In the carpet capital of the world,
Brian is studying the Stour,
today’s mix of colours
from a multitude of dyes.
His dad would make the joke
that if Jellymans dumped a yellow
and Carpet Trades a blue,
Brintons would get green.
Every day the smell of wet wool
would arrive in the kitchen
on his dad’s hessian bag
of weaver’s “bits and bobs”
dumped loudly on the table,
the same scent clinging
to his mother’s coat as she rushed in
to get the dinner on.
Brian is thinking now of Uncle Ted
weighing out powder in the dyehouse
wearing a makeshift hessian apron
to save his clothes.
In Brian’s imagination,
the river is now a steaming wooden vat.
Suspended hanks are lowered in,
boiled and cooled, boiled and cooled
then hauled out with the lifting gear
to be spun in the dryer,
coming out clumped into quarters
like hot, cumbersome cheese.
Dyeing is a man’s job.
When the yarn is dry
women wind it onto bobbins
like the ones in the living room cupboard
brought home in secret by his dad,
a proud weaver who wants his son
to be apprenticed to a tuner,
better paid, looking after the loom.
Brian’s not sure, hears the industry
is dying, walks away, his pullover
telling the tale of his dad’s latest carpet
and his mom’s best knitting.
Poet, singer/songwriter, keyboard/accordion player, actor, humourist and facilitator Heather Wastie grew up in the Black Country. In 2006 she moved to Kidderminster where In 2013 she was the Museum of Carpet Writer in Residence, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns.
In 2017 she was commissioned to write and perform poems for the popular Nationwide Building Society ad campaign, Voices Nationwide. Heather has also worked as a poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire.
Heather has published 5 illustrated poetry collections and has completed commissions for the Canal & River Trust, Black Country Echoes, Birmingham LGBT choir Rainbow Voices, West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, Apples and Snakes, Rights and Equality Sandwell’s “Where’s Our Spake Gone?” project and BBC local radio.