Annie Rhiannon

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Please stop confusing love
with praise and attention

Rita's turning 80 this week and I want to know what she'd do differently with her life if she was starting all over again. I find myself doing this a lot lately: pressing people for more stories and wisdom than they were expecting to have to share.

“Body lotion,” says Rita, lighting a Silk Cut like a full stop. This conversation is over, my friend.

Body lotion! I don't believe her. She just doesn't want to spend another afternoon discussing love and ambition and personal failure.

“Okay, fine,” I say, leaving it alone.

Rita calls me Annie Get Your Gun, and so does the caretaker at work. I tell her that now – how I turned up for my first day too early, and the caretaker had to let me in and he said what's your name and I said Annie and he said oh yeah, Annie get your gun, is it?

“Yeah,” I said. "You got it.”

I like it when older people reference Annie Oakley when I meet them. It makes me feel like a cowboy. Then they wink at me and I wink back and nobody knows what just happened – but it has something to do with riding a horse through a canyon when really it's my first day at work and I'm here too early, nervously looking for the bathroom.

“Down the hall and to the left,” said the caretaker, and I'd walked off down the corridor where he was pointing.

The building was quiet and dank and felt more like an old cigarette factory than a film studio. But that's because that's what it is. I walked past the empty costume hall with all the empty costume racks and into the bathroom; then I went and found the empty art department and claimed a desk and a pile of scripts and started reading. People assume that being a graphic artist on a TV show means you work on the opening titles or something – but that's a whole other department. My job is to make the graphics that the actors actually use in the set: old treasure maps and period newspapers and boxes of vintage cigarettes. Isn't that a great job? To be put in charge of making old love letters for the actors to pass between them on set?

I am making all this sound way more romantic than it is.

Rita is falling asleep. I remember her once telling me I should stop confusing love with praise and attention. My scalp is itching. Sometimes I wonder if I have skin cancer — is an itching scalp a symptom? Also, when people say “I've nearly finished my book” are they talking about reading a book or writing one? It's hard to tell sometimes and it makes me feel anxious. I tried to read/write something last night but I got distracted and ended up drawing a picture of an owl instead.

I tear the owl out of my notebook now and leave it on Rita's dresser. Stop confusing love with praise and attention, she said. I think I'm trying to impress her.


  1. At least you did something creative, I just sit online watching as the minutes in which I might not be too tired to write or draw something tick by.

    Pretty sure an itching scalp is not a sign of skin cancer.

    Rita is no doubt right about the love v praise and attention equation.

  2. Good - I've learned something today.
    About what a graphic artist is - love remains a mystery, but an intriguing one all the same.

  3. So a graphic artist doesn't sex up the opening titles, she makes treasure maps. How embarrassing that I never knew that. And how old am I, 64?

    Rita is spot on about not confusing love with praise and attention. Easy to do though.

    I've had an itchy scalp on and off for my whole life. And a generally itchy body, come to that. No sign of cancer so far.

    So what would you have done differently with your life? Shot your negative side a bit earlier?

  4. ""Body lotion," says Rita, lighting a Silk Cut like a full stop. This conversation is over, my friend." - I love your phrasing so much.

    As a fellow Annie, I get the whole 'get your gun' thing a fair bit, although not as much now as when I was a kid. I miss it.

  5. I think it's just dandruff. Terminal dandruff maybe, but I'm sure you'll cope.

  6. I like Rita. She is absolutely right although many people do confuse the two. I also like her answer of body lotion. And she's probably right there too. Maybe I should have done that but when I was younger 'real men' didn't moisturise. I'm sure they all do it now.

    Try a different shampoo - maybe that'll sort it.

  7. Not long before we cross paths, given the proximity between our new jobs. I'll be spilling coffee, you'll be whistling something. I'm sure of it.

  8. Who's Rita? She intrigues me and I love her habit of lighting a Silk Cut like a full stop.

    She reminds me of the parish priest who runs a drama group in Dingle, smokes cigars (but only in the presence of theatrical types) and blows the smoke out in a cool disparaging way if you make a suggestion he thinks unworthy...

  9. You are my favourite cowboy. Maybe you just need new hat.
    Rita sounds so cool - I'd be way trying to impress her too.
    Love hearing about the job and glad you found the loo xx

  10. The woman that cuts my hair here in Key West is Annie Oakleigh Waits -- she goes by Oakleigh -- I love the sound of the full name...

    Time to go West again and soon, young gun-totin' graphica?

  11. so very glad to see you back, by the way

  12. Every time I shop in Monsoon, they dish out the praise and attention. "What a lovely dress this is you've chosen"? "Can I get you any more sizes?" "It sure is wet out today." Don't they love me after all? Would you check with Rita? Tell her I have never used body lotion and she will take me seriously.

  13. Thanks to everyone assuring me it's dandruff. You're right, it's dandruff. I've got some "Head and Shoulders".

    Annie: that's because they're all dying off.

    Nick... erm, I'm not sure that shooting thing worked actually.

  14. Hey Annie

    Sorry to have missed you in the ciggy factory - although if Christine still has my drawing board, I must call in for it. She tried to get it to me but I was proving very elusive.

  15. Pah to dandruff! Did you get my email?

  16. Jason, I'm sorry I missed you! We could have had Merlin's cave all over again.

    Thanks Jo I just replied x

  17. Well... you've had my attention for years and I think over that time I've showered you with enough praise. I'll reserve my love for your writing.

    P.S. The itching is nothing serious, probably just bed-bugs.

  18. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay you're back!

  19. Older people often call me Katy-May and sing a few bars of an old song. I never have a clue what they're referencing but I smile and pretend I do.

  20. Bedbugs: The Professor is Very Bad.
    Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, or better yet conditioner.
    So glad to be reading Annie again!

  21. Annie your writing is wonderful as always, and all these great comments are a testament. What wonderful witty and brilliant followers you have. It must warm the cockles of your heart to be praised so, and appreciated!!!!! Both of which are wonderful experiences: ) Loving or not.

  22. Annie, you've given up blogging?

  23. nice comeback :)but i miss you in 2012 ...

  24. Anonymous7.3.14

    Dear Annie,
    I'm the anon that once commented about Marina Abramovic and the Great Wall of China, remember?
    I'd just like to say that I'm inordinately proud of your recent achievements on the Wes Anderson film and wish you great success in whatever your next project might be! Very glad to see your talent being rewarded!