Colin Cross' Life with Lizzie Lust

"There's difference between fucking and making love" a woman once told me. Like Henry Miller, like Bukowski, Colin Cross writes about fucking.

Fucking and making love each have their own time and their own value. When you need one, the other just won't do. But fucking is the simplest. It is primordial. It is existential; it has no goal other than itself. Fucking never leaves you. Years later, the memory makes the blood rush to your head; it makes you clench your fist.

In On Boxing, Joyce Carol Oates writes "At its moments of greatest intensity it seems to contain so complete and powerful an image of life's beauty, vulnerability, despair, incalculable and often self-destructive courage that boxing is life, and hardly a mere game." Fucking, another activity where two people strip down to face each other, is like that too.

Cross puts it all up front. "I hadn't fucked her for eight years" he starts. More fucking follows, some times three times a day. There is much "cock" and, depending on point of view, "cunt" or "pussy" and how they fit together: ("like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle"). And yet what emerges from all the explicit language is a compelling love story. Colin Cross is a quieter, gentler Henry Miller, he is Bukowski without the bombast.

He writes in pithy vignettes, making stories out of the details of his daily life, which he delivers in a dry matter-of-fact voice, pausing at the end, not in irony or bitterness, but with a kind of subdued regret.

     I live with two women who look so alike they could be identical twins.

     One is kind and gentle, loving and sober. She tells me she loves me very, very much; dresses up smart and puts on makeup. She loves to cook for me and lets me take pinup photos of her. She loves cooking me beautiful meals and tends to my ailments, calling herself "Nurse Cross." I love her more than anything in the world.

     The other is a loud-mouth abusive drunk who doesn't care about her appearance, refuses to cook and screams at me, telling me to "Fuck Off!" and asks me "Who the hell do you think you're dealing with?" She tells me she's a bastard and sometimes I believe she is. She can be the biggest bitch I ever met and at times I hate her. The only good thing about her is that often when I go to bed with her, I wake up with the one I love.

     Maybe they swap over while I'm asleep.


Cross and his Lady spend most of their time getting drunk with the kind of ecstasy that enables the utter abandonment of two people to each other. Cross writes ".....we had done things to each other that neither of us would have dreamt of doing to anyone else." It's the kind of drinking that binds people together while it destroys each of them. At one point Colin tells Lizzie the only way he could handle her was to match her drink for drink.

He's right - it's impossible for one partner to get straight while the other is busy enjoying their booze or heroin or cigarettes even. And if both manage to get clean, they often find that their addiction was what held them together. Cross tries to throw his life away on Lizzie but some instinct for survival holds him back.

Or perhaps it's the very frustration of the battle, of the constant roller coaster Lizzie has him on. The story starts off quickly; Colin and Lizzie were actually picking up again, from an unfinished affair 18 years earlier. The ending is a whipsaw of false stops and starts, between Colin's flat and Lizzie's house, between drunken bouts, between promises and betrayals.

While it's all happening there's a funny episode about Lizzie's other addiction, bargain shopping.  At a Thai food store there's a Going Out Of Business sale. Everything in the store is marked down to 10p and she takes home several carloads. By the end of the night, it's down to 5p and she's cleared the place out.

A sprightly soundtrack by Mark Webster, guitar and Stef Valori on bass graces many of the poems on the cd. The music is effective in mimicking the raucous storms of Colin's and Lizzie's breakup and, more subtly, undergirding the refrains at the beginning and end of the album with the repeating musical lines of the blues. The 2nd track repeats the phrase "Monday, August 14" as he details the minutia of two people merging their households. The final track is a list of all the silly things about Lizzie that he misses now.

In the middle of the story. at its very emotional core, is this poem which manages to be both lapidary and lubricious.

     In my ladies garden
     there is a plum tree
     from which we pick the fruit.
     I prefer the not so ripe ones,
     the sharper taste
     and they're also good cooked
     and chopped with banana.

     In front of her house
     is a bramble bush
     from which we pick the blackberries
     These I enjoy raw
     or cooked and topped with yogurt
     although the thought of maggots in them
     makes my lady sick.

     On the way home one day
     we picked some wild apples.
     I like the taste of most fruit:

     pineapples, grapes, peaches, strawberries,
     raspberries, kiwi fruit and oranges
     but most of all, my lady's fig.



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Listen to all 10 tracks on You Tube (Start Track 1 - to the right)

Get the cd free for an SAE or IRC (International Reply Coupon) at
Cnut Records,
37,Wellington Green,
St.Benedicts,
Norwich, NR2 1HG,
England


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Colin Cross has been resident in Norwich since 1960. In 1969 he began an 18 year stint as a freelance rock writer (mainly for the Eastern Evening News) and in 1980 his book "The Encyclopedia of British Beat Groups of the 60s" was published worldwide by Omnibus Press. In the early 80s he supported many of the top local rock groups with poetry readings before forming his own poetry/rock group Colin Cross' Lonely Tarts Club Band in 1985. In 1987 they recorded the album "Hanging Out With The Rough Girls". In 1993 Colin returned to writing poetry seriously and since then has had over 850 poems, plus some short stories and several black and white paintings/drawings, published in small press and underground magazines throughout the UK, USA and Europe.

I met Colin on  MySpace where he still posts. I finally met him in person in Norwich the spring of 2012. MySpace was great for that.

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