Came across a letter today from Lez Cooke, Senior Researcher at Royal Holloway, London University. I had thought the virus had passed me by, but he reminded me of some lines which I’d written in a play I had part written and then abandoned, giving up the attempt to rewrite about our present disasters. I seem to be searching for something not in our grasp on this earth.
JOE: Your grandmother loved Jess…saw her as my salvation…Jess was nearly nine months pregnant when Jack died so I wouldn’t let her come to the funeral……..and I stood with mum at the cemetery and held her arm while the vicar said his piece……She didn’t cry…I suspect I was closer to tears than she probably was…….and it came into my head that it was deeper for her than tears……Tears were easy…..It was the resurrection and the life………”The sure and certain hope of the life of the world to come”…….She was hanging on every word…..for without it all the long days and the light and darkness of the world she’d lived through were as nothing… I glared at the vicar who was mechanically dribbling out the comfortable words….I wanted the authority of Geilgud or the passion of Olivier…….
And I looked beyond the cemetery at the view; the same view I saw when they buried my gran and my granddad……The pithead where he’d slaved for an eternity under the ground where I stood…….the slag heaps – all those tons of effort……It was where I came from…my north country roots….the culture of sacrifice and creation that had shaped the world that I’d inherited that made this country my own …… Words started to form in my head,,..,and then came the pictures…..and as I stood there I was beginning to write a play……..”
“Just as well it never had an audience” my grandmother would have said.
“It really is very good,” Lez wrote, and some great comments”.I thought of the agony of filling the empty pages; the attempt to write beyond your means. I just wish he isn’t the most perceptive critic I know.