It’s Winter time. We had an election…another one!
I think I now know why calling a General Election for this particular December 12 triggered a deep reaction in my soul. It thrust me back to December 12, 1970 when my sister Melanie was born. Images, thoughts and feelings crashed in on me with the announcement that we had to have another one and I fused the two events in my mind. I dreaded both. Add this to struggling with my mum’s dementia – it was utter burnout for me. The mind is strange like that isn’t it? It holds in parallel events so many years apart so strangely connected that they seem to be happening in the same moment. The personal is political and profound.
In 1996 I made a play about Melanie . That’s so long ago but the feelings surrounding this election pulled it all into the now rendering the despair of both the same. The play’s life was also short-lived.
In December 1970 everything crashed in when we as a family confronted Melanie’s birth and death. She lived just 3 weeks in the hospital. The consequences left our family in dire straits for some considerable time afterwards, forming for me a sense of life and its injustice I am only beginning to understand some fifty years later. Of course this is nothing special and there are many who have lived a similar experience.
I am just recollecting this by way of processing some thoughts on the life-threatening consequences of not achieving a government that will take responsibility and care for the vulnerable. I also think I am considering a life not so fully lived. I am now worried, so very worried. It feels like 1970 all over again when mum ‘was having another one’….I think about this phrase – again and often…like it’s about fault, consequence and habit.
Mum had a baby, another one! We had a general election, another one!
We were tired, there was too much talk, too much waiting for outcomes, too many horrendous rows and fallings out. We were at the end of our tether. We were wrung out and all washed up. We tried hard and did our best. We were opposite to each other , always arguing and walking out, running away and giving up. It seemed like no one knew what to do, so we had another election, seeking a new birth, a fresh start, a brighter future. What a waste of time and effort! Nine months of nothing or so it seemed but actually that one was only 6 weeks I think.
A new baby should bring hope, especially at Christmas time. This new hope has disappeared with the new year. Melanie died and as my dad said – it was for the best. Babies born with Spina Bifida often died in 1970. Many said it was for the best. Then Mum and Dad “died”. I have often thought: how was that for the best?
Labour lost the election this time around – again! How is that for the best?
In 2020 I find myself in a contradiction: a government promising something of nothing and part of a borough council in opposition to that nothing. As a new councillor I have been born into nothingness and in particular with an elderly parent I am personally confused by a patterning of careless nothingness.
So I reconcile that it’s another long session of sitting it out. Like in 1970 – no Red Sea crossing to another land of promise – just sitting with it and in it. In 2020 five years seems like fifty now I am in my sixties. That’s a long time to sit and meditate.
When you get older you know you won’t make it till the tide turns. You accept that. I don’t mind that. But I do mind that this is a pattern that seems to go on forever: that the few always win over the many and that the many won’t make it and the tide will never turn.
I am lost at the moment..for words.
So I will just keep knitting with wooden spoons and smiling at the audience while mum gives birth to another one…soon very soon. I think that’s the silent action that is enough for the moment while pausing and thinking again.
Opening of “My Sister, My Angel” by Carran Waterfield directed by Ian Cameron first performed in 1996. Triangle Theatre. University of Warwick.
A HOSPITAL SCREEN UPSTAGE BEHIND A TABLE. TWO CHAIRS: ONE SMALLER THAN THE OTHER.
A SMALL SAPLING TREE WITH A LIGHTBULB (PRACTICAL) IN A BUCKET DOWNSTAGE LEFT
AS AUDIENCE ENTER A WOMAN IS SITTING KNITTING WITH WOODEN SPOONS INSTEAD OF KNITTING NEEDLES. SHE HAS A LARGE STONE IN HER LAP. SHE SMILES AT PEOPLE AS THEY ENTER THE SPACE. IT IS AS IF THEY ARE COMING INTO HER LIVING ROOM. THERE IS BACKGROUND MUSIC PLAYING (ALAN PRICE) SHE SiNGS ALONG OCCASIONALLY AS IF SHE IS LISTENING TO THE RADIO. SHE TAPS HER FOOT IN TIME.
TRACK: THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT PLAYS AND FADES UNTIL YOU CAN JUST HEAR THE CLICK OF THE SPOONS
It’s Christmas time.
Mum’s having a baby,
On it’s own number 6.
We’ll be seeing it very soon:
On its own, one little feather, one little feather,
Soon, very soon.