Tuesday, 24 January 2012

John and Barbara

Barbara: Well, we were deep in the heart of the Cevennes country, both of us, which is south, south of France – south-westerly, south-east of France, quite a, quite a wild region, visiting friends, they live in the valleys, a valley of their own, and we were waiting for another couple who were walking, they were bringing another friend with them. And, erm, we saw the couple arriving. As soon as they were just approaching, my husband stood up suddenly. I thought why is he standing up. he stood up - yeah go on -

John: Well we were deep in the hills where nobody would know us, noone to interrupt our thinking at all, completely at peace with the surroundings. And then I stood up suddenly because the person who came behind the couple, she was a hillwalker and a guide, she knew a lot about hillwalking, what sort of boots you need, and how you need to be equipped. So I stood up and to my utter amazement, when I looked at this person, I knew her, because she had for many years been a West Londoner –

Barbara: - and the last time he’d seen her was thirty years before –

John: - 1973 –

Barbara: - sharing a tent! –

John: - actually even more than that, 1973. And to my utter amazement. I thought of all the people for me to see. this girl called Lorraine.

Barbara: A friend of friends

John: And she’s a very strong individual, loves hillwalking, and she, I think she’s a very good hillwalker and that’s, nowadays her home is in the Lake District, that’s where she lives. Quite an amazing story, to be sitting on a giant patio of gigantic slates and stone, and to think that you were completely within the wild hills, nobody’s going to, aah, and then out of the blue arrives this person who I’d last seen in 1973.

Barbara: And they recognized each other.

John: Amazing.

Barbara: It isn’t really, you’ll find as you get older, when you go back to see your old school friends, you always recognize the person. And the other thing is that’s interesting, the people you liked at the time you find, it’s still the same, the people you liked then. And you know when you meet all the rest of them later on you’ll find the people you don’t like are still the ones, yes.


Sophie works in IT and her dream job is running a jewellery stall. She enjoys bellydancing. She's lovely.

Lou, Doug and Fra.

Lou: So the first day that I wore these I was coming home from work, uhm, uhm, and erm going down Canning Town. At the flyover I couldn’t actually stop, and I was going towards Stratford, and I was going so fast I couldn’t actually stop I had to go all the way up the hill Canning Town, and I actually bumped into someone and knocked them over. Yeah, yeah, well, the poor person, I couldn’t even stop, I just shouted I’m so sorry, flying past them with bags in my hands, sorry! It was so funny. That’s probably the funniest story. Do you want any other stories. Love stories, sad stories?

Doug: Tell her-

Fra: We’re training ‘cause we’re chucking Mum over the top.

Lou: Oh yeah-

Doug: We’re, uhm - I’ll tell it shall I? – we’re climbing the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in July-

Fra: - June -

Doug: - June, about eight or ten of us are going. We’re, uh, my mum died a few years ago so were gonna spread her ashes – two years ago -

Fra: We’re gonna chuck her over. Throw her ashes over the top -

Lou: - 2010 – 2009 she died -

Doug: So we’re climbing quite a few hills -

Lou: So we’re raising money for St. James’ Hospice.

Doug: Should be ten of us but - we’re training now.

Lou: That’s what we’re training for now. We’re meant to do it in 24 hours –

Doug: Nah, we’ll do it in a week. Get a van-

Fra: Get a van, all go down there.

Lou: We’re raising money. This will be the first pound in the fund.

Doug: That’s my sister, that’s her girl.

The Two Annas.

In our first class there were people from all the MAs so they asked me what is your names and I said Anna and I’m studying Interactive Media, and she said her name is Anna and she’s studying Interactive Media. So we’re the two Annas.

Dave and Sally

Dave: You tell the story. It’s THE Story.

