LA by Night: The Informers Review

Bret Easton Eliis book covers

I have read lots of Bret Easton Ellis and enjoyed him. I know what to expect from his detached writing style, his nihilistic characters, his familiar yet alien settings. The Informers is not surprising in any way. The sex and violence are just the little flourishing kiss marks you would expect Ellis to sign off with.

There were elements though of this book that made me feel very tired. The complete lack of hope for one, coursing through most of the stories. The tale of jaded rock star, Bryan Metro particularly. You’ll be horrified by his actions, though not surprised and that’s how the book tends to make you feel. Like you should feel more, that your reactions to the horror unfolding before your eyes should be stronger. But they’re not.theinformers

Set in the eighties, if you were a child growing up in this era like I was, you will love all the references to times gone by. You’ll look upon the lost (and found again) fashions with fondness. You won’t like anybody. You’ll be ready for rehab by the second story and like me, you’ll flip each page and be surprised your fingers don’t come away coated in coke.

It’s a bloody good read but it isn’t for the fainthearted. There’s a story in there about an unspeakably bad act committed to a child which almost halted proceedings for me. Then I remembered that scene in American Psycho and it doesn’t even compare (rats, prostitutes, standard).

The next book I’m going to read is about love. Suffering and sacrifice, sure – but no drugs.

Incidentally, Lunar Park has been my favourite BEE so far. Check it out if you’re after something that will mess with your mind and leave you in pieces behind the sofa!

On Bees and Efs

A decade ago this would have been a picture of Carrie & co

A decade ago this would have been a picture of Carrie & co

Prompt via The Daily Post (25th July 2014)

Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

This is almost a little too close to home as a topic but fuck it, I say. Why not tackle it anyway?

It’s actually a question I think about a lot and the answer is, I just don’t know. I think not. I mean, do I favour one of my friends over another? Not really. I get different things from different people and they are so different, you can’t really choose. It’s like having to make a choice between poppadums or chocolate and that’s just impossible and cray.

I do have special people who make me feel whole, of course I do but being someone’s one and only Best Friend has felt cloying and insincere in the past. Moreover, I’ve felt like a possession.

I had a Best Friend once. For many years it was all about one girl.

I’m not talking about my high school Best Friend (whom I loved and am still in touch with). I’m talking live together, rites of passage; would have walked on broken glass for Best Friend. She was The One and we went through everything arm in arm.

Leaving our small hometown for the bright lights of the city, broken hearts (hers and mine), jobs, boys, girls, mouldy bathrooms, gay clubs, that time I got hit round the head by a drag queen – we did it all. I moved away, came back, left the country, one of her girlfriends snogged Amy Winehouse – we had our adventures apart, sure but always found our way back together.

Things changed.

I’m not going to use this post to get all vitriolic. Frankly, I did all that long ago. I mourned the end of our friendship more than I have mourned any relationship break up. I loved her, I really did. But people aren’t always the people you think they are, or you change and they don’t.

Oh go on then!

Oh go on then!

Sometimes they’re the ones who change. I can only accept that our time had run out and it was no longer healthy. My Best Friend let me down so spectacularly when I needed her most that I knew for sure that all the love for me she had ever spoken of was a lie. Maybe not a lie but in the end, what does it even matter?

For me the whole experience of being somebody’s Best Friend was to be wheeled out to suit the occasion and encouraged to perform comedy routines. To be possessed like an object. To be told who not to speak to according to how she perceived she’d been wronged. It gets hard to watch someone you love hurt other people you love; harder when the cycle just keeps repeating itself.

But I’m sure her breaking up with me story pushes all the blame my way.

There are too many fantastic stories about her, I don’t know if I could choose. I miss her still, sometimes, when certain things happen. She’s happy now though and god, so am I, so there you go.

I will never go back.

As for how I feel about BFFs now, I’m lucky enough to consider the handful of people I know are there for me come what way, all my Best Friends.

My Person, David. Beautiful Panda. Mix, who inspires me creatively whenever I see her. Ms. Lightle. Lovely hilariously blunt Lauren. Blogging Bestie Ems. My work husband, DBo.

Baby Dee. B.

I’m very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life and I love every one of them.

As for ultimate favourite friend of all time, maybe it is sad that I have loved and lost in this respect but I think all it tells me is that I need to be my own Bestie.

I’m my OBF.

In The Summertime

Red Poppy Photos by Stacy Thiot

“Excuse me, Sir, you’ve got something on your face”

(Look, Ma, not prompt!)

How do you write a post about hot men in the Summer without objectifying them? The answer is, you can’t!

