Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….



It’s still a massive trial meeting new people, even through something like meditation.  Because even if they appear flaky or weird they seem to have a life, ambitions and their shit together.  ‘What do you do?’ they ask.  And I’m at a loss re what to say.

Seeing people I used to know fills me full of dread.  Because I’m so ashamed that I haven’t made a success of my life since I last saw them.  And I know most of them avoid me because they have no faith in me, and are embarrassed to be associated with me.  ‘Hows the yoga training/job situation/book?’ they’d ask.  And I’d have to lie to save face.

I no longer want to see those I love either.  Because I’m too embarrassed to not be able to pay my way, go out to nice places or even contribute.  ‘How are you, how are things?’ they’d ask dully.   And I wouldn’t want to answer because they don’t want to even hear a response.

Hah!  Maybe I should make friends with my therapy group after all at least I don’t have to hide anything from them.

What is the difference between me and all these people?  Some of them at least must have had a rough start to life, how come they’ve managed to navigate the winding, blinding roads of life and get to where they want to be, or at least some place on the outskirts?

Probably because they’ve either (a) had love and support, (b) are made of sterner stuff than me, or (c) when realising no one is going to help, have got on with it themselves instead of waiting for someone else to save them.

‘Cos maybe, nobody’s gonna come and save me….

God after all, is gonna let me fall….




The other night a friend very kindly offered me some free tickets to the launch of a new West End play, along with press party passes, and without giving it that much thought, I gratefully accepted.

It wasn’t till the day before the big event, when I was raking around inside my wardrobe trying to find choose ‘grown up’ evening attire that I started to feel a little uneasy about it.  The last time I went to an event like this was via my job, and time had not erased the memories of being surrounded by ‘plastics’, not being comfortable in my skin and having to spend entire evenings after a full days work trying to be someone I wasn’t.

My friend L sympathised but urged me to chill out about it.

‘It’s different this time isn’t it?  You’re not being forced to attend, entertaining someone, or having to mind your ‘p’s and q’s’.  You’re the client this time, as far as they’re concerned, and we can relax and have fun!’

This was all true. But it was still weird and I was anxious about any small talk that I may need to engage in.

‘So what do you do?’

‘Oh, I don’t work, I’m broke and bonkers, I just stay at home, watch TV and dream about owning my own business.  I did have all kinds of plans, trouble is, I don’t have the balls to get on with them and make something of myself!  How about you?’

‘Well I…oh is that Sadie Frost?  Excuse me, I must go say hello…..’

How do I end up in these scenarios where I feel lesser than others?  Will it always be this way, wherever I go, whatever job I do, whatever class of people I attempt to socialise with?

As for the thought of bumping into anyone from my working past and having to bullshit my way through that conversation, makes my blood run cold.  I’m so ashamed of not having a ‘life after corporate hell’ success story to share with them.

‘Highly unlikely you’ll bump into any of that lot,’ L sniffs, ‘anyway if you do, just smile and give them a regal wave from our posh seats and turn the other way!’

I smiled at this, nodded, and promised her I wouldn’t bail. 

But I wanted to.

When the big evening was finally upon us, I predictably had a big panic attack when getting ready, and ended up surrounded by clothes strewn all over the floor before finally settling on my most comfortable, but low cut Noa Noa LBD, a pair of black heels, stockings, a nice wool/cashmere coat and a bright pashmina wrap.

I gave myself one last appraisal in the mirror before heading out for the bus, and noticed my perplexed, dismayed expression hadn’t changed.

Who is that person?

She looks so foreboding and formal?

Why’s she got her tits out when it  5 degrees outside? And where are her leggings and favourite Dr Marten’s boots?

Fortified by an anti-d and beta blocker combo, I scuttled out of the door, onto the tube and then scurried up to the theatre to pick up the tickets.

‘Sorry madam, nothing here for you under that name’ say the box office lady looking absolutely mortified.

My heart is thumping like a jackhammer.  

They know I’m a fraud.  I look ridiculous. They don’t want me in there.

‘Ring your mate!’ says L, proper peeved, so I do, hoping fervently that he wasn’t contactable.

