Wednesday, December 31, 2014

RIP Leelah Alcorn

Dear mummy,

You died over fifty years ago now, and for such a long time it was as if I did not dare remember you.

It was as if there was a thick grey curtain blocking you off from me and drawing a blankness over my mind. 

As if I would be destroyed by the grief of remembering you.

But tonight I see you very clearly in my mind: your black hair whose gentle curls framed your beautiful face. Your cheekbones. Your gentle mouth. Your loving loving eyes.

You look at me so tenderly as I tell you about Leelah.

Leelah was like me. Born in a male body, given a male name, but knowing from the moment she became conscious of herself that that maleness did not fit her.

Knowing she was not male and never would be.

We couldn't talk about this, mummy, because in those days nobody could. And there were no names either.

We all tried to pretend that it wasn’t there, that it wasn’t happening, and all tried to be normal as best we could.

I see you the day you sent me to boarding school. With tears in your eyes. Tears you were ashamed of and tried so hard to hide.

It was for my own good, you had to say, sending me to that place. That place where we had to plunge into cold water every morning and sleep in grey blankets on iron beds in dormitories named after famous generals.

That place where there was no comfort anywhere, comfort being girlish, and no place for tenderness. We addressed each other by our surnames and tried very hard never to cry.

Because those who did were mocked and tormented for doing so.

And all this to turn us into men. And how hard we all tried to be brave.

I was eight years old.

I missed you terribly. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, just as I knew I wasn’t meant to be crying the way i did, always in secret: because it was supposed to be bad for boys to be too close to their mothers.

I knew you were frightened on my behalf because you and daddy had both so greatly wanted a girl. You told me to be careful of strange men because they might abuse me; and looking back I know you were also afraid that I, too, might turn out to be a pansy.

I use that word because I think that’s probably the one you would use. And you did everything in your power, the pair of you,  to make me become a “proper man”.

I know you did it for the best, as you understood it, and so I don’t want to tell you how much suffering that caused me.

It almost destroyed me, mummy: and I think of it tonight because of Leelah Alcorn who was like me in so many ways and whose mum and dad,  Carla and Doug, were so like you because they were frightened and angy and ashamed and did everything they could to stop their child being true to herself and living as a girl.

Which is one reason Leelah walked in front of a truck.

I don’t know how I survived. Maybe because the urge to create was always stronger than the desire to die.

Surely, also, later on to do with being loved by my partner and my children.

I so wish I could have told you, Leelah, that we can be happy. That we don’t have to conform to society’s ideas of what it is to be feminine. That it’s possible to be out there, openly trans*, and happy and proud.

I wish you could have seen my grandson. Whose mum and dad are so proud of him when he plays with his big red car and dashes round the room making engine noises. And proud of him when he plays with the doll’s house in my hallway too.

He will grow up knowing I’m his grandma and his mum’s dad, too, and he will havo no problem with that because the world is changing, Leelah, and we matter so much to it.

Because the world so badly needs a new understanding of what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman and we are part of what is making that change happen.

I wish you hadn't died but your death has not been in vain.

And I wish I could tell your mum and your dad, Carla and Doug: God didn’t make a mistake when she made us trans*.

I wrote a play about Jesus being trans* that I perform wherever I can. I wish I could perform it for you so you could hear it. Because these words are for you, just as they are for your Leelah:

Inside us we all have a light, and it’s maybe the very thing that we have been taught to be most ashamed of. 
And when you have a light, do you hide it in a closet?
No! you bring it out into the open where everyone can see itAnd be glad it exists to shine in the world. They might try to put out your light.They might hate you for allowing to shine.They might spit on you or shout after you:“Faggot! Pervert! Maricón!”Or maybe they’ll shout: “Look! It’s a geezer!”Or call you a pervert or an open sewer.They will confuse you and make you feel ashamedAnd might even drive you to kill yourself In your anguish and despair.They might do even worse: they might beat youOr torture you and kill youAnd throw your body into a skip.Because these things happen.But I say to you: 

Bless you if people abuse you or persecute you because it means you are bringing about change.And bless those who persecute you too because hatred is the only talent that they haveAnd it really doesn’t amount to much.They will lose what little they haveAnd whatever they say or whatever they do Change will come in the end 
and one day the world will be free.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My 2014

When we look back, it’s as if the year has passed so fast.

