Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A distraction from distraction...

So, and I imagine you'll be pleased to hear it, I've finally parted company with Simon Gray, the author of The Smoking Diaries and countless other memoirs; of many plays, including Cell Mates (the one S Fry scarpered from) and Butley and lots of other writings. I read Coda slowly because I didn't really want the man to go off and breath his last. But he did. Back in 2008. I know that I've read quite a few of Gray's plays - I gobbled up hundreds of playtexts from 1995-1998 and he was certainly amongst them, because I recall thinking about his Christian name and how it led to some assumptions on my part about his social status (Simon being a bit of a poncey moniker on these tough streets and I rightly assumed he was of the Cambridge cloth). Yet I can't remember a single detail about any of them. I was going to take out Otherwise Engaged and The Common Pursuit from the library the other week to trigger some memories until I remembered that I had a £12 fine hanging over me and only a tenner in my pocket. When I raise the funds I'll be on it. Michael Billington, in his 2008 obit of Gray, says of the man "What he did, at his best, was carve out his own special territory: the arrested adolescence of the educated Englishmen." Meanwhile, Richard Eyre is in no doubt about Gray's body of work: "He's one of the most important British dramatists of the last 50 years - no question. He used a classical structure and wrote within tightly prescribed limits about people whose emotions were very messy, so there was this engaging tension between the classical form and the chaotic vortex of emotions." So, there you have it. I'll no doubt read all of these memoirs again - probably when I'm in my 70s and dying. Until then, well, I'm tempted to flash up a cigarette.

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