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I can only apologise. Looking back over the last monthís entries, theyíre not much fun. Maudlin at best. I really have nothing to complain about Ė no-one died. This sort of thing happens all the time. Certainly, it changes things but nothing can stay the same forever. Nor should it. Iíve taken to reading other 100 words in between working and writing and many have left an impression. Everyone suffers. Some people suffer a great deal. Perhaps everyone suffers a great deal eventually. Itís all part of the experience I guess. Our experience. A mixed blessing maybe but a blessing nonetheless.
If things had worked out differently Iíd be going back to the Annexe tomorrow. I wouldnít sleep tonight. I never did the night before the first day back. I wasnít worried and I certainly didnít dread going back Ė I loved my job Ė but I still wouldnít sleep. I often wonder what all the kids we taught are doing now. Did we make an impression on any of them? Did we change their minds about certain things? Did we show them something better or different? Step outside your comfort zone. ďOh ma days sir! This is long!Ē Maybe just a little.
Thereís a joke: I forget the punch-line and much of the build-up but trust me when I say that itís funny. Most importantly, it proves my point. You can see that now, yes? Perhaps not. Iím relying too heavily, almost totally, on prior knowledge. Letís assume you donít possess this knowledge, this wisdom. Let us presume you havenít a clue, you are entirely lost and adrift, scrambling for the shore. You are spoon-fed opinions and expert views: bias masquerading as Ďcommentí. Bless you, you donít know what to question and what to accept! There! You have it. Funny now, right?
"Yeah, I failed man dint I?"
"That Business is long."
She looks like a typical South London teenager: hair trussed up into a curly bun, serious bling on show. Requisite turn-ups on her jeans at the designated height. Her friend gets off the tube.
"This is me man."
She carefully opens the Penguin version of Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye' and ploughs on through. She's balancing Catcher's spine on a pristine copy of Homer's 'Odyssey'. Beneath this a folder of diligent notes. What happens next is anyone's guess. This is me man.
How strange to hear news that you initiated, and have therefore already heard, from a third party. The original event seems so distant in this context and talking about the future is much less painful for the moment. You adopt an objective stance, commenting from an impartial perspective Ė ďWell, I think whatís best isÖĒ Beneath the bravado the reality softly slides along. Nothing has been resolved. Each of you continues to wake and sleep, angry with the other. Both hurting, both lost. Aware of time passing only from marking off the dates. There goes another day. There goes another chance.
Itís really late - technically tomorrow - but thatís just a word, tomorrow still feels like today. We had something like two weeks worth of rain in one gloriously wet Saturday. It doesnít seem to have washed anything away. Weíre still hemmed in beneath the storm clouds.
I wrote that for effect I think. Itís actually pretty clear outside. That is the reality Iím afraid: sometimes I lie to you. To me. Sometimes Iím elsewhere but pretend to be here. On occasion I might not tell you everything. Itís nothing personal. Itís just easier this way.
It was sunny today.
I find myself on another train, with more people Ė people I donít know. Weíll exchange a smile, a few polite words but nothing more. Thatís fine. The view out of the window is much the same as any other journey. A staccato mess of brick and greenery. Lifeless grey clouds up ahead. Weathered garden furniture and a climbing frame lie discarded in a field waiting for next summer. The grass will grow, the paint will peel and these shapes will sit there forgotten. The closer the home, the sicker my stomach. And only nine words left to think about worry.
Referring to London he said, ďOh, I bet itís a different pace of life down there?Ē And heís right. Walking around these streets I can wander for ten minutes without seeing another person. Donít get me wrong, itís not a wilderness, but there certainly arenít problems with overcrowding! The local bakery has hand-written signs on fluorescent card in the windows: ĎFresh bread & buns baked daily.í ĎCream cakes Ė LARGE ones!í On the way back from the shops I saw Gemma (a girl I liked in school) pregnant with her second or third. She didnít recognise me and walked straight on.
How in Godís name can you justify spending £170 on a sweater? Yes, I understand it was a Vivienne Westwood and Iím sure it looksÖ nice, but seriously! Then again, youíve earned your money and if thatís what you want to spend it on then how can I argue? You have always had an expensive taste and I dread to think how many pairs of shoes you own now. An absolute pleasure, as always, to see you by the way. Can you believe itís been so long since university? Iíd say weíre doing all right though. Our expectations slowly realised.
I have developed quite a thing for coffee. Americano usually Ė black and very strong. Reading the paper Ė working up to the crossword, perhaps jotting down a note or, more recently, writing a letter. Whatever: chances are Iím cradling a coffee like a kitten. Espresso is my Everest! After a fine meal in good company, a glass of wine or two, what better way to end the evening? The God Shot. Silty in the mouth and bitter on the tongue but I canít help myself. Itís all part of the Boho-Parisian fantasy I suppose. Iím not a fan of tea though.
