Hanging in The Ritz, Men's Fashion Week 2016
I returned to London in February 2016 unfurled and balmed from my Indian escape. Ready to slide the slalems all over again I rolled up to life with a renewed vigrour - let's do this! In my "quick-fix" mind that was all the grieving done with. I'd given it a deadline, and on a frosty February morning it delivered placing me right back in the riotous world of London life
I began working with a start-up agency on pitches for video content. My ideas were outpouring and fast and I whiled away hours pulling together shiny PDFs and approaching potential clients to make content for. My ideas were great (they were I can say that in retrospect) and I had every confidence that our marvellous pitches would go somewhere. There was a lot of interest in what we were doing and we had meetings upon meetings to discuss how our strategies would play out across the digital landscape. Generally speaking if I had one word to sum up this phase it would be “MESSING”. Our potential clients were messers and procrastinators with seemingly endless amounts of time to waste on discussing ideas but no actual desire to sign off on ideas or commit to money for that matter.
This was a nice introduction to that lovely agency/client relationship of dead ends. There’s a whole lot of messing that goes on in media and this was my baptism of video fire. There’s nothing more soul destroying as a creative than pouring precious ideas from the vat of your mind into a drain to nowhere. The fluidity eventually pours out and you're left with nothing. Despite my holiday bolstered vigour I wasn’t exactly tanked up on the confidence. I was back in London with no security, no fixed abode, recovering from a major trauma and nobody to go home to tell me I was great or worth something because the clients certainly weren't supporting this concept. With retrospect I see that client ambitions beyond budgets stood in the way and it wasn’t that my ideas were bad. I know this because I saw what they ended up actually producing and it was pretty poor quality. Things was tough and the one person who I’d relied on to support my creativity was no longer here. Furthermore I'd supported him going through round after round of rejection on his ideas and I was questioning why the hell I was doing this to myself now with zero support. I don’t know what I was thinking. It certainly wasn’t the easy choice for someone going through what I was. I was staying with a friend when I returned to London and I remember sitting at his kitchen table bursting into tears and him advising me to take some time out but I just couldn’t let go. My iron clad resolve had me in jaw clenched restraint and it made me so mad that I couldn’t stop or step away. One thing he said stuck with me “why don’t you consider making your recovery from all this your full time job?”. He had a point but at that time I wasn’t ready to listen. Adam and his partner Jace were very kind to me and I ate a lot of tarts from their amazing Clapham based shop Tart which made me very happy. The first paid job I did when I returned to London was working with them on their business and shooting their crowd-funding video. I got to eat more Tarts, lots of them. I can safely say they are the best tarts in London and their foods not too bad either.
All of this pitching was pretty soul destroying and not being one to do things by halves I decided to start house hunting. Oh god London’s so grim when you’re looking for somewhere to live and I just didn’t have the energy to go there so I kept cancelling my viewings. That's when Facebook stepped in and my feed delivered the option of a gorgeous warehouse apartment right beside London fields with parquet flowing throughout and high warehouse window ceilings. Job done. No more searching needed. I moved into my new abode in May and bought a load of tropical plants to keep me company. It was a Pinterest house and aesthetically it made me very happy. I had ceiling to floor voile curtains and crips Egyptian cotton sheets. All my stuff was in white plastic tubs and the organisation made me content.
The period of my life from May to December can be summed up as the burger phase. London fields is foodie heaven and despite the fact that I had an amazing kitchen I just couldn’t motivate myself to cook but what I could motivate myself to do was eat burgers, loads of them and wash them down with craft beer, lots of it. There was one particular place called The Advisory – total hipster joint which used to be a muslim women’s advisory centre and they just kept the name. Not PC, totally insensitive hipster eye-roll shenanigans but I buried head in the sand for the sake of my stomach so I could actively engage in voracious burger consumption. I’m vegetarian now) but despite this I’m getting hungry even thinking about them because not only did they sell burgers, they sold Korean fried chicken wings, poutine(posh chips and gravy #ironic), mac and cheese not to mention hard shakes with names like Toberlerone Whisky. Comfort food has such a bad name - we just think fat. Well I really needed this comfort and I remember those little burgers so fondly, little food babies that I devoured like a big hangry giant. This place made me so happy.
After months of pitching and bits of work here and there I won a job for the fashion label Joseph. I’d never editing anything in my life before so I winged it and said I could edit, nothing like a job for a really important client to shunt you up the learning curve but they seemed to buy into my ambient aestheticism art speak I hit em with and I nailed it.
