Friday, December 27

Women in Clothes

Earlier this year I came across Sheila Heti and, intrigued by her 'women in clothes' project,  I filled out the survey that informs the project, asking women to respond to questions about how they think about clothes, and include photographs or diagrams if possible. I came across my answers today and was filled by nostalgia by the two responses below.
Q. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you decribe this moment and what it was about?

A. I had never considered what I looked like or been interested in what I was wearing, I lived in hand-me-downs and jumble-sale clothing, my hair was cut by an aunt. When I was seven years old my father married a very stylish lady who took me on a train to London to shop for some new outfits, including two sleeveless, rock 'n' roll-neck nylon shift dresses covered in psychedelic paisley shapes (we were in the 'swinging sixties').  She then took me to a hairdresser called Giovanni and instructed him to give me an ‘elfin style’ cut, this turned out to involve a heavy fringe and sideburns. The sideburns showcased my ears which are attached to my head in the same manner that handles are attached to a mug. At this time I also sported a luxuriant monobrow, the boys on the school bus would ask to see if the brow actually encircled my head completely.

Q. Can you recall a time when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?

A. I have a sticky-out stiff blue skirt, it’s a bit cartoony and makes me feel light-hearted, if I wear it with my rigid leather biker jacket it becomes my 'armour outfit’, I feel like Lucy Van Pelt (from the Peanuts) in this outfit.

(This no longer works - I am currently trialling other 'armour outfits')

Monday, December 23

The Era Of Fun

My sister’s children are in a state of hysteria about the massive shopathon event that is Christmas in the UK, I appear to lack enthusiasm so the six-year-old hopped around the kitchen and explained the relevance of Jesus to his dim auntie ...

Jesus started Christmas
and Christmas started fun  ... see?

Sunday, December 22

Folding Lady

My lack of ability as a cleaning lady has selected out a very particular sort of clientele, such as elderly people who do their own cleaning (see previous post) but want someone to come by once a week to check that they are still alive then help them turn on the computer and reach down a jar of pickles.

A woman with aspergers syndrome texts me once every couple of months. A large portion of her tiny flat is taken up with enormous recycling bins that separate glass, cardboard and plastic. When they are full she starts piling boxes and tins on top of the bins. At the point that she fears getting trapped underneath an avalanche she sends a text in a state of panic about the situation. Cardboard boxes in need of flattening occupy the sofa and the bathroom contains a large bucket full of cardboard loo roll inners. Somehow she can cope with her other rubbish but not this ... this needy waste. The other issue here are the clothes racks which tower like pylons behind the sofa and in front of the tv, piled with clean laundry, it just needs folding - and folding is something she can’t do.

Sunday, December 8

Theories of Relativity: i


My current career as a domestic cleaner is a family joke, visiting my house is a bit like entering a crime scene. I'm myopic so don’t notice dust and can't see details on far away places like the floor.  Sometimes (when a visitor is imminent) I do a speedy swab across the decks, merely making things worse, I am effectively smearing dirt and consolidating several piles of jumble  which only serves to draw attention to our sorry state.

It has long been apparent that any housework done in my own home is an unrewarding task, within hours the house reverts to it's default state of messiness. This is in stark contrast to the home of an elderly couple where I visit once a week for vacuuming duties, their home is identically neat from one week to the next - they leave exactly 12 crumbs under the dining table to check that I do actually push their Hoover around - but nothing else shifts or changes. I imagine them living in this house, gently reading the papers or a book until it is time to move to another room, drifting through the house in a manner that won’t dislodge any hair or skin flakes.

I have met  another artist who earns her living as a cleaner, we’d both like our homes to be neater but are equally ineffective at achieving this, we suggested that perhaps it would be more interesting if we did each other's housework*. The problem with this plan is that it still involves time spent doing housework, we will call the idea Art and file under ‘conceptual’.

*actually I refuse to own the housework, my house is shared with another who deserves equal opprobrium for the mess in which we find ourselves

Thursday, June 20

House Music

My daily life is mostly occupied with cleaning people's homes. Pointing at and exclaiming about the things that interests me in these places might be considered impolite so instead I have taken inspiration from this verbatim poem and composed my own list of names for the places I have visited over the last six months.

House with many wind apertures
House of hairy dolls
New baby, zombie lady house
Pants on floor house
House of love and frayed carpets
Sticky wall house
House with no place for bottom or cup of tea
House of many cushions
House where big man sleeps
House for lady in bunny suit
House like grandma’s
House where man consider ending life

Friday, May 3

Party Girl

I've started rescuing poems from the pavement.

This one was mostly crossed out so I've reconstructed it and I've also given it a title:

Party Girl

Hair Extensions
Extra pair of shoes
under wear
Red earrings
gold ring
pull ups stockings
suspender belt
clutch bag
change of pants
phone charger

Tuesday, April 30

Out of the Dog House

This morning I dawdled along behind two small boys and eavesdropped on their plans for world domination; they were dividing the city between them, the larger boy had just claimed the bus station so the smaller boy countered with a gesture that took in the block of flats that we were walking past 

These are all mine

His friend was scornful

Don't be stupid, if you owned all that you'd have to buy LOADS of sofas

Tuesday, April 23


... the next time I visited  the cat house, the cats kept out of my sight. I cleaned the living room and moved on. Glancing into the living room on my way out I noticed that a clutch of enormous turds had recently been laid on the carpet in the window bay.

Twice a week I go to a house with dogs and a little boy who calls me Harry because that is the name of his friend.

I spend an hour a week in a house where I have never seen the owner, he called me and asked if I did ironing, I said not really because I wasn't very good at it and I worried that I might do more harm than good, the man said 'What if I didn't care', then he dropped his keys off in my letter box and leaves me cash in his microwave every fortnight.

I have recently started cleaning a sexndrugsnrocknroll house. It is the sort of place where it is difficult to tell what colour the paintwork might originally have been but I'm guessing they had a lot of fun getting it this dirty. They don't want me to come very often and they're too stoned to care what I clean.  I choose something that I can complete in a session. The first week I concentrated on a glazed door between the kitchen and living room. After two hours with a scourer and some Ajax I had uncovered a very bright and shiny thing indeed, I imagined them coming home and thinking that a celestial Tardis had been installed.

Friday, January 4

Hampering Services

At the beginning of last year I stopped doing a grown-up job and became a full-time artist but that doesn't pay so well and by the end of the year I needed cash quick. I placed an advert in the fancy-house area of town and have since been deluged with pleas for my ‘Super Cleaning Services’.

Yesterday the Knick-knack House was on my rota and the cat was  standing guard in the living room doorway.

As I started dusting, the cat mewed furiously and jumped up onto the tiny ledge under the TV attempting to sit exactly where I was dusting, my dusting hand trapped under the cat’s bottom shot the animal off  and onto a card-covered side table, spraying the cards in all directions, the cat then crashed onto the mantelpiece sending all the framed photos etc., showering down to the hearth among all the tiny candles and glass pebbles that covered that surface.

I think that's what they call a job creation scheme.

Later today it's the House of Dogs ...

Wednesday, January 2

Velvet Bottom

My husband photographs the night sky with special cameras.   

To get away from people and city lights he drives for an hour, to Velvet Bottom.

Last night when he returned  from a visit to Velvet Bottom I asked how it went:

Well, it was ok to begin with but then four young guys in a car turned up hunting rabbits with torches, they thought I was the police then they decided I wasn’t so they came up and asked if I’d seen any police, then they went off. Half an hour later another two men turned up – to hunt with hawks so I had to chat to them, then they went away. Then the police turned up.
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