THANK YOU from me and a lot of women in need

A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who gave so generously to Women's Aid during our run of All The Things I Lied About at Soho Theatre.

A number of recent cases, not least of all that of Shana Grice who tragically died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend earlier this year, have kept the importance of these issues at the forefront of a our minds. For me, the most disturbing aspect of the Shana Grice case was that she did approach the Police, she did report her ex's threatening behaviour, and - because she was in an on/off relationship with him - she was turned away and charged with wasting Police time. We do not yet have a system that supports women properly, the law might aspire to but the gatekeepers to justice show again and again that women are suspected and judged as much as they are listened to. If not more.

Women's Aid does offer shelter to women and children who are suffering an immediate and present threat of violence or trying desperately to rebuild lives that have been shattered by someone else's controlling and dangerous behaviour, but they also campaign - constantly - to improve the highly flawed system. So thank you for helping them do that. Thank you for everyone who dropped a coin or a note in my sandcastle bucket. We raised £1604.18 this time round and they can do a lot of good with that.

You can find more information about them here

The spoils

In six days time it will officially be one month since I performed my last show in Edinburgh and rented a well fancy Air BnB to celebrate. I think it’s fair to say that I now need to stop calling my lie-ins and work avoidance ‘recovery’ and admit that I’m being lazy. All in all, I’m over the moon with how All The Things I Lied About was received. I’ve put a round up of reviews at the end of this – spending hours sticking stars on flyers is dull but a happy-making thing to do when the stars are like this. Thank you to everyone who came to watch. The most wonderful thing about the month was the exchanges with audience members after the show. It’s been amazing to hear other people’s stories and how they connected to this piece. Over the month, I collected money for Women’s Aid - a charity that I chose to support because of the incredible work they did to bring about the law change regarding domestic abuse last year. The use of coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate relationship is now punishable by up to five years imprisonment. We still have a long way to go to enforce this law change – to learn the best ways to gather and expose evidence – but it’s the first big step in protecting and saving these victims. I am overwhelmed by the amount the audiences donated overall – a staggering £1748.57! They will be using the money wherever it is needed most urgently, but some examples of their work include: ·      The Survivor’s Forum – a safe non-judgmental and understanding arena where women can anonymously discuss their experiences of domestic abuse and gain support from trained moderators and a network of other survivors. ·      Their national training centre – providing expert training for professionals, including the police, working to support women and children affected by domestic abuse. ·      Their education and awareness programmes – including ‘Safer Futures’ where advocates go into schools to help teachers deliver lessons on domestic abuse and healthy relationships. ·      Campaigning to ensure the sustainability of local services and refuges across England – including, most recently, their tireless and ultimately successful campaign to keep refuges exempt from housing benefit changes that would have seen two thirds of them close down. I am truly inspired by their work and so happy to be able to give them this support so THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY, it will save women and children’s lives. The plan now is to take the show on tour and give it a run in London – I will let you know as soon as we have all that confirmed! In the mean time, here are the spoils of my month in the rain and beer soaked city of dreams…… ‘Riveting, funny and honest….a beautifully structured piece of writing’ ★★★★★ Evening Standard ‘Unparalleled’ ★★★★★ The Upcoming ‘revelatory and ultimately life-affirming’ ★★★★★ Edinburgh Reporter ★★★★★ TV Bomb ★★★★★Funny Women ★★★★1/2 Auditorium Magazine ‘Moving, potent and personal’ ★★★★ The Stage ‘Outstanding’ ★★★★ The List ★★★★ The Herald ‘a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking piece of theatre’ ★★★★ Scots Gay ‘By turns poignant and funny, courageous and bracing.’ ★★★★ Broadway Baby ★★★★ Reviews Hub ★★★★ Theatre Smart ★★★★ Across The Arts ★★★★ Peg Review Top Theatre Picks Sunday Times Pick Of The Fringe The Stage

In six days time it will officially be one month since I performed my last show in Edinburgh and rented a well fancy Air BnB to celebrate. I think it’s fair to say that I now need to stop calling my lie-ins and work avoidance ‘recovery’ and admit that I’m being lazy.

