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The Tuner’s Eye

I’ve been busy arranging my Weaving Yarns poems and songs into a draft script for “Kidderminster Stuff” with Kate Wragg (August 16th and 17th – see Performances page).  There are a few pieces still to write after interviewing people, including one person I met at a party! We start rehearsing next week.

If you’re interested in a sneak preview of “Kidderminster Stuff”, do come to LOAF at The Coach House Community Arts Centre, Rectory Road, Oldswinford, Stourbridge DY8 2HA on Sunday 7th July at 11.15 when I’ll be doing a half-hour set, followed by Kate Wragg 12.00-12.30. I will also be singing “Tying the Knot” at Mouth and Music, Boar’s Head, 39 Worcester Street, Kidderminster DY10 1EW on Tuesday 9th July 8.00pm.

On Saturday 6th July I will be talking about the Weaving Yarns project at a Writing West Midlands Writer Networking Morning at the Light House, Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT 10.00-12.00. For further information about all of these events see http://www.wastiesspace.co.uk/Wasties_Space/DIARY.html

I’m grateful to my local District Councillor, Chris Nicholls, who gave me some funding to interview people where I live in Cookley. One of the people I interviewed was Geoff Perks who worked as a tuner. He lives in a nursing home and last week I visited him to read the song lyrics I had written about him to check he was happy. He wasn’t at all well but he listened intently as I read and at the end he smiled a broad smile and said he was very impressed. This was so rewarding for me, and I’ve sent the piece to his family. Years ago I edited a bo0k of reminiscences after interviewing people in Tipton and the daughters of one of the people whose memories appear in that book came up to me at the launch and expressed their gratitude. Oral history is so valuable.


The Tuner’s Eye

for Geoff Perks

There’s more to making carpets
than meets the casual eye,
so said a canny tuner
and then he told me why.
He spoke of cops and shuttles
and how he tuned the loom.
This is what he told me
one day in his living room:

CHORUS
A cop is like a sausage,
a sausage made of jute,
jute inside a shuttle,
watch the shuttle shoot.
The sausage will unravel
as the shuttle flies across.
The tension must be perfect
for the weaver, he’s the boss.

Hold your finger up
and put the jute around,
turn it round and up
then turn it round and down,
enough to fill a shuttle,
that’s the time to stop,
that’s how machines would do it,
that’s how they made a cop

CHORUS

The shuttle’s double ended,
its points are very sharp,
you keep your wits about you
as the weft speeds through the warp
A shuttle can be dangerous
and blood has been spilled,
shuttles have shot out
and weavers have been killed.

CHORUS

The weft keeps on going,
at the end of a cop
another piece is tied to it –
seamless, doesn’t stop.
His dad was a weaver,
his grandfather too,
from bobbin boy to tuner,
he’s seen a thing or two.

CHORUS

© Heather Wastie
May 2013

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