Chris, Peter, Rajni, Kieran, Chris, Chris, Deirdre, John.

I wrote this after a weekend in Edinburgh which included some of the festival, but not too much. It features 3 different men by the name of Chris, 8 people who I know and 1 person I don’t. The two pieces of theatre described in it are (in order) Men in the Cities by Chris Goode, and Confirmation by Chris Thorpe. You should go see them if you’re in Edinburgh. You should also go swim in the sea. Not on a beach near Dunbar, though. Leave that one for Deirdre.

……………………………..

I am sobbing in time with a stranger
This stranger has long blonde wavy hair
more than twice the length of mine
his shirt a loose, cloudy blue
punctuated with flowers.
I just gasped and he just gasped
I am not looking at him but I know that he is sobbing
and I want to put my hand over his.

I am sobbing I am crying
I cannot put my finger exactly on why
I am crying the most I have ever cried
in a public building
and the mechanism that leveraged this from me
is not there
I cannot see it.
I am not crying because I am sad for a character or story,
I am crying in a way that has been processed more
directly by whatever we mean
when we press our palms to where our hearts are not.

I have an overwhelming urge
to place my hand over the hand of the man
next to me
which I imagine is clenched
but really, I cannot see.

……………………………..

I have just read a sentence in a book
which might have knocked the air out of my lungs
had I been breathing in
A historian who wasn’t there
reporting an ancient warrior
who probably never said it
but still the worlds stick
matted seed in the spaniel’s fur of history:

“They create a desert and call it peace”

……………………………..

I am arguing with a boy about neoliberalism
When I say ‘boy’ – this man is a year or two older than me,
but I say ‘boy’ because I am sexually interested in him.
We are discussing neoliberalism
in a nice cafe in Hackney
after swimming around a reservoir at 8am on a Sunday morning
and I cannot answer his question.
This is one of the best conversations I have had in a long time.
I am briefly sad he has a girlfriend,
before I rally to try and explain why
a desert is not desirable ‘peace’,
why violence and destruction is not necessarily the opposite of it.
But I’m also not sure it shouldn’t be.

……………………………..

We are in a maze.
This is not a metaphor.
There is a maze in Crystal Palace Park
and it seemed amusing to go in it
but now we are stuck,
and it’s less amusing.

I am wondering if you can view a schematic of it online.

……………………………..

We sit at the centre of the maze.
Rajni says to me that she is not certain,
But she says it certainly.

……………………………..

I am shaking in my seat

……………………………..

My friend Kieran is saying to me
gently and lovingly with the knowledge
of how it might hurt me
“all coppers are bastards”
And I want to find a place to agree with him
but the best I can do is
“I, too, am a bastard”

……………………………..

I finally understand the cultural boycott of Israeli-funded theatre
I think it is right
I also realise this means that to follow my logic
it is wrong for me to take money from our government.

……………………………..

I am excruciatingly ill
I have been for 3 days and there are 3 more to follow
I have not slept and right now whatever I am watching on Netflix
has achieved an almost psychedelic level of boredom

……………………………..

Chris’ blue eyes meet mine
and I realise I have never seen him
in anything remotely like a suit.
My friend Chris might as well be wearing the skin
of another man.

His blue eyes rest on me, momentarily.
He tells me
(and all the people I am sitting with)
about a conversation he had with a national socialist.
He is angry. He is really angry.
He is talking about confirmation bias
but I am not quite listening because I think I already know what that is.

I worry that I have been wrong, for 10 years
to believe that people are basically,
are basically,

……………………………..

I love him but I will not tell him,
Oh, another bus stop.
It is late and hot dusty
London air shifts around us.

……………………………..

The play is over and the lights are on
I am one of the last to leave the place where it happened
I give the man with the long hair a small smile
he looked back
but that is all that happened.

I buy a whisky

……………………………..

We are on the beach where Deirdre met John.
Last spring my friend John died
and last summer and this summer
Dierdre and I have travelled to this beach
near Dunbar
and swum in the sea.

The sky is a ragged grey
high where it is evaporating to blue
but it’s grey where it meets the sea
and the quality of the sun is like
old metal
it stretches out along the water to meet me.

We do handstands underwater
and laugh and
when we get out we are
cold
and
salt-water sticky.

……………………………..

I buy a whisky and write the words:

“I am sobbing in time with a stranger”.

 

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