His name is Jo and her name is daisy. He for no particular reason runs in circles and she gurgles and releases dark matter into her nappy while at the same time burping. Nice. He is about two and a half and she is a few months old. They are the daughter and Son of Mark and his wife Kate. I watch the parents faces light up as their children wear the gifts I brought. I’ve just done a reading at a conference for a company called Rathbone http://www.rathboneuk.org. Their centres around the country help young people who have been left out in the cold.
A family-less life in children’s homes, for me, was not condusive with the giving or receiving of presents. Each year, new people. All change. We were encouraged not to form bonding relationships as they would always be broken by circumstance. One minute a child was there and a friendship was made. But I would return to the home from school and they were gone. And the next minute. It was me. I was gone. Another home. Such was the pattern established in my first eighteen years.
Family is just a continuom of habits and context. Without the context there is no habit without habit there is no context. Breaking and mending is the perfect imperfect habit of family. Dysfunction is all part of the function. Parting and returning, celebrating and mourning, disappearing and appearing are all the habits of family but there are more than Hate love hate and love. Eating meals, morning time, arguments and making up all of these are examples of the power of habit. And woven in are memories. Memory is the most habit relating action of the human. Presents are in some way a sometimes begrudging celebration of these events. An underlining. But without the presents the events still take place – it is the events that matter. I have learned to accept my past in the name of the present.
I leave Mark and Kate and jo and Daisy and get a cab to Contact Theatre. I make sure to call my old cab firm. The driver, a palestinian man with melancholic eyes – opens his arms. “my brother my brother”. I repeat it to. We get in the cab and talk talk talk all the way to the theatre. The usual topics are covered, family and the troubles. “you know ow big is palestine?” He says with his wonderful accent “a little bigger than fallowfield – can you believe that!”. We laugh and I say my goodbyes.
I enter the theater to meet Melanie Abrahams of renaissance One http://www.renaissanceone.com/ and Benji Reid http://www.benjireid.com/ director of Clockwork Orange at The National and britains foremost Hip Hop Theatre practitioner. At last contact theatre has a decent Shiraz and we down a few bottles and into the night. There’s nothing like the present is there.