1 year anniversary

The last time I saw my grandmother we were leaving her room at the care home. She was physically diminished but her mind was almost entirely there. I had turned to slow the closing of the glass panelled door behind me, I didn’t want it to slam shut. She was looking at me.

The sun was pouring through the large windows into rectangles on the floor. It wasn’t a bright, white, clear light. It was that deep yellowy-orange honeyed light of Winter/Spring evening. She was swaddled in blankets, in a wheelchair.

Her expression then is hard to describe. A casual observer, a stranger, might have confused it for anger. It was a resolute, hard stare. I knew it as grandma; warmly formidable, genuine, strong.

Sharing 30th Dec

A melange of words I read for the 30th December sharing at Jem’s house. I was pretty near emotional ground zero.

—–

-He woke up in the dead of night with her beside, warm and asleep, and close eyed could not stop from thought, thinking this or that, about what would happen and from what pasts such futures could possibly have arisen, and remained horizontal on that horrible bed, horrible sunken, sad, stuffed with others’ dust mattress in a sad part of town in a desolate mental shiver – the likes of which are a sad shell of living, a parody of how it should be to be, in one’s own living light, a solid display, a gentle breathing mind, wholly with itself, a small shining pulse expanding and receding at the thought of a new day – not this sunken sudden dead of night panic. At what? At people, plainly, and not living how he’d like to live with them.

 

-I look at children and think one day your heart will be broken. But right now you’re Christmas. This TK Maxx used to be a Lloyds bank. This Zara used to be a Burger King. I’m in the cemetery with my backpack full of gifts. I used to skip Maths to meet my high school girlfriend here. These graves used to be people. My high school girlfriend is now married and travels the world singing. I buy my mother a remote controlled helicopter and some bath bombs. I realise I’m crying in John Lewis. The clothes here are offensively unambitious.

 

-I meet up with a friend. They tell me its going to hurt. I like this. I want to be around people who are willing to talk about pain and suffering.

 

-It’s better to break up in winter. Women are wearing more clothing and the neurological theme is family. Can they see the grief in me? women, cats, the shrewder dogs, they look at me and I feel revealed. Is Christmas an aphrodisiac? Work parties foaming over London, everyone emboldened with cheer. Sex and abandon are in the air. Doing things we wouldn’t normally do. Strangers kiss in the unfaltering light of Piccadilly Circus, consumerism is a kind of romance. Nike will never break my heart. I sleep until midday and then continue.

 

-…and you step off the stage and look at each other as if for the first time. And it’s the bright light of day, the performance is over, you don’t know what was real, you spoke in a certain way, you had an understanding,

and now that is over,

as she tells you she wants to be with herself,

and you look at her like this,

always when this happens,

they look so miraculous,

and real,

their faces red with tears,

and fear, and guilt,

clear with lack of passion,

but respect

and gratefulness,

she is grateful for your love,

and for your time,

and you would like to make love,

one last time,

or even kiss,

but it would be an act of necrophilia,

or narcissism,

or Archaeology

for her its history –

for you this conversation is a beginning –

and you are now open like a wound.

 

-I meet up with a friend, they sit and say almost nothing. We stare out the windows together like creatures.

 

-Now we’re broken up I see her more sharply. Without the haze of domestic information – how is she feeling today, who needs to do the washing, what’s on her mind. I see a woman in a photograph smiling next to a man who appears to be me. I see a beauty in her that is now distant and that I am newly excluded from, and then I see a new beauty I’ve just been let into. The beauty of a stranger. There are so many mysteries. So many people who’ll remain forever unknown. To know one person is to know the extent of your universal ignorance. If only I had a thousand life times.

 

-I meet up with a friend. I ask them how they deal with heartache. She says she stared at a single point on the wall for 48 hours. Her mother brought her food. And then she worked very, very hard.

 

-Are we stronger than love? Some die from heartbreak, some kill. Most suffer and prevail, and swim in it again and again. Many billions of people.

I wish we could control love. That’s how I feel right now. A girl on Tinder tells me she just wants an arranged marriage. I ask her, ‘Isn’t choice important? Aren’t you a Capitalist?’ She doesn’t reply. She’s dead to me.

 

-My father retired and bought an electric guitar. The amp has a button you press that adds distortion. He’s learnt a few chords and now practices switching between them. An endless loop of A minor and C major form the soundtrack to my Christmas. (The chords to my favourite song.)

