1. The Mother, The Best

LINDA APRIL 20TH 1993 </p>

l owe Kath a lot, kid, but there comes a time when you know nothings changed, that you want more.

I think it was the night of her birthday that did it for me.

LINDA NOV. 18TH 1992
~ Doesn’t the bride look beautiful? Ehl Why’s everybody got sad faces? It’s a wedding isn’t it? Her dad’s died! Poor soul. I don’t know why you want to interview me. I’m just an ordinary
housewife. Kath? Move over and I’ll tell you about her. You’ve got a tear in your jeans. Eh! Watch yourself, kid. Half a chance I’ll have ‘em off.

Kath. You won’t tell anybody will you? Will you? Kath took me in when I needed. it. I went to the football club and her son Neil was performing. There wasn’t any seats but she ushered me over and said ‘No need to be on your own lass. Sit with us.’ and I did.
I enjoyed the company, kid.
I told her my name was Linda and she said I know.
0, sorry, kid. I’ve got this habit of touching people when I’m chatting. It doesn’t mean owt.
Anyway I was shocked that people had been talking about me. Did she know something about me? Had she contact with my husband? You know the worries, But she said Don’t fret lass. I’m clairvoyant.
That was a relief.
I told her this night was a one off; that I was more used to sitting on the edge of the bed every .night and not venturing downstairs. Going out rare if ever. This night was a one off when I’d arranged a baby-sitter for my little boy, Ben – You don’t mind children do you, kid ? .. I’d just started one day a week in the market and got some extra cash. Then she told me more about myself than I thought nobody else knew.
When my husband was threatening me .. we’d separated- Kath said Ben and me could stay over at hers. Where do you come from?

KATH INTERRUPTS:- Don’t talk while turns on.

INTERVIEWERS DIARY NOV 18TII 1992 WORKING MEN’S CLUB-SCENE OF KATH’S BIRTHDAY AND WEDDING RECEPTION OF TRACY AND BILL. Decor reminds me of the film ‘Kes’. That scene in a working men’s club. Purple upholstered chairs. Backdrop of the stage like silver tinsel around Christmas trees. There’s gold tinsel too. Neil, the singer and Buff, his technical help have been heaving the speakers onto the raised wooden stage. Neil checks the sound system and his tapes. He’s been asked to perform at the reception. Likes Neil Diamond: sings ‘Crackling Rosie’ and asks us if the sound is O.K. We say yes. Kath his mother and organiser of the group I’m recording is talking business with the management, She dresses in black, as do the rest of them. Accepted hanger-on wear. (The rest of the group agree with hers and Henry Ford’s notions on the appropriate fan’s colour.) She also wears a jewelled butterfly brooch. Just talked to Linda. She laughs easily and has the kind of smile that makes me weak at the knees. She’s stunning in black leggings and black silk jacket. Would you believe she’s forty? Buff is very protective of her. He moved to sit with us when I introduced myself. He is BIG. With a little encouragement from Linda (She hugged his arm and made it into a joke) he reluctantly agreed to be recorded.

My name? is … er … Buff. Do? Help Neil set up.
Kath? At one of Neil’s gigs. He’d been coping by himself. I think … yes … at the Pheasant. I got up to give him a hand. Been with him since. Kath uses my video and tapes to record Neil on stage.

Linda and Maggie? I go out with them on a Tuesday night. Make sure they don’t get any hassle.

Live? With my parents. Work? Various, checking pipes under houses. Various. Drink? Yes,
It’s a whisky. Linda and Maggie worry I drink too much.

Girlfriends? Once. Not saying.
I’ve got a recorder like that. Let’s have a look.

Kath’s got a dog you know? Haven’t you Kath!

KATH:  Linda, I believe in respect and good manners.

LINDA (whispering to Interviewer) Kath doesn’t like us talking while Neil’s I was saying about Smudge.

– Shhh. While acts on. (Kath smiles while she says this.)

The air is cold. Kath greets no one when she enters with Neil and Kerry, his wife· When she sits down she refuses a drink. Everyone says ‘Hello. Happy Birthday.’ Linda introduces me. Kath gives me a cursory glance then she gets up and goes to talk to the Bingo caller.
I ask Linda “What’s wrong?”

She says “Ignore it. Kerry bought Linda something for her birthday she didn’t like.” Kath’s son Neil is all apologetic to his mum but he knows he has a show to put on.

INTERVIEWERS DIARY newspaper extract, wedding photo and piece.
Pictured after their wedding at Barnsley Registry Office are Tracy Lister and William Widdop. Tracy is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lister, Green Lane, Gawber and William the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Maudslay, Skinpit Close, Darton. The couple held a reception at High Green Working Men’s Club, High Green, and spent their honeymoon at Mablethorpe.

