Coordinates

I remember the first time

I traced your spine that felt like velvet.

Memorised the coordinates of your collarbones

with my nervous lip.

I remember the laughter, the sweat, that unfamiliar.

The glow of your skin,

that lighting my way home.

Your eyes lit up like sparlers in November twilight,

and guided me in line with you.

Who knew two bodies could align so wholly,

I never knew love until I met you.

 

Lust was redefined from then on, not some temporary kick

but reformed into some predtermined certainty.

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A Fresher’s Guide to Birmingham

(I wrote this during my Birmingham Mail work placement and they never published it, lol)

That dreaded time of year is again approaching for students. Eighteen year olds are entering the world of beans on toast, clubbing five nights a week and getting up for that 9am lecture. Of course, stereotypes aside, preparing for the big move to university can be scary. Whether you’re heading to University of Birmingham, Birmingham City, or Aston University, this guide works as a useful tool to what Birmingham has to offer, whether that be a greasy chicken takeaway (gourmet food after a few jäger-bombs) or student nights on Broad Street.

To reassure you, if results don’t work out how you’d hoped, follow Jeremy Clarkson’s advice. Tweeted last year, the reportedly highest earning TV host in Britain reassures A Level students: ‘If your A level results are disappointing, don’t worry. I got a C and two Us, and I’m currently on a superyacht in the Med.’

All jokes aside, here’s a list of what to expect from the second biggest city.

 

  • Student Nights:

Even with your student ID card, many would argue you’ve not at university unless you’ve experienced the night life. You may think you’ve been clubbing prior to Fresher’s week, but student nights differ to your 18th birthday bash in your hometown’s pub. The drinks are cheaper, there’s usually a dress code or music theme, and everyone’s of similar age! (The middle-aged dad-dancers are limited.) The most common student nights are Stupid Tuesdays (‘Stuesdays’) at Player’s Bar, and Vodbull’s student night at Snobs on Thursdays. Tickets can be purchased at vodbull.com and often require student ID for entry.

Throughout Fresher’s week, your university will organise a range of club-night events. These often include organised taxis, a dress code for each accommodation, and sometimes arranged pre-drinks to give you the opportunity to meet new people in a safe environment. These guarantee a smooth transition into Birmingham’s night life, all whilst reassuring your Mum that you’re in safe hands.

  • Make use of your student discount

Student ID alone is accepted in by many of the Bullring’s shops, giving you 10% off that Topshop bag you’re eyeing up. But remember your student loan needs to last a while, so be mindful – student discount doesn’t mean it’s a complete steal.

  • Visit the Library (not just for studying!)

The Library of Birmingham opened in April 2013 and attracts tourists and locals alike with its incredible architecture and sky garden. Situated on the west side of the city centre at Centenary Square, beside the Birmingham Rep and Baskerville House. Not only do the bookshelves look like something from Harry Potter, the Shakespeare Room and skyline views provide a wow-factor not to be missed.

  • Cafes other than Starbucks

Favourite coffee shops include Boston Tea Party down Corporation Street (perfect for brunch, or cake and a cappuccino) and Faculty Coffee and Tea for incredible cakes and atmosphere.

  • The Custard Factory

Birmingham’s hidden independent shopping area down Digbeth high-street. Known as the creative quarter, The Custard Factory is set in 15 acres of restored Victorian factories. Home to more than 400 creative and digital businesses and independent retail and leisure venues. Want somewhere different to explore? Show you know your way round the city by taking friends to this hidden nook.

 

  • Takeaways (that only taste good on a night out)

Because McDonalds is too classy for student life. Pit Stop on Broad Street meets all your drunken needs. These needs being chicken nuggets and/or cheesy chips. As for Selly Oak, I’m vegetarian so can’t comment, but my friends really love (when drunk of course) Roosters.

 

  • Understanding the Dialect

Never encountered Birmingham before moving to university? You may have never even met a Brummie. Not only is it an accent, it has its own slang. Brush up on your Brummie before arriving and you’ll be fine.

my mind is mine

i used to think my mind

was a black box i couldn’t lift.

its weight was too much for a second pair of hands,

and no table could support it.

 

it didn’t belong to me, but i was no thief.

it was clouded, but no eye-test clarified

that black fog.

