Friday, 27 February 2015

blog / Julianne Moore is 54. Madonna is 56.

Patti Smith is 68. Debbie Harry is 69. Julianne Moore is 54. Madonna is 56. Please let me know if you need any other famous women's ages. Happy to help. I used an internet search engine, you may have heard of it, it is called Google. I simply typed in ‘How old…’ and put in a woman’s name and just like magic the answers came up.  You’d think they would lie. You’d think they would be ashamed of getting old. I blame that film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In fact I blame all of this ‘getting old in public' trend on Helen Mirren, 69 or that Maggie Smith, 80. All these mature women parading on television as if age doesn’t matter, when it obviously does. Don’t these people see the news, watch any adverts, don’t they know that ageing is a battle? As Pat Benatar, 62 might sing ‘Age is a battlefield’ - It’s a war against father time and mother nature. The fight to stay young and beautiful is urgent and constant. Dye your hair. Dress your age. Cover it all up. Showing your age is weakness. Oh do shut up. Act your age and not your shoe size. My shoe size is 40  - what is your point? 

The Brits and the Oscars were a massive whitewash and the lack of diversity was embarrassing. I have no real interest in awards and prize ceremonies, I think shiny trinkets feed the wrong end of the machine that makes great art and music and books. But I had insomnia this week, I fell into a black hole and have been on twitter too much. One of my tweets was on breakfast television. This week has been totally weird, mostly I have been bombarded with the age of everyone, time passing and death.

This week I sat in a room where death was happening. It was awkward. Death is awkward. We filled the silences with tea: the making of the tea, the drinking of the tea and the clearing away of the tea. This is all we can do. Make tea. Put on a brave face. Make more tea. It is another kind of quiet when people die. A quiet that burns and smolders with unsaid thoughts. We sat in silence, flowers in a vase that say, I don't know what to say. Aware of the ticking of the kitchen clock, I said, the clock is wrong, we shook our heads, then we continued quietly staring into nothing. I stood at the sink and took my time washing a teaspoon. Outside the kitchen window a brave yellow crocus pushed its nose through February's hard, cold, dead, mud.
My Jamaican grandmother taught me to believe that I have to work twice as hard in life because I am a brown girl. We all have to work hard, she told me, it is a hard life. But we have to pick our fights. Take your pick, pick your battles. You might be reading this and you might feel you have to work harder because you are skint, because you didn’t come from money or go to a posh school. Because you’re black, from another colour or another religion. Because you don’t fit in. Because you never do as you're told. Because you are a woman over the age of 35. Because you’re an outsider. Because you are difficult to pigeon hole. Because you are not following the strict formula, because you have gone off road, because you dance to your own tune, because you have thrown away the map, broken the rules, danced on the tables, ignored your biological clock, fuck off, clock, fuck off, the clock is wrong, I just said that, the clock is wrong. 

Just look at all the obstacles a person has to get past just to get a fair and equal wage for an honest days work. I liked that Patricia Arquette, 46, said what she said at the Oscars, but its nothing new. That's an awful lot of fences to jump and gates to kick down every single morning, just to work, just to be heard, just to get treated equally. Lets dump all of these compartments, these boxes and these limits. Stop listening to what they say you cannot do. You! You can do what the fuck you like with your own life. Remember that. As long as you are learning then you're actually alive. If you are not learning and living and growing and changing, then what are you even doing here?  You're wasting time, you are frozen, under ice.

I try to learn from my mistakes, from the years I own and can chalk up to experience. Mostly my grandmother wanted me to be obedient. I loved her – But now when I look back, her choices and her example showed me that she was ruled by pleasing men. Sitting in my grandfathers kitchen, I remember this visual  cacophony of garish colours, the loud wallpaper - If you have read Springfield Road I am transported into Chapter 45 - I remember this room. I remember being told how to bathe. I remember being told how put a chair under the bathroom door handle. Just in case. That’s old school. That was being taught how to survive and not how to live. That is exhausting, the difference between surviving and living. My grandmothers generation made mistakes and they learned to cope. My mothers generation made mistakes and they burnt their bras and took the pill and marched to Parliament. Surely armed with our books and our freedom and knowledge this generation of females should be flying. What’s this blockage? What’s this 1950’s bullshit? What is UKIP? Why do I feel like we are going backwards? And Madonna, it isn’t about her age, she's blazing a trail. I highly recommend you read this article, I read this yesterday, it is by the brilliant Bidisha here

