the tide rises, the tide falls
HOMEMADE | Live Monologue | 2016 | Newlyn Art Gallery | Writer, performer & producer | Supported by Arts Council England
‘A stunning show. Brave, raw, honest and deeply moving.’ - Agnieszka Blonska, Director.
‘Completely moving and inspiring. There is hope after all.’ - Liz King, Kneehigh Theatre.
‘Extraordinary. A homily for vexatious and volatile times.’ - Fiona Wotton, Cornwall 365.
‘A deeply personal, political, primal polemic against despair, for hope.’ - Denzil Monk, GoldenTree Productions.
‘Extraordinary performance. A truly astonishing piece of theatre. Tender, raging, hurting. The audience were spellbound.’ - Blair Todd, Newlyn Art Gallery.
‘Still reeling from it now. Bright, beautiful, powerful and direct. From the gut and heart.’ - Miracle Theatre.
‘Thought-provoking, emotive and relevant. A very timely piece, beautifully crafted and performed.’ - Helen Tiplady, Hall For Cornwall.
‘A very special experience. Visually stark, sonically complex. Angry, confrontational, tragic, funny and unrelentingly humane. Good art makes sense of chaos and this did exactly that. I’ve never had such an unspoken feeling of unity in an audience as I did following this show.’ - Mark Jenkin, Filmmaker.
The tide rises, the tide falls (intro extract)
You wake with a start in the early hours to find yourself slumped over your desk with the imprint of a laptop keyboard embedded in your forehead, sweat seeping out of every pore, and your heartbeat hammering away with the incessant repetition of a scratched CD violently skipping on repeat.
You take a moment to adjust to your surroundings.
You’re in that half-awake, hallucinatory state, somewhere in the space between sleep and consciousness where nothing is real but everything has relevance. Sounds from the street below filter through the open window of your flat three floors up in an apartment block in east London. The low hum of cars passing. The occasional cockfart blaring out some shitty R'n'B from their speakers at full blast. Drunk people howling abuse at one another. You think of all those times you have awoken at this hour in an entirely different place and you notice just how much you miss the sound of waves lapping on the shore. Or of seagulls screeching an out of tune dawn chorus from the rooftops of crooked cottages.
You never actually believed you’d ever miss the sound of seagulls.
You hear voices: happy, sad, shocked, smug. Some familiar, some not. You glance at the TV and there’s that MP you don’t like, y’know? The one with the shit-eating grin. You hear words like polls, results, people and democracy. And you hear that word that you have heard more than any other word over the course of these past few months. You know the one. The one that sounds so fucking daft you don’t even want to say it yourself. The one that sounds like it could be the name of a cereal brand. And the reality hits you like a cold hard slap to the face.
Oh yeah. That. You must have drifted off for a moment.
And you were having that dream again. Do you remember?
Not the one where you turn up to your old primary school stark-bollock naked, having inexplicably forgotten to get dressed that morning.
Not the one where you are falling through the pale blue skies above the village you are from, plummeting through the heavens head-first towards the ground, bracing yourself for an almighty thud and your brains being splattered across the pigeon-grey concrete.
Not the recurring sexual fantasy you have about your secondary school Spanish teacher.
None of them.
But the other one.
And it’s funny cos it’s not even a dream really, no, not really, but a memory. A memory of motorways and petrol pumps, traffic lights and travel taverns, and all the endless miles of road. The one with towns and villages and cities, where everything and everyone looks exactly the same... And yet... The massive divide between them all. The palpable sense of discord and disillusion. And you are certain about it cos you felt it too, in your heart and in your bones.
So now you sit there at your desk, sweating profusely as the TV flickers in the corner. The clock ticks. And it’s at this time that strange things start to occur. When you cannot switch off. When you have a thousand thoughts racing through your mind per second. Memories. Sounds. Scenes from films you have watched down the years. TV shows. Books. Images of idols whose work you have imbibed and obsessed over. You have a thousand thoughts flying through your mind and none of it feels connected or makes any kind of sense. Not really, no. No, not really. But maybe... Shit, maybe it does, actually. Maybe all of this is connected after all.
