I Want to Know What Love Is


Last week I was in Stockton at ARC Stockton Arts Centre for a week of residency working on the show. We wanted to create a small something that would give us the opportunity to talk to people about the show and about the various possible loves they might have in their lives.

To do so we created a small project for ARC’s lobby, which involved a list of 100 possible kinds of love, each one printed on a separate manila envelope and represented by a small thimble. We invited people to come talk to us, asking if they had a story to accompany each of these possible loves. If they did we asked them to write it on an index card and place it in the envelope, and in return they were able to take the relevant thimble home with them. If they didn’t have a story, they got the opportunity to smash that thimble into little pieces.

At the end of two days we’d collected over thirty stories from people in the building. A catalogue of loves, past and present.

Love for a landscape

When I was about 20 I made friends with a boy called Rowan who was from a tiny village called Balnakeil near Durness in the proper highlands of Scotland. A few of us went to stay his family home for a week and it was the furthest north I’ve ever been in the UK. We drove, and the further we got on the journey the bleaker the landscape became. It was so wet and grey and cold, and there were so few houses and people, and any man made structures (and us) were just dwarfed by these enormous rolling, dark hills. He lived near the sea, and we spent days wandering around the most enormous sand dunes I’ve ever seen. Anyway, that feeling has stayed with me, as I was young(ish) and I felt an overwhelming feeling of awe and love for the place. I even (slightly embarrassing bit) remember writing some poetry about that place and that trip. It was special. And it was an experience of some kind of love for sure.

Love for a friend

Not that long ago myself + my partner were having a difficult time with our family. This resulted in us visiting family members ever evening whilst balancing work + our own lives. One morning I came in to work and my friend had dropped off a box of homemade muffins and a Bolognese with a message to say we might need some rest and home cooking. I couldn’t + still can’t thank her enough for that kindness, thought and love she showed me. I realised at that point that our friendship was very special + about support + looking out for each other. And the food was great!

Love for a relative

“FRANKIE” – My nephew

My sister had my nephew Frankie in May 2011. He’s my first niece or newphew. I think I was scared at first. But I vividly remember my first night babysitting – terrified + scared + wondering why anyone had children. Until (eventually!) he fell asleep in my arms – and my heart burst with pride, love and  a really deep connection to this tiny person.

Love for a colleague


I loved working with my friend (though colleague at the outset) Leslie. He was the co-ordinator of Nottingham Caribbean Carnival. He and his family came from a very different world to me. And he was the one ‘went good’. Yet many of his relatives, and his experiences and challenges, involved the type of inner-city events in St Anne’s, the meadows, Thyson Green etc. that Nottingham became infamous for. However, he single-handedly organised a carnival for 80,000 people to enjoy, and had a chique Jamaica working style. And I ended up in many funny situations with him as we came together to try and make a difference. From being the only white man at the UK Cup Clash, to commercialising some elements of carnival, meeting in strange pubs, meeting some strange people. And he is the only person who calls me after not speaking for 6 months and says “hello blood, it’s Rankin.”

Love for a co-conspirator

My co-conspirator works for a major organisation that I am trying to influence – not for my benefit but for the benefit of others. It’s like having a spy in the camp. He manages to maintain his integrity at all times, never shirks his responsibility to his employer but works with me, and through me, to ensure good things happen for good people. I love that he can see the bigger picture and is prepared to take small personal risks* to make good things happen.

*All entirely legal!

Love for a rescuer

A few years ago I was driving along the A69 to friend’s show in Hexham. And later that day I was going to be hosting a 1930s theme party. So I was dressed up in a pretty dress.

My tyre blew up as I was driving. I managed to pull into a lay-by and thought “I can do this”. I got out of the car, but the tyre was on the roadside and the cars were whizzing past really fast. I realised I couldn’t do it.

