Buddy read by Sean Barrett

A strange, disjointed story about survival, escape, dementia and the acceptance of death. The piece - performed brilliantly by Sean Barrett – maintains the words of Buddy, a ground-breaking historian of the Second World War and military intelligence. Buddy was born in Seattle, in 1930; nothing about his early life was conventional. Flunking out of formal education, he joined the air force; he stuck to his father's advice never to stand in the front rank, because that was from where ‘volunteers’ were chosen. His ten books on World War II earned him many honours, especially his work on the origins of the CIA, lives of Hitler and Himmler, and the Nuremberg Trials. In 1967-68, during the period of racial conflict in the South, Buddy took a teaching job in Birmingham, Alabama where he was a civil rights activist. His insistence on racially mixed classrooms caused him to receive death threats from the KKK. Buddy’s wife - who never fully accepted his diagnosis or the extent of his brain damage - asked me to visit him in the care home where he had lived for 6 months (he escaped from 2 previous care homes, once jumping through a first floor window). Throughout this monologue – which accurately maintains Buddy’s words and the character of his speech (rapidly fluctuating between calm resignation and panicky calls to action) - he repeatedly tries to interpret the care home and the uniformed care workers (soldiers or prison guards?). At times he seems to understand why he’s there; “I’ve got something wrong with the back of my head”, “I know I’m here to die”, “Budd’s got a problem” only for awareness to disappear and be replaced by the feeling that he is being held prisoner and may be about to be executed and that he needs to escape. When I explained the piece to Sean Barrett I said Buddy felt his life (and that of the old people with him) was in danger and they needed to escape immediately, but he was unable to being remember the plan (by boat) or convince the people around him about the need to leave. This is a challenging piece that asks a lot of the listener.