“I thought you were just going to lob that.” I turned with my bag of poo. “What? Why?” The bag of poo swung louchely from my fingers as if to say “Lob me. I want it. Make me the shotput of the poo world, you filthy slut.” I resisted telling it to behave itself because the day you start talking to poo in a bag is the day people start officially worrying. And not in a polite “have this fisherman’s friend and a little sit down” way but in an “I wonder what go-getting goodwill services might be called to best deal with this” sort of a way. I imagine it’s got its own NHS extension number: “Press one for wilful nudity in the conservation area, two for talking to faeces, three for ballroom dancing with an Aldi trolley named Helga.” I say imagine; the NHS isn’t what it was.
I should point out before things get really dark that it was the freshly plopped poo of my hound and not my own out on a jaunty daytrip. I am no outdoorsy coprophiliac with bags to spare. I had just picked it steaming from the cold pavement and the person I was with thought I might be the kind of person who, once they’ve gone to the effort of ridding the walkways of canine turds, might then fling the encased excrement into a tree. “What would you have done if I had lobbed it?” I asked. “Laughed”, they said. And I laughed too, even though my left eye twitched a bit.
Inside was that dual feeling of “What kind of heathen do you think I am?” and “Huh. You think I’m a bit of a renegade.” And even if it’s just related to hot poo in a thin bag, it’s always nice to know someone thinks you’re a bit dangerous. It’s this quiet sense of power that accompanies me on all my kills.
Not really. For the limp truth is I’ve always struggled with ‘being bad’. I was too much of a pleaser as a kid to want to be naughty. And the instances of being bad have almost all been accidental, acts carried out without thinking that were mostly followed up with neck-freezing panic or guilt. I once spent a day circa 1993 in tearful self-flagellation because I had doodled a (mostly) anatomically correct diagram on my desk (the retro lid-up kind that now commands upwards of £100 from people in deliberate cravats) of a couple having ‘fruitful relations’ (fucking unprotected and getting up the duff; nice one). There on my desk sprawled an uncomfortable but determined penis curving itself up into a very serious looking vagina, with a cross-section of the egg being resplendently fertilised by a jolly little tadpole with a face. The couple weren’t even looking at each other; I don’t even think I gave them hands. It was a very British fertilisation. “Come on Brenda, less of the kissing, let’s get this done before Top Gear.” On a scale of nil to erotic it was Kama Sutra for Kids and a quarter. And I made myself sick over it. I thought my life was over; half an hour of science-based recklessness would lead to expulsion, infamy, and a life of sucking cock on the means streets for bread & the occasional orange. I didn’t realise then in my darkest hour that my form teacher and stern headmistress were probably laughing at my psychedelic Fallopian tubes and everything would blow over by Double French.
I find it hard to throw this otherwise well-behaved child into the cellar of oblivion to liberate myself for moments of tomfoolery and mischief. My bad girl moments are appended by an awareness of how bad I’m being, which I’m sure mostly negates it. I mean just minor acts of harmless rebellion that remind you you are not owned by the system, not kicking kids in the face to get them off the swings or robbing Poppy Appeal tins. Cool bad, not bad bad. That’s bad.
Last week I did my play Fran & Leni at the Railway Hotel, a perfect setting for a play about 1976 girl punks. My character Leni is a little tyke, no stranger to the mischief of the streets, she swears and spits and urinates standing up. Playing her feels…naughty. I enjoyed the night’s liberation, but I felt more myself when I went back the next day and cleaned up. I picked up some gum I’d spat out – even in all my punking I’d memorised with Rain Woman radar where it had fallen – and for a brief moment I allowed my inner schoolgirl to see me as I am now; the 36 year old writer, spitting out her gum, still testing herself and figuring out who she is. And I suppose that’s not a bad way of combining the good and the bad. Have a bit of fun, feel the flexing of freedom, be a bit punk, but clean up your own bloody mess, whether it be poo in a bag, gum, or a doodle of depraved fornication in an educational establishment. You can always use pencil, kids.