He picked up straight away, apologised profusely for the mix up, and arranged to meet us in a nearby cafe and sort it all out for us, and as we sit there amongst the casually dressed patrons, I feel ridiculously overdressed.  

My feet are killing me.

My legs are freezing and actually trembling.

My fanny is in shock from extreme exposure, used to being protected by knickers, tights AND jeans in these harsher than usual climes. I’m just hoping it doesn’t sneeze mid performance and put the actors off their lines….

Alex arrives, red in the face and full of apologies.

‘It’s all OK now, just go and see Sonja, she has all your tickets, and call me if there are any problems.’

‘Oh don’t worry, we’ll just go for a quick drink instead if it’s going to be a hassle!’ I say accommodatingly, fantasising about thermal leggings, Ugg boots and hot chocolate with Baileys in front of the TV.

‘Will we hell!’ mutters L, determined to have her glamorous evening.

We walk to the theatre in silence, me panicking like fuck, L fully aware that I’m in a state.

‘Look how do you manage when you did that “extra” work, with all those cameras zooming in on you?’

That was easy.

It wasn’t me.

I was pretending to be someone else.

‘So do that now!  You look amazing!  No one would guess that you’re a….erm, well that you’re…’

Unemployed?  Terrified?  A complete and utter failure?

But she’s right. I’ve got to pull my shit together and get through this.

When we arrive at the theatre, I swoop up to the box office and ask politely but firmly for our tickets.

‘Yes, we have them here madam.  So sorry for the mix up!  There will be some complementary drinks at the bar for you, by way of apology.’

I smile my thanks, and head for the much needed alcohol injection, trying not to show how much my frigging heels hurt as I glide up the stairs with L in hot pursuit behind me.

‘They didn’t even acknowledge me,’ she grumbles, swigging back the bubbles and chomping on a handful of cashews, ‘I’M the Marketing Director of <huge American TV network> and they look at me like I’m your assistant!’

‘Don’t let it bother you,’ I mutter in reply, ‘at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean jack shit, does it?’

But she’s right; I clearly look the part and get lots of smiles and nods from people both at the play and the after party, clearly assuming that I’m something that I’m not.  So I took L’s advice and acted the part of a well to do, well connected lady (whatever that means) with a big house and even bigger job.

But when it all got too exhausting, we snuck off and sat down somewhere quiet for some much needed respite.

‘So!  Nothing to worry about hey?’ L grins rather drunkenly, ‘have you enjoyed yourself?’

‘Yes, it’s been fun!   But this is the last time I’m getting tarted up like this for a long time!  How the hell did I ever walk in these things?’

Suddenly there is a bit of a kerfuffle at the other side of the room, with lots of camera flashes and excited chitter chatter.

‘Oh look!  The actors must be here!  Quick, let’s go have a look!’

But I stay seated, because to be honest, that kind of thing never did get me off, and it certainly doesn’t now.

They’re just people like me, pretending to be someone else.

They just get paid for it, that’s all.

And perhaps, just perhaps, they’re as mad as I am.





Today was my first day volunteering as a kitchen worker for a charity.

I’d requested a local branch, but the only post available was in town, so whilst inconvenient, I thought it would be alright.

You wouldn’t think it would take very long to get anywhere in London, would you, what with all the buses, trains, tubes and trams at our disposal would you?  

But I practically have to use pretty every mode of transport available to get to a tube, let alone to the venue, and yes, you’ve guessed it, I missed two buses and found myself, once again, tardy for the party.

And then the panic set in.

The shaking.

The dry mouth.

The heart palpitations.

The stomach churning with fear.

The gremlin’s voices in my head.

‘How can you have missed it?  You should have set off early just in case, stoopid!’

‘There isn’t another one for at least 20 minutes now.  You’re going to be at least half an hour late, how embarrassing!

‘Late on your first day. They’re going to love you!’

And they laugh, and jeer and cackle, hysterical with mirth.

‘Yes, they’ll be falling over themselves to offer you training, oh and maybe permanent employment, probably a directorship – not!’

