And yet it comes at a price, this creative urge.
All day I have felt myself slowly slipping away from life-as-I-know-it; I may have paid my pound and got my bin liner to fill with second-hand goodies from the NCT Nearly New Sale, gone through the racks and decided to be extra specially frugal and only get what I came for (Grobags, as it happens) - but all the while the essential being that is me, well, wasn't there.
A strange morphing of self has been taking place. I warned the Bim a few days ago that I might be a bit vague in the days running up to the job (I leave for the North tomorrow), but until today I only half-remembered why. To become someone else, and do it really well, you have to, yes, become someone else. Literally. There is a massive amount of concentration and thought that goes into the creation of a believable character for someone like me who has the craft in her blood. As a child I well remember hearing my mother, also and still (passionately) an actress, rehearsing her lines at the kitchen sink and wondering who on earth she was talking to. And there was I, a mother become my mother today, doing the same thing.
"What you doin', Mummy?" Anna-mouse chirps.
Something twangs at the back of my neck, like it's been twanging all weekend. The tension between these two beings of mine made physical.
What? What can I say? My answer is precariously conflicting, emotional, unneeded to a toddler. I'm preparing to leave you and be solely, utterly who I am, and do solely and utterly what I do know how to do in this world, I might say. But the only reason I can do it so well and so happily these days is because of you, little one. Because you and your father exist, and will keep the notion of me here at home and loving you alive in your tea parties while I am away...
"I'm learning my lines," I simply say.
Anna-mouse of course already has a book about Fred and Ursulina, the bear twins who appear in the school pantomime.
"Well done, Mummy," she says, as she toddles off.