June loomed ominously like a bully waiting around the corner to beat the living daylights of me. Mid June would be the 1 year anniversary and I was starting to lose my grip, the loose rocks of my mind hurtling down at an increasing rate. After months of flight I was flat out of places to flee to. I wasn’t working much and had endless hours alone with nothing to do but think - everywhere I looked I could see him. I was still sleeping a LOT. I would get up, go get coffee, write some journal stuff focusing on gratitude and the flakey “Universe”(that friend that never answers your texts but you still want them in your life) and then go home and sleep for a few hours. I was in bed every night at 9.30 and I felt really really heavy and I felt guilty for feeling heavy because I was supposed to be fixed by now - that's how it works, you create a strategy, make deadlines and stick to them and it works. Done. I also had no curtains and the sun rose at 5am between the buildlngs piercing my eyelids with it’s abundant divine love or something like that. There was also some asshole living on my road with a Harley that fired it up every morning at 7am. I wish I'd deflated his tyres but I didn't really need any more bad karma.
I decided to go home for the anniversary and I remember going out with one of his pals the day before I left and drinking maybe 4 bottles of wine, essentially an all day bender. I just couldn’t deal with it so I had to obliterate myself from reality. Kath picked me up and brought me home tucking me into bed. I woke the next morning blurry and disorientated, my room a mess, threw some stuff into a suitcase and off I went on the run again.
I arrived home in Ireland. I went to my room to rest and I didn't come out. Considering how much running around I'd been doing I was now sloth like in movement, slow, reluctant and dragging, my brain nagging me to wade the sludgewaters of my living. Nothing lifted me. My Mum brought me shopping for an endorphin hit and I recall walking into the stores and feeling so disengaged, what was the point. My endorphins had left the party and they was nobody to bring the tricks. Material things seemed vacuous and empty, everything did. The one thing that I longed for was something money couldn’t buy, was something that just didn’t exist any more. I was bad, really really bad and I had to go to see a doctor see a doctor. So many people have said in passing over the last year “oh don’t ever go near meds, oh no no, tut tut, don’t do that" - well it’s really easy for other people to say but honestly when you’re that low traditional medicine can be a life saver. I also started seeing a therapist at this point who helped me to understand how I was feeling. I learned that the shock of a major trauma numbs you to a certain degree, facilitating your existence up to a point and I had reached that point. I was now impaled upon it. Like a flipped cockroach I was stunned, startled, stuck and incapable of wriggling free unassisted.
On set for Loveday London lingerie shoot
But wriggle free I did after that week of magolia. I must have been coming up on my meds because I've gone through my pics to refresh my memory and one of the things I did in June 2015 was dance on stage at Gay Pride in Dublin when my mate Little Boots was DJing and hang out with Jake Shears from the Scizzor Sisters who was also DJing. I can't remember much of that night for other reasons but the pictures indicate it was a lot of fun. I also Art Directed a lingerie shoot for a friend which made me happy.
View from my face, Gary pride, Dublin 2016.
In June I started developing an idea for a music video, the first one I've directed which is going to be released this month. I was excited to be working on something that was pure unbridled creativity with no "clients getting in the way" to reign in my ideas. This was also a very emotional process. You see myself and Ish had our little idea factory going and worked on so much stuff together. We had secret joint Pinterest boards where we would pin ideas on everything from styling and art direction to casting and shot ideas not to mention all our dreams of what our lives were going to be. As always I set up my Pinterest boards and it felt tragic because I was so excited about my ideas but I was doing it alone. He should have been there and it was desperately lonely. Despite the fact that I'd expressed a strong interest in directing when he was alive, I was at this point questioning everything. Why did I even want to be a director now, was it just my way of keeping him alive? Was it because he'd been snatched from me so unexpectedly that I could keep him around. In a sense yes and maybe still I want to do him proud and keep his energy and his contribution to the world here so that his life wasn't a waste. When they say someone's still with you and they've only stepped "into the next room" maybe that's what they mean, that in some way you're keeping their buzz going. They lend you their energy and ideas and there's an element of that you keep with you. Whatever it was I was doing a classic Marion on it and overthinking all of it, the questions wringing through my brain until I was mentally parched. It's a weird thing heading up a team of people when you don't really know who you are, where you are or what you're doing. The irony is that this project brought me closer to myself, back to who I was "before" because I felt like I had a responsibility, like I couldn't let people down and I worked with the most amazing team who gave me life, exciting and inspring me. I felt really alive when I was directing and there wasn't so much space for the sadness. As I review the last year I realise that one of the main things that's saved me is my creativity.
I am a really really really appallingly bad proof reader. This will bother some of you. I'm sorry. I can't be a genius at everytttthing ;)