A mixture of pieces of writing, some recent, but many older. Some of them are written to be spoken aloud, ranted, recorded or for performance, maybe imagine a voice speaking it, some is just thoughts about things, about teaching performance, some are stories.
On a bench, near the fountain on the inner
circle of Regent’s Park there was a new brass plaque that said
Oh how the night owl calls
calling calling from its tree!
Lolita Aldave Green
Barcelona - St Albans
I wondered how it came to be ...
I put the photo of the plaque on Facebook and wondered if there would be any response.
A friend replied within minutes matter of factly:
‘I assume it is a bench set there in memory of Lolita Green and sometimes the family/
friends or those remembering the deceased, attach a plaque instead of simple
having the bench carved with the message... (?)
This seemed a bit prosaic, more of a slightly irritated explanation,or a bit of a tease than a
flight of fantasy and I replied ‘Aah yes of course’ but a possible story was forming in my
head felt there was more to the strange words on the plaque, and then, a couple of
minutes later, she said:
I think the night owl is literal but probably refers to Lolita as well - a way to suggest her
voice remains present in the owls or she is reincarnated as an owl (or something ...).
Perhaps she was a 'night owl' (?) or loved nature. It is very interesting actually and rather
more inspiring than the average engraving on a bench.
Then another friend sent this:
‘The line is from Lorca’s poem, Ballad of the Moon’
I googled it and found a translation of the poem
which included the words
‘Oh, how the night owl calls,
calling, calling from its tree!,
I thanked him for letting us know the text on the plaque was a quote from a Lorca poem
And I wrote this possible story (there could be many) born from true fragments:
She was born Lolita Gonzalez, the youngest of 12 children in a noisy
family who lived selling agua in one of the busiest loudest parts of Barcelona.
Sometimes she escaped from her family from the hot crowded sweaty city to the
hills where she would talk to the owls. It was rumoured that sometimes the
gypsies would come dancing through these woods. She was always hoping they
would so she could run away with the gypsies but they never came and so she
never ran away with them. Disappointed that they never appeared, but still
wanting to escape, she took a train down to Sitges on the coast where, on the
beach, absently walking along deep in thought she met an English film director,
Dave (Al) Green who was showing his English Tourist board funded short 'A
Guide to St.Albans' at the Sitges film festival. The film didn’t fit in with the
other festival films and he didn’t fit in with the trendy euro film scene so he took
a stroll on the beach where he met Lolita. Both outsiders, they fell together,
conspiratorially in love. Well they married and she had found her escape. She
moved to England swapping St. Albans for Barcelona, choosing sparrows over
owls, suburbia over forest, grey drizzle over blue heat, winter coats over sweaty
T-shirts, afternoon tea over siesta, protestantism over paganism, settlers over
nomads, safe living over free living... a typical marriage really, they chose it
living their quiet life of domesticity together in suburbia while dreaming of
elsewhere she spent the rest of her life here, a life so humdrum occasionally she
would wander at night sleep walking the streets of St Albans. Occasionally she
would take a train to London and sit in the park at dusk to talk to the owls who
were her only true friends (apparently). and later in her early 60s she passed on
mourned by her husband. Dave(Al) Green outlived Lolita but, when he was so
tired of being alone and missing his Lolita, he would catch the train to London
and wander round the park looking for owls to remind him of his beloved, but
the owls had stopped singing and he had time to kill before the train went back
up to St.Albans. Dave was caffeine free but he did have a little silver hip flask
containing a double shot of Tesco whisky.
