What’s New Pussycat

Just hearing the opening notes of the song over the supermarket P.A. system sent shivers down her spine.  And that chorus – ‘what’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa,’ – made her physically cringe even after almost fifty years.  It was the late sixties, and she must have been about three years old, possibly younger, but definitely no older.  The song was still popular, played regularly on the radio.  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’

She was a curious child, intelligent and in many ways, older than her years, the result of having much older siblings.  She wanted to know how things worked, why things were the way they were.  She needed to understand everything. She was a good child, well behaved, conscientious but shy and highly sensitive too.  Very different to other family members, and she now realised, all these years later, that they didn’t really know how to deal with her.  How to nurture her abilities, her differences.  And maybe, coming so late after the other children, her parents didn’t have the desire or energy to even try.  And so, she found her questions were often never satisfactorily answered.  Her thirst for knowledge and understanding never fully quenched.  And her soul, the very core of her being often battered, bruised or even crushed by a harsh word or reaction.  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’

She loved music, and the radio was always on in the house.  Some days, while her brother was at school, her mother would allow her to sneak into his room and take his little red plastic portable record player into the lounge.  She would put on an old dress of mum’s, which on her, was like a long flowing ball gown, play a record and dance and dance. But only if no one was watching, painfully self-conscious, even at that early age.   And so, she began to listen to lyrics.  ‘Why are so many songs about love?’ she’d asked.  And she couldn’t remember the answer, because she didn’t really get one.  That question lived on in her head until she was old enough to work out the answer for herself.  And then she realised how simple the answer is.  ‘Because love is the most important thing in the world.’ Why couldn’t anyone have told her that, something so obvious, when she had first asked? Because that’s the way things went. An unsatisfactory answer, a silly answer, or sometimes, even laughed at for asking in the first place.  Before long she had learned not to ask.  Just pay attention, make connections and eventually work out the answer for yourself.  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’

Her mother loved Tom Jones, and often sang along to the song, looking directly into her daughter’s eyes as though asking her the question.  There was an often recited rhyme too, ‘Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the queen.’  Pussycat’s seemed to be everywhere in her tiny mind.  In fact, some of her first words had been ‘brow, brow,’ her name for the cat, as to her that’s the noise it made.  ‘Brow, brow.’  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’

She had only snippets of memory of the incident, no events before, or after.  Just a couple of scenes, in tunnel vision, like in a film or TV show where you see events from one character’s visual perspective.  But the feelings were still crystal clear.  The embarrassment, humiliation and confusion, all still vivid after all this time.  It was at a church working bee, the lady’s committee all getting together to work for the common good.  She loved playing on the huge wooden chairs at the back of the alter.  To her mind they were royal thrones in some fairy-tale court.  She liked playing by herself, with the toys in the Sunday school room too.  She remembered she was in a different room from her mother when a young man walked in.  She couldn’t remember exactly who he was, but she liked him, he had a nice face and interesting hair and for some reason she ventured to greet him with, ‘what’s new pussycat?’  She doesn’t remember his reaction, or is entirely sure what happened next. Did he complain to her mother? Did her mother over hear? Did one of the other ladies tell tales?  All she knows is that she was berated by her mother for speaking to an adult in such a way.  Scolded and humiliated in front of everyone, in particular the nice faced young man.  And why? What did she do wrong?  It was the saying from the song. No one would tell her.  No one explained her error and in all honesty, she still didn’t understand it.  Perhaps it was a little precocious, but surely it didn’t deserve such a reaction?  Was it not in some way cute, especially from one normally so shy?  But no, instead she was reprimanded in the worst fashion.  Crushed, devastated.  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’ Woe.

That was one of the first steps on the path to who she was today.  She learned to be wary of people, even ones with nice faces and interesting hair.  Of cheerfully greeting people, of straying away from her shyness.  A morbid fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, and of not even knowing what the wrong thing was.  All her insecurities in general.  ‘What’s new pussycat? Whoa, whoa, whoa.’

