Happy Shagging

Shagging Flies

Flies Shagging

Inbetween clients, when the sun is out (and before the leaves from the trees in the park behind me grow and obstruct my vitamin d), I sit in my Peckham patio, watching the nature that surrounds me ….. these flies seem to be happy shagging and were happy with my voyeurism. If you google ‘Shagging Flies’ not much comes up. I love that flies look like they are wearing sun glasses.

In the light of the happy shagging flies and the recent Prince Andrew stuff, I felt it only right and proper to publish my sexual abuse wordsearch. I hope you enjoy (heads up, Prince Andrew doesn’t feature).

Wordsearch

SEXUALABUSESEXUALABUSESEXUALABUSEPOWEABUSESEXUALLOVEWITH

ABUSETRIANGULATIONABUSESEXUALABUSEABUSESEXUAL6SHAMESEXUAL6ABUSEDEATH6LOVESEXUALHATEABUSESEXUALABUSEFATHERSEXUALABUSEMOTHERABUSEBROTHERWATCHEDSISTERSEENABUSESCENEABUSENOTHERDABUSEIMMUNITYSEXUALABUSEsexualabuseUSERABUSEPERSONSAVILLEABUSEROWABUSEOFSEXUALABUSEDARKABUSENIGHTABUSEOFTHESOULABUSEANGELSABUSESOLIDERSABUSESEXUALABUSEMASTURBATINGABUSEFRONTLINEABUSECOCAINESEXUALABUSEDUTYSEXUALABUSETORTUREWORLDSEXUALABUSECOVERABUSEUPSEXUALABUSECOLDABUSENAKEDABUSESTRIPEDABUSERAPEDABUSESEXWORKERSEXUALMINDSEXUALABUSEBODYSEXUALABUSEABUSERFLUTEABUSETEACHERSEXUALABUSEHSEXUALABUSEANDSABUSECHESTSEXUALABUSEGOLDSEXUALABUSEOLDSEXUALABUSEMENBUSSEUXALABUSEBUSINESSABUSEMENBUSABUSEABUSBUSABUSEUSESEXUALABUSEINTRUSIONSEXUALABUSEANGERAGECOURAGESEXUALABUSESURVIVORSEXUALABUSEHEALERSEXUALABUSESLAVEABUSEVICTIMABUSEAWAKENEDABUSERAGEANGERAGECOURAGEFUCKEMFUCKEMFUCKEMTHEYAREDEADWEHAVEWONWEHAVETRUTHWEHAVEGOD

DEADSAVILLEABUSEDONABUSABUSAFUCKINGCHARITYBUS

Liz Bentley delivers a Poem about Nothing

The Curse

What do you say behind my back?

Do you attack?

Because I’m unvacced (is this how you spell it?) like Novak

What do you say when I don’t wear a mask?

Do you shun?

Like a nun (one of those abusive nuns in 1970’s convent schools, not like the one in The Sound of Music who sings Climb Every Mountain so beautifully… Don’t you ever give up, no ohh.. there’s a brighter day on the other side ..)

What do you say when I break a mandate of restriction?

Do you frown?

And dob me in

Your lockdown

My breakdown

What do you say when I question the figures?

Nothing

What do you say when I ask why this is happening?

Nothing

What do you say when I tell you my gut tells me something was very wrong from the start?

Nothing – for a while then –

You tell me your gut tells you that on this occasion it is right

For the greater good

You tell me you are protecting others and our kids are protecting us too

Is my gut not worth listening to?

No

I try another way because, like the Sound of Music Nun, I don’t give up easily

What do you say, when I say we are living together as unique individuals in a totally different reality?

Nothing

What do you say when my mind jumps about, like ADHD and I can’t speak clearly?

Nothing

Am I allowed to have an attention of a different dimension?

No

Can we have this next year without fear?

No

I can live with your fear

I’ve succeeded for nearly two years

Can you live with my fear?

A society of two tiers

Apocalyptic fear

No

From the start you said I was conspiring fear

Isn’t this just an unveiling?

Do I have a right to question?

Do I?

No

And the media says absolutely not

In fact it says I’m a nasty horrible, stupid, nasty horrid selfish bitch …

I punch myself in the head to hurt myself like I did as a child

That’s what I deserve

Get out all this nonsense out from my head

Cause I’m stupid and horrible and a nasty little bitch …….

