06 December 2001
Euro Skank Pop Filly No 1: Nu Metal
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
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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