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A nature table was a regular if dull part of primary school. I remember a much more interesting one being a holiday project age eight while staying on a farm with my cousins. I have forgotten what we collected, but recall my excitement and muddy boots. Now I live in the city, yearn to be surrounded by nature. Instead I see moss growing in concrete cracks, trees struggling through pavements and brambles creeping out of the woods. We make a nature display to bring tiny microcosms of this wondrous natural world inside the house. Increasingly I see how disconnection from nature is at the root – or should I say, ‘rootlessness’ of everything. I believe this disconnection commonly cuts us off from our source of power and earthing.

Visiting a friend, I see their garden gratefully swallows every morsel of food waste. Nature reappears inside the house as blousy perennials set on tables in vases. A bunch of celery sits on the kitchen table. Plants are revered inside and outside for taste and beauty. The allotment, tended regularly rewards the gardener with organic produce. This one small bowl of compost is the key to a whole set of domestic priorities and a productive eco system.

I stand looking up at this mature London Plane tree. Its bark is mottled and knobbled with cankers. Two arms reach out as though about to bend and gather me up. Its leaves are yellowing, thinning on top like the mullet of an ageing rock star. In the midst of the rush and busyness of freelance life, this is a moment of pause. Calling Charles Eisenstein to mind, I embrace this still centre of Hackney Downs as an antidote to “the Problem of Urgency”, that “struggle may itself be part of the problem”. Instead I dwell in the calm of tree time. I breathe; spend just a few minutes not racing to the next destination.

We first saw ‘War Horse’ at the National Theatre in preview in 2007. I cried then at the flyer, (the image seen here on the programme). I honked my way through the show. I saw it again in 2013 and for the third time tonight. The piece has tightened up since I first saw it, but it still made me weep. This run at The Troubadour in Wembley ends on the 23rd of November. Michael Morpurgo’s original book, an ‘anthem for peace’ as he puts it, is anchored in research to tell a simple ‘boy meets horse’ tale. Through this personal story, he opens a window onto the carnage, confusion and hardship in active service during the First World War. Nick Stafford adapted the book as the bones of the production, which was then fleshed out by the Handspring Puppet Company to create illusions of twitching muscular horses, and even a tank. ‘War Horse’ is a grand spectacle using theatre’s best visual sleight of hand – puppets, lighting, smoke effects, animation (of Rae Smith’s loose drawings) and human choreography to move the audience. Using the horse as the vehicle, the show paints an allegory of loss of innocence. The music, which ranges from its folk opening song, ‘Only remembered for what you have done’, through pastoral to bombastic amplifies the emotional surges. The Armistice was signed 100 years and a day ago. This feels a fitting grief ritual to acknowledge the loyalty of our animal kin during the horrific trauma of war. At the end of the show my white poppy came unexpectedly to light.

I made a donation for a white poppy knitted in sparkly wool. I lost it before I could commemorate it with a photograph. I wanted to make a gesture of remembrance that spoke to peace. The red poppy leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable, that it can be easily bound up with jingoism, or mistaken for my support of a specific cause. Often in family constellations where the silence of those returned from conflicts or genocides are played out by the next generations. I feel our world wounded by the failings over and over again to recognise and hear the consequences for those at the receiving end of violence and also for the perpetrators. All of this undigested grief continues to play out in our collective unconscious. I want to say sorry for harm caused by me, by my forebears, by my nation. I want to apologise for gaps in my empathy and understanding. I don’t know how to land these words, which seem hollow. I have only my awareness to offer to the graves marked and unmarked of complex histories, as I listen to the voiceless.

This feels like a moment of profound contentment. The suckler and the feeder both generate oxytocin in this primal act. My own mother’s milk slowed down and I was weaned at six months. I defiantly refused to exchange cow for mother’s milk. I have remained an avid lover of oral soothing from thumb sucking to kissing. I devour non-dairy creaminess – coconut yoghurt, oat cream and Ombar Mylk chocolate. I continue to be a fan of breasts. Holding the baby later in a sling, she falls asleep on me and I feel the intimate connection of our hearts beating alongside one another. This is one way to grow love.

I picture hearts connected by arteries and veins. It is an imagined biology, an extended metaphor from the blood connection between mother and baby. I wanted to create a map of the bonds between us – limited in years, but significant in influence. My letter to this unborn child aims to convey a summing up of all I have learned so far, and the whole cycle of life and death. I hope it will be received as a blessing from a good fairy, although it includes signposts to the gold in the shadow. Ancestor, living and child of the future, each hold a place in the line.

My second hand book arrived in the post. I love pre-thumbed pages, corners turned and if I’m lucky a margin note or dedication. To my delight an envelope fell out. “Open in case of zombie apocalypse” it reads, in green slime-like lettering. I have seen ‘Sean of the Dead’, so I know what a zombie apocalypse looks like. I take the Overground at 5pm where bodies cram close without communication. Pouring off the train at Highbury there is a collective movement towards the Victoria line. I see the signs – unsmiling faces (blank with dead eyes), that don’t connect, stiff limbs, movement that lacks verve, drab clothing in grey and black. I feel the intolerance as I reach out my arm in an individual action. It’s time to open the envelope…

In the 2021 census trial I fill in the questions about us, and the space we inhabit. I notice my irritation as my sense of identity – a complex and evolving spectrum of tendencies is reduced to ‘yes or no’, ‘this or that’ answers. I also hold in mind the fragments of the lives from my Victorian forebears in censuses that reveal fascinating family and societal changes. My great great grandfather Joseph Taylor was a ‘hatter’ in 1861 and by 1891 had become a ‘sanitary inspector’. The question about religion bothers me. Some of this household are Jedi. They regularly use the force to overcome the dark side. My faith is central to who I am, but it doesn’t easily fit a check box. I honour nature. I chant the Tara Mantra, offer thanks to my supportive guides and ancestors. I light Tibetan incense, venerate goddesses from several religions, as well as plastic figures. I connect with birds and animals, walk in nature as a spiritual practice. I am surrounded by sacred images to inspire and in the magnolia tree strings of fading prayer flags are blowing prayers into the wind. I ambivalently tick the ‘Buddhist’ box.

Confronted with this brutal image, my inner detective constructs a crime scene. “Who decapitated this pigeon?” she asks, evaluating potential suspects and motives. I enjoy crime documentaries, police procedural and courtroom drama because I fear and am fascinated by death and criminal psychology in equal measure. I want to look at the darkness, to understand it. I spend my days practicing for ‘the good life’. But after 10pm I sink into the strong arms of the sofa to relish delving into the disturbing, traumatic and psychotic through long-form drama and documentaries – ‘Unbelievable’, ‘Mind Hunter’, ‘the Jinx’, ‘Chernobyl’.