I’m not going to defend my actions per se but before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I am not advocating cat calling fitties in the street, even if a certain type of man have been doing it to us since the dawn of time.

clover-flowers-beard_thumb

Roll me over in the Clover – LOL

This post is to be the antidote to a week of quite deep ponderings. I’ve thought a lot about my family, adolescence and lots of other things besides and I’m tired. I want to think about fluff for a moment. Chin fluff, specifically.

Yes. This is another beard appreciation post, thinly veiled as a post about Summertime perving. What of it? Look, it’s my blog.

So, at lunch the girls and I go the park to soak up the rays and hula hoop. It just so happens that they are doing major road works on the trajectory we have to meander across to reach our destination. Right now it seems fit to bursting with young(ish), nut-brown from the sun, filthy men.

*Hold me*

Now, I can’t say any of them are beardy enough to fill my fantasy quota but there is just something so inherently exciting about fit, lithe men lifting heavy things in the heat. It puts me in mind of a friend that Mr Bee has who sometimes comes over to help with DIY, such as plumbing in a washing machine. There’s something primal about a man who can make and do things with his hands.

Sorry, but it’s hot. You know, purely from a fantasy point of view. Anyway, let’s just say lunch isn’t just about light exercise and gossip, knowwhatimsayin’?

Personally, I am a fan of the pretty bearded variety of hottie but you know that already. That species is everywhere in Brighton and no longer a rare sight. Call me shallow but it’s still spectacular. *Sigh*

Beards on bicycles, beards in vests, beards in the park playing ball – I just want to look at all the beards. That’s all.

So, guys and girls, what’s your favourite Summertime perk?

Also, did someone say “How about a Top Ten All Time Favourite Beards post, Christa?” On it!

Adult Visions

Prompt via The Daily Post (23rd July 2014)

As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?little girl shoes

I always thought that when I finally became an adult, I would feel like one. That hasn’t happened yet.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t own my own house or have a ‘proper’ job. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children or a car. I don’t know. All I know is that it hasn’t hit me yet.

When I was a kid I don’t know what I expected from life. I was a live in the moment girl (I think). I loved music and dressing up but I didn’t dream of white weddings and horses like many of my peers. I suppose I assumed it would just happen and I would do all the things people were ‘supposed’ to do when the time came.

I have done some of it but most of my decisions in life have not been very sensible. I guess I equate adulthood with being sensible then. Although, I’m casting my mind back and growing up the only adults I really spent time around were my Mum and her cousin, Aunty Sine.

Both these women were my ultimate heroes, even though Mum was terribly uncool at times (guys she’s my Mum, of course she was!). I think I looked to them as such because neither of them needed a man to get through. Their situations were very different but they seemed so Can Do and found strength in each other. I think maybe I found strength in their strength (plus apart from them, I was surrounded by smelly boys and Star Wars toys, so had little choice).

Later on, I did turn to men for the things I thought I needed – but give a girl a break, at least I learnt eventually that’s just a crock of sh*t. Ultimately, the only hero you need to save you, is you. *VOM!*

Despite these two ladies dragging us up by the scruffs of our necks, all by themselves, I wouldn’t describe them as particularly sensible. I remember the bottles of wine once we were in bed, guys… Maybe then, being grown up is about strength; about just getting on and doing life the best way you know how?

I’ve had some cray jobs (dating agency, adult material mail order, turkey plucking), went travelling instead of going to University, fell in love with stupid boys (who hasn’t?). I’ve lived alone (for a bit) in a strange foreign city, accepted a free tattoo from a man who lives in a hut in Thailand; all of these things make up the fabric of my rites of passage and the end result is: I’m still just a kid at heart. Sensible? No, not really, but strong? Better believe it!

The most grown up things about me, to date, are: 1) I always pay my bills on time 2) I’ve committed myself for life to another human being and 3) I’ve filed my own tax returns (in 2010 and 2011).

So, to recap: how far off was my idea of adulthood? Pretty far, I guess.

I though 30 was ancient and I assumed I would have kids because Mum did and so did Sine. I don’t think I actually pictured the man I would end up with (and I like to think that’s because then, I didn’t even want one).

I thought I’d have a better job, maybe something creative like fashion designer or an artist, like Dad (shame I can’t draw for fudge). Beyond that, I don’t think I had the normal expectations. I knew I’d see the world, make friends, be happy.

Guess really, I’m not such a bad non-adult adult after all, huh?

Gramps

Definitely not my grandfather

Definitely not my grandfather

Write About A Grandparent (via Writing Exercises)

You know that old adage, “He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard”? (To paraphrase the original quote by Frankin D. Roosevelt, made in reference to his Secretary of State).

