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It’s Mother’s Day – My Day of the Dead

What does that mean to you if you no longer have a mother, nor do you have any children. Nothing really but it does make me wonder whether we should have a Day of the Dead as they do in Mexico. The church does commemorate the dead on All Souls’ Day or Feast of all Souls on 2 November.

A specific date would give my siblings and I a chance to formally remember our mum together. Talk about her and share memories.  And a day I could use to come to terms with the hole having no children leaves in my heart.

And think about those I have so carelessly lost.  I say careless because yes people die and they may not have meant a lot to me then but they have become more important as the day they died moves further and further away.

I now really miss my dad. As time has passed I realise I didn’t ask him questions I really want to know now. I also realise we didn’t take the time to talk about how we felt about each other. He was a dear man who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, let his inner feelings show. I do wish he had. To some extent I resent it because it has left another hole in my heart that can never be healed. A continued ache that hurts more from time to time.

And then there are close friends who are so missed. Ones it is still difficult to believe have gone. Forever. Vibrant, fun people who gave us joy. And those who died unhappy, confused and sad. One friend lay down on a local railway track and it still haunts me whenever a train thunders through the station while I’m waiting to go to London, or worse in the other direction where she died. My toes curl at the thought. We did talk, lots of times, about her unhappiness. The last time we talked she was more optimistic than usual. I never thought she would take her life in such a terrible way.

There are people I really don’t miss at all. And that is a function of my relationship with them of course. Those people who I have never, ever been able to reach. Never been able to relax with, have fun with, my fault, their fault. Who knows. Why even use the word fault. That’s life which has to be got on with.

So Mother’s Day is a day for remembering. But on my own. It’s my Day of the Dead.

Elizabeth Bryant – contributing author


Ecstasy & Under Milk Wood

Mike Leigh scored his first great hit at Hampstead’s former porta-cabin theatre many years ago with Abigail’s Party which was recently revived at Hampstead’s new abode.
Ecstasy dates from a similar period and is not dissimilar – except that it doesn’t have the laughs, as my bored companion did not hesitate to point out to me.  Die-hard Mike Leigh fans will still flock to and appreciate this production (which is due to transfer to the West End).  Many would probably prefer to see him on screen (his latest, ‘Another Year’, is to my mind far superior.)

The Pentameters theatre above the Horseshoe pub in Hampstead High Street has been around for 42 years, yet despite it being virtually on my doorstep, and despite having visited the majority of theatres large and small in the capital, I have to confess that my trip there a few days ago was my first!
I was drawn to their production of Under Milk Wood, a play for voices memorably performed on radio by Richard Burton.  This version had five actors, four of them doubling as musicians with specially composed score, and it was magical.  The theatre itself is like someone’s living room (seating perhaps 50) and I’m very much minded to visit again sometime very soon.

Their next production is Lowell’s Bedlam, a new play about Bostonian patrician and Pulitzer prize-winning poet Robert Lowell, set in 1949.

Jeannette Nelson Jeannette is a bit of a culture vulture who enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.
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