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Tonight I feel like the luckiest person alive - to have met so many great friends and see so many of them together again is almost overwhelming. New stories, discussions, developments, same laughter. Each of us so different but united (initially at least) through theatre. A bunch of actors, writers, directors and musicians - most with 'real' jobs, just a few of us still in it for the long run. A real pleasure seeing Ross again. We catch up so rarely but every time my sides ache from laughing. Always on the look out for another adventure.
The mind is a very fragile thing and losing it seems to be pretty easy. I'm not sure which is more common: breaking down by experiencing a sudden trauma or trawling through years of bleak depression and being ground down slowly. I suppose with the first it's possible for the mind to defend itself and react positively to the incident - you look at the situation as an obstacle to be overcome and your mind is occupied with the challenge. The second is tougher: your mind fragments under such pressure and you withdraw completely. Alternatively it's a break for freedom.
When I was a child I could never sleep. As night crept slowly across the sky I would lie awake counting sheep then cows then anything else I could imagine jumping over a fence. I sit awake now in my family home - everyone else is asleep as before. We used to have two beautiful dogs: Nelson and Logan. Some nights I would come downstairs and sit with them, stroking Logan under the chin. Watching them chase rabbits and cats in their sleep - paws and mouths twitching. They'd awake with a start, look up and smile, 'Oh, just you.'
Excited at the thought of writing and performing again. For a while now a group of us have talked about devising a sketch show to perform in London and maybe even take it to Edinburgh next year. It's been ages since I've done a comedy and having writing project on the go is always exciting. We need to set up the final ensemble, decide on the structure, sit down in a room and try to make each other laugh. I think this time around we might just know enough people in the right places to get something special to happen.
A long weekend at home seeing my sister before she heads to Sandhurst to become an officer. It's bizarre, my friends ask what she's been doing and can't quite believe it when I tell them. Two children fifteen months apart, one of them wants to be an actor and the other finds themselves training in the army! We're so alike and yet we're on completely different paths. That's the key though - This isn't her dream. She's in the system and is going with the flow. She loves aspects of it and hates others. Fingers crossed she'll have a fantastic time.
1.28 in the morning and I can hear absolutely nothing from the street below. A normally busy road is silent. I found a letter belonging to the landlord - He's owned and lived in this house (on and off) for thirty years - and read about his O-Level results from 1966. The letter was written by him and addressed to his parents. All passes except German where he failed by twelve points. He stresses how close he came to mum and dad and assures them that the German tutoring is already underway. I wonder if this letter ever reached them.
She's really scared but it'll be all right. Right? It's always all right when there'd nothing else to say. I've wracked my brain for any other suggestion but it's all I've got: it'll be all right. That can't be very comforting. The very fact I've just said it'll be all right has confirmed the opposite in both our minds. Don't cry - I haven't seen you cry since we were little and I'm not built to deal with that. I change tack: 'Yes, maybe Sandhurst will be unbearable but it's just something you have to get through.' Nice one Bond.
I miss working at the old place - the familiar faces and healthy banter amongst the staff. Even on the bad days, when your head was thumping and you had list upon list of things that you really should have done yesterday, because remember you were given free time for that! Even on these days, a coffee in the staffroom was enough to calm you down. Failing that, there was always a good chat on the train with Terry. Without the structure you don't have 'free time'. Instead time is spent jealously thinking of how time could be better spent.
Perfect, in a long black coat, standing in my kitchen talking of the future. Hearts in mouths and hands in pockets, afraid to say too much but worried we've said too little. There are no windows here - I wish I could see the sky, remember the weather and the general aspect of the view for later conversations: 'oh, remember when... in the kitchen... we ate toast and talked... you saw that cloud shaped like a...' Perhaps this warrants a page break or maybe even a brand new chapter? We've no way of knowing just yet. Blue skies: deep breath.
I took her to Postman's Park in St Paul's. We sat there for four hours watching the sun glimmer through the leaves and onto the fountain. It just might have been the perfect day. My face still aches from smiling. We talked and laughed and hugged and sang, never moving from that bench. Watching tourists and couples and pigeons walk past, studying a memorial to ordinary people who gave up their lives saving others. Each stone has a story and we read them all, then made up our own. She wore bright red shoes and tip-toed into my mind tonight.
