Support the Early Day Motion

Diane Abbott MP has recently tabled an Early Day Motion to make it illegal to intimidate clients and staff outside abortion clinics. I had hoped this wouldn’t be necessary but it is. These people are trying to prevent reasonable access to legal healthcare. We know how this “pro-life” (funny it’s always unborn life they are in favour of, not the already-born kind) stuff turns out in the US and it is starting to happen here. In solidarity with all people who believe that women should have the power to control their own bodies, here is the link to the petition in support of the EDM. Please sign. in support of the Early Day Motion

And here is a poem I wrote in the days when I was on the way to my MA classes, and used to regularly pass the pickets, busy intimidating people, outside one large London clinic. It’s a true story.

Litany on Bedford Square

It’s always been the same; men and old women
instructing young girls how to live,
running in fear of the power of oestrogen
budding and flourishing beyond their law.

Outside this door, the whole sad choir of them
chant in praise of the perfect mother,
gripping rosaries like ligatures;
blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

It’s mortal sin, if you believe in souls,
not cells and blastocysts; ‘products
of conception’. An hour’s mistake must last
a lifetime, no repentance can

absolve a woman of motherhood. I try
to talk to them. One hisses back;
Can’t you see we’re praying? So I sit down
inside the café, and Google this;

And when you pray, don’t be like hypocrites
who love to pray on the corners of streets
to be seen by others. Truly I say to you,
they already have their reward in full. *

I write it down, and ripping out the page
from my notebook, hand it over.
I walk past later, glad to see they’ve gone;
just a happy coincidence.

* Bible, Matthew 6:5

Style Is Eternal

Picture by Simon Armstrong (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It isn’t every Pennine market town of 7000 souls that comes with a full size French Chateau attached. Barnard Castle seems to be the only one. The Bowes Museum is a fully-fledged, international museum and art gallery with a wonderful permanent collection as well as a series of touring exhibitions. It’s big on costume and textiles, so it’s very fitting (pardon the pun) that it will be hosting an exhibition this summer called Yves St Laurent – Style is Eternal. This retrospective of one of the 20th Century’s most influential fashion designers is only coming to one museum in the UK – a massive coup for the Bowes. (Oh! the parking! It’s going to be impossible…)

Ever the opportunist, I thought it would be fun to run a poetry-writing workshop, with suitable writing prompts and a visit to the exhibition. I’ve booked a meeting room at the Bowes for the whole day (10.30 – 4pm) – Saturday August 22nd, and I have spaces for 14 poets to come and consider what fashion means in our own lives and how clothes have been used in poetry. We will have special guests Amy Key and Camellia Stafford with us – they have written extensively about fashion and identity, in their collections Luxe and Letters to the Sky – to talk about their work and influences.

The price of the workshop is £25, which includes entry to the YSL exhibition. The only other thing you need to pay for is food, which you can bring along, or find at the rather gorgeous museum cafe. So as things stand there are TWO tickets left. Contact me at to book a place.