Monday, October 31, 2005

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly

If DA has been a little quiet recently then it has nothing to do with my on-going love affair with blogging (which is as strong as ever given the amount of times I find myself saying 'I'm going to blog that') but more to do with the ever present Four Chords deadline. Suddenly, for a play that's been in my head, or mashing around in sections for pretty much the last few months, it has taken on a life of its own. It has shape, and form, and its characters are starting to do things without me pushing them into corners. But this does mean that when I haven't been at a theatre, or working the switchboard, or shopping for capes, there really has only been one thing that I've been doing. Writing. But not blogging. And I suspect that this will continue until at least the end of the week. By which time I'm hoping to have finished the first draft. I will probaly sqeauk and squeal a little when that happens because, hey, this is exciting. Capital letters EXCITING if I'm honest.

But the problem with the exciting writing bit is that when you've spent all day sorting out the structural and emotional needs of the final scene of the first act (it's a bit of a complicated bugger for a writer whose previous play was set in a room, given its six characters, three locations and the fact that it cuts from one to the other) it's sad but true that I feel a little tired to blog. My fingers kind of hurt. Not like the hurt when I had to do a days worth of a typing a month ago. That was pain. But there's an ache. And all I really have in my brain is how I'm going to top and tail the first scene of the second act (which is largely written). Which is not conducive to funny or emotive blogging. Pretentious blogging that will leave you confused yes. But otherwise, no.

But I do have things to tell you about. Villette and the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the aforementioned cape saga (seriously I'm sure Sienna doesn't have such problems finding a bloody cape), another gift shop extravaganza. You'll just have to wait on edge of your seats (or maybe not...).

And, as it's today, BOO! Now send me lots of sweets.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

George's Marvellous Medicine

George's Marvellous Medicine

There are a number of things which have made me happy this week. Chocolate muffins at work. Robbie Williams's new album. Cracking my connection to Sienna Boho-Princess in only three degrees of separation. And, possibly most importantly, the arrival of a stork with a laptop sized bundle. Admittedly the stork more closely resembled a courier company than an actual stork, but then don't try to tell me that babies come courtesy of actual storks either. And if you're wondering why I'm using this metaphor let's get one thing straight: I get a laptop or I get a baby*. I plumped for the laptop** on balance given that it'll be considerably less likely to vomit on me and should be more use in writing my masterpiece. Not to mention I could order it over the internet. Try that with a baby and I think you get arrested.

But the laptop arrived and I was confronted by its shiny black skin and baby laptop smell. I felt unconditional love. And rather a lot of fear in case I dropped it on its head. Then came the mystery as to whether it was a girl or a boy. After examining it I went with my gut instinct. The laptop is no Boho-Princess. It's more a slightly quirky Brit Actor in waiting. Given that I haven't had the time to pour over name books, the choice came down to the first ones in my, obviously warped brain, Feste or George. On balance I decided that Feste was too much of a name of the moment. No one wants to be saddled with a passing fashion fade of a name after all. So George it was because I know I'm not going to slip that into any of my future children's names****.

Unwrapped, named and fed with an electrical supply it was time for George and I to bond. Cue much transferring of files, faffing with desktop and generally cementing our future relationship. George also took it upon himself to demonstrate what he could provide as a screensaver, my having uploaded the photos off of my desktop.

It is, needless to say, somewhat worrying what George's random selection of 'my pictures' brings up. Indeed I'm considering whether I need to report my computer for zooming in on the collected works of the Zu Bar Swindon. Before I'd said as much as 'hello' I was presented with a close up of Griffin's crotch. And I didn't even realise that I'd even saved that on my computer. After a couple of pictures that made me 'awww' - whitby camping, radio touring, standing in front of the fountaining - George went back to the Swindoning. I had to overt my eyes, it's a bloody 15" screen after all (flattering if you're wondering). Even the subsequent appearance of Ginny and The Globe couldn't rescue matters. I have a pervert for a laptop*****.

*So this is not technically true, I only want a baby when I see fancy wellies. Or am drunk. Or a combination thereof.

