Excerpt from ‘Purple’, Matthew Lavender’s coming-of-age tale about courtship, free love and the generation gap. In this reading from chapter three Matthew’s gran, Mary, begins her story. Filmed/edited by Cynthia Nolan and Rory Gardner. You can read more about/buy Purple here.
Talking to Linda Anderson at her bakery and coffee shop, The Kitchen, I was struck by her friendly, open nature and her skill in creating customised homemade cakes. Based in Croxley Green, between Watford and Rickmansworth, Linda’s shop is a popular place for community groups and customers wanting coffee plus high-quality cakes for all occasions. I asked her about the secret of her success.
Leslie: Please tell us about The Kitchenand the creative work that went into establishing and running the business.
Linda: After I was made redundant from Christian Aid I volunteered as a London Ambassador during the 2012 Games, whilst applying for new posts. Alongside this I found myself baking and increasingly friends and family asked me to bake cakes for them. Initially cupcakes but then birthday and other large celebration cakes. Continue reading LINDA’S SOUL KITCHEN→
I interviewed Robin Gregory whose extraordinary debut novel The Improbable Wonders Of Moojie Littleman has already won 14 literary awards and is being adapted for a film. Her book contains moral allegory, mysticism, and lyrical prose; it tells the story of a disabled boy who is sent to St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy, where his determination to ‘belong’ fuels his self-discovery.
Robin studied World Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz; she is a carer and a deeply spiritual person who runs a Facebook page called The Healing Tree and her website is called, rather appropriately, www.MadMysticalJourney.com
When the British press ‘outed’ me they chose not to cover my real story. They could have asked about my childhood or the years in the closet, they could have invited me to explain or quoted my article, they could even have taken an interest in how I’d changed and who I’d become; instead they lampooned me as a ‘self-confessed transvestite’ and ‘Labour loony’, who shouldn’t be teaching in a school.
Of course, a human-interest story wouldn’t have suited their purposes. They wanted a cautionary tale about people in left-wing groups to amuse and scare their readers. ‘Don’t go there!’ they were saying, pointing at me. I was their shadow side, the enemy within, an example of why it was better to project, act tough and not let down the barriers. Because, of course, to understand yourself you have to accept that we’re all on the spectrum. Continue reading My Outing, Part 5 – MY STORY→
In the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the mariner touches the shoulder of the wedding guest, beginning his story with “There was a ship.” When the wedding guest objects, the mariner hypnotises his unwilling subject with a fixed and glittering stare.
Using a similar but much lighter technique, the great master of hypnotherapy, Milton H Erickson, developed the ‘handshake induction’ designed to produce a gentle trance. Erickson would distract his client at the start of a consultation by gradually withdrawing his hand and touching the wrist so gently that his subject couldn’t quite tell when the contact ended.
In both cases the goal was for the subject to pay attention to hints and suggestions normally passed over, and focus uncritically on a single train of thought. In the process, the subject would discover hidden truths about the self or personal experience.
I kept my cross-dressing secret, and didn’t tell anyone. I’d read about cat burglars who came and went in silence and removed a photo or a ring or page from a diary, and like them I tiptoed into bedrooms and sneaked things out of drawers in a house that wasn’t mine. I was on high alert, rehearsing my lines. If anyone found me, I’d tell them my intentions were good, that I’d fought back my urges and kept myself intact for as long as I could. In any case, I’d say, I’d been curious and not really meant it, this was my first time, a once-only trial.
My head was full of stories where I held out on my own, playing for time. I’d cast myself as a loner, a survivor, moving through darkness while outwardly I was the shy boy who smiled and waved from the window. Continue reading My Outing, Part 3 – INCOGNITO→
It began with a dream where I found myself alone in the woods. I’d been captured by a gang on the way to school and tied to a tree in what people called the wasteland. The boys had been cruel but I’d been brave, and now they’d left me the ropes didn’t hurt. I was by myself in a world of soft leaves, warm sun and cool, gentle feelings. I could watch for animals and listen to the birds. It was as if I’d always been there.
A song went through my head: If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down to the woods today, you’d better go in disguise.