Thursday, 22 October 2009

Howard Barker and the pillow bandit

I am a pillow bandit. I admit it. I steal pillows, in my sleep, in the middle of night, from under slumbering heads...

It's a new trend. It just started. Actually, it's only happened once so far so calling it a trend might be a little premature.

I'm not even sure of what happened exactly. Accounts differ.

I remember waking briefly and becoming aware of the absence of pillow underneath my head. I remember reaching out, feeling the edge of a pillow case under my fingers, pulling the pillow to me - it felt deliciously cool and plump - tucking it under my head and falling back asleep. Then later, after feeling a tug and hearing a muffled complaint, relinquishing the pillow and simultaneously remembering that my very own pillow was actually tucked under my arm in a little tight bundle.

Apparently, that's the slow motion version. Apparently I yanked it from under his head, which woke him up with a start when his head hit the mattress after a few micro-seconds of cartoonlike suspended animation. He yanked it back pretty sharpish, but then - and there's the crime - lay awake for a long time... slumber cruelly eluding him.

Frankly, I'm appalled. I like to think of myself as being a generous and considerate person (or at the very least a top rate people pleaser) but this doesn't seem to extend to my unconscious self. Apparently, my unconscious self is greedy and possessive and a thief, and thinks nothing of ruining other people's good night sleep.

I wish I could blame it on Howard Barker. Yesterday I did a rehearsed reading of one of his latest play "Deep Wives and Shallow Animals" at the Jermyn Street Theatre, as part of the 21 for 21 Festival (an international celebration of the 21 years of Barker's theatre company The Wrestling School). And guess what? (What?) Howard Barker came to the reading. And he stayed after and talked to us for a long time. And said some lovely things. And was altogether lovely and very kind. Which just goes to show that you can be the enfant terrible of British Theatre, be the modern Shakespeare (as coined by Dominic Cavendish, Deputy Theatre Critic of The Daily Telegraph, write beautifully dark and twisted material, and still turn out to be a sweetie pie. So no, I can't and won't blame it on Howard Barker.

I'm hoping this was a one-off nocturnal misdeanor. A unique abberation. The pillow incident obviously, not the Howard Barker play reading which I hope will lead to more drama of the good kind!

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