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The Guinea Pig Diaries - 2 - A melancholic meandering

Warning: this post starts off very ranty, then ends positively. But it is a babbling brook of emotions from a very angry, tired, upset comedian.


"The guinea pig thing is too crazy this week. Your body is a wreck and the weather is shite. Let's get into bed and watch Sabrina" - My mum, 9pm tonight.

At the moment I look like a cross between a zombie Janis Ian from Mean Girls and a wrecked Lola from Run Lola Run. In bed with my Dead Kennedys t-shirt, crispy red hair, cracked lips and the Thom Yorke 'Suspiria' soundtrack playing loudly. I am an absolute cliche of a quarter life crisis. If you don't believe me, after this, I am going to read some poetry.

My plan on getting Guinea Pigs after I return to good health has been keeping me afloat the last few weeks. No denying. My family think it is a barmy idea. They think I am insane. It is hard to persuade them that this is a seriously well thought out decision.

The idea of looking after two beautiful fluffy souls every day - that give me structure, don't relate to the world of my job and comedy and enforce me not to be selfish - gives me absolute joy.

I have been feeling so maternal for so long and getting animals feels like the most responsible and healthy way of releasing this emotional and hormonal longing. My whole life has always been just comedy - as I mentioned recently in Stu Goldsmith's Com Com podcast. If Witches and Warlocks can have familiars in the shapes of snakes , spiders and cats. Why can a comedian not have a familiar in the shape of two very vulnerable cute little rodents? Makes complete sense! Guinea Pigs are my patronus!

Last night the gorgeous Grant Busé built our beautiful Guinea Pig hutch (from Hamster Homes) in my bedroom and helped set it up with all the toys and accessories I had bought. It looks beautiful . I stand over looking at it like a animated barren queen standing over a crib in a very weird Grimms fairly tale.

(I am aware I look like I am about to kill you and eat your heart)


I had scheduled to see some Guinea Pigs at several rescue homes tomorrow.

However, after screaming out loud on the train home tonight, (caused by an electric shock of pain that seared down my spine to the tips of my toes), causing me to shake solidly until the train pulled in... my mum said "You look awful... There is no way you are meeting any Guinea Pigs tomorrow or getting any until we've sorted your spine out... Let's get you to bed."

So here I am. Soggy with sudden tears and self pity. Damn you silly spine.

But, what can you do?


Alongside my guinea pig grief, I have had a growing amount of anxiety, melancholia and emotional exhaustion brewing. Not helped by an array of small little events that pinch and pull at my tendril threads of mental health...

The first was being sent several online links to 'weight loss' programs from 'supportive' instagram followers - encouraging me to 'get back into shape' once I am better. I appreciate their concern (*cackles manically*) but my pot belly and cellulite is the last thing on my mind at the moment whilst I remember I can barely do public transport without assistance and laughing makes me cry in pain. Even though one shouldn't care about these things. It still hurts.

Secondly - Too many people have called and written to say how sorry they are to hear about my spine and how 'undignified' I must feel and how upset I must feel about the 'dignity' I have lost. Although they mean well - I would like to clarify. I have not lost any dignity. There is nothing to be ashamed about in being vulnerable and in asking for help. I am the most confident, contented, constipated bed-wetter I know. Please support that.

Third- alongside the usual financial stresses of rent and lost work, various conversations about health insurance and rearrangements of my spinal op I discovered today that despite selling out every single one of my shows in Edinburgh alongside doing extra ones - I am still in debt and owe money for the Edinburgh Fringe. Ironic, considering I was doing a show about economics.


And then finally: Chronic pain. Chronic pain tipped me over the edge into a huge pool of tears and sadness tonight.

I originally liked Morphine. He was a buddy. He helped the pain go away. Made me feel very chilled and lulled me to sleep. I imagined Morphine as a sexy leather wearing dark haired hypnotist. Now, he hits me hard with son-of-a-bitch side effects.I don't sleep anymore. I have night terrors. I get confused about where i am, dates, times, names and places. I don't eat. My appetite has shrunk to the point that the only thing I can just about hold down are chocolate buttons. I get dizzy. I feel faint. I repeat myself. I don't eat. I feel totally lost from myself. Yet, the moment I stop, the pain comes back. I have to take them - otherwise the pain is too much.

