I have a few creative projects on the go – This is the first one that’s come to fruition – and it starts with a lockdown story that began roughly eleven years ago……
A pregnant infertility survivor and a pro natural birth obstetrics consultant at a high risk pregnancy unit meet to discuss a birth plan. The infertility survivor would like a c-section; she now has a lack of trust in herself and wants to hand over responsibility to the doctors. The consultant wants to convince her to believe in herself and her innate capabilities. The infertility survivor hands over a print out of poems, describing the pain of her infertile years and the agony of her recurrent miscarriages. They talk. The consultant even uses two of the poems in a book she’s publishing. The infertility survivor has a successful c-section…..and my son Charlie is born.
Over a decade later, in lockdown, the Consultant, Dr Susan Bewley, finds my poems again and gets in contact. The poems are pulled out of a drawer and we agree that they are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago. So, with the help from Dr Bewley, they’ve been edited into a book….I took the decision that as they were poetry, they’d never get published down normal routes. So today, Songs For My Unborn Children has been self-published via Amazon and now they’re available to buy!
Doing it this way also means I get a say in all the art work, from the cover to the supporting instagram account.
So they’re out in the big wide world: Part memoir, all poetry, they cover the complete arc of infertility, from the pain of waiting, the grief of miscarriage to hospital visits, treatments, IVF, and finally the joy of a successful birth.
In the foreword, Dr Bewley writes:
‘Years ago, I was privileged to be given an early version of Songs to my Unborn Child from Kate during the course of her pregnancy, and to be allowed to use some for a book on Reproductive Ageing. She opened my eyes to the long, complex shadow that infertility, miscarriage and medicalised conception cast way beyond the immediate experiences. Doctors don’t bring ‘meaning’ to our everyday routines that clash with each patient’s exquisite vulnerability; it’s not a strong part of our skill set. But Kate provides another route to compassionate understanding. Few artists can paint pain, but this poetess succinctly describes the emotional roller coaster of suffering, endurance and recovery that will resonate for women who’ve experienced it, and induce empathy from those who haven’t. She gives voice to Everywoman’s shame and taboos. Even though she was one of the lucky ones for whom IVF did work, for most it does not. Every million cute IVF babies celebrated in the news and advertisements are accompanied by another several millions of futile cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and wounded souls. And emptier pockets. Although a proud mother now, Kate wears her scars. She doesn’t gloat or forget her trauma, or the ‘sisters in suffering’ who follow her. They might, or might not, take a similar journey to eventual peace but will recognize themselves. Read, cry, learn, repeat.’
Yep. It made me weep.
Songs is divided into five sections: Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF failure, Treatment, Afterwards and Pregnancy. It is ultimately a success story, but I hope the journey and the emotions will be recognised by all who have or who are walking this terrible path.
Please share, pass on to someone they might help, if you can’t buy – follow, anything to help get the word out, and I will be eternally grateful.
A big day.
Laters, Kate x
Podcasts are probably the weeds of the media world, growing in the gaps where we thought there were no spaces, except these gaps had rich, fertile soil which has now established these new comers as cornerstones to the garden. I know I resisted for a long time, I didn’t need yet another time sap. But there’s an invisible zeitgeist, an energy a new industry brings, a freedom of new voices being heard away from big business, corporate mouthpieces and I am hooked. Now, when there are jobs to be done, in my own time, at my own pace, I’ll be catching up with the latest offerings – in no particular order, these are a few of my favourites: The High Low – a weekly conversation between writers Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, that covers highbrow and lowbrow culture. A friendship, an intellectual exploration, an authenticity, a zeal.
Have You Heard George’s Podcast? – George the poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage whose innovative creativity sends you down the rabbit hole with fireworks and funk.
How Did We Get Here? – Claudia Winkleman and Professor Tanya Byron identify struggles faced by real-life parents and family members by inviting them in and hearing them in a one-time unscripted session. This is like unpaid for therapy, wrapped in love.
I was going to post more. But I think to do so would dilute the magnificence of the above….so I’ll continue with the rest in a post next week.
Laters, Kate x
A post in celebration of the joy that is Bethan Laura Wood, designer, icon and all round creative for her fearlessness, her individuality and her eagle sharp eye for character, form, proportion and colour combinations.
(All pics Pinterest)
A joy to behold, is this cultural appropriation, fusion or freedom?
