Writing & Literature



My work is about observations I make in my daily life when I am out walking, travelling or when I am struck by some snippet of overheard conversation. A word version of small scenes. To quote Seamus Heaney, ‘I’ve always associated the moment of writing with a moment of lift, of joy, of unexpected reward.’ In Fieldnotes for Leaving I am a detached witness, an ethnographer, collecting people’s habits, customs, and differences. But then there are moments when ‘Everything is lined up in the right order and we realise we had nothing to do with it. We are there, if we are lucky, to witness it. …It was quite a sight, and I was aware of a “goodness” something outside of myself.’ These notes or fragments are all stories in themselves, and I want to record them. They are not spectacular happenings but, somehow, they are important. While my portfolio focuses on the Fieldnotes, I have included here an Excerpt from novel in progress.

Excerpt from Headwinds

A little bird crashing into the window gave Kate a fright. She went out to see where it was. She had often found a bird on the ground after it had hit the glass but there was no sign of this one. Later, she saw Ben scraping at the grating which covered the window to the cellar. When she looked, she discovered a blue tit crouched into a corner looking up from the grating. She put Ben inside the house and opened the grating for the bird. But it didn’t come out. She went away and came back to look later, thinking it might have taken the chance. It was still there. Down on her hands and knees, she put her hand in and tried to catch it. It was jumping from place to place, and Kate could see it had hurt its wing. She picked it up and left it on the ground. It hopped across the yard into the bushes. It wasn’t going to fly. Later still, Ben was in the same bushes chasing something. He’d found the bird holed up under some sticks. Kate took it out and brought it into the house and put it on the floor in the hall. It was terrified and breathing heavily. She put it into a soft cloth on the window-sill. Thinking it might warm up but then its breathing slowed and the distance between the breaths got longer. It cocked its head at one stage, giving her hope, and stretched its wing out a little later. But she could see it was giving its last few breaths. Is that how it was for Adam? His last few breaths, his small chest rising and falling?