A thoroughly unpleasant start to the day. I got the more expensive train back to London so I could get in earlier to meet a friend. Heís bailed on me. My ticket was checked at Birmingham and taken by a member of staff Ė Iíve just had to buy an entirely new ticket on the train as, technically, I donít have one to travel! The realisation at how pathetic my story appeared to the guard was depressing. In his defence he had no other choice and was fairly understanding. Still, if I was going to lie Iíd pick a better story!
I didnít swim for years: I couldnít face it. Iíd been gifted an awful complexion on my back and chest for most of my teenage years. As a child I would swim every week Ė I even joined a group called the Water Rats. We swam for fun. But between the ages of fourteen and eighteen-ish I didnít even dip my toe in the pool. I couldnít face the embarrassment of other people seeing me. I would invent spurious reasons for avoiding it and missed out completely. Countless showers wishing the imperfections away. One day they vanished without me even noticing.
Last night was bigger than planned. A free gig at Rough Trade on Brick Lane: forgettable to be honest. Populated by the trendy proto-bourgeoisie; all dress-down poverty. Jerking limbs to the bass and mouthing along to a shrieking guitar. Drinks in the Yellow River Cafť as we affectionately know it. East London has a curious look Ė everyone determined to be an individual results in everyone looking the same. Drainpipe jeans, converse trainers and lots of check on show. A ragged army of anaemic waifs. But I love the place! Then up to Holloway Road for Nintendo Wii tennis Ďtil dawn.
It still doesnít feel normal. All day Iíve been catching myself slumping into melancholy. I suppose itís not the sort of thing that simply disappears or resolves itself in a hurry. The phone-calls are hard Ė not sure if itís the first thing you should ask or not mention it at all. Talking about sailing or work or the car but not really listening to each other. Waiting for the inevitable silence before, ďHave you spoken to her?Ē And then more silence. I miss the sound of, ďDo you want me to put her on?Ē Thereís much I still donít understand.
The John Lewis chain Ė terribly English. A haunt of the happily retired and the blissfully out of work. Surrounded by ĎLadies-what-lunchí Ė trouser suits and blazers as far as the eye can see. Rocket salads, herbal teas and a plum and custard pastry crafted by artisan hands! Italian wines thrown back with lunch to dull the pain or speed the day and hide those guilty little secrets. It reminds me of years ago: meeting mum in Bonds after school for a coke and a cake before we went off shopping. I bought jazz shoes and tights today and I feel peculiar.
I donít feel ready yet Ė Eight weeks have passed in a blur and Iíve finally arrived on the cusp of the next adventure. This is what Iíve wanted for years and itís exactly where Iíve always dreamt of training. And I donít feel ready. Thereís still things I need to buy: stationary, and where the hell can you buy a jockstrap in London? I started reading a biography of Kenneth Brannagh today Ė he trained there and lived in Clapham too, for a while. So, tomorrow I start a new job and, if youíll permit a little drama, a new life.
I very nearly forgot about this today. Not surprising really with the global economic down-turn and house prices dropping through the floor. During George Bushís presidency, the American economy has fallen into three trillion dollars worth of debt! My 100 words seems incidental in comparison. How do you get into that much debt? I owe my housemate £76 for gas and electricity: Iím aware of it and know I have to get it to him soon. Presumably the Bush administration was aware they owed money at some point? Oh, and I started RADA today. Big day for George and myself.
For the record weíve just been told that we are the best young actors in the country. We are the future of theatre, the saviours of film and television. I was warned weíd receive such platitudes, I just thought they were joking. Iíve had classmates turn to me in moments of brotherly confidence and toast our long and glittering futures in Hollywood. Some people seem to think weíre complete actors already, that weíve cracked it. They donít understand this is only the beginning. For many this is as close as theyíll ever get. Itís early Ė theyíll learn. Nothing is easy.
Taxi for one to Clapham at 1:38 in the morning. £25 please. Iím in absolutely no position to argue and must smile at his clemency! Racing across Waterloo bridge Ė London lights reflected in the Thames. It almost seems worth it. Iím glad I walked away from that; I think. The Old Vic theatre on the left; Camberwell Green and then Oval. Another set of traffic lights brings us to a halt. Trees, ĎWeb Cafťí, Mercedes and Honda then Stockwell so soon but not home yet. A final weave through the slalom of drunken debris Ė dodging takeaways, stomach acid and drinks.
