Burning up


To celebrate my forty year anniversary as a Type 1 diabetic, today  I went to the clinic. While I am not certain of the exact date of my diagnosis I know that it was in June 1978. Therefore I am declaring today to be the official anniversary. I was still basically a toddler, not having started primary school. For my improvement I was meeting a dietitian who was going to explain the wonders of carb counting to me.

To my shame I have not engaged with the Clinic since my return to Ireland in late 2015. I’ve had appointments that I have postponed, or missed. I am not proud of this negligence but diabetes is a funny beast, in that unlike many other chronic conditions it requires a diligence and a self control on the part of the patient that a doctor can’t prescribe. It is not enough simply to take the four injections and four bloodtests every day. It also requires an iron self discipline in terms of food consumption  to maintain a healthy blood sugar count. I try my best.

After the routine scolding (if I was to get a report card from the Clinic, it would read ‘Reasonable. Must try harder’) from the Kerry dietitian (I know this because I asked her ‘You’re from Munster right?’) I made my way to the blood test prefab building in St. James’s Hospital for blood to be extracted, for my looming appointment with the diabetes nurse.

The painted lady who took the bloods looked at me in alarm as I entered her lair.

‘Oooh, you’ve caught the sun’, she said.

After the glorious weekend Ireland  has just enjoyed, I currently have the hue of a back rasher. A luxuriant, luminous,  hot, burning pink.

‘Enough of that insolence,’ I inwardly hissed. ‘Don’t you think I already know that?’

Naturally I did not say this to her.

‘Oh yes indeed,’ were the polite words that came out of my mouth as I offered her my veins.

After the morning tending to my health I made my way to Capel Street, checking my watch.

Today was the opening day of ’25/The Decriminalisation Monologues’ by Acting Out Theatre. This year is the quarter centenary anniversary of the decriminalisation  of homosexuality in Ireland. To mark this Acting out, in conjunction with Outhouse and Dublin Pride have decided to mark the occasion via a series of monologues, being held all week in the theatre downstairs at Outhouse.

I gladly agreed to write a piece when asked. My effort is called ‘The Number’.

I was petrified. The piece that I wrote is a fictionalised version of  my own story, twenty five years ago. Despite not being completely autobiographical it is probably the most personal thing I have ever written.

Normally when I write a piece, I hover over it like a ravenous vulture until it is staged. I like to be involved in my own work – whether it be through acting or directing, or just general interference. Not this time. I handed the piece over, knowing the next time I would see it would be on stage.

I had no reservations about Acting Out doing it justice in terms of acting or directing. I’ve seen their work and it is excellent. My nerves were related to exposing my inner self to an audience, who once having paid for their tickets would be perfectly entitled to say ‘Good actor, shame about the shit writing.’

I wasn’t expecting this response of course, but you can never really tell can you?

I met my friend in the Outhouse Cafe where we enjoyed the tasty soup and sambo combo that was included in the ticket price.  We made our way downstairs. My heart  was pounding. My sunburn felt especially raw. I was burning up both inwardly and outwardly.

The show began.

‘The Number’ was first up. I can’t really say how it went as I find myself unable to give a neutral opinion on a piece that I wrote myself. I watched it in terror, hardly breathing for the duration. What if people stood up at the end, and pointed at me screaming ‘You are a fraud Murphy, and now your secret is out’. This is my own personal paranoia, I know.

The actor Trevor Austin is very talented and gave an excellent performance. There is no doubt about that.

The next piece was ‘The Special Friend’ by Sean Denyer. Starring Howard Lodge (who also directed my piece) it tells a tale of a love affair between two men in the days before homosexuality was legal. And the monstrous cruelty that is inflicted on them, when it becomes evident that their relationship was legally invisible. In those cold, dark times, they enjoyed absolutely no rights as a couple. It was both funny and heartbreaking and the cruelty of that era was laid bare in a stark and moving manner.

These two shows run again tomorrow at 1pm. On Thursday and Friday two other pieces are being performed at lunchtime – ‘Out of the Shadows’ by Colette Cullen and ‘I know what you are’ by Sean Denyer.

All four pieces are being performed on Thursday and Friday evening at 19.30 in Outhouse at 105, Capel Street.

Tickets are a steal at only 12 euro and can be purchased at the LINK.


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