Years later, he died in the house he shared with Lolita. His body lay
undiscovered for weeks and the house was carpeted with owl droppings. An
empty whisky bottle lay near his out stretched corpse and in his hand was an
open book of Lorca's poems.
and if ever I should have any contact with the family of Aldave and Lolita and
hear the true version of the plaque on the bench by the fountain in the park, I
wonder where the truth will entwine with fiction. Facts are just visible points of
the whole story from which threads hang. And this whole story varies from
wherever its told and who ever tells it and this story may be a mirror of some
I remember, privileged to be in Berlin in autumn 89, a few days before the wall came down and witnessing how the wall, a huge forbidding edifice of concrete barbed wire and no mans land that divided worlds, divided a a city, families, lives, guarded by young men with machine guns, a place of death for many years, just physically was dismantled and became a thing of the past once people stopped believing in the separation. Belief in it just dissolved. We, my brother and I, were in Berlin performing The Summit at the Tempodrom on the Reichstag lawn.
On an afternoon off, I went to the short distance, about 1/2 a mile to Checkpoint Charlie. Picture this: at Checkpoint Charlie,where a street crossed the wall going from west to east. There was a white line, representing the wall dividing east from west, painted on the road. It was guarded by East German border guards with rifles. At that time, the week before the fall of the wall many East Berliners, 'Ossies' (the German for 'east is 'Ost') as they were nicknamed by the 'Wessies', had crossed the wall. They congregated at the wall to taunt the border guards from the West Berlin side of the line, who, rifles lowered, no longer believed in the military orders to shoot anyone crossing the line. The Ossies would put fingers and toes across the line- where a few days earlier they would have been killed for such an act, now it was a taunt, a joke about power. Belief in the wall had gone. It evaporated in days that autumn. At the time, it felt human beings had evolved beyond wall building. Now, the old knee jerk fear re-emerges.The Mexican Wall and Brexit mentality seems to have proved that wrong, but it became clear that the wall had to exist in people's mind for the physical wall of bricks and mortar to exist .That is the true importance of this event now.
I suspect that attitude of wall building, barriers against the other are more and more becoming redundant concepts.
There is mingling of people there is mixing of cultures. The 'fear of the other' attitude that builds walls wants to return the world to a time that has gone
The ease with which people judge others with 'oh he's mad' or 'oh he's on medication' or ''oh he's a bit asperger's' ... etc.They adopt the language of mental medicine to dismiss others disparaging them explaining away under the guise of seeming compassionate and understanding. Have they considered that we are all mad just that some hide it more than others. People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones
For happy clappy people who pretend that mindless positivism and ignoring negative FACTS can beat the blues, here's a dose of Seneca:
'It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us. But the grief that has been conquered by reason is calmed for ever.
Much better to look realistically at your rubbish and then be cheerful and carry on, than act as if its not there. Thanks to Maria Popova and Brain pickings: https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/05/02/seneca-consolation-to-helvia/
I was walking along a narrow pavement earlier and I heard wheels of small suitcase behind me- someone walking fast
I must have half turned or changed my step or tensed,
anyway, something signalled my nervousness because as he (obviously in a hurry, rushing to catch a train) passed me on the narrow pavement he said "no worries its ok '. I had no idea I was that obviously shaky. He read my nervousness from behind. That instant readability of inner to outer state, from emotion. to muscle to action, the physical expression is so desirable
but often unattainable on stage. Actors long for it. Meyerhold called it 'reflex excitability'. It makes a performer magnetic. Michael Chekhov wrote a book about it
But in real life its fools gold, Its perturbing, embarrasing,
Last night just as I turning off computer and was going to bed, news began to filter through of the terrorist attack on London Bridge. Different and more shocking than Westminster Bridge attack; that was more aimed at tourists and symbollically near parliament: London Bridge is aimed more at the life and beating heart of the city - it's timing- 10.30 on Saturday eve and the place- London Bridge and borough market packed with people packed with good food, small trendy businesses, near the city- although maybe not great to ascribe too much strategy to the terrorists - maybe it was random-(maybe they had the opportunity and went for it) it seem systematic and strategic. I haven't walked over Westminster bridge for years but walked through Borough Market a couple of weeks ago so maybe the shock I feel is my own but it is a shock many will feel and the uncertainty of trusting the city to host your social time, whether strategic or spontaneous is its effect.