Tag Archives: women

The Creative Industries

I embroidered some leaves.

It’s Autumn, after all. I know that because I’ve got an Arran sweater on and tights and my fingers are slightly cold even though I’m indoors and the air smells of damp and fungus and sweet marshmallow woodsmoke and there are elderberries in a pot in the kitchen waiting to be cooked into jelly. I left them overnight so that any livestock could escape: a very small snail with a shell as pink and as delicate as a baby’s fingernail and a spider abseiling off the work top.

embroidery: leafembroidery: leaf

I was in Manchester recently, sitting nursing a coffee in the Craft and Design Centre, scribbling a few things including snatches of conversations. Four women with presence: neat, A-line skirted, girdled, hair done, nail polished in a pale pink way, big semi-detached, plenty of spare cash for jollies, forthright. A priceless snippet…..

Coiffed No. 1: “She’s got the biggest wardrobe ever: it’s called the floor and the

things she wears. I wouldn’t go out with her it was that bad.”

Coiffed No. 2: “But she still has to get to work, I mean, get from the station or

bus or whatever dressed like that. In public.”

Coiffed No.1: “It’s the Creative Industries she’s in. They’re all like it.”

A pause for cake.

Coiffed No.1: “Why do you wear beige? It’s old. It makes your skin look beige.”

Coiffed No. 3: “It is! And it’s not beige…it’s fawn!”


I had another coffee just so I could stay and listen….and then this which just made me roar inwardly:


Coiffed No. 1: “His wife died.”

Coiffed No. 2: “Oh!”

A mouthful of coffee.

Coiffed No. 1: “His THIRD wife.”

Coiffed No. 2: “Oh! Really! Three?”

Coiffed No. 3: “He’s a multi-faceted chap is Don. Solicitor. Takes his dog to work with him.”


I’ll leave it there…..




Filed under embroidery, sewing, writing


Back to Italy for inspiration…three for the price of one!

Part 1

In my head I am you.

Just for a moment.

I see you in the garden under the olive trees

reach your small boned fingers for your coffee, for your book.

I see your fine brown arms that still go in, not out

and your small breasts that need nothing to hold them up.

I see your thin linen nightdress the colour of rain,

your hip bones making its only shape

and your fox-red hair,


Your body is cool.

There is room for air.

Your limbs are not grappled by small hot hands,

child hands sticky with sweat and dirt

but free and slicked with the milk green scent of figs.

I see you look to the window where he is,

standing naked, looking.

Part 2

I know you’re watching me,

here under the olive trees

next to the poisonous oleander whose glaucous leaves

needle my skin and

I’m watching you back.

And thinking how well your family is,

how I’d like your breadth and ease

and your wide outstretched arms always for those children.

I see their sunbleached heads hot in the crook of your neck

and you smiling sure of how much you’re loved.

He looks at me through the window and

I’m here for now, reflected back.

But his eyes will dull and move inwards and

I won’t come here again.

So, I drink my coffee

here in the garden

in this expensive sheath of barely-there linen,

wrapped like a gift.

And I smile and breathe in the morning’s warmth

and know it will stop.

 Part 3

I sit here in the heat

on the edge of the pool

dipping my feet into the Hockney glint.

I’ve bobbed my hair again,

silver now,

not a dark Sassoon cap

and my body is a part of the landscape

brown folded, furrowed like the fields behind me.

I like my comfortable middle

the soft-flaked ripples and the ledge where my hands rest.

I’m no longer responsible for it

for I am old and this is what happens.

I see that one,

sun-salted children squeezed into her in the shade

twisting her hair into plaits

dripping pool water onto her hot legs



I see her long for freedom.

I see it in her dive.

That rush of nothing,

that rush of minute suspension

again and again coming back

to stretch her arms and plunge

a perfect taut arc

wanting those moments to join into a whole.

And the other one,

the translucent one sunning her careful pale body

cocooned in anxiousness,

aware of every glance but wanting none but his.

My body is not desirable,

not rounded nor svelte

and all I crave is cool pool water

lapping my legs.

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Filed under poems, poetry, writing


This is for Sally.

And for all women plagued by middle-aged bristly chins.

Not mine. Mine’s been zapped by a lovely lady with a laser gun. Could handle the hot sting like tight elastic bands being flicked but it was the sulphuric whiff that really made my eyes roll.

Smooth as the proverbial baby’s……




flick bit scrat scrat flick pick

trying between fingernails to get a grip

no tweezers

on the tube

they can’t hear it,

the addicted insect click

can they?


give up


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Filed under oddbods, poems, poetry