Meeting is the most human of inventions
‘Human nature is not just your loved ones, it’s the people you meet’. That was Dudley’s response to our first call together back in July. Throughout lockdown the potential for adventure, discovery and meeting new people has been a loss we have all felt, but perhaps none more so than the age bracket who were told they were most vulnerable to coronavirus. I spoke to five people across Greater Manchester who have been isolated during lockdown. Each series of conversations were completely different and at first I wondered how it would be possible to write about them into one piece of work but a running thread emerged, how we can help each other imagine.
I’m broadcasting to you from the lighthouse at the estuary of the River Styx…
I’m broadcasting to you from the turret of my ice castle on pluto…
I’m broadcasting from the rusty VW Camper in the Nevada Desert…
I’m broadcasting to you from the inside of a snowglobe, that padded sound, nothing falls forever here, and the edges of the world are cool, looking up is a kind of hypnotism, it’s always the same snow and I know each flake by a name my mother taught me, it’s hard to miss mountains when you have been upside down……..
I could tell you I’m anywhere. That’s the beauty of telephone calls, that’s the wonder of meeting someone when they don’t know what you look like. On our last week talking Suraj told me she could ‘draw my face, I can picture you smiling’, I could picture Suraj’s smile too, in the way our brains can manifest a smile in a voice without having to concretise a human face. The brain is so much more creative at picturing who you are speaking to when you can’t see them. I could tell you I’m a cross between Christopher Robin and an art critic or that I’m definitely more tadpole than frog. Our ability to imagine beyond where we are, to imagine other people more complexly and the ability to communicate in more creative ways is our greatest power.
Me and John spent a lot of time discussing the power of radio which he fell in love with going out on boats to try and catch the radio-waves of the pirate radios on the ships in the dock. This broadcast is inspired by John!
For our first segment Intro(per)spective!
I’m broadcasting this from a beehive’s insides. My hands are honey but I don’t feel trapped, I am the tiniest I have ever been, I used to be fruit but now I am becoming…
During our calls, Pauline and I talked about poetry and taking time to become introspective, even if you’re not sure you’re good enough yet. She suggested ‘finding something everyday that moves you in some way, even if it’s a bee flying past’. Pauline has written poetry across lockdown and was willing to share one of her pieces of writing! I thought I’d make the most of what I had, and to reflect the times I stayed inside Pauline’s poem and made a new piece with her exact words.
Our second segment Fantasy Journey
I’m broadcasting from the hull of a freight ship, I’ve been here two months, everything tastes of salt, I think when I am done here I will be part boat.
Gulia and I spent a long time discussing travel, one of Guilia’s dreams was to take the Orient Express, our conversations even sparked me to think about where I’d like to go if I could go anywhere. It’s not always easy to let yourself imagine properly, too often it feels silly to imagine something that could never happen, but it feels even more vital now to let us imagine what we want. I recently felt that I had not taken advantage of my freedom; but why should we limit ourselves inside our minds. Who knows, someone might read this and fund Guilia’s trip (I’m looking at you billionaires!) I planned some questions to ask Guilia and I’m sharing them with you to have a go, I’d love to hear about everyone’s fantasy journeys.
Our third segment – unbottling the letter!
I am broadcasting this from inside my grandmother’s piano, you can only hear the metronome for now, but if you think hard enough perhaps you can make her play.
‘You can make yourself laugh with memory’ said John on our final meeting. This theme also returned often in mine and Dudley’s conversations. During this time I think many people are reflecting, whether that’s because of loss, or separation, or simply more time. Dudley said he had many questions for his great-grandfather, so we devised a structure for how to write a letter to an ancestor, what kind of questions you might want to ask yourself. Dudley has offered to share some examples from his letter and I’ve also developed the questions, so anyone else can have a go.
Our last segment before my transmitters give in
I’m broadcasting alone/unlonely in my flat
As Dudley said during our last week ‘there aren’t any ordinary people’, by my experience we just have to get better questions. I am grateful for the company John, Suraj, Pauline, Guilia and Dudley have given me over this summer, their stories, their answers to my questions. This one’s for them!
Thanks for tuning in folks and goats!