My thanks to Emily Roberts for her kind permission to reproduce her poem “Bingo Wings”. This poem is copyright and may not be reproduced without the explicit written permission of Emily Roberts:
People with Bingo Wings are of low birth.
Am I looking for a job or am I just looking for a safe space?
Is my coffee routine the only routine I’ve got left?
I want a new look, …I dream of a…re-style, or shall I just shave
My hair off, like I’m being pruned.
We pull our hair out in wads…but we cannot get divorced from our haircuts…
Unique haircuts… Unique heads.
Sideburns to die for.
Groomed to within an inch of our lives.
But we don’t get paid for our style, or lack of it.
And it’s better not to be trapped in a room chasing a carrot,
I’ve grown into a curtain twitcher because people annoy me so much…
I’d recycle my brain if I could.
But we don’t want implants…
We don’t have implants we have great looking hair.
Even if we’re having a bad hair day.
I’m too old to recognized by anyone now…
People learn to get out of my gaze.
You must have special skills to face ‘us’
I cry on my own shoulder…armpit tears…slow release…
Maybe we’re only safe in the Bingo Hall.
Work was my place of worship, I could go home and be important if I was on a payroll…
And it’s nice to be conscious of being paid.
But now I’m looking for a new sort of confinement…
I want to be recognised as a rat in my own rat race…
I’m a product of the locker-room..
But the hairdryers there aren’t built for humans.
And running yourself ragged is not a therapeutic space
IT is not friendly to me,
I can’t keep up with my diary, or appointments.
I’m victimised by voluntary organisations
There are paid heads and unpaid heads
I’ll lose mine looking for the phone.
Vanished by social media.
Living or emailing, that is the question?
I’m better off staying in my own community…Anything to make me feel less upside-down.
After we’ve been sick we get to fill in a questionnaire.
I walk on the sick side…always.
I am more suited to knitting than work.
Knitting is a rebirthing project.
It also ties me up in knots.
Too jerky to work.
Too jerky to live.
Unfit to knit.
Knitting patterns give me the flight or fight syndrome.
And I’ll lose my head looking for the phone…
I’m unfit for that as well.
An unfit phone holder.
We are brutalised people.
We need support in the Wilderness.
We’re not good at shoes…
No, we’re on our hooves….
Our feet are on shifting sands and
Broken horses can’t sing or play ukuleles.
We’re too loud, we put people off.
We’re going to stay loud until the end…
We can raise our status by being sick.
Let’s do a Sick Walk
It helps to throw things out.
But then again, we can all have muscle imbalances.
And dodgy knees.
And the coffee shop can be an office too.
We are all in the desert.
There are very few safe spaces for us to be.
I’m a shadow of my former self, a male silhouette.
I’ve learnt not to look to closely at people or they run away.
I walk on the sick side.
I need a break from the toilet…
And dealing with my derrier…
I’m a strong purveyor of trapped wind and
I’d recycle my arse if I could.
But It’s bigger than a recycling box.
I’ve a cleaner like a cattle prodd and sitting is not a pleasure,
A page cannot be faced unless it’s in fright.
I spend a lot of time being head shy.
But now I’ve found support in the wilderness with ‘People Like Us’
I just dust the sick from my Bingo Wings and smile.
I cannot move jobs or gyms because I’ll leave a bad odour.
But I’ve got allies, and I can choose which allies I want…
O.C.D rings lots of bells with me.
I work out too much but I don’t deserve the dirty looks,
At least I’m not locked in the locker room.
Though it feels like I m wearing a ‘do not disturb sign.
Though I like the décor, it makes it feel more like an office.
And I’m not going to be sick in it today.
The doctor has disowned me.
Disowned my cauliflower ears..
I only go I want to play a health lottery.
It’s a waste of my energy going to a social groups…
On the other hand, I live my life for groups,
Groups of baked potatoes.
Because I heave around detritus like carrying my office on my back.
I can chart my life with detritus.
I live most of my life in exile or madness, but I’m funny, not angry and it’s not a good idea to open the windows round here.
Being heard encourages me a lot and it’s nice to know that I’ve got rid of the curry I had yesterday.
Proximity to the toilet encourages me to make new plans.
I’ve got news pants that can cover a lot of bases,
I can even wear them straight to the gym for a life of fixation and being sick…
I won’t question you about why you’re here on the Bank Holiday, if you don’t question me…
It’s just good that another person is here, to keep the place open…
Shall we go to the recovery café next
And learn to be a meaningful fly on the wall…
Summer is not good for my brain,
It gets furred up like a kettle..
Just call me ‘FurryKettleFace
And all kinds of people have made a contribution to my head.
What’s goose for the gander is goose for the head.
And I’m not alone,
I have allies,
But still my life is sewn up by the locker-room.
I’m only fit for elementary occupations.
And the cleaner is my ‘Overlord’.
All my leave is unpaid.
But I’m funny, not angry,
As I carry my tattiness around in this Dogtown