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Posts from the ‘memories’ Category

Solstice

I have loved you since the first leaves fell
When the darkness dropped like a stone and all went quiet
You arose in my mind like a perfect shell
On a vast beach laden with jewelled sand
That slipped through our fingers and toes like time
I have loved you since the first moment of Summer
Brought the sweat to my skin
And made me dive deep in the river where we met
When the snow bleached the ground a million miles
Between us I have loved you
Through exasperated cries
A prison of pain
Long dark nights
Loaded with tears
Your honesty pierced the sky where I hung my dreams out to dry
And bemoaned the passing years
I have loved you since the first drops of rain
Made a country green that sings in my heart still
With water and wood and wide open space

Nobody knows anything
All that is a mirage and the story unfolds indifferently
At the end of magic

funeral poem

distracting myself with ceremony
plans and more plans for more futile future events
i mourn in january
a bleak month at the best of times
and this is not
the best of times
online is a whirl of colours
flat, seductive, dry, unyielding
you invented computers, so it seemed to me
the huge monster in the factory spewing out paper
with green lines and holes,
you showed me how to handle money, spend sensibly
while splashing out on those you loved
and always buying the best
you told me exams were fun
you never seemed to have to prove yourself
to anyone
you loved the finer things in life – good food, good whisky
and a good wife
you are not in that box
but you are in this room
in every single one of us
those whom you met, and loved and gave life to
we will not forget your tears of laughter
your joyful spirit
your madcap breakfast concoctions
marmelade on bacon
your deep sonorous voice singing Nellie Dean in the kitchen
you will not speak at my wedding
you will not meet my children, hold their hands
there will be no granddad gordon for my unborn folks
but they will find you in the way i tell jokes
play with words
flirt with waiters
raise my eyebrows
sing jazz
and as i live i will try to learn from you
how to give and give
without expecting anything in return

Wandsworth

On the eve of my big trip to the States I take a walk to my beloved common to say goodbye to the ducks, and feel genuine sad joy at leaving them, knowing that if I return there are some reliable sources of happiness awaiting me.

Back home ostensibly packing, sifting through notebooks decorated with unsent letters to old non-boyfriends, inexplicable cartoons and provocative notes from dharma talks, I find a poem I must have written by the pond in Winter.

I just keep breaking through
more walls
falling through floors
a hard no becomes
soft gel mush
weeping waterfall
proximity of dogs is bewildering
missing you
in the perfection of a duck’s beak
the cold clear evening
never to be shared
and still believing
in love like a wise warrior fool
clinging to the skimpy
edge of a crescent moon
reclining into dusk

Wandsworth Common

no struggle

trying not to think of you
is like trying not to think of a tiger
seeing an image of you is like bathing in fire and ice altogether
life continues to emerge day after day
like a persistent wildflower
neither beautiful nor ugly but in the eye of the beholder
drenched in futile plans and dreams
lost chances that were not really chances
lost hopes that evaporate into silence
trying not to love you is like trying not to love the ocean
empty hours filled with waves of longing
work is done or not done and nothing changes
moments of joy punctured by the memory of loss
trying not to miss you is like trying not to miss what is missing
drawing a neat fabric over the cracks left by your absence
doing a fine job of it whatever it is
and sometimes breaking into wet folds like a deep egg
coming together again for the sake of continuity

Spring Haiku

The smell of the rain

April brings you back to me

In ways I cannot

A Beautiful Dream

Grit flying in my face and the wind in my hair
I went to dismantle the illusion that held you here
A castle on top of a hill overlooking a lake
I climbed the stairs to the place where you must have been
Only hours before
Just to feel you a little longer
Together we hauled planks of wood
Packed up condiments and cake
Stacked the remains of a beautiful dream
Until later
Dirty hot and riding in the back of a tractor
Wedged between fridges and weights and shelves
My body aching from longing and heavy lifting
I returned to my van for a lie down
To find your scent still hanging in the air
Dressing my hair
And the sheets of the bed we broke together
I lay down with you in mind
The memory of your shape against mine
The laughter and luminous joy of our last night’s play
I thought of the way you conjure words that weave magic and mystery around my mermaid smile
While mine are blunt and crude as my fear of losing you
When I awoke chilly and alone
And saw that Berlin is big and you are far
I felt disheartened and bewildered
Until I remembered
That this desolate spinning star
Revolves on the fuel of the fire we breathe
In and out of each other
Somewhat revived
I put on my oceanic beads and went out to join the dancing and goodbyes
Later as the sun failed to rise
I packed up my own illusion
Burning with the sadness of not being held
Grabbed my guitar and headed for the slippery train
So hard to hold onto anything
As the remains of summer kiss the bright sky
I watch the past unfold into the present at alarming speed
And wonder what will become of us
Now the damage is done

Missing

Missing you deeply
Breath after breath after breath
I am a river

Remembering Raphael Jago: Giving up on giving up

Whenever I dream of Raphael Jago, I know it’s about not giving up. In the sense of not giving up on myself. Mr Jago was one of those people that cut through my bullshit in a really healthy and jovial way. The first time I met him was my first audition at Webber Douglas. All the other auditions I had were pretty standard but this one stood out. It was about waking me up. He re-directed my piece right there in the audition. He called me out on a couple of my tricks. He got me to address the panel directly, as if it was actually happening now. Which it turned out, it was. I left that church feeling exhilarated, like I’d just been run over by a truck, creatively speaking. I loved it.