It helps somehow to make a list. To give a shape.

To remind myself what happened.

In 2014 I…

I moved house. That’s the first thing. It was horrible saying goodbye to Nether Craigwell, where we’d been so happy for so long. But I had to: I couldn’t manage all the stairs.

And I’d never done anything grown up like sell one house and buy another…

I love my new house. It’s on the waterfront in Leith with huge beautiful windows looking over the harbour. I love sitting in my battered old pink chair watching the water…

I’d just moved in when Jean, Sue’s mum, passed away in her care home. That marked the end of an era. She was a fantastic grandma to Bex and Katie and I know they miss her deeply.

I’m so proud of them. Katie now seems to write most of Look magazine every week and Bex has become a world expert on fish farms.

Alex will be two and a half soon and is making his own distinctive and beautiful mark on the world. And I so love being a dad and a grandma…

Meanwhile I keep getting things published in books. It amazes me. I’ve a heap of them:

“How to Write a Play” (it’s simple, really…) in IMAGES OF LIFE (The Book World, Kolkata)

A letter in Letter to an Unknown Soldier (Collins, London) (I loved the fact I was able to use my experience of being trans as part of a war memorial) 

“The Fine Art of Finding a Safe Place to Pee” in OUT THERE (Freight Books, Glasgow) (Not sure a trans woman’s experience has found a place in an LGBT anthology before)

“The Unknown Woman at the Edge of Things” in Dear Scotland (Luath Press, Edinburgh) (This was so beautifully performed by Sally Reid in the Portrait Gallery. And I loved performing it myself afterwards. Especially at Independence rallies)

“The Right to Dream” in INSPIRED BY INDEPENDENCE (Word Power and National Collective, Edinburgh) (It felt weird writing a political piece and i thought it was pretty crap at the time. But actually it’s pretty good. And what a beautiful book!)

A prayer in WE ARE LOVED (United Reformed Church, Edinburgh) (This came out of a workshop I led for members of the United Reformed Church who wanted to be involved in creating LGBTI inclusive liturgy)

“All I want for Christmas is to Wear a Dress” in NAKED AMONG THISTLES (Stewed Rhubarb, Edinburgh) (This was about a wish that came true)

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN (Stewed Rhubarb) (I loved working with Annabel and Susan and Claire and Stuart and performing this at the Fringe. And bits of it all over the place. Including Eastern Europe for a kind of peripatetic literary festival. Where I got driven about like a rock star)

I’d say that is probably the most surprising thing about the year. The discovery that when I stand on a stage something seems to happen. And people listen. 

And what a joy, after so many years in writer’s solitude, to collaborate so much and so closely.

I so loved being Chris Goode’s mum in his ALBEMARLE in West Yorkshire Playhouse. And being on a grown up stage, too. 

And then spending a week with Chris devising a new piece for the National Theatre of Scotland.

Another discovery was to become aware that when I’m in front of a camera I feel completely at home and somehow know what to do. Having my photo taken used to be such an ordeal: and this is such a joy. 

It was so great to work in films. I loved being Carolyn in “High Heels Aren’t Compulsory”. And having a make up lady. Aga was so lovely. I think I want her with me ALL THE TIME.

And it was a gas to be wandering about Prince’s St in my Jesus costume and going up and down escalators filming the trailers for the show. And being filmed having a bath by Annabel and Evi for their documentary. Being filmed by a crew for SONGS OF PRAISE. It was extraordinary and unexpected to be performing a bit of QUEEN JESUS for that programme. And hopefully a huge step forward from the terrifying hatred that play first inspired.

It feels important to keep bearing witness to who I am. Which is why I allowed my voice to be used on a radio advert for the Scottish Government’s “One Scotland” campaign and my story to be featured on their website

I hope they do good in the world….

And I’ve written plays in the middle of all this. Two plays: WHITE TED AND THE RIGHT TO DIE for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and JEKYLL AND HYDE for Sell A Door Theatre Company. 

I’m proud of WHITE TED because it was technically such a challenge to write something 50 minutes wrong for 6 student actors in which all the parts were roughly the same size so they could use their performances in their Showcase.

I wrote it for my dear friend Marni who wanted me to write something about the right to die. I hope she would have enjoyed it.

JEKYLL AND HYDE goes into rehearsal in the middle of January. I hope it works.