 

-quit your boyfriend he’s trash

grab ass in the gas station cubicle.

kiss me with tears

buy me effervescent drinks, tell me i’m pretty

in a pencil skirt

show me where it hurts

slow down on purpose

think of her when you fuck her

my erection like a monument to optimism

soften me up with punchlines

scoop me into the back of the black cab and into

your hot private angst

redefine human intimacy

describe to me a painting you did when you were three

of your mother

all in blue

kiss me with tears

hear my breath when you wake up and watch me on my holiday from being

cup my breasts with cigarette smoke and get

hungover on heartache

invest in my pleasure

reap what you sow

look me in the eye when i go like a gun

call me butterfly or turtle dove,

honey bear or lover,

tell me your actual real name as it is written on the certificate!

fuck with your soul

kiss me with tears

why did you bring me here,

this isn’t romantic

with all these people

lets go home.

Oxford Samuel Beckett Award

I can finally say publicly, we’ve won the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, and will have a run at the Barbican’s Pit Theatre in late 2018. I’m relieved and honoured to have the financial and practical support of the Barbican going forward. It’s an incredible privilege.

I want to say thank you to everyone who came along to our sharing two weeks ago, it was great fun and super useful presenting the work to you. It could be said that your energy and presence in that room deserve an element of credit for this award. We’d love to hear any thoughts ruminating in your heads, any time.

I want to say thank you to the partners, friends, and relatives of JAMS, for your love and support. You know who you are. My love to you.

Events in my private life preclude me from being ecstatically happy right now, but suffice it to say, I’m extremely excited to get on with this and spend 2018 literally playing with fire.

I quit making theatre in late-2016. I’d had enough. I felt disheartened, futile, rejected, jaded and depressed. I told a few of you, ‘2017 I’ll be focusing on poetry, fiction’ and I did, but then I got the email from Barb. I’m fortunate – our work appealed to a particular set of mysterious variables so the panel of judges chose us. Am I any more or less of a performance maker now that we’ve got this prize? No. Is anyone else more or less of a performance maker for not having it? No. It’s an incredible opportunity, and there is admittedly a great (dangerous?) feeling of validation and approval. But really our work is just as valid as it was a month ago. I’m saying this in case anyone reading is feeling as futile, rejected, jaded or depressed as I was last year, let alone my occasional jealousy over friends’ successes. This is hard, vulnerable, precarious work. Take a break if you need to. Redouble your efforts if it feels right. Take care of yourself. Your work, your endeavours, are valid and worthwhile, regardless of external accreditation. Easy for me to say right now, sure, but it’s always true.

From left to right, Alan Fielden, Malachy Orozco, Sophie Grodin, Jemima Yong.

Photo Credit – Helen Murray

Just Like A Prayer

Women outside screamed and I felt dead in my head. I turned in the terrible bed, in the still night still willing sleep. Whichever way I turned I was there. Singing along to the song of thoughtless thought. Thoughts like lichen on sea-battered rock. Desperate, desolate 4am thoughts trying to force into that blank new forever paragraph.

I got up. I decided to write a prayer. I was trying to muster optimism for the new day. Write a prayer for tomorrow. A list of hopes.

I do not believe in an entity that grants wishes. This would have to be a kind of secular prayer. I wrote in that twilight with some clarity.

What became clear was that I was writing to myself. My present, past, and future. That through acknowledging and articulating these hopes I might influence future action. Just like a course correction.

[If I did have a secular prayer that I said every night, what might it be?

Dear God Fate Chance Fortune…

May I be healthy and loved May my body bear me thru new adventures, may I never be too afraid – but feel the braveness that builds with one’s past bravenesses. May my brain and wits be sharp tomorrow – could I wake up bright, not sluggish!

May I meet those with whom I might find mutual wonders, and may I have the strength and braveness to love them and be open to them.

May I find reserves in me to love everyone and everything.

May my loved ones be safe and know without doubt that I love them.

May the world be sometimes quietly gigantic enormous.

May I be surprised and open to surprises. May I be humble* and never be so far from understanding ACKNOWLEDGING my ignorance, limited perspective, ravenous ego and self centered fear.

May I always have eyes for the truth.

Gods, fates, fortunes, random winds of chaos, may I experience my fair share of love, affection and friendship and in turn be a conduit of human compassion.]


Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

When you call my name it’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know I’ll take you there

I close my eyes
Oh God I think I’m falling
Out of the sky, I close my eyes
Heaven help me

It’s like a dream
No end and no beginning
You’re here with me it’s like a dream
Let the choir sing

 

*Whilst I stand by the virtue of humility with oneself (humility precluding the conditions in which one can “Know thyself”), I’ve long been in two minds on the virtue of humbleness. I wonder if the state of our world requires great extravagances of defiance and demonstrations of self-worth and self-respect? A great many people suffer under oppressive systems which the humbleness, submissiveness and meekness of the oppressed can only serve. There’s the possibility of asserting your self-love as a political act and yet remaining humble in ones relations with oneself and loved ones. So to clarify, I would rewrite this as “May I be with myself humble…”

all kinds of noises

Here’s a piece I read when I presented Shuji Terayama’s Throw Away Your Books, Rally In The Streets at Limbo, Limbo (~26/04/2017). I would say this text is meant to be read aloud rather than on the page. In writing it I borrowed from the Heart Sutra, a Buddhist text, an online anime drawing tutorial, and an exchange between myself and my friend Annabelle.

——-

The recognition that there is the observation of tragedy by the mind, and elsewhere the experience of tragedy. One can try to process the particular qualities of a tragic event intellectually, yes, a tragedy can be considered and weighed by the mind even whilst that same mind is under its affect.

But the true site of a tragedy is a place beyond the brain or the body.

This place, in which we have our relationship with ourselves, in which we house our conscience – the solitudinous place in which we are uniquely honest with ourselves, this is where tragedy lives, develops, and never truly dies.

Where is this place. I mean in terms of Physics.

In the soap opera the woman says, “How can you live with yourself?”, the assumption being that we have a conscience, an awareness of right and wrong. That some acts are beyond a particular level of private tolerability; that having acted a particular way, one would prefer to cease being than confront oneself, for example in the mirror.

//////clap//////

There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue,

no body, mind; no colour, sound, or smell;

//////clap//////

Who here knows anything about (slow jazz).

//////clap//////

As you can see, making a few changes to just the eyes and mouth can help us modify our pin-up style.

In the Manga style, eyes are responsible for expressing the vast majority of emotions, and their role in Japanese cartoon is extremely valuable.

Thus, we conclude that the female face has:

  • A smaller nose, pointing upwards.
  • A lower lip that is thicker than the upper one, however, the upper lips are projected slightly forward.
  • Thinner eyebrows with smooth curves.
  • A forehead that is well-rounded, and never flat.
  • A less developed chin.

//////clap//////

emails between ASC & AF, 12/01/2017

ASC: what are some things that you think everyone should experience

AF: Everything should know love before death – and a lot of love is internal, it isn’t like coca cola, you don’t need a production line, distribution, marketing. We’ve all got it by virtue of being. But, fuck, do I obscure it. Actually with the coca cola’s.

ASC: what are peak experiences

AF: If I looked at my life as a series of peaks and troughs I might start chasing? I don’t want that. Peaks can peaks when they wants.

I’m lying; writing is chasing. I am chasing a kind of high in my writing, the high of finding form for my experience of being.

‘Yeah – wow – these words are true!’

I’m reading Kerouac’s On The Road and it’s making me desperately reassess what my life is.

ASC: what is the epitome of human culture, or phenomenological experience

AF: Pinnacle of phenomenological experience has got to be sex? That’s like a language two people make up for half an hour (or whatever), and then the language dies – or lives in its influence of future sex.

“Every single fuck

We had together

Is in a wondrous time lapse

With us here at this moment” Bjork, History of Touches

Human culture…there’s no epitome. One person’s pie in the face is another’s Mahler, Beethoven, Cyndi Lauper.

ASC: what would help you leave this world happy

AF: I don’t know how you leave this world happy. Belief in heaven, or ‘job well done’, or loving family, or high on methadone…lot a people say ‘wanna die in my sleep’, just occurred there’s something sad about that, don’t wanna die conscious of dying, and really do it, no, want to avoid it. A perfect death would be full self aware smiles, right? Most people would prefer it happen to someone else, even if that someone else is them.

I know bunch of old people who died ‘peacefully’. My theory is you get older and the stove gets colder, less coal and chaos. You just get tired. Less urges, less emotion, the taste buds go grey and so the colours…and you let go. As a young man that all sounds the worst, but maybe in those shoes it’ll not be such a capitulation.

The mystics and chemists tell us everything we are is borrowed. I guess if I leant you a hammer I’d hope you hammered with it.