**Because let's get this straight, whatever drunken Griffin might think, I do not have a baby***

***Though even I can see the irony of my having this conversation with Griffin of all people.

****Though George's namesake's more famous name might make a not-so-subtle appearance in there.

***** No one say anything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Insert Quote From "Bring It On"

Insert Quote From "Bring It On"

If there's one thing that is bound to strike fear into my very heart it's been the j-o-b discussion. And you would never believe how many people want to talk about it. Or indeed how many people want to tell you scare stories about graduates getting a first and subsequently not being able to get a job. Because, when you're fresh out of Uni with a not-too shabby 2:1, these are, apparently, stories that you need to hear. Never mind that you would prefer to be stabbed repeatedly in the foot with a rusty nail. You must listen, it's your payback for having dared go to university.

But these conversations tend to have a cumulative effect. This is not to even mention one that I had back in July which left my mentally spinning for the rest of the summer. And their effect was PANIC. And if you multiply the panic by my not liking the uncertainty of my current job (or the fact that I can't always curtail my hours as I'd like) then square it by the confusion of an off-record chat about a future position at the construction company which would potentially mean that I'd have to stay here (albeit properly part time) for the next few years the answer is clear. Head explosion. But it meant that I got sucked into thinking that I have to get a 'proper job' that isn't glorified temping. Putting aside the WYP, which is a proper-ish job but will not keep me in shoes this year, never mind added stalking costs.

Given that I'm currently about as emotionally consistent as a squid, however, suddenly I'm rather happy with how things are. Firstly the end (of the first draft at least) of The Four Right Chords is in sight and I'm bubbly and happy about how it's turning out. It's still rough around the edges and possibly too honest but I'm rather coming to love it. Secondly I'm just about to embark on SSoB revisited having had five pages of notes from someone I knew at Oxford who wants to direct a rehearsed reading of it in London. Thirdly I've been asked to work on a piece of documentary theatre about Fathers 4 Justice which sounds madly interesting, if only for my getting to explore a genre of writing that I love (with the possibility of meeting the man who wrote 'Talking to Terrorists' thrown in). None of this is actually paying, and the second and third are part of the Oxford School Tie Network but it's all something of a reminder of why I'm doing the talking monkey thing to make money. It's also rather catalysed me to get some sort of performance on up here. After all I spent two years doing the nuts and bolts of shows, getting other people's writing on stage and I wouldn't think twice about doing it were I still in Oxford, so why not here?

As a final thing - and one which might throw my job situation into a new dimension come next year - I've decided to bite the bullet and apply for the creative writing Mst at Oxford. On the off-chance that I manage to get a place on it (and with only 12 places the odds are somewhat against me) I reckon I can get the fees together without resorting to theft or violence. And I know I'll only end up kicking myself (which is difficult to do) if I don't have a go.

Which leads me to conclude that even if I go the next twelve months without a solid day time job I'm not going to starve. Worst comes to worst, I start drinking tap water and develop some will power re: the stalking. And I don't have to let lack of stability scare me.

It's kind of liberating.

Friday, October 21, 2005

And Then Malvolio Did Start To Adlib

And Then Malvolio Did Start To Adlib

If there are some aspects of being the 'face of the WYP' (not my face specifically, just the spiel of our bosses) that aren't particularly thrilling (getting covered in ice cream gunk, getting second degree burns from the coffee machine*, getting to clear up vomit to name** just a few of the things that I'm getting that I could easily do without) then there are equally the things that mean that I'm more than happy to watch the second half of Twelfth Night five times. Firstly, it must be said, my name badge. Because having a name badge is fun. I'm not exactly sure why, but it is.

Also as I was fulfilling my role as wandering programme seller*** (only I wasn't wandering that much as we only had 150 people in for the matinee and, hey, my legs were tired) a gentleman came up to talk to me about Twelfth Night. And it wasn't to ask about which theatre it was in, or when it finished but simply to tell me how much he'd enjoyed the production. And whilst I can't speak for every FOH-er out there, I loved this. Because I need no excuse to talk about theatre; I loved just how clear his enjoyment was and the fact he'd come and told me about it. I loved the fact that - courtesy of the name badge, a swipe card and a few programmes - the production belonged a little to me.

