Don’t let me be by my #selfie

Usually alone as #megastar taking as many selfies as humanly possible I thought today of all days the day that the word ‘selfie’ is entered into the oxford dictionary – my family should join in and all take a selfie – here’s what happened….photophoto99 photo3 To follow my #selfies progress follow me on twitter tumblr or facebook – ill be taking part in Jesse Darling’s ‘Our Bodies, Our Selfieswith Abandon Normal Devices in Liverpool next month in a work exploring: Reclaiming Overshare for Its Revolutionary Potential: a three-day experimental group workshop in radical show (& no-show) & tell (& don’t tell).

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If the shoe fits

As you get older you have to really up your A-game to get a reaction out of people – back in the day I felt all powerful, being a child suited me – I nailed it! All I had to do to assert my authority was do an in hindsight rather un-PC hunch back impression and waddle/trot up to my little sister with this really ill-thought through dialogue (in a witch voice) “I am not Meeeegggg I used to always pretend I was Meeeeeggg” over and over until my little sister crumbled both emotionally and physically. More recently my little sister now a mother herself made me cry because I was wearing inappropriate shoes for the long walk to the baby play date I was joining her on with my new baby niece Millie. I  said she was being bossy – she just looked at me coldly through my teary eyes and said “NO I’m not having that” and walked on ahead, her modern buggy cruising smoothly her deportment that of a woman with her shit together. I dragged my feet (in flat shoes) and moped behind, high heels in hand. I had to concede by letting her put my high heels in her buggy compartment.  Seriously where has my power gone! Growing up sucks.

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Our True Intent is all for Your Delight

1952+Butlins+(Middlesex+collection+-+Good+Housekeeping+Feb+'52)+1Ahh the Great British institution that is Butlins holiday camps. I didn’t go to a Butlin’s but I went to Pontins a similar franchise a few times with our Dad. Butlins had red coats and Pontins had blue coats I think that’s the only difference. Pontins was in essence a faux Butlins!? They were a bit of a melancholy affair as I had to write emotional letters to Dad post divorce encouraged by my Mum, for him to spend quality time with me and my bro and sis. My Mum was worried Dad was drifting from us and as I was good at tugging at the heart strings (I used to write Dad bad why do you go to the pub so much poetry) My Mum spotted and exploited the talent of her emotional child (as she never had her own Dad) and desperate for us to keep ours she told me to write to him – to reach out. Well he was still living with us in the same house so writing to him was a bit odd! But none the less he had a depressed feeling around him. I think living together after divorce is an admirable decision but the reality of my parents living together in the house brought its own odd vibe – especially as is was for about 8 years until I was 16 …when Dad and my brother moved out and in together to this damp house on dog shit alley – which was only up the road from our house.

My brother would very occasionally pop back to ours when he lived with Dad on dog shit alley and when he did he bought his own dinner sat on the poof in the sitting room and said he couldn’t stay long. He had left school at 16 and got a job he was different, he wore a shirt and smart trousers and had shaved his head and he had his own fish and chips! I thought this was super inspiring and couldn’t wait until I could leave school and buy my own fish and chips dinner. I quizzed him on his dinners, I have always been highly motivated by food. He said he had his own job now and can buy whatever he wants and sometimes he buys a take a way burger for dinner. Heaven I thought! This all seemed very glamorous having a job the fish and chips element especially. So the men had left me my sister and Mum to rein our bigger nicer but bonkers house not on dog shit alley with far too much female energy! Our arguments were epic! I continued to write to my brother and Dad as if they were distant male muses!

Anyway I’m jumping ahead lets go back 4 years to the first Pontins holiday when our family still cohabited boys and girls and where the package holidays were affordable for Dad and the potential of a single Dad vacation glimmered. I had instigated our holidays. My 12 year old letters had worked and made Dad cry. He was willing to take us on his first single Dad type holiday. YIPPEE we were off on holiday and Dad’s crying – GREAT.

I’d love now as an artist to make a documentary on the British institutions of holiday camps like Butlins and Pontins! Im still attracted to their melancholy – everyone trying overly hard to have a good time. We did have a good time too tho. Turns out so did Dad – he hooked up with a lady named Maria who also had kids and later we found she’d sent him a weird mix tape in our house called ‘songs to make you think songs to make you drink’ And I don’t think she meant cola! They both liked a drink! Which by the way we were only allowed one cola or slush-puppy a day. Dads rationing a bit bizarre. We always ended up on water with our Mum on holiday but that was on account of our bad behaviour having it removed as a punishment not cos it was not within budget. How was he affording the drinks at the bar with Maria then? Hmmm whatevs!… we made friends and had a little gang and I sang my first karaoke song ever with my sister “I will survive” I also spat at a boy right in the face who was bullying us. I still shudder at how vile that was of me. On the up I played tennis with Dad which was ace and my sister won the table tennis championship – I mean fair play only 3 people entered and one was me but she got a mini trophy we thought it was awesome!

Our second Pontins holiday was when Dad took us to Pontins Camber Sands holiday camp the tennis court was quarter size of normal ones & he won the Dads tennis competition and we left JUST before the diarrhea epidemic that struck which was quite exciting as it was quite a big deal was on the national telly news – we were like that’s OUR HOLIDAY CAMP! Lush.

Anyway there was something about these places that genuinely was good being able to have freedom as a kid to bowl around with friends and also something sad in their artificial-nous. Maybe the juxtaposition for me as the institution of parents marriage crumbled I invested in the dream of the great British institution of the holiday camp packaged holiday and while we were there everything was gonna be great. But the memories are vivid and I thought Pontins was a fascinating looking glass into so many families that I observed, when I wasn’t too busy with my crocodile club or fancying a boy that didn’t fancy me or asking Dad for money for another cola!



