Cherry Blossom

22: 05

Syd singing to me, beautiful, lyrical, uplifting chords, a face that moves with the emotion and the rhythm of the music.

Cannot remember what time I woke. Its dark. I am coughing still. Todays bargain, around my neck a chain of heavy ebony beads bought from the Sue Ryder charity shop.

Came home from the gentile flat scape of York over the high rough tops of the moor. Dipped down back through the wooded corridor into the cradle of Calderdale.

Patrick drew the short straw and spent the day at the Railway Museum with Naoise. I drew the long straw and hung out with my teenager. We sauntered through charity shops, Mind, Sue Ryder, Oxfam, Amnesty International. Syd tried out expensive guitars in a che che music shop till we annoyed the owner and left, arctic monkeys isn’t every folky’s idea of fun. We saw fudge being made, bubbling hot pours of sugar. We sampled the fudge and agreed that it was far too sweet and sickly. I stepped through the footsteps of my childhood, of walks I made when I used to visit my grannie. I tried not to go back, I tried to be present with my son. I felt a sense of de ja vu, as if he had always been with me, that we two had made this journey previously.

Sydney eating easter chocolate, egg and spoon. A vase of yellow daffodils opening.

We passed the golf balls of Menwith hill. We reminisceed about the Tour de Yorkshire/France and a protest that Patrick took part in against the war in Iraq. The protestors set off  foil spinners, balloons, ribbons; a semi serious attempt to interfere with the receivers/listening devices in the golf balls, but nobody really knows whats  in there.

I hope to see an owl, a kestrel, I spot a curlew, and two new born lambs hugging each other on a slopping green pasture.

Cough, bored of coughing.

Inside the treasurers house an exquisite model of a tall ship made by napleonic war prisoners. Hull sculpted out of animal bone, ropes twisted together from human hair. A ship captured floating in an imaginary wind casket of wood and glass carrying the ghost passengers home.

Is that enough words, this will do, need to cough, and drink and rest and stop thinking, need to stay strong, need to stay strong to care for myself and the others.

I don’t want to talk

22.28 ( awake since 6.45am)

Went for a run 7am-8am.

I don’t want to talk. I want to be quiet and silent. I want to be silent. I don’t want to fill the space of the house with conversation. I grew up in a quiet house. Mum is from a quaker background, though she is one of ten children and I don’t suppose her childhood was at all quiet, my parents always maintained a quiet peaceful house. So that is what I am used to and what I crave. Space and no conversation. I do not feel at peace in my home. My family likes to talk a lot, they want to fill the space with chatter, and guitar music but I just want to be and I want to be quiet. I want to move slowly, carefully. I want to be carefree with quiet.

Thats I guess why I run. I literally run away from home. The birds sing, but they are not singing for me, they don’t want a response. The sheep stare right at me, but they just stand rooted in their field, they ask for nothing. The ground underneath my feet is soggy, marshy, muddy. I sink a little into it. The sun is just waking in the ordinary grey. Its not raining, not yet.

I stop momentarily at the clothes line with black pegs. The pegs are still. The lights in the school are all off.

Pink blossom, goldfinches, two dead toads decapitated and squashed into the tarmac of the road.

Naoise was in the shower when I went to the loo and  he said mummy you have your period, you are bleeding aren’t you. I reassured him that I was ok, he had seen the blood on my old pad and had watched me placing a clean one in my pants. He then asked mummy why do you have periods? I delighted in telling him about all the eggs that I was born with and how he came from one of my eggs and one of daddy’s sperm. I drew a picture with my finger on the vapour of the shower screen, a swirly round large egg and a small sperm wriggling in. Then more and more questions. So delightful, so curious, so wondrous to see his mind working each amazing story over in his mind.

Empty the washing machine. Pour small glass of red wine, shouldn’t have full of calories, but brings such ammediate joy and warm comfort. Stops the coughing for a while. Overdosed on lemon sweets, had the ineffectual pain killers, drunk water. Still coughing, but no longer lying down. Fighting the house like a warrior, cleaning, sorting, licking the dirt off the shelves and the floor and the stairs. Not licking the loo, but hugging, caressing it with cloth and anti bacterial spray till it shines a plastic smile.

In the ball park. The children eat their chicken nuggets and cold baked beans on colourful plates. The other children are unruly, loud, crazed, far too big to be playing in the baby section. A three year old spends all his time slapping and hitting the bigger boys including Naoise and his friend. To my relief they eventually leave. I read a chapter from Tove’s The Winter Book, a story about a battle with a squirrel that has taken up residence in her home. Its so beautifully and simply written. I read in fits and starts, in-between watching the boys, loo trips, 20p’s for the machine and just watching all the garish colours under the strip lights.

The children request a slush puppy. The woman theatrically squirts the crimson red and the electric blue slush into the clear plastic cups. The boys smile with delight. They sit and eat the frosty drink on the end of spoon straws.

