"Dolly is about 70 centimetres tall. Now with holes and inconsistent stitching, she was a gift to me from my granny. I was three years old.
My granny is my hero. I like to think that she and I are very similar. She is bright in mind, humour, and attire.
My granny paints her fridges yellow and adorns her walls with pictures, trinkets, and even outfits!
She is honest, kind, and generous, and admits she can be vicious. She drinks copious amount of tea and smokes copious amount of cigarettes.
She has tried to teach me; how to garden, how to sew, how to hand-wash wool and cashmere, how to play Mozart Sonata in c major k545.
I have learnt how to how to appreciate a view, how to ask and listen, and finally how to hand-wash!
There is comfort in being ‘listened’ to, not judged, fully accepted. Perhaps I am a writer and performer because of this. Perhaps my dolly taught me how to love something that couldn’t love me back. Perhaps she taught me how to tear apart and stitch back up, when to put things through the wash. Perhaps she taught me how to look after gifts.
Dolly was the first audience for my innermost thoughts and, though she is an object, she facilitated a space for me to chat out my thinkings and feelings at an age where language was new and clunky.
Language is still clunky and still being discovered. Now I play with it in solitude on paper and edit and rehearse before I perform. Perhaps I should return to the indeterminate messy chatter of a child?"
Deanna Rodger is an international performance poet, published writer, theatre- maker and facilitator. She has been commissioned by BBC, Young Vic and teaches alongside Benjamin Zephaniah at Brunel University.