The cognitive dissonance hurts

Stop questioning

I’m on the verge

Flying over the cuckoo’s nest

Then I see the Nun

Her words save me

I also have a blessed and exorcised medal of St Benedict

Be as evil as you like in the comments below

I’ll blow

My head for each one

Happy now?

There’s a brighter day on the other side

Poppy Day as Totalitarianism creeps in with pre-warning decades ago from The Dame, genius creatives, always ahead of their time

David Bowie tocando en el festival “Rock in Chile”, celebrado en Octubre de 1990 en Santiago de Chile.

“I think we’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying” The Dame, talking decades ago on BBC Newsnight about the Tinternet. (This is how I want to spell it, stop spell check keep changing it!!!)

I think it’s easier if I stick to poetry right now….

Poppy Day

What does silence mean to you?
What does it mean for victims of trauma?
Silence is golden
Sometimes to the point of death
Or watching death

For the last eleven years I’ve been wearing the leather tag
My grandad wore in WW1 trenches
He was saved as the bullet ricocheted off his cigarette tin
I’ll be saved by dreaming
Loving
Growing
Playing

On 11th of 11th at 11 o clock what happened?
Silence – AS
Thousands of care workers coerced or lost their jobs
Clients and patients they have cared for for two years in the pandemic
Already alone, left alone

What did my grandfather fight for?

Silence
As victims remember mental torture
A Silence that
If the therapist leaves too long
Becomes The Rapist

Silence

And in the silence
Victims believe
We’re all in on it
Are we?

Shssss…….

Liz Bentley Delivery Woman and her short-listed poem

They didn’t look quite like this in the 1970’s but the colour is near as damn it

Chocolate Covered Honeycomb

We drive along the Esplanade, sea weed air like rancid cabbage

Seeping through closed windows of the Austin Traveller

My heart sinks. The tide is out. Again

Stoney beach with hard white dog shit hides between sand and shell

Black tar smudges on legs and between toes

The stains will remain till next time

My father the dog and I trek a mile out to the Ray

Deep in the channel of the Thames through thick mud

We arrive at clean river sand. Pre warned

The tide can sneak up behind and cut you off

The dog jumps and splashes in the water

My father sneaks up behind

A quiet cold school Monday “Come on you wimp!”

I entice the man into a murky Estuary. Stripping naked. Nipples hard

“Canvey Island’s over there. The home of Dr Feelgood. Are you feeling good?”

He is feeling good. The tide is high. He jumps and splashes in the waves

We peel off seaweed. Walk back to the beach

Dodging broken glass, needles, condoms

The beach hut is painted baby blue the colour of his eyes

“Come on. Let’s fuck!” I lean over. Hang onto wood slates of the porch

Breathing in and out our smut is over quick

Resting on sea worn stilts of the hut are our clothes

Shame covers me, again

He drives us to Old Leigh-on-Sea

Outside the Crooked Billet we drink Snakebite

The cockle sheds smell like fanny

We buy roll mops and soft white rolls mop up vinegar

“Are these baps as good as mine?” I joke

At the small Leigh beach we sit on wet yellow sand

“This water is full of shit. Thirty years ago the Island flooded

Fifty-nine died. Their ghosts still shitting themselves in the water”

My father helped Island evacuees

Ten years previous in wartime he was abused on a farm

We stop at the ice cream shop. Two chocolate covered honeycombs

One on the counter. One in my bag

His white escort van along the A13 to home

“One honeycomb for you. A souvenir.” I drop on his lap

The van disappears up the cul-de-sac

“What do you want for your tea dad? What do you want for your fucking tea?”

I turn the TV off. The stolen honeycomb lands on his lap

Uncut talons tear the wrapper and cellophane slides down

With purple sticky tongue and a smile he licks off the chocolate

Liz Bentley and David’s Soul

Liz and David Soul
 Liz and David Soul

Here is a picture of me with David Soul at the Happy Days festival in Enniskillen about ten years ago. I imagine in order to do a gig like this these days I’d have to do tests and be doubled vaccinated. Or is that just Southern Eire? I can’t keep up.