All in all, I’m over the moon with how All The Things I Lied About was received. I’ve put a round up of reviews at the end of this – spending hours sticking stars on flyers is dull but a happy-making thing to do when the stars are like this. Thank you to everyone who came to watch. The most wonderful thing about the month was the exchanges with audience members after the show. It’s been amazing to hear other people’s stories and how they connected to this piece.

Over the month, I collected money for Women’s Aid - a charity that I chose to support because of the incredible work they did to bring about the law change regarding domestic abuse last year. The use of coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate relationship is now punishable by up to five years imprisonment. We still have a long way to go to enforce this law change – to learn the best ways to gather and expose evidence – but it’s the first big step in protecting and saving these victims.

I am overwhelmed by the amount the audiences donated overall – a staggering £1748.57! They will be using the money wherever it is needed most urgently, but some examples of their work include:

·      The Survivor’s Forum – a safe non-judgmental and understanding arena where women can anonymously discuss their experiences of domestic abuse and gain support from trained moderators and a network of other survivors.

·      Their national training centre – providing expert training for professionals, including the police, working to support women and children affected by domestic abuse.

·      Their education and awareness programmes – including ‘Safer Futures’ where advocates go into schools to help teachers deliver lessons on domestic abuse and healthy relationships.

·      Campaigning to ensure the sustainability of local services and refuges across England – including, most recently, their tireless and ultimately successful campaign to keep refuges exempt from housing benefit changes that would have seen two thirds of them close down.

I am truly inspired by their work and so happy to be able to give them this support so THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY, it will save women and children’s lives.

The plan now is to take the show on tour and give it a run in London – I will let you know as soon as we have all that confirmed!

In the mean time, here are the spoils of my month in the rain and beer soaked city of dreams……

Riveting, funny and honest….a beautifully structured piece of writing’ ★★★★★ Evening Standard

‘Unparalleled’ ★★★★★ The Upcoming

‘revelatory and ultimately life-affirming’ ★★★★★ Edinburgh Reporter

★★★★★ TV Bomb

★★★★★Funny Women

★★★★1/2 Auditorium Magazine

‘Moving, potent and personal’ ★★★★ The Stage

‘Outstanding’ ★★★★ The List

★★★★ The Herald

‘a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking piece of theatre’ ★★★★ Scots Gay

‘By turns poignant and funny, courageous and bracing.’ ★★★★ Broadway Baby

★★★★ Reviews Hub

★★★★ Theatre Smart

★★★★ Across The Arts

★★★★ Peg Review

Top Theatre Picks Sunday Times

Pick Of The Fringe The Stage

ATTILA wants to WAF with you

I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing things. I’m not a writer who just can’t stop writing wherever they are in the world. I’m very much about separating my ‘writing time’ from my ‘desperately trying to finish this 1000 piece jigsaw’ time. Oh yes, I do jigsaws. Increasingly, I don’t see this as a skill, but as a hindrance. I read once that Lena Dunham ‘never stops writing’ and, you know, she is pretty awesome.

Despite my lack of workaholic tendencies, I have devoted the last few months – or more accurately two years – to one bit of writing specifically. My new solo show All The Things I Lied About (the acronym of which is ATTILA – which is most pleasing to the whole team) is heading up to Edinburgh on Monday.

I'm scared about it. It’s an honest show about dishonesty and it’s telling a very personal story – one that I’ve been trying to tell in every poem I’ve written over the last eight years.

At the heart of the story is domestic abuse. As any good compartmentalizer knows it’s useful to label things in life that scare or disturb you. Domestic abuse has been taped up inside a box clearly labeled ‘Physical Violence’ since I was young. I was very fortunate not to experience any form of it whilst growing up in my family or any of the families around me.

The problem with compartmentalizing, though, is that inevitably you will eventually have to open the box and what’s inside won’t look the way you expected it to, because you never tried to understand it in the first place.

