Tuesday, 16 December 2008
My head is not concentrated at the moment. I feel tired and weary and thin like tissue paper, like at any moment I might tear. I have been doing too much and holding up bridges and tending to sick people with bad bad backs and babies sleepless chicken pox nights. I want to write about my journey in London and finish a story before starting another. But instead life is overlapping again, one shift and click and the focus changes. I have to take a different picture. I have been meaning to complete and my head was filled with plans: tying knots, sticking stamps, sealing packages. But I got cross this morning and grouched at my children and then felt guilty like a stone as I walked home. I went to the market and bought sweet satsumas; ' doux' soft for the children the fruit man said. He grinned at my baby and she smiled back and then the world was better. So, we went and drank coffee and had a moment of respite. It's been a day where clouds have appeared and vanished and I have felt like rain and sunshine. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat and I want to put a penny in the old man's hat and feel right and able. So, I'll sing a song for sixpence and fill my bed with water bottles with crochet jackets and send myself to sleep with camomile . I'll not dream of bad worms from my daughter's last night nightmare, for that worm makes little boys turn into other worms and is long and stripey and scarey as a bed. Now, a picture of a dreamcatcher bedecks the wall, letting only the good dreams filter through. The bad dreams will stay trapped in the net, disappearing with the light of day. The dreamcatcher will transform the night.
Monday, 10 November 2008
That evening the music continues. We travel underground to Kings Cross Place, get lost in a dark, harsh hail storm ; a shower of ice and hard snow that blows us from pavement to road. We fall into a pub called the Driver Bar to escape the weather and eat a sticky sweet salad and chips and an upmarket burger with nice mayonnaise. The barmaid is blond and friendly and trendy and wants me to taste gin and cucumber and I sip my drink and watch men in suits, looking smart, drinking beer with curious male camaradery. Later, we slip through glass doors into a huge open space with chocolate brown poofs shaped like mushrooms. Our tickets are booked to see an experimental music concert, part of the Multiplier Series, curated by composer graham Firkin. ' ..... with three oustanding ensembles exploring single instrumental timbres, The Veya Saxophone Quartetn Elysian Strings and duo Parkinson Saunders, performing music by French hard hitting iconic composer Louis Andriessen, English purist Howard Skempton, American pioneer Alvin Lucier and the rhythmic persistence of Joe Cutler and Firkin himself'.
We sit in cabaret style clusters and in front of the stage are huge piles of silk cushions in fushia, burnt orange, green and turqouise blue. We are invited to listen and lie. The music envelops, shakes and shudders; brusquely changing moving, waking. I am an intrepid explorer of this new territory, and my ears are delighted by what they hear.
When we leave the concert it is snowing outside. Huge white flakes are tumbling from the black night sky and gently coating the grey city pavements. We grin and make our way back to our hotel room.
Monday, 3 November 2008
I unpack, make home, place and space, settle and nestle myself and my things. Tops and skirts are hung in wardrobes, fabric is unfolded. This is my first task whenever I arrive somewhere new. I appropriate. We go out again and eat under a church in a crypt where dead bodies lie. We sit on high chairs in a sandstone room and taste roast potatoes and pumpkin bake and hot gammon sandwiches. The dead may turn in their graves, but perhaps they enjoy the smell of the food and the idle lunchtime banter. Upstairs in the church we stumble upon a midday concert for the vicar tells us the church, St Martin in the Fields, has an open door. We sit in the pews and listen to the soaring, roaring black and white sounds of the Messianen Quartet for the End of Time . The notes quiver in the sepia light. I watch rustling leaves through a stained glass window. What bliss is this....
We then catch another train to our hotel. Emerge from underground onto Oxford Street - submerged by the throng of walking, talking, smiling, snarling, eating, crying, limping, striding, lonely, happy, dirty crowds of people. Feet hit concrete; sand, conglomerate gravel, pebbles, broken stone and slag in a mortar matrix. Our lungs breath in the fumes with joy, elation. We are free in the city. Anonymous. We have unacknowledged names. Our hotel is hidden behind a shop, opposite a haunted building with ragged curtains and smeared windows. The hotel has a doorman with a shiny black hat and a gleaming smile and a turning, swirling door. We enter the international, excuse me madam, just this way, may I take your bag, hotel. Our room is number 771. The mirrors on the walls of the lift glitter like diamonds.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
The first day we left early and I hated saying goodbye to my children and felt wrenched and torn. The sky was bright blue and the air cold and crisp. We jumped on the first train and our journey had begun. Travelling over and through- eating into time, savouring seconds and minutes. The underground is dirty and gritty and grey. Skins are the colour of ashes; tinged with diesel fumes and intimate with pollution. The vibration shakes our boney segments, quivers in the spine. We are unfathomed city walkers, we wear our country customs in our smiles. We stop at Euston station, jump from our train, meander in an unplanned fashion. I visit where I spent many teenage days, in this building, sitting waiting; watching for my train after reckless weekends with Z;. Camden market, pubs, cigarettes, smoking dope, raiding divine fridges late at night. Later, now, he and I drink black coffee on fat stinking purple sofas. The station smells of old cooking oil; rancid and sweet. I kiss him as he photographs the trains. I smile and our telephone rings...