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vegDad and I meet for lunch at Bozzers (Boswells) Dad over pronounces to the cashier what he’d like really enunciating Bluuueeeberry muffin and doing weird am dram pauses between that and a coke – he always has a coke. I say to him “Dad you’re SO dramatic” and we’re off! Dad takes this as his cue to turn around to the whole cafe announcing “One has to add ones flare to to liiiiifffeee you knoooowww” My god we are not on Shakespeare’s globe theatre we are in Boswells cafe in The Shires. But classic Trowbridge no one bats an eyelid. I am already finding him funny. We sit, Dad with his muffin me with my teacake and  Dad then takes out all the books he’s bought from Bargain Books peeling off the stickers and telling me he’s saved £35 on their original prices. (He loves a bargain as is an avid reader) Later in our afternoon Dad decides to tell the SK Fruits of Trowbridge cashiers that the mountain of fruit & veg I was buying was for my new juicer & it was just a fad. He also intersperses my raw beetroot being scanned with “Rabbit FOOOOD” people who don’t know Dad don’t know how to take him so the ladies just look awkward. But no one matters at this point Dad has started bants war so I quickly counter humiliate him by announcing “Shut up dad stop showing off because you’re embarrassed because you are eating your second Crunchie!” BOOM! Yes! I knew this to be true cos we bought them down Wikos as they were 2 for 80p, when discussing together how I could save money by storing my soon to be juiced veg in a Tupperware box or jar rather than a jug. Dad checks their lids and I decide to smell them all to ascertain which is fit for my juice. We both decide on a £2.50 one which clearly won’t fit in the fridge. On buying I spot the 2 for 80p chocs which Dad like a child starts announcing I have got to have chocolate “QUICK!!!”. So back in SK Fruits on busting him on the fact he’s eaten both he looks guilty and says “yes I do feel disgusting” but you can’t keep a good man down. Dad then starts his counter strategy attack which is some classic inappropriate body shuffling outside and shouting singular words in Castle Place market to which I laugh. This goes on. Its like a silent ‘Capoeira’ dance Dad and I do attacking and counter attacking without direct contact – but ours not with martial arts moves but with odd bants or behaviour… our only rules are if  something is massively inappropriate I’ll call time! I’m the referee Dad can’t be as he’s a maverick. Dad enjoys pushing the boundaries and if you show you are embarrassed he’ll only up his game. We get in the car Dad has on his car seat sweets and rat poison! He had already told me the story of the days dead rat and done a very funny impression of a rat which I had to hold back the laughs as every time I laughed in the cafe he did it again and he doesnt know when to stop. We end the trip with the other game which is Dad is always singing and I try and sing the next line from his songs today’s was “I’m walking down your street again, passed your door” … “Waaaaiiiiitt I shout (pause) “but you don’t live there anymore its years since you been there now you bla blah blah blah (i make up some words here) …we join in with each other at the chorus “….And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain…” (Everything But The Girl) We both seem pleased with this achievement. Dad pushes his cassette tape clunkily into his cassette deck surely the only man who still listens to cassettes and its always the same one! A crackly ladies voice booms singing “Good Bye Ruby Tuesday who could hang name on youuuuu”‘ and with that we’re off home, me the rat poison and bags full of veg! Another lunch day with Dad done! Classic #Dadmos (Dad moments)
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Meg’s pet cemetery and other morbid ‘tails’


I have just been reminiscing about how as a child I wrote poetry about our hamster’s cancer and sketched him in a dignified portrait. Mum wept over it’s beauty and felt I really ‘got’ Colin and that my little sister owner of Colin had neglected him in his time of need. Colin had such a big cancer lump that one of his little legs couldn’t touch the ground. Mum made him an assault course out of bog rolls as if it was his last chance holiday to Disney Land and so he could prove himself as a Xtina Aguilera fighter. We watched how he courageously dragged himself around as Mum wept with pride and pity. Mum became so consumed by Colin’s plight that when he eventually died she panicked and didn’t know how to tell my sister. So she left him in his cage and went off to work to do a radio interview, as she was an education specialist by this point. When the interviewer asked her a question about children she responded she believed all children deserved to be “Healthy happy hamsters” she was mortified to have announced this impromptu up beat rodent mantra in replacement for something that made sense in her role as expert in child education! Its a story that is often told and actually has outlived the upset of Colin. Cheers for that Col!

As a child I also wrote and illustrated a manual about how to hold a funeral for a dwarf rabbit including helpful sketches. Obvs my rabbit had actually died mid way through the original manual I had commissioned myself to do, the brief being a more upbeat working title ‘How to look after a dwarf rabbit’ but after we’d gone away for the wkd and left him with Norma she’d let him out in the garden potentially over night *witness statements vary* and he ate something poisoned in the green house and died – well that what they told me. My conspiracy theory is he froze to death but I don’t want to re-open the case at this stage. Either way Thumper was dead. Frozen outstretched and dead in the green house. Norma bought me a china rabbit ornament as compensation which Mum made me write a thank you letter for because Norma felt so bad. Mum was always making us write thank you letters. I felt like writing ‘thank you for killing my rabbit’. But I didn’t as mum pounded empathy into us like my rabbit ONCE pounded the ground with his fluffy alive Thumper feet and now he was dead and I was thanking his murderer! I hated the china rabbit ornament for two reasons 1) It looked nothing like my rabbit and 2) it me reminded OF my dead rabbit. None the less I couldn’t throw it away it remained on my bedroom shelf as a murderous monument in cheap china.