I guess I finally made it. Drum roll please! I have arrived. At last, Iím on the inside. Letís not get carried away with visions of grandeur: I will take nothing for granted. Itís taken too long to reach this point to sit back and soak up the view. But itís ever so tempting to smile, just a little, warming up in Chenies Street looking out at central London. There are flocks of people hurrying to their next appointment, shading their eyes from the sunshine. They canít see me now but one day they will. When Iím ready to show.
My parentsí parents are dead. They have been for years. I didnít meet my mumís mum and dad: they were gone before I was born. I wonder what sort of people they were. Would they have showered us with presents as kids and told us stories of when they were young? Would we have listened or turned away, bored? Dadís dad died when I was a baby Ė Thereís a picture with me sat on his knee. Heís smiling; Dad looks proud. Since Hayley and I left home theyíve only had each other. I wish me could go back and help.
He worked like a dog they said and he is now a great success. Or on the way at least. I imagine him hunched over books on theatre history, reading plays long since out of print in this very library. He wouldnít know what the future held for him Ė wouldnít know the many roles heíd play. Sitting here, about to start reading for an assignment and I know as much as he did Ė perhaps Iím flattering myself. I could know less. But this movement is a movement forward; a gradual progression. One day Iíll look back on this and smile.
Sung, or Tsung maybe, is a Chinese word for Ďdropí. Or close to Ďdropí. When you hold a bag of rice and cut the cord connected to your hand the bag falls. When you free your body Ė your arm or thumb, you experience Tsung. Tsung rhymes with tongue. The tongue and thumb are connected because they were together in the womb. This is why you stick out your tongue when drawing or writing. The tip follows each stroke of the brush and curl of the vowel. All other actors are bread and itís our job to turn them into toast.
I know sheís going to want me to bare my soul and cry, like those who went before me today. Each with their own stories of trauma, neglect and obstacles overcome. She wants to hear my story, my truth Ė to build the trust within our group. She canít know yet that whatever I choose to mention I will inevitably end up at the same place. All memories have been coloured by this new reality. I say Ďnewí Ė itís been almost six weeks but it still feels present. Itís much too soon to talk but itís all Iíve got to say.
I have never drowned in water: Iíve just not had the time. What with shopping and bills itís the last thing on my mind. Iíve yet to swallow earth and splutter to a halt: with the dogs and the MOT itís simply not my fault. I havenít split my skin on glass and drained my body dry: with the school run and the tennis club itís simply by the by. One day soon Iíll light my hair and watch the little spark. Dance like silver on a spoon and illuminate the dark. One day soon Iíll leave this place behind.
Iím learning how to fall. Itís what I came here for. Falling isnít easy; thereís really quite a knack to it. Oh sure, it looks simple Ė people fall every day: over, out and in love are some of the favourites. Each requires a different skill; a different concentration. My fall today was adequate and didnít go unnoticed but the impression I left was not the one intended. I felt, some would say justifiably, the victim of injustice. Bred through miscommunication, indulgence and my own objectivity. I jumped all the way but she really let me drop. She wouldnít catch me.
Typically, we English have very tight jaws Ė perhaps itís part of our reserve? Years of tension and distress; anxiety and ground teeth. Holding back sadness, anger and whimsy has left us with jaws set in stone. My body tells the story of the life Iíve lived so far. Every bend and ache is both help and hindrance. We were taught to walk far too soon. Standing, my bones, muscle, tendon and tissue hang from my spine like baubles from a Christmas tree. Each one causing the trunk to bend and sag. It seems a shame we only get one tree.
It almost seems like itís happening to another person in some distant part of a far-off country many memories from here. The characters are exactly that Ė characters created in another imagination years from now in any direction. Their fate is interesting to me; Iím curious to know what happens. But not at the expense of the football results or that funny video on Youtube. I wonder, vaguely, if they will get back together and live happily ever after. Will they grow further apart instead? The distance isnít real and Iím sat in the middle once more. How does it end?
Life seems very full at the moment: thereís a long list of things I really must do that would make the journey much easier. Yet, I canít find the time to get these jobs done. My head hits the pillow and the bastard list makes an appearance just behind my eyes. Itís been hiding all day: during lunch when I was joking around with the others; during that twenty minute break this afternoon when I was eating dried pineapple and reading ĎThe Age of Reasoní. Crucially, life is full of very good things at the moment. Iím soaking up rays.
ĎJazz Fantasiaí by Carl Sandburg was the poem I was given to read in todayís Sight Reading class. It clatters off the page and soars up into the back of your neck. Loping from note to note in a melee of crashing symbols and screeching trumpet blasts. Then can the rough stuff and melt into a soft, slow double bass murmur. The saxophone reclines into a deep leather chair, breathing and rasping out sighs. Winking over at a delicate piano he can taste the strains of whisky floating on the balmy midnight breeze. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty would smile.
The Tip Jar