Sally: It’s a bit long winded. Well, Dave and I belonged to a choir when we were in our mid-teens, called the West Glamorgan Youth Choir, and then we courted for about four years. And then I went off to college in London, so, even though he did come and visit me for a while, I decided in the end that I wanted to be a free agent, so I said goodbye. So he went off and did his own thing, I went off and did my own thing. We both married, he had three girls, I had two boys. And when our marriages broke up Dave was working in Bristol, but still living in Swansea. My father went into his work - his insurance brokerage - this is thirty years later - and when he handed over his name Dave said, gosh, this is an unusual name, do you know Sally? He said I’m her Dad. And, err, it was coming up to half term - I work in a school - and I went home at half term and my mum said, ooh, you’ll never guess who I saw, do you remember David? Of course I do, he was the love of my life all those years ago. Found out that he had divorced as well. So my mind thought hmmm , gosh, I’m a bit low at the moment, having just separated from my ex-husband, so I decided to find him. And so, through my mother, I eventually got his number. I phoned him up one Friday night - this is nearly nine years ago - and his mother answered, so I asked is Dave there, oh no he’s on his way back from Bristol I’ll tell him to expect your call. So, rang back a couple of hours later, uhm. We talked on the phone for an hour. He said where are you, where do you live. I said Hampshire. And the following weekend he came down, and went back to Bristol for a while then gave up the flat and came to live with me and my boys. We got married three and a half years ago.

Dave: All over car insurance!


This was my coat in school. I lost it, then a couple of years found someone wearing it. The crest says Quae Sarsum Sunt Quarite which means Seek The Things That Are Above.


I came from Poland. In communist times. My dad came first, my mother came afterwards. It was very difficult at first, it was a difficult time to come to the UK. I was brought up with my sister in very much the cultural neighbourhood. When I went to Poland I was the Swede when I went to Sweden I was the Pole, which kind of is difficult sometimes. The only job I ever got I got through contacts, not through the application. And I was working nights so at the time I saw very little daylight which I think is how the depression grew. And, uh, one day I just got tired and thought I have to leave, if I leave and I come back, either way it’s for the better so I just went on my own, and travelled around for a while. And I think seeing other people in a worse situation, like, I visited these people in Cambodia. And it was after the tsunami, and worked with people. And I thought about my depression and thought why am I having this. Like one day I saw this guy, I went to a war museum in Cambodia, where there were a lot of landmines through history. And I went through the exhibition feeling really down. So I came out and I see this guy, right, on a skateboard, without legs, and very dirty, but he was happy. He saw me, I don’t know whether he had a couple of years of walking round, I don t know, anyway he’s very happy to see me, not because he wanted any money from me because he didn’t, he was just like “heeey, white guy, heey!” Like he was having fun, and I thought well shit, all of this stuff is wrong with him, his body, his legs, he has nothing, but he has a smile. I’m from a country with everything you know, very good social standards you know. I guess that changed a lot of things for me. I don’t know. I continued to travel. I went to Siberia all over. I came to the point where I have to do something with my life.

Katie, Ashley, Baby Angel and Conan.

Ashley: We’ve got a story about when we first got the dog if that’s any good to you? He’s a French Mastiff. When we went to view the dog the first time, he was just this big ball of mass, his legs couldn’t support his weight -
Katie: - yeah so he’d follow us about but his legs couldn’t take his weight, so he kept falling over. We took him home - has he slobbered on you? It goes everywhere, all over the telly, everything. Do you want a baby wipe? So when we brought him home we thought he needs a collar and lead, but when we’d bought him he’d never had a collar and lead on, at all, and we carried him home, put the collar on him, put the lead on him and said come on then, walks. And we couldn’t take him anywhere. His paws were sticking- all splayed out. So we walked him round Pets at Home dragging him behind, cleaning the floor with him, and then yeah he picked him up and starts carrying him. Next thing you know, we got advice, he said you’ve got to teach him to walk. And he said you need to get down on all fours, and in a really high pitched squeaky voice go COME ON, CONAN! COME ON! And I was seven months pregnant at the time with her. I had to get on my hands and knees with my belly touching the floor going COME ON! CONAN! COME ON! to get him to walk about three paces. And then he’s dropping on the floor, I had to get on all fours again and it was snowing so my belly’s leaving big dip marks in the snow.

