I wish I had invented the woman
(Yves Saint Laurent)
Never confuse aesthetic ghosts with the people you love.
Betrayal fades, loneliness is eternal. I am no longer concerned
with beauty, but with physical strength. Physical strength
is an unworn sensation. Over the years I have learned to create
a scandal – terrible joy, a heaven of tranquillisers. I wish I had
known the indulgence of close contact with life; the encounter
of day for night. I have hunted down the false friendship
of the sun, sober. I emerged from solitude with many things,
spectacular concepts, all out of breath. The sea an extraordinary
denim. It’s a love story of everything I didn’t have.
The little girl who died after eating buttercups is haunted. The Gold Lion and the two Red Lions are haunted. Following the death of a dog, the driver of a car and its two passengers, the zebra crossing at the infant school is haunted. The old wooden bus shelter near the gated park is rumoured to be haunted. Under the pier, at the high tide mark, is haunted. The dog known as ‘Handsome’ haunts the perimeter of the library. The butcher’s father, Ted the elder, forbade the making of beef sausages following the death of a customer in 1973, who subsequently haunts the butcher’s. Discarded peanut shells under cinema seats are haunted. The Liberal Club is haunted by a cat named ‘Jinx’ who will drink shandy, but only from an ashtray. Penelope Caldwell, daughter of the last Town Crier, haunts the civic centre. The last Town Crier haunts the derelict toilet block of the private Boys’ School. Persons unknown haunt the 377 bus route. The defunct ticket machine in the delicatessen is haunted. Constance Bown, lifetime companion of Penelope Caldwell, haunts the duck pond. The entire contents of the laboratory, including the Bunsen burners, pipettes, volumetric ﬂasks, tongs, microspatulas, goggles, beakers, crucibles and magnesium strips, are haunted. The trees by the new roundabout are haunted, though they’ve mostly been cut down.
If you have the urge to swallow pebbles, it is a ghost.
If you wake up with your hair all about the pillow as though you arranged it for photographic reasons, it is probably a ghost.
If when you close your eyes you can remember your ﬁrst taste of butter, it is a ghost.
If your cat paws the place you were sitting when you leave the room, your cat is a ghost.
If you lie in bed emphatically alone, you are a ghostly presence.
If you can’t see a ghost but can see yourself very small, it is most definitely a ghost.
How to be sexy
(Helen Gurley Brown)
A girl I know did something. It is by and large just about the sexiest
thing you can do. Peek-a-boo, sideways jerk, long, slow wink, Meetcha
in the hall, honey. Being able to sit very still is sexy. Sphinxes knew
what they were doing. Clean hair is sexy. Lots of clean hair is sexy,
and some fellows are mildly aroused by paperclip necklaces. Half-slips
are sexy but Paula wears girdles. Girdles are not sexy. Baggy stockings
and borrowing money are not sexy. Marlene was the absolute end
in a thing and schoolgirl-scrubbed face. The drink that makes you feel
bitchy and beautiful is sexy. Hypnotique! Intimate! Tired girls are tiring!
French perfume wafting from a pretty girl’s bosom is about the nicest
thing that can happen to the air! Being seen without your makeup
by somebody who always sees you in it can be sexy, provided it isn’t
in public. Look into his eyes as though tomorrow’s silkiest, witchiest
dress is there. Laura says a man she knows ﬁnds this look absolutely
aphrodisiac. Being delighted to be called on the phone is sexy. It was
good in your grandmother’s day and it is still a powerhouse! Enough
energy to dance till dawn when other girl-blossoms are losing their petals
is sexy. Dropping your hanky, thinking all the time, being an appalling
chorus girl. A kiss turned away, a light kiss binge, a kiss deeper than your
red velvet coat. Saying: do you honestly think I can sleep with every man
who asks me?! I’d love to go into the detail about the efﬁcacy of murmuring
Kill. Kill. Kill! Hate, hate! while being kissed on the mouth. Granted, it is hard
to like men generously. A pox on him. Oomphy, do you know that means?
11 Lousy with unfuckedness, I dream
12 I do not need the sea to love me back
13 Announcement and next steps
15 I wish I had invented the woman
17 How to be sexy
18 To dream of copper denotes oppression from those above you in station
19 Two cats
20 Oh you most beautiful inside of a vegetable!
23 Delphine is on silent retreat
25 Stem of wallflower / Hair of doormat
26 Gentle spectrum
28 Small pebbles
29 Three summers
30 She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the
reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself.
31 How rare a really beautiful hand is now, since the harp has gone out
32 There is blood beneath every layer of skin
34 An Abecedary of Unrequited Love
35 Only instead of a star
36 No one should be frightened of pleats
37 Baby, wait a lifetime before you love somebody
38 My narrative costume is a witch without reputation
40 Palest Greens
41 Delphine is having a mani-pedi
43 We were alone for the ﬁrst time
44 I disowned my real pain & engaged with its subordinates:
47 In a state of her own design
48 With my head on the pillow
49 She and the fog
51 Super Try Again
52 gigantic shadows which, rocking back and forth, close in on us and
destroy everything within us except the pain of endless longing
53 Compact things are easier to carry
56 Here is an illusion of choice, we’ve made it very pretty for you
59 The news reported she wore her body to the event
60 Delphine is not dressed for the weather
62 A marble bath
63 Sensory notes on Music for 18 Musicians
64 Gratuitously early the cold
65 The Best Is Yet to Come
69 The garden
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