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HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

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Home is where the HAART is

Salvador Dali portrait

Salvador Dali portrait

MadI’m spitting feathers as my mum used to say.  Life can seem very unfair at times especially if you have HIV. But it can seem doubly unfair if you have HIV and like me are also an artist because as a general rule you have to be dead before you start making any money and how unfair is that?

It was an article in the Guardian today about the sale of a portrait by Salvador Dali that set me off.  It brought back the past and the things I try not to think about, like how I contracted HIV and how badly I was treated by my partners family and the Executors of his estate, who after his death were supposed to support me as an artist.  If it was up to them, aside from not having the proverbial pot to piss in, I would never paint another picture. Although Salvador Dali very rarely painted portraits he did paint a portrait of my deceased partner Dr Brian Mercer OBE FRS the inventor of Netlon, which I would imagine would also raise a few million if it were to be sold.  

Salvador Dalí portrait of Mona Bismarck up for auction at Sotheby’s

 Dalí’s ironic painting of famously well-dressed woman portrayed in black rags expected to fetch up to £2m. So why was Mona Williams, wife of a man once considered the richest in America, depicted in art in grim black rags?

“He was having fun, I think,” said Samuel Valette, a surrealist art expert at Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s estimates the painting is worth about £2m, a conservative valuation given rising prices for surrealist art.

 The rare portraits Dali painted were often tongue in cheek. For example when he painted Brian he portrayed him with blue eyes and blond hair looking angelic. My portrait of Brian which I painted shortly before that of Dali portrays him as he really was, dark, controlling and demonic. It is interesting to note that we both placed emphasis on Brian’s hand. It is also interesting to note that my portrait, should it be auctioned, would reach nowhere near two million – unless possibly when I’m dead of course.

The Spider and the Fly by Adrienne Seed

The Spider and the Fly by Adrienne Seed

 The main art in my life now has an H in it – as in HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, which I have to chuck down my neck every night as I bemoan the path that led me here. I also bemoan the fact that everything is covered in bloody Netlon as I rip it off bulbs of garlic and Spanish onions then chuck it in the recycling bin. Brian’s carbon footprint.

Dali once covered his house in Netlon – see photo. 

bri fi 3

Yes, life and especially art is unfair in the extreme and I should know, I’ve been battling with it all my life – as I now battle with HIV. I should have listened to Oscar Wilde and his famous quote,  “All art is quite useless” – or – art is short for Arthur as in Arthur Dick and in retrospect, I should have stayed away from them too!

bri fi 2



2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 10,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Year’s Revolution

New Year’s Revolution – new blog htpp://

Resolution number one – refrain from kissing Lady Doodles after applying lip gloss otherwise end up with worse blonde moustache than all ready have.

Resolution number two – give up the theeegoreeeeeyos, Spanish for fags, plus refrain from smoking roll ups after applying lip gloss otherwise end up with strands of tobacco and bits of liquorice rolling paper stuck to lips – not attractive especially combined with doggy tash.

Resolution number three – maybe just refrain from wearing lip gloss?

Resolution number four – never get inebriated and miss taking meds – did it three times over festive period and not proud of self. Mustn’t give my old mate HIV an open window to sneak back in and become detectable again – he can sneak in through the tiniest crack you know – no pun intended.

Funny how I always think of HIV as a male. Wonder if positive males think of theirs as female? It’s probably down to me trying to speak Spanish with Luis and the confusion over what is an el (male) and what is a la (female). We have endless discussions about it – we live a very thrilling life as you can see!

Me – “So la mesa (table) is feminine, so is the kitchen and so is the bed. No surprise there then,” I sniff with feminist contempt.

“Of khorse,” Luis affirms with superior Spanish macho-ness.

“But then a hand (la mano) is feminine and (el dedo) a finger is male,” at least I didn’t say dildo! “Why’s that? That’s daft if you ask me.”

“Ees snot daft, ees Latin.”

“What a man’s willy then?” I demand rudely, “That has to be a male, surely?”

Apparently, ‘ees snot’ and a woman’s is a male. How confusing is that? And what’s even more confusing, a bottom is masculine but buttocks are feminine.

“In hinglish it heasy,” I tell Luis, “Everything is the – the table, the chair, we don’t have to give our pieces of furniture personalities or genders.”

Luis shrugs his shoulders and looks superior, “eees not confusing to the Spaneeesh or los Italianos or los francaises, only to hinglish peoples,” he smirks implying that we are all stupid.

“Well, what’s more confusing than having a bottom that doesn’t know whether it’s a male or a female?” I ask him, although it could come in handy I suppose if you swing both ways.

Resolution Five – take more Spanish lessons.

Wonder if a resolution is a male or a female – male probably as it is a command of sorts and I’ll probably never do it – especially if a man tells me to.

Resolution six – me telling self – must get back to my activist work and raise more awareness in order to combat HIV stigma.

This year’s revolution!

