Essay 12: Some Kind of Bird

by rosalyster

When I lived in London, five years ago, I had a blog which only my mum read. It gives me the creeps, a bit, to read it now, because I think about that year as just one protracted freak out. I didn’t know what the hell I should be doing, I had a variety of eating disorders on the go, and I had just no money at all. I didn’t have a job or a place to live or anything. You would never know that from the blog, though. It’s not that I was pretending to be fine. It’s more that you can be fine and not fine at the same time, in the same minute. You can be breathless with anxiety the whole time and also you can be grooving around the Tate Britain with your friend Simon. That’s how it works.

I wrote about the same things I write about now, mostly. Stuff I think is funny. My parents. My friends. Books I like. I started going through it earlier today, and was unsurprised to note that I found the time to write quite a lot about snakes. I don’t know what it is with me and snakes. Do I think that they are funny? Is a snake an inherently funny animal, like how a hyena or a chicken is a good animal to put in a joke? I wrote about this guy my brother had met called Vic Jagger. There is quite a lot in there about foxes, and how shit it is to quit smoking. There is, of course, a huge amount written about fictional dogs, foremost among them being Clive, the dog from London Fields. I don’t know anyone who loves Clive as much as me. I think that I was sad, a lot of the time, and you can sort of tell.  I don’t know, though. It is wrong to subject your own writing to a literary analysis, but it is also very illuminating. It feels obviously like a message in a bottle.

From June:

  1. him: in his mid 50s, probably, sort of dad age, but did not necessarily appear to be an actual dad. not the kind of dad you would want, anyway. he looked like he used to have a ponytail until very very recently. his whole bearing and the way he even moved his head and shoulders seemed like he used to have a ponytail. he had a “peruvian” shirt (blue and purple stripes) on, and Black Jeans, and closed shoes, thanks god (he seemed like he would have clammy white feet with horrible toenails). i couldnt at all tell where he was from, sort of american but also south african. he looked like a visiting sociology lecturer at UKZN, a lot.
  1. we were standing in this poster shop called blackwell’s looking at which pictures i would buy to put on my wall if i had any money at all, and there was one banksy one, and i said, “oh jesus i *hate* banksy”, and rom said, “it’s just Typical that you would hate banksy. that is a Typical Rosie move.”

From July:

  1. so it’s going to be the best thing ever being the godmother. I bought him some tiny stripy pants the other day with pockets in. Me and Roms had nice chats about what could go in them.

    His money
    2. His little plastic spoon.
    3. His own little fists.
    4. His spade
    5. His chicken drumstick
    6. His magazines

  1. I did nearly stand on one, but there’s no way I would have even come close to dying. I just would have been a person who had been bitten by a puff adder, which would be pretty grim, but not the worst. Their wikipedia entry says that they can “bite through soft leather”, like that’s the scariest thing you ever heard. It is quite scary, I spose, but it’s asnake.

From September:

  1. The other day, me and Mae were in the kitchen at Mahdis’s, and I found these sort of dried soya bean snack things. They are Mae’s best and they are
    We were doing lots of exclaiming about how nice they are, and Mae said, “I don’t want to give these to Dan. He’ll just go ‘are you a bird?'”

    And then I said: “I’m sorry, but are you some kind of bird?”

    And then she said: “Let me just stop you right there and ask you if you are a bird”

    And then I said: “Let me just stop you right there and ask the question that’s been on the tip of everybody’s tongue: are you some kind of bird?

  1. On that same bus trip, I heard this nice middle aged lady call her slightly useless looking teenage son a chief. He said he was getting off the bus earlier than she thought was a good idea, and she said “Why would you do that, you chief?” She gave him a really hard time about it, and all her friends laughed at him, and he climbed off the bus in a huge sulk. His mum sat back all complacently and said “He’ll be waiting for me at the right stop when I get off.” I bet he was, too.
  2. The other night I was talking to this guy at Jessie’s birthday party about the books most sold in second hand South African bookshops*, and he said “and this is all based on your own informal research is it. This was not a poll taken under the auspices of any sort of official anything am I right.” And I said yes you are right
  1. [About which Miliband has scarier eyes]. The answer is so obviously Ed. You can see some terrible recently-hired advisor has told him to open them REAL WIDE. As a symbol of his Vision For The Future.
  1. I don’t think the guardian is helping by having a photo of him on the front page where he is just totally all red, on a red background, like he is in some kind of darkroom. Maybe it’s so you can’t see his demented eyes.
  1. him and his wife (who was wearing a sort of Cheesecloth purple jumpsuit, actually, but despite this she managed to come across as very nice and someone you wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with) were sitting at the same set of tables and chairs that we were for most of the day. they borrowed our sunscreen. the wife made a nice joke about eating some of our ice cream*. things i noticed about cillian murphy:
    A) his head is much bigger from the side than from the front

From August

  1. Imagine stumbling on Reggie Kray’s “Hello Clive” letters. Like those were the letters your grandfather had kept in a box under his bed, along with those lovely paintings. My best is when he says: “Hello Clive, So hows things going at the new place*. Same old shit here mate.” [The new place is Reggie’s new prison]. I love the Kray Twins. I feel like they are a lie created to make me pleased.

The message in the bottle is very easy to read. It says YOU HAVEN’T CHANGED AT ALL. It says that this is the kind of bird you always were, and you stay that same kind of bird whether you are happy or sad. You were born this very specific kind of bird, and there is basically nothing to be done about that.