Ellie the Elephant

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Not Ellie, but I loved these fuckers too ❤

Last weekend, as we Netflix and chilled at my brother’s (actually, ew), my Sister-in-law brought out Maeve, her childhood lion and I was reminded instantly of Ellie the Elephant.

In a forever kick-yourself moment, I handed Ellie over ‘temporarily’ to the great-aunt of that bastard I used to live with as we jetted off to start our new life in Canada. Last Chance Saloon I called it and boy was it. But Ellie couldn’t come for some reason and I’m so mad at myself for not stuffing her into my suitcase anyway.

I thought I could always go back for her and then everything ended, and now Ellie’s gone forever. You’d think that was a small price to pay for my freedom and maybe it is but still. I’ll always regret that decision.

In my heart I know she was probably burnt to a crisp in a garden bonfire, renamed Christa as a grotesque effigy of me after I left but I don’t want to believe she’s gone. I suppose I could pick up the phone, swallow my pride and ask for her back but I can’t handle the truth, or the inevitable abuse.

Ellie the Elephant, legend has it, was given to me as a newborn by a group of hospital staff in Toronto. My father had apparently misjudged my delicate character and presented a giant gorilla that made me cry so the antidote was Ellie, a baby pink elephant twice as big as me.

Life for us was a rollercoaster from that moment on and Ellie bore the brunt of everything I ever went through. All the rage, the playful torture from my brother, the kickings, the kidnappings – Ellie felt all my feelings, washed down by a million angsty tears. And she was rewarded for her loyalty by losing an ear and one glass eye. She was sewn up and re-stuffed more times that I can remember.

Ellie was the confidante and the cure; she was my very best friend when sometimes I felt like I had nobody. She didn’t travel as much as I did because I just couldn’t bear the idea of losing her in some far off land, or more likely Amsterdam but she was always there when I got back, she was there for me when I was happy and there when I’d given up all hope.

Seeing Maeve made me feel sad. Poor grubby Maeve with no mane and a distended body, looking like she’s carrying all Maddy’s secrets. Her and Ellie would have been great friends.

I want her back, wonderful crusty Ellie the Elephant, aged 38 (and 2 months) ❤

Rickman

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Is it cool with everybody if I head back to bed for the rest of the month?

First Bowie, now Rickman – this month is just incredibly sad so far. It’s also making me think and I don’t have time for that right now! So I’m going to wax lyrical on my top three (four actually because I just thought of one as I was typing that) favourite Rickman moments, then I’m going for a hot bath.

I know I’m not alone in my pain and despite what some naysayers are saying on Twitter about the very public outpouring of grief for both men, I think it’s a beautiful thing. Imagine leaving such a legacy behind you?

I hope Alan’s family are all together. I read that he’s been happily married for 50 years, isn’t that the sweetest? I just can’t imagine how his wife must be feeling.

Disclaimer: I’m not a Potterhead so you won’t find Snape on this list. Not that I didn’t like him in the role or anything, just that it didn’t speak to me in the way the below did. 

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Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply (1990)

Ugh just typing that makes me choke. This film taught me that grief can be very very ugly and snotty – but still beautiful AF. Jamie and Nina (Juliet Stevenson) are very much in love when Jamie passes away. Before Nina even begins to process her absolute heartbreak, Jamie returns in his ghostly form and they are reunited.

I wasn’t that old when I first saw this and I always thought of it as the ‘English Ghost‘ (released in the same year) but sorry, Patrick, this film is so much better in all it’s tear soaked glory. The leads are perfect together in every way as they learn to finally let one another go – and you’ll bawl until you can’t bawl no more. FACT.

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Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

A year later, Rickman stole the show in RH:PoT, one of the most enjoyable films of my adolescence. And you’re damn right I can quote it word for word.

As the naughty naughty Sheriff of Nottingham, our boy was pure delight. I can only imagine that he was having the time of his life in this pantomime-villlian role which is really compelling to watch. One of his best lines, spat out with pure vitriol, will always be one of my favourites: “Locksley, I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!”

See also: “[to a wench] You. My room. 10:30 tonight. [to another wench] You. 10:45… And bring a friend.”

Love-Actually

Harry in Love Actually (2003)

I just saw this a month ago and it got me again, as it does every time: that moment Karen (Emma Thompson) figures out her husband Harry is almost definitely cheating on her. She goes upstairs and has a little cry to Joni, before pulling herself together and getting on with it like a motherfucking boss. Every. Time.

That’s Love Actually to me and what brings me back every single year (I’ve mentioned my annual viewing with my BFF Panda). But that scene could not be without potential love rat Rickman and he’s incredible sexy in this role.

A cheating swine but sexy, nonetheless.

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Super Hot Tangoing Businessman in Texas’ In Demand music video (2000)

Panda and I always reference this as her ‘happy place’ and this is the real kicker. Rickman tangos with beautiful Sharleen Spiteri on a petrol station forecourt and we swooned. Like proper swooned.

(There’s this bit, with this look).

What a gentleman. What charisma.What a fucking waste of one of the greatest actors and voices of his generation. 

View here for yourself here:

Enjoy!