The slush puppy drink reminds me of a place. A temporary home. A council house home now demolished, a street that no longer exists. A place thankfully that I never need return.  Slush puppy, caramac bar, fish and chips, a slow cooker, no fresh milk, only sterilised milk in plastic bags, a street named after the Larch Tree but with no trees at all. Grass verges of dog poo. A large scrappy communal patch of grass to light bonfires, to ride bikes across or to challenge another to a fight. No play. Couples that argued and rowed at open windows late into the night. A downstairs, outside loo, cold, miserable, a long way from bed. Black rabbit stolen from its cage just before Christmas time.An occasional excursion via the train to Liverpool. Windows that I tried to walk through. A camp bed for my little sister to sleep. Elvis Presley, snowballs, rubics cubes and cigarettes. Long distance running, running away from it then.

Listening to Sydney play his new song on the guitar, over and over and over again. Making humous. Washing up. Washing up. Laundry. Making sandwiches for a day trip. Packing a spare clothes bag. Tucking Naoise and Sydney into bed. Writing this. Spilling thoughts out onto an electric screen. Cars passing on the wet road. Sip of wine. Must stop, late, need sleep.





I just had to do a double take of the clocks in the house. The clocks have gone forward so although I thought I had been up since 6am it was actually 7am. So we are out of the dead zone, the darkness and into the lighter months of the year. Outside it is a grey nothing, the mini daffodils in the window box add some yellow cheer to the dull. I can hear the birds, they have started to sing for the spring. Yesterday a stared into the eyes of a nervous wren who had paused momentarily on the fence in the backyard and glanced into the kitchen window where I was standing at the sink washing dishes.

The heating is on. Lines of socks and clothes are drying on the radiator. When the weather is warm enough  I will be able to peg out the laundry, then at least some of the damp in the house will subside.

Last night we turned off all the lights, and heating in the house to celebrate Earth Hour . It was pleasing to manage longer than the mandatory one hour. We ate and read by candle light. Naoise carved bars of soap with a kitchen knife until each bar crumbled and fell apart. He then put the rubble soap into a plastic bowl added water and mixed the soap into a batter.

I went to bed early with Naoise spurred on by disagreements and misunderstandings with Patrick. It was a shame as there was a beauty and romance in the darkness that befell the house. I read to Naoise by torchlight. We read two books by Tomi Ungerer, The Beast of Monseuir Racine and The Three Robbers. He is such a brilliant and subversive illustrator. We picked out details from the pictures that we had not noticed previously and spotlighted each with the beam of the torch. Naoise was so so tired, I put my arm around his little body and we both fell asleep together.

At long last I have completed the Rebecca Solnit book A field guide to getting lost, I lost the book for a month which slowed the reading of it. I found it safe, tucked inside my computer bag. I’m always doing this, I am far too good at taking care of things I love. One of the last chapters in the book entitled Blue of the Distance, drew upon the work of Yves Klein to weave together inner thoughts and observations on being lost and getting lost and disappearance.

This was a very helpful chapter to me. I am still mulling over the performance that I intend to carry out where I dip my hair in milk and mop the kitchen floor. This performance idea has been inspired by the performance called Loving Care by Janine Antoni. Loving Care pays homage to Yves Klein and his performances where the naked bodies of women were used as paint brushes. I will become a paintbrush, a mop, a cloth. The milk is to be used as a metaphor of loss. I love the phrase don’t cry over spilt milk. It is easy not to cry over spilling cows milk. If I had ever spilt human breast milk, then I might certainly have cried. Milk as tears. Tears as milk. I shouldn’t think or write about this action any more. If you try to hold and pin an idea down it has no freedom, it is stuck, it cannot move. Art is unpredictable, uncertain, undecided, fluid, open to interpretation. I don’t want to prescribe meaning onto a work that does not even exist yet. So shhhhhhhhh be quiet don’t tell, say no more.

I was going to write about darkness, not milk. In the candle light I remembered the darkness of my parents house on the North Coast of Scotland. I remembered the night of the panic attack, when I woke up screaming and stumbling around in my dads shirts hanging on the wardrobe rail. I was stumbling and thrashing about trying to find a way out of the room, a way into the light. I thought I had died. Is death dark? It cannot be dark, it can only be a nothing, a not feeling, an end. Darkness is a feeling, an experience a physical presence. Darkness is to be alive. Darkness is home. Yves Klein made a Leap into the Void in 1960. I made a leap into the void, the unknown of motherhood in 2001. I am still trying to find my feet, I still feel lost within it. I was drawn to this passage from The Field Guide to Getting Lost, because it speaks of darkness, of  film, of dreaming and of running. I love the idea that as I run I am levitating, flying, lifting momentarily above the ground. When I run I am free, unburdened, simply moving on and forward. I am my own movie.

