I was in Tavistock Square, London, yesterday August 6th, at the very moving ceremony to remember those who died in Hiroshima 73 years ago as a result of the first Atomic bomb. This Thursday, August 9th, I hope to be in Battersea Park to witness the floating lanterns released into the Thames in memory of those who died at Nagasaki, also 73 years ago. I have been working on and off for quite some time now on the second part of my trilogy (THIS EVIL THING being the first part) – which focuses on three individuals in particular who were involved in the tragic events in 1945 – a scientist, a soldier and a survivor. I feel very stirred by this piece of work and it seems appropriate that I have completed the latest draft of this play this very week. I hope it will see the light of day in 2019 or 2020 latest when it will be performed by myself and a female Japanese performer (yet to be cast!). The photo posted here I saw at Tate Modern a couple of years ago – in Elton John’s collection, I think – and it feels very evocative.
Friday morning – March 16th
Stomach still playing up. But a simple breakfast in the hotel lobby doesn’t do any harm – apart from the fact that the milk comes in quarter-pint individual cartons. I use very little of mine and ask the staff what will happen to the rest.
‘Oh, you can just dispose of it, sir.’
‘But…isn’t that a bit wasteful?’ I suggest.
‘Let me take it, sir, and I’ll bear the burden of disposing of it.’
‘Oh. Okay,’ I reply, handing him the almost full carton. ‘But maybe someone else could use it?’
‘Let me take it, sir.’
A morning to myself, lying low in my very clean but characterless hotel room, and then Maria and Cara collect me at lunchtime to head to Wholefoods Market to get a healthy lunch. My local branch of this store in Clapham Junction back home is the size of a broom cupboard compared to the vast emporium we visit. (Everything’s smaller in Clapham…)
1040 is the number of the form on which citizens file their US tax return.
It’s also the name of the organisation Harold Penner belongs to – and it’s ‘1040 for Peace’ that has sponsored us to come to Akron for my first US performance. They each withhold a symbolic 10 dollars 40 cents from their tax bill, in protest against government defence spending, and redirect it to peaceful causes. A small gesture, but accompanied with letters to government officials explaining their reasoning.
Feb. 14th 2018
The answer to that question for about 40 people in and around the North Yorkshire village of West Burton seemed to be – ‘I know, let’s go and see a play in the local village hall about the treatment of COs in World War One.’
I have no information about my ancestors’ involvement in World War One. All my grandparents died before I was born. My maternal grandfather was born in 1900 so would have been too young for conscription and didn’t enjoy good health anyway. Of my paternal grandfather I know hardly anything. About World War Two I know a lot more. My father served in the Royal Navy and was totally scarred by his experiences which I researched and wrote about here and here. All I know of my maternal grandfather’s WW2 is that he was stationed at Stirling Castle, saw ghosts and was never the same man again. My mother was in the ATS and told me how she once spent Christmas Day sending out death notices to grieving families. Was she sympathetic to the stance taken by conscientious objectors? Absolutely not. Cowards who made it worse for themselves was her…
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Oct. 29th 2017
‘To beep, or not to beep, that is the question…’
Is that chap about to leave or not? Can’t tell. But he doesn’t look happy.
If I beep to show him I’m waiting, will he get in a strop?
Behind me, someone has decided that ‘To beep’ is the answer to the question.
Well – to honk, loudly…
‘I’m waiting to see if this chap’s going!’ I mouth impotently back at them.
Oh, give me a break…
A request was received by Hull Truck Theatre for a complimentary ticket for my play from a Mr. Don Sutherland, a Quaker who had been a conscientious objector in WW2.
He had been involved in setting up agricultural peace communities in Lincolnshire…
could he also sell copies of his memoir about those experiences, and could he join me for the post show discussion? The answer from me was yes yes and yes! Oh – and could I ask how old Don is? Ninety seven.
The playscript of THIS EVIL THING is now available! Published by 49Knights, it consists of the full script and description of staging with a foreword by the director, introduction by the author(ahem)and six atmospheric illustrations by Carys Boughton.
One of the lovely posters by Emily Johns that graced the walls of Conway Hall – there are 10 altogether on different anti-war themes. For more info contact peacenews.info
Catherine Marshall was instrumental in the struggle for women’s suffrage and then devoted herself to the cause of the conscientious objectors in WW1.
When the young men in charge of the No-Conscription Fellowship were arrested for failing to report for military service, she and Bertrand Russell pretty much took over the running of the organisation. She was indefatigable, meticulous, and highly inventive at circumventing the probing and prying of government and the military.