I haven’t written for a while because I have felt I have to sensor my thoughts. Why is that? I can’t be honest or funny anymore? I got told off (an attempt to shame) on Facebook for mentioning (not even advertising) a gig about my new character the Hand Job Maiden, apparently, I was being inappropriate to a friend’s friend whose friend had recently tested positive for covid. Thought policing what the friend’s friend would think, me thinks.

I bought a copy of the Big Issue from the seller outside the Cop-op. It’s £3 now, the seller told me he’s been selling it since it was 60p.

“Have you been homeless all that time?” I asked.

“Yes. I couch surf.”

The seller has a twinkle in his eye. I imagine he gets a couch and gives of his soul. I doubt he’ll need to test every night to access his couches.

One of the articles in the Big Issue is written by Eric Berkowitz entitled ‘Thought Policing’. I guess if my thoughts are being policed, I may as well write them down. Eric has written a book ‘Dangerous Ideas’…. “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature: sex is a weak second”…. “The compulsion to silence others is as old as the urge to speak.” I might buy his book.

When programmes such as Little Britain and League of Gentlemen are banned I wonder about the first poetry book I self-published I think, wow, I wouldn’t get away with that anymore, neither would I write some of the things I wrote, but that’s because I am open and learning along the way but I can’t go woke mad. Last night as a family we watched the film ‘Grown Ups’. A comedy comfort from the past. As we laughed we acknowledged much of the humour now may could/would/should offend. But it is fucking funny with a film of guilt or not?

Before literacy we lived as apprentices, learning by experience and told stories from the experienced. Now it’s a battle of words and determined algorithm’s on social and main stream media with often the one voice that prevails. Whose voice is it? Doesn’t seem to matter. Each voice sounds authoritative, lacking authority.

Maybe that’s why I’m struggling to write. What’s the point? Am I better off going out there and speaking about my story? I am fortunate to see my clients face to face where I learn from their stories. I go into the college and observe and listen to their stories. What about mine? What about my experience and authority? Keep the soul going Liz. Meeting and getting pissed with David Soul and his wife was wonderful and fun. Even the mobility car driver at Gatwick had experienced his Soul and couldn’t stop talking about him. David was an alcoholic decades before, despite his therapy, I think he still was back then when we met. I wonder how and what he is doing now. At Happy Days he was reading poetry. Oh Happy Days.

Why is it not okay for me to advertise my gig where I sing a song about the suicidal farmer when in reality there were five suicide attempts in one week at the college? Empathy only for covid. Where has empathy gone? We can’t comment about our lives, unless it’s in the name of staying safe for Covid despite lives ruined and the mental health tsunami only just begun. We smile and say we’re fine, all in the name of Covid and the happy rainbow symbol of the NHS.

Since the great re-opening on 19th July, the message remains – be fearful and empathic to Covid. And only Covid. With a capital letter.

And don’t get me started on long Covid. This is where my authority and experience come in. Yet one ever asks me about my experience. No one ever asks, Liz, how do you manage?

Many of us studying MUS (Medically Unexplained Symptoms) post viral conditions and then PPS (Persistent Physical Symptoms) were pretty much ignored in the NHS in the early 2000’s, why? Because we weren’t drug pushers? Our research proved that listening and understanding was by a long shot the best remedy. I’ll explain simply. When someone you love dies you are bereaved. Most of us deal with the bereavement and carry on with our lives yet some of us get stuck somewhere in the grieving process. This can manifest in depression and/or physical symptoms. Therapy helps to work out why you are stuck in order to move on. The mind and body are one. There is a reason why someone gets long Covid, and that reason, like a complex bereavement, needs time and understanding.  There is always, ALWAYS a reason. But the NHS will push yet more drugs, possibly a booster vaccine, possible CBT (Cock and Ball Torture) to change your thinking as opposed to exploring creatively. Possibly prescriptions of anti-anxiety or anti-depressants (which research has recently proved, see previous blog for links, works the same as placebo but have side effects so what’s the point? Drug pushing more. The NHS got rid of all the primary care therapists in 2006. And the dieticians … stop Liz, you have no editor, try to remain on point).

