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. 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 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

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…

Liz, The Tesco Delivery Man and The Grape Reset

Liz, The Tesco Delivery Man and The Grape Reset

The Grape Reset

Nearly twenty years ago, with financial help from the Millennium Awards, I set up weekly writing as therapy workshops for people with MS, ME, any other autoimmune disease, and carers. It was called ‘ManuScript Expression’. We met in a pod at the top of Peckham library. My mantra as the conductor of the group – “Whatever you write is right”.

With that in mind, with nothing to say right now, because I feel silenced. I write away. Whatever comes into my head while listening to my rather large Spotify play list. It’s on shuffle. Let’s see what comes up.

Written in Scars – Jack Savoretti

The last blog I wrote was about my visit to a private dentist. My latest visit to my NHS dentist of 25 years was a very different experience and pre-empted another experience I have yet to process. Trauma. The crux being, the Grape Reset and the psychological change in our behaviour from the lockdowns is doing what it knew it would do. Divide and conquer. Chronic isolation, psychological operations, discrimination. Here is what Klaus Schwab writes in his book COVID 19, THE GREAT RESET. July 2020.

“For many people, traversing the COVID-19 pandemic will be defined as living a personal trauma. The SCARS inflicted may last for years…. Humans are inherent social beings. Companionship and social interactions are a vital component of our humanness. If deprived of them we find our lives turned upside down…..In May 2020, the NHS England’s clinical director for mental health told a parliamentary committee that the “demand for mental healthcare would increase ‘significantly’ once the lockdown ended and would see people needing treatment for years to come.’ ”

The SCARS Jack Savoretti sings about are ones of revolution. We will see, as our NHS are offered a 1% pay rise.

That same night I had my recurring dream of my teeth falling out. I’d been to two dentists after all. No surprise, yet I do believe it is about loss, change – and aging. Or perhaps, I didn’t manage to say exactly what I wanted to. Feeling silenced. It will come out with each song. That’s what music does.

Laughing Gnome David Bowie

“I’m a Laughing Gnome and you can’t catch me.”

I am laughing with our dead Dame. I love gnomes. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. I loved that video of David and his gnomes laughing.

A pause for a cuppa.

I wanna Destroy You – The Soft Boys

“They tell you your opinions and their very good indeed

I Wanna Destroy You”

What next, anger perhaps? Better get that out, if repressed it will give me physical symptoms. The music is more interesting than my writing.

Fat White Family- The Whitest Boy on the Beach

Can you say that? The Fat White Family can say that. They can say what they like. Made in Peckham. I stay silenced. A mask would shut me up further – if I wore one. Do I tell all or no one? No one asks. If I speak, I am judged. Everything is judged. Fear makes more judgement. I don’t judge. I don’t fear. Anything, not death. For sure. I have planned my funeral.

She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult 

“The Fire in Your eyes keeps me alive”

The CULT. The Corona Cult.

Despite having planned my funeral, many years ago, I remain alive. I thought I’d die before my 25thbirthday. A suicide pact with a school friend I snogged one New Year Eve at the Traveller’s Joy in Rayleigh, Essex. My home town of course.

“And the world turns upside down, the world drags me down

Sure the hell you’ll find, sanctuary”

Each Sunday evening, one of our neighbour’s cooks. He is a chef who lost his job during lockdown. It is so exciting to get home cooked food that’s been lovingly prepared and cooked for our community by a talented professional.

One of these things First – Nick Drake 

I could have been, blah blah, a cook? No, not me never. I’m not that bothered about cooking. Only once in a while. I could have been all sorts, had I got my GCSE’s I could have gone to 6thform and done theatre studies. Then maybe drama college. I could have taken too much smack or crack. I could have gone to the dogs. I got a dog. I could have been a spinster. I could have been a drunk. I was a punk. I could have been a lettuce. I am a nut job. The nut that does the job of sewing a seed. Instigating thought and talk. Curiosity. Nick Drake died young. I wonder if he had his funeral planned. My funeral dress is leather. It won’t need ironing. I’m still unsure whether I want a cremation or burial. Can you do half and half?

Relax – Frankie goes to Hollywood 

And breathe. Relax. Not that sort of heavy breathing. Not like a masturbater ringing the Samaritans.

A song all about shagging. Coming. This song was censored. Banned. Loving these old tunes. Laser beam themes. I find it interesting in the series Animal Kingdom after they have sex they just get up and I wonder where the sperm goes. Where does the sperm go? Condoms? Yes? No? It’s not just in Animal Kingdom. It’s everywhere. TV rarely deals with such bodily fluids.

Back to Nick Drake, I’ll leave it here – When the Day is Done

“When the game’s been fought 

Newspaper blown across the court”

What a line, newspaper blown across the court. I wish I’d written it. We will see. Shuffle on Spotify has decided I want to hear more Nick Drake. The Grape –  Reset.

Covid 19 The Great Reset – another Klaus quote quoting someone fomr before July – “As one restauranteur put it, ‘I, like hundreds of chefs across the city and thousands around the country, am now staring down at the question of what our restaurants, our careers, our lives, might look like if we can even get them back’”.