When I was doing my GCSEs, I slacked off revision one afternoon and watched TV. An old black and white film was on – Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton. I’d been in a play of his and watching it made me feel all warm and sentimental about that. Until it didn’t. If you aren’t familiar with the film, a musician called Gregory marries a beautiful singer called Paula and urges her to move back to her family home in London with him. Once they are back he begins to manipulate her – convincing her slowly but surely that she is losing her mind – by playing with the gaslights in the house along with other daily deceptions. Gregory is a wanton jewel thief, when he sees the crown jewels early in the film an atmospheric twinkle appears in his eye, and he knows there are some pricey gems hidden in his wife’s house. His deceptions work well on Paula. At the climactic point of the film she is ready to be taken to the asylum, unable to fight her madness any more, despite being perfectly sane. The film stuck with me. In part because it was so believable (maybe not the twinkling eye of a jewel thief, but the little lies that lead to a woman’s total meltdown) and in part because, at the time, I was watching the exact thing happen to my mother.

My father hid a six-year-long affair from us and dealt with mum’s suspicions about it by telling her that she was crazy to have them. If you tell someone that they are unstable enough times – guess what? They will believe you. Then it will become true. 

When I watched the film it had a creeping sense of familiarity, but I couldn’t pinpoint why. We were still a few years away from discovering the truth and mum was going to get a whole lot less well in that time. Domestic abuse was so neatly taped inside that ‘Physical Violence’ box that I just couldn’t recognise it as that. No one ever spoke to us at school about psychological abuse in relationships, of the damage it can do, of how over time it can leave a person destroyed both physically and mentally. I learned that by watching the affect of it on my mum and I am still ashamed to say that I believed my father’s lies over her truth. I thought she was crazy, a nightmare, obsessive – all the things he suggested she was.

In December last year a pretty massive law change happened. The use of coercive and controlling behaviour in relationships became punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Psychological abuse is now officially recognized by law as a criminal act. As important as this law change is – and as overdue – we now have a long way to go to fully enforce it. Gaslighting (as this particular form of abuse is known – named after the film) is incredibly difficult to prove in court. What evidence are you going to give? You can share text messages and emails but what about the little comments, putdowns and late night arguments that go undocumented? The most challenging part of all is that the victim is slowly being broken down and is often unable to accept what is happening to them. They are a victim of abuse and their abuser controls them. It takes a lot of guts to start taping and logging conversations, let alone to even believe your situation warrants it.

I’ve thought a lot about what we can do. My strongest thought so far comes back to that box. I compartmentalized my mum’s abuse into invisibility. I couldn’t recognize it because I didn’t understand that abuse existed in that form. As with most things, I think this comes down to opening up a dialogue. Schools are beginning to teach students about the dangers of psychological abuse in relationships, a key to future generations addressing the problem at source and curbing the damage. I know that I personally need to be braver in opening up conversations with people I know and love when I see evidence of manipulation in their relationships. To be really clear – the abuser does not have to be a demonic jewel thief! Gaslighting begins often unconsciously as an act of protection or love towards the victim – it can just snowball from there very quickly into something much more insidious.

Whilst in Edinburgh, I’m going to be raising money for Women’s Aid – an incredible charity who offer support and rehabilitation for victims of domestic abuse. They lobbied steadfastly for this law change until it came to pass. They are doing phenomenal work and I encourage you – if you’re still reading this (thank you so much if you are!) – to look at their online case studies showing the effect of their work. If you can join me and WAF (Women's Aid Fundraising) by dropping a few pennies in the bucket after the show or making a donation please do.

There’s a long way to go still, but strong moves are being made and I am really heartened by that. One thing we can do immediately, though, is rip the tape off those boxes, take a good look inside and give them a new, more comprehensive label.

