Sky Blue Shoelaces

Ever wanted turn a rant into a pipe dream? A pipe dream into a poem? A poem into a plan? Ever felt sick of drawing blanks and wanted to draw bad cartoons instead? Wanted to perform something, something even more silly than your everyday attempts at communicating the complex role you’ve been creating for yourself since you first fell on your face in the paddling pool in front of Michael Cooper from up the road? Ever thought, ‘fuck Stanislavsky: let’s get Brecht!’ then got lost in your own grim little puddle of self-inflicted alienation? Or just got bored and wanted to eat the world and then sick up politics? Ever make up your own personal motto and then realise it’s the tagline for a generic supermarket product and worse – it’s number 4 on Ethical Consumer’s Product Blacklist 2016? Ever made a plan and then written a poem instead, and then remembered that the plan was always just to write a poem and it’s only yourself you’re fooling, drawn a bad cartoon out of rebelliousness against your own predictability before realising you’ve stayed in education 7 years longer than you ever intended to, maybe even 9 if you take it back to the Masters? Ever wanted to get new shoelaces and then done it? Well, feels nice doesn’t it. Sky blue shoelaces are especially nice because they cheer you up when it’s raining and you look down feeling glum and remember what blue sky looks like, except stringier. That’s about it, fundamentally. It would be disingenuous to suggest that there’s always a sky blue shoelace on a rainy day or that it’ll always make you feel a bit better if there is, because sometimes there isn’t and even if there is it’ll just make you feel worse and anyway maybe you didn’t feel bad to begin with, the rain never bothered you that much. Either way we might as well try. To the pursuit of optimism! (Don’t worry, you never really had any intentions in relation to the duration of your education, let alone serious ones.)


I write terrible poetry for my own selfish self and draw bad cartoons for my zine, Alzine. I long to be cooler and less dweeby than I really am but deep down I know I’ll never be able to play a fireside instrument or blaze a trail. I keep trying despite this, which isn’t because I’m wise or noble but just filled with a desperate longing to vindicate my teenage self. My teenage self is still very much alive and doesn’t get how we come to be standing on the brink of a legal career with two children. I have spent the last 4 years working with people who are in middling to really really fucked up situations, under a Legal Aid contract and then within a Local Authority. I started to retrain in Law in 2011 after finishing a Philosophy Masters in the midst of working in a job that required me to implement (inflict) increasingly hostile social security policy. ‘Fuck this!’ I thought. If I hadn’t been doing that job I would probably be about to complete or have just completed a Philosophy PhD now. ‘Advocacy is the only way for me!’ I thought. Got quite good at arguing and defending arguments, ‘let’s fight this shit policy and make stuff better for people’, I thought. Noble and just eh? Well, my first name does mean ‘noble’(1). Now I’m standing on the verge of leaving a job in which I’ve been desperately trying to soften the edges of increasingly hostile immigration policy and unthinkably brutal cuts to public service spending but really actually I’m required to implement the shit out of that shit. If I have to hear the term ‘think creatively about how to meet need’(2) or any of its derivative relations I’m going to sick up politics in someone’s face. Let’s reclaim the blue sky from the blue sky thinkers. So this time in two years I should hopefully be a qualified solicitor. ‘The mark of a bad decision maker is a great imagination’ is what I’ve always said. Never mark my words, no matter how hard I beg you to. Oh and I’m utterly dependent on my friends when it comes to maintaining my identity. Without them I’m nothing.

(1) My second name means ‘wise’, my third means ‘young warrior’, and my last ‘son of sallow John’. Read into that what you will.
(2)  Two of the more chilling phrases I’ve heard recently, without a shadow of irony: ‘radical non-intervention’ and ‘benign neglect’. This is in the context of social services’ response to people with physical and mental health conditions and potential unmet care needs.

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