RIP sweet Rickman ❤

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.

Red or Dead

tumblr_nc72uaorcJ1rlvym3o1_500As with my enormous bottom, I always thought of my red hair as a hindrance.

There were times I would curse my mystery benefactor, the one who bestowed the ginger gene upon me without permission and skipped maniacally into the sunset never to be seen again. His myth was replaced with the one about the milkman and I cursed him for decades.

Aunts and relations I had never seen before, nor since, would come out of the woodwork on special occasions to gush about it.

“Women pay thousands for hair the colour of yours” they would repeat, over and over; and I would stand there with my faux-family smile taped on until it was over.

Nothing if not polite.

I was not what you would consider a graceful young person and my teenage years were particularly horrific. I have hair that can be controlled by no man, woman or warrior and even my mother, in all her glory, couldn’t tame the beast.

While my cousin’s strawberry locks were wrestled into delightful french plaits and swinging ponies, with pretty accessories that made her look like baby Carmen Miranda, mine was as coarse as a horse’s. It wasn’t the kind of hair one simply twisted up and before long I ended up with a very unbecoming crop, courtesy of Mama.

Picture the scene. A toothy ginger girl with an orange short back and sides sent into the world to find her way. It was soul affirming (eventually) but then I felt ugly and unique in a freakish way; absorbed in my own adolescent self-pity.

As I grew up and the reins of control vis-a-vis my head follicles passed into my own hands, I took it through a series of experimental phases as all teenagers do. I regret not colouring it better and am highly jealous of all the pastels wafting around today, but I did visit every possible shade of red from pillar box to maroon. You could say, although I dyed it a lot, I never really veered off the crimson path.

Except for once with the blue-black. We don’t talk about the blue-black period…

My new crazy Brighton life saw it cut into the ‘Kelly Osbourne’ circa The Osbournes and that was lovely. I would slap on Directions hair dye like it was going out of style and our white bath took on a vaguely pink tint as the years passed.

As I travelled and settled then moved on again, as my life took many twists and turns, the one constant was my hair. I would always take the time to keep my colour fresh. When I started talking to my now husband whilst still in Canada, I was working Scarlet Power, a dark red that would glow like lava in the sunlight.

In the end I decided to try my natural shade back on for size. It was a decision fuelled by my age, if I’m honest. I didn’t want to be ‘brassy’ coming into my mid-thirties and I’m not one to go to a hairdresser to have it done responsibly. Plus, I have a perfectly okay colour so before it starts to turn grey, I might as well enjoy the window.

Now I get the same compliments I did as a kid but this time round I can appreciate them. My best friend said I looked like a mermaid the other day, and there’s no higher compliment than that, is there?

It’s taken me over thirty years to be okay with who I really am and I’m going to enjoy it now, dammit.

*swishes hair and flounces off into the sunset*

Hand-Me-Downs: The Red Shoes

My red shoes looked nothing like these!
My red shoes looked nothing like these!

Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life. Via The Daily Post (10th September 2014)

I coveted those red shoes for what felt like years. To my childish heart, it felt like forever but in reality it was probably just a few weeks. Those shoes, though, those pillar box red, stiletto heeled mules; they epitomised glamour, making me think of women. Of the woman I so desperately wanted to be.

I must have been about ten or eleven and I was already daydreaming about who I would become.

My aunt owned those shoes and I insisted, every time we went round, that I get to try them on. One day I will buy my shoes just like these, I would think to myself as I trotted around like the perfect cliché of a little girl, except less cute.

I was a tom boy (I think) with short hair back then (not my choice) and my aunt Sine was glamorous to me, with long hair and lashes. Looking back I never saw her wear these shoes herself, and she always seemed to be doing something practical, with two sons it was just the way it was. Still, that’s how I saw it; I wanted to walk in those shoes and be just like her.

I could draw you a picture of them right now if you asked me to, their shape and how they felt is still etched on my heart. They were The Future and when my aunt finally handed them over, I thought my tiny heart might burst with happiness.

I wore my shoes the incredible day they finally became mine and then, as quickly and as childishly as I had fallen for them, I put them away in favour of The Millenium Falcon. I still think of them to this day though and of what they represented to me.

Memoir Madness

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Prompt via Weekly Writing Challenges (4th August 2014)

In this week’s writing challenge, mine your memory and write a memoir.

It is some time in May, maybe later, maybe earlier. I never remember dates. I find myself barefoot in Paradise and, though the sun feels like kitten kisses on my lids, I would give anything to be elsewhere.

I shield my eyes from the scorching sun and wonder not for the first time, or the last if I need more sunblock. If I am honest with myself, which I am trying not to be, I’m an Autumn Girl and beaches aren’t my thing. In fact, sand gets everywhere and there’s not much to do. Drink, basically and play pool while Bob Marley serenades.

Again, if I allow myself to stop and think about it, all his songs about love are just cruel. It will never be me.

I’m here with someone. Someone who scares me for reasons I can’t explain. I would rather be anywhere else with anybody else but I am weary. What if he is right and nobody else will ever want me? Is that even a bad thing? Love is obviously not for me and I was a fool to wish for it.

