Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Corinne Did (2006)

What Corinne Did (2006)

If you're a long term DA reader you'll know I love a bit of retrospect. And if you aren't and you don't, now's probably the time to learn. Thus in the spirit of this being the end of the year and all that, I proudly present DA's Review of 2006.

What can I say but - it's been fun.

January:

The year started with the one of the greatest acts of rock and roll madness in history (almost) in a New Year trip to Dublin where I discovered the powerful pull that is a balloon. I turned - eek - 23 and felt quite grown up looking at art at the Baltic in Newcastle. DA turned - eek - 1 and I felt slightly less grown up enlisting some of DA's readers to write a blog for the occassion. I also thought that I might go insane if I watched Alice in Wonderland at the WYP one more time.

If this month had been a song it would have been: Anything from Alice in Wonderland.

Favourite live event: Dead Funny at the WYP - I didn't expect to love it, but I really did.

Memorable for: Yelling 'happy new year' in an eighties club in Dublin without an Irish man in sight.

If you just read one blog it should be: The Mounting of James Joyce. A huge blog for a huge event. And - feels pretty chuffed - I think it's rather well written. It makes me laugh anyway.


February:

I suspect I was a bit poor in February (see January for reasons why) as I spent quite a bit of time as an Admin Monkey. I also settled down to writing a new draft of The Four Right Chords, got the idea for my next play and was accepted on the WYP's 'So You Want To Be A Writer?' course. I saw the lovely Riccardi boys at my one and only trip to the Bedford this year and met the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. I gained a spectacular crush on John Barrowman and probably had cold.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'One Of Those Days', Riccardi.

Favourite live event: Riccardi at the Bedford.

Memorable for: Accidentally non-stalking Kanye West.

If you just read one blog it should be: 'She Gets All Her Facts From The Latest Smash Hits' because you can't under estimate just how influential Smash Hits was on me.


March:

Fox had his West End debut in Movin' Out and of course I was there, complete with my own wardrobe malfunction. I got scared in the middle of nowhere on a trip to see Griffin and started the SYWTBAW? course, re-discovering my intellectual arrogance in the process. I tried to write a new play in two weeks and very nearly succeeded - even if it did almost kill me. I got down to the last two for a job at the WYP losing out to what I affectionately call the 'HMV effect'. More importantly, I decided that it was time to take the other Corinne to task.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Summer Highland Falls', James Fox.

Favourite live event: Movin Out, Apollo Victoria Theatre. Not every day that you get to go to a West End opening night.

Memorable for: Fox's 'London State of Mind' on opening night. In the West End. If you hadn't gathered.

If you just read one blog it should be: Depending on your preference either The Stars and The Gutter or West End State of Mind.


April:

I had my gig shoes on this month seeing the other Corinne, Kaiser Chiefs and Riccardi (with only the latter one, ironically, being in Leeds). I even managed a bit of a Beatles trail in Liverpool. The SYWTBAW? course culminated in a showcase which I nearly missed because of the state of Leeds buses and where my piece 'REM's Back Catalogue' actually got some laughs. Phew. I was interviewed for another job at the WYP which I didn't get. Oxford won the boat race, I won the Grand National and, even more triumphantly, I became a fully paid up member of the National Trust. I honestly didn't see that one coming.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'You Can Have It All' Kaiser Chiefs.

Favourite live event: 'I Predict A Riot' Kaiser Chiefs, Birmingham NIA. Genius.

Memorable for: Ending up in a lock in - and arguing about Shakespeare - in a pub in Liverpool.

If you just read one blog it should be: Every Girl Needs A Mug With Her Name On or, just for how prophetic it turned out to be, Occupational Hazards.


May:

Much of May was devoted to either planning, thinking about, taking part in, blogging or coming down from Radio One's One Big Weekend in Dundee. There was karaoke with the Radio One Breakfast team, VIP wristbands and the nice toilets. There was also a bewildering array of bands and meeting Comedy Dave, one of my long term not-quite-a-secret crushes. I saw Snow Patrol and would have been quite happy to have died at that moment. Away from Dundee there was 'tablegate' at Griffin's Boro Gig, getting a little tipsy at the Thistle Hotel and the little matter of going to Paris for Nik's 21st. It's a hard life.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'I've Had The Time Of My Life', Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.

Favourite live event: 'You're All I Have', Snow Patrol, One Big Weekend.

