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I have been raising silkworms for over 20 years. Last year I took year off. 1000 eggs about to hatch tomorrow. Such anticipation and excitement. The mulberry is salad fresh. Daddy is waiting. A few months from now I should have some beautiful hand spun silk floss thread.


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The blog was quiet and hibernating.

I had the house to myself all winter. Hiro was in Brazil for three and a half months. I went to New Zealand for a trip. I loved it. I kept busy with textile related stuff... I just didn't write about it.

I sat on cold nights and wove the gothic cross alpaca blankets I had warped a year ago while listening to The Brothers Karamazov for the umpteenth time.
There was something wrong with the dent so I bought a new reed and re-sleighed it less densely. It looks great now. My buddy Yumbo came over to build a stone wall behind the pond and tried weaving for the first time.



Whiteboots immediately made the freshly woven blanket his own.



There were a few kilograms of medium dyed madder wool lying around that was not asking to be woven into anything. A few kilograms of madder and a re-mordanting.....



The two working back strap looms were empty and sad upstairs.
I warped them both in a few days and they are so happy to be of use again.














The indigo vats are open for the year! Diana Sanderson from the Silk Weaving Studio in Vancouver was here for a visit and the de-sludging of the sleeping vat.





Tobie and Janie were here for a visit and they managed some gorgeous work in a short time.




We visited Noguchi san for the day.



Cocoons were reeled and silk hankies were made.




There is never enough time. Never. 

I had a few cancellations for ten-day workshops this year. If you are interested. Please get in touch.

Bryan



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I worked on a few development projects in Laos 15 years ago.
It was all very exotic and exciting spending time in ethnic minority villages in the mountains of northern Laos. The learning curve was in your face.
What development work is. What the world might look like for traditional villagers when roads are built next to their isolated-for-millennia villages and a slightly better lighted and complex world starts to swallow their existence. 
The expat world of do-gooders, opportunists, nut cases and CIA operative do-gooders/opportunists/nut cases….
In short….I loved it. 
I was in the back of a dusty truck bouncing and sliding through the mud through the damaged tropical landscape. Smiling so much my face hurt….an added addition to the adventure was the impossibly handsome, charismatic French surgeon beaming and laughing while we tried to hang on and to not get thrown overboard by the teenage driver.
We were out of the truck and then wading across a muddy slippery stream to arrive in a dusty village of thatched huts as the sun set.
Inside a smokey hut our small group with the help of a translator tried explaining the protocols of a fair trade project.
The absurdity …… 
When asked how she would spend the wave of money that would flood into the village as our handicraft project flourished and lifted them out of poverty with schools and flush toilets….. and electricity ….. a village wise woman enthusiastically rattled on…pakpukpidywak..ajinomoto..snuckslackjatanalke..
I stopped the translator because I had distinctly heard the word “Ajinomoto”. The Japanese brand name for monosodium glutamate.
In the oil lamp lit, smoke circling in blackened rafters and molding palm frond thatched hut on stilts…
Sure enough…that is what she was hoping to purchase with the future village wealth.
I had the translator tell her, “It’s bad for you.”
He translated her tart words back to me, “I know but it tastes sooooo good.”
So much for sewer systems and graduate school scholarships.
I later snooped around the village and saw an impossibly horrible opium smoking dead-eyed father with a tangle of thin-legged hungry kids sleeping lengthwise across the battered broken floor slats of their home so they wouldn't fall through to the ground below. A pathetic drug deal instead of a monosodium glutamate deal materialized on a foggy screen in my sensory overloaded head.
I had the dumbest resume one earth…well so dumb I would have been humiliated to have written it down at the time.
I’d spent the last ten years of my life in a small village in the mountains of Japan learning about primitive silk farming and natural dyes and weaving traditional Japanese textiles. Along the way I had learn to repair silk farming, silk reeling and weaving tools. A few contemporary skills like breeding silk moths and using contemporary spinning and reeling and throwing machines.
I had missed the 90s completely. 
I'd been doing this simply out of anthropological curiosity and a habit I’d picked up as a kid to take things apart and be interested in long processes that ended up in some sort of art work….think 60’s Ford Mustangs and eagle feather Indian headdresses. 
Heading back in the back of the truck Dr Philippe had somehow sussed out the carefully shabbied, shaggy-pony-tailed 40-year-old-me … the skills and openness to adventure and his offer of work in Laos had my head spinning. 
A few years later the recession of 2008 put an end to the development games.
I’d seen Philippe a few times over the years since then. I was in Bangkok a while back and flew up to spend a few days with him and his family in Laos. 
Vientiane was much as I remembered it. 
Dusty.
We drove by the spot where we had a motorcycle accident many years ago. Cracked bones in my ribs, right foot and left hand. Still bothers me in bad weather. 
A dog had run out in the street in front of us.
Crunch.
Hours later as Philippe was finishing up a plaster cast for my arm and the beer painkillers were really working I asked him with genuine concern, “What happened to the dog?” His eyes twinkled and he mischievously kissed his fingertips and said, “Bon appetite.”
Philippe and Babette still keep the silk business going. He scooters back and forth to the hospital to operate a few times a week. Farming super foods has his attention now. Endless curiosity of life around him, a bear hug and a big smile as he moves through his compassionate, gregarious and humor-filled life.
Pictures now and then.