I was put on the waiting list for a place at the school. Group sizes were small, competition was fierce. I decided to pay him a visit to try and convince him so I took a train to London from Leeds where I was living at the time, and I went to the school unannounced and met him on the stairs. It was a true meeting. He seemed amused and impressed by my nerve. He gave an enigmatic answer with that mischievous smile of his. I knew we had connected.

During my time at Webber Douglas my relationship with authority was, as it very often is, somewhat rocky. Whevever I go, I seem to feel the need to shake things up, to question the way things are run, to point out injustice, to campaign against complacency. It’s not an easy path in life. There were times when we disagreed. But Mr Jago was someone in a position of authority who seemed to admire this spirit in me and in others. I felt he had a talent of really seeing the essence of each person and their potential.

I felt he saw my potential, in a way that I could not at the time. He saw what was unique about me, and he saw the challenges it presented in terms of the industry. He gave me an opportunity to try out for a big scholarship, massive panel audition, terrifying ordeal. We had extra classes together, he reflected on the unique set of qualities I had, that was nevertheless difficult to pin down in terms of casting. When it came to the crunch I crumbled under the pressure. Nerves, clinging, hope and fear – I am frequently crippled by nerves as it turns out. Perhaps this is exactly why I have chosen – or been drawn into – a life of performance. It is where I learn. It is where I burn up ego like a moth in a candle. It is where I die and am reborn in every adrenalin-fuelled moment.

Two days ago I attended a memorial service for Raphael Jago at the Actors Church in Covent Garden. A church full of former students, all with their own story to tell about this legendary man and what he had meant to their career. Music, words, contemplation and much Anthony Sher, Samantha Spiro, Julian Fellowes, Terence Stamp, Steven Berkoff, Hilary Wood, Alexa Jago and more wonderful people paid touching tribute, through performance or personal recollection. I had not up to this point known that Arthur Miller had been Mr Jago’s favourite playwright. I had always been obsessed with Miller and had written my university dissertation on his plays, which I knew backwards. Death of a Salesman, quoted so movingly by Alexa Jago, was a particular favourite. I often think of Willy Loman’s line, ‘I still feel – kind of temporary about myself’ as a heart-breakingly poetic expression of the experience of living.

What thrilled me most was realising that my experience of Mr Jago had been so similar to that of many others just like me. I felt joyful to reminisce over my time at Webber Douglas, to hear the stories of others, to be part of that blessed tribe. I saw my teachers again with renewed gratitude and love. It wasn’t always easy of course. Nothing in this profession, or indeed in this life, is without challenges. But to know that I belonged to an institution, or rather a community that fostered such a creative and anarchic spirit fills me with inspiration to go on, and never to give up on myself.

Under My Bed

I am clearing the fluff out from under my bed. To quote Michael Rosen. In this case fluff is a metaphor for stuff I think I don’t need. That I suspect is keeping me awake. The whole thing’s a metaphor for my mind which is what’s really keeping me awake. Although it could be a chicken and egg thing.

How do creationists respond to the chicken and egg thing? Is it not a thing for them at all? Because God created each thing separately, but not the baby versions – that would have taken ages. He just created chickens and let them go forth and get on with it. I imagine. In that version of things.

Unborn

How I would love to have a secure version of things.

It ain’t happening.

I DIGRESS. I PREGNANT TIGRESS.

CAUTION TWO WAY TRAFFIC

CAUTION

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I am clearing the stuff out from under my bed. I am dividing things into Past and Present. There is no pile for Future. Past has been severely reduced. Edited. Tough decisions have been made. Did your wedding thank you card make the grade? Was your personal message worth hanging onto? Why did I keep that card with a cat on it and not your homemade christmas tree? I cannot tell you.

Should I have chucked that 22-page letter that I never sent about how angry I was and how I loved you deeply in spite of it? Not yet. Is someone at the Recycling Plant going to steal my emotional identity and attempt to make sense of themselves? Good luck to them I say. Perhaps they will succeed where I have failed.

For someone who does not paint I have a bewilderingly large collection of watercolours.

I am wondering whether there is a proper way of disposing of an old printer with whom the relationship has not survived a very rocky patch. It refused to print the words I requested, it did colours and it did blurry lines. For a while we struggled with each other, then there was silence. In that silence, I decided that it was time to end it. I’ve never been very good at endings. However, I am starting with inanimate objects, as a training.

PHOTOS. Boxes and boxes of old headshots that I painstakingly posted to people on whose desks I thought I was supposed to appear. I’m not dying or anything – at least no more quickly than I should be, as far as I am aware. And yet something is dying and something is birthing and I can’t tell you what’s what or what’s not what. So I am clearing out the stuff from under my bed.

When you have done something for a long time it is difficult to stop doing it. Once you stop doing it you may find it barely enters your head ever again. Such is the fickle nature of the mind and its attempt to grasp at meaning somewhere. I am stepping out into the unmarked swamp of nowness. I am sinking, Egypt, sinking. My songs are smarter than I am. Here’s a vow

GIVE UP THE PLAN