I adored this when I was little. So, it didn't particularly surprise me when my sister-in-law, Sarah grumbled to me 'You Depasquales'. '?' 'The other...moreI adored this when I was little. So, it didn't particularly surprise me when my sister-in-law, Sarah grumbled to me 'You Depasquales'. '?' 'The other day James was whining to me that I had to read this this picture book because he couldn't.' James is maybe six years old and her son, my nephew. 'And today? He's been following me around all day telling me every single detail of The Odyssey. The adult version. He's just finished reading it.' She glared at me.(less)
My mother and I were talking about Shakespeare this morning. Having seen Megan Dansie’s brilliant production of Richard III, she is going to see her R...more My mother and I were talking about Shakespeare this morning. Having seen Megan Dansie’s brilliant production of Richard III, she is going to see her Romeo and Juliet this week. Megan said to her about this ‘After West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann, I can only think of one way left to do the play’ and when my mother enquired as to what that might be she said ‘As Shakespeare would have done it.’ Romeo and Juliet is the play. THE play by Shakespeare. If it is necessary to demonstrate this, how better than my mother recalling when a movie version of Hamlet was put on at her local cinema years ago with the billboard outside emblazoned:
So there are all these expressions we use that we don't really understand. Take 'glued to the spot'. We use it, we know what it means, but I would say...moreSo there are all these expressions we use that we don't really understand. Take 'glued to the spot'. We use it, we know what it means, but I would say virtually nobody has ever actually seen somebody 'glued to the spot'. I have. I have watched somebody being so transfixed that he had to be forcibly taken away. My understanding of the expression is now completely different from what it was.
Then there is 'beside herself with grief'. You say it. You think you know what it means. But then something happens and you realise the true horrific nature of it. So, I wonder how many people actually really understand Ophelia. Me, I've lived for 50 years, had some things happen in life that you'd call pretty awful, but only right now do I understand it.
Too early one morning. I always thought Ophelia was a woose. I'm really so dreadfully sorry for having not understood. I'm about as empathetic as a plank of wood.
Fucked if I know, Hamlet. You might be lying there wondering if you should have taken advice from your friends about what to do, you might be thinking that things couldn’t have ended up worse that way, but I don’t know, mate. I’m with you, I’ve always done hard things alone, but I no longer seem strong enough to do that. My heart is plastered all over my face and although for a few weeks lately that’s been a good thing, mostly it has been quite terrible. Actually, most of my friends can’t even see my face or my heart, but they can hear it. And they are bombarding me to save me.
Marcia says to me ‘you are carrying an intolerable sadness, you have to go to a doctor and get drugs’. I say ‘But Marcia, All I have to do is sort my life out…’ and she laughs – genunine peals of laughter. ‘My dear Cathy, the point is that the drugs will give you the strength and balance to do that. You can’t do it on your own.’ And I say ‘When I get home, Marcia, maybe I’ll see –‘ and she says ‘Today. You go today. It doesn’t matter who the doctor is. It doesn’t matter if he knows you. He will know what to give you. And it won’t be forever, it will just be something to get you straight now. Then you fix your life up.’ We hang up. I make an appointment. Later, curled up in bed, I call to cancel.
Nick, wise, and a good chess player says to me to have the strength to do it on my own and when I squeak out that I’ve never been in a situation that makes me feel so weak, that if I was ever strong, now I’m not, he says ‘You’re a chess player, be a chess player. A chess player faces the worst and fights his way out. You know that, how many times have you done it? You are in a dark, terrible place, but impose your iron will and your iron mind.’ And all I can think of is that I’m a crap chess player, I was always a crap chess player, I think back on how often I have lost. I’m weak, I’m not strong.
Andrew writes ‘Suicide is a powerful consolation, said Nietzche, by thinking about it one gets through many a bad night. Hesse picked up the same idea in Steppenwolf, although it's not the most robust of his books…as consolations go it's not the first choice. Tea seems better. But the kitchen can be a long way from the bedroom, that's something I do know.’ And suddenly I feel so much better about what has been occupying my thoughts. I hadn’t realised it was a consoling thing to do. Then he adds the things he has tried to get out of such places. Psychiatrist. Exercise. Choir.
James tells me I have to have sex with somebody else ‘You go on about how wonderful the sex is with the person you’re in love with, but maybe it isn’t really.’ You may observe that this is simply a self-serving argument on James’ part since he wants to go to bed with me, but James is constitutionally incapable of saying anything other than the truth. I close my eyes and can’t imagine anything better than the sex I’ve lately had. That does not mean, however, that he isn’t right. Eyes still closed, I wonder if I had sex with James, or anybody, and it was better or worse, which of those scenarios would be more horrible. And why would it fix things up either way. It isn’t like it is just about sex.
Harry says ‘fight’ and when I say I think it is against my principles, I have presented myself and if I am found wanting then how can it be right to fight, he says ‘when you are on your deathbed, what will make you happy is not that you were principled, but that you fought for what you wanted.’ And I say, but Harry, I have nothing to fight with. Nothing. This man can just turn me off, make me not exist with a flick of a switch. Harry is still thinking about that.
So, Hamlet. The stuff you had to go through may have done your head in, but look at all this most excellent advice. It is all different, it is from the hearts of friends who love me, it is all…impossible. You want my honest opinion? Nothing else you might have done would have helped. But I don’t know, Hamlet, fucked if I know. (less)