Living Diaries – Diarist 1

Original extract, 1909 – Feb-March

200 Years of Diaries, Dylan Stone, Gabrielle Barnby, Stromness Writers Group, Creative response, Orkney

Thoughts on Bert and V. and Fluffy

‘The kittens will be so big he’ll hardly recognise them when he comes. Eyes open, no longer the strange helpless embryos that they were when first born.

The cold makes my fingers ache, the pins are awkward to grasp and the bobbins slip. The work isn’t going well, it’s a challenging design and to produce it quickly means I hardly leave the house. Even a blanket over my shoulders isn’t enough. I can’t complain to anybody though, it’d be too much…their pleasure at seeing me needy, like one of those kittens, mewing and rubbing.

Fluffy used to lie out like a pillow, teats upwards…she was always licking their faces and rear ends. The small ones that are still left can’t keep away from each other…or me. But there’s not one of them I want. None take after their mother, but I’ll keep one just the same – Bert likes to tease them, and V. will not have a cat in the house with the baby.

I couldn’t stand to have a child. I couldn’t stand the stupidity of motherhood that washes over people. V. could hardly say a sentence after the birth… barely able to follow suit at cards.

Yet, Bert loves her for it, and the baby, ugly thing that it is. It makes it hard for him to come. Not impossible though. There’s more that he needs from life…

When he’s here I’m gay and I hold my face so the wrinkles are gone, and I never complain about the cold. And I laugh because I mean it, not like when we’re playing cards and it’s all false between us.

Once we were all friends. Can you believe it? How cold these things turn. Like taking the money from Miss Burke and smiling and hoping no errors will be spotted, and that my reputation for reliable work will remain. What do I care for my reputation – except I need money.

He’ll stay, eventually. He won’t want to go back to V. And when he comes it’ll be different. I know it will.

If I can help it, I never sell my best work.’

Diary continuation

Thoughts on Miss Burke

Gabrielle Barnby