I’ve been unexpectedly travelling. Huge satisfaction travelling round the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland: the heart of old Europe. Giving a reading every night, outing myself as a trans woman, and then entering into discussion with the audience afterwards. 

Teaching playwriting workshops in two cities in Brazil and spending a week on the Isle of Honey.

Maybe the most beautiful moment of the year was opening my eyes when I was meditating one morning to find a humming bird just inches away: a beautiful creature who had apparently come just to say hello.

Astonishing to be in Tokyo seeing a beautiful all male production of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. 
So looking forward next year to seeing INES THE OPERA being revived by Scottish Opera in Glasgow and Edinburgh  towards the end of January. James McMillan himself is conducting it. The music he wrote to my words is of the intensest beauty and power, and I can’t wait to hear it again.

And then ANNA KARENINA in Manchester’s Royal Exchange; GREAT EXPECTATIONS in Dundee Rep; and J and H touring the country.

All these are happening by themselves; after years of my hoping and trying to get my work revived, and then getting upset when it wasn’t.

There’s also plans to present JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN in Brazil and in Ireland; and I’m definitely performing the show at the General Assembly of the Unitarian church in the spring.

But what comes will come. The main thing is to keep hoping and loving: and keep working.

Just before Christmas I was asked to perform Nova’s speech at the end of Peter Handke’s play THE LONG WAY ROUND.

She says:

“The spirit of the New Age speaks in me and this is what it has to say to you: Yes, there is danger, and it is only because of the danger that I can speak as I am going to - words of resistance.’

Words that keep on and on having to be said.

By all of us.

No matter what….

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

I’m on the flight back from Japan. Surrounded by my fellow passengers, all watching things on little screens. The in-flight entertainment offers the illusion of personal choice, but I suspect that everything fundamentally is the same.

The screens all communicate the same ideas and the same values. The idea that life is essentially competitive. That in this world we are all essentially alone. That civilisation is just a veneer for the fundamental violence of the human species. 

That men are the centre of interest. That women are there to be looked at: but not listened to.

That sex is dirty. That heterosexual sex is the norm and anything else is even dirtier.

That violence is entertainment and human weakness is to be laughed at and scorned.

That nothing will ever change.

I so hate what I see on these little screens. I so hate that what I see is the same as what I see in television sets in hotel rooms and living rooms and on cinema screens just about everywhere.

I close my eyes in my aircraft seat, which so insistently tells me I am a commodity, only marginally better than what is on the screen in front of me: marginally better only because I consume.

I keep my eyes tight shut instead. And I keep on trying to dream…

And next day I’m in a rehearsal room in south London with six young male actors and a director (Chris Goode) and a dramaturg (Maddy Costa) and together we’re trying to fashion a small act of resistance.

The actors are wordlessly improvising on the queer body, asserting the dignity and the honour of queerness, exploring its anguish and contradictions, and I am here to perform Nova’s speech from Peter Handke’s THE LONG WAY ROUND:

“The spirit of the new age speaks in me, and this is what it has to say to you. Yes there is danger. and it is only because of the danger that I can speak as I am going to - words of resistance…”

And the young men are mostly naked, and the room very hot, and I have a sudden impulse and take off my bra and my top, hello breasts, breasts that aren’t as a man’s are supposed to be nor even as a woman’s are either: but my breasts, my trans breasts, and I refuse to be ashamed of them.

“Whoever and whatever is known to you through television is not known to you…”

“A tree top is the true weapon of liberation. Convince yourselves - follow the bulletless line of flight - look up. Watch the drifting clouds…”

And I so love the feeling of these words in my mouth, and all kinds of improvisations are going on all around, and then someone snaps the lights out, but I go on, and someone snaps on a spotlight from their phone, and I go on

“Shake up your thousand year bed. Bestir yourselves. A bedridden life is not for you. Your art is for the healthy, artists are those who are capable of living…”

And suddenly the phone light has gone off, but someone else has pulled back the blind to let light come in from the window, and I move towards it, and suddenly catch a weird and shocking glimpse of “normal life” going on. Shoppers are passing, looking miserable…

“Behold the fruitful countryside, and don’t let anyone talk you out of beauty. Overwhelming is the beauty created by us human beings…”

And I realise someone passing could look in and see me bare-chested. Well. Let them.