Let me take you back to happier times. It seems the greenhouse was a significant point of pilgrimage for Thumper it became in my eyes a serendipitous sacred site for the rabbits finest moment as well as the glassy morgue in which he took his last breath. Thumper’s glory moment was when in that very same green house deep in the muddy soil that ran along the inside where weeds grew he dug up a carving knife. It wasn’t even a special carving knife but it was big and for some reason my family accepted this a cutlery drawer heirloom and we actively used it for carving the Sunday roast for as long as I remember. It was just one of those houses, if something turned up it got kept forever and no one thought that was strange. Probably where I got my collecting habit from. I mean if even the rabbits finds were, excuse the pun, ‘fair game’ then really anything stands a chance of sticking around. I knew I had a problem when I became really emotionally attached to the plastic bathroom bin which was being threatened with replacing. It was orange with a cream lid with a massive crack in it with white masking tape at a diagonal. It was a constant bathroom friend always there always broken for my entire childhood and most of my teens. I was unhappy when my sister hit around 11 and started saying certain things in the house were unacceptable. My whole world was under threat. My Mum felt she’d potentially emotionally scarred Sally with her haphazard house and ways. I thought otherwise Sally was always shouting at stuff, she used to discipline her toys behind a closed door, I’d hear her in the role of school teacher telling them all off. It actually sounded fun I asked to join in – she wouldn’t allow it. Apparently I wasnt on the register. Mum bought me the book series ‘My naughty little sister’ to help me understand my sister better and why she was always ruining stuff! I rolled my eyes at her behind my NHS jam jar specs. She just doesn’t get mine and Mums style!

Sally’s terrifyingly clever, tempestuous ways I felt threatened us all with her brand of house cleansing. I thought the house was amazing and would write poems about it at night Sally found it a mortifying place and longed for homes like her friends where things matched. Always aware of Mum’s empathy for her Sally set to work sorting out the conformity issues with a plan to make our kitchenware match like her friends houses with the sensible Mums. Sally with an evil consumerist twinkle in her eye knew she not only held the Argos catalogue but for this moment the power! Sally to this day as an adult keeps the most immaculate house. In Sally’s defense the weird cutlery from the rabbit and cracked bins were a bit much. No plates matched in our cupboards though amazingly one of our brown 60s plates matched exactly the pattern on Dads bizarre 60s pants, brown with orange circles. You couldn’t get THAT set in Argos. Our house was full of jumble sale goods and scratchy towels somehow ending up in our airing cupboard taken from the hospital Mum had given birth in. But back to Argos. Aged 11 Sally had free rein from Mum for the Argos catalogue to pick some matching tea and coffee pots. Sally relished this power and while Sally was cleansing the weirdness out of us Mum got the Argos frenzy, its not that Mum was tight she just didn’t think of material things in that way. Once she saw it was easy and the Argos catalogue was our ticket to acceptance through the eyes of her youngest daughter she went mad on it, so we all got loads of new stuff for our bedrooms. I got my first duvet with a Forever Friends cover – matching pillow cases BOOM! I even got the matching lampshade! I used to sleep on a mattress on the floor of my room. I initially used to have a second hand half a bunk bed, but Mum sat on it with me and it broke so we binned it and I just had the mattress this went of for years it really didn’t bother me. But suddenly care of my sister I was living the high life, literally I was elevated physically and emotionally via my new Argos cabin bed! A white one with drawers underneath it – unbelievable an archival heaven – it was dreamy! Argos had changed us all in one flirtation with its pages one dreamy warehouse dalliance, we were different people and our bedrooms and coffee and tea pots matched for the first time in our lives. I’d lost a bathroom bin, it still hurt, but I’d gained a new bedroom care of my sister’s melt down so I had to thank her really.

I must admit it took me to late teens to realise you probably could buy a new towel occasionally. When Sally and I aged 18 and Sally 15 went on holiday with Mum in Turkey we had a towel epiphany. We laid out our ripped to shreds towels poolside. Mine was faded purple had no edges just white whispy frays and a big rip and bleach marks – Sally’s was almost as bad and they were more a giant flannel size than body appropriate. It was only their proximity to the other towels that we realised ours were different. We looked round at everyone elses towels looked at ours and then at each each other and burst out laughing. Why don’t we just buy a bloody towel. It’s not that we were impoverished I’m not saying that, we were rich in house discos and fun and we were on holiday life is good right? Its more Mum had a funny ambivalence to material things – she just didn’t notice them so very basic things we didn’t have. Sally and I still talk about our lack of new pants and socks as children there was just a basket in the hall of pants and socks for sharing it was free for all. My worst pants moment being me realising I was wearing granny pants with a name sewed in! The name was Maureen. My god I was wearing the old ladies pants from my grandmothers care home, Lakewood had been converted into a home for the posh elderly by this point. I would like to say I was just a child but it was 6th form! I don’t think I can blame Mum by this point I should have been taking responsibility for my own knickers but all our love and kindness events and festivals and house discos meant we didn’t have time for Saturday jobs and no one at our school had money so things just went unnoticed. Until that is your granny pants stick out your jeans in 6th form and then you relay to your friends your pants belonged to an old lady called Maureen. My friends rolled around laughing in the common room. Again why wasn’t I bullied? I have no idea. I think it’s because I was so mesmerised I hadn’t realised the basket of pants and socks was weird until I was wearing the under garments of an OAP so I found it as hilarious as everyone else! Either way I turned a corner and I did buy some pants and Sally and I now always make sure we always have a beach towel.