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A tiny handmade box with a tiny book inside.



I am at a loss for words.
The Present God has graced me with something special.
Last September I ran a Japanese book binding course at the house. A group of ten strangers on my doorstep for ten-days of living together in the old barn. Although the place is huge we eat, indigo dye and work in close quarters. 
Most of the time the human dynamics are very good. We don’t get on each other's nerves. It is a little bit of an orchestra…we sacrifice a bit of our individuality for the benefit of the group. 
I was in rough shape and heading out for intravenous drips every morning and Yamazaki sensei graciously taught the book and box making part of the course where I managed to teach the indigo dyeing part.
The bamboo on the mountainside. The cats and Momo the dog are quiet presences. Steady Hiro in the kitchen keeping an eye on things. Occasionally monkeys scrambling through the green underbrush around the house. 



Throughout the year we had the wettest slushy snow and skin searing heat quieted by sunset indigo washing trips to the river. The sweetest softest green spring days and moody blue/black late autumn skies. 
A lot of variables…along with the sometimes scrambling, slushy, searing, softest, moody temporary human inhabitants of the house.
Kate is from Sydney. Once she arrived and we all get to know each other I saw that she is a very accomplished book maker.(Amongst other things...multi- talented.) I wondered if she was getting anything out of the course. Kind and quiet and talented…humble as they come.
This small book box with a book inside is a mini version of the books we made together.... arrived in the post last week.
Inside are the loveliest watercolors of the the house, the bamboo and of course the ridiculously over photogenic house dog, Momo.
I'm at a loss for words. 
I was able to see again a glimpse of her experience of the workshop.



It is a reward…I sometimes get frustrated with the work. A few times I’ve wanted to call it quits.
The photos people take of the workshop and each other and around the house of the endless amount textile related paraphernalia move me.
When I see that strangers who met at the workshop keep in touch and visit each other….even on different continents….
Makes me feel good. I suppose the workshops can be likened to a magnet. A brief orbit is created. And the larger orbit of the participants sometimes collide.
The orbits often bring students back to the house. 

Thank you otters.
Thank you, Kate. The precious little book will live on the precious-little-things-shelf forever.



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I run a two-week traditional Japanese Hanten/Firemans jacket sewing/dying workshop at the farmhouse here twice a year. The students are often repeaters who have come back to Japan to visit/study with me here time and time again.

One of the jackets we work on is a very ambitious project. Designing an insignia for the back of the jacket. Cutting a stencil for that. Deciding the colors to use. Soot for blacks and greys. Madder for pinks and reds. Indigo for all the blue tones. (And combining these for more nuanced colors) There are sight variations of sleeve length and width and body length and drape etc. Dying a full lining with persimmon tannin. Putting together antique cloth to make a second hanten....

