Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn: Catch 22

Autumn: Catch 22

"If I knew any literature I would quote it" he says at the end when there is, perhaps, nothing more that either of us can say.

It is not quite true of course for this is the boy who once told me he wanted to be Dunbar in Catch 22. But we play our roles - me who does not know the difference between blues and jazz, him who has not read Gatsby and cannot name the big six Romantic Poets.

It is a concession to my land of novels with broken spines and smudged pencil quotes. A quivering victory in a battle I was only vaguely aware I was fighting.

But I do not need it. Or, rather, I do not want it.

For it cannot make this instant more profound or meaningful or - beautiful.

Nor can it make me feel better.

Because the thing that gets me, the words that twist and turn and make me squirm are entirely his.

And the worst thing, the thing that really makes me cry?

When he calls me -

Cucumber.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Summer: Boy With Guitar

Summer: Boy With Guitar

"Remember - I just saved your life"

We are standing by the side of the road and I have just been informed not to cross in front of an oncoming bus. Given that I had already seen the bus and, not wishing to join the 27 club six months too early, I had not intended to step out in front of it. Facts, however, do not play a part in this particular reasoning. My life has been saved, I should be grateful. Next he will be making me hold his hand when we cross roads.

"I shall put that on your list".

The eyes meet mine, obviously ignoring the fact that we are still stood at the side of a very busy road.

"You have a list?"

I should say - no, I have this blog. But I do not.

"Of course not. I'm not non-stalking you".

It is the first time I could have said this to him and its full meaning be clear. For though he has been around to witness my David Tennant non-stalking, let us be clear, seeing Hamlet three times and a bit of minor stage-dooring is hardly the peak of my achievements in that department. But some how today, between courses two and three and with a half drunk glass of wine, I ended up explaining the Griffin thing. Not the details of nightclubs in the midlands with smeared marker pen on my body, or Christmas light switch ons with fairy liquid snow, or radio tours with Boro flags and record tours with blow up paddling pools. But that - there was. And I was there. It is odd how these things work out - that I have entrusted this boy with everything I have written since Christmas and told him about my forehead complex and, eventually, about the worst phonecall of my life. Crikey, we have sat and had a conversation even though I was aware he could see my thighs. But Griffin. No.

"That's a shame -"

The lights change futher down the road and we start to cross.

"I'd like you to non-stalk me".

I glance over at him, his hair no longer the vivid red of late spring.

"I have a guitar".

I cannot help it, I laugh.

"Or do you only non-stalk boys who sing as well? Because I can't sing".

His birthday shoes gorging a hole in the back of his foot, he limps slightly as we hop on to the pavement, avoiding the oncoming number 182 in the process. I feel a pang of what I recognise to be pure empathy for this limping, non-singing BoywithGuitar.

"No -" The bus rushes by us. It hardly needs to be said. "You don't have to sing".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spring: Chalk Circles

Spring: Chalk Circles

The keys tap out "foreverafterwards" into google search (a search I find preferable to that a few minutes ago when, to my chagrin, he tried "Corinne Furnace").

The first thing that comes up is DA.

"Good, that's me". It is pleasing to know that someone has not ripped off the name of my play without my knowing.

I see the mouse hover over the link and then - click. I remain surprised that some of The Writers, after the initial hilarity, are still reading me. Surprised and a little cautious about putting on here how, once I have a career, I will never speak to any of them ever again.

The large screen reveals that the last time I blogged was April. I blame writing a play. And an essay. And working three different jobs. And moving. I think these are good excuses.And even if they are not then this is my blog and my word goes.

The movement of the cursor reveals that he, like me, has already read the words on the screen. I feel that flush of surprise.

Then I realise too, that the last blog is about the boy with his hand on the mouse. I feel a slight thrill of awkwardness, a thrill I am not really used to since for the duration of my blog life the vast majority of people I have written about have either remained pleasingly oblivious or actively avoided DA. Excluding that one night where I got drunk and indiscrete and had to rush home and delete the link to DA from my facebook page in case there was carnage.

There is a fleeting moment when, given the circumstances, I wonder what I am doing, drawing these chalk circles of mine.

"You need to write" He says, using the cursor to highlight his blog-name in blue. I look over at him.

"I want to read what adventures I've been having".

