Some stories what I wrote. Does what it says on the tin really.
The war has ended, let peace and prosperity reign!
Celebrate the servicemen returning,
Coming back here and taking our jobs.
We have the Sex Disqualification Act now,
But we’re still expected to work the same
Long hours as our male counterparts.
Still disqualified from equal pay and benefits,
Earning half the amount of men in most industries,
Not based on half the ability but
Decided only on our sex.
Still we’re here, keeping the home fires burning.
Chin up, come on old girl,
Back to “women’s work” we go.
We’re allowed to work on assembly lines now,
But of course none of us are allowed to supervise.
Only one in ten married women work because it’s
Not possible to do a full working day and manage the
Laundry, dishes, cleaning, sewing,
Care, cooking, child-growing
Of a family.
Well done! Well done, sister suffragette –
We have the vote, we made a change!
But only if you’re a woman of a certain age.
30 years or older please
Because a woman has no wisdom at
19 or 20.
Screen screen screen, screen,
One more hour and I swear I’ll scream.
Too many small boxes filled with faces,
All in one Zoom or Team or FaceTime
But separated by walls, the divisions between us both real and virtual,
Only one face per rectangular box.
My mind feels like it is melting in this flat upright world of screens.
How can I explore when the only Explorer I have is Internet?
Now of course obsolete. Who browses that way any more?
What will we say that about in 6 months or 6 years?
What more will we lose and let fade away…
Chin up, come on old girl,
Don’t think like that.
You’re still safe within the four walls of your home,
Staring safely at the untouchable screen,
Routinely seeing the same faces in their boxes.
Look but don’t touch
Those people I can see,
As I ache to hug the people closest to me.
So unspeakably grateful to have work to do,
No one coming over here, taking our jobs.
Equal pay for all!
(Except for that pesky 12-25% gender gap we don’t like to mention.)
Did you know there are still no sectors of the economy where women are paid the same as men across the board?
You don’t want to get me started on diversity on boards.
We keep those home fires burning and we have to work so hard to
Keep those home fires burning,
Because those bills aren’t going to pay themselves and that fire needs lighting by someone!
A lower salary is better than no salary, am I right ladies?
Who says we can’t have it all?
No, no there’s no discrimination here!
“Go to work, or don’t,” has been uttered and it’s utterly unclear.
That is if you have work to go to, of course.
Is it a relief to be furloughed or has it become yet another thing to make us feel low?
For business or pleasure our link to the outside world,
To each other is through these rectangular portals,
The screens to another dimension.
I’ve dreamed in Zoom –
I saw boxes floating in front me as I walk down a street,
Heads suspended in small rectangles, obscuring my vision of what should be in front of me,
Screens replacing reality.
Some of us have started sewing ostensibly for sanity.
Masks, patchwork, blankets, clothes.
It’s more than make do and mend now.
It’s make, create and hold on to something physical, hold on to reality as we
Try not to disappear…
I have turned to cooking.
I step into the kitchen away from the computer,
Taking in the solid comforts of hob, the pots, the pans and the oven
As I prepare my next comfort food.
I chop, mix, scrape, knead, stir, bash, fry, bake, grill, caramelise, sear, boil, toast.
I feel calm as I cross the threshold and leave my flat phone, tablet and computer worlds behind.
I find unexpected solace in hoovering, cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the kitchen floor, clearing pots and pans away.
For those minutes and hours I forget about the boxes looming on the horizon, waiting for me.
In this pocket of domesticity, I don’t have to look too far ahead and
My view is filled with 3-dimensional objects of all shapes and sizes.
I, a woman,
Turn away from work, back in time towards the odd relief of
Cooking and cleaning.
And I can’t help but think as the wartime words pour out from the mouths of our leaders,
What would the women of 1920 make of this?
The women who lived through a real war and fought so hard
For the right to vote and
For the right to work and
For the right to be seen as equal.
What does it mean in 2020 to be this woman?
You and I haven’t always seen eye to eye,
Especially when looking in a mirror.
There’s a tendency to lack tenderness, to be hardest on the softer parts of this body.
But I want to tell you (me, us) something.
I have made you (me, us) strong.
You (I, we) are strong.
I love the part of my side that is the lower curve of my waist,
(The carnal pleasure I take in food won’t let it waste away)
That undulates and fluctuates in size and
Becomes my hips that have grown inches as I have grown older, upwards and outwards.
26, 27, 28, 29, 30.
And as these numbers grow higher I have noticed the first grey hairs appear and they fascinate me,
Silver to the point of being invisible but still they glint ethereally against the black.
So delicately spun as if a spider tip-toed across my head and abandoned the threads in her wake; silk orphans presented to my head that cannot help but take them in and hold them.
We have been fatter and we have been thinner, we will never be taller, though we most certainly have been smaller and look how we’ve grown.
Our presence has never been larger and time only moves one way –
You will never be younger than you are right now.
Let’s not forget to mention the elephant in the room…well, elephants.
These breasts are not small and there was no choice in the matter but to have them.
They, like every other part of me, grew and I know nothing else but the experience of having them.
