Bradford (part 2)

Photo: Orysia Fletcher
Photo: Orysia Fletcher

In the former mill owner’s house, now home to the Ukrainian Centre in Bradford the Ukrainian women, in their beautifully embroidered blouses, are singing the once prohibited songs of their childhood. They are all clutching song sheets but they don’t need them, the words seep from their souls. They sing of love and loss. They sing of an existence utterly destroyed by war and occupation.

“When they started singing you could see it in their faces. They were still living it. She said that she never get to meet her parents, neither her Mum nor her Dad. They died when she was a baby. That was so sad, so sad. That is going to stay in my heart. She said the songs that came from her heart and that made the tears come from my heart.”

The Londoners perform fragments from their comedy about a woman whose daughters want to make her live in a shed so that they can prematurely get their inheritance. It’s a contemporary story mixing the sweet and the sour.

“It’s true. So true to life”

In this crowded room it feels like something elemental has been happening, a simple exchange between these elders from the Ukraine, from England, from Africa, Italy and the Caribbean; a precious moment of public intimacy where we have digested little parts of each other’s stories along with the piping hot cheesy dumplings.

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