10.05am ( sat at my desk in the studio)

Its minging weather again. It rains and rains and rains. I prefer the frost and ice to the rain. I listened to Benjamin Clementine to lift my spirits. I have drunk far too much coffee. I woke at five managed to stay resting in bed till six. I am sick of waking early.

Far colder at night now, Naoise makes for a lovely hot water bottle. When I worry I draw his body closer and put my arm around him.

Last night I sat on the sofa with both boys. I called Syd down to have some family time. I think its normal for a teenage child to spend time alone in his room, but there has been too much alone recently. I missed him, I am trying to strike a balance between the demands of a six year old and a fourteen year old. The six year old demands a lot.

We watched David Attenborough’s Hunted documentary. We marvelled at blue whales and flying fish and a super pod of spinner dolphins.

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Naoise has sore lips, he applies some vaseline. I can see the red. His skin burnt by the cold. He will not put on his red school jumper or even a vest. I wish he would dress properly. He is very stubborn. I don’t know what to do. He already has a chesty cough. I can’t convince him that wrapping up warm is important. I ack the jumper in his book bag.

We got to school on time this morning. Its easiest when we both scooter. The leaves are slippy. We take extra care, but still speed along the pavement. We narrowly miss a car completely soaking us as it turns the corner of the road.

The lolly pop man comments on the size of my scooter. We are early. We are waiting. Naoise wonders why everyone waits in a que near the door. I tell him that its because the children are keen to get into school. I reassure him that its ok that we can take it slow. There is no rush. I kiss him goodbye. He walks lost in his coat and hood up with fluffy fake fur around the rim.

He wants to buy a school photograph. I will find the money from somewhere. I hate this time of year. Santa is meant to come, but we can barely pay our house bills. Santa will come from somewhere. We will magic him up. Will will magic money up. We always just manage to get by. I am not sure there is much magic left.

I keep thinking again and again of the care work that always seems available. I am resistant to taking on care work, I struggle to care for my own family let alone others too. I am all out of ideas. I will agree to the voluntary work but I don’t know where this will lead either.

The lollypop man questions why I am taking photographs of the playground floor. I say that I am recording thoughts about being a mother about my time with and without my children. About tarmac and skin. I tell him that I have been writing all year, that my project even mentions him. He talks to me about watching the children grow, seeing them move from primary to secondary school. The lolly pop man is much more than a man that crosses children safely from one side of the road to another. He is a watcher of life. He jolly us on. He always smiles and has something to say. He is a sort of yoda. All knowledgeable.

I spoke with the lovely woman from Sure Start. How can I resist some training. Its a reason to meet others. Its a reason to meet others from different backgrounds. There isn’t much diversity in Todmorden. There is always something to be learnt from others. If nothing else I am the taxi service to help two other mums. I am the one who can help. The befriending starts from day one. It will be a challenge to get to halifax by 9.30am. I can’t afford childcare there is nothing in the pot for an opportunity. There is only money for childcare if there is paid work. So the circle of childcare continues.

Skin. Pale. Translucent. White almost blue.

Tarmac. Hard. Black. Heavy.

Skin breathing. Covering. Skin growing.

Tarmac dependable, strong, stopping nature growing from the soil.

Skin ageing, marks, sores, cracks, pores.

Tarmac holding puddles of water, ice, snow.

Skin changing with the sun, freckles forming,

Tarmac reflecting back light and holding heat in,

Skin burning red,

Tarmac with lines drawn with hot chalk, straight, curvy, patterns, numbers,

Skin sweating, salt, water,

Tarmac providing a surface to play on,

Skin continually renewing,

Tarmac hard to fall on, causing bruises and cuts and breaks to bones,

Skin holding all of the human in,

Tarmac holding all of nature out,

Skin protecting,

Tarmac oily, sticky, stoney, clinging to soil,

Skin wrinkling,

Tarmac even,

Skin moles, scars, lines, a print of the self,

Tarmac rolled out and pressed firmly down,

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