Full ‘Frontal Lobotomy’ came back to life on June 1st, and though I was nervous as hell for the first ten minutes, and it was hot and sweaty, I got through it and I couldn’t be happier. The audience were mostly the friends of FAP in the Attic, and many had performed already that day. I have a lot of respect for these people, and I didn’t want to let them down. I also had my youngest ever audience member that day; an eight year old girl, who attends FAP regularly with her Dad. I have an age guidance of 16+ for ‘adult themes’ as although it’s harmless enough (I think) it’s not really a show for the kiddies. The girl held up the brain model during the lobotomy demonstration, she was thrilled, as was I.
The full show runs at 50 minutes, I’m happiest with this trimmed version, it’s tighter and less fussy than me trying to stretch to an hour. As I was rehearsing for this performance, I found myself comparing the writing in Frontal Lobotomy to what I’m working on now. My new stuff feels more confident and less clunky somehow, but I am still very fond of rhyming. I’ve popped my head up at a few poetry open mics recently, and it feels very different to be holding my words in a folder, wearing ‘normal’ clothes. No one is getting covered in lipstick at these events, and in an odd way it seems this is what I’m known for now; a trail of (consenting) victims, myself included.
I have incorporated a prop into one of my pieces of writing. Last November I was lucky enough to meet the writer Tom Sharp at a Halloween party. During one of his spooky poems we passed around a smooth wood carving of a raven. I was taken by this idea of something tactile for the audience to experience alongside the words, and liked the low-level, non-threatening participation. It was probably in January, during a discussion on how the media portrays women in one of my Freedom Program sessions that a woman from the group said “Barbie is such a slut!” Me being me, I piped up with something along the lines of “Well I saw a documentary on Barbie not long ago. When she was originally made it was because before then little girls only had pretend babies and kitchens to play with. Barbie was the first adult doll made, she had loads of jobs, Barbie is aspirational!” I wasn’t all that interested in playing with dolls as a kid, and I think I’ve always been slightly suspicious of the idea of Barbie into adulthood. But here I was defending her. And so I did some research into Barbie, with the question in my head; Who taught us to be threatened by Barbie? I found out about her jobs, pets, education, relationships, height and weight, and I tell the audience these things while they pass around my naked Barbie-doll prop. I keep adding to this section, and I like to say it through a microphone if available - I don’t usually use a mic in any performances, but it feels right for this part. The last time I performed this monologue, a woman in the audience plaited Barbie’s hair for her.
I have a performance at The Art House in Southampton, as part of Moving Voices at the end of this month, where I’ll be doing a half hour version of Frontal Lobotomy. And on July 10th me, Bobby Cool and the band are off to London, to perform as part of Clout! for Studio 3 Arts in Barking. Then I’ll be reading naked with wonderful women on July 25th at Fontaines, again in London. The theme for this Naked Girls Reading is ‘Trash Fiction’, and I’ve chosen two extracts (not my writing!) that are very funny and very filthy. As ever, I’m proud to be part of the naked club. My body, my choice, and all that.
I’ll say goodbye to you for now with a new poem. Is it sad? I find it sad.
Where will I go?
The front door is painted white
We live at number one
A crunchy pathway running alongside
Overshadowed by a pylon
The hallway is so narrow
We can’t fit more than two
Shrilling phone on the wall, treacherous stairs
It echoes everywhere you go
There is a table laid for four
We always have some mess
The gap dividing houses closes over the years
Replaced with a slab of wood, crumbling step
The vocal chords of the house are there
And we have little privacy
Those three walls have stories to tell
The shabby windows say it publicly
The garden goes on for miles and miles
Stopped by a tin shed
The bones of passed on pets slowly sink
And rotten cooking apples play dead
There is a constant dripping tap
The floorboards don’t dare creak
The open fire leaves dust in every splinter
The roof is just starting a 20 year leak
The front bedroom tempts me with perfume and high heels
The middle room is warm and dark
Our bedroom is only accessible by passing
Through a portal into Narnia
It’s the place we can escape to
When the shouting gets too loud
A multiverse can be created with bunk beds and wardrobes
Just wish the toilet wasn’t all the way down
I can fit inside that drawer
I’ll roll you up in a quilt
Let’s pretend to be radio dj’s
You’ve ruined another perfectly good story
Steps on stairs indicate guilt is coming this way
Let’s pretend we didn’t hear
Passing the baton of blame
The vocal chords gone slack
The house heaves a sigh of relief
The dust settles, the sticky soup of secrecy sucks back