Writing Around the Kids project enables mothers of young children to write creatively. Novelist Anna Jefferson and writer Sam Johnson began the project having recognised in their own lives how difficult it is to forge creative time around their families. Working in partnership with Crawley Museum, they have worked with a brilliant group of women in Crawley who have written some fantastic pieces of work, see below, many inspired by objects in the museum.
Writing Around the Kids deliver workshops, podcasts and panels in partnership with cultural organisations and authors. To find out more, please visit www.writingaroungthekids.co.uk
Crawley Writing Around the Kids was supported by Crawley Borough Council in partnership with Crawley Museum and New Writing South.
The Dress by HELEN BURMAN
The dress is hanging on the mannequin, demur in the cabinet. It’s quiet and understated in its majesty. If I were to describe this dress as food, it would be a Mille-feuille, light and delicate but intricate and a lot more to it than a first glance would reveal. It deserves to be gazed upon and admired for its construction. This lace and silk concoction would delight the tastebuds, the lace would move with a delicate crunch, the silk petticoats full and soft like a patisserie cream filling. The fragile piece is finished off with thousands of tiny sparkling gems covering the dress like a soft dusting of icing sugar, gleaming in the museum lights. Strings of bronze threads finish the piece like delicate webs of spun sugar. Time should be taken to absorb every detail and to admire the dress for what it is, a beautiful piece of art from a bygone era. This dress transports you back to a different time, maybe an evening of decadent opulence. A dance at the big house, a celebration or a debutante ball, it’s a chance to dress up, to show off the latest fabrics, fashions and styles. It would be a feast for the senses, a cacophony of laughing, giggling, gossiping voices, in harmony with the music coming from a quartet in the corner of the room. The ladies would wait to be asked to dance before being whirled around the dance floor like the twirling of colourful Chinese paper umbrellas. The heady scent of the latest perfumes from Paris and New York fashion houses would rise with the heat generated by those dancing under the glass conservatory dome. Oh the stories this dress could tell.\
Walking into the Medieval section in Crawley Museum, I am drawn to what looks like a broken into two, but seemingly complete jug. It was clearly showing its eight centuries with cracks, breaks and discolouration. The information leaflet usefully placed next to it informs me of my mistake – there are in fact some pieces missing despite the effort to repair it.
Being a decorative jug in Medieval times, it’s possible that it was used for displaying its beauty on its own or with a beautiful rainbow of fresh fragrant roses.
Maybe the jug was used for serving hot or cold drinks to serve guests. The server would pick up the smooth, glossy but thick kiln baked handle and pour a glass of water from this once gorgeous jug. The guest would hold their glass up to their mouth, getting the slight muddy smell given by the hunk of clay that the dish was made out of. I can imagine the water refreshing the guests mouth with an earthy taste of cold energising water. After swallowing, the chilled liquid would trickle slowly down the throat. It would race through their chest, giving the heart a cooling sensation before finally settling in the stomach to nourish the rest of their body.
Such items would presumably be expensive in Medieval times purchased with a lot of thought and love by the lady of the house, so it would have been an unfortunate accident where the jug would have slipped from someone’s hands and broken into so many different pieces that it couldn’t be repaired since then.
A step in the right direction by NASIMA KHAN
As I call Anna to pin me directions to crawley museum, it took me five minutes to follow on Google maps with correct postcode. I was fascinated being in museum for the first time looking at all kind of ancient objects. While I was there I had a glimpse of horse carriages during tour guide.
The roads to crawley back in the day;
people were travelling on horse drawn carriages, in a split second I realised what was happening.
How did I get here today? From coaches and horses to cars, bicycles, trains and planes.it took a lid off my imagination to the others kingdoms. I was in the mountains of Murree with my mother picking flowers, collecting woods and feathers , had secrets to share warm hearts and hands that really care.On our way back home over the river through the woods she used to tell me stories of our Nani and her journey on the horses. An angel lived among us , a gift from God above.she was a remarkable women. She is someone we admire , respect and love very much.
Oh what fun it would have been for me to see a carriage drawn by horse faster than fairies, faster then witches even after all these years you can find them still, of course. But you can imagine just how existing they were in their day. So many wonderful styles there were with an old fashioned classic touch so if I get a chance to ride on a horse drawn carriage some time I will just jump at the chance because I know it’s the most existing day I will find.
There was a hill and there was a river. Each a glimpse and gone forever!
You will be greatly missed to my mama and Nani. We needed someone to guide us to right direction.
Straight ahead backwards and you end up where you are, you don’t know where you came from and how you got this far. If life is like a road and a road has a dead end. If your heart desires to begin another route of your career or of love , or the things you now dream of, or to find your purpose . There is nothing wrong at all with changing to new locations on your gps system. Because if you don’t change your direction you might end up where you are heading.
My favourite piece in the Crawley Museum is a Shield by JENNY DAVIS
Wooden carved object heavily detailed.
Lion caught my eye. (Three lions on a shirt with Gareth Southgate) He was part of Crawley Town.
The Crown on the master piece like the current King, ‘King Charles’.
Acorns reminds me of oak trees, rock hard and stale, in Ifield and Buchan Park.
The birds remind me of pigeons hanging around on Crawley Town Centre Square.
The leaves fallen down in Tilgate in the Autumn looking beautiful with, red, brown, orange, yellow and green. Whilst walking by accident I crunched on the leaves trying to stick to the paths.