I got back in the car with the plan of driving to the next place I could turn off. It was a terrifying drive with the car shuddering. I got to the next turn off and pulled in. I was really shaken up. I got out of the car to try and see what I could do. I’ve never changed a tyre on my own…

Then, I noticed a white van pull in. A man jumped out and said “I saw you driving and I thought you might need a hand.” I was so bloody happy. I explained what had happened. He nodded and changed my tyre in under two minutes. Then he jumped back in his van and drove off.

I said thank you to him, but to this day I wish I’d remembered the company name on his van so I could have sent him a bottle of wine or something. I remember he was driving to Chester but that’s it. So, Mr Van Rescuer – thank you! I’ve got a whole lot of love for you!

Love for a cause

MUSIC IN EDUCATION: Vitally important. Especially to those who are not gifted in maths + science. It embraces the creative spirit in children in a way nothing else can. I look for those on the periphery, the, “I think  I could’s”, the “I need someone to encourage me that I can try this”… I look for those children. I’ve watched them shine. I watched them push beyond what they thought they were capable of. I’ve reassured them in their nervousness, I’ve loved them into 3 part harmony from the ages of 7-11. Art in school, all out, music, singing – applaud it, increase it, motivate it. I picked up my first violin at 9. I’m stilling singing and involved in music now and I still absolutely love it. X

Love for a challenge

My dog Snowy is 14 yrs and my other dog Marley-Bob is 15 mnth there is a big age difference between them and Snowy’s not very well and Marley’s still a bit naughty but I have no family so my dogs are my kids I love them with all my heart and soul it can be challenging with the vet’s and looking after them but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Love for an idea

For a long time now I’ve not been able to decide what i want to do after college. Then one day a friend said as a joke, “you’re always off in your own fairy world; you should be a Disney Princess.” That’s when it clicked. I want to eventually be working in one of the Disney Theme Parks as an entertainer. My friend has given me an idea that I love.

Love for an invention

I love my car!

My car is my freedom, it allows me to go where I want, whenever I want.

If I went bankrupt, my car would be the last thing to go!

Love for a community

Full Circle Drama Group*

[Full circle drama group is a drama group at ARC Stockton for people with learning disabilities]

Love for a cat

Binny the cat

Love for cats

Topsy cat.

Love for a book

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Read laying on a subbed in a villa in Majorca several years ago, the last time I went abroad. Very sad and touching! Cried my eyes out!

Love for a piece of music

I love Rod Stewart’s song Maggie May. I love it because I grew up listening to it in the back of dad’s car, in the kitchen when Mam was cooking, at family gatherings but mostly because I grew up listening to the story of my parents dancing to it on their first date!

Love for a piece of Art

I once worked in Berlin for a new media arts festival and in my first year there we had an amazing exhibition which I assisted on. On the opening night of the festival it was -10 degrees and a full on snow storm, but the event set to launch the festival was an outdoor piece – we were really anxious it wouldn’t be possible, and after much concern and wrangling it happened – we had about six hundred people stood in a snow storm looking at Yvette Mattern’s From One to Many – a rainbow of 7 parallel laser beams shining from the festival venue over a 3km stretch of Berlin to the TV tower. It was so beautiful, and everyone stood silently in the snow in awe.

Love for a piece of clothing


Love for a building

Golden Temple – Amristar, India

My love for this first occurred in the 1990s with the peace + love that was created around it as it seemed very sincere + felt like being at home.

Love for something that is no longer there

The thing I love that is no longer there is my childhood.

Everyday it gets further and further away.

I especially loved the purple corner on my hand knitted blanket made by my lovely Gran. She is also no longer there and I love her too.

Love for a sport

My love of cricket was born in1990, when watching it for the first time with my Dad, who no longer lived with us by then. He’d always said I was eligible to play for Yorkshire but until that day I had no idea what that meant. In the Test Match, between England and India, Graham Gooch scored his famous 333 and Sachin Tendulkar took a remarkable catch. In the next match in the series, Tendulkar scored the first of 100 career centuries.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about you don’t love Cricket.

