Diary Of A VH Addict

Dark Secrets

red worn luggage

The manservant and I were on my roof terrace rubbing off our LixirSkin Rubber masks, arguing about who was feeding the Soho birds more dead skin, when Creepy Neighbour threw a GoW serum at us. Dangerous was carded after slathering Eye Contour Serum on his entire face and I was offered chocolate by a weirdo when picking up my short friend from nursery.

But Mr Shabir’s wow serum isn’t working for Creepy, probs because the manservant filled the bottle with tap water then left it on the shelf for Creepy to steal. “It’s not fair,” Creepy shouted. Nobody said it was fair, as Joan Crawford told to her daughter before locking her in the cellar. Children can be annoying.

“Tell me your secret,” Creepy begged, panda eye make-up dripping down her saggy chops. Creepy thinks I have a surgeon who upgrades my face.  His work is so subtle she can’t see what’s been done. But my beauty secrets are in the VH boxes Creepy steals while my old secrets are written in waterproof ink in the pages of my diaries. “She has a portrait in the attic,” the manservant shouts, throwing the bottle back at Creepy. He manages to hit her but Creepy is a large target.

Secrets are best kept in the cellar with old shoes you will never walk in again but can’t bear to throw out.  Of course as my PTSD therapist says, what goes in the basement doesn’t always stay in the basement.  Like the boxes I left in Beijing that followed me home last week. Creepy Neighbour’s greedy paws manage to swipe my VH fixes when I’m having withdrawal symptoms from Spacemask addiction, but where was Creepy when the fifty boxes I don’t have space for were delivered?

Inspired by Sheng Qi, the exiled artist who chopped off his finger, I wanted to leave something behind so that I would always return to China. I buried one of my scarlet silk diaries under a cherry blossom tree in the Summer Palace.  I’d have needed a bulldozer to make a hole big enough for the entire haul. So I wrapped the others in silver paper and hid them under a hot pipe in the cellar, secretly hoping my secrets would melt. Instead they followed me home. Maybe they have a future as well as a past?

The manservant opened a diary at random, reading aloud a rant about a fat bore with blocked pores. But these unedited outbursts of my thoughts are incomprehensible even to me. I can’t convert Fatty Bore Pore’s initials into a name.  That’s the beauty of a short attention span.  Your enemies are easily airbrushed. Sylvia Plath’s diaries read as if written for publication, but they were edited after her death by her husband Ted Hughes; who had doubled up as her editor and writing “ear” for most of her professional life. Frida Kahlo stored her secrets in her bathroom which was sealed by her husband Diego Rivera on her death; opened half a century later; its contents currently on display at the V&A.

Why did Diego exclude her bathroom when allowing the rest of their Blue House to become a museum?  Perhaps he couldn’t bear anyone including himself to go into her private space and inspect her secrets? The cardboard box of Demerol, essential opiates for a lifetime of pain; the Ebony eyebrow pencil she used on her famous monobrow; the corsets painted with communist symbols that held her crushed spine together, and the big bottle of Shalimar are strangely moving. The glass cases of her Tehuana costumes didn’t interest me as much as the mutilated photographs found in her bathroom.  Sometimes her own face is missing from the picture.  Sometimes the faces of others are amputated from the frames like the gangrene cut out of her withered leg. Kahlo cut off the front of her shoe when her toes rotted with gangrene.  I felt compelled to avert my eyes from this mutilated shoe; simultaneously moving closer, practically sniffing it.

You can almost smell her Everything’s Rosy nail varnish and matching lipstick. Red was her colour. The colour of life, blood, communism.  Her scarlet prosthetic leg stretching out of a red leather boot, decorated with bows and dragons and bells, is the star of the show.  As her surrealist friend Andre Breton said, “The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.” The secrets of Frida’s bathroom are exposed in a London museum, while mine remain sealed in boxes I don’t intend to open.  There is nowhere to hide them in my bathroom, a VH shrine, full of my current addictions.

Harborist cleanser makes me do a naked happy dance: a product with a seductive smell that doesn’t give me an allergic reaction.  This stuff could turn your grannie into your mum.  If you could stand having two mothers. Few things make me happier than clean skin.  Magnesium soap and Hayou shower minerals are first equal in my body washing kit so I use both.

