Thursday, March 31, 2005

for all you punk fans out there

Going to meet Jimmy Pursey lead singer of Sham 69 this morning to talk to him about a documentary I am making about the history of Punk Rock. He's quite a character so far. He said he was painting at the moment - I'm not sure if that means painting and decorating or painting pictures. I hope it's pictures as that will no doubt be quite interesting. He has a house with his girlfriend but until recently he was living in a hotel in Staines and she was still in the house. He is currently living in his friends house near Ascot. Will update later.

Monday, March 28, 2005

ikea - you know you want to!

Originally uploaded by rockmother.
I presume for those that took part in a gargantuan amount of comments on Bird a few months back that you will all be watching Ikea It Drives Me Crazy on BBC2 at 10.30 tonight.

We drove past Ikea on the North Circular yesterday (Easter Sunday). Couldn't believe that I actually entertained the idea of 'just popping in' on the way home. Luckily my partner reminded me that (a) I was mad and (b) he would leave me there by myself forever if I drove anywhere near it. Hallelujah - I am saved!!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

angry of hackney

you really are dead
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Saw this on a shutter at the end of my friend's road on Friday. Glad I don't live there!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

out of sorts

Feeling very restless and jittery at the moment.......and also very lucky. Can't write much about this as it is all very serious. Spoke with Abbie and her mum Sally yesterday. Terrible, awful, horrid. She has deteriorated significantly since we last spoke three days ago and is on morphine every hour. We actually had a great chat but I felt like she was leaving me and shouting down a tunnel I would never get to the bottom of. It was hard. She was desperatly trying to talk properly through the morphine and we just kept saying I love you, I love you too - what else is there to say? She rambled off a few times but was still there. It won't be long now - I felt as if she had crossed over and I was talking to her on the other side. I felt if I could just reach out my hand she would grab it and I could pull her back. I said goodbye which I really didn't want to do and then marched around the house like an angry frustrated child just thinking it's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair. I don't even hate anyone enough to wish it was them and not Abbie I just wish she wasn't ill and going to die. I rather selfishly will miss her so very much. I told her to wait for me, I'm coming back I said. Good she said, I will, but I know she has almost gone already. Please think of Abbie and wish her well.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

busted rock

busted rock
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
No they don't! Courtesy of our neighbour's six year old daughter who put it through our door the other day. Why??! I blame the parents.

who is jt leroy?

Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Well, whoever jt leroy wants to be I guess. There has been so much hype recently about this writer so I checked him out. I started to read 'Sarah' yesterday and then just carried on in one sitting until I had finished. Like a vivid dream it stayed with me all day. A brilliant writer although I reckon he should calm down on the big hype as it feels a bit too much - especially the personally signed racoon penis bone pendants. I imagined he would be above that somehow. I'm going to read 'Harold..' next. Check him out or let me know what you think if you are already a fan.

hackney grafitti

hackney grafitti
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Saw this from the car while driving through Hackney last week. I've googled Dismop and they are a punk band. They took part in an overnight Hackney Punk Olympics last year. And there was me thinking it was some strange Russian political organisation. I obviously thought too hard. As for the main political comment - couldn't agree more. I met a woman in America when I was there recently who over dinner told me she thought Bush had saved the world and that the war was a great thing. I had to clamp my tongue to the table for fear of embarrassing the hosts.

journey home

Nightmare. Snow was so bad that driving from Connecticut to Boston took 5 hours instead of three and I just missed the flight. Option was to fly to NY immediately at a cost of $220. Ok, I'll do that. Got marked and selected for special security search. Plane delayed. Finally got to NY - ran down/up two sets of escalators and took a monorail to next terminal. Gashed my hand somehow in the mad dash. Got to check-in. Guess what? They wouldn't let me on the flight from NY to Heathrow despite the fact that I was flying Upper Class and the gate was still open. Oh, I forgot - as they ignored me they decided to let Jeremy Irons on to the same flight at the same grade even though he hadn't pre-checked in AND I HAD!!!

