Once Upon a Time in Kings Cross

This isn’t a fairytale. But it is a once upon a time, which to me means not to be repeated, although it was a repeat then. I have been thinking about my drinking life recently. The fun of it, the craziness and then some of the more particularly dark shit. I was watching something the other day that sent shivers down my spine and gave me visceral flashbacks to an experience I had in my late thirties. I don’t hold onto shame anymore and this is what it is; I make no bones about the fact that often when I drank things sometimes got out of control.

I met my friend in a new Japanese restaurant that was holding a launch for influencers and critics; my friend socialises and blogs about it for a living so she gets invited out to all sorts of cool London things. I was her plus one that night – it was a Tuesday. “Be sensible” I thought to myself over and over again as I was on my way there “just have one or two drinks and then head home for the last train”. But typical me style I just got so excited by the entire event. I also looking back felt incredibly nervous and I realise now that I often drank to quell the nerves sloshing around my body. So I had champagne, typically a drink I would avoid as errm wine and bubbles to me is like the devils pathway for visiting crazy town. It is too easy to sip down, it feels glamorous, it feels like you fucking deserve it. Seductive as shit and oh so lethal. Quaffing free champagne is even more dangerous. This greedy little pig can’t get her snout into it quick enough. Food was served, tiny Japanese canapes and small bites of delicious stuff and I had no idea what I was eating, I also didnt care. The booze by now had gotten into the blood stream and I felt like I didn’t want any of this to end. This is when I start to get romantic about my London life and think “yes I should be doing this on a Tuesday night, my life should be full of this stuff, I didn’t move to London to sit in on my own in the suburbs being boring as fuck etc” and all reason and logic about my actual life goes out the window.

The night moves on to a bar, bottles of red wine are being ordered. No denying that this collaborative drunkeness between people on a week night is actually really good fun! It feels awesome to just think FUCK IT but then you notice as it approaches 11pm only a few of you are left. All the sensible ones or the ones who have partners or kids have left. Me and my friend stay out, each as bad as each other although she gets a booty call and decides to leave. So now there is me. Me and some fellas I have managed to bum fags off for the last hour. They seem a laugh and they bought me drinks. Next thing I remember is me and one man walking down the street, then cut to us in a corner shop buying wine, me choosing and saying I would prefer white. These little flashback but no real linear memories.

I wake up in a strange bed, it is a hotel room, my dress is over my belly pushed onto my boobs, my pants are on the floor next to the bed, this man is still asleep – its 6am. I pull my dress down and I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Makeup smeared over my face, dull grey skin, that grimy hungover pallor and the sweet sickly smell of alcohol coming out of the pores. I take a selfie just so I can remember and punish myself about how fucked up I am. I go back in and the man is awake and I ask him what happened – he is beyond shocked that I don’t remember. He seemed like a nice man, and I take full responsibility cause this isn’t the first time this has happened. He was genuinely upset I had no recollection of the fact we had sex and that we had talked for hours beforehand, drinking wine of course. He told me some of the things I had been talking about and asking him to do and I felt sick to my stomach. It sounded like me but also not like me at all – like a possessed witch had taken over.

I reckon I had drank three bottles of wine that night with little food. He told me he was in London for a conference and that we were still in Kings Cross – he also showed me his wedding ring and I just felt another cold part of me ice over even more. I had to get the morning after pill. He gave me money for it. He told me to take his work phone number and to keep in touch if I wanted to. I called my work to tell them I would be working at home as I had a headache – I was reliable and good at my job so I could get away with things like this now and then. The shame of walking out of that hotel, feeling utterly disorientated and lost…again.

After that night I cried myself to sleep for weeks, I stayed off the booze for a few months. I got myself a full STI check wracked with guilt about my reckless behaviour – the sort of behaviour I would never ever do when sober. This is what I couldn’t understand – that sober me would not act like that.

In context as it is only fair, I had recently lost my Dad; grief was in my life for a few years, right at the forefront of everything – I didn’t realise that at the time though. I felt like I was only breathing properly now and then, that the rest of the time I was under a blanket; a torpor of abject and constant pain. I feel like me now wants to go back and hug the me then and say that it will all get better.

