[Monologue] Wet

In another monologue, a parent comforts a child whilst the wind & rain lashes down outside:

I know you’re scared… but you shouldn’t be. The storm sounds scary, but I want to tell you about another one, a lot like this one… without it, you probably wouldn’t even be here. It’s the storm that brought you Mum into my life…

We were both trying to catch the same bus. I could barely see anything through the rain. My umbrella was ruined, and I saw her running. She slipped and fell. She just lay there for a minute being drenched. She got up and saw me stood there with my broken umbrella under a drip from the shelter and we laughed.

We both blew off work that day. We sat over a radiator at a Costa Coffee, trying to dry ourselves off. I think we both probably looked a bit like loonies, but it was the best day I’d had in ages. I’d never sat and spoken to a complete stranger like that before. Hell, that’s not even the bus I normally go for – nor was it hers. We’d both been running late that day and everythging was going wrong. My laptop broke, she’d had a power cut, I’d had to deal with the cat again, she’d left her lunch at home.

We spent the whole day there. Huddled over the radiator. We’d wander off occasionally for refils. The staff there got to be quite friendly towards the end of the day. They even brought us a little bakewell as a “dessert for our date”. It hadn’t felt like a date. It hadn’t even crossed my mind until they’d said it. Just calling it a date feels wrong. I mean, it felt deep, it felt like it had weight. Not like some of the terrible experiences I’d had dating until that point.

I asked to see her again sometime. She said yes. We went for drinks down by the river. It rained again. We went to the British Museum on another rainy day, and dinner a week or two later… another rainy day. I started to enjoy rainy days. I felt like Gene Kelly prancing around the street.

We went back to the same Costa a year later. Over another bakewell, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I swear to you, the second she said yes, it started to rain. I actually started to cry.

It didn’t rain at our wedding. It did though when you were born. I remember being worried we’d crash on the way to the hospital, or that there’d be a snarlup, and all sorts of nasty things would end up happening. She was such a rock that day, she was in labor, and telling me to brethe.

So, you don’t need to be afraid of the storm, little one. You’re a child of the storm. Your Mum is the storm. We’re the storm. You’re going to take that and change the world, like Mum changed mine.

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[Story] Screaming

This one was deep in the drafts archive. I thought I’d published it a while back, but having been back through the whole thing, I couldn’t see it anywhere, so it gives me a chance to clean out what’s in the cupboard, whilst working on some new bits.

Screaming

Relentless screaming. Eyes burning, throat dry and a head full of screams.

His eyes open, shapes drifted in and out of focus. Looking around, blurred shapes became familiar objects. The alarm clock screaming “09:00” and a voice taunting him…

“Shouldn’t you be at work by now?”

Looking around, clothes, beer bottles and take-away cartons carpet the room.

“This place is disgusting…”

Getting to his feet, the voice continues.

“What’s this, the 10th time? 15th? People might be starting to think you have a problem…”

The voice comes from a smartly-dressed man in the corner, his gazed fixed, and a wolfish smile. A young man with short neat hair and dressed impeccably. He sticks out amongst the detritus, but is somehow familiar…

“You best make yourself presentable” he says.

“Why?”

The Stranger points over to the door, where a young woman stands. Slim, dark hair, she stands in the doorway wearing one of his shirts. She hands him a glass of water, and opens the curtains, flooding the room with light. He winces…

“Jeez Tom” she sighs “You really need to fix this fucking mess…”

Tom looks over, through the pain he can see her, haloed by the light. He nods sheepishly. The Stranger scrutinizes her, following her around as she hunts for her clothes.

“I don’t know why you let her boss you around Tommy…”

“What?” says Tom.

“I didn’t say anything” she replies, puzzled.

The Stranger gives Tom a playful shrug as he watches her getting dressed.

“Can you even say her name?” he asks

Tom racks his brain, the word forms in his brain, but he just can’t get it out.

“Sorry, hearing things… I should get dressed” he mumbles.