“Better for you to be dead if you cannot love yourselves. People of this moment, get close to one another, discover one another as gods”.

And there’s a beautiful naked young man very close to me

“Blessed be every kiss, however brief…”

And so I kiss him, and what joy to feel his lips on my lips, and his naked body next to mine,

“See the pulse dance of the sun and trust your seething heart. The quivering of your eyelids is the quivering of the truth. Let colours glow. Let this dramatic poem be your guide. Go for ever towards. Take the long way round.”

And I’m travelling again.

“Take the big leap. Be the gods of change. Everything else leads to nothing - Nothing else leads anywhere now. Joy is made possible by helpfulness to friends, and friendship dances round the world….”

These words are vibrating in my heart and soul, and next day I’m with my daughters and my son-in-law and my wee grandson and we’re decorating the Christmas tree.

He’s pointing: 

“Tree”, he says, “Tree. TREE…” and he’s laughing with the power and the joy of being able to name it, and his joy touches all of us.

And I know. We are not alone. We are made to love. There is a power within us we know nothing of, but are maybe slowly discovering…

And despair is not the truth. And the world is changing…..

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Letter from a theatre in Japan

When I was child, the theatre I fell in love with was a theatre that was not afraid or ashamed to be itself.

A theatre of magic and mystery; that told big stories with deep feeling..

Somewhere that did not reflect life in its banality. Somewhere concerned not so much with life as it is on the surface; but concerned with the inner life. Life as it might be. Life as it should be perhaps: something fuller and deeper that means more.

It’s something I hardly ever find in Britain. Though I’ve certainly worked hard to create it.

People always seem to be afraid. Afraid of “going over the top”. Afraid of too much feeling. Afraid of sentimentality and melodrama.

How strange, then, to be here in Japan,  half way round the world and in the midst of so much alien strangeness: and yet to feel myself so much at home.

Because Studio Life, the company performing my GREAT EXPECTATIONS in Tokyo, in so many ways are creating the kind of theatre I fell in love with all those years ago. A theatre not afraid to be big; not afraid of deep feeling; a theatre using every resource of body voice stagecraft and creative intelligence to communicate it. and that also means a theatre not afraid of virtuosic display;

It’s a style of acting that has its roots in Japan’s traditional theatre arts.  Here the industrial revolution severed our living links with the acting styles of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and got us stuck in an increasingly sterile obsession with naturalism. But there theatre still seems to be in touch with its roots.

They’re an all male theatre company whose director is a woman; a permanent ensemble that market themselves a bit like a boy band and who operate a fascinating double casting system that means actors swap roles and genders without thinking twice about it.

They divide into two teams and whilst a few of them play just one role in both teams - Adult Pip, Jaggers and Mr Wopsle - they mostly alternate.  So over two nights I saw the same actor playing Wemmick and Mrs Joe; Young Pip and a tailor; Biddy and a soldier (and a glamourous lady in the Richmond ball); Joe playing Bentley Drummle; Magwitch doubling as Molly; Miss Havisham as the servant in Bernard’s Inn and Estella as the man in London offering to show Pip a hanging. Among others…

It’s such an effective way of building up a company spirit and such an amazing way of training young actors.

There’s obviously a friendly rivalry between both teams; and this opens up a whole new dimension of audience pleasure. the audience, interestingly, are at least 90% female; and are not only devoted but incredibly empowered and well informed. Over the thirty years of their existence, the company has built up a large official fan base. Their fan club runs into the thousands, who not only see every production, but often see every production twice. To compare performances and see which they prefer.

It’s a completely absorbing occupation, as i found out for myself. It was so interesting to see how Estella number 1 excelled in her opening scenes. I suddenly saw something I had never seen before: a rather awkward tomboy furious at having been put into a frilly dress and play a gender role that did not suit her. And then taking her revenge on Pip… But Estella number two gave so beautiful a pathos to her final scene. Singing her lullaby to a completely hushed audience whose rapt silence was only broken by the sound of sobbing.

Or to watch the very beautiful tenderness of Biddy on the first night; and then see the same actor transformed into a soldier and brutally mistreating Magwitch in the second.

And I loved it, too, how at the end of the curtain call on the first two nights the cast all took a turn to step out of their roles, be themselves for a moment, and thank the audience for coming.