I cannot help it - I laugh. And I wonder quite how I got here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Winter: "Give me reason but don't give me choice"

Winter: "Give me reason but don't give me choice"

It is just under a week since that email popped into my inbox. A week, two plays, a lot of alcohol and even more new purchases later.

He holds the door open and I walk into the pub, registering the slight surprise on the group that not only is he there, I am with him. It is a surprise I register myself.

The surprise that we have sat together for over two hours and just talked. Where it has been effortless, gently mocking and rather jokey. Where we laughed about the food, and his class choice and the couple who came and - somewhat obliviously - sat on our table and therefore almost on our laps. That we have, within our narrative, referred to everything but four crucial emails which we exchanged. And the one email that broke me a little. And it has been, I do not want to say it but my brain registers it, lovely.

I take a seat as he collects the script and says his goodbyes.

I smile and say goodbye, and there is a second, just a second, where we hold eye contact a moment too long and I wonder if I read it correctly.

As soon as he is out of the door the questions begin.

"How was it?"

"Should I burn the hoodie?".

I mumble something, my inarticulacy not evasive but unsure.

And so the conversation moves on and I am laughing about a distinctly disturbing verbatim play when my phone beeps.

For the second time today I unexpectedly see his name.

There is an allusion, just an allusion, to that which we have expended hundreds of written words on but which has remained unspoken between us. And then a question. Entirely innocuous, were it not for the unspoken.

I feel the thrill, this little secret of mine.

And I wonder if I am to make the same mistake all over again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"I want to know right now/ what will it be"

"I want to know right now/ What will it be"

"Do you ever think - I can't blog that?"

I'm having a meeting with a lovely theatry-type who wants to start a blog and is thus mining me for advice. Needless to say - a free coffee and a chance to wax lyrical about blogging, not a bad way to spend an hour or so.

But this question - I would be lying if I said anything but -

"Yes".

And the thing is it's not so much the stuff which I long ago deemed to be off-limits on here but the stuff that has been the fodder of many blog entries which has proven to be difficult in the last 6 weeks or so.

For this year, though my blogging here has been ridiculously light through large chunks, DA has done a couple of things in my life that it never has before. On the positive front it's led to me getting work (more of which in a few weeks I hope). On a not exactly negative but certainly different front my prediliction for writing people collided with someone else's prediliction for being written. And not just the stuff that I wrote on here but the blogs I wrote and then couldn't publish because they crossed a line - but which instead I (for the first time ever) attached to emails and sent to the person they were about.

Which was all fine - for if I will write and if I will write about my life then these are the results I must expect some of the time - until I realised that I wanted to write on here - as I have in the past - of things which I didn't know if it would be fair to blog. As odd as it sounds - writing about what has happened between you and someone who doesn't know you write about them and putting that out on the internet - fine in my brain. Writing about what has happened with you and someone who not only knows you write about them but actually reads what you write - not so fine. Even though that is probably totally the wrong way round. And even though I only ever write what is in my domain (I cannot - for all that it would have saved me feeling quietly blue through most of September - second guess the story from the other side).

And maybe, just maybe, I didn't want the person to know what I had written. That, for my own sanity (and dignity), I needed the chance to lie to them. For them not to know the full extent of what was going on inside my head by reading it here. Sending words of honesty out to a faceless internet - easy. To the one person who should read them - very, very hard indeed.

I didn't want to write a 'I'm back blogging' post at the start of this month because I honestly didn't know how it would go. Getting fiction tangled with real-life makes you think hard about blogging. It is, I guess, another way that you can get burnt.

Not that I would do anything differently. Because I wouldn't exchange a single second, sentence or decision.

And because it is now the Final Act of October and no longer the early days of September I'm ready to put the final links in the story.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where I would use exclamation marks if they didn't offend me

Where I would use exclamation marks if they didn't offend me.

I try my shoes on. I realise immediately that putting my foot fully into them would count as a bad idea.

"It's no good" I say to Dean "I'm going to have to wear my pumps".

Me. Wearing shoes that I can refer to as pumps. Shoes with laces. Shoes that I otherwise reserve for Festival type shenanigans.

"You look like an office worker".

"Yes". I cannot say that the early morning commute with trainers and nice shoes in bag is something that I have been striving for on my day off.

"Do you not have any other shoes?"

"These are the only shoes I can wear - my foot hurts a lot" I say it in such a manner that Dean cannot fail to miss the warning signs of taking this any further.