If I wasn't totally taken with Twelfth Night to start with, I have to confess that the production's grown on me (not like a boil, more like the current vogue for waistcoats). It's become startingly obvious of how much audience enjoyment plays its part. The first time I saw the second half we had 300 in, probably the backbone of the people who come to the WYP. People laughed but it was reserved. On Wednesday night we were nearing 600, probably half of which were schools. People clapped between scenes, jokes that even I as a Shakespeare addict didn't find funny got a laugh and as for the real funny stuff, Cesario and Sir Andrew's fight, Malvolio's reaction to the fake letter, Sir Andrew's hair**** - I thought I was going to go deaf. And the actor's were feeding off of this, milking everything for its true worth, fighting to steal the show. So it got rowdier and rowdier, until at the end it was arms above heads clapping, people woo-ing and shouting. And I clapped as loudly as any of the paying audience. The production had deserved it.

Downstairs the audience for My Mother Said I Never Should (which, most nights, is on the verge of a returns only policy) was doing their best to remove the roof of the Courtyard Theatre. In the Post-Show Discussion one of the actresses commented that on night's like that an actor almost feels invincible, they can do anything. If it fills an actor with this, it also infects the audience. It becomes one of those brilliant communal experiences that you can only get in a theatre.

But, back to my name badge...

*Apparently the moment that the coffee machine went ballistic and refused to stop spurting coffee during the interval was "awesome". I'd like to voice my dissagreement on this.

**Haven't had to do this yet, but oh Christmas awaits...

***I think of it as being like the sellers during 'Who will buy...' in Oliver.

****For anyone who doesn't follow my comments, Sir Andrew has the best quiff I have ever seen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Sympathy

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Sympathy

"How are you?"

"I nearly died on the A1 this morning. A car in front of me went spinning across three lanes of traffic" [does universal hand signal for spinning car]*.

"God, how did that happen?"

"Someone cut her up, she slammed on her breaks and swerved..."

[pulls concerned face] "Me...I cut myself shaving this morning".

*Yes, DA did nearly come to an abrupt end yesterday.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Theatre Snobbery

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Theatre Snobbery

"The problem with The Crucible is that it's a very Arthur Miller play"

[manic laughter given that The Crucible is an Arthur Miller play. And one of the defining ones at that.]

"That was a bit of a blonde moment".

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Student Theatre

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant: Student Theatre

"He liked fire!"


"C'mon, we burnt the Armada in a studio theatre!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Two Part Tango: York

The Two Part Tango: York

The next up on the icon trail was Bronte at York Theatre Royal. And the Bronte's tick every box on the DA Icon Test. For whilst Howarth is a bit lacking on quality tat (no glove puppet sisters there) it remains that they have their own tourist industry and you can freak yourself out by wandering around their house. Plus, should you need any more confirmation, Kate Bush sang about one of their novels. You don't get much more iconic than that.

I'd seen Bronte when it was at the WYP but, given the nature of my job, I'd actually seen it backwards (second half, first half) over the course of seven days. Which would be annoying were it not for that fact that we all know how it is going to end. They die. Tragically young and with hardly any time to shout Heathcliff between them. But if my oddly distorted viewing didn't damage the suspense then it meant that I felt I'd only half experienced what felt like a very good production.

As it was the production was rather enthralling. It celebrated the fact that it was telling a story, that we were half guessing at what life was like for the Bronte's, that this was theatre and the story could flip back and forth, pushing us on how we view those icons (and indeed Bramwell). Daddy Bronte's accent seemed to slip at the beginning but, other than that, the acting was pretty much faultless. And it made me feel soppy with the way it talked about writing and why women chose to do it.

Obviously, given that I'm a girl who'll cry at a couple of adverts and an episode of Neighbours on a good day, as soon as the play slipped into its tragic mode I was wondering how distracting it would be for me to find some tissues. Because the Bronte story always makes me cry and just because I knew it was coming didn't mean that its impact decreased. If that were the case I'd be able to read Little Women or The Voyage Out without needing the aid of a paper bag. And I'd definitely be able to get through Gatsby. But I can't. These things are still sad. And Bronte was even more sad because it was true. And the production made you connect with these characters on stage. Even the much maligned Bramwell. Charlotte's loneliness in the empty parsonage was almost crushing, which made her subsequent - brief - happiness even more poignant. And then, just to ram the message home, Bronte hit you with a 'could easily have been cured today' postscript.

