Throughout my twenties I rented a flat on Poland Street in Soho. It was tiny, overpriced and every night I would be woken to the sound of a gang rape on my doorstep.
The first couple of times I called the police but they said there was nothing they could do and that I should invest in a decent pair of earplugs - the officers, they worked to the Soho beat and were therefore immune to areas shortcomings.
...I couldn't get along with the earplugs but over time I too became immune to the sounds; just normalised screams and jeers within my murky landscape.
Nothing shocked me.
I've worked in clip joints where sex tourists are beaten and robbed and I've danced the private rooms in some of London's most well-known strip clubs. I've observed a hardcore porn shoot in upstate New York and once came out of blackout in an Addiscombe crack den as a young man was overdosing.
Then he died. Then everyone left.
Nothing shocked me.
In a refuge in Golders Green I saw a woman hanging from a rope in a stairwell and two days later another girl chained herself to the bannister screaming for her sexually abusive Dad to come and 'save' her. Outside the Waitrose on the Kings Road I witnessed a man in the last throws of cancer having a seizure before blood exploded from his eyes and ears.
A small audience awaiting his final breath.
He died as people filmed his final spectacle on their mobile phones. Modern life.
So, nothing really shocks me. I've seen...things. And I've accepted them as part of my experience in this weird world, there is nothing conservative about me - I'm as open minded as they come.
...A woman once pulled a tampon from my vagina. Brazen and cool like she had done it a thousand times before. When I thanked her she gave a little shrug that suggested I would have done the same for her.
But then, maybe I would have if the situation had called for it. Because- nothing- shocks- me.
I get up in the morning and I read the news; I see that another disabled person has died due to disability allowance sanctions. I read the news and see Jeremy Hunt psychopathically imposing changes to doctor's contracts. On Channel 5 another family is evicted from their home, on IPlayer Professor Green chats to young men who cannot afford to rent, flick to Channel 4 and it's a family on their way to the food bank. In my real life I see a friend of mine, a primary school teacher, make her teenage daughter sleep on the sofa so that she can rent out her room in order to afford her mortgage...
It angers me, yeah. But. Nothing, nothing really shocks me.
Numb to the outrageous, privy to the socially unacceptable. My boundaries pushed to the limit.
These are things that just happen.
* * *
...This morning I slept in until eleven. This never happens. I stay up writing until 3am and crawl into bed by 4. My daughter wakes me up a couple of hours later. This morning that didn't happen. My daughter she slept in, we both slept in until eleven. I awoke fresh, seven hours deep sleep.
My mind so clear.
Daytime television. It's not for me. I'm more Radio 4 but this morning I did turn on the TV; Rylan was making word sounds with his big awesome white veneers and Ruth was working hard to look engaged. This morning, I was watching This Morning. I was accidentally watching This Morning and that is the only way I would ever watch this show.
Cut to; a small group of children, young girls. And they were climbing poles.
* * *
I can climb a pole. I'm pretty good at climbing poles. The kind of money I made climbing poles at Spearmint Rhino put me in the highest tax bracket for six years straight. I can climb that pole like a pro. You hang upside down and you twist your body around as you remove your dress. You hold yourself tight on the pole with your thighs letting your hair extensions sweep the floor whilst pulling some sort of sexual face. You spin around five times as you remove your bra and men gather around the stage to tip you by sliding money into your thong.
The men, they like that you are bendy, that your body is supple enough to twist into unthinkable positions. They are not admiring your gymnastic skill or the fact that you can execute advanced moves whilst wearing six inch heels. They are imagining themselves as the pole and throwing you into those positions. They may well 'admire' your stamina but only because it gives them the opportunity to fantasize about how long can you 'go' for.
Everything about that pole is sexual.
There is nothing innocent about the pole. Or the moves that take place on them.
* * *
This morning on the TV, on This Morning cut to; eight year old girls in hotpants and exposed midriffs climbing, spinning and attempting the same moves on the pole that I did whilst working the sex trade.
And there was this woman and she was saying that it was great exercise for the young children, great exercise for young girls.
Nothing usually shocks me.
Brothels, strip clubs, crack dens, overheard gang rapes, living outside of society's acceptable boundaries, gruesome deaths or suicides. I- am -numb.
But seeing an eight year old pole dance on ITV, that shocks me.
...I guess everyone has their limit, the one thing that tests their levels of acceptability, the one thing you just find so shocking that you feel sad at the world.
At least now I know mine.
The producers would be proud.