Hear that: the sound of a muffled heartbeat. Everything is hazy and out of focus. We are closing in on a picture of a baby in the womb of its mother. Then we cut though a blur transition, the sound of a beating heart replaced by the sound of children playing in the playground at school. We focus on a lone child standing away from the other children in the playground. He turns to us and whispers.
Child: “I am not useless. I can do it.”
We move away from him and towards the playing field where a teacher is supervising the picking of teams in a game of football. The boys are aged about ten. As the others are picked by the two team captains, one boy is left to last. The boy stares at us and speaks.
Footballer: “I can play football.”
We gaze up into the sky and back down again, finding ourselves outside an old abbey. We move into the abbey, through the doors. There is a service going on inside, mainly young people. It is dark. The people are sitting in a circle on the stone floor and there are small candles dotted about. The leader is saying a prayer of healing. We circle the room, only to finds our way back to a teenager sitting at the edge. His eyes are filled with tears. We hear the teenager’s thoughts.
Thoughts: “I’m not sure about this. I am an outsider. I am lost.”
We move away from him and out of the doors of the abbey. It is now dark outside the abbey. We gaze up into the dark sky then back down onto a pavement in a town. There is a seventeen year-old boy walking down the street on his way back from sixth form college. There are headphones in his ears. We hurry to catch him up and hear the thoughts inside his head.
Thoughts: “Now I am alone. My best friend has gone away. I am nothing.”
We gaze up a path to the front door of a house. There is a sign on the door, “Vacancies”. We push through the front door and up the stairs, moving into a room. There is a bed in the room and a television on an upturned box. An eighteen year-old man is lying on the bed with his eyes shut. We hear his thoughts.
Cut to darkness. Silence. After a few seconds a tiny flame flickers in the centre of a vast dark space. The flame gradually grows bigger, and bigger. After a while it begins to illuminate the room and faces appear out of the darkness. One of them speaks.
Face One: “I feel so alone.”
There is silence, and then another face speaks.
Face Two: “Why must I feel different?”
Another face speaks. Suddenly the whole room fills with voices complaining of their own lonelinesses. There is a great volume of sound.
Face Three: “White man build big fire and sit far off. I build small fire and sit close.”
Face Four: “I am an outsider.”
The talk continues for a few seconds and then cuts off very suddenly. The flame turns into a fire and all of the people in the room are revealed. They look at one another. The first child stands up.
Child: “I am not alone.”
We focus into the flames of the fire and then through the flames to another image. There is a young white man sitting, legs crossed, on a grassy mountain top, looking out over the land. He speaks to us directly.
Man: “I am the man you see in the street. You say I am racist. I am alone. I am the man you see with my hand in my pockets. You say I do not care. I am alone. I am the man who looks into your eyes. You say I am bad. I am alone.”
He stands up and walks along the top of the ridge. He smiles at us and speaks again.
Man: “But I am not alone in my loneliness. I am the boy who you said could not play. Now I play and I am happy. I am the boy you always picked last. Now I will choose for myself. In desperation I can feel so alone. But in loneliness I can feel my brotherhood with the rest of the world. The world leaves so many behind. But the many make up a different world.”
He turns away from us and looks out over the land, shouting.
Man: “My friends, we are all alone. We are all individuals. And we are all brothers.”
Cut to black.
Six Confessions of a Tortured Soul
Part five, 28 December 1995.