Rushing to the bathroom, he closes the door and slumps down against it. Trying to figure out what’s going on. His eyes close for a second and the voice returns.

“You never did answer my question… how many times does today make it?”

The Stranger looks on from the bathtub, playing with the rubber ducks.

“What the fuck are you doing in here?” exclaims Tom.

The Stranger feigns disgust

“No need for language… I’m just making conversation”

“She didn’t say anything when you asked about her bossing me…”

The stranger smiles and shrugs as Tom staggered to the shower. Switching it on, he looks back to the bathtub, and the Stranger has vanished. Stepping in, everything fades away as the warm water cascades over his face. He sees flashes of her face, her smile, and her eyes. He drifts off further. Flashes of the park. Her next to him. On top of him. Kissing him.

Suddenly, Panic. Running. He can’t see her anymore. Where did she go? Why can’t he find her?

Banging. Screaming. More running. Unfamiliar streets and dark alleys. Where is she? A figure… her? No… The Stranger. He’s pointing. More screaming. He doesn’t want to look where he’s pointing.

Banging.

“Tom!” he hears a shout “Tom!”

Something grabs him. He struggles, they fall to the floor.

“Tom! snap out of it! Tom!”

It’s her. He’s in his bathroom. He’s naked and on top of her. She looks terrified. The Stranger is standing in the doorway.

“I wish I had my phone…” he chuckles.

She wriggles and pushes to get free. Tom slumps to the ground, dazed.

“What’s…? Why?”

She throws a towel around him. She looks scared and tries to console him as The Stranger looks on, disgusted.

“Oh for fuck’s sake… You’re going to cry now? What the fuck’s wrong with you?”

“Just focus on my voice, Tom” she says, whispering in his hear.

“No wonder you’re such a fucking mess” shouts The Stranger.

“Let everything else fade away” she continues.

“You pathetic little shit” screams The Stranger as he lunges at them.

Curling into a ball, Tom screams, but nothing happens. Opening his eyes, it’s just her there. Crying and holding him.

“Tom, please come back to me” she pleads.

He looks around for The Stranger, nowhere to be seen. He grabs onto her.

“Please don’t leave me Annie…” he whimpers as he closes his eyes again.

“Shush. I’m always here”.

His eyes open. She’s gone. He’s alone, cold & wet on the bathroom floor.

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Story: Blink, Blink, Blink

Another story, this time on the suggestion of “Blink”

“I don’t know what to write. I don’t.
Blink, blink, blink.
I’ve been trying for months to come up with something. I sit down every day. Every day. I look up at the screen and all I can see is that cursor blinking at me. It just sits there, like it’s daring me to write something, just anything.
Blink, blink, blink.
You know, the other day I sat looking at that screen for 4 hours. I didn’t move. I sat there just staring at that cursor, hoping something would come. Nothing. Just that blinking cursor.
Blink, blink, blink.
Words used to just flow, y’know? I’d just sit there, my hands would cross the keyboard and entire pages would just appear. It was good too… I didn’t even have to… I remember that first book. The feeling when that was finished. Urgh. I’d give anything for that feeling again. I can’t though, can I?
Blink, blink, blink.
I tried writing longhand. I hadn’t picked up a pen like that in so long. It felt strange, that weight in the hand, the feel of the paper. Nothing came. Staring at it, all I could see was that cursor again. Blinking on the paper.
Blink, blink, blink.
I know. I swear though, it was there. Right there on the paper. I shrugged it off, that I was just tired. I see it everywhere now though.
Blink, blink, blink.
I look in the mirror in the morning, it’s there.
Blink, blink, blink.
I look through a window.
Blink, blink, blink.
My glasses.
Blink, blink, blink.
It sits there. It wants my words. It isn’t going to stop until it has them all.
Blink, blink, blink.
There isn’t anyway to satisfy it.
Blink, blink, blink.
I’m sorry.
Blink. Blink. Blink.

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Monologue: Distant

Another monologue… this time on a suggestion of “Distant”.