It was another little bit of theatrical fairydust, but this time it made me love a couple of my icons even more.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Two Part Tango: Stratford

The Two Part Tango: Stratford

It hardly needs saying that along with shoes, Sienna Boho-Princess and the return of Comedy Dave to the nation's airwaves, there is little I love more than a literary icon. And last week I got to demonstrate my intense literary iconic geekness in all its glory on two consecutive days. Two consecutive days. Are you feeling the glow?

First up was Jonson's Sejanus in Stratford. Now I should establish something here. Mr Ben Jonson may have his picture in the National Portrait Gallery but that on its own does not make for a literary icon. No no no. To pass the icon test there must be a picture, a t-shirt, a play/film and, possibly most importantly, a burgeoning tourist industry surrounding their home. There probably should be something about their work being iconic in there too, but, let's face it, when we're dealing with dead celebrities, the person looms larger than the work. So Jonson fails the DA patented Literary Icon Test, primarily because he doesn't get even as much as a cameo in Shakespeare in Love. But if Jonson's no icon then Stratford is. You might not quite be able to smell Shakespeare there, what with all the American tourists, but the fact remains that you can buy lots and lots of Shakespeare tat. Want a mouse mat with quotes from Hamlet on it? Want an Arden Shakespeare? Want a glove puppet Shakespeare? Then Stratford's your place. It is also, and not incidently it must be said, home to some great theatre. And I'd never seen a production in the Swan before so I WAS EXCITED. That's capital letters excited.

The Swan itself is lovely. Intimate and interesting; all beams and balconies and strange seating. The ticket price was worth the experience alone. As for Sejanus, it was, as I couldn't get past when explaining about it on Friday night, a solid production of a solid play. With its Romans and unequivocal portrayal of the mob I couldn't but help think of Julius Caesar. And it remains that I'm particularly fond of that JC. But Sejanus skipped along nicely, complete with weirdy pray-to-statue-moment so beloved of dramatists of the period and which I, frankly, don't get, and ended on a nicely questioning note. It even had some - not at all gratutitous - male nudity going on. Which amused me greatly if only for the faces of the eighty year old women in the front row.

Post educational theatre visit (and ice cream) came gift shop time and Nik and I spent a rather amusing half hour playing in the Swan giftshop, which, when you consider it is slightly bigger than a broom cupboard, the depth of our achievement must be noted. That we also managed to have a puppet show, demonstrate why - despite both of us being in our twenties - giving us fake swords is not a good idea and have a RANT ABOUT T-SHIRT SIZING would show why I'm only allowed in giftshops on a once in six weeks basis.

Gift shop plundered, it was off to the pub where I drew the short straw and had to go and order a pitcher of woo woo. The humiliation of this was only lessoned by the fact that it meant that I saw a group of American tourists properly queueing at the bar. And when I say queuing I mean standing as you would if you were waiting for the bus. Rumours that I laughed at this, walked up to the bar and the got served before all of them are not entirely unfounded. I blame the woo woo. I wish I could attribute the plans for 'An Evening With Nik and Coza' (and Special Guests) to the woo woo but we'd already come up with that frankly brilliant idea prior to entering the pub. It just got more detailed and involved after the pitcher. People may mock, but you'll all be wanting an invite.

On the way home I did the rather classy thing of being desperate for the toilet (woo woo) and all the toilets at the train station being locked*. Consequently I discovered why there are indeed more reasons to shop at Morrisons. Not least because they'll do your dry cleaning too.

*I'm sorry, what is that about at 7.30pm? Where do they think Stratford is?

Today DA, Tomorrow The World

Today DA, Tomorrow The World

After an internet-less few days (not to mention the trains, the plays or the pitcher of woo woo)there are few things that could make me happier than the, somewhat unexpected, message I got over on Griffin Chat.

With a big thanks to Jen...DA is proud to present Team DA.

Wear it with pride, my friends.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What happened to a piece of paper and a biro?

What happened to a piece of paper and a biro?