I wrote my Master’s degree with research from my job in primary care. In those days Doctors and holistic therapists worked as a team inhouse. I have written before, about the education system as fucked like the NHS. If they mandate Covid vaccination what will the next thing be Ritalin? Why are kids now diagnosed ADHD as well as autism? There are no drugs for autism, there are for ADHD. Transhumanism (see file on the government website) perhaps preparation to further repress our kid’s creativity and uniqueness. Arts education cut, more preparation. We all drew and painted when we were little. Chalk on the pavement. Creativity and thinking cut in the system and the shadow side projected into the kid who screams ‘STOP’. I feel like I’m living in a schizophrenic world, like the child screaming. For fucks sake LISTEN. If you can’t question science, it’s not fucking science. I am human.

Education system, NHS system, totalitarian governments worldwide. Their menticide attempting to kill off my mind that jumps about like the waves of fear with periods of calm then more waves of fear with propaganda to promote confusion, and blatant lies. Fear overriding logic. Blah blah, we know all this. We all know about Pavlovs dogs, and the dangers of isolation. We all know about Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. I read on a tweet somewhere. ‘1984 was a warning, not a manual’. The way out offered by dictators involves us turning on ourselves. Divide and conquer. Not that complex. Surprise surprise, said Cilla. She brought people together. I love bringing people together.

“If you haven’t accepted you will die one day, you are a sitting duck for policies which claim to be for your safety.” Harsh words from Laura Dodsworth in ‘A State of Fear.’

“Adults who are racked with death anxiety are not odd birds who have contracted some exotic disease, but men and women whose family and culture have failed to knit the proper protective clothing for them to withstand the icy chill of mortality.” Less harsh and explanatory from Irvin Yalom ‘Staring at the Sun’.

I love staring at the sun and taking in vitamin D. Sun bathing is an art I’ve been practicing for over forty years. I am an authority but no one ever asks me. Practice makes perfect.

What do we really think about mandatory vaccines? Vaccine passports? Is the equivalent of the Berlin wall going up again? There is more than one path in life. What’s wrong with that? People who can’t or don’t want to have the vaccine are not lepers. Or are they now? We are at herd immunity, I heard re herd just today. Aren’t we?

I’ll continue to count suicides while governments act out the film Contagion, with Jude Law as the conspiracy theorist. I have met Jude Law twice. Once at his sister’s party (my husband did some cabinet making for them), and another time in Page Two pub in Nunhead in 2007 where we got pissed and had a lock in and he bought drinks and he was lovely, he was with Edward Woodward’s son, I think.

Here is a short story I wrote for an Instagram Curtis Brown competition. You had to begin with the words ‘The gathering was just as I imagined’. Oh, and I got shortlisted for a poem in the Creative Future competition but I doubt I’ll win because it’s about childhood sexual abuse and people don’t like to know about that sort of thing. Or do they? It’s rife. Prince Andrew is in the news again. The zeitgeist could work in my favour. If I don’t win, I’ll publish it here. The co-director wrote to me and said he thought it was an outstanding piece. How lovely. My thinking is he wrote that because he knows the judges won’t pick it. What a fantasy I have, if I win, I will eat my hat. Cilla would buy a hat, not for Surprise Surprise but for a Blind Date gone right.

The gathering was just as I had imagined. All wore masks and/or visors. All sat socially distanced. All had that ‘you are making me feel unsafe’ glare I have become accustomed to.

“Where is your mask?” the facilitator asks.

“I am exempt.”

“Why are you exempt?”

“Please first let me sit down. I will explain.”

I drag a chair into the circle. All shuffle in their seats hoping I won’t place my chair next to theirs.

“I have a five minutes explanation, a fifty minutes talk and a weekend retreat. For the latter I would need others to join me. This session is fifty minutes and the subject is wellbeing. Perhaps you would like to hear my story?”

“That’s okay.” The facilitator said. “Please just wear your lanyard.”

My childhood and ancestral trauma turn back into a lanyard. Who wants to look within? The gathering was just as I had imagined.

Liz Bentley as the Handjob Maiden Delivery Woman

#Boris #totalitarian

The Handjob Maiden
 Liz Performing the Handjob Maiden’s Tales

Among other things, I am writing the sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This book I am also converting into a screen play where I play the main character ‘Ofrupert’. The one and only Handjob Maiden left on the planet.