It’s over. Truth be told, I think we’ve both known that for some time. I mean, how long has it been since we’ve even been in the same room together? 

I’ve had a lot of time to think. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of time apart. I don’t think I’ve slept properly in a while because of it. I keep replaying everything over in my head. I blamed you for a long time. Did I tell you that? I hated that you made me feel this way, that I was growing resentful of myself. Then I realised that it wasn’t your fault. I was making me feel this way. I got so caught up in feeling angry and feeling sorry for myself that I hadn’t realised I was dragging you into it all.

You don’t need my permission to be angry with me, I know that. But you have it. I do still love you. I hope you know that too. It’s just that relationships can adn do end, y’know? Trying ot hold on to them when they’re not what you need at that point in time just makes things worse. I know if I try to keep you here, you’ll end up hating me, and I don’t want that.

I forgot that you have your shit do deal with. I forgot that it’s my job to help you with that. I forgot that we’re a team, and we have our shit to deal with. I made it all about me, when I should have been making it about us. That’s on me. I did this to us. Not you. I should have realised how insensitive I was being. I won’t try to explain why I did what I did. I had no business interfering with what you tell your family. That’s for you. I had no business trying to force the issue. I know you don’t have the same relationship with your family that I do with mine. That always sat oddly with me. That first Christmas we had at your parents’ place? Remember? For what it’s worth, I think your Mum already knew. They always seem to know.

There’s no point in dragging this out. I thought long and hard about it, and I’d really like us to part as friends. I think we had a really good time togther in between the shitshow. I’d like to keep remembering that part. You’ve been an incredible part of my life, and I can’t even begin to thank you for that. That’s the part I want to keep. I don’t want arguments & recriminations to taint that. That’s not up to me though, I guess. 

I do still love you. It’s not the love we started with, but it’s there, and it’s strong. I can only hope you’re able to forgive me someday, then maybe I can forgive myself for putting you in that position.

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Story: Trophy

Another monologue… This time from a suggestion of “Trophy”:

It’s weird, right? Stressing over something so small. I mean, it shouldn’t be that big a deal, but it is. It’s my trophy. I won it. I put in the hours and effort, I sacrificed for it, it’s mine.

I mean, she doesn’t even want it. She said so.

She said to me “Karen, I don’t care if I win”.

That drives me crazy. How could you not want to win? Isn’t that the point? I mean, why take part if you’re not wanting to win? What is the actual point? Dad always said “If you’re not a winner, then you’re a loser, and we’re not a family of losers”. So that’s driven me all through my life. I have to be first. I have to be the one to win. Nothing else matters. The highest grades in school, medals at the sports days, being top of the class. Nothing else matters.

Nothing.

If I don’t win, then I’m out. I’m a winner. I always have been and always will. It’s what’s important. Dad would always take me for a reward when I won. We’d spend time together, he’d ask me about how I won, what the reaction of the other kids was, could I do something else to win better next time? It’s the only time I ever saw him smile was when he talked about how to crush the losers in my life. I live for those moments with him. He told me once that one of his biggest disappointments in life was that his first child was me. He wanted a son… that’s how he’d know he was a winner. His brother didn’t have kids, so he’d be the winner in that competition. Raise a male heir to carry on his line.

He got me though. He blamed Mum for that. I have a memory of them screaming at each other when I was young about how she was trying to ruin him. For as long as I can remember, they’ve slept in separate rooms. They never paid me any attention growing up… Nanny ended up raising me. She’s the one who helped me to my first win. She helped me train to win the egg & spoon race at School. That first one was amazing. I left everyone else in the dust. Everyone cheering for me when I crossed that line. Bliss.

When we got home that day, Dad saw us coming in and saw the trophy. He smiled and said “Well done”. The first thing he’d said to me in months. I knew from that point on what I had to do. I had to win at everything. So I did. Every race, every competition, everything. Every time I came home with a trophy, he’d say something to me. He said to me once that “maybe a daughter wasn’t so bad after all”. I almost cried.