There is the important distinction between things that I need and things that I want. The only problem being that in the newly-discovered era of having-money-which-isn't-my-overdraft the distinction has become a bit blurred. Take my most recent, and indeed most exciting, purchase - a new laptop. I wanted a laptop. That bit was clear enough. But did I need one? Well, I would argue, whilst my desktop really isn't showing its age, it remains four years old. In computer years that must be pushing middle age. And the thing about a desktop is that it remains on the desk. I'm a girl on the move. I want to write sitting on my bed, on a train, in the middle of the park (I'm obviously not taking into account the fact that we are quickly plunging headfirst into winter and the chances of me choosing to sit in the park are currently somewhere below zero). That I have a spiral notepad that has proven itself under such circumstances is to be discounted. I can't format italics in that.

So you see why the wanting got confused with the needing? After a few weeks of looking, comparing random system information (really, all I wanted was something I could type on that wouldn't be adverse to burning me the odd cd) and generally coming over as a penny pincher in the way that only people from Yorkshire can, I finally settled. My new baby should be with me some time at the end of next week. I'm somewhat looking forward to the naming ceremony.*

Should I start to moan that I am working ridiculous hours in the next fortnight (not to mention FOH-ing** Twelfth Night three times in four days) point me in the direction of this entry. I'd blame the laptop, but I can't. I'm full of the glow***.

*What? Surely everyone names their electrical equipment.

**Front-of-house - ing.

***There seems to be a lot of the glow going round in DA this week. I could be confusing the glow with the lemsip I'm taking by the bucketload because of STUPID FRESHER'S FLU that I should not have were it not for the fact that there are a heck of a lot of freshers work at the WYP.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Go Out With Wet Hair

Go Out With Wet Hair

I'd been looking forwarding to FOH-ing 'My Mother Said I Never Should' for a couple of reasons. Firstly it isn't Twelfth Night and as partial as I am to a bit of Shakespeare and some comedy haircuts this does wear a little thin when you end up seeing the second half of the play three times in a row. Shipwreck, what shipwreck? Secondly Mother has what is officially - and by officially I mean decided by me - the best advertising campaign of any of the productions at the WYP this season. The postcards and posters basically proclaimed slogans that your mother may well have told you never to do. The most popular? The bright blue postcard stating 'Snog Boys'. It's marketing genius, everyone wants them for the comedy value.

Given these factors I probably should have been prepared for the production not to live up to expectation. Or at least be more on the level of the 'Eat With Your Mouth Open' pea-green postcards. From the moment that it started however I knew it had lived up to its hype. Because if its a good play then it is also an incredibly clever, intensely theatrical production. Props descend from the ceiling, babies become sheets blowing in the wind, the grass/carpet is rolled up midway through the first act by the actresses. It's the kind of production that makes you dizzy with the possibilities of theatre. And indeed the audience's willingness to believe in the world created in front of them.

If the play, at 16 years of age, feels a little dated then it still has something to say, something which the sheer vigour and enthusiasm of the production seems to have pushed to the forefront.

I left the WYP, just a few minutes short of what would have been a free taxi, bathed in the afterglow. My recreational drug of choice had struck again.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

All The Way To Reno

All The Way To Reno

Because of my hardly concealed love for those stalwarts of British television - and former Pop Gods - Ant and Dec, I've been following their gameshow marathon extravanganza. I suspect I'd like the show anyway because, let's face it, gameshows are QUIZES. And you know how much I love a good quiz. Even if, in these cases, the best you're going home with is a - oooooo - caravan. But it's not the wonder that is eighties quiz shows or even Ant or Dec that I'm wanting to blog about. No, it was what happened when I didn't switch the television off immediately after the show finished. X-Factor.

For those of you still blissfully unaware of what's happening in the world of the make-Simon-Cowell-even-richer-than-he-is-now, X-Factor had reached the night of deciding who was to go forward to the weeks of live shows, off key vocals and Kate Thornton's hideous outfits. I felt I was pretty safe to keep the television on. Aside from seeing some of the earlier freaks, I've not followed the show, I don't know these people, I've no reason to care.

Predictably I was crying the moment that the first guy sat down next to Sharon. And as the show worked its way through the parade of singers and groups it only got worse. I wasn't even sure if it was better for me when they got through or when they didn't, my tear ducts were working overtime either way. Because however lacking charisma, or the ability to remain in key, or remember the words they were this was their dream. Their green light at the end of a dock, if you will. And if there's something I love even more than a quiz, it's a dream.