The Handjob Maiden’s Tale is set in a totalitarian society in what used to be part of Great Britain where all the original hand maids, Offred’s etc. are post-menopausal and the commanders all now sterile. The only thing that is left for the Handmaid’s to do is practice cats cradle and hand jobs for their commanders. Everything else is futile.

I won’t give anymore away; I imagine you’ve got the gist. At my last Perverse Verse event we enacted the scene published below so I know how well it works. Even I, as the main character was moved.

I am performing the show again at The Lodge Space, a yoga studio in Surrey Quays this Friday. The owners were looking for some light comedy entertainment. I can’t wait. Even though I have insomnia and everything is difficult right now. I can’t wait to perform a whole live show, all on my own. I shall be singing old favourites like ‘The Suicidal Farmer’ and ‘Yogic Internal Cleansing’, only right and proper as performing in a yoga studio. There will be competitions with stunning prizes of some ‘Handmaid Fanny Soap’ and some ‘Who Gives a Crap’ loo roll along with some ‘Hand Job Sanitiser’. After my script below is the Boris Prayer I shall end the show with. Do come on down, you don’t even have to do yoga. https://www.thelodge.space/events Got to rush, rehearsing beckons.

Scene one: The Handjob Maiden’s Tale

Commander:  Joseph Fiennes lookalike preferably with beard

Hand job Maiden: Liz Bentley

(Commander is standing in his bedchamber)

C:               Hand job Maiden!  Hither to.  I’d like my daily handjob

M:              Praise be. You do not want to get near me

C:               Why oh handjob maiden?

M:              (she puts on her virus – a green virus looking top)

I have car owner virus

C:               Oh!  (jumps away, looking fearful)   I see

M:              And I have the long car owner mutant ninja variant

C:               (scratches his beard) Are you tricking me? I know you have a Masters degree in mind/body                                         psychotherapy. You can treat me.

M:              Praise be! If I give you psychotherapy does that mean no handjob for today from me?

C:               Yes. The virus has put me off my stif-fy

THE END

The Boris Prayer

Our father, who aren’t in heaven

Fallowed be thou brow

They face mask come

Brexit has been done

In Europe as it was in Britain

Give us our daily PCR test

And forgive those who lateral flow

As we fill our food banks

And refill those that refilled them

Two meters apart

And lead us not into our GP surgery

Deliver us from zoom

For pharma is the kingdom

The power and the glory

For the foreseeable future

For ever and ever, or until further notice

AMen (woman, trans, they, pan, poly, auto, demi, gay, queer, mono, bicurious , hetro, bi)

A mortal, A immortal, AI, ACDC, ABCDEFGHI and back again to …..A MEN

The Handjob Maiden reading from Solitary Pleasures
 The Handjob Maiden reading from Solitary Pleasures

Liz Bentley Delivery Woman – just keep on going

Two white women read from a book whilst smiling
 Rosie’s ‘The Breakup Monologues’

Rosie Wilby’s book launch ‘The Break-up Monologues’.

Quote: “Statistically speaking lesbians go through more break-ups in a lifetime than anyone else.” And Liz Bentley I’m only 2 per cent lesbian.

My blog ‘From Essex to London in 101 boyfriends’ reveals 101 break-ups. Maybe that’s why Rosie and I have gotten on so well. We have followed a similar path down the relationship roller-coaster and rabbit holes. Her and her partner Suzanne are soon to be married. I married my 101th boyfriend nearly five years ago. We’ve done alright in the end.

I met Rosie at a gig nearly twenty years ago. It was organised by a disability arts group I was involved with. The gig featured Mat Fraser, Rachel Pantechnicon and myself. While Rosie was getting her ticket she was asked if she had a disability i.e. was she entitled to a concessionary ticket?

“Don’t worry, depression counts.” Said the person on the door.

Rosie tells this story on stage. We have experienced many a gig together all over the UK. She got on board, literally, when I took over the Edinburgh Fringe’s only swimming pool venue. We rehearsed in Camberwell swimming pool and she became a dedicated member of my synchronized swimming team which included her investment in a Primark red and white polka dot bikini.

We have performed together questioning sex and relationships on all fronts. Her book ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’ sparked research where no stone was unturned on the sex front.

It was only right that I invited Rosie to perform and read from her new book at my first post lockdown Perverse Verse celebrating International Masturbation Day.