‘I bet they’ll leave you with all the dishes tonight and it will serves you right!’

‘Can you picture their faces when you walk in now?’

I can.  

Disgusted, angry, exasperated.

My heart skitters even faster now, and I’m frozen to the spot.

‘Are you OK?’

A young guy touches me on the arm, his face concerned.

I start, and smile, trying my hardest to look, well, normal.

‘Yes, I’m fine, I just remembered something I forgot to remember!  I mean i forgot…I….’

He laughs, ‘I know what you mean!’ and walks on, then glances behind him looking directly at me.

‘Look, you’re attracting attention!  Go inside!  You look like a raving lunatic!  Go home!’

I head for the door, push the key fumblingly in the lock, stumble inside and slump against it, my heart hammering in my chest.  

I’ll wait in the warm, just until the next bus arrives.

‘Who are you trying to kid?’  

‘You can’t go now!’

‘Stay home, it’s not like they’re even paying you!’

‘They’ll hate you whether you turn up or not now, It’s not safe, bail!  BAIL!’

So instead of helping others help needy folk, I’m sat here typing this, my face burning with shame and humiliation.  I sent an email, apologising profusely, and the kindness and understanding in their response only make me feel worse.

How the hell am I to set up my own business if I can’t even catch a bus without freaking out?

How will I get through any job interview process when I’m like this?

How I am going to earn a living?

How will I survive?

The gremlins have stopped their noise for now.

But, just out of the corner of my eye, I see them smile.

Oh how they smile.






I always knew God had a sense of humour, but this time he’s punked me bad….

So I was fretting about having minging photos of me on Facebook the other day?

Well apparently my ‘before and after’ photos are going to go live.

The sadistic, twisted maniac of a client likes them.

In other words, the contrast of me before make up/treatments and after make up/treatments must be so frigging startling that they’ll end up selling loads of product.

Fucking, shitting, bastard, mothafucking HELL!

At least in the Facebook photos I had make up on?

Kill.  Me.  NOW…..

I’m not even going to look at them and no one can make me!!

Oh God…..




I reached a turning point this weekend with regard to the way I feel about my looks.

Not that long ago, i.e. less than a year ago I wouldn’t even go outside to empty the bin without putting some make up on.

Since I was old enough to get away with wearing them, cosmetics have been my friend.  I applied a generous mask foundation and powder.  I turned up the drooping corners of my eyes with big ‘ticks’ of shadow, applied layer after layer of mascara, used black/blood red lipstick to distract the eye from my big teeth and general used a whole palate of colour as armour against the name calling, cruel asides and bullying I used to have to endure in secondary school.

Fortunately my ‘clarting my face with make up’ (as my Mum used to say) co-incided with the punk and new romantic era, so I fitted right in and no doubt looked the epitome of those times, with my aubergine hair, blackened eyes, sneering mouth and cold hauteur.


And when the times and make up fashion changed, it still took about 45 minutes of slappery for me to achieve a ‘mininal’ look that I could live with.

Even when going to the gym or staying with family or close friends, I would hastily apply some concealor, a bit of mascara and flesh lip colour so that they thought I woke up looking that way.

As for when A MAN stayed over, well you don’t even want to know the trouble and palaver I went through to look acceptable when he awoke, not that it ever did me any favours really.  Men can smell self hatred a mile off.

But this weekend I, without even wearing my regulation huge sunglasses, not only went out without a scrap of make up, but I did a ‘before and after’ style photo shoot for a women’s magazine.

Not that I love or even accept my face, you understand. That would be far too ambitious a claim right now.

I’m just trying to get over myself and come to terms with the idea that I am more than the sum total of my looks, and that ‘me’ is more important than my appearance.

And I really ran with the experience.  I laughed and joked about it, had a laugh with the other girls, bantered with the photographers and generally had a really fun day. The mood was aided by all the champagne they served with lunch but I was still very proud that I faced my fears and did it anyway.

Quite how I’ll feel when I see the end results (if I can bring myself to look at them at all) is another thing entirely, but I just felt like I needed something of a baptism of fire to get some traction with this issue, so to speak.

