Planning with Godot [23]

By Gary Edmond

Jean Anouilh once unduly criticised Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot, by lamenting the failure of anything to happen, anyone to come or go. All of which combined to make the experience terrible. Most of this, with a qualification on terrible, applies to the initiation of sea kayaking expeditions. Maybe the tragedy in the play was that despite the actors being generally interpreted as itinerant derelicts, there was no mention of liquor. Whilst most of life and by implication smaller kayaking trips are conjured before sedentary and sober minds, in contrast the beginnings of expeditions are induced by alcohol. Sitting around a campsite drinking port, more starry eyed than the sky, some reticent fool long ago seduced by naivete inadvertently speaks a thought. What might often pass as puerile foppery is not instantaneously admonished or rebuked nor stung with laughter. Rather a stage emerges, constructed from the brief but unexpected silence. Then the performance commences.

The questions begin and discussion ensues. Ten minutes later adults are deformed by their commitment, albeit tentative, to some radical stunt which lay dormant in them for years. Then as quickly as it had started the momentum declines. Declines rather than perpetuates an embarrasing, possibly perverse, fascination. People take time to dream, to think, to rationalise, even ask their partners. But the propagation of this seed has begun — in a realm where there is no rock or bird or weed, only an indvidual and a goal. Pundits spend the ensuing days, weeks and months in contemplation. An ironic appreciation dawns. The most penetration and invidious of the abstract questions posed earlier can only ever be answered in practice. You must find Godot yourself, for he truly never comes. Only with this realisation can the logistics proceed.