I call Rosie a ‘proper’ writer. I know how hard she works. She is an inspiration. Our lives are very different and whilst working as a psychotherapist it is hard to find the time for my writing.

Last October Rosie agreed to be my writing mentor. We have been working together bi-monthly on framing my blog/book ‘From Essex to London in 101 Boyfriends’ into something that is more ‘proper-like’. Rosie is helping me with grammar, structure and inspiring me to just keep going.

It is working. Slowly but surely. Since we have been working together I have been shortlisted for the Creative Future mentoring competition and long-listed (in the top 90 of over 1000 entries) for the Spread the Word memoir competition.

Always the bridesmaid heh? Perhaps like my 101 Boyfriends. I have to wait. I had to keep on keeping on to find the right man. It’s the same for my writing. Keep on keeping on. Sometimes it’s really hard and I get down about it.

Thanks to Rosie and all who help and read my blogs and comment and like etc. It keeps me going. Thanks also to everyone who supported Perverse Verse last week. What a night!

The Liz Bentley Delivery Woman with Julie Andrews contemplating education

Two white woman smiling and embracing at a masters degree ceremony

Gold lame for Goldsmiths Masters Degree ceremony

This is a drunk me and Julie Andrews on our graduation ceremony at Goldsmiths in 2010, I think. Our Master’s degree in psychodynamic counselling. A course I was already lecturing on with no degree, just two GCSEs in English, music and a CSE in typing.

I left school at sixteen and didn’t do any more education until I was working at Marie Stope Annexe pregnancy and advisory clinic where Julie and I became the last counsellors to be half-funded for our diplomas in counselling. In order to work as counsellors for women who were pre and post-abortion. After us, they ditched the counsellors.

Working at Marie Stopes and training together Julie and I became firm friends. Over fifteen years later it was a delight to find ourselves snuck in on the third year of the Master’s degree course at Goldsmiths. £2000 we paid for a Masters degree. Brilliant. Bargain. And much thanks to our friend and course convenor for this opportunity.

We’d already been lecturing at the University. My idea of lecturing involves just me. No power points or notes or flip charts. Just me with a few books I may show punters. I prefer small groups. Intimate and experiential learning.

In that year I learned that academia was not all it was cracked up to be in my little fantasy. I didn’t enjoy it. The lectures weren’t particularly current and my tutor was the worst. I’d heard she was a tricky one as some of my students who I supervised on placement had had issues with her. When I was allocated this tutor, I omnipotently thought she would be okay with me. I’d win her over with my humour and years of experience as a psychotherapist.

Why did I think I could woo her and we’d get on? Why hadn’t I listened to my volunteer counsellors? Why hadn’t I told the convenor it would be difficult working with this tutor?

I worked my arse off with that bloody thesis and everything I wrote I believed was right to her was wrong. I rewrote to her suggestions only to find it was wrong again and she’d suggest I change it back. I paid extra for her time as I rewrote. Afterwards, I realised how unethical this was. I feared I would fail. I was so eager to please this woman.

My thesis became hers not mine. I rewrote and rewrote. Whilst I passed with 56 marks I was hugely disappointed and to this day I have not revisited the thesis. It was shite. I hated it. In fact, I think it has gone from my documents and I don’t believe I have a hard copy.

Now I wonder what the point of it all was. I wasn’t and never will be an academic. Whilst I learned so much in my research from the GP surgery I worked in, my personal therapy and supervision. I did learn however how a university deals with a tutor/lecturer (not mine) who is found by one of the students to have dementia. A sensitive and sad dilemma for sure.

The best bit about the whole experience was getting pissed at the graduation and wearing my gold lame trousers under the stupid black gown that cost a ridiculous amount to hire. Just like school, the best bits were smoking in the bogs and the end of year disco.

Einstein said: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”.

He’s damn right. I’d ticked a box, but at the end of it who gave a shite? I have never been asked for my certificate. What was the point? To have this wonderful photo of me and my friend Julie with her hand on my boob.

I worked at Goldsmiths for a few years later as a case management supervisor. I had the job with or without the degree.The money was shit but I did enjoy it. For a while.

My son is at Falmouth Uni in his third year of a popular music degree. I support from afar. His loan at the end will be around £50,000. What will his degree mean to him?

