Seen and heard


On the pond the swans were doing their special courting neck dance, sinuously dipping and bobbing, beaks together;  in passing I saw for a moment they’d silently formed a perfect heart between them.

I heard this poem read recently at a farewell to a loved father: it’s called Late Fragment by Raymond Carver.

Late Fragment

Through the still snowy landscape of the A11 the free-flying striped Luton scarves  fluttered and streamed from more and more supporters’ car windows as we approached Norwich.

Luton Scarves

Staying with friends for the weekend I was invited to the game.  I hadn’t realised what a significant football match we were attending as we joined the crowds heading for Carrow Road to watch the Canaries versus the Hatters in the FA Cup 4th round. Even from our lofty viewpoint we could hear the away supporters in full voice – corralled into their block of seats the 2000 of them easily outsang the 22000 home supporters, who seemed despondent and lacklustre from the off – as did the team itself. The visitors deserved their victory playing an impenetrable defence and scoring the one exciting necessary goal – no consolation for my hosts, except our claim to have been there at the making of soccer history.

The Match

The making of history was the stuff of Silver Action – an artwork conceived and orchestrated by the Californian artist Suzanne Lacy which happened last weekend at Tate Modern.

Silver ActionHaving signed up for it in the spirit of adventure and curiosity I attended both an advance workshop and the event itself – an amazing congregation of more than 400 women over 60 holding more than 100 conversations during an afternoon, observed and witnessed by a public audience. We were filmed and recorded too.

What Suzanne makes of it remains to be seen, but in the room the buzz of talk, laughter, exchange, recognition, reminiscence and resolve filled the air. The women there had histories of struggle and endeavour and had achieved personal, social, political changes great and small. Having started early, from 1959, on the Aldermaston marches and many other demos, my own militancy somewhat gave way to a working life which I hope has had some influence in the way we look and see and enjoy colour – the personal IS political.  And for all of us – keep talking, keep doing – it’s not over yet….!

Silver Action Painting

Spurred on by this experience I have tickets to see Alice Walker in March at the Southbank Centre where there’s a weekend of events to be enjoyed at the Women of the World celebrations.

Alice Walker

A little closer to home the Moroccan restaurant up the road link has a tiny space downstairs for performances and Wednesday is open mic night. Anyone can turn up – often it’s Frank singing and playing in his flirtatious French way – with others joining him. I particularly enjoyed the merrily impromptu happy birthday song for audience member Grace – ‘pretty face, wearing lace, makes my heart race’. Nice to have such entertainment within walking distance.


Have a laugh and listen here to another virtuoso – Adam Long of the Reduced Shakespeare Company retold Richard III in 90 seconds of ingenious rhyming on Radio 4 one morning. It’s a breathtaking performance in response to the assertion that the old bones found under the car park in Leicester are the real remains of that maligned royal. But why the whereabouts of his skeleton should mean that he’s been wrongly accused of all those murderous malpractices I don’t quite understand.

Richard III Remains

I was given this bunch of flowers yesterday – that trick of a pinprick in the stalk of a tulip, just below the flower head, really does keep them lively for so much longer. Pretty aren’t they?

Emmas Bunch


PS – there are a very few 2013 calendars left on my shop shelf – order now – just in time to make a date on the 14th….and the Sunflower Scarf reminds us that the spring is on the way….


Thanks to Alan, Molly, and Frances Calman for the photo of Silver Action.

Sunflower Detail

5 thoughts on “Seen and heard

  1. What a splendid post, Sarah! So much resonates with me . . . particularly the Carver poem, which I included on the memorial card for my friend Miriam Bass’s funeral many years ago. Toward the end of his life Carver gave a reading at Beyond Baroque in Venice (California). I arrived too late to be admitted, but stood on tip-toe outside the window and saw and heard him in all his glorious words . . . couldn’t really imagine you at a football match before, but of course now I can, and am glad for the image! It sounds like you really had fun. This (from what I gather) unlikely experience would be similar to me attending an American football game here, which I’ve never done before – but perhaps you’re the trailblazer for me! Thanks for the beautiful swans and the very clever tip re: tulips, which I shall try now that they’re in bloom here. You are a wonder,Sarah, and so loved. xxx

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