Dizzie Lizzie

Well what can I say – it’s been a long time, but lots of things have been happening and lots of  things have not been happening because I’ve been too dam dizzy as opposed to busy. I’ve been busy trying not to be dizzy. This meunieres/vertigo is an absolute bummer if you’ll pardon the expression. Couldn’t stand straight, bend over to pick up sticks for Lady Doodles, clean the house, have a shower, cook, even drive ( but don’t tell DLA) paint without hanging like grim death onto my easel. Didn’t really mind about some of the other things (e.g. housework) but not being able to paint left me in a deep depression. The dizziness was so bad at times that on one occasion walking along my street, I had to feel my way along the walls of the houses like an abseiler. My neighbours must have thought I was drunk – and funnily enough, I don’t really drink these days, but that’s what cured me in the end. A drop of the hard stuff. The devil’s brew. I was at a friend’s wedding and people kept buying me double whiskeys. The day after, apart from having a dreadful hangover, I was cured. If only it could be the same with HIV. Just imagine. Doctor – No need for meds anymore. I’m prescribing you a crate of Johnny Walker. Cheers doc – HIV on the rocks. Because I’ve been prone for great lengths of time on my blue sofa, I’ve been watching a lot of daytime (and night time) telly. Luckily I’ve had the X factor and the jungle to entertain me  – or not! Actually, I’ve had it with that stupid hex factor as Luis calls it and the hungle (being Spanish he can’t pronounce the letter J. I also watched the Australian version of how to lick tin years yinger, as well as anything to do with dogs of course. Paul O’Grady advises, when a beloved dog dies, grieve for a bit then go and get another one. If only one could do the same with mums. We are being bombarded every two minutes with over sentimental nostalgic Christmas adverts with snowflake speckled girls in red coats and time travelling snowmen. Apparently everyone is asking for tablets this Christmas – well they can have mine. I’m sick to the back teeth of them. Whilst I was incapacitated, everything decided to break – my tefyl actifry and you know I can’t live without my chips. The car brakes stopped breaking. My toilet stopped flushing – but luckily packman (Lord Smudgers dad) helped me to fix it. I now know the workings of the flushing toilet and am conversant with toilet related plumbing terms such as ball valve washers, not to mention the draw off cock washer.  Not many women can say that – and if they do they should be careful when and where they do.

Last Chance Saloon

Don’t seem to have had much time for blogging recently –
more a case of dogging as looking after two dogs as opposed to one which seems
to have taken priority over everything else. Get up, take dogs out on field so
they can check their pee mail as Caesar famous dog trainer calls it, come back,
wipe mud off underbellies (dogs not us unless it’s really wet and we’ve got
muddy bellies too!) do something useful like housework, or maybe not, decide
what to eat or more importantly if can afford to eat – eating far too expensive
these days. Nod off on sofas as knackered from walking, wiping and worrying! Time
to take dogs out again. Luis and I have finally come up with a system to avoid
tangling of dog leads and subsequent rope burn, which is s a bit like kiting
except on the ground.

“Toma ya,” says Luis when Doody delivers her massive missives
(poo mails) and calls them regalos, which is Spanish for presents. Talking of
regalos it’s that time of year (already) when one is forced into thinking about
buying Christmas presents one really cannot afford. I’ve been trying to order
my mine in advance online on ebay although up to now most of my bids have been
unsuccessful – some bugger always outbids me. I’m not going to get that Luis
anything as he didn’t get me anything for my birthday and I’m still sulking. If
he wants a regalo he’ll have to go out in the garden or on the field and wrap
up one of Doody’s. That’ll teach him.

Some good news when I was checking my pee mails – at
least I think it is although I’m not sure if it applies to me.

‘BBC News: HIV life-expectancy rises in the UK’

Our study shows the longevity of patients
who started antiretroviral therapy with a CD4 count of 200-350 cells/mm3.

(mine was only 21 so I guess that rules me

Life expectancy for people with HIV in the UK has
increased by 15 years in the past decade, thanks to modern drugs and earlier
treatment, a study suggests. The Terrence Higgins Trust says people at risk
should get tested now. Figures suggest 80,000 people in the UK carry HIV, and
about 25% are unaware they have the infection.

A team led by Dr Margaret May, of the University of
Bristol, looked at the life expectancy of the average 20-year-old starting
treatment with anti-retroviral drugs between 1996-1999 and 2006-2008. During
that time average life expectancy increased from 30 to almost 46 years,
according to the data, reported in the BMJ.

A woman with HIV could expect to live a decade
longer than a man with HIV, perhaps because women are tested for HIV during
pregnancy and are likely to start treatment earlier, the study found. Co-author
Dr Mark Gompels, of North Bristol NHS trust, said: “These results are very
reassuring news for current patients and will be used to counsel those recently
found to be HIV-positive.”

The HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins
Trust said it was good news for people with HIV, their families and friends. Chief
executive Sir Nick Partridge said: “It also demonstrates why it’s so much
better to know if you have HIV. Late diagnosis and late treatment mean an
earlier grave, so if you’ve been at risk for HIV, get tested now. “Of
course, it’s not just length of life that’s important, but quality of life too,
and having HIV can still severely damage your life’s chances.”

