Broad Street Canal Bridge, Wolverhampton

I’m delighted that my poem Histrionic Water has been published on Writing the Black Country, a website buzzing with Black Country atmosphere.

Writing the Black Country

Untitled drawing (7)Histrionic water

By Heather Wastie

In Wolverhampton,

fish take me by surprise.

 

Looking down from Broad Street Bridge,

then from the towpath edge

 

I need an explanation

for such unexpected clarity,

 

a long exposure of minnows,

lush reeds and sulky sediment.

 

It’s ironic, says the cut water,

I have been cleansed

 

by a vandal-induced stoppage.

Tearfully the water speaks:

 

It was you who saved me

from oil slick, effluent, blackened

 

polystyrene icebergs, mattress tangled

shopping trolleys, half inched bikes,

 

malicious metal spikes,

contents of living rooms tipped.

 

I was soap sud soup with beer bottle croutons,

peppered with cans and the odd chunk of meat.

 

You saved me from scum,

from smothering polythene,

 

wire running red, the callous garrottes

of those who would see me dead.

 

I fear the onset of duck weed.

You saved me to be…

View original post 276 more words

I become a boatwoman

Chestnut Inn, Worcester

Chestnut Inn, Worcester

The Alarum Theatre tour is about to reach its half-way point with a show at Two Towers Brewery, Birmingham, 7.30pm on Wednesday 25th April. We will then have left the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

I thought now would be a good time to share a new poem I have performed at every show, until now. Once we’re on the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) I won’t be including it any more as much of the material in my half of the show relates to the areas we are passing through.

After leaving Birmingham we’re heading for the Black Country, where I was born and lived until 2006. It’s great to be close to home! Here are the Black Country dates:

Fri 27 April 7:00pm Brook St Community Centre, Tipton with fish & chip supper
Sat 28 April 7:30pm Titford Pump House, Oldbury
Tue 1 May 2:00pm Wood Lane Community Centre, West Bromwich
Tue 1 May 7:30pm The Lamp Tavern, Dudley

For the full schedule click here. For tickets/reservation click here.

Now here’s the poem!


I become a boatwoman

On the Worcester and Birmingham
in nineteen forty one,
a week’s trial – a trial it was
in more ways than one.

Confused and bewildered
I joined a team of three.
Daphne March and Molly Traill
set out to educate me.

Boats not barges.
Boaters not bargees.’
At seven feet wide by ten feet long,
the cabin’s quite a squeeze.

There’s no room for my suitcase
with all my travelling clothes
so I’m making do with a pillowcase
and heaven only knows

how I’ll sleep on the side bed –
two feet wide, no more –
with Daphne on the cross bed
and Molly on the floor.

On the Worcester and Birmingham
in nineteen forty one,
a week’s trial – a trial it was
in more ways than one.

Confused and bewildered
I joined a team of three.
Daphne March and Molly Traill
set out to educate me.

© Heather Wastie

April 2018
Words found in Amateur Boatwomen by Eily Gayford

#TheIdleWomen Spring tour

After six shows in Worcestershire, the Alarum Theatre Spring tour continues tomorrow, Tue 17 Apr, when Kate Saffin & I bring Idle Women of the Waterways to the magnificent Alcester Town Hall in Warwickshire. The show starts at 7.30pm.

Here are two audience comments after our show in Finstall last Saturday:

“Really excellent show. Learnt so much about the trainees.”
“Very enjoyable and inspiring. Simply great!”

We then travel into Birmingham for the next three dates:

Fri 20 7.30pm   St Nicolas Place, 81 The Green B38 8RU
Sun 22 3.00pm   Stirchley Baths, Bournville Lane B30 2JT
Wed 25 7.30pm   Two Towers Brewery, 29 Shadwell Street B4 6HB

Splashed across the Evening News
“Idle boats in need of crews”
so young girls, greenhorns
applied and went off for interviews ….

Come and find out how they came to be called ‘Idle’!

For all Spring tour dates and information about the show click here for the Eventbrite page.

Heather at Foxton, Photo by Andrew Carpenter

Heather at Foxton, Photo by Andrew Carpenter

Heather Wastie, Kate Saffin nb Scorpio, Stourport

Heather Wastie, Kate Saffin nb Scorpio, Stourport. Photo by Paul T Smith.

Genevieve Tudor’s Sunday Folk

I’ve featured on Genevieve’s lovely show in the past, but not for ages. I sent her a copy of the Tales from the Weavers’ Cottages CD and she played a track during this episode. It was a joy listening to the whole programme. She takes time to talk about the background to each track she plays, and is a generous interviewer, as you can tell from the interview on this programme.

I suggest you sit back, relax and soak it all up!

And if you would like to hear all of the Weavers’ Cottages songs, follow this link.

Not so Idle Women

It was really good to see the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate at our show on Saturday. In her exceedingly busy schedule she even found time to blog about it ….

awritersfountain

IdleWomen1-1

On Saturday night I finally managed to catch the Idle Women Tour, this is a project Heather Wastie has worked on since 2016, I missed the 2017 performances and have been meaning to catch a show ever since!

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The show gained financial support from Arts Council England, which enabled the employment of a Tour Manager, Zoe Hunn and Director, Milla Jackson.

Last Autumn Idle Women featured on BBC Country File, which aired November 12th as part of Remembrance programming.

https://alarumtheatre.co.uk/broadcast/bbc-countryfile/

The Spring Tour started last week with a performance at The Chestnut Inn,  Worcester on Tuesday 3rd April.

idle women chestnut inn© 2018 – Alarum Theatre

I knew the basic content of the show and have been aware of Heather’s work and some of the poetry. I purposefully didn’t look into the Double Bill and had no idea what to expect from Kate Saffin (other than half the show).

Photographs taken in the first week of the…

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Tell-Tale Colours by Heather Wastie

One of my Weaving Yarns (Black Pear Press) poems has been published on the Celebrating Change blog. Here it is with a photo from the Museum of Carpet archive.

Celebrating Change

Tell-tale colours

In the carpet capital of the world,

Brian is studying the Stour,

today’s mix of colours

from a multitude of dyes.

His dad would make the joke

that if Jellymans dumped a yellow

and Carpet Trades a blue,

Brintons would get green.

Every day the smell of wet wool

would arrive in the kitchen

on his dad’s hessian bag

of weaver’s “bits and bobs”

dumped loudly on the table,

the same scent clinging

to his mother’s coat as she rushed in

to get the dinner on.

Brian is thinking now of Uncle Ted

weighing out powder in the dyehouse

wearing a makeshift hessian apron

to save his clothes.

In Brian’s imagination,

the river is now a steaming wooden vat.

Suspended hanks are lowered in,

boiled and cooled, boiled and cooled

then hauled out with the lifting gear

to be spun in the dryer,

coming out clumped into quarters

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Tiller, Kettle, Windlass

I’m delighted to be featured in this wonderful new film by Erin Hopkins:

Tiller, Kettle, Windlass – A Narrowboat Film

Windlass100 year old windlass – backdrop, NB Tench, 2017