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Dear Lady Bountiful…..

In this series survivor, teacher and coach Alice Smith uncovers the rot inside the charity sector that is supposed to bring about social change for women…In part 1 she introduces us to Lady Bountiful 2023

As an optimist and a survivor I have been in many rooms, many trustee interviews, many projects telling me they will share their power – all headed by modern day Lady Bountifuls. Optimistic me believed them to be wanting to help survivors like me. But no. Lady Bountiful is all about helping us from a position of power they will fight to keep. (Gloves off) Modern day wealthy wives who would have had time on their hands in the 1800’s whilst their servants blacked the grates for them and served tea, these women are earnest, worthy and busy. But they still have second homes and titles and often secretly benefit from the patriarchal system they will tell you they want to change. Look at their husbands – patriarchal white males and they as their kingmakers.

This is what I have discovered – if the CEOs of these charities actually succeeded in giving women like you and me power, they would dismantle the very system that keeps them living wealthy dinner party lifestyles. What to do? Doff your cap to them? No. Understand that they allow you into their rooms but in many ways you are still in the servant position. What is so incredibly annoying is their chutzpah. They often head up organisations for women that they despise and whom they cannot communicate with in any real way. It’s not a role to get your hands dirty. It’s a role that gains you more rings on that finger and a nice little nest egg. They wouldn’t want to be you. But do you really want to be like them?

Alice Smith 2023

The echoes of our lives

We live alone and we live on the echoes. The echoes of starlings, the echoes of clouds, the echoes of better days, the echo of the sea turning to angry autumn. The echoes of what we did and did we? The echoes of what we said and why did we say it? The echoes of your childhood thoughts mixing with your grown up ones like black paint dissolving in clear water. Echoes. Amy places her hands over her ears but it is only then that she realises the echoes are not outside – they are in our heads.

Each memory is an echo of what we were – distorted to make us the ultimate star in the film of Our Life.

Whoever thought they were the villain? But there are plenty of villains so someone somewhere is lying to themselves. The echoes of laughter that no longer travel along with you in these greying darkening days of early November. November creeps up like a threat as soon as we blow out our pumpkin lighters through garish mouths roughly carved with anger or carelessness. November is the start of something – a big sleep and in those winter dreams those echoes are amplified. Amy reads and writes as consolation next to the fire and the dog who dreams echoless dreams. The fire crackles its message of approaching storms dimmed only slightly by the glow of Christmas appearing twinkling light by twinkling light in the charity chops which mock the poor and make the rich feel righteousness as they drop off bags of clothes that seemed more exciting last year. Rich and poor always hungry for a bargain, the appetite drives this season until January kills it with silent sheer black silence. Even the echoes respect January.

Extract from new work in progress……

Get lost!

Get lost in Wonderland. Get lost in long grass so green against the blue sky and listen as it grows. Get lost in the cold cold sea through the waves to the rocks , every wave so different from the last.  Get lost in the miles of sand, the dunes full of prickly excitement and the dead ends of promise that pull dogs up short. Nothing to see here. False scents. Get lost in the fires that burn in the dark in the forest where no one with a home ever goes and torchlight plays in the trees to welcome strangers to their temporary spaces. Get lost in who you are when you are free to roam over mountains, across clifftops,though fields and into caves and forests searching for something you always had inside. Get lost in thought and wonder that you could be worthy enough to touch the rocks with your bare hands and feet and not be too old to hide indoors with darkened eyes waiting for visitors who never come. Get lost in Time, where nature beats the dark every time with its sunrise and sunset and only electric light creates an illusion of balance. Get lost in the air above you, watching clouds and seagulls chase the opposing winds for different reasons. Get lost with good intentions or with bad ones. Either way you are sure to find curiosity around the corner leading you past butterflies who flap their wings for the last time and fall dead at your feet and fireflies who fight the darkness with their temporary light. Get lost in the forest where cool relief can soon turn to blind panic if you are chased by dark rooted chance.

Get lost in failure and wear your crown of failure like you own it because maybe you do – maybe you earnt that much. Who can say how heavy it really is to carry on, carrying it?

Get lost with your memories – all illusions, blurry vague sprouting up like poppies  in summer then trailing petals too soon. Look for the seeds of hope of new memories of the Truth although you will never find it, searching for it is never a waste. Get lost in the sweet green night that’s never still because the tide must crash and turn and draw back just as we must breathe in its rhythm. Get lost in ancient ruins, crumbling walls that stand to bear new life and look like you feel inside. Get lost in birdsong when the wind dies down and the sea is gentle calm, it’s the only sound around here and it carries upwards and sideways touching the beat of your  heart even as you weep. Get lost in the colours of Spring , purple flowers  sprouting from the earth and tourists dressed up to sit and watch the sea in their best frocks as if it were tv. Get lost in Monday mornings when all the world seems to work but you – you own everything, stepping to your own rhythm and smiling at the sun. 

Never stop getting lost. 

Alice x

Alice is a survivor, 5 and a half years sober and a Lost Girl.

Breathless on crutches

Surprise part 11 of Alice’s blog from the hospital bed ‘Connecting to the mother keyboard.’ Covid on crutches!

Four months on crutches and I am a pro. Now it’s time for the advanced stuff. THE CHALLENGE – COVID ON CRUTCHES.

Could you ..yes you!….balance on one crutch and catch your covid vomit in a mug with the other hand? There’s no time to get to the bathroom fool! Your best wool jumper from Next is at stake.

