Should I stop the play?’ I ask myself.
A small child is crying right down near the front, and as the characters in the play get ever more impassioned, so the child is getting ever more upset.
Did the message not get through? I suggested to all venues that the play with its serious and strong themes is really only suitable for 14 and upwards. I saw the father bringing the child in at the start, along with its not much older siblings and thought, oh dear, this could be tricky.
She’s 90 years old, does yoga, is in fine fettle and is as bright as a button – and she’s travelled over three hours from Wisconsin with her daughter to see my play.
That’s the biggest journey made to see it by anyone on this US tour that I’m aware of.
She’s also the mother of my host Ellen, I should point out. But still… three hours drive from Wisconsin.
Ellen, teaching peace studies and conflict resolution (as well as a course in human rights and social justice) has clearly given me a big build up. Hope I can live up to it.
Buffalo History Museum is housed inside a beautiful building. I am due to perform at 2pm in their intimate 150 seat auditorium.
The Quakers are hosting the event and after the performance Rodney Pierce, a Korean War CO, and Nadine Hoover of the Conscience Studio and New York Quakers, join us for the Q and A.
Six weeks ago I was performing at the London Catholic Worker’s church in Haringey, close to my childhood home in north London. 4,000 miles from there, I am now about to perform at the Catholic Worker of Michiana’s premises in South Bend, Indiana.
Our Lady of the Road is the name of their building, which consists of a dining hall, kitchen, laundry machines and showers, and a new chapel.
‘I hate war’
These words on one of the walls of the Roosevelt memorial in Washington leap out at me. I read many more quotes referring to peace on this and the other nearby memorials. And yet?
War doesn’t seem to have diminished since those quotes were uttered. The high-flown words of peace don’t seem to have been translated into action.
I am glad I rode the Cyclone. Honestly.
But never again. Let me just repeat that. Never again.
Bill (and many others) obviously get a huge thrill and adrenaline rush from riding roller-coasters – but I am more than happy to get my rush from 75 minutes of being onstage alone with six wooden crates.
Dan Seeger was a Vietnam era conscientious objector. At that time, 50 years ago, COs had to answer numerous questions before exemption would be granted – one of which was:
‘Do you believe in a supreme being?’
In British law, even as far back as WW1, exemption was not reserved exclusively for religious objectors. But in US law it was.
A gleaming drum kit in front of a large wooden cross – right where I would usually set up my wooden crates… ‘Bert Brocklesby and the COs’ might sound like an early rock ‘n’ roll band – but they weren’t. What they were was a band of determined pacifists.
Then I notice that the drums are sitting on a square of carpet.
29th March 2019
‘Porridge before you set off?’ Joseph asks us on Monday morning. I look out at the snowy landscape, sensing the chill morning air.
‘I studied at St Andrews University, Scotland, ‘ he says, ‘and was taught how to make it this way by my landlady.’
I would like to meet that landlady. It was delicious.
25th March 2018
Sunday morning. A snow covered landscape bathed in glittering March sunshine. Old Chatham, upstate New York.
The venue for Sunday afternoon’s performance.
After eggs and hash browns, my host Joseph takes me to the Meeting House, a few minutes drive away – where we have an hour or so to get the sound checked and set-up before we make way for the 11am Quaker Meeting for Worship. Only we don’t get it set up. Connectivity and compatibility issues again. Absence of an important cable. Absence of anyone who can help us out.