Friday, 26 March 2010

MAN ON TRICYCLE

MAN ON TRICYCLE
On Saturday in a brief respite from earth drilling rain I took the dog for a quick walk to the river. This sounds pleasant and the dog finds it so but the river is one of the kind where shopping trolleys feature and for a long time a mini was settled in the tidal water, I never noticed the going of it, perhaps it got sick of the view and took to the sea. I ponder the energy that it must take to push a shopping trolley the half mile or so to the river, but there they rest covered in mud and festooned in seaweed. I expect a couple of them to appear some time soon at the local art gallery – I shall go along to admire them in their new setting. ‘I knew them before they were famous’ I shall say. I have grown to like them and the swans seem to have no objection.

So we brave the mud, or rather I brave it, my dog enjoys mud though I am glad to say she hates rain and refuses to go out in it. We weave our way between the dog droppings and other unmentionables, me ever watchful that she might find a particularly noisome dead frog to roll in. Last time it was a pigeon long deceased and melting on the bone. This required three baths to bring her back to normal dog odour. So, I walk along with my plastic bag at the ready, though I know it is futile I enjoy a kind of cheap shot of virtue when I ‘pick up’. I come to the end of the alley and see that the river is higher than usual and the mud on the path is stickier. The council haven’t thought to improve this part of the riverfront though other parts have been improved unto extinction. We are in the abandoned part of town though they are threatening us with an estate of Barrett Houses so the dog walk will go. I shall be sorry and so will the fishermen who sit for hours and tell me they catch bass.

An elderly man, with a completely bald head rides his tricycle along the narrow path on the river bank and I get out of the way. The bald head gleams and I wonder if it is an affliction or a fashion statement, who knows? While it might be fun to watch him tumble into the water, the poor old boy could drown and more to the point I might be called upon to save him.
‘Hello darling’ he stops his tricycle and grins at me, he has two teeth, one at each end of his upper jaw.’ ‘I’ve been watching you for years, you’re a good looking woman. Why haven’t you got a man?’
‘Because I’ve got a woman.’ I rap back smartly, this usually halts the badinage. Not in this case though.
‘If you hadn’t got a girl friend I’d take you on.’ There was a time when I would have taken mortal offence at this but now I see it as funny and why bother? So we go on to have the ritual dog conversation that takes its usual path: Much better than humans, never let you down, love you no matter what, always glad to see you, never nag or criticise you. (In fact I once had a dog that could do baleful looks that would freeze me into a guilt wracked nervous twitch if I stayed out for more than an hour and he could sulk for days, I never mention this.) He tells me he has a Jack Russell with the same birthday as himself, last week it was and he got a cake with candles for the dog who is eleven, he is sixty five. Several years younger than myself. He pedals off on his trike and I think about the self confidence of such men. Jack the lad senior citizen. I wonder if he ever scores.

The rain starts again, we begin our walk home and there he is at the level crossing at the head of the queue of traffic, taking his space, fly as ever.
‘We must stop meeting like this.’ I say.
‘I don’t mind’ he says. ‘I’ve had my eye on you for years.’ I remember him always shouting ‘Hello darling!’ as he sailed past but I was sure he said that to all the females, nothing personal eh? I always waved back. I had seen him in the paper shop too, all five feet of him laughing and joking all over the place. How tiresome to be always merry I thought.
‘I’ve got a bed sit in Harding road, number forty five and you know where I work don’t you? The scrap yard in Queens Road.’ He winks.

The train passes so I don’t hear his next few comments. He rides off at the head of the procession of cars, stately in a curious way. He turns to look at us.
‘The dog’s welcome too, any time.’ A car swerves out to overtake him, he waves it on grandly then he is gone and I turn off into my own road. I am careful that there is nobody watching me as I open my front door.

