Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Itch

I have this itch; an itch that develops into a unsightly raised rash which of course I scratch. And scratch. And claw at to relieve the sporadic irritation. It didn't, it doesn't, but it sure feels good, as does everything you're told NOT to do.
The itch can be bothersome, but the randomness of its location is more so. A few years ago it was the inside of my right calf, now it's my right elbow. It relocates yet leaves no trace: no scar, no mark of its occupancy, as if it were a hotel guest who enjoys making their presence felt during their stay, then departs without a goodbye or thank you, and yet leaves the room scrupulously neat with a nominal tip for housekeeping.
This itch, like my analogy to the hotel guest, is paradoxical. Its whims are met, it calms, it begins to clear, then acts up or disappears. I never know if it will completely go or come back. The nature of its repeat residence is deeply mystifying, but grown used to its unpredictability I only give it half of the attention it deserves. I placate it with nonchalance and accept its idiomaticness, for to do otherwise would be hypocritical when self-expression is a principle I honour. My body should be permitted to exercise that right in a physical language, and though I may not understand it, the right shouldn't be suppressed or denied.
That there is a message is clear, however the language is foreign and of such complexity that it cannot be translated easily into English, nor can I imagine into any other. It would take years of applied study. A study I have begun but not, so far, got beyond the preschool grade, which is not a surprise seeing as I still struggle to get by with my GCSE German and French. And that's with the assistance of dictionaries and phrase books.
With this, I'm completely in the dark. I can't make a lucky guess or fake my comprehension because the body wouldn't for one minute be fooled. To have successfully interpreted the physical symptom I'd have to have changed the pattern that caused it; when you don't the symptom persists: nags or worsens over time.
And obviously with my ineptitude for languages I fall into that unsuccessful camp.
The itch and the subsequent rash have become my familiars, of the sort that you think almost fondly of when they're off the scene, yet when in their company long to be rid of, and who if they realise they're being provoking only needle more. You, in turn, or I, in this instance, attempt to control, sometimes barely, your diminishing hospitable temper. As mentioned I have on more than one occasion failed in this regard, and not learned that in permitting even a single scratch I inflame the situation and confirm my compliance.
The itch then has the upper hand as if it belongs to an applauding audience member who continues to clap long after everyone else has stopped and so the cast is held in a protracted pause. The action then as with this is arrogant and intentional, particularly as the applauding individual is clearly visible to those around him, but indistinguishable from the stage.
The bringing together of hands, a pair or a united affair, in either appropriate or inappropriate places petitions the actors to delay, to play, or to take repeated bows and give encores until the thunderous applause shows signs of abating. Which it usually does when the cast wearily departs the stage and the curtain falls. Then a hush descends...will they come out again? No, the lights have gone up. The murmur rises as persons vacate their seats and shuffle to their nearest exit.
Collaboration. That's what it amounts to, as although the execution might seem unequal the balance of power can and does shift. Sometimes with ease, sometimes with extreme difficulty as in an unresolvable conflict. The audience and the theatre cast can afford to make concessions, because both roles, for the most part, are scripted, whereas the itch and the individual are forever engaged in an improvised play with an unwritten ending.

Picture credit: Applause, Erte