28 September 2005

Been a busy bunny. Finished my monster on Sunday night, The May Queen. The Thursday before, finished my miniature, Hell and High Water.

It always sucks, finishing a play. A combination of instant nostalgia, post-partum depression, an emptiness, feeling of having expelled the contents of heart, brain and spleen (if you've done the job properly), wonderment at the act, the mess all over the table, and then the question, why? What's that all about?

Friends have been very nice about what they've read up till now. I hope they like the ending.

The missus thinks it's half decent, which is a triumph.

Now there's the business of casting ten actors for an unpaid reading on what is bound to be a chilly Sunday in December.

Oh, and someone to play Judas in the miniature.

On Monday, had the most brilliant afternoon on HMS Belfast. I met two extraordinarily engaging groups of people, and watched them interact - a class of (25 or so) ten year olds from St.J's, and 5 members of the Belfast Veterans' Association. The kids formed groups of five or so, and armed with notebooks and cameras and tape recorders they were led off and given a tour of an area of the ship known well to their veteran guide. So for instance one lot descended by the v steep steel ladders to the engine room, another was taken to inspect the gun batteries and whatnot.

Most of the vets had seen battle in Korea in the early 50s, when the Cold War was block solid frozen. They'd either been called up, or joined up, at a ridiculously young age, and told of mates who'd come on board aged 15, having successfully lied their heads off. They're a sanguine lot, proud of their service, with keen memories of the privations they endured during WW2 as children, and the way they talked of war betrayed no trace of that ugly nationalism, that reflexive racism sometimes shown by people of that generation who didn't see active service. These men hate war, make no mistake; they hated the fighting they were engaged in. But as one man put it, If someone comes after you, you bloody well defend yourself, and then some.

My favourite moment had to be when I was with a group in the bowels of the ship, and the vet was showing the kids the punishment cells reserved for seamen who committed infractions against ship's rules. They loved it! They piled in, trying the metal bunk for size, begging to have their picture taken holding the little blackboard where the prisoner's name would have been chalked up.


spindleshanks said...

I'm late on this, but really Vatican City or did you just slip that in to your ridiculously impressive list to impress the religiously notetakingers amongst us?
i was up with vets in leeds today - from the nuclear tests - top stories were told indeed but the buffet was beyond awful. another day i shall tell all about the hard boiled eggs.

sbs said...

No word of a lie, shanks. It came up on my stats and I was, well, dumbstruck. I think it even said in the entry "Holy See, Vatican City".

Sorry to hear about the buffet. Nightmare. How are you supposed to make proper living history theatre without a proper lunch? We had tea, chocolate biccies and sponge cake with our lot, but then it was just an afternoon session.

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