And over the last few days, I took it further and went to the shops completely au naturale. And whilst fewer men looked at me, women seemed to be more smiley and accepting of me.  Maybe it’s because I look less aloof or imposing.  But the freedom of just going out and thinking ‘Whatever’ has been immensely liberating. So what if people think I’m ugly? It actually seems more the case that I’m invisible rather than mockable, and that’s alright by me.

So I have been giving myself a bit of a pat on the back today.

Less self hatred?


Less jealousy/envy?


Less angry?


More forgiving/accepting?


It’s all coming together, I thought smugly to myself, I’m evolving more and more every day.

Until tonight.

When I happened to log into Facebook and was met by the most hideous photos of myself that I have ever seen in my life (well for a couple of months anyway) in full glorious technicolor on my friends Tina’s profile page.

I was gobsmacked.

And as I clicked on them in horror, I remember vaguelly that she took some later in the afternoon, when a few of us were a bit, well totally, trollied.

She didn’t drink much that day, so she and the other girl in the pictures look fine.

Well gorgeous actually.

Whereas I look absolutely hideous.

For a start, is obvious that I am pissed.  My eyes are closed in half of them, in the other half I look totally out of it, and in all of them I am just downright coyote ugly.


My response was instantaneous.

My temper soared.

I immediately sent texts and emails to my hapless friend, pretty much saying ‘WTF Tina?!  If you are my friend, TAKE THESE DOWN OR CROP ME OUT OF THEM!  I hate them!’

I was absolutely livid and my hands were shaking on the mouse as I scrolled through them again, again and again. What kind of friend would upload these, knowing how I feel about my looks?  So when she called me on my mobile I was ready to pounce.

Before she can get a word out I hiss ‘What were you thinking Tina? Don’t tell me you thought they were nice photos of me because you know they’re not!’

‘I thought they were, when they were little!  I didn’t have my glasses so I couldn’t see them properly!’ she stammered, clearly in distress, ‘Then when I uploaded them I….’

‘Well of course,YOU look lovely in them!’ I continued bitterly, bristling with self righteous indignation ‘Good for you, and I can see why YOU want them on YOUR page, but the very least you could have done was crop me out of them!’

‘I didn’t mean to upset you!  I’m sorry, I’m taking them offline now, I’m so sorry…’

‘Sorry, I have go, I’m going out, ‘ I snapped briskly in reply, ‘speak to you later.’

And I put the phone down.

And seethed.

Some friend!  Of all the selfish, vain, stupid….

…she always looks stunning, it’s alright for her…..

…didn’t give a shit about me….

…all over Facebook…..

Uh oh.

Let’s go through that check list again:

Less self hatred?


Less jealousy/envy?

No.  I was jealous of my friend because she looked nicer than me.  And I’m ashamed.


Oh fuck.

More forgiving/accepting?


This was where I rallied a bit, because once I realised how unreasonable I was being, I immediately called my poor, long suffering friend and apologised for my tirade, my paranoia and my endless self obsession.

And she was lovely.  She fully got why I was upset, was mortified that she upset me and that I still hate the way I look and promised me she’d warn me if she was going to upload photos of me in future.

Especially shit ones.

Oh, balls.

Do I really want to come from under the wing of ‘Big Sista S’?

Seems like I’m not a very nice person without (much of) her.

But I’d have never even tried to do this shoot if I was still huddled up in the cloud of her 100mg a day embrace.

Onwards and upwards.

Tines, I’m a jealous, self hating arsehole, and I’m sorry I flew off the handle.

I’m trying to improve but have to acknowledge that my shit runs deep and change will only happen gradually and not overnight.

And doncha know that Rome wasn’t built in a day……

Hey, hey, hey….




It’s 1pm on a blazing hot Tuesday afternoon, and I’m trapped in the corner of a cold, darkened room, sitting on a very flimsy wicker chair (that creaks if I so much as blink), with a little pixie sat between my legs, who has one hand on my chest, and another on my belly; her head is inclined as she keens and whispers softly to herself.

