List of Soft Things

Pillow          Scarf 

her hands           Cushion          Blind bath

Duvet         Hat               Soap

Carpet          Glove            Bubble

Curtain         Breakfast           Eyes

Flower           Egg                   Shade

Dressing            Gown          Yawn         Books

Skin             Cat           Tea

Hair          Morning               Madeleine

Linen           Tissue           Cake

Sock             Shower             Slippers

Hand             Mum                    Blanket

Bum              Mum              Death


List of Hard Things

Knife            Cupboard corner                                     Nail

Tap                             Fork                      Stair

Window pane                      Door handle                     Screw

Ceiling            Tape                  Plate          Mug          Tile                 Fireplace

Toilet          Brick                                            Plaster

Wire           Lightbulb        Kettle       Doorframe          Aerial          Telephone

Beam       Chimney                      Cord

Steel grating             Razor                     Mirror

Toilet seat                   Sink              Drain

Pipe      Hammer           Spoon      Scissors      Bracket                            Window sill

Shelf            Birdcage                Bells

Radiator               Fan                                                           Cat flap

Alarm clock                     Stool                                                                 Fish tank

Television                                  Videotape        Cassette

Glass             Tweezer

Nail clipper            Needle             Coal

Wood            Furnace           Oven           Grill          Stove         Fridge

Freezer                Larder             Your stare

Silence                          Slamming door

The other side of the bed

The dark          Boiler         The future     The past     Money       Outside

Boredom                    Scraped knees            Scaffolding

Concussion          Teeth                                                          Fuck off


I would hear the sound of wheels,

plastic wheels over wood

wheels which would crack

and squeal on the cracks;

the sounds of which would

suggest a slow train’s haul

through a station, as I stood,

the unstopping carriages,

metal caravans, passing, past:

I am standing still at the station

and hear the sound of wheels

on wood, which whistle

on the cracks, and at my back

as the train hauls through

that whole yellow wall

Falls through itself into

The sound of the wheels wheeling

me through corridors to the last

prayer, wheeling me out a door

to be looked over, washed, welcomed

away for the last breath; this tiny,

broken train at my feet, wheels

creaking time to a terminus.

Reflections on Dramaturgy and Writing


When I started trying to write about home a year and a half ago, I could not separate myself from a sense of rupture. Not to deny the warmer memories of a home nurtured in the arms, sofa pillows and pasta of my mother, or the more recent swarm of my brothers around the dinner table but two of the strongest brushstrokes in my personal history of home are the most disruptive:

  1. cuddling my crying mother on a couch when I would have been 2 or 3 years old
  2. the last time my father would have picked me out of my cot before he left.

To make matters more confusing, two weeks ago I discovered that all memories from before the age of 4 are imaginary, which means these key personal memories are, in fact, a fabrication.

Why is this rupture at the root of my sense of home? I was lucky to grow up in a home where my mum was effusive with affection, where sweetness, pleasure, feeling, dream and our tiny pagan family survived.

But I cannot help that something still hurts, remains entangled or lost, and that this disruptive cocktail has led to a spirit of disruption and imbalance in my inner representation of home. Pain, at least, is not boring. Nor was my childhood home.

Who else had such a talkative home as I had? Even the walls had tongues.

Early on I learnt that everything could speak, and therefore that I could speak to everything. Everything had a name: fish, cat, dog, car, garden, house, toys, bedroom became Splodge, Kevin, Sam, Daisy, Samantha, Fabby, John, George. Everything was animate; the house and its contents was a living, breathing organism, a personality even, a character in our lives.

My mother created this: she is a mutterer, and speaks to everything around her as if it could hear and understand her. I still often gripe that the dogs have as much say in the routine running of her house as the humans. She is whispering, mumbling, sighing, laughing, groaning and grumbling all the time and we are all pulled into this; and so it has always felt with my childhood house, incessantly speaking whether in silence or in the constant background sound of the radio or television.

All of this is mottled, not lucid but associative, shifting from one sense, one scene, one shaft of morning light in the kitchen to another. 

‘The good lord has not drawn the world with continuous lines: with a light hand, he has sketched it in dots, like Seurat.’

What is my sense of my mother tongue? 

As an uninterrupted constantly disrupted cascade; as sounds and meaningless mumbling; as constant reaction; as gripe; as sigh; as sweet whispers to a loved dog. Mum speaks German and French no longer fluently but as the details and borders to her babble: vati, mutti, on y va, ich liebe dich, merci… so the sounds of other languages have always been more present than their meanings, and even in their nonsense they have carried sweetness.

Home has been a fragmented, constructed and estranging topic since I was a kid, when I spent a lot of time shuttling between different ones but at the centre there are trigger details which lead to sensations which - for the sake of this reflection at least - I will call home.

The smell of the dust in the pillows of our living-room couch and its warm brown, green and red patterning as I buried myself into it day after day. The wooden door leading from the kitchen to the garden where aprons, towels and some nondescript black bells hung. The wooden kitchen table, its lean, its creak, mum’s stir-fry on its mottled place mats, the candle wax’s indelible stains. The hall way I played out (and won) countless football and rugby matches. The bedroom where I sprayed my anger, where I hid, smoked, read, wrote and (eventually) lost my virginity.

These are my details, though. What about our details? 

What common reference points do we share? 

Is my kitchen table open to you?

Is breakfast? 

By searching to essentialize the components of home and family, I have stripped back certain aspects of the personalities of the sense of homes; sometimes the only way I can dig into this is to bring another skeletal language to the fore.

Like the list of soft things.


Bath soap



Her hands






One of the most effective means of evoking home - I have discovered - is listing its parts. Lists are good at holding all the necessary information and staying open to the listener or reader, giving little regarding the opinion or sentiment of a writer or speaker. They are skeletal poems, collages with holes for people to piece the parts together. In its most essential form it’s just a collection of things that we think we need to remember.

These parts can trigger feelings and images which give rise to memories of home, whilst keeping the construction as open as possible for an audience or reader to fill up with their own details. Leaving things open has been an essential part of this process, which began as an intimate and personal one: open to focus, open to interpretation, open to imagination and reason.

A list of hard things


The dark





Fuck off



Plastic Bag


The wider approach to this project, which is about our relationship to objects as memento mori, souvenirs of grief, distractions from existential fears and absurd, beautiful playthings, has been to collect: to amass a host of things and reconstruct our relationships to them in a a poetic space.

Home is the birthplace of poetry  in that is the space to daydream (Bachelard), where our sense of childhood and family bleeds through subconsciously from our pasts. The sounds whispered into our ears as children reproduce themselves through us as we mature (or don’t) just as the things that surround us as children morph into the attachments we form as adults: this book, that cup, those spices, these chairs.

We have sought to bring all these things to bear. One after the other. Whether it’s a memory of grandma, a list of soft things or the root of the word home, these lists bring us to our own kinds of meaning in this recreated childhood home, reliving personal griefs, echoing the repetitive, insistent, relentless sounds and words and things and feelings of the piece.

The sound of the wheels wheeling

me through corridors to the last

prayer, wheeling me out a door

to be looked over, washed, welcomed

away for the last breath; this tiny,

broken train at my feet, wheels

creaking time to a terminus.