LISTER, Ernest –
Precious memories of a loving Husband, Dad, and Grandad, who died on November 18 at the Wedding of his daughter.
Words are few, thoughts are deep, Memories of you will always keep.
-From loving wife Ann, daughter Tracy and Bill, son Jim and Mary.


~ What’s to do? We can’t celebrate when her dad’s just died at altar.
~ Be respectful. All we can. Congratulate her and him on their wedding but sympathise at the death of her father .
• When Martha’s son Lozzy died he had a dream. She dreamt that she was the best at growing lilies but they overran her house
~ She’s weird anyroad. Staying in all the livelong …


0, God. Neils playing this again. I hate dancing to this , you know. Be back soon, kid. And don’t watch me dance. I’m awful. You don’t know this, love. You’ve led a sheltered life, kid. It’s called ‘Running Bear.’ Kath likes us to dance it together. All girls, you know.


‘The next song is for somebody very special to me. My mum.
There is a ripple of applause as Kath stands prompted by Neil. It’s her birthday today.
The applause gets louder.
We hear the introduction to Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ and when Kath gets up to dance for the first time that evening all the lasses get up. Linda asks me whether I mind. It doesn’t make any difference to me and I am surprised that she’s asked such a question. We are not that close yet.

I call you, I need you,
My heart’s on fire.

Neil is looking at Tracy, the bride. Kerry dancing with the other girls acts as if she hasn’t noticed. I glance over at Buff who leans over as if I’ve given a sign I want to talk to him. Tracy is dancing without Bill. She’s dancing with her girlfriends. She smiles at him and whispers something into her friends ear. They giggle.

You come to me, Come to me, Wild and wired.

And all the girls in the hanger-on group are making fists and pushing out their pelvises while pumping their elbows behind their waists in unison as in ‘The Timewarp. ‘ Maggie puts a lot of oomph into it. Linda looks across at me and makes it look as though she is only doing it because the rest of the group are.

Oh, come to me,
Give me everything I need.
Give me a lifetime of promises, And a world of dreams.

Linda is looking straight at me and smiling. Kath whispers something to her. Linda gives me a glance as if to say, ‘Kath’s at it again.’

Speak the language of love, Like you know what it means.
It can’t be wrong,
Take my heart and make it strong, babe.

And all the girls in Kath’s group join in the chorus holding hands and looking at each other. I feel apart from everybody’s warmth and desolate inside, as if this companionship is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Then I quickly remind myself that I am an Interviewer and can allow myself these feelings so long as they don’t affect my work. I have a job to do.

You’re simply the best, Better than all the rest, Better than anyone, Anyone I’ve ever met.
I’ve stopped on your heart,
I hang on every word you say, Don’t tear us apart,
Baby I would rather be dead, You’re the best.

Tracy bursts into tears and runs out the room, closely followed by her mother.

it’s in your heart, It’s in the start, Of every night, And every day.

– Would you credit it? Wedding and bloody funeral same day!
– Decorum please. Just got to treat it right. Like Martha did at Lozzy’s, Though she went a bit crazy after. She was the best mother a lad ever had. Some say he was adopted.
– And seen the groom, Brought his greyhound along. I ask you! A dog at a wedding!
Who’s club act? That his mother over there?

In your eyes, I get lost,
I get washed away.
Just as long as I’m here in your eyes, I could be in no better place.
Each time you leave me, I start losing control.

Kath takes up a position dancing in the eye-line between Linda and myself.

You’re walking away,
With my heart and my soul.
I can feel you,
Even when I’m alone.
Oh, baby, You’re my goal.

Kath has been right about all of my relationships with men. She warned me about my last husband,
‘Watch out for him lass! He will want to control you’.
…. Then he was violent to me. He tried to make my mends hate me. Told them lies. Said to them ‘She’s told me “I don’t want anything to do with them.” Then he tried to take Ben away from me. She told me my last boyfriend was a drunkard. She was right. He tried to make me sen my house, to him! You’re not like that are you?

Don’t let Kath get her claws into you. Yes, you’re right. Once she’s got a lever on you she’ll use it. She invites me to Sunday lunch and the following day gets Buff to phone me up, to ask me if I want to see Neil perform again. And because she’s given me lunch I feel obliged. Don’t let her get her claws into you.
She’s spoilt Kerry’s evening. In the toilets Kerry told me Kath has told her ‘If you want to stay with my son pay more attention to my likes and dislikes, madam. ~ Reduced Kerry to tears.

At the end of the evening Neil has to do three encores. One of these features ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ by Bette Midler. Linda asks me up to dance this one slowly with her.
As we are all putting our coats on, Kath says to the assembled group,
” I am putting a charity gig on for Thomas Darfield, next Sunday. He suffers from luckaemia. You will be there won’t you?
Neil will be competing”
Linda smiles at me and says “Do you want to come back for coffee?”

The Whispering Breath

I’ve not told you everything he did to us. (whispering breath)
It’s why I’m sat on edge
of bed using upstairs phone.