Suffice to say, it’s getting kinda freaky in here…

I can see a thin strip of brilliant sunlight sneaking through a crack in the blind, and can hear the cicadas chirrup, and as I long for a bit of warmth on my skin, a bit more personal space and my €75 back, I wonder for more than once this week what the fuck I’m doing here exactly?

Three days into my yoga retreat, and I’m getting more into the swing of the classes, which are a blessing in themselves, but after over a year of self imposed exile, I’m finding being in the company of a group of rowdy wannabee yogis more than a little exhausting.

I’m not great with groups; I’m very comfortable one to one, or even one to two or three, but beyond that, it’s always been a bit of a strain, especially if said group is comprised of largely attention seeking gobshites.  In those instances, I tend to take a step back and observe rather than jockey for position, and when everyone is yelling and talking over one another, I get the irresistible urge to grab a taxi/bus/passing donkey and head off to the airport for a cheap air bus home.

My problem, I know.

Not their fault.

And you know what they say; you never get a second chance to make a good first impression and given that I was sinking into migraine hell on the day I arrived, I wasn’t exactly my usual chipper (ha!) self, so do feel rather peripheral to the group.

Nothing new there.

Speaking of which, even though I’ve played down the brainstorm, and have mentioned nothing about my panic attacks and depression, nor how much it took for me to actually get myself here in the first place, I think they think I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.

And I’m particularly quiet because, whilst I’m trying to joke and bond with some of the group, a few of them are really getting on my nerves.  There’s a couple who I catch looking at me as if I’ve grown a turnip for a head or something, and one woman who frankly would laugh if her arse was on fire.  She giggles non stop at anything.  I know I sound like a miserable old curmudgeon but she’s like a sniggering woodpecker rat-a-tat-tatting on my skull, and I want to grab her, sorry, it by the throat and stuff it into the hot tub.

Anyway I am due to get a deep tissue massage today, but to be honest, if anyone applies pressure to any part of my body today I’ll kneecap ’em, so I have to go and see the retreat manager in order to defer it to a day when I’m feeling less fragile.

She is both lovely and sympathetic.

‘I know!’, she says, ‘why don’t you go and see Inca instead?’


The manager smiles.  ‘She’s our Sound Healer! She’s ever so good, and everyone that goes to see her seems to have some kind of life changing experience!’

I remembered then.  A couple of the girls had been cooing about this woman who had done all of this nigh on miraculous stuff for them.  There were tales of protective bubbles, levitation, sixth sense, messages from the other side, and every seemed to be very excited about her indeed.

What can I tell you?  I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff as I’d love to believe someone could help me move forward, and if it’s all a scam, I can milk the experience for anecdotes to entertain my friends when I get home!


I then make the fatal mistake of sharing my plans for the afternoon with the others at breakfast.

The girls in particular are enchanted by the news.

‘Oh Sista, you’re going to love her, she’s just amazing, she’s just….’

I need more than that, however.

‘Is she any good?’

One rather quiet Danish girls pipes up hesitantly, ‘I had her yesterday and well…’ she screws up her face, not wanting to appear different/cynical, ‘I’m not entirely sure what happened….’

Hmm.  I wondered if I shovel my muesli down tout suite, I can get to the Managers office before she leaves for the day and cancel this?

Another rather brassy old bird cuts her off mid sentence.

‘Look she’s lovely woman, so full of luv, and has so much to give!  And honestly, at the end of the day…’ she looks around her, warming to her theme ‘even if you can’t sense what’s she’s done for you, you’re in that room, she uses all them bowls, and she’s giving you so much luv, you can’t lose!  It’s only €75!  What more could you ask for?’

Well, lemme think, erm….

Some kind of proof that’s she’s not chatting shit?  

Some kind of reading that you recognise as being applicable to you and your life?  

Some kind of improvement in health, fortune, and/or spiritual wellbeing?

Contact with a ex parrot, sorry person?

A.K.A. good old fashioned VALUE FOR MONEY?!

What planet is this ditzy bint from?!

