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The last five. Spring Show of new work June 19 #ConversationPieces – by me. Sign up to my newsletter for more info and previews/ first dibs

…and the first twelve:  Insta reel 2 this morning

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Enter the exit again

1200 kilometres and one bottle of all-night-long scotch later, a 10-man reggae band called The Human Rights comes to my house and after partying euphoric until almost daylight, drapes its multi-limbs over every available surface and falls asleep, still humming.

Sometimes you just need a good shock to the system.  This makes it possible to change, says the Russian Martial Arts Master.

Thanks Scott.  You were right - this is better.
It’s working.  (Thanks Scott. You were right – this is better)

Old and dear friends carry pieces of you and keep them safe.  There have been two such in my life recently, for whom I have done the same.  We exchanged old letters, things kept now returned.  They returned to me many of my adult selves who’d been misrepresented in my memory- all of those selves are here in my studio now, chatting, getting acquainted.  They are interesting, these new-old bits of me.  But it has been a shock, to welcome them in.

So- a poem about shock.

open your heart

indeed it has been laid bare

all veils lifted even the final bullet

proof glass pulled aside

which cannot happen ever

without the key

From "The Lost Language of Symbolism" by Harold Bayley (Citadel Press- a reprint from early 20th century work by the Scots scholar of language and symbolism)
From “The Lost Language of Symbolism” by Harold Bayley (Citadel Press- a reprint from early 20th century work by the Scots scholar of language and symbolism)

The key of E minor hidden inside G major

the one-note key, long and blue

the uncomfortable incendiary note buried

but still glowing in the back of the closed

the forgotten closet, decades dark.

Damn it, you found me.  You Bastard.

After all that work of building callous

practising the fine art of dismissal

my bespoke suit made from

the most expensive nonchalance,

so that I, I ‘present’ well.

inside a steel-ribbed corset

that keeps me standing upright

in my self-respect.

Oh yes:  I own and appreciate my rigid.

 Bridge to Waterloo

Now, so now

Now there is a chorus of my wide open

hearts all singing discord

in the room, all tone-clustered

each note waiting for the next

private interview with bespoke me.

I have the gift you brought and left,

the small thing I know now

the incidental thing you returned to me

– that I have always had beauty.


It is a comfort, amid the ghostly caterwaul.

Open-hearted, I listen to the large issues

while the newly returned senses of my Beauty hear

the whispered question:

did you keep the key?

For both K and F, who recently reappeared out of thirty years ago, and M, who will at the end of the month.

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Unbelievably, I am reunited with my oldest love, after fourteen years.


I was fifteen and vague with deep introversion when we came together.  I had no real tools other than my ears and a fierce invisible longing that Named Me, so I struggled as if blindfolded.  I didn’t know how to properly approach the impossible,  let alone get through it.  Nevertheless,  he felt me through all the awkward then and he answered, full and deep, rich and old and stable, as Fathers can.

I’m not overstating things when I say he became as always as bedrock to me.  As permanent as sky.  More than anything else in my young life, he taught me that I was More.


We  stayed  together and things happened.  Impossible shook  me and took me like tumbleweed into places I had no business being, places that could so easily have trapped me,  cloistered me, shaped my forever into defeat and imprisonment.  In retrospect I can see that I was protected then by a great naivete which was the only visible edge of the longing that Named Me.

He was with me through those years, enshrined in a corner, voiced in a stairwell – a place of joining always on offer, where I could shed what I needed to and reclaim what I needed to, if I felt strong enough to meet him.

I didn’t feel strong, though, in that time.  I still thought myself a child  who ought to seek approval. I was afraid to show my teeth.

Drips from paint I threw at canvas on my studio walls splattered his belly.  I sang in a band that laughed and drank and smoked and toured.  I abandoned myself in lovers who saw, but didn’t see.


Then Ed phoned and I answered, as I’d done many times before.  I took my Always up to compare to the new girl, who had been rejected by a student, & why, what’s wrong with her.  Played new girl for twenty minutes, then picked up my Always to compare sounds,  as I’d done before.

But I couldn’t play him.  He was gone.  Tried again.  No.  And again.  Nothing.

With no warning, New Girl had claimed me over him.  I couldn’t buy her and keep him, so after two weeks of tears and trying, I traded.  Fifteen years ago.

He went to a place of silence and while he sat like a secret inside a hard case, I played New Girl.  She pushed me, like a bitch.  She made me work for every note,  she called me out on every bad habit.  She could snarl like a tiger, and scream ugly like a stuck rabbit.  She demanded that I use my teeth.

So I found my teeth, and learned how to use them.  I learned to love her, and we learned to compromise well, my sister and I.


Oh but against all odds, the man who bought my cello 15 years ago found me and offered me first right of refusal.

I said YES quickly without thinking –  knowing I couldn’t afford it, maybe I’d exaggerated value, romanticized connection.  I said yes, and months later  & five days ago Impossible came like tumbleweed and delivered him back.

There are splatters of paint on his belly.


I’m not overstating things here:  this week my fifteen-year-old self has been re-introduced to me, 36 years later, through this 1928 instrument from Germany via the hands and ears and exquisitely focused, raging love of Edouard Bartlett.

In the two concerts I’ve played since then, in the hours of practise I’ve put in I can hear that we have teeth now.  We have better tools. We have Possible, and great, sweet Beauty.  We are full to the brim with Longing… for more.

I listen to Stravinsky’s phoenix rise, and my face is wet.


This post is for Fran, and for Sue, who told entirely different firebird stories to me at different times on the same Day-of-Change.