"Each piece had been carefully crafted through a series of workshops directed by Frome writers Crysse Morrison and Niamh Ferguson. They have made quality writing accessible and achievable through this project, enabling absolute first timers to contribute alongside published writers and performers. Each monologue immersed the audience in characters and images that were evocative and strong."
“Being involved in StageWrite has been an incredibly inspirational and motivating experience. ... The standard gets higher each time, and yet the scheme retains a strongly supportive and encouraging ethos. I love being involved.”
April 2010 - Merlin foyer
Stage Write presents - Lucky Dip
Four-leaved clovers, horseshoes, black cats, broken mirrors... Does luck really exist - or do we all make our own luck? Enjoy an evening of varied styles: funny, poignant, often surprising, always authentic.
Postcard from California
Michael and I are talking about people who are dead. Not those we have known, and loved, although we sometimes do that, but people whose obituaries we’ve noticed since I last came here to visit.
‘Bert Jansch, he’s gone.’ I say. ‘Do you remember that all-nighter Bert Jansch played with John Renbourn in 1967, and afterwards we went for breakfast at the early-open café at Piccadilly?’
Michael does. ‘Leicester Square’ he corrects me, ‘The gig was at Les Cousins, in Greek Street. We’d have gone to Leicester Square.’
‘And we met the homeless woman do you remember? With her muddy sleeping bag and all her things in a shopping trolley, and the newspapers stuffed up her jumpers?’
‘Betty’, Michael says, ‘-with that cut-glass accent, and the story of the five pound note.’
He reminds me, using the old lady’s posh, plummy, voice: ‘I picked up my pension from the post office and I put the five pound note up my knickers for safety. When I looked for it later it was gone! You can’t trust anyone, you know.’ Did you know she was the old lady in the Streets of London? I heard Ralph McTell talking about her in an interview.’ He sings
Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She’s got no time for talking
Just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home in two carrier bags.
Actually I remember Betty as being particularly garrulous, but it feels good to be connected, however tangentially, to an iconic Sixties character and a seminal social ballad so I smile nostalgically.
‘I suppose she’ll be dead now too,’ I say, and he says, ‘For sure.’
Michael’s wife Eloise brings over supper for the three of us. Rice and beans, with avocado and sour cream and salsa on the side. Michael pours wine for us all. I’m still thinking about Betty. That was the first time I’d met a bag-lady and I thought she must be unique. Now there’s so many, and they hose them out of shop doorways to keep the streets tidy for tourists.
That night I’m still jet-lagged from my arrival and can’t sleep. I go online and trawl through the news sites. I read the banners of the Occupies in Wall Street, Oakland, San Francisco, Arcata… I watch the Youtube videos of students blinded with pepper-spray, and screaming for an ambulance as a shot protester falls. So many hundreds assaulted by kinsmen, so many thousand killed by strangers. America as the aggressor, the capital of capitalism, the country that values growth above life.
For me, America is a peaceful place, a land where I am invisible. Connecting with my past transforms the present to a distant country, and that, sometimes, is what I really want. Michael has been in my life, immediate or distant, for nearly 50 years – boyfriend, husband, co-parent, ex-husband, finally friend. It comforts me that he now has another life-companion. Eloise is a nurse, selfless and hardworking, the kind of person we’d have called ‘straight’ in more reckless days. She holds both our fractured pasts in careful hands and I feel admiring as well as grateful for her compassion and her integrity.
I have come here, I tell myself, to write.
Yet it’s hard to remember why, once, it was so important to me to measure out my days in words. I wonder if perhaps I was simply fumbling to find stories that were less painful than my own reality – to give resolutions to invented characters because I could find none for myself.
I walk daily for hours beside the languid violence of the long rolling Pacific waves where sandpipers and tiny plovers skitter in flocks along rims of foam on the dark glittering sand. I watch the curling sea mist encroaching, the silver streaks on the far horizon.
Perhaps I will write tomorrow.