I know this small event would have had me raging a few years ago, what a cheek! I would have said to my receptive angry self. And it is certainly a bit of an impertinence to chat up a woman while riding a tricycle but I am convinced that if I had said ‘yes’ he would have accommodated me and my dog somewhere on his tricycle and driven me away to his bed sit and not a lot of women get an offer like that – or want one.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

SOTHEBYS INTERLUDE (recycled)

I am the kind of person who sneers quite a lot, who speaks of obscene displays of wealth and who disapproves, loudly, of privilege in all its forms. I have always felt especially cross about places like Sotheby’s. I see them as a great waste of space and think that the entire emporium should be given over to a nice hostel for the homeless or an alternative music venue, something for ‘the people’, whoever they are. However I am fervently pro culture and pro arts.

So, while I was somewhat surprised to hear myself saying ‘can I come too?’ in tones of great eagerness as I bounced up and down in excitement, when I had the chance to go to a viewing there. I felt it was excusable I am, as I said before, pro culture in most of its forms and there was to be a preview of Russian Contemporary Art followed by an auction the week after.

My friend was playing host to one of the artists and goes to such places regularly. I take a highly sanctimonious attitude and feel morally superior. Not for me rubbing shoulders with the ‘haves’. I am determined in my attitude to ally myself with the ‘have nots‘. I have not consulted with the ‘have nots on this’ and in fact I have accumulated a few of the accoutrements of the ‘haves’. I am not sure how you judge these things.

This does not stop me from issuing judgements; nothing stops me from issuing judgements.

On our way down Bond Street we saw an elderly man preparing for the night by spreading cardboard boxes on the ground in a shop doorway. I drew my friend’s attention to this as proof of my increased awareness of the poor.


Sotheby’s lived up, or down, to all my expectations and more. The amount of couth is incredible; the cloakroom staff are graceful and charming. The flunkeys, mostly good looking young guys, of all races and sizes who keep their expressions of disinterest in place under all provocation. The catering staff is of a superior type altogether, (I hope they are paid top dollar) The cocktails are exotic and perfectly presented.

My friend assures me the Champagne is the best and lovely young guys trot about the place filling glasses obsessively so I felt obliged to drink obsessively. Delicious young females in sequined mini dresses dart quickly like so many elegant fish among us with gorgeous snacks of unparalleled quality and miniscule size, not nearly often enough for my champagne enhanced appetite and at one stage I was tempted to mug a child who trotted past with a small bucket of snacks in her hand.

Nearly everybody there was Russian and all the art was from Russian artists. Most was not to my taste and I got the distinct feeling that few of the punters had a primary interest in the art work. They met and chatted, flaunted and flirted. One particular woman clearly had newly enhanced lips and was running them in with a slight discomfort and self consciousness that reminded me of my first time in high heels. Voices were loud and eager and there were more shades of blonde than I ever saw before. I sat and watched and enjoyed myself enormously. I think my ideal role in life is as watcher and critic; I enjoy the action best second hand.

Altogether a jolly evening was had by all and I was vastly relieved to realise that I hadn’t been missing a thing. I had had this sneaking feeling that there was a secret ingredient, a je ne sais quoi if you will. That ‘they’ had something that I could never have and after several glasses of champagne and very little food I had this revelation: no mystique is involved. Sotheby’s is exactly what it says on the label: a salesroom. And that this event had very little to do with art and less to do with culture. I am not sure why I thought it would be a cultural event. Some silly stereotypical idea of art no doubt.

It was a jolly and probably the most accomplished jolly I ever enjoyed. The person we knew sold some paintings in the auction a few days later though I believe that many went unsold. The catering staff got paid and the ocean of champagne that could have kept the Titanic afloat was imbibed.

We left fairly early and on our way back to the tube we saw the elderly man asleep in the shop doorway, hunched under his overcoat. I voiced the hope that he would be allowed by compassionate policemen to stay there all night. On the train back home I was glad to see a young woman reading a book of vivid pink and a dreadful blue and I made a judgement, ‘better they read rubbish than nothing’, then I saw that it was Slaughterhouse Five in this amazing cover, and I felt that culture is not dead but alive and well on the Jubilee line.

So what do I think of Sotheby’s now? Primarily I see it as a great job opportunity for unemployed actors and catering staff in general. An example of how catering should be done and also as great fun. Come the revolution of course it will all be quite different, but until such time …it is gorgeous, flamboyant, outrageous and, I imagine, somebody is making a few bob out of it, if only the caterers. We left with a bag of goodies that the advertising industry had produced at great expense and that we dumped in a bin near Bermondsey tube station.

