I don’t want to do this anymore.
Yeah, I know. Quite the statement to be making after I was raving about the amazing experience I had at the London Library only yesterday. I’d left bouncing and full of the joys of winter.
How quickly exuberance can dissipate when you are having a bad day.
It’s not just a bad day though.
I’m tired. And sick. And poor. And fed up.
And I really don’t want to do this anymore.
As I walked into the West End last night, I could feel my knees clicking and slipping out beneath me, unable or unwilling to support my weight. My arms crossed, my shoulders hunched, coughing into my scarf all the way down to Leicester Square.
And as I walked, I argued with the small, but very loud, voice in my head. The voice that has been the constant companion since starting this marathon. The voice that only has a single thing to say. A single, very pointed question: what the fuck are you going to write about for this one?
The Groundhog Day loop of theatre-going I can cope with. Bad plays don’t frighten me. The spreadsheets and planning soothe my soul. I can survive late nights and lack of sleep if there’s a hot cup of tea waiting for me on the other end.
But the prospect of the blank page in the morning…
And 39 days in, it hasn’t got any easier.
The thought of that white screen hounds me, crashing against my legs like an overexcited puppy as I walk, tripping over my heels wherever I go.
You’d think it be easy. I thought it would be easy.
Just go to the theatre, and then write about it.
It’s not like I don’t know what happens. I am there after all. Experiencing it.
But then I’d have 251 blog posts following the same Got Plot format: Got there. Got complimented on my name. Got my ticket. Got a programme. Got through the show. Got the tube home.
251 blog posts. Each between 1,000 and 1,500 words. That’s over a third-of-a-million words.
And let me tell you, the only Got Plot worth 300,000 words has already been written by G. R. R. Martin.
I mean, look at this shit. I’m doing Game of Throne puns now. That’s how low I’ve sunk. This is worse than the sofa reviews from a few days back.
I do like a good sofa though…
It was while I turning this all over, somewhere along Kingsway, that I remembered.
There would be no sofas for me that night. No sitting down at all.
Due to a combination of last minute purchasing and limited funds, I had bought myself a standing ticket.
Like a total fucking idiot.
My knees almost buckled out from under me at the thought.
Standing. For an entire evening. An evening of Pinter at that.
Ah yes. I was off to catch the final Pinter at the Pinter production: Pinter Seven. At the Harold Pinter Theatre. Naturally.
I’m not the biggest Pinter fan in the world, so you would have thought that piling on all of that Pinter might have given me pause (sorry), but hey - it’s all about the content, innit.
There was a massive queue at the theatre to pick up the tickets, with the collection desk pulled out into the foyer rather than sealed off behind the box office windows.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have it,” said the harried woman on the desk to one person after the other. “Please go to the box office and they’ll sort it.” She waved them in the right direction before turning to me. “Name?”
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so visibly relieved to pull a ticket out of a box.
Ticket in hand, I turned to the next item on my Got agenda: the programme.
I couldn’t see any for sale at the bar, so I followed the line of Pinter posters up the stairs towards the Royal Circle.
“Is that a proper programme,” a man was asking the young woman on the door. ”Because last time I was here you were selling a one pound thingy.”
“It's a proper, five pound, programme,” she said, as I lurked. This was intel I wanted to know too.
“Good. But it isn't for the whole season is it?” he asked suspiciously. I found myself nodding along. This man was asking all the important questions here.
“Not this one, but I do have a book which covers all the plays,” she said, yanking a heavy looking volume from her Pinter at the Pinter printed pouch.
“I already have that,” he said, a little disgruntled now. “I wanted a proper programme.”
“This is a proper programme,” she said, showing him the original item.
He seemed satisfied with that, and wandered off to his seat before I was able to propose to the man who is clearly my soul mate.
I had to settle on purchasing my own proper Pinter programme.
“Is this the standing room?” I asked, indicating the long bar behind the seats.
It took me exactly two attempts at walking the line looking for my place before I realised there were no places. The number printed on my ticket corresponded to exactly nothing.
I could stand anywhere.
After walking down the row one more time, I picked a spot behind a pillar. Restricted view. No one else would want that. I might get a bit of room to myself.
“Standing?” asked the usher as the lights began to dim. I nodded and she asked with a thumbs up.
She moved onto my neighbour. “Standing?”
“Are we in the right place?” came the reply, with an apologetic display of his ticket.
“There's no order,” she cried, throwing up her arms in mock despair. “It's all chaos here.”
As the first act started, I leant against the bar and rested my head in my hands, and closed my eyes. Just for a moment.
When the interval finally rolled around, I relinquished my coat and shawl to the universe and rushed into the bar, grabbing the nearest seat.
God, I felt weak.
But if anything, sitting down was making it worse. My body had seized on the opportunity to relax and was taking full advantage. It was utterly intent on sinking into itself. I felt myself slipping down the chair, like a doll incapable of sitting up without the assistance of a pair childish hands continuously jab and poke its limbs into submission.
If I wasn’t careful, the bar staff were going to find me lolling on the floor at the end of the night, and I’d get swept away with the crumbs.
But I couldn’t help myself. I sank down still further.
I wanted to close my eyes and lean my forehead against something cool. A nice marble slab. The Pinter theatre has a distinct lack of nice marble slabs.
Too soon the bell went for the second act. I heaved myself back to my feet and returned to my spot to rescue my coat and shawl - thankfully both unharmed by after their feckless abandonment.
Sitting a few rows ahead, a woman unfolded a show poster, flipping it over to read the biographies on the back. Was this the mysterious one pound Pinter programme? I wanted to ask where she had got it, but just standing there was taking every mental and physical resource I had at my disposal.
As the audience made their final trips to the loo, I clung onto the bar, trying to avoid the large bags and sharp elbows of those passing by.
Being elbowed in the back by people still drying their hands has to be a particular low point in my life.
But at least that’s another post done.
Another 1,300 words written.
Another theatre crossed off my list.
Gotta catch em all.