On the very first day I arrived to visit them, there was Magwitch sitting with the sewing ladies finishing off a frock. because everyone does a bit of everything. It’s like a big family, Nozomi Abe, my translator explained. Everyone does a bit of everything. And it’s a family she now feels she belongs to too.

On the whole in our country we don’t know what it’s like to truly belong to a company. I caught a glimpse of it once, in the late eighties, when I belonged to the Traverse and wrote a play for them just about every year. Looking back, that was my most productive period and a time when I produced some of my best work. I was so hurt when that association was insensitively ended in the early nineties. Sometimes I wonder whether I ever truly recovered…

At the end of my last night in Tokyo the actor playing Estella (Estella number 2) stopped to shake my hand. At her curtain call she spoke of how this was her first major part with the company, how honoured she felt, and how unsure of herself and how much she wanted to get better. Then she’d been with her colleagues, still in full make-up and costume, greeting her public and hawking merchandise in the crowded theatre foyer.

It was lovely to be able to shake her hand and congratulate her. As I looked her in the eye I suddenly had a vision of myself in an alternative world. Where I could have been accepted into a company and develop my talents as an actor without fear or shame.Where I could have gone on to become a writer and director too.

I might well have turned into a more complete and rounded theatre artist. And a happier one also.

But one thing is for sure: this is a very special theatre company. Recovering with great courage from the recent death of Kiichiro Kawauchi their co-founder. A company with so much to teach us. A company I feel so honoured to be part of: and who I so profoundly and fervently wish well.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Great Expectations" and its new and unexpected ending

It must have been a few weeks ago that I had the dream.

I was back with my partner, with Suse, and we were having such a lovely time together.

We were laughing and completely at ease and taking such pleasure in each other’s presence and ech other’s company and it was as if her death from the brain tumour had never occurred. 

Nor all those months of nightmare suffering…

So much so that I was saying to myself: “Of course! This is what has been missing from my life all this time… And why haven’t we been together for so long? Surely some kind of strange silly mistake…?”

And then I woke up.

And knew.

I remembered my grief again, and it was all so hideously painful.

That day I got a message from Nozomi Abe, my Japanese translator, to say that Jun Kurata, the director of “Great Expectations” was having trouble with the ending.

The bit where Estella says

“Oh Pip take my hand before we part for ever.”

Kiichiro Kawauchi, her husband and co-founder of the Company has recently died and so she was finding the pain of that ending so unbearable she could not find a way to stage it.

And could I help her somehow?

On that particular day her pain so utterly resonated with mine. And so I became Estella again. Just long enough to see if she could say something different. Something more hopeful perhaps.

And she could. And so I changed the ending to a happy one.

And people gasp when I tell them and say: But how could you do that?

And I say: Dickens did the same.

My first ending - with Estella and Pip parting - was the same as his original ending to the book.

But his best friend told him that could not be. The readers would want so much for them to stay together, he told Dickens. Who allowed himself to be persuaded.

As I did. Only not for the sake of the audience. But to give comfort to Jun.

And to myself also, perhaps…

My wonderful translator send the new ending to the Company that very afternoon.

And will it work?

The play opens in just under two hours. And then I’ll know….

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So much beauty in the gift of a kimono

Last night there was a knock my hotel door. I knew it would be Yukiko, my Japanese translator’s mother, because we were going to have dinner together.

The last time I met her was in the bar of the Traverse theatre over ten years ago, when I was teaching her daughter, Nozomi Abe, on the Queen Margaret University post graduate playwright’s course.

I was her daughter’s professor, John Clifford in those days, and she came with her husband, and the meeting was extremely pleasant. But quite formal.

It wasn’t till she knocked on the door last night that I suddenly wondered how she would respond to this time meeting Jo Clifford…

With complete naturalness and kindness,as it happened. Actually with far more than simple kindness. She said she had a present to give me and began to unpack this utterly beautiful silk kimono, which she then helped me put on.

And this is me wearing it…. Surprised and touched to the very depths of my being.

“You were handsome and distinguished when we first met”, she said, “And then I saw you with your daughter on Facebook at the opening of Great Expectations and you looked beautiful. Like an actress.  And so i wanted to give you this…”

As a piece of clothing, it is absolutely gorgeous; and it all comes with what she called a “happy coat”  also in silk, and with the most beautiful embroidery and calligraphy in the lining.

I don’t think I have ever worn anything so beautiful.

