The last Booth Centre workshop of the summer for A Book of Ours. It’s been quite a journey, with many coming onboard. Some people have stopped by briefly and for others, they’ve travelled far and deep as they made the work. It’s an adventure into beautiful illuminated manuscripts and a journey into the self, determined by each person.
Some of these journeys have been stormy, punctuated by rage and tears. Today however, was a calm one, with a group of the regular makers finishing off pieces before the summer break.
A July page in the calendar was suddenly glowing with flowers.
November contained a memory passed on from Andy’s grandfather, returning from the First World War, one of the Pals Regiments that were so decimated. He finished the description with the single Latin word Amicus. It means friendship.
Anne Marie made a series of portraits of former Prime Ministers, and a ladybird. All of them joining their rightful place in the Book of Ours, which encompasses more and more of the history of the entire world as it grows. But most importantly it contains tiny fragments of the previously unwritten history of homelessness.
This is the story that isn’t shared, isn’t told, is kept secret and policed with shame. Or else it’s presented as the experience of individuals, rather than the truth — its an experience that’s shared by many, many people.
And on another page from one of the most prolific poets I’ve ever met, wrote about forgiveness. Much of his work is about anger and regret, but this one had a gentler tone and it fitted the mood of the day. He names the poems written for this project after blues singers, who themselves were often people with the experience of homelessness. Here is a section of it, to play us out.
Sonny Boy Williamson the Second
Ain’t no time, it’s irrelevant
“Love is in my heart, know we have to part”
Been up since 2 this morning
You got no possession, ain’t got no watch
However many t-shirts, you’re always cold
I’ve got blues in my head.
Sleeping under the Mancunian Way, like a cave troll.
But I’m sorry. Mercy.
What’s in your eyes today
Are you in love?
Grace of God?
When you’re on the streets, wear a hoodie
However many t-shirts
It’s cold. I’m always cold.
All you hear is cars. A drain.
Not religious but they tell me
I’m getting that way, growing a beard.
Not religious but I pray every morning:
“Want democracy, not hypocrisy.”