Getting back to it…


Well summer is really over. We had a second week away, this time in Llangranog in Wales. Great beach. Why do I live so far from the sea? 

I’m back at work and getting into the swing of things after a pretty idle summer, if I’m honest. I find it hard to get on with anything in particular when the house is full of family. We tend to do nothing but graze on food, make washing-up and laundry and general household mess. I’m far more disciplined when I have to be up and out for work in the mornings. 

My Wednesdays have been spent for some part, on attending workshops held in conjunction with Lyric Lounge Nottingham. Last year I was commissioned to write a piece for Lyric Lounge Leicester, this year I applied to act as mentor to a community group, with the aim of putting together a showcase at Lyric Lounge Nottingham. I didn’t get the job, which was a shame, but they did ask me if I would like to shadow the mentor who would be taking the workshops. The mentor who was appointed, they said, had more experience of putting together performances and showcases in spoken word events. 

I was really pleased to discover that I would be shadowing Aly Stoneman who I have come across on the circuit here in Nottingham. She is a lovely, gentle poetess who I discovered, really comes into her own when she is putting together a spoken word event. She organised an hour long slot at The New Art Exchange on Sunday. We had been working with a group of young mothers over the weeks and put together a performance based around motherhood. Aly had chosen some museum objects which had links with babies and parenting and we used these as inspiration for our pieces. We had the help of the lovely Gill Court who works for the YWCA and really got stuck into the sessions, texting and calling the mums, arranging for tram fares and taxis to make sure they could attend sessions. 

A lot of my writing is based around memory and family, so I had some poems which were ideal for the performance, but I wanted to write a piece specifically for it – so here it is – 

Gretel & Ariadne 

I keep mementos 

which silently document a life. 

A private archive. 

No glass case,  

accompanying text,  

or explanation  

No air-conditioned vault. 


First scan, 

clip from umbilical cord, 

hospital identity tag, 

lock of long-awaited hair, 

crumpled painting of a cat, or maybe a dog, an owl? 

Hand-knitted hat, 

a single boot, of soft leather with unmarked sole. 

Small blue dress with bleach stains, 

milk-tooth wrapped in a paper towel, 

list of spellings, 

letter to Santa, 

school report, 

postcard from Paris, 

newspaper clipping. 


I gather them up in your wake,  

knowing I dare not call out for you to wait so I can keep you in my sights. 


You keep mementos too. 

Letter from the Tooth Fairy, 

ticket stub for Steps, 

old party invitation, 

lace fan. 

Birthday card signed with fifteen names, 

metro pass, 

paper bag from a department store, 

earring shaped like a tiny bow, 

dog-eared passport photo, 

postcard of Audrey Hepburn, 

exam timetable folded in a square, 

post-it with a heart drawn on  

cinema ticket. 


These track your path away from me 

and will not stop,  

until you find the need to document another’s life, 

as I do now. 


There is another course, 

the one that brings you back to me. 

When I stop dead  

you’ll find you need to turn around  

and gather up the markers left behind, 

that track the journey we have made together 

as I tracked back the journey with my mother 

when she’d gone. 


As long as we have threads to guide us where we came from 

or morsels dropped to show the way 

there’ll be a trail to follow when we need it. 

If you are Gretel, I’ll be Ariadne 

and keep the path from past to future clear.


3 comments so far

  1. Ruth on

    I think the poem should come with a hanky alert.

  2. Pippa on

    Thanks for sharing that poem – it almost made me cry when you read it on Saturday, and brought a smile to my face this evening.

    • anneholloway on

      thankyou – I have just found your blog Old Bat and I’m enjoying reading it – will be commenting right back at you soon!

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