The final workshop was given by Sharlene Teo, who delved into psycho-geography, and her own variation: psychic geography. We were asked to describe a room that was familiar to us, lingering on details, even the smallest, if needed.
1. If I sit down at its centre, I can take in all of its corners. The four major ones – the cornerstones, the foundations – and the minor ones, the ones that follow the furniture, the kitchen area, the wardrobe, my eyes. Circling around them, books populate the room, shelves pine for more or for fewer, groan with content. Keep turning and the bed lies down, to one side, covering its own space, in its own time. Turn a little more to find the washing line, clothes hanging, suspended, moisture gently rising as they dry. Lie back, and the ceiling stares at you, blankly.
We were then asked to describe a ‘public’ person, or character, in enough detail for them to be recognisable by other readers. My choice, surprising no one, fell on Eddie Izzard.
2. He has the kind of eyes that show the weird, wonderful, buzzing creativity behind them, rimmed with eye-liner, or eye-shadow, or mascara, calculated and meticulous. He might be wearing lipstick, he might not. That doesn’t really matter. But if he is, it might appear amid a three-day beard, bristled with white and blond and brown – light brown. Or maybe not. He does wear a shirt, and a suit and tailcoats from the jacket, points touching an umbrella as he stands triumphant, ego shining bright, spotlight not needed. Unless he’s wearing a dress, and the sparkles, the glitter, the sequins catch the lights on stage. And that’s when smiles. Mocking. Knowing.
We swapped the result of the first exercise with other participants, and wrote the character into the new setting we now had. Oh dear.
3. …my heels just got stuck. eeeeeeeeeeeh-yes. Anyway: HAMMERS. Let me talk about hammers. You don’t want to talk about hammers? You just want to get hammered? Well whatever floats your boat I suppose. Do you think Noah used hammers when he built his boat? the Ark, I mean? and what if he made it out of perspex, like a see-through boat, to watch all the evil people and animals drown and you can point and laugh and then you’d be evil too, actually… but yes, and god, who is still James Mason, would be up there going craaaaazy:
‘No no, stop laughing or I’ll have to push you off the boat. Noah? Noah, make them stop laughing or just – Jesus?’ ‘ Yes dad?’ ‘I need a holiday.’ ‘ Aren’t all days a holiday for us, dad?’ ‘…yes, well played.’
But yes, anyway – gardening.