I have taken the week off, with no firm excuse. One of my few similarities that I share with Churchill, (not the Insurance company dog, the war time Prime Minister) is his star sign, Sagittarius, and like him, I suffer from “the black dog” from time to time. In the past I have tried to find the reasons, and at this point I could list a few. My office job has been annoying me, with no raise on its daily fee for over two years, a broken toilet door that had to remain slightly ajar in an open plan office for months, a boiler that is on the blink adding to a general monotony of the tasks involved. It has unfortunately created a pitiful, joyless atmosphere among my colleagues.
The interminable flooding winter which ominous soothsayers, forgive me, I meant, reporters are repeating has not happened in hundreds of years and will now never end has added to the anxiety, despite the facts that bad weather has been a predicament of this country, particularly in the winter, since I can recall. So desperate are journalists to make a meal of this endless drama, that news footage is shown over and over again, with more and more desperate and unhappy victims being exploited, forgive me, interviewed, so that the journalists can know “how they really feel, in their own words, how they really, really feel.” We seem to forget that whether real or not, Noah had to build an ark because of endless rainfall, Californians, Greeks and Japanese have to live under the constant threat of earthquakes and yet the news items about our historical disaster continues.
The tube strike just added to our misery, how were we going to get to work, how are we meant to function, how are businesses meant to continue, what’s become of this world, why are people so shitty, why are tax bills at this time of year, why do things cost so much nowadays, why are heating bills so extortionate, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.
Meanwhile, with all the time in the world to contemplate, the focus ends up being drawn to what it all means. Speaking for myself, I wonder that an actress such as myself whose skill and tendency to make people laugh or at least bring a little joy into the world is being denied her, because of the lack of roles or her profile being too feeble, forcing me into such a self-indulgent funk that taking the week off was the only option.
I tend to treat the bleak sensations like a bad cold, wandering around in sloppy clothes and usually watching four or five re-runs of The Waltons in one sitting, having a cry over those, having a bath every night, and trying my best to be as nice as possible, within limits, to the Captain. As the rain splatters like cups of sand against the window, I have a memory of landing in the UK after Christmas for my second term at boarding school, aged twelve. My parents lived in Kuala Lumpur at the time and having been brought up with them until that point, this was my second departure from them. (The first had been them taking me to the school while they were still on home leave in the UK, where they had escorted me to it, which I might add, was not a bundle of laughs). The company my father worked for organised a car to pick me up and hail and rain splattered onto the windscreen of the car, while we made slow progress to the grey, bleak convent boarding school, where, at the time, I was being sent to Coventry because I “bugged” some of the girls. Ahhhhh, happy happy days.
No news reporter can persuade me that we have never had it this bad. This country is famous for its crap weather and laughed about in Europe and abroad, because all visitors have to pack four seasons’ clothing when they wish to visit. Rihanna sang about her Umbrella for nine weeks one summer, it rained throughout the song being a hit. Let us just ride with it, put up with it, grit our teeth, bear it, like the good ol’ Brits that we are. This too will pass. The greatest playwright in the whole world comes from this country. He would not have been able to create the storm scene in King Lear without our weather:
Lear. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ th’ world,
Crack Nature’s moulds, all germains spill at once,
That makes ingrateful man!
It is our people that make us the country that everyone wants to inhabit, our creativity, our language and our laughter. A recent train journey left most of us in stitches, some passengers wishing to skip their stop, because the driver’s announcements became so funny. Our journey began from Victoria where he announced that he was sorry for all the delays, but there had been a mix-up with the drivers, a fact he was rather unhappy to relate. He then mentioned that he was not even sure the tannoy system could be heard, in which case it was possible that he was actually just talking to himself. He sighed, muttered Hello, to any of us who might be listening, and as we arrived at the next stop, he declared it a miracle. Arriving at a stop at all, under the circumstances was in his opinion, a miracle,and we should all join him in the jubilations he felt over this fact. A few stops further, and sounding like John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, he apologised for yet another delay. This was due to the fact that the replacement driver who was meant to be driving the very train we were on had yet to arrive. Long sighs down the tannoy led to him being fairly close to breaking into song, when the new driver arrived. What other country, I ask you, would we get this priceless entertainment? It is better than anything that I am watching on television right now. Except of course for Justified, on Netflix which I highly recommend.
I have over the years, been trying to add to this creative impulse, and having written two little novellas, and forty thousand words of a literary novel and one sit-com pilot, I have written my first little one Act play which I am getting very talented mates to read for me in a secret place for no other ears than mine (and the Captain’s). This huge favour is going to allow me the possibility of tweaking and re-writing it. Or indeed, holding my head in my hands and wailing to the wind, depending on the result. I guess the Captain needs to be ready for all possibilities.
Meanwhile, while I found the Olympics’ fever very slightly irritating, I now miss it. Forgive me for disliking it so much, I wish for that tone back. Let us just put up with the weather and win, win, win. Courage, mes braves!