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.