Take me back to heartbreak and desperation. Take me back to my bedroom floor, the one on which I lay crumpled, crying until I hiccuped. Crying until I had surely used up my lifetime’s quota.

He’s somewhere around but on these heady hot days I try to be where there are people. In a group I can just about handle this. It’s when he tries to touch me that I feel my facade slip. I can’t deal with the truth though because the truth hurts people and demands answers. I don’t have answers and so I’m going to keep on swimming.

I’m at the shop and I see him again. The man from the hill. I see him sometimes and he’s got his dogs with him. They look at me with rheumy eyes while I look at him. He’s tall and thin and looks just like a man who lives on a hill. His name is Mr Ood and he’s legendary, so they say.

I buy my juice and some food for his dogs while I’m there, why not? He’s thankful, even though he doesn’t speak my language. Or maybe he speaks it perfectly.

We go our seperate ways. Later he sends a message down via a village boy. He says he will tattoo me for free because his dogs like me. He’s legendary because he is an artist and was famous once on the Khao San Road.

The man I am with tells me I am stupid to even consider the gift. It’s dangerous and foolish, he says. It might be, I think but then I think, to myself, FUCK YOU. That’s how I find myself on the winding path, walking towards the hill.

When I arrive, I see that the village boy has a giant Koi on his shoulder; beautiful and intricate, almost jumping off his golden skin. “I’ll have that” I tell Mr Ood and I swear he winks.

The pain and all the discomfort than follows is worth it. The big FUCK YOU is so worth it. I will always have this on my skin as a reminder that even when I am down, even when I have no idea what to do, you can’t stop me. You can’t tell me what to do.

Even though I am already tattooed in discreet places, this is the most impulsive thing I have ever done to my body and it feels like nothing I have ever felt before. I don’t know this now, at this time, but I will look back one day and realise, this is where I started to fight back.

Later on, my back to him in bed, as it always is, he says it’s like I am somebody else.

How I wish, I think, as I shut my eyes, happy to feel something for the first time in months. Even if it is only defiance.

Brother

250065_10150617858235018_5939880_nToday’s Random Subject via Writing Exercises – What does having siblings mean to you?

Growing up it seemed to me that as soon as we were old enough to go our separate ways, I would never see my brother again. If you’d asked me at 12, 14, 17, 19 what having a sibling meant to me, I would have probably said “Not much, I hate him”. I would have stared off into the middle distant like a good baby Goth and I would have fantasised about being an only child.

We were not what you would call ‘close’ as we grew, although I look back and he was always there. We rowed like cat and dog but he was never not there. All my memories swirl around him, all of them, even the earliest ones. Sitting in the garden with this new fat baby in my lap (my memory or one I have borrowed from a photo album?), the evening Mum told us Dad was gone.

Our old house in Canada, playing with the neighbourhood kids. The day we moved to England to stay with our reluctant grandparents, playing with our cousins, the Christmases, the childhood injuries, the arguments; climbing trees. We weren’t friends but perhaps we were uneasy allies out there in the world because who else did we have?

I was not a cool teen. Most times all I wanted was to be alone. Now I realise I was suffering typical adolescent depression but then I just wanted to be in my room, feeling things. This did not translate well to my sociable, always popular brother though maybe only in my own head. He would pick on my insecurities to cut me down and I am quite sure I did the same right back.

Still, he woke me up one night to tell me he had lost his virginity. I think it was then I thought that one day we might be okay, that I still had a use to him, even if it was just my inexperienced ear.

It was several years later but I remember the evening vividly, he was at my house for my birthday. I was 26 when I realised we’d be fine. Mum was there and my best friend, too. I was in a relationship with my demon ex then, recently moved into a big Suburban home I had never wanted, unhappy but not yet without hope.

We were laughing and talking and Tim said I was funny. Publicly, in front of other people. From that day on, to me at least, he was no longer the lazy toad who wanted to make me cry, he was my brother and my friend – and he saw me as a person, finally.

I knew he must love me because he was nice to that horrible boyfriend, tried to see the best in him when the best wasn’t much. Later, I couldn’t believe he had kept it up, after everybody else’s façade had long since slipped. That’s love, I think.

He could have told me to leave, wondered what the hell I was playing at but he didn’t, he let me find out for myself.

We’ve been close ever since, although hardly ever geographically. I’ve been in Asia and then Canada, while he lived in both Hungary and Greece for extended periods. For six months he lived in Brighton and that was one of my favourite times, though we still didn’t hang out every week. We’re just not that kind of family.10374460_10154083560640018_306736340812671119_n

Even now, my brother is in some of my very happiest memories. He gave me away at my wedding because my Dad couldn’t; made everyone cry with his speech. He made a mix CD for the sit down dinner segment and it had my favourite song on it (You’re So Cool by Hans Zimmer).

Now we meet up every couple of months or so, since Tim and his fiancé, Maddy live in Kent. When we hang out it’s like no time has passed at all. I’m so proud of the man he has finally become and now I’m getting excited to see what kind of husband and father he’s going to be.

So, if you ask me now, what does having a sibling mean to me, I will tell you: it means everything.