12th January


The girl climbed the stairs to bed, carrying a much-loved book, a collection of fairy tales. Even before she could read, that book had gone everywhere with her. She would insist on the stories being read to her, or she would look at the pictures and tell the stories to herself. Later she read them out loud, and now she was able to read them into herself. The book was part of her, and a part of her was in the book.

Her father cycled to his work every day, five miles there and five miles back. More than two thousand miles every year. If you are familiar with Pluck’s theory of atomic exchange, you will understand how, over time, some of him became bicycle, and some of his bicycle became him. Yet despite this interaction it was still quite easy to tell them apart.

Often the girl would sit and watch her mother sewing and patching a favourite pair of jeans. She had had these jeans for many years, and there were so many repairs in them that it became impossible to discern where the original material stopped and the repairs began. But as far as the mother was concerned, they were still the same jeans, and they still fitted her.

The girl’s grandfather had spent his life at sea and now liked nothing better than to potter about in his wee wooden boat. It was an old boat. It had been his father’s, and before that his father’s, back and back through the generations. And the boat was like the jeans. Everything in it had been replaced at some time or other – boards, mast, tiller, oars, sails, ropes. But it was still both the grandfather’s boat and the boat his ancestors had sailed.

Then there was the grandmother, a fine, youthful woman, but with new hips, new knees, new toe-joints and various internal organs that had not originally belonged to her. Yet when her granddaughter cooried into her she was still soft and warm and smelled just the same as she always had.

And soon the girl would be a woman. But where would the girl in her end, and the woman begin?

Reader: Marianne Mitchelson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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