ASC: if you had 5 months, what is something you want to see

do

be every night or day

AF: If I had five months – Annabelle, I don’t think I can conceive. We’re hitting the limits of my imagination, or more my willingness. How would you not just cry – or the opposite, turn to stone? Facebook-y clickbait about cancer children who bravely march on and tick off funfairs and celebrity visits from the bucket list. They’re better than me – that hope! There’s some strength there they’re adhering to. I might just drink, or take it into my own hands. Or maybe I would find that strength.

Most likely I’d write. My life story, or poetry, or songs, or love letters to every single person who ever meant a fuck to me. Most likely I’d try and wring out all the fucking love I could from my soul, cos that’d make it bearable, that I was making something of this. This horrible situation. I’d wring it’s fucking neck for beauty and love. And that’s what I should be doing anyway, because we are all a galactic nano metre from oblivion. What the fuck am I doing? You made me cry Annabelle. Truly, thank you.

If you want a coffee I’m mostly free apart from Thursdays and Fridays.

//////clap//////

I love watching promos. I watch promos all the time. I watch hardcore promos. I watch software promos. I watch interracial promos. I watch American promos. I sometimes watch promos over breakfast and I sometimes watch promos last thing at night. I watch promos with my girlfriend and sometimes with my family. I watch history channel promos I watch orca promos I watch wordy promos I watch bird seed promos I watch invasion of sovereign state promos I watch testicular cancer promos. I write and direct promos. Here’s one I made on my vacation on the sunny beach here’s one I made about my sausage sandwich here’s one I made for my birthday. My friends all watch promos and star in their own promos. We all share our promos. My friend Rosa sells noises all kinds of noises to ordinary people she sells them at fairs, at auctions, over the internet. I’ve seen her promo. My friend Kafka is a writer he writes all kinds of words in all kinds of orders. I’ve seen his promo. My friend Jesus is a carpenter he’s good with wood and he’s got lots of it. I’ve seen his promo. And they’ve all seen my promo because it’s fucking big and it’s fucking long and it’s the best fucking promo going.

//////clap//////

Let’s explore the process of making an “average” female body in cartoon style.

To find the positioning of the breasts, make a triangle with the point upwards, so that it fits perfectly inside the trunk.

//////clap//////

In the soap opera the woman says, “How can you live with yourself?”,

//////clap//////

There is no taste, no touch, no thing; no realm of sight,

no realm of thoughts; no ignorance, no end

to ignorance; no old age and no death;

//////clap//////

Tears!

It’s tears that keep the sunflowers of my heart quenched and hardy. Tears, and other liquids of love.

//////clap//////

mined with Russian tools by Congolese hands fed on Vietnamese rice and all the whole god damn thing the result of cataclysmic star suicidings all wrung up in their own terms from birth 15bn years hence to bring me – oh christ – so smoothly and exquisite-ish this slippery Steve Jobs machine beating my brains with Bjork heartbreak – bluish my heart and pain at the sound of her blow out down the Euston Road all London now looking more sad, weary, confused and daunted in all time like a shuddering monster curious to find how far this madness may yield.

//////clap//////

Now add a new triangle to set the groin at the bottom of the circle.

Very good! This is the basic shape of the female body. Let’s now add the contours and finalize our beautiful female figure.

Once we have the basic template of the female body, we can modify the different proportions! It’s all about the process of designing the character that fits with your needs.

//////clap//////

In the soap opera the woman says, “How can you live with yourself?”,

//////clap//////

Is there a death poem

I can read at my grandma’s funeral

that will not feel trite,

obliged, or over reverent.

 

Is there some death poem

that with light

could be true to your particular

sense of humour,

and aversion to pomp or pretension

 

Is there anything I could read

that would convey who you are to me;

certainly not

 

I remember;

you would babysit us

and watch Top of the Pops

and the know all their names

whilst we ate your chips.

 

I do not understand how you coped with heartache

of which you had your share

never did I see you vulnerable

apart from the very last time

 

//////clap//////

There is no end to age and death; no suffering,

nor any cause of suffering, nor end

to suffering, no path, no wisdom and no fulfilment.

//////clap//////

The recognition that there is the observation of tragedy by the mind, and elsewhere the experience of tragedy. One can try to process the particular qualities of a tragic event intellectually, yes, a tragedy can be considered and weighed by the mind even whilst that same mind is under its affect.

