A Small, Green Piece of Paper

By on Sep 24, 2010 in Cuttings

Six Degrees of Separation is a play and film written by John Guare about the conjecture that all people are linked by five intermediaries. Six Degrees of Separation is standard theatre fare. Most people have seen it once but probably don’ t go out of their way to see it twice. I recall the play introduced me to Kandinsky’s paintings.

One afternoon, not far from the Sea Bus terminal in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, per chance my eye doctor mentioned he was visiting London for a short holiday. Since I had attended the English equivalent of high school in Chiswick, I mentioned some not-so-well-known visiting destinations, one being Hampton Court, where I was born.

The doctor became interested and made notes on a yellow notepad, adding that he often visited London, as his daughter lived there. Since he was clearly not writing a prescription, I relaxed and mused as to what would entice a Canadian girl to live in London. An actress, a gothic cathedral researcher or a druid fan? The doctor quickly solved my puzzle. His daughter was an actress appearing at the Old Vic in a play called Six Degrees of Separation.

I knew of the theatre and had once or twice visited it with an older cousin. I must have been about twelve and recall it was here I was first addressed as “Sir” by the usher, a memorial event for any twelve-year-old, signifying the then-welcome march of time. In recent years, there have been other age milestones not welcomed, including these eye appointments. The doctor wrote something more on a small piece of green paper and handed it to me, saying he wanted me back in four months. I exited through the large waiting room; I saw no one I knew. There used to be paintings of mountains and war canoes hanging on the light green walls, plus one Tony Onley work. In recent months, these have been replaced by enlarged psychedelic photographs of the eye, somewhat Kandinsky-like.

Later that day I Googled the production. In the cast were Anthony Head and the doctor’s daughter, Sarah Goldberg. Anthony Head was the name on which I froze, since I had gone to school in Chiswick with his elder brother, Murray Head. Murray was a year older than me. In those days everyone was at least one year older. Now, of course, everyone tends to be younger than me. On leaving school, Murray went on to short-term fame as a singer and actor. I went on to university to study electrical engineering. I see that he is singing in France these days; and we both are not famous but linked by a green piece of paper.

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John Joyce was born at Hampton Court in England. He held school records for running the mile. He was educated in London and Salford, Lancashire, where he gained an honours degree in electrical engineering. Subsequent studies have been at Dalhousie University, University of British Columbia and Capilano College. John Joyce started writing philosophy at school and has been extensively published. "Moniques's Interview" was his first short play, and "Going Standby" is his latest. He departed England for Montreal to go around the world, living at different times in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Dartmouth. He resides in Vancouver, Canada with his wife, Diane. Altus Arts Agency promotes his works worldwide.