I don’t think that I have changed my view of the rich and I am not sure that this group was typical of the rich anyway. But I think I realised that I don’t envy them at all and as I walked up the escalator with my friend I felt happy with my lot, a first.
So thank you Sotheby’s that was one of the best opportunities for moral superiority I ever encountered and I topped up with Champagne too!

Monday, 22 March 2010

RECOVERY?

having bits of you fall off or cease to function concentrates the mind wonderfully. unfortunately its in an inward direction. paranoia and hypochondria become close associates with severe introspection. the merest twinge and i envisage all my sutures popping out merrily (which is daft because they were taken out weeks ago, but i have a graphic imagination) and i see the plastic grinning through a ghastly gaping wound. i fiddle obsessively with my sling which is rapidly losing its velcro ferocity and is becoming limp, i am becoming limp too.and exasperated.

my 'notes' seem to have taken independant action and have tripped off. these are vital to my physiotherapy and i am in limbo. i am not backward in coming forward and i complain with brio but i am caught, along with the notes between two hospitals. neither hospital can treat me apparently. so i scuttled quickly to my local brand new physio clinic by taxi when they offered me an appointment. i listened with interest as my afghani cabbie was delighted to explain to me the current situation there. he made rather good sense to me with his talk of robbing americans and russians.his theory that the west was prolonging the war as an excuse for their continued occupation was not an idea i have come across before but sounds as likely as any other. i will give it some thought.

the new physio centre in its bleak and windswept location with only a giant tesco for company is just that. new. it is like an aircraft hanger but much gaudier and looks very expensive, the equipment is excellent and if only it wasn't many miles from the centre of town and if it was on a bus route it would definitely get my approval, guarded of course. its old slightly scruffy venue was on at least 6 bus routes and close to the town centre. the therapist here was charming though she couldn't treat me until the errant notes catch up with me.
she wrote a note to the london therapist. i have an appointment with her this week
GREAT.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A FAN

and now for something different:. i first met nick churchill, arts and music journo when he interviewed me for the bournemouth echo in 2006 on publication of ' a blues for shindig'. he has been a fan and a great support ever since. at our first interview he said 'i didn't know old ladies wrote books like this!' i told him he's been mixing wit the wrong kind of old ladies.
i asked him to write a review . this is the result
A Blues For Shindig
Mo Foster

Just in case any teenager – or 20-, 30-, 40-, even 50-something for that matter – was damn foolish enough to contend it was their generation that invented sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Mo Foster’s A Blues For Shindig puts the needle on the record to set it straight.
In fact, the hep cats and hip chicks of the 1950s Soho she invokes were far too cool for the easy pleasures of rock ‘n’ roll – they were digging jazz, man… with a side order of blues for those comedown mornings.
The titular heroine Shindig makes her luck and earns her crust in the scruffy bars of W1. More likely to be serving Scotch and light ales to sweaty men in cheap suits than cocktails and canap├ęs to coffee bar stars, she’s liked, almost respected even, by a certain type of gentleman who doesn’t appreciate being asked about his business.
When one of their less classy members oversteps the mark and Shindig lays him out, she is propelled on a journey that takes her high and low, very low, beneath the veneer of a capital city emerging from war-time austerity and flexing the muscles that would see it swinging wildly within a few years.
By then, of course, Shindig will be long gone, ahead of the game as usual – as much by luck than judgement – but no more comfortable in her own skin than before.
Shindig makes for a bold and brassy companion in this romp. At once pre-dating the ladettes and It-Girls who’ve since become tediously familiar, yet also touchingly old-fashioned enough to still recognise her own vulnerability, not play on it. Too much.
The milieu will be more than familiar to readers of Colin MacInnes, George Melly and Jake Arnott among many others, but its allure remains undiminished by this racier excursion into its flesh pits and pitfalls which only accentuates the sense that it was a world existing separate from, but adjacent to, what passed for real life outside.
Foster’s lack of linguistic artifice and obvious affection for her deviant subjects keeps the reader’s grubby finger turning the page, each new adventure and episode always well within reach. A Blues For Shindig is a fine testament to youth – yours, hers and mine.