But the true site of a tragedy is a place beyond the brain or the body.

//////clap//////

There is no pain no memory of pain no sad eyes

There is no separation no seam

There is no bleeding sores

There is no holding no bed time story

no end of rain no rain at all

no conceit no plot no portrayal

no thing to portray

There is no good no bad

There is no love no hate

There is no you me us them

There is no heart

 

There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue,

no body, mind; no colour, sound, or smell;

no taste, no touch, nothing; no realm of sight,

no realm of thoughts; no ignorance, no end

to ignorance; no old age and no death;

no end to age and death; no suffering,

nor any cause of suffering, nor end

to suffering, no path, no wisdom and no fulfillment.

//////clap//////

Thus, we conclude that the female face has:

no old age and no death;

a wondrous time lapse

Less urges, less emotion, the taste buds go grey and so the colours…

a place beyond the brain or the body.

Tear

noises all kinds of noises

New Age

I’m in a pub in Worcester.

Nearby, four old men.
They have sex lives.
Two, before the third arrives, moan of him.
They talk of friends’ funerals’
like you might mention
a disappointing football game.

The four dress individual:
one in sharp grey suit, ironed trousers with the crease,
another in khaki slacks, comfort-wear
then wooly jumper and leather boots,
finally the sad tramp.

They excitedly trade memories of old medicines: ECT, treatments for depression, the definition of emphysema. They compare treatments for epilepsy from the turn of the century
(hoses)

with now
(Keppra)

I overhear that ‘grand mal seizures’ are ones that last longer than a minute.
The cost of local chiropodists:
“Twenty-five in the Spring Gardens”
“Twenty down there” [gesturing down the road toward the city centre].

One of them, the fourth, is frail and quiet and bitter. They poke at his poor hearing, his weak voice, his distant temperament.

I write down that “Dapi gli pho zine” (dapagliflozin) is a drug for diabetes.

When they cheers they say ‘All the Georgey Best’.

Why am I listening to the four old men. Do I have nothing else to do. It seems so. Why am I writing down what they say. Will it come in useful? Will I now know it when I see it? My grandmother has died. When I am old I will have silver hair and clear blue eyes. I will face my physical and mental degeneration with good humour, and count down the silent moments, and say my goodbyes. And when it comes I will be ready to go.

On Angela
“…arrangement where Angela was allowed her *chaps*. He’d go and have a drink, and by the time he got home the *friend* would have gone. One time he comes home and the car is still there. He goes around the block. Car still there. Well, this is a bit much, he thinks, I’m gunna go in and have what for. Well, he gets out and looks in the car and the guy’s there. He’s tried to get away. But he’s dead. And the joke is that that’s what Angela can do to a man.”

On an old flame
A: “…is she grey now?”
B: “No, but she’s into religion.”
A: “bit happy-clappy…”

On being cuckolded
B: “So have you always been the white man?”
C: “No, no, I’ve been…”
B: “Oh, so you’ve been a dog too, that’s good.”

On the fourth friend after he’d left
A: “He’s depressed.”
B: “Well he’s depressed.”
A: “He’s a little unkempt.”
C: “He needs a little touch.”

On signs that one is close to dying
A: “We’re not all…fit specimens..but it’s when the voice begins to go/”
C: “When you don’t have the energy.”
A: “The voice is a good tell-tale.”
B: “How’s my voice, John? …annoyingly, nauseatingly…?”
C: “Nauseatingly loud…”
B: “Nauseatingly loud…”
A: “It isn’t the annoying, nauseating tone of your voice but the content of your conversation…”
C: “No you’ll be around for a while.”
B: “I don’t know. There’s other ways.”

On courting
B: “We just like the feeling we’re still in the game…”
A: “We’re on the subs bench.”
C: “Ninety per cent of the time I’m not up for it.”
B: “I’ll always be in the game.”

Painting: Fishermen At Sea by J. M. W. Turner, 1796

Relief

The day that Trump was elected I was attending my first day at school.

I was too shy to ask again and be denied a second time in front of the other children, so I kept my hand down and humiliated all over myself, humiliated onto the chair, which humiliated down onto the floor. It was warm and I almost dreamed that if I stayed still and nothing ever changed there might be a kind of joy in this. I might sit here, wet and warm with myself. My own internal life now out – a part of me shared with my little world. Revealed and relieved.

Painting: The Visionary by Ralph Wolfe Cowan, 1989