Pocket Guide to Infidelity for Girls, placed
second in the Bridport Prize 2008.
1. You will be the kind of girl who likes the drummer in the band.
You will go to a gig
at a pub because the man you are secretly fond of is on holiday
with his wife. And because you are trying to participate more in
the cultural life of the city you now live in. While there at the
gig you will feel two different types of yearning simultaneously:
one, that you want to lean back on a tall man, his arms around your
waist; and two, that you want to know the drummer better. Already
your loyalties are divided. This drummer: he's the backroom boy,
the scenery shifter, the underdog. You don't find drummer jokes funny.
You will see him later, packing his kit into a van when the others
in the band are already at the bar, and you will love his quiet stoicism.
There is so much preparatory work in being a drummer – you
have to build your own instrument! – and nobody ever applauds
your solos. It's too obvious to take a shine to the emoting singer
or the flailing guitarist. You prefer the man at the back with a
rhythmic sense of duty; a responsible man with a burden. But you
will not speak to the drummer boy when the opportunity arises. Other
vaguer possibilities render you temporarily chaste. Temporarily.
You are the type
to harbour a mild crush on Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police,
whose intricate work on the high-hat alone makes him worthy of your
affections. You will love his drumming like a tickle – a knowing
tickle in your ear, one perfect tiny itchy inch ahead of the beat,
when you make your way home through the back streets of Brighton the
following morning listening to your Walkman, passing the street
cleaners and the dog walkers. But why will you be walking home
just ahead of the beat at six on a Sunday morning? Because after
the gig, you will go to a party and drunkenly molest a male colleague
you should have left alone and you will have to leave before he
wakes. Why will you molest him? Because you will have drunk too
much trying to forget about the man you are secretly fond of who
is away somewhere with his wife. You will miss this secret man
in a way that thrills you and tires you even as you feed it by
trying to ignore it. Yes, you're the kind of girl who likes the
drummer in the band.
From All of These Things Are True and Not True, published
in the Bridport Prize 2009 anthology.
If you want to be a spy, it is important to know true facts. Facts
are chunks of information. True means they are real and have evidence,
like how I am real because I was born on my birthday in 1999 in London,
UK, and have had a heart beating ever since. In my spy book, there
are spies with white clothes to show they are good. The facts the
white spies tell you are true. However, be warned! There are also
spies with black clothes who are baddies. The black spies say lies
to bamboozle you. It can be confusing, keeping track of the true
fact chunks, so I have made a grid in my notebook of things that
are true and things that are not true.
Have you ever made a grid? It is a way of putting fact chunks in
boxes to keep them safe. Like tortoises that are sleeping for winter.
again! Sometimes there are white lies. White lies are not true
but sound true; they fall on you in a gentle way like snow and
you don’t see the badness inside. There are other words
that are inappropriate, which is not allowed. Like when Uncle Marcus
saw Mum in her new top that shows some of her bosom, he whistled
the whit-woo builder noise and said: “How d’you like
“Inappropriate, Marcus,” said Mum and swung her eyeballs
in my direction like the silver clack-clack balls on Dad’s
desk in his office.
this was not true as her bosoms are not apples. They don’t even look like apples. When she feeds milk to my baby
sister, they look more like butternut squashes with raisins on the
end. Secondly, it was also inappropriate, which means you can see
it on the screen in your brain but you mustn’t let it slip
down the mouth pipe to become word noises. I had to make a new column
in my grid for this type of un-true saying. I made it with my pencil
and my blue ruler.
Marcus isn’t even my uncle so that is also not true.
He and my Auntie Jess are friends with my mum and dad, and they came
with us to Camp Bestival. Camp Bestival is a festival and they put
the words ‘best’ and ‘festival’ together
to say it is the best festival. I don’t know about that. It’s
the only one I have been to. I don’t know if I will be going
to another one.