April 3, 2017
Left and right back, high up, two small windows, curtains drawn.
Front right, a door. Hanging near door, its face to wall, a picture.
Front left, touching each other, covered with an old sheet, two ashbins.
Center, in an armchair on castors, covered with an old sheet, Hamm.
Motionless by the door, his eyes fixed on Hamm, Clov. Very red face.
Clov goes and stands under window left. Stiff, staggering walk. He looks up at window left. He turns and looks at window right. He goes and stands under window right. He looks up at window right. He turns and looks at window left. He goes out, comes back immediately with a small step-ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes six steps (for example) towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes three steps towards window left, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, takes one step towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, goes with ladder towards ashbins, halts, turns, carries back ladder and sets it down under window right, goes to ashbins, removes sheet covering them, folds it over his arm. He raises one lid, stoops and looks into bin. Brief laugh. He closes lid. Same with other bin. He goes to Hamm, removes sheet covering him, folds it over his arm. In a dressing-gown, a stiff toque on his head, a large blood-stained handkerchief over his face, a whistle hanging from his neck, a rug over his knees, thick socks on his feet, Hamm seems to be asleep. Clov looks him over. Brief laugh. He goes to door, halts, turns towards auditorium.
CLOV (fixed gaze, tonelessly):
Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished.
Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap.
I can’t be punished any more.
I’ll go now to my kitchen, ten feet by ten feet by ten feet, and wait for him to whistle me.
Nice dimensions, nice proportions, I’ll lean on the table, and look at the wall, and wait for him to whistle me.
(He remains a moment motionless, then goes out. He comes back immediately, goes to window right, takes up the ladder and carries it out. Pause. Hamm stirs. He yawns under the handkerchief. He removes the handkerchief from his face. Very red face. Glasses with black lenses.)
– to play.
(He takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes, his face, the glasses, puts them on again, folds the handkerchief and puts it back neatly in the breast pocket of his dressing gown. He clears his throat, joins the tips of his fingers.)
Can there be misery –
– loftier than mine? No doubt. Formerly. But now?
Oh I am willing to believe they suffer as much as such creatures can suffer. But does that mean their sufferings equal mine? No doubt.
No, all is a –
the bigger a man is the fuller he is.
And the emptier.
What dreams! Those forests!
Enough, it’s time it ended, in the shelter, too.
And yet I hesitate, I hesitate to… to end. Yes, there it is, it’s time it ended and yet I hesitate to –
– to end.
God, I’m tired, I’d be better off in bed.
(He whistles. Enter Clov immediately. He halts beside the chair.)
You pollute the air!
Get me ready, I’m going to bed.
March 25, 2017
Diary 24th / 25th March
Question: What is the hardest thing to write about?
Answer: Happiness – anyone car write about misery, it’s easy. But real happiness with all its stubborn imperfections is the subject matter of great writers (unfortunately, I’m far from being a great writer).
My own writing evokes an inner world, a world of projections, fantasies and demonic illusions – or such is my intention. It is a world of emotionally greedy women, men whose incredible egoism is pushing them towards madness, and precocious adolescents who form an integral part (whether willingly or not) of the “ME” generation, which we seem to have created during the past three decades. All in their own way are seeking love and happiness; and all are sublimely selfish, considering only themselves in the paths they choose to take.
In good art we do not ask for realism; we ask for truth.
Pussy is a good moisturiser for the whole face. I like to apply it nightly. Even daily if the opportunity presents itself.
I have some sympathy with Oscar Wilde when he said: ‘I have no objection to anyone’s sex life as long as they don’t practice it in the street and frighten the horses.’ No one should ever want to frighten the horses.
‘As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note’ – so said Georges Bizet, and I totally agree.
December 6, 2016
Diary 6th December
Muggy this morning. The sky fell on the moor during the night, smothering it and its few inhabitants in this damp closeness.
Yesterday I did a little work. A very little work. Finished reading “About KANE: the playwright and the work” by Graham Saunders. Here, we are able to read Sarah Kane’s own words on her plays. For example this, on ascribing meaning to the play “Crave”:
‘I was trying to do something different with Crave which was in a way about not releasing control, but about opening up options. In some ways for me Crave is very specific. It has very fixed and specific meanings in my mind, which no one else can possibly know, unless I told them. For example, who here knows what 199714424 means? None of you knows. I’m the only person that knows – beside the actors – and I’ve no intention of telling anyone what it means. So I can’t possibly expect to see the same production twice.’
