This week is the opening of Lettice and Lovage, a play by Peter Schaffer - my debut directing project at St. Margaret's Arts Centre in Titchfield. This has been a fun journey - at times rather stressful, especially this last few days, but it seems we have a great show. We just have to pray that it doesn't snow and stop people from coming to see it. The theatre at TFT is much warmer this winter as we now have new interior walls which section off the theatre from the warehouse although it is advisable to come prepared with coats and maybe a blanket in weather we are expecting over the next few weeks.
The play is very funny and well worth a look and you can warm up with hot chocolate or alcohol in the interval.
Caught in the Web is still selling well - I have made over 650 sales so far. This Saturday - 19th January - I will be signing copies of the novel at The One Tree bookshop in Lavant Street, Petersfield, so if you live anywhere near, please come along and meet me - and tell all your friends. I'll be there from 10.30 to 12.30 and then back to TFT for the evening performance!
Oh, and here is chapter 25 of Caught in the Web.....
Karen's head still ached as the light shone into her eyes the next morning. She felt sick with the memory of the arguments of the day before. It had been taken to a new level now. She examined the place on her wrist where he'd held her. It was still sore at the point where her skin was broken.
She sat on the edge of the bed, feeling dizzy, and looked at herself in the dressing-table mirror. Her face was bruised, her left eye even more swollen from Kathy's punch, a blue tinge colouring the area around her cheekbone. The back of her head was still tender and when she took a deep breath, her ribs ached. None of this, however, compared with the pain inside when she thought about what was happening between Peter and herself.
'How can he be like this?' Karen asked herself. 'How did it all start to go wrong?'
She remembered how happy they'd been in the early days of their marriage, and that she'd been glad to do anything that he'd suggested. It had seemed as though he was doing everything to please her then. But she’d gradually felt constricted by his need to organise everything for her and over the years her throat had felt tighter and tighter as she suppressed her thoughts and feelings, until she had eventually gone to the doctor when the lump appeared on her neck. A few weeks later she'd been diagnosed with a thyroid problem. Having the lump removed had eventually released the constriction, allowing her to communicate her real needs at last. If only Peter could accept this new person that she was evolving into.
The front door knocker reverberated through the vacuum of silence, bringing Karen to her feet with a jolt of panic. She glanced out of the bedroom window. It was Margaret. Karen clutched her dressing gown to her and hobbled down the stairs, pulling the robe on as she went. She opened the door and smiled at Margaret.
'This is nice.' She held the door open. 'Come in.'
Margaret reached towards Karen and hugged her. 'Karen,' she soothed. 'Whatever's happened to you?' She held Karen at arm's length and looked at her.
'I'm fine, really,' Karen said pulling away. 'I just had a bit of an incident at work yesterday.' She laughed. 'It looks bad, but it's OK. No bones broken.'
'Oh, my dear girl.' Margaret took her hand. 'Come and sit down and tell me all about it.' She led Karen into the sitting room and sat her down on the sofa. 'Now, can I get you anything?'
'A cup of tea would be nice,' said Karen. 'But I can get it.'
Margaret was already halfway to the kitchen. Karen sighed to herself and smiled. 'Nothing changes,' she thought.
'Did Peter send you round?' Karen asked when Margaret came back a short while later.
'No, he doesn't know I'm here.' Margaret looked sheepish. She lit a cigarette before continuing, 'but he did speak to me yesterday about you going to the doctor. I decided to come and see for myself how you were. I didn't expect to see you like this though. I didn't think things were this bad.'
'This happened after I went to the doctor.' Karen passed her the ashtray. 'Peter thought I should see him. He seems to think I'm ill, but I'm not.' She paused. 'At least, I wasn't when I went. I've been to work since then and this happened. I'm just a bit bruised now. In fact, I think my ego is bruised the most!'
'Why to you think that?' Margaret asked.
'I should have known that this patient would act out one day. I'd been warned and yet I just wasn't ready for it when it happened,' Karen explained. 'I should have seen the warning signs.'
Margaret sat in silence, smoking her cigarette.
'Are you making that tea?' Karen asked.
'Peter thinks you're depressed,' Margaret began. 'He said that you were hurting yourself.'
'You really think I did this to myself?'
'No,' Margaret said quickly. 'Of course I don't. It's just that he said you were doing things.' She paused. 'I mean he's worried about the way you've been.'
'Like what?' Karen's voice cracked. 'How have I been?'
'He said you were crying a lot, and he couldn't get to the bottom of it.'
'He's lying.' Karen felt cold. She looked at Margaret in despair, knowing that Peter would have come across as convincing, especially to his own mother.
The moment of awkwardness grew into an uncomfortable ball of anger within Karen. How many more people had Peter been talking to about her, telling lies? Her frustration grew into resentment towards Margaret.
'I think you'd better go,' Karen spoke quietly. 'I can't take any more of this.'
'Please, Karen,' Margaret pleaded. 'Don't be like that. I'm here for you. You know that don't you?'
Karen stood up. 'I'm going to get dressed.' She turned to Margaret. 'You're welcome to stay if you like, but I'm not going to talk any more about this.’
Karen left the room before Margaret could say any more, and went upstairs to get dressed. She was in the bathroom when she heard the front door close. Margaret had gone. Karen felt a deep sadness inside as she wondered where this was going to lead.