Helenskià Collett

The Landlady’s Prayer

The Landlady’s Prayer is a short book published by Peste. It is split into five parts: Coming From {Up}, Becoming Ulrike {Fall}, Becoming Minerva {Down}, Becoming Carol {Back} and Coming To {Less}. It follows a nameless woman as she works a shift at the pub for which she is the landlady. It reads like a poem in a way as the whole book you feel like you’re drinking with those in attendance. You’re drunk in the corner of the pub, watching the night's events blur past your eyes. You flit between soberness and drunkenness, acknowledging the landlady do the same. It is familiar, she has done this many times before, the blur is her reality.

‘Our empty glasses chime a fated cheers.’

The middle three parts are each inspired by a film, a performance and a documentary. Becoming Ulrike is inspired by Ulrike Ottinger’s 1979 film, ‘Ticket of No Return’. Becoming Minerva is inspired by Minerva Cuevas’ 1995 performance, ‘Drunker’, and Becoming Carol is inspired by Carol Morley’s documentary, ‘The Alcohol Years’.

Ticket of No Return follows an unnamed woman as she travels to Berlin to drink. Her passion is alcohol. Living to drink and drinking to live, she is on a pursuit, a complete stranger, this must be her destiny.

Carol’s ‘Alcohol Years’ are five years of her life in the early 1980s where her life was lost to an alcoholic blur. The documentary attempts to retrieve memories from that time purely through the people that knew her. They recount the tales of her life, stitching together an intimate but distant portrait of both Manchester and Carol’s story.

These women are the landlady, they are there before and they will be there after.

‘As she makes her bed, so she must lie in it.’

On the night of this shift the three women are in attendance. They are all sitting there. Ulrike is served first. Signalling for a drink she sees and hears the eyes on her. They drink together, the landlady and Ulrike. They are intertwined, they are distant. The landlady is her customers, they are spirits that hover, looming over the bar.

Minerva is there. She sits there just like her performance with pencil, paper and a glass of tequila. The landlady is part of the performance, her spirit is within her. Tequila must be drunk. She becomes Minerva, sitting at the school desk as she writes. Whose reality is she in? They are there together, they are there apart. The writing must continue, the drinking must continue.

‘She read this pub like a person reads a book.’

Minerva disappears. She is hovering with no memory. Carol is there.

Her group are there in the pub, comments are thrown. The documentary is played in real time.




A drunken haze, the landlady carries on. There is always a pub at the end of the world, or the start?

‘The soundtrack plays out.
The audience claps.
Goodbye, goodbye.
Fade to black…’