CW- non-sexual nudity in photos, body fascism, misogyny, sexual harassment, sexual assault. Don’t even think about leaving a creepy comment.
I’ve been thinking a fair amount lately about bodies and entitlement to them. Mostly fuelled by a combination of being cat-called on the street a lot lately, and meaning to start going to life drawing class again but not being able to afford it/getting round to it.
I started going to life drawing classes as a teenage art student, and I think it did me the world of good even outside of the art training. Spending an evening every week staring intently at some naked middle aged hippies gave me a far more realistic idea of what bodies should or could look like than the media ever could, and a lack of concern about taking my own clothes off (aided by a lot of medical appointments over the years that have involved getting naked, and sometimes being watched by a load of medical students). The weird squeamishness about nudity is always something that has annoyed me about the culture of the UK.
I haven’t found as many good charity shop items lately as over the summer, but there’s been the odd few things. I got this vase for £2, which I’ve planted an aloe vera in, for my own plant version of Sideshow Bob.
This box of Chris Ware stories, which hilariously was put in the children’s section as a board game for £7. Definitely not suitable for young children.
This bananagrams game for £2. This one is suitable for all the family.
I’ve got a large number of cacti and succulents, some of which I’ve had for years (and have their own offshoot children growing in separate pots now). By the end of the summer, some of them were looking a bit sad, and were in serious need of repotting. I collected a load of Hornsea ware and other vintage pottery for £1-3 a time over the summer, and then had a big repotting session outside, just before the weather started turning cold.
Here is how you successfully repot a cactus or succulent into a closed pot. They like dry soil that drains well- any moisture hanging around will make the roots start to rot. There’s a layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage, then a layer of activated charcoal to help stop any fungi growing. The soil is special cactus mix, which is dryer and sandier than regular potting soil (it feels very like coffee grounds). Don’t use soil from your garden as it will be too thick and might harbour pests. I used a brand of compost called Cactus Focus. The plants seem to like it, as they’ve been growing better in that than the stuff they came in. At the top of the pot you put more stones, for decoration, and to stop the fine-textured compost blowing away.
I’ve built up a collection of cacti and other succulents over the last year or so. They’re desert plants from the Americas and southern Africa which store water in their bodies, so they don’t need a lot of looking after, and they have a huge range of dramatic shapes, which explains why they’re such popular house plants. They’re also cheap to buy- mine all came from the supermarket, Wilco or IKEA and cost £2-4 each- and can live a long time if kept in the right conditions. (Opuntia cacti also produce delicious prickly pears and nopales pads for cooking). My current room has a large windowsill which gets some fierce sunshine around lunchtime, and is next to a radiator which dries up the air throughout the winter, which is the ideal conditions for growing them. I used to be into growing orchids and indoor herbs as well, but they just don’t thrive in the conditions here.