I Used To Love Him: Michael Jackson (AKA Teenage Idol)

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“Hey spider, you’ve got a Michael Jackson stuck to your butt…”

Who did you idolise as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end? Via The Daily Post (January 11th 2016)

Justin Bieber? How young do you think I am?! (*Fluffs hair*).

It’s been quite a pressured week, so I’m taking time out to do a blog prompt because sometimes I like to seek inspiration rather than think for myself, alright? So sue me.

Obviously this week we very suddenly and shockingly lost a true legend in the shape of Bowie, and the world is still reeling. I haven’t seen this much widespread grief since Diana (or the person I’m about to wax lyrical about) and it’s incredibly sad.

It’s made me think on and off about heroes growing up, personal influences and how they mould us as young people and how we carry them into adulthood, like pretty, shiny talismans (men?).

I was obsessed with Micheal Jackson from a very early age. Like OBSESSED. Every video, album, film starring my boy – I was all over it. My Mum made me a ‘Bad’ birthday cake and there were MJ themed parties. I even convinced the girl next door, who was terribly uncool and ate only oranges and peanut butter, that I was named after my hero.

“Michael can be a girl’s name too, you know” is what I’d haughtily respond when she questioned me. I wish my name had been Michael to be honest but alas, my parents were not major fans themselves nor mind readers.

I would lie in bed at night with my Walkman plugged in, lip syncing the Vincent Price bit at the end of Thriller to myself. I knew all the words to Liberian Girl.

Man in the Mirror actually did make me look inside myself and ponder if I really needed to change. I decided the answer was no, I was only ten and perfect as far as I could see. 

Alas, my hero did some heinous things that caused his shine to all but extinguish. I won’t rehash those things here, nor will I deny them because I believe the accusations are true. There’s no defense and no amount of love for a former idol, who carried you through the awkward years into adulthood, that can excuse what he’s done.

My hero was messed up and then he messed up very badly. I think even before he died I’d forced myself to move on because good people don’t hurt the vulnerable, they don’t hurt anybody, even if they themselves seem vulnerable and childlike.

My ultimate hero wasn’t going to be a bad man even if he was Michael Jackson, King of my Heart. The first man I ever loved who wasn’t my father.

I can’t remember how I processed all that but I must of because by the time he died I was very sad but accepting. It had seemed only a matter of time, judging by his frail outward appearance and rumours of drug abuse. And again, how could I forgive him?

I still feel sad for the loss and that I’ve never felt the way I did about him since, about anyone. No more idols for me.

Actors and Musicians I like very much, sure but nobody I’ll ever pretend to be named after.

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Mama

It’s show your ma you love her day here in the UK and I do, I do love my ma. She is an absolute peach.

But before I Iaunch into an ode to my dear old mother (she’s not old, she’s only, like, 66), I think it’s only fair to take a moment to think about those who can’t be with us today. Days like this are all well and good but there are people out there who have lost their parents, some recently and it’s understandably hard to keep cheerful on occasions like this. Believe me.

So, to all the mums that can’t be here with us, I’m thinking of you too; all those left behind and you, my Nana.

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Photo credit: Imagining the City

Back to Penny M, the greatest lady in my life. Everything I know today and every good quality I have, I learnt/inherited from my mother. If I am anything at all, I am my mother’s daughter and I wouldn’t change that for the world, because it’s blimming awesome. Here are just a few reasons I adore my mum:

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Photo credit: Claudia Rose Carter
  • She very, very smart and has a thoughtful answer for everything, which I admire. I like clever but I love subtle intelligence that doesn’t feel the need to announce itself loudly and arrogantly.
  • My mother reads more than anyone I know and this is where I got my passion for the written word. I started reading mature titles early on because I had access to them and Mum never tried to stop me reading them, which is amazing.
  • When I was 18, Mum bought me my own TV for my bedroom and it was here I started to watch amazing films late into the night, thus cementing my adoration for some of the greatest ever film makers. And horror. Lots and lots of horror. Thanks ma!
  • When she swears, I die. It’s the most hilaire. But she’ll still slaps me around the head if I use a really bad word, even though I’m 37 years old!
  • I can talk to her about absolutely anything.
  • Whenever I am going through a shitty time, she’s right there telling me that it’s all good material for ‘the book’. This is the book she truly believes I have in me, even though I’m not so sure. She also doesn’t judge me as hard as I judge myself, and tells me I’m just as brilliant as other people who have actually done things like further education, great careers, etc.
  • My mum understands me and even though sometimes it shoves my nose out of joint, when I go back and really think about what she’s said, it’s normally spot on.
  • Sometimes she calls me or sends me something when I most need it, and I don’t understand how she just knows.
  • She did shots at my brother’s wedding (below), the first time I have ever witnessed that. Plus, later on she was getting low with some of the bridesmaids on the dance floor, which was amuh-az-ing!
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Photo credit: Imagining the City

My mother, the legend. I love you Mum, more than ever and forever. Happy Mother’s Day!

