#72: Gag Reflex – Scratch

[A table, a chair, 3 glasses of water, a female actor, 2 bananas, a microphone and stand]
[Philippa walks on; script already on table]
[Philippa at table, with script, with microphone, protected by table.]



I wasn’t supposed to do this by myself

There were meant to be other people here

To take the pressure off

There was going to be someone taking pictures

Running around with a camera

Maybe one of you can take pictures instead?

Has anyone got a smartphone or a camera?

Oh yes, you?


Could you take some pictures?

Yeah, that’s great

That’s perfect.

I’ll give you my email address at the end and you can send them to me

Great, thanks

Quite a lot of people are really proud of me right now.

Some of them are here.

They’ve been telling me for years that it’s going to be all right.

That it’s ok.

That I’m fine.

Maybe we’re all fine.

There’s nothing to worry about

This is all procedure

You take the pizza out of the box

You place it in the oven, having successfully preheated the oven for 10 minutes before adjusting it to Gas Mark 7

You never forget to remove the film and plastic base packaging before cooking

While you wait you pour yourself a glass of wine from the fridge

It’s white, obviously, so that your teeth don’t stain

[downs 1 glass of wine]

You close the oven door and drink one slightly over the standard measure glass of white wine

You wait

You lay out the pizza cutter and a wooden board to present your dinner

You take a plate out of the cupboard

You check the oven after 5 minutes and pour yourself another slightly over the standard measure glass of white wine having efficiently drained the first one

[downs 1 glass of wine]

You wait

You take another swig of wine

[downs 1 glass of wine]

And you wait

That’s better.

[Philippa is a bit soaked now.]

We’ve all been drunk before

Haven’t we?

on wine

on cider

on love

Have you felt this?

Have you been there with me?

I think you were there.

You were there

I’m going to talk to you

About the things that make me feel ill

It’s mainly myself

There’s lots of reasons but I’m definitely number one.

I feel sick

I want to vomit up everything now

That would definitely make me feel better

Don’t worry I won’t

I wouldn’t do that to you

[stands at the table]

If I were more of an anxious person, that bucket over there would be full.

Every time I think, every time I engage, every time I feel unsafe and alone

It’s not long before I slam three rounds of vodka

It’s definitely a cry from the soul

A deep long howl that carries me on to the next bed I see

I’m sick at the way I behave, the way I feel about people, the way I love women, the way I touch women, I can’t do anything, I hate myself, I don’t like being turned on all the time, sometimes I don’t have enough of a handle on my emotions that I can tell if I’m jealous or I’m horny or I just need a shit.

When I open up my mind to the darkness, I find blackness

I find wine, I find friends, I find sex, I find lovers

I map my way to my next hangover

[walks away from the table SR]

I have a bit of a thing for excess.

[raises hands in the air]

I am the one still standing at the bar when everyone else has their heads on the table

I order the impossible man-v-food burger and throw it down my throat

I buy doubles instead of singles even though I know everyone’s fucked.

You know when you’ve crossed the lines, right?

It’s hard to be sure of yourself

[walks towards the bucket to potentially vomit and play with her own sick]

When you wake up

Someone’s fucking you

you can’t remember why

Your memory’s a fucking blank

There’s a black dog in the corner chewing the cables of your mind

You feel sick

You want to throw up

But there’s nothing there

Some sort of flashblack

Which plays like an advert on repeat

Seeing people’s faces triggers your imagination

mashes with your dreams

Staring down at the bowl

Waiting to regurgitate the remains of last night

[sits at the bucket]

Thinking I should have just stopped

I should have just not

What am I wearing?

Half a sock

No pants and t-shirt

Where are my keys?

Where’s my bankcard?

And for a time sit in my own shit

And wallow in pain

In hopeful translucent misery

And on the way home, I pick up a tuna baguette and a bag of crisps

I am a consumption leviathan.

I put it all in there so that I can feel something

This indescribable notion of wanting to be alone

But needing everyone in the world

Even when everything tastes wrong and I know I’ve had enough

I just keep going

I keep going until my battery runs out

And even then I sprint to the finish

Knowing there’s another race to be run

Another challenge around the corner

[stands and walks back to the table]

I take pleasure in purging myself, cleansing my body until…

The blissful dullness of nothingness that pounds away joyfully on the inside of mind emerges

Hangovers are a celebration

Beautiful gifts that make the pain of everyday life go away

It’s a momentary fix

A chance to ignore and forget who I am and what I am made of

[fixes the microphone and begins to unpeel the bananas]

Because sickness, of all kinds, can be hard to deal with

And even harder to talk about it

Just when you think you’ve got it all together

Sometimes it comes out of my nose

I forget to breathe

I’m forgetting to breathe right now

I’m trying to suppress it

But nature it finds its way out

[into the microphone]

It’s like the Colorado River. Did you know about this? The River Colorado used to meander through seven of the US states, but to build houses and develop areas for new communities the authorities attempted to straighten it as much as possible. They dammed it; they tried to show it where to go; they made parts of it dry out; they tried to tame it.

But you can’t tame nature

You can’t tame the Colorado River to behave the way you want it

You can’t squander the wetlands of England and expect them not to flood.

You do not build houses on flood plains and expect nature to act accordingly.

[begins eating the bananas and talks with her mouth full.]

You cannot stop me falling more and more in love every single day with a person who means the world to me.

You cannot stick a label on this sickness, call it a disease, not give me any space for this messiness. You cannot call this a sickness if it is something I feel all the time. You can’t put me in a box and expect me to stay there and be ok I’m going to change. I’m going to grow up. It’s going to get messy. This isn’t something I can shake off.

I can’t do it. I can’t pretend anymore.

[continues eating bananas almost gagging with the amount of food in her mouth, speaking through it.]

When you do not have hard conversations, when you keep the truth about yourself a secret, you’re essentially holding a grenade

[the banana eating has finished]

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 23.16.50

Everyone’s ready for me to pull the pin – of the grenade

Elsewhere I wouldn’t be so lucky.

I can’t keep it down

The secret.

I can’t keep it down.

I hate it

It’s fine

I’m totally fine

And yet

it was the wine that tipped me over the edge

moved me forward

cleansed me

got me here

Let’s let things be messy for a while

I’m going to try let some of it out

Cause I can’t keep doing this over and over again.

And expect good results

[sits at the table]

I keep thinking about the end of all this

But I can’t

Because this is a process

This is an ongoing evaluation of my life and my preference and until I can help myself and go after what I want without vomiting everywhere, the work doesn’t stop

Until I can stand up and say that these are the things I need and these are the people I want and this is who I am


I guess there’s still a long way to go


[leaves the stage]

“…This won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show.”


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