I have enough of Mr Shabir’s supplements to open the Soho branch of VH except I want to keep them all for myself. VH Addiction is totally contagious.  I’d start a support group but I don’t want to be cured. Even Dangerous, who rolls back time with Temple Spa’s Big Reveal every Sunday and never travels to a revolution without Silver Biotics tooth gel in his spy kit, has a VH habit.

Selfish Jean, who takes so long making my dresses I’ve shrunk a size before the next fitting, agrees with Maddie. “Dangerous isn’t real.  You hired him at Central Casting.”

Carole Morin is the author Dead Glamorous and Spying on Strange Men


Diary Of A VH Addict

Pink wall with closed green green shutter

I’m on a mini break with Maddie sourcing dead glamorous graveyards she’s not going to be buried in. She wants to be burned, but with her name in big letters on a top of the range headstone in the best cemetery. The family lair in the Necropolis is too crowded. She doesn’t want to share with old skeletons.

Today we took daisies to Diaghilev on the Island of the Dead.  You have to live in Venice to be buried in San Michele but Maddie says, “These damp old palazzos must go for a song.” She’s almost right. Byron’s place on the Grand Canal was on the market for less than my Soho flat.

Dangerous and I are considering Highgate Cemetery but the downside is those faux vampires with fangs and Dracula capes hired from Angel Costumes who protect the graves from drunk Goths. The top places tend to be tourist traps.

“I’d get more visitors in Paris,” Maddie said as she gulped martinis in Harry’s Bar.  Mine was confiscated by the maitre d’ who said, “Not for little people.”

Maddie must have paid him.  I’m 5′ 10″ in my big shoes but she still calls me The Wee C and it isn’t C for Carole. She’s cut me out of her will again because I’m refusing to go to Pere Lachaise tomorrow. I’m returning to London with no detour to Paris to leave wacky baccie on Jim Morrison’s grave.

Even the best hotels sometimes have scratchy sheets and last night I had a complimentary dermabrasion treatment and woke up two dress sizes smaller from lost skin.  I had to use a whole tube of Sheald to repair my burns. Now I’m sitting in the window watching the sun rise on the lagoon, waiting until it’s time to go home and hurt the manservant who forgot to pack my black silk sheets. Dangerous says they are “a bit Fredo” so perfect for Italy.

I never thought I’d grow up to be the kind of person who travels with her own sheets but my big nose is smell sensitive and the stink of soap powder stops me sleeping. “They use industrial strength detergent to mask the stench of folk fornicating,” according to Maddie, but she is named after a temper tantrum.

There are few things I hate more than insomnia. My idea of a big sleep is 14 hours. I feel cheated if I only get ten. At least if I’m up all night I don’t need to worry about dying in my sleep. I’d prefer to be blown up and avoid being corpse bait to necrophiliac undertakers.

I’ve just woken up from a nightmare about a Russian who wants to swap bathrobes with me. The baddies in my nightmares have acne and this Russian was no exception.  He needs Garden of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum, but he wants my white towelling Marilyn robe.

Enough already. Dreaming may be good for the brain but hearing other peoples’ dreams is brain-damaging. No wonder analysts are pure brilliant at Bored Face. I draw the line at keeping the manservant in my suitcase in case I need him to bore me back to sleep in the night.

Instead of counting shoes when I can’t sleep, I make a list of my secret admirers. At least I’m super chilled because I took a Sleep Tight and a Relax On this morning. Who wants to be up all night urinating? Ok you wake up with a perfect flat stomach and don’t need the manservant, his coat-hanger, and a blast of oxygen after he pulls up your zip.

But my bathroom is a sacred space. I leave my products meditating in the dark at night; undisturbed by a flushing toilet. I can’t stand people who ask, “Do you mind if I use your bathroom?” And when I say, “Yes”; try to walk in there!

