06 December 2001

Euro Skank Pop Filly No 1: Nu Metal Teen

Today Josie is mostly feeling like a nu metal teenager. She has gorged on chocolate. She has a pain in the pit of her stomach, where it folds as she sits, slumped, arms hugging her red'n'black bag, on the tube. The chocolate seems tainted. Josie remembers why she never buys Cadbury's Caramels. The taste of disappointment in choco-caramel form. Even as an indiscriminate child, she could taste the taint.

Josie is not hungover. Nor does her mouth contain the secret of cigarettes. She is pure.

Josie is dressed in hi-tops, baggy jeans, studded belt, black t-shirt with stars'n'a horse airbrushed on it, and a tight black hooded top. She looks like a plump and defiant self-hating furious riot grrl. This ain't a good look. It's not what Josie wants. But today she is rocking to a pre-menstrual beat. Fuck-me clothes weren't working. Fuck-you clothes are. Providing you squint up your eyes, forget to wear your glasses, keep the lights low, and turn away seconds before you focus. This is the normal Josie approach to mirrors. Does her bum look big in that? She doesn't know. She doesn't care. She tells herself she has no need of pretty. She writes. She bites. Is she a supermodel? Is pulchrititude her job description? It is not.

Josie wants a new friend. She's looking for a girl who transcends cool and doesn't even touch the sides of pretty. The girl might have a swollen nose or greasy hair, or wear t-shirts that don't cling and eyes that glint pink like rodent. Maybe hair will grow from her chin and she'll never wear makeup and when she does it'll slide down her face within half an hour. Maybe she'll laugh with her mouth open and Josie will catch herself counting all her fillings. This girl will punch people when she's drunk. Her hands will smell of mayflowers. She'll rip Who Is Dave Matthews posters from walls and she'll eat Quaaludes like sweeties. She'll wear jumper arms as legwarmers and have high heels made of knives, and she'll stab Josie in the heart and hurl her onto the tracks. Josie casts surly looks across the moshpit at gigs, hoping her life will be broken into, leaving it on view as a flirt leaves her shirt undone and inclines her head to one side. C'mon, feel the beckoning.

Today, Josie has been visiting her Grandma. Skulking through the Oxfam opposite the station she steels herself for the shock of the old. Today Grandma has a new addition: two sticks. Grandma is a pondskater: multi-legged. Her brittle black protruberances gently test the nemiscus of the Waitrose floor. Josie guides the trolley: Grandma points, and Josie hurls tinned fruit and Stone's Ginger wine into trolley's belly whilst perusing a copy of Now magazine. Pretending indifference, Josie longs to kill those who speak with pity or smile kindly. Grandma is collossus with osteoperosis: hero in blue rinse. She ain't as weak as she seems. She ain't as weak as she *is*. Josie slings sausages and chocolates and ten types of biscuit into the trolley and tries and fails to imagine living two and a half times as long as she already has. Drunken fumbles and desperate crushes and crying jags and bored sneers and hangovers and hours and hours and hours of work stretch into the distance. The trolley rumbles dimly on. Back arched like spouting fountain, Grandma's sticks click clickery foo across the floor.

On Saturday night when Josie talked to Guin they had seemed to drip into each other. Josie can't say if they had their arms round each other. Her memory says they did. Josie remembers Guin's little face tipping up towards her, her cheeks flushed, her eyes so big. Josie remembers feeling floppy, langourous, as though she and Guineveire were two snakes winding round branches together. Josie wasn't too gone that night. Josie only did a half. Is Guin the one?

On the tube home Josie is listening to a cassette. She mouths along to the words. 'The State That I Am In.' Lately she has been thinking aloud; shouting at djs on the radio; yelling at cars shooting too close to her bicycle. 'I AM' Joses writes in shorthand notebook, writing shaky from the motion of the District Line 'attempting to compensate for an ever-increasing sense of impotence'. Josie admires the sibilants and consonants in her sentence. It is a well-crafted sentence, she decides: one that you could build a book from, if you had the tools. Twice today she was found talking aloud: first, caught cursing by an old man as she realised she had not pressed the button at the pedestrian crossing: second, by Grandma entering the steamy sausage kitchen as Josie talked down to the flat white sheet of Grandma's Telegraph newspaper.

The girls in the seat next to her laugh at her senseless singing. One stretches out wellington-clad legs and tips bobble-hatted hipsterhead back, lips slack and joyous. One rests feet on dagger heels and swings toes from side to side, cat-eyes darting. Josie angles right leg over left and shifts imperceptibly cornerwards, willing herself invisible. Her right arm makes a hijab; screening nose and chin; hair completes it, waterfalling generously; blissful screens. Pen birdtracks across paper. 'I AM: subject to the charge of raddledness/ riding criticism like a white-maned mare/ skating over the hearts of mine enemies...' The pen whispers on, is flaccid, tongueless, monstrous, pointless. Nib stutters, spinning ink on pallid commuter-mac. Josie rises; rips page, crushes it in fist, stabs pen into waiting tubeseat. Exits, doors right, walks towards escalator, eyes closed. Girls mutter in glottal Londinian: another nutter. Josie's bag thuds onto platform, but she is long gone.

'If I make it without crashing into anything, I'll let myself live.'

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