All photographs from Madeleine and Tim’s Whitstable Wedding, December 2014, by Imagining the City and Claudia Rose Carter.

Trust

tumblr_nf689cKfMw1r1vjs5o1_1280Today’s word is trust: write a poem in which you address, reflect on, or tell a story about the feeling of trusting or being trusted by another (person, animal, object, potted plant…). Or about distrusting them (or not being trusted yourself). Via Writing 201: Trust (17th February 2015)

Today’s form: acrostic

This was a hard but satisfying style to try and crack. I’m quite sure you could argue that I didn’t quite hit the mark but I did what was asked and that is enough for me.

Continue reading “Trust”

Water

How awkward, I'm wearing exactly the same outfit today...
How awkward, I’m wearing exactly the same outfit today…

Today, let’s write a poem about water. And/or a haiku. And/or use a simile. Via Writing 201: Water (15th February 2015)

For some reason I thought it would be a nice challenge to do the Writing 201: Poetry course via The Daily Post this time around. I was looking for Writing 201, the normal edition but couldn’t find it, so might make that my next port of call.

When the first poetry assignment popped into my inbox, I was a little deflated – write a poem, preferably a haiku! A haiku! I have done one, it’s not very good but then it is my first one, by the last prompt, I’m sure I’ll be a regular John Keats. Maybe.

Continue reading “Water”

Old Flames

 

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Last Saturday was Blast from the Past Day, it seems as not only did I bump into an old friend I hadn’t seen for at least a decade, I then got a message from my college crush, who I haven’t seen for closer to twenty.

Seeing my friend was good, easy and a happy surprise. She has twins now. They’re sweet.

The college crush thing is a whole other kettle of fish. There’s a chance he might read this (if you do, E, I don’t mind you knowing all this stuff) and so might my husband, who hopefully is used to me telling my stories by now.

When I was 17 I went to sixth form college like most 17 year olds do. On day one, as I entered my new form room, I spotted E and was quickly smitten. He had long surfery hair, was wearing a band t-shirt (Carter USM, I recall) and the kind of smile you remember, 20 years on.

Miraculously (in my eyes), I had caught E’s eye too and even more miraculously, he was open about liking me, unlike other boys I had known up until this point.

I was very naive then. I had barely been kissed (but kissed enough), let alone handed over my virginity to anybody who would take it and was something of a hot mess. Hey, this was Bexhill-on-Sea, circa 1994, and there wasn’t a lot going on there, besides warm bottles of Merrydown in the park.

I spend all my time wondering if I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin so when I got this attention it was nice. I was still very awkward about talking to the opposite sex and so when I think back to this period I imagine myself as mute. I must have got some words out though because we managed to arrange a date.

I’m a romantic now but back then, before I had tasted a little bit of love (and the subsequent heartaches), I was much worse. I was probably galloping way ahead of date one, planning future weddings, children, life as childhood sweethearts (sort of).

We did have that date. We kissed for hours in his bedroom. He played the drums. We had dinner at his parents house (where he also resided, natch) and watched Top of the Pops (Naomi Campbell had a pop career then). When it was time, he walked me to the corner of his road where my mum picked me up.

While we waited, he asked me what I wanted and I said – damn my naivete! – a boyfriend. This is where he told me, nicely, that he wasn’t on the same page. The Saturday night after our date, I went to a disco and kissed someone else.

And that was that.

Continue reading “Old Flames”

Stories: the One With the Internet Date

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Way more glamorous than our first flat in Brighton…

Back in the early noughties, back when I was still fresh, single and somewhat naive, my friends and I found a delightful source of entertainment called Love@Lycos.

It was the sister site of Lycos.co.uk the search engine and was solely designed for dating, hooking up and lurve.

Set up so you had your own page (sort of like Facebook looked when it first began), you had a visible bio, pictures if you were feeling brave and you could chat to your heart’s content, either privately or publicly (as I recall). Nothing that innovative thinking back but it was user friendly and like, the funnest thing ever!

Now, dating apps are ten a penny and people meet people everyday with no qualms at all. Which is great. But then, to us at least, this new gateway through which we could fearlessly talk to boys (or in my OBFF‘s case, chicks), was wondrous and exciting – we were obsessed.

The three of us, OBFF, B and I would all go to work as normal, Love@Lycos chat all day on the sly, then reconvene in the evenings to compare notes.

During this period in time I wasn’t all that experienced, had had just the one ‘boyfriend’ and a small series of silly liaisons. In fact, I recall (and this may make another full Stories post) having just been dumped by text when we moved to Brighton from our hometown. Text!

So I was snogging boys like crazy, from work and the like, but was definitely looking for love by now (hey, I’ve always been a romantic). Hence pinning my secret hope on the love part of Love@Lycos.

