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Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Blog in which I say as little as possible. Happily, but wearily, back on the sofa.

I have been talking to Giant Boy.  "Giant Boy," I said, "I do not know what to write."  He is sitting on the floor as I lie covered in pink woollen blankets and cushions on the sofa.  He is doing his college work, and I am staring into space.

It is pouring with rain outside, and I watch the guard hollyhocks sway dangerously in the wind, keeping the unwary from the door unless they know that they are there, or they find a different way into the house.  The heating will not go on until sometime later and I have just noticed that it is 4pm, and probably time for tea.

What is happening? You ask.  How is it that you do not know what to write?  I will answer these two questions briefly and in order.
  1. Not a lot
  2. No idea.
Perhaps a little bit of context would help.

I have been exceptionally busy recently.  I have been organising, arranging, writing, interviewing, speaking and being proactive.  My mind has been filled to the brim with exciting thoughts, and I have found extra minutes in the day to call people up and tell them about these ideas.  "Hello!" I say on the phone to a friend in the evening, at supper time, for example. "Put down your soup spoon and listen to me!  I have another idea!". Sighing faintly, my friends do listen, because they are kind and they love me.  And so it goes, until, I get a free Sunday (today), when suddenly I find I can no longer speak.  My head is very tired. There are no thoughts in it at all, and you could hear the wind whistle through it, so empty has it become.  Add to this, I have not slept so well recently, and we can see that I am a little below par.  Pooped, as they say.  

But!  I did go to Bridport yesterday to meet with Lizzie Hornby who is helping to organise the next A Graceful Death and Soul Midwife event there on the 1,2 and 3 November.  I cannot write what we did there, but it was efficient and helpful.  I have created a special website that will give you all the info you need for Bridport, because you will want to come - 


The event is held in the Unitarian Chapel in the Garden, and will be filled with the AGD paintings, tea and cakes and a small gift shop.  We have a talk on Soul Midwifery by the founder of the movement and author Felicity Warner, we have a fabulous concert by Lizzie who composed the music for the exhibition. We have a laugher therapy workshop by Soul Midwife teacher and practitioner Mandy Preece and we have a Sound Workshop and Sound Bath by Soul Midwife Sarah Weller.  The Opening Event is set to be a fab affair, with a piano concert by Lizzie, who will be playing music from her latest CD, and I will be talking about what I do and why, who are the people behind the portraits. The exhibition is running from 10am on Friday 1 November till 4pm Sunday 3 November.  All the new paintings will be there, plus the older ones, and there will be much to talk about, much to think about and time and space to in which to do so.  My team for this event are Musician Lizzie Hornby, Photographer Eileen Rafferty and Fabulously Helpful Jackie Keogh. A round of applause for them, and another when it is all over.

Outside the Unitarian Chapel in the Garden in Bridport, host to the next big AGD exhibition in November.  You will be able to get down the path without me standing in the way longing to hug you.  I will behave.
On Tuesday, I am taking part in a Schwartz Round at the Hospice where I volunteer.  This is where the medical, social and volunteering staff all meet and talk over a difficult topic that comes up in the Hospice, and see how we deal with it.  There is a panel of about three who have a story of how they experienced the topic under discussion, and the rest of the room then talk it over.  I am on the panel this week and the topic is "when things go wrong".  But I know nothing about that, I told them.  You are dealing, I continued, with the Artist Extraordinaire, and things simply go right.  All the time.  No one believed me, and I am on the panel with a story of my own, of how something went wrong.

And now.  I am still on the sofa.  Night has fallen, and the heating is on.  I have been asked to write a tiny piece on AGD for the Dying Matters magazine Farewell, and I have done so.  Feeling as tired and blank as I do, it was a struggle not to send in a piece saying that I haven't a clue, and I can't remember anything about it.  I used small sentences and short words, and I think it worked.  Thank you to Farewell Magazine for asking in the first place, I am delighted.  A very perceptive and engaging piece has been written about the Brighton School of Medical Science AGD last week, by Katriona Feinstein.  She has asked for some more bits to finish the article, which I will write that and send over tonight. Then, I hope, it can be published online and wherever it can be seen.  I have known Kat since she was 7, and I loved her then and love her now.  She is well over 7 now, in case you think I make kids write articles about me.

Here is a very interesting encounter with which to end this week.  After I had finished talking about AGD at the BSMS last week, a young student came up to talk to me and told me that she had painted her Grandfather as he was dying for her A Levels.  Louise Byfield is a young Arts Student now, and sent me an image of her painting. Not only do I think that Louise is very talented to paint her old Grandfather in this way, I am impressed that she chose him as a subject.  This is what Louise said in her email, that here were

 "paintings I made during my A levels and art foundation. The painting of just his face I painted after his death during my foundation and the coloured paintings before during my A levels. Interestingly enough I never made the connections of colour and lack of it till your talk. I felt more at peace after painting him I now realise. 
A nice thought. "



Louise Byfield's Grandfather, painted as he was dying, for her A Levels.  I think this is just wonderful, thank you for sharing it, Louise.