Soap & Salt

There have been tears on the kitchen floor days.

When I was little and when I was old.

There have been missed days.

And long drawn out painful days.

There’s been tears in the shower, mixed with the soap days.

There’s been picking yourself up days.

There’s been no strength to breathe days.

There’s been listening to the world outside days.

Or watching it as you scroll through the screen days.

Picture after picture.

Life after life.

Stalker spectators.

There’s been broken days.

And there’s been I’ll survive it days.

There’s always I miss you days.

There’s salt on my cheeks days.

And the soap to start again days.

There’s always a morning.

And I miss the goodnights.

There’s days I remember.

And days I choose to forget.

I never see you anymore days.

I look for you everywhere days.

I long to sleep days.

And I’m keeping busy days.

There’s the loss days.

I don’t know what happened days.

I thought this was it days.

And it’s replaceable generation days.

I wonder if you saw me days.

There’s the filtered days.

Upgrading our lives days.

Hashtag and video diary days.

I think of the world days.

Voting for world leaders. One like at a time days.

Days to come.

Because of days that went.

There’s the worry days.

Skipping the ten minute catch up on the news days.

I can’t bring myself to look days.

There’s the empty hand days.

And there’s the wipe it all away days.

Salt on my fingers.

Salt on my lips.

Soap to cleanse.

Soap to ease.

There’s always another day.

There’s always keep believing days.

And there’s I can’t take it days.

There’s always someone there for you days.

We can have it all days.

What if we can’t days.

There’s beauty in a sunset.

There’s excitement in a dawn chorus.

I’m looking at the world days.

I’m waiting for tomorrow days.

I’m here days.

And I’m mixing the salt and the soap days.

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I’ll Leave You

I’ll leave flowers by your bed so you can smell summer knocking on closed doors.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed so you can touch the petals, the leaves, the dusts of water. Feel nature. Feel life. Feel apart.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed so when we lie together, side by side, quite, hands entwined, we can look to the flowers, because you can’t look to me.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed simply because you like them.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed to bring you comfort. To bring you joy. To bring your aching eyes peace. To let you know I was there.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because I can’t leave a piece of me.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed so when the morning sun spreads her fingers across your room and you turn away, watch. Watch as the flowers stretch towards her, watch as they let the heat warm their delicate skin, as they drink up everything she has to offer. Watch. Learn. Be free.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because I long to leave you something. Anything.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because you get to stay and I have to leave.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed so you remember me.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed for the happy days. For the sad days. For the nothing days. That I cherish above all others. Our days.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because I love you.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because I am gone.

I’ll leave flowers by your bed because I remain.

I’ll leave you.

But always keep flowers by your bed.


The Old Man in The Phone Box – A Monologue

 

No. No. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING.

Pause.

FUCK YOU!

Beat.

Hello?

Silence.

I’m just trying to find my friend. Hello? … HELLO?

Pause.

She’s got white hair. She’s had white hair since she was fifty-five, never dyed it, pure white, like she got shocked one day. She’s small. Smaller than me, comes up to my chest, top of her head fits into my neck, sit’s like it was designed to slot in there, perfect, tidy.

Silence.

Hello? … She’s been missing since Friday. FRIDAY! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT? … Hello? Hello! … She doesn’t like sweet thing’s, she’s a savory gal. She’ll destroy a pork pie in two bites. I’ve seen her do it. Bloody loves a pork pie. She went out. Friday. She went out. Went to see her friend. She drove. You writing this down? You better be writing it all down. It’s important information. She’s a good driver. WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY? NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

Pause.

Hello? Hello? Are you there? … She’s seventy-eight. SEVENTY-EIGHT. Her birthday is the tenth of June. We go away. Every year we go away for her birthday. She doesn’t like being at home. Even if it’s just a night in a hotel, Travelodge or Premier Inn, she loves it. Loves being away. HER BIRTHDAY IS TENTH OF JUNE! She likes one big main present. Can’t be doing with lots of little things, she always preferred one big main present. And don’t get her a card. She hates cards, they just go in the bin, she says. No cards. NO CARDS!

Pause.

I’m trying to find my friend.

Silence.

I’m eighty. We’ve been married sixty years. I remember because I was twenty when we married. She was eighteen. She was so pretty. Still is. In the same way too, and that’s not just me, lots of people say it. Say she’s pretty. WHAT? … MY NAME? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT MY NAME IS! HER NAME IS CHARLOTTE.

Beat.

CHARLOTTE!

Pause.

She went for a drive, to see her friend.

Pause.