It is a fun but intense stitch filled two weeks. Living together and eating together and making artistic choices in front of each other.

And some strong beautiful accomplished characters from all ends of the planet.

The designs are so personal. Although we focus on perfecting our own design while learning the construction and dyeing techniques we are aware of our fellow hanten otters working on their individual projects.

My old buddy Jacky Eyre did something special that made me tear up with delight and and gratitude.

I repeated a story to Jacky and the students from Yazaki san the kimono seamstress whom I have known for 25 years.

"You can't call yourself a kimono maker until you have made 100. Not 98 not 99 but 100."

The old saying is not just referring to a kimono stitcher. It is meant to refer to all crafts...writing, playing an instrument and stonemasonry. (Some of these skills are more quantifiable.)

Having made a few dozen of these jackets myself over the years but knowing that true mastery is elusive...maybe two hundred at my pace.

Jacky made me this quilt with 100 hantens. At first glance I could see that it was constructed with Japanese folk textile scraps.

I was moved.

It was a lot to take in at once with a group of people watching me open and receive the gift.

I was smiling in gratitude and admiring the overall design and color scheme. I felt a little choke up coming with the 100 hanten theme.

Then one block caught my eye. It was a hanten with a large box kite embroidered on the back. It was instantly recognizable as lovely Alex's lovely design.

A single tear escaped and then I noticed that the central panels were all images of the other students in Jacky's group hantens. I bit my lower lip to stop the flood and walked into the adjoining room to hide my tears.

Jacky is a larger-than-life-no-nonsense-practical-clear-blue-eyed-Australian-tough-beautiful woman.

She captured those two precious weeks of being together and put them in that quilt with humor and respect and talent.

(One rule Bryan....No shagging on top of that quilt...but underneath is fine.)

Camilla  meticulously placed carp stencils her hanten.
Molly the surgeon chose a brain and heart insignia. (Heart on the sleeve.)
Jo used antique material carefully composed.
Melissa who lives in a forest carefully drew a pine motif.
Harriet the social justice activist  meticulously hand wrote out the names of the victims of a factory fire in  Britain in the early 20th century on the lining and an emblem of worker/ farmer solidarity on the back,
Sophie the French architect was tired of concrete and used a butterfly motif.
Alex used her kite motif.
I used some old persimmon and indigo scraps.
Jacky hand pasted concentric circles on her hanten.
There were many other references to our time spent together here in Japan and Australia.












So it all gets an A plus another A.
It works together and has a spirit. 
Thank you Jacky. 


Misc. pictures of the workshop last spring. Thank you.























And our perfect kimono sewing teacher Keiko Yazaki with her shy back to the camera.

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Minako passed away three days ago.

She was born in 1920 in a village about 15 kilometers from the mountain village I live in. 
Her village was different. 
The houses were grouped together in a sunny place and although the fields were on the side of the mountain, the slope was not steep like it is near my house. 

The people were different. Friendlier. Better educated. Brighter eyed. Not as suspicious. Their Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines made of better wood with finer carving and more elegant mossy stone staircases.

People have been inhabiting that village for thousands of years. 

25 years ago I knocked on her front door and asked to see the kimono fabric she made from the silkworms and cocoons she had raised. 

I’ll write about the relationship with her and her husband and family another time. There was a way of life in the village that was ending after hundreds of years of remaining much the same.  I'll try to write about that one day too.

When I met her I knew it was the only chance I would ever have in life to study textiles in that particular depth. Silk farming. Weaving. Natural Dyeing. The people in that village were the last of that dying culture.

We enjoyed each other's company threading heddles, digging madder roots, reeling cocoons, driving through the countryside or visiting neighbors for tea. 

The villagers had grown the trees and thatch to build their beautiful homes. They grew all their food and caught the eels and fish in the river. The sublime roots of Japanese food came from these villages. Every household grew silkworms and many of the houses had produced their own kimono in the hundreds of steps from moth eggs to the cocoons to the thread. They made the tools for every step of the process.