The manservant enjoys the street level public convenience outside the Soho Ivy, so he can see who is seated in Siberia; the table with a view of the toilet. I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the Guru’s bathroom except I wouldn’t like to be a fly obvs.  She’d swat me for one thing. But no one can deny how gurutastic she looks wearing ironic white skinnies in Trinny’s tub while Mr Shabir wows with his wisdom looking as chilled as my martini.

I’d like a snoop in Melania Trump’s bathroom to find out which vitamin C serum she uses. We’re both married to men called Donald but my husband isn’t funny lookin’. I bet President Trump has a wee fridge in his, with a picture of Kim Jong Fat on it to encourage him not to eat too may snacks while up all night tweeting.

Our leader Tessie May’s stash allegedly includes caffeine and hyaluronic acid to use on her (shrinking) eye bags. She must be addicted to Mr Shabir’s GoW Eye Contour Serum.  Is her personal bog stocked with hard Jeyes toilet paper like the rest of Downing Street?

So. Another night is almost over and my eyes are a bit Fu Manchu’s daughter. But I love (almost) everything Chinese. I’m wearing my yellow silk pyjamas. Only the Empress is allowed to wear yellow but that’s just one of many things that’s not my problem.

Text from Maddie reminding me I’m permanently out of her will. “You’d sell your grannie if you had one, Wee C.” Has anyone ever actually sold their grannie?  How much did you get for her?

At least we’ll always have Venice; until it sinks.

Listen to the Spying of Strange Men audio book read by Carole Morin and Dangerous.

Dental Dread

false teeth samples

Just another sunny afternoon at Addicts’ Mansions, my bad fan Frostie sent me a poem about a prostitute he didn’t hire and Crazy K sent me a picture of a bum that wasn’t hers. I pure love change. I’m not one of those people who moans that Soho isn’t sleazy enough. I’m more likely to impulse buy a martini than a sex slave. But when did “does my bum look big in this” become “is my bum big enough”? Seems like yesterday Crazy K was on the tapeworm diet; now she wants me to take her to Brazil to buy a bum.

The manservant was telling me I’m too cool to go to Ronnie Scott’s. “Nobody goes there since the refurb.” Except the joint is always sold out. But that extra row of seats that have been there since before I was born spoils the fun for some weird kants. What I love about Ronnie’s apart from the espresso martinis is that I’m always the youngest one there. Maddie says I could pass for her grannie, but everyone else thinks I’m about 12 because I pure copy the Guru’s skin regimens (no acids, no sunscreen, no knife).

Yes, people laugh at my parasol but it only takes a minute to shout, “Go back to your suburb with your sun-damaged skin, stinky”. I add stinky to the end of my insults whether the person mings or not; just to give them something to think about on the long crowded train ride home.  If it’s a really big person laughing at me I shout abuse in Chinese. Then if it gets ugly I can pretend I was only ordering a takeaway.

So like I said, normal day, when suddenly I chipped a tooth!  Unfortunately this molar has a massive mercury filling from the olden days when Maddie sent us to bed with a bag of candy balls.  My grandfather owned the street we lived in, including a sweet shop and a pub.  If only Maddie had knocked us out with a double whisky.

My dad met a dentist in a pub who liked to strap children into the chair and “do his best to save their teeth”. My fear of being toothless was greater than my fear of The Butcher; but my brother vowed never to go to a dentist again. He extracted his rotten teeth with a piece of string tied to the doorknob; a trick Scottish children learned from Oor Wullie. Maddie insisted that he’d have to go back to the dentist sometime; but my brother killed himself instead. His Scottish childhood had marked him; as his suicide marks me.

There’s this myth that I don’t fear the dentist; because I don’t usually need treatment. I keep my David Bowie teeth control freak clean and feel smug when Marathon Woman praises my bones and gums and foams about the new tooth I have coming in.

Me and an ancient German woman are the only people who’ve grown new teeth at an advanced age. But maybe people are sneaking about with new teeth the whole time and just not telling their dentists.

Marathon Woman prides herself on pain-free treatment, and loves her drill as much as I love sniffing Hayo’u de-stress body oil. The sound of the drill transports me back to my last dental emergency; when I chipped a front tooth on vodka ice-cream just before a live television book reading.

