The day that inspired No One Receiving
Some of the elements of the play No One Receiving are fictional, and even a little far-fetched (the last surviving Earthlings would probably choose Solange or ABBA over Bieber), but facts are the foundation of these fictions.
In the original stage version of No One Receiving, Kane reminisces about her last trip to London in 2020, during which she visited her former record label in Nottinghill, then hit the Courtauld Gallery with her friends Paddy and Willy, capping off the evening with cheap tickets to the remount of the Spice Girls musical by Jennifer Saunders. In the chronology of NOR, London was flooded not long after, a consequence of climate change. Much to Kane’s dismay, the faces of her London friends are fading in her memory, but the echoes of the Spice Girls songs haunt her still.
The reminiscences Kane revels in on stage are based on a perfect day that actually happened. I was overseas for a conference and I decided to make the most of the trip by stopping in on some friends along the way. It was March 3rd, 2013. I woke up in London to a perfect spring day at the home of my friend and bandmate Jamie McCarthy (AKA Cerfilic ) and went out on the river in a public transit ferry with my friends Patrick and William. We did the Young Picasso exhibit at the Courtauld Gallery by the riverside and capped it all off with discounts tickets to Viva Forever by Jennifer Saunders.
As a child I lived beside the Courtauld’s textile mill in Cornwall, Ontario. Whenever we returned to the apartment after being out somewhere, I could hear the immense hum of the factory running, and to my little ears it was as if the trumpets of angels were playing to welcome us home from on high. Finding myself in the gallery paid for by the philanthropy of the mill’s founders was a kind of homecoming. I spent my early years taking nightly walks with mum to the edge of the St Lawrence to look down at weeds coloured by vats of colour dumped in darkness. I never imagined that at thirtysomething I’d be standing on the bank of the Thames, seeing the clean side of the pipe, where art, the highest form of currency, holds the value extracted from the mills.
In adapting the play No One Receiving to podcast format, some of the stories told on stage didn’t translate, and were left out, including the details of the perfect day Kane dreams about once she is lost in space. If I were set adrift in a spaceship, memories of my time in London with my friends would be one of the things I’d go back to time and again.