Love for a team

When my foot ball team won the league I was 8 year old I was so happy and proud to be a part of it and it was the best day of my life.

Love for a celebrity

Lots of love for my grandson live for him Fynlay. Xxx

Love for a dream

To Live in London
– perform in the West End
– Finish all my LAMDA exams
– find the perfect house

Love for a dog

I have mobility problems and should take little walks daily, but always found an excuse not to until my daughters took me to the local animal rescue centre + I got my gorgeous Sacha – a staffi cross. Each morning she stamps her feet + looks at me whilst standing at the door, so come hail, rain or snow – even occasional sunshine we go out for lovely walks. I love her to bits. X

Love for a place

The best place for me to come and chill is Arc Stockton. It’s very social which I love and all the staff make customers comfortable. I love the friendships I have made here. It’s a great place to be.

Love for a country

When my dad took me for a walk up Dorsh Waterfall (backside of Shidclaw) in the lake district + it was the most beautiful/calm place and I loved the fact I lived there, and places like this were on my doorstep, in my country.

Love for a country that is not your own

I love Tuscany, the beautiful buildings and history of Florence, and Sienna, beautiful beaches and warm sultry nights. Very happy times to sit and recall on cold wet days.

Love for a death

Love for my brother Patrick who was murdered 29 years ago age 25. His life taken. Murderer out after 13 years he has his life still.

Love for a body of water

Being on and around (as opposed to in) water had a terrifically calming effect for me. I love boats. I love bridges. I love the sea. It’s hard to narrow it down to one. I’ll go for Ullswater, site of a family holiday and somehow the epitomising lake of the district for me. Swimming in it, boats on it, picnics by it – I’ve a stack of warm memories. Even if it did smell a bit.

Love for a swim

The rock pools – in the river pas the campsite at Stonethwaite – top end of Borrowdale in the Lake District. Crystal clear blue/green water “takes your breath away” cold at whatever time of year but amazingly exhilarating and rejuvenating once you’ve taken the plunge. And the fabulous climax of this experience – scrambling over slippery rocks to the top end of the gully to stand shrieking with delight as the cold cascade of the waterfall pours over my head and body.

Love for a home

My grandma lived in the same house for over 40 years. She moved out to a one bed council flat when my Grandad died. She doesn’t think of her new house as her home. For about a year after she moved her life out of her home she would go back there to get bathed. We only found out when we noticed the bath in her flat was covered in dust. Her home has now been sold. We hope they love it too.

Love for the night

The night I love most is Christmas Eve but not necessarily for the obvious reasons. My dad is a vicar but I wouldn’t call myself religious or a believer. I do however have a great amount of respect for my dad who has dedicated his life to his calling and community. Every Christmas Eve I attend midnight mass, sing carols and be part of his beliefs. At the end of the service I stay behind + help him pack up, folding the linen, hanging up his robes then I take his arm and we walk home together. I love this night – we talk, sometimes seriously, sometimes not, but it is a night where 2 reserved people can express their love for each other.

Love for Darkness

I don’t know if this is metaphorical enough, but I do have a genuine love for night. I used to hate night time as a kid. It always seemed to be full of fear, or potential fear.

But now nigh, especially 3 or 4am which it’s still and quiet and full of, how can I say this without being creepy, ‘potential’.

There’s something amazingly cool to be in quiet streets, quiet rooms overlooking quiet streets or looking at moonlit views that make you see and appreciate the world in a totally different way.

Love of something someone once did

For my friend Anne Ming. Her daughter Julie murdered and she fought to change the DOUBLE JEOPARDY law & SUCCEEDED. Her killer now in Broadmoor. Book called For Love of Julie by Ann Ming.

Love for a silence

With such a busy life (* now retired, wondering what to do with myself at first) it is sometimes so lovely to have that quiet moment.

My quiet moments are in church when it is silent time to pray, at home when I have had a busy day to reflect.

When, the choir have first finished an amazing song + it is silent (I get goose bumps!)


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