There is a popular meme. It is of Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire. The caption reads “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels” I need to add to that, Ginger Rogers did all that Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heels AND possibly suffering with period pain and headaches and wearing a thick brick of old fashioned sanitary towel and a sanitary belt - without the reliability of modern tampons, Feminax and Neurofen and other pain killers. It is likely she worked for half the money and was relentlessly contending with the daily prejudice of being a woman in an all male industry. Add to that the bitching press and bitchier competition wanting to know ‘who’ she is wearing and who she is marrying and divorcing, not what she is thinking or noticing how hard she is working to stay on the top of her game. Plus the constant pressure to compete and to stay slim and young and fresh .... and nothing in Hollywood has changed .... and all of this brings me to the question of the week. Why is the government taxing tampons? Good question. Read more about that here:

Julianne Moore is 54

To be a female actress or musician, a woman in the entertainment industry, there is constant pressure to remain frozen, to stay slim and young. Imagine a writer, say Alice Walker, posing like Julianne Moore above to promote a book. It just wouldn't happen, because writing has to be one job where to have some grey hair and glasses shows you have lived and died and loved and lost one hundred times and got back up to write about it. Surely as writers, maturing is not just allowed, it is to be revered. Writing books has to be ageless and all about perfecting your craft as your story gets richer with longevity and time, you cannot rush a good book, or an oil painting or a classic album. You cannot rush any of the good things in life: a beautiful kiss, a glass of good whisky, a hot bath. As teenagers we all wrote songs of love and peace poems, but to still be fighting for love and peace and believing in humanity and the bigger picture in later years takes something else, some idealism, some belief and some magic. One of the biggest tricks about ‘growing up’ is to not grow up, I intend to apply that to getting older too. To not let circumstance or experience harden your veins with cynicism. You must live lively inside your dreams, protect your dream architecture from inconsequential and pedestrian things like bank statements and counting the years. 

A choice to live a creative life will be tested constantly, financially and spiritually, you have to justify it and compete with your own bad self - not the media or the prizes or your age or weight or the shiny distraction of your contemporaries lives - but the life of the new work of your own making. Female celebrities aren’t given even that much grace and respect are they. Madonna, 56, has endured, just look at her life story, yet we still ask her to prove herself again and again. I am not convinced we apply quite the same level of unkindness and pressure to the boys and to my other heroes like Prince also 56. 

Iggy Pop is 67. David Bowie is 68. Bob Dylan is 73. Mick Jagger is 71. Russell Crowe is 50, he gave the Brits award for best album to Ed Sheeran, who is 24.  Please do let me know if you need more ages. Happy to help. Salena Godden is 42. 


Latest: Indie Berlin Review: 

"The tale is rich with reflections on memory and tradition, presence and absence, relatives and the past... I don’t know why, but I sometimes felt like I was prying on Salena, but it’s a book, a published book, and I was offered it." 

'Cured Meat' Author Polly Trope reviews Springfield Road



March 7th:  The Book Club Boutique: The Bankhouse / Hastings
March 9th: Grant, Godden & Gbadamosi / Kings Place, London  


'All Things Considered' NPR Radio


BBC R4:  'Loose Ends' feat. Salena Godden is available Here

BBC R3: 'The Verb' Viv Albertine and Salena Godden on Mixcloud

BBC Scotland: Janice Forsyth 'The Culture Studio' Here
BBC R4: 'The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks' itunes podcast Here 

published by Burning Eye Books

published by Unbound 

Monday, 9 February 2015

NO MEANS YES - Pick up advice for women



NO MEANS YES: Pick up advice for women 
Recorded February 8th 2015 
Jazz Verse Jukebox, Ronnie Scott's, Soho
Music improvisation Jazz Verse Jukebox Band 
Simon Wallace - Piano
Davide Mantovani - Double Bass
Steve Taylor - Drums
Rant poetry - written in response to watching youtube clips of Julien Blanc and other ‘the pick up artists’  - This is what a pick up artist's 'motivational speech' sounds like to me, this is pick up advice for women...

