I ate a lot more than Shanti. But Shanti is much more bad ass than me: she has eaten her puppies’ poo and pee so to protect them from infections. This is what my friend who lives in Scotland said when she sent me this picture of her dog and her bag. Look how super cute she is. Shanti’s poo was not the best poo today, my friend said. It was quite liquid. And that’s probably because eating shit is not the best diet (although I remember my dog in Italy loving it, especially cats’ poo). But Shanti did that to protect her babies – apparently it’s also an instinct developed in times when dogs were out in the wild and needed to hide the scent of the puppies from predators. Shanti ate poo for love, as my friend noted. I don’t know if I could do that. But I don’t have babies. If any of you reading have babies, would you eat your baby’s poo if you had to?
I was sitting on the bench at the back of the boat, looking at the reflection of the almost-full moon in the water when a couple of swans arrived. They approached swiftly and in silence but once they got close they started to hiss and peck at my boat. What a fucking attitude. I’ve just googled ‘swans pecking boats’ and what I got instead was a list of articles about aggressive swans attacking people or other animals. Metro had possibly the best headline: ‘Psycho swan sinks boats and beats up ducks and geese on town’s lake’. I love these animal-terror stories. Like the stories about foxes biting off children’s ears. Or kangaroos pushing people into lakes. Anyways, swans. What about them. The BBC says swans stick together for life not because they’re madly in love but because that way they max their chances of having as many cygnets as possible. They also are a ‘highly effective fighting team’. Thank you BBC for ruining my romantic dream. But what is this true love which lasts a lifetime anyway. What is it. I dunno. The amazing Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska asks in her poem True Love:
True love. Is it normal is it serious, is it practical? What does the world get from two people who exist in a world of their own?
I dunno. I put the question to you. Also if you fancy, read the whole poem. I find it very beautiful. And funny. Wislawa was a very funny woman. Love to you wherever you are, Wislawa. And to my friend who introduced me to her work.
PS: I did not feed the swans my shit. I just put the bag there to take a picture. I tried to feed them blueberries, but as I did one of the beautiful creatures bit my fingers, the blueberry fell in the canal, the swan hissed in disappointment and left.
Because the night belongs to lovers, because the night belongs to poo.
It’s actually this morning’s poo, but photographed at night on the stern of the boat from my very new secret location. And the music I can hear from this new spot is not Patti Smith, but what I would describe as arabic music (apologies for my ignorance). It’s Saturday night. They have a mike and shishas. I have poo on the stern and little battery. Bye.
Today marks the middle of my boat adventure. I’m half way through it. So I decided to celebrate by taking the kids on a little day trip. There was no school today anyway, as all the kids in London went to protest against climate change. Pee Cassettes and Poo Bag did not fit all on my bike, so I went to that lovely Lebanese man at the grocery shop across the bridge and asked if I could borrow his lovely trolley. He asked what I needed it for, I replied I had to bring some heavy boxes to Little Venice.
When I came back from the shop with the trolley, Poo Bag and Pee Cassettes were waiting for me eagerly. It may have been the spring air, the sun or the crescent moon, but they were uncontrollable with joy. So I tightened them all up with ropes and off we went to Little Venice (yes, the same one as last time, the one that looks nothing like the real Venice). On the way there Pee Cassettes were chatting a lot amongst themselves and passers by looked at the two pretty sisters in awe. Poo Bag was silent. But he’s always silent. He’s a kind of introvert. Lovely, but introvert. On the way to Little Venice which looks nothing like the real Venice we saw many things. But mostly, we saw rubbish. There was so much rubbish everywhere. In the water, and on the canal path. Bags and bags and bags of rubbish, some more recent, others less so, some still intact, others ripped apart and their stomachs of empty cans and plastic wrappers scattered on the grass. Some remains of the bags got caught in the trees’ branches like ancient ghosts.
Poo Bag and Pee Cassettes are still very small, but they were furious about the rubbish. They could not understand how people could just dump it there that way. I told them it was bad, and some people who threw the rubbish were indeed bad and lazy, but other people were probably very sad or very ill or both and they didn’t care about anything, including rubbish. The kids weren’t totally convinced by my explanation. I thought I was lucky to have them all, so smart and woke. But I’m just not sure what kind of life they’re going to have in between all that plastic.
Then we got to Little Venice and all of a sudden I lost Poo Bag and Pee Cassettes went all quiet. And I just went back on my own.
It was a sunny day today, uh. At least in London. I heard it was sunny in Italy and Greece too. A very fine day indeed. A day to sit outside drinking coffee and doing nothing. Such a fine day. Oh yes, it felt like spring. Flowers blooming. People happy. Dogs happy. Birds happy. Ducks happy. Ducks not dying today. Everyone happy! A day to truly enjoy life. Just like any other day. What day is it again today? Don’t you dare say the V word. I’m not going to say the V word. No I’m not. I’m also not going to give you a rant about how coupledom is an overrated, capitalist idea to make you procreate and add a pair of extra consumers to the world. I’m not going to tell you what I’m doing tonight. I’m not going to tell you what I’ve done today.
Instead, I’m going to tell you of an invention a friend of mine and I came up with during one of our winter walks in the park a few years back. The Happiness Glasses. They are specially designed for single people. As you can see from the picture, one of the lenses is darker than the other one. That’s because it’s covered. It could be that the other one is covered instead. The glasses come with the option to cover both lenses, one at a time. Now you may be wondering why. Well, imagine you’re walking in the park and it’s sunny. Or not. And you’re having a really nice day. Or not. And then you see a couple holding hands coming your way. All you have to do is obscure one of the lenses and bam! one of the people of the couple disappear and you can carry on with your day with happiness. Or not.