Not sure if the counsellor should emphasise that.  

Earlier grave? Life’s chances – huh! HIV sure puts
a caybosh on life’s chances; chances of a ‘normal’ life, job, family, not to
mention love. Oh well, at least we’ve got more years in the last chance HIV saloon
– unless they find a cure of course, then chance would be a fine thing.

Girls Aloud!

Happiness is……when you don’t know when one dog stops and another begins! A doggy match made in heaven – but it wasn’t like that at the beginning. I am dog sitting for a few weeks whilst WW (Wonder Webmaster) has a well deserved holiday, after all fair’s fair – he looks after my website and I look after his dog. The only difference being my computer does not growl and snap or follow me round the house at all hours of the day and night, or want to sleep with me – and neither does it pee on the carpet.

But on saying that Pepsi dog is a joy to look after and I think even Lady Doodle would agree.

“Girls, girls!” I find myself shouting all day long, “Calm down will you”

Talk about Girls Aloud – except when they’re Girls Asleep!

They say that two heads are better than one and so are two dogs. I recommend anyone with HIV related ‘head’ problems or HIV related loneliness and lack of love should get a dog – or even two. I will be sorry when Pepsi has to go home, but in the meantime – Happiness is…

Barking Birthday!

Was my birthday today – 62 what a shock! What did I do? Don’t
be fooled by the above picture. I watched ‘Complete Make-Over’ on the sofa of
course, inbetween being chased round the house by two demented dogs. Lady Doodle
is not taking kindly to visitor Pepsi dog – or her Buster collar.

Then I forgot to order rice with the Chinese take-away which reduced me to tears. How could I
forget the rice? I really am getting senile. All in all, not one of my best
birthdays – but lots of lovely messages on facebook and cards and presents from
my friends. Anyway, why am I moaning about turning 62 – when I was first
diagnosed my prognosis was eight to ten years so with a bit of luck I’ve got a
year left!

Hopefully – and some!

Feeling Gladiolus!

Here’s an update on my lovely flowers aren’t they
magnificent – and to let you know I’m feeling a lot better, and as Dave Clark
used to sing (whatever happened to him?) or was it Dame Edna, that I’m feeling
gladiolus all over – and I hope seeing them makes you feel gladiolus too.

Flash Bang Wallop

After a month of absence I seem to be suffering from some sort of writer’s block. The task of writing about some of the awful things that happened during that time are too heavy to contemplate, so I will leave it to you to click on the link at the end of this blog, which will lead you directly to a news article where all will be revealed. The headline reads, ‘HIV Woman targeted by YOBS.’

The photograph of me is absolutely horrible. My only consolation is that hopefully no one will recognize me. I should really have known better than to let them photograph me. I did email them a photo but they said I had to be looking miserable in view of the seriousness of the subject matter. Fair enough, I thought, although I tried to argue that it would be far more empowering to people living with HIV and in respect of HIV related stigma to present a reasonably ‘glam’ image to defeat the myth that everyone with HIV is a down and out or on their last legs. The latter might well be true, but it’s not exactly encouraging for the newly diagnosed, is it – not to mention one’s personal pride. I know an awful lot of people in Blackburn.

The photographer spent exactly two minutes in setting up the shot – coat off – it’s freezing – sit there on cold stone wall – it’s damp will catch chill – walk along edge of canal – it’s too windy what about my hair – bit closer – might fall in.

Did photographer care? No! snap snap snap – “Sue Johnson from the Royal Family is at Hoghton Tower so I’m off, bye.”

 In total the shoot took less than five minutes.  Definitely a case of –


‘Old it, flash, bang, wallop, what a picture

What a picture, what a photograph

Poor old soul, blimey, what a joke

Hair blown up like a cloud of smoke

Clap ‘ands, stamp yer feet

Bangin’ on the big bass drum

What a picture, what a picture


Stick it in your fam’ly album

There were two articles in the paper that ran on subsequent days. After the shock of seeing my photo i.e. wrinkled old woman with fly away grey hair and an umbrella mouth (was that really me?) I did text the reporter to ask him if they’d use a better one for the next day. He promised he would, but of course he lied. That’s what happens with the paparazzi – all they want is your story and they couldn’t care less about anything else. I now know how those footballers wives feel, not to mention members of the Royal family (aside from the sitcom) and talking of which, how could a story about a bloody actress be more important than highlighting issues to do with HIV?

What we need is a positive star or member of the nobility (a star or a wag or an X Factor winner would probably be better in this day and age) to act as a representative in order to make politicians and the general public sit up and take notice. Because I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – HIV can and does affect and infect anyone.

A huge thanks to the staff at Blackburn Royal Hospital GUM clinic for the beautiful flowers delivered by hand after reading the article in the paper. (featured above). And to the two have to remain anonymous members of Thrivine who also sent me flowers and the two dearest of friends who took me to Southport flower show to cheer me up.

And as for the article I’ll….

Stick it in my fam’ly

Stick it in my fam’ly

Stick it in my fam’ly