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Nicola O'Connor, 21 May '14

It’s been a whole year since I were last here. Still feel the blood crawl like ants me veins... and when I try take off me boots I still ends up just staring at that white plaster wall opposite, still broken by them same long streaks of dirty brown and same bits of half-arsed paint. And I thought it might a changed. Saw all sorts me, read all the good books by all the authors they say are worth reading in the base, but here in Manchester is still the same mud on the ceiling. Afghanistan. Jake. Jake. All through me time in Afghanistan I heard that name. Had no idea a simple sound could be so beautiful. It was like candy-floss in me ear, candy-floss I got myself high on the sound of it, taking me back home to the playground shelter in the park... where we kissed a last kiss the night I left... our temple of love a bubble of love where the rain, dark grass, broken glass, sludge, hugging coats and dangerous walk home bubble up in their melting pot outside... home, sweet estate home... I counted the miles back to him, on the plane... to Jake. Jake. Each time I whispered it, his face it danced for me as disco lights powering through the sandstorm.

Excuse me if I have a drink. God I want that boy’s sex and that boy’s love. What does sex need love for? Friendship. That’s what I found love is. Not just beauty, but Friendship. You need a hard life to teach you that. Home. This Estate. We’re here because we’re nuts, because we’re nuts because we’re here. I remember when I left on the bus that day, and as Jake held my hands as I got on the bus and for the first time I really felt it, felt the grind and grate this place had rubbed into his hands, and how I felt sorry for him, knew I would see him so different with my world eyes on than with those teenage eyes that had room only for his boyhood beauty... I looked at his yearning, handsome face, but a face I now also understood had been rushed from childhood and frightened into a ferocious maturity... he kissed me but the quick, vigorous lip-pressure was gone and the kiss was that of a tired man who had been tired for longer than I had noticed. I waved goodbye… I remembered when we was 17, when he would dance with the best, all night, after a hard day’s work, and think nothing of leaving the dance to go to another days hard work. Now we are 21 and living together and we are tired but we love life in a different way now, in a hardened way, in a defiant way. But god when we were 17, I think that was actually paradise, Me and Jake, young and loving on this estate. Because seeing it now with my world eyes on I think none of the great desert globe I saw could in any way stand up to those early days here on our estate. When the dark clouds rolled and banked like fluid Himalayas and the estate below becomes a shackled and mystical outpost of its own kind, and I was sitting with Jake on the grass by the swings in front of the houses under the clouds, and the feeling of passing youth was too strong and beautiful and I stroked that feeling through his hair... the slight sun dying as it lived on the grey houses behind... and he looked at me, he looked at me smiling healthily... his shadow long and oh fuck you just want to wrap your arms around him around the whole damn lovable thing... the sky, the estate, Jake... and shield it with your body and heart from everything that changes, from everything that don’t understand it, from everything in 2014 that wants take it for granted take it away.

That’s all I fought for. That’s what I fought for. This estate, this Kingdom. I fought for the deeps of life that for so many other people are but the seas of make believe. I fought for the life I loved and I fought for something good. Something real. Where everywhere people have found dazzling new sparkling ways to talk, to live... but have actually forgotten how to talk and live. In that world I fought for is one of great reckonings: I fought for my friends from the estate, people of skilled and scarred hands, people who roll up our sleeves to fight and have hands that don’t take life for granted, have hands made with big life in them, have hands that go out and make times lived just around this estate with your man as impressive as the fucking deserts and Himalayas put together.

People alive like animals in the mud on all our instincts fighting an drinking and loving but who make ourselves handsome and smart in the evening, look good and clean, grow up cheap in parks then dress charming when we hit 17 in the club with a loving warm beery red glamour oozing to and from all our hearts and as one we all see why the same big room with all the chairs going round the side and the big disco ball in the middle is centre of everything. That’s the world me and Jake knew.

Only when the saddest devils have been made of the people who think of this all as dirty and past, those who want to change us, take us for granted... only then will they then realise the angel in us who live like the loose change in our pockets, who like the sun rise above but with the changing world, who are as far away from you as the future, who are as great as the legacy of life and living that they stand for, the legacy that they take forth new and beating and dripping fresh into each new year. The actual modern people. And Jake. He knows it. Jake, intoxicated and alive with life.
I’m proud for one to have fought for him.

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  • Nicola O'Connor said...

    A monologue adapted from my play 'Kingdom'

    • Posted 3 years ago