Two Point Oh.

OK, so I  lied.

Since I’ve been studying for my MSc I’ve been quietly making a list in the back of my mind of Things I Would Do If… And now I’ve come to the end of it (almost) it’s time to live the dream. There is a list of 30 Things I aim to do before I’m 30 above, and starting most likely from next week I’ll be beginning actually achieving some things!

For some reason, and I think I’ve moaned about this here, I don’t like writing goals for life. I kind of fall into things and adapt to them. It’s going pretty well. And people who plan things have always scared me a bit (and rarely stuck tot hem, in my experience). But when I noticed that I’d be developing  a wishlist this did seem like the sensible thing to do.

So this is just a holding post, to be honest, a preparation for the real thing. I hope you’ll keep reading and give me tips – there’s still 3 more things to fill on the list!

Thanks!

_kimguin

Swim, you bugger. Swim.

So I finally finished listening to Radio 4′s adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and totally loved it. Why haven’t I read this book?!

Seaton is terrible, and prejudiced, and wants to believe he’s entitled to everything, but in the arrogant, mistake-riddled way he carries on – he’s kind of lovable. My favourite scenes by far were those in which he was fishing – suddenly he became philosophical, thoughtful, calm. I thought these scenes were very well done; quiet, with Seaton’s voice taking centre stage in contrast to the clatter of the pubs he so often frequents, and the clamouring of other voices alongside his own. These quiet moments, and the scene in which he buys Doreen chocolate and finally admits to be courting, are lovely interludes that would be nowhere near as interesting if it weren’t for the rest of the play.

In absolute contrast to this, my second favourite moment – if I can call it that – was the haphazard abortion enacted by Arthur on his married girlfriend Brenda, alongside her angry and loyal friend, whose name I helpfully can’t remember. I listened to this at work, and had the distinct feeling of the walls closing in on me, as Arthur continued filling the bath with hot water, and Brenda threatened to throw up the pint of gin she was forced to swallow neat. As she sobbed, and Arthur raged, the scene built to a saddening crescendo, and after it was over the silence was, to be cliche, deafening. It’s a scene I both look forward to reading, and wish I wasn’t already aware of.

While listening to these scenes the contrast between Seaton in public and Seaton in private really struck me. In my currently-failing attempt at a novel, I’m falling victim to self-censorship. The protagonist is too plain, too boring, and won’t contradict herself. Or rather, I won’t let her. I noticed (stupidly) that Seaton is two very different people, and that made him more, rather than less interesting. So I was indeed being quite dense and obstructive by failing to admit that my protagonist could also have this sort of flaw.  Obviously, now the problem is that I have to work out what her flaws are (SO many problems, where to begin), but at least this was something.

In other news, I was pleasantly surprised to find that two lovely humans had commented on my old review of another R4 radioplay: A Special Kind of Dark. Many thanks! And thank you for reminding me that I have a blog…

I’ll leave it to the excellent Timwilldestroyyou to explain:

In other other news, I am seriously considering getting a Tumblr account. But then what will this blog be for, I hear none of you ask? Well, indeed. I don’t know. But given that in the past 6 months I’ve written two draft posts that never got published, it looks like PGP is dying a death. And don’t I need a place to reblog gifs and angry rantings?

As ever, thoughts and comments appreciated. Although I might go behind your back and do it anyway. No offence, duck.

Poem: Eating Mangoes

My mother taught me
to eat mangoes.

Sliding the long knife through
amber flesh,
hopscotch, tic-tac-toe-patterned.

We would push from beneath,
the leathery skin against our
fingers. A broken rubix cube
of bitesize fruit unfolded,
origami-like, above.

We stood together,
gulping down morsels
before the kitchen sink.

The juice ran down our chins
spotting sweet, onto the immaculate steel.

Pretty

I just watched this, and you all should too:

In all seriousness, I wanted to cry/cheer. Once when she said ‘fuckable’ and once when she said ‘no.’ I’m not sure I have much more to say on this, other than I really needed a kick up the arse and this might be it.

Nerves

White cool box
that pulses, remembers, can’t know for sure.
Inanimate.
Emptied in a February freeze,

Contents tipped down white, crumbled cliffs
to a tealgreen, icy sea.

The spark is gone.
Quenched
in the water. Sweeping debris out to the expanse.

Sometimes driftwood takes years to resurface.
A polished piece planed and smoothed by salt and sea
is quite different the second time around.

When you cut off a chicken’s head, it’s
the nerves
Which keep it running round
for hours afterwards.

