighbours who were drug dealers and had parties with loud music which meant I couldn’t sleep normal hours. I eventually got a social worker who sorted out my benefits (this was so much easier, back in the day). Friends bought me food and helped out when possible. No social media, no disabled community. I felt alone and afraid.

After a few weeks, with the help of NHS crutches, I was able to get down the flight of stairs, haul myself into a taxi and see my private therapist, who had reduced her fees to suit my reduced income. It was many months before I was able to take part in ‘normal’ activities and resume my work as a counsellor. I knew, even back then, how lucky I was to have found a career in this profession. So long as I could listen, I would be ok.

Right now, we are all in unique situations, mine as mental as everybody else’s. I am spending more time than ever on social media, or just sitting, because sorting out everything in one go feels momentous, and as everything changes by the hour, there’s no point in doing too much.  (i.e. I began writing this blog a few days ago, then all I had written became insignificant).

Back 28 years ago, when I was in the cab to my therapist I became elated that the sun was out. I will never forget that moment. I was out, and the sun was out too. ‘The sun had got his hat on’. We may not be able to ‘come out to play’ in the same way, but our internal ‘play’ will come out in ways we would never expect as the sky becomes bluer. As an insomniac, I relish bird song over planes. I am an expert at social isolation. I look forward to allowing my readers into my world over the coming weeks, with or without Tesco delivery man … watch out the Bentley is about..

Empty loo roll whcih reads, time to look at our shit

Here is a Facebook post I wrote last week, it got 16 shares which suggests it was useful, funny or interesting.  I hope you enjoy. My Tesco delivery man did turn up in the end, that story is for another time …..

Psychotherapist by day /Comedian by night ‘Liz Bentley’ helps explain the toilet roll hoarding situation…

Forget sex and death, let’s get back to Freud’s Anal stage of instinct theory, infantile ego development (look it up).

So, my theory, with a bit of Freud’s help, suggests that the ‘hoarders’ are terrified of being isolated with their own shit, nothing and /or no one to project onto. The fear of not being able to wipe it away (ie that old saying ‘brushing it under the carpet’) exceeds any reasonable thinking or thought for others, like any hoarder (and indeed narcissistic), all is based around fear , underlying fear are complex emotions, usually from deep rooted childhood trauma, that many, man, many of us struggle to access….. 
but like an ego , there is a hoarder in us all , part of our survival … 

If you see a hoarder, keep clear, but access your empathy, we can use a watering can on our bits , they are repressing a lot and this could well end up in constipation, then come the laxatives, then come the pain killers, then we have a compromised immune system, then death …. be kind to the toilet roll hoarders and holders (who may be bereft of their rolls ) ….

Now is the time to look at our shit, big time ….

Liz Bentley’s thoughts on International Women’s Day and Crowona virus while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man

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Fancy having a granola named after me. And how exciting that Tesco are matching Aldi prices on some of their ‘own brand’ goods. I’m so excited. Greta would be excited too as my mint tea bags came in a box, just a box, no cellophane package, just the box which went into the recycling. So exciting developments.

International Women’s day on 8th, always brings up difficult stuff for me because my dad wanted me to be a boy. My sister would have been called John Winston, so I guess I would have been called John Winston, but if she had been a boy I would be Mark something. When I used to work at Marie Stopes abortion clinics, women came from all over the world, nearly at that 24-week mark. It is still a tragedy to have a girl in many parts of the world.

Towards the end of my Dad’s life, he really was pleased he had girls to look after him, not that boys wouldn’t have. But gone were the days of him getting involved in rugby.

I had a bit of a difficult experience with the washing this week. I put a tissue in and it dissolved and stuck all over the clothes. It took extra time putting the clothes away. Really irritating.

And then there has been coronavirus, what a load of old shit that is, but a good time to go to hospital, A and E is a breeze right now. I hope you like the photo of my new Crowona mask? My husband’s work colleague bought it for him for me I think, maybe he is worried that because of the MS I’m right weak and vulnerable. But my chest is good, I can breath really deeply, especially at yoga. What poem shall I share with you this time. This one, while I’m talking about hospitals, and it follows on from the food one from my last blog.