It only got worse when they had to go and inform their familes, sat grouped together, anxiously waiting the news. The 'YES!'s jumped around and screamed. The 'No's hugged each other and cried. I got the same kind of feeling I get watching the beginning of Love Actually and its airport reunions. And I blew my nose a bit more.

Even as I watched though my cynical side was kicking in. As the contestants talked about how much it would change their lives, it seemed rather painfully obvious that it won't. If they're very, very lucky maybe one of them might have their life changed by the programme. For the rest of them it's some Saturday night tv exposure, followed by a few roadshows, some D-List parties and a descent into oblivion. And yet each of them believed. This was it. Their BIG CHANCE.

It almost seemed churlish of me to let reality into the picture.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

'This Is My Angry Face'

'This Is My Angry Face'

This week I did something I very rarely do. I got angry. And the reason that I don't get angry much? I find it a bit of a waste of time when there are usually much better ways of my thinking myself out or round of a situation. And my being angry shouldn't be confused with my being grumpy. That happens more often, usually when I've stubbed my toe for the fourth time this week on my new magazine holder which is still sitting at the bottom of my bed. But angry. Noooo. I'm going to need more than a broken toe for that.

But on Wednesday I got angry. If I'm honest it had been bubbling away for a little while, an incessant drip that I always knew I wouldn't be able to overcome. And, consequently, I did something that maybe my rational head would have told me not to do. Because in the great scheme of things, does the person concerned matter? Certainly not to me. But it's also something that I feel a little proud of doing. Because I'm the one who was lambasting those people on the bus with Lobotomy Guy for standing back. I'm the person who believes that, if you feel passionately about something, you should be brave enough to stand up and say it, rather than sit on your bum with your finger up your, erm, nose. I believed in what I was saying and I suspected that no one else was going to say it first.

As it was some people agreed with me, some didn't. Some tried to placate, as I always knew they would. Because I'm imperfectly human I felt flashes of anger at the people who seemed to trot out out bland responses. I'm not naive enough to think that I was any less biased about the situation than they were. But I'm not blind to everything else.

Maybe what evoked the stream of anger was that issues of trust and belief were raised. Which is like a red Boro football flag to a fake bull. As a general rule I trust everyone. I have some half-idealistic notion that everyone might be as exacting with their standards as I tend to be on myself. I can accept people wobble on this, God I wobble myself and I know that as a result of this I forgive people far too easily. I hate to abandon that belief. It's one reason that I love Kate in SSoB, she does what I could never do. She refuses to forgive Harry. Had that one played out in real life, I'm not sure that I could have slammed that door.

But there comes a time when even I have to concede that there is no longer any point believing. And then it's final. Never to be returned. And I know that my trust on the issue on Wednesday has long since evaporated. And I'd have been a hypocrite if I'd pretended otherwise.

I am left wondering, though, what use impotent anger is. I think everyone is on the same side of the argument they were before the start of this week. Nothing has changed, least of all the situation concerned. Which is probably an even bigger lesson than the one I learnt in Primark.

I'd still do it all again.

Friday, October 07, 2005

You Know You Need To Get A New Job...

You Know You Need To Get A New Job...

When you're standing in the resource area of the office [dealing with your 53rd construction drawing of the day no less] and you hear the following:

"You're a clever girl - how do you do double sided photocopying?"

Shoot me. Now.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Church of St Primark

The Church of St Primark

I greeted the arrival of a fully functioning Primark in Leeds with something bordering on joy. I'd only ever been into Primark once, just after New Year in Birmingham, when I'd gotten a skirt and belt for eight pounds. Eight pounds. That's what two drinks in the Slug and Lettuce cost me on Saturday night. So I'd bowed down at the alter of Primark and, like any good convert, was filled with joy when the word spreed and Primark took over the building where the Odeon used to be in Leeds*.

This joy lasted for as long as it took me to peek my head around the doors. I can deal with cramned shopping conditions - I'm a seasoned New Look shopper - but this went past anything I'd experienced in a clothing shop before. The only parallel I could draw was with Asda three days before Christmas, only without the mitigating factors. I drew something of a hasty retreat.

