For several years now I’ve been fascinated by those commemorative plaques on benches. They usually start ‘In Loving Memory of…’
From a writer’s perspective, I wonder about each of the lives they represent, each person that someone has loved and cared enough about to mark their passing. Much to my kids embarrassment, I had an obsession about taking a photograph of every plaque I passed; those I found on benches, clocks, trees, bandstands, seaside piers and promenades.
I knew I wanted to write a radio play about them; I got all the photos I had taken and spread them out. What were they trying to tell me? Was it possible to weave lots of separate stories into one drama? After letting the idea rest for a while, the solution came to me as I was walking through a park. I decided to have one central story, with the incidental voices of different ghosts, each telling a snapshot from their own lives as the narrator passes by each spot of commemoration.
So I set the radio play in a park, the story of a young unmarried mother & the ghost of a refined Edwardian spinster, two people a world away from each other in culture & values. Despite starting with great motivation, after a while I reached a point of stalemate, the plot just wasn’t thickening! I just couldn’t see a way forward. Perhaps it was time to abandon the project altogether?
My sister, unaware of what I was writing, came along to a family gathering for what would have been my Father’s 100th birthday, had he still been alive. It was here, quite unexpectedly, that she presented me with something from the local crematorium – the commemorative plaque used to mark the passing of my parents.
I took this quite literally as a sign to carry on. I hope you enjoy the results.