It was around this time I was beginning to question my drinking properly. Only a year before I had done a similar thing but in New York (yea but imagine it ten times more dangerous!). I also looked back on my relationships and the times I couldn’t remember doing things or the arguments due to blacking out drunk. The thing that is so fucked about this is that people I talk to later on who were around me when I was in blackout mode all said I was acting drunk but normal. I won’t go into the science of what blackout drunk is but it is not a good state to be in. Your brain has basically shut part of itself down to protect itself. I never thought that I had a proper proper drinking problem as I only drank every couple of weeks, I drank socially mostly but the kicker is that I couldn’t really know how the night would end up when I did drink. It was Russian Roulette. THAT is a sign you have a problem. When you can’t stick to boundaries, when you know you are pushing it, when you know that one more drink will take you over the edge but you do it anyway.

It was around this time I started hanging out in sober communities and spent the next few years slowly changing things but occasionally slipping back and again back into sexually inappropriate situations like the time I woke up at an orgy (fully clothed I am pleased to say but huh why was I there!). Drunk me is like magnet for the most subversive shit and okay maybe part of me loves that a little but the trick is to do that stuff sober. I am no prude but being drunk and wild is fucked up and fake – if you are going to be wild do it sober. Also for me, fucking married men isn’t something I would ever do sober. EVER. Happy to say that I have left all of that behind me and this year 2020 has proven to be my most happily alcohol free one ever. It is like all the things I have learnt and tried to do over the last five years have come together. Dare I say that I am happy! I walk past that hotel a lot as I now work in the area and I instantly recoil but then I breathe a sigh of relief that I am no longer plagued by that behaviour.

It felt painful to write some of this because I can’t see that woman I was, she feels so far removed. I was just lost, grief stricken and in the end I realise I just wanted wild crazy love. I still do but the right way and at the right time.

Tinder Has Left the Chat

Ten months into an alcohol free life. Something is bubbling up and I don’t quite know how to handle it. They say that ten months in can be a tumultuous time because the pink cloud you have been feeling starts to drift away and you are left with some of the darker clouds moving slowly over your head. This last week something felt off; I started to get eczema again – a signal to me that my body is in distress (in my butt crack of all places), I have not been motivated to go swimming or to the beach, I have felt angry with friends and felt like shouting FUCK YOU into the sky. Nothing in particular I could put my hand on. Just a feeling, a simmering disgust, barely contained anger.

I try everything to change my mood when I get like this; I walk, I listen to podcasts, I eat healthy food even though I am dreaming about shoving doughnuts in my face. I don’t and it takes all my fucking strength – I don’t because I am in the middle of changing my life and I am sick of taking two steps forward and then three steps back. The boring cycle of behaviour I know so well.

My body is physically changing too – perimenopause I think. It can be from one week the happiest of highs to the lowest of lows. The go-to things that could relieve this pain and discomfort are booze and sugar but they are the two things I am staying clear from because guess what? They make me feel even worse.

I was meant to go on a date this week with someone really interesting and handsome but I realised a few days ago that my heart wasn’t in dating full stop. I started to feel a sort of dread and anxiety about it all because I am just not ready to be vulnerable or even friendly with a new person in the loaded space of Tinder dating. This is the second time I have bailed on someone in the last year and I hate myself for it because it is not fair on them. But I try so hard to feel “normal” and like I am ready to connect with others but then I realise I am not and I back out.

I have deleted Tinder and I have learnt my lesson that I am just not even half ready to go down a path of meeting anyone. I know that now. Dating is fucked up really – I don’t think I am suited for it; I want to meet people in real life and build up friendships. I met my ex at Carnival and it was instant connection at first sight. It was fun to be chatted up in reality, spontaneous and none of the pre-date wondering if they will fancy you in the flesh or not. So it is fair to say I am done with online dating.

I am looking forward to getting my first year of alcohol free life in the bag and to celebrate it I am going to take the famous sleeper train from London to Scotland and spend some days in the Highlands. I thought about whether I would want to do that with someone, and honestly the answer is no, I want the solitude. I want the freedom to wander and to celebrate my first year of sobriety on my own. It feels like empowerment to me. I have spent years of my life in long term relationships and my single life has been some of my happiest. Acknowledging this is powerful.

So I say to myself, I am not ready to share my life, I am not ready to share my life and that is okay.

“Hope you find some happiness”

The other day on Twitter I got into a row with a woman who I had been following for years. The crux of it was I disagreed with a tweet one of her mates posted which said something like “why do men who put never married or had kids on their dating profile see it as a badge of honour when it just shows you cant commit”

I put forward that marriage and kids does not equate commitment and a few other people commented in this way too. Apparently the tweet was a “joke” but honestly where is the joke? I can’t stand that kind of judgement on anyone who has not quite lived up to the social conventions we apparently need to follow. Joke it may have been but there is a serious load of bullshit behind it all. I engaged with this tweet in a reasonable way saying I wish we wouldn’t judge people like this as I am an unmarried and child-free woman and yet I have had serious commitments in my life and that perhaps people putting it on their profile isn’t about a badge of honour but about wanting to find similar people who may find that important. Also, why can’t it be a badge of honour?

