Happy Birthday

So today it's my birthday. Right now, I'm sat in a cafe, bowl of tomato soup cooling to my left, iPhone on charge (please work!) to my right, chocolate delights blocking my eye line, calling me, calling me. 

This morning, my son threw a wobbly when it was suggested that he might want to sing 'Happy Birthday' to me. He didn't. After all, his birthday is coming soon and he's not one to share the limelight. But if you can't stamp your feet and act like a two year old when you're two, then you're not really maximising your opportunities I say. Stomp away, son. 

I'm at home for a whole week now before I return to Coventry to see the final four performances of Red Snapper. I got home yesterday morning and kicked off my shoes, laying under a blanket for most of the day. My body is so tired and yet my mind is buzzing, as are my fingers, keen to write lists, form dialogue and sketch out some of the images that have taken residence in my head over the past couple of days. Here's a snapshot of my thoughts and diary:

Sat 5th March – Yes, it's arrived – the first preview of Red Snapper! I can't stop shaking. Why am I shaking? Can't change anything now. And wouldn't anyway even if I could. Just need Bruce back with me now. 

Sun 6th March – I feel like I'm floating. So pleased! It's pretty surreal to watch something that I've been carrying for two years actually being played out. I mouthed every word during the preview – I know the story so well (obviously) but it's a different thing completely to hear those words on someone else's lips. Just written an outline for a new play... need to reconnect with my South Asian buddies up in Bradford before I go off on a tangent on this one...but feel free to message me if you have any stories to share around forced marriage.

Mon 7th March, 9am – In Bradford with my precious Mum. Just done a mini tour of Canterbury, the council estate where I lived as a child. Wow, it hurt me to see how it looked, after decades of investment and supposed progress. We really need to help each other, people. Mum and I left to visit the elders at the Mary Secole Centre. Saw my Auntie Amy along with several other beloved elders and had some interesting conversations about pain medication, feisty pickney, the punishing rain up north and immigration. Told them about a storytelling project I want to do this summer and arranged to return in May with my Mum, camera and mic. 

7.45pm – Second preview about to start and I feel excited and nervous at the same time. Shouldn't have eaten all that food yesterday...Bruce!!!! So much for being a vegan ally! Time to undo a button and enjoy the performance. 

12 midnight – Getting into bed and feeling satisfied, but thinking about how many stories still need to be told... Red Snapper could have been several shows, truth be told. Am I fixated on the Caribbean? Someone asked me earlier if I only want to write black stories. Hmmm... I just think of them as stories. Is Jane Eyre a white story?

3am – Yes I do have a fixation with the Caribbean. I'm dreaming of Jamaica. I can smell it, I feel high.

Tue 8th – Press night is over and I'm good. Met so many great people tonight and the selfies I took were pretty well focussed! Plus I looked awesome in my new shirt and kicks... no really, I did. Hope people enjoyed the play – initial feedback seems positive and my own measure of success has been satisfied – people started sharing their own stories with me and with each other. Love it when theatre is more than entertainment, when it causes the audience to explore their own thoughts and lives and bias and pain. Love it when people start to confess (one guy told me tonight that his family were slave owners in the past and he feels so bad about it) and create their own endings – the 'what if' scenario. Lots of eff words used to sum up the emotion people were feeling. One guy from Birmingham just shook my hand and shouted 'Fierce!' Loads of people asking about my next piece, Back Home, which is about sexuality and human rights in Jamaica. Again contact me if you have stories to share.

Wed 9th – Arrived back in Bristol and kicked off my shoes. Picked up my notebook and read. Five fresh ideas for plays. One new project started. Loads of emails to respond to. New friends and allies to appreciate and link up with. 

Finished my soup now. Phone still flat. Off to buy some notebooks. And chocolate. It's the right thing to do.