For since I ended up being spectacularly ill in Leeds two weeks ago my body has decided that it doesn't really like me that much. My digestive system has gone a little bit insane (always pleasant), every afternoon I spontaneously develop a cold which disappears by 7.30pm only to reappear the next afternoon and my back seems to have had a flair up of whatever it was that meant there was a period in April when I couldn't sit anywhere without a cushion. Oh, and I'm sleeping ridiculous amounts.

Which is all without mentioning my hormones which have, quite frankly, gone insane in the last few months. Whatever London puts into its water it is making me both ginger and a hormonal fruitcake. I'm not sure which I'm more distressed about.

So, really my foot deciding that it too wants in on the fun hasn't exactly made my day.

"Is it that bad?"

"Yes - either I've broken my toe without realising it or I'm getting arthritis in my foot".

Because I am not one, after all, to underplay minor-ailments.

Dean smiles. "Look what happens - you move in with me and turn into an old person".

I do not even need to mention that Dean is teaching me to knit or that scouting round London's charity shops has become a favourite pastime of ours in recent weeks.

I should probably get some false teeth and have done with it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Career Paths

Career Paths

I'm just saying my goodbyes to Arsenal Fan - who I've popped in to see at the end of his lunch break given that I have found myself free after a meeting in South East London - when a lady carrying lots of shiny things approaches. Clearly this is what is going to happen to me when I am older - hanging around arts centres with glittery, shiny things. I am sure there are worse ways to spend my dotage.

"I'm returning the scissors" Shiny Lady explains.

Ah, now I wouldn't do that given that I am a kleptomaniac. Shiny Lady has one up on me.

I smile and realise that Shiny Lady is looking directly at me.

"Are you the baby massage teacher?" she asks.

There's a moment of total silence as both Arsenal Fan and I process this. I know I'm wearing a pashmina and bangles but -

(Obviously I am not stereotyping what a baby massage teacher would look like - given that I have never met one I do not know - but I suspect they wouldn't look like me)

"No".

It is as stark as that because there simply are no words.

"Well, I'm looking for the baby massage teacher".

I wonder exactly why Shiny Lady is so keen to find this person.

"Are you a teacher?"

Clearly Shiny Lady is not going to be deflected that easily and I am clearly going to be forced to teach her something. Non-stalking tactics? The links between The Waste Land and Hotel Du Lac? How to 'acquire' novel items from bars? I am not sure any of this will do.

I settle instead for shaking my head and hoping that she doesn't push the issue and force me into the blog-worthy but life-traumatic situation of demonstrating baby massage on her.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Six Degrees

Six Degrees

"It's too easy".

There is little I can say to this. Director Boy has been playing 'Six Degrees of Separation' intermittently over the course of the evening. The major flaw in this game is that Director Boy can get to everybody in three degrees or less. Which is both very scary and somewhat limiting for the game. Our only success so far has been Margaret Atwood which stumped Director Boy for a few minutes at least.

"Beatrix Potter!" Dean exclaims.

"That doesn't count" Director Boy asserts.

As much as it pains me to say so, Director Boy is right.

"It only works with live people" I say.

"Yes - otherwise I could say 'William Shakespeare' and you'd need more than six people over four hundred years".

Dean smiles as if to say that he has this one cracked. "Well, I know Val and Val goes to the RSC a lot".

He says it with such authority that I can't help but laugh.

Director Boy goes for incredulity. "So if Val were walking down the street in Stratford and bumped into William Shakespeare he would say hello to her?".

There is no hesitation. "Yes".

There are, I guess, some statements you just can't argue with.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"

Rain falls, its rhythm providing the comforting regularity of a three chord melody.

Safe inside, the breath of forty two strangers mists the windows so that London becomes only spots of street lights and neon shop signs. In that instant I could be anywhere, in any city, on any bus.

In any October.

The woman who is sat to my left - who I notice primarily because I had to ask her to move up when I first got on - is reading a piece of paper. I know it's terrible and one of the reasons why always being on the look-out for things to write about makes me a bad human being but I do clock what people are reading around me. And, erm, I will scan-read over your shoulder. Which is probably why you wouldn't want me sitting next to you on public transport. That and the fact I have been known to have inappropriate conversations on my mobile when I have lost my volume control. And that I write down overheard conversations for writing material. What can I say - I am a public menace. Boris should stop faffing about trying to get his friends cushy jobs at the tax payer's expense and slap some sort of ban on me.