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
It is 7 o clock and in 2 hours we will be leaving. For three days we will be together, in the middle of the buzzing, moving, screeching, gliding tempest of London. Our bags are waiting in the bedroom upstairs. The children will be tucked into the creamy pink soft surburban love of their grandparents. We have three days of journey, of freedom and hard grey urban excitement. We will drift, meander and wander; discovering and rewriting our city walks. For days I have been imagining this voyage and now we are here. All the time I have dreamed and pictured and written will now tick in reality. The forseen seconds will happen.
Monday, 13 October 2008
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Today the sky stretched up until eternity, as blue as a dream and smelt of summer; sweet and warm and true. We walked until the tip of the earth, where water met land, and watched the people: bodies hugged grass and conversation drifted as the bees buzzed and the rocks sat in lazy pools of waves. We ate crepes and lime ice-cream at a beachside cafe, admired the black dots of surfers scattered in the sea. The sky sang on and we hummed to it's turquoise tune and wished that the day would never end. A gift from the gods, an Indian summer, an unexpected heat, the arriere saison.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Back after 5 weeks away from this space. Been working, running workshops, thinking, organising and moving too fast for my liking. My fingers are touching the keys and I am returning to the here and now of words spilling and letters falling, creating this black and white pattern that you are reading and I am writing. Too long. Too far. Thinking of future and past and catching trains and booking planes and dreaming of hotel rooms where me and my man will sleep in late on a two night break without children. I've been spinning tales and feeling old wounds and trying to get the clothes from our July holiday packed away. Summer dreams and the smell of the beach are scattered across the spare bed, quietly waiting to be put away, to hibernate for winter. I've been cooking delicious soups, autumnal and golden and laughing about our mutual exhaustion as we cough and splutter and wheeze our way around the furniature. I've been thinking about loved one's and hoping for the future and astonished by the growth of my girls. I am back and I am happy as I was reticient to write, wondering if I would stumble from lack of practise. I am my father's daughter, a genetically programmer worrier. I am writing . I am drinking sharp green tea and now it is cold and crisp and blue and sunny.
There is something immediate about creativity, the capacity of being in the here and now where time stops, starts or just is. In any case I cannot be thinking about planning, washing and work obligation while I am here. Multi-tasking my time away. I am with the golden peacock, playing with the scarlet ball and singing the song of the princess in the tower.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
I am tired. I've got weary limbs, snappy voice and the feeling of martyrdom is edging under my duvet and reaching out to the morning sun. I am wishing for absent mornings, writing and not being asked too many questions. The baby hormones are slowly drifting away and I can feel myself speeding up, saying yes and making far too many telephone calls. I am in need of long lunches, total illogical thought and to be unstructured and unobliged. I need to undo stitches, read backwards and forget. Memory is my millstone, I cannot forget what I must do, the lists of tasks build up inside my brain in extraordinary pyramid contructions. I constantly add more playing cards, marvel at the fragile structure. I continue to live as I began as a child busying myself from dawn till dusk, filling time with action, planning, organising and forgetting to breath. At the age of seven I created my own timetable for after school and weekend time- filled with sections on reading, gardening, practising drama and play. Scheduled play. Am I running from death or making the most of every tiny second that I'm here? Four months after my birth I nearly lost my life in an accident where my sister died - time stopped and we were marked forever.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
My brain feels sticky, unfathomable, messy and rough at the edges. I've been staying up late, celebrating birthdays and summer and working hard, burning the candle at both ends. Swimming in the cold, frisky waves every single day. Salty skin. It's the early evening, the dusk is here, the in between soft time. One child sleeping, the other transfixed with French Moomins. I am debating on another late night with a good film and TV dinner with my loved one or a sandwich and an early night with something trashy to send me to sleep instead of ploughing through another psychogeography book. I am thinking about bodies, sewing, land art, skin, spinal cord accidents and mapping ourselves with time, shaping the path, tracing the journey, relaying the lines of our story.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
We're at home not working, and being. Unplanning days with attitude - drifting, moving, pottering and hanging out together- we're on the beach, mussels and chips with friends, dancing, laping up two types of miso soup ( one dark like treacle), we're narrowly missing rain storms whose drops catch our ankles as we scoot indoors. We're teething, screaming, washing, tidying and thinking that two kids are good but quite hard work. Today we took a bath with me and my girls in the tub together, bubbles, giggling and pink limbs in splashing water. I wrote paragraphs, sketchy and rough about sewing and bodies, made Tunisian chickpea soup with a squeeze of lemon, ate feta cheese with baguette. We drank coffee and white wine and tea and munched fleshy dripping flat peaches and wished for tiny sweet shortbread biscuits. We got cross, got happy, laughed, moaned and sighed with happiness. We finished the evening on our sofa which has transformed into a bed; a holiday boat on which we are all sailing.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