People talk about being 'in their body' - about understanding and loving it. I have always liked my body, more recently 'loved' it and through my career I've learned to work with it and choreograph it in a way that works best for both of us. Truth is, I've never really 'known' my body - I've never been able to trust her fully. Not because she is a malicious body - she doesn't go sticking her legs out in front of people when they are walking to the loo! But she doesn't seem to the see the world the way I see it. And that causes problems. When I say "Let's pick this glass up" - she gets the distance wrong. By an inch or so out she will smash the glass to the floor. Despite how much time we spend together - there is a synapse missing between my concept and perception of the world, and hers. Where I go right, she walks into a wall. When I go to stand up, she slides and knocks the chair over. When I go to 'romantically' lean up and kiss a person, she head buts them.

This miscommunication between us - between mind and limb has always worked comically to our advantage. Being 'Clumsy' can be endearing and overall, not too painful. However, I feel lost at the moment - displaced, because my relationship and trust in my body has gone. We don't communicate any more - and this lack of complicité in my own shape is starting to scare me.

But. What can you do?

The only thing I feel like I can and want to do is make a show. Hence, Love Songs to Guinea Pigs at Vault Festival 2019 on 13,14 and 15th Feb. A new show about illness, recovery and exploring the concept of love. Love towards ourselves, towards our bodies, God and the way we communicate and project love on to others - people, animals and otherwordly entities.

This new idea and way of directing my current experiences is fueling me. I've started working on puppetry with my crutches. I am excited to see how my body changes after the op. I will have nerve damage, but my amazing surgeon says that I can be back to normal after three months rest. ! What will I be like? How will she, my body, and I get on then? She and I will have so much more stuff to play with. So many more little mistakes and failures to make. A new history. I may be crying now, but together in a few months time we can choreograph something new.

The money, weight loss and other peoples opinions may pinch me and upset me - but other peoples opinions on my dignity and shape do not have value. Re money - I will sort it out in some way. Work will come. Money will appear. Money will disappear. It's a life lesson. Money is so meaningless in emotional terms that I can't bare to get upset about it anymore. This week has changed and evolved the way I consider working - and if I go to the fringe I will do it very differently. It's devised ideas that I want to bring forward to Equity - regarding protecting the artist. If they are the ones doing the work after all, they should be guaranteed a basic living income!! We can't continue working on extreme losses.

*deep breath - rant over*


This poem - is my dream poem. I fell in love with it when I was 11 and I have only just discovered it again. It is by Louis MacNeice. It was read in a school assembly by my school teacher, Mr Van der Vliet. In all those years since I was never been able to find it. I lost the book it was in and I couldn't remember the title or the author. Only the imagery of the camels walking across the table .

Then last night, it fell out of my writing drawer as I was de-cluttering my room. A sign that good , beautiful things do find a way of coming back to you.

Meeting Point

Louis MacNeice

Time was away and somewhere else,

There were two glasses and two chairs

And two people with the one pulse

(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):

Time was away and somewhere else.

And they were neither up nor down;

The stream’s music did not stop

Flowing through heather, limpid brown,

Although they sat in a coffee shop

And they were neither up nor down.

The bell was silent in the air

Holding its inverted poise—

Between the clang and clang a flower,

A brazen calyx of no noise:

The bell was silent in the air.

The camels crossed the miles of sand

That stretched around the cups and plates;

The desert was their own, they planned

To portion out the stars and dates:

The camels crossed the miles of sand.

Time was away and somewhere else.

The waiter did not come, the clock

Forgot them and the radio waltz

Came out like water from a rock:

Time was away and somewhere else.

Her fingers flicked away the ash

That bloomed again in tropic trees:

Not caring if the markets crash

When they had forests such as these,

Her fingers flicked away the ash.

God or whatever means the Good

Be praised that time can stop like this,

That what the heart has understood

Can verify in the body’s peace

God or whatever means the Good.

Time was away and she was here

And life no longer what it was,

The bell was silent in the air

And all the room one glow because

Time was away and she was here

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