 

but over time, i was knighted queen of my kingdom,

my mind is mine, it just got misplaced.

now, i pamper it, water it and tuck it in.

 

i am present (my mind is a present), just needed repair.

i am the toolbox, the first-aid kit, the key.

the lock was just abandoned for a while.

 

the effort halved

your head placed naturally on the pillow of my lap,

it’s cramped (with crumbs and coffee stains)

but we make-do, being each others’ lucky coin

or soft toy rabbit.

the train, it’s going faster now, it’s chaotic

and we share one set of lungs.

breathing amongst foreign character is more comfortable

when shared.

it sounds tiresome to many, our organs intertwined,

but it’s behavour now.

what we do, we do in tune.

experiencing the same (with the same sandwiches and toilet breaks)

i’m seeing this journey through her eyes.

i used to be afraid of public transport

(now, the effort is halved.)

Moira’s Diary – The Handmaid’s Tale

Thought I’d post this on here after finding it on my laptop. It’s a creative response to Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, giving Moira’s perspective instead of Offred’s narration in the original text. I wrote this for AS English Literature a few years back and it received full marks.


The following is a printed transcript and extract from a recently discovered diary; the writer is believed to have been a Handmaid of the Republic of Gilead, two hundred years earlier and to have escaped months before the renowned uprising. The diary was discovered five hundred feet underneath what was assumed to have been a well-known contemporary brothel. The text is below; although much is illegible, it is now being used as source material for Gileadean Studies, at Cambridge University, England.

 

This place is outstanding, I guess it could be said. Outstanding, not in the way in which is stands out, I mean, it’s a fucking brothel. More in terms of the immense coup pulled off by the men who run Gilead. Virgins for wives, whores for pleasure.

The wallpaper is a ghastly, vomit-yellow, peeling from the walls which enclose us. On occasion, the yellow mucus surroundings utterly implodes upon itself and begins to reveal confessions of the previous versions of ourselves, the whores who made it out breathing. Or the ones who didn’t. Black scrawls of fears and revelations of things that would horrify a God fearing nation. Ghost stories are written on these walls, those yellow pages of neglect and rape and power and desperation.

She thinks I’ve let myself go. She’s judging me. Bitch.

Her back arched with discomfort. She leant back against the mustard couch, her veins mounting to the surface, pupils dilating and the reek of anxiety from this hooker-to-be drained my nostrils. Offred. Oppressed Offred. This couch bleeds with the absence of what used to be; self-respect and dignity traded with a sickly-coated ironic façade of the Virgin Mary.  The yellow couches are often smeared with blubbering weakness; tears that black smeared tissues couldn’t staunch. She is Mary and Eve. I am Lilith, cast out. Condemned.

“You don’t mean that.”

Confessions line the walls. Pages of yellow paper; peeling from the core. Black declarations and ghost stories and autobiographies. It makes me anxious. Am I next? Where do they find these black biros, to add to this log, this community, of those who pass over when that time comes? Those who couldn’t cope?  I am barricaded by whores with pipes between their lips. My throat is a desert, my tongue grains of sand. If I could, I’d growl. That wouldn’t be speech, but speech is golden. Speech isn’t allowed. Men’s biology is an imposition to our mouths. We are gagged for their desire. We are gagged by it. They enjoy watching us choke.

Offred’s eyes are padded cells for examination. She’s fucking my head. I almost feel guilty.

You left. I know. Aunt Elizabeth’s clothes are still at the back of my closet. The Red Centre would kill to have me back; it’d brighten the place up a little. I’m a symbol of almost-salvation, for those Handmaids. At least, that’s what the rest say. There’s a couple who arrived in the last six months, from a centre nearby. I was just a myth to them. The woman, who took an Aunt’s clothes, tied her up and ran. Maybe they’ll be my last fucking words, a couple of years from now. My scrawls, my memoir, up in dark ink, behind the wallpaper of this haven. Ironically, I’ll be a Saint.

