Joanna Pocock Meet Joanna Pocock

kingsland road

A not very good photo of East London taken by coincidence a few days ago on the same street where the ‘Other’ Joanna Pocock works.

I have always thought my name was a bit weird. Those three soft, round vowels in ‘Joanna’. Then the harsher plosive ‘P’ in Pocock with its spiky ending. I was mercilessly teased as a child for my surname: Poke-a-cock being a favourite playground taunt.

When I arrived back in London after my two years away in Montana, I was sent via Facebook a message from a woman I got to know while I worked in a video shop in East London. She was a regular, and we would talk about film, politics, and the likes. Over the years we have sporadically kept in touch and ‘Liked’ some of each other’s postings on Facebook.

This is the message she sent me:

Hello Joanna Pococks!

SO! Last weekend I met a Lovely lady called Jopo and when I asked how she got this handle our friend said “‘cos she’s Joanna Pocock”. The little cogs started whirring and I said, “but I know a Joanna Pocock!”

“You KNOW Joanna Pocock!?” Squealed Jopo.

“Um, yeah!”

And Jopo proceeded to tell me that she’d signed up for a writing class at Central Saint Martins some time ago but on arrival saw that the teacher was Joanna Pocock so she retreated fearing that “Miss” would consider her some scary doppelgangerstalker. Also a few years ago “Miss” Pocock’s father wrote her on Facebook curious to find out about this other Joanna Pocock and the two proceeded to correspond.

Anyway I wanted to introduce you guys and if you chose to meet please lemme know how it goes or indeed invite me. Welcome home “Big”? “Old?” Jo (snark!) and hope you’re having a blast at Boomtown “Lil'” “Young” Jo (ahem..)

Loadsa Love XXX Lucy

So, it turns out there is another writer living in East London who shares my name, who corresponded with my father, and almost enrolled in my creative writing class at Central Saint Martins. I wonder what I would have thought if she had walked through the door and sat down. Maybe that she was doing some kind of art project whereby she pretended to have the same name as her tutor?

So, Joanna Pocock (the Younger) and I are planning to meet up somewhere in our neighbourhood and as she says in a message to me, “Haha this is amazing… We should go for a coffee and talk about what it’s like to be called Joanna Pocock and turn it into art.”

This is exactly the kind of thing I would write.

Is there a story or documentary in this? I don’t know why I find it so strange, but it may have something to do with the fact that Joanna Pocock is a fairly weird name.

I will keep you posted.

Joanna Pocock (the Older)


Blue Suburban Skies

our backyard

The alleyway behind our new house in Missoula

We’ve been in our new house in Missoula exactly a week. The greyness that had plagued us in the Yaak Valley didn’t last long. As soon as we moved in, the skies cleared. I am being dragged back in time to my suburban childhood and those late summer days where the blueness of the sky and its immensity are difficult to fathom. As I sit in this house in the Slant District of Missoula, I am surrounded by the sound of leaves rustling, high up on very tall trees. It is a sound I have not heard since childhood. London’s trees are not high, nor do they rustle outside one’s house. And usually everything is sodden. Wet leaves do not sound like the pre-autumn leaves which are just beginning to crisp around the edges. You can hear the brittleness in them. It goes with the blue sky. I know what is coming, of course, having grown up in a place with the same weather and similar landscape to Missoula. So our adventure of launching ourselves into a future together is throwing me off course. I am instead being pulled backwards in time to my childhood in Ottawa, a town I left as soon as I graduated from high school.