Alas it was not meant to be. I don’t remember any of the boys I talked to now except one, and only because he takes his place on my Map of Life as the Only Boy I Have Ever Met From The Internet/First & Last Blind Date. Which is pretty significant, I feel.

NB: I am using the term ‘boy’ and ‘boys’ throughout this post because that’s what they were then. And I definitely didn’t feel like a woman yet either.cat-gemma-correll-haha-illustration-internet-Favim.com-144975

Looking back I can’t believe I was so brave when it comes to meeting RunsWithScissors. He just seemed to be attuned to my sense of humour and seemed to like WondyWoman as much as she liked him (Wondy was my alias).

He ran a website that seemed sarcastic and bright, lived in London and was willing to come to Brighton for the day, I believe he had a sister here. So all systems were go after a few months of back and forth.

Our chatter was not sexual or particularly flirty (that I remember), so perhaps this is where the balls came from to go and meet him IRL. I don’t know.

All I know is that, one Saturday night, I somehow made it to Palace Pier by way of the corner shop, where I stopped to buy a tiny mini-bar sized bottle of Cointreau. As the sickly cough medicine kick of the orange liquid hit the back of my throat, I started to calm down. And with every step I felt better.

When I saw him, I was delighted. I can’t say how he felt when I rocked up, but he didn’t run away or stand me up so it felt positive enough. There was no attraction at all on either side though.

I should point out here that we hadn’t seen each other’s real photographs. This was a blind meet. Almost unheard of now!

He was very good-looking. Dark, piercing blue eyes with great chiseled bone structure. He was also charming and funny and exactly what it had said on the tin.

We spent all night laughing in the Hop Poles and then he came back to mine. When it came time for bed, I leaned in close and whispered minxily: “You can have my bed if you like, I’ll sleep on the sofa…”

And he let me! In the morning, we woke up early, had a cup of tea and then I drove him to his sister’s house.

No kiss, no romance, just a good fun night.

We stayed in touch for a little while longer, but like lots of things around this time, it fizzled out. I’m sure he did, and I hope he has had a lovely life as he was a lovely guy.

What I learned: This may have come around the same time I started to realise you could have male friends that you didn’t kiss. Sounds stupid now, but I used to look at every boy I saw as a potential love interest and that didn’t always make for a good time for either party.

Meeting and getting on well with, but not shagging/snogging the arse off every male I met (or imagining it, more likely) was a new and fruitful discovery. As soon as I got my head around this phenomenon, my life got infinitely better and easier.

So it was a good lesson and a good experience. I haven’t met anybody else off the internet since, except my husband, but I don’t count that as we had already met in the flesh. The Internet facilitated our long distance relationship, but it was not born of it.

I’m all for internet dating. It looks so fun and I love hearing stories about it. My friend recently signed up to Tinder and although, like most things, there is obviously a dark side to it, she finds it hilarious.

Do you have internet dating experience? What are your thoughts?

I Used To Love Him #1: Kiefer Sutherland

Where have all the cowboys gone?
Where have all the cowboys gone?

I was reminded this morning of my gargantuan crush on Kiefer Sutherland back when I was still a kid. It all but evaporated the minute he (allegedly) cheated on Julia Roberts back in the early nineties, but until I decided he was no longer worthy of my love, I was obsessed.

Looking back I think I fell for him in The Lost Boys, aged just ten (Me, not him, obvs). His character wasn’t exactly heart-throb material, being an evil vampire an’ all but I liked him all the same. A year later came Young Guns and suddenly, something was stirring within me.

I’m confident it wasn’t sexual desire, though maybe subconsciously as I broke through into early adolescence, but I wasn’t really thinking in those terms then. I can’t explain what it was but it was there and so were the posters on my bedroom walls.

Cheer up guys
Cheer up guys, you’re supposed to be in love

It was with to my dismay that he got together with, and subsequently engaged to nineties sweetheart, Ms Roberts. I was pretty in love with her too to be fair; that hair was so naturally gorgeous, her smile so wide that how could I not be under her spell too?

I wanted to be her and since I was head over heels for Kiefer, I accepted the union because, frankly, what more could I do? My childish heart quickly grasped the reality of being 13 and unlikely to ever meet and steal him for myself.

In 1991 they were due to marry in a lavish ceremony, according to People magazine, and a great article from that year I just found online. Although, having read it back I wonder if I’ve distorted my version of events.

Did Kiefer cheat with a stripper on his Stag night as I had been lead to believe, or did I imagine it? Or was Julia the naughty one, leaving the country pretty sharpish with Jason Patric on her arm, having just shattered Sutherland’s heart? (And who can really blame her?).

Who knows what went on back there in the heady nineties? All I know now is perhaps I should have heard Kiefer out; not reacted so strongly to a piece of celebrity gossip that could very well have been completely made up.

If only I’d had the wisdom I have now, back then, eh? Maybe he’d still be on my wall and in my heart.

Then again: Freeway, Eye for an Eye and The Vanishing – perhaps not.