Enough Said! Letter from London
My First Letter – No Stamp Required:
As I sit here fingers at the ready but momentarily paralyzed by the hypnotic noise and motion of the incessant rain tumbling over the ill-fitting guttering on our small but perfectly formed rented terrace house in London, I am reminded how often it seems to rain on a Wednesday. A gift of alliteration for any would be writer but it’s true to say that as long as I can remember, more often than not, Wednesday’s are always wet!
I have decided after many months of promises to myself to finally embark upon a weekly blog called “Enough Said! Letter from London”; a combination of my cockney vernacular for any comment that sums up my feelings exactly and an indulgence in a past tradition that pays homage to the great Alistair Cooke and his iconic broadcast “Letter from America”.
So, today is the day I at least start the process to have copy ready, as they say in publishing circles, for Friday.
I had intended to lose my literary virginity to the Blog community by addressing the ridiculous week we have been subjected to so far with the Tory Government of the day, led by what must be the most incompetent Prime Minister we have had since Paul Eddington’s brilliant portrayal of James Hacker (the difference being Eddington’s PM was make believe but Boris Johnson is unavoidably real), telling the good people of Manchester to lock down without any semblance of realistic financial support or assistance. Having owned a flat in Manchester back in the day and enjoyed many nights of hospitality across the North West I was and still am ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Andy Burnham and his team to demand a fairer and more humane approach to understanding the plight of the many people who are struggling at this time.
It is not platitudes of good will and statements of ‘We are in this together’ they desire, it is the money to pay the rent and put food on the table they need and demand. The Government has it… they just don’t want to spend it on real people. The concept of help, to just allow people to live, isn’t on their class-skewed radar. Sometimes you have to just give money to keep people alive and not expect the share price to rise because of it. What price life??
I had also planned to discuss (if that is the right word). the ‘happenings’ across the pond in the good old US of A! The concept of intelligent discussion seems to have long-gone out of the window as every day another twist and turn of outrage grabs us and leaves us bereft of adjectives to describe what is going on.
The surrealist painting that has been emerging from the States over the last four years has intensified over these Covid-19 months whereby both my wife and I can’t wait to go to bed to switch onto CNN and get our nightly fix of the latest episode on what has to be the most disturbing reality show ever made.
If only William Golding had set his timeless classic ‘Lord of the Flies’ in Washington DC and not on a desert island, as then we may have had some idea of how to handle the unfurling disaster that is revealing itself in America day by day. Definitely closer to the mark is Margaret Attwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The dystopian nightmare created by Attwood is seen as more than achievable to Trump supporters, because if it is not Trump that gets them to their misogynistic, homophobic, racist ‘promised land’ then it will most certainly be VP Mike Pence who, as the nightmare continues, will sign the Presidential Executive Orders to rename the ‘South’ as the totalitarian state of Trump-ilead’ in honour of their once great leader and champion who after securing a second term via Putin and the loud if not proud boys was mortally wounded on the alter of tax evasion, corruption and bed wetting!!
“For in this sleep of death what dreams may come.” Shakespeare’s warning must not be ignored.
Hopefully that is how they shall remain, as mere dreams of the far right, and like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, the American people will take advantage of their second chance, awaken from their Trump-trance and vote the incumbent peddler of snake oil and nightmares out of office before it is too late. Still, I am sure over the next few weeks my Blog will undoubtedly return to the US elections as something tells me that even with a win for Biden and Harris that this is far from being over.
So, as I said, I was ready to blog my soul to the masses, full frontal and naked, without the fear that comes with youth and the possibility of rejection. If my first time was to be my last time then I hope I do myself justice and I leave my mark – a phrase that became all too appropriate for my old school mate Jimmy Evans who said those very words to me before he stayed over at his long-time girlfriend Samantha Baxter’s house whilst her parents were away at a party for the weekend. After a courtship of fourteen months from fourth year into fifth they were finally going to bow to the silly demands that growing up in a comprehensive begat and consummate their relationship for the first time, an event that both would experience for the first time together.
I can remember him telling me it now as I gaze idly out the window once more at the incessant and unstoppable rain falling from some ‘foul bombard that has shed it liquor’…“If my first time is my last time then I hope I do myself justice and I leave my mark”.
I am sure you are ahead of me when I tell you that nine months later their first child was born and I am happy to report that against all the odds and their parents initial wishes they are still together and have added three more children to their family. So, Jimmy did indeed leave his mark and I believe as a good Dad and husband for over forty years now he has done himself justice… but it was obviously never going to be his last time!!
As with life my first Blog has already suffered from that eternal cliché and standard…the best laid plans etc etc etc.
As a final act of desperation to break me away from the hypnotic background noise of the unseen rain and the contemplative inducing trickle of the overflowing guttering I turn to one of my favourite writers Gore Vidal for inspiration.
I am currently reading his memoir-based collection of stories called ‘Point to Point Navigation’. I happen across chapter seven where Vidal speaks lovingly about his partner of fifty three years, Howard Auster. He regales the time when they invested in a so called ‘Partners Desk’ whereby two people could work together writing etc from opposite ends of the same desk or table. He talks of the starkness of an empty chair after Howard’s death.
I am reminded, as the rainclouds continue to cast a shadow of mid-day darkness akin to a solar eclipse over the room, of my childhood where, as previously mentioned, every Wednesday seemed to be wet. My mind meanders back through the years of Jimmy Evans, stopping along the way at memories that have not surfaced for many moons to finally settle on my Dad. I have long past the date whereby I have lived without him longer than I lived with him, but I am still, on a wet Wednesday in the present, transported back to a wet Wednesday of the past…
A wet Wednesday where toasted cheese sandwiches were eaten whilst watching ‘Sportsnight’ a mid-week BBC sports programme that was a must for any sports fanatic which we all were in my family. The unadulterated joy of the collective experience of Dad, son and brother enjoying Muhammad Ali fight highlights, a random Alan Weeks commentary on just about anything or the amazement of a ‘League Cup’ tie and seeing West Ham’s iconic Bobby Moore end up in goal and saving a penalty.
A wet Wednesday where the insecurity of self was amplified as thoughts went back to being a twelve year old, taken to badminton training miles away by an dedicated father and the silences that often occurred on the drive back if I had not performed to expectations.
A wet Wednesday where the sadness of those silences finally dissipated into the joy and love of seeing my old man take the time off work to come and see me in a second year drama school production. Seated on a hard chair in a cold and dank church hall he submerged himself into the Chekhovian world of ‘The Cherry Orchard’; proud to watch his son trying his best to convey the working class angst of Lopakhin and then totally blown away that the portrayal of the eighty seven year old servant Firs’s death could be performed so touchingly by my fellow twenty year old student Guy Robarts-Arnold.
The memory of my Dad is still strong as I see him, back towards me, cheap raincoat sodden by the persistent downpour, walking away to Earls Court tube station to return to work – with a knowing that he had loved every minute of the day, wet or not, and that he had finally understood that badminton was not my calling but that acting was.
My idyl is broken by our rescue dog Newt barking loudly to happily announce that she has just left a poo on the kitchen mat due to me not letting her out whilst it was raining. Bloody wet Wednesdays eh!!
Dropping the poo bag into the bin outside, the water laden droplets begin to cease and the clouds begin to break. I return to the keyboard with the conclusion that maybe my first Blog and leap into the unknown will not be about what I think but about who I am. A setting out of my stall as it were.
As wet a Wednesday as it has been, I am relieved to have finished my first Blog in one piece and stand looking out of the window as the sun begins to shine through, hot cup of tea in my hand and smile…Enough Said!!
Week ending 23 October 2020