“Isolate… ISOLATE… Isolate… No means Yes. NO MEANS YES…Now…you need to figure out how to get the man away from his friends, away from the club, away from the party or whatever and on his OWN, so you can get him into your bed. That’s what I’m talking about That’s what I am talking about. This man has the cock and you need that cock up you and so you have to GET ORGANISED, organise yourself to obtain that result. So what’s the first thing you do? The first thing you do is approach the guy and he’s gonna be all like 'I'm watching the football" IRRELEVANT! “I’m married" IRRELEVANT! or "I'm Gay" IRRELEVANT!  ‘I’m a Monk” IRRELEVANT. You have to SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN. Shut that man-talk shit down. Get a boob out. Flash a tit. Do what you have to do to get your fucking fuck inside your wet fuck hole. Inside your wet fucking fuck hole. You need to take that cock and make that cock yours. Don’t take NO for an answer. NO MEANS YES. NO MEANS YES. He’s gonna make excuses like “I have a girlfriend”. Whatever. IRRELEVANT. “I am married.” Irrelevant. SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN “I’m a Buddhist monk.” Irrelevant. SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN. Your key aim is a get laid. All of this is irrelevant. Everything he says is IRRELEVANT. Keep focussed on what you WANT and WHAT YOU DESERVE when you want it, don’t take any shit, don’t take NO for answer. No means yes. NO MEANS YES. You have to ISOLATE HIM, get him away from his friends, get him on his own, get him away from the pack. GET HIM AWAY FROM THE PACK. Do what you have to do. Be ahead of the game, have the answers ready, keep on top of it, tell him its an adventure, TELL HIM ABOUT THE PUSSY “I have a wife and she’s going into labour” Irrelevant. After party. Come back to my place. Keep him there, pin him against a wall by his throat, grab his cock, guys love that shit, NO MEANS YES, NO MEANS YES, don’t let him go, tell him about the pussy, the adventure, the after party, “what about my wife” ring her later. “but she’s in labour” SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN. Tell him about the pussy. Tell him about the PUSSY. After party. After party. “What about my Buddhism” Forget it. Monkey Monk. Be ahead of his every excuse. Be five steps ahead. Be alert, visualising how are you gonna get him back to your place and get him into your bed and inside you, how are you gonna take what is yours. Keep alert. Keep your eye on the goal, the cock. They love that shit right…they complain about it…. but men, they fucking want it you just have to show them who’s boss…NO MEANS YES. NO MEANS YES. NO MEANS YES.”

Love and thanks to Jumoke Fashola and the Jazz Verse Jukebox band
And also to Sabrina Mahfouz, Amy Acre, R.A. Villanueva and Bird Radio
Thank you to all down at Ronnie Scott's last night!
My next gig is at Rally and Broad, Edinburgh, February 20th
 Please scroll down for more dates and links


Feb 20th: Rally and Broad / Edinburgh 

March 9th: Trio of black british memoirs / Grant, Godden & Gbadamosi / Kings Place, London 

'All Things Considered' NPR Radio
BBC R4:  'Loose Ends' feat. Salena Godden is available Here
BBC R3: 'The Verb' Viv Albertine and Salena Godden on Mixcloud

BBC Scotland: Janice Forsyth 'The Culture Studio' Here
BBC R4: 'The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks' itunes podcast Here 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


I've lost my mind. I've lost my phone. I cannot remember getting home. I don't. Even. Know. No. Nothing. My head is otherly from the rest of me. I drain the pitiful pithy end of the orange juice, then I drink fizzy water. The bubbles have sharp corners and hurt my mouth. It is all hard work, my lips are swollen, my eyes puffy, vision is blurred, coloured lights, flashing images, flickers of memories, dancing, crying, laughing. AND Wow, I am on the other side of seeing PRINCE. LIVE. PRINCE. YES. That did happen. PRINCE did actually happen.

PRINCE.  He wore gold. He wore mercury, a light metal that changed in the temperature of light and sound, he wore a suit of golden light, a fluid suit of full moon glitter and the dark materials that make butterfly wings shimmer. That's what he wore. Hair. He had an afro. He had the hair of Hendrix. Lights. I remember he kept switching the stage lights off. It was dark and exciting and the music was there, so you needn't be scared of the dark, his voice was there. And the songs, hit after hit after hit after hit after hit ... LETS GO CRAZY!

"Nothing, no, not taking a picture of PRINCE or nothing... "

I enter my ladies chamber and sit at my desk, I'm seeking evidence that this wasn't all a dream. I log into my twitter to find my last tweet was a wonky picture of me and my friend Emily and the words "Nothing, no, not taking a picture of PRINCE or nothing... "  This photo was taken on the VIP balcony watching PRINCE at KOKO last night. IT REALLY HAPPENED. Secret party. PRINCE. Charity bash. PRINCE. AUTISM ROCKS. Don't take pictures. PRINCE. Don't tweet. PRINCE. Don't TELL anyone. PRINCE. But look, evidence, one sneaky, cheeky picture leeked out of me didn't it.  There were other photos ... pictures of Dickie ... and oh shit ... I have lost my phone... But I'm too happy to care. Because. PRINCE.

