I made my Dad a stress ball, because he’s got massive paws he couldn’t find one. I got the idea when I was making his singing bowl cushion. Every time I wonder what I did with my life up till now I remind myself by saying things like that. I’m a million miles away from where I was, but not so far either.

My subconscious is prodding me… It started a week ago with an article from Cracked.com and ends with a post from TearMatt, collecting various points in between.

1) Red feet
2) ‘My’ theatre
3) Nice
4) Bikes
5) Fruit
6) London
7) Grim and fairy tales.

A famous writer called it “brewing” (maybe Sylthia Plathe). I don’t have any pretensions but I can identify with the thought process. Take a cup, choose a tea, put the kettle on… No wonder so many cultures have tea ceremonies. Here I go already, digressing before I’ve begun.

Unsurprisingly, ‘My’ theatre is not MY theatre. I showed up one day wanting to get involved but not having any particular skills, I started mopping floors. No easy feat with substandard equipment and the worst floor you’ve ever seen. I’d have been better off trying to clean Centenary Square.

As time passed, I could not contain myself and released my passion, energy and joy. I especially liked it when, during a meeting someone exclaimed, “But I thought you were a cleaner!”. At the time, I was also volunteering for a Drug Treatment Agency, working in a Hostel for Women fleeing violence, pottering about on an As level Art course (because I could not for the life of me find any other art groups to join) and going to Buddhist meetings from a new tradition. Good times.

By the time the Theatre shut, I was a Trustee on the board, collecting experience in performance, poetry, volunteer coordinating, junk artistry and professional hugging along the way. It was amazing for me to find a space that I could grow into. It felt so natural and inevitable. Until, the threads of prior Trustees financial mismanagement, lack of funding and the recession closed in on us.

Personally, I was hobbled by other things. I’d asked someone to collaborate on my first installation. It was snowing, I’d told him I wasn’t going to the theatre. But, I felt trapped in the house, I thought fuck it. I would have walked the three miles. Fortunately, there was still a bus. I rang him and he said he’d be there too. Seconds later he posted “88 Miles an Hour” as his status. (Let’s call him Marty.) I laughed, giddy with the excitement and joy of the magic that seemed to be in abundance. He pulled up outside the theatre on his pushbike and I set off laughing once again.

Years ago I met a man who helped me understand some things about myself. He was a Nice Man. I’m thinking of the time that we went to pick up a trolley. He was sat at the wheel of his car mimicking, “Nice! Nice! Is that what people think of me? Nice!?”

I was splitting at the seams because I’d had that rant just the day before. “I don’t want to be nice! Nice is boring!”. Well, this man most certainly is not boring, he’s a motorbiking, weightlifting, sculpting, teaching, DIYing man. Who liked to push his comfort zones, at that time, by learning to paint. I did indeed think that he was (and is) a “Nice man”. I understood the lesson offered.

I thought “Marty” was a “Nice man”. I thought that I took my time getting to know him, watched how he was with others, listened properly when he spoke. In reality, I did not. I had a veil of glamour over my eyes. He is definitely, NOT a nice man, in any sense of either word.

When it all began to unravel and he showed his true colours I was writing things like this:

“And so the tree began to bear strange fruit. Not quite so black, more a deep muddy brow. Not quite so dread, more unsettling. This fruit had bite. Not the sharp juicy tang of a not ripe plum, but a bite of a different kind. For it was the not quite tree.

It made good men doubt, but not yet enough to make them speak out. It made bad men arrogant, yet not so much they would seize power. The Not Quite Tree was not quite there. It was the spring of it’s second year, still a sapling. It was nourished by generalisations and obfuscations and most definitely, it fed greedily on mistrust.

It had a malignant aura and sought to suck the joy from those who passed by. They were unsettled but they never suspected the Not Quite Tree. They had seen the strange fruit, but they thinking the tree sick, did not believe that it would last the winter through. The Not Quite Tree, did not quite die!

It fed on the rancour of complainers. Strengthened its limbs on the canker of the greedy. Those who passed by the Not Quite Tree, did not notice the trunk was sore with boils that belched and oozed rancid gunk. Something was amiss. Something was not quite right, but good and bad alike could not quite put their finger on it.

The good felt low and the bad felt smug and the tree grew ever closer to bearing a strange fruit. No one could quite describe the crop beginning to sprout from it’s boughs. The Not Quite Tree was not quite ready to disguise the gangrenous fruit it was not quite ready to bear. One day the will look like ripe apples.”

This is what Fairy Tales used to look like. They used to teach you something of value. This grim fairy tale I am in is making no sense and I don’t know what my role is. For sure I am neither Hero or Princess (who would want the responsibility of always being perfect), more likely the Witch. But which Witch will I be? What fruit will my tree bear? Misunderstood witch with heart of gold, or the kind that gives poisoned fruit to princesses? I wonder where the woodsman is?

Woodcutters Son – Paul Weller
All Your Gold – Bat for Lashes
Cover Girl – Mr Hudson and the Library

Read David Wong’s “6 Harsh truths that will make you a better person”, for his take on the fruit we bear.

The links with red feet and London will have to wait for another day. Be mindful of the fruit you are likely to produce.