If you spend long enough with anyone you form your own language with them. From office abbreviations at work to family in-jokes at home. Our vocabulary is small but we are slowly writing our own stories. We remember tiny details that no one else saw - they weren't looking as hard as we were - and they form the bare bones of our language: the elements we return to every time we wonder how we got here. The place, dates and times that swept others by unmarked, we have logged and kept alive. And we will fill the spaces together.
Even now, at the beginning, I look for the end. I know that time will steal you away from me. One way or another this must all come to end. From earth to ash we dry out and scatter away in whispers. Our bodies, once entwined and glistening in a blanketed night, will harden and twist: our limbs gnarled into roots and our skin to marbled bark. Yor eyes will die upon my lips - our sighs outlive us both. I'm looking for oblivion and making my escape. I'll stay longer this time and feel the rain upon my face.
I've neglected my book for too long - It's sulking in the corner tearing back names and phrases from my brain. It's the middle of the ninth century and the Abbasid empire is disintegrating. i'm sure that's as far as I've got. Pretty sure at least. A day spent inside hammering on my laptop altering CVs and filling in application forms. Only leaving my chair to stretch and buy food, pausing at the door as my eyes adjust to the daylight, I stumble into the street. I'm suffering with a bad case of cabin fever and my book hates me.
He thinks the world owes him everything. If he sits and waits long enough they'll form a humbled procession, on hand and knee, begging for forgiveness. How could they have been so blind? 'Please help us, we need you, please save us.' We all sit several steps below him, drinking from his acid tongue, vying for his favour. But in the glare of the light he's translucent. His heart is quivering under his skin and he looks around for a friend. I forget all the shit and bravado and remember he's looking for me. He doesn't mean what he says.
It might never feel like this again; the butterflies in my stomach, a feeling of expectation, excitement at seeing her again. What happened to me? I'm not sure what I'm doing here. This is unfamiliar territory but it almost feels like home - I certainly like the view. I've got a great idea, i'm going to wait right here.I must have read this passage a million times already and still haven't understood a word. instead my mind is busy painting her eyes and her lips, colouring in her hair. No good - it looks like a Jackson Pollock piece.
I you could go back and visit yourself aged twelve and discuss what you do for a living, what would you say? Rod's 29 and designs computer games for a major company. It's his dream job and his idea for measuring happiness seems to be a valuable one. Abby's 30 and is quitting her job as an investment banker to concentrate on writing music and playing in her band. I think the twelve year old Abby would be pretty happy with that. Ellen thinks her twelve year old self would burst into tears at the words 'trainee lawyer'! Plans change.
We said we'd start small: we made plans to take over the world. I wasn't expecting to see you so soon. In fact you're much too early. If I could ask you to take a seat a wait a while. I would be then we'd both miss out. You'd never sit still long enough anyway: the chair becomes a saddle and you're jumping a fence, taking photos and singing aloud. You've squeezed time into your own schedule and refuse to suffer fools gladly. Nothing is wasted, moments are captured and collected for safe-keeping. Hoarded away in boxes and hidden under beds.
There are things that I should know. An ever-expanding list of principles, theories and facts that have evaded me. Basic rules of physics; political structures; innumerable foreign languages and how to dress a crab. I am not convinced that all of these will make me a better person. i should know what I believe in but have been ambivalent for far too long. Always pleading the agnostic and then moving on. I'm sure I'll be converted when it's convenient for both of us, renounce my faith in mankind and place it at someone else's door. You can't have me yet.
I'm rapidly losing faith in lots of things. Sometimes it seems easier to sit and wait and watch the clouds melt behind buildings. To walk without direction shielding your eyes from questions and warnings. I try to smile in spite of myself and find a reason in something or other. The Kandinsky exhibition just did it today. Colour and sound; bright swirling shapes of synaesthesia. His mysterious white horse and rider swept me away for a while. But it's hard to stay away for too long - they keep calling me back. Fists clenched and bile in my throat.
On principle I disagree with so many elements of the Starbucks universe - and it is a universe - but, once again, I find myself sipping away. I despise the way these places reproduce overnight, buying up the local butchers, bank or restaurant. The beast does not discriminate and clones at will. Our crowned mermaid queen surfaces under her art-deco banner and demands tribute. One Fair-trade Estima please. I know this behemoth doesn't warrant the fair-trade seal, but it's all I can do to rebel. My foot's tapping along to Booker T and the MG's and the Catholic guilt remains.