Nick Churchill
WOW
thanks nick

Monday, 15 March 2010

MEETINGS

i think i  fulfilled my quota of meetings long ago i reckon i went to two a week for quite a long time, at least that's what it felt like.then there were always people who relished meetings, their eyes would gleam with joy as they went through the agenda and if they had a chance to jump on some poor creature who had their facts wrong they nearly orgasmed with delight. i was never one of these, i was always an observer and i would watch the bitter rivalries between various leftist factions in the anti apartheid movement and between cliques in the women's solidarity groups and wonder at the fact that these groups got things done at all, and they did. for me the focus was always on the pub for the post meeting gathering.

so when my friend told me about a meeting of artists on a sunday evening i was not at all sure about going, the only thing it had to recommend it was the fact that it was in a pub.i went along anyway and i am not sure what i expected. a row of suspicious faces suspecting dodgy motives perhaps, critical appraisal from a crew of hostile 'artists' who would spot me as a non participant..i wasn't sure, and as my dedication to the pint has lessened i was not keen.  what i got was a big welcome - mostly because of my friend i suspect - but people moved over to let us sit down and the lovely lithuanion girl beside me asked about my shoulder, giving me a chance to be both pathetic and brave. my friend shot me daggers from her eyes so i kept it to the shorter version.
the only other brit was a south london guy, a sculptor who chatted and his wife pia hugged me - quite unlike my experience of meetings.the entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable and it makes me wonder if artists are nicer people or if the fact that the nationalities, which went from finnish through jewish, italian, spanish, argentinian to algerian and autralian were so diverse that made it such a different experience. i dont really care but i will be there again on sunday 28th and  here are the details: the venueis the shakespeare head pub, kingsway , within yards of holborn station at 7pm. for anybody involved in the arts - writers included.

the thought just came to me that i might have changed and become more mellow  with advanced age,
heaven forfend!

Friday, 12 March 2010

ON SMILIMG

i spent a lot of my life snarling in public. there are, or were, photographs  of me at weddings , an angry little girl, tummy and bottom lip protruding into the world. knees clamped together - all chakras closed down if you believe in such things - always with a bow in my hair and wearing some very feminine confection made by mum. to be fair there were also pictures of me in happy disarray on a donkey at the seaside or up a tree. at school i glared out of formal photos, yet i was a clown in the classroom, a smart arse sniggerer and disruptor of lessons that bored me - a swat at the ones i liked.

really the seventies were a very good time for me, i became a feminist and it seemed quite acceptable to hit the world with a nice grim face, in public anyway, because we were aware of vast unfairnesses. in fact it was the time of the anti nazi league and blatant racism so a grim visage was appropriate. it was also a time of great liberation for me and i probably laughed  more then than i ever had before. i  enjoyed the company of women enormously.

i grew up wanting to be a boy - mainly for the clothes and for the sheer convenience of peeing upright - which i tried  with messy results. my brother got a better deal in  both liberty and pocket money, i felt cheated. but  somehow it was a given that going out with a male was preferable to going out with your mates, so if your friend got a date with a boy and dumped you that was ok.

things have changed  in this department  and i have take up smiling big time. partly i think because i live in an area where few women speak english and smiling is my main communication, i limit my smiling, mainly to the female population and i hardly snarl at all. i enjoy being smiled at and partly because i have a dog.in a area where the only other dogs are large grim creatures so people cower at my small terrier- and she reciprocates by running in terror from squealing kids - so a reassuring smile is part of my equipment.

anyway i take my smile everywhere with me. in moscow it was received with stoney lack of comprehension in berlin i got unwarranted smiles from most people and in london a mixed reaction. it pleases me to smile and though it could be seen as sign of weakness, i don't care.
i shall smile with vigour but if you don't reciprocate i shan't mind, and don't be fooled, the snarl is still intact and fully operational!
ps
this week i have much to smile about because my 1st novel 'a blues for shindig' has been chosen as part of the new exceptionally independent list. i am delighted and look forward to blagging and putting myself about to promote my book - along with the other writers i hope!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

