Stories and Imagery 29 August

An excellent workshop with Ruth Thomas.  We focussed on objects and the images associated with these, and how these could be used in writing.  My small group had a green clothes-peg and we came up with many images focusing on the past versus the present, modernity versus childhood, etc.

This inspired a story which used the clothes-peg as a motif for the anxiety of modernity!

Deconstructing the Clothes Peg

  The bright green clothes-peg snapped like a brittle twig.

 Shit.  There were never enough of them, and she only had three minutes to hang out the washing, drive the children to nursery, find a parking space and catch the train to work.

 She looked at the half-peg in her hand.  Serrated teeth, toxic green plastic like a child’s ice-lolly, the ragged white edge where it had snapped near the over-stretched spring.  Probably mass-produced.  Disposable, replaceable, throw them away, buy another hundred.

 Not like the old wooden ones.  She could remember the pegs her grandmother had used, hand-carved wooden pegs.  They lasted for ages and sometimes her grandfather would make little peg-dolls, just like he had made them for her mother.

 She remembered the wash-days, holding the peg bag she had made at school, reaching up to offer a peg to her granny, who stood tall over her, the bright blue sky above.  Her grandparents used a communal drying green and wash-days were a bustle of activity, the murmur of gossip and birdsong.

 She looked at the rotary clothes-drier in her garden and imagined how it looked from above, a thousand figures hanging out the washing in a thousand identical gardens, each the size of a postage-stamp, in their own lonely boxes.  The vertigo made her shudder.

 She looked at the half-peg in her hand.  Probably came from China.  The old ones were sold by gypsies and she remembered the time they had knocked on her grandparents’ door.  She had been nervous but also excited imagining their freedom, the roads they wandered, the world outside.

 The cry of a child brought her back to reality.   She looked at the wash-basket.  Not enough time, tumble-dry it later, sod the environment.  She would probably miss her train anyway, and would need to work late and pay the nursery an extra £20 for the extra half-hour.

 She grabbed her bag and darted to the car, leaving the two halves of the clothes-peg lying green against the grass.

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