(Short sequence of musical beeps)
(Two-step drum beat)
(Cassette Tape Radio)
(Cassette Tape Radio)
(Cassette Tape Radio)
Talia: Hi I’m Talia Randall, welcome to Cassette Tape Radio number five. I hope you’re well. I’m currently in a home recording studio late at night and I’ve just had a 45 minute giggle fit, which Jamie Payne will attest to, won’t you Jamie?
Jamie (in the background): (inaudible)
Talia: Jamie looks ashen and is staring into the corner of the room just willing this to be over
Jamie (in the background): I’m focused
Talia: He’s focused. Yeah we just had a really really intense fit of giggles, I think the lockdown has really got to us.
But anyway this next episode is not gonna be about that at all, I’m just giving you some context because… I’ve got nothing else to do right now.
Anyway, coming up we’ve a short poetry set by me, Talia Randall. Six poems, some brand new, others less brand new, and that’s it, really. I’ve got nothing else to say other than (sings) like and subscribe to the podcast mm mmmm (ends singing).
Jamie is really feeling that tune, he’s gonna put some drums on it maybe a snare what else you gonna put on that song that I just invented?
Jamie (in the background): I’m gonna put a donk on it
Talia: Isn’t it a doink?
Jamie (in the background): Who cares? (They both laugh)
Talia: Ok anyway, here’s the poems. See a ya later
My teachers tell me I could really
Be Somebody, but instead of filling out
the form they gave me I dangle
my virginity from the window ledge and make
a performance from puffing on the hash
I swiped from dad’s tobacco tin.
The neighbour boys hurry past
my window. They’ve aged sideways,
teens made men by too-soon babies.
I nod down to them, beg for one of them
to shoot me down like they used to
at least that way I’ll know my place
but they’re too busy grabbing nappies
from the shop at the edge of our estate.
The form asks me to explain myself
in 500 words (or less), but I can’t yet figure out
if I’m more scared of being bound to this place or
being bound for someplace else.
Father’s beard is a swarm of bees.
Brother can’t remember which teenage mutant turtle is which.
Sister builds an igloo out of choc-ices.
Mother pays for everything.
The stray cat visits and eats tuna off the posh china.
Father calls the cat Jeremy.
Father sees himself in Jeremy.
Sister sees herself in brother.
Brother sees himself in the TV.
Mother realises she left herself in the old country.
On the night they get cable
they invite the neighbours round for a séance.
They rent the house from a giant
who sometimes thinks about eating them and sometimes forgets they exist.
One day they buy it
(with money, they had run out of beans).
For breakfast they eat lard and avocado sandwiches
And Jeremy does the weekly bills, “too much on toilet-paper” he says.
The tablecloth was crocheted by
a mother’s mother’s mother’s mother
in a plump lavender field, in a long-forgotten
Europe between the wars.
‘My dowry’ mum calls it with a laugh.
Her mother left a coffee ring on it.
I remember it on the sideboard,
spread under the cigarette display case.
From my other one, my nan, I inherited
a tin of peaches and a tin of custard.
They were still in date a year after she died,
I was going to make a trifle on her birthday but
found that dad had eaten the syrupy fruit
on an night when he missed his mum,
spooning the juice like an airplane.
Now and Before
There are only two eras –
Before and Now.
List all the successes from Before.
Tell no one.
Parade the mistakes.
They took time to make
and if time equals money
then throw it around a little.
Why not treat yourself
to a mink coat,
a little look at me bitches.
Remember that your animal brain
knew what was coming
but the human in you
failed to clock it.
List all the things
you were right about,
(wait – If you were right about something
but that something was terrible
does it count as a success or a failure?)
Count how many
I told you so’s
you told yourself.
Add them to the number of
why didn’t you listens
and divide them by the change
you have left over from the mink.
I was never born but found myself alive one day. I was pushing rubbish down a shoot, or was I crossing the A406? No, I was leant up against the wall of a platform, the edge too spicy to get close to. I have hands, I realised and a face! I have a national insurance number. I don’t have a pulse but I do have a Casio wristwatch circling my seconds around. I don’t know how to butterfly a chicken, or how to read a mortgage document. I don’t know what a clutch is. I must confess, when people say, “lets bring this meeting forward” I don’t quite get what they mean. But, I do know that I must breath (mostly) oxygen, that I must eat spinach at regular intervals and change my knickers at least once a day.
When we get to the bit about consent, I’m supposed to read from a laminated crib sheet. An educational film is meant to explain: a stick man makes tea for another stick man who doesn’t want tea.
If tea = sex then what is a biscuit? If Sanjay, Miriam and David buy 3 apples for 50p how much change is left? If the Dish ran away with Mr. Hewitt after he got sacked for all the porn on his laptop then who is with the Spoon?
With the younger ones, I recite the P.A.N.T.S. rule, the acronym to remind them of basic bodily autonomy. Everybody, say it with me! Privates are Private! Always remember your body belongs to you! No means no! Etc.
Who can tell me what Privates mean? I watch them, pained by their earnest failure to correctly name parts of their own bodies. I will them to say vagina or penis with the same nonchalance as elbow or earlobe.
In the staff room, an inspirational poster tells me I have to give myself permission, as if I were a schoolgirl politely asking to pee, Let David go first, you girls can hold it in longer. I thought David was busy buying apples?
All of life’s lessons are taught in a single day: sex, drugs, how to write a CV, but in all the swapping of rooms and all the signing of forms no one bothered to ask the stickman what he actually wants. Does he know we’re using him like this?
Talia: That was that, I hope you enjoyed. Carry on listening, next time we’ve got a special ‘What Words Are Ours’ episode. ‘What Words Are Ours’ is a live show that I run that features hearing and D/deaf performers sharing the stage, with BSL interpreters and captions.
We were meant to do a big live show in May in London but obviously that was cancelled. So instead we are doing a podcast special with poems from various brilliant poets based in the UK, archive material from previous live shows that we’ve done. Its gonna be wicked, its gonna be a bit longer than usual so please tune in for that.
As ever all of the epsides are transcribed, go to taliarandall.com/blog Anything you wanna say to the listeners Jamie before they go?
Ah no he just desperately wants this to be
Jamie (in the background): (laughs)
Talia: see ya, love ya, bye