Sob Story

Tried my hand at playwriting recently, a wacky eco-farce called “Beyond The Gilded Cage” which I entered for a one-act play competition co-sponsored by the Nottingham Playhouse. The winning entry was from Toby Campion who is a Leicester-based performance poet.

Happy to lose to someone so young and gifted and  …

Who am I trying to kid? My play wasn’t even on the shortlist of 7, whittled down from 102 entries.

Boo-hoo-hoo …

Still, sniff sniff, I reckon it’s a good laugh for a first effort. First play I’ve finished, anyway. As somebody once said … I’ll be back! 

No Direction

I love the idea that when you start saying something, you don’t know where you’re going with it. This is the opposite to speaking in clichés and anecdotes, which are designed to reduce experience to neat little packages. I dream of a discourse to match the wondrous variation of existence … except when I want people to accept some banal truism or listen to one of my interminable stories.

I have always felt torn between opposite points of view. Perhaps it was the experience of hearing my parents argue. Part of me loves the idea that nobody follows this blog because I can say exactly what I want without worrying about what others might think. Part of me hates having nobody to talk to, because talking to yourself is the first sign of madness … hmm, wonder how many more of me are sitting on the fence?

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Homage

My mum was an idealist. She hated cruelty, elitism, xenophobia, greed and selfishness. She would always argue from the heart, her moral values needing no appeal to evidence. She knew what was right and could never understand why others might not share her passionate beliefs in universal  liberty, equality and fraternity.

I recall many occasions when she was surrounded by others trying to make her see how impractical her ideas were – human nature being what it is, they would tell her, not everyone is as good-hearted as you. Wrong, she would reply, what about the man who walked up the steps of the newly-opened League of Nations building after the carnage of World War I – the war to end war, their watchword – what about him? The man who chained himself to the railings, unfurling a banner whose words went around the world: “I ——– (name), from ——– (country), hereby renounce my nationality and proclaim myself The First Citizen of the World” That man, she would say before leaving the room with all the dignity she could muster, is the person I admire.

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Bless you mum, long gone but never forgotten, I wish more people thought and felt as you did …

Freedom to roam

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I find it sad that children today don’t occupy the streets and open spaces like we did when I was young. There have always been risks in such freedom but we made a habit of going around with our friends, rarely if ever alone. We knew the dangers and were able to avoid them. So many kids were out and about, there was safety in numbers. With more adults around, too, we behaved ourselves most of the time because we didn’t want to get into trouble. In this way, we learned how to take responsibility for ourselves.

Sitting alone in your bedroom is not a healthy substitute, especially when you factor in the online risks and bad cyberspace influences that would shock many parents. It’s a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, I’m afraid. Let’s make the open air a place for children again, providing proper facilities and a sensible but not stifling adult presence. It would be quite a challenge but I can’t think of a better way to create the communities of the future …