At this point, as you can imagine I was rather cross. I was treated with such disdain by the ugly supervisor who was more interested in fawning over la Jeremy that it was almost comical. I actually thought I had mysteriously died and gone to hell as the whole situation was so extraordinary. I've never been spoken to so rudely in my life. They ignored me as I implored them politely and then just stared at them with tears streaming down my face. No, the gate was still open but I couldn't get on the plane but Jeremy can.....

It was pointless and they spun it out for a further 45 mins until the gate closed. My only option was to fly from Newark the next morning at 08:00. It was now midnight and I was in New York. I did crack at this point and asked them where the fuck New fucking Jersey was? About an hours drive but all the buses stopped two hours ago.

I booked it anyway and went down to arrivals where there were all sorts of reprobates hanging around. One kept following me asking if I wanted to go where he was going. In a fit of peak I told him I was going effing nowhere so eff off! Went to information and pre-booked myself into the Sheraton Newark Airport hotel for another $200. The only other option was fleapit motel Newark $30. No thanks.

I then got into a yellow cab. The booker gave me a piece of paper telling me that it would be $90. This was hellcab. Creaky, dark and no handles to get out. The driver then told me that the prices went up yesterday and that it would actually be $120. At this point I just saw red. I really laid into him and told him that he will regret saying that to mje and that he had made my bad day just so very much worse. So go ahead I said, rip me off, I don't care about anything anymore. I was very stressed. He looked really pissed off and we travelled in terrible silence. The cab felt like it was going to breakdown any minute. For no reason, he turned off the freeway and into the darkest, dankest most desolate industrial wasteland and started slowing down. I really thought that was it. I had visions of me being cut up and put in a dumpster. I thought of my family waking up at home thinking I was landing but in fact I was no where near it and was soon never going to get home. I got out my phone and pretended to make a call. He then went back onto the freeway and carried on to Newark. Bad.

He missed the exit and we went on a 25 minute detour. Newark is a shithole and the hotel was full of weird slimy American pilots. Internal flight crew in America really are odious looking creatures. I had three hours sleep and finally made it onto the plane next morning. I almost cried with relief and especially as everyone was so nice to me.

I don't think I like America very much - I never really have except for bits here and there. There was an unbelievably repulsive and morbidly obese middle-aged couple waddling to the airport bus in Boston. They were complaining about having to walk anywhere and were both carrying identical red baskets on wheels with see-through mesh at the front. Inside each basket were two minute little terriers with red bows on their heads. The contrast was stark - two galumphing, wobbling mesomorphs carrying tiny little shivering dogs that were squeaking and whining in a frail, sad way. Maybe they were frightened of being squashed by their massive, ungainly owners.

the worst day 02/03/05

Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Abbie's pain and condition reached a terrible peak yesterday. It was the worst day ever.(Apart from 2 days ago when I took Abbie out to get some clothes and she collapsed at the checkout in her wheelchair. I had the first surreal moment of panicking thinking 'this is it'. Everyone ignored us. Abbie revived and I took her home as quickly as I could).

Yesterday was so harrowing and exhausting - it was like doing three days in one. For a start, Abbie was so bad with pain that she could barely function. Secondly, her four year old son was too distraught to leave her for nursery. I've never seen anything so emotionally raw and tender in my whole life. All he wanted to do was snuggle up to his mum. At this point, Abbie could barely move or speak but she could hear. He asked her to rub his foot like she did when he was a baby and she did. While she did this he just stroked her face and kept telling her he loved her. He is only 4 years old. She then turned over and he cuddled into her. Truly galling. As Sally (Abbies mum) said - it was like his last goodbye. Heart-achingly, jarringly painful. We both left them alone and sat in the kitchen crying our eyes out and holding each other for support. We rang the doctor and he ordered a whole load of morphine patches. These were like the most incredible miracle cure. Of course, there is no true hope. The only hope left is that Abbie does not suffer any more pain.