Got to speak quietly.
My fault.
He keeps telling me

(conspiratorial breath)

I caused it
by what I did.

(questioning breath)
Is it something in me that’s at fault?’
Have l something wrong with me?
Am I a good person?

 I’m afraid of him. What he might do
If I do this or the other.
I have no feeling for him.

(accusatory breath)
He says I’ve made the Love go.
He threatens me
because this is the only way


get it back.
I’m terrified, love.

(weeping breath)
Doesn’t lack of love mean more love needs to be given, not hate?

(angry breath)
He likes Old Testament. ‘Eye for an eye … ‘
calls himself Christian.
Knows the Bible off by heart.
Laughs at my attempts

 to read it and so argue against him,

(determined breath)
Each person’s got to be responsible for themselves.


‘Never’ and ‘Always’ from The Place For Breath



I lay with you. Two words make one.
You say ‘You’ve strong legs. Your too heavy. ‘

No space for breath. Our words.

Make too short. A sentence.

I kiss you.
You say ‘You have a firm jaw.

You smother. ‘

My word does not make room for yours.

You lay with me. Two pictures make one
My heart bloody in my mouth.

 I want to crush you into my frame.

You kiss me
I press till all feeling goes.

My frame has no blood.


too much leaves nothing else

a space, a breath, a gap. Almost a full stop.

 too little leaves an absence

a space, a breath, a gap. Almost a full stop.

is rare for both of us.


we put up each others

inspiration, expiration

for reasons to stay not to be alone

a single word, a single sentence

without company of another

a picture with a wall to itself, a room

to itself, a gallery to itself

reasons to be alone
but not to stay that way.

You are afraid I will wander,

hold anothers attention, anothers breath

in my mouth

because I am younger.

I think

how promises are never kept

 We both agree
‘Never’ and Always’
are not to be said. Words that do not belong in our sentences.

Pictures that we do not want on our wall

Explorations from ‘The Place for Breath’

The place between me and you. The place between words between sentences is the same between pictures in a gallery. I find that which we have in common and fill in the gaps between our chat on telephone or in fact. Each time I am left with a different picture of you to contemplate. A different pause between one part of a sentence, and the next. I’m afraid at some point reaching a full stop.

Invisible Town (Ongoing Poem)

Invisible Town: where children hunt/kill all small animals to eat. Taught by their parents to catch their breakfast, dinner and tea. No pets

Invisible Town: people live in gardens and tend to empty houses. Sheds store vacuum cleaners, polish for windows. People sleep on grass

Invisible Town: people go to sleep to work. Journey to work is getting ready for bed. Waking is returning home.

Invisible Town: in which nothing is kept. People watch how things are made, but once created these things are discarded. Creation is vital.

Invisible Town: where people live in cemeteries and the dead are buried in empty houses and streets. Babies are born on gravestones

Invisible Town: where it is romantic to give young girls/boys weeds, flowers are frowned upon. Any sign of decoration is abusive

Invisible Town: where diseases are a gift. Any spot/disfigurement brings instant adulation/fame. Health is frowned upon as unsightly

Invisible Town: where cleanliness is a crime. Dirt is sacred. No one baths/showers. Water is anathema. Houses/gardens must not be cleaned.

Invisible Town: Rich live in lowliest hovel, while poorest live in massive mansions with long drives and servants, but no money

Invisible Town: Any kind of trade is illegal. Emotions are swapped as currency. Love is the most valuable item. Anger is the least.

Invisible Town: If anyone uses their imagination sun comes out, blue skies, warm weather, everyone else smiles/laughs feels good.

Invisible Town: No one can act unknowingly. If they commit a crime/lie they have a natural death and are buried outside the town

Invisible Town: Hearsay, rumour suspicion are admissible evidence in courts. Material, circumstantial evidence is irrelevant.

Invisible Town: Breakfast is an evening meal, Lunch at Midnight, Dinner at dawn. Snacks are never occasional, eaten an hour after set meals

Invisible Town: Birth is a time of mourning/sympathy, death is a happy celebration. Graveyards are filled with market stalls/dancing.

Invisible Town: Everything has been discovered, all inventions have been made, there is no need for imagination.

Invisible Town: Birth is a time of mourning/sympathy, death is a happy celebration. Graveyards are filled with market stalls/dancing.

Invisible Town: where the unexpected always happens, and the expected happens unusually. Sun rises in evening, sun down is morning.

The Artist

At Eleven years old
opened Dads teenage sketchbooks

Cows sat down in pencil
His Dads backyard full of tools
preliminary pencil sketches

Triumph motorcycles,

part oil coloured portraits

his Dad, his sister hangs

out washing in 1950s skirt.

sexually awakened by
his female nudes,
drapery hides modesty

extremely detailed Clwydian hills, mountains, landscapes,
rotting stump colours ablaze yellows, ochres, greens
I wanted to draw, sketch,