Honestly just because you want to be seen as being spiritual, that’s no excuse for blatant stoopidity, and if I want a nice lie down in a roomful of love, I’ll lock myself in my bedroom with the cats when I get back, and will spunk the money away on duty free booze, expensive hand cream and a big box of Toffifee on the way home instead, thank you very much!


I stay silent though. The proof of the pudding and all that….

Inca’s husband comes to pick me up, and introduces himself as Eric.  I kind of expected him to be called Ptolemy, Perseus or something like that, so am a bit disappointed.

‘So,’ he says, peering through filthy spectacles and we jack knife around pot holes and rebound violently off boulders (think this car was manufactured before suspension was invented) ‘what is it you want out of today?’

Dude, you honestly think I’m going to tell you?  I don’t even trust the men that I know, let alone one I was introduced to five minutes ago!

‘Erm, not sure, I’m just gonna go with the flow, I suppose….’

‘Right.  Great.  Anyway, we’re here now.’

We’ve stopped outside a beautiful farm, and my heart lifts a little.  Hell if she can afford this, she must be doing something right.

Unfortunately we head in the opposite direction to a concrete hut that looks tailor made for kidnappers or hostage takers, not exactly the ideal venue for some psychic hippy chick’s HQ.

The door to the cell, sorry, room suddenly opens and this dinky little elf of a woman comes out beaming, and takes both of my hands into hers.

‘Sista!’ she sighs beatifically, drinking me in, as if I was Dominos pizza after a fast day, ‘Let’s get you inside!’

Must we?  Can’t we go next door?  I smile apprehensively and follow her into her lair.

Actually it all looks quite cosy.

Shame it’s as cold as a witch’s tit.

Inca sits me in the deceptively precarious, Poundland wicker seat and asks me what I’m here for.

Am I being unreasonable for expecting her to know the answer to that?

Yes.  I probably am.  Stop being a bitch Sista, and give the poor cow and yourself a break and point her in the right direction at least.

‘I’m erm, kind of transitioning from one way of life to another and finding it a little difficult to know which way to go…,’ I venture.

‘Yes, right, I can see that,’ Inca bites her lip, ‘Do you mind if I touch you?’

I thought you already were?

‘No, that’s fine.’

She then plants a very firm hand on my left boob, and another on my swiftly retracting belly.

Whoa Nelly….

It feels horribly intrusive.  I press back further into the corner.  The wicker chair creaks protestingly.

She frowns.

‘I’m trying to get in but,’ she sighs, ‘there’s a huge barrier that you’ve erected to protect yourself, and I need to get you to a place were you feel safe enough to let it down.’

That’s true enough.  But did she get that from inside ‘me’ or from my rather obvious body language?

Shut up, negative voices, purlease!

She shifts and presses harder on my tit.

‘You need to help me here.  Tell me about your parents and your upbringing.’

Oh come on! Do I have to do ALL the work around here?!

Whatever.  What have I got to lose?

I give her a potted history, which I won’t bore you with, and Tinkerbell smiles, nods sagely, and asks me more about the females, a.k.a. my Mum and Nana, swiftly establishing that shit parenting that was passed down from the generation to generation culminating in what happened to me as a result of this.  Her eyes are closed and her face flickers as she nods and ticks.

‘I’ve got them here my love, well your Mum’s here at least.’

That’d be right.  My Nan was a formidable old harridan who would have no truck with this airy fairy nonsense and I could picture her jeeringly making mincemeat of this little sprite, given half the chance.

‘Can you remember a time when you finally realised that there was no hope, and you just gave up trying to get her to love you the way you needed and deserved?’

Ridiculously, I feel my throat close and my eyes well up with tears, which I furiously push back down.  I’m not fucking crying here in ‘Cell Block H’ if I can possibly help it.

‘No’, I manage to croak in a relatively ordinary voice.

Inca frowns.  ‘She’s saying “I soon knocked it out of her” and I can see something shoot out of you like a comet’  Her arms extends into the air like Usain Bolt’s.

I look perplexed.

‘You honestly can’t remember?’

Nope.  It was all equally miserable as far as I can remember.

‘She’s sorry my love, she really is,’ Inca nods as if listening to Mum over the astral plane, ‘she wasn’t loved herself, so she didn’t have it to give to you.’

