" because to find is to choose and the choice is made"
The writings and art pieces on this page are a public testament to the support and encouragement given to me by Tom and Write-London. It’s never too late to find your voice
Wooden ironing board and electric sander: 115cms x 30cms
iron: symbol of strength, rigid, strong, tough, unyielding, implacable.
ironic: incongruous, paradoxical.
iron out: clear up, eliminate, erase, harmonize, reconcile, settle, simplify.
irony: expression of meaning by language of opposite or different tendency.
As a carpenter nothing could beat the sublime satisfaction and almost meditative experience of sanding and smoothing wood, a rhythmic blend of the physical and metaphysical.
This piece examines the perception and inherent value of ‘work’ and ‘housework’ by focussing on the identical shape of tools (sander and domestic iron) and the physical similarity of movement (sanding and ironing).
The dichotomy of owning a wood sanding tool that is identical in shape to a domestic iron has a certain wry humour as I have never owned an iron or an ironing board, and have spent my entire life in clothes of crumpled disarray amongst wood as smooth as silk.
The truth about David Bowie and me
By Phoebe Smith
we never met
Gobi desert, Mongolia - By Phoebe Smith
Yes has become my default,
drinking fermented mares milk
eating something beige,
a swiss roll relayed from the nearest town
a hundred kilometres away.
A celebration, a surprise, my birthday.
Yes has become my default,
drunk on milk and fermented swiss roll
I ride the gobi like a bandit queen,
undeterred and undaunted
by my total inexperience,
the children’s hysterical laughter
Yes has become my default.
Говийн цөл, Монгол улс
- Translated into Mongolian by Tsetsegee Lkhagva
Тийм Миний анхдагч болж байна,
ундны айраг гүү сүү
шаргал ямар нэг юм идэж,
хамгийн ойрын хотоос дамжуулна Швейцарийн өнхрөх
зуун хол км.
A баяр, гэнэтийн, миний төрсөн өдөр.
Тийм Миний анхдагч болж байна,
сүү нь согтуу, айраг Швейцарийн өнхрөх
Би дээрэмчин хатан хаан шиг Говь явах
undeterred болон гуйвшгүй
Миний нийт туршлагагүй гэхэд,
Хүүхдийн хийрхэн инээд
Тийм Миний анхдагч болж байна.
Falling Slowly into Beauty - Phoebe Smith
Precision and balance, its always been that way with me. As a child my mother used to get really fed up with what she called ‘wasting time’, I would feel her surges of repressed breathing as I meticulously tugged at my shoe laces, making sure the bows and tags were of equal length or when I needed to arrange my school pencils in a perfect arc of ascending height. I was still a young child when I first understood that events could spin and push you to scary places where thought becomes strange to itself; precision and balance offered protection from surprises.
My brother says I was born in a white coat, family joke, but its true I love my job at the laboratory, ok not a doctor, but the university lab does vital medical research and my careful calculations, calibrations and rigorous methodology is trusted and admired. This might sound quite dull and grim, but I’m self aware and can sometimes join in with my colleagues gentle teasing. Last week at break-time someone asked if I used a ruler to cut my packed lunch sandwiches, I didn’t think that was very funny, but then Mo suggested I could use a syringe to measure the ideal amount of milk for my coffee. Trying hard not to laugh I put on my deep thought face. ‘Oh look, look, you’re actually thinking about it! a milk syringe, a syringe of measured milk!’ she cried, spluttering in mock disbelief. JJ and Mo agreed to do the washing up. Later on I straightened the cutlery drawer and aligned all the cup handles, not sure if anyone noticed.
The new lab supervisor started work today; she doesn’t seem at all nervous, even on her first day. She smiled a lot and I noticed her teeth, they’re really cute but not in a perfect way, the incisors are slightly rotated which is a bit nerdy for a woman in her late twenties, but cute.
Rumour is that she doesn’t have children, husband or even a boyfriend, and when we dared JJ to ask if this was true she wasn’t offended, she just smiled, slowly nodded and said portentously ‘I haven’t found them necessary at the moment’ and went off giggling like a toddler. I like her a lot; there is a completeness about her which is very attractive. Sometimes from my work station I can look down and spot her sitting in the little alcove behind Admin, smoking happily and I think listening to music, but can’t be 100% sure of that.
Not that it's all sweetness, she can be really grumpy if you make ‘lazy mistakes’ not me of course, but others. Once, the assistant head of chemistry came down and started to shout at JJ because he had, allegedly, messed up some slides and the results had become skewed. From her office door, a dangerously calm voice said ‘this is my department, please do not speak to my colleagues in that way, if you have a complaint speak to me first, in my office’ The two of them locked eyes and I swear the world stopped breathing, then, with a soft gesture of welcome she invited him into her work space. Mo immediately ran next door to tell Tasha, and we all huddled and murmured, speculating on all the possible consequences to our brave but reckless defender. About twenty minutes later, grabbing at her coat and bag she walked out of the lab. In disbelief, motionless, engulfed by an avalanche of sadness fear and pride, we all remained silent.
Turned out she’d gone to buy cakes for everyone! So there we were, all of us, sitting on the floor behind the autoclave, eating our ‘victory cakes’, as we laughingly broke at least seventeen health and safety rules!
Thinking about her, even when I’m not at work, which is a surprise.
I will ask her to come for a coffee, I’ve found a coffee shop near the market, it looks quite clean, I didn’t recognise the owner so I’m sure we will be safe from the eyes of family and other spies. Feeling really nervous, but I asked and she said yes. Well what really happened was she looked concerned, stared out of the window, started to talk about socializing with work colleagues, stopped, swore lightly and then said o.k. Which is yes.
We order our coffee and say no to cake. A brief hesitation – side by side or opposite? We sit opposite. How can ‘just chatting’ or ‘small talk’ feel so comfortably monumental. Then a sudden self conscious awareness, I want to touch her hand, and in a spasm of anxiety and confusion I loudly announce my need to use the bathroom - what was I, a four year old masquerading as an adult?
The toilet doesn’t smell too bad and I’m grateful for its coolness. I hold my hands under the cold water, then pulling back my headscarf I finger comb my hair, lifting it high from scalp and neck, water droplets hitting my skin like hundreds of tiny electric shocks. Slipping ungracefully back into my seat, and with a bravely measured accuracy my hand slides across the table top until my index finger is barely touching her index finger,
‘I think I think like you’