Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Learning how to saunter

This afternoon I needed to get some shopping from the supermarket. It's no distance; at most a ten minute walk; and once upon a time in my life I would have walked it without a second's thought.

But for the past ten years arthritis and heart trouble have combined to make the journey into an expedition.

Lately, my new right hip and my two new knees and my new pacemaker have begun to turn things round. I have to walk slowly. I have to let my hips move. I have to think about the way I place the soles of my feet on the ground.

The gift of walking, which I once just took so carelessly for granted, has had to become a conscious achievement.

Not unpleasantly so. I read in my grandfather's letters to his mother once how he saw Oscar Wilde in the foyer of a West End theatre. He loathed Wilde, and the way in which Wilde moved his hips "like a woman" struck him as especially degenerate and disgusting.

Walking with my hips rigidly facing the front became an important part of my disguise as a man. I know it damaged me.

Letting my hips move is a gently sensuous means of revolt against my grandad and my dad and their rigid masculinity.

But I have to keep aware: or I revert back to it. I have to walk slowly: or I start to get out of breath.

I used to walk so heedlessly fast everywhere. I remember when I first became ill. Sitting on a doorstep with my heart hammering and my breath short in a cold sweat of terror: and an immaculate young man racing past me on the way to the parliament. How I envied him. He was free, while I knew instinctively I had become a prisoner.

But walking slowly back with my groceries admiring the beauty of the sky, I think:  I don't have to walk fast any more. Now I can saunter.

And that is really no hardship

Monday, February 19, 2018

Living in a heartless world

This morning when I get to Glasgow there's two beggars just outside the train station. The first one is packing up, maybe handing his spot over to someone else. The second's hand is shivering so much it's hard to put the coin in her paper cup.

I cross the road to the cash machine. Someone has written on it in marker pen "Please do not encourage begging at this ATM". And I want to write "Please organise to end homelessness".

But I don't have a pen.

The taxi driver tells me he had a phone call from his daughter last night saying "Please come and take me home" and when he got to her he found standing in the street in her dressing gown holding her one year old son. Her husband had just thrown her out the house.

I'm on my way to a day long meeting about how to make me and Chris Goode's EVE easier to perform and so more accessible to a wider variety of audiences. And I'm thinking, for instance, of the finding that more than a third of trans students have attempted suicide. That only 20% felt safe on campus.

I'm thinking of how at the very least art must be necessary. Must, even if indirectly, lessen suffering rather than increase it. How it needs to have a light carbon footprint.

Of what me and Susan Worsfold, our director, and the National Theatre of Scotland can do to make this happen.

There's a different beggar on the same pitch outside the railway station on the way back, and he's so weary he's falling asleep where he sits.

And I wonder how the pitches are organised, and I suspect that some unscrupulous individual makes money from them. These being the skills that valued in our cruel world.

When I get to Edinburgh I walk up the steps to Market St., knowing there'll be a beggar at the top. And there is, but I have a coin in my hand, and when I walk across to give it her she shows me a face full of dread. Fearful, I imagine, at what suffering the night may bring her.

I don't want to hear any more stories. On the way home I close my eyes.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

LGBTQI History Month and the beginning of lent

It was lovely that my church today was acknowledging and celebrating LGBTI History Month.

It was as lovely as the wee girl who had just learnt to walk, and so was walking all over the church in the middle of the church and loving it. And who obviously took a liking to Fiona, the minister leading the service, and offered her a half eaten biscuit. And Fiona very simply and directly took the biscuit, tanked her for it, and went on with whatever she was talking about. Which was the temptations in the desert, it being that Sunday.

These two simple and natural things just so beautifully contradicted the way I was treated in church as a child, and so helped to heal the hurt of that.

Afterwards I took the bus to Duddingston village for the first rehearsal of the Duddingston Passion Play.

I play the part of the Angel who announces to the truth of the Resurrection to the grieving women who have been with Jesus on the cross. And as we read it through together,  I was so forcibly struck by the grandeur and the tragedy of the story.

A grandeur that really doesn't allow space for the petty anti gay and anti trans prejudices that so often the church has expounded so much futile energy trying to defend.

God knows why....



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