Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Swimming and Feminising

I swam, and became knackered in an unfeasibly short time: but, I told myself, it's the thought that counts.
Later, I took a trip to the Feminist Library.
What does one wear for a trip to the Feminist Library?
It has been my most exciting outing this week. I went via the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, which was a real trip down memory lane. I used to pass through there twice a day, taking the girls to and from Charlotte Sharman School, West Square (headmistress Mrs West, followed by headmistress Mrs Sharman, strange but true).
Offsprog Two had her baby photos taken there and I used to hanker after a giant balsa-wood dragon with a broken wing in a shop called World Window that has long since closed down.
There are still lots of African shops, but the second hand bookshop has gone and there are loads of Latin American shops and Cafes and it is still as vibrant as ever. It was strange as anything to go back; at that time in my life the West End shops were a dream away.
I suppose we were the feral underclass, living as we did on the Camberwell New Road in a Housing Association maisonette and spending a while receiving milk tokens when the Offsprogs were babies. The cupboard was bare more often than not, and our garden was full of flies because the man next door, who used to clean his air rifle at the window (clicking it menacingly as I was tending to the courgettes), kept a pit-bull that he never cleared up after and never seemed to feed or water. He used to shoot the rats from his window, and once left his dog without water for so long that my ex-husband lowered a bowl of water to it, over the fence.
Upstairs lived a couple who were Buddhists; while they chanted, their little boys used to throw things out of the window into the garden, and once appeared on the roof four stories up while the man was watching Eastenders. Eventually, they went out and left a bath tap running all day, completely destroying our house as the water ran through our ceilings and walls. We were out at work and the central heating panicked: we returned to a rainforest climate and a very frightened cat.
Watching that man swaggering down the street afterwards was hearbreaking. There was no apology, and it took us months to clear it all up and years to get over it. I can't say I shuddered as I walked through the Elephant and Castle, but I almost did...
What a digression! I was on the way to the Feminist Library, a charming and friendly establishment that has a full complement of copies of Spare Rib, unlike the British Library. I was looking for stuff to use in a paper I am writing about the sounds of female punk music and I drew a blank, but I did read a lot of interesting stuff and had a lovely chat with Gail, who I last met on the station platform in Newcastle upon Tyne. We talked about zines and posters and all sorts of things, and I'll go back as I research the next thing.
Sorry about the rambling post! I have a pile of post-it notes beside my computer laced with little spidery instructions... but one more thing! I was sent the index for the book yesterday, and it has been done very well (thank you Merl Storr!). It will make the book much more accessible because it's more than just a list of names and page numbers: it has been constructed so that fans can find the things they are most interested in, as well as the searches that academics are likely to need it for.

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