I’ve never had much money. We’re in the bracket people call working class. It’s really British init? Giving people a title what ends in the word class. Working, Middle, upper… Class. It’s a clasp your whole life. She was proper class though, loved people, loved being with other people, friends, family, neighbours, loved a get together. Proper class.

Beat.

We’ve got no other family. No children. It’s just her and me.

Silence.

The nurse said to stop popping by, but I can’t, I can’t find her, she’s been missing since Friday. You can’t call her Charlie, she doesn’t like it, she’ll say, its Charlotte. She liked sounding posh. Charlotte. Mrs. Peter John Myers. Charlotte Myers. Mrs. Myers. My wife. Mrs. Myers. SHE’S BEEN MISSING SINCE FRIDAY! FRIDAY! NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

He bangs the handle against the wall. Pause.

I’m trying to find my friend. Please. She’s been missing since Friday. She lives with me, she’s my wife, she went out. Went to see a friend. She drove. She’s a good driver. WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY? NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

Pause.

What? WHAT? WHERE DO I LIVE? Where I’ve always lived. In my house. I brought it in the eighties, two bed, two garden, which is rare these days, front and back garden, one bath, one toilet, one kitchen, dinning room and living room, but it doesn’t fucking matter! Because she’s not there! She’s fucking missing. Been missing since Friday! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME! WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING!

He starts banding the handle against the wall again.

SHE’S BEEN MISSING SINCE FRIDAY! FRIDAY! NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! IT WASN’T MY FAULT.

The cable isn’t attached to the receiver; it hangs loosely from the phone handle.

She went for a drive, to see her friend. She’s a good driver. Passed her test first time. I was really proud of her. She even knew the mechanics of the car. She was really handy, she worked in the factory, and she picked stuff up, that was what she was like, she just picked stuff up. She would have been fine; I never worried about her driving anywhere. YOU LISTENING! SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE. SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE! NO. NO. NO. NO NO NO NO NO! IT WASN’T MY FAULT. IT WASN’T MY FAULT!

He’s breathing heavily.

She was upset. I’d upset her. Said something. I said something I shouldn’t have. It was the last thing I said to her. SHE’S BEEN MISSING SINCE FRIDAY! The last thing I said? The last thing I said to her… The last thing I said was…

‘There’s some days, that I wish we’d had children.’

Pause.

She lost babies. That was what was happening. She couldn’t take it, I couldn’t take it, so we stopped, stopped planning, stopped hoping, and stopped living for a little while. But we got back to us. You do when its real love. But I shouldn’t have said that. It just came out. I meant it too, but she was seeing her friend’s grandkids and I was thinking of that. Thinking what it must be like to have grandkids. People think men don’t get broody, but we do, I did anyway, would have loved kids, but I loved her more. I loved her more. It probably affected her, me saying that. Probably made her loose her concentration.

He’s calmer, but there are tears of frustration.

Why aren’t you helping me? Way aren’t you listening? She’s been missing since Friday. Friday, she went for a drive, went to see her friend. She was driving a blue Ford, went past Millers Place and pulled out by Tesco’s, she didn’t look, she didn’t check, she wasn’t speeding, but her foot touched the pedal, and there was a lorry…

Beat.

I’m trying to find my friend. She’s been missing since Friday. She went for a drive, went to see a friend.

There’s been a crumpled piece of paper in his hand, he allows his fist to unclench, and it’s a picture of Charlotte, she’s mid fifties, happy, smiling.

Please. I’m just trying to find my friend.

Silence.

Hello?

Silence.

Hello?

HELLO!!!

Silence. He’s clinging on to the phone; the photo slowly disappears in to his clenching fist.

I’m trying to find my friend.

 

 

 

 

 


Ride the Storm

Ride the Storm.

But the sea knows no bounds.

Take a deep breath. Hope it all ends.

The moon she rises, and with her the fleeting birds of dawn.

She knows no bounds.

Let her hold you.

Her grip tightly round your throat.

Her love knows no bounds.

She is your beginning.

She is your end.

Ride the storm.

Let her carry you.

Bound through waves.

Calm seas.

The beginnings of a ripple.

Ride the storm.

The moon will push you.

Pull you.

Let her be.

Her world knows no bounds.

Ride the storm.

Wait.

Watch.

Learn.

But ride the storm my love.

Do not fight.

Do not float.

Do not panic.

Just ride the storm my love.

Just ride the storm.