Three Booming Good Things

1) I'm a bit obsessed with Tig Notaro at the moment. Do you know Tig Notaro? As an avid This American Life listener Tig Notaro has been the one contributor who has made me laugh out loud every time she's been on - and not, like, "Ha! Very clever!" laughter, but the kind that creeps up on you hours later and makes you laugh all over again for seemingly no reason whilst you're waiting for your Piccino to arrive at the business end of the Starbucks counter. I hate that I just referenced Starbucks - damn it I did it again! - but we have one IN the school where I teach. I know. It is impossible to ignore and they now make this little tiny drink (officially Piccino, but surely we will all call it Picachu?) which is not not delicious. But they are corporate fiends and officially I hate them. Anyway TIG: she's amazing. In 2012, she was diagnosed with cancer just after her mum died, which happened just after she was diagnosed with a bacterial inflammation which was literally eating her insides. So she got on stage and did stand up about it - and it was incredible. That set was very much of its time, but everything she does has a dry brilliance to it. Listening to her work recently has been very inspiring. She trusts her audience completely, playing with pacing and pause - knowing that we're with her and drawing more laughter out of us in the suspension between words. I can't recommend her enough. You probably already know loads about her and are sat there in front of your Tig poster, wearing your Tig tshirt, like "Yeah Katie - OLD NEWS".

2) THANK YOU to everyone who came to watch All The Things I Lied About at the Vaults Festival. It was overwhelming how many people were there and how many people came to speak to me afterwards or got in touch. I know how important the subject matter of the piece is and how much it resonates with some people, I'm working hard now to do it justice. Thank you for your feedback, those who took their time to give it, for your laughter which lifted me beyond what I expected and your tears which grounded me in what this piece is for. More news on it soon. 

3) I had a really lovely time at Boomerang Club recently - what a warm and varied night it is - well worth a trek to the wild backwaters of Hammersmith! It is run by the lovely and talented Joel Auterson, Jake Wild-Hall and Tyrone Lewis - they're all heart and soul those lads and their night is too. Here's a film of a poem I performed there called Lanes. It's quite an old piece but it's never been filmed, so it makes me happy to have it in existence now beyond the memories of those that might have caught it in some field or stuffy room somewhere over the years..... 

Have a booming good day now x

Tell me sweet little lies....

SO excited for tonight's debut sharing of All The Things I Lied About. I mean, I say excited, but basically I feel sick and can't get Fleetwood Mac out of my head, which is kind of the same thing. We've been very lucky getting a mention from Lyn Gardner in her Top Tickets and in The Stage recommendations of the week too. All a bit overwhelming when you're still writing the show - but very lovely nonetheless. See you there liars!

 

Fifteen

I've been thinking a lot about being fifteen recently. Partly because I'm writing a show about my relationship with my dad at that age - histrionic and full of Dire Straits singalongs - and partly because it's nearly summer. This time of year will never not remind me of  sandwich bag pencil cases, chronic wrist ache and anxious Marlboro Lights smoked too quickly. It will always conjure the smell of the school hall. The white board simply reading START: and END:. It will also remind me of laughing so much I couldn't form words because Emma burped a ball of smoke when three of us were locked in the bathroom of a house party.  It was a time of extremis - I either felt totally connected or entirely bereft, rarely anything in-between. It was painful and brutal and gorgeous. 

Last year, I was working with some fifteen year old students as part of a local poetry festival. I performed a piece about my brother and our distant relationship and how it was deeply affected by my dad, who was having an affair throughout our teenage years unbeknownst to us. It's not the most comic poem I've ever written, but it isn't the most depressing either. It's ultimately positive and about love and the power and emptiness of family obligation. It's also just about this time when my brother got pissed off and hit the paddling pool really hard so it split and we floated down the garden on the wave of water that spilled out of it. Jokes. 

Anyway, I performed this poem and a student was affected by it.  She cried. The teacher told us afterwards that her father had left her mother recently, these were fresh wounds that I'd made contact with. I saw it as a positive response, though: I spoke to her afterwards and she was smiling, she held eye contact with me throughout - she was with me. The person I was employed by didn't agree with me, though, and banned me from performing all my family poetry from thereon in - because it was too 'upsetting'.

I was not very happy about that. I didn't agree with that decision. I wrote this.

Fifteen

I’m fifteen

Sitting opposite a boy

Who means nothing to me

We are smoking,

Me Marlboro Lights

Him B&H –

We have assumed the clearly defined

Nicotine gender roles

Of the 90s.

We have just had sex,

Two of us in my single bed

Unable to lie next to each other easily,

So there hasn’t been

Much cuddling.

