Thursday, October 05, 2006


I'd envisaged writing daily but somehow I don't think that will be...
Two contrasting CHester LitFest events the past evenings:I've been sitting at the door collecting tickets. I'll write about one of the evenings now.

On Tuesday the poet UA Fanthorpe came to the University, along with her partner, Rosie Bailey. It was a superb session;UA writes her poetry and Rosie reads some of it ( "performs" it, in fact) in a voice that resonates, has its own special timbre..
The poetry is moving, yet there's humour, and amazing observations about people/life in her "extrovert dog of a father ...ragtime blazerand swimming a swiss roll under his arm" and her mother"who couldn't quite relax into the joke", who was " best at friendships with chars...or very far-off foreigners" and who had stategies "for making happiness keep its distance"... .
Together the two women painted pictures, evoked memories, made us wistful, made us smile. And their pauses...their quietnessbetween poems was wonderful; a companionable, womanly silence.

One of UA's pieces described the now almost extinct experience of WASHING UP. Weird, because I've recently decided that dishwashers have a lot to answer for.
As a child, I spent countless Sunday afternoons, Easter afternoons, Christmas Day afternoons, hiding in the kitchen (under the table usually) while my mother and my aunts washed up; their conversation was always nothing less than riveting! I learned more family history in those sessions than was probably good for me...Now we merely stack ( probably " throw" ) stuff in the dishwasher, and the chat amongst the soapsuds and Irish linen tea towels, the gossip over the carcass, the juicy gasps over the trifle, are gone into the dishwasherfor ever, along with the gravy, the Birds custard( "startling" yellow, my mother called it) and the sherry ( what else?) glasses.
The very 1st story I wrote( on starting Gladys Mary Coles writing classes several years ago ) was based on all this...I think it started with a few images, like my mother's blue flowered tea cups ( Bells china; I have them now! ) bobbing up and down in a bowl of soapy water, the memory of one aunt who was " difficult",another who told mouthwatering tales of her wartime lover ...Family stuff so often produces the best stimulus for a spot of Creative Writing!
Think I'll revisit this story one day soon!!


Anonymous clare said...

Very true...about the washing up I mean. There are a lot of little chores that I enjoyed as a child (I realise now, though perhaps didn't then) that gave such an opportunity for talking. Labour-saving devices do tend to isolate. They give us more time to retreat to our own world. In some ways this is good, but we are losing something in the process, as you say.

1:58 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

And while the women fussed about in the kitchen, the men put their feet up, smoked and drank whisky.. My cousin Philippa remembers my mother putting a pyrex dish on a hot plate on her cooker; this was a silly mistake ..Philippa says it exploded ( the dish, not the cooker) and our ancient Lakeland terrier, a blind golden creature called Flash ( who in its hey day had won 4th prize out of 4 contestants at The Cheshire Show) disappeared out of the door and was lost for the rest of Christmas...

8:10 pm  
Anonymous marly said...

I've gone back to the beginning biw. And isn't it interesting to see where your life intersects with Clare's? I remember her post about this interesting pair.

As for mothers and aunts and "washing up": there's more reason to think that progress is over-rated!

5:55 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks for your interest!
Yes I know Clare well; I met her about 10 years ago at a writing class near where we both live.
It was Clare who encouraged me to start blogging. Of cpurse you'll have realised y!

7:43 am  

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