The wind blows us onto the beach, propelling forward limbs, whipping clothes and towels against sunburnt skin. We undress hurriedly, ever watchful of the darkening sky- half blue, half black. As we put on yesterdays damp swimming costumes sand storms sting our pale naked legs. In the distance rain paints grey stripes on postcard beaches, it is coming. The sea is covered in tiny choppy waves, each blue triangle tipped with whitish foam. It is rough, choppy, the water milky emerald green and dark dangerous blue. We run in- through the chill and the sudden cold and suddenly we are laughing and swimming caught in the exhilaration of the wind and the sun and the water- intoxicated by nature.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Baby is asleep, I've been writing - filling pages with black scratching squiggles, ploughing into the virtual paper of the screen. Space and time are on my side- everyone will be here on Thursday night. Two more empty days to fill with a thousand dreams and thoughts and sentences: words that have started to flow. This morning was hard, jagged and stammered as the writing started, stopped and blustered with the discomfort of new shoes. Off to bed now to wake up later, wish that it was morning now, but can't write all night with a baby.
Monday, 4 August 2008
What I love most is the green. The hue of the visible spectrum lying between yellow and blue. I could drown in the emerauld sea of the leaves of the trees. Sea green, sage green, bottle green, chrome green, pea green, yellow green, dark green ,light green, jade green, chartreuse, olive-green, Paris green, teal. The green of the trees and the grass. The green of the pleasant land. After several hours inside the forest I feel decidedly green. The green, verdant, raw, grudging, gullible common isle. La Grande Bretagne, my green island.
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Back to the shape of the seashore which curves like a cat's whisker in the sand. We are home and sit on a concrete step and look at the sea, smelling the month of August. The appartement is empty and eerily clean and I am fuzzy from airport security and too much family. We have spent three weeks sleeping in other bird's nests, floors, sofa beds, guest rooms and spare spaces; bed-hopping, swapping, ducking and diving and not quite sleeping enough. For now we are divided, two at home, one in green, another in the city. Next week we will be reunited. I must, will, have to write this week. I shall catch every moment of my baby's slumber and scratch black onto the white of the screen. Illuminate my thoughts. Structure. Work. Do.
Friday, 18 July 2008
summertime and we are walking through endless green landscapes, eating poached eggs, sharing unfolding family secrets that hang like dark bubbles, buying second-hand anatomical books, sitting on soggy lime green grass and licking white double cream from brown chocolate butterfly cakes. we are in our homeland our old land, where we were born but not where we live. As I write I have just been given my grandma's silver coffee spoons. I hold their tiny slender perfection, necks fragile and steely like swans. I sit, I write, I wish, I am, anxious and steady as the girls beside me watch Alice sliding through the looking glass, I hear the gentle clink of cutlery from the tidying kitchen and feel the jabberwocky haunting our soft sofa dreams.
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
I am packing to leave. I fold tiny clothes and place them in idle black bags. I add forgotten underwear, a present for my aunt. The house feels empty, clean and stationary; time is treading water. I tick last items from lists scrawled in red, green and blue, eat hasty meals and prowl like a cat through gradually vacating rooms. Half of the family has already gone; we'll join them in a matter of days. Inside I am unsettled, variable; likely to change. My space feels surprisingly too big; normally I relish my own company, devour the silence and the freedom. Now I am unresolved.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
There are days when all the world is tiny closed fisted hard little grey nails, pining bodies down with the herculean force that the Liliputs held Gulliver in place. These sneaking tiny unforgiving things hold spirits tight and will not let you be; placing undue strain upon the soul. Anxiety bleeds into hearts and crushes dreaming butterflies - miniscule moments binding fluttering wings. Other days all doors are opening every house across the Universe; stars are being born into night skies. Precious smiles trace upward curves on mountain tops reflecting eagle's eyes. All the possibilities are possible - then you are safe, you are free.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Feel at the moment like my head is buzzing from morning until night. There are plays to be prepared for community protests against cuts in education, bags to be packed, books to be written, dissertations to correct, patient evaluations to write and babies to be fed. Stop. The sea is blue as the sky is blue. A rich deep azure. The colour lies between green and indigo and when I swim I become a psychological primary hue. I am cerulean, lazuline and sapphire; a lycaenid butterfly afloat on the salty water. I have four wings covered in tiny scales, a slender body and knobbed antanae. I have metamorphised from the larval caterpillar, I am the imago, I can fly.