I’m pretending it’s a thing I’ve done before

So is he

We pretend we liked it, at least.

He is saying

“I love a cigarette after sex”

I nod. Emphatically.

I am happy,

Finally – I think –

I can tell the girls at school I’m not a hymen hoarder anymore.

 

She is fifteen,

Sitting opposite me,

I mean nothing to her

And in that moment

She doesn’t need me to be

Anything other than what I am –

A name in her school’s

Visitor diary,

A face she’s unlikely to run into in Sainsbury’s,

An afternoon off Maths.

 

Her eyes hold my eyes

As I describe a father

Leaving behind a fractured family.

I can see

She knows the feeling

Of a lone palm patting a daughter’s knee

Whilst fingers cross behind a back,

That she knows what wading through a house flooded with

A mother’s lost sleep feels like

In the morning,

She knows the emptiness of breakfast,

And the pointlessness of socks.

 

Her arms are marked,

Human silver birch bark,

Tiny lines

Joint to wrist

She wears her sleeves rolled up

To display it

Her temporary tattoos of grief

And here,

Her eyes holding mine

She cries.

Maybe this is the first time she’s shown anything beneath the pork crackling sliced skin to friends.

 

We all pretend not to tense.

 

But you,

Blundering overseer,

Grand high worrier,

Drape your anxiety around her like a pink feather boa

You make her seem ridiculous

Draw attention to the fancy dress that no one else has worn.

You huff shuffle behind me

As if she’s taken out a razor

And is hovering over skin.

But her eyes are on mine.

And she’s smiling.

 

Fifteen.

When I gave my virginity away so that I wouldn’t feel different

And pretended I had a post-coital ritual in mum’s kitchen.

When I lived fist in throat

But scared of fighting,

Behind thick sheets of two way mirror

Observing accentuated perfection

In Emma’s eyelashes or Jo’s rack

And only had an Italian nose

And thighs that could suffocate puppies reflected back.

When my fingers knew the contours of my throat as well as my walk home from school

When I was always catching-up

And never leading,

When all I wanted was to lead

And I didn’t understand how powerful standing still could be.

Fifteen.

 

Later you tell me I can’t talk about these things to these young people because they’re upsetting.

Because it’s too much.

 

I remember every song lyric

I ever wanted to brand into my flesh

Because someone

Somewhere was admitting to the mess that everyone else was pretending wasn’t there.

 

You, scared of rocking the school portacabin,

Of raising choppy sea swell on this island we’re visiting

Scared it won’t be ‘fun’ or ‘nice’ if they cry

Of anything students write which isn’t about friendship or football or sunshine

Terrified of feelings sewn inside words

Don’t expect the same from her.

For her they could be Sudocreme

Or Burneze

Might bring a little comfort to the scabs she isn’t letting us see

And they might just as easily drop unwanted onto

Performing Art block carpet

But if even three of them land

A kiss of comfort on her cheek

I’m happy.

Me who never valued myself at fifteen

She is braver than me.

At least she’s saying:

‘This is hard –

This is not how I wanted it to be’

And you, 

So scared of losing next year’s slot

You’ve forgotten

Where you come from.

Towns and cities aside

We all rise from youth

Into maturity

We shouldn’t be scared of where we’ve been

And if we feel fear let’s look back and learn from them

Because they are in the midst of battling

They are at the crossroads of burial or growth

They are our spirit guides in passion and experimentation.

We

Numbed cowards,

Full of fear,

We know almost nothing.

OB/NB = OLD BLOG/NEW BLOG.

Good day!

As I'm launching this new website and blog, I thought I'd kick off with some entries from my old blog and the old site. A while back I decided to research a box of memories which I found in my old wardrobe - Valentine's cards that were sent and received before Valentine's Day became an ironic bad taste competition, notebooks from Thailand full of desperate but empty I love yous and endless drawings of Justin Frischman and the lead singer of Echobelly, whatever her name is (she is excellent). I decided to follow these starting points and see if they could morph into real people. They did. Here are a couple of entries from around that time, each labelled with OB/NB - where the old blog has been entered into the new blog. Natch.