So I have established pets were not permanent features in our house unlike old cutlery dug up by the rabbit or the broken bin that seemed to secure more permanent contracts animals were merely squatters waiting to be moved on. Both our dogs were given to our Gran for their doggy retirement years as Mum felt we didn’t walk them enough and her over empathy meant that they were given to our Gran who lived by a woods, loved animals and actively walked everyday and could love them more than us. Bloody love and kindness ruled our house and its high standards was wiping out our pets like a raging empathy epidemic. Mum was right about our gran house aka pet retirement home, she was new posh, new money, well other men’s money as it goes but she was swish and glam and we could never compete with Mums plea for a better life for our animals than her grounds at ‘Lakewood House’ it was very convincing!

They say if you love someone let them go maybe Mum was practicing some kind of pet Buddhism, where to be truly happy you have to let go of all pets. It was very annoying but we couldn’t fight Mum was on a mission she was quite the pet Buddhism missionary. Love also came into a lot of things with Mum “do you LOVE it?” Mum would say looking deep into my soul in Tammy Girl as I stood in the shops bemused on my birthdays the one time a year we went shopping for clothes “do you REALLY love it.” The truth is I didn’t know I was holding pair of cycling shorts sewn into a pink poka-dot tutu skirt with matching shoulder padded crop top (fierce in the 80s) Confused I wracked my child brain for the abstract notion of ‘love’. I mean think I love it but who knows we may not last, kids change, cycling shorts grow tight. Mum wasn’t trying to be mean about shopping it just didn’t cross her mind to shop she wore bonkers jumble sale stuff. She thought some of the hand me downs we got were amazing and convinced me a woolen long sleeved dress was the bomb in primary school. It wasn’t and I should have been bullied but everyone crowded around me in the playground “what IS that!?” But so loved did I feel by Mum that I convinced them all it that it was a vintage classic my Mum says its amazing and soon I was preaching to the converted. Well not quite they wouldn’t be seen dead in it but they certainly were not gonna win so I played happily with them in my purple itchy dress. Mum told me my NHS glasses made me look intelligent and my chunky legs were strong legs that would take me around the world one day. When she wasn’t giving our pets away she really was alright our Mum.

With regards to our childhood and pets, I think why you’re meant to let children care for pets so they can learn life’s big mortality lessons. Nothing lasts forever you know the circle of life Lion King vibe. Kids learn through pets about love and loss and the fleeting nature of life. Life gives and life takes away. Well we didn’t get to fully realise this ‘meaning of life’ wisdom as Mum kept taking our pets away before they had died. What we learned is if you don’t love something enough it will be taken away. This could have potentially unattractive implications on ones adult psychology. Shall I blame Mum for me potentially overly loving what seems in hindsight average boyfriends – ‘I have my very own boyfriend’ I would beam to myself and ‘I LOVE him and I’m so excited to keep him’ I would think as I uploaded the one million-eth facebook couples profile pic. This one is not ending up at my Grans house. In hindsight I maybe should have learned to rein in ones potentially suffocating love after all it is possible to hug a puppy to death and kill a boyfriend with care! Why did all the things I loved have to end up at my Grans house a moment of lost dog nostalgia washing over me. Though ironically that’s exactly where also where ex husbands ended up. My Gran also took in my Dad for recuperation and holiday times out at her house when my parents split up. Seems our pets and our Dad both ended up in Gogs house. (We called our Gran Gogs and our dog Googie so it would sound like Gogs – dont ask!) My Dad stayed friends with my Gran all her life (My Mum’s Mother) My Mum was always a believer in love and kindness told us she respected our Dad and encouraged the friendship between him and Gogs. My Dad still took my Gran out for a big glass of Chardonnay into her 80s when the circle of life meant she ended up back at my Mums house for care and Dad was requested to take her out and keep her entertained for an afternoon. I’d get messages from Mum “Can you text your Dad, Gog’s is home”

Having said that Mum’s pet Buddhism was out of control. I remember even the gerbils got it. My brother and I owned one each. Mum told me that a little girl was so desperate for gerbils that she’d advertised on TV. I was so moved by the story that I let her have my beloved gerbil, I loved the gerbil and I was really good at looking after it so I can only blame my brother for not taking care of his that Mum spied an opportunity to move our pets on again! I ended up writing a letter to the girl about my gerbil and I hope it made her happy. I never met the girl but the gerbils went and I got given a pack of those flat Cadbury chocolate bars the ones with the wood life animals on apparently from the girl. God knows what happened to those gerbils I was little enough to believe an actual advert had gone out on TV requesting gerbils. Mum has blanked this one from her mind as says now it’s a terrible story. Our dog Googie shook things up a bit and got some kind of annual leave from our Grans and actually temporarily came home to live after our pleas to have her back. We welcomed the dog home in the way dogs usually do to THEIR owners in the manner of you tube sensation vids where a soldier comes back and the dog goes wild. Well the roles got reversed we jumped around the dog running up the street with her proudly announcing to confused friends across the street on their bluebell bikes ‘this is our dog!’ – I don’t remember how this came about but it was the most exhilarating experience but it didn’t last! Then there was our rescue dog Scrappy that drove Mum mad with the barking Mum got a dog psychologist in who attached a box to her collar so every time she barked it sprayed her in the face to put her off the incessant barking. But the dog seemed to like the lemon spray which gave us all a laugh *bark* *squirt* *bark* *squirt* (dog shakes head and starts it all over again) Well it didn’t seem fair, clearly wasn’t working so she had to go – off to our Nans it was where she could bark all day long and was treated like a princess and allowed to sleep on our Nans pink ruffled bed. Goodbye Scrappy.