Only one house was still silk farming that day. And one woman still weaving kimono. It was Minako. 

I knocked on the door and after she showed me the masterpieces she had woven I knew that I would spend the rest of my life working with Japanese textiles. 

I spent many years in that village with the people there as they helped me learn to reel and spin silk, warp looms, and breed silk moths and propagate mulberry. It was a time slip. I missed the 1990s…. Completely. 

The wake and the funeral were at the austere and elegant temple near her house. There were several hundred people there. The toddlers that were under feet not that long ago were playing games on their cell phones under the manicured pine trees on the temple grounds.

The priest chanted sutras while family, friends and fellow villagers that had known her their entire lives filled her coffin with flowers. I put in some cocoons and silk thread we had reeled together and dyed with madder a delicate coral color. She had grown that madder under the plum trees on the not-so-steep mountain slopes overlooking the village.







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Gratitude is the emotion that is like the breeze rippling over the fresh tea leaves by the  gently cascading river on a perfect blue skied morning with buddies helping harvest that same delicate tea while quietly humming Van Morrison paying homage to Mick Jagger....


I can see the lights way out in the harbor
And the cool, and the cool, and the cool and the cool night
And the cool, and the cool, cool night breeze
And I feel the cool night breeze
And I feel, feel, feel the cool night breeze
And the boats go by
And it's almost Inde, Inde, almost Independence Day
And it's, and it's and it's almost, and it's almost Independence Day
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh 
I took the bullet train down to Mie prefecture to spend a few days with Uchida san the "Intangible Cultural Asset" stencil cutter for a few days. On the way back home I stepped onto the local train near my place and sat down. 
My heart dropped when I looked over to the seats next to mine. 
I wanted to vomit and cry. Crawl off the train and curl up on the platform and close my eyes and transport myself back years to the beauty of the days spent in a small village with old friends....
Two women I knew from what seemed like a previous life were sitting there. I instantly knew what they were doing. 
They were sisters in their 60s. On the way to visit their 97 year old mother in an old age home tucked away in the mountains. 
Near my house. 
They wouldn't recognise me.....years have gone past. I'm in my 50's. Thin as a rake. Shaved head to deal with a receding hairline I haven't made friends with yet. 
(Not the twenty-something-year-old with a trace-of-baby-fat left and long hair tied back...)
Any hesitant pause would make me a liar....I stood up and sat with them. Channelling Robert Downey Jr.....Three conflicting emotions playing off my face simultaneously. 
Guilt, relief & gratitude... 
Not wanting to scare the hell out of them with that amount of emotional energy punching its way out of my body I did my best to smile softly and be a gentleman.... 
One second... cocky and scruffy and unshaven, tattoos visible... comfortable in grungy jeans needing a washing machine and a sweaty shirt... from a long train ride from Kyoto.....and the next second feeling self-conscious.... a lean fragile existence under my skin...
These two women were the daughters of my old teacher and friend Minako Kato and her husband Ko. The woman I spent six years learning to silk farm and weave from....
Those dozens of fine processes there is no place to learn except by spending years with someone who has been doing them their entire life...
My life would have been nothing if I hadn't met her....
Those years.....spent learning all those precious... precious... precious... ancient skills of making cloth from silk....from the moth breeding to reeling thread and digging roots and harvesting berries to make the dye baths......
Again Van Morrison was humming in my ear.....
'No guru, no method, no teacher...just you and me in the garden wet with rain...'
No classroom...no fluorescent lights... it was in an ancient village in the ancient fields surrounded by the ancient mountains with ancient paths everywhere and misty spring mornings and chilly autumn evenings with desolate winter days with precious low sunlight lighting the old bamboo reeds we threaded...
During those years I knew I was the luckiest person on earth....the clouds had opened and rays of grace and blessing were sitting on my shoulders like fresh snow....
I am not exaggerating. 
And now she has been in a fucking old age home for years and I hadn't gone to visit her in years....
Face the facts...feeling like a piece of shit...arghh...
I drove the two daughters to the old folks place and we met again. 
It wasn't easy. Both of us sobbing and she wailed in happiness. 
I remembered many years ago when I had some family problems. She was the only one who looked me in the eye and understood the situation instantly and uttered just a few words and tears that eased some terrible pain for me. So odd..two human beings with such insanely different backgrounds..we spoke the common language of using our hands to make textiles.
I picked her up in my arms and put her in the van and I drove the narrow back mountain crazy ancient roads to my house. We reminisced and talked for hours. 