Dear Mother Earth,

Dear Mother Earth,

I must start this letter with an apology. We have hurt you and the worse part is, we are continuing to cause you immense pain and distress. In a time when the world is so advanced and we have the technology to do so much good, it seems we are unable to do right by you. We are losing species after species, instead of protecting and nourishing, we have become the destruction, and you’re getting pretty hot under the collar, and I don’t blame you. But we can’t seem to register your displeasure. Even convince some people that your anger is real.

In a time when radio adverts about food resources are real, and people rage about the red tape that is blocking their way, instead of looking at what that red tape might be protecting, I need you to try and understand as we teach/preach that age-old wisdom of learning to share.

Sharing – have a portion of (something) with another or others

People are forgetting what their mothers taught them. People are forgetting other people.

I’m lucky. I’m fit and able and even in my small way I am able to contribute to the country in which I live and work, and I do not begrudge a small amount of my money going back into that country and community, because I’m a part of it. I’m grateful that I can do so. If someone needs the health care, the home, the food, the warmth, the pleasures of even a simple luxury, because they are human and so therefore matters, because all life matters, then I am willing and happy to share. Likewise I want to be a citizen of the world, not just my back yard and so I extend that hand globally, because if we shut ourselves up, close ourselves off, stare at nothing but the TV, we are lost, a drift.

We need to learn to preserve, nourish and share. Because we’re gobbling up everything in our way, and not thinking about the three, four generations coming up behind us. If we use up everything now, because lets face it, it’s all about the money; we’ll leave nothing behind us. Nothing natural. Nothing good.

We’ve been told it’s for that car, that house, that plasma TV, that beautiful handbag, that holiday. It’s for our safety. It’s for our own good. It’s for making things great again… It’s for things I don’t understand. Nothing should ever come at the cost of life.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot to learn, in what feels like not enough time. But we’re smart! I promise you we are. We can be better/faster learners. We have to be. We don’t really have a choice.

So please bear with us as we learn to spread some love. Some kindness. I know it sounds a little corny… but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Please bear with us as we learn to share.

To stop the wall before it can be built.

Best wishes,

Us. x


Belle

In December 2015 as part of the ‘Christmas Carol’ theatrical event at the Charles Dickens Museum, and with Equapoise Theatre, I was lucky enough to write three scenes that would be included on the big day.  

The Gravedigger –  in the courtyard, A mother and Son – in the wash house and Belle – in the dressing room.

Below are the words of Belle.

SCENE THREE: BELLE

She sits alone at a dressing table fixing her face and hair. She looks as if she’s attending a party. She’s wearing a wedding ring. She stares at her reflection.

BELLE: Laughter. That was the key. When the smiles and laughter drifted away, like yesterdays snow flakes, caught in a breeze, that’s when I knew. I knew he no longer cared for me, I was lost to him, and so was the world in which I lived.

She applies powder to her face.

It breaks my heart a little, when I hear people talk and gossip about him. There’s no tenderness, no warmth. I hear his name, and the man I knew, is no longer the man described in their icy voices, in their cutting words. The man I remember is but a painting in my memory.

She fixes her hair.

If I told them how he loved to dance, or how he held my hand, so softly, so full of affection. They would not believe me. They couldn’t. For the person they know is but a shadow, a darkness, concealing the true nature of the man.

She pauses.

Mrs. Ebenezer Scrooge.

Silence.

I would not have made him happy and in turn, eventually, I would have been consumed by my own bitterness and resentment. I loved him, but it was not enough. He had grown to love something different, something new. Something shiny. She puts on her earrings. I do not doubt that he would have married me. Be it out of obligation. Duty. A love for which he once bore me. We would have lived in a fine house. I would have surrounded myself with beautiful things. Perhaps children. But only if he had learnt to share. Even with me, would he of learnt to share…?

She finds a lipstick.

But a marriage can not be built on money. Love can not be bought. Your heart beats to its own individual rhythm. It will let you know when love has entered the room, and in turn, if it should leave you. It will find a way of letting you know, of dealing with the pain, of rebuilding itself and growing even bigger, even stronger, because you have survived it. Love belongs within you, that’s where it lives and dies, it is yours and yours alone.

She applies the lipstick.

And that is where I have kept you, my darling Ebenezer. The man you once were and the thoughts, and hopes, of the man you could have been are safely stored away, locked in my imagination so that you will not be forgotten. Lost to the man you have become.

She looks at herself, checking for any last finishing touches. She puts on her gloves.

I wonder what you have done with me? If I still exist in your heart? In your memories. If I live on in anyway? If I called your name, would you hear me? Would you hold out your hand to me? Would you change… I wonder, Ebenezer Scrooge. I wonder.

