tome. Full Order of Service

tome. Full Order of Service

tome. Pull the plug. The Drain’s glug in greedy.

Swallowed the eye’s glint, gone on to the next thing.

Anchored shadows watch

as heaving dregs of sobs dig deep.

All rivers flow / all roads lead.

Tune to the current, discordant

inasmuch as it is infinite mystery.

Leave shore, surface, reef, floor and form,

leave home bereft above / below unknown.

Make a marked change on your form,

leave behind only structural support,

brick and bone for basic building.

His skin was like leather – my grandfather’s.

He used to garden completely naked

soaked in soil and tobacco

He used to play the organ in cathedrals.

Now he’s on the internet,

you can summon him with the left click of a mouse.

Created and performed by acharacter, tome. Full Order of Service, is a collaboration between Charlie Dearnley and Sean Cotterill. Built around the framework of an anglican funeral, tome. uses a grandmother’s story of falling into the moon as a child to discuss death and grief. 

This performance was commissioned by Breeze Creatives for a premiere at Future Everything Festival 2016, at Islington Mill, and was since performed around the UK, with a version of the work being presented at the 2016 International Conference on Live Coding in Canada.

 

THE STORY

THE READINGS / SERMON 

As children my gran used to take my sister and I to listen to our grandfather play the organ, but we grew bored easily. She would try to keep us entertained, whimpering stories across the pew at the back of the church, and our grandfathers music would fade into soundtrack.

Of my grandmother’s stories we each had our favourites, my sister’s was a tale of our gran’s brother putting worms in the washing machine in an attempt to make a cruel soup for the dog. Mine was a story of the moon, which I believe as if it was my own religion. It went something along these lines.

When I was a little girl I was fascinated by the moon, I thought it my friend. I built a box on my window with cardboard and tape, a frame for it pass through each night as it decorated my bedroom.

One night, in the winter of ’55 I was woken by a gentle light at around 2am. A full moon hung in my window. I got up and put on my slippers, admiring it, perfectly framed. Eager to get a better look I donned my dressing gown and went outside into the garden, crossing the grass to the pond in back corner. 

It waited still and black, like an obsidian mirror cast into the circular confines of its tarp-draped walls, five fish hung gold in its depths, and the moon floated on the surface. 

I peered over the edge, dipping into every recess, tracing every wrinkle of its face, kneeling with my cheek on the surface in an attempt to see behind it. In an effort to make an intimate acquaintance I brought my nose to hover above the surface of the water. Before my shadow could eclipse it, I fell. 

At this point in the story my gran would always stop to apologise. She would apologise for her inability to explain the proceeding event in sufficient terms. ‘A pinch of salt’, she would say, ‘a pinch of salt to improve the flavour.’

I fell, and span, and fell, and span, and fell, foetal. I found stillness in a loose unfurling form, suspended in some thick liquid like a black mercurial honey. I considered how I’d got there, and completely forgot about the possibility that I might have fallen into the pond. An initial panic set in.

I tried to figure out which way was up, but felt like I was at the very centre of something and I couldn’t see the edges. I had the liberty to define my own orientation but the inability to move significantly in any given direction.

I could feel a current around my limbs, the spinning of my own convention. And as I sank, breathed, relaxed, I began to see shadows darker than the water, shapes moving in the distance, there were low moans as they passed and their currents span with my own, high wails and sniffed twitches. All manner of noise from all manner of creature. Anything, everything together in one great soup.

Something I thought I recognised rushed past me. 

I think it might have been my brother. 

As he went he seemed to say “Leave shore, surface, reef, floor and form. I think it’s alright that we’re here.” 

As his words fell it was as if someone had pulled a plug out from somewhere, cracked the moon on a mountain ridge and split a hole in its shell and everything, anything tumbled out in an airless swirl, and fell, and span, and fell, and span, and fell, and span. 

And when I opened my eyes I was back above the surface of the pond. Home, cold, blue lipped. Born again with more questions. 

PRAYERS 

Moved through. An invocation. Repeated phrase – ‘Leave floor leave shore leave surface leave form’. 

COMMENDATION 

When my Grandfather died I was very young and didn’t really have the emotional maturity to fully grasp the definitive nature of the event. I cried in school because I thought it the right thing to do.

When my Gran died I was a bit older, quite a bit older. But it occurred two weeks after my friend passed and I didn’t feel as if I had the emotional capacity to give her the grief that I felt she deserved.

I was only three months later that I found some satisfaction in accepting her death. I dreamt very vividly of her. We spoke for a while about what she was doing, how she was, she said she was fine, she said she couldn’t reveal a great deal, she said ‘I think it’s alright that I’m here’, and then she faded into an ocean of white.

As children my sister and I were never content with just one story, one pinch of salt was never enough flavour. In fact, this story of the moon claimed as my gran’s isn’t even my her’s, it’s mine. I’ve put words in her mouth as a means of discussing my own spiritual doubt. Her stories always held more of an assured believability than my own uncertain concerns, and in discussing religion and death, which I consider to be powerfully mysterious, her voice is a calm and honest vehicle. 

And the organ music, which isn’t even my grandfather’s, is a comforting false memory, an easy invocation.

I confess to complete uncertainty, and so summon and fabricate memories to sweat out and regurgitate, and simmer down into soundtrack. 


COMMITTAL 

Unburden. 

tome. Pull the plug. 

The Drain’s glug is greedy. Swallowed the eye’s glint, gone to the next thing. 

Anchored shadows watch,
as heaving dregs of sobs dig deep. All rivers flow / all roads lead. 

Tune to the current Discordant 

Inasmuch as it is infinite mystery. 

Leave shore, surface, reef, floor and form. 

Leave home bereft above / below unknown…