The morphine transformed Abbie so much that at lunchtime she summoned a lawyer and asked for her family to be present. She then announced that she didn't want Charlie's natural father to have custody of Charlie once she died. They are divorced. She wanted her sister to be Charlie's legal guardian/custodian. The family were completely stunned. I knew this was coming. I don't think Abbie truly believes this can happen. The only person to lose out will be her son. Hasn't/isn't he going through enough?

I think I can only try to appreciate how awful it must be to have a fairly precise time of death hanging over you every day. You must feel like you have so much to hang on to and tie up. Which is exactly what she is doing. She never particularly liked her ex-husband and always criticises the way he looks after Charlie when he has him. IN saying that, Charlie loves his Dad and likes going to his house. Imagine how he would feel losing his mum and then losing his dad for no reason at the same time? The family were distraught and Abbie was adamant despite the fact that Charlie would have to go into care while all the legality was being sorted out. Don't you just love America? I kept schtum and just listened.....until the day I left. I had been awake here and there in the night going over it all. Much as it is only my opinion, I didn't feel it was right and it seemed to be more that Abbie wanted to punish her ex-husband permanently after her death. This wasn't about Charlie. This was about her and her ex and possibly deep down her frustration and anger that it was her going and not him!! So I told her what I was worried about and she cancelled the custody order much to everyone's collective relief.

So that was a big day. Then the wonderfully brash and outspoken doctor Andy turned up. He told us that Abbie had 4-6 weeks left, possibly less. Crazy that it was, we all practically collapsed again even though we knew that this wasn't new news. I'm glad he didn't beat about the bush and was both startled and grateful for his unashamedly honest delivery. He must have felt the tension pinging around the house when he entered. I know he could feel it. He asked us how we do it and we said said we just 'do'. She has turned down offer of a hospice and a nurse and we are helping her until the end. God, that was the worst day.

You can feel the stages trickling by each day. The morphine makes her so much more able to converse and generally perkier BUT the cruel reminder kicks in when she trys to get up and do something simple like go to the bathroom. It takes one and soon two people to help her sit upright as her condition declines. We then have a bit of balance gathering and up for walking. Another pause. Her balance thanks to the bulk of the tumour has gone. She lists to the left and suffers a lot of dizziness. She is weak and in the last week her left foot is beginning to drag. But you have to keep going and stay focussed for her. Don't get me wrong - we have all had our moments. Often, when we can see the other one carrying her and can see the undignity and seriousness of it all for her it rips you apart inside. This is it. I can't quite believe or accept it although writing this journal is the only way I can express my feelings for the moment.

I didn't cry when I left. I nearly did but I told Abbie I was coming back so I couldn't. I wouldn't cry infront of her anyway. I'm sure that's the last thing she wants. It is bad enough and she has been complaining about all the well intended but appalling letters she has been sent basically talking about her to her as if she is already dead. In fact, we had our own sick joke going - if the phone rang which it did incessantly and she heard it was someone she didn't feel like talking to she would shout out "she died last Thursday!" We joked about sending replies to the multitude of cards and letters back with the short phrase "not dead yet thank you".

As I write, Abbie is in decline but rather manic and repetitive. We are still laughing and I am due to go back soon.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

american journal

more later.....


charlie and cat
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Well? What is there to report? Time loses all track when you are ill or looking after someone who is ill. The day is peppered by phone calls, visits and preparation of drinks, food and anything to make life more bearable for the person who is having to endure their illness and debility.

We whisper alot. It seems the natural thing to do. We are all whispering without even realising we are whispering. Even Abbie whispers because her poor head is so sore.

Sally (Abbie's wonderful Mum) and I went out for a mad midnight walk tonight in the blizzard. It was like The Ice Storm. Everything was tinkling and crackling. When the snow is blowing I swear you can hear it making soft contact with the ground as it falls. The soft brush of flake upon flake.