Then there was a the psychologically damaged screaming baby hamster which I woke up to on my birthday a gift from Mum that had to go back as the pet shop as had been taken away from its mum too soon causing trauma. I assume it was the right thing to do and if I had kept it – it would have only rocked traumatically in its hamster ball as a disturbed adult rodent. Or maybe it was screaming knowing its best to get re-housed now than stay and experience mums animal social work – I mean it really isn’t worth the paper work and risking a re-housing later on! The screams were like no other I thought it was bleeding to death on account of it screaming in horrid pinky blood coloured cotton wool in its plastic hamster horror house. I told Mum I didn’t want another one after that. Mum surprised us one day with stick insects. She felt these were interesting and VERY low maintenance. They were a strange suprise though. “Kids I have a suprise!” – (our eyes light up) and then we are presented with what I can only describe as what looked like three anorexic grasshoppers. They were horrid but hey if we couldn’t fuck this one up and we got to keep them – then why not. They still give me the creeps. However even the bloody stick insects that literally walk like aliens in a tank of soil and twigs and occasionally eat a leaf were deemed to have an insufficient quality of life on account of us not cleaning them out enough. There was a slight truth in that I was too scared to touch them. So our alien anorexic grasshoppers weren’t being cleaned out enough and my gran certainly wasn’t rehousing them so my sister just initiated some kind of euthanasia and put them in our hedge out front. I think Sally was attempting to kill them with kindness.

Between mourning the loss of household furniture, archiving the comings and goings of the animals I wonder I had any time at all. The life of a child archivist is a busy one. But as child archivist it is your roll to note significant happenings like honouring the cancer of the hamster or creating albums of memories for the dead dog (I also did this) and marking the moment you lose the bathroom bin. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. My Mum still mocks me now and says the way I document things is so convincing that I could re-write our whole history and the whole family would believe me – luckily my siblings back me up and its well known Mum has the memory of a fish and don’t get me started on fish I had a suicidal one that massacred itself on the suction pump. Pets were not a great feature in my childhood but at least I loved and lost, all good things come to an end and I learned to love and let go grieving equally for the loss of my pets as I did the absence of the old bathroom bin!

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Claustrophobic And Mum Knows It!!! (teenage bedrooms!)

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Let me start by sharing with you a song by a teenage girl and her little sister about an insufficiently small bedroom the year is 1994…

Living in a shoe box (1994)

“I am in a shoe box
Claustrophobic and Mum knows it
Please….ease give me my space
Oh dear Mummy give me money
Living in a shoe box its not much fun
Living in a shoe box hand me the gun

I think the give away that song is not a genuine or realised suicide attempt is the use of ‘please’. People on the edge are not polite. Also the fact that the stress of having a small bedroom was expressed through song is a give away that maybe the spatial unhappiness that could cause suicidal thoughts in a teen was already being productively, creatively and therapeutically processed through rhyme signifies the kids would survive. Thank you for the music!

Ok I wrote it!!! ‘Living In A Shoe Box’ circa 1994 was written by me and co-authored by my little sister Sally we were aged 14 and 11. We later added music and thought it was a nice touch Sally added her clarinet which usually riled me with its grating tone but when in support of my plea for help I saw it as the third member in our protest. Our song carried a pretty good tune actually, we can still now aged 30 and 34 sing it for you if you’d like? Obviously no one asks us to, so we make do with singing it to each other occasionally. It still makes us laugh. Our favourite is the dramatic end of ‘Dead’ which we dragged out using speech and no intonation we felt it gave it a sinister vibe and abrupt and well quite frankly maverick end. Sally and I are mesmerised by our ridiculous childhood but that’s another story. Back to the song it had a commitment to its angsty message -  teenagers need their SPACE and teenagers need self expression in some or any form to survive those awkward years. For me a keen archiver and OCD collector my small bedroom was So unfair! *Slams bedroom door* and all the miniature ornaments I collected dusted and aligned in communities on my many shelves tumble to the floor like small china shelf lemmings all deciding to jump together. I would spend whole wkds dusting them and re-aligning them!


So, I am eagerly awaiting the edit from a photoshoot I did in a teen inspired bedroom I created for a scene in my music video where I perform as my alter ego ‘Megastar’ (sneak peek of the bedroom above)

Megastar is a pop celeb persona I have used to explore the influences of celebrity culture in my small home town of Trowbridge ‘Trow Vegas’ The creation of my teen bedroom is one facet of many adventures I have had as Megastar, her reality tv series #mylife is now on show in an exhibition at The Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space in London. Watch a teaser from Megastar’s internet hit show #mylife here.

I got to work on researching 90s style bedrooms and sacred teen spaces. I was interested in this project for many reasons. Teenage is often festized in popular culture and as an aesthetic its used by pop princesses in music videos so as Megastar with my first music video coming out I was interested in creating my own take on this. In addition to this glossy veneer borrowed in pop I have always been fascinated in the identity and privacy behind how you choose to represent yourselves. It seems teenage is the first time your room may as well be an installation. Much care is often put into making the space a reflection of your fantasies, friends and who you are attempting to become.


I was interested in creating a hyper girly aesthetic in my teen bedroom fit for my persona Megastar. However the reality is I was never girly like this as a teen I was a tom boy so this was quite a funny activity to explore. It was also quite weird as I have currently moved home 6 months ago with my Mum trying to save to move away so the reality of creating and then living in this room (which actually was my little sisters room has been bizarre!) Another case of a blurred boundary between life and art! My Mum looked at my creation and said “Its lovely darling is it meant to be like you never grew up” and then expressed an interest in keeping it that way as some kind of time wharp novelty guest room for girls! My teenage niece Courtney loved the look, lent me some stuffed toys and laid on my teenage bed looking up urban slang for me that we thought Megastar would use to describe her pimped pad! This really was a space influenced by 90s but a funny mix as Megastar herself featured as posters on the walls so it was a shrine to herself also!