I fight the flicker of impatience that ripples through me.  I KNOW!  I’ve been in therapy for decades, as that all you have for me?

Then something comes back to me and I see them in my minds eye.

The prettiest, loveliest, most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

The pressure increases on my belly.


‘Erm, I think I remember something….’

Her eyes snap open and they stare directly into mine.  I break the gaze and clear my throat.

‘When I was little, my Auntie always used to tell me I should be a dancer.  She said even when I was just born I had really long legs, and when I used to prance around to the Top 40 on a Sunday night, all the family used to joke about me ending up on Sunday Night at the London Palladium one day….’

Inca nods encouragingly.

‘…so, when I was about eight, she went out bought me a pair of tap shoes.’

I pause, swallow, and continue.

‘I’m from a pretty poor family, and those shoes must have cost her a fortune.  I remember how pretty they looked in the box, like something you’d wear for a wedding.  “There you go!” she said to my Mum, “I know you couldn’t afford any, so you just have to pay for the lessons now!”’

My Mum gave her a pained smile and before I could get them out of the box, gently pulled it out of my protesting hands.  “Come on Sista, you don’t want to get them dirty, do you?”  she said with false jollity, so I nodded, knowing that I had no choice, acquiesced and held that image in my heart, waiting for the day when I could put them on and dance.’


I could feel Inca’s eyes blazed into me.

I meet them.

‘I never saw them again’ I said dully, ‘I asked for them time and time again, I begged, I cried, I whined, and she would shout at me for pestering her and walk away.  As the weeks went by, I knew something was very wrong.  Eventually she admitted that she had sold them because she couldn’t afford to buy me lessons.’

I could feel my mouth harden into a thin line, remembering my outrage at the sheer  injustice of this act.  She didn’t even buy me a replacement gift with MY money.

‘‘I knew we were poor and I knew it might have been a bit of a struggle as my Dad spent every night in the pub boozing away half his wages, but if she’d have asked him for more money, if she’d have pushed, cared enough about me to fight my corner….’

I’m staring into my lap now as I cannot bear to see the pity in Inca’s eyes but she’s closed them and is now nodding and frowning and making little singing noises.

Then, she suddenly makes an ‘Ooo!’ noise.

‘She’s got the shoes! She’s brought back the shoes!  She’s saying “Here, sorry, I didn’t mean it!”

The lightning rod of anger that surges through me almost lifts me off the seat.

<‘Oh really? Super!  I’ll just book myself on the next Tardis to 1970 and see if “Miss Amy’s School of Dance” has any slots available!’ I snarl, ‘Tell her from me she can stick them up her arse, heels first and don’t forget the laces!’>

Actually I don’t say that out loud.  But the Absinthe Fairy seems to be picking up the gist of it anyway.

I continue with the dialogue in my head.

<‘Everyone thought my Mum was such a lovely lady, but she was just a spiteful, vindictive, resentful old cow who did everything she could to extinguish my light!’>

Inca’s hands are holding mine again, and she’s nodding furiously.

Surely she’s not picking all of this up?

<‘And you know what? I reckon she didn’t want me to have that opportunity.  No one had done it for her so why should things be any better for me?’>

Our eyes meet.

I speak again, out loud this time.

‘Oh, I forgot to say, I keep dreaming about my rancid ex boss, and don’t understand why he’s not out of my system, it’s so frustrating!’

She sighs.  ‘It’s because you haven’t forgiven him!’

Wow.  There’s no mistaking that bit of synchronicity.

‘Or your Mum, or your Dad, and who else?  These people are riding you and you need to exorcise them out of your system, and only then will you be able to take the reins of your own life!’


‘But I’ve still got so much anger in my heart!’

‘I know.’

‘And I don’t know what I’m going to do or where I’m going!’ I blurt out randomly.

‘Of course you don’t, how could you?  That’s because you don’t know yourself!  You haven’t had the love and grounding you need, so how can you know who you are or what you really want?

I don’t know myself?