They have come. The aliens have come to take my poo. The green circle is the proof, you can see it too. They have not spoken to me yet. But maybe they won’t. They’ll just come in the night and take my poo bag, the one I left in the bathroom bin. Then they will filter through the door like ghosts onto the deck and they will take the other couple of bags from the outside bin. They will then scan poo bags with the green circle and come to the conclusion I’m not worth shit. #fearoftheother
I could have chosen to immortalise the image of this bag of shit in many other locations. I thought about arranging it on the muddy soil outside the boat, as if it was putting down roots, but a man was walking up and down, talking on the phone for ages, and I didn’t want to wait until he was gone. I could have held it against the orange lights on the bridge, that would have given it a melancholic urban look. But then I couldn’t be bothered with any of that, and just threw it on the floor. And as soon as I did that, I realised it actually looked quite good on the tiles, with the shadow and all. It was a random decision, it could have turned out shit, but I was lucky it didn’t.
A friend the other day asked me if I had any regrets. If there was anything I would have done different. I replied that I would have gone to art school instead of ‘liceo scientifico’ (a secondary school where you study a lot of latin and physics). But at the time when I was faced with such decision I had no idea what I was nor what I wanted and so I let the common sense of other people decide for me. So now I look at all the 20-somethings who have done shit loads of shows and exhibitions and shit like that and I feel a bit old and behind. But actually, not really. I don’t give a shit anymore. It doesn’t really matter. I got here, eventually, and no one can take this away from me anymore unless I decide to or I die. I may never get to show my stuff at Tate or I may never get Arts Council funding because I don’t know how to sell my shit and don’t write my artist statement using important words. But at least I’m doing what I love now. Like throwing bags of shit on the floor, taking pictures of them and writing about them. Who would have thought! I certainly didn’t believe it would be possible only a few years ago.
It’s never too late to do that or anything else really. And the shit you’ve done before will come in handy at some point. The important thing is to actually take a fucking decision, whatever that is, without it being dictated by fear.
I overslept massively, moving from one absurd dream to another. A former colleague, my mother and some cats were the protagonists in a series of ultra-real oneiric episodes. To the point that when I was about to open my eyes I genuinely wasn’t sure I was on the boat. But I was. And was very late. I ate a pack of 40p instant noodles before going to sleep. Maybe it was that. Or maybe it was that I just needed sleep so bad after being deprived of it by Wind and Blue Tarpaulin Sheet playing silly games over the past three nights. They may have had buckets of fun, but I really didn’t. I felt heavy and hopeless.
Not sleeping or sleeping badly creates monsters in your head. One privileged enough, as I am, to have enough sleep and good food on a very regular basis can only try to imagine what it means not to on an equally regular basis. What is it like to sleep on a street or under a bridge with no proper bed, in the cold, sleeping like shit, eating like shit? It struck me how quickly I was turning inwards, how quickly I wasn’t thinking straight just because I almost didn’t sleep for three days. How pathetic. I’m scared to even try imagining what living like that for months or years feels like. The damage it does.
People on a Sunday go to museums, to town to do shopping, to pubs to have Sunday roasts, stay in bed to have sex, stay in bed to masturbate, do their nails, go to work, do their laundry, sleep under a bridge, take kids to the movies, take kids to friends parties, lock kids in a room with videogames, go to feed pigeons by the canal, eat food, shit, die. On a Sunday, I like to put on a fresh pair of latex gloves and dry the engine room with stolen gym towels and nappies. It has become my favourite pastime. I’m not sure what I will do with my life once I go back to live in the flat. I guess I could always take a photography course or join a choir.
My editor has asked me to write something about my experience of living on a boat since most journalists who write about living on boats don’t actually live on boats. The problem with those articles is that then boaters discover them, post them on the Facebook boaters group and let the nasty comments pour in, calling for the head of those journalists who dared romanticise an experience they know nothing of. But sometimes boaters just get pissed off because they don’t have anything else to do, having already dried their engine rooms, so they get all bitter and petty and self-praising, just like the majority of people who comment on online articles. So anyway, I promised my editor I will write something on boats and boating, and I must say I’m quite looking forward to it. I have total freedom of self censorship! I’m thinking I could start the article with more or less the same intro of this post. That would allow me to simultaneously reassure boaters that I’m not going to go all cheesy about the ducks and the nature, but instead focus on the hard work that living on boats requires, while also give my middle class readers someone (childless, immigrant and single) to look down to from their warm living rooms with screaming children and ugly paintings on the walls. Then I could sneak in a small factbox at the end about shitting in plastic bags and how that works. I can’t, can I. It would be absolutely glorious though.
You spend all these money you don’t have on therapy, organic vegetables, propolis, and you go to yoga and the gym and you tell your friends how much better you feel, and how now you don’t pile shit on top of your head anymore, yeah you definitely don’t do that anymore, and how good everything is and the ducks in the canal are beautiful, even if they’re dying with a stomach full of plastic and you feel one and all with the universe and even small dogs have a right to exist in this ugly but beautiful world.
And then you go back to your phone. That harrowing, dark place where one should never go, especially in the morning. And so instead of asking yourself what next you ask yourself why. Which is the wrong question. Smartphones and questions beginning with why are two things which should be avoided by all means on certain occasions.
Putting your shit bag on the steps and pretending you’ve somehow made progress doesn’t magically change things, by the way. Just in case you felt like trying. No point. Believe me.