Category Archives: Henry

I read Marlowe…

and love the street patter and the solo character voice. But if you record it and listen back the dialogue can come over as jarring, lifeless and corny, to my ears anyway. The way we read and process written speech is different to how we react to the spoken word. When you write a line you imagine it being spoken, but again when you hear it you might find yourself snapped out of the scene, that fingerclick of the uncanny you get from seeing youself caught unwarned in a shop window or photograph, fixed mid-step, mid-sentence. The writer’s speech comes from somewhere else in the process of reading and understanding, writers aren’t actors and the reader grants each character their own voice. I’ve been mulling on this as a readthrough looms for my short bull-child play. The spoken words won’t be mine any longer. They’re not really yours the second they’re read by another, they’re out there making impressions – or not – in ways you never intended or imagined. If you can pass on some part of the meaning you wanted to craft into a text then you’ve shared something. But spoken words at a readthrough are more transitory than any text, they’ll be live tremors in the air gone in a second and never sound the same if spoken again. There’s rarity in that.

Breaking the silence…

is Asterios, calling up from the tunnels. He’s been on my mind a lot this last year and longer, brooding on Daedalus, bull-worshipping Minos and what lies beneath Melville’s pasteboard mask natural forms. I’m not sure I’ll ever settle on how I feel about the Minotaur but I suppose what he represents most strongly to me is that desire to send out runners and riders into the Universe and see whether the Universe wants to answer, wants to engage. He’s awake and he wants an answer. But the days are spinning their threads towards Asterios, he just can’t see the players and plots from the gloom of his Labyrinth. I suspect it’s much the same for the rest of us.

Cat knows…

his part of the world is tiltling back towards the sun, he’s out through the days now, only flops by the fire when the cold creeps back just before midnight. I’ve started waking with the light after five, mulling on the horizontals in The Magic Mountain – a book of books – and my own efforts to redraft my take on the trails of the Minotaur. I feel the days stretching too, far trails to wander.

Rain keeps coming…

and the days wash and blur into each other. The planners want to build more houses close to this bridge but the water roils and the subterranean infrastructure won’t allow it, their plans are blocked. Out on the roads the cars zip and press thicker than ever and there’s a hard-done-by mood hanging over the shop shufflers, pint sippers and clutch of pals I still see about the town. We’re all waiting for spring and the dry, waiting for something to come along, things to get better. And I fast and listen to Dele Sosimi, write my lines in the sage-green study and look for animal trails to follow out of the woods.

In the swamps again…

out on the western fringes of the town for a five-mile stroll. Here be mansions and swimming pools, set hidden in the woods. But I’m locked out from this elevated set, sunk in the hedgerow tracks turned to bog by thousands of advance cagouled trampers. I squelch and slide over the mire, thinking of sad-eyed Baron Trotta the Third marooned in his borderland garrison town, driven to despair by legions of frogs croaking from the marshes. Those who step from the narrow path through the forest are swallowed up. Trotta frets about his fetters and times, who doesn’t? He haunted my for a few days but I’m moving on swiftly, taking the train to the Magic Mountain, already feeling the tug of it after 30 pages. I read more as an antidote to my own swirling times and doubts over which path to take. Aim for the high ground, I reason. Since cell first divided from cell we’ve been clambering away from the ooze, I sense a lesson in that.

I tramp to the Otmoor hide…

probing the boundaries of my soggy patch in this belt of England. The water’s been high here, even the raised paths are bogged. No sight of any vehicles, no shelter other than the birder huts, just a few lone wanderers under the sky. The birds flick among the hedgerows, don’t seem bothered by the crackle of rifle shots from the MOD grounds eastwards. Almost a month into the year and I’m dizzy with the pace of it. Plans and pathways fade to nothing under my fingertips, I try to reach but I can’t feel the universe reaching out to me. Out on the plain we miss a turn or the map is a fiction and we plod miles off our route, have to work to return to the village and the car. We buy a pack of game from a coolbox trader, ride home to feast. Rushing along, skimming over the hours, living to the tempo of every quiet heartbeat.

Motor stopped…

and I went looking for a fried fuse, bought a multimeter and crawled around under the dash listening out for circuit beeps. But it was an exhausted pump. I booked it into the garage to swap it out and then we got a cold snap – after weeks of rains and storms and the flood plains abrim either side of the peninsula – so the handbrake seized, some moisture on the contacts froze, maybe. I have to wait for the sun and 2˚of thaw before I can roll. Now I watch the weather reports like an astraphobe, fearing the fronts and the frosts. In the summer the engine cuts out because the heat messes with the air intake, in the winter the back wheels lock tight. I have to use the car club to head over to Essex for a rare day playing guitar. It was better in the storms, at least the car agreed to move. Noel was quiet, calm. But I’m still hunting work, ever-buffeted by the book game. Been reading the Russians again, the SWW march back through the towns fought over today, attacks and counterattacks around the rivers and marshes. And The Magic Mountain sits weighty on the shelf, daring me to reach out for it. Could be summer again before I get through it. I move through my days, trying to concentrate on the local, the little things I can buy and do and support. Concentrating on things I can do well, even if it’s no more than making a decent cup of coffee. I have next to no agency beyond the ring road, and I know it.

Metal fatigue…

kills the crackers, must be the third or fourth device I’ve snapped in the runup to the winter solstice, the only time I carry home some bags of nuts. It’s the almonds that gets them. We are soft us organics but we can outlive the alloys, the wires, pulleys, bolts and levers. Physics finds all that’s fragile.

The perimeter road…

takes you up from the Cherwell and behind the clipped lawns of Summer Fields, between wire, boards and bushes before the track throws you out in the streets of 30s houses. Eyes eastwards and it’s all fields out to Headington Hill and the escape road to London, skimming over the plain to the Chilterns. For a few years I’ve thought I’d like to get away more with work and research but I’m not sure now, I’ve discovered on recent forays that I’ve lost interest in decoding the intrigues and veiled motives of strangers, making sense of what people really want from you as they sell, pitch and posture. It’s not that I’m above it, I was just never good at it and can’t pretend I want to be. And the deal so rarely comes good. I am my own, local oddity, I accept it. I take my pleasure in the Swobo Sanchez running silent down the alleyways, the new bars, my legs getting stronger as I bike more. There I go.

 

Lion looks out…

on the fresh-revealed Blighty savanna. The park trees are putting on a last blaze of colour before winter’s lid snaps shut. And I tramp along the alleyways on my morning messages, puzzling over changes in the air and all the reality cables and relays shifting and resetting, musing on what silences and shocks the week might gift me.