For me it’s the freedom of a cultural fusion of joy. Simples.
Laters, Kate x
Every summer needs a project. Something that requires learning a skill, but nothing so taxing the chances of success always remain a once wished dream. I also believe tools and ingredients matter – low cost, simple and preferably eco friendly; I think this one gets A stars in all the right boxes – a crocheted rag rug.
The best instructions and most of these pics come from this brilliant website – My Poppet, and this youtube channel has easy crochet instructions. But the necessary bits are easy to gather – you need a good supply a jute string (you can you wool, I just believe the jute gives it a unifying look as well as being strong and sturdy), a crochet hook and lots of unwanted clothes and material scraps.
The idea of cutting up unwanted clothes, particularly the things the children have grown out of really appeals. It’s that feeling of history and memories and life continuing on. The aim is to cut the cloth into one inch strips, then roll them into useable balls. There’s different ideas about how to attach different strips together, some people like to sew the strips together, others just overlap the strips and crochet them together as and when.
The crochet required to make the rug is literally the most basic stitch you’ll ever need – this isn’t about doing anything complicated, but more about time and care and working in slow time.
The size you go is totally up to you. The one tip I’ve read over and over again, is when it starts getting big, crochet on a flat surface to keep the rug flat.
Circles of life.
Laters, Kate x
For the last week, autumn decided to roll into London instead of July: Grey, swollen clouds, heavy rain, a significant drop in temperature and most surprisingly, strong, bough wrenching winds. They say Thursday will mark the change back to summer again. I hope so. I would like some more summertime in the garden, particularly now we have a water feature.
This is ours, hidden in the lavender. We wanted moving water to cool the air on really hot days. And it helps that the birds are delighted with our choice, particularly Mr Robin.
Fingers crossed the sun will be back at the end of this week.
Laters, Kate x
Ebay is not a safe place for me at the best of times, but now with an official project – let me write that again with capital, authoritative letters – Official Project – as my cover, it is very dangerous; our kitchen is beginning to look like a reclamation yard. But oh, the pleasure! These are the stained glass panels I have snaffled – genuine Victorian, everything between £50 – £60 (which I think is good value, though they do need work). I have visions of them over the doors, at the back of the pod, even in the apex space between the roof. Who knows where their final resting place/places will be, but I am loving the colours – the pale pinks, the greens and then the contrast of the strong blues and reds. I can imagine sitting on something comfy with a cup of tea, looking at the garden, with the late afternoon light sliding through making patterns on the floor. The real bonus was finding painted centres as well – look! A duck!!
(little cough..I have three of these…all slightly different. All insanely gorgeous)
This is possibly my favourite – a caterpillar! Such a great metaphor for life, the universe and everything…
Little glowing bits of handmade, re-cycled, re-loved heaven.
Now for the lights…..hehe
Laters, Kate x
My Black Lives Matter post last week was weak; an expansive gesture hiding behind art and it’s many interpretations. Part of the reason is because for me to talk about racism is to hold extra large cartons of organic ducks eggs, one in each hand, whilst attempting to ride a unicycle for the first time; it’s bound to end in a privileged mess. Instead I have watched and listened, and it seems to me, the strongest way forward is through education, re-education, thinking, reading and more listening. Below is a list of available resources, the first three being personal to me – articles and documentaries that first opened my eyes.
Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted this famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; she wanted her pupils to feel the pain of racism. I don’t know when I first watched this documentary – maybe it was shown in a social science class at my secondary school – I do know I have carried it with me ever since. It wasn’t just the shock of segregation along seemingly inconsequential lines, it was the shock that people (in this case children) would not only go along with it, but it would influence their behaviour outside the classroom. It was a brilliant and brutal showcase of human failing, exposing our ever constant need to conform to a perceived power source and the contagion of group think.
White Privilege, ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ by Peggy McIntosh, first written in 1989, is an article I only read in the last couple of years. Again, it had a profound effect. Whilst’s Jane’s exercise was about conscious discrimination, this was about the unconscious discrimination we allow without thinking because we just don’t see it, because to notice has been conditioned out of us. She informed me, the word is not equal and there is no thing as meritocracy.
Notice anything about my education? White and female…
There’s not enough space to fill the books, words and videos of Maya Angelou. But with her brilliance, strength, wit and wonder, she remains a huge influence. My Grandmother gave me my first copy of a book by her – I know why the cages bird sings – and I can see it as I type this.