Movies are made out of darkness as well as light; it is the surpassingly brief intervals of darkness between each luminous still image that make it possible to assemble the many images into one moving picture. Without the darkness, there would only be a blur. Which is to day that a full-length movie consists of half and hour or an hour of pure darkness that goes unseen. If you could add up all the darkness, you would find the audience in the theatre gazing together at a deep imaginative night It is the terra incognito of film, the dark continent on very map. In a similar way, a runners every step is a leap, so that for a moment he or she is entirely off the ground. For those brief instants, shadows no longer spill out from their feet, like leaks, but hover below then like doubles, as they do with birds, whose shadows crawl below them, caressing the surface of the earth, growing and shrinking as their makers move nearer or farther from that surface, for my friends who run long distances, these tiny fragments of levitation add up to something considerable; many minutes, perhaps some significant portion of an hour or perhaps far more for the hundred-mile races. We fly; we dream in darkness; we devour heaven in bites too small to be measured.

Page 175-176, The Blue of the Distance, A  Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit, Canongate, 2006

I don’t know where I am going with this. Its been two days in the bedroom. I am the queen of the duvet. I guess I am cashing my time back in from caring for others. I am pale and washed out and I think I should stay home for one more day. Replenish the body.

Each period, each shedding and bleeding, fills days with darkness.  Pain and waiting and darkness.  When there are no more eggs , no more womb linings to shed, I will be officially old, menopausal. I see my skin ageing, wrinkles and furrows and varicose veins make marks. You cannot stop time. I am fading. The fading has begun.

I’ve seen Yves Klein’s work in Paris, at the Pompidou centre. I remember staring into the blue of his meteor paintings and sponge sculptures. I think of Paris. I think of this romantic city and the men that I have loved. I think about the time I spent with Syd’s dad in Paris, how patient I had to be as he wanted to share the time in the city with his other friends, whereas I would have preferred to have been alone together as a couple. We probably always were at odds with each other, and each others needs and desires. The blue of Klein reminded me also of the holiday to Morocco that was just us two alone. During our time there we travelled on a bus to Marrakech we drove though the Atlas Mountains,we saw blue and burnt sienna and on the back of the bus a snake charmer with a cobra curled quiet in a woven basket. We gazed through the windows at men sipping mint tea on white plastic chairs outside cafes, and we both caught sight of a beautiful girl around the age of four holding a big red balloon. She caught our eyes and we smiled at each other and back at her.





Cough & Alarm

7:16 am (awake since 7am)

Sitting up in bed writing this. I am in the bedroom downstairs beside the bathroom. I got Patrick to sleep in the attic with the kids last night. I need a rest. I still feel unwell. My head is sore, my throat is sore, my stomach is swollen with water retention. I feel totally drained. In bed is where I should be.

I hear Naoise coughing. Syd’s alarm clock on his iPad going off. Patrick asking him to switch it off.

Outside grey and wet. The road busy with cars. Pigeons stand on the edge of the mill roof. The telegraph wires wave gently in the wind. Not even one patch of sun. Totally clouded over. I have been dreaming again of living somewhere else. Living down south in Cornwall where it is warm and tropical plants grow. This time last year our family set off to spend an Easter holiday in Cornwall with another family.

We stayed in a beautiful farm house in Brane, a tiny village where there are the remains of a neolithic village called Carn Euny. We had a magical time, cooking elaborate dinners for each other, playing musical instruments, hide and seek and charades late into the night. We swam in the sea. We ate picnics. We drank wine and talked and laughed and cried. The weather was balmy, more summer than spring. I remember making daisy chain crowns and necklaces with Naoise in the field to the side of the house.


One night we took the children for a star and moon lit walk to Carn Euny, we walked under the fogou (an underground passageway) and delighted at the bats that flew out and around us. We looked at the luminous algae growing on the stone. My friend told the children ghost stories, Syd was tired so I walked home with him, perhaps he was scared, I didn’t question it too much, we walked back down the lane together then along the road home.

Cough, Cough, Cough, Cough, bored of this cough. The GP sent me away without the antibiotics I was hoping for. I will go back on Monday if it continues, I’m not spending precious holiday time coughing.

Stomach cramps Pain. Period must be on its way. Face all puffy, stomach bulging. I hate it. I hate this part of being a woman.

Syd played out last night till far too late. He played football and he played at the youth club or youthy, as he refers to it. I worry about him hanging out (playing) away from home. He lost his world cup yellow football in the river calder. He was sad. He hugged me and apologised for being home late and was clearly upset about his ball. I muttered something to him in my half sleep.

Cough, cough, cough, need to rest, need to rest. Syd is going to his dads for the weekend, so need to rest a while before getting him up for breakfast and spending some time with him before he departs. I hate the weekends that he is away. I hate it.








Home ill

10.40am (up in the night at 3am and 4am sore throat and fever)

I am sitting upright in bed, the window in the bathroom is open, I can hear the river flowing outside. Its a grey day, cold with some sun between the clouds. Least no snow today. Kids last day at school, two weeks break for Easter. I love Easter. Pace Egg play at Heptonstall on Friday, picnic in the Yorkshire Dales Saturday, egg hunt in the woods Sunday.

I feel really unwell, drained, temperature, sore throat, can’t write much, no energy for this.

Patrick got the kids up. Naoise came and gave me a lovely lovely cuddle and bought me up buttered  toast and marmite to eat in bed. Naoise is such a caring child. I cherish his affection.

