Red Flyer

A few decades ago, as a very young and single mother, I would occasionally  have panics about how to keep my three young children safe in an emergency; who I would carry, what I would carry. That was even before I read Yael Dayan’s Death Had Two Sons or watched Sophie’s Choice  It took me ages to get rid of the pushchair, just in case I needed something to carry children and household goods to flee a burning city. When the children no longer needed pushchairs I bought them a Red Flyer Wagon, and now I wonder whether it was for them or for me. I maybe watched too many war films as a child showed footage of people carrying their lives on prams as they walked forever.

Living in England, in the 20th Century, those were just bad dreams that I never had to live. Today on the television I watch thousands of people living that nightmare, landing on islands soaked to the skin, then travelling for weeks as this weather turns ever more wintry, stuck with no shelter at borders unable to travel to safety, while our government helpfully bombs all their neighbours who could not afford to escape. This photo from Humans of the Refuge struck me today, with that memory of how scared I felt to be responsible for my children, even in a place not at war, with just about enough money to feed and clothe them, if only that. I look at the expressions on the faces of the parents as they try to keep their children safe on such awful, awful journies, and me stomach turns over with thankfulness that my nightmare has not come true. But this morning I lay in my warm dry bed, wondering whether I knew where all our important documents are, and phone chargers, and emergency blankets, and medication and first aid kit, and waterproofs, and walking boots. And what about our photographs, our family histories in albums and boxes that we would not be able to take with us. And I must stop this mental inventory of the contents of our house, and whether to discuss an emergency plan. In the event of anything we rendezvous at the house, or the nearest standing building…

When we are children we believe that we will no longer be powerless once we reach eighteen, once we attain adulthood. Today I sit in my dry, warm, house in England, about to cook food, feeling powerless.

I still have the red flyer wagon in the garage, just in case.



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Daydreaming again

The other day I read some press releases via twitter about this Writers Lab for women, funded by the divine Meryl Streep, with such excitement; thinking, I’m well over 40, I can abandon the family in September 2015, I can write scripts (just need someone to show me when to stop and how to edit…) then came to my senses and accepted that I do not have a properly edited and polished draft of any of the film-length scripts I have ever scribbled… but I could spend some time on an existing one now and send it in, and ooh! wouldn’t that be wonderful…

Then I read the small print and deflated almost as quickly as I had got excited, when I realised that not only would the competition for a place be intense, you also have to be a US citizen to be eligible to apply. For just a moment I wondered how to go about becoming a US citizen even though I live in the UK, as it would be worth it just to be able to meet and listen to that list of mentors for the workshops:

Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Personal Velocity), Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, Ten Things I Hate About You), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights), Lydia Dean-Pilcher (The Lunchbox, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) will be serving as mentors, pending scheduling. Mentors advise in one-on-one meetings with additional events to inspire artists to hone their creative vision.

Am now day-dreaming about what it would be like to attend such a thing, and have bought a pencil-sharpener. Honing my creative vision after I’ve cleaned the kitchen.


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Frozen breath

Defrosting; carrying slabs of ice from a freezer to the sink, where they stand stacked like flat icebergs slowly melting, and I wonder whose breath is captured here and frozen, from everytime we leant in to find chips and ice-cream and random bags of unlabelled stews which turned out to not be beetroot or curry but rhubarb. So a giant crumble sits in the oven and I wonder who passed through our house and breathed into our freezer.

Ice breath

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Angela Carter breathed fire into my soul

Sitting here on International Women’s Day, 2015, wondering which woman to nominate as an inspiration or great influence on me, and realising that there are far too many to mention. In my life I’ve had the good fortune to meet all sorts of amazing women; the strong matriarchs in my family, other mothers at toddler group in the 80s who I now see active in all sorts of interesting places, my friends and their humour and strength when faced with the battles of everyday life, and my three amazing daughters who are so strong and so talented. I thank all of them for being there.
In terms of publicly known women I would have to nominate all the authors who I read avidly as soon as I understood what those scrawls were on the printed page; from Frances Hodgson Burnett to Joan Aiken to Hester Burton to KM Peyton to Ursula Le Guin and oh so many others, with their wonderfully brave heroines who I so desperately wanted to be. And then, Angela Carter, who I read in 1979 as a young mother in my late teens, and who made me feel that I was not mad or bad but just not acquiescent, and that there were people out there who thought it was ok for women to think dark thoughts and take action to break through the stereotypical ways that women were meant to behave. She was a great antidote to the other depressing books I read in my early teens about “Girls In Their Married Bliss” and living in L-shaped Rooms. Angela Carter breathed fire into my soul.

Then there are the political women, so many young fiery and feisty bloggers that I enjoy following on twitter, especially those with a sense of humour. It was Caitlin Moran who made me feel that it was ok to publicly call myself a feminist again, with her wit and enthusiasm for life. I’ve just been reading a blog post which mentioned Louise Michel, aka The Red Virgin, that I came across while reading all the tweets for #IWD2015. I have her autobiography somewhere on my shelves. It was bought for me by an ex-partner who (I think) was trying to be sarcastic, and I found it fascinating. One thing that the blogpost says about her is:

“she simply regarded men’s and women’s rights as equal and acted accordingly”

I think that sums up the sort of women I like to hang out with.


