pollygosh_ma2

A letter to my Ma, written by her Parents, in 1944

I did not know my Grandfather, I was 13 when he died of Lung Cancer. He was not your typical Grandfather, for one thing he insisted that we called him Kenneth (which was, to be fair his name).

He was no longer married to my beloved Mimee when I was born, from the scraps of family history I picked up, my loyalty was to my grandma, which made for a difficult relationship all round.

I don’t remember much about our times together, to be honest, occasional trips to the theatre, Terry’s dark chocolate oranges, a stuffed Kermit the frog and some shiny copper pans, a scary hospital room.

For years all I knew about him was that he was a writer, a theatre critic.

My Pa showed me this letter yesterday and it floored me. I didn’t realise what a writer he was. For the first time in 37 years I wish I had known him better.

It felt so relevant, that I had to share it and I urge everyone to share it. This was a man, writing to his young daughter, towards the end of a war, he thought, would end all wars.

Lest we forget, and it feels amid the anger and the hate that perhaps we are forgetting and that should embarrass us and our world leaders.

To our Daughter,

Yours is the heritage of two great nations. Born of an American Mother and a British Father in the State of Maryland, U.S.A., you are recognised as a citizen by the laws of both the United States and Great Britain.

And even discounting the more usual charms which all parents see in their own children, we are inclined to think that this dual nationality makes you rather unique. Nevertheless, it is strange that such a communication as this should be addressed to you when you are but six months old.

The present, however, is the only time at which these things could be written, for they are our pledge to you and your future. You will be given this to read, god willing, on your twenty-first birthday.

*****

You were born, dearest daughter, in such times as have never before seen on this earth. The Brutality, the suffering, the death endured among mankind has never been surpassed. Nor, indeed, and paradoxically, has there ever been such idealism, such high integrity of purpose, nor such hope for the future.

As we write, a new world is being born in the minds of good men, and its bloody travail is sweated out across the globe, from tiny islands in the Pacific to the beaches, hills and plains of all Europe and Asia.

It is a world, as you know, in which every nation has its right to a place in God’s undiscriminating sunlight; in which each race is accorded the respect of other races; in which no man, woman or child can starve amid abundance.

******

Now, in 1944, we are eager that you should soon read, so that you may know how much of the past has gone to make the present and the future which you enjoy.

You must read of the Magma Carta of King John, of the storming of the Bastille, of the Abolition of Slavery, of the Declaration of Independence, of the Bill of Rights.

Then, as you read this in 1965, you will know that there once existed such a world that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty at the New York gateway to the United States reads:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

At 21 there is no “wretched refuse” in your world, darling. But you understand, because you have read of the racial and religious persecutions of Europe in past centuries, and of a Ghetto in Warsaw and a gas chamber in Lublin which we have known in our time. And because you know, too, of Abraham Lincoln and of his oration at Gettysburg which you read even before you were old enough to understand and know that this great American in 1863 was speaking of the same “great task remaining before us” as Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke about in 1936 when he told us that our generation had a “rendezvous with Destiny;” and the same “unfinished work” as Winston Churchill meant in England’s dark hours of 1940, and which has seen completion only in your generation.

*****

Your will remember how we told you of these things years ago; and how all our endeavours, our printed and spoken words, our lives, were never for anything but the fulfilment of these promises to those who have given their lives in the battle for the Liberty of Man, to those who are yet unborn, and to you.

You will remember how the great power for war which was in the United States and in the British Commonwealth, joined with their brother nations, was continued into the greatest power for peace that men had dreamed of………. but it was not easy.

These great decisions about your future were actually made by the ordinary men and women in those nations, by the exercise of their democratic will.

As we write this, the people of the United States are debating keenly the issues before them in a wartime Presidential election. We have implicit faith in their ability to choose well a President committed in the fullest measure to international co-operation for peace, together with a Congress which will tender him loyalty and support. And, as foreign and domestic issues can no longer be divorced from each other, we know also that such an Administration must also strive for prosperity at home among a people who are tolerant of everything but intolerance.

Such an Administration must necessarily be composed of persons whose courage and vision can be assessed on the basis of their known records.

For 1944, darling was not a time when the world could afford to wait when that time came they, too, chose wisely and well.

You remember these things, of course. We repeat them here only to ensure that you will not forget them. Never, never forget them, nor the millions of ordinary people whose lives were dedicated and even lost to the attainment of the ideals of war.