Syd walked to school, Naoise scootered.

Patrick went to work in the car and then returned to take me to the GP. The doctor listened to my chest, took my oxygen levels, pocked a stick onto my tongue so he could stare down my throat. Asked me questions. Said to go home take pain killers, cough syrup, come back in a week if things didn’t get better and he would do am x-ray. I think that I will be fine, probably just run down, its been a stressful few weeks, with Patrick changing jobs then nursing everyone better one week.  Intense time this week trying to get the Ma Ma/Boo Boo film complete. I don’t mind hard work, in fact I really love it, I love to be busy and never to have a moment to think, to fill every moment of time with art, or reading, or caring or researching, or listening to others stories. Clothes get washed and folded, dust eventually gets removed, the mess of life gets ordered.

The washing machine is beeping, I put a load of towels in to tumble dry. The buzzer sound is insistent, like a small child it demands attention. I go downstairs take out the warm laundry fold it into neat piles, put it in the clean laundry bag. Its impossible to stop. You cannot stop housework. It never stops repeating itself. Routine. Ritual. Routine. Ritual. Should try to stop, rest, get well.

I went to see a film last night directed by Luc Besson called Home, its about climate change. I was watching it with a group of people from Todmorden called Alternatiba, who are organising a festival of climate change alternatives to take place on 3rd May in the town. It was a beautiful and haunting film, shot from an ariel perspective. The venue was a baptist church. A strange context, the screen sat just above the altar as if digital preacher. I left feeling sad. This is the world that my children have been born into, a fragile, vulnerable world that is being depleted of its resources, destroyed by humans. By industrialisation. By war. By the want for more and more energy, by consumerism, by insatiable greed.

The film wasn’t a revelation, just confirmation of what I already knew. I am not just sad I am angry, recycling, re-using, composting, eating vegetarian food, using the car as little as possible (ideally shouldn’t have a car), buying second hand, keeping the allotment, turning off light switches, reducing energy are all well and good, but I am not convinced that this will amount to stopping climate change. Its about fighting back at those who hold the power and the purse strings the rich 2 percent. Ordinary people need to fight back. Fracking, mining mineral resources, making weapons of war, the use of pesticides, farming on an industrial scale, over fishing, palm oil plantations, the destruction of the rain forests, the melting of the ice capes,  its obscene, what have we done. Our home is ill.



Snuffling & Tapping & Twites

10.45 am ( awake in the night between 3am and 4am up at 7am)

Its grey and wet and cold and foggy.

Me and Sydney ate warm croissants for breakfast, so delicious and comforting.

I listen to the news in the background. They have found the flight recorders from the plane that crashed in the Alps yesterday. The news reader reports that one of the pilots is heard banging on the cockpit door, he has been locked out. The news takes small pieces of information and blows each apart, hanging onto each fragment.  They discuss what they know, what they don’t know, what this might mean, they consult experts.

It sounds terrifying. It is terrifying and tragic. I think about how news unfolds, how distressing this must be for the relatives, for friends. Its horrifying. News has little respect for the dead. This news kept me awake in the night. I kept thinking of the panic, the sound, the banging. I kept thinking of the woman and the baby that was known to my friends. I must stop thinking of this, its haunting me, causing me to stay awake in the night. Tragic, horrifying things happen each day, death from war, death from natural disaster, death from disease, death from famine. We live in a cruel and violent world. There are accidents involving individuals and there are accidents involving groups of people . There are acts of terror. Why is it that I immediately think of acts of terror when a plane falls from the sky. We live in a time of great anxiety and uncertainty. Has this always been so. Is this borrowed time? The world is fragile, humans are fragile and vulnerable too.

naoiselyingonbreakfastableNaoise always arrives downstairs half asleep and wrapped in his snuffly king sized duvet. He snoozes at the breakfast table. Oh how my youngest child loves his sleep. I am glad that the holidays are almost here so he can lie in all he likes, recover. School is so full on, it takes all the energy out of him.

Sydney is back on form today. We complete the options form, History, Resistant Materials, Music. Good choices. I am glad that he and we haven’t been swayed by the focus on academic subjects. They expect a lot of our children, to consider a career path at the age of thirteen is quite frankly ridiculous. I wish the focus was just on the love of learning, not on worrying about the future.

I run around in a whirling dervish panic getting my bags packed for the days work at the studio. I forget my sandwiches, it will have to be miso soup and oat cakes for lunch.

Sydney points out that it has been snowing, he notices this because a car passes whose roof is covered in white. You cannot see the tops of the hills for the fog, there is no sign of  snow down here in the gully.

Patrick dropped Naoise off at school today.

The house is a pig sty but I would rather be hugging the radiator in the studio than clearing and sorting the family mess. Is this my responsibility? I am not a domestic slave I refuse to become one. Maybe I will get the boy and men to help me tidy tonight, that would be easier than me feeling frustrated and resentful clearing up alone. House work is such a bore. I like the results but not the process. I guess me and Patrick are messy so the kids are messy too. Must learn to be tidier, to set a good example.