My daughter is a year away from her GCSE’s. I try to support her but can only help by listening and getting her help elsewhere. She hates school like I did. She’s more interested in tarot cards, crystals and appropriately hating her mother.

I have a new realisation that I am probably dyslexic. Our family laugh at me as I never get pan o choc right. Is it pan o choc or choc o pan? My brain will not withhold this. Even when I say it correctly three times over I’ll still get it wrong. But who gives a shit? Everyone knows what I mean. I don’t come back from the shop with crumpets. I don’t like choc pans anyway. Or crumpets.

Mental health surges when one struggles in our education system. The hierarchy, the bullying, the lack of self worth, the projection from over worked teachers and scared head teachers who fear losing their positions. The God of Ofsted. And now the restrictions, masks, no communal areas and crazy new exam procedures due to covid measures.

We are all funnelled into it, as Pink Floyd The Wall beautifully elaborates. We are statistics. Some thrive, but the emotional damage of being dumbed down, feeling stupid and not valued because you just can’t tick those boxes has long-lasting damage.

As I watch the changes going on in the further education college I work at it feels like I’m in a sinking ship. I’m too old to see what is on their horizon so I’m jumping off into more creative horizons. Soon to be free of all institutions.

I wonder how that will feel? I wonder whether I will miss it? Will I feel free? I guess not until my kids have left education. Maybe I’ll stay until then. Not lose sight of the reality.

Would I miss the staff I work with? I don’t miss my job in the NHS, I have memories of the lovely staff but I don’t miss them.

“All in all you just another brick in the wall” Pink Floyd.

(nb there were five attempted suicides last week at the sister college I work for)

The Liz Bentley Delivery Woman with Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans

Liz and Chad Varah
 Liz and Chad Varah founder of the Samaritans

This is the first of my new blog ‘The Liz Bentley Delivery Woman’. I’d been wracking my brains with what to do after ‘Liz Bentley waiting for the Tesco Delivery Man’ and then it became obvious. I write about my own experience anyway, so why not just admit that the blog is about me. Me, others in my life and my experiences.

My first blog features me with the late Mr Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans. I believe this photo was taken around 1990. I was a Samaritan for seven years including going into Brixton prison and working as a Samaritan youth project worker. I have newspaper clippings of me with a Mayor of somewhere and with Simon Hughes and the Samaritans but I can’t find them yet. What an inspiration Chad was.

In the photo we are in St. Stephen Wallbrook, the church where the priest and social activist Chad began his help line. A young girl in his parish committed suicide because she had begun her periods and feared she had an STD. That is the story that reminded me a bit of the film Carrie. As a psychotherapist, I know that when someone commits suicide it is far from straightforward, even with an explanatory suicide note. Always a reason for the reason and much beyond.

Chad clearly understood we needed more sex education and a place to talk when a person felt suicidal. He did it. One man setting up something almost too big now to cope with mental health let alone suicide as the NHS strips services so bare I can’t begin or indeed face writing about in this moment (some readers will know I worked in the NHS in Primary Care for twelve years up to 2014).

Chad apparently pulled away from his Samaritan organisation in 2004. He became disillusioned. It was no longer an emergency service, more of an emotional support for callers. We need both and the NHS provides so little. IAPT? What IAPT? Back in the early days of IAPT we were calling it DAPT. Decreasing Access to Psychological Therapies.

In my private practice usually by mid-December enquiries tail off and I get little interest again until around mid-January. This last year enquiries didn’t stop. On New Year’s Eve I had three messages from potential clients asking for help. I had to put a FULL sign up on my BACP directory entry (the only place that have my details). I was struggling to find the time or the energy to help the people contacting me to find alternative help when all my peers were also full-up and organisations I knew locally had and still have to my knowledge long waiting lists. One man I spoke with was told to stop calling the Samaritans because they couldn’t help him anymore. He had money to get help through his work’s EAP but just couldn’t find the right help. In the old days I would have directed him to the 24 hour Maudsely hospital where all would be seen by a specialised mental health team. Not now. Not anymore.

Why was I so interested in the Samaritans to become one of the youngest in 1987?

Is it really because I was at times more suicidal than my callers?

Is it because me and Dave McDonnell decided on a suicide pact age sixteen for when we were twenty-five?

