The Miner Birds Monologues

A theatre collaboration with The New Vic and the North Staffs Miner’s Wives’ Action Group

Working with Borderlines Community Theatre at The New Vic and the archives of the North Staffs Miner’s Wives Action Group, The Miner Birds Monologues is a 45minute immersive theatre experience that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike. The project draws from the experiences of a group of women whose advocacy and activism took them all over the country including their high profile pit occupation of Trentham colliery in 1993.

The project, which includes a replication of the caravan pit hub from the 1993 occupation, will be visiting communities around Stoke-on-Trent to gather stories and memories from other women experiencing challenge and conflict.

New short stories forthcoming in ‘Antibodies’

Tink for Under the Radar, Nine Arches Press, January 2024
An Arm and an Oar for The Simple Things, Autumn 2021
Book Launch, for West Midlands Readers Network, Spring 2021
Roots, in The Simple Things, Autumn, 2020
Don’t let the sea catch you crying for The New Issue, Spring 2020
The Voyagers, in The Simple Things, July 2019
The Composer, in O Magazine, October 2019
Mr Briggs’s Next Door Neighbour, in Spake, (ed) Urzula Clark & Jonathan Davidson, Nine Arches Press, 2019

The Voyagers

He told me he drove the Seven Nation bus. Could say ‘Good Morning’ in seven different languages. Back in the 70s – his name Jack Bright on the streets of Wolverhampton, and he’s in his shirtsleeves but still wears a tie as he drops off, picks up the workers at Goodyear. And it’s a good year, this year. A Caribbean sun some folks left behind, and he agrees: curry does taste better in the heat. He accepts it in Tupperware, along with Halva and Jerk chicken, crowds his family around an old pasting table in the street and smiles as his wife smooths out a tablecloth. “Now sit,” she tells the kids as Jack sizzles Polish sausages over a camping stove with a spatula: laughs when his wife butters a chapati and second helpings are passed around.

They come together in the sun. Sit on doorsteps, chew the fat, try this with a fork, try that with a spoon, dip and lick their fingers, talk of lives they’ve had and these new ones now; laughing at Jack’s wife slathering sun-lotion on his bare-naked children. She has a queue forming. Everyone wants to know what it feels like and those tyre-skinned kids squeal because it’s slippery and cold. Here’s the ice-cream van, and money’s pooled: Jack notes that everyone’s tongue is the same colour. His wife tells him – “You’ve got raspberry ripple on your chin, cocker.” The midday sun now and he has an idea.

The depot on the Cleveland Road is not far. Jack counts 12 kids and thinks of them as doctors and nurses, teachers and engineers, of little Sanjay’s way with animals, Florence’s knack to fashion a skirt. He drives a double-decker, navy-blue and cream with jolly headlights and leather seats, and the hoses in the yard are over 50-foot long. There’s nothing more satisfying than washing a bus and he divides the children into teams.

Team A, you’ll hose down this side. Team B, the other. He gives Keith, with his long arms, the extendable mop, and tasks him with the windscreen. One, two, three and Jack turns on the tap and the hoses gush alive.

He wishes he had a video camera. He has seen them in shop windows, but memories will be enough. These 12 kids and their fathers now, playing tug-o-war with those hoses; Jack wishes he could bottle all that shrieking and laughter, sprinkle it in dark times like summer rain.

He takes to the driver’s seat and one-by-one, takes a child on his lap and offers them the wheel. Laps of the yard, it’s like a fairground ride. The girls take turns in ringing the bell and play conductors. Where to? They ask. The seaside!

Single or return? They paddle in the puddles left behind, catch the rainbows in the sunbeams, pebbles become shells, and they find water-spiders in the pools. Then they go back to all those tables pulled together in the street, the rum talking long into the night.

In later life, when retired and telling all this to his grandson, Jack can still smell the sun on the tarmac, taste the raspberry ripple on his skin. It became a thing on scorching days to troop the kids to the yard to hose down the buses, where they found Jamaican beaches and built castles on Indian sand. And then the next day bidding good morning – dzień dobry – Śubha savēra – Subah Bakhair – Mi deh yah – Buna dimineata – Salām – Ow do, Bostin’ fettle last night – and still in his shirtsleeves feeling as if he’d travelled the world.

(as published in The Simple Things, Summer issue 2019)

Antibodies

Lisa’s second short story collection moves away from the working-class gaze to look at women and their bodies. From dealing with natural physical changes to the body in Fin (End), to the metaphysical threat of a body of water reclaiming the land in Don’t let the sea catch you crying, to labouring over a body of work in Writer’s Block is a Non-Medical Condition: the women in these stories are constantly renegotiating how their bodies are used, reacted to and experienced. Like Macy Gilgore in Head Girl who takes her revenge on the schoolboy who’d humiliated her. Or Lou and Lydia whose lifelong friendship is tested through infertility and surrogacy in Swimming Anti-clockwise. And then there’s Annie, taking her walk in nature during lockdown and happening upon the hotel she used to work at where she awakens the spirits of the homeless in Flash Annie. What of bodies that don’t behave as they should? What if we have the right antibodies (Bloodlines) and what if we don’t (Intravenous Drips)? These new stories celebrate the idea of the body and women’s bodies exploring its complexities and its relationship with identity.

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