'Darling, Dear Darling' Blog #1: Delving in to the archive at the EFDSS

For a couple of years, an idea has been brewing in my brain to create a performance piece entitled ‘Worryface’ about my lived experience of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), in collaboration with theatre-maker and writer Francesca Millican-Slater.

Last summer, I received an Alan James Creative bursary from the lovely folk at the EFDSS, and, in November 2020, I embarked on a ‘virtual residency’ (given Covid restrictions) at Cecil Sharp House and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. I began by researching and exploring themes of physical and mental illness, disability and injury in folk song in preparation for developing 'Worryface'.

Delving around the VWML website, I found a song lyric called 'Father, Come Home' (published in 1867). It tells the story of a young girl's pleas to her father to come home from the pub to his son, who is growing sicker by the hour. Below is the image of the original Broadside (RN 839) from the Steve Roud Collection hosted on the VWML website:

I was really drawn to this lyric – the rhythm, the images of the striking clocks, the heightening drama with every hour. Taking the lyrical framework of ‘Father, Come Home’, I wrote my song 'Darling, Dear Darling' detailing my own experiences of being in hospital for 9 days in February 2017.

At that time, I was awaiting diagnosis after I had experienced several episodes of sudden loss of movement and strength in my legs. The new song takes place over one night on a hospital ward, addressed to my son. Here's the first verse's lyrics:

Darling, Dear Darling. I wish I were home.

The clock on the tower strikes one

A lady is crying and I cannot sleep

For fear of what is to come

My mind is on fire, my body's on strike

Something must be terribly wrong

Keep folding these paper birds all through the night

Wondering where my sanity's gone

I am releasing this song as a single next week on 12th February 2021, almost exactly 4 years since the experience detailed in the song. You can pre-save the song on Spotify here: https://show.co/aGXAjIJ

In my usual DIY style, I've created a music video for the song which will be premiered next Tuesday 9th February 2021. Here are a few stills of the video:

Thank you to the EFDSS and Francesca Millican-Slater for their support in the creation of ‘Darling, Dear Darling’.

'Worryface' is still brewing...

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