But aside from that tweet which I wasn’t offended by (just disagreed and wanted to add in my view) what followed was offensive.

This woman proceeded to tell me that I must be deeply unhappy as a person (from my three quite measured tweets!) and that this must have touched a raw nerve with me and that she hopes I find some kind of happiness in my life. What the actual fuck? I was told I should have scrolled on by if I didn’t like it and that I obviously have a very sad life to be seeking out offence. But also in the same way her mate could have just shut the fuck up about what people write on their dating profiles right? Why is SHE so bothered? Oh sorry yea it was a joke, ha ha ha ha dead funny like…..comedy gold.

Remarkably this is a woman who tweets daily on twitter that she is having a pretty tough life to which I always felt empathy for if I am honest. What is it that makes people feel they can psychoanalyse others’ on the internet – what is it that your only defence to a disagreeing tweet is to try to create a narrative about the life of that person? What made me feel sad about the whole thing was that at no point was my tweet directed at anybody, it was pretty standard twitter commentary, but then to have someone try to say you’re sad and angry just for having an opinion is the worst kind of gaslighting. Women doing it to other woman too is pretty gross in my mind – us women are always being analysed; told we are too much, too happy, too sad, too angry. The whole exchange made me feel totally shit if I am honest as this was someone I actually liked and thought was okay.

Then I started to question – am I okay? I couldn’t sleep, I was radiating with anger – how dare a fucking stranger try to patronise me for no reason. The fact another woman couldn’t see what I was trying to say as in these things you are laughing about have a real life impact on people like me. When I sensibly told her that she said that I shouldn’t sob about being judged as she is a disabled single mum – ahhhhh it is judgement top trumps is it! Then I realised that everything she was saying was more a projection of perhaps her life choices and that there is probably resentment there. Not my fault it looks like she made some shit choices (she moans enough about) and I honestly don’t ever look for empathy from strangers, but I also don’t deserve aggro.

After a few hours of gnashing my teeth I realised that my life choices are 100 percent what I am happy with. Society might paint me as slightly odd as I didn’t have kids (SIGH) but I want people to really understand that I do not regret not having kids one little bit! I know people often don’t believe that and think I must be crying into my pillow every night about it but honestly no. Not everyone is maternal/paternal and that is totally okay. I had a phase for a few years around age 35/36 where I did have a little hankering and I could have had a kid then if I wanted. I also could have had a kid with someone this last four years but I decided to get the IUD fitted so that I had no accidents! No regrets at all.

Now the marriage thing – I am not sure where I stand on it. It seems a load of bollox in some ways and most people around me who got married also got divorced too. I have this thought that I will get married one day but maybe in my sixties, less chance of divorce, unless they are a complete murderer – have you ever seen “The Devil I Married”?! My friends gran got married in her eighties…
Marriage is not off the menu for me, just I am not that arsed about it and I never dreamt about being a bride – I was a tomboy who wanted to be a stunt double when I grew up.

So as I lay there ruminating it all I realised I am pretty damn content in my choices and yes maybe a raw nerve was touched because frankly I am just sick of feeling like a failure or that I lack commitment because I didn’t do certain things – it weighs heavy sometimes. All of the times I am told “don’t worry you will find someone” or “don’t worry you are still young at 44, Halle Berry didn’t have her kids until she was in her late forties” or the worst when people nod sympathetically at you with worry in their eyes when you say you don’t have or want kids! They sometimes just can’t compute it.

Luckily for me, I have loads of friends around me who are the same as me – a bunch of hot, sexy, clever, happy, free women who have made big commitments like owning property, doing PhDs, founding businesses and charities, some have lovers that come and go or long term partners, but most of all they seem to be certain about their choice and they enjoy every single minute of this life!

It comes in waves: Take a Risk

Waves feature a lot in my life; sea waves, big juicy rolling and dangerous waves I let my body be taken by at least five times a week. I have always been attracted to being taken on some kind of journey – free falling, letting things happen. Loss of control. Yesterday I lay back in the sea as I was being pummelled by waves like I was inside a washing machine – it scares me sometimes that I enjoy that kind of thing. But it is also no surprise either.