I put all my attention where it needed to be. On winning. Nothing else matters. Did I tell you my school report said once “She needs to realise that there’s more to life than winning”? Dad was particularly pleased with that. He said to me “Karen, this teaches you the most important lesson of all. To identify those who’ll drag you down and to cut them out of your life. Anyone who isn’t pushing you to be your best is worthless to you”. I cut everyone else out of my life. The only thing that matters was winning. If I set my mind to it, it was mine. That’s how I got to be where I am. Liv doesn’t care if she wins. Doesn’t that tell you something? Liv is satisfied with second. How can she be satisfied with second? How is that not eating her up? How does that not feel like a thousand stabs in her chest? How does that not burn her up? I don’t get it. What drives her if it’s not the need to win? Why does she even bother to get up? She’s got kids, and she doesn’t care about winning? What kind of message is that to them? They’ll grow up to be losers.

Like me.

No. No, she cheated. I can’t be a loser. I don’t lose. My family aren’t a bunch of losers. Dad said so. I can’t let him see me being a loser.

I can’t.

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2017: A Photo 365 Project

One of the things I’ve always wanted to try was a Photo365 project (capture one picture a day for a year). It was a surprisingly tough challenge when most of your days involve traveling to/from a bland business park in West London.
2017: A Photo 365 Journal
I’m pleased with some of the results. I think I’ve started to get a better understanding of what goes into making a nice picture, and the whole thing has been a pretty cool way of reviewing the year.

It’s been a lot of cocktails, knitting, travels & showtunes. I’d be happy if 2018 was something similar.

A “Best 9” compilation of my Instagram

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The Negotiations Failed…

Seeing my friend Madeley‘s retweet and additional commentary:

I followed up with a few more to round out the story… (included here sans @-replies…)

Shot transitions through scenes of empty stores, shuttered offices… Focuses in on a drunk guy in a Union Flag suit by Parliament.

The focus tightens to the man’s face… It’s revealed to be a bedraggled, bearded Nigel Farage.

He’s startled from his stupor… Turns to the camera and says “Oh! Welcome! Welcome to the glorious and independent Britain!”

His hand gestures across the skyline… Smoke wafts across the sky, as screams are heard in the distance

He struggles… As if trying to remember something… “OH YES! We start here at the home of Democracy!” pointing to Parliament

The shot pans across the grounds… No sign of anyone… A cat stalks some pigeons

He stares at you… “Did you bring food?” he asks… “we’re waiting for a trade deal to kick in, so we’re all on a national diet”

The camera pans out, transitional shots of the narrator and Nigel walking up Whitehall, past a shuttered McDonald’s

He stares wistfully through the window… “The US told us we’d be better off without these, they were right…”

The walk continues… past an ocean of detritus in Trafalgar Square. Empty shells of shops on Regents Street

“Ah! My favourite store!” he cries… running to a kiosk selling tourist tat. The stall holder looks forlorn…

At this point, Madeley implores me to stop…

So I decided to finish off the story here…

Efforts to engage the store-holder in conversation fail, his eyes are hollow and empty. Nigel seems not to notice

“Good stock today Chris! Jolly good stuff!” as he moves a grimy model of Westminster, and a broken snow globe of Buckingham Palace

The tour wanders on. We arrive at the British Museum. Nigel seems upset, mutters about “so called experts”. He bristles when I suggest wander in, but relents and we go inside.
Tattered posters and glass litter the floor.

“The ‘experts’ tried to tell us how to safeguard the exhibits” he scoffs “that we shouldn’t touch things”

“So obviously, they had to go… but they sabotaged everything… all the ancient things broke when we played with them”.

The shot transitions outside, as we watch the narrator and Nigel wander through more streets. A sequence of shots where the narrator tries and fails to engage passers by. They appear catatonic. “Marvellous, isn’t it? The city is burbling with witty English banter! We’re renowned for it!” after several unsuccessful attempts.

The loop ends back at Parliament. Shot tightens on Nigel’s face. He seems disappointed. “You won’t forget about us, will you?”

Fade to black.

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