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Carran’s Working Diary 29: Writing on the Wall 4 SkEtching a herstory

Leveraging Justice: Sing For Your Supper

Leveraging Justice: Sing For Your Supper

The harvest was gathered this year and I am celebrating some of that with this offering:

Sing for your Supper

The sharing of the harvest extends beyond the working house over the ocean (or as some fondly call it – the big pond) to America. They have just had a big shock in America as we have had here but this is not the place to discuss such things.

(note the time of writing is 10/11/16)

And now it will soon be Christmas and I find myself taking refuge again in the working house returning to a task that was given me before the officials took me in for those many many weeks last year and the year before.

Since I have used up much of the resource allocated to me I am now on a one day a week visit and I have been tasked with working alongside some young people who are keen to make stories and do a “show and tell”.

I am paid well for this work, so I can’t complain.

I have nine charges and they have gradually become enthusiastic about doing work in the working house. I am looking forward to their Christmas Presentations when I along with their visitor will have to judge them according to a five-step assessment programme. Most will end up near the top step, I hope. Some may even reach the top step. I doubt any will fall short. It is most unusual for our charges here to fall short, so they say.

Being in the dark room that is the working house and sharing that room with the young people I have been having flashbacks and longings for what used to be, when I inhabited my own stories in that dark space I called home.  I suppose in those days I got reliant on the hand-outs taking them for granted.  Now I have the task of helping others to understand what goes on in the working house, to learn the ropes so to speak. So as part of this I have been trying to track where the story I worked on in the working house came from. I am trying to track a lineage or a pathway. In my spare time, having uncovered so many records not even recorded in the working house, I have been very busy piecing together this lineage and I will share it some day, I hope. I recently received a photograph of a long lost grandfather and I have found some long lost living relatives.

All this has triggered a memory from 1986. I remembered assuming the persona of Mary Harvey for a Belgrade (Coventry) Theatre-in-Education audition.  Needless to say I didn’t get picked. But that presentation must have been the first time I tried to dig deep and creatively into the past.  This occurred twenty years after hearing the story my mum told me as a child aged nine about the evil woman with the giant scissors who locked the inmates in the cupboard if they were naughty and made them stand with the wet sheets over their heads if they wet the bed. Another twenty years on and I went back to it in the late 1990s.  Fast forward   another fifteen years and here I am  chewing the cud again.  Unfinished stories never leave us, they need a resolution.

Jenny Hughes, my first visitor in the working house, has encouraged me to work with her in writing up what happened during my stay in that dark space, so as well as the American harvest this effort is to be shared on the internet and in a book(let).

At the moment we are working through the book(let) improving it based on the responses from distant visitors, some who attended the concert last year and some who don’t know anything about the concert except what they heard through gossip, but it seems they have something important to say to us. At least this writing on the social experiment that became the concert is adding to the extension of the story about the history behind the working house and indeed my own history. (I should say herstory – it’s a good phrase – but it will never catch on.)

You will be able to see the full story on the internet in January 2017 and the full book(let) will be out in the summer of the same year. I think this is a good thing. Though that won’t be the end because there’s still a lot more to write if I am not able to do my “show and tell” again.



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