Monthly Archives: July 2012

block party at new walk museum

A little gem of an exhibition from the crafts council exploring the use of tailoring in contemporary craft.

Heres the link

Worth a mosey up New Walk – enjoy

Hunter Jacket, Embodying Ethics, Rohan Chhabra, 2010. Photo: Rohan Chhabra














































    Paint Tin Clip Art


    Sat Nav by Gemma Clarke

    Rubies and duels would like to welcome our newest guest writer – enjoy her story


    Helmut Beergarden-Clarke was feeling very pleased with himself,

    he thought his TOM-TOM sat nav purchase for £89.00 was an

    absolute steal and the Which? website confirmed it! Even Bob the

    guy at his local garage, who’d fitted it, thought he had, as he put it

    “played a blinder.” And today he was going to christen it with a trip

    to Coventry, a trip he made everyday, to check if it followed his

    special short cut or sent him all around the houses – or indeed to a

    Little Chef car park just outside of Orpington as had happened to

    him with his old one, hence the new purchase.

    After the third time of checking he’d locked his front door and

    avoiding all the cracks on his garden path he eventually made it to

    his car. He started the engine and on the third go pulled away. He

    duly switched on the sat nav, then off again, then on, and off again

    and finally on – and a voice with a thick Egyptian accent said.

    ‘You have switched me on three times, I now grant you three

    wishes O Master.”

    Helmut was a bit taken aback by this turn of events. ‘Wh what.”

    he replied. I want to go to Coventry, and quick about it.”

    “Can I just stop you there O Master; I have just granted you

    three wishes and you want one of them to take you to Coventry, no

    one has ever wished that before. Are you sure want to waste a

    wish, what about improving your nose, I have a wide range to

    choose from?” And on the Tom Tom screen appeared a selection of


    “What do you mean improve? I have a fine nose, fine noses run in

    our family. It’s a noble German nose – we’ve had this nose for five

    generations.” declared Helmut.

    “Apologies O Master, Coventry it is then.”

    “No, wait. You can actually grant me three wishes?”

    Well yes, within reason. You can’t wish for more wishes, you can’t

    see or go into the future or the past.”

    ‘Well what kind of thing do people wish for?”

    “ All sorts really…”

    “Hold on where’s your Egyptian accent gone?”

    “Oh yeah, that was an introductory offer for the first five minutes,

    you’ll have to put up with my original Brummie now. Right, previous

    wishes… Lottery win obviously, to be the new James Bond, young

    Daniel Craig has never looked back. No one’s ever gone for world

    peace, or turning the sea into drinking water – it’s up to you Pal,

    but don’t go for Bond, not with that nose, I do wishes not miracles.”

    “Is my nose really that bad?” said Helmut looking in his wing

    mirror, bending his long pointy nose this way and that.

    “Are you kidding, it’s a tossup between you and Pinocchio after

    he’s told a whopper!”

    “Well which would you choose?” said Helmut looking at the Tom

    Tom screen selection.

    “I’m an invisible entity, I don’t need a nose, but if I had to

    choose, number six, it’s what we call a Roman Nose, very popular in

    the Home Counties at the moment. There you go, give it a blow”

    Suddenly his old nose dissolved and the Roman Nose grew in its

    place, causing him to sneeze.

    ‘Don’t worry that always happens.” said the voice. So, what do

    you think?”

    Helmut blew his nose and checked it in the wing mirror, a broad

    grin spread across his face.

    “Okay” said the voice “I see you like it, right that’s wish one,

    what’s your next one, what about changing that awful moniker?

    Helmut Beergarden-Clarke, your school days must have been


    “I can do that for myself.’

    “Yeah but you’ll have to sign a million forms, change your driving

    License, passport, bank details, I can do it by just clicking my

    invisible entity fingers, plus you won’t have to tell friends and

    neighbours, I’ll make sure they think you were always called by

    your new name, which is….” said the voice, expectantly.

    “Muffton-Drizzlecoat, Helmut Muffton-Drizzlecoat” said Helmut.

    “Ever heard the expression ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’”

    said the voice. “I’m not sure you’ve got the hang of this wish

    malarkey. Right to sum up; you have your new Roman Nose, your

    new name, heaven help us, Helmut Muffton Drizzlecoat; right third

    wish and you can’t see it but I’m crossing my invisible entity fingers

    right now – shoot!

    “Exactly” said Helmut. “I want to change my job from Ledger

    Clerk to freelance Assassin.”

    ”Who do you want to kill?”

    “Jeremy Clarkson”

    “Wish granted,” said the voice

    Royalty – section 9 – Caz

    So, some back story, every tale needs some back story and mostly, i don’t think about mine, about all the stupid decisions, the not decisions that led to this place, this life, but just sometimes, when things are quiet, when the kids are focussed elsewhere and the baby’s’ asleep, i allow myself the luxury or torment of taking stock

    And of course, it shouldnt be like this, my mum had a game plan for me, actually, my mum had a game plan for everything and anything. Nothing left to chance, she made and probably still makes lists, each item carefully ticked on completion,a shopping list of a life.