For some people it is David Bowie. For others it is all about Madonna, Kate Bush or Blondie or Nick Cave or Stevie Wonder or Dolly Parton or  {enter your own name} I love all of those living legends too...And Tina Turner. But I think my number one will always be PRINCE. I feel like I have loved him all my life. The first time I heard PRINCE? I can remember recording WHEN DOVES CRY on a tape recorder from Top Of The Pops off the telly and singing along with it playing at top volume. I remember thinking it was the most remarkable song. What does it even mean? Doves? Cry? Exactly! MAYBE I'M JUST LIKE MY MOTHER.

PRINCE opened his secret show last night with PURPLE RAIN. I wasn't expecting that, it knocked me for six and tears sprang to my eyes with that line "you say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind, I think you better close it"  a lyric written long before all of this, this bollocks, this war,  before  9/11. For me it was all about the songs with PRINCE, the stories, the lyrics, the words, and where we all were then, when these songs were first released. I remembered the first time I heard the words for SIGN OF THE TIMES and tears streamed down my face again. It's silly, no. When a rocket ship explodes. How embarrassing. How true. How nothing has changed. Tonight we're going to party like its 1999 and well once PRINCE had made me cry, well then he had me. Like the greatest entertainer of our lifetime, he started as he meant to go on, punching you in the face and ripping your guts open, making your heart race with hit after hit after hit after hit. I haven't seen PRINCE since the 20th Century. I remember I saw PRINCE perform in France. I was a student, I was inter-railing around Europe, we caught his tour in Nice. I remember seeing PRINCE at Wembly too. We've all done some growing and changing since then. You SEXYMOTHERFUCKER.

I don't know what it is about PRINCE...

Ah yes I do. It is everything about PRINCE. Watching PRINCE last night I really tried to be cynical, to say hey, adult-Salena, this was something you liked back in the day, back when you used wet look gel, electric blue mascara and bubble gum lip gloss. Back when you wore fingerless lace gloves and consumed bottles of Thunderbird under Hastings Pier. I tried hard to imagine all my purple days were over, but my love for PRINCE proved to be bigger than ever. It is difficult to write this without wanting to make jokes. It is hard to hero worship. We don't really write about love and respect for an artist until they die. We don't tell people what they mean to us until it is too late and they are dead and then we write RIP on facebook which is meaningless. It is hard to admit you have any favourite living heroes, without waiting for someone to piss on your parade. That was a great album too wasn't it PARADE...What's your favourite all time PRINCE album? What's your favourite PRINCE song? I love EROTIC CITY, I think its the sexiest song of all time.

I couldn't get to any of his secret London pop-up gigs before and so I had some serious catching up to do. 3rd Eye Girl - What a treat! Amazing super-hot, uber-feisty all-girl line up commanding the stage, the music and the party with skillful and playful musicianship, the showmanship was non-stop epic. The drummer kicked ass. The foxy bass player was sassy as fuck. The fantastic lead guitarist blew me the fuck away. I love this new material as much as classics like NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU, what a beautiful PRINCE solo, he throbs, skips, flirts, funks, rocks and licks his lips and...and...and...PRINCE. The charity was Autism Rocks. Lets not forget it was for charity. Brilliant. Koko. Amazing. Thank you. 

 This is not a review. This is not a blog. This is not a poem. This is not a letter. I don't even know what this is. This is a confession: I love PRINCE. Even. More. Now. Some of you will agree. Some of you might love him too. Some of you know all the words to SOMETIMES IT SNOWS IN APRIL. Some of you will read this and try to ring me. Don't ring me, remember, I lost my phone. PRINCE has my phone. PRINCE is probably trying to use the password 1999 to get in. PRINCE - if you read this and get into my phone, I am sorry, you will find some cheeky, sneaky photos of you on it. I just couldn't resist, when I saw little Nikki grind...

Prince played:
Purple Rain
Let's Go Crazy (Reloaded)
Take Me With U
U Got The Look
Little Red Corvette
Nothing Compares 2 U
U Got The Look
Only Love Can Hurt Like This (w/ Liv Warfield)
- - - - SAMPLE SET - - - -
When Doves Cry
Sign O' The Times
Hot Thing
A Love Bizarre
Intro Darling Nikki
Pop Life
I Would Die 4 U
- - - - END SAMPLE SET - - - -
Forever In My Life
- - - - SAMPLE SET - - - -
U KNOW (intro)
If I Was Your Girlfriend (intro)
- - - - END SAMPLE SET - - - -
What's My Name
Sometimes It Snows In April (Tease)
Let's Work
COOL / Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (w/ Liv Warfield)