Touched – Has anybody seen my girl?

16th July


When Pat and I arrive, Stella asks if we would like to work in the Turret Room. She unlocks the tower door on the outside of the building and we follow her up the narrow winding stairs into the balcony space above the children’s corner. Lit by a dusty window, the balcony is furnished with a metal filing cabinet, a large oak table and a shop manikin in a long navy dress and a wig.  We sit at the table and look across to the organ where the organist, flanked by two large artificial plants on stands, sits playing “Has anybody seen my girl?” He pauses for a bite of biscuit and a sip of tea then plays on.
Up here we are struck by the cacophony of sounds that float upwards, the strange echoes that bounce around magnifying some tones more than others in this ear-like funnel; Fragments of conversations, hurdy gurdy chatterings, lively interlocutions, hard, happy noises. Across the nave the stained glass windows hover, more present up here. The only bright colour, animated light, stories etched unknown or forgotten in my secular mind. As ever the pervasive smell of the church, creosote, or is it oak? So strong it lingers on my clothes long after I leave. We write for 15 minutes and then read to each other.

Excerpt from Stained:

as the dust
as the sound of voices
stain the silence
where once
the dying and the damned
like the bed sheets
The organ
and the sounds
this monument
on a gamble
that the future
will be better
a land of hope and glory
(so the organ sings now)


Touched – Sponge Holding Forceps

13th July


Pat and I continue the process of describing and reflecting on the cabinets in the museum. Today I find myself in front of a cabinet filled with a variety of chrome tools for operations, each adapted for a different task in the operating procedure, perfectly weighted and shaped for the grip of a hand. Next to it hangs a photograph of a team of doctors and nurses standing around an operating table, the patient lies hidden between them, below a pile of sheets. One of the doctors is holding a limb and half turns, his moustached lips smiling to the camera.

Excerpt from Sponge Holding Forceps

Sponge holding forceps

Intestine crushing clamp

Cheatles Sterilised forceps

R B Shears

Someone sat and designed

each object

here on display

for specific use

a pinch of fingers

the exact grasp of a hand







clamp back



each tool perfectly devised

through practice

for its appropriate action



Touched – This Slipper Bedpan

6th July

Encouraged by our presentation of Flight at the Language, Landscape and the Sublime conference, Pat and I start planning the Unlocked Writing Workshop. We write a list of exercises we want to introduce and try to estimate how long they will take. We decide to trial some of the exercises and time them. It’s interesting to see how the exercises change in the course of doing them, we want to question assumptions brought into the museum – I notice by the words I initially choose, my own assumptions are working overtime. We do the exercises again and decide to do a 15 minute piece of writing every time we are there. This will be the basis of a new piece of work – Touched – which like Flight will start as a performance reading with images and then possibly become something else.

excerpt from This Slipper Bedpan:

This slipper bed pan
should be passed under
the patient in front
between the legs
If a flannel cap is made
for the blade
fastened by strings
under the handle
considerable comfort
will be
Nil by Mouth
When I first visited
she could get out of bed
in the row of beds
and with my help
to the
bathroom to pass,
in brackets