I realise how much time I spend in transit. Always going somewhere but never staying long. There is very little certainty or permanency about this place. Through the train window I watch myself sprinting over trees and houses; leaping from car to car; hurdling fences and hedges, never tiring or pausing for breath. If I keep running no jump is too far - there is nothing to worry me. All of my colours blur into lines and waves of green that ripple through the glass. I look around to see others running and jumping alongside me. My sanctuary is not exclusive.
Suicide. Homocide. Genocide (brief pause with shrug) Infanticide. Oh the wonders of human possibility. The variety of life. The many subtle textures of 'getting away from it all.' Fill the spaces, the vacant lots. Cram everything in, each vice, taste and... experience. Experience new things. Sample exotic dishes: you nibble her ear. Learn a new language: we spoke in tongues. Embrace new cultures: she grew in a fractured sort of way, hangin out with weeds and molluscs, shying from the sun. She played with thorns, dove nails into her eyes. 'At last,' she cried, 'I can see.'
I feel as though I'm reigning in time through this project. It's fractured and largely unclear but that feels closer to the truth than any diary entry could ever be. It seems futile to place order on the day to day and it's an entirely subjective recording of history, but it's all I've got. I sit down at night and pick my subject - what has imprinted itself upon my mind? But remember your audience. Who am I writing for? I look back on September and fear i've bored you with a love story. But that's fine: I liked it.
You wrote every day?
I'm sure I did.
From the first moment you picked up a pen.
A library of first publications.
And yet, you remember nothing.
Not true! A lie in fact. I recall glimmers of... beauty... of man with woman... man with boy... discussions and violence. Strands of... ideals glistening in... time. It is true, I have misplaced the particulars, the objectives and dates. I've rejected God for reasons that now lie beyond or outside me... and cling to some vague pre-Copernican notion where the face of salvation is man.
I've always believed it was impossible to plan your future. There is no way of knowing what will befall you, I'd say. I'm starting to question this now - If you want something enough, then you must throw yourself into whatever that challenge might be. If you know your destination then all you have to do is plan the journey. I'm not suggesting it's an easy thing to do but if you allow for a few delays, and make sure you don't get totally lost, you've a pretty good change of making it unscathed. We don't always have to follow.
Young actors parting with their souls, and any morals they may have remaining, to talk with Kevin Spacey. He entertains the notion for a minute or two before making his excuses and moving on. Said young actors are left, business cards in hand, scouring the room for their next prospective big break. It's a ruthless, heartless practice. I duck and weave past Spacey, Andrew Marr, Diana Rigg and that girl from Eastenders to answer your call. I've been waiting for your voice, you see, but can't hear above the fawning. The play was average, I wish we were home sleeping.
Defeat is not without heroes: those who fought valiantly but fell nonetheless. Failure doesn't seem to have the same connotations. Those who fail, do so resolutely, whole-heartedly and often, quietly off to one side, exiting not with a bang but a whimper. It's a dirty word that hangs around the neck like an albatross - never celebrated or discussed at great length, just muttered between cracked lips and swept away again. If you're lucky enough to meet someone who has failed well - a true failure - try and catch their eye as they evade your questions and your gaze.
Christmas cards in Clintons and tinsel on the shelf. Rows of pumpkins and fireworks. Gloves and scarves creep out of their boxes; mittens and long winter coats. Couples walk slowly in the rain laughing at pink noses. A soft haze that smells of burning wood circles the lamplight. One cold winter's day a snowman fell in love with a bonfire. Theirs was a reckless, all-consuming passion that burned brightly for a minute or two. He melted into her arms and she fizzled into the ground. But the steam and smoke that arose from the ash now waltzes through the night.
They will never believe us, they'll laugh it off immediately. Blame television, Hollywood, the alignment of the stars. We'll say we've never seen the sky so blue or moon so large. They'll sigh and just blame physics, or global warming or the rotation of the planet. We'll sing a song without words or tune and they'll say they only hear silence. You'll gift-wrap time and pop it in your pocket or in a box under the tree. They will tut, frown, crack knuckles and pace telling us we're already too late. We'll smile, then bow and say we've got forever.
How do endings start? With a decision or a failure to decide? Sometimes they creep up from afar gnawing at your bones. Others, they grab you suddenly by the throat and won't let go. Either way, an ending has begun. Not so bleak, most endings are small - the ending of a sentence, say. The pen is still hovering above the page waiting for a new beginning. This is how endings start: with a beginning. Not so bleak. We are in control, our choices and decisions. Let us go then, you and I. We will write more chapters. Begin again.
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