For the following list, I want to thank the High Low podcast, it is the result of their research combine with others such as the New York Times. Please refer back to this link if any of the links below don’t work:
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Women Race and Class by Angela Davis
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch
My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke
A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks
Why You Need To Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar https://bit.ly/3gG8rgq
Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list for The New York Times https://nyti.ms/3gKL8lH
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Citizen: An American Life by Claudia Rankine
I know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou
George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
Black Lives Matter
Black Protest Legal Support UK
Stop Hate UK
The Stephen Lawrence Trust
The Innocence Project
Show Racism The Red Card
Black Visions Collective
Girls Out Loud
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Can Change The World series on Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Petition to update GCSE reading list https://bit.ly/2U6foOl
1619 podcast by The NY Times
With thoughts and positivity, Kate x
I’m not here. I’m in a car, driving to Bristol, genuinely quite excited about experiencing a motorway again and moving wider than a 2 mile circle from the house. We’re emptying The Husband’s work flat as he’s going to be in London till at least Christmas; Every cloud. The plan is to make a round trip in a day – normally a ticket to hell, but all of that has been subtly reframed by the thought of travelling at speed, the prospect of a horizon and the promise of new vistas. Aren’t I the lucky one? These pictures were taken today – Sunday afternoon has become a potter time for me – projects to plan, things to do. And this represents the first time I’ve tried to re-make candles.
The first thing was to get rid of the bits of wax left at the end of all the finished candles. I found the best way was to pour in boiling water, which melted the wax, making it rise to the surface to create a wax plug that was then easy to remove.
My eclectic collection of containers, from tins to pots to old candle jars.
The wicks I ordered very cheaply from Ebay.
And stuck down with a dab of glue from a handy glue gun.
This was the super candle that inspired the re-make – a winter candle from the White Company with it’s gorgeous smell that died leaving lots of wax. I melted down in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the lump of it became soft, I cut it up into smaller bits to speed up the melt. I also added all the remnants of the other candles, because why not? Once everythings melted it’s possible to add various essential oils. As the kitchen already smelt like a tart’s boudoir, I refrained.
Pouring in the liquid wax is not the easiest thing. I recommend a funnel. Then I improvised with tin foil to keep the wicks upright and central.
Highly satisfying and highly recommended.
Laters, Kate x
According to one blog post, the voluminous dress is the new quarantine. And who am I to disagree? So far, my basic wardrobe has consisted of cropped trousers and long buttoned shirts, double layered when the temperature dipped, as loose coats over t-shirts when the sun shined. But temperatures due to hit 27 degrees this week, I think it’s time to transition to dresses. My favourite summer dress is a dark green, cotton vintage dress made with a deep v in a batik print. I love it. I love the colour, the ease and the print. In fact, I would like more of the same, but I can’t find and….so I’ve been trawling patterns on the web to come up with something similar.
And I’ve found three, and two of them, including the one above, need no pattern at all…and this one even comes with pockets!
This pattern comes This Little Miggy, a fab website with great ideas and a wonderful vibe, I would recommend a virtual tour. The instructions are brilliant; clear, precise and everything you could need.
If you feel comfortable sewing, you may want to move onto this pattern from So Sew Easy – or rather, instructions, because again, this is simple, only measurements, no-pattern sewing.
A finally, if you want to tackle a simple pattern to add sleeves, there’s this beauty from OliverandS
High summer dressing sorted.
Laters, Kate x
I’m not sure if we’re in lockdown in London any more, maybe it’s a strange transition period, like wondering what to wear between seasons? Because, despite the rhetoric, nothing has really changed for us; we’re still spending the majority of time in the house or garden.
But it gives me the time to salute some of my heroes of the past couple of months: The birds…their activity – the magpies that make me laugh, their song – we have a particularly vocal blackbird, their curiosity – yes, I’m speaking to you, unafraid Robin who watches me just a foot away when I’m gardening, the stories they tell – I’m gazing at nearly arrived swallows from my desk heralding the start of summer, and just their continual zest for life: nothing fazes them.
This post celebrates the inventive, simple but attractive ways we can introduce more of their joy into our lives.
(All pics Pinterest)
Which will hopefully lay down strong foundations to repay their gift and help them through the colder winter months.
A circle of life I value.
Laters, Kate x