No one has done more soul searching, more seeking, more questioning, more bloody navel gazing than I have.

No one!

So how can that be?

‘You have to meditate, go within to get it.  But you can’t do it, can you?’

Fuck.  How does she know that?

‘Have you ever really been loved?’

I shift uncomfortably.

She fumbles around for something. ‘You’re not going to be able to do it on your own.  Your chakras are so….flat.  You’re going to need some help.  Where do you live again?’


I momentarily feel panicked.  Please no.  For the love of God, please don’t refer me to bloody Ulrika Seahorse or any of that shower….please?

Thankfully she frowns and can’t seem to find anyone to recommend me, but begs me to seek help when I get home.

I am then told told to lie on her couch, where she covers me with blankets, props me up with pillows, strokes my brow a few times, then sets these bowl things bonging and lights some candles.

It’s all rather relaxing, but I remain on edge, perhaps because I’m still jumpy after that blood curdling screaming fit I witness at that New Moon Hippy thingy.  She doesn’t pop back in and howl in my ear for a laugh, thankfully, but for some reason I start getting palpatations and can’t settle into it.

After a while, she silently enters the room, gives me some kind of flowery water to drink and stares at me with sad, sad eyes.  She again asks me to seek help when I get home.  I agree, oblige her when she asks for a hug, and shoot thankfully through the door into the bright, bright sunshine.

What the hell was that?

Eric, thank the Lord for small mercies, refrains from making small talk and I return to the retreat feeling much better, mainly because in the 15 minute bounce home (where I narrowly avoid biting off my own tongue), I’ve convinced myself that it was all bollocks and that I should chill the hell out already.

I immediately bump into a couple of the girls who are agog with antipation of my tale of wondrous happenings.

‘What happened?  What did she tell you?  Did you feel anything?’

‘Erm, it was alright.  I’m not sure anything happened, but she seemed nice enough.’

The atmosphere changes a little, with a perceptible chill cutting through the heat of the afternoon.

‘Did you get any messages?’



‘Did you cry?’

<‘Somehow, I managed not to.’>


Their expressions are now bordering on hostile.  Miserable cow, they appear to think, not one of us.  Not fun, or warm, not a believer.

Not special like us.

Not spiritual.

If only they knew.

But I’m done showing the whites of my eyes to all and sundry anymore.  That would require trust.  The four inch thick steel door slides smoothly back into place as I smile, shrug and head for a hammock with palpable relief for a nice kip.

But everytime I close my eyes, I see that box, I hear the rustle of thick cream tissue paper, and feel the silken, ribbon ties between my  fingers and my stomach twists with anguish as the thwarted dancer within lets out a silent scream of rage and despair.

‘You’d better get it into your head young lady, these things aren’t for the likes of us.  What do you think we are, millionaires? You a dancer?!  Who do you think you are?  What’s so special about you?  Only thinking of yourself as usual, stuck up little madam, when I was a child we made our own entertainment…..’

Thanks for bringing back the shoes Mum, but I honestly doubt they’d fit me anymore.

Too little, too late.





My father is dead

And left me with Fear

Whose cold arms enclosed me

When he was not here

Well anyway, he always did prefer beer

My father is gone, my father is Fear


My father he died

A decade ago

And left me not knowing

Which way I should go

For the past has a way of not letting you grow

My father has gone, and Fear runs the show


My father he practically lived in the pub

And only came home for a kip and some grub

And my mum she would wash

She would cook, she would scrub

When father was here, his wife he did snub


My father he was a popular man

And a daughter so ugly

Just wasn’t the plan

She oughta be looking the best that she can

My dad was ashamed, not my number one fan


My father, they say

He could have been worse

It was rare that he struck us

He screamed, bawled and cursed

But some words that are said they cannot be reversed

My father is dead, but I’m in the hearse


Oh father I loved you

Despite your disgust

Your selfish behavior

The times that you cussed

But the men in my life

I just cannot trust

My father is gone, and to Fear I am trussed


But I will transcend this

Get out of this hell

One day I will love me

And conquer this spell

And break out of my lonely, self imposed cell

My father has gone, I must Father myself