Is it because my parent’s friend’s daughter killed herself but they didn’t talk about it but I knew, it had to be kept secret?

Is it because I came across the Samaritans in Southend when I was age sixteen and had been sexually assaulted in a house in the same street?

Is it because I watched the legendary film Harold and Maude when I was about sixteen?

Is it because my friend’s Dad who was the owner of Southend’s two sex shops took his own life?

Is it because I went to Glastonbury age seventeen and nearly went into the Samaritan tent because I was so unhappy and having a bad trip?

Is it because I nearly jumped out of a hotel room in Switzerland because my boyfriend was chatting up older girls in the hotel bar and I felt so alone?

Is it because I was diagnosed with MS in 1987 and did on some level feel I could relate to callers because I thought my life was pretty much over from the pictures in the tubes and the lack of support re my diagnoses?

Is it because a man on a Noel Edmonds Saturday live show didn’t attach his bungee during a live bungee jump?

Is it because after that I sought out the Dangerous Sports Society who had gone underground and had been banned from doing bungee jumping but I needed to do a bungee jump to know how it might feel?

Is it all of the above and more?

There is always a reason for a reason and a reason behind the reason and a reason underneath the reason, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a life is worth living as the concentration camp victim Maude shows the suicidal teenager Harold in Harold and Maude.

The film ends with the Cat Stevens song ‘If you Want to Sing Out Sing Out’ it is such a great song. Oh how I love that film.

My fave lyrics but they are all special….

‘If you want to be me be me, if you want to be you be you’

So in this new blog I’ll be me. Cause I want to be. I’ve got a photo of my bungee jump. I’ll go and see if I can dig it out for another blog …..

Tesco Delivery Man with his Trainee and a Live Gig

White woman in her 50s with two black Tesco Delivery men

Am I addicted to Tesco Delivery?

I wasn’t going to take any more photos. I was going to move on from this blog but my latest delivery man was a regular and keen to show his trainee the woman in Peckham who writes a blog for Disability Arts Online and takes pictures of delivery men. How could I not take a picture when he was so excited to see me? I could not.

This posed a question.

Am I addicted to Tesco Delivery?

How would I shop without?

I am so used to their app?

I am so used to ringing up their friendly customer services and chatting with staff. Getting refunds for my avocados that are bruised, eggs that are smashed or only five bottles of wine delivered when I ordered six because I’d get 25% off all six (I would never normally buy six bottles of wine but I’m not addicted to wine so I can have bottles of drink sitting around forever if so be it. Like chocolate, I buy green and blacks 85% when they are on offer and I buy packets and packets yet however many I buy I eat the same amount of squares each day. That is between three and six squares.)

I don’t have any addictive behaviour. Not anymore. Not since years and years and years of therapy and understanding the deep deep underlying emotions and reasons behind.

I am saddened by the death of Nikki Grahame a star of Big Brother 2006. I would have watched every episode. I was addicted to Big Brother. Loved it. Nikki was a victim of lockdown on top of anorexia. Lockdown was the last straw. Isolation and no gym’s, an essential for most with anorexia or bulimia. If you can’t exercise in the way you wish you won’t eat. Simple as.

I remember one night in my twenties and eating a proper meal with my boyfriend of the time (no one knew I was bulimic). I didn’t sleep a wink, worried that the meal I had eaten would put weight on me. I thought I was ugly and fat. Early the next morning, before my boyfriend was up, I went to the local pool to swim for an hour. When I got back I felt a little better. This is what it’s like.

Poor Nikki.

I am gagging to get back onto a stage. These days I organise my event Perverse Verse. That gets me back on. The community pub the Ivy House cannot have live entertainment while the Covid regulations just keep on coming and going and coming and going and coming and going and going and coming. I have found a new venue.

AMP Studios is lush and fab and on the Old Kent Road. Poster below. I have the most amazing acts. Check them out. I shall be rocking the long Liz Bentley) psychotherapist by day/comedian by night) mutant variant car owner virus friendly…..

As it is a week before International Masturbation Day we will be celebrating lockdown isolation with solo acts and Rosie talking and reading from her brand new book ‘The Breakup Monologues.’Hand drawn poster with text displaying the acts including Liz Bentley presents Perverse Verse and a drawing of a henry hoover

It’s back, a week before International Masturbation Day…