TV TIMES

my friend is in moscow where women's day is a public holiday and women are given flowers. i was feeling a mild chagrin about our neglect in britain and the fact that i was supposed to be reading in berlin and i  had cancelled due to the thought of jetsave one armed terrifying me. but then bbc4 came up trumps with programmes about the women's movement in the seventies (omitting much)  . then a play about evil bankers
( wankers?)  with the divine sarah parish who has the most gorgeous gob in the business - then greenham common was 'done' , ( with the ubiquitous fay weldon putting in her 2 pennorth irritating as ever bless 'er)then grunwick. oh frabjous day! none of these programmes was perfect from my point of view, nothing ever is but until i make my own progs i will shut up. i went to grunwick once and amid the usual fear of being trampled underfoot, it was inspiring to a serial protestor like me. I went to greenham many times on large protests to embrace the base and with a mate who camped there every weekend - i would slope off home, i was never a camping kind of gel. the only time i stayed for longer than a night - 3 days at green gate - nobody spoke to us (2 women a child and my dog in a 2 man tent) except to say that my dog was unacceptable as he was intact in the balls department, i offered to cut em off but mercifully nobody took me up on it. the soldiers chucked stones at our tent t all night to wake the dog who woke us. on the third night people spoke to us and we succumbed to the blandishments of the boozer.then a trudge back in thick mud and not a taxi in sight. i always found greenham horribly oppressive - the vibes y'know. but i admire the women who stuck it out and i believe that it was a successful campaign BECAUSE it was women only. it did change many women's lives too.
i digress yet again
back to tv: then, late, a programme about the first african woman president in liberia, it looked like she had her work cut out  but, having stayed riveted all evening ( i usually kip as soon as i sit ) me and the dog went to bed, i expect it will be repeated, i hope so.
i reckon that's my licence fee well covered.

Monday, 8 March 2010

HOME FOR THE ONE ARMED NON HERO

So here i am in splendid isolation the better to write, with my dog for company - though she is a late riser and doesn't show until after 9. i am still one armed though doing my physio and have slung the sling except when i go out,. 4 the sympathy factor - has not yet worked but am hopeful.i  discovered a djebella that i got in tangier, adjusting trousers is another thing hard to do with one hand a, along with cutting up food, putting on a beret, picking up dog turds, hanging out washing, peeling spuds and typing. i. was very disappointed nobody noticed, was reduced to drawing attention to my exotic wear - somebody mentioned cultural imperialism so i shut up,but i will not be put off.. i have also recycled a few skirts that fit - unfortunately i seem to have become completely tubular so they tend to descend -very slowly but with the inexorable power of gravity, inducimg the most godawful feelings of insecurity...so either i buy braces or dump them. i do intend to return to finish my previous WHOOPEE blog and tell about the marvellous meeting i began to speak of.
been tuned in to radio 4, it murmurs in the background a lot of stuff about venables the 10 year old killer, emotive stuff too. i think it would be very surprising if, after years of incarceration he had emerged intact - but what do i know....however i was in prison in the 60s and though i met some lovely women i can't say it equipped me for a glittering or dull career, on the contrary i was scared of traffic and institutionalised after 4 months so imagine how traumatised a child would be after many years!!!

hurray my first exclamation marks for weeks!!!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

WHOOPEE

still one armed but  have been putting myself about and blagging like crazy because my novel 'a blues for shindig' is one of the books to be promoted by'exclusively independent' in libraries and bookshops in london this month. I got news that my mate katie ann is being  pursued by agents for her 'little book of the unhip' which is on authonomy and is very funny and. well worth a look. another friend has been shortlisted by croydon warehoue for his play 'tar baby' so it feels like things are moving in the right direction.
last night i went to a meeting of - oh dear i have very cleverly lost more than half of this posting dammit! i shall attemp to recover it and if not...i shall rage and bang some pots about but am limited by one arm status even in doing me nut.....as i said before a mild DAMMIT.