I last posted in September with big plans for streamlining the blog, actually writing something for a change but then I got confused and distracted. Writing just didn’t seem to be high on my list of priorities, but some things have happened and I’ve got a new love and enthusiasm for it.
So firstly, I got two part time jobs, one in Meadowhall and the other at Sheffield University Student’s Union. They couldn’t be more different, but I’m working with lovely people at both, I have a relatively steady, but meagre, income and I’m feeling happy again. I’ve also been making some of the felt pictures, more on that in a later post, and trying to build myself a social life again after becoming a relative hermit from habit and poverty. As part of my self care, building my social life and getting out doing fun things more…
…let me introduce you to The Sparkle Dress:
The Sparkle Dress was something I saw online one day in September but couldn’t think of obtaining. I got a job and The Sparkle dress became something I gazed at as I walked past Simply Be on my way to work. The Sparkle Dress called to me because it had all the colours of my hair. The Sparkle Dress was something I couldn’t afford because I had to pay for other, less frivolous things, like rent and food and travel to work and Netflix.
I bought it on sale, no refunds because it was a bit broken (something I could easily stitch up. It made me so happy to get it and wear it to Christmas. At Christmas I got a ticket for Greg Davies’ show ‘You Magnificent Beast’ as a present – thanks Liz and Richard. I decided that the Sparkle Dress should not just be worn once, but should be worn out and where better to dress as a giant glitter ball from G.A.Y. than a show called ‘You Magnificent Beast’?
It seems like so many things have changed recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and was made redundant from my job of over two years.
It’s a shame to leave my job but in a way it’s been really freeing because I’ve had the time to decide what I want to do with myself. I have been looking for part time jobs, no luck yet, but I’ve decided to not worry too much because something always seems to turn up. But there are sometimes lower points and I’ve found some great support from strangers – members of the Made of Human Podcast Facebook group and the Attic24 Moorland and Moor Facebook group. It’s lovely to be able to see the brilliant creative things others are doing and have a place to have a little chat with people you don’t necessarily know.
Just under two years ago I met a lovely man. I asked him out and I was quite surprised and excited when he said yes. We got on really well, we went to the cinema and to a couple of gigs and out for food. One night when I got a lift home from a friend and our evening was cut a little short, he walked across the city to see me.
When I was in primary school we did loads of cool art things that I don’t get to do any more. I could do something about this; I could build a makeshift flower press; I could take out some crayons and paper and head out for a walk to take some rubbings; I could even buy a load of different pasta shapes and make a collage, but I am less likely to do any paper marbling at home. Mainly because I can’t really remember how to do it and I don’t really remember what equipment I might need.
So when I saw that my friends at Edge of the Universe Printing Press were running a series of workshops last Summer I signed myself up straight away. It’s just taken me this long to type up my notes about what we got up to!
I went along to have a go at marbling and book binding in a two part session. Sarah and David divided up the participants into two groups, one tacking the marbling first and the others working on the book binding. I had brought along some coloured paper, trimmed to A5 size, and sat myself down to bind my little book first.
This post contains some issues that may be triggers for people. Please do comment below if you would like to.
When I was 13 I was walking across the courtyard of school, just chatting to a friend and heading to a lesson. Three older boys were walking in the opposite direction, one veered towards me, groped my breasts and walked on laughing.
When I was 16 I was traveling on bus in Oxford, sitting by the window when a young man came and sat by me. When he sat down his hand brushed my leg, he apologised and I said not to worry. As the journey progressed his hand resting against the side of my leg started moving further up my thigh. I squirmed towards the window to move away but there was nowhere to move to. I got off the bus three stops early to get away from him, but he stood up followed me, pushed himself up against my bottom so that I could feel his erection. He smiled at me, shrugged and walked off.
On Friday the 13th of May I got up stupidly early, took the tram to the station, sat on a train bound for Manchester and made my way to the absolutely huge Paperchase store that they have there. Now I like stationary as much as the next girl, but that’s not my reason for making the trek, oh no! I was going to learn a new technique for making things, lino cutting.