We slept in what had once been a hotel lobby. The citrus walls, flaking with what had once been cries for help. The hotel business was shut down around fifteen years a go. It was supposed to be cleared completely, yet a closet still stands. Some consistency remains. Scrawls of Latin, I’m guessing, engrave the base of the wood. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. It made me smirk. Offred would’ve laughed too, had she been there then. Now, she’s sunk in this sallow chair, my mirror image, uncomfortable and exposed and violated, in this unflatteringly tight corset. Not your best look, pal. A gift from her Commander probably, with not a word to spill from her clownish red chops. I could slap her across the face. That’d give a bit of colour to those pasty cheeks. She looks starved. You never used to be able to shut her up.

I’m not Moira. Moira, full of spirit and rebellion, the mythical whore, who offers faith. I’m a replacement, a scandal. Glazed with face cream and fishnets.  I’m not her anymore. I’m a thing, a symbol, a number. I’m everything I stood against. I’m an object. I’m fucking men. I’ve had Gilead force-fed down my throat. I’m choked and I’m retched and I’m gagged for the pleasure of those who dominate me. For the pleasure of those who dominate us.

She looks tired, her youthful face prematurely aged. She used to suffer from the curse of youth, particularly in college; it was a real effort trying to get her into clubs.  Now she has no problem, clearly, the Commander on her arm, her first night out in years.

Luke aged her, too.

I’m nostalgic with this college girl sat beside me. I’d never let her leave the apartment dressed like that back then. She never had the legs. Bless.

You may as well be my mother’s daughter. She loves you more. No jealousy, though. A shared sisterhood.

My heart aches, memories make my mind throb; another large strip of paper peels towards us. My heart jolts: ‘…die’ is the latest word in the log of ghost stories, hidden behind yellow covers. I’m fenced in, I’m going crazy, my heart is racing. I swallow and swallow again, bile circling my gut. Offred is

 

This is the last of the transcript. It is believed by those who discovered the Handmaid’s diary, that the remainders of this extract are missing and that either the pages have been torn out, or the author did not write any more.

This Beating Shape

One year

encompassed by my heart strung

across Paperchase postcards;

a tangible copy of my soul, now sat waiting

in your College pigeon-hole.

 

Legs intertwined amongst our make-shift bed of

blankets and last night’s sweat and lust.

With you, lust isn’t temporary, lust is

sick to my stomach, a comforting nervousness.

The way your lips imprint my collar bones,

our hearts stitched as one.

 

One year of your fingers sewn to fit between

the gaps of mine.

The way your hair shines in the depths of winter,

for you are the sun’s companion in the frost.

365 alterations to my otherwise mundane

days of feeling your breath on the nape of my neck.

Even when your lips are 2 hours away.

For your shadow, your fingertips have formed a

carbon copy on my heart.

 

You have it always. This organ, this beating shape

under layers of skin, you’ve only strengthened.

I know that’s true. My rib-cage, now painted with

turquoise forcefield.

I’m not afraid anymore.

You’re to thank for that.

No, I’m Gay (A slam poem)

Hi, my name is Lu-
Wait, it’s not like you care.
You’ve already made assumptions based
on my hair,
Both the length on my head
and what’s down there.

For my sex life, my body image
is clearly your business, broadcasted news.
If you can convince me it’s a phase,
for it’s God’s message (well done you.)

Clearly what porn portrays is
a rehearsal for my real past time.
Asking if I scissor is obviously fine.
But you don’t want tips, you’re not that way inclined.
You ask if you can join,
for lesbian means fetish…
So why would I mind?

As if holding my girlfriend’s hand
is some kind of offence
Yet your Porn Hub’s biggest fan,
So it’s doesn’t make sense.

I mean, you’re clearly what I’m after,
what’s missing, the guy I’m really looking for.
A man whose surname I require,
‘Two women only?’ ‘Fancy a threesome?’ Wait,
you’re telling me you’re —”

‘Can I watch?’ ‘So, what is it you do?’ isn’t invasive at all…
I have it easy, ‘boys are dicks’, I’ve heard it all before.

A ‘gay marriage’ is different, exotic, some big day out,
‘I went to a GAY wedding’, your colleague exclaims,
but behind closed doors, nothing’s changed.

Sure, I wear dresses, makeup, no buzz-cut in sight,
for if it’s not penetrative, it’s not real sex, right?
‘Please make me straight’ I’m no church goer, but I pray,
‘I’m not interested’, ‘I’m taken’, ‘I see you as a friend…’

No, I’m…
gay.