Category: the life of things

I am writing a feature about the history of protective clothing. As part of this, I’m conducting a series of short interviews with people who wear such garments as part of the work that they do. Does your job involve wearing a pair of dungarees or overalls, an apron, a tabard, a hi-vis vest, or […]

The gloves were still there when I passed by earlier, but had been joined by a wee stripey companion. . . Happily, I was able to stop Bruce before he made off with the gathering. Perhaps folk are abandoning their winter accessories willy-nilly – it certainly feels like Spring today.

I do hope that all of you reading this blog realise, by now, just how important you have all been to me over the past year. It has been a very strange and challenging time for me, but you have all been there every difficult step of the way. It has helped me enormously to […]

These are my pinboards at the Astley Ainsley Hospital, covered with the wonderful cards and messages you sent. Being in hospital is a difficult business. For me, the dissociating effect of being a patient in an institution was compounded by the fact that I was inhabiting a body which did not seem to be mine […]

If you stood the course through my radio burblings the other day, you might have heard me mention the thing that I’d like to contribute to the BBC / British Museum’s History of the World in 100 objects. I thought you might be interested to see it. While I was researching my piece for the […]

You will note that this advent calendar is turning out to have a determinedly snowy theme. Behind today’s door are some images from our lovely weekend away in the woods and hills. I do enjoy the snow — both for walking, and for photographing. I love its eerie quietness; its crazy, sculptural qualities; the incredible […]

When thinking about process, there is nothing more instructive than unpicking someone else’s stitches. I found a beautiful hand-embroidered cloth on ebay. I have plans for it. The plans involve deconstructing and transforming it into something else. I began by undoing the slip stitches of its heavy, worn cord edging. Then I started to unpick […]

Those who’ve read it might remember that the plot of Jane Austen’s Persuasion turns on Mrs Smith: Anne Elliot’s former schoolmate who, widowed after an unfortunate marriage, has fallen on hard times. Mrs Smith’s difficulties are compounded by physical pain: Austen describes her as an “invalid,” who is clearly suffering from what today we’d call […]

The title comes from Bernard Mandeville’s 1705 poem of the same name. Its only relevance here is that I have bees on the brain, and because, since I am feeling peaky (again) there’s been a bit of grumbling going on in this particular hive. Bees on the brain, you say? What’s that about, then? (landing […]