The second time I attempted to go into the shop I got as far as the central display of waistcoats, where it quickly emerged there were no size tens for love, money or bribery. And I'd have been open to bribery demands, I wanted one of those waistcoats. I was also mistaken as a shop assistant and asked where returns should be taken, which worried me slightly because I WAS NOT DRESSED IN PRIMARK. So, again, I left empty handed.

On Sunday afternoon I finally managed to force my way into the shop when it wasn't in need of a 'one in one out' system. And if I was a little saddened because they had no waistcoats even though there were manequins wearing them, I did find a bargainous silver belt. It was only when I ended up spending fifteen minutes in the queue for the till that I started to wonder just how valid a bargain it was. Because there is a price/pain ratio that has to be considered. And standing in a queue for fifteen minutes, with the shop heating turned up to maximum, is painful.

Like the wedding guest at the end of Coleridge's Rime of The Ancient Mariner, I left a sadder and wiser person. Albeit with a new belt.

*Not that I agree with the Odeon closing down, it rather stomped over the memory of so many teenage sundays spent there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Everything I Could Be

Everything I Could Be
"I could have won that show and probably did...but that's another matter"

Some how I don't think that DA is the place for me to be musing over what Griffin meant when he wrote the above in his Boro/York/Whitby programmes last year. Not of course that the BBC/Endemol would get much if they sued me (apart from maybe lots of penguin books and several hundred shoes), but because - as much as I like a good gossip - I don't have the facts. I only have the rumours. And as bitter and twisted as I still am about the whole issue, it's a disservice to Griffin to deal in such rumours.

But what is a fact is that today is the second anniversary of the final of the tortuous-reality-television show. And by this point in 2003 it was tortuous. I'd ranted, written angry letters to Now magazine and even ended up crying after watching Griffin at the post showfeedback bit. Because my competitiveness, which is more than capable of embracing competition by proxy, has one limitation; fairplay. If I engage in a competition I play by the rules. I kind of hoped that the BBC might too. As it was they didn't and the car crash that was the final was so painful that I can't watch the announcement without crying to this day. Because a biased reality tv show is one thing when it's Big Brother, it's another when it's messing with people's dreams and futures. In that evening I hated everything about the programme, about people's lives being served up for entertainment whilst the viewing public could switch off and return to normality. And maybe I even hated myself a little bit for watching.

If that night marked an ending, the last marker of a summer where I licked my wounds, wrote the first draft of SSoB and watched more reality television than is good for any one person, then it also marked a beginning. Five weeks later I met Griffin at Boro Lights. There was the excitement and the enthusiasm of those weeks in the build up to his first single, then the album, then the five song set gigs. The tortuous reality television show faded from view.

But we can't deny that it existed, or that I watched, or that Griffin was part of it. Because to deny it would be to ignore everything wonderful that has come out of that flawed, often painful but occassionally rather amazing programme. I most likely would never have known of Griffin, never have stood, propped up, crying at how beautiful his voice was. In directly I'd have never had a drink with Fox, gotten free beer from Riccardi or been groped by Peter Brame. I'd never have heard Megson singing 'More Than Me' and stolen the line for this blog, or terrified Bazza at the Silver Bear concert or left Jamie Theakston in a sulk at a charity cricket match. I most likely wouldn't have been to Middlesbrough, The Bedford or The Clapham Grand and I certainly wouldn't have been to Swindon or Bristol or Stockton. There would have been no radio tours, no 'buy one get one free' inspired dancing in a cage, no JCS stage dooring. More importantly there would have been none of the odd, hilarious and wonderful people I've met along the way. There would have been no Northern Division. And if just for that factor, just for bringing me into contact with a group of people I love unconditionally and who I owe more to than they will ever realise, I will never forget the summer of the tortuous-reality-television show.

But the anniversary doesn't just pull me to look back, but to look forward. As much as I've pulled out some of the videos and the CDs of the programme, I can't help thinking about what happens next. Not so much for me, that's a question that resolutely has nothing to do with the tortuous-reality-television show, but for Griffin. And that's a hard and uncertain question. Certainly what I wanted for him in the weeks after the final is different from what I wanted for him immediately after the spilt from UMTV which in turn is different to what I'd had said earlier this year. But I can say that at this moment, almost a week after sitting in a pub and believing in him more than I have in a long, long time, there are a few things I'd like.

