Saturday, 31 March 2012

For the Love of Gold Days

A rather heavenly home I found once while wandering around Sweden on Google Maps...

Friday, 30 March 2012

My Sister the Poet

I am sitting alone in her room, again. This is the room where she writes. There is a lamp, a window, a gauzy curtain, an empty bowl of cereal with spoonfuls of milk left inside.
There are one or two bookshelves (stuffed to the gills) and a typewriter, a selection of pencils: it’s neither a study or an office, though, but a private space. The ghosts of words faintly traced into the wood grain of the tabletop appear wherever the light lands in front of me. I am surrounded by her things, little objects she has touched and moved around many times like so many talismans (which she told me once, standing on the lawn outside, came from the Greek word "telein" which means "to initiate into mysteries"). I can see her fingerprints on these picture frames, this loose button, this seashell with its pink underbelly. I am not quite trespassing so much as interloping, here, sitting in her place, waiting for her, ostensibly to ask her some nothing question about the time, or about the weather, or about a phone number I've forgotten. I'm doing what I assume she does, whenever she's in here, waiting for words and images to come. Cozing up to them, sneakily.
I sit here at her desk, but she is not here with me. I think I can hear her faintly, pacing, humming under her breath while she feeds the cat and waits for the kettle to rumble and click. And so I just bide my time before she comes back again and asks me to leave. I prepare myself for this dismissal, for the smile she'll shoot me, which will take me bashfully from her seat with the creak in its legs. It's a sound I sometimes hear elsewhere in the house, this creaking, coming through the walls, telling me she's hard at work. So I lean back a few times, trying to get it exactly right, this sound that is hers alone. I relax carefully into that chair, calling its owner back to me.    

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Unseen Sea

This is a still from a batch of footage found in a basement in Australia. It was filmed sometime in the 1930s, by a Sydney dermatologist named Ewan Murray-Wills, and forgotten about. The footage shows dancers in The Ballet Russes picnicking and cavorting on Bungen Beach on their off days. Some seventy years later filmmaker Gillian Lacey and musician Alexander Balanescu used the footage to create a performance piece called Play.

Writing this, I realise, how much I long to see the ocean again. Most nights I walk along the sports grounds where Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile--there's a high fence that runs along the pavement, and for some unexplainable reason, I always imagine an unseen sea on the other side. 

Another year, another play. To be performed at London's The Old Red Lion Theatre as part of RedFest, from April 16-21. It is a vignette called For All We Know and it involves a blind man listening to the ghost of his dead wife. At one point she reads aloud to him:

We were in the parks one morning, you remember. You had... (Turns page.) Slept in my living room the night before and, uncomfortable, you rose early and suggested we go for a walk before you caught your morning train. You made tea and we took these with us, in mugs. I can still remember the cold of the ceramic and the heat of the tea inside. Also my imagining your feeling the same simultaneous hot-cold feeling on your lips. It had been a cold night and there were heavy mists resting over the field, along the river. The parks were empty. The sun was burning through. Your glasses had steamed up and you took them off, and I can remember you looking at me, somehow more freely than you ever had before, squinting my direction. I could see your breath. I could see your hands were shaking. (Pause.) Then, coming to the riverbank, we stopped, we stopped talking. (She stops reading.) I took your tea from you and threw it in the river. I threw it in the river with mine and you looked at me. I looked back. I tore open your collar, you lifted my dress. With your hand you felt along the inner-seam of me: the same simultaneous hot and cold...