12 Jan 2010

A Year off the Ward: a Posie Rider work in progress...

The mind is a complex organ, and try as they might, clinical psychiatrists have yet to concoct the correct combination of suppressants, stimulants, narcotics and anti-hallucinogenics to remedy its many, many disturbances. Sound like you? Then you're just like me, and will love my new book!

A Year off the Ward,
soon to be published with WPR Books, charts a year in which I attempted not to get sectioned under the Mental Health Act, or because I was stalking someone. My loyal readers will be glad to know my valiant attempts to stay ostensibly sane are finally being bundled into a collectible tome, and they will have been with me throughout the journey via my blog, a garbage heap of the mind like no other. Anyone remember September 2008-August 2009? Let me jog your memory in my book!

And, if you happen to be in Cambridge on the 14th February, you can come along to the launch. It's at Heffers! More details to be announced as I'm currently in frenzied chats with my publishers to ensure the book is in tip top condition, and that I make sure its in proper sentences before I commit it to PDF.

Find below a sneak preview to wet your dripping appetite! It follows the first few weeks of January 2009, when I tried to overcome my mental disturbances by improving my body image through strategic anorexia, and learnt some important lessons about feminism on the way.

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January

“Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind

shapes itself to the body, and roaming around its gilt cage, seeks

only to adorn its prison.”

Mary Wollstonecraft


I returned to N1 full of Christmas cheer. A fortnight in Aunt Lily's cottage had reminded me of a kind of happiness I had forgotten long ago, weighed down by the perils of modernity and psychosis. I dread sentimentalising the domestic, but there is something so comforting about spending one's days on brisk Hampshire walks and one's evenings roasting Ladurée mincemeat macaroons over an open fire while Aunt Lily microwaves yet another Marks and Spencer Turkey Crown with extra stuffing. Hitherto, I had thought of kitchens as essentially vulgar things which are best buried in the depths of a copious town house and populated with willing staff able to whisk up a chickpea bake and send it flying up a dumb-waiter at the ring of a midnight bell.


Now, however, I found myself craving the aesthetic qualities of the Arga as much as I once yearned for the Georgia O'Keefe printed screen that currently shields the entrance to my modest cuisine from prying eyes. A great change had come upon me. I went online and started a twelve month subscription to Country Living. I packed away my more outrageous (and blood splattered) wall decoration in favour of distressed pine and vintage cross-stitch baby primers from Islington antiques market. I bought holly and mistletoe and put them in a blue chipped enamel watering can and soaked my white Habitat sofa in tea to make it looked antique, like I did as a child in a school project on the Magna Carta and, most troublingly, I started baking.


It all started with Christmas Gingerbread Partridges, a kind of crisp cookie made with a hand-crafted copper cookie cutter and decorated with delicate icing designs. It was another one of Aunt Lily's great ideas, like taking mescaline at my parent's funeral. The partridges were intended to be tree or package ornaments, or decorative gifts for friends I'd missed over the holiday period. Having no friends as such (except Lara, who's a bit too grown up for that sort of thing, and Melody, who's afraid of pigeons, which are a bit like partridges) and no tree, as I had no burly boyfriend to bring it in, and am not a post-feminist after all, I found myself at a loss as to what to do with all the things. They were so, so hard (like rocks), so I didn't dare attempt to eat them. At first. Soon I had discovered that, if soaked in tea, coffee or any hot liquid, they eventually softened to an edible consistency. At 5.0g of fat per partridge, and with little to do between New Year and Pancake Day, it wasn't long before I'd transferred my mental turmoil to my thighs and, whilst trying to run away from the ward with a basket full of gender-normativity under my cook's arm, I had in fact booked myself a ticket straight back to the ward aboard a special convoy vehicle like the ones they use to transfer the obese around airports.

......... to be continued!

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