31 January 2012

It Was Bliss

From an interview with the British artist Kathleen Hale (1898-2000) in Virginia Nicholson's Among the Bohemians (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p. 30:
I found Kathleen living in a small basement room in an old people's home on the outskirts of Bristol. The walls of her room were adorned with her own drawings, lino cuts and metal compositions. Though rather deaf, she was vigorous and somewhat formidable. Her springy iron-grey hair was cropped short, and she wore a blue caftan top with a silver necklace. She talked about the past, but also about the present, and her relationships with other 'greyheads' in the home, who to her surprise had turned out to be fascinating individuals. Halfway through our interview she mischievously produced an illicit bottle of gin which we drank from plastic cups. Encouraged, I said I thought that despite the extreme hardship of her early life, I was under the impression that she had enjoyed it: 
'Oh yes, it was absolutely wonderful, and not hard all the time by any means, and the difficult parts like having to stay indoors because you couldn't face going past a bun shop, well, that was all part of it, part of the general plan I had of how to live. But oh, my dear, it was freedom, it really was, it was bliss.'