Vaudevilles on Halloween

I seem to have been busy recently. And the world seems more alarming than ever. We watch our grandchildren, guided by our sons and daughters-in-law, with some apprehension – not because of what we, or their parents may have taught them, or handed down to them, but more because of the state of the world. And then there`s the state of London, this huge city, full of every kind of opportunity, but plenty risks and dangers as well. Not to mention the state of the planet.

We`ve had discussions recently – each generation modifying the views of the previous generation – on issues of gender and who defines who as what, and why, and since when. Complicated. Really. So complicated that I have bought Kathleen Stock`s latest book: Material World. Why Reality Matters for Feminism. From what I have read so far, I feel upset that this thoughtful woman has been bullied out of her academic post.

Yesterday we went to the White Bear Theatre in Kennington and saw Anton Chekhov`s Vaudevilles and Other Sketches, translated by Michael Frayn, directed by Jenny Eastop. A bright if noisy hour of short pieces, presented with great energy by a skilled cast. Sam Denia, Laura Hall, Andy Secombe. So good to be out, and smiling.

Then we got on the tube home, and the fear of covid fell upon me as I realised hardly anyone else on the tube was wearing a mask. Opposite us three teenage girls were dressed ludicrously for halloween. Strange streaks of make-up, skirts almost non-existent, scant cover of parts of their bodies, and of course – no masks. They didn`t actually look particularly happy. Beside them two boys (students perhaps) with red streaks of blood on their whitened cheeks, and one of them waving a wand or some such thing. Weird. Why has halloween become such a celebrated occasion?

I have been discussing my play Candlesticks again, and perhaps this is why I fell to musing on exactly why every one under the age of twenty celebrates halloween as if much depended on it. In Candlesticks a Jew becomes a Christian, and a gentile becomes a Jew. Once I have finally stopped wanting to micro-edit my story collection, I will make sure to update Candlesticks before moving on.

And for this evening there seems to be a choice between news bulletins about Cop26, and Jeff`s chosen evening entertainment. Death of a Salesman. His favourite play.