A little more about me continued …
So, yes! Paul, Esther and Dave. The three artistic directors of metro-boulot-dodo (don’t ask about the name – we were young and pretentious). Although when I look at that written down (the three artistic directors) its not really accurate.
OK – how do I explain how the company works? Well, for a start, the other two are the sensible directors. They run the company. They do all the funding, admin, budgety stuff (as in the proper grown up stuff) and while they are doing that I do the education (workshops in schools).
We all work creatively (as in: working on the projects) as a team. There are many overlaps and sharing of jobs but if I had to break it down simply, it’s like this: (Imagine top trumps or the A-team music)
Esther: Visual flair. Great eye for the big picture. Making shit happen.
Paul: Our tech expert. The man is practical and can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to. Ask him about lighting, websites, interactive technology … anything (just don’t do it while I’m there, I may glaze over). Once again great visual flair and overall nous.
Now erm … me … well, we all come up with our overall stories and ideas for shows but I guess the one thing I do (being hopeless at all of the above) is making it sound pretty. The writing. But then again the writing is heavily edited and changed by the other two and they can both handle a pretty mean scribe themselves and have been in my absence. So when it comes down to the creative devising what exactly do I do?
Erm … right … hang on …
The gags! That’s it! I pretty much have the final say on gags. Need a funding form looked at or a lighting plan rearranged or a festival talking to or an interactive website designed then Paul and Esther are probably the guys you want. But if you want a top quality, multi layered nob gag that works on a number of levels then look no further!
So yes, that’s me and metro-boulot-dodo.
Es says goodbye and makes Amelie wave with her tiny hand and with that, two people (Paul and Esther) who have shaped and shared my life are gone from the majority of this story. Obviously there are phone calls and what not but they certainly don’t share this part of my life.
I thought I better let you meet them, however, just let you know a little bit about who I am or who I was. Because this all seems a long way from where I am now.
A long, long, long way.
And where am I now? If you haven’t got your head round exactly how proper fucked up I am, let me share this little story. We’re back in the business of the ward.
“And come on, up we go.” Nickon is urging Ian up. “There we are!”
He totters to his feet. Clutching the Zimmer for dear life, he looks about him like a man taking in a rather resplendent view at a recently conquered summit. He’s done it.
“Brilliant! Well done!” There is real enthusiasm in Nickon’s voice. I guess if you’re a nurse, these are the moments that make it all worthwhile.
Ian grins a toothy grin.
This deserves a round of applause I decide.
“Well done Ian,” I shout across at him, raise my hands and bring them triumphantly together. Except they don’t come together. They awkwardly, massively miss each other.
Right, well that was obviously some kind of a miss-fire. I’ll try again.
Still can’t do it.
What’s going on here? This is a bit weird.
All of a sudden I’m a hopeless drunk at his kid’s concert. I know what I should be doing but just can’t quite manage it.
I look down at my hands in puzzlement.
I can’t clap.
I. Can’t. Clap.
Well. That was out of leftfield. I wasn’t expecting that. No clapping.
I raise my eyebrows and try to clap again. No luck. A flabbergasted little moment passes. Then I smile and start a little bit of a giggle.
And so begins a running theme through my recovery; when these unexpected failures booby-trap me (don’t get me wrong, it is shocking but, as I said, I’m on laughing gas), I can’t help but be amused.
Suddenly there’s a perspective change. I’m no longer the pissed parent but the on-lookers, who can’t help smiling at this drunkard who mistakenly congratulates the wrong kid at the end of the night.
And the first thing you find yourself wanting to do, when these weird little moments pop up, is share your shock and amusement with your fellow inmates. I call across to Kev.
“Oy mate! Watch this!” I give him a brief display. “I can’t clap!”
And he, of course, smiles.
“Whoa!” He says.
“Yeah, I know.” I reply triumphantly flapping my hands about in front of me.
And there you go. There’s a moment that shows how fucked up I was but it also, I hope, gives you a sense of bon homie shared between fellow inmates.
“I can’t clap? Whoa, that is heavy. First things first: I got to show Kev!”
And me and Kev are good mates and we can share these moments. Because you have to laugh don’t you?
No, seriously. I had to laugh.
It wasn’t a moment of plucky stiff upper lip triumphing over adversity.
At the time, it was just outright funny.
But not irretrievable.
I always had a sense that I would mend. Sometimes all it would take was a bit of elbow grease.
