When I’m sewing in my studio I listen to the radio through my laptop. I begin by choosing what I want to hear and then when that is done sometimes I just leave it to its own devices and something will appear, unannounced, unselected, like shuffle on my ipod. A play about a mother and daughter came on. I recognised the voice of the actress who played the mother, though I cannot recall her name. A rich, dulcet voice, was it Claire Bloom? She was telling her daughter of her life, in the way that my mother never did. She is dying. She talks of men from her past. He didn’t make old bones, she said of one. I’ve heard the saying before but it stayed with me this time. Mulling, rolling around in my head and mouth. Gorgeous. And then she talked of being locked up in a mental institution in Italy and how that had informed her later choices – the stultifying safety of her marriage and the strict, close way she reared her daughter. Who, even now, bristles with resentment. I didn’t want to succumb to the chaos, said the mother.
Matisse drew six hours a day, very day. This is according to Irma Kurtz who hosted the programme I listened to a few days ago about Matisse’s relationship with poetry. He practised like a musician would practice, said Kurtz. I’ve never thought of it that way. Of course.
The costume arrived in a big box that had been left on our doorstep. It seems to be the right one. It made me feel sick. It’s going to happen. Am I being completely ridiculous? I shall try it on in a bit, just to be sure. The next problem to solve will be how to carry it on the train. The tapestry is in readiness.
The starlings have just flown overhead. Like clockwork, every morning. When you walk under them you hear the whoosh as they dive and swirl, a mass of flutterings.
I’m making it unsafe. The sewing is unsafe when I perform it. There is something about getting myself out there. Being amongst the public. Anything could happen. Is that what this is about?
A wet gusty morning. No one was about, just a lad in a coat with its collar turned up against the rain. I go out in two layers of waterproofs. Snug, I don’t mind the rain on my face. And the air is so fresh, so clean, so alive. The canvas shoes were still there, though I think someone had moved them a tad. And a tiny yacht, Alfred Wallis style, has been added to the mural.
They’re airing a series of programmes about cakes. Cakes that are specific to a town or area. Today it was Pontefract cakes. The presenter has a warm, comfortable Northern accent, Lancashire perhaps. There were visits to factories and interviews with ex-workers and makers of the confectionery. She ended the programme by presenting an ex-maker with a box of the said cakes – an elderly lady who’d clearly now moved away from Yorkshire. So what do ya think of them, asked the presenter, do they remind you of that time? Not much, replied the woman still chewing. Silence. I never liked them, she said.