I’ve seen lino cut prints before but I’ve never actually tried it before, so when I was sent a link to the Paperchase Project craft workshops it caught my eye immediately and it turns out I bought the first ticket.
The class takes place on the first floor, but you have to pass through a mezzanine level to get there. The lass who was teaching us introduced herself, but I’m afraid I forgot to write down her name, so if you work at the Manchester shop please tell me so that I can amend this! Continue reading →
Winter is flowing into Spring once again and although it’s nearly May (yes, I know it’s May now that I’m typing this up, but let’s just stick with it.) the forecast threatens snow today.
I have arrived at work two hours early, because I can’t keep track of my calendar at the moment, I’ve drunk too much coffee and so am drinking lots of water and forcing myself to write. Why am I forcing myself to write? Because I’ve not been writing and it’s a good habit to get myself back into.
So in the last 6 months I have worked, read lots of books*, done a bit of screen printing, investigated European folk patterns and embroidery on a superficial level, watched some films, cut and dyed my hair, walked along a river and seen a heron standing before me, looked after my sister, read some more books and made a mess of my bedroom. I keep trying to control the bedroom mess but it’s having none of it.
The day before the Hartlepool Festival I had an accident, my knee dislocated and it was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. If you are a bit squeamish then it’s probably best not to read on at this point – to be honest, for the last two weeks even telling people about it (everyone wants to know) makes me feel faint.
I’d been in Hartlepool for all of an hour, been round a few of the venues we were due to use for the festival and I was hungry and bursting for the loo, so we headed back to Crump’s house for refreshments. I got through the door and her dog jumped up to say hello, I must have been at the wrong angle because his little jump knocked my leg and my knee popped out of place.
Fifteen minutes before her stop she packed away her things, put on her cardigan, coat and scarf and moved to stand in the vestibule. She could feel her cheeks getting redder as she loaded up with her bags, but the blast of cool air was welcoming after the stifling heat of the carriage. She let her over-stuffed over night bag fall against her boots as she stood at the door. She grasped the bars either side of the misted window, their metallic chill passing across her fingers and steadying her from the rocking of the train.
The landscape rolled past, a comforting combination of greens, browns and yellows, spotted with vibrant flashes of orange and red from the changing leaves. She snuggles her nose and mouth into the folds of her scarf and tried to imagine some of the lives contained within the sparsely scattered homes passing by her.
About a year ago I was in a very bad place. I hated my job; I felt like a complete failure because I hated my job. I felt like I was imposing on my friends by staying with them. I felt like I had no good options ahead of me. I was sinking into one of the worst bouts of depression that I have ever experienced.
A year later I have part time work, I’m off medication, the doctor doesn’t want to see me regularly any more. I’ve made friends and I’ve settled into the city. I feel calm and almost contented, which is something I’ve not felt for a very, very long time. I don’t feel guilty about as many different things as I once did. I speak to myself more kindly in my own head. I can recognise my worth again.
There are little things that help me recognise my improving mental health. When I am at the worst of my depression, I cannot laugh, I cannot sing, I cannot dance around the kitchen like a loon.
I am stupidly busy, but going out and working, even odd shifts and hours, feels much better than sitting with a Netflix binge (although that’s still a big draw now and then). Spending time with people, talking about everything and nothing helps me as a person. I don’t have to feel guilty about having a bit of a social life, despite being poor.
And now I feel like I’m on the verge of something new and different. Something that could be quite special, but even if nothing really comes of it, it will still have been a positive boost. Usually, this is when I would feel nervous and awkward, but instead there is this calm radiating inside me, a hitherto unknown confidence and sense that actually, everything is probably going to work out alright. I’m actually quite excited by the unknown for once!
Make Do and Mend-able is an online resource to promote Making Do and Mending as an alternative to buying new, and to facilitate the learning of new skills. On the site you will find tutorials, and inspiration for all things Make Do and Mend, as well as a nationwide Directory of classes, workshops, repair and re-use events, and pre-loved and ethical craft supplies.