My sister saw the pictures online and complained “What have you done to my room!!!?” The fact is she lives in her own house and has just had a baby, we can’t believe we’ve all grown up now and still laugh about the teenage angst song we wrote back in the day. As I lay in this this teen bedroom I do wonder how much have I actually moved on from that 14 year old songstress! And with that I say goodnight to my Mum, get into bed and stare at my Spice Girls poster by fairy light. I confide in Ginger Spice … “Living in a shoe box wasn’t much fun Ginge but fuck it THIS room is kinda zigga zig aaaah!” *Feeling girl empowered at this epiphany attempts powerful replica 90′s Sporty Spice air kick and twists ankle under suprisingly heavy winter duvet* Good night!

Here is some of the research I did for the room (below) I spent days and days trawling the internet for the right inspirations! Ill blog soon with the photoshoot of me in my room! To follow me as Megastar follow my tumblr:

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#myfamily “I always wanted you to be an artist”

I’ve been having all sorts of difficult and interesting chats about my art today and I have ended up writing about my MUM!? Hey whatevs its #mylife! Let me introduce myself though I’m an artist & have films showing in London here I’ve been asked is my latest parody reality series anymore than a piss take, whats real whats not real. Wheres the art – how can you make something of meaning. How can you embrace the everyday and your love of mainstream without it becoming vacuous.
Hey! All I know is I’m trying to figure this out too. My art draws on my family and what I see around me! OK my latest manifestation is a glossy persona Megastar I don’t know if I created her or she created herself, she can spout bollocks online in a vain fashion, takes a lot of selfies but whos to say she may not use her glamour to question stuff. I also had a glamorous empowering granny who I believe used beauty and glamour for good I mean look even during my music video I made a friend of a local elder (above) we connected over love of gold sequins – maybe this glossy endeavour is meaningful art it certainly engages! I learned from the best and you can see the film trailer for Agog The Grandmother Diaries here. My muse!
I believe my art is navigating through family, friends, contemporary celebrity, glamour as potentially empowering and humorous take on belonging. What you BELIEVE is another thing. Im not just an artist whos done her MA read the theory and such, I have also had another EDUCATION from the women in my life. What can I say I’m navigating both powerful and intriguing life lessons and figuring my own way.
Let me introduce you to #myfamily. My art education is one thing but my family are an education in themselves.
I was reminiscing today about when Mum dropped me as a child at an ambulance centre with my friend Lizzie for national ‘take your daughter to work day’ Neither of our parents worked there! Mum felt the work ethic concept was empowering for girls and it need not be aligned to an actual parent she has always been such a maverick mamma. Needless to say we made the most of it our highlight being having our photograph taken with the ambulance from tv programme Casualty. I wasn’t even a fan of Casualty but it just seemed exciting at the time in that way when in ones youth anything out of the ordinary happening is kinda a bonus. We also embarked on some terrifying role play where they had set up real life accidents and there was a mad man who had attacked a woman and we had to say what to do next after some minimal education – I don’t care that it was role play I felt I was ill equipped to administer advice to the wailing woman and to be honest I’m not sure if I even knew they were acting, it was very realistic and I was too busy freaking out myself about where the attacker was.
The things my Mum sent me to as a child and teen and my god probably STILL now always involved some kind of participation and community drama. She even ran our local drama club as kids – I was sent behind the curtain for violating the enjoyment of the other imaginary rabbits by telling them “what are you doing they’re NOT REAL” (Mum said everyone had a beautiful rabbit and they were all stroking them) Hey you gotta be a rebel right? So traumatised were we by Mums enthusiasm for improv that to Mums disappointment me and my siblings ended up shit at drama. My little sister by all accounts was the most traumatised looking clown in a local production in the town hall we all attended. Mum still weeps about the vulnerability of the pale faced child clown and her frozen smile on stage and I didn’t even make it through the auditions at school for plays – Mum was gutted lol. We loathed Mum’s desire for drama you always fight against what you are encouraged to do. However if you saw me my sister and bro out we’re all loud show offs but we’re all quite controlling of where we will perform usually to each other is our favourite we don’t like to be told to do anything!
Mum’s ethos was education education education comprehensive school that is she didn’t agree with private schooling but you can chuck in an alternative in there! My Mums proudest moment wasn’t my 1st for my degree or winning a scholarship for my MA… both big achievements right? It was when I told her I was dyslexic. She almost threw a party – she rang all her friends. She was so proud that I had studied so hard and re-written things a million times that I got myself to 21 without it being picked up! She is a good Mum – she always helped with my work. My friends still laugh that Mum would book me into a local B&B so I would concentrate with no distractions on my revision. “Meg you were never free for socials” my friend recently told me laughing about me at school! So keen to encourage us to embrace all backgrounds and all people we were to go to every type of event, festival and workshop. She would get me and my friends to African drumming workshops as grumpy teens smirking as we learned the language of the drum. We were handed around a tribe of women she wasn’t elite about what we learned everyone skills were up for grabs. Arts yes but she thought we needed to learn cooking so I remember being sent to Normas and watched how she cooked chocolate pudding in the micro and my sister went to an old ladies house Margaret and learned how to drink coffee. Freda taught me Shakespeare in my attic bedroom and then danced naked in the rain in our garden with Mum as apparently the elements also needed to be appreciated in the thunder storm we were mortified! I went to Judo, woodcraft folk, girls brigade, brownies, guides, tap, jazz, extra poetry and writing classes and ALL sports I was a raging tom boy, petitioned for a girls football club in junior school and I obviously thought gender shouldnt restrict me and I insisted on wearing swimming trunks in public swimming pools as a little girl! Mum even enrolled us in a summer sports club for posh school kids in Bath. We may be from a comprehensive school but we must have been the only kids from Trowbridge to learn to play lacrosse. Not only that but she convinced the sports group to keep taking us in years after we’d past their age range, so we stuck out a mile as bigger than the others as she didn’t want us limited by our own schools lack of equipment. Mum met us after the sports with picnics – my friends still laugh that mum classed spaghetti bolognaise as a picnic food and she’d bring her own portable camping gas oven lol.
My strangest Mum appointment was me finding myself at a brain gym convention in a business centre which was all about water and the brain and was really science-y and we had to introduce ourselves and there were people there who were child specialists and learning difficulty specialists and I had to say “I’m Meg and my Mum thought I should come to this to help with my GCSE revision.”  She took us to all music festivals and Glastonbury festival her fave -  we’d come back to school sun kissed with a hair braid and leave on our festival wrist bands till they rotted off. Hey Mum was cool sometimes we thought!
And back to take your daughter to work day I honestly can not explain how all this happened I’m sure no one else would get away with telling an ambulance centre to take two girls randomly on a take your daughter to work day for Dads lol. Not only this but mum believes in community and equality when it was our birthdays she said it really important that all the bullies come too. So we’d have class parties from school where the whole swimming pool was rented out and for a few hours the bullies and the bullied were made equal through mutual love of over-sized floats and inflatables!
She also took us off school to attend her drama therapy workshops with people with mental difficulties, which now I think is wonderful but thing is when you’re little it all feels uncertain to what the fuck is going on in their play and trying not to look scared. If it was our birthday Mum tied a balloon to the confused dog and met us from school this was our treat. I really liked it! Mum’s punk rocker friends hosted our birthday parties they dressed as pirates I don’t remember why but my friends seemed to like them. One had a snake that my sister unwittingly hugged as it was wrapped around Punk Sean’s waist under his clothes – Sally never got over the experience. Mum hired a whole disco in our house and my friends were encouraged to be different animals. Mum STILL hires a DJ just to play in our kitchen! She believes dance is essential and should be inclusive. We always had to make friends with stray children on holiday and we had to dance and encourage the shy to dance with us or we’d get the glare from Mum! haha! Think what you like about my mum and my family – think we sound annoying – fine all I’m saying is if my mum told you to be an animal in a house disco you’d do it! And you’d feel bloody brilliant when she praised your giraffe-y moves!
Mum always filled us with dread, intrigue and love. What the hell who the hell are we being made to embrace next! So I have hit my 33rd birthday and somehow its come OUT and I have been instigating my own traumatising art and community events that I cant say I enjoy more Im compelled to do as I have a huge imagination. Recently one of these was making my home town of Trowbridge join me on a two year adventure into Trow Vegas where life was glitz and glam and I was ‘Megastar’ Read about this film here.
I celebrated my birthday with Mum in London, as standard we saw an alternative circus performers in LIMBO and then a film about gay flight attendants  dancing to “I’m So Excited” having spiked passengers drinks with mescs on a plane.  After discussing my show in London Mum looks at me and smiles “See you’re using art and drama now aren’t you.” With a twinkle in her eyes she says “I ALWAYS wanted you to be an artist” I sharply quipped back  “No you didn’t!” Mum laughs “That’s true I wanted you to be an actress but artist was my SECOND choice”
And with that I present to you #mylife my current exhibition of films on at Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space!
Go see it and follow me as Megastar on tumblr
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On being Megastar