Monday, 23 June 2008
Nightime and I should be asleep, brushing my teeth, reading my book, sipping my herbal tea like a little old lady with shaking hands in an old pink nightgown. In late adolescence I adored bedtime; sleep a natural reversible state common to vetebrate animals. I would jump onto my big double bed and wait for the sandman to come to kiss me goodnight. Snuggled in a silky purple eiderdown, slippery and warm, I could control my dreams, would experiment with flying, jumping through time and space. The unconscious mind awake for the blinking of a second.
Sunday, 22 June 2008
they are growing and she is getting bigger. now she turns from me to meet the gaze of her sister or her father or another giggling child. she is nearly 9 months and her little teeth have started to nip when she feeds. today i wonder whether nursing is coming to an end. the thought is so very hard. the intimacy that we share, that bond is so very close. the feel of the rush of the milk when it comes, what her grandma calls the 'zinging in your breasts'. the feeding of the babe, the quiet ectasy, the warm blanket that envelops the universe, reaching up to the stars and around every planet and lonely meteorite until every last thing is so soft and calm that angels fall from heaven to join us. in these tiny moments i could live forever and all thoughts of deadlines and rushing and obligations fade into obscurity, blinded by the light of the here and the now, me and my child, hearts beating, eyes meeting. this is the beauty of life. life giving life.
Monday, 2 June 2008
I am trying to finish; to send the letter that I promised them with a quote for a price that they said that they wished would arrive before I finish putting clothes into drawers and folding knickers inside of fridges after I have breastfed a hungry child and given fresh soup to my hospital patient while I learn the words to a Spanish song and write another page of my story and hoover the dust from inside my brain and prepare the house for a family visit and clean the cat shit and try to understand my work teams behaviour and finish reading my chinese novel while booking my ticket to a wedding in spain and deciding childcare for a hot day in august and giving up coffee yet sorting through little girl's too small dresses and there is never a moment when it can all finish as the woman at the end of the earth told me so many years ago, completion is death.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
I walk home from the walled city, trailing pushchair and tired children, skin kissed by the warm evening sun. We walk home. Home that holds you fast and tight, a home that lets you walk out to the tip of the rocks where water meets sky and not fall. Not trip. Home the way we eat, breath, dance, work, dress and clean. To be at ease, to be at home, to laugh out loud, to be at home; to feel real rightness in each and every neurone and all the bones of these frail bodies. Home. The bricks are built around me. Windows peek outside and let the changing light in. When I first lived abroad and was travelling on a boat I would play tricks with myself in the middle of the sea, was I going home, or leaving home? I would stand on the slippery deck of the ship dizzy for a sudden undecided moment. Home. Where I am, where I will be, where I was. Home. The feel of a child against my breast and the eyes of my lover that understand my dissaray.
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
From here I hear you gurgling in your room. Singing in soft darkness, waiting for my arms to sweep you from your bed and wrap you in a warm, cotton embrace. You are snuggled in your sleeping bag, curled in comfort; a soft toy in your mouth, stains from some meal decorating your sweet, sweet face. You awaken smiling, a one-toothed grin accompanying your throaty, bubbling song. You are bliss and irregular smelly harmony. I am a lioness holding my china joy.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
Been a while since I've been here. A friend and colleague died last weekend in a car accident with his son. Death has swallowed me up. The funeral was a terrible day, suffocating us with silence as we failed to comprehend what had happened. Such grief. Church full of teenagers with tear-stained cheeks. The loss. The sun glaring down from a bright spring sky. The truth impossibly clear and blue.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
We run home in the hot rain, her little hand in mine. Thick, greasy drops fall on our clothes, meet pink skin and mingle with our hair. The sky is faded grey. I smell brown mud and yellow heat - baking. Perspiring earth. We run through the tourists, across the bridge, next to the swimming pool and along the winding promenade. The rain is heavier now, warm and steamy. Our clothes are dappled with fat dark spots. We laugh and dodge the oncoming gaggles of umbrellas, skip in puddles and finally reach the steps up to our road. We skid across the shiny black tarmac, up the steps and open the old wooden door. We fall into the flat dripping giggles.
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Today a writing day at home. I reread the work-in-progress and then venture out in the brilliant May heat to do some research. The beach is scattered with bikinis. My feet pound hot concrete, my head buzzes with ideas about characters, destinations, meaning and time. I imagine my characters, reach out to feel inside their skin. It ripples. I sit in the cold, calm of the study room in the library and ponder over the history of this town, of these 'corsaires', official pirates who pillaged boats with autorisation in exchange for a share of the 'booty', split three ways between my town, the King and the captain and crew. I turn pages and then hit the streets a second time, drink a creamy latté and dodge the tourists crowd, their eyes glued to shop windows, feet dragging. Today a day alone, all alone. Me, myself and I and the May sun and my keyboard and the words spilling out, flowing; a mini world in creation.
