It’s the first time I’ve worn shorts and sandals since I’ve been back in London so of course the heavens have opened. There’s thunder, lightning, sheets of rain, I’m hoping for fish. Although that might slow the buses down. I’m trying to get across town.
Having spent the glorious part of the day in a dark church hall talking about regicide, now I’m stamping through the damp gloaming on my way to a caravan in London Bridge, where I’m going to watch a short play. I’m already cold and wet. You forget that the action of putting on shorts in London actively summons The Rain God to come punish you for hubris. Still it’s good to have some skywater. The sense that water is coming from the heavens to wash away the sadness. If I was alone, I’d take all my clothes off and run around in the rain howling. I was doing that once in Italy on the veranda of our digs, when some friends unexpectedly got back and, to their credit immediately joined in. Matt and Dean. Somewhere there exists a photo (Sarah). It’s great fun if there’s enough rain. I heartily recommend it.
These “Caravan Shorts” are the brainchild of my friend Robin. She’s repurposed a caravan as a performance space and it’s been parked in Southwark for the month. Very small audiences get a very short show. Last week I went to see my friend Olivia do a beautiful piece she’d written about Lizzie Barton, The Mad Maid of Kent. I know it’s only a matter of time before I end up in there, in drag talking about death or something. Now I’m hoping to get there in time to see whatever is the 6.15 show.
I did. It was the wonderful “dame” Helen Ryan (she’s not a dame. We just call her one.) At 77 she’s still up for doing a piece in a caravan about, as it turns out, how old people might be treated in 2080. It’s called “Citizen Recall: Mrs Helen Stridgen.” There’s free cake. And it’s about extreme socialism. It’s a thought provoking piece, and the third of these caravan shorts I’ve seen. It was a dark future piece, where people who are too old are forced into a “pleasant” euthanasia. Told of course from the perspective of someone who was avoiding the machine and trying to die naturally. It was presenting a socialist hell where living beyond 100 makes you redundant to the state, and you are humanely disposed of. I found it interesting to contemplate. And also rare to watch Tory theatre, even if I’m not sure it was intended as such.
Flipside I’m scared that, being on sporadic income but never signing on, the self employed will be victims when they kill the NHS. There are already many forums where my lack of a guarantee of regular payment queers my chance of being taken seriously. If I had health insurance, I couldn’t make my monthly payments month in month out, but then suddenly I could downpay for the whole year. By which time they’d have already cancelled. I’d need to be lucky about when I got sick.
All that aside, as someone said “It’s great to hear an old lady swear.” And Helen was brilliant. As it turns out, it was the last caravan short of the season. So muggins here ended up taking the caravan back home. I was a horse for a while. I make a good horse. Right now I kind of wish I was a horse. Far less complicated. Neigh.