I went to a dentist who looked like Tony Blair and lived in the basement of my building. Pincer locked the door so that “we wouldn’t be disturbed” then told me the room was soundproofed.

I tried to leave – it’s not the first time I’ve fled a medical appointment via a window – but Pincer pushed me back into the chair and forced a roll of rubber into my mouth. He did an excellent job on the tooth. The chip is completely invisible. But left me with chronic PTSD.

So I was scared. Very scared. Even though Marathon Woman has never strapped me into her reclining Bond villain chair and tried to choke me.

Mr Shabir prescribed NAC, which detoxes mercury from the body, and advised me with his sage like calm to “go for a walk in the sun”. I always do what Mr Shabir tells me so I went for a walk to the pub next to Marathon Woman’s lair and drank frozen vodka until I could face her tools.

I wanted to ‘Do A Guru’ and have a GA but Marathon Women isn’t allowed to knock me out. “Too many people were dying so it’s hospital controlled.” She did offer the laughing gas mask, but that reminds me of The Butcher’s gas mask which wasn’t funny.

Before I could say needle-phobic, Marathon Woman had inserted the local anesthetic into my perfect gums. I’d never make it as a junkie. A double espresso sends me over the edge. And I’ve already drunk enough vodka to kill the street.

I tensed up waiting for the sound of the drill, thinking about Virginia Woolf whose teeth were extracted because of her “nerves” but it didn’t cure her manic depression; just left her scared to smile.

“All done,” Marathon Woman said before I even had time for a Hail Mary. She doesn’t use her drill on mercury fillings. That causes toxic mercury vapour.  She cuts out the mercury then uses a filler that tastes like old chewing gum.

“It’s really quite exciting,” she said. Going to Ronnie Scott’s?  Going to Brazil with Crazy K to buy a new bum?

“A new tooth coming in at your age!”

A message from Crazy K, frantic about her shrinking rear, was waiting on my phone; signed off with “expect you’re sailing along as usual”.

“Sailing along”?!  For one thing, I don’t have a boat. I say no to woe because it bores me. I am a pure control freak. But I understand that I’m not really in control. Any minute an old filling can crack.

So I clean my teeth with Regenerate, using my silver Nano B toothbrush, then rinse with Power Smile mouthwash, slap SilverSol tooth gel on my gums and go to Ronnie Scott’s feeling smug about being the youngest one there.

Carole Morin’s books include Spying on Strange Men

Bad Words

Chalk words

Just another day at Addicts’ Mansions, the manservant and I taking turns at spraying each other with that legal high Magnesium Oil, having a wee whine about stuff we hate, when my dentist called to invite me “up the Amazon”.

“Just two gals having a laugh,” Max said. “We could take our teeth whitening kits!”

Regenerate is the only thing that’s allowed to clean my teeth and gals is one of many words that I can’t stand. I’d like to hurt everyone who shouts Enjoy! after selling me a cup of coffee. I want to kill men who use the l word. Euphemism. Three letters. Starts with l ends with o.

You start using words ironically, like gosh and crikey, then catch yourself doing it for real. I’m not a fan of gloom balloons but I can’t stand aggressively cheerful people either. Or singing washing machines. Or unisex names. Or beards.

Pogonophobiacs are always at the back of the queue when phobia sympathy is dished, but we suffer every time a beard moults. I was confronted with one in a library book today. I may have to give up my borrowing habit.

Books were forbidden in our house, Maddie called them “germ traps”, so I was dying to get into the library and read a book! I crawled under the shelf that separated the children’s section from the adult books and sat under a plant reading Wuthering Heights and Valley of the Dolls and a biog of Mary Queen of Scots that was bigger than me.

I wanted to take a stick to Jane Eyre; and drink a martini with Jordan “let the other drivers be careful” Baker in The Great Gatsby. I could never love anyone who doesn’t love my favourite book Two Serious Ladies, a gift from Dangerous on our honeymoon; another word I can’t stand.

A good book leaves blank space for the reader’s imagination to interact with the words on the page. Reality is over-rated.

