Sunday, March 21, 2010

21st March.
Snapshot of a week:
I travelled down to Reading to visit my brother.
Tony is a remarkable and courageous human being who struggles against a terrifying collection of illnesses and disabilities with the most astonishing positive spirit.
He does everything he canto accept me; consistently calls me 'Jo'; read an interview in the Herald which refers to me as she, as it should, with obvious interest and pride.
But to stay in his sheltered housing, and encounter the hostile looks of his housemates, and be introduced as his "brother" is a sad indication of how complex and difficult all this can be.

Hugely relieved to leave for Oxford. Where I was staying in Merton College, and the dear porters referred to me as 'madam' and were intensely helpful and I felt much more like myself again.
It was a strange sensation, as if I had blundered into a parallel universe.
I was staying in a uite of undergraduate rooms: a large bedroom, shower room en suite, and a study sitting room. The facilities were infinitely better than what I had as a Professor in QMU.
In this beautiful medieval quadrangle: but however lived there normally had a poster of the Manhattan sky line. Which is quite probably where they would rather be.

Frightened at first to go in to the hall for breakfast. It is huge, medieval, most splendid: but far too like "Big School" at Clifton College for comfort. I found yself feeling intimidated and lonely all over again.
But I rallied; people were so friendly.
Then to the Burton Taylot Studio of the Oxford Playhouse for rehearsals.
Break for lunch with Laurie Maguire, a lovely professor who has recently published a book on Helen of Trpy with most of a chapter devoted to the Helen in my FAUST.
Then the reading: it was of a translation of Gil Vicente's DON DUARDOS which I then adapted 18 years ago and which got forgotten about.
But what a good job I had done!
Lovely cast read it beautifully; uch enthusiasm; several possibilities for future production.
And old friends in the evening. What a happy time.

Miserable journey home in overcrowded rattling trains back to Edinburgh for the EVERY ONE preview.
And what happened there deserves an entry all to itself.


I'm sorry your brother is ill, Jo. And that it's quite a trek to visit him. He obviously thinks the world of you and it's fantastic that he looks up to you, admires you, and openly tries hard to show that. Yes, it hurts when other people are hostile but I think most people don't like to be confronted and see for themselves there was/is nothing to get uptight about. It's easier for them to keep stewing in their own ignorance and fears. Especially when it comes to culture and sex.
If your brother is anything like you in that his indomitable spirit gives him a kind of beautifully awesome presence then two of you together should be a blessing and privilege to encounter. xo
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