The Present

I’m off to Rochdale. One of the theatre members there told me and the rest of the youth theatre  that Rochdale is “the promiscuity capital of Europe”. I asked how he got that shining nugget of information . “t’internet” he says.

But before the journey  must buy The Journalist a birthday present. It’s her Birthday tomorrow.  Neither of us are good at Birthdays. For her   Birthday is the anniversary of her birth mothers death – died at her birth. I can impart this information The Journalist already wrote a book about it. What people don’t realise about deep childhood trauma is that the event is compounded  each year of adult life – becomes more real rather than more distant.  There’s no hiding from it.   As someone who was fostered by violent  people for the first eleven years and then lived in five childrens homes, I know.   As someone who has searched for his family throughout his adult life,  found them and within seven years was excommunicated  because of a play he wrote about finding them,  I know.  I shall receive on my birthday, not one Birthday card from noone that I can call family.  Birthday is a reminder of all this.  So I m not the best on Birthdays. I don’t remember friends birthdays. It’s not the best way to be.

“ But friends are your  true family” is  often the reaction from well meaning  friends. But “friends” can only
be “the true family” if you have a family to compare them to.  If you can say “my friends are closer to me
than family” then you are – whether you like it or not – actually confirming the importance of family. And if you do the opposite – example: nobody is closer to me than my sister –  it’s the same.   
It’s all in the comparison. It’s all about context.  Whether your experience of family is good or bad is not the point.  I’d be a fool to think that family is good per se.    The experience is all. Births deaths marriages, weekends, holidays arguments and fall outs are all part of the life long dialogue which makes you, you.  Knowing that you don’t want to be like them validates their influence upon you  as much as wanting to emulate them.  It’s all relative. 

No wonder I became an artist  No wonder the imagination became my home. Limitless boundless lawless imagination.  However crushed i  find myself in this dis-logic I find  the strength not to
survive (survival’s for suckers) but live, truly live in the moment.  Birthdays are never in the moment – they are consumed with  the past and the future and very rarely the present.   And I expect this is the gift that I could present to my friends, the Journalist and mostly to myself.  To live in the moment.  

So after shopping in central London this morning  I travelled to Rochdale with the presents –  three hundred miles – then did a talk wth  M6 Youth Theatre – those wonderful intelligent active young people.  I’m commissioned to write a poem to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. Thirtieth anniversary for a youth theatre – sounds wrong doesn’ t it.  I whisk back another  three hundred miles back through sunny england and arrive home at five minutes into The Journalists birthday. The Journalist is asleep and quietly I place the presents around the kitchen with a note.   “Quietly” is a relative term.  I think she will be happy. Too tired to think.  G’Night.   


4 thoughts on “The Present

  1. Dear Lemn,
    I am just speechless after reading this about your family and their reaction to the play. I'd want to say something useful, but I can't.

  2. I am shocked and speechless too. I did not know this had happened.
    I got back from Ethiopia yesterday. Had an amazing trip. Will write to you very soon. I have a lot to say and ask.
    By the way, you were right. It is me!

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