Memorable for: Either yelling 'Daaaave' at Comedy Dave from the VIP gates, running around the Thistle bar at 4:30am in triumph or being escorted to the toilets during Nik's birthday dinner.

If you just read one blog it should be: I'd point you to all of the Dundee blogs but if I have to pick one out: "Put Sufjan Stephens on and we'll sing your favourite song"

June:

The sun shone, Bad Girls The Musical was in the theatre and I had the one year graduation panic. I attended feedback session for SYWTBAW? which thrilled and appalled me in almost equal measure and a writer's workshop which just left me somewhat bemused. It was the World Cup so I had a fantasy football team and Wimbledon so Tim Henman (almost) made me cry. Triumphantly (for now at least) I drew a line under my Admin Monkey days. And then there was the whole holding David Tennant's hand thing.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'The Day We Caught The Train', Ocean Colour Scene.

Favourite live event: 'Why?', Griffin, Masham. "Good question".

Memorable for: Getting lost in Masham. The difficulty of this only being apparent if you know that Masham consists of two streets.

If you just read one blog it should be: First Stop: Regency England. Or if you're after something less facetious try School Reunion.

July:

England got knocked out of the World Cup and I summed it all up in one of my more articulate blogs. I started working on the WYP reception and got caught up in a bomb scare. I saw - and adored - Snow Patrol and PYFB, argued with Shed Seven's drummer and got rather drunk whilst watching Illyria's production of Pride and Prejudice. I started working at Kirkstall Abbey for the British Shakespeare Company where I was much taken with the rather attractive cast. And - sob sob sob - Dr Who reached its season finale.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Loving You' PYFB.

Favourite live event: 'Run' Snow Patrol, Leeds Millenium Square.

Memorable for: Being in the audience the day that PYFB's album got to number 3 and he got plastered on stage and took his top off.

If you just read one blog it should be: "I'm Still Dubious About The Buzzer". Laugh? I almost cried.


August:

My BSC adventure continued as I got rained on, had to remove people's pants from toilets and almost bled to death after cutting myself on a broken beer bottle. Perversely I loved it (not the pants bit because that was just skanky). There were cocktails for lunch, my pretending to be Juliet on the balcony and a wrap party which I wish I could remember more of. Then there was C - an actor with a book deal and an accent to die for. He probably should have come with a neon warning sign. Ah, well.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Chocolate' Snow Patrol.

Favourite live event: Griffin singing 'Bring It On' at the Purple Mountain acoustic night. How wonderfully retro.

Memorable for: I guess vomitting into a bin in a 4* hotel room (modesty covered by nothing other than a duvet) watched by C and Famous Actor's Son, whilst the actor playing Snug had a bath in the ensuite might just edge it for retrospective comedy value.

If you just read one blog it should be: "You have but slumber'd here/ While these visions did appear". A very special blog for lots of reasons, not least because it captures my feelings on the summer so perfectly. And should anyone be wondering then, yes, C is in the photo.


September:

I drunk rather a lot of cocktails this month. I swore about actors [see August]. I also had a playlist on my laptop that consisted of a high proportion of songs by Coldplay, David Gray and Damien Rice. Any conclusions drawn from this about my emotional state are probably fairly accurate. I went back to work at the WYP where - foolishly - I ended up with lots of newbies shadowing me and I tried not to teach them my bad habits. Away from work I dressed as a chav, got caught up in glamorous indie rock and roll and non-stalked My Richard at York Theatre Royal. Some things don't change after all.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Fix You' Coldplay.

Favourite live event: The Overwhelming, [Out of Joint], West Yorkshire Playhouse. One day I'd like to write a play which is as important as this.

Memorable for: Being filmed at silly o'clock in the morning whilst performing 'Semi Charmed Life', something which I hope will never see the light of day on YouTube.

If you just read one blog it should be: "I've Two Tickets To Mecca Bingo Baby" just for the bit where I got shushed. If you want to read something I will one day put into something fictional then it should be "And the waves broke on the shore"


October:

Officially the month of the gig, October saw me seeing Orson, Embrace and PYFB (twice). I adored Kneehigh's Cymbeline, was enchanted with the National Theatre of Scotland's Wolves in the Walls and wasn't quite as keen on Sheffield Crucible's The Caretaker, though the fact that I got to (almost) party with Nigel Harman made up for it. I was Duty Manager for the children's show 'Trouble' at the WYP, where I managed to get through 8 performances without anyone throwing up on me. This made me quite happy.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'No Tomorrow' Orson.

