To my wonderful queer women’s film group, who epitomise everything I am currently missing


As I pause in the dusk, I sadly discover:
I am in my red plaid and my coat, with no jumper.
The last night of winter ahead, I will suffer
when I set off back home at eleven or later.

But I am on my way now and refuse to surrender:
my red plaid is leading me on through the centre,
under railway arches, to the cinema counter
to watch as my ticket slides out of the printer.

In the loos for a breather, sort my fringe in the mirror,
then my red plaid and I head on up to the diner.
A table of women, warm smiles, call me over
and I nod hello, sit, catch the eye of a waiter.

A mug of hot chocolate with cream and brown sugar,
a pizza with mushrooms, my usual order.
I turn to each neighbour, maintain a soft patter –
this will never come easy, but I’ve been getting braver.

We pay for our meal, then we fill the theatre,
to be carried to France by the love of a painter.
At the sight of the credits, the room fills with cheers
for the power of women, for a fearless director.

In the bar, we fuse tables, crowd into our corner
to talk and review, while the fairy-lights trigger.
And as it gets darker, it gets later and colder,
and I know this, I know, but still I just linger.

I stay and I love, I take hold of, remember
the sweetest of morsels from every encounter.
The more that I savour, the more I will hunger:
when the cold does set in, it will feel like forever.

But I chose to be here, with a coat and no jumper,
to have and then lose, over never discover.
My red plaid and I will get through this together,
still warm from the Manchester ladies on fire.