But I think what matters more than the enormous material generosity of this gift is the extraordinary generosity of spirit. The level of acceptance. The depth of kindness.

It is the hugest thing. I don’t think I have the words for it just now.

But I must find them: so I can say thank you properly.

“Arigatou gozaimasu” is a beginning. But there is far more to learn.

Meantime, Yukiko is teaching me to count. “Ichi, ni…” But I quickly get lost.

This is an extraordinary and complex and beautiful world I will probably never really even begin to understand.

But it all begins with kindness….

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The taxi driver and the edge of things

It’s half past four in the morning when the taxi comes.

As soon as I open the door he’s telling me what a terrible hour he’s had, with him having a puncture, and having to call into the garage, and changing the tyre, and getting black all over.

He’s calling me ‘ma’am’ which I find is the one thing I’m really concerned about, but I’m being as sympathetic as I can and agreeing with his choice of route to the airport and laughing at his suggestion that maybe the apocalypse has finally come, given that we haven’t seen a single car on the road and maybe us two are the only people left alive in the whole world

And then it’s his 7 children and four grandchildren and isn’t it a joy having grandchildren but doesn’t it all make Christmas expensive, and this is where it happened just here, and he saw the pothole and tried to avoid it and missed it with his front wheels but just got it with his back and he heard the air escaping, and he thought “Oh no”

And did I hear him calling me ‘sir’? And does it matter?

And then another “sir” just as we’re pulling in to the terminal and I think, yes, yes it does matter and start explaining he was right the first time with his madam because I’m transgender.

And he starts to apologise, oh dear I’m so sorry I hope I haven’t offended you

And I say I know my voice is quite masculine I really should do more of those voice exercises

Just to make him feel better, and he’s saying how he clocked the nice earrings as I got into the cab, and he thought my wife would really like a pair like that and do you mind if I talk about you with my pals in the pub, nicely like

And you look very feminine, absolutely, he says as I leave, and “Here you are y dear the waiter says as he brings my eggs in the Heathrow terminal where I’m having my breakfast and I think I really should stop getting pleasure out of men condescending to me

But then why not, another voice says, why not take pleasure, in this daily journey I am every day taking  across inner and outer frontiers

As I sit feeling happy on the far edge of things

Eating my breakfast.

The Good Fairy And The Voice Of The Future

I have a facebook friend who has a part in a pantomime. He’s posted before and after pictures of himself: dressed in his street clothes, and in make-up and costume.

The make up makes him look both more than his usual self - brighter, handsomer, more engaging - and also, strangely more like his real self. More like the inner self he maybe feels himself to be, somewhere, as we all do, yet which in normal life he never quite manages to manifest.

Looking at him made me remember my first panto - Bristol Hippodrome 1962 - which was also my first experience of professional theatre. 

And how that was what I most loved: the fact that the people on stage were recognisably people and yet also so much more. Funnier, more full of love and pathos, brighter. More vivid. Bigger. More alive.

And maybe that's how I still want my characters to be...

He’s playing Buttons from the look of him. Buttons who I used to love and feel so very sorry for. And -absurdly - I found myself feeling a pang of envy. Sadness, too: that I’ll never get to play Buttons. Not ever…

Another facebook friend, also in pant, is playing the Good Fairy. She shared a lovely story of how she was holding a little girl’s hand on stage just after the song sheet and the girl looked at her and asked:

“Are you real?”

And she thought about it a moment and then said


And then felt guilty about it, but didn’t need to.

Because of course she was. Absolutely real.

And I realised I also wanted to play the Good Fairy…

I seem to have spent a lot of energy this past week reading pant reviews and struggling with the same regretful pang.

And the same anger, too:

That an incompetent and malicious music teacher made me ashamed of my singing voice; and that a viciously prejudiced culture made me ashamed of my whole self.

And that together they prevented me, all those years ago, from really hearing the message that panto gave me. From really understanding that the stage was my artistic home and that was where I truly belonged.

But I won’t feel sad.

I’m sitting down on the plane to study Nova’s amazing, beautiful and visionary speech from Peter Handke’s “The Long Way Round” which Chris Goode wants me to perform in a reading.

A reading that forms part of his project to form a permanent Company.

It’s not quite the Good Fairy: but it is the voice of New Age, and it really excites and inspires me.

Though I doubt Chris’ll give me a big frock….

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