Words matter. Carefully chosen words can be beautiful, caring, compassionate, descriptive, elegant and stirring.
Words matter. Carefully chosen words can be deceptive, cutting, hurtful, vicious, selfish, offensive, bitter and damaging.
How we speak about people matters because people matter. People live around the world in desperate circumstances, often not of their own making. Referring to people fleeing from war, from persecution, from mutilation, from the constant threat of injury or death as migrants is doing them a disservice. Referring to it as a migrant crisis sounds like the problem is ours and that people risking death to escape war are somehow putting us out. Referring to people as swarms leads to connotations of plagues, pestilence, being over run by unwanted pests.
The way that our politicians and media are talking about desperate people trying to protect themselves and their families from wars that we have had a hand in physically disgusts me. We have newspapers that promote nationalism and xenophobia. The same newspapers will have marked the recent anniversary of VJ Day and stirred up the ideas of Britain saving the world during the war.
People are dying. People, not ‘migrants’, not ‘swarms’. Humans. People. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sons and daughters. All of these people have loved and been loved. These people matter.
We need to care. We need to show compassion. We need to help where we can. We need to give a shit about something other than X Factor, Kardashians and Celebrity Big Brother.
It would be easy to turn off the news and ignore what is currently happening in the world, what is always happening somewhere in the world, but I can’t do that. I hope that you can’t ignore this humanitarian crisis either.
I know that this blog is read all over the world, so where ever you are, please read up on what you can do locally to help prevent children from drowning on European seas trying to escape a war they had no part in. Please read up on what you can do to stop people dying of dehydration in the backs of lorries in tiny concealed spaces. Please see what you can do to stop desperate people from being exploited by human traffickers preying on the vulnerable.
Check in twitter, check on facebook, donate clothes or toiletries or cans of food. Hold your politicians accountable for the way that they speak about people, for denying access to fellow humans in need. Get in touch with groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Go and have conversations with people to improve their new language skills. Make it personal to you, because it should be personal. We should all understand that just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It could happen here and we would want help and support from other human beings.
In Sheffield we are a city of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers. There is a group collecting donations to take to Calais to the people who need them. There are other groups around the UK doing similar things to help out however they can, please see if there is one near you and if there isn’t perhaps you could start one.
There is a facebook group you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CalaisMigrantSolidarityActionFromSheffield/?fref=ts
“A quick word on donations:
The list of recommended donations to the camp in Calais change on a regular basis, so we’ll aim to update this list as much as possible. We request that all donations be in good condition and hardwearing – no holes or tears and where appropriate unused. Where possible please bring and buy new items.
Any donations that are not suitable to take down to Calais will be donated to refugee and asylum seeker charities in Sheffield.
Please drop off all donations at the Moor Theatre Delicatessen (The Moor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 4PF), which is open every Thursday to Saturday, 11am – 4pm.
Please note we can only accept donations during these times. Can we please ask that you do not leave donations outside on the doorstep.
**A note on clothes: must be clean and wearable**
Toiletries – unopened
Socks – hardwearing new pairs
Nails, screws and rawl plugs
Rolls of Bin bags
First aid kits – unopened and unused components
Salt, pepper, spices, condiments – unopened and in-date
Tea bags, sugar – unopened and in-date
Plastic/wooden cooking utensils
Stackable / foldable plastic storage boxes
Hard-wearing shoes and boots.”
This is Craig:Morgan:Robson singing Ralkp McTell’s Peppers and Tomatoes. Please have a listen, have a think about how you can get involved and go and do it.
I had an amazing time in the sun and rain at Towersey Festival this week and there were brilliant performances from so many musicians. I am working on my write up of the festival which will include links to videos from some of the performers, but in the mean time I needed a genre change.
This morning I needed something really loud in my earphones to get around the supermarket.
What better than #InspiringWoman Florence Welch?
I had a full album playing by the time I’d got my veggies in the basket (I’m picky and indecisive) but this was on repeat and there’s probably people who were shopping today who think I’m really odd for dancing in Morrisons!