I have decided that self-perception is all. Shallow? Yes. Well I believe some of us have settled just how shallow I can be…(see here – )

For years I have referred to myself – whenever asked – as a lawyer.

When pushed – flute-playing, MA(Hons) ll.B Dip(l.P.), lawyer, mother-of-five, married, festival-goer.

Now there is a challenge to the listener.

Classical music playing. Glastonbury dance-tent stoned piss-head.

Arts graduate.

Stentorian pedantic lawyer.

Fecund Earth-Mother.


What image do the descriptors I proffer conjure?

Does that image make space for – Pair wain? Failing school, deprived cooncil hoose kid? Sectarian band-playing tutor? D.H.lawrence apologist? Ambivalent advocate? Careless prophylactic profferer, non-contraceptive pill taker? Apathetic wife and occasional forgiven philanderer?

I am tired of the labels with which we adorn ourselves.

Tonight my regrets are ghosts haunting my present. Sulphurous. Stinking. I dream of choosing to teach… to write. To mother. To love. Those low status haunts which were just too middle-class bohemian for a child who was born to occupy the vocational. To become the practical. And the successful.

What sublime arrogance to presume we know who and what we are. Or that the effort of presuming has the slightest significance.

I have decided that I am a writer. And tonight, I am.

9 thoughts on “Status

  1. I am a man who just traipsed across the parking lot of a motel in a pair of gingham pajama shorts and a pair of brown and white saddle oxfords…to retrieve a pack of cigarettes from my truck…that's about as me as it gets. A man that refuses to put his britches back on.

    Sounds to me like you're living a real life…that's a pretty good status. your profession, the education, etc. those are things to be very proud of. I don't think they're capable of defining a person…which is why those things can sometimes cause a lot of disillusionment.

    Of course, who am I to be talking like this. I'm staring at myself in a mirror…smoking cigarettes and finishing off a cokecola from Mackdonald's…in a dingy motel room in Indianola, Mississippi….and loving it. That's the bad part. 🙂

    As for being a writer…you got that down stone cold.

  2. e.f. – you just painted one hulluva wonderful image for me. You keep on loving it! (says the woman who is still in her mottley old housecoat and jammies at gone 11am).

    SP – thank you!

  3. Loved your comments:

    “I am tired of the labels with which we adorn ourselves.

    Tonight my regrets are ghosts haunting my present.”

    Have had moments like that myself– more often than not these days due to Brendan's birth. Am I a father-writer or a writer-father-teacher?

    Are labels establishing a linear hierarchy of identity?

    …and I agree with S.P. as well.

    The more I read your site the more diverse your image becomes. Thanks for the sense of commonality.

  4. Yes, D-G – it isn't hierarchical though, is it. We live in flux and contradiction – but to make sense of who or what we are we grab the definitions around and reflect the reality of the society we inhabit. Hence I am a lawyer. Or mother. Or…
    I suppose the trick – and it is one which I have not managed – is to rise above the need to comprehend by definition. Because it is a strait-jacket. And it will necessarily exclude. And- as e.f. points out – lead to disillusionment. Or confusion.
    I have long tried to write of my time as a max security prison advocate – representing those whom our society has labelled heinous or evil. I have failed up til now.
    More than one prisoner described himself as a failure at school. As a rejected child. As an outsider from birth. And expressed fear of ever changing – because to reject criminality meant loss of identity and of community and status.

  5. Meant to say also that the men whom I met in prison – those men who had committed armed robbery or murder or had led prison riots or criminal gangs – were way way more complicated than the labels “heinous” or “evil” suggested.
    The experience with those prisoners and their families and the guards and prison governors taught me many things – not least that it is dangerous to accept simple labels (along with all the judgemental rubbish that they necessitate) – and also that “there but for the grace of God go I” is a cliche because it is so relevant.

  6. Heartfelt piece.
    You probably describe yourself as a lawyer because the first question so many people ask of one is that damned old: “What do you DO?”
    So you give a shorthand answer.
    But it's not you is it?
    You are a rich, varied and wonderful mix of ideas/memories/desires/hurts/whims/conflicts and dreams… as we all are.
    Just keep on drawing on all these in your writing Yvonne.

  7. !!!!

    Very profound: “to rise above the need to comprehend by definition” — isn't that the basic issue for many of us: wanting to redefine ourselves… LOL. You put an essay into my head. Lord. And I do not have enough time to compose it today– maybe this weekend when the baby takes his morning nap. Definitely need to freewrite this conversation into a post.

  8. You have raised a smile D-G. Your enthusiasm is infectious. I want to read that post when you have finished it!

    I had revisited Berger and his Social Construction of Reality. But fall back onto good ole Wullie Shakespeare – “there's no art to find the minds construction in the face”. We think we have captured and made sense of someone – but we never can, not even ourselves. Now there is a profound man…(though there's no doubt a better quote than that one!).

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