Kx

OB/NB: 6TH FEBRUARY 2014.

Flesh and Buns. There’s a place to meet an ex. Flesh. And. Buns.

 

It was his suggestion and the menu looked so delicious and his emailed enthusiasm for its trendy status was so digitally infectious and it’s called Flesh And Buns, for God’s sake - who was I to say no?

 

I am a bit nervous. I am meeting my first love for the first time in a long time. In the name of research. I have a list of questions and events, a pile of diaries marked up heavily with Post It notes and a photo of us aged 17 in my aging Puma bag.

 

Tim, said first love, was never a boyfriend. He never received the whiskey fuelled grilling from my father or had to hastily jump in the wardrobe when Mom came upstairs. He was never the boyfriend, no, but he was the first boy I loved.

 

Aged 15, and having just discovered pubs that would serve us alcohol (‘They think we’re 18 - genuinely!’ - God we were idiots) we thought we ruled the world as soon as we had Malibu and lemonades and half a bottle of backwash and vodka inside us. Scrap that, we DID rule the fucking world. When we first met, in April 1995 according to my diary, I thought Tim was ‘sad’ (even though, as Tim hastily pointed out, the word had replaced an initial draft suggestion, which has been scrawled out violently). Two days later, I met Tim’s ‘tres belle’ (it was all about French substitutions in 1995) best mate, Tom. He was very beautiful indeed. I proceeded to obsess over Tom for three weeks (aaaaaaaaages) before meeting the next few crushes (on average, two a month). No one ever fancied me, though, so I wasn’t holding out hope with any of them. Over the next year, Tim and I ended up in the same place enough for us to chat a bit, get drunk a bit and, I guess, get on a bit. It was widely known that he had an excellent chest too, a fact that even the most ardent ‘Tim’s sad’ believers couldn’t dispute. I guess that, by April 1996, I thought he was ok. Cool even.

 

According to my super detailed diary, I started going out with the ‘tres belle’ Tom almost exactly a year later. We were at a party where a huge amount of drama unravelled. I was going out with TOM. Come on guys, seriously, TOM? HELLO? So what if one of my best mates was, like, in love with him? That shit can be fixed with pancakes and sweet little sorry notes. So what if Tim was going to ask me out that very night but chickened out at the last minute - hang on - what?

 

So now we’re in Flesh and Buns, and I’m asking a highly entertaining waiter what has wheat in it and neither of us can remember that happening. I find it weird that he was going to ask me out, but I’m pretty sure my 15 year old self didn’t make shit like that up. It seems extraordinary as, over the years that followed, there were large periods of time where I would have leapt on Tim if he’d even hinted at asking me out. But that never happened.

 

Suffice to say, what happened after I started going out with Tim’s best mate, isn’t something I’m desperately proud of. Tim’s admission that evening obviously stirred up something. After a conflicted few days of not being brave enough to kiss Tom (“I’ve only kissed seven boys and I didn’t even know their names” - class) save for one kiss in front of Louisa Jones (“who blabbed to everyone”), we all got drunk and I kissed Tim on a sofa in an allotment. Or he kissed me. Or we kissed each other (most likely).

 

I can safely say that kissing him was one of the most thrilling moments of my life. It was also the first massive fuck up I ever made with a boyfriend. It was not cool to kiss Tim. It was not cool at all (but it also...was...cool.....?).

 

So here we are, remembering blurred snatches of what followed (We talked about going out? We kissed whilst you were with your girlfriend? We made an arrangement to sleep together in 1997?) very clear memories of how it began. We both remember the night of the allotment clearly. We both remember which direction we were walking in, how we got down there, what the sofa looked like, how it felt. I reminded Tim about us kissing at a ball (a mass pissandkiss-up masquerading as something classier, I drank an entire bottle of Blue Nun at one of them and wore a silver dress that made me look like a pole dancer) underneath a table. He remembers nothing about it. I assured him it was cool.