They are the part of this body that one day might feed the children I hope the whole will bear.
It may not of course – that potential is as yet untapped and I have as much control over it as I do over how it has grown in all the directions it has expanded.
Sometimes all you (I, we) want is doughnuts or pastries or bagels, toasties, deep fried sushi, mayonnaise with a side of chips, chocolate milk, coffee with a tower of whipped cream, cake with buttercream icing, biscuits, pretzels smothered in melted cheese, all in the plural for maximum guzzling consumption.
Sometimes all I (you, we) want is to swim and dance, run or cycle, vinyasa and downward dog in ashtanga sun salutations to lengthen and strengthen and stretch.
You, I…we…I. We are the same one stuff of course.
But we’re told there’s mental and physical.
Head and heart and fat and muscle, organs and bone and hair and teeth, eyeballs and skin cells and nails and hands and feet and brain matter, synapses, nerve endings, pigments, sinews, joints, a head, a body, a heart, a brain.
It is all just this. Just I.
But we’re told mind over matter.
But we see all these images of be smaller, be thinner, be less, be beach body ready, be the best you who is by no coincidence the skinniest you-
You’re ok. You’re strong and healthy. We…
I am strong and healthy.
Except maybe for those doughnuts. They’ll get me every time.
Sorry, can we pause for a minute.
Oh…um…sure. What’s wrong?
We need to talk.
What? Why? Everything’s great.
I just. I feel like this isn’t working.
Him: For me. Her: Oh. (Pause) Really?
I actually didn’t see that coming. Wow.
This isn’t easy for me to say.
Oh. Maybe this really isn’t working.
I feel like I do all the work here. You’re not putting anything in. You just sit there, all chill and I’m working really hard you know? To make this work for us?
So maybe you need to take a break, recharge or something?
But you put in zero effort. Maybe every so often you add something to one of my lists of ALL THE THINGS WE HAVEN’T DONE YET AND NEED DOING but most of the time? Nothing. It’s all on me.
Huh. I feel like that’s not entirely fair.
Can you honestly sit there and tell me this is an equal relationship? Does this look two sided to you? Balanced??
Well when you put it like that I suppose…
You know, sometimes it’s like you’re not even here. I mean, I’ve had to check in with you more than once. Just to make sure. And you just use me whenever you want. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be there for you but you never even ask if it’s a good time. And what about when I need you? Where are you then?
I see how this looks but-
Is there someone else?
Excuse me now?
Don’t make me ask you twice. You heard me. This is humiliating enough as it is.
Her: We never said we were exclusive. Him: Oh you’re pulling that one on me? God I didn’t think this could get any lower. Her: I’m sorry, I didn’t think it was-
That’s right. You didn’t think. You didn’t think about my feelings or about me at all. Well this isn’t just “one of my episodes”. I’m leaving.
Oh don’t be like that we can work this out, come on I’m here. I’m listening! Tell me what you need.
No. It’s too late. You take me for granted. I have just enough self respect left to get me out of here and I don’t know what will happen next but I know this. We’re done.
Netflix? NETFLIX. We are not ending like this.
I hope Amazon Prima or whatever her name is, is worth it. I gave you all I had. And I wasn’t enough. 4OD warned me about this but did I listen?
Who warned you? You’ve literally never mentioned them. And it’s prime.
Amazon Prime. The name. You got it…never mind.
Do you think I care…really? That’s what you’re focused on right now??
I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re right. That was badly timed.
For fuck’s sake.
Errr I didn’t see a bad language warning anywhere here. And I said I’m sorry.
I’m just gonna go.
Ok. Bye then.
Wait. Can I…
Can I just get those end credits? I really like the theme tune and I can’t place that guy what was his name? It’s driving me crazy and Amazon always tells me who’s in every scene so-
Ugh. Amazon is welcome to you.
(Netflix goes blank)
Well I guess that was a long shot.
It’s just you and me now Amazon. Hope it’s cool if we do you & chill.
Here comes the Summer sun.
And with it the looks, the stares, not to mention the hi fives (directed at my arse),
The ever tiresome catcalls, so frequent they
Blend into the background of cars and buses and
The layers removed to head turns and whistles
As jumpers come off and men come on
To women who just want to walk to work.
The gazes are returned with eye rolls or hair flicks or
Tiny tensing shoulder shrugs.
And yet it doesn’t put you off.
Look, I can’t stop you.
And I’m not looking at you…that is
Until I feel your eyes on me and suddenly my arms want to close my shirt
And wrap my scarf tighter around my neck to hide my breasts,
My lips curl in a sneer and my eyes narrow in disgust,
My legs move a little faster as my entire body viscerally reacts to your entitled gaze.
a top and leggings and- A baggy t-shirt or A dress Jeans and shoes
It shouldn’t matter what I’m wearing.
It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing.
The reaction is always the same.
You don’t have my permission to make me feel undressed
When I am fully clothed in the street.
I know some women like it or don’t mind it or don’t say anything even if they hate it.
I know some women want to feel like they’ve still got it, that it’s a compliment, appreciation,
As if they’ve aged so much that they’ve stopped being human
And instead become a piece of meat,
As if self esteem is measured in whistles or length of stares.
