A few years back, curled up in the window seat of a rustic island cabin, I got a Facebook message from a woman I didn’t know. She was writing, very cordially, to tell me the man I was dating, the one with whom I had just exchanged sweet endearments, was her boyfriend. Of four years.
My father was born in 1904 to Russian-Jewish refugee parents. They had fled one of the repeated and murderous Russian and Eastern European pogroms carried out in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The following year Britain enacted its first real immigration legislation with the Aliens Act. This had been specifically drafted to deal with the Jewish migrations. Prior to that there was no official barrier to migrants and the country had received, (though without enthusiasm) the Huguenots in the C16th and the Irish following the famines. We managed to accommodate thousands of Poles and Hungarians in the post-war, Cold War 1950s and Ugandan Asians in the 1960s – though again to popular disapproval.
Laura washed her hands and stared into the mirror of her parent’s bathroom. Her face was tense and sleep-deprived. The smell of Imperial Leather soap suddenly transported her back fifteen years, to the seventies, her teenage years. As a teenager she had spent a lot of time observing her reflection in this mirror, wondering if she was pretty enough. A white hair in her fringe snapped her back to the present. She plucked it out and examined the skin around her eyes. Crow’s feet, or the beginnings of them, at least. She pulled up her t-shirt and examined her stomach. Puckered and soft, like a deflated balloon. Since having Colm she had definitely aged.
It had been a long confinement. Longer than most. She felt like she had been locked down for years. No sex for years. It had got to the stage where she had lubricious dreams, filled with mouths, penises, breasts, vulvae and fingers. She dreamed of cunnilingus and fellatio. She nightmared about being taken from behind and her gut exploding from the pressure. She woke fretful and anxious, dissatisfied. Her aloneness was underlined by the fact she could not see friends, not travel and not move from her flat. The rare times she went out, people looked askance, as did she, at the civil disobedience which she declared by her mere presence in public.
My friend Harvey liked the exotic. I was reminded of this when, flying to Malaga, our plane had to head for an emergency landing at Toulouse.
We must have been over the Bay of Biscay – I could see water on the starboard side – when a passenger stood up and pointed to black smoke streaming from one of the engines.
I am a collage and assemblage artist with a strong interest in storytelling.
I have worked as an artist for 30 years, as well as teaching art and running a gallery in the Yorkshire Dales where I am based.
I exhibit and sell nationally and internationally, and my work appears in public collections in New Zealand, France and America. In 2019 I was selected for the publication: Collage By Women: 50 Essential Collage Artists.
My latest series of collages, Lockdown Love Letters, are a reflection on the erotic and sensual in a time of a global pandemic.
Barney thought that wife-swapping was his idea. But, actually, it was Betty’s idea. We’d be lolling around the pool and she’d be saying things like, “Look at Wilma, Barney. Doesn’t she look hot. What a great bod that Wilma has,” and Barney began to notice and started looking at me with a hungry, sabertooth grin. Fred, my Fred, would never have thought of something so adult, not with all the hinting in the world. Not that he was against it. No, he’s just not very imaginative. But ever since we were put on “permanent hiatus” things have been a little slow in Bedrock. People were starting to get bored if not downright edgy. We needed something new.
Morrison needs to chill before work and so he’s perched on a stool in the ancient Buddha Bar. It’s like being inside a mummy, what with the half light, the blood red velour wall paper, the synthetic plush carpeting with cigarette burn holes starting to form a pattern, the permeating stink of the years that almost feels like time is sliding back into itself, trying to retract the past. Morrison always liked the Buddha Bar because you could shift in there and most of the time people let you alone to do it.
I once dated a man as generous with his compliments as a sailor is with his swear words. Granted, he was English, which made every word sound as though he were channeling James Bond. Regardless of the dubiousness of his proclamations, (“You have the ass of a fourteen year old boy.”) every adulation made my heart glow. Another man I came to adore wrote letters (with a pen!) and left little notes of endearment in my medicine cabinet and underwear drawer. I fell hard for that one, which led to a full-on face plant when those words slowed to a trickle and eventually dried up all together.
When we talk about the depiction of sex in Britain before, say, the second World War, the visions are of starched collars coupled with a very prim and prudish morality. In fact, the truth is quite different.