Patrick dropped Naoise off at school today, I am making the most of him, getting him to help with the school run whilst he is still working locally, after Easter he will be on the commuting train to Manchester, leaving early in the morning, coming back late.

Patick dropped Naoise off at school today so that I could go for a run before coming to the studio. I ran in Hardcastle Craggs. I saw a heron, heard a woodpecker tapping on a tree. The wood is waking to the spring. The ground was wet,damp and slippery. I managed the circular route in 40 minutes, pushed along by the pace of another woman runner. She was much fitter and leaner than me.

I need to work on my pace and breathing and warm up exercises. I need to be a plodding and methodical runner. I watched the pace of the professional woman runner, I watched her stretching her legs on the packhorse bridge, I need to do that, it looks right.

Last week running on the moor I heard and saw a Twite, it has a lovely song. I laughed with my friend  as I played a game with the word of Twite replacing it with the word Twat. One should not confuse a Twite with a Twat! How I love naughty words. I keep having to delete spam comments from this blog, some of these spam comments are boring and repetitive,  some are indecent, some are written in Japanese. All such a waste of my time. Is this a waste of my time? Is this just a distraction, or is it helping me to make?

Janine Antoni, Loving Care, Performance, 1993
Janine Antoni, Loving Care, Performance, 1993

Note to self: Make and film performance of me washing the kitchen floor with my hair dipped into a bucket of milk after Janine Antoni, Loving Care, 1993.

Article to read: The Beautiful Trap: Janine Antoni’s Body Art



Snakes, Ladders, Scootering, School Jabs

2.38am (awake since 6.45am up at 7am)

Another day. Its sunny, bright, still cold, but the spring is here.

Lost all sense of time and structure with this project, fitting it in when I can. Syd at home unwell, he would rather I make the chocolate chip buns that I promised him an hour ago rather than write this.

Spent the morning editing the breastfeeding film with my friend. Almost done now, he has done the hard work really not me, its his film as much as it is mine. I floated in the background made coffee and crumpets, suggested this and that. Sort of directed things a little I guess. Its great to collaborate. I am so fortunate to have him helping me, I am not sure I would have managed it without the help.

As we work, I watch the scene from the office window that looks down onto the canal. Joggers, walkers, cyclists, a barge, cider drinkers all pass by. Time passes.

On the way back to the house in the car I notice a stray chicken pecking, I wonder who it belongs to, I think about catching it, but how and where would I put it.

Get home take water to Syd, he hates to be left alone, I hate to leave him home alone for long. I wash up and dry some dishes and then make dinner for us.

Syd has managed to restring his guitar, good that he has managed something. I rep up with the supply of pain killers. I wonder, it must have been the MMR jab he had that has made him feel ill. He said that they had to have it done in the school hall, how public, what a lack of thought for the children’s feelings and emotions to make it so. Syd said that he didn’t mind. It is strange though to offer no intimate space for being injected. I have images of sheep in a cattle market. Our children are not animals. I don’t like to think of them being treated this way, on mass. Its efficient I suppose.


After school, Naoise likes to play for a while. He scooters in the top play ground. He scooters in the lower playground. He scooters around the car park and the park. He scrambles up the muddy bank, swings on a rope tied around a branch. He sits in his friends car, sounds the horn, pretends to drive and eats apples and bananas.


He plays with me, snakes and ladders and more scootering. He asks to go home, I don’t have to beg him, things are better, his behaviour is better, maybe he was unwell, maybe that was why he was stubborn and non-compliant last week. Who knows. Who knows why one day is easy the next a challenge. Its a mystery this parenting lark.


I went to get weighed, I have lost another three pounds, this is good, though I haven’t managed to exercise properly the past three days. Maybe tonight when Syd is at his guitar lesson, I will get a walk in, dream about nothing, walk into nothingness.

A plane crash. A friend knows of a mother and their baby who have died in the crash. It is so sad , so tragic. Its scary to think how life can end so abruptly. I typed my condolences in a message. The words felt like air. I hope she finds a physical hug to comfort her grief.

The buzzer on the oven clock sounds twenty minutes gone, almost time to collect Naoise from school.




Making the film about breastfeeding

1.31pm (up since 6.45am, awake in night at 3am and 4am attending to Syd and Naoise)

Day stated hopeful and sunny, now dull, dismal drizzle.

Had a great morning working editing a film about breastfeeding with my talented kind friend and film maker.  I needed some help, I have to try and complete it this week. I am realising how disorganised and adhoc I am. my friend is being very patient. I think my brain is all over the place. I found a folder with 217 images of breastfeeding in it. Need to sort it out for tomorrow. Its an interesting process collaborating with a film maker, he is so so fast at editing. I can edit but I am as slow as a snail. I get easily distracted, forget the why of the making process.

Think of the title On a mothers watch. Think a mothers observations. Always watching always delighting, always closely watching her children, being constantly amazed, looking closer, seeing something different, something new each day.

