Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hoarding Your Past Self

Coming up to my final performance of "Like You Were Before" in the UK until 2015 (I can't believe I just wrote that down. I guess now I've committed to it) on Friday, I have been thinking about our past selves. All the baggage, layers upon layers of ourselves that we deal with (and in my case, memorise then perform.)

It seems like several areas of my life have been contributing to this thinking. Yesterday, feeling unexpectedly ill when I was meant to be tutoring and then rehearsing, I decided to rest for a couple of hours in bed and watch my first episode of the American reality television show "Hoarders."

It's a border-line dangerous premise for a show - taking a psychological problem and trying to solve it (at least on the surface) in two days time by hiring a crack team of personal organisers along with the very short term help of a psychologist. Not least because the people featured on the show are often from poorer parts of the United States and can rarely afford to keep seeking the professional help that will keep their hoarding at bay in the long term. The episode I saw supported this thinking by rote - of the two hoarders, the one with more disposable income was able to make a dent in her long term problem through continuing to seek help, whereas the more willing of the two but less affluent went from a sparkling home at the end of the episode to a paragraph that said that she had not continued to get professional help and that her hoarding was back and worse than ever.

Also. Watching "personal organisers" grapple with somebody who has a psychological condition. I mean oh my gawd. Really? Is that really what television is? And yet I was thoroughly entertained by the program and (she says guiltily) may well watch it again in the future.

(Oh gee. Oh man.)

And then this morning, with the initial goal of making a sketch to start my day, I came upon an old sketch book of mine filled with mostly terrible snippets of writing. I had the impulse to tear them out and start the sketch book fresh, but then... I couldn't. They were layers, small photographs of me - cloying, clich├ęd, and doing my best. This past made me pause - I lost all impulse to make something new and instead began reading.

So weirdly - Here's something I just found in that old sketchbook. This may be one of my very very few attempts at verse, and possibly with good reason:

There's a place in a town that's not far away
A place riddled with saucers, old socks and decay.
The place looks like many I'm sure you may know,
Circled daily by a family of musical crows.
Nestled deep in the valley, overlooked by a hill,
A few city landmarks, the brewery and mill.
Where would we be, in what kind of plight,
Without the dear presence of the town's garbage site?

It's filled with old treasures and once loved beer bottles.,
Food gone to waste, old airplane models
And things you forgot about, your future in tow,
Or things you remember and decide to let go.
Object upon object, feeling sad and dejected.
Seagull upon seagull, hungry and infected.
It's a sad lonely world for an old piece of junk.
Enough to put belongings in a bit of a funk.
Unless of course you consider one little spectre -
That man we call Joey, the garbage collector.

Joey sees garbage as more than just rubbish.
He's read torn up letters good enough to publish.
On a day things are slow he'll comb through the piles,
He'll trudge through a smell that spreads miles and miles,
And sometimes find something of value or worth
And sometimes just relish in the sweet stench of mirth.
His wife doesn't like it, she calls him a "hoarder"
But Joey just calls himself "King of the Sorters."

He's sorted through old papers, laundry and bills,
He's taken home boxes, and church bells and tills.
His wife, who's named Nancy, gets cross as a skunk.
She shrills, "What will we do with all of this Junk?"
But Joey just chuckles and smiles like a martyr.
Her tone may be sharp, but his wits are sharper
.

1 comment:

gemmaalldred said...

just came across a review of this performance on the Left Lion website, got a bit sad as I appear to have missed it for the next 3 years - wondered, if I might enquire, what the rationale was for leaving such a long gap?