The Gospel According to Estragon
Godot came today.
We weren't prepared.
If anything we were rather disturbed –
he wasn't supposed to come
(nor was he what I'd expected).
So we killed him
and buried him under the tree
and went back to waiting.
Nothing more to be done.
28 September 1986
I wonder who’s best known, Godot, Yorick or Howard Wolowitz’s mother from The Big Bang Theory? Godot we never see—at least not in Beckett’s play (he finally turns up in Daniel Curzon’s Godot Arrives)—Yorick’s skull is the only part of him we ever see—except in Kenneth Brannagh’s adaptation where there’s a flashback and Ken Dodd plays the jester—and we only ever see the occasional bit of Mrs Wolowitz (never her face) after the finale to season 5. It’s a popular trope having a character who’s referred to constantly but who never appears like Captain Mainwaring’s wife in Dad’s Army (although she is in the upcoming film) and Arthur Daily’s wife (“’er indoors”) in Minder.
Waiting for Godot has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I eventually wrote my own sequel, Vladimir and Estragon are Dead, but made damn sure there was no Godot in it. There’s also a lot of Godot in my new book:
Maybe he had already found himself—the thought had crossed his mind—and not been all that impressed. That couldn’t be me! No way, Pedro! No doubt it happens more often than people care to admit. And the longer the unwashed masses are prepared to wait it out the greater the likelihood they will be disappointed. It happened to the Jews. A woodworker’s apprentice was not what the prophets promised so they renounced him and went right on waiting for their saviour, waiting for the sake of waiting, waiting as the basis of a whole religion. Christians, on the other hand, are expecting his Second Coming any day now. Muslims are waiting on the Mahdi, Buddhists on a bodhisattva named Maitreya, Hindus on Kalki astride his Schimmel with a blazing sword.
I’ve just finished my 13th draft of The More Things Change. Once I’ve uploaded this blog I’ll take out all the footnotes (of which there are now 1453), and send a copy of the book to my tablet to begin reading for the 14th—and hopefully—final time.