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Ill again, and grumpy. Mal dans ma peau, as the French say, uncomfortable in my skin. I read a dissertation I am supervising. The subject is work with the elderly, the author distinguishes between growing old and getting ill, aging is not a sickness. Time is an unpathological symptom of life. Yet aging can carry loneliness and pain, displaced in time and space, bereaved of meaning and place we forget the whereabouts of our elan vitale. People in institutions often lose their way, mislay the spark that keeps the light bright white and a twinkle in the eyes. Today, after working, I went to the park and sat amongst the green trees and the spring sun and the running laughing children. On the sofa my loved one says to me, 'remember life is sweet' .
Sunday, 4 May 2008
Yesterday the sun was hot and we lingered on the beach in the unexpected stifling heat. I hid with my baby in the shade of a parasol. Today was a tired sick day. I slept in musty silence as time drifted around me, the sounds of my living house stifled by my bed clothes . My bones ached, my throat hurt. I am rarely ill and my body surprised me by it's need for sleep. Three naps and I was still exhausted. Today I didn't leave the appartement but managed to shift ugly piles of laundry that had cluttered up our home. Cleaning clothes a thankless task that slides into infinity. Today I cannot think clearly, but can drink fresh vegetable and quinoa soup and eat white cheese sandwiches. Tomorrow I am working at the hospital, so now I must go to bed.
Sunday, 27 April 2008
We are home again. Yesterday we drove through thick hot heat, burnt yellow by the sun, to reach our little city. We spent the week in Paris, our feet walking on pavements, grey concrete, splashing in dirty urban puddles and treading the edge of the elegant, forbidden green grass. We are back in our house. We spent the week looking at Renaissance statues, crossing golden bridges flung over chic rivers, admiring tall buildings and sighing at the sudden beauty of a hidden square. We are home. We told stories on the metro, rode on merry-go-rounds, ate daurade, saw the Mona Lisa who is, my daughter told me ' Happy because she was born first', we drank bitter black coffee and tried on pink shoes and were proud to be ' fit as pellypots'. The two girls slept as we walked through Paris on the last day, side by side. Happiness was with us, strolling in the sun, wearing a purple hat and eating falafel doused in chili sauce. We are home now and we remember.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
It is a joy to come back to your arms at the end of the day. I have been caring for the mysteries of troubled minds, singing lullabies with patients as we hold hands. It is an unsung pleasure to return to this living home. Enveloped in hot tea, sipping crocheted blankets; laughter is written on these four walls. Grey granite keeps the heat inside.
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
I am tired. Sleepy. Exhausted. Deprived. Thoughts get stuck in heavy mounds of laundry, old black socks and Barbie pants are clogging up my brain. I spent an endless night in the warmth of female talking, another tending to a teething baby. Today my brain aches. The sky is shocking blue but not quite warm enough to take off winter coats. Wear a little wool, my neighbour mutters in my ear. I drift from room to action to kitchen to speaking to cooking to shops to feeding to trying to understand the words falling from my friend's lips while we drink coffee in the purple bar, talk of hair and try to calm a gaggle of wriggling girls.
Thursday, 3 April 2008
He stands with his suitcase looking out at the boats. His eyes glance over the marina, the yachts, the ferry, the lighthouse, the old walled city. A tourist, a visitor, his luggage sat by his feet, overlooking this town of dreams. The seaside. The port. The history brushed neat and tidy, power, blood, abuse and guts, packaged in pretty boxes to be sold to five million people trapsing these streets seeking the moment where love, pleasure and happiness collide. Children stick spades into the sand as parents rub cream on freckled shoulders. Sticky fingers hold metal rails, lads swill beer, water meets skin where battles were fought. The comfortable slide on limpid water in yachts with bunks and sip white wine. Russian sailors, white-skinned, blue-eyed, crew rust rotten tankers and dream of home. The drone of the little train filled with fat tourists, their hot skin sticking to fake leather seats. The grey granite walls have heard these stories a hundred, thousand, million, trillion times.
When we walked back from the park yesterday, I saw them. Spring had come, they had opened their window. They stand, side by side, shoulders touching, staring out at the road. Outside. Their tall broad bodies occupy in between space. A man and a woman with uniform oak carved faces, identical short white clippered hair. Regal nose's like eagles beaks top thin mouths that do not smile easily. When the weather is warm they stand here everyday, looking at the world. Cars driving, feet on pavement, push chairs rolling, bicycles, people. Few words are exchanged between them, shoulders brush shoulders. Soft and steely. I have never seen the inside of their home. They stand framed by the window, archaic, monumental, timeless. Male, female, dressed anonymously in sweatshirts, wide trousers that can be exchanged. They are standing guard, watching, waiting, filling time and space.