Hospital Food

A nice man from the ward domestic staff team gave me a tray of food

“That looks nice” I said

“Believe me, it’s horrible” He said

 

Woman with a crow's mask on
Crowona virus mask

Liz Bentley and Giardia, while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Woman

Liz Bentley holding cucumber with Tesco Delivery Woman

How exciting it was when the delivery man was a woman, and what a lovely large cucumber she bought me, well in its sell by date.

This weeks shopping was hard for me to do because I had nausea. I’m too old to be pregnant and I soon put two and two together and realised it was the return of my parasite giardia. I’ve had it before, some years ago, have no idea where I got it from, I hadn’t been anywhere at the time. Its bloody horrible.

I was feeling ravenous, but sick at the same time as the giardiasis ate all the nutrients of my cucumber. I was exhausted too.

To treat Giardia, most people go to the Dr’s and take hardcore antibiotics, which sometimes work first go, or sometimes you have to take another batch of even harder hardcore antibiotics. I trotted off (via email) to my homeopath and googled every article and chat group there is, about treating giardiasis and parasites the ‘natural’ way. I became obsessed.

I started a no sugar diet, parasites love sugar, but they hate: grated carrot, raw garlic (I stunk) plain rice, fish, chicken broth, grapefruit seed, papaya seed, cider vinegar (table spoons, when I could stomach it), turmeric, and the best things of all for giardiasis,- pumpkinseeds and a tincture of black walnut and wormed tincture, YUM. Unfrotunately most of these items you cannot get via Tesco, you have to buy from a health food store or get from Amazon.

Anyway, after ten days it went, I’m so fucking proud of myself and I’ve put the weight back on already. Doing dry January definitely helped my discipline.  If I take antibiotics, it fucks up my finely tuned system that manages my MS. So fucking proud of myself.

I have two gigs this week, Melancholy and Madness at The Ship, Borough tonight and Perverse Verse at the Ivy House, Nunhead on Thursday. I am writing and rehearsing for these now.  Here is an article about Perverse Verse http://www.run-riot.com/articles/blogs/psychotherapist-day-comedian-night-liz-bentleys-‘perverse-verse’-returns-ivy-house

I did get a little depressed during my giardia time, when I wrote the poem below. Forgetting Giardia, food has been a big issue in my life from birth, but I’ll save this story for another time. However, let’s not forget, it’s eating disorder awareness week from 2nd March. I shall buy some celebratory treats from Tesco next time. I hope you enjoy my poems.

I hate food

I hate having to have it all the time
As I get older and time goes faster
It feels like one meal comes after the other
With no time to think

I hate food
The thinking about it, buying it
Putting it somewhere, looking ag it,
Preparing it, cooking it and then
Eating it

The only bit I like about food is the Tesco Delivery Man, or Woman
I fucking hate scrolling down the isles online
I fucking hate being in a shop, offline
Smelling it, pooing it, seeing the remnants in the bin
At least if I had tube for the food
I’d have more time

I hate clothes
I hate I have to buy them, wash them
Wear them, put them away
Get them out again
Hang them up, take them out again
Find a charity shop to take them
Mend them

I hate needlework too

Liz Bentley wearing the apron she made in her sewing class in 1979

(And here is another poem why I may hate sewing)

Sewing lessons

We were sewing aprons with Mrs Clutterbuck
Using Bernina sewing machines, we liked it very much

“Oh my laddered stockings, what colour are they today?
Michelle you have such golden locks
That would go with yesterday’s socks – but not today
My stockings are dark brown today

Who has dark brown hair in the class?
Stop what you are doing girls I need to find a match
So I can detach a few hairs to darn my stockinged feet
Elizabeth stay on your seat your hair colour is good
The colour of this wood (of the desk) it will match let’s detach”

She bustles back to her teachers’ seat
Darns her stockings with my dark brown hair – there
Leaving me a bald patch, which took time to recover

I have the apron I made in that class, I made two pockets on either side
The others couldn’t be arsed and put one large one in the middle

Mrs Clutterbuck throws a hardwood blackboard rubber at Haidee Fill
Which has broken her Bernina
(I still wear the apron, it is of great quality. The next thing I made in that class was a skirt, but I never got as far as getting the zip in, Mrs Clutterbuck was frustrated that I couldn’t do it first go. This was the start and the very end of my sewing career).