Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Too many vag**as

Just back from a cultural weekend in London with friends, swinging past the Tracy Emin show at the Hayward then on to the BP Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery. Four of us went to the Emin but only two survived the experience well enough to continue to the portraits, interestingly the two moderates. The other two hated/loved all of it.

I'd recommend going to both exhibitions, being one of the moderates, as long as you don't mind too many vag**as at the Emin, which was the opinion of three of us. Of course, the Emin cost money to see, whereas the portraits were free and therefore much better attended, and there were wi**ies there instead and a few ni***les. Perhaps that was why. Hard to tell and to be honest the portraits were, to a writer, a bit like a large box of chocolates to a fat person: I had to be dragged away, because the fun thing about portraits is that they don't tell stories, they hint at them and you have to guess the rest.

Perhaps the trouble with the Emin was that it was all one person's story and some of it plainly told. I did love her gigantic blankets/wall-hangings. They were beautiful objects in themselves, skillfully put together, and made me want to get my sewing machine out. (But then I'd have to fix it before I could use it.) These wall-hangings had lots of words. I'm never quite sure about words in visual art. Mixing-medias can confuse and is too like asking the audience to multi-task, which not everyone is good at, if it's not done well. The problem was these words was that some of them were mis-spellt, which upset the sensibilities of my moderate friend (also a writer). But Tracey Emin suffers from dyslexia, which as one who clearly revels in words, like myself, must be a painful affliction. My favourite mis-spelling was PYSCO. Some would say rather hauntingly apt, but I think that's unkind. It made this fierce woman fragile, just like the rest of us.

And in a corner as far as possible from the front door there were some beautiful spirals made of pieces of old wooden panelling with deliciously flaky paint. I could have stood in front of these for hours, photographed them from all angles and papered my room with the results if I'd been allowed.

I love the Hayward, weird space as it is. I saw an Ansel Adams exhibition there a while ago and fell in love with Marc Chagall in its rooms at the exhibition during which he died (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) and by association fell back in love with art because his paintings made me laugh. I didn't know art could be funny.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Missing in Action

It occurs to me (too late) that there are some missing characters from Mavis's Shoe in addition to Mavis. Hens. Surely back courts would have been full of them as part of the Dig for Victory drive? And Carbeth would have been over-run and Lenny, my main character, would have had a field day in the fields with them. I'm reminded of this by the presence of four hens in my own back court who, as a staunch advocate of free range eggs, I must tolerate as they scratch my little bit of grass to pieces and gobble all my grubs. I do not begrudge them the grubs, on the contrary, they are welcome to them and I will shortly be laying a trail of small beasties to entice them into my kitchen. Not to turn them into chickens for the oven, no, no, but to introduce them to my pet slugs which I'm told is a great delicacy if you're a hen. They're very sneaky and shy these slugs and tend only to come out at night, but then to crawl over every surface (ceiling included) and to avoid the compost bin under the sink. (There were twenty five of the little darlings when I first discovered them through half shut eyes at 3am a few years ago on my way for a glass of water.) They have recently discovered the shower where they are even bolder and are often there in the mornings. I've issued several eviction orders and now need to call for some hen-chmen.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Past the First Post

Mavis's Shoe was published in March this year by Waverley Books and is a novel about the Clydebank Blitz as seen through the eyes of young girl. It's about what war is really like, what it means to be going about your business when suddenly bombs come raining down all around you. And it's about the importance of family and community and belonging. I love this book and I loved writing it. I hope everyone who reads it loves it too.

The story is, well, a story, but the background is all historically accurate right down to where the bombs dropped, and after the bombing it goes to one of my favourite places, Carbeth, which is a hut community not far from Clydebank where a lot of people ended up after being bombed out. Carbeth has a great story to tell too, but that's for another blog. I wrote the book so I could keep going to Carbeth. That's not true, by the way. But it's not far off it.

Here's the beginning of Mavis's Shoe:
'For those of you that don't know, this is my story of the bombing. There was trouble before it even started.'