One Day All of This Will be Fields was a one-off, multidisciplinary performance piece which aired at the close of ‘I Don’t Think We’ve Met’ – the collaborative performance evening which closed Trashed Organ’s inaugural Festival of Belonging Fringe. Working with artist Helena Venaki, I wrote a series of brief monologues, exploring and challenging notions of memory, identity and place. We then spent a weekend gathering film and photographs, and with the assistance of Helena’s sister, assembled the following video. For the live performance, Helena’s friend, Hannah Costanzo, added a level of theatrics to the piece, bringing it all, spine-tinglingly, to life.
The video above is the one we projected at the Bridge Hotel on the evening of the performance. A transcript of the text is below.
April. Dusk. Our Pearl Wedding. The ironing board left in the dining room. Steam still rising in notes from the flower-patterned cover. A laundry basket stacked with cotton shirts, leaning into the wall. Dregs of daylight slipping through blinds tipped slightly. Hands drinking from a stream.
‘We’re here, kids: Plankey Mill!’
Cross the wonky suspension bridge, through a track in the forest, the sun not heavy enough to sink to the sticky floor.
‘Did you bring your rods?’
Fishing in the river Allen. Dogs swimming; tails like rudders.
A camping stove. A gas canister. Fried sausages and cold beans straight from the tin. Ghost stories in the tent. Shadow puppets by torchlight and nylon. An eagle; a butterfly; a rabbit.
‘You were there, weren’t you? On the bus back from Land’s End? Your Dad had bought a bag of mussels. He bit into them like pistachio nuts and chucked the shells out the window. Had four pints of lager in the Ring O’Bells then drove the coach to Penzance. Said if he got us lost we could always follow the trail of cracked, black shells back to Sennen Cove and start again.’
‘The way to judge the quality of beer is by how well it sticks to the glass as you drink it.’
‘How do you know?’
‘You want that pint pot to be lined with a fine, cosmic dust or the tree-rings of an old Oak by the time you’re finished.’
‘Do you want to play a game?’
‘What we do is put a handkerchief over this glass and a penny in the middle, then, using a ciggy, we each take turns to burn a hole in the hanky. Whoever makes the penny fall in the beer is the loser. You can start.’
‘I was born the year after the War finished. Course it was a shite time, but I didn’t know. We made do with powdered eggs and pea soup and now there’s a whole shelf of multicoloured cakes in that Tesco. Who’d have thought it: eggs, in the oven!’
‘Souter. Aye, she’s a beauty to see when you come out of that pit at Marsden. That’s what me Dad said, like. Here’s the knocker-up rapping on the window. Here’s the sound of the kettle, whistling in the day. Here’s the sound of hob-nailed boots clomp, clomp, clomping to the hall. Here’s the sound of my Mam puckering up; the sneck creaking; the bolt un-twanged.’
‘Good morning, good morning!’
‘ Here’s frost inside my window. Here’s the knocker-up, rap, rap, rapping.’
‘Well, I’m just—’
‘Are you lost?’
‘Don’t be daft! There’s the water tower. I live over there. Just been walking the dog, if you know what I mean, ha-ha!’
‘He’s lost, poor sod.’
‘One day, all of this will be fields.’
‘Was fields, you mean, Da?’
‘Peter? Is that you, son?’
‘That’s right. Fields. As far as the eye could see. And one day…’
‘Don’t tell your Mam, she hates me going to the pub in the afternoon.’
‘I’d walk miles with me Dad: we’d often walk to Newcastle. We were fit as butchers’ dogs. Now? Well I’m just—’
‘New houses, eh? Racked them up quick. There was nothing here, you know. Just field after field. One day, all of this will be fields.’