I'd like him to get the audience he deserves. For more people to hear just how talented he is. I'd like him to continue - and being given the opportunity - to grow as both a performer and a writer. I'd like to have the second album in my record collection. Damn it, I'd like to have the fifth album in my record collection. I'd like 'Alistair Griffin Unplugged' in there too. I'd also like a skinny fit t-shirt that isn't far too big for me (discreet Griffin logo, naturally, I'm leaving the days of his face emblazoned across my breasts to posterity). Most of all I want more for him than he currently has. And I don't mind waiting. I'm here for the long haul.

Which may sound odd, but what can I say other than that I believe in him. I believed in him throughout that summer, throughout the final. Circumstances may change, he may change, God, I may change, but nothing will ever remove that fact.

And though the tortuous-reality-television show was, to me at least, always about Griffin (and then to a lesser degree, Fox) I can't bypass its other alumni. Jesus, I'm an Alex, Simone and Lorna away from having met them all. I don't really know what they're doing or where they are now but maybe that doesn't matter.

*Raises Glass* To the Fame Academy Class of 2003. Yes, even you Paris.

Where I Become Scarily Competitive. Again.

Where I Become Scarily Competitive. Again.

I probably should have confessed something when I made my last blog entry. I'd like you all to think that the Australian thing was as random as it sounds, but in truth it was about as random as what I was doing. Or - more accurately - what I was carrying. Because - and there is no easy way to get round this - I was in the middle of York carrying a didgeredo. If that is indeed how you spell it, because, let's face it, I don't know how to spell it, it's not in my miny English dictionary next to the computer and it won't be in the spell check in blogger even if I could be arsed to run it after I finished writing. But I'm sure you're getting the picture. I was in York. With an Aboriginal instrument. Previous to being asked if I was Rolf Harris's daughter, I'd been in the non-spurting fountain, posed for a picture at the little Griffin van and bantered with a passing police car as to why the heck I was carrying said instrument. Thankfully, I can't have looked too much like the criminal mastermind that I actually am, and the police were happy to ask whether I could play it rather than where I got it from.

The answer to that question would have been, predictably it being a Saturday night and me being in York, the Evil Eye. Yes, that would be the one with the beds:

In honour of Becky's Birthday/Graduation there was an evening of entertainment centred around something that will always get me excited. A competition. And given the fact that I haven't managed as much as a pub quiz since I left Oxford, that we had a team competition (no less) meant that I was on overdrive. Admittedly the shot in The Slug and Lettuce and the tequila in Evil Eye might have had something to do with my going into overdrive but you should never underestimate my own innate competitiveness. It is, I confess, not one of my most appealing characteristics (as I think I demonstrated with some style when Nik and I started wrestling over a cocktail and the bonus five points its capture would entail*), but I can at least see the extent of its ridiculousness and the subsequent need for people to tell me to shut up at regular intervals**. But it did mean that I wanted to win. I WANTED TO WIN. Because winning is good and no amount of 'it's the taking part that counts' crap is going to convince me otherwise.

So when I ended up with a 'Corinne always aims high, but can you beat a guitar?' challenge the discovery of a didgeredoo was rather fantastic. Because, if only for how random it was, it beats a guitar. Anyone, after all, can take a guitar into the Parliament Street fountain. I like to think that this was the fountains first didgeredoo. Challenge completed, I returned the instrument - with some sadness - to its proper home so that drunken revellers could continue to pretend they were Rolf Harris.

And the most important part? We won***!

*Though this did give me a flash back to a similar and even less graceful tussle over a 'Thank you' sign at Derby Zanzibars which was even less flattering given that that was the inagural 'Derby Top' night. And if I'm wearing my 'Derby Top' I should be staying very, very still.

** Though the chances of getting me to shut up when I've been drinking - as one of the Evil Eye's unlucky security men discovered - are very, very slim.

***We would be Team Griffin, as opposed to Team Fox. Never say that Nik and I aren't original in our choices.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Well, I Do Watch Neighbours

Well, I Do Watch Neighbours

"Are you Australian?"


"Yes you are!"

"No I'm not!"

"You are - you're Rolf Harris's daughter!"