 

And here we be. Two hours and two bottles of sake down. A hot stone bowl of egg, seaweed and rice that goes crunchy as it twice cooks almost emptied between us. Oi. Some bits of our relationship we remember the same. Some bits we remember slightly differently. There are a few moments when I just feel like I remember more than him full-stop. I’ve handed over my diaries and over the two years of emotional vomiting scrawled inside them, I talk about him consistently. Mostly in a pining (sometimes whining) always adoring way. Apart from that first ever reference to him where I call him categorically SAD. He’s now read pretty much all off that. All of the times I wrote his name out repeatedly, purposefully, drunkenly and usually surrounded by swear words through the sheer frustration of it all.

 

32 year old Tim’s off to a party with his long-term girlfriend and is going to buy a new coat on his way there. I haven’t bought a new coat since the one I got on the cheap (half off - so what if LOADS of other women have exactly the same one - shh!) two years ago and am headed for a night in with my long-term boyfriend and our baby, Netflix.

 

I leave feeling like I’m suffering a bit of emotional travel sickness. Some part of me possibly never felt quite good enough for Tim. Maybe because, after all those years of wanting him, we never quite made it work. He never ‘chose’ me, but sod that, I never ‘chose’ him either. So it’s a conflicted thing I feel. And weirdly, even though he has been nothing but lovely and a pleasure to see again, I leave this Flesh & Buns and inner turmoil spilling experience, where sake has fast become my new best friend, feeling a little like a dejected 16 year old. Maybe it’s because he read all that shit. Maybe it’s because I remember more specifics than him. Maybe it’s the sake. Who can say.

 

I walk home clutching my paper history, the six CDs I bought beforehand so I wouldn’t arrive early to meet him and notice that my coat must be due for a dry clean.

 

OB/NB: 21ST NOVEMBER 2013. DRESS OPTIONAL.

The dog has her period. She is the only dog I know who feels sorry for herself when she has her period and guys - I’ve known a few dogs, yeah? She’s lying next to me as I type, every so often angling her head up, ears down, whites of her deep brown eyes peeping out. What. A. Dick.

 

Sadly, she’s not the only one feeling sorry for herself in this here house. Mom’s alright. Some of the light bulbs under her kitchen units need replacing and they’re right tricky buggers to get out, but she’ll get over it. It’s me - ME who’s all self-pity and wallowing!

 

The reason for this is twofold:

1)  I am becoming increasingly convinced that one of my ex-boyfriends hates me.

2)  I am becoming increasingly concerned by the moral minefield that is this show.

 

When I decided to make this piece about memories, meeting up with friends and first loves and sharing the warping of our inarguably now grown up minds over time, I thought it’d be a laugh. A bit up and down inevitably, but pretty much just brilliant fun. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it IS. Even though when I do meet up with people I have to steer the conversation, pull out the old Voice Memo function and make sure that my criteria have been hit before we can start boozing or genuinely enjoying each other’s company, it’s still.....fun. But I have, well, concerns.

 

I won’t talk too much about the ex boyfriend who possibly hates me. Suffice to say so far he has not been back in touch and I have come to realise that I have very little (no) recollection of how we broke up. None whatsoever. If I’m really, really honest, I’m more worried about discovering something shitty I did to a really lovely human being and forgot about than anything else. Everyone has a right to their privacy and, Christ, it is a bit weird to be asked out of the blue to meet up and talk memories with your ex girlfriend who you haven’t spoken to in eleven years.

 

This is where I’m really becoming unstuck. I’m trying to be as respectful, understanding and careful as possible in terms of how I approach people in this process. I genuinely want people to know that I will respect their right to not participate and I have absolutely no interest in slagging people off or mocking them in any way. But where do you draw the line? In writing about myself I am writing about other people, their lives and memories and - as an old school friend remarked to me today in an email - it feels like a whole different life now. I’m dragging up a part of their lives they may have absolutely no desire to think about. And I’m doing it to make a piece of theatre. Is there something horrible selfish in this? Or self-indulgent?

 

Essentially, this post is a little bit like me staring up at you as the dog’s still staring up at me. White’s flashing. Pity-me ears flattened to head. What. A. Dick.