Hi, welcome, I’m Megastar and this is my story….it’s been emotional.*hangs head* Slowly raising my head with dramatic effect I meet your eyes, staring directly into the camera and into your hearts. My eyes glisten with tears, that hang like carefully constructed diamonds from my exaggerated fake lashes communicating emotively and manipulatively with you my audience. You are willing to give me your empathy and understanding as we strike a deal that needs no words. We agree I’ll take you on my entertaining  journey away from the mundane minutia of your daily life. You want to escape into my hyper reality because my visuals are glossy and the soundtrack is banging. This is #mylife. Let’s go…

In the beginning Megastar didn’t exist. She created herself as my alter ego during the two years it took to explore glamour in its contemporary guise while completing a film which saw me travel to Las Vegas in search of the glamour and extravagance that is used as a humourous reference point in my home town. Megastar insidiously took over my identity to such an extent that I have decided to present my ideas collected in video, photography and film as 3 online episodes of a fictional reality TV show called, #mylife.

Originally, I intended to work as a participant observer and interview people in Las Vegas, Nevada. But something stirred in my psyche as I experienced just how much people were willing to respond to the project and I was so inspired by their willingness to join in the fantasy that I reinvented myself as a full-on Trow Vegas celebrity with a new name, Megastar. I started to see the things I filmed as ‘events’ that could be manipulated and used in Megastar’s story.

I ended up taking my home town of Trowbridge on and adventure inspired by the glitzy constructed world of Las Vegas. I began to act like a fictional celebrity and interacted with people differently – not even explaining my ‘fame’ or what Trow Vegas was or how it came to be. I started to mirror diva behaviour and self-promoting strategies and brought out a fictional perfume and life story, merchandise, clothing range and started selling myself through products. Megastar is also a social media character posting 100s of narcissistic ‘selfies’. I embraced all things social media, twitter, instagram, fb, and built a kind of online language. In other words, I began branding and packaging myself and worked out how I could create and manipulate my ‘story’ by creating a persuasive image of my new glamorous self.