(C) Jennifer B Goodwomangonetowaste.wordpress.com

Tiny bites of bliss

Then: riding my bike down a steep hill

Now: getting all the washing and ironing done

 

Then: climbing high into a tree

Now: climbing into clean sheets

 

Then: slightly chemically enhanced on the dance floor

Now: a challenging yoga class

 

Then: watching my favourite band

Now: watching my favourite birds

 

Then: catching bugs in the garden

Now: photographing bugs in the garden

 

Then: making small things for my dolls

Now: making small things for other people’s dolls

 

Then: swimming through cool water

Now: swimming through cool water

 

Then: seeing how far I can stretch a lolly snake before eating it

Now: seeing how far I can stretch a lolly snake before eating it

 

Some things never change.

(C) Jennifer B Goodwomangonetowaste.wordpress.com

Who’s Who at the Zoo

There’s a queue, I thought there may be,

Families, lots of kids,

And here am I alone,

I must seem strange,

Although I suppose I could be meeting someone here.

 

It’s crowded, not ideal,

But it’s so long since I’ve been here,

It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for ages,

And it is my birthday treat,

 

It’s hotter than I thought,

Should have worn a hat,

But then there’s hat hair, can’t stand that,

And for some reason I can’t take photos with a hat on,

The shadow puts me off,

And I intend to go snap happy.

 

It’s far too peopley,

Ironic, as that’s why I’m here alone,

Just can’t deal with anyone at the moment,

They’ve disappointed me too much,

So I look at the wild animals,

And try to capture their essence,

And realise they are far better behaved,

Than the ones on my side of the barriers.

(C) Jennifer B Goodwomangonetowaste.wordpress.com

AlteRing

I look at the ring I am so familiar with,

That I saw thousands of times,

On her left hand,

Worn for years, decades,

In place of the wedding ring,

No longer binding.

I place it on my finger,

As I have done before,

When she was in hospital, dying,

And it became too loose,

But now in her absence,

It looks so strange, so foreign,

I have to look twice.

I know it has not altered,

So I must have.

(C) Jennifer B Goodwomangonetowaste.wordpress.com

Much Loved

Someone actually said it –

Well, wrote it –

‘You are much loved,’

 

And the only image that sprang to mind was Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her,

With her middle shot out by Bruce Willis,

And a song lyric from Kate Bush’s Lilly kept going around in her head:

‘It feels like life has blown a great big hole in me,’

 

And that’s exactly how she felt,

Because being loved,

Isn’t the same as feeling loved.

 

She used to think that perhaps she wasn’t capable of feeling loved,

But now she knew it was just that she wasn’t being made to feel loved,

Because saying you love,

Isn’t the same as showing you love,

And it was rarely said, let alone shown.

 

The hole grew bigger and bigger.

(C) Jennifer B Goodwomangonetowaste.wordpress.com

Fraud

Shhhhh! don’t tell, but I’m a fraud,

It makes me cringe when some applaud,

And praise me for what I have done,

Are they telling the truth, or just having fun?

‘Oh, poor love, she gave it a try,

So we’ll humour her with a lie.’

 

I look at things that others do,

And lament, ‘I’m not as good as you,’

But still, some see fit to commend,

As though I am on par with them,

It only serves to confuse,

Perhaps it’s all part of their ruse?

 

Imposter Syndrome is far too grand,

For the likes of who I am,

But an imposter is how I feel,

Just a pretender, nothing real,

Don’t use the writer/artist label,

For me ‘cause all I do is dabble.

 

With educated intellectuals,

My poor mind seems ineffectual,

Enlightened ones in all their wisdom,

I look like a cheap imitation,

Surely someone will discover,

The truth about me and tear me asunder.

 

Fake, Phoney, Charlatan, Sham,

Names I too well understand,

I’m just playing at being clever,

I wonder if I will ever,

Believe the compliments that some give me,

Or forever be burdened by this insecurity?

Future Past

I turn on the stereo and find myself stuck in the past,

When there was this music,

And there was youth and energy and vitality,

And there was dancing,

And alcohol and weed,

And there were boys,

And lust and love and sex,

And hope and dreams and a future,

And no clue that all of it would dissolve into this shitty, little life.

Your Instructions

Be brave, keep fear at bay,

It will want to consume you, do not let it.

Keep moving, forward or back,

There is no shame in a wise retreat.

 

It will want to consume you, don’t let it.

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Do not overthink your decisions.

 

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Do not overthink your decisions.

Be sure to keep an open mind.

 

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Be sure to keep an open mind,

Be brave, keep fear at bay.