Having a Heart


I worked for a month on this project as a Robert Louis Stevenson Writing Fellow in Grez-sur-Loing, just outside Paris.

This is what i said in my application:

“I carry in my purse a little card trademarked by Edwards Life Sciences (website: www.lifeisnow.com). There it is, amongst the pound notes, the bus pass, the old railway tickets and those grubby litttle receipts you’re supposed to keep in your records but somehow never do. It says my name: Jo Clifford ( and how much of a story there is, even in that little name, of the long journey that began with ‘John’). Underneath it says: Implant date: 12-OCT-2006. Under that, the surgeon’s name. Under that, the model number (4625); the size (38 mm); the position: MITRAL. It has a serial number - 5424477.


Its function was to mend a broken heart.

And beside it, often but always, the photo of the woman whose horrible death broke it.

There is the most astonishing, complex, even perhaps miraculous story in that rather battered and ugly little card.

The challenge is to find the form to tell it.”

I generated a mass of material in that month; quite how much i will ever use I have yet to tell.

I didn’t succeed in the challenge of finding a form to tell the story.

Lately, as part of a workshop, I improvised a brief performance around that annuloplasty band.

Perhaps that will be the way forward...