She looks as if she’s about to leave. She traces a hand over her face. She slowly removes the gloves. She takes a tissue and wipes away the lipstick. She dabs off the powder. Her earrings are placed back on the table. She stares at her reflection. As if in a dream, she removes the wedding ring, and places it gently on the table. Everything is back in its place, as if trapped in the glass, she begins the cycle again, and again.

End scene.

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The Gravedigger

In December 2015 I was lucky enough to work with Equapoise Theatre http://www.equapoisetheatre.co.uk and the Charles Dickens Museum http://dickensmuseum.com to help bring to life A Christmas Carol in the very rooms that once belonged to Charles Dickens.

I wrote three scenes, The Gravedigger –  in the courtyard, A mother and Son – in the wash house and Belle – in the dressing room.

Below are the words given to George, the gravedigger.

SCENE ONE: THE GRAVEDIGGER

He’s leaning on a shovel, talking to the audience.

GEORGE: I’ve dug many a grave in my time. Man, woman, child. And there ain’t been one, until today, that I haven’t shed a little tear for. My Mrs says I’m a soft touch. Maybe I is. But I can’t help it. I think about them. Who they might have been. What they might have done, or not done. I think about their loved ones, left behind. Having to say goodbye.

Pause.

Plus, it’s a very important job. Digging up the earth. The ground. Creating someone’s final resting place. I takes that very seriously.

He holds out his shovel.

This is my best and most faithful friend. Abigail. Ain’t she lovely?

He looks at it with pride.

Giving something a name, anything, makes it special. Could be a pet for instance. A toy. A stove. A beloved hat. As soon as you give that thing a name, it’s got meaning. A soul. It matters. Same with people. People are defined by their names. If I told you my name was Lord Billington of Mayfair square for instance, you’d laugh at me. You would. Even if I did say it in my most poshest of posh voices. Lord Billington of Mayfair square. Funny ain’t it? But when I tell you my name is really George, George Tilly, from the East End of London, you’ll smile at me, and think, he really is. He’s a George. A George Tilly, from the East End of London.

He speaks to an audience member. Improv. A suggestion:

What’s your name? (Response.) I would’ve guessed it without knowing a thing about you. Cos’ you look like a (name of audience member), don’t she/he? (To a lady) And you. I bet you’re a Rose. (She says no, hopefully) then your parents got it horribly wrong! Horribly wrong! He laughs. But it can also work the other way. You hear a name and just the sound of them letters, all mixing together, sends a chill running through your heart. Because attached to that name, is a thing, a person, so dark, so cold, so unfeeling that even the Christmas Robin, the jolliest and warmest of all creatures, will turn his head for fear of catching its eye and being turned to stone. A name like, Ebenezer Scrooge. Mr. Scrooge was a man who had everything, and shared nothing. He was a man with power, a gift, and he used it against the people, instead of for the people. He loved the things that can’t possibly love ya back. Money. Influence. The business of importance. He was a lonely, bitter man, with nothing in his soul but blackness.

He pauses.

I said I didn’t cry for this man. For this grave. But standing here now, talking to you, I feel the tears coming upon me. For I feel… pity. A sadness. This man, this creature, what was so unloved. So lost to the things that make us, us. Compassion. Kindness. Laughter. Silliness. I bet he never once in his life danced or made merry. He hated Christmas. And that says something. Hating Christmas. A time, no matter what you believe, where you can find something wonderful in it… It could be a day of rest. A day with loved ones. Or even just a day to be warm, cosy, sitting quiet with your thoughts. A day to be thankful. A day to give. Or, if you’re like me and the Mrs, a day to be fat, full, and bursting with sherry.

He laughs. A silence slowly falls over him.

No one attended his funeral. They laughed at his death. Celebrated it even. And that feels wrong. Even though he was the most unfeeling of gentlemen. It feels wrong to treat him the way he treated others. It makes my heart heavy, just thinking about it. There are tears, a sadness. They took all his belongings, passed them out. Strangers. There’s nothing of him left. Nothing that he’ll be remembered for. He’ll become a forgotten man.

Church bells begin to ring.

Well now, listen to them… It’s Christmas.

Silence.

And in the name of Christmas, in the spirit of human kindness, would you share this moment with me? A moment of silence for poor old Mr. Scrooge. A man who doesn’t deserve it, but, even in death, needs our guidance to be a better man. Because by doing so, it reminds us to be better. To be kinder. To be softer. And to always remember, what is truly important when living…

Pause. He removes his hat and bows his head. A moment of silence.

Merry Christmas.

End scene.


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