chair on porch

Waking up with the sun on the first morning in our new house

E will be going to school in two days. And these blue skies and rustling leaves way above my head are bringing back my memories of the end of summer. I am feeling sick on her behalf. She seems very cool and collected about the whole thing. Here in the US you have to bring your own school supplies. So we took a trip to Walmart, list in hand, and bought her what she needs. I think her new rucksack (I mean, backpack) and the newly sharpened pencils and the spanking new marker pens are so exciting (she shares my love of stationary) that they are usurping any fears of walking into a new school knowing not one person. I took a tour of E’s school with her last week so we could see where her classroom is and so on. On our tour we met a teacher who is originally from Lewes. She gave E a big hug and told her she knew what E was was going through as she had moved from the UK to the US when she was ten. I exchanged numbers with this teacher who magically arranged for us all to get together on the Sunday before school started and introduced E to a girl who is in grade 3 and one in grade 2. So E does have some familiar faces in the throng. And the teacher, let’s call her JN, seems completely wonderful. I know we will see more of her.

fawns fisrt morning

The first visitors to our front porch on that first morning in Missoula

But, since arriving in Missoula, my brain has not been functioning properly. I keep thinking that J and E and I are moving into the future, and yet the visual details and the sounds around me keep dragging me backwards in time. The sidewalks which have grass on both sides. The street lights. The smell of the ground. The blueness of the sky. The puffiness of the clouds. The look of the houses. The sound of the cars on this particular type of pavement. The words people use. It is all so familiar and yet from a period of my life I left way behind when I moved to London. I am not sure I like this trick of time and place. I am being knocked off balance. I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting Missoula, Montana to be so similar to Ottawa, Canada.

front door copy

Our new front door. This house has many similarities with the house I grew up in

But this is the US, not Canada. So there are some differences. For one thing, our healthcare is a problem. The Obamacare website simply does not work. J has spent over seven hours on the phone to them to try and sort it out. After months of phone calls and attempts to enrol us into Obama’s healthcare programme, it looks like we may have got close to getting it. E will have to be on a different plan to us for reasons that are way too complex to go into here. We have been told by E’s school that she needs more immunisation shots. In Montana, her DTP (Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis or Whooping Cough) and Polio shots need to have been done after her fourth birthday. However, she had them done when she was three. I was told by our doctor in the UK and the US federal centre for disease control, she can’t get these inoculations now as she is only seven and they need to be spaced at least ten years apart. But in order to get this in writing, we have had to make an appointment with a doctor here. To simply walk in the door and talk to them, will set us back $210.00. Oh, how I miss the wonderful NHS! And my lovely doctor in Bethnal Green.


E reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ on the swing in the backyard. Look at all that space and light.

I am trying not to focus on what I miss about my adopted homeland. And instead I am trying to focus on the good things about being here. A big one is the weather. I have been hearing from friends in London that it has been raining non-stop and the central heating is being turned on. I do remember that endless rain and that infinite greyness. And that horrible wet cold that allows mushrooms to grow inside the house. I do not miss it. I am enjoying these huge blue skies. Even though they make me lurch back in time to my weird suburban childhood.

I am enjoying the friendliness of the people here. Everyone we have met has been incredibly warm and helpful.

Children are welcome here. The restaurants in Missoula do things like give children a bit of dough to play with while they wait for the food to arrive. And then they bake it while you eat. At the end of the meal you have a little loaf of bread to take home.

ciao mambo

I have broken my promise to not upload any food pictures to my blog. But this is different! The baked dough ball E ‘made’ at supper in Ciao Mambo.

There are a million activities for E to get stuck into. And they don’t cost a fortune. Nor does it take most of your day to get anywhere. Missoula is a very easy city to get around in. Even for someone like me who doesn’t drive.

potter's wheel

A potter’s wheel we stumbled upon during a bluegrass festival in Missoula. That’s the beginning of E’s pot.

And lastly, the space. There is so much of it. Again, like my hometown, you can spread out. Our house in London, which is utterly gorgeous, is like a doll’s house compared to the houses here. When you have space, you can think, you can be generous with it. It alters your entire mindset. I do often feel cramped in London, not just physically, but mentally, simply because the walls are too close together and I know on the other side of any wall, are more walls too close together.

sunrise first morning

The view from my bedroom.

So with these positives in mind, I am trying to look to the future and not allow my nostalgia and my memories of a disenchanted childhood to cloud my vision.