NO BLIND FAITH

Scene 1

A spotlight downstage on the lectern. The man comes on. He has a glass of whisky in his hand which he hardly touches throughout this monologue. He stands at the lectern looking at the screen.
The stage lights dim. On the screen is a succession of images showing iconic events or recognisable everyday scenes in Britain from the late 1950s to the present. These run in chronological sequence and move from black and white to colour: the face of Macmillan, minis coming off a production line, strikes, a bleak, probably northern, scene of back to back houses, the Beatles being mobbed, the 1966 England World Cup football team captain lifting the cup, Concorde taking off, Maggie Thatcher, the Blairs. The final two stills are Arthur Scargill leading striking miners on a march, then a view of shoppers thronging Oxford Street: we can see people holding up placards indicating sales, much as the miners carried placards of protest in the previous image.
The man pushes a button on the laptop and the screen goes blank.

MAN: I saw all of that. Not that I was actually present, but it all happened in my lifetime. In the bigger picture, that was my lifetime. Up to now, I’m not dead yet.

When I see a picture of when I was a kid, of where I was when I was young, it looks like… History. My memories have become images of social history… Where does that leave me?

(He picks up the small recording device, checks it is on, appears satisfied and puts it down on the lectern again.)

Pontificating, that’s where. (Quoting himself) ‘D’you know, we smoked upstairs on the bus on the way to school, where the teachers could cane us by the way, and it didn’t do us any harm.’ Christ! I’m becoming an old man who’ll pontificate to anyone not quick enough to scarper… Not that I’m old, not yet. But this sort of thing can make you feel old before your time.

Of course, I don’t remember it being like that: my life, my world, being, as it must appear now, poor. We didn’t feel poor, because there was no comparison. We weren’t especially hard up. We weren’t especially anything, or anybody.

I ask people: do you know why we fear the future? Not our personal future, it’s obvious why at a certain age, my age for example, you begin to fear that. I mean the future as a concept. When did that start? When I was a kid we couldn’t wait for the future. No-one could. It was going to be wonderful.