First comes the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make it not just worth living, but rich with texture and detail. The acknowledgement that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.
Second, gratitude is recognising that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. At this stage, the object of gratitude is other-directed; one can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognise not only the goodness in our lives, but who is to thank for it, and who has made sacrifices so that we could be happy.

The streets are always wet with rain
After a summer shower when I saw you standin'
In the garden in the garden wet with rain

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow
As we watched the petals fall down to the ground
And as I sat beside you I felt the
Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home
You were a creature all in rapture
You had the key to your soul
And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face
The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine
And you were a violet colour as you
Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells inside the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden 
And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the Son and the holy ghost
In the garden wet with rain
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature and the Father and the son and the holy ghost
In the garden, in the garden, wet with rain
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden
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I held four workshops at the farmhouse so far this spring. I have a few week break to harvest tea and catch my breath.

The first three workshops were the regular introduction to indigo use in Japanese textiles. Wonderful easy-going friendly participants. It actually snowed one day in the first workshop. We had a few participants from the southern hemisphere who were really excited to see snow for the first time.

The last workshop was a two-week hanten jacket making course. All eight members were back for the second time or more. It was just wonderful to have a group of eight intelligent talented women at the house.  Special thanks to you Molly, Melissa, Camilla, Harriet, Jacky, Jo, Alex and Sophie. Looking through the pictures this afternoon I was overwhelmed with the hundreds of moments you captured. The house and gardens. The food. The cats and Momo. The indigo dyeing. The construction of the jackets. The immense immense amount of creative effort. Just brilliant. Thank you all. Thank you.

We were all exhausted by the end of two weeks. Sorry.

The mountains and trees transformed day by day.

Busy days. It takes effort to take time to appreciate the transformations around the house. What a show. It is beyond words.

















On a sad note...

Many of you have spent time at the magical Noguchi stencil studio with me in Hachioji. 
Mrs Noguchi has been a friend for twenty years. It seems like time stands still in that place. Her friendly no nonsense sturdiness. She was there one day as always greeting and lending a hand, hospitalised the next day. I went to visit her and she looked perfectly fine. We laughed and joked and  teased each other as we have for twenty years.  She went a few days later. Pancreatic cancer.

Her husband and children and grandchildren are in shock. I took the hanten making course there last week and there was a sombreness that hurt our eyes in the hash afternoon light. There was a wistfulness as the day wore on. It was a tough day with everyone working on different jacket projects. I think the husband and son were relieved to have some structure again. No time yet to grieve. Still in shock. We will miss you Fumiko Noguchi.



Some pictures from the hanten making course. Thank you all for the cluster photos. My apologies for not crediting each picture. 

I am so proud of the work produced by you all.

Your storage cubbies waiting for you.


What are we going to make? That first attempt to get it across.


Thank you for helping plant some indigo, safflower and cotton. It is all up now.


I love you all behaving so inconspicuously like the Japanese on the train...


That hot morning at the antique market.


We bought so much stuff we had to box it up and send it by special delivery back to the house.


Our lovely Yazaki san with endless patience. 


And those beautiful jackets came together almost magically.













Each of these individual pictures deserves a story. The days of spring just overwhelm us with beauty and all these flowers and people have such special stories to tell. 


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At my friends funeral last week a large purple shroud with lotus patterns was held up and its significance explained to the mourners before being placed over his body and before we all gathered around and filled the coffin with flowers before the actual cremation.