When I put this new persona on display in public, I observed how people interacted with me in new and intriguing ways. I was mesmerized to discover how far people who didn’t know me were willing to go along with Megastar’s demands. All the people featuring in the film are new friends who were mostly younger and savvy to the language of social media and they all ended up playing parts in the events that I organised. When I reviewed all the filmed events over two years I started to be interested in ‘real life’ and how reality TV shows put a ‘spin’ on real life events or stage them to look more entertaining than they really are.

Megastar’s persona is based on a mix of personal messages from my family who through my observations I understood to have the ability to create glamour as positive, dramatic, charming and most importantly inclusive. I observed in particular the strong women in my family and I was always agog for my Gogs! Gogs was my grandmother, my muse and best friend. I learned from her and in turn assisted her to use the glamour she developed through her life as a tool to stay vital and in tune with life and young people. I loved her spirit and I had watched her closely for 8 years making a film Agog: The Grandmother Diaries about our close and unusual relationship. On the darker side Megastar’s persona is based on the messages of pop princesses, popular culture and a personal understanding of the vacuous and narcissistic side to contemporary culture that saturates our daily lives in the media.


It was a strange experience for me being Megastar especially when the lines blurred. I experienced real emotional heart ache when my grandmother passed away during the making of this film. At one point I found myself crying about my grandmother at a ‘Megastar’ event dressed in a dramatic gown on the top of a glitzy stair case in my local town hall to an audience in Trow Vegas. It was too strange! Life had got complicated. I also experienced other emotions like the dread and exhaustion that happens trying to maintain a glamourous persona in public. The endless photo shoots and costumes and merchandising ideas. I had no team or entourage just a couple of friends to help so it was all a huge amount of work constantly. It wasn’t an easy couple of years, depressed about my grandmother I found myself dreading Megastar’s next showy events, my online life not reflective of my ‘real’ life and me somewhere caught in the middle often laughing, often crying! The final film is presented as 3 episodes of online reality tv show #mylife however it seems to display a funny hybrid of ‘Meg’ and the creation ‘Megastar’. By episode 3 I have become Megastar and I chose to reflect as her in character on all the filmed footage in a in a celebrity interview where I am vain, narcissistic and down right plain bitchy!

It was my inquisitive nature and desire to understand things through experiencing them that kept me going. I decided to complete the fictional experience with a take on a pop song by Katy Perry called, ‘Part of me’ because it resonates with me for its redemptive self-empowering message. So, as Megastar, I set about creating a narrative for my music video in my home town of Trow Vegas. In this film, I am mirroring the trend to do this online in homage to your favourite star. As Megastar I present this myself as not a fan but as a diva using self-expression as part of my fame and my ‘story’. This music video will be launched on YouTube during the #mylife exhibition. For me the music video is the final emancipation of Megastar!


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I attempt to answer this question as I have received curiosity, concern, criticism and pure confusion from bystanders of my art over the last couple of years in the making of my film Viva Trow Vegas, just a small town girl which is about to show at the Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space May 13 – August 31.

It’s a hard one to put into words because this film kept changing and developing all the time. It all started from my amusement at my home town always being called Trow Vegas by generations of locals. I have always been interested in belonging and community and I liked the irony of a dull place with a bad reputation wanting to be a twin town with somewhere as glitzy as Las Vegas. I’d been completing work about glamour and started to look at local girls and the way they dressed and styled themselves.

At first I was just going to do a funny comparison type film – I was going to interview people in the real Las Vegas and those in Trowbridge/Trow Vegas so I went to Las Vegas, Nevada! … and I did a shoot at the Neon Boneyard in which I played a disenchanted show girl. But the idea kept changing and I started to morph into a more glitzy version of myself and this kept developing something in me as I experienced how people responded and joined in so I reinvented myself as a Trow Vegas celebrity with a new name, ‘Megastar’

I was intrigued to discover how far people who didn’t know me were willing to go along with it all and I met Vicky on twitter, a 21 year old, who loved the glamour of pop princess Katy Perry and so we developed that together and we looked into a red carpet event in Trow Vegas for a film I had made (Agog: the grandmother diaries) and later entered the carnival together and we met some gym boys who agreed to act as my celebrity bodyguards. I embraced all things social media, twitter, instagram, Facebook, I built a kind of online language. The line separating Meg from Megastar got more and more blurred.

I realised that people really do buy into your confidence – it really is true, I just asked can I do ‘this or that’ I want to enter Trow Vegas carnival as the queen or I’d like to be a VIP at the Christmas lights turn on and people kept saying yes to me. I have genuine love for celebrations that go into overdrive in my art so it was interesting to see people allowing me all sorts during the two years. As time went by, I started to mirror celebrity behaviour and strategies, self promotion, and brought out a fictional perfume and life story, merchandise, clothing range and began selling myself through products – interested in branding and packaging yourself and how you can create and manipulate your ‘story’ through a strong image of your glamorous self and I then had these out on display in public and observed how people interacted with them – like on my Christmas merchandise stall.

This film is about the glamour of my era. A time when nothing needs to be private and anyone can be a diva, pop-princess or a celebrity through social media. A time of globalisation and mass media when #mylife in a small provincial town can be turned into the glamour of Las Vegas! #Amaze


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You called?


My office is mental. A colleague is cradling a humungous Persian cat that roamed into the garden, she tends to get a little attached to things so I found myself saying “Enjoy your cuddles then put it back” in a most Mumsy voice. And I been informed not one but TWO different houses door bells ACROSS THE ROAD activate the ringer in OUR office! To top it all one activates a weird song that no one even knows our door bell was capable of. I feel like I’m stuck in a darker version of The Vicar of Dibley in a strange community I’d quite like to swap Parish now ;-) However the madness has informed my recent exhibition #mylife which you can read about here

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