It has been a very long time since I wrote a blog post - so I decided to embark on a mini-project to rectify the situation. Below are the long-hand and transcribed versions of a blog post I began on September 22nd and finished on September 26th, using only my left (non-dominant) hand and writing until I had filled a small notebook. It takes the form of a series of tributes.
I have done the thing I promised I would not do. I have unintentionally abandoned this blog. Not that this matters to anyone else. The internet is a sea of abandoned thoughts - and always waiting to be treated as seed in someone else's garden. This is a beautiful thing.
I am writing a left-handed blog post. Because writing in this way (long-hand and with the hand that was not taught) sometimes shakes me free of convention. This is an experiment. I have much to say, and maybe if I write painfully slowly my brain won't take over and edit out everything. Drawing each word. What do you think? I think this could be a terrible idea. But I have a small blue notebook and I shall fill it with left hand thoughts and then I shall transcribe them. And it will be the beginning of *something* no matter how weary or wearisome.
This is a tribute to Jeremy Hardingham's big pot of stew.
Jeremy was one of the first directors I worked with, on a show called 'Incarnate'. The first time we met as a company, Jeremy insisted that when we were working together in Edinburgh he would make a large stew and this would nourish us all (we were 12). We would share a flat and we would rehearse every day and constantly allow the show called Incarnate to become in the city with its many audiences. But most of all, he would make a stew.
[and you can]
This tribute is to the big pot of stew again. I don't think I'm finished remembering it.
You see, I'm wondering if there is a way of being in that place again, as people who have been in the world a while. Can we only dream of a big pot of stew when we are unhounded by finding ways to make a living? Or maybe it is just me who is hounded, and who allows myself to be hounded to such an extent. Maybe this is why I am needing to find constraints to the logical brain, like this writing with the opposite hand. Maybe it is only now, having let go of the idea of being a career artist, that I can allow the memories of stew and a rigorous, truly experimental unabashed process to flourish. Or maybe I am just revelling in the memory of having someone else make the stew!
[not deeply or philosophically not in the right order but pointing towards something that matters]
This is a tribute to the kind people in my dreams.
Do you ever have dreams where someone is just meltingly kind? It happens to me occasionally. It's hard to translate into words. But just as fear or deep unashamed sadness sometimes gathers and becomes manifest in sleep, I sometimes encounter someone who cares deeply. Last night it was the critic Lyn Gardner. But it does not matter who they are. It is the fact that kindness and care also have the capacity to gather and to manifest that I wish to acknowledge. Tension and sickness and anticipation pass through our bodies, and love.
"HERE AT OVERJOYED WE LOVE ART AS MUCH AS YOU DO.
Overjoyed - your art & craft convenience store."
[words fall down the mountain and they look great]
Here's to the people we see in other people. The people we may never see again but who appear (in a smile, in hair, in someone's posture or gait) in reference to the ones we pass on the street. How it is that sometimes, for a while, someone who has been quite absent in your life, will be referenced several times in your mind, as if the deck of your memory has been re-shuffled.
Or maybe it's a tribute to the people you never actually see, because their only role in your life is to remind you of other people you once knew.
[Those people will always come back. Whoever they are, they will be in your dreams or just stepping off the bus or their neighbourhood will be on the news.]
This tribute is to the silence before and after classical music.* Waiting. Listening. Really just giving space to something before asserting our own body into the space again with our clapping hands.
*this is sadly lacking in most theatre.
A dolphin chase.
[and there should sometimes be nothing more than the actual time it takes to bake something or to write something or to chat with someone as they linger at the door when you're saying goodbye]
This is a tribute to the moment before something happens, when anything is possible.
[Why tributes? Shouldn't a tribute take a different form, like a song? Maybe you could write a song]
This one is for the Seabergs, as in Seaberg Acrobatic Poetry (look them up!).
When Theron and I were leaving Atlanta, we had a small goodbye party at the Ballroom Studios. I consider that time in Atlanta one of the most profoundly instructive moments in my life. I met so many artists whose work would continue to influence me deeply - people like Alice Lovelace, Letta Neely, Gwylene and Jean-Marie Gallimard, Stephen Clapp, Priscilla Smith .. oh too many to name them all, but among them this wonderful older couple called Ronnog and Steve Seaberg. As they were leaving the party Ronnog said, in her very sincere and considered way: "We will miss you. And we will think about you every day." There was a pause, and then Steve added, "Well not every day, but we will think about you sometimes." And then they left.
And now we are almost done. This one is in tribute to those days. It might be sunny or raining or you might try to recall something that matters, but nothing can take you into the space of being truly alive. It is like just sleeping without sleeping. You try to recall the swans singing at dusk. Or maybe you make yourself write.
[I like it but I think it is a really bad idea.]
Swans gather in Swedish Lapland at this time of year and they sing the best songs ever. Don't take my word for it. Visit Junosuando. The sky and light and colours and sounds of one long dusky swansong.
[I couldn't work out if I meant tributes or tributaries, I spend a long time with words sometimes]
This is a tribute to people who are not trying to be clever. By that I mean people who are really curious and really humble.
This is a tribute to the people who bother to tell you when they appreciated something or when they were thinking of you or even just when they got your message.
There was a man who used to tap dance outside the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford, every day when I went into town he was there. He played music on an old stereo and shuffled his feet around. He didn't really look up and he didn't really ever lift his feet up, he just did this shuffly dance all day long and there was a hat for money in case anyone wanted to throw some change in.
This is for friends who write you letters and friends who just stop by to say hi when they're in the hood and friends who sneak into your house when you're at work and make treasure hunts.
To trampolining. Which gives physical form to all my hesitations and doubts and insincerities and since in this form they cause danger of injury, for this one hour a week I must learn to be sure and clear.
To Ben and Max Ringham, in whose company I found the desire and the confidence to make music.
This is a tribute to the man who makes small spheres of silver that are exactly the weight of one day. I found one in my bed last night.
To languages that are shaped by topography, and confound the way we understand categorisation of the world through grammatical structure.
e.g. See Dr Mark Turin on the Thangmi language
["Whole conceptual, social and ecological worlds open up when you learn to speak and come to understand languages vastly different from your own." Dr Mark Turin]
To the people who do not let themselves be stopped by fear of looking like a fool.
To the futility and joy of decluttering.
I once made a performance called give what you can, take what you need and there was a table in a shopping centre and people sat around and shared things they had brought. Helga Henry brought some hand cream. She said that she had brought it because when her grandmother was dying Helga had given her hand massages and she wanted to offer this to whoever would like one. She was moved to bring this space of tenderness into that huge shiny shopping centre. At the end of a long day, we sat together and she massaged my hands and we talked of death and dying and of what it means to care.
Here's to being caught off-guard. Here's to being unprepared. Here's to thinking you knew, and finding you don't.
Here's to the fact that the quietest person I know, after we met for tea recently, sent me a text that read: I hope I didn't talk too much.
[end of tributes]