It reminded me of when I was being submissive once in a relationship, under complete control of another human being. It was only for a short time but it was exhilarating to place my life in someone’s hands. I had no say in anything, what I wore, ate, did. I had to turn myself (willingly by the way – consent is important) into a nothing, an object; I wasn’t even permitted to speak when I was in their presence. I had to stand for hours in a naughty corner facing a wall with my hands on my head, I was a pet at one point, on all fours, eating from a dog bowl, sleeping at the end of the bed, kneeling at my owners feet. I simply had to do whatever I was told, I had be disciplined and be available for whatever they wanted me to do – even typing this is exciting. Me, strong and feisty – can you imagine it? It was a high! It is no surprise to me when we see “scandals” of high powered men being secretly spanked and pegged by beautiful Domme’s in dungeons because it is the opposite of what is driving them in real life – it is their free fall, suspension of life for a few hours.

But something about the loss of control is so seductive. Now I know many people hate the thought of it but that is because of fear. I understand myself through the lens of childhood as to why I enjoy losing control because I always had to be in control since very young – growing up too fast and being “parentified” because of dysfunction in the home. I have grown up to be super responsible and I do love that about myself; I have achieved a hell of a lot but it has also grown parallel with a dark side that seeks the shadows or the underbelly of life, and ultimately a bit of danger.

Drinking to blackout is seen as pretty standard in the western world – booze the biggest drug to lose control with, we all do (or have done it) to a varying degree, just that some loss of control is more respectable than others. Yea yea knock yourself out with booze (get those tax coffers nice and full) but woah keep away from the psychedelics and kinky sex!

We live in a society now that hates risk; it wants everyone to be very controlled – I saw some stats the other day that said the younger generation are taking way less risk than they ever did. I think that is a shame; we are becoming way too informed/smart/anxious. And I don’t even want to mention the pandemic really but to understand we are living in times whereby risk is now at the forefront of our minds possibly replacing pleasure, joy, happiness, creativity.

The fact that we fucking review everything, I think ruins so much – stop reviewing shit, it often creates a false narrative that curates us to go like sheep to places and then we are prompted to also fill out a nice review or be seen as different. That we just know too much about life before we have even lived it. We ask our friends all the time what to do about things, I don’t remember really doing that so much when I was younger – now everything has to be opinionated, talked about, what about just doing it, trusting your own immense wisdom and intuition?

So I say lose control now and then – don’t do it in a reckless or silly way nor do I mean shitting your self, but just let things go sometimes, be adventurous, try something without reading up about it, live how you really want to, be true to your desires, and just shut your eyes and ride them big juicy scary waves….

The tricky world of Friendships and not drinking

Was thinking recently about the different types of friendships that we make in our lifetime. I am one of those people that has a load of friends I still keep in touch with from twenty years back. I like that I have regular reunions with university friends, people I worked with, the crew I picked fruit with backpacking in Australia 23 years’ ago. I like that I do make the effort to keep in touch with people – it is always reciprocated and it doesn’t really take much. They are kind of on the outside friends; they see the good bits, we laugh at old in jokes, music and sayings; we share each others the milestones in life and we meet up every other year or so.

However, getting older changes things in the way you want your immediate relationships to run. I have a small number of close friends these days. I keep it that way as I cannot be as available for people as I used to be. Partly being busy working full time and running a side hustle as well as (constantly) doing up my house all on my own. Also, I genuinely love and need my own company and freedom; I crave it. I can be fickle too – I am self-aware enough to know that about myself. My emotions can swing wildly and I am just too old in the tooth to be around people who I don’t feel comfortable with or who are too demanding of me, or who bore me.

I noticed recently after nine months of no alcohol that a lot of the time I used to drink for a bit of confidence/soothing in social situations but also because I often found it easier to listen to people that I wasn’t that interested in if I had the focus of alcohol. This might make me sound like a bitch but what I mean is not everyone is going to be interesting to you nor you to them but oftentimes alcohol creates a smoothing effect for that. Imagine yourself now with all your friends and acquaintances at a party without alcohol? How many of them would make the cut? Would you have fun with all of them?

In the last nine months I did a bit of a call out for sober people in my local area and I have met some truly wonderful souls who totally GET IT! What I have found quite disheartening is the people who I do like feeling uncomfortable around me not drinking. Maybe sober me just isn’t their bag – fair enough. But, I think people who feel uncomfortable around non-drinkers most definitely need to have a look at why that is. It is a shame. What I decide to put in my mouth should not have an impact on what is supposed to be a friendship but UK society has people hooked into booze culture. People fall away and that is absolutely natural.

