Diary entry from Heartache of My Eyes Community Workshop Participant

A wonderfully witty account of the workshop, by one of our talented writers and students from Clean Break, K.T. Marsh.

– It Was Like This –

 Here’s a bloggy-diary I hoped to keep each day over the past two weeks, but realised today on the very last day, I have been too tired to write up records each evening because we worked REALLY really hard every single day.   Even the weekend in the middle, when we did “full day” Saturday and also joined Che’s Dalston Revolution on Sunday evening – no days off.   Also, the nature of what came up each day was deeply emotional for many of us, and demanded a large investment of energy both physical and mental.   So, double tired each evening, arriving home cream-crackered, stretching out on the sofa like a deadwoman with a sigh of relief relishing a nice lie down with me cat curled a’purring on my chest like he does, yet before long, jumping up again to reach for pen and paper with an idea for tomorrow.   Also, every night I would think over the events of the day and laugh and laugh (and also wince) at some of the idiocy and inanity, creativity and generosity, and excruciating HONESTY shown by my co-conspirators and colleagues down t’O.C.   Lots and lots of funny and memorable things said and done, in the exercises and activities set by Che and Claire which made us think, made us argue, made us act – sometimes, made us sit intensely still…..


Here on the very last day, I think we were all sad it was coming to an end, and soon feelings ran high.   Then came a delicious lasagne lunch made by cleverly culinary Claire, along with couscous cooked on the spot for the veggies by Lizzy (cous cous of course is not really proper food it is a weird and watery grain containing no intrinsic nutrition or flavour).  During the lunch hour we had our mugshots taken for the Bureau’s official records, singly and as a smiling group (of assorted nuts) against an orange wall.   Then a short debrief in the afternoon, with positive feedback delivered by each of us to one another in a circle…. Then Amy’s amazing chocolatey gunginess out of the big blue tin of cake YUM…. And then our goodbyes.   The atmosphere today was like the last day of term at boarding school with everyone heading off to the blue beyond clutching slips of paper with everyone else’s phone nos. and emails.   Will we ever meet again, who can say? but certainly the consensus was we ALL want to do it Heartache again (such fools we be!), and there was even a plan to “put on the show ourselves” at G.’s friend’s theatre in Hampstead AND charge money AND donate it to OC…. I was really happy, after hanging around downstairs in the groovy gathering room not quite yet ready to leave, to have a word with Delroy (a giant of a broom-bearing Rastaman who sweeps and cleans goodnaturedly and silently every day).  Delroy,  a calm and unassuming chap who reminds me of Chief Dan George in the Cuckoo’s Nest which one flew over, was a founder member of OC and has been there ever since its beginning in 2007 – so knows of what he speaks – and he said any of us could turn up any Wednesday for dinner, just as if we were real and actual members, in advance of so becoming.    Now THAT was an invitation worth waiting for, and onewhich I will surely accept before long.

IMG_6613Claire invited us all “to the pub” and this plan did not quite come off, but I maintain she had a lucky escape, since she might well have been stuck with a bunch of monsters after a couple of pints, Lord we’d probably still have been there turning into gargoyles and holding her hostage until Monday at the very least.   She seemed a little forlorn, stacking chairs and gathering litter, and I was delighted to give Claire the big hugs and thank her unreservedly from the bottom of my heart, liver & onions for the sustained very hard work she (along with Che and Amy of course) has put in on our behalf not just all week, but also before any of us even got started there – conceiving the idea, and organizing time and relative dimensions in space etc. – probably long after we left as well.   (like the first female Time Lord, a Doctor Who? ref. there)   She still has the books and DVDs to flog, and wrap and deliver to Lapland before the solstice, and all.   If I have received one twelfth of what Claire put out for our group this fortnight, then the effort required from her was a dozen times what I felt, which was a LOT.   (My maths and fractions and such aren’t exactly equal to this metaphor)   We were daily an unruly and ill-disciplined mob.   People ambling in, apparently falling asleep on the chair, unexpectedly saying something brilliant and bang on point and then ambling out again, at will, in search of caffeine. So what an effort it must have been for Claire and Che and Amy to even keep us in order, let alone encourage and nurture us (and even feed us!) to produce the astonishingly lovely work we did.

IMG_6612For The Performance, it was as if Che and Claire had given us a bumper jigsaw and somehow we managed to assemble and piece it together in time for Wednesday night.   The pride of this achievement, to see the different elements come together.   The standard seemed to go up and up as we each realized how good the others were.   For me, at the opening (top of the show), after all the “rehearsing one line out loud-ers” sidled off and I was left alone on the stage, and there was this HUSH of expectation, the silence in the room, the whole audience holding its breath all together anticipating something unexpected and wonderful, the suspension of their disbelief, the electricity in the room and I could hear a pin drop – oooo that was cool.   Again near the end when I was sitting doing nothing while Joe crawled about (looking for his contact lenses, was he?) I was thinking “Here I am, exposed and completely in the open, everyone can see me but no-one can actually see me really cos I’m just playing a character here?” (a bit convoluted) – I felt almost drunk on that sense of power, what you could do with it once you got used to it, WOW.

Saturday morning, when I thought I was so tired I would sleep for at least a week, but once again I sprang off me cot towards the keyboard to start writing writing writing on this subject, which is bloody interesting to me.   I got so much out of this project, particularly during sessions with Mr. Che The Big Man, who listened to our opinions and was interested in our contributions, what we could add to the mix, each day.   To have Che listen to my opinion,  give it serious consideration, reply and discuss, was SUCH a buzz for me, cos he’s like, all award-winning and that.   And a bitofa geezer to boot.

I hope we can do the show again, cos we could improve on it.   I’ve got other things I’d like to show ye, and I think others have got more material too.   We could go up and up from here.   I am leaving the Raging Calm on a high that is NOWT 2 do with pharmaceuticals.    It was a fantastic fortnight, I had never dreamed that doing creative work every day could be so absorbing and fulfilling and make me feel so tired and so happy.   Thank you Claire, Amy, Che and the OC – and my fellow participants.

group photo


A few more words from other participants:

“What a wonderful couple of weeks! I can’t thank everybody enough.”

“What looked like an impossible task came together organically through a series of structured improvisations, discussion and research. The ensemble gelled from the start, and I personally could not have hoped for a more creative, edifying and supportive atmosphere.”

“My anxieties related to my own history of addiction soon disappeared, and were replaced with an opportunity to grow and share, to allow my story to inform the work but not to dictate the process.”


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