It's Saturday evening, the performance is tomorrow and I'm auditioning for a new sibling. I'm wary about making this a project about me; my grief, my worries, my sadness. There is nothing in Paul, my memory of him, the way he handled his illness with humour and bravery, his character, that makes me feel able or permitted to complain. He didn't, why should I? This I feel has been a large part of my reluctance to talk about him at length over the last few years, guilt over taking attentions or pity when Paul took none and did all he could to enjoy his life.
I consider telling the story for One Note Missing that I was going to tell at my Mums wedding;
It was a Christmas after Paul had had some chemo. He was advised not to drink too much, to take it easy and get plenty of rest. 'OK' he'd said. Back in the house, mums done the usual and spoilt us both, I can just about keep myself awake and we're watching Shrek 2 for the third time. Mums been feeling a bit sick so she's practically comatose now. Paul gets a text from his mate, they're down The Bug in Gorsienon, they've been there spending their Xmas money wisely and want him to come down for a few. Paul agrees to take it easy, mum drops him down. 2 hours later or so mum gets call...
'Mrs Donnelly, could you come and pick up Paul, he's been playing catch up and... he's caught up and needs... er... a bit of a hand....?'
Me and mum get in the car and zip down there. She's a scary driver, my mum. Like Schumacher on speed. There's a big crowd of Paul's mates Outside the Bug so we go over. 'Where is he then?' we look around the faces .
'Down here!' We look down to see Paul's slumped on the pavement against the wall. We pour him into the car, he's been a bit sick.
Mum starts driving again and soon the combination of feeling unwell, driving at the speed of light and the faint whiff of too much booze from the back seat pushes her over the edge, she pulls over the car, opens the window and brings her mate Huey into the conversion. It's the first family Xmas in memory where I'm not the one not throwing up.
But that's just it, its a family story, if you don't know who my Mum and Paul is its a story about a drunk and his mum throwing up. You need to know these two for the story to have any real meaning, otherwise its just an average story. We need to see, hear and feel their characters, only then will that Missing Note ring out.
How could we play this story as a game? Drinking competition? Down in one? Shots? Carry a drunk home competition? Or should it be about competitiveness at all, isn't it an exercise in support and friendship?
There's other episodes I could chose from; the pitch fork incident (that my parents sill don't know about), the trouble we tried to avoid after throwing those stones, Potters Wheel Xmas Shopping excursions where me and Paul would, after examination, declare every item in every shop 'a piece of crap' and deplore the state of society for hours before nipping into the Potters for Surf 'n' Turf and a pint. Or perhaps play 'guess the next line from Beetlejuice' (Me and Paul wouldn't have to guess, we watched that film so many times they were permanently embeded in our psyches, so any substitute sibling will need to be similarly subliminally versed).
Then there's the 'time warp' video of Paul from a holiday when we were kids which has gone down in family legend. That's what family is all about; sharing unbelievably funny experiences and keeping the evidence to insure embarrassment for evermore; just look at this photo for instance...
I found it last minute, a lady from Swansea on a red carpet with two girls who from their bone structure, matching clothes and slight hight difference is an older sister and her sibling, overwhelmed and loosing their shit for all to see. It's a beautiful sight, printed in Hello magazine and framed.
It's shared history, a co-conspirator and partner in crime, keeping secrets and getting found out. There's a shed load of episodes or moods I could have picked. I had limited time so I just chose three.
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