Friday, December 16, 2011

A Day in The Life.

So, yesterday.

The Traverse run a play reading club, a bit like a book club. And there was me, talking to them about my FAUST, which I scarcely remember.

And then going to lunch with my agent, who had come to see THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE.

Then off to buy 60 stamps for the Christmas cards. And buy a pair of shoes, and pick up a nun's wimple thing for today's shoot, and be back in time for the end of the show.

Where I meet a group of women from a women's refuge who had just seen the show and were deeply touched by it.

And then a group of new playwrights being mentored by Playwrights' Studio Scotland.

And then met the cast. At the start of the play they have to get to their positions in a blackout. Gerry had missed his chair, sat on his table, scattered tea cups and saucers teapot and book, lost his wig, and somehow managed to recover his wig and his self and be sitting in his position when the lights came on.

Jo, meanwhile, was figuring out how her Eve could contrive to tidy everything up; and Neil's Smith was too busy eyeing up the male members of the audience to care...

And no-one in the audience noticed a thing.

Then I got on a bus to go the hospital.

I had intended to go to a session in the Scottish Parliament about political plays - because I have just written one and am proud of it - but Jean, my mother-in-law, has just added kidney failure to all her other sources of suffering and had to go to hospital the day before.

My daughter and her husband had driven her to the hospital at about 8. Although they knew she was coming, there was no bed for her and she had to wait for 3 hours to be admitted. Bex, frantic with distress, finally texted to say she had left her tucked up in bed just before midnight.

From what Jean said, she had then been turfed out of bed soon after Bex had gone - maybe for an x ray - and then left in a wheelchair until five in the morning.

I happened to meet her in a corridor just as she was being moved again to another ward. We smiled at each other and the porter said, o there's your daughter come to visit you, and then after I spoke started to address me rather tentatively to sir, and I really did not have the energy to sort that one out, and so he kept darting sidelong glances at me on the long long journey to the ward.

As we arrive, we hear a man's voice was calling loudly and desperately for "help!" "help". An old lady in the bed opposite jean's was sitting very abstractedly on her bed in one of those hospital nighties with the slit up the back, and then as we spoke a woman next to her was being sick. And Jean said philosophically, "you see the worst of life in these places" and I held her hand as she spoke of the chicken salad she had for lunch.

The chicken was very tender, apparently, and in her voice no trace of self-pity or fear.

The porter has forgotten to bring her notes. So although she’s supposed to be on a drip, suffering as she is from kidney failure, no-one can actually put it up because no-one knows what to put in it.

The woman in the bed diagonal to Jean has been left on the commode and is feebly calling for help. The woman next to Jean is sunk in a deep and desperate silence and stares at me mutely from purple-rimmed eyes.

I hold Jean’s hand, and we try to talk of indifferent things. “I try not to think about it”, she said to me once.

And I am complicit for a while.

And then home in a taxi, half dead with exhaustion. We go past the National Portrait gallery, where there's a party going on. I’ve an invitation to it. It’s to celebrate the hot hundred artistic talents of 2011. I'm hot, and in the hundred. Apparently.

When I get home, I discover the show has sold out.

“It gives you hope”, someone once said at the end of it.

And I try to remember that.


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