Past losses

I saw the dawn this morning from my bedroom window. I’m not sure how I was awake and alert but I was, despite last night. The flat was flooded with merry people at about 8pm yesterday. I’d had advance warning, so had made sure there were clean plates and had cooked a lamb tagine. I totally failed to take into account that one of the party people was a vegan. Thankfully there was couscous with pomegranate and mint and I hadn’t put the chicken stock into it by the time I found out.

Brian and I blitzed up some garlic balsamic mushrooms and a load of other veg. I like cooking for people. I like hosting people, generally. That’s another thing I’ve picked up from my dad. He had a bar built into the downstairs hallway and stocked it. He used to have Christmas in August and friends would come from everywhere and party. Even as a kid I thought it was brilliant. He was using what he had, back then, before it all went south, to make people happy. He taught me how to be a host.

At his wake, I manned the bar while his friends got through what was left. I still dream back to that house all the time. Sometimes I’m outside, stuck looking up at my bedroom window. Sometimes I’m inside, and it’s vibrant. Sometimes I’m inside and it’s dead. I was there last night. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” I don’t like dreaming back to it.

I was never given closure. My brother Rupert told me it was being sold when I was in production week for Richard III at university, playing Richard. I told him it was impossible for me to get there, and all my stuff was there. He said it was the only window I had. I couldn’t believe him. It seemed too arbitrary. And it was an impossibility for me. The show was booked, I was the lead, no understudy. I told him the date I finished production. “They have to wait until then,” I said. He scoffed. “If it’s important to you, you’ll get there.” NO I FUCKING CAN’T!!!!

I had to rely on my brother Max to rescue what he knew I loved – all my hidden secret things that had meaning only for me, they all got thrown in a skip. 

Max and I are close, but not deep. Much of what he knew I loved went as well, as there just wasn’t room in the van and his stuff had to be prioritised – he was there. Basically, my childhood got binned before I binned it myself. It kicked off tricky hoarding tendencies which I’m now trying to curtail. I’m still angry about it, upset about it. I’d like to have had some more control over the wholesale destruction of my childhood sanctuary.

And yet the past is another country. If we are borne back ceaselessly into it, we end up atrophying. I can’t get stuff out of that skip. So I might as well just forget I ever had it and keep filling my flat with merry people and my life with warmth.

I’m off to have food with dear friends and it’s going to be great. So often I encounter people who are holding onto something from their past as an excuse not to venture forward. That shit with the house was something I carried for some time, now finally processed and understood. Just another thing I sacrificed for my acting. One of the first though. But we all do it, all the time. I hear it from my friends, encounter it in my behaviour as well as that of relative strangers. We make choices and we must stand by them. The past is … information that informs us. We have been forged by it, but it no longer burns us.


Every day is a dawn. All we are is who we are now. All we have is what we have now. If we had less or more before, if we were happier or sadder before – what can it matter? It’s information. We either move forward or we indulge. Keep moving folks. I’ll be running alongside you, and when you trip I’ll try to pick you up and hope you do the same for me.

I’m off to dinner. Have a great day NOW. He says, having monologued about the past for ages. But where would this blog be without contradicting myself?

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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