We drank a lot of coffee, thats necessary. I dropped him off at the bus stop. I am meant to be organising the images now, not writing this. Life is hectic, thats good, I don’t feel the need to eat my way through it with comfort food. Have been slipping into eating sugar once more, its hard to be totally strict about it, seeing as there is so much of it present. Aisles of chocolate temptations and puddings and gifts of buns.

Watching the images flick through time on the computer screen. Images of me breastfeeding my children. Life flashing by. Cringing at my face and voice on film. I don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera, so I am happy to cover the footage of me with footage of Naoise and Syd. The process of making is good, its my favourite bit, things always change, they never come out as you originally plan, art is not about control, its about allowing the media, the method and the meaning to work together, to decide the passage for you. The unexpected is the art. The art is outside of the self. Art isn’t selfish.

Illustration by Arthur Wragg, The Psalms for Modern Life, 1933
Illustration by Arthur Wragg, The Psalms for Modern Life, 1933

My friend showed me some illustrations by Arthur Wragg, in The Psalms for Modern Life, published by Selwyn & Blunt, London, 1933. I was struck by these beautiful images, how strange and moving they seem. I especially enjoy the image of the naked woman and baby lying beside an open oven door. So odd. It made me think of many things not ordinary things disturbing things a woman alone, suicide, death, concentration camps.

Illustration by Arthur Wragg, The Psalms for Modern Life, 1933

I don’t feel alone of sad or suicidal, I just felt drawn to the picture and what it might represent. I think it is the juxtaposition of the oven, the body of the woman and child in a domestic space. It is strange because women don’t lie naked on kitchen floors with naked babies whilst pans boil. It is strange. The pan is boiling. It is dangerous, it may tip on top of the woman and her child. Perhaps the image is more scary than strange.

Must stop need to go to get weighed at GP’s. I am cheating by not eating lunch till after the visit. I may weigh less on an empty stomach.





Something then nothing Monday

9.25 pm ( been up since 6.30am)

Its been a busy something then nothing of a Monday.

What began as dull and rain became sun and bright and blossom.

Got up, drank water, took vitamins, put on washing machine, did washing up, boiled kettle, drank coffee, ate porridge, got Naoise dressed, dropped Syd at school, came home, folded up clothes on bed, sorted out into piles for each, got Naoise ready for school, coat on, shoes on, scooter to school, walk straight past teaching assistant security guard, talk to C, laugh, cross road, bid lollypop man a good day,jog home, pack car, drive to Krishna’s house, park in new build  close with no pavements for walking only places for cars, drink strong coffee and talk about films, and politics and philosophy and the lyrics of Deacon Blue and making art, Krishna helps me to make a film about breastfeeding, laugh when I discover that page 2 of the script is missing, find a copy via my email, read out script from a tablet,  so grateful to Krishna’s kindness and knowledge, I needed some help, drink more coffee, talk about film, Margaret Thatcher, food banks, think about whether I should volunteer for the food bank, drive Krishna to the bus station, wave goodbye to him, go to the dump to do recycling, drive with filthy hands to the studio, help my friend, do some admin work, talk to studio friends, drink coffee, drive to collect Naoise from school, walk to school to collect Naoise, talk to parent friends whilst waiting for Naoise to come out of the door, stand in upper playground whilst Naoise plays with friend, tell Naoise not to swing his scooter around in the air as he could hit someone and hurt them, walk home, carry Naoise a little, get home, boil rice open tin of tuna, heat up curry, dish out tea, eat food, play a game of pass the red balloon, drop Naoise at his friends, meet Patrick and Syd at his school, meeting with deputy head about options Syd would like to take, teacher refers to me as ‘wife’, I hate it and tell her that I am not a wife, find meeting very unproductive, drop Patrick, Syd and his friend back home, go and collect Naoise from  his friends house, notice the birds singing, the drummers drumming in the church,  drive to Lidls do the shopping, drive home as need to borrow some money from Patrick as cannot afford to buy shopping, drive back to Lidls to buy shopping again, drive home, drink Whiskey, day started off well and ended badly, sat watching  Naoise paint, talk about the film we watched together The girl with the pearl earring, talk about how Vermeer made and mixed his oil paint, Naoise paints a picture of him and his dad standing on yellow, sent Syd to bed, Syd in bed tired and in pyjamas, Naoise says he is not tired even though its late, Patrick puts Naoise to bed whilst I write this.

Had meant to take a photograph, but I haven’t. Had wanted to make film of me washing kitchen floor with hair dipped in milk but I haven’t. Had wanted to draw today, but I haven’t. Talked to Krishna about this project and how it feels as if it is falling apart. Almost three months in now. Not sure why I am writing this. Not sure, having doubts. Ate a chocolate bun. It tasted good. Get weighed tomorrow, probably no weight loss even though I have been doing tons of exercise, I have been drinking too much  red wine and sticky toffee pudding with cream! Maybe I have gained some muscle at least. Bum feels sore from cycling yesterday. Cannot keep up with Syd he cycles so fast.

