Friday, July 27, 2007

"My Eyes Open"

"My Eyes Open"

I walk across the grass collecting straw and and mud to the bottom of my wellies as I go. Already the overwhelming heat of last year has given way to something markedly more damp. Former Soap Star is looking decidedly soggy as all around actors attempt to fight whilst brandishing umbrellas. Certainly I suspect that there were fewer plastic ponchos in use at Agincourt than in this portrayal.

As I put away my own umbrella, encased as I am under the protective cover of the bar, I remember - quite unexpectedly - my umbrella's origins. The umbrella of guilt. But such is its beauty and my fondness for it, I'd forgotten that part. Clearly buying pretty things does remove negative feelings. It is an undoubtedly expensive but worthwhile lesson. I still feel the irony of its presence though as it lies in the same place as the person who was - at least for the first couple of weeks of the umbrella's life - its namesake.

C is, even in the rain and the mud and the last minute chaos of a tech rehearsal, impeccably dressed. It is not the impeccably dressed of effort, but the impeccably dressed of effortlessness. As if the clothes were thrown on at random but somehow work. It is safe to say - I could never be unduly harsh to a man who has the audacity to wear a tie whilst recreating Agincourt in the middle of a bog.

We have not yet spoken. This, with the bussle and urgency of everything that is going on, isn't in itself that odd. But other friendships have already been picked up, in-jokes brandished, hugs exchanged. Somehow I do not relish the prospect of five weeks of coded avoidance, as if it were a particularly grubby stain that neither of us wish to allude to.

Maybe because I am inhibited by the rain and the rehearsals to complete any further tasks I realise that I am noticing him more than I did 24 hours earlier. I get the sense that this is a plaster which needs ripping off as soon as possible.

Eventually, maybe on the 5th or 6th time that he has reappeared by the bar, we are alone. He leans over the end table and I look up.

"Do you know where [N] is?"

"He's gone to buy beer". I smile though, because I cannot help smiling.

"Do you know how long he'll be?"

The eyes are just as striking and as fathomless as I remember.

"He's been about an hour, so probably not much longer".

I suspect that neither of us have anything more to say on the subject of N. We lapse into silence, him at one side of the bar, me at the other.

And then, amongst the eye contact, I smile and nod my head. C returns the gesture, a mutual silent acknowledgement of things we will probably never talk about.

Plaster removed, I cannot help but smile as C returns to the stand.

Two minutes later, however, he is back, this time at my end of the bar.

"Can I have a cup of tea?"

The official answer, as we are both aware, is no unless he is willing to pay. I have a rather dizzying flashback to the night he, dressed as a Capulet, tidied up Box Office for me and I smuggled him free coffee. The power of a front of house freebie should never be underestimated.

"Of course".

I make the tea from the collection of plastic cups with their tiny teabags and powdered milk.

"It's vile" I say as I hand the cup over, noticing the bitten nails on the hands which take it. "So good luck with that".

He laughs. I laugh.

And I know everything is going to be fine.

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