The texture is very hard and foul tasting, this tasted of mud in a ancient history, throw back in time. Acorns are hard like Conker’s in Autumn time. Reminding me of my childhood times playing Conker’s with my friends in the playground. Using string bang, knock, knock, half the time hit or miss!
This could be made of Christmas Chestnut being burnt on a open fire, remembering Christmas times in Crawley at Tilgate Park at a Christmas Fair.
The hammer is for Crawley Magistrates. I could imagine this banging down, order, order.
But this looks stunning being carved, this last forever in Crawley Museum, everlasting piece that is ancient and well looked after!
Lovely plaque on the wall.
Quaker Bonnet by AYESHA KHAN
Sarah stop! He exclaimed. Amidst my way back home, I paused for a second and turned back. Irrespective of my expectation of a girl in the streets of Crawley, she was a girl with some head covering. I was amazed at this sight. At first, I assumed her to be a Muslim. But again, to my astonishment, she had a cross necklace dangling from her neck. It intrigued me.
Even after resuming my journey, I continued thinking about the relationship between the head covering, and necklace to that girl.
I started searching for it. I consulted different books and visited a bishop. Finally, a whole new concept dawned upon me. The Quakers!
People identifying themselves as Christians, and leading a simple and modest life. They wore simple clothes devoid of embellishments and usually of decent colors like black, white, and grey. Women cover their heads with specific head scarves called “Quaker bonnets”.
Finally, the mystery of Sara and her attire was resolved.
A Busy Market Place by Shabana
The hour was very early as Jemima Forster got up and got ready for market. She grabbed her little purse, her handkerchief and keys, tucking them away in a pocket somewhere on her person. She double checked everything then left the house, locking the door after her.
Ever since she had been widowed, she had become the mistress of her late husband’s house. He had been a good man, her Joseph. He hadn’t left her much, so to make ends meet she did what she had to do. She had taken in quite a few lodgers, on top of which she worked in the market selling whatever she could.
Now that she had left her house, she went straight to the trader to pick up the wares she was to sell. Her cart seemed full today. Looked like the fisherman had come through as she could see some fish there as well. The fish had the smell of the sea, which was to be expected.
Jemima hung her money pouch on the side of the stall. The people who knew her respected her, because of her no-nonsense attitude. Even the thieves and pickpockets stayed away from her out of fear and respect. She was that scary to them.
Soon Jemima was calling out her wares to passers-by, who were willing to buy from her since her prices were always fair. Joseph always told her to be fair and not over charge. He was always saying that there could be someone less fortunate than them who may not be able to afford it, which is why he kept prices fair. It was only proper for her to follow in his footsteps.
Before starting out, Jemima always put a little something to the side so that there would be something to feed all the mouths at home at the end of the day. Mornings would always be busy with customers coming and going and other vendors shouting out their greetings.
“Morning Jem Forster, here’s your usual for your breakfast. Scones and tea,” said Ma Beckett coming up to Jemima.
“Lovely weather we’re having, Ma Beckett. It has customers out in droves!” Answered Jemima as she took the flask of tea and poured herself a cup. “And thank you for this wonderful breakfast as usual. You outdo yourself every time Ma Beckett.”
The two women had a short conversation with each other until it got busy and Ma Beckett had to leave. Ma Beckett took care of breakfast for all the vendors at the market. She was very good at it and also sharing the latest gossip with each person she met.
It tended to get slow around lunchtimes, picking up a bit around tea time. She always had her usual customers, who were her regulars. Then there were some who weren’t her regulars.
Once Jemima was finished, she would take her earnings and cart back to the trader. She would pay the trader his due and anything left over, she would use to buy whatever else was needed to make dinner for herself and her lodgers. If any guests made an appearance, they would always be fed also. Jemima didn’t mind cooking for lots of people.
The Apothecary by Caroline Noris
As she turned to leave the room a small flash of colour caught her eye. She paused, turned her head towards where she had seen it. There was something hidden in the bottom of the cabinet, she had missed it on her first cursory glance around the room. She stepped towards it and crouched down the get a better view. Nestled in the bottom pocket of the cabinet, pushed back from the edge into the deep recess was a small lifelike model of a shop front. The green painted wooden frame was stamped with the name ‘Armstrong and Co, West Green chemists’. The coloured bottles and jars glinted in the windows each replicated in proportionate model size. As she peered closer, she could see the faces of the proprietor and a customer inside frozen in time mid-conversation about dispensing of tablets. She reached for the circular brass door handle situated in the centre of the door and pushed to open. The bell tinkled as it announced her presence. The proprietor and customer each breaking their conversation momentarily and turning to look at her in surprise at being interrupted after so many years of solitude. The clean antiseptic smell of modern chemists was gone, replaced by the musty wooden smell of cabinets and a cocktail of unusual other worldly smells emanating from the contents of the shelves. The proprietor nodded a polite greeting at the stranger and resumed conversation with the first customer. On the counter between them was a small blue glass bottle stopped with an ornate glass lid. Inside she could make out the newly rolled tablets prepared specially by the chemist. He was proceeding in a carefully measured voice to state the dispensing information. ‘These tablets are very strong and not to be used by anyone but the patient. Ensure they take one daily with food and swallow whole. Take for 2 weeks and if no improvement has been seen in that time, come back to me.’
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