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Yum Wrap – Irregular musings on film, art and media

London, UK September 25th 2023 – Come Home Journal #35

A reckoning of the journey (turas) to tour Dancing Shadows in Ireland, a retrospective of my film works as part of the Come Home project.

“I didn’t call my father. Instead I thought about my aunt. I hadn’t thought about her for a long time. But I imagined Marla bursting into the room, restarting my mother the way she used to restart old cars. I imagined my aunt punching the doctors who failed us. I imagined my aunt flying into the side of the building and bursting in through the window in a spangle of broken glass, her eyes flashing like rubies, her dragonish scales a brilliant contrast to the thin hospital light, her muscles rippling across her flexible frame. An astonishment of light and heat and violent intellect.”

Kelly Barnhill, When Women Were Dragons

The trouble at Heathrow was unnerving. How long can one hold a toilet visit at bay? On the plane from Belfast to London I’d held on. The toilets were in constant demand and it was a short flight compared to the others I had taken. So I was first off. There’s no one faster than a women who needs the loo. So I was one of the first to the locked door into the terminal. The people behind me stretched from the door across the glass walkway to those still stuck on the plane.

Someone uttered the immortal words ‘it won’t take long’ and at that point I knew we were doomed. Sometime later, was it 5, 20, or 45mins, I could hold no longer. I walk-ran back along the crowded walkway aiming for the plane toilet.”You’re going the wrong way” some male comedian said to me in my red faced rush. “I’m flying us out of here” I replied. My line got a much bigger laugh.

Then onto the train to Paddington and another to Reading. Aunty Phil and I dance around the station in opposite directions until we find each other. “This isn’t the south side darling.” She drives me to see Aunty Margaret and Uncle Michel. He has prepared a huge dinner and the four of us eat and laugh into the night. What terrifically wild and fabulous conversations. These three have an easy familial connection. They finish each others sentences, listen intently and ask the deep questions that allow us to skip the tiny pointless politeness of small talk. They ask about news issues from my country that have been splashed around the world. My opinions aren’t comfortable for them but they don’t try to change them.

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.


Oscar Wilde

The following day Aunty Phil takes me for a walk around Reading and a cup of tea. We see a Banksy on the wall behind the prison that caged Oscar Wilde. Ironically this ephemeral work has been put behind perspex, behind temporary fencing and guard rail. The work itself is about freedom. Uncle Michel had told me Aunty Phil had ‘poo-pooed’ it, though she says to me she doesn’t mind it. She tells me with a mischievous glint that sometimes she just likes to be bloody-minded.

I see and hear my mother that day. And the bloody-mindedness has passed down to all of we girls, along with the awful condition of being able to hear the grass grow. Not as much fun as you’d think.

Later I walk in the woods with the aunties. They stride out, talk all the way, don’t take a breath, pick wildflowers, avoid runners and talk about mushrooms!

When I peer into this photograph I see mum just up ahead.



IMAGE CREDIT: Aunty Phil at the Abbey by Erin M McCuskey

Image journal Collection – Ireland –  Flickr Album – Album – London

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Prynn

    yep, you have captured the trio perfectly, both in photos and words. Love it.


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