You are thinking about the thing you read recently, which said that there are more deaths caused per year by people taking selfies than there are shark attacks, and you wonder what this says about your own generation. Or you are thinking about the ongoing debates that have been happening for what feels like forever, the same old debates about patriotism, pride, class and immigration, with the same old voices, the same old arguments and the same old outcomes. No change. No genuine sign of a desire for change. You are thinking about the images of all those Syrian families fleeing their war-torn homes to cross oceans in boats barely big enough to hold them. And of bombs exploding. And Facebook messages you haven’t responded to. And the people that you love.
And you are thinking about the lines you have noticed appearing around your eyes lately, the black rings that circle them and the amount of grey hairs you have accrued. You are thinking about your rent and council tax and water bills and how you forgot to top up the key for the lecky meter earlier on. And that you should have bought more of that ice cream that was on offer in the Co-Op, man, you should have bought more... You could really do with some ice cream right now. You are thinking about that piece in the paper saying that this world we have created for ourselves, this neoliberal wank fantasy we live in, is beset with an epidemic of loneliness.
And you are thinking about that strange encounter you had when you moved home last spring, when you sat drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette by the boating lake at Wherrytown one morning, when an elderly lady you had never seen before approached, sat down on the wooden picnic bench beside you, placed her hand on the inside of your thigh, leaned in and tried to kiss you. You are thinking about the way you leapt from your seat, totally fucking freaked out initially but then how you met her gaze for the first time and in that split-second you could see just how frightened and confused this poor soul was. And in that moment you understood something. You’re not sure what, exactly, but something nonetheless. You knew that she was scared and vulnerable and alone, but before you could offer to help she was already on her way again, disappearing off into the distance. And you are thinking about how this surreal episode stayed with you for days, weeks, fuck months even. It must have done cos you are still thinking about it now. And you are not entirely sure why it resonated quite so much. But it sort of felt like a wake up call.
And you are thinking about your friend too. You know the one. The one who ...
The results trickle in... And you can’t quite believe it. You cannot believe your own eyes. And you say to yourself: surely to fuck, no, we’re not actually going to, are we? But at the same time there’s a part of you that isn’t surprised at all. There’s a part of you that sensed a storm brewing way back. And they always said it was going to be close, they always said it would go right to the wire, and you had known this too. Besides, we’ve all been asking for change, right? Well it certainly feels like it is changing now. It certainly feels like it’s... But after all that had happened in the past week alone, what with that poor MP and her family and the horrific massacre in Orlando, you had assumed it would scare others the same way that it had scared you. Scare them into thinking straight.
The clock ticks. The clock is always ticking, and it sparks a feeling of panic in your chest. Confusion. Anxiety. Time is running out and you start to wonder when all of this began, because it wasn’t always like this, was it? It doesn’t have to be this way.
You’re thinking about the road, and the TV starts to flicker, but is it really flickering or are you just imagining it? And pretty soon you start to see your past, your entire life story displayed on the screen like a feature length film. But it's not one of those tasteless, big bucks blockbusters, mind, nah it's more of an arthouse jobby, y’know? Wobbly cinematography and a hauntingly melancholic soundtrack. And it’s just you and the TV and a thousand thoughts playing out in a kaleidoscopic collage of colour and sound.
And the clock is ticking.
And your heart is racing.
And you just cannot switch it off.
You just cannot switch off.
And then you realise you’re talking about yourself in the second person again, as you start to slip into another world way before all of this. Way before meetings and elections and agendas and responsibility. Way before the world was just one big fucking theme park. Way before the endless drudgery, the nonstop shitstorm that is just living on a day to day basis, breathing in this air as we hurtle towards something catastrophic, something so cataclysmic that from which there will be no return. The end is coming. The end is coming!
The end of... What, exactly?
Because you can’t have an ending without needing a start. And it doesn’t have to be this way, it doesn’t have to be this. It doesn’t have to be...
When out of nowhere, the refrain of an old male voice choir record your grandad used to listen to pops into your head. And you don't know why you are suddenly thinking about male voice choirs or grandads, but this refrain, these words, they start to circle in your mind, stuck on loop, round and round and round they go...
The tide rises, the tide falls.
The tide rises, the tide falls.
The tide rises, the tide falls.