    I never saw the list she made for me, not sure if it ever existed outside of her head, but if i close my eyes, i can see it written in her oh so neat upright script

    Have child

    Send child to good school

    Ditto ballet, swimming and drama classes

    Send child to good university

    Step back and watch child succeed


    It’s not like she was even pushy, it was her certainty that go to me, her complete sense of rightness – she had decided it, so it would happen

    Of course i kicked against it, at first in tiny ways, testing the waters.

    Not chosen for the ballet solo, being unaccountably timid in water.

    My rebellions grew, first one, then another school decided that they could manage fine without me. I made friends that caused her pain, pinched nostrils, forced politeness, a tight smile as I paraded as many no-hopers as i could find into her artfully designed home.

    And then of course there was sex, i wonder if she ever guessed how dull i found it, Mia was conceived after a fumble, an encounter so tedious that it seemed impossible that i could actually be pregnant, but i was and to a boy so hopeless, so gormless, almost invisible.

    But it wasnt quite enough to de-rail her, so I choose Haydons’ father with more care and that’s where it all began to spiral  out of control………………….too much, far too much.

    I shake my head, try to dislodge some of the images that this way of thinking brings and am almost grateful when the kids burst in, the lure of breakfast cartoons over, demanding food and entertainment.

    Mia starts the usual litany

    “what we gonna do today?”

    “can we go to the shops?”

    “are we doing something exciting?”

    She is so used to my responses that she doesnt really bother to listen, so i have to say it twice before she pays attention

    “Imelda is coming to make our sitting room pretty, like fairy land”

    She looks up at me and smiles, her little pointed kitten face lit up with the idea of something new , something dfferent.

    Haydon pauses, with a spoon halfway between his mouth and the bowl, dripping milk and soggy cereal onto the floor

    “Dont like Imelda, don’t like Troy, don’t like the baby” he mutters, looking at me quickly between each statement before he dips his face back towards the bowl.

    There is a pause and then Mia stares at him and for a second i see my mother, that quick look of disappointment in the childs’ inability to take part in the plan.

    I look around the sitting room, trying to see it through Imeldas’ eyes, it ugliness floats past me these days, we have been here for so long now that most of the time i don’t even see that grubby magnolia walls, the woodchip which is rubbed smooth in corners, the cracked window pane, legacy of Haydons’ dad and his last visit.

    Sometimes I think about painting the walls, but that would be defeat, admitting that we are here for the long haul, settled, that this is where we belong. So i don’t.

    I try to tidy up a bit though, put the kids toys into the recycling boxes i pinched in the last move, pat the cushions on the sagging sofa, prop up the dodgy leg with a book, even take out the rug and give it a bit of a shake and before i can get too carried away, Mia is shouting

    “She’s coming, she’s coming now”

    So, i go and open the door and let them in, the baby is silent as usual, head resting on her mothers’ shoulder, Troy is hidden behind her, his fingers wrapped round the belt hook of her jeans, not looking up at us and Imelda, Imelda is wearing a bright orange silky shirt, buttons undone so that i can see her flat stomach, the colour should be terrible, but on her it is perfect and i try to stare and not stare.

    She is carrying a big cardboard box, i can see bits of fabric sticking out, the plug of a nest of fairy lights. Mia is beside herself with excitement, jumping up and down, trying to see inside the box.

    Imelda walks to the table, drops down the box and pauses, turns and looks , really looks at the room and suddenly i see it through her eyes, and i feel ashamed, i want to tell her that I’m better than this, take her to my mothers’ house, show her how I could live, if I choose to, if I could bear the cost.

    “yeah” says Imelda, “we can make this nice, easy, just take a few minutes”

    And it does, but it’s not like how i imagined it would be, for a start she completely ignores me, just hands me the sleeping baby and co-opts Mia as her tiny assistant. Haydon and I stand, our backs against the wall, watching as they wrap fabric, pin bits of cloth to the tired furniture, hang fairy lights off  anything they can. Haydon is watching carefully, the soggy velvet ear of rabbit brushing his lips and Troy squats against the furthest wall, watching us, watching his mother.

    Suddenly, its finished, Imelda steps back and considers her handy-work and in perfect impersonation, down the the very tilt of her head, so does Mia.

    “yeah” Imelda nods and so does Mia

    “better, but you need candles, doesn’t  really work in daylight, you need candles for the magic”

    Mia nods solemnly,

    “yeah, it need candles mum”

    Just for a second I an uneasy, this woman, this stranger is in my house, inside my daughters’ head, but then the moment passes and I smile.

    Imelda looks at me, over my daughters’ head

    “got things to do, but i’ll come back later, bring candles, some wine, make a night of it”

    She looks at me again, slowly, deliberately  and then scoops the still sleeping baby out of my arms, clicks her fingers, Troy moves immediately to her side and they are gone.

