Thursday, 29 July 2021

Starting Again II

I have lived before, and imagined, and written, and been read - but when life is very hard, these things feel impossible to acknowledge or remember. 

So I'm going back to basics - I find the trunk from under the bed and pick through old achievements, pictures, stories, fragments. I find my first prize-winning poem - a sonnet. I find demented drawings. I find shrines to people I've loved and friends I'll always call mine. 

L x


Thursday, 22 July 2021


break (verb)

to (cause something to) separate suddenly or violently into two or more pieces, or to (cause something to) stop working by being damaged

to destroy or end something, or to come to an end

to fail to keep a law, rule, or promise

to go somewhere or do something by force

to lose your confidence, determination, or ability to control yourself, or to make someone do this

to become known or to make something become known

(of waves) to reach and move over the beach, hit a cliff or wall

(of the weather) to change suddenly and usually become worse

(of dawn or day) when dawn or day breaks, the sun starts to appear in the sky early in the morning

a short period of rest

I sat in the common that was more mine than anyone else's. I knew the roots of every tree, the place to find the damsons, the loops to make when you wanted to walk for hours without seeing a car. 

I wrote on a fallen trunk. The date: the same as all the days before. I wrote about all the ways a body could break and all the ways it could be forced. To split in two, four, six, more, to reach too far over beaches and cliffs and lakes and walls, to rise too early, to change irrevocably, to become worse suddenly, to feel the hurt violently, to be so destroyed that the only thing left is to end completely. But when you survive, there are ways to make hope out of all that breaking, and the rotten parts start to give way to green shoots and new years.

The date hadn't changed in a month and three days, but I would - eventually. I wouldn't be a coward. I wouldn't walk on and say nothing. In the night, three boys sang Angels outside the bedroom window and when I woke up there were fresh sunflowers by the pillow. I sat amongst blue velvet cushions, drank coffee from a small cup, and put on a new white shirt. The air smelled as I knew it would and the sky was as blue. I slipped out into a morning already as warm as skin and went to reclaim the pieces that had survived.        

L x


Thursday, 10 June 2021

Video: june

I want you to imagine falling in love with something so completely that all you want is to be drowned by rain. I want you to think of the lightness, the highness, the colourlessness of being obliterated by feeling, just for a moment. If you’ve known the rush of an epiphany, this should be easy. If not, try to picture coloured lights strung between trees, outshining the pale yellow stars of a London night in June. A piece of life whiter than sun, darker than an open mouth, softer than the shortest hairs at the back of your neck. Feel them. Imagine them smoothed under new fingertips, deep into the night, closer to dawn now, rabbit-soft, a moment to live a whole life for. Pause. 

Now, imagine being so beloved that the outer limits of yourself become clear water and golden light, suffusing the earth and the sky into which you are plugged with the hum of possibility. I want you to feel your own expansiveness and to know that some would pour out every breath they’ll ever breathe to fertilise the soil you stand in. Picture the soft silver viridescence of lambs ears and birch trees, or the butter-hued greens of seedlings unfurling from their paper cases and into their first sighting of spring. Feel the slow warm rise of sap and the shade-dappled coaxing of the sun, dimmer and lighter, lighter and dimmer.

Remember that this newness is time-bound. It is a feeling always on the point of gone, about to be nudged off by the wind, by the rain, by a catch in the breath, spilling over itself and into the romance of the past. So. There is usually pain to come. There will be silences and misunderstandings and the slow falling away of frost. But in this moment the leaves are nothing but leaves and your lungs are full. Brush a thumb against your palm and draw a circle there. Imagine yourself high and light, strings snapped and blown away. A flutter in the whiteness of remembering. A life seen and passed over, burned out in a flicker. Water-weighted, if just for now. Brought down again and sated by the blessings of the rain.

- for the only you I'll ever write to, after Ali and 'May'. First screened 21 June 2020.  

L x

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Writing: the opera


It was late as I left the opera house and I felt constricted by the tragedy of everything I’d seen and only half-understood. I liked to listen to proper music as often as I could because it made me feel older and more in control. For minutes and sometimes hours afterwards, I would sink into the kind of absorbed stillness that some people must feel when they are doing crosswords or filling in spreadsheets. 

The best music I’d ever paid to listen to had been in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, before I knew the history of the place or the dubious reputation of the composer. I enjoyed the way the violins toyed with each other, rising and falling in patterns that I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe, before slowing down and fading away like sleep. 