Could you….yes you!..live on beans again for a week 2 years after being forced to do so during that very first lockdown when no one wore masks in ASDA?

Could you …yes you!….lie in agony as covid fever finds your broken ankle and metal plate and squeezes in like some cancer for a one night stand?

Life on crutches gets hard-core. Sooner or later we max out on reality and without the booze fag tinder chocolate crutches I am waving the white flag. OK karma. You win. Are we done?

Alice Smith is currently recovering from COVID and a serious injury.

Halloween without need of makeup

The sweetness has gone

The endless pursuit of comfort is what exhausts us….. extract from new book being scribbled ny Alice Smith

Comfort writing

It’s only early September but the sweetness has gone, blown away in the wind and replaced with a certain hardness that everyone here eventually wears against the wind.

With no trees hardy enough to survive here we must all look for other signs of Autumn. The changing winds, the scaffolding lazily coming down, set in Spring and forgotten about until now.

Amy clambers in from these September walks restless- they do not give her what the summer walks gave her. They now seem timeless as they held people in their beauty and their sweet scented fullness. Now the air and time is ragged with no promise.of anything else. She lights candles but it’s too soon in the year for them to be the comfort they will be later become.

This endless search for comfort we will spend tireless hours searching for. Ever elusive. If light and heat were enough, then that would be easier but our need for other comforts piles on top of us -company, sweet food with sweet words, other things adults speak of only in the shadows with side glances. The endless pursuit of comfort is what exhausts us and if we find someone to share it with then it’s simply two people seeking comfort together and separately.

Amy sits by the candles to read and the dog – now full of air and food and dreams snuggles at her feet. Even the dog needs comfort she reflects as she opens her current book of choice. The soup bubbles in the bowl and she blows on it absent mindedly. She has become a girl who only eats in the dark- or at least the half light-like her mother.

Alice smith work in progress 2022

I’m only lonely -f-o-r- with the truth

Where are you truth?

It holds me…at arm’s length.

Its charms are transitory.

It smells

Like a rat.

It has one eye open waiting for when I open my eyes

So I don’t look down there.

The truth lies under the carpet.

To avoid it, I am tripping high then low.

I can forget it but I can’t stamp on it,

It moves like a little mouse under there

In my underwear.

I’m not lonely, I’m alone

(But sometimes I am lonely

-f-o-r- with the truth.)

It comes and it goes and it can sting or bite or pad me,

That’s when it comes booty calling

To wake me and fuck me

At 3am.

No afterglow. No glow (wham!)

Just me and 3am (Bam!)

And the truth (Thank you ma’am!)

Truth is like a buzzing fly in my ear.

Right for spite.

But I’m not lonely sleeping alone

I’m only lonely -f-o-r- with the truth,

Remember?

Alice Smith currently dating 3am

A writer’s heart

A writer’s heart beats best by the sea,

The space filling the spaces in between words

Forged by smiths with ancestral tools,

Writing like a fool in the wilderness,

The wildness of it all,

A writer’s heart.

It’s never contained in a classroom,

It plays the piano silently,

Crawls all over papers like a huge spider,

Creating webs for people to puzzle over.

Dewdrop, rainbow shards and a center too easily breakable.

A writer’s heart beats in the wind,

Beats hard for freedom,

Finds the flow within the tide,

Opens her white frothy heart wide to sunshine, waves and green,

Shrinks from what might have been,

Expands by sharing, shining vivid in a lightning storm,

A solitary nightingale’s cry

In the darkness of these times.

Alice Smith 2022 writer by the sea

Friday flowers

Thank fuck it’s Friday

On Friday she got flowers.

Friday’s child, Friday’s flowers,

All the other hours of all the other days of all the other weeks of all the other years she got..

Broken eggs and burnt matches,

Overdrafts and silence,

Hidden keys and a punch in the neck,

Lies and perfume,

No shows and an empty chair,

Pokes bitch,

Bed favours,

Threats and new shoes,

Pies and burns,

Love missiles,

Tears and tea,

Bed rest.

Stares with a smile,

Undetected flying objects,

Broken eggs and burnt matches,

Overdrafts and silence,

Hidden keys and a punch in the neck,

Lies and perfume –

But it’s OK.

She got flowers on Fridays.

Alice Smith 2022 Cheaper than therapy.

All mine

So fucking high…up

Girl now you made it

All your successes are yours alone

All your losses are yours alone

Inside you what was empty is now full of life,

Your shadow no longer crying to eclipse the light,

All mixed together by a child’s fingers.

Good girl, bad girl, girl….

Now you made it.

You made it to a non documented life.

You’re making memories without selfies.

You’re making food for one

In a handmade life that seems threadbare to others.

To you it’s gold.

We’re beyond the yellow brick road now.

It’s still yellowish.

I’m ready to die

So fucking high on this road.

Alice Smith letter to self on the survival road. 2022. Are we there yet?

Mind vomit

Sipping…. slipping

Sipping my life from bottles,

Bottling my tears,

Drowning your fears.

Simply sipping and sipping and slipping then drinking then gulping and…..

Up it comes…

Too much life trapped in too many bottles,

Too many tears stoppered,

Not Enough

To drown my fears

Only sitting and sipping….never thinking

Just gulping and drinking..never thinking and

Up it comes….

The whole damn lot.

Thoughts. Memories. Blame. Shame. Guilt. Love. Loss. Grief. Mistakes. Regrets. Simply…only…just….

Mind vomit.

Alice Smith 5 1/2 years sober 2022