Another aspect of Japanese textiles I hadn't given much thought to. Buddhist-influenced funeral related textiles.

Speaking of lotus & death.



Every other year the lotus pots outside the front door need to be turned upside down and the stinky muddy roots untangled and trimmed and replanted. The dirt requires bonemeal and fish fertilizer to grow healthy leaves and flowers.

The love dog of my life, Snoopy, died years back. I had her cremated at a local Zen temple. Just like humans in Japan, her bones are places in a white urn and in a silk lined box. It sounds morbid but I take out a few Snoopy bones and crush them and mix them in the lotus clay every time I re-pot them.

So Snoopy can come back and visit in flower form every summer.





Just as I was sprinkling some Snoopy powder in the pot my friend arrived and she started to shriek!

She thought we were sprinkling my recently deceased neighbor in the pot. 

I quickly let her know it was Snoopy and not Kiyotaka. We had a good laugh.




I remember a lotus stencil I had drawn and was cutting years back. I left it on the floor and Snoopy walked over it and snagged the delicate paper and put holes in it.

It was my stupidity for leaving it on the floor. 

I kept the stencil as it was and used it a few times. I plan to recut it one day.


I used those lotus and their magnificent leaves growing outside the house as motifs for stencils for years. It may be time to use them again this summer when they bloom. 





Lotus flowers grow on the end of long stems like this.


Water lilies bloom near the surface of the water like this:


Lotus season seems far away with a full day of spring snow today. The pets just collapsed near the stove and dreamed of the door back into the spring they were enjoying just days ago.






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I went running a few days back and a group of twenty-odd monkeys came racing up the mountain from below out of the tea fields and spilled up onto the road around me and ran with me a few dozen meters.

At that moment I was listening in rapture to Van Morrison on earphones. Thinking about the opening lyrics to Domino with a big grin...


Don't want to discuss it
I think it's time for a change
You may get disgusted
Start thinkin' that I'm strange
In that case I'll go underground
Get some heavy rest
Never have to worry
About what is worst and what is best (get it)
Oh oh Domino (all right)
Roll me over Romeo

There you go

Lord have mercy
I said oh oh Domino
Roll me over Romeo
There you go
Say it again
I said oh oh Domino
I said oh oh Domino,

I had to stop and laugh and dance for the monkeys....."there you go... Lord have mercy..."
I punched the air Rocky-style smiling so hard I couldn't laugh and I swear a few of the monkeys joined in with me for the following verse dancing in the trees...
The Van Morrison and the monkeys....agh...  I never finished writing that blog in Glasgow started in December.

Domino Van Morrison


Back in Glasgow after some quiet time on the Isle of Skye I wandered for hours on end in the streets holding my camera by my waist with the flip out viewfinder secretly taking endless pictures of mostly unsuspecting random people walking down the street or preparing for a Christmas parade or staring into a pawnshop window looking at guitars.  I've been in the habit of this for years. In Russia,  Georgia, New York, Melbourne, India..
You get drunks and punks and mates. Occasionally a couple in love, a toddler with a walleye eating a sugar glazed donut.









The moment was gone.

The already low-angled solstice sun lowered, it was raining and snowing and the buskers were mixing in Christmas carols next to Rolling Stone covers. I nicked into a pub to sit quietly and edit out the blurry pictures, the empty frames, close-ups of down jackets and think about the habitats of the city I captured for my own amusement digitally.

I got my pint and some chips and glanced around the pub to see who my fellow sleet-escaping buddies were.

A little on the gloomy and serious side.

All ages and no specific dress code. Even the matron who moved in on me and was curious and looking to start up a conversation as soon as I looked away for my camera editing.....

Tourist.....?
Yeah.
Where you from?

I had to smile.

She was speaking with a deep Glaswegian patter.

