All posts by jemimalaing

The 31 to Chalk Farm

 

Your skin is scented, clean and cool

I know I’m meant to be at school

Not on this ordinary odyssey

Years before our lives unspool

On the 31 to Chalk Farm

My arm is grazing your arm

No sign of what you’d decide to do

There’s little cause for alarm

This is what we’re doing this for:

The route starts from our front door

I begged to ride from World’s End and back

(The 31 doesn’t do this any more)

I long to tell them on the bus

That it’s just the two of us

That I have my mother to myself

I can’t recall what we discuss

We eat, you buy me a silken cap

From the window the clouds are a map

As we begin the journey home

With my head resting in your lap

I don’t properly see London scrolling by

The bus tartan imprints upon my thigh

My heart revels in our proximity

It’s fifteen years until you die

First Time For Everything

He’ll Never Be

My Shiny Things

A Ferry Story

How To Cut A Birthday Cake

Afterwards

Magnolia

A Support

The Library

It’s All There

My Heart Was Never Far Away

I’ve Taken To My Bed

Caunt

Cheap Crisps

Kerb Appeal

Not Fair

They’re Having An Affair 

Choker

Housewife

 

 

Birth Plan

I want Oxytocin I want to be induced
I want what little dignity I have significantly reduced
I want my waters broken in a ceremony medieval
I want a pessary if necessary for healthy baby retrieval
I want a slice into my abdomen I want my baby timely ripped
I want so much coursing through my system my heart rate is dipped
I want to hallucinate that I’m a fish in a multi-coloured mural
I want to die I want to cry I want an epidural
I want a sweep, long and deep, I want pain I can’t describe
I want to vomit everything I make an attempt to imbibe
I want a feeble three-centimetre dilation and associated dystocia
I want as many people in the room as possible to observe my discomposure
I want stitches that suppurate and a wound that leaks
I want this to continue for days or preferably for weeks
I want contractions which end ferocious yet began benign and mild
I got all that but you know what I also got my child

Poems

How To Cut A Birthday Cake

Afterwards

Magnolia

A Support

The Library

It’s All There

My Heart Was Never Far Away

I’ve Taken To My Bed

Caunt

Cheap Crisps

Kerb Appeal

Not Fair

They’re Having An Affair 

Choker

Housewife

The Library

How can anybody think that you don’t need them?
There‘re books in there – you want to read them
You have to take them back, it’s true
But the stories get to stay with you
Where Mum and Dad sang rhymes and songs to you
It’s your library – it belongs to you

Just what history might you unleash
Scrolling through the microfiche?
Where else will a bookworm leave their cast
If libraries are consigned to the past?
Don’t stand for it: start a reading riot
It’s your library – you can’t stay quiet

Sign the petition to #saveplymlibraries HERE

 

I, Daniel Blake review

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I reviewed I, Daniel Blake for the Plymouth Arts Centre blog – the film is showing there until 8 December

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake is an unmagical mystery tour through the wilfully labyrinthine world of benefits.

It’s an unsettling game of snakes and ladders where, even if you actually did fall off a ladder or were bitten by a snake, the DWP “decision-maker” would likely deem you fit for work anyway and have you at a CV writing workshop quicker than you can say Employment and Support Allowance.

The film’s central performances are stunning, lives of quiet desperation writ large. Comedian Dave Johns is the eponymous Dan – played as an intriguing mix of naïve and world-weary – a carpenter whose heart attack has rendered him temporarily unable to work.

He is tossed, like a pinball, into the vagaries of a box-ticking system which can seemingly override a consultant’s advice that he is not yet recovered enough to get a job.

A chance meeting in a benefits office leads him to meet a young mother Katie (Hayley Squires) with whom he forms a touching, avuncular relationship as they both attempt to navigate the system.

A special mention is merited too (especially given my interest in child acting) for the touching performances of youngest members of the cast, Dylan McKiernan and Briana Shann, as Katie’s children, utterly blameless flotsam in the eddies of the welfare state.

At The Foodbank

Dan and Katie’s stories show how easy it is to stray unwittingly from the path, courtesy of a wrong bus or a harsh word to a benefits advisor, with a sanction the penalty and the resulting challenge of surviving with no money.

This modern-day Catch 22 leads to the film’s central and most affecting scene in a food bank – exquisitely rendered by Hayley Squires’ Katie – where I finally gave in to the angry tears which were already brimming.

It’s unflinching polemic, doubtless, but it is an important film which begs the question how a country like ours can tolerate queues at foodbanks and it’s hard to think of anyone better able than Loach – at his Palme d’Or winning-best – to ask it.