An excellent little book, highly recommended.
Diebus ac noctibus…ingemiscit.
And who dealt me the feckin’ Ace of Spades on the day of my birthing? A card of ill omen, if ever there was one, full of malice, misfortune and perhaps death.
November 19, 2016
Diary 19th November
Fact is unstable by its very nature.
Visit to T yesterday. We spent Samhain at her enchanting home with its menagerie of dogs, cats and chickens. Trees surrounding the house were finally turning to the russet colours of autumn – and so near the end of November, too. It’s very peaceful here. And T is probably the maddest, but most contained woman I have ever met. She works such incredible magic. She is totally at one with her world and the people in it.
She points to a white feather on the ground beneath a chestnut tree. ‘That,’ she says, her voice gentle but totally sincere, ‘is an angel’s feather. It means good luck to us here today.’
And I feel she really believes this feather is fallen from an angel, not from the back of a near albino chicken clucking about in the undergrowth.
How I envy her the simplicity of her chosen lifestyle…
Two years ago her aunt was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. T concentrated single-mindedly on her aunt’s recovery day-in, day-out, for a period of four months. She said at the time, ‘I don’t know if it’ll do any good. These thing are either meant to be or not. We can only try to intervene. It’s all we can do…’
Her aunt’s doctors at Derriford hospital were astonished when a scan showed the cancer in remission. Within two months the cancer had gone and the aunt had made a full recovery. I cannot explain it, but T is convinced her “magic” worked – as it has done many other times in the past.
I have kept notebooks since my twelfth year. During periods of creative sterility, I look back across the years for ‘fresh’ inspiration. Like Dylan Thomas whose mature poems were plagiarised from his much younger self.
What, I wonder, would have been in Shakespeare’s notebook in the years leading up to Macbeth? It take no Oedipus to guess. Cats and toads as familiars to witches, rats without tails that gnaw holes in the bottoms of ships, mariners spell-bound for nine times nine weeks, the vaporous drop on the tip of the moon, plants the roots of which deprive us of reason, air-drawn daggers with gouts of blood, maddened horses that devour each other, charms of all sorts, from the sweltering venom of the toad to grease from a murderer’s gibbet, the strange phenomena of somnambulism, ghost-lore, the behavior of owls. And that is as nothin to the farrago of the notebook which might have preceded Lear!
Gillian Rogers was my first love. I remember still her kisses in the recreation ground after school, fiery things they were, that tasted incredibly of aniseed balls and chocolate, the taste of innocent sin…
October 14, 2016
Few critics have even admitted that Hamlet the play is the primary problem, and Hamlet the character only secondary. And Hamlet the character has had an especial temptation for that most dangerous type of critic: the critic with a mind which is naturally of the creative order, but which through some weakness in creative power exercises itself in criticism instead. These minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realization. Such a mind had Goethe, who made of Hamlet a Werther; and such had Coleridge, who made of Hamlet a Coleridge; and probably neither of these men in writing about Hamlet remembered that his first business was to study a work of art. The kind of criticism that Goethe and Coleridge produced, in writing of Hamlet, is the most misleading kind possible. For they both possessed unquestionable critical insight, and both make their critical aberrations the more plausible by the substitution—of their own Hamlet for Shakespeare’s—which their creative gift effects. We should be thankful that Walter Pater did not fix his attention on this play.
T S Elliot
From: The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism
September 28, 2016
Ophelia’s virginal and vacant white is contrasted with Hamlet’s scholar’s garb, his ‘suits of solemn black.’ Her flowers suggest the discordant double images of female sexuality as both innocent blossoming and whorish contamination; she is the ‘green girl’ of pastoral, the virginal ‘Rose of May’ and the sexually explicit madwoman who, in giving away her wild flowers and herbs, is symbolically deflowering herself.
September 25, 2016
Now then, Mrs. Daldry, I would ask you to remove your clothing but you may keep your underthings on. Please remove your corset, if you would. Annie will place a sheet over your lower regions. We will respect your modesty in every particular.
Mrs. Daldry nods.
I shall give you privacy.
He turns his back on them, a gentleman, as Mrs. Daldry undresses with Annie’s help.
Mrs. Givings has re-entered the living room without the baby.