She had to smile back...she raises both arched eyebrows, one at a time, and turns her head slightly, glances sideways, coyly up and away and takes a sip through a straw of her cocktail and lets the razor stubble, eyeliner and peculiar cleavage and husky voice register and then the eyes move back to meet mine and then the head follows for dramatic effect.

Canada.

A few pints later I had heard her family story.

A North Irish bricklayer father who had eloped with her Scottish mother to escape the troubles and then escaped the troubles of looking after a family and vanished. She was living with her bloody handsome straight brother, built like a refrigerator, who came back from Iraq with a post-traumatic disorder and was between wife number three and four.


So what do you do in Canada?

I'm a farmer and a textile designer and actually, I have lived in Japan for the last thirty years.

I raised my eyebrows, turned my head slightly, gave it my best world-weary distant gaze, (probably man-spread a little), took an intentional manly drink of my beer and then moved my eyes back to meet hers and then slightly pivoted my head so the vision and the nose lined up and locked at 90 degrees.

I thought of that old song..."When love congeals, it reveals, the faint aroma of performing seals."

She blinked those clumpy mascaraed lashes in rapid succession. Three quickies and a slow rise. Set them and smiled while seemingly making her incisors grow a little...

Well.... you must go to Paisley then. It is only an hour away. That is where all the paisley was made for the world in the days. The trains leave Glasgow station every twenty minutes.

So the next day...



No weaving has taken place in the town of Paisley since before WWII. Living in my village in Japan where every single house had produced silk for hundreds of years I know how that industry determined generations of local's lives. Again, the not-well-funded-aesthetic of small museum rooms with donated looms with moth-eaten threads dryly suspended from the front and back beams, rusted heddles and miscellany of weaving production awkwardly displayed on poorly made display boxes and cabinets.

It was a wonderful three hours non-the-less. Reading through the placard history of the weaving union workers and the history of the shawl adaptations as styles changed and seeing some beautiful work was well worth the short trip from Glasgow.


The sad Christmas fair with almost empty amusement rides in the town square I'd have to pass through again to enter the train station made me reluctant to brace the cold and wind. I bought a good book on Paisley from the museum gift shop and sat in front of a life-sized paper mâché Darth Vader near a radiator and read it until it was 5:00 and the museum decided to close.















This makes the paisley shawl make sense. One minute clip.

I did go back to the Scottish pub in Glasgow the next day humming, 'Madame George' but she wasn't there.

Pure Heaven.



Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George
Marching with the soldier boy behind
He's much older now with hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar
And outside they're making all the stops
The kids out in the street collecting bottle-tops
Gone for cigarettes and matches in the shops
Happy taken Madame George
That's when you fall
Whoa, that's when you fall
Yeah, that's when you fall
When you fall into a trance
Sitting on a sofa playing games of chance
With your folded arms and history books
You glance into the eyes of Madame George
And you think you found the bag
You're getting weaker and your knees begin to sag
In a corner playing dominoes in drag
The one and only Madame George
And then from outside the frosty window raps
She jumps up and says, Lord, have mercy I think it's the cops
And immediately drops everything she gots
Down into the street below
And you know you gotta go
On that train from Dublin up to Sandy Row
Throwing pennies at the bridges down below
And the rain, hail, sleet, and snow
Say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
And as you leave, the room is filled with music
Laughing, music, dancing, music all around the room
And all the little boys come around, walking away from it all
So cold, and as you're about to leave
She jumps up and says, hey love, you forgot your gloves
And the gloves to love, to love the gloves
To say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
Dry your eyes for Madame George
Say goodbye in the wind and the rain on the back street
In the backstreet, in the back street
Say goodbye to Madame George
In the backstreet, in the back street, in the back street
Down home, down home in the back street
Gotta go, say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Dry your eye, your eye, your eye, your eye, your eye
Say goodbye to Madame George
And the loves to love to love the love
Say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Say goodbye goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
The love's to love, the love's to love, the love's to love
Say goodbye, goodbye


Get on the train
Get on the train, the train, the train
This is the train, this is the train
Whoa, say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Get on the train, get on the train

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