Friday, 21 March 2008
It's blowing a gale outside. In the darkness of the night, gusts of wind are stretching branches till they crack. Inside we hear the whistling of the wind. It rattles windows, sneaks into the cracks and makes our house creak and moan. I am scared of this storm. From when we woke this morning until night time came, this tempete has been shaking our bones. It has blown this day from sunshine to grey hail to rain, dark inky clouds smothering the sky. The children sleep fast and I am too awake, too lively, too itchy, too much with this blowing wind. Perhaps I will join the storm, danse in the chaos of the freezing gusts of rain. Let the water beat against my skin and laugh as the sky groans. Or perhaps I too will snuggle under warm blankets and soft, soft sheets and drift into a dream. The gale outside is blowing, blowing, blowing. I hope that by the morning it is gone.
Thursday, 20 March 2008
We ate an omlette for lunch today. It was a bright burnt yellow. The colour of the sun. The eggs came from Marie-Annick on the market. They are hidden treasures, kept beneath the huge wooden stand, gold dust. Softly boiled the white is firm and silky, the yolks a molten lava of cadmium orange. These are the eggs of my childhood. The eggs my tiny child's fingers would touch hard and warm beneath the soft feathers of a bird in the dark bitter stinking darkness of the chicken shed. Eggs, a mystery revealed. I remember being 6 and the first time we ate our own eggs, with our own bread and our own butter, made with the milk from our Fresian cow Steady. Sweet and salty, brown bread like cake, spread pale and creamy, dripping with rich dark yellow.
Sunday, 16 March 2008
There is a bear in the woods, standing in the white snow, sleeping in a cave, ripping red flesh with blood-stained teeth. The bear is called Nathanial. He has long, shaggy hair, thick and brown. He's a heavy carnivorous animal. In the sky the Great Bear and the Little Bear twinkle in rich constellations. Nathanial loves the stars. At night, in the winter, as his breath leaves white puff clouds against the dark liquid blue, he ponders upon the cosmos.
Monday, 10 March 2008
Today the rain fell as I drove home. At times so heavy that all the road was blurred into a messy grey puddle. This morning it landed on my windscreen like hundreds of cold fat tears. There is a gale blowing outside as I write. Gusts of wind strong enough to break tender leaves from trees and push human bodies along the street. Inside I can hear the buzz of the television, the baby crying, the tumble dryer turning. I had a satisfying day today - ticked boxes, underlined words, spoke to people and made interesting plans. There are times when moving into action is as satisfying as a big bite of cheese, mayo, tomato and gherkin sandwhich.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
We blissed out in the sun today. On the promenade there was a March breeze, but sat on a bench facing the sea out of the shade it was mild and comfortable. We watched the walkers walking, the joggers jogging and rollerskaters gliding. I closed my eyes and turned my face to the sun. Spring. The creamy yellow first heat of daffodils caressed my cheeks. I could just make out the ding-ding of the sail boats in the marina, the gentle woosh of a wave. I almost fell asleep for a second. Warm heat.
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
The wind was bitter today. Here by the sea the gusts are sharp, cutting through wool, cotton and jean and until they have chilled every 200 bones in your body. This is wind from which you cannot hide. It is a sour, painful experience. A polar easterly which has wrapped itself round icebergs and dressed in frost. It is not yet a gale but blasts and blows us across the town. It lingers in our pockets and in the nape of our neck like an unwanted kiss from a sweaty-palmed man.
Monday, 3 March 2008
I am dreaming of tomorrow of a tidy house and the soft cheek of my babe and time and making soup and listening to the radio drinking a second cup of coffee and writing and unpacking and putting my holiday purchases into my drawers and drifting in mundanity and the bliss of being and laughing with the eldest as we walk to school and work forgotten in my briefcase in my car and thinking of writing and imagining another world and folding unfolding dividing and joining and space and time being here and now and my head not rushing five months into the future and holding the softness of time and suddenly i understand the unbearable lightness of being.
Saturday, 1 March 2008
We were thrown through the sea last night. Nestled in our boat, the waves tossed us back and forth, seaweed winding it's way into our hair and mermaids whispering lullabies into our frightened ears. The cabin was stiflingly dark and with every shudder of the gale the sweet sound of a car alarm greeted our song. I lay in the noisy silence of the witching hour and, for once, did not imagine death. I waited as the seconds ticked by, grew into minutes, into hours. Numbers piling upon numbers, until the night was done and the dawn rose. Night. I could not hear my babes breathe. The morn came and a golden light lit the waves edge. As we drank bitter coffee, chewed bread and crunched on cereal the walled city loomed on the horizon. Land ahoy. We slid between the rocks and the islands of the ragged, unfinished coastline.