She sees Mr. Daldry.
Hello. They are trying to get rid of me. I am supposed to walk about the grounds.
But is it not raining, Mr—?
I don’t know.
No. If it is raining.
Then you will have to gamble on whether or not to take an umbrella.
Meanwhile, in the operating theatre, Mrs. Daldry disrobes with Annie’s help.
It takes a while to disrobe as she wears a variety of layers.
In the living room, with Mr. Daldry and Mrs. Givings:
There are three kinds of people. Those who use umbrellas when it is not raining; those who do not use umbrellas even when it is raining; and those who use umbrellas only and precisely while it rains. Which kind are you, Mr. Daldry?
I use an umbrella while it is raining.
That’s too bad. I find people who do not use umbrellas while it is raining horribly romantic. Strolling, no striding, through the rain, with wet hair, looking at a drop of water on a branch.
My wife is one of those.
Oh yes! I could see that.
It’s damned annoying. I always worry she’ll catch cold.
But horribly romantic. My husband opens his umbrella at the merest hint of rain. And even if it does not rain, he will leave it open, stubborn as an ox, and keep walking. My husband is a scientist.
And what sort of person are you, Mrs. Givings?
Why, I don’t know. My husband has always held the umbrella. Isn’t that funny. I don’t know at all what kind of person I am.
In the other room, Mrs. Daldry’s clothes are now off to her under-clothes.
Annie drapes a sheet over her.
I‘ll show you the grounds and we can use this very large umbrella and perhaps I will hold it and we shall see what kind of person I am. I only hope you do not get wet.
It sounds like a madcap adventure.
Mrs. Givings and Mr. Daldry exit.
In the operating theatre:
Are you ready for me?
Yes, Dr. Givings.
Are you warm enough? (Mrs. Daldry nods.)
Mrs. Daldry, we are going to produce in you what is called a paroxysm. The congestion in your womb is causing your hysterical symptoms and if we can release some of that congestion and invite the juices downward your health will be restored. hanks to the dawn of electricity—yes, thank you Mr. Edison, I always tip my hat to Mr. Edison—a great American—I have a new instrument which I will use. It used to be that it would take me or it would take Annie—oh—hours—to produce a paroxysm in our patients and it demanded quite a lot of skill and patience. It was much like a child’s game—trying to pat the head and rub the stomach at the same time—but thanks to this new electrical instrument we shall be done in a matter of minutes.
I—I’m afraid I don’t—
Three minutes, sometimes five at the outer limits. Are you ready Mrs. Daldry?
He takes out a huge vibrator.
He plugs it in.
He turns it on.
I am frightened.
Don’t be frightened.
There is no danger of being electrocuted?
None at all.
He puts his arm under the sheets and
holds the vibrator to her private parts.
I will tell you an amusing story. Dr. Benjamin Franklin once decided to electrocute a bird for his turkey dinner on Christmas eve. But, by mistake, he held onto the chain, completing the circuit, and couldn’t let go. He described violently convulsing until he was able by sheer force of will to let go of the chain. He was perfectly fine! Do you feel calmer?
This will just take a matter of minutes.
Mrs. Daldry moans quietly.
It’s all right, Mrs. Daldry. That’s just fine.
Mrs. Daldry moans quietly.
Annie will hold your hand.
Annie holds her hand.
Oh, God in His heaven!
She has a quiet paroxysm.
Now remember that these are the days
before digital pornography.
There is no cliché of how women are supposed to orgasm,
no idea in their heads of how they are supposed to sound when they climax.
Mrs. Daldry’s first orgasms could be very quiet,
organic, awkward, primal. Or very clinical. Or embarrassingly natural.
But whatever it is, it should not be a cliché, a camp version
of how we expect all women sound when they orgasm.
It is simply clear that she has had some kind of release.
In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
August 25, 2016
June 22, 2016
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Come closer now.
Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms. and petticoats over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth, Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.
From where you are, you can hear their dreams.
Under Milk Wood
June 22, 2016
But I pushed and pulled in vain, the wheels would not turn. It was as though the brakes were jammed, and heaven knows they were not, for my bicycle had no brakes. And suddenly overcome by a great weariness, in spite of the dying day when I always felt most alive, I threw the bicycle back in the bush and lay down on the ground, on the grass, careless of the dew, I never feared the dew.