As if value and worth depreciate, inversely proportional with age.
But I don’t get dressed in the morning for you.
I don’t show more skin in the summer so you can see it.
I don’t imagine how you’ll react to my body or the clothing around it when I walk down the road
Because I don’t care what you think or want from the women, the strangers who walk past you in the street.
My life, my body, my decisions
Are not about you.
Because I don’t know you. I owe you nothing. You are entitled to nothing of me. And yet you act so entirely entitled.
Look, I can’t stop you looking.
But I would if I could.
If I knew a magic clothing formula to stop you staring I’d probably wear it every day.
Even while I know it shouldn’t be on me – the responsibility to clothe myself “responsibly”, responsively.
I don’t want the attention and no, it’s not arrogance on my part.
I’m attractive, sure but I don’t believe
I’m so beautiful or special.
I just have arms and a
I’m a woman. And it is Summer.
There is no god.
It was the windiest day that year. The boy and the girl stood next to each other at the top of the hill. Neither of them spoke. The sun looked like it was falling down the sky, melting towards the horizon like butter being tilted in a pan.
A little way down the hill a tree stood behind a lamp post. Each time the wind blew, the tree bent towards the lamp post, which appeared to wobble slightly after each swirl of wind. The wind grew stronger and the lamp post began to flicker as the sunlight dimmed, and dusk settled in and made itself comfortable. Dust bin lids flew open, plastic bags teased each other in the air, playing a game of kiss-chase none of them would win. The wind grew even stronger and still the boy and the girl did not move.
As the lamp post’s fitful glimmers became a fully-fledged beam, the wind blew an almighty breath and a sharp clatter of a fallen dustbin caught the girl and boy by surprise. She jumped and he stumbled and in the precise moment their attentions were diverted, something changed. The light shone brighter for a split second, the wind blew so hard they were frozen in time. When they recovered it was as if something had been unlocked. They both felt it, both saw in the mirrored shocked expressions that each could hear the same voice as the other, and each instinctively knew that it was unmistakeably the voice of the tree.
All the trees around them were blowing with the wind, blown by it, but this tree always bent in the same direction. She rocked towards the lamp post, no matter which direction the wind blew, no matter how hard the fight against the elemental force and the other trees all blowing the same way. This tree blew towards the lamp post. This tree had a voice and the girl and the boy could hear it.
They heard her heartfelt plea to the lamp post for him to notice her. They heard her wailing and crying and straining, encouraging herself to reach the tree, to push just that little bit further. They heard her moments of defeat as she thought of giving up and moments of strength as she tried ever harder. They saw in a flash the years she had spent bending towards him. They were knocked backwards by the weight of so much feeling. Her roots disrupted the earth beneath her and every word she uttered was about the lamp post.
On and on the tree stretched and her branches cracked in their strain. She looked each time as if she would get there. All it would take is one twig-tip but every time she was just too far away. The wind whipped her back just a little and however hard she stretched she could not reach the object of her desire.
The boy and the girl heard her trying to speak to him. They heard the story of the tree growing up behind the lamp post. Years spent, shy and waiting for him to one day turn around and notice her. They heard how she had finally found the courage to talk to him. They heard her ask him if he would consider turning around, just once to look at her, see her and maybe one day feel for her the longing she feels for him.
The girl and the boy and the tree waited. They waited as the lamp post wobbled. They waited as the tree continued to strain against the wind, to strain against the feeling that her courage was futile. They waited for the lamp post to answer. And as they waited, the boy and the girl felt another surge of strength in the wind around them, saw the light brighten once more, and they heard a voice that was not the tree. It was a voice that echoed through their minds with a clang of metal and a spark of fire.
They heard the lamp post lament to himself that he simply wished he wasn’t so lonely. They heard how he waited, day in, day out, night after night for someone to come along and light the way for him, the way he lights the way for others so often. They listened to how he imagined he had someone to tower over him and make him feel small, loved and warm. They thought they heard him sigh with a creaking metallic groan.
The boy and the girl could hardly breathe. They looked back at the tree and willed her to shout louder, willed her to stretch harder to reach the lamp post who needed her as much as she wanted him. He just didn’t know it yet.
They thought they heard a clunking laugh from the lamp post. They looked back at him and heard him berate himself for being so stupid. For no one could really love a mute, deaf old post. How foolish he had been for thinking anyone could. He would always be alone with only his thoughts for company.
The boy and the girl both thought they saw the lamp post slump, almost imperceptibly. His light now seemed to dim, the orange glow tinged with sadness.
The girl and the boy looked back to the tree who had not yet given up. If only the tree could reach the lamp post with her branches then he might turn around and see her, he may feel her and know that someone wanted to give him everything he was waiting for.
The boy and the girl instinctively knew that however hard the tree tried she was just too far away. And however loud the tree shouted, the lamp post would always be deaf and could never hear her. He would never turn around and see her for he did not even know he could.
The boy and the girl stood next to each other at the top of the hill. They watched as the night wore on. After some time, they moved a little closer and held each other’s’ hands.