Friday, 22 February 2008
Night time is inky blue and smells sweet and old like unwashed sweaters. I long to roll myself in stars and drift into the sky. In this darkness sounds are amplified. Floors creak with monsters footsteps and I drink the roughness of the blankets edge. But I am safe inside my boat bed travelling through the stormy seas. I wrap myself in the infinity of my duvet. I snuggle and I cuddle and I curl and whirl and toss and turn. My bed is an ocean. I am swimming in my dreams.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
On Saturday we will be leaving. We will take our bags and hurry to the aeroport for a plane. We will stand in dreary, endless queues where people frown and count the time which ticks upon their skin. I hope you will not cry. We will be beeped, checked, stamped and moved. In the middle of the sky we will not know if we are going home or leaving home. We are people of divided loyalties, of no-mans land. We've lived too long away to belong here or there. We love to travel and we relish the lost little town that we will visit in 2 days. We will roll through English countryside and catch our dreams in homemade jams and nostalgia traps in which we fall with glee.
Today I was told a dream about an egg, a male uterus, a machine and a birth. An extraordinary dream imparted with a smile. Today I decided with someone else that our objective for the year would be to put life into dead songs. These are tiny moments like miracles. Exquisite little frozen snowdrop heads, too precious to touch, too fragile to travel too far. I stand next to these memories and breathe. I inhale and exhale softly so as not disturb their delicate petals. Some thoughts must be wrapped in cotton wool and carried around with care. We are lucky to be given such moments.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
In the afternoon, I packed my bag. I folded tiny white baby clothes and bigger girl's jeans and then added my own black T-shirts, pyjamas, socks and woollen tights. I was preparing for the shape of things to come. Minds slipping forward in time, imagining the future and how we will sit in that world. When I was younger I used to carry little china ornaments in my bag, an old photo, a soft scarf. To make myself at home. When I arrive in a hotel room, friend's or family's home I settle myself into the environment, the totality of surrounding conditions. I enter the sphere.
Friday, 15 February 2008
It's dark outside. A cold, crisp black, edged with inky blue. Friday night and I can hear the purring of the cars. A Friday night when we have eaten chips and eggs and beans and sausages. Voices echo in the street, turning up the collars of their coats against the icy wind which chills their blood and coats their bones with frosty skin. "Suicide is a serious thing" he told us yesterday. Lowered his voice, paused and scanned the group with hazel eyes, "attempting is only ever serious". Silence. Each of us dwelling upon unhappiness, sweet fairy tales and the unthinkable, mixing pictures in our minds. Morbid morning staff meetings over tarry coffee. Thick and brown and over-stewed. In my friends bathroom cupboard there used to be a post-it saying 'all dark places don't need light'. The bells are ringing on this Friday night. Inside bricks and concrete buildings all around this town are lonely people. Desolation sat in empty flats with dinner done and nothing else to do. Friday night when the bottle calls and only alcohol can fill the empty cold. Friday night when sadness seeps in through the window, under carpets, steathily invading every corner; suffocating, damp and never-ending. Friday night will be here for an eternity of hours and then tomorrow will be, will be morning.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
The morning can be harsh and cruel, wrenching us from warm hands into the light of day. But this morning I go slow, quietly. I hear the groan of the dustbin monster and the shriek of the circling gulls. I sip my green tea, which is at perfect drinking temperature. I cannot stay for long, cannot linger writing. The world is calling, pulling me from this hazy moment into action. I must, I have to, I am obliged to do a million unnecessary wonders. The chores of a lifetime are laid out before me, waiting to catch me with their seemingly soft but steely teeth.
Perhaps I should hide, evacuate from life into the hall cupboard and live amongst the shoe polish, lace doilies and old bottles of swimming shampoo. I see the clock is ticking, I gulp my green tea and I stand, ready for doing.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
The sun was shining and the sky so blue it could crack. We walked along the street and when you held my hand my heart lifted. Our feet hit the grey pavement at a steady pace and we talked of many things including names. Right now I have to stop writing as my attentions are required elsewhere. Be well and dream of sweet things tonight, heat, frost and maple syrup dripping on a golden crepe.
The rage was white and hot, blinkered like a race-horse but wild as a tormented bull. It was powerful. It came and left so suddenly that for a while after the world was slightly askew. It left her with a feeling of shame and disorientation, her body still tainted by it's presence. After, she prepared lunch and listened to the story of the little red hen. It was better.
Monday, 11 February 2008
Drove home from work today feeling raw and unbrushed. There are moments when it's like your skin is turned inside out and I can feel the red rushing to my cheeks. The discomfort was thick and heavy in the room like treacle stuck in hair. Soft, too sweet and irritable. I breath in deep and try to reposition myself and the group, take us to another space and time. We sigh, smile, recuperate. On the drive home the sky is blue, the sun is shining and I listen to the radio.