And so for a short while the ward has “the clapper”. A young man who, with his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth and a look of harsh concentration upon his face, does clap, albeit very deliberately and very slowly.
And so yes, I’m proper fucked up. But it is mendable. I do teach myself how to clap again. It doesn’t take long.
But good lord and good crikey! Learning how to clap. Did I ever think I’d come to a point where I’d have to teach myself how to do that again?
But it did give me and Kev a laugh.
The Roller Coaster
I wake up with her name on my tongue.
I can taste it.
I want Ruth. I want to phone her. She would be down here in a flash if she knew what had happened.
We’ve been so close recently and she’s the kind of person who likes to be there. Who needs to be there.
I’ve needed her a lot of late. I can’t really put my finger on how or when but I know she is good at looking after me. She should be here, looking after me.
Her name is still there, on my tongue, waiting to be said. I want to say her name and I want her to hear and to smile. I want that warm smile to spread across her face and I want her to rush forward to hug me hello. I want to confide in her about exactly what kind of crazy shit I’ve got myself into this time.
I have, literally, NO IDEA how I broke all this stuff.
I want her.
I want her here.
I need her.
I want that smile and I want that hug.
I’m not really dreaming at the moment. Each night a thick black heavy shroud is pulled over me. I guess the brain is too busy healing. I’m not really dreaming but there are images floating around in my head. They feel like fractions of a dream, like the leftovers from a nightmare.
A place that feels familiar to me. Have I ever been there? I can’t say. But it feels familiar.
Sitting in the garden area with my parents.
A scrabble board.
A large jigsaw.
Standing outside with people who… I know … but don’t know… and smoking.
Sometimes she’s there. Ruth’s smile. Not in person. But as an idea.
The idea of her sits at the back of my head.
And her name sits on my tongue.
But these feelings, these moments are just that … moments. I never sit down and think about them or analyse them. They are just there and then they’re gone.
I’m not really dreaming at the moment.
Right, lets move on. To what? All I’ve got is funny stories about this time. Funny stories, most of them involving poo or wee.
Christ, these gear changes … these sudden shifts in tone aren’t going to be easy. But I guess you’re just going to have to get used to them. Because that is what it was like.
I was euphoric so the hospital was a social place, a place of fun for me. But I was sharing a ward with old people who had just lost their independence … forever, in some cases.
There they were, quite happily managing their own life when this bloody great big stroke arrived and took it away. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are getting better, but some of them are not and never will.
The ward has a screamer.
That’s what I’ve called him.
And that’s what he does.
He screams. And that’s it.
I have seen him outside in the patio area with his grand daughter. All she does is sit there, stroke his hand and smile. And all he does it sit there, stare dead ahead and not scream. He doesn’t scream when she is stroking his hand.
Now, that’s a sobering thought. He’s just not there, he’s obviously not there. I don’t know who he was or what he did before, but whoever he was, he is not there now. But … but … the touch of his grand daughter’s hand comforts him. Stops him screaming. There must be enough of him in there, in some vague way, to recognise his grand daughter’s touch.
A moment like that leaves you thinking. Leaves you thinking if I were him I would rather be dead. Or, worse, I think he would rather be dead, if he could make a choice. Which he can’t.
And so yes, this is all very sobering and grim but it doesn’t stop me and Kev using the term the screamer flippantly and laughing about it.
Ooop, the screamer’s off! Woohoo, he’s really going for it this time!
Wrong, misplaced, mean? Yes … but truthful, that as well. And I’m trying to be honest with you. Because that is what it was like.
With me especially, what with this brain bruise and these sudden new waves of big emotion, I could be laughing one moment, crying the next.
It was an emotional roller coaster. There were these sudden shifts in tone. I did spend a lot of my time feeling like I was in a story and it is … it is a hell of a story. A ripping yarn with a great twist. Why do you think I’m writing this?
Although it is a hell of a story, it does, at points, have these violent shifts in mood, which aren’t very Hollywood. They wouldn’t sit well in a novel. But I’m afraid you’re just going to have to get used to it because that’s the way it was. Life is like that. It often lacks form and a unifying tone. Tough. Deal with it. I had to.
Right, we have just had a little sombre moment and the roller coaster has been quietly chugging upwards. Presently, it has reached the top and we’re at that point. That moment when it stops and you look down at the big dip you are about to embark on. When everything is quite quiet and still for a terrifying little moment.
Time to move on.
Lets get this coaster rolling.
Get ready for some fun.
Let’s move on.
Let’s move on to my cock.
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