Trying to help people remember how to play

I’m tired. So tired that I think I’ve forgotten how to make sense. I’ll try. Extracting joy from people in London… It’s a living, but it’s not the easiest. And today was a real double header. Panda met some lovely people. Sometimes it does feel like therapy. Invited audience are always blocking themselves, but I know how that is from a million abortive attempts to rehearse immersive theatre.

The legit audience were lovely as ever. We had some crazy moments of truth. I just had to be the Panda while they talked. The joy is theirs to control, not mine. The only people who miss that are the ones who have been given expectations. “The phone is ringing. It’s for you. Who is it?” I ask as I give them a dead line. This is me throwing down the gauntlet for play in the form of a handset and that question. I’ve had The President. I’ve had The Queen from beyond the grave, and The King. I’ve had people’s mothers often. I’ve had my mother. I’ve had ex lovers, gangsters, fictional characters, animals, heavy breathing and a burglar alarm company. Whatever they decide to make up. “Who is it?” I ask one invited person. “Nobody, it’s a dead line,” I get from them. That’s the truth, of course. That’s the only answer I cannot cannot accept. I’ve just invited them to play and they’ve blocked me.

I’m having none of it. I take the handset back. *Say yes to the audience* I know. I listen. “You’re quite right. It’s nobody. It’s a dead line.” They agree with me. “Whoever it was must have been cut off. I’m sure they’ll try again. OH yes here we are. It’s ringing again! Hello? It’s for you again. Who is it now, quickly before they hang up.” She’s not getting off the hook so easy. Worst case I’m gonna ask them what they’ve done to get themselves on a list where people ring the whole time and then hang up. But, this time it’s not a block. It’s a deflect that opens fun. There’s a plastic tortoise right next to the phone. She’s looking at it I ask her who it is. “It’s… It’s this tortoise.” “What does the tortoise want?” A pause. A need not to be asked. I hear her brain audibly screaming. “It wants to escape!!!” Which is what the querent wanted.

We are not being observed here, but if you’re in the window with a man pretending to be a Panda you are playing. It costs you nothing. Nobody can hear you but the grown man with a stupid head on. The only risk you run is being featured in this blog as the invited person who was slow to remember how to play. Sorry about that, I guess. But it turned out to be a wonderful deflection anyway. I was happy, and I hope it was joyful to the person, because ten minutes later we were both at the door encouraging that plastic tortoise to escape into Brook Street. “Fly little one! Run for your life! Go! Go quickly while you still can!” A touch of mad joy we wouldn’t have found without me being blocked, and one which spilled into the streets.

I finished the day fine. The volunteers threw the door open to the public most of the day and didn’t quite get why I kept on insisting on breaks from the traffic they were bringing in as I was cooking. “Mel yesterday was fine with it,” one of them tried at one point, around the time I got a text from her the day before saying “this is why there has to be two people doing this sort of work!” He’s a very keen volunteer. Glad of him. He was trying to cook my head and it is only my confidence in myself and what I’m doing that allowed me to tell him to close the fucking door. Yeah, great, if there’s two people, roll it back to back. But do you have any idea how hot those heads get?

Then it was Halloween spookiness. Kind of the opposite. I went walkies. We covered a lot of ground. Stories were told. I’m so fucking done. I’ve lost the ability to be positive. Hence the whole first half of this. I haven’t stopped for too long and I surf on my forward energy. Tomorrow? Nothing much to worry about. Just invoices. So many of them. Admin backed up from months ago. And a spot of rest. Don’t ring me too early. Zzzzz


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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