Together with art, poetry and ceramics one of my great passions is textiles. I just love, love, love fabric and my idea of heaven would be the haberdashery department of John Lewis. All those rolls of exquisite fabrics; satin, velvet, silk, lace, beautiful printed cottons and a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns. Better than sex I say! I sometimes regret not specialising in textiles instead of photography at art school. So when my bedroom curtains shrank in the wash recently I was secretly delighted. I’d never liked them in the first place, choosing them under pressure when my house flooded back in 2010. I’d put up with them for long enough so perhaps it was no accident I put them in the washer when they were labelled dry clean only! So now I have a good reason to choose new curtain fabric and I’ve had fun this week ordering up free samples. My choices are narrowed down to four. I’m probably going with the green but the one with the thrush and the bumble bee would look great in a picture frame. It’s just so pretty!
My mother and grandparents worked in the textile industry in West Yorkshire in the 50s, 60s and 70s. It was the only type of work available for immigrants but was well paid and allowed my family to eventually buy their own home, a tumble down terraced next to a railroad track. When the train shot out of the nearby tunnel everything in the house rattled and shook like an earthquake! But after years of living in refugee camps they were happy to have a roof over their head. For a few years my parents and grandparents lived together for financial reasons even after I was born. My mother worked in a local textile mill as a winder. This job entailed tending the winding machine for winding yarn from hanks to bobbins or from spinning bobbins to other bobbins, spools, cones, cheeses, etc. It also involved piecing together the broken ends of the yarn. My mother was an expert at knots and in later life developed arthritis in her fingers from all those years of handling yarn. I remember visiting her at work, the deafening roar of the rows of machines and the stink of grease.
To a small child it was like a vision of hell. But since the late 70s the old textile industry in the north of England has disappeared. The grand Victorian mills have been converted into luxury apartments and most of our textiles are now imported from abroad where they are produced in appalling conditions for low wages. Very few fabrics are made in the UK today. Sad.
So anyway, back to my new bedroom curtains which are probably made in China or India but I hope they will make waking up each morning a bit more pleasant. Now should I choose the green or the blossom?