Day off today. Took M to Leeds Bradford Airport for an interview. Sat in the car, watching planes take off just a few feet away from me on the other side of a perimeter fence. Isn’t it weird how you expect one to blow up on take-off? Or is it just me?
Met the playwright Richard Bean at Hull Truck last night. He was telling us how he went about his writing, a lot of which is set in the ‘work’ environment (Toast: set in Spillers bakery in Hull, Under The Whaleback: set on Hull trawlers and a new play that will be set on a farm, not in Hull but near it). He doesn’t like characters harping on about having ‘troubles’, apparently, but likes ‘realism’. Surely there’s a problem there, then?
I was mostly quiet but asked if he felt guilty about putting the lives of the people he worked with in the bakery up on stage. After trying to laugh it off with an “oh, but, Norman won a million on the lottery” and me having to slip in a supplementary about the blokes, then, that didn’t win the lottery and had to carry on grafting, he admitted that yes, he did feel guilty. And so he should. It’s their lives, their words, their gags, their struggles, their boring existence. They didn’t just do the job for six months. That said, Under The Whaleback is a great play. A dilemna, eh? What’s a writer to do?
Me? I’d feel guilty about writing about, say, all those hilarious bastards that I worked and grew up with in the building trade (just a mere 11 years of my life). Mainly because I’m aware that the result would be an insult to all those people that still work on sites. And I can never go back. I never wanted to be there in the first place. They don’t want some flash fucker with a degree who doesn’t get his hands dirty anymore telling them how s**t it is and how funny they all are and ripping off their best lines, all delivered in some dodgy west riding accent (and no one would believe that there was a bricky called Dave Trowel, would they?). No, let one of them do it.
Feel it important to note that the majority of people in the building trade are a hell of a lot sharper and more intelligent than most of the people I’ve met in other walks of life. Don’t assume, patronising middle-class writer folk, that they’re all as thick as f**k, cos they’re far from it.
I’m no longer working class. I’m just in some diaspora, drifting around, wanting to belong but never quite sure if I will. And while I’m at it, RIP Tony, and thanks for all the laughs we had on the line. Against all the odds, some of the rough brickwork we slung up is still standing.