That’s Gramps.

Bastard is a little strong but I’m being kind when I say he is a difficult man. It’s not like he’s pure evil or anything like that, it’s just he’s so… Gramps.

Growing up there was no closeness. In fact, I found out quite recently that when we moved to England from Canada, my mother was given strict instructions to only bring us grandkids over once a week on a Sunday, for no longer that 20 minutes at a time. Charming, eh? Considering we were so bloody adorable!

This sort of sums up the rest of our relationship with the old timer, though I have some funny memories. When you get to a certain point in life, even the tragic things start to become amusing.

I’m going to say here that these are my thoughts on my grandfather. I could wax lyrical about the ways in which he has hurt his children and how I will always hate him a little bit for that, but that’s not what this post is about, not now.

Gramps is 97. A year or so ago he was finally confused enough to be moved into a care home. He now resides in the care home where I held my first job, aged 13. My old boss, who sacked me for letting another carer pierce my ear at the end of a shift, is still there. Thankfully, she doesn’t recognise me.

She refers to Mum as “Child”.

Gramps loves it. As a young man living and working in India back in the day, he had a household staff and, as he delights in telling anyone he can pin down for long enough, he didn’t even need to dress himself then. He would have two servants to dress him and another to press a glass of whiskey on the rocks into his hand.

*Rolls eyes*

As my brother and I reached work age and became more independent, it became apparent that our grandfather (Cyril) had no interest in what a girl could do. While Nana secretly cheered me on from the sidelines (more that I realised at the time), Gramps assumed I’d marry and it wouldn’t matter much what I did anyway. Tim was the Golden Boy with the Bright Future Ahead.

As a former bank manager, Cyril is delighted Tim ended up in Futures. My brother, and our cousin, Ricky are the favourites. They earn money y’all and are men. Sadly, my Grandfather measures success in monetary terms while my family; Mum, Tim and I measure it in experience, love; richness.

Surprisingly, I once had a job working for a purveyor of filth in my hometown. We sold adult material basically and my mother was horrified. Wishing to shock him, I told Gramps what I did (it was an admin role, relax!) and he was actually supportive. He even went away and researched the company, coming back to say that he was impressed with their profit margins (or something).

My happiest memory is of my grandfather taking us for long walks after Christmas lunch every year. Each of us four grandchildren were allowed to choose a walking stick and take it with us. All these beautiful walking sticks, with carved heads like ducks and stags. I loved that the best about Christmas, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone.

When I brought my husband around for the first time to meet Gramps, he walked straight past him and barely mumbled hello. He never explained his behaviour to me but later he told Mum it was because he didn’t like us and we lived in sin.

Who says that about their granddaughter? (We’re not a religious family at all).

Still, Gramps liked my demon ex and I think this an important thing to note. He liked him because he has ‘a strong handshake’. Fabulous judge of character, Grampy, well done.

Over the years I have lost touch with my grandfather, through living away from the UK or just not bothering to see him. I’ve seen him a few times in the home and he barely knows who I am. I can safely say that I have never felt any love emanating from him, for myself or anybody else.

But he’s my grandfather and I love him. I don’t care if he can’t love me back. I’m a better person than he is, so are we all.

This post is actually quite emotional to write now that I’ve started, it was supposed to be more tongue in cheek. I’ve talked myself into feeling bad for him; that he’ll never know the utter joy we could have brought to his life. That when he’s gone we will say things like “He was our bastard though” and we’ll get on with our lives. I will watch my mother be very sad but she will be the only one, I think.

That’s not a successful life, Gramps. Sorry old boy.

Things Are Going To Get Easier (Then Harder), Then Easier Again

Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen (via my trusty Writing Exercises)tumblr_n74xzvbK091r7621zo1_500

Dear Christa,

Honestly, this is a hard note to write given that I know how sensitive you are. You’re still sensitive by the way and you cry a lot; happy, sad, angry (especially angry), you have excellently functioning tear ducts. Well done.

Where to start on this very important document though? First of all, let’s get the obvious one out the way: you aren’t even that fat. Over the next two decades, you will wonder what the hell you were even worried about. Right now, aged sixteen, you look pretty great.

When you get to my age you will have more confidence with less to be confident about. Which, when you consider it, is almost as good as having a flat stomach. When you get here you’ll understand.

I realise as I type away at this, that at my core I’m not that different to you. A little bit less insecure yes but still prone to moments of crippling self-doubt. And I still haven’t the first idea what the f**k I’m going to do with my life.

