INSPIRATION EXCHANGE: LIVE COLLISION 2014
Project Arts, Dublin, 25 April
I choose today’s stories on the train. Inspiration Exchange has a bank of stories – in my memory and listed on our blog. The stories are mine, or have been given to me by other people. Gradually the balance of the library is shifting, as the proportion of stories told to me by other people, that I feel able to re-tell, grows.
On the day of an Exchange, I see which stories come to mind first. Which stories do I feel like telling today? And this is slightly odd, bittersweet perhaps, because as I write out each card, I am thinking, I hope I get to tell this story today. But I know that I can’t tell all of them. It’s a task with a built-in disappointment.
I’m suddenly aware, on the train to Manchester Airport, that later today I will meet some people for the first time, and they will tell me stories. I wonder if it is still chance that we will meet, or are our paths already set to converge? And the stories that they will tell – are they already in their minds, are they current, or will they think of something they haven’t thought of in years?
I arrive at Project Arts Centre. The Live Collision team show me to my table in the foyer. I like the table very much. I lay out my inspiration cards. I have one too many to make up the 6 x 5 grid that the table demands. I choose the story that won’t get chosen: ABORIGINIES VS. THE SAS.
At 3pm we open the Exchange.
I immediately swap THE BEAUTY OF THE PROOF
A story about maths
For BOMBAY SAPHIRE
A story about the noise of a city, a city that says ‘I’m here, here I am, I’m behind you’, about running up the stairs all the way to the seventh floor, and about meeting a hero.
I swap +44(0)1369 870 212
Which is the number of a phone box in Scotland
For PHONE A FRIEND
A story about an accidental phone conversation with a stranger helping people to understand that they are not their governments.
I swap STOPPING PEOPLE DREAMING
For CELLO PRODIGY
A story partly about the difference between wanting to practice and having to practice.
I swap HOW THE CHURCH BELLS WORK
For THINGS THAT DON’T HAVE MASS
In which a famous television astro-physicist and ex-popstar explains that the idea of “the Speed of Light” is incorrect and it would be more accurate to talk about “the Speed of Things That Don’t Have Mass.”
I swap DENDROCHRONOLOGY
For INSIDE OUT SHIRT
A story about how in the midst of a difficult, tragic situation for a family, the onset of a grandfather’s Alzheimer’s, the daughter, who is an artist, finds something compelling in the action of him buttoning up a shirt inside out. A story, perhaps, about finding something to hold on to.
I swap DESIRE PATHS
For a story about solitary confinement
Which I swap for another story about solitary confinement
Which I swap for THUMB’s UP
A story which explains the difference between physiotherapy and occupational therapy: in the case of a quadriplegic patient, paralysed from the neck down, the physiotherapist helps him to move his thumb, and the occupational therapist helps him to us his thumb to smoke cigarettes.
I swap AN ESCAPED LUNATIC ON CANNOCK CHASE
Because it’s about the midlands,
For DO YOU TELL SOMEONE THAT YOU SLEEPWALK ON A FIRST DATE?
In this story you are a sleepwalker. On one occasion, staying in Thailand, you find yourself in the middle of the jungle three miles from your accommodation, having woken up everyone in your hostel on the way out…
You suffer, your whole life, with night-terrors, narcolepsy and sleep paralysis. You climb out of windows and fall ten feet, naked, into snow. You wake up teenage twins, standing naked on their balcony, trying to get back in to the hotel. You piss in the corner of your bedroom, and onto the feet of the grandfather of those startled twins.
And over all of this hovers the question, when you start seeing someone, at what point do you tell them that you might get out of bed during the and walk around asleep…?
In this story you ask your date: So, are you a heavy sleeper?
I swap 36 DAYS LOOKING FOR STUFF IN THE FRIDGE
Which is a story, in part, about chance and serendipity,
For BARBERS CHANGE LIVES
In this story, two friends in Dublin are planning a trip to the States. He gets a Visa, but she is turned down. They decide that they will go somewhere else together instead.
He goes to get his haircut, and the barber is not long back from 10 years in Liverpool. The barber tells him it’s a great city.
So he asks his friend if she fancies going to Liverpool for their trip. She says she does, and they book into a hostel for a week. He stays in Liverpool for 10 years.
And for 10 years he talks about the barber as the reason he is in Liverpool.
He moves back to Dublin.
He goes to get his haircut. The barber is still there.
He tells the barber the story.
The barber’s hands start shaking so badly he cannot carry on cutting his hair.
What’s wrong? asks the friend.
The barber tells him that he is thinking about moving back to Liverpool. A friend of his has just died and her child is about to be taken in to care, and he thinks he should go and look after the child to stop that happening. He has given himself to the end of the week to decide. He’s been waiting, the barber tells him, for a sign.
I swap THE FLAT DADDIES
For MAFIA GRANNY
A story about the rebellion of squatting being appropriated by capitalism, about the young couple next door turning out to be sister and brother, and the abandonment of those siblings by the eponymous granny, when the cops come round.
The Exchange is officially closed, and I’m writing up the notes that I’m reading to you now, but I’m asked for one more story.
She asks for A PERFECT CIRCLE
And it turns out that this was exactly the right story for her to ask for, and serendipity has one more card to play today, and circles, cycles, and geometric shapes are connections waiting to be made, and we swap it
For YONI SHAKTI
A story about birth, control, the Mandala, geometric shapes, rice patterns, circles, and cunt power.
The Exchange is closed, but the conversations it generated continue that evening and throughout the next day.
This is a version of the ‘Story of the Day’ text I read out at the Live Collision LIVE ART PARTY at the close of the festival.