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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Bright lights, big city

On the longest night, last year, yes, last year!, I went to the theatre after work. Before COVID, I was going once every two or three weeks. Usually on my own. I went through Chekhov and Ibsen and a lot of modern dramatists. I became fascinated by different ways of producing plays and using space and playing with ideas in that way.

Oh, I loved it!

But then, in Covid, I started volunteering in conservation and that took up my time and I didn’t want human things. But I still had one of the vouchers for all the cancelled plays I had booked that hadn’t expired, and so I booked a seat for Lyonesse at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

It was about an actress who had disappeared 30 years ago and a young film executive who goes to interview her in her dilapidated house in Cornwall to find out why. Both women were/are bullied by their husbands, and the dream is to escape or take revenge or expose them. Yet they can't. The old actress is eccentric and childish and charming and wild. The younger woman is chaotic and confused, trapped and unable to express herself. There is another woman, a lesbian poet, who is solid and strong. But she can't save them. It was good. Funny and also dreadfully sad.

I enjoyed that, but also enjoyed remembering how to walk through crowds, the peripheral awareness that guides me through. And I enjoyed the showmanship and charm of the restaurant manager at Mildred’s; the lovely Greek couple (he makes short films; she studies in a similar area to that which interests me (Cultural Studies)) and the couple on the other side, a lawyer wife and an architect husband. I enjoyed the lads on the tube and the moon above Eros in Piccadilly Circus.

The friendliness of people. The shining eyes of them. The smiles. Voices. Jokes. The beauty inherent in everything.

My almost-fiance used to say I knew the value of everything and the price of nothing. And the value of things is so precious. The value of every single thing. Dead leaves rotting and rats with twitching whiskers. Cars pulling into the fast lane so I can overtake in the middle lane. Ambulances rushing people into care. Starlings chattering and whistling above my garden. The elegant facades of London's old buildings and the skeleton trees of winter.

When I remember this, all this, I forget being a middle aged spinster with an uncertain future and a forgettable past in the present of a world that’s burning.

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Good bright moon adding to all those city lights.

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