Archive for August, 2010

Can someone develop inertia?  It sounds a bit like reversing backwards.  Well whatever it is, I’ve got it.

When my mum died, my happy pills kept the black dog at bay for the first few months.  Its departure was replaced by an emptiness, a desire to do nothing.  So that’s what I did.

Now, twenty months later, mum’s boxes are still littered around the house, their only movement being from the spare room to my study when Clare came to stay for a few weeks.

Each time I open a box, I am assailed by memories and doubts.  How can I disrespect my mother by throwing away her memories, her cherished possessions?  So instead, I spend hours on Facebook, playing stupid games, surrounded by boxes.

The only thing that motivates me is a deadline.  So, in the last year, I’ve performed, directed, designed and built more sets than ever before.  And while I’m doing it, I love it.  But when I get home, I go straight to the computer and kill vampires, harvest crops and hunt for treasure.

Then, last week, I was chatting to a friend whose mum died late last year, and she remarked how, since then, she’s had no desire to work in her garden.  She despairs at how bedraggled it looks, remembering how much she used to cherish it.  She wasn’t very impressed when I started smiling, and was even less impressed when I laughed at how many boxes she’s got in her spare room…all filled with her mum’s belongings.  What’s more, she said, all I want to do is read.  And even then it’s only because I’ve got to get the book back to the library before due date.

Sound familiar?

So we’ve come up with a plan.

Each week, for two hours, we’re going to take turns visiting each other.  The visitee will decide on the highest priority – emptying boxes, weeding or clearing out cupboards.  The visitor will comply and be rewarded with tea and chocolate biscuits.  Or red wine, if we’ve done really well.

I went to her house yesterday.  It was great.  There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start.

Who knows, I might even be able to empty a box or two myself before she comes around next week…


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Earlier this year, I saw a production of Alan Ayckbourn’s 2005 play, ‘Improbable Fiction’.  It’s not often that an audience claps during a scene, but apparently the following passage elicited applause every night:

Brevis:  Being on the internet proves absolutely nothing.  I tell you the internet is probably the biggest repository for junk, rubbish and useless information ever known to the human race.  Every lunatic opinion, every crackpot theory …

Clem:  It’s an opportunity for ordinary people to express what they feel.

Brevis:  Exactly.  Ordinary people.  I’m sick to death of ordinary people, you know that?  What do you think makes them ordinary, Clem? They’re ordinary because they don’t have any original opinions of their own.  They don’t have a single interesting thing of any importance to say.  And now we’ve got that bloody internet thing, they’re all saying it.  What’s worse, they’re all talking to each other. Exchanging their batty views.  They’re proliferating, breeding ever fresh lunacies.  And, as a result, the whole world, the whole of civilisation is spiralling down, down, towards the lowest common denominator, till we have people like you, who have never even heard of John Buchan.

And yes, the irony of quoting this piece is not lost on me.

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The last time I uttered this sentiment was to Clare, when we were emptying our dogs* in the forest one sunny afternoon.

“OK,” she said, “but you have to give up something that you’re good at.”


I’ve thought and thought and thought.  But I can’t think of anything that I’m really good at that I’d be prepared to sacrifice.  Except maybe cheating at cards**.

Any ideas?

And what talent would you add to your repertoire, at what cost?

*She coined the term.  I stole it.

** More like not being caught cheating at cards.

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