As I climbed onto the bus to take me back to town, I tried to grapple with the strained feeling in my throat, hating to admit that father/daughter stories always got to me like this. Two white-haired men sat down in the seats behind me and started discussing the cost of putting on the Ring Cycle and whether or not that justified the price they had paid for their concessionary tickets. In the row in front, a pale woman sank down next to her handbag and cried into the sleeve of her shirt. I could see her reflection in the bus window but I tried not to meet her watery eyes in case she felt embarrassed.    

The seats of the bus were red and orange, crosshatched in thick streaks, with yellow headrests. The engine started and we turned slowly out of the car park. A few of the overhead windows were open, letting in the sound of churning gravel.

I thought about the times I had cried in public places but realised it might be easier to list the places I hadn’t cried. 

The pink summer evening streaked past. The men were discussing travel cards. The woman continued to cry. Someone coughed at the back of the bus and someone else closed one of the windows, shutting in the air. 

I thought back over the opera and wished that I’d remembered enough German to read between the top-notes of loss and despair. Admittedly, I enjoyed going back over each scene and putting in whatever words I wanted, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty about this habit of retrospective rewriting, as if I were sacrificing intellectual nuance for something trashy and indulgent.  

I’d only had time to look up half of the synopsis beforehand, up to the part where the daughter disobeys her father and agrees to help his son. All in all this seemed like something a father should want, regardless of political dealings, but I knew the feeling of being pulled in too many directions, and I felt a twinge of sympathy as he wept and put his daughter to sleep on a big, grey rock.  

Men often cried in literary settings, but I had only ever seen my dad crying when he had the flu. I tried to picture him tearing up at a piece of art - perhaps something nostalgic, end-of-life music, tinged with age and the almost-dead. I imagined him on the stage, limply holding out his arms as he doomed me to an eternity of fire, and hoped that I wouldn’t comply as easily as the daughters of fiction do.

L x

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Writing: a story of you


A story of you

I am meant to be writing a story, so I’ll write a story of you. 


You are underground,
growing into spores and fungi, 
little pieces of green. 
You will flower into poppies
and daisies and everything 
but lilies, you leave those for funerals.
You uncurl from the ground
like the screams of children
which are actually birds
calling to each other 
from across the common. 
You are a cocoon of heat
which you will only share with
the orchids and the ants 
and the worms. 
I push you into the ground
as a bulb and let the sun warm
your bulby head;
my mother, my children, 
my life’s work, my dinner, 
grown from death to little death
in the air pockets under the topsoil.


You are a sunflower. 
You are the seed in the centre of a sunflower. 
You are the erasure of light and substance 
that exists in the blackness 
at the centre of a sunflower. 
You began as a tiny seed, one of a collective. 
You grew bigger and bigger, 
developed a hard shell, 
shone out darkly in a mass of buttery yellow 
at the height of summer. 
To the pupils of tired eyes, you are unexceptional. 
Others see the deliciousness 
of extracting you by the fingernails 
and feeding you, one by one, 
to the birds.


You are autumn. 
You are words in a stream of oranges, yellows, and reds. 
A tree-lined lane and strokes of paint on paper.
A carpet of leaves impossibly orange, still, 
and therefore untrodden,
so if I came any closer I would wear you down
so I can only love you from a distance, now,
and soon the rain will brown you anyway,
and then the frost will hold you
in premonitions of winter.


You are a bird.
You are a bird nesting in the crock of my heart. 
You are warmed by my ventricles massaging your bony claws. 
Held like this, in my centre, you are soundless. 
Feathers can’t rustle with nothing to rustle against, 
and the sound of a bird moving in a bath full of feathers
 is the softest unsound I can imagine. 
Now you are a male bird, a baby pheasant, 
rescued from a fox and left in need of nurturing. 
Your fragility makes a mockery of masculinity 
and in the hot orange glow of a winter fire 
I want to cry at the thought of 
cold on your back and heat on your face. 
You are nesting, sleeping, maybe 
forever or maybe gathering strength for mating season 
when memories cross-pollinate
 and bring new remembrances, 
imagined memories, rewritten in a new light, 
in morning light, in the light of a smudged kitchen window
 or the light filtered through the yellow petals 
of a man-sized flower, 
high above the fence, 
none of which is real, but is anything, really? 
Except the soundless rustle 
and the closed eyes. 
The little bird. 
The beating chest.
The scaly pink eyelids 
and the gentle thought 
of a pursed beak, 
clicking occasionally, 
perhaps in dreams 
of flying or snow or dust baths 
or the light-grasping far reaches of the trees. 