Why am I writing this when I could be kissing the children goodnight, wishing them love and sweet passage in their dreams. Why? IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE ART AND RAISE CHILDREN ? ARE THE TWO COMPATIBLE?

Annoyed. Annoyed. Annoyed. Can’t say why. Nothing to do with home life. Had enough of people trying to put a stop to me being creative.

Naoise running down stairs, asking if he can eat marshmallows, I say NO. He is telling me he is going to eat marshmallows and he will not brush his teeth again. Then your teeth will rot. What What. No rot rot.

Enough I need to get Naoise to bed its nearly 10pm.

Sunday & Shakira

7.50am (awake since 6.45am)

Got up to help Naoise have a shower, he is now back in bed cuddling his dad. Washing machine is on chugging away, a gentle comforting sound. I enjoy hearing the weight of the clothes brushing the sides of the metal drum and the churning of the water.

Its a beautiful morning , bright and sunny, I want to be out in it. I am going to walk out in it as soon as this is done. We need a loaf of bread and some eggs from the local shop. Syds friend slept over, they are already awake, watching a programme together in bed.


Its all too early, I had imagined a long lie peaceful, rejuvenating lie in, no such luck. Once awake, I am AWAKE. I should have known better than to ask Patrick to wake up and take care of Naoise in the bathroom, big mistake, this just led to an argument. A boring argument about the same old same old. I cannot really go into the specific details that would only set fuel to the fire, though I would like to write about it, I cannot, it would be a betrayal. I would only cause more problems for myself. It is simply not worth it.

Children are simple, straight forward, my love for them carries no disappointment, resentment or hurt. Keeping a relationship going whilst raising children is close to impossible. I don’t think I have ever successfully mastered that. I am a failure in the relationship department. An utter failure.

I am happy to acknowledge my failure. I think that this project is failing at this moment, I am censoring myself and what I say. If these were words written in a book, perhaps I would write the truth. Maybe that is what I need to do, just write words for me, keep secrets, work them through alone, so I can at least speak freely.


I feel so hemmed in, caged and without personal space. I need to tidy and clean the house I am sick of the mess and the clutter and the domestic devastation. Its strange that I feel caged, as I was lucky enough to go out with my friends last night, just in Todmorden, but that is still out, that is still time away from family, care work and house work. It was fun, we talked and laughed we shared words, wisdom and affection, we women put the world to rights.

In The Polished Knob, there were curly perms, flowery male shirts not tucked in, middle aged couples snogging, a crush of people at the bar, a selection of dips available for 30p each, and a band playing The Cure and Crowded House and other tracks of cringe and nostalgia.

At the end of the night, I admitted to liking Shakira; too many ciders talking or the truth? Well I have to say since looking up the selection of available Shakira videos available to view, wow I love her even more, so much choice. I’d love to dance on a pavement in a golden bikini, roller skate through a hot city, jump in a fountain, undress on the street or stare at the moon, pant, be a she wolf gyrating in a golden cage. I’d love to move like her, be able to sing spanish, have a body like her, she is amazing.

The Poet and the Princess, The Guardian, by Gabriel García Márquez, 8th June 2002

The buzzer on the oven is beeping, twenty minutes of time gone.

Mum’s Visit

7.35am (awake since 6.45am up since 7am)

Syd’s alarm woke me, I had planned to lie in until 8am. Mum is upstairs, she stayed overnight. I like having my mum around, she brings with her a peaceful calm, dishes magically get washed and the children play happily.

What is there to say the day after an eclipse. The sky is mainly dull, some blue fighting between. Its still cold, I wish it were warmer. I have noticed that the blossom is beginning to come out. Spring seems so slow, not at all springy. The road is busy, the cars travel much faster than the suggested thirty miles per hour. Its so dangerous. The butcher of Todmorden got killed this week. He was killed by two young joy riders. His brother has kept the shop open all week and flowers are tied to the metal railings near the pedestrian crossing where he fell. So sad, such a tragedy.

Mum is up, I made her a coffee, she hasn’t slept, she says that when you get old you don’t sleep. I don’t look forward to getting old. Its hard to concentrate on writing this, although she is being very respectful and quiet and not interrupting me, she is here rummaging in her handbag, puffing up pillows, shuffling about. Ah now she is reading, much better, less fidgeting. I wonder what it is she is reading, she has always read ferociously. Sipping her coffee. I top up mine its luke warm, I like mine hot.

Mum asks me if I am writing a book, I tell her that its a blog….

Mum: A bog?

Me: No a blog, its an online diary.

Mum: Oh

I tell her that maybe one day it might become a book.

I am tired because I drank too much red wine last night. I am also tired because Patrick woke me up as he stumbled drunk up the stairs, more heard of elephants than light footed fairy.

