Diarium (Noo Yoik ) Part 1 "Running Uphill"

"Should we start the packing?" enquires Vonnie Dooley 

Monday Jan 13th 

A mere handful of hours after this photo was taken I collapsed at the back door at misty midnight. 
It is 24 hours before I fly to America for the first time in my life. 
According to my diary I woke at 7,  dined on a banana then rocked up to a dentist to have my teeth boxed off before I stunned the craythurs in the front row.  
My smile has been disfigured for years from the slap of a bottle that chipped a front tooth, not to mention staining from smoking and caffeine. 
Amrish is a stunning man with sparkling gnashers and a heart of gold who came in on his day off to check the state of play and how much the teeth have lifted with bleaching.  
A lot actually, although he wasn't lying about the sensitivity. 
He took a mould of my mouth on Day 1 and then presented me with the plaster version of my own teeth as an aide de memoir, a keep sake if you will. 

"I know you are a Writer so I thought you'd like to have these" he remarked casually not realising I would happily  have stolen them from a locked cabinet.
I prefer to beg forgiveness than permission.  
There are few things more poignant than being presented with a model of ones own teeth. 
These are the things that keep me alive, these fragile shards of bone in gum, how sad they look. Despite not having a jaw attached they look as if it would be clenched. 
I un-clench mine and put them in my bag.  
He spends 90 minutes foostering around with my mouth -  drilling and sanding,  adding and subtracting, while I lie upside down with a giant rubber lip holder-backer in my mouth staring at the white light. 
A Channel 4 film crew should be in here capturing  a hoarder getting a make over. 
I am unrecognisable in the mirror when he lets me up. 

To prove that no good deed goes unpunished I ask him to re-create the scene from the play where I recall the last dental visit of my late Mother, Siobhán. 

"They have broken down, been re-absorbed and eliminated" says he throwing the ball of blue gloves into the stainless steel bin"  
 The Scourge - mdm 
Amrish = Legend (Despite the fact he is corpsing behind the mask) 

I run up the hill home to drink cold coffee through a straw. Then  retrieve a charger to send a myriad of emails, texts, and outrageous voice mails to all and sundry while my head is covered with tinfoil in a hair salon.  Eschewing the glossy magazines of models and ads to read my own script. 

It never gets easier to perform "The Scourge"

"Sure you must know it by now, sure didn't you write it, sure can't you say what you like up there, sure only you knows what you're going to say next sure??" says every deluded fool who doesn't know there is an entire team behind the scenes -  "on the book" - waiting for every word to hit like drips from a leaky tap. 

The words turn on the music and the lights. The words turn over the pages for the stage managers. The Director,  scowling from the bleachers listening for every beat. They are cues.
 The only one I have is the first 2 words over and over again like an installed refrain, a prayer.  "Jazuz, Siobhán!
They are the building blocks of the Jenga that becomes the entire performance. 
There are times I think I will open the scene with the first thought that enters my head by accident as I am manic. 

I eat a biscuit in the chair as they are colouring my blonde hair blonder. 
I drag myself up the hill to allow a man with a van access to the hall to leave in turf for the Skin & Blister who is dogsitting. 

On a public forum I announce I have yet to pack and so a friend and a film-maker  turn up to witness the spectacle of a scourge packing for a doll,  a stage production AND herself  in the city that never sleeps for nearly a month. 

"Let me get the actual footage of you trying to do that" laughs the film maker as he takes the cover off the camera. 

"In a minute" says I opening a freezing bottle of Prosecco as I am as high as a kite. 
T has filmed me for years. On and offstage, at beaches and convents, ranting at the table in candle-light, squinting in full sun, feeding the battery pack under my bra as he announces - 
 "This could be our Blues Brothers moment baby"  in a bar only shy of chicken wire. 

"There's too much" he is fond of saying with his head in his hands. 

An average day 

I become aware that I have drunk too much for someone who has eaten too little and on the second glass am slurring. I struggle to my feet and try to bypass M who is blocking access to the jacks in a kitchen that is 2ft square. I touch her firmly on the arm as I squeeze by and whisper "I'm not well"

The hypo usually announces its arrival by making me deaf, or feeling that I am in a gigantic conch listening to the sea, drowning in white noise. A flop sweat pours off me while I try to make my limbs work. M follows me to the back door in consternation. Slumped with the slugs I nod when she asks do I need sugar.
 "There's a Kinder Bueno on the table" I whisper very slowly as I try to breathe and remember who left it there. M runs in for the bar. My mouth is full of sand and trying to eat is like swallowing sawdust,  everything slowed down to that one singular moment, to the feel of the night air, to the tiny creaking of the slugs as they inch down the cold wet door I am leaning against. 
M produces a chair with a flourish in the exact moment my legs buckle.  
I lean forward and empty Prosecco over my boots in a gentle yawn. 

I can feel the Film-makers energy from the kitchen. 
"What can I do to help?" he calls to no one in particular.
"Film it" I respond as I believe in telling the truth. 
And that's why they call me the Scourge. 

On little fog feet he extends the lens as I sit sideways under a spire while the clock strikes midnight.

(To be continued) 





  1. 'I prefer to beg forgiveness than permission.' Brilliant.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Frankly Speaking - An Essay - Part 1

The One about the Tour with photographic proof