So - yes, I admit I glance over at what is written on the paper in the woman's hand. It takes me all of three words to realise that she's reading something about Jesus, what with the third word being 'Jesus' and therefore it giving it away a bit. There's also much talk of Him and archaic English and rather an excessive amount of underlining. Which is, I guess, subtext for THIS IS IMPORTANT.

Which isn't, I confess, all that interesting to me. So I turn my attention back to the refracted lightshow that plays around the edges of the window.

Only - I notice, maybe in some sideward glance, that what the woman is reading isn't so much some sort of pamphlet as a letter. And I wonder - who would send a letter like that with all the unnecessary underlining and capitalisation? Because that's rhetoric - and long term readers will know I'm not exactly a fan of rhetoric. Even more so when it's used as the religious equivalent of a party political broadcast.

Maybe that would have been it. Maybe I'd have shaken my head, rolled my eyes a bit and preoccupied myself with the music in my ears and the smudgy beauty of this city. Maybe.

Only the next time I look to my left the woman is writing a cheque and I notice immediately that the name on it matches the name on the letter.

I feel my stomach fall.

And I want to say something to this nameless stranger whose breath is entangling with mine on the patterns on the glass in front of us. I want to say that this is not religion. This is not faith. That though this is me with everything that entails, I think pure faith can be something quite beautiful. But this letter is the opposite of that; words spun in hyperbole and contrivance. And - money.

Of course, these words circulate around my head, tangling my brain, but do not come out. Because though we share this space it is not my place to say anything. It is a deal wrought in our mutual silence.

As the woman pulls out a form from the envelope which enclosed the letter I try and read what it says - it yeilds nothing.

Another traffic light. Another middle eight of rain.

Then I see what the woman has written on the form -

Pray for my mother who is in pain -

I stop reading immediately, ashamed at both my arrogance and my intrusion. Treating everyone as the possible next story, an offhand line in a song I have yet to write.

And though I do not want the woman to send the cheque and though I cannot pray for her and her mother I wish with an inescapable urge that I could. That I could gift her what she needs.

That I could turn around and simply say - is everything okay?

And though this will have to go on the list of unsent things - I offer you the only thing that I can.

I offer you my hope.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Chaucer & Cows

Chaucer & Cows

Given that it's national poetry day it would be remiss of me not to fling some poetry your way and, lucky for you the book of poetry that was closest to hand is, in my entirely unbiased opinion, the greatest collection of poems ever written. And just so you get your money's worth (not that you're paying, but if you were...) I'm going to quote one from that collection that references multiple poets. Ah, such geeky wonderful delights:
'When Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote...'
At the top of your voice, where you swayed on the top of a stile,
Your arms raised - somewhat for balance, somewhat
To hold the reins of the straining audience - you declaimed Chaucer
To a field of cows.
'Chaucer', Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes
Of course it's Ted Hughes talking of Sylvia Plath talking of Geofrey Chaucer. And it's just - well, perfect.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Actor Crush #376

Actor Crush #376

I was warned that in watching As You Like It at the Globe I would be opening myself up for another actor crush (because I don't have enough of those already. And that's without mention him or him or even him. And, most importantly of all, him). And on cue, the moment I saw Orlando I was entirely sold.

Sitting down and shaking ourselves dry in the interval (for, yes, after a pretty much dry summer I booked tickets for an afternoon where it was raining before we even got inside the theatre. I'm hoping for better luck with Friday night's performance of A New World) Arsenal Fan noted without prompting:

"He's very your type. Even the voice".

Conclusion? I'm becoming a bit obvious.

Monday, October 05, 2009

"That I would be good..."

"That I would be good..."

"It's, well, like somewhere you would go".

I look across the table, my eyebrows raised at the description of his new workplace.

"No sound of anything derogatory there, then?" I respond unable to hide a smile

Laughter greets this too. "Of course".

There's a pause, just held long enough in this over crowded, over loud pub in Bloomsbury which we - or rather, for it is important now, him and me - are curiously out of place in, lacking suits and briefcases and Friday night post working week cheer. Not to mention the finances to actually be drinking here. Not that it matters to my purse; he - as I have become a little too accustomed to - is paying.

"It's..."

I look directly at him.

"It's - nice".