Sutton’s Imagine Festival of Arts is taking place right now and this year has H. G. Wells, one time resident of Wallington, at its centre.
Last Saturday I performed this piece, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, at a Words Aloud event on the theme of The Shape of Things to Come. (It is definitely best read aloud!)
Leaving her strange magical isle to return to our modern rational world, I give you Miranda, whose future is our present.
# O Brave New World
My Ferdinand, who won my eyes and heart, sweet sleeps beside me, warm within this narrow cot and rocked on homeward seas. And he has told me of his world, tall tales for my delight, but swears he does not lie.
And so I’m told we will be wed, most properly, with promenading and posing and sitting up and down within a feast. And me with shoes, all high, walking first upon the arm of one man – who is my father – then another – who is my sweet husband. We will smile and wave to light boxes held aloft. And then speeches – three, by gentlemen all it seems. But then he told – delight – there will be others too, with high shoes and breasts and rainbow garments – beauteous as mankind and goodlier still. And so I learnt there will be dancing, with man and womankind.
And afterwards, my husband tells of secret love – which we have practised much in preparation.
But then at last to our own square of walls and, within, my gifts of dishwasher, garment-soaker, dust-sucker and – most strange of all – cloth-scorcher. And I who needed none before will call these all my own and if my sweet husband so much as touches these gifts he will say with gentle reverence, What setting do we usually use? or, Where do you keep the Ariel?
And when all my gifts have been well-used, we will in all our finery – and shoes – to Nando’s Court, and there we will locate and capture our blessed faces with light boxes and send them to the clouds. And I, who hitherto have communed direct with clouds, and thanked them for gifts of cool rain or shade when dancing naked on the shore, will learn to sing clouds’ praise more roundabout with, post and face and like and magic book.
With one ear now against the vessel’s wooden wall, I hear the sea. I hear the songs of whales and all the creatures deep within who say that I, who sung the very birds to sleep, have no need of light box and bucket list and captured blessings. But with my other ear I hear my sleeping husband’s heart beat strong and true, within that lovely cage of flesh and bone.
In any case I can but try to sit in my four walls and with my light box tap a womanly greeting to a friend and say: Fancy a coffee? And then at Nero’s shrine I’ll hold her smile, and mine also, and snap it into light and space and cloud and post and tag and all things modern, for our friends and their friends and friends of friends. And all will see that, though fair Miranda no longer sleeps beneath the rising moon and sparkling stars, nor dances with the flitting moths and other creatures of the night, neither does she wail her lungs to empty rage, shouting her loneliness to uncaring waves.
And so with full and hopeful heart I say, farewell sweet isle, its four square walls of sea, and greetings husband, shoes and friends.
M J Lewis 2016