Breathing into life

My first outing for the ideas behind WIND RESISTANCE was at The Old Church in Hackney on February 28th 2016, as part of BREATHE Festival. Ah, let’s just say it was pretty fresh (I was still writing the piece as I passed The Emirates Stadium into Kings Cross Station that day from Edinburgh …).

And it grew.

And grew.

And kept growing and growing through the afternoon.

Armed that evening with thirty odd pages of sellotaped text printed in the kind of pale blue ink that’s a nightmare to see under the light of an angle poise lamp in a church neuk, my first letting go was a rather breathless endeavour.

It felt intensely risky. And overtly and directly personal in a way that many of my songwriting output manages to skirt around.

I apologised a lot. Too much, yes.

And I’d forgotten – again – that I wear glasses now! I remembered too late for assistance with seeing through the inky blue paleness of my ideas.

Yet, there was the kernel of something that mattered. I ended up in conversation at the close of the night with mothers who shared their birth stories, amateur ornithologists who talked animatedly about their favourite birds, with hikers and bikers and ecologists, and all kinds of folks railing against the immanent political threat to those elements of our collective civic life that we’ve created from a sense of care and responsbility for one another.

I spent the next two days re-writing and honing and took the show to The Traverse Theatre Bar in Edinburgh for its second work-in-progress run through on March 1st.

Performing in Edinburgh is a different beast for me than London because there are always so many people in an audience who are familiar, not to mention actual loved ones and friends. Amongst those I knew was a man who’s erstwhile organiser of a local Folk Club, and now anchor at a local radio station. He would’ve seen some of my very earliest gigs as a traditional singer and member of bands like Malinky, Macalias and Battlefield Band. Jings, I thought, in a moment of profound self-doubt, surely he’s gonna think this is wierdo pretentious guff?

It was brave, he said later. Bold. Before reminding me that he’d worked, prior to retirement, in environmental protection. It’s a minding not to project my own anxieties onto them. It’s an affirmation too.

Sanctuary. Maternity. Moss. Flight.

Thanks to everyone who attended those two sold-out early shows and for the perceptive and helpful feedback I received from many of them afterwards. Anything created by a writer of any kind only half exists on a page or on a tongue. The rest of it is breathed into life by others when it lands inside them and gets entangled in their experiences and values, which are not mine.  It’s what I love most of all about live performance, that it’s real time communication, a partnership in making meaning out of this beautiful and brutal world.

 

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