Cancelled

Dear Sir,

I write to inform you of my
- oh, well how to put this delicately?

At first I was smitten, needing, and sure
That you were mine and I’d always be yours.
The thought of you with another – why -
My little heart would pound, tears fill my eyes…
The notion of exclusivity I so had bought;
I was smug in the sureity we’d never cut short
Such a wonderful wisdom, a lesson taught
In every book/song/film that came my way…

Apologies, I digress – I write then, to say -
That since we’ve parted, I just can’t make this stay:
My subscription to your traditional ideals of love has ended, and I do not wish to renew.

All best wishes,
                             A Girl Who Used To ‘Belong’ To You

 

 

- Sept. 2012

Sept. I

Once upon a time
I was fairly certain we would never be apart.

Like fresh-picked peas in a pod
      the metaphorical chalk and cheese
hair gel and teenage boys
the stake in a vampire’s heart
marmite on toast
dirt encrusted in a bicycle chain

      the rule and its exception

Now
           it has been an age since I breathed you in
- even accidentally.

Electrons in an atom are part of the same system; separated
only by a fizzing eternity they might not even know is there.

At our fingertips is every form of connection
but we cannot make the link.

“the spark is gone”

Oh, great initiator, blessed with your presence
to set in motion a fire.
(of destruction)

What burns must be destroyed,
must turn to dust
fizzing with dropped tears.

x  is the sound of the spark.

We marked an x after every message, every sentence
but that spark, too,
has gone.

The spark starts, and then it leaves,
but the fire rages on.
Why, then, must we call attention to the abandonment of the spark?
Our fire spits and burns with eagerness, shooting its own sparks into the darkness,
but to stop feeding it would bring the darkness all around.

Radioplay Review: Direct Red

Friday Drama – Direct Red

How does it feel to hold someone’s heart in your hands? How do you tell a young patient that he’s dying? What do you do when, on a quiet ward in the middle of the night, a patient you’ve grown close to invites you into his bed? This vivid portrayal of the day-to-day life of young female surgeon, and the medical and moral dilemmas she faces, is based on the memoir by Gabriel Weston. One of few women in an alpha male world, she finds herself continually questioning where a doctor should draw the line between being detached and being human. And it’s the conflict between these opposing forces – the personal and professional – that lies at the heart of this powerful play, which has been adapted for radio by Tina Pepler.

A BBC/Cymru Wales production, directed by Kate McAll.

I listened to this play on Monday, fully expecting to be alternately shocked, appalled, saddened and intrigued by the life of a young surgeon from first day as a Junior House Officer to the more experienced surgeon Dr. Weston. I was warned before listening that I might find the vivid descriptions disturbing, the subject matter upsetting, and I was slightly on edge by the time I pressed play.

What I got, for 58 minutes, was the overused trope of tired, philosophical doctor, talking to me in a droning monologue of the apparently life-affirming experiences she has had while at no time raising the tone of her voice to anything that might suggest she has or had any feelings about anything. Yes, some of the experiences were painfully sad, some horribly out of control, others poignant and surreal – but they were dictated to the audience as though they were being read off the page, not acted at all. I wanted to feels something from the protagonist, other than that a life in medicine had worn her down to the point of disillusion, but I was left feeling that the emotion was too little: I was as distant as one of her patients, and never quite satisfied.

Direct Red jumps from timeframe to timeframe with very little change in tone or setting, and also without any discernible explanation. As a train of consciousness, the narrative works well, and as this is a story in which “nothing happens”, it doesn’t really matter that the telling isn’t linear. I got the feeling that these short bursts of memory were just a selection of what Dr. Weston could have told us about her life in medicine, but was struck again by the lack of compassion or personal detail. It is mentioned frequently that being a doctor plays havoc with your sex and social lives, yet we are not given any details of her current situation – other than an almost illegal dalliance with a patient that I found myself clinging to in the hope that it would wake Dr. Weston from her spell of colourless monotony.

I was disappointed. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that for a narrative that promised so much, it delivered very little. What it did deliver was nothing that I felt any creative writing student could have produced – there was no indication that a doctor’s insight was in any way meaningful to the story: the situations were typical, the descriptions obvious and the overall tone well-expected. Although the blurb claims that the “conflict between personal and professional” is at the heart of the play, I felt from the very beginning that professional had won the battle off-stage before Dr. Weston and I had even been introduced. There was a lack of development, or reminiscence, in the protagonist’s escalation from medical student to doctor, and I would have been interested to know how such a distant and cautious professional woman appeared from, presumably, a vibrant and motivated young student.