There were pots of tete-a-tete daffodils in the supermarket. I wanted them. I wanted their yellow. Not yet, I thought, not yet.
Pier Pressure had opened for Boxing Day night. Disparate bodies sat eating pizza from large open-lidded boxes on the benches nearby. A police car crawled by. Outside the station two long-legged bambi-girls hang round each other’s necks, their long hair entangled in arms. One of them is shouting. I can’t see at whom. She is aiming her shouts at the passageway between the Vale of Rheidol and Lord Beechings. A languorous beauty, her voice is sharp and insistent. You having a wank? she screeches. You having a wank? Silence. Then she begins again. This time the sound is more like a wining child. Where’s the taxis? she asks her friend. Where have all the taxis gone? she wails. I need a taxi.
I see his shadow first. He is standing on the corner of Bridge Street and Mill Street. There is always a frisson of fear at that time of the night. Always. A young man with a tie awry over his checked shirt. He is standing under a streetlight looking at his phone. Good evening, he says, looking up at me. You alright? Fine, thank you, I replied, and you? Nice. A nice voice. Nothing to fear there. Nothing.
I step over a tomato ketchup sachet that had burst its contents onto the pavement. Red.
I tried. He didn’t want to be forced. It wasn’t right to do so. He isn’t some kind of performing seal. I tried to be sanguine. Perhaps it isn’t right anyway. Let’s reason it through. I’d thought about including a child’s voice reading the alphabet as symbolic of learning to articulate, to read, to ‘learn one’s letters’. That was before. That was when I thought it was to be connected to sampler making. Those first forays into literacy for young girls. And I liked the idea of hearing a young voice grappling with the alphabet. And yet, it suddenly didn’t seem right. What was I trying to create? Is it really about children, childhood, those first encounters with language? Then I got K to read Rumpelstiltskin. The beginning bit where the miller brags to the king that his daughter can spin gold from straw. She has a lovely voice, warm and rich. Motherly. It’s what I thought I wanted. But after recording it again it didn’t seem right. The performance needs to be tight. It is too easy to err towards the mawkish. I want to include that tale and The Six Swans too but more because of their influence on my practice and my own personal mythology than from any childhood nostalgia. It is always about getting back to the nub of it. She read it well but there was too much music, too much lyricism in her delivery. I wanted something flatter, droning. The tales create the context for me. They always have. They are about work, impossible tasks, being good, acquiescent. They are about women’s and girl’s domestic tasks turned magical. I need to do the readings. It needs to be my voice. This is a very internal experience, more that I’d determined it would be. Can this still be of use? Can it entertain? The two tales and a whispering of words, perhaps a short repeated phrase about the tension between art and craft from Rosika Parker’s Subversive Stitch and then a short sentence from Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude about writing read by him. I need his voice in there too. It is right that it is there. Rumpelstiltskin representing the dungeon, the locked room, the oubliette and The Six Swans representing the industry done in silence. I am fearful that this an utter indulgence. Yet I need to do it. How often I write the word need. I need to act this out. To get to where I need to get. Things come through. Ideas, pure and lovely in their yet un-heaviness. This is about my practice. We talked of it as we walked. An acting out of the tensions. This is what I do, these are the inner restraints made manifest by corset and crinoline, the silence, the intricacy and impossibility of the task. Am I good enough? My struggles with my innate domesticity. The inner world laid bare. Will it read? How much do I tell?
I take up my needle and write……