Today is programmed.

I was 56 years old on the 17th October.

We haven’t stopped. 

We haven’t stopped.

I’m writing this on Thursday, for Saturday. I’m writing this in the office, on Fran’s desk, not on my bed at home.  Our office is in Manchester, opposite the Arndale fish market. Fran’s not in today. She only does one day a week. She manages our finances. She pays my wages. Fish is an issue in the office.

My wages come from Quarantine. It’s a company limited by guarantee and a charity. When I set it up I was its sole director and my friend Catherine our Company Secretary. I haven’t seen her for ages. Hardly at all since her wedding.  I had to resign as a director when we became a charity. Even though my job title has the word “director” in it, I’m not legally a director of the company. It felt exposing to hand over the company to a Board. I was slightly resentful. I experienced mild peril, like in the films.  I’m on other companies’ Boards now – Action Hero and Islington Mill. That helps. Catherine’s brother Michael is my oldest close friend. I met him when he was 16, I was 18, on a visit to their house in Heald Green. I was at University with Catherine, in Leeds. I made cocktails for her 21st birthday party. I DJ’d at The Phono. Michael is now a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognise or acknowledge our ‘roles’ when we’re with each other. I enjoy talking about philosophy with him, but my knowledge is very homespun. I know that I’m intelligent, but I’m not very learn-ed.  Michael is Quarantine’s Philosopher-in-Residence.  We’re going to pay him annually with a case of beer. He is interested in philosophy of the emotions. He recently wrote a book about suffering.  And one about pain.

I’m writing this on Friday, for Saturday. With breakfast. 

In another 20 years time I shall be 76 years old. Or dead.


We haven’t stopped.

We haven’t stopped.

The commitments.

The full name of The Phono was Le Phonographique. It was in the basement of the Merrion Centre.  At first I DJ’d there on Thursdays, then on Fridays, I think. With Gary Marson and then with Ruth Glaser. This was from 1985 to 1987.  A very drunk man asked me for Lionel Richie. He kept on saying “Hello”. That’s true not a joke but I find it funny. The following year I got a full-time job in theatre for the first time.

Last week I walked through the English Garden in Munich at dusk. I felt safe. I stood on the bridge. The park was well used. I could tell that there was pleasure in the air. While I was there, it became more difficult to make out people’s features as the light faded. It was last Sunday. I’d only ever been to the airport before.

My father was 47 when I was born and my mother was 40. I don’t have any children.

We’re doing this because we want to stop and think. And because we know that the (performative) act of thinking and writing about thinking in public makes us write and think differently. That perhaps if we make any promises we’ll feel more committed to keeping them. Because we talk differently to you from how we talk to each other, even if we try not to.

I may have invented a memory about my mum and the death of her father. He worked in a foundry. My mum was the youngest of 14. She was sent to cycle home with the news that he’d just died and as she cycled through Belper it was announced that the war had ended and there were crowds and cheering and, in my imagined version, streamers.

We haven’t stopped. There were things we were already doing, already committed to – a tour, a regular conversation, a Board meeting, a house. This idea came too late – but I still wanted to do it. Something has definitely stopped. I really am using this to work out with you what might come next. I don’t know about the others. We haven’t stopped.

I’ve no idea who you are. I’ve no idea whether what you’re reading is what I thought I was saying. It’s rare for me to write like this.

20 years ago when I was 36 years old I decided that I wanted to set up a theatre company instead of working for other people. I’d been working in theatre for 15 years then, since I was 21. Although I’d worked as a theatre director all that time I’d only just started to feel like an artist because I’d started to make work from nothing, rather than direct somebody else’s play. I wish I’d known sooner. I wish I’d had a different education. I wish I’d been more informed. I wish I’d sought out more information. I wish I’d been bolder. I wish I’d learned more. I wish I’d been braver. I lost interest in plays. I hardly ever go to the theatre.

I may have confused a memory about my mum’s dad with a scene from a Terence Davies film.  I can’t ask her.  She died on 16th August 2009. She was 87 years old. To be honest, I’ve never really liked his films.

Something about what remains.

I’ve stuck with this because it’s what I know and what I do and because it gives me freedoms that nothing else would. Once in a far-off while I love it. Proper love. That’s enough. I turned down a job that would have doubled my wages and increased my budget tenfold.  It would have killed me.  Maybe literally eventually and at the very least murdered any vestige of affection for the form.

Last Sunday I walked through the English Garden in Munich at dusk. I felt safe. I stood on the bridge.

Before my mum’s dad died, they sewed his eyelid shut. That’s true. I’m virtually sure of it.


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