So, the News of the World has closed its doors because of the shocking, unthinkable phone hacking scandal. Not a bad thing in my opinion. Bloody crappy gossip tome anyway. Let’s bring down ALL the newspapers. Start again. Guide content towards a more positive spin. Big everyone up. Make population earth feel upbeat and united. Adopt a more ‘together we can achieve anything’ type attitude. Imagine it, you open up the daily news and learn all the good things the politicians have done, perhaps we’d read about the advancements in medical science or applaud the first country to successfully be generating all its own power, from its own resources and see a huge yellow slice on a pie chart demonstrating our own race to achieve independence. Page 3 would have ‘words of encouragement’ to kick-start our day. The online version would have some video classes on how to parent, manage money, dance, make meatless food and communicate effectively. Perhaps in the space beside the crossword there would be a ‘goals for the day’ list for us to complete and a scratch and sniff panel with a concentrated smell of something uplifting. Ah, dreams of a better world I know. But, the last two years have seen the major crumbling of ideas and institutions we thought were a given. I guess each one of us has a brick in hand to rebuild it with our own ideas now.
I don’t know where that came from. I felt compelled to write it. It’s easy to be an idealist whilst sitting in my white Ikea chair, typing and listening to Baroque music (I read today it helps concentration as it has no beat). Thinking about it, with access to interesting folk on Twitter, reading blogs written by minds belonging to people I wish were coming to tea, not to mention the zillions of banal to bizarre tutorials squashed into the www.YouTube.com portal….. I appear to be creating my own tailor made newspaper already….. but it is still offers a narrowed view. What about all the things I didn’t know I need to know? What about all the connective tissue of events that bring us to this point, pinned on earth’s historical map but without the timeline of preceding events….without this knowledge are rendered incapable of understanding? Oh dear, it’s all too messy to comprehend. I think I need to start organising my next distraction..!
Last week I choose travel, theatre and family to block out all I fail to understand. House/cat sitting for a friend in Hertfordshire and a spit away from my mum was a bitter-sweet occasion. When you return to your childhood haunts you can’t help but feel, well…haunted. It can feel like meeting your nine-year old self, along with that twenty year old incarnation and now viewing them with your…well, whatever age you are now. Odd. Slightly disturbing and, depending on your history, a joy or a curse. Maybe, when I was 26, eyes hot and swollen from shedding too many tears and unable to see a way out, that voice in my head, repeating over and over again to the coo of a pigeon sitting on my roof ….’everythings ok now..everythings ok now…everythings ok now’….maybe that was the future me, walking by the end of that street last week with a knowledge I didn’t then possess, projecting down to the 26yr old me who had taken the final straw? Weird I hear you murmur?….less weird than string theory, black holes and platypus.
The first play I took my mother to was based around an obsession with postcards ( I nod my head in understanding, an obsession we share) and the curious mind of a drama student. http://www.francescamillicanslater.co.uk/ The audience was led along an unfolding path of intrigue and supposition, following behind the footsteps of a Miss L Gibbs and a postcard from Lincoln that dropped on her mat which read ‘ be careful tomorrow’ and signed mysteriously…. A.C. The storyteller, unabashed, told of her ongoing obsession with Ms Gibbs and the ageing postcard she bought for 50p in a junk shop. An obsession which has not lost its pull, even after the 8 long years it took her to uncover just why her beloved Ms Gibbs should be needed to be warned to ‘take care’ on the morrow. I will divulge no more, other than to say it was utterly absorbing, original, at times funny and momentarily all possessing. Get thee to Edinburgh Fringe (http://www.edfringe.com/) if you have fire in your belly to find out. If not, stick with me as one day…I might spill the beans.
A few days elapsed. I witnessed me traipsing into London, spending £10 on travel, coughing through walls of traffic fumes and smoke, belching from constant train activity in West Hampstead to delicately fork daisy decorated, rich, crumbling cupcake into my vissage, and tramping around the Roman ruins in historic St Albans. My moments in front of my laptop where ineffectual,irksome and scant. My fingers lay static on the middle keys as my mind mimicked that of a wispy airhead. So, my tool for remedy was more theatre. Another Edinburgh first at the Trestle Theatre (http://www.trestle.org.uk/). This time I indulged ma mere and I in a spot of puppetry. The Table, the original and quite genius brainchild of Blind Summit, was a play of three parts…the connecting thread fragile, strengthened by the might of an audience hell-bent on having it woven together like a nice patchwork quilt. Three men, head to toe in black, near invisible against a dark backdrop, brilliantly animated a two foot tall cardboard puppet, injecting mannerisms and skillfully, with the use of pauses and body language, endearing an audience of emotional fools to the plight of a piece of human- shaped cardboard and his struggle of being alone for decades on a white melamine table. I felt so sad for him, stuck on a table, and pained that all he ever had to do to set himself free was to step off the table. We then watched as illuminated white heads swam behind windows along to music agusto. Bubbling up and down and swinging side to side. This I imagined was his dream-like state of freedom and escape. We were then awestruck…hypnotised by the finale. A girl joined the men to tell a visual, silent tale through the use of simple hand drawn scenes, artfully lifted by each cast member from the depths of an open black briefcase. They artifully managed to have ‘close up shots’ by panning in the drawings, magnifying segments of the action and making us feel like we were watching real life drama. It was funny, dramatic and almost elegant. The quartet faultlessly choreographing their movements around each other to take turns of uplifting the scene and adding drama to a page of A4 for their captivated audience. I clapped so hard my hands were pink. Afterwards we were all invited to stay and discuss the play and give honest feedback of our experience to the Blind Summit troup. Most of us chipped in, had our say, even my mother, usually shy in such situations was compelled to speak forth. ‘No, it was good wasn’t it’, she said. It was bloody marvelous (said in a lovey, class- thick, English tone). Bravo.
If I had told my 26yr old self that she’d be taking her mother to see fringe theatre, sit in cafes to sip tea from floral painted china and having fun baking days together, with minimal disagreements and flouncing huffs, she wouldn’t have believed it. I often pray so hard for things that God caves in and grants me my wishes, albeit in his own timing.
Now to scribble the final days of my week of house sitting in St Albans upon the back of a used envelope, and further my careful, mindful avoidance of reality.