A Yorkshire-Kind-of-Loving

I’ve been listening to some John Godber plays while working. Two-parters, they’ve all been acted by himself and his wife, Jane. Man and wife dramas set against the miners strike, Northern poverty and the onset of old age and infirmity. He writes about a Yorkshire-kind-of-loving, undemonstrative, monosyllabic, tacit, cold and bitter. And yet, it is not. It is there the warmth, the care, the intimacy. It is there but taken for granted. He shows this in each and every one. I could kill ya, she says over and over again. You don’t mean it, he says. I do, she says. I do. Boredom, poverty of both purse and ambition, family, roots and fear hold them fast.Together. Always. All that bickering. It rises and falls. Neither take it seriously. It’s just a flash then it is gone. It’s how they communicate. A loving. A Yorkshire-kind-of-loving.

Fantastic. I am hooked. I knew of him while at Wimbledon. His Hull Truck Theatre Company. I was too intimidated by its rawness. I couldn’t engage with it. I couldn’t find my way in. I can now and I’m hooked. Then I go upstairs to do yoga and there’s a Dave Sheasby play on. I’d heard it before. Keeping Anne-Marie, about a woman who’d agreed to be a surrogate mother, took the money, but reneged on her promise once the baby was born. She goes to a solicitor to get help. A rough-and-ready Northern lass, hardened by life, all sharp edges she still manages to get under his skin and the judge’s and the case is won. (The judge quotes a fairy tale where fighting mothers who both claim to be a child’s biological mother are told to cut the child in two and each to take half. I vaguely remember the tale but cannot remember the result. Does the real mother concede?)

Some days I am made abundant by literature. And then there is David Sedaris. A new series, what joy. I took the iPad back into him afterwards so that he could listen too. Our humour is not always parallel but I wanted him to laugh too. And he did. He did.

I need to sew, particularly now. I’m unsteadied by this newness, this trying to recover. All the old habits rise to the surface like scum. The trying to be good, to get that gold star, that pat on the head. Then what? I can be at peace? That constant seeking of approval. Ugh. And yet, I didn’t do my usual thing. I wasn’t chatty, I actually felt reticent, shy. I wanted to sit in silence. So much resistance. And the sleeping. It’s frustrating, and embarrassing, particularly the snoring. Ah. But I’m beginning to be able to pull myself back. I’m just tired. Always tired. Dog-tired. Too much thinking. Too much.

So sewing is good. I calms me. It is simple, rhythmic, constant. I have something to follow. A pattern, a guideline. The tracks are set. With the rest of my practice it isn’t so. That I have to make up as I go along. And with my work, my paid work, well who knows when it comes.

I sew to be still. It is enough, that.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.