******

And finally, as you read these words in 1965, pause awhile to hear the world echoing at last in unison, the great American creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Do you hear, our dearest daughter, do you hear it? – clear and sweet as the bell of Evening song across the English Country side – carried on the winds across the Atlantic, over the Western Plains on a Kansas breeze, sweeping low to the Antipodes, heard like a persistent drum in the dark Congo, soaring upward to the Himalayas and on up the Nanking Road to rise with the stars over the Steppes, whispering soft over the Mediterranean blue, riding the wave-crests crescendo in Biscay Bay – and on, on again.

Listen, for we know your hear it. It is the measure of our success.

God help us all, if we, if our generation, have also failed.

Your loving
Mother and Dad.

pollygosh

Be You

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken – Oscar Wilde

So, about 2 weeks ago I wrote this blog post and I guess I must of captured a feeling or something because it went wild, it actually crashed little blog for a while (thanks to Rob for getting us back up and running and for not complaining about the midnight wakeup call). It was a weird feeling to have something I wrote quite so ‘out there’, weird good not weird bad but I did get a little shy.

I also felt like a fraud. I wrote that piece in 30 minutes, I didn’t really even check it as I was supposed to be making dinner at the time and A. was due home. I even thought about taking it down, it felt too raw, too exposing – and this coming from the girl who documented her cancer and writes regularly about death! Luckily I kinda forgot about it, I often do that, once I’ve got the writing out, I’m more free to live my life. And now I can tick gone viral off the bucket list (not that it was on there in the first place, not that I have a bucket list, I have ten).

What it led to was a lot of lovely things being said – some by people who I’d never met, so I wanted to thank everyone – I doubt little blog will ever actually reach all those people but thank you very much anyway, it certainly made my last week in theatre a lot more bearable.

I also got asked a lot about what I’m up to next and that is a slightly longer story.

When I was little I never had a very clear imagine of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I could never quite picture myself as the stockbroker, brain surgeon or CEO. I wanted to be the person who was indispensable to them, I wanted to be their helper, their carer, the one they relied on. I wanted to be the “girl-friday’ and that embarrassed me; and based on absolutely NO evidence, I was also pretty sure it would embarrass my parents. All the words I had for what I wanted to be had lowly conatations, and given the care and cost my parents were putting in to giving me an exciting future I felt guilty, really, for not wanting ‘more’, I didn’t ‘want it all’, I wasn’t about to forge my path as a leader of the universe. I felt like a failure because my ‘all’ looked quite different from what we are always being fed is ‘successful’.

I didn’t want the spotlight, I didn’t want to be a power-player, I incorrectly thought that I had no ambition and that was something I should hide. I was wrong, I had/have ambitions they just looked slightly different.

Finding Stage Management was a relief, not only did it mean I now had a plan, that I could be the facilitator, the helper that I always thought I should be but because I also had Manager in the title I needn’t be embrassed.

And then I grew up, actually I got sick, and I stopped caring quite so much about what others might think. The new mantra was ‘fuck it, just be you’.

I no longer believe that it matters what people feel about my career path. It should never of mattered what people felt about it.

What matters, for any of us, is that you are striving to pay your rent, pay your taxes, feed yourself, and hopefully give a little to people who need it more. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others; how you get there is frankly nobody else’s concern.

I finally looked around and realised it takes all sorts to make up this crazy community we call a planet. Truth be told many be are so busy worrying about how they look to others and if they’re doing the right job – they probably don’t even care what I’m doing. If everyone was a CEO or stockbroker or brain surgeon the world would be a very dull place. As long as I am giving it everything, being the best that I can be, then that’s enough. If others want to be proud of me, I’m also cool with that.

So, I’ve retrained as a Massage Therapist and I’m starting my own business. I can incorporate all the parts of me, the helper, the admin lover (I LOVED playing post office and library as a kid) and the person who fears they’ll get bored of a desk job… This move feel right, scary but right. I may not be changing world with a ripple that can be felt around the world; but I hope, I hope I can make a small difference the people of Bristol!

LOOP Massage is in it’s fledging stages. It has a home, in a cargo container at Wapping Wharf. It very nearly has a start date – March 2017, I’m coming for ya! It has me, who is nervous, excited, buzzing and probably every other emotion you care to name as well.

I’ll need supporters too (actually it has a fair few already, I’m very grateful but I’d love a larger community), you can check out my new website here.