It’s time. I shall go collect our lovely meal from our neighbour. I know how lucky I am. Tonight. The game’s not been fought yet.

Dentistry, bulimia and Nanny State Beer brought to Liz by her infamous Tesco Delivery Man

Liz with Nanny State Beer and Tesco Delivery Man

Liz, Nanny State Beer and Tesco Delivery Man

For twenty-five years I have seen the same dentist in Surrey Quays. I love my dentist. When I first started going her nurse was Jade Goody. Poor Jade. I am proud to remember on such visits to the dentist Jade had her fingers down my throat. This was of course before the sad tale of her taumatic childhood became public and she became a victim again.

At one point, my dentist left Surrey Quays to open a private surgery. A few years later she returned to work two days a week at Surrey Quays. She said she missed her NHS patients. Her private patients were demanding, she said.

My lovely dentist has taken my MS very seriously. She has seen me on one crutch, two crutches and skipping into the surgery. She is interested in my story. She understands I have periodontal damage from when I was bulimic in my twenties. She has given me white fillings on the NHS because she understands that mercury may not bode well with my condition.

This week I needed to go the dentist. Pronto. I couldn’t wait for the nearly three weeks appointment to see my lovely dentist. I couldn’t work or function normally. Fortunately, I was able to afford to go to a private dentist. Not something I wanted to spend my hard-earned cash on, but it was an emergency.

I took a taxi into the West End. I enjoyed the trip. Over Waterloo Bridge I looked into the shops, wondering how all the furloughed staff may be feeling about lockdowns. Wondering which of these businesses would survive the closures. London felt as dead as my tooth, yet as painful as the nerve underneath it.

My private dentist was delightful. Expensive, but delightful. She sorted me out so I didn’t care of the cost. Once home and the numbness of the injection had worn off, I felt in control again. But in control of what? I still have plenty of dental work to be do, and shall keep the appointment at Surrey Quays. My dentist will understand how I had to be unfaithful, even if it does sadden her a little.

During this last visit the private dentist asked about my gum damage. I talked freely of the story of when and why I was bulimic. When I was in my 20’s I was ashamed, this story didn’t come out at all, in fact I sought private dentistry then just so it wouldn’t be on any NHS records. These periodontal problems were hi lighted when I was in Berlin, the Christmas just after I was diagnosed with MS in 1987.

What a shite Christmas that was. One emergency German dentist butchered me and ripped me off, the other told me I needed periodontal work on my gums when I got back to London. The irony, that soon after I got a job through an agent as a receptionist for the Periodontal clinic at the dental hospital of UCH. I got to learn a lot about this matter. I remember Dr Leg from Eastenders coming into to the clinic regularly. I wondered if he had bulimia too. I wondered why he wasn’t going private? Surely as an actor he’d have lots of money? What a lot I had to learn.

If we face our past traumas, they do become less painful but they never disappear. Anything can trigger a memory, a flash back. My private dentist reminded me of this. She could see the scarring, like a brain scan can see damage to my myelin sheath. All trauma based.

This weekend I drove my fifteen-year-old daughter to the park to meet with the same friends as per my previous blog about the altercation with the insecurity man (scroll down to read, I’m pleased with that one and the story has been picked up by a publisher and will be in a book of short Covid stories in the spring, will let you know). Because my daughter’s headphones had been borrowed by her step sister, in order to listen to her music, she had to plug her phone into the car system and allow me to listen.

What an eyeopener. I loved so much of the music she played. Penelope Scott was one of my favourites. My daughter seemed to enjoy me enjoying her music and I wished our journey was a longer one. I knew when she got her headphones back she wouldn’t allow me to listen in again.

One of the songs she played had a reference to bulimia.

“I had bulimia,” I said.

“Did you?” she said. “I didn’t know that.”

In that moment I felt that sense of connection I haven’t experienced since she started her periods. It was like I’d become a cool parent. One that could perhaps understand how hard life is for her and has been during these lockdowns.

“Everybody knows everything about everybody and what they don’t know they make up.” A saying from my ex Scottish boyfriend who is now dead.

What do we really know about anything or anybody until we spend time, proper TIME with someone? Proper, proper time.

I am so aware of how judgmental we have become. We really can’t claim to know. We can control nothing. We can radically accept that we have nothing to control. There is no message in this. What is truth? What can I trust? Who can I trust? Yet for me the most important question.

What are you trusting someone with?

Our responses are all unique and come from way before the womb. As individuals, our teeth give a lot away.

On second thoughts, there is a message. If you are experiencing any dental or gum pain, don’t wait. Get an appointment with your dentist. Even if the pain goes away and you cancel. There are many waiting lists for cancellations who are desperate.

