Tuesday, January 20, 2009

20th January 2009

I bought a new computer, and turned it on for the first time today.

It's always a little strange, leaving the familiar and cranky world of the old computer and entering the gleaming new one.

This one is so incredibly elegant I have had to re-position my desk and tidy it.

And soon after it turned on, it suddenly decided it needed my photo so I could lay claim to it. I hadn't quite taken on board the fact that it has a camera attached to the front of it, which it must do because all of a sudden this image of a tired and touself and so untidy a person appeared most alarmingly on my screen.

I felt very unworthy, and went downstairs to brush my teeth and and my hair and put on my make-up in order to be worthy of making my mark on this machine.

Mr. Jobs has begun to change my life already.

What next, I wonder...


Saturday, January 10, 2009

10th Jan 2009

I had a work meeting with a young woman the other day.

She looked pale and tired. After a while, she looked around nervously and said "It's public now, I can say it", as if she was about to make a confession of something a bit shameful and sordid, "I'm pregnant".

And then she said when she was going on maternity leave. Which would cut across a possible project we were discussing.

I asked her how she'd been feeling, and she said "Better. Better than i was at least".

And she must have been very ill, to judge from how ill she was looking. All kinds of things in our earlier conversation fell into place - a tiredness, a certain vagueness, a certain diffidence.

It seemed clear that she was at odds with herself, somehow. that the professional administrator was being pulled in quite a different direction by the demands of the new life within her.

That the demands of womanhood were at war with the demands of her job, and she couldn't reconcile the two worlds at all.

i remember some of the conversations I had had when women came up to me after I'd been speaking in public. one in particular who said she had until recently been working in a highly responsible job and it was only now, now she had retired, that she felt able to "become a woman again".

It's very clear that the dilemma I have been struggling with - of feeling I had to conceal, downgrade, suppress the demands of a female identity - are absolutely not, as I always supposed, confined to the condition of being trans and certainly not, as I had also always supposed, confined to me alone.

There is a much wider condition of suppression going on.

It's all been highlighted very fiercely and strongly and distressingly by the case of a minister of the French government who has felt obliged to go back to work 5 days after giving birth by caesarian section.

Five days.

And to go back, what is more, looking supremely elegant and well groomed.

As if nothing had happened.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

6th January 2009

Another funeral today. In the same place: which today didn't affect me in the slightest. I felt braced by thie discovery.

A completely different funeral, too. So much cying yesterday: a sense that Stanley Eveling was not ready to go, and nor were his family ready to let him.

Today's death, Bernard Crick, was someone I knew better, and really liked. A brilliant writer, a generous man, and a really alive man, even if often an impossibly difficult one.

Last time I saw him he did look tired. He'd had prostate cancer most of the fifteen or so years I've known him. I should call him 'Sir Bernard', though I think I preferred him as Bernard. Honours don't do people much good.

I saw David Blunkett wipe away a tear or two, and my companions eyes filled as we sang "Freedom come all ye...". But this was a much mellower affair, somehow. Beautiful music, distinguished company... it went on for almost two hours. The dramatist in me kept screaming: "Cut.. Cut.. Cut.." and I found myself planning my own funeral. Far fewer words. More silence. An open coffin, and I think I'll write the script.

When should I begin?


Monday, January 05, 2009

5th January 2009

I went to a funeral today.

In the same chapel in the same crematorium where we had Susie's funeral.
As I left the house I was so reluctant to leave it felt as though my knees were locking to stop me moving one foot in front of the other.

It was for Stanley Eveling, a playwright of the generation before me whose work at the Traverse was a huge inspiration.
I met him once; although I knew his work, I hardly knew him at all.
I'd wanted to go because I had a hunch very few theatre people would be there, and I felt it important to honour his memory.

His family obviously loved him dearly. They had organised a beautiful funeral, which they conducted with great courage, crying a lot on the way.
Their tears started mine, but I controlled them, because I felt a bit wrong somehow, weeping tears at the funeral of this obviously lovely man I hardly knew. Tears that were really not for him at all.

And when I got home I felt so exhausted and stressed and depressed and full of tears and the most desperate pain of missing Susie all over again.

It felt impossible even to begin on the massive mound of work that awaited me.
But I began anyway.
And by evening I had finished the introduction to Yerma.

I went off to have supper with my daughter Katie feeling immensely proud of myself. As if I had slain a dragon or two.
Looked deep grief straight in the eye and emerged unscathed.
More than that: emerged somehow victorious.

And paid tribute to a gifted writer and lovely man.


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