Liz Bentley doing a dry January and a jigsaw, while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man.

A mattress propped up against a wall

If I’d have known giving up alcohol would have this effect, I would be a different person. I wouldn’t have had so many mental fun times, boyfriends and tales to tell, but who knows what I may have been capable of? It’s early days but re sleep, the first week it didn’t make much difference, but on night 6, I slept through and have been sleeping through mostly ever since. Although last night was shite due to anxiety about stuff.

While I have been so sober, I have got a large way through a re edit of my 60,000 word auto-fiction book entitled ‘Jigsaw’. The book was inspired by writing my 2018 blog ‘From Essex to London in 101 Boyfriends’. I have been working on it since then, during this time I was short listed for the Arvon/Jerwood mentoring scheme and was very fortunate to be accepted via Shape Arts to have my work sent to a reader/editor via The Literary Consultancy.

With the advice from TLC I am editing away. Whatever happens, I will publish ‘Jigsaw’. It will never be perfect, but I have enough feedback from the original blog to suggest people will enjoy reading.

New Years revolutions are;

  1. Go with my gut feelings on everything.
  2. Finish my jigsaw of Europe (I was doing well during the Christmas break but haven’t had a chance to get back into it).
  3. Use less plastic, eat more organic.
  4. Try not to let politics, Brexit and the state of our world affect me too much.

liz with Tesco delivery man and 1000 piece jigsaw of Europe

It is annoying that some things aren’t recyclable. Last year I bought a new mattress from Dreams. The deal I got meant that they would take away my old mattress and recycle it. The man that delivered the mattress came on his own, I was worried he would have trouble to get it up our spiral staircase. I expressed my worry to him and he said it wouldn’t be a problem, he was used to carrying mattresses. This is what he wrote to me in an email later for me to leave feedback on his site.

“Hi Liz, it was really great working with you today even if at first you did doubt I would be able to get it up, I always get it up J.”

The mattress delivery man’s name was Kevin, nothing beginning with J. I thought this was cheeky, rude, but then tried to remember that we were of a certain age when Carry On films were indeed the thing, it was just the J that disturbed me, I’d have been ok without that.

I was most put out that I got a parking ticket in the car park outside Dreams. I didn’t know you couldn’t stay there longer than 2 hours, in Curry’s I was warned about this. It takes a long long time for me to buy things.

Here is a poem I wrote after getting my mattress the one before last.

Ian Part 1

A man came to look at the stains on my mattress today
He’d seen the advertisement in Sainsbury’s East Dulwich
I’d lied originally, said the mattress was new
But after the first caller, who questioned its newness
I inspected the mattress further to find milk stains that would have dribbled from my breasts some years ago
So, I rang the council, and a date was booked for removal
Then, Ian rang

I told him what I was doing with the mattress, but his futon was hard and was giving him back trouble
I thought, if we built up a relationship on the phone, maybe the stains wouldn’t matter
I responded to Ian’s back problems in an older, sister-type way
I was nurturing, but not too maternal
Ian probably wouldn’t want to sleep on his mother’s mattress
But I was wrong

(There is a part 2 two this poem, maybe I’ll blog it next time if appropriate)

Liz Bentley wishes you a happy newish year while waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man

Happy newish year. Fenton was my first Tesco delivery man of 2010. In the photo I am holding my 2020 diary. I always buy a Redstone diary and this year, the theme is ‘Dreams of Europe’. The cover photo is a semi-naked Bridget Bardot sunbathing, on what looks like a Greek nudist beach in the ’70s. I used to hang out on Greek nudist beaches, it’s all so familiar to me, but I am in a dilemma that this years diary, may not be entirely appropriate to have on my table, when clients are booking appointments during therapy sessions.

Liz Bentley with Tesco delivery man and 2020 diary

What’s new this year? I shall miss visits from the Thames Water and Eon man. Smart meters are the thing now, another meaningful exchange I will miss. More isolation.

But, I have started swimming lessons again and I’m going to Peckham Pulse. After my lesson, I sneak into the sauna by the side of the pool. There is always chit chatter in the sauna, it’s sociable and I like the cultural mix of people.

My friend Jolie Goodman has an art exhibition at JAG’s swimming pool, in Dulwich. It’s called ‘Swimming in the slow lane’. Jolie also has MS, and works for Mental Health Foundation, you may know of her work its fab. We’d met before, but our relationship developed since meeting her at East Dulwich swimming pool. Jolie asked me to speak at the launch of her exhibition before Christmas. I was delighted to talk about her art and I wrote and performed this poem.


Liz Bentley-on-Sea


With a hole in my heart I was born in Leigh on Sea

Learnt to swim in the Thames estuary

Great Ormond Street said to my mum and dad

“If she swims, things may not turn out that bad”

I did all the laps I was encouraged to do

And the hole in my heart closed too


With no-one to watch me at galas, I gave up

Switched my attention to boys

Written in my school autograph book, twice

“If all the boys lived over the sea

What a good swimmer Lizzy would be”


I travelled the world and swam in the seas

Moved to London, then the diagnoses

Multiple sclerosis


Just keep moving, reverse it, reverse it

I meditate up and down the ‘middle’ lane

In therapy and creativity

I focus on the body and brain

At home I gave birth in the birthing pool

I pulled out my own placenta, that was cool


As a performer, trying to find a venue for a show

Sweet Entertainment said ‘I’ve got the apex hotel pool’  Oh?

I wrote and performed in Camberwell on Sea, Edinburgh fringe on Sea, Hackney on Sea, in the pools with my boyfriend who wasn’t called Paul but was the lifeguard of these pool shows and we bought a house in Peckham-on-sea, in the Pioneer health centre and we swam around the embryonic sac of a dysfunctional rebound relationship

Then, I did a master’s degree on mind/body psychotherapy, got married to my husband who isn’t called Paul either and the Pioneer pool needed a new roof

So, I took to East Dulwich on sea and one Monday, I reconnected with Jolie

She swims in the slow lane, I am competitive, I swim in the middle lane and I’m having lessons

(I have 4 years to get up to speed to compete in the over 60’s Paralympics, I have a long way to go, my instructor is very positive, who knows?)