 

Basically, just because I want to metaphorically get naked in public, it doesn’t mean other people want to get their kit off too. I reckon all I can do is tread softly and carry a big notebook. Right? Maybe grow an extra layer of skin. For when I get naked. And accept that when that happens it might just be me doing it and that that will be A-Ok. I have now talked so much about getting naked that I’m having images of performing this show naked, but I should say - publicly - that’s almost definitely not going to happen. So.

 

I’m back off to London tomorrow, my boyfriend’s mum is getting married and, in the search for a card in the infamous Card Drawer, me and Mom found an invitation written by an old school friend. It has a hand drawn flower on the front, coloured with purple and green pencils. on the inside, written very neatly in blue fountain pen, it reads:

 

You are cordially invited to an Old Time Music Hall,

6.30-7.30pm

June 20th

Dress optional

R.S.V.P.

 

Maybe that’s what I should add to my emails. To my missives of hopeful reconnection. Dress optional.

 

OB/NB: 25TH OCTOBER 2013

I’m on the train. Rather than choosing to find my booked seat (facing direction of travel, plug, quiet carriage) I gave up one carriage early and am sitting facing the wrong direction with a child four seats down shouting “No - Jeffery!” repeatedly. I mean, he’s about one year old. He probably isn’t shouting about Jeffrey. But that’s what it sounds like. I have a G&T and a fierce ambition for solitude. I’ll survive.

 

I’m off home, which is ordinarily a journey I hate to be honest. Going home is like a sickening reminder of everything I find tricky in life and never find the guts to deal with. I haven’t spoken to my father for almost four years, despite his contact with the rest of my family, and I still haven’t unpacked since we moved houses a year and a half ago. A couple of different types of baggage going on there. Also, I always catch the dog drinking pond water and, even though I know it makes her sick I never stop her. Seeing the dog is a definite plus, though. On my last day in the house, she follows me around, pretending to be my shadow, hoping I’ll let her tag along on the train. Oh. So. Quiet. When I first arrive she’ll bounce up as high as my face which, for a creature with 2 inch legs is pretty darn impressive. She’s a peach, I tell you. A peach.

 

The reason I’m heading back on this late nigh train, is to commence research on my new show, working title I Love You 44%. I have been working with brilliant director Joe Murphy, bouncing a few ideas around about being a teenager. I’m a bit obsessed with being a teenager because - well - it was pretty intense, wasn’t it? Pretty intense and incredible and horrible. It’s was horribly brilliant. Horribrill.

 

We’ve settled on an investigation into memory which, without giving too much away, involves me doing a lot of visiting the past. Tomorrow I am going to my old school. Even my G&T isn’t stopping me from feeling sicky about that. My old school. These are the places I am going to aim for first:

1)  where we used to smoke behind the Art Block

2)  where we held a seance in the supposedly haunted Music School

3)  where I once snuck into school at night to have sex on the hockey pitch

4)  the Cadbury’s machine (this was pretty central to my experience, I remember them fitting it well - we were all, like, ‘Woah!’)

5)  my old Geography room (possibly the only one I remember)

6)  the door where Jo sliced her wrist open during a Coke fight

7)  the place where Jo used to smoke on the hockey pitch (her ploy was smoking in PAIN SIGHT, it was stupidly brilliant)

I think the marketing manager is keen to show me some alternative sights, which will probably be super interesting as well. I’m also going to meet up with the girl I had joint birthday parties with until I was 11 years old, who lives in Shrewsbury now. And then I’m going to make a sort of map of the town as I remember it, which is a lot smaller and full of hiding places than it really is in real life.

 

I’m intending to keep blogging while I’m writing, partly because that will make me feel less lonely even if no one reads it and partly because I will need to make sense of what will essentially be quite a strange process. I discovered an old biscuit tin which I’d decorated with pictures of Eternal, Blur, Justine Frischman, Leonardo - you name a 90s icon and they  are probably in there somewhere. Inside it are a series of letters, cards, drawings, all sorts. The plan is to follow each of these starting points back to a person I shared a memory with and borrow their memory from them for the show. Yeah, I’m strapping in.