In the middle of the pandemic I started to go to the sea every morning for a swim and have made some lovely friends down there. A real cool community of women who encourage each other; and as we get out of the sea, cold but exhilarated, wrapped in our towels, we share coffee and chit chat. This connection with the earth each morning is life affirming and really helped me feel much happier with my life and what I am doing. One of the women I have recently made friends there said to me as we sat on the sand post swim this morning that this community of women and the sea almost feels like a calling.

Today I am nine months free from the torture of alcohol and booze culture. Someone said on my instagram post celebrating my nine months that it must have taken great willpower – no, that is not true. I don’t want to drink a poison, I don’t want to sit with people who make me feel drained, I don’t want to live a life where I am running on 70% battery in a brain fog. I want meaningful authentic and huge loving connections and I am absolutely grateful for it all.

I #alcoholfree #healthlife #friendships #noalcohol #sobriety #nqtd


russian doll

A damp loaf of a body, she sweated all over as she tried to move her enormous weight around the bed that was her prison and sanctuary.  The tiny body inside the blubber silently screamed as the waves of fat calibrated. The bed creaked in time with the gasps escaping her mouth; the mouth that got her in this mess.  The mouth that had never said the things she wanted to say, it just ate, ate, ate, shoved it all down.

The stench of rotting flesh permeated the room; a fly landed on her right breast happily feeding off the map of old food that had been there for days. She had no way of swatting it because her arms were weighed down with curtains of fat.  She just looked at the fly and felt jealousy of its freedom and of its simple existence. Although her existence now was just surviving inside this body inside this room.  She wondered where the fly had been before it had chosen her. Her skin was so hard now that she couldn’t even feel the fly tickling her mass.  She turned her neck to the left to check the time as her stomach was demanding its fill, but that cut off her windpipe as the fat started crushing and pulling; soon the fat would implode into her and then she would be free.  She would sink into that sweet darkness, suffocating.

She tried to move again because being in one spot for too long felt like iron pokers were digging into her as the fat pooled and punished her bones. The backs of her knees were raw and oozing where they had chaffed; the smell was like the stench of Manhattan in  mid-August, rotting bins and urine hanging in the air.  Giant sores under her belly folds looked like her flesh was being torn apart by ripping hands; gaping and violent chasms of misery.

Her brain and body had become living Matryoshka dolls but in an opposite parallel – her brain had become smaller and her body had become bigger in a direct correlation.  As she had shut down her mind to stop everything, her body had become larger than life which was funny to her because this wasn’t living.

The doorbell rang and she used the entry phone attached to her bed to see who it was before she let them in.  Oh she was relieved, the food had arrived, it was the only thing she had left now. Six people entered her room, chattering all different languages, becoming instantly silent as the smell hit them first and then the sight; the sight of this gargantuan human with dead eyes looking back at them.  She gained pleasure watching them open mouthed horrified all of them thinking they would never get like her. It made them feel good.

The tour guide instructed them to step forward with the food that had been requested by her on the app; steaming food was placed around her on the bed like an offering.  One of the tourists reached out to touch her elephant rough skin – she never used to allow them to touch her but now she can’t feel anything it doesn’t make any difference; let them get their monies worth.  She knows she will get better reviews if they can touch and then more people will bring food and soon this will be all over…

All of them watching her eat, transfixed at how desperate and quick she fed. Her mouth open and always stuffed, her gullet packed sometimes choking her making her eyes water.

The food suspending everything for a moment; she was dancing, hair flowing on the beach at night, running into the sea.  Back before all of this, before, before,  before, the word she can’t seem to stop.

 #fiction #fat #dystopian #dark 


Perspectives on Street Photography

The Daily Post

Photographers sharing their perspectives on street photography:

Jon Sanwell, Without An H
Hanoi, Vietnam

Shane Francescut, The Weekly Minute
Ottawa, Canada

Stephanie Dandan, Infinite Satori
Traveling in Southeast Asia

Joshi Daniel, Joshi Daniel Photography

Leanne Cole, Leanne Cole Photography
Melbourne, Australia

Stephen McLeod Blythe, All My Friends Are JPEGs
Glasgow, Scotland

Donncha Ó Caoimh, In Photos
Cork, Ireland

Last year, we published posts that touched on street photography: Russ Taylor shared his creative process on photographing people all over the world, and Dominic Stafford talked about documenting the streets of Southeast Asia.

But what is street photography? Over on Photo Theory, John Meehan writes:

What is striking about attempts to define “street photography” is the striking lack of consensus.

On the Nature of Street Photography

Very simply put, some people view street photography as an art form — a genre of documentary in which a photographer captures real life as…

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