First read in November 2019.

L x

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Project: Tupilak II

We screened the film in a little cafe in Hackney, to a group of friends and family. We were lucky to do so before Covid appeared! The full film is available to view here.

For 500 years, the Norse Greenlanders made their home in the wilderness.

In 1450, they disappeared without a trace.

an Andrew Hall film | TUPILAK | starring Lily Taylor | cinematography Ashley Hughes

with Alex Newton | music Jordan Dobbins | design Matthew Ceo

special thanks to Bec Taylor | Alex Wagner | YHA Idwal Cottage

L x


Sunday, 12 January 2020

Project: Tupilak

Almost two years since working on The Beachcomber (see my previous post on making films), I joined up with Andrew and Ashley (and our friend Alex) to begin filming our new project - Tupilak. We spent five days wandering around the mountains of the Idwal Valley in Snowdonia, in costume, transporting ourselves back into the 1500s with the help of some cast iron grates, heavy pans, a fishing spear (made from a gardening tool), and one sad little fish (from the supermarket). We imagined what life would be like for the last Norse Greenlander, alone and barely surviving. 

The project was inspired by an article from Ernest journal about the magical totems carved by the Inuit people of Greenland to deter enemies and the inadequately-explained disappearance of the community of Norse Greenlanders in around 1500 AD. I led our research - reading about the buildings and artefacts that remained - and from there we crafted the script. 

Andrew, on the 'tupilak' itself: "Acquiring a tupilak carved by a Greenland-based craftsperson was one of the key artistic decisions we made for the production. I thought it was important to have a daily reminder on location of the powerful history and wicked intent that was bound up in these objects, echoing the RSC’s use of a real skull in its traditional Hamlet stagings. We had previously stumbled across an Inuit art gallery on Paris’ Right Bank which sold a range of carved figures including replica tupilaks [I remember this day! It felt like a sign], but although we certainly hope that ours is no more real in the ominous sense, I felt that getting one from Greenland was important. In an age of lazy cultural appropriation, I thought the very least we could do was strive to work with authentic source material."

This was one of the most exhausting and rewarding projects I've worked on so far. Racing the sunset down the mountain. Chasing birds in the sky. Walking back and forth between the hostel and the hills. Paddling in freezing waters - as seems to be my calling card, now. Breathing in woodsmoke and waking up with the smell in my hair and my skin. Carrying two books around with me but never getting the chance to open either one of them. Drinking beers at the end of the day and cooking huge dinners and watching the footage back. Dealing with problems - a broken SD card, a missing charger cable, a misplaced fish. And then - at the end of it all - finding a knoll that caught the sunrise between the trees, with a view over the valley, and sitting there alone for five, ten, twenty minutes, and listening to the birds and then the silence - as if I were the only one left. 

You can see a trailer for the film here

(From Paris)

L x


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Friday, 31 August 2018

Project: Mabel and Mickey II

 A few pictures of the process - from making our flyers and press releases, to script-editing, to teching (and learning how to use the tech box in the space of one afternoon), to finishing our first show.

L x

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Project: Mabel and Mickey

I've spent the last year co-producing and directing a one-woman show - it's a mixture of spoken word, true crime, biography, and shadow puppetry. It's been performed at the Wandsworth Arts Festival, Camden People's Theatre, the Roundhouse, and now at Underbelly in Edinburgh. 

I shot and edited this trailer just as it began to snow back in March. The snow settled and lay on the ground for days. It got so cold that the water pipes in our part of South London burst and we were cut off completely for a while. It felt like camping - collecting drips in big pans, showering at the swimming pool. I think Mabel was trying to tell us something. I think she'll probably haunt us all forever after this.

I played around with a few video formats - spoof vlogs, deleted scenes, a haunted camera roll (our house got broken into and we filmed the wreckage afterwards, but decided it was too sad to make into a proper video). I'll post some here, as a record.

Finally, our teaser trailer - which I had the great pleasure to see played all over Edinburgh on big screens. Wonderful!

L x

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