When it came to me, there was the usual - she's so funny, she's so warm, she's so whatever. (You already know I was not born for positivity). But one lady said something that has stayed with me ever since. My presence on the course, she said, my continued ability to fully take part whilst caring for a terminally ill mother and two children, made me 'the definition of having your sh*t together".
It wasn't a phrase - or a sentiment - I had ever connected with me. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's telling myself I'm not really doing very well at things. That I'm barely coping. The fact that someone thought I was not only coping, but doing it quite well, really surprised me.
Just weeks ago my husband - my partner of 25 years - left, after suddenly announcing he had been having a very long-term affair. Without warning, the children and I had our entire existence turned upside down. The pain and betrayal were heart-stopping.
So let's talk now about this picture of a chicken.
Once upon a time, I was working with the Crick Crack Club to promote a show by the storyteller Michael Harvey, the poster image for which was just this single, determined-looking chicken, staring straight at the camera. I loved everything about that show - the stories, the teller, the telling, and, of course, the chicken.
In my head, it became a symbol, and I remember talking to my husband about it. I was saying that all the metaphors about lovebirds, and those doves that people release in cheesy movie weddings, weren't the real deal. Real marriage was like that chicken - steely, unswerving, sometimes not entirely pretty - but the one bird you'd like to have in your corner in a fight. Marriage had your back. It gave you strength.
So why, when I was planning what image to take for a textile art workshop I had booked months ago, was I still thinking about that chicken? My marriage had not had my back. It turned out that I had not actually been in what I would consider a marriage for years. Why was the chicken still so important?
The words from the nightschool course came back to me, and they made me realise. For a long time now, as my husband concentrated on a new career, I have felt increasingly alone. I have run my household, I have gone to work, I have gone to college, I have nourished and nurtured my children. I have nursed my much-loved mother and kept vigil at her death earlier this year.
Marriage was never the chicken. I was the chicken. I was the effing chicken all along.
With thanks to Mandy Pattullo for a wonderful workshop, and for understanding that I had to abandon the pretext of the course - 'Stitched Memories' - because memories sometimes have to wait.
Thanks also to the Crick Crack Club, for the gloriousness of the chicken. All the shows they promote are exceptional - go look at what they have coming up.
Michael Harvey is currently touring a new show called Dreaming the Night Field. Details of tour dates are available at Adverse Camber.