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Wings of glass rod feathers

Wings made of glass rod feathers

from an exhibition of contemporary Chinese ceramics and glasswork at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

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This is the doll

costume doll

that my father bought me when I was very small. He was a teacher accompanying Surrey schoolchildren on a cruise around the mediterranean and visited “the Holy Land”. He made the trip twice, each time he bought me a doll – this one is from the first trip. He also brought back an Ali Baba linen basket – I can still remember the smell of the rushes – and a leather pouffe.

She is battered and moth-eaten and her skirts are no longer stiff enough for her to stand up, but she still has beautiful hands. I keep her in a box to keep the moths at bay, and she leans against it, looking towards the window.




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In the footsteps of giants

I’ve just got back from spending five days in the company of a lovely bunch of fellow writers. I’m exhausted! I was lucky enough to get on to a course at Arvon in Hebden Bridge on writing for games, run by David Varela and Jon Ingold.

Amazing place – once lived in by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (and yes I did make the pilgrimage to her grave nearby) and now a house full of photo portraits of all the writers who have tutored the residential courses.

What a week!

I’ve come home with a head full of ideas and under strict instruction to not be hesitant about calling ourselves writers.

So. I write, therefore I am a writer.


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Reverent Actions Book

I just got back from three days of intense book development in Newcastle, working on the creation of a tangible object that captures the output from the Reverent Actions (action)research project. We inhabited a small room at the Newcastle Arts Centre, a group of people who have been involved over the past couple of years (is it that long?!) coming together again to shape our discussions into something shareable. We think we have cracked it, with some very helpful input from Andrew Wilson . It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes on something you have been immersed in for a while.



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A new year & new projects. 2014.

Well here we are in 2014 and we are all busy getting on with different projects.

Emily is working with Sunshine on the exciting Skype Collaboration Project and has just got back from NY Fashion Week and plunged into London Fashion Week.

Harriet is organising various events and festivals around London/Southbank, working on LOCO and BFI Future Film, as well as trying to find time to explore her own filmmaking and creative work.

Constance is working on various writing projects and her most recent creative foray was at the Global Game Jam at Bristol Games Hub, where she worked on a slightly gruesome AR iPhone game with Ben Trewhella from Opposable Games. She is also still involved in Reverent Actions (the AHRC-funded connected communities funded project) which is currently developing a final publication for sharing.


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What Happens After The Ball?

featherhouse were once again invited to show work for Decima in an exhibition, this time in London at a temporary pop-up gallery in collaboration with Jackie Clarke and Nomad Galleries – What Happens After The Ball?

Adapting the photo collage technique used for the Britain’s Rubbish exhibition, featherhouse again allowed romantic fictional characters to invade well known tourist spots. This time in giant form, and in Picadilly, spreading the big love at the nation’s dazzlingly colourful home of Eros and er, Coca-cola….

The A3 print outs were positioned near the thermostat in the gallery… sizzling!

after the ball

Nomad Galleries, Jackie Clark & Decima present

An art show not to be missed nor sniffed at

W H A T?H A P P E N S?A F T E R?T H E?B A L L ?

Adam Dant + Stephen Gill + Mark McGowan + James Hopkins + Vicki Gold & Alex Fear + Simon Ould + Brian Morrissey + Eleanor Lindsay Fynn + Mark McGowan + Joy Collie + Ingrid Z + Piers Wardle + Jackie Clark + Laura Oldfield-Ford + Louise Camrass + Micalef + Richard Niman + Gilbert & George + David C West + Derrick Welsh + Alex Chappel + Angelica Fernando + Byron Pritchard + Dr. Adolf Steg + Emma Andrews + Emma Forsberg + Featherhouse + Francis Farmer + Geoff Hautman + Geraldine Cox + Geraldine Ryan + Harriet Fleuriot + Ian Wright + Jackson D Ferguson + Jenny Gordon + Josephine Ada Chinonye Chime + Julesy P + Katarina Forss + Kate Ketchup + Larry McGinity + Louise Loudoun + Mark Reeves + Mel Simone Elliot + Natasha Morland + Oliver Dungey + Richard Starbuck + Rob Sargent + Rudi, Count Phalle + Takayuki Hara + Tom McDougall + Rose Mouton

Dress for after the ball.

We cannot emphasise enough, this event is strictly INVITE ONLY. To gain entry you MUST rsvp here as “coming” or go to and follow the links. This is a legal requirement of the venue so there will be no exceptions, sorry. Get on the guest list.

What happens after the ball??That’s what I want to know.?In the one step they all hold you so near?and whisper things that a girl shouldn’t hear.

But in the two step?They have a new step?that isn’t in the dance at all.

And when the band began you’d have a surprise.?You could tell their thoughts by the look in their eyes?If that’s what they do when they’re dancing…?What happens after the ball?

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