Parsley and Flaxen

I don’t know his parentage but, uhm, my daughter works for Battersea Dogs Home. He came in as part of an unwanted litter and he was born the runt of the litter so my daughter bought him home for me because my old dog, well not this dog my other old dog was dying. Oh, he was old, he was 17, he was on his last, last legs, a very good old dog. So she brought him as a replacement and he’s called Parsley because when he first came, he used to have this big; he had this respiratory infection so his body was really skinny and his head was massive like Parsley the Lion from The Herb Garden. So that’s why he’s called Parsley. But he’s grown really well and, uhm, he’s a really lovely low energy dog and she keeps him in check and this is Flaxen. Flaxen, which means, uhm, yellow hair, she came to me, she’s nearly seven, I got her when she was about four or five months old. And she came, I worked for an animal organization called Celia Hammonds at the time, the police had raided a house, they brought in animals sometimes and they’d been breeding and selling dogs and they’d been breeding staffies and whippets and, staffies and whippets had obviously had a litter which I don’t know if you want this story actually so shes a staffi whippet. So she and the other four of her litter were put in a bin and set fire to and only her and one other one survived and the rest died. Her nose is broken in an L shape. She spent the first year of her life in my house under my daughters bed with a cat litter tray and just wouldn’t get out from under the bed. And so she’s, uhm, that’s poor Flaxen. And they live in a house with eleven cats, two rabbits, well I worked for Celia Hammonds, and, uhm, then I went to work at Mudchute Farm. He is an excellent ratter and unfortunately he killed a couple of ducks last week. So we cooked them for dinner. Eleven cats and two rabbits, that’s the fewest animals we’ve ever had.


Oh my god that feels like ages ago not me I didn’t get married.

I attended a friend’s wedding - a friend got married in - oh my god it feels like ages! It was only in like November! Yeah in California - it was my first time -we rented - well they rented - a massive house in Califonia. All of us stayed in this massive beach house this sort of extended pool house thing yeah that was great. That was brilliant and lots of girly fun bunches of friends I haven’t seen for quite a few years probably. We – yeah - we did everything. One of my friends officiated the ceremony - yeah - yeah and, uh, so we literally did or tried to do everything. We started to do the flowers -bridesmaids, yeah - and we all went with the bride to choose flowers for the bouquet. And the florist was a bit afraid that we were making our own bouquet and they were like we’ll do it we’ll do it just choose the flowers. So they did it for us so yeah that was fun.

I live in London. I’m from New York.


Age: 8

Favourite colour: Red

Favourite Word: Excellent

Favourite Food: Broccoli

Favourite Story: Amelia Jane she’s sometimes naughty and sometimes good (this was my favourite story at Heidi’s age)

Heidi once went to see The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase

Biggest Fear – The Dark


There was a man…..there was a poor…a poor man. And he had a goose. And he wanted the goose, he, he wanted the goose eggs. But he was a poor man. And he wanted the eggs, he wanted more eggs from the goose. So he cut the goose in half. And he didn’t have any more eggs.

Number One

I lived in India in the Himalayan mountains, which were remarkable. Every summer we’d go into the mountains and play. As you can imagine it was very beautiful. Yes. What else can I say?

Tell her about the big cat

I was playing with some children in their garden. We heard this tremendous growl, which sounded like a panther. They ran into the house and locked the door. They left me outside. I had to walk home, down under the fruit trees. I had been taught that running would attract the animal. I was terrified. I had to walk so very slowly until I got to the road full of walnut trees.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

What is this?

This is part of an ongoing performance research project.

Which is to say:

I don't know yet.

But as you'll see from the blurb on your right, next to a photo of me, I like to do things like writing, performing, inventing new things out of existing things and, now, collecting stories.

I will be treating this event as its own lovely, odd, self-contained thing. However I may also use these stories to put towards bigger stories that I may tell in the future.

They're going in my inspiration bank (I don't particularly like this as an analogy, but it works).

And I will, of course, publish them here (with permission from the teller, obv.)

Thoughts? Would you give me a story for £1.00?

I Will Pay £1.00 For Your Story

That's right. But not here. Not now.

If you are reading this it is because you are intrigued. You're probably excited too. Intrigued that I will pay you one pound for your story, and excited because you have a story, right now, in your actual head, that you'd like to tell me in exchange for this princely sum.


But hold your horses.

There will come a day.
(Which day? Saturday January 14th 2012).
I will be in a place.
(Which place? London, South of the river).
I will be holding a sign.
(What will the sign say? I'm getting to that.)

That is the signal you've been waiting for.
That is when you will know that the time is right.

I won't ask for any personal details other than your name, a year, and a location where your story happened. You can be as vague or as detailed as you like about these things.

This is an experiement. I have no hypothesis. I have no projected outcome.

But I have hope and a bag of shrapnel big enough for just fifteen stories, and a reasonably sound belief that I won't be robbed of either of those things. The people of South London have what I want, and they know what it is. Let them come and give it to me. They will be justly rewarded.