I opened the window a tiny way tonight so I could go to sleep hearing the snow fall outside.

Abbie has asked me to secretly arrange for her boyfriend Jim (who is almost unconsolable which is a worry) to get freesia's, his favourite flowers delivered to his home every Tuesday for at least the next two years after her death. It is so romantic. I hope he likes it. No one knows - just me and her. It reminds me of a Carson McCullers story.

abbies mum's 'back yard' 26/02

abbies mum's 'back yard'
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Arrived at Abbie's mum's house. Abbie was still at a specialists appointment so I let myself in and made a cup of tea.

Preparing myself for the worst - there is a wheelchair in the living room and straws for drinking. It is a bit bewildering preparing yourself for something you can't really prepare for. The phone is going alot which must be tiring in itself. The saddest things I can see are the little shoes by the fromt door and the children's toys here and there. How does a four year old cope with losing a mother? What do you do when they need her there and she isn't there anymore? The whole thing is beyond heart-breaking. I hate cancer and I hate what it does to people physically and emotionally. It is the most evil, useless thing on earht and I don't know why it is here. Why are things so unexplainable? Would there be nothing left, no challenge in life if everything could be made sense of? It seems a little harsh to me.

26/02/05 bagel place somewhere non-descript

bagel place
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Stopped here for a bagel and grapefruit juice. Even the cream cheese felt like eating liquid fatty ooze.

It really is virtually impossible to eat healthily here.

boston and providence 25/02/05

me and dave
Originally uploaded by rockmother.
Here is a nice picture of me and my friend Dave. Dave was our lodger for years and is like the bestest big brother and best friend all rolled into one. He lives in Providence and picked me up at Boston when I arrived. i got driven very fast in his pride and joy - a Subaru WRX 4WD Impreza thing. It goes fast in a g-force type way. We went out for something to eat at Andino's (Mafia) Restaurant in downtown Providence. It was snowing hard and there it was the only restaurant that was full. It was also the only restaurant with Frank Sinatra being played out onto the cold street and a young Italian looking man in a leather jacket at the door. We went in and there were lots of other Italian looking men at the lovely long bar with a tv at the end playing sport. There was a barman that ignored us and signed boxing photo's behind the counter. Frank Sinatra was still playing. We sat by the window which was perfect as we had the best of both worlds - we were able to look in and out. THE Andino was actually sitting at the bar surrounded by various 'ladies'. He was a small Italian man in a leather jacket and sporting a substantial hairweave ontop.

ONe particular 'lady' had very dry bushy bleach blonde hair, trout lips and a slouch. Not becoming. She had a big arguement on her mobile with I guess her boyfriend (?). She kept asking him if he was out of his mind. Her directness was actually quite impressive. She then told him they were through and promptly hung up and slurped some more of her drink which looked a bit like a JD and coke. Sometime later a suave but dodgy Italian looking man came in - also in a leather jacket and sat down and talked to her. She seemed very pleased to see him and then left. I couldn't help noticing as she walked across the street how she had a real 'street walk', a real 'hustling for punters' gait about her. We went back to our lovely food and fine Chianti Classico. I had Andino's signature sauce - artichoke heart, red peppers, pepperoni and white wine. The pepperoni was a bit much for me but nevertheless was good.

I actually forgot how bad meat can be in America - more often than not a processed pulp is par for the course. Really unpleasant.

We went back and I took to my bed for the night. An airbed, a sheet, a sleeping bag and two blankets to keep me warm...cold...freeeeezing at 4am when I woke up realising that most of the air had actually left the bed and I was lying on a carpet on a concrete floor in minus temperatures.

Got up pretty early to 2ft of beautiful snow. Went to get the hire car and sat in it for half an hour making calls and realised that the Avis map was best put to use lining a waste paper basket. Nevertheless, for someone who is mainly direction dyslexic I managed to negotiate five highways and a few intersections to get to Abbie in Bethlehem.