    Haydon looks up at me

    “Don’t like Imelda” he says and he walks stiff legged towards the kitchen, velvet rabbit clutched tightly in his hand.



    Camilla,Alex and Zara

    This is fiction, the story comes from my imagination and bears no relation to the real lives of the kind people and very lovely Zara who allowed me to use their photo as a catalyst for this story.


    It’s the dog I feel sorry for. Sometimes, when i look at her little face screwed up with concentration, her head turning towards each of them, it seems such a shame.

    Looking back, of course it was a stupid idea, a dog for their 14th birthday. I thought it would give them a sense of responsibility, get them out of bed at the week ends, encourage them to go for walks, all those good sensible things you want your teenagers to do.

    I even thought it might make them less competitive, give them a project they could share, perhaps even let them get closer to each other again .

    I can remember what they were like as littlies, heads close together, bent over some project, completely immersed in their own world, sometimes, I even felt a little jealous.

    I used to try to make a joke of it, say that they didn’t need a mum, didn’t need me cos they had each other , but it was one of those shaky jokes, a little to near the truth to be funny. I certainly never made it at the Twins club, way too many mums there who might not get the joke at all or worse still might the truth behind it all too well.

    So, I get them the dog, 12 weeks old, just a little bundle of fluff, terrified of her own shadow, spends the first two days hiding behind the sofa and at first it seems to be working , they’re both sitting beside the sofa, trying to coax her out. I pretended to be watching the pup, but really I was watching them, thinking that I’d managed to do a good parent thing, that perhaps now they could start enjoying each other again.

    Of course it went wrong, within 48 hrs they were at each others’ throats, both insisting that their name was the best and the pattern was set, they couldn’t decide, so I made the decision – Zara – I said, we’ll call her Zara – and we did.

    Poor Zara, she’s just another pawn in their competition,

    “She loves me best”

    “No she loves me more”

    “She comes when I call her”

    “She wants to sleep on my bed”

    Some days the dog is smothered in love, walked 5 or 6 times, brushed, cuddled, fed endless treats. Other days, when they have other ways to score points off each other, she is ignored.

    Zara is stoic, has learnt over the years to come to me when she is hungry, bored, a little lonely.

    Evenings when world war 3 is being unleashed upstairs, we sit quietly on the sofa , her head on my lap. We watch TV together, we have both developed a taste for costume drama and low-fat crisps.

    Just occasionally, i lean forward and whisper into her ear

    “who loves you best ?” and she licks my hand, you could say it’s for the salty after-taste of the crisps, but i know better.




    Moulin Rouge

    Watch this

    Read this…………………………………..



    Freedom and


    above all else, Love,  because  this is a story about falling in love at the Moulin Rouge, about doomed love, about love that no-one even notices, about love for sale and love given away for free.

    But even then, there is always a cost, something lost, something taken, love is bad for business.

    The French are glad to die for love

    This then is the best sort of love, a doomed and tragic love

    A kiss on the hand is quite continental

    Why fall in love with the penniless writer when other desire will wrap your neck in jewels, allow the moon to shine against your skin, pale skin in paler moonlight

    But diamonds are a girls’ best friend

    Lost in their love story, eyes only for each-other, blind to harsh realities of our Moulin lives

    A kiss may be grand

    But it won’t pay the rental

    On your humble flat

    She chooses to close her eyes, imagine a better future

    A life where charm is never lost, where the body stays adored, forever young

    But square-cut or pear-shaped,

    These rocks don’t loose their shape.

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    We try to warn her,

    Time rolls on,

    And youth is gone

    ,And you can’t straighten up when you bend.

    But she laughs in our faces, says their love will last for always, says that their love will keep her warm

    Men grow cold

    As girls grow old,

    And we all lose our charms in the end.

    And at the end, when everything is lost, love, beauty, freedom.

    There is only truth remaining

    Diamonds! Diamonds!

    I don’t mean rhinestones!

    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

    Joan Miro/Anish Kapoor @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park

    Off on our annual summer hols pilgrimage to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, hopeful of sunshine, but instead a day of total greyness, humid air and chocolate brownies.

    I love the park, the odd placing of art in such a British landscape, the gentle fuddlement after a long day of very modern pieces when you find yourself staring at a pile of logs, wondering if its art or just garden tidying and the exercise puritan in me takes a sad pleasure in calculating that i can walk 8 km if i go and look at everything.

    There are all the usual delights, some old pieces that i have been visiting since my daughter was tiny – the giant human/rabbits come to mind and some and at times irritating new ones – does placing 71 steps on a hill make them art of just a useful way of getting to the top

    There is a current major exhibition of the sculpture of Joan Miro, including some really interesting background on his approach to sculpture and to splendid retrospective on the work of Anish Kapoor, well worth the walk to the far away gallery and as an added bonus there are a field of alpacas next to that exhibition.

    some images to tempt you


    To find our more, go to