Thursday, 7 February 2008
Today I have sewn a tapestry. Stuck a needle into fabric and pulled through coloured threads - pale buttermilk yellow, white and cream. Colours that I do not like. In and out, over and under, stitches in time, marking the seconds, ploughing through skin. Today I have sewn and relished the sensation of a last stitch completing a section and feeling the sensation of fingers against rough surfaces lined with furrows. Now I will put myself to bed and dream of tapestries, sewn in circumstantial yellow.
It's five am in Amsterdam and this is how I know.....
This morning when I was walking home we saw a tiny dead bird on the road. Soft ruffled feathers and a sharp little beak with legs like splintered matches. There was fog in the air and grey clouds of mist hung around the church spire. Our breath blew white air shadows. I didn't want to leave that bird alone and dead on a street corner. But I had nowhere to take it. A momentary desire without a home.
In my appartment I will now make coffee and eat brioche with jam made with blueberries from Finistere ( the end of the earth). I will listen to the sound of the washing machine, and bury that little bird.
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
In my dream we had placed the library on the hill. A beautiful thing. A square block of books on white laminated shelves with a space inside to sit and read surrounded by lush, green countryside. We examine the books, I discover volumes that I had forgotten I owned. One beautiful handmade artists book with oriental silk lined pages in mustard yellow, bordeaux and marine blue. We go inside our house which is near the library and suddenly it starts to rain. It is a violent lashing downpour, fed by a gusting wind. The books are exposed to the elements. We rush out and decide to fetch the car to save the books from the water. A library on the hill - a curious thing.
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Nightfall and the babes are sleeping. Sweet dreamtime that smells of burnt sugar and urine. Tucked safe in their beds their bodies are abandoned to slumber. Dark lashes fall on pale velvety skin. These watchful moments are whole and enveloping. As night falls mother-love tenses the muscles of my heart.
Saturday, 2 February 2008
The underground train is crowded and dirty. People sitting down, standing up, wedged in corners, tired bodies squashed one against another. As the carriage lurches from side to side, hands clutch straps and muscles strain to keep a sense of balance. Each person carries their crystal sphere; round glass balls which release a light like glow-worms,angels or fairies. The spheres are delicate fragile things, tender as snowdrops with a soul of steel. A young man in a pin stripped suit nervously tosses his globe from palm to palm, his sweat leaving sticky imprints on the surface. The young woman in the corner has attached her sphere to a cord and it dangles from her hand, wound with string, spinning down and reeling up as she flicks her wrist. Next to her the smart old lady has crammed the sphere into her red leather bag and she glances at the neighbours' with envy. There are broken spheres, chipped and cracked, old spheres and new, there are tiny one's slipped into pockets and huge globes attached to backs, some have been repaired though the pieces are jammed leaving sharp edges. They are cherished, ignored, desired, hated, misunderstood, devine and lowly. As the carriage jolts a man drops his sphere and it breaks. His face turns white, he stumbles and looks ready to fall, but no-one in the carriage offers help and some seconds later he picks up the two pieces, tears blinding his eyes, and places them in a carrier bag. The train speeds on, gently shaking it's passengers through the darkness of the tunnel.
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Another grey morning. Soft bruised winter light. We walked to the walled city and had coffee. On the way back I idled in the shops. Pulling on and taking off clothes, fabric meeting skin in the harsh bright white of the changing room. Time slipped by slowly this morning. Clocks ticking at a comfortable pace. It was only upon reaching home that I discovered I had missed a rendez-vous, a meeting planned weeks ago. The rush of yesterday and the early wakening this morning had erased all sense of organisation from my brain. Instead I drifted.
Thursday, 24 January 2008
This morning I walked down on the promenade and watched the ducks in the sea. Little black dots in the swirling murky water. It's mild for January, a soft heat which tricks you into thinking it's spring. There's the slight smell of grass and popping buds.
Last night we walked back from the walled city and the lock was open and we sat and watched a huge cargo ship passing through, leaving our port to head out across the seas. Pale-faced Eastern European sailors looked up from the deck, departing from this strange land, destined for another.
Ports, stations and airports. Criss-crossing, moving, leaving, arriving, diaspora sandwich zones! Airports have now lost their favorable souls as we are herded like cattle from one area to another, enslaved by 'security'. Ports and stations retain their sense of freedom, providing openings, breaches, apertures for getting lost, meetings in no-mans lands, saying goodbye and maybe finding your way again.
On the beach this morning, as I walked along the promenade, a bare-footed girl was sat on the edge of the stone wall drinking a bowl of coffee. She swang her legs as the sea whispered and whistled through the gentle clang-clang of the sailing boats in the marina. The sky was grey this morning but the air was fresh and the walking revived me as I thought of Will Self and psychogeography and the flaneurs. But that is a story for another day.....