Coales' Notes: The play's the thing

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY: I believe things have now come to a head. This afternoon when I came in, I found Iain Jeffcock, the poet who I was hoping would take a leading role in our Poetry Everywhere] festival, being literally grilled by Rory.

Jeffcock was saying: 'No. no. I would object to being described as 'one of a new generation of Mersey poets' because - well, that's not where I'm from.' Rory interrupted: 'OK, think about this. Do you have, shall we say, a stash of specialist pornography squirrelled away somewhere? Or - I'm still trying to think 'poets' - any involvement with funny business down on the farm? History of suicide, perhaps? Just trying to find something, y'know, distinctive.'

Jeffcock: 'I have lived in Spain for a period.' Rory: 'Girlfriends?' Jeffcock: 'Er, yes.' Rory: 'Any of them go mad?' I intervened here. I said what of course we were most interested in was his poetry.

Jeffcock put on his coat and said: 'Look, sorry to say this, er, fellows - but I may have to re-think my participation in this project.' He is simply a vandal. I make. He destroys. So I have rung up Silver and earnestly requested a private meeting. Also, that playwright has been pressing to come in and begin his research activities in the office.

WEDNESDAY: I had my meeting with Silver (at the Groucho Club, which he appears to have taken a fancy to). I said I didn't like to use the word crisis but, in the strictest confidence, there were one or two facts which I felt needed underlining. It was now two months since Di left us, and she had not as yet been replaced; and while I wouldn't want to engage in personalities, I did feel that, since then, Rory had seemed to have gone increasingly off the rails; and, which might not be a coincidence, despite my own best efforts, we did also seem to be losing the confidence of rather a lot of our artists.

He nodded throughout this. He replied: 'So, what I'm hearing is, basically the only thing - the only asset - we still do have is you, right?' I said that wasn't quite the point I was making. He went on: 'And what you are saying to me is that if you don't see some changes pretty fast, then you will resign. And rightly.' Wrong move possibly.

THURSDAY: The playwright came in. I took him up to the conference room, out of harm's way. We seemed to be on the same wavelength. I told him he certainly had a play here, and the central conflict as I saw it was between, on the one hand, some vestige of idealism and, on the other, a ruthless practicality. I would be prepared to co-operate fully, and perhaps I should tell him a little about myself, so he could have some idea of my background history, though of course, if for the purposes of fiction he felt the need to make the character, say, Scottish, I would have no objection.

He said: 'I would never base a character an any actual individual.' He smiled. I asked, not even if there was an individual who seened to embody, in his life, all the central issues involved? He replied: 'No, never, I make that a rule.' I rather lost interest at this point and handed him over to Rory.

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