I am pinching myself because I also ate chocolate biscuits and fattening curry and walnuts and sticky toffee pudding. I just lost it, lost all control, I greedily ate. I have been weighing myself everyday since buying the cheap scales from Lidls. I am not sure if this is a good or bad idea. I want to monitor my progress, see how I shift the weight, or put it on, but maybe it will just make me obsessive. I have never kept scales in the house. Its good though, its a positive move. I am trying to make my self well, make myself strong, loose weight so that I can move with ease and wear the clothes that I would like to. I still have my size 12 wardrobe under the bed, folded away in a blue suitcase. After I had Syd I was a size 12, where did it all fall apart ? I just lost touch with me and my body, and now I am reclaiming me because life flies by, you have to catch it.

Under the bed there are rolls of canvas, oil paintings on canvas gathering dust and ruining. I want to paint again. I will get there. I made some drawings this week, just a few tentative marks but least I began. The writing seems to have taken over, that wasn’t my intention, I had wanted to make art and to write. Drawing, marks, words, not just words. Words alone do not satisfy me.

Mum turns the page of her book. The sky is now all grey, no blue at all.

Naoise had wanted to join beavers so he could run around with his friends on a friday evening, sadly we he was disappointed as all the places had been taken. Sadly they were full. He will have to wait. Three other children were also turned away, all friends form his school, so we played a while on the waste land in the centre of the town.

The children found burnt sticks and pretended to be warriors. I fought them, I moaned and groaned and pretended to die, and was resurrected many times only to die again. Naoise didn’t seem interested in the fight, instead he drew with the burnt stick on the rock, he made beautiful marks. I wished that I had taken a picture, maybe I will manage today if the charcoal is still there that is. Perhaps the morning dew washed it away.

The buzzer beeps. Mum is wondering why the buzzer is sounding. I tell her that it is the oven buzzer sounding that is used to mark out the passing of thirty minutes time. The thirty minutes that I gave myself to write this. She is now amused and is giggling.






12am ( been awake since 6.45am up at 7am)

I took the children to see The Astronomy Centre last night. I have never been so in awe of a place. I have never been so in awe of the beauty of our skies. I saw Jupiter with its moons and bands of clouds. I saw Betelgeuse a red supergiant exploding star. I saw the blur of comet Love Joy . Naoise stood on top of little step ladders to gaze into the telescopes and outside he spotted Orion’s Belt . We gazed at Venus.

Syd seemed to enjoy it.

When we got home, Naoise drew stars and planets in henna on my arm, some of it smudged but I don’t care, I love his drawings. I love them enough to mark them in temporary tattoos on my skin. I drew a little man with punk hair on his arm, he smiled.

We slept and dreamt of exploding starts and planets and speeding comets.

Cloudy day. No ordinary cloudy day. I have never felt so excited. A solar eclipse. Wow. Never has a school run gone so smoothly, nothing like an event of  magnitude to get my family up in the morning.

At the breakfast table, Naoise drew the moon heading towards the sun, Syd drank tea in a very dangerous way and I nagged him not to. Patrick couldn’t find Naoise toothbrush even though it had been placed where he had left it. Naoise went to school with hand full’s of  fossils and drawings and a certificate from The Astronomy centre. We arrived in his classroom and his teacher had the live television feed of the eclipse projected onto the white board.

I drove up with my two beautiful women friends to the Astronomy Centre. We stood on the moor with about fifty other people, young, old, in-between and babies strapped close to mothers chests. So exciting. I bought my colander to try out the shadow trick, but there were more clouds than sunbeams so I left it on the back seat of the car. Shame there is not enough light, I love the idea of the moon and the sun captured in a kitchen colander.

We stood in the cold and watched the clouds filter the eclipse so we could see it without staring through the dark safety of glasses. The clouds hung heavy, silent, tinged orange, it became a little darker. I will never ever see a total eclipse again, when I am an old woman I will remember this day on the moor with great joy. There is so much beauty in humanity, we need to be kinder to our earth and each other. Seventy years from now, I hope that my children will look out into the skies as old men  and breath the love I felt today, and I hope too that they feel as connected as I do to our forebears, those from the beginning of time who also looked out in awe at the heavens above. ( Maybe too cheesy, oh well its an Eclipse, cliches are ok if used sparingly) 


Mum is coming over today its been three weeks since I have seen her. I am wondering whether she would like to visit the bearded astronomy men and their telescopes too, we could go again tonight.

Its been a stressful week, I am on a roller coaster of teenage angst with Syd, I would like to get off but I know that this is not possible, we need to grow together, up and down. We fought about nothing and everything and apologised afterwards. We fought about a misunderstanding. I think I need to chill out. I need to read that parenting book on teenagers. I need a text book, its becoming too complicated. I need to learn.

I saw a family of squirrels disappearing into the hole of a tree.

Its been a stressful week, I am on a turn table of testosterone and non-compliance with Naoise, I would like to get off but I know that this is not possible, we need to grow together, even though it feels like we are going around in circles. He is not listening to instructions, he keeps running off from me at the end of the school day. He keeps running off into the muddy banks of trees and bushes above the playground. He likes to live wild with a stick, but I am bored of standing on the cold of tarmac and pleading him to come home. I think I need to chill out. I need to take a book to read and a flask of coffee to drink. Find a bench to wait on.

I saw a flock of crows in a field of sheep, picking at the ground.