Crazy K de-stresses by stuffing her face with lettuce, a natural opiate; but when I’m up tae high doh I prefer escaping into the zero calorie worlds of fiction. Though I am pure gutted that I can’t try SOS Pearl Drops because valerian makes me aggressive. Dangerous had to stop me hurting a pharmacist who gave me melatonin with added valerian. That chemist fell well short of Mr Shabir’s standards; though maybe the iron golf club was overkill.

Reading ruins you, really ruins you said Mao Zedong who stayed in bed all day reading while his followers smashed up the Forbidden City. Traditional Chinese beds have an oven under them so the Chairman was nice and toasty while re-reading Confucius.

He may have launched ten billion fashion disasters with that Mao suit, but he earned his place in Chinese heaven with his literacy revolution; teaching China how to read by introducing pinyin (a system which makes Chinese characters more accessible to the adult learner).

Knowledge is power but despite being a bossy boots Mao shared the power of words with the illiterate masses. When he heard the word culture the wee megalomaniac may have reached for his chopsticks and stuffed his face with more Hunan chow, but he democratically chose Mandarin as the official language even though he didn’t speak it properly; his speeches had to be subtitled.

But I’m not a dictator so when I stay in bed with Machiavelli my short attention span manservant disturbs me every 30 seconds with annoying questions.

“Are men allowed to use Feminine Happy Oil?” Yes if you want me to hurt you; steal some of mine.

“Richard 3rd is unfriending you again.” Richard 3rd is my bitter and twisted friend who lies about her height.

When a paranoid loon diagnoses you bipolar because you don’t want to listen to another moan on the phone, it’s time to hit the block button and get back to your book.  Books don’t insult you or suffer from skin envy. If they bore you, just close it and open a new one.

So I lost a friend. A short friend. One who uses the p word – six letters begins with p and ends with r. But I gained an afternoon with Chroma, Derek Jarman’s poetic meditation on colour written while he was dying in the grey lunar landscape of Dungeness.

It pure cheers me up when I see a tramp reading. Chicken Man, who lives in my street, is working his way through Harry Potter though I can’t resist giving him a copy of Songs of Innocence and Experience because he sits on a Soho step near Blake’s birthplace.

I’m using tramp in the English sense but I look over the shoulders of sluts to see what they are reading too.

Reading is so unfashionable it’s almost cool. Print books are the new vinyl, exotic collectors’ items to be displayed and sniffed. Words and their multiple meanings have seduced me since I learned to read.

First you learn to read and then you learn to write, joining the dots to form words on the page in your head. Everyone has a book in them and sometimes it’s best left there along with your liver and kidneys.

I’m not a book snob. I read online too and haven’t strained my eyes since taking Eyebright as recommended by Mr Shabir; and copied Empress Jo’s computer specs.

IRL I don’t need specs, apart from my vintage YSL shades, but have had no headaches since getting my Miss Moneypenny jobbies for screen glare. OMG I’ve been living in London so long I’ve started using jobbie in the English sense! In Scottish it means shite.

Ok, I’m weird. I can hear you! Just remember. One person’s weird is another person’s special.

Carole Morin’s books include Spying on Strange Men and Dead Glamorous

Psychic Sisters

magnifying glass over heart

Everybody needs a witch. Because a detox is not just for your liver and gut. A spiritual spring clean decongests your home the way Electrogel Cleanser cleans the pores.

Saturn is in my house of destiny, so I booked a session with my witch and asked if the Guru is going to sack me as frequently threatened. Witchy ordered me to pick a tarot card but wouldn’t let me see it.

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glass with ice

My dad died today. Of course he didn’t die today; he died on this date three years ago. Deaths are easier to remember than birthdays. Or they were before Facebook gave everybody a prompt.

Daddy gave up dialysis to spend more time in the pub because he didn’t want to spend what turned out to be the last year of his life with “a bunch of boring old guys in an ambulance”.

He had a list in his wallet of all the people who have died doing a detox and sang a Scottish version of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab. “The cheese tried to make me go to rehab but I said naw naw naw.”

When the doctor told him he had two weeks to live he rolled his eyes and said, “Two weeks! In this place! Can’t you give me a jag?”

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