The only difference now is that I know that’s okay. That living a full and happy life is as important as setting the world on fire, although there is still time. There really is still time.

Keep writing though. Write often, write honestly – basically don’t just talk about it willy nilly; do it, okay?

36 year old you is still as hopeful as you are; still deeply faithful to the theory that everything is going to be okay in the end. Still a romantic twat, even after three years of marriage and over six tripping on shoes left in the kitchen (in front of the sink!). Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah… you get married.

I’ll give you a moment to process that. In fact, let’s just talk boys for a second.

Boys are great, as are the men they grow into. They are fun and funny and you’re not sure about them now but you will find this out for yourself. Some of your favourite friends will be and are, boys. At the moment, you are probably doing one of two things as you read this, or both: a) turning up your nose snottily as if to say ‘ew’ and b) thinking about boys again, for you think of them often.

In fact, it’s impossible for you to talk to one without forming a crush and then fantasising about them, like, all the time. You aren’t even particularly sexual by now so those daydreams are pretty tame.

I can’t remember if you’ve even seen a penis yet, let alone touched one. I think you might still be petrified of the idea of them (they’re not that bad).

You should be experimenting by the way, so I’m not going to lecture you on that. Enjoy the ride, for god’s sake. Actually, I’m not going to talk you out of doing any of the things you will do, except maybe one big one. The choices you make will make you into me. Plus, you’ll have stories for later. My friend told me I have the best dating stories the other night, and it made me proud.

So, carry on. Do everything exactly as you choose.

Do me one favour though. When, aged 24, you get your heart obliterated by a bad man (worth it) and you hit rock bottom with a thud, DO NOT accept the offer of dinner with the first person who asks you. This will not be a good scene and it will last six long years that you will never get back. Trust me on that. (You don’t even get dinner).

Although, didn’t I just say all these things will turn you into me? Maybe scrub the above paragraph. But take less shit and remember, when he says you need help, that you are crazy; he’s projecting.

So yeah. You’re a wife and it’s awesome and not at all as you would imagine. You’re not a mother. I don’t think you have any desire to be but just so you know, I’ve decided not to do that. You have a step son though, he’s nine.

You fancy your husband a lot and you like beards now.

There it is, kid. A recap, if you will: write lots, experiment a lot, penises are actually pretty okay, collect stories for later use and don’t let shitty relationship keep you down for long. Oh yeah, and travel, as much as you can afford to and as often as you can. You’re going to love Thailand.

You’re going to be okay, you know?

Peace out,

Christa xoxo

Ps. Your friends trick you into wearing shorts to school round about now. Don’t fall for it, it rains that day and they all bail on you.

Old Girl

021814_iris-quote2

What does getting old mean to you? (via Writing Exercises).

I feel old often. I am 36.

Sometimes I refer to myself as “Almost 40″ and I get told off for that and rightly so because that’s just wishing life away in a negative fashion. But I do, I feel exhausted sometimes from the effort of it all. Do all people feel that way sometimes?

When it’s hot like it is this Summer and oppressive outside, I start thinking I am too old for all this, can’t I just go to bed for a week? Maybe it is just the heat but maybe I am also going through a transition; no longer young and not yet old.

I’m surrounded by young people. In the pub, at work and although there is no bridge between us, no gaping void between my age and theirs, I look at them and I feel different. I’m not bitter or jealous, if I was told I could go back to 20, I would say no thank you very much.

I’ve done my time there on the precipice of adulthood. If anything, I embrace the fact that I know myself finally. I know my limitations, my likes and dislikes. Myself.

Getting old is not a bad thing, despite my grumbling (and for the most part I am joking). When I really think about it I am at peace with the idea. My thirties have been my greatest yet, the ‘This is me, suck it up’ period. Sure, I could always be more assertive, less diplomatic, more honest; but it is within this decade that I ‘grew a pair’.

I found freedom. I found, and finally understood, real love and I stopped letting people walk all over me.

I broke the Broken Bird cycle, in which I collected damaged souls one by one and wondered why, in the end, all I got for my troubles was heartache. The strength to change these things came from experience and from learning my lessons.

It came from getting older. So imagine how wise I will be in my forties, fifties – seventies. (I shall take that nap throughout my sixties).

Growing old to me means relaxing, no longer having to be judged on the things that in the end won’t matter. I will be so set in my ways by then that nobody will dare to change me. I’ll be sure of who I am, comfortable in my skin (hopefully) – gloriously, spectacularly eccentric with no fear.

And I’m going to wear a lot of high fashion pieces, like Iris Apfel.

 

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