Tesco Delivery Man, a cold Liz and #COVID word search with cognitive dissonance

White woman stadning with a parker jacket with hood wrapped around her face in front of a black Tesco delivery man with a face mask

Cold Covid and Tesco Delivery Man






A five pack of bagels which actually contains six


Dry January, Tesco Delivery Man and coping in the New World Order

White woman in her 50s holding non alcoholic wine brought by a black Tesco Delivery Man

No alcohol in this one – dry January again

My thoughts are with everyone struggling with Covid (my paramedic niece has it right now) or any virus or anything, or anything, or any virus or Covid and/or anyone still recovering from the last lockdown, mentally physically. Anyone dealing with re-traumatisation, bereavement, anxiety, depression, insomnia, anger, frustration. Anyone struggling with eating disorders, binging, alcohol consumption, loneliness, broken hearts, financial worries, unemployment, homelessness and more and more. And, suicidal feelings. That’s everyone?

Happy New World Order! That’s how it feels now. Whatever that means.

When not feeling like one of the above, I have heard some say they have begun to experience something they call ‘boredom’.  Can this be framed as a kind of ‘de-pression’? A state where you just can’t think of what to do. Is this a good state to be in? How can you be bored when there is so much going on in our world? Is it better to experience depression and acknowledge it? Wonder what the reason is? Or is it better to remain cautious, fearful, or terrified? Do we fight like it is described when we fight cancer and battle with dis-ease? War on terror. War on the virus. Or should we accept, and live with the anxiety that death could be imminent? Or a long way away but in a prison. Whichever, it is again, like last lockdown, time out, to look at our shit. Look within. That’s all we have. It’s painful. Confusing. Yet our individual stories are very real. Spiritual even.

Our new world. How could it be? How will we behave with each other? How will we be allowed to behave, be with each other? At the moment, there is no let up. What will happen if we are let out? Or we go out? Unmasked. As ourselves.

‘I promise that I will do my best

To do my duty to God

To serve the Queen and help the people

And to keep. The Brownie Guide Law’

The Brownie Guide Law, ingrained in my mind from the age of eight. Serve the Queen and country (check out the history of one of the psychologists of SAGE advising Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson. Her name is Susan Michie, she is a behavioural experimental psychologist, forty years in the communist party), while everything but everything is taken away. Everything. Apart from the sun. Yet that was nearly denied me on Saturday. Here is my real, short story.

I was driving my daughter and I to the park. To meet a friend and her daughter. When I go out, I wrap up warm and sit on a bench in the sun to get natural vitamin D. I have a stick seat, so when the bench isn’t free (which is a lot of the time these days) I can still sit.

On Saturday, I arrived at the entrance of my local park, to find (although I could see plenty of cars parked up as normal) the entrance was blocked and guarded by a security man. Fortunately, and only just, I found a space to park in the road opposite (this road was later blocked too). My daughter walked off to find her friend and I approached the security man.

I asked him what was happening. My fear, this would be a permanent closure because of lockdown, making the park inaccessible to me. The man told me the park had been booked by a film company. I could not drive in. At this point my friend arrived. No hugging, of course, we are good Brownie guides, and, anyway, I was in mid-conversation with the security man.

I told him I had a blue badge and wondered if he would let me in to park in the car park as my walking is limited. It is a long way to get to the actual park bit. The man got cross with me. He ranted, and repeated that the company had booked the park etc. I sat on my stick seat, now feeling vulnerable and upset.

I’d had a really difficult week, like most of us, like him. I’d been looking forward to this all week. It was such a sunny afternoon. The stress went straight to my legs, as it always does. They fizz up, and the numbness that is normal to me just gets worse. My legs weaken, and sometimes I collapse.  It is a sign, a psychosomatic manifestation of when something extremely unpleasant is happening. The man then said, with my friend to witness.

“I’ve seen people with blue badges who come and park here and do personal training.”

At that point I lost the plot. I cried. Hysterically. My friend could not hug me but she had a flask of herbal tea with honey that she gave me. She sat on the pavement, acknowledging the abuse I had just experienced. I told her how difficult my week had been and how this really was the last blow.

The security man returned. He apologised, profusely, three times. He realised what he had done. I talked with him about my condition. I told him what I had been doing all week. My work in mental health. He told me he had been on this job just a few days and that he was getting abuse from all over. I explained how the abuse he had experienced he had projected onto me. He told me he had now spoken with ‘the boss’ and he would let me in, providing he took a photo of my car.

After I parked in the park, I asked another security man what they were filming.

“An advertisement for Halifax Building Society,” he said.

In the park I bumped into another friend. Don’t incriminate me for that. We didn’t actually bump into each other. It’s a turn of phrase. I cannot believe what I am writing, I really can’t. If police had seen me, I may have been fined. Talking with two people. I really cannot believe I am writing this. Anyway, this friend works in advertising, where redundancies have been soaring since March. He needs to stay strong. He cannot have a day off sick or admit to anxiety. He will be deemed not to be strong, and then high on the list for the next redundancies. He needs the job. Darwinian.

What is happening to our human race?

Be kind. Be human. Be alert, but not to the virus, to human suffering. Morality. Blue Monday is coming soon.

In Sylvia Plath’s words:

You ask me why I spend my life writing?

Do I find entertainment?

Is it worthwhile?

Above all, does it pay?

If not, then, is there a reason?

I write only because

There is a voice within me

That will not be still