Favourite live event: Difficult one but Embrace's 'Ashes' at Birmingham Academy probably just edges it, if only for their brilliant lighting.

Memorable for: Dancing through the streets of Newcastle to a snippet of 'No Tomorrow', complete with rock hands.

If you just read one blog it should be: "I got the movie script but don't know what it meant" . Ah, Nigel Harman's bottom.


November:

This month started with the unexpected - I went to a Lily Allen gig and actually enjoyed myself. It progressed through the slightly less unexpected as I fell head over heels in love with Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' and developed actor crush of the year number 47 in the shape of Dominic Cooper. There was a birthday/ anniversary celebration at the Evil Eye where I drunk a lot of shots, showed my love for Harry McFly and subsequently ended up on a bathroom floor. And even though it felt like we'd just gotten rid of Alice, it was time to welcome The Wizard of Oz to the WYP.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Stargirl' McFly.

Favourite live event: The Duchess of Malfi, West Yorkshire Playhouse. Stunning in every way possible.

Memorable for: Sitting in our bed at the Evil Eye asking everyone if they knew McFly songs.

If you just read one blog it should be: "Read it now, learn it now and you'll know it whenever" - initially about 'The History Boys' but in reality about something much deeper.


December:

There was culture aplenty this month as I saw PYFB getting drunk and triumphing in Leeds, Judi Dench displaying the most perfect timing I have ever seen in the RSC's The Merry Wives of Windsor - The Musical and Griffin jumping out of a giant paper mache christmas pudding in the upstairs room of a pub in York. I think you could say some moments were more sublime than others. I had another interview at the WYP and this time I actually got the job, something I cemented by buying 'management clothing' and guaging which member of staff had the best reaction to the news. And then it was Christmas which meant three things: i)I'd get flu ii) there was a WYP Christmas Party and iii) that I'd want to hold David Tennant's hand in the Dr Who Christmas special.

If this month had been a song it would have been: 'Patience' Alistair Griffin.

Favourite live event: So, so difficult. Judi Dench's solo in Merry Wives will probably be the one I will never forget.

Memorable for: Either confusing lots and lots of people with the adventures of Mini David (Tennant) or dancing to a very drunken PYFB's version of 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' with some of my favourite people in the world.

If you just read one blog it should be: It probably should be this one, but since you've already read it and I don't want you to go without, try Even Though It All Went Wrong

Thursday, December 28, 2006

As If More Proof Were Needed...

As If More Proof Were Needed...
Evidence 1:

"If you could go anywhere in the TARDIS where would you go?"

"I would have said to The Globe to see one of Shakespeare's plays being performed..."

Evidence 2:

[The Mighty Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars' finishes]

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's my favourite song of the year"

Verdict:

I'm sorry, but why are David Tennant and I not married yet?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

[Insert jazz hands here]

[Insert jazz hands here]

During my first shift at the WYP a woman fainted on me. In the last few months as I've ending up with people shadowing me I've told this story with abandon. Because it's a difficult one to beat (possibly only done so by the almost bomb evacution during my first shift on reception) and it does help put into perspective any problems encountered with the seating numbers.

This was undoubtedly the most dramatic thing that happened to me during these early shifts. Those weeks were full of not quite knowing my way round the maze of corridors, having a t-shirt that didn't quite fit and not quite fighting off the nagging feeling that it was wrong to be going to work when the rest of the bus queue were on their way home. I worked cloakroom lots, which I liked because of all the strange conversations it involved, and saw the second half of Twelfth Night 11 times whilst seeing the first half once. I wasn't quite as keen on this.

After those early weeks things settled down; I fell head over heels in love with My Mother Said I Never Should and working odd hours didn't bother me. I managed to try all the ice cream flavours. Somehow I didn't need to ask questions anymore. Eventually I started working with D, though he thought I wouldn't like him because of the Oxford thing. To this day he still mocks me about being a geek. Thankfully he mocks me for being a stalker more.

Then came the Christmas season and the endless performances of Alice in Wonderland. I moaned, but I loved it. I actually enjoyed spending Christmas week in a theatre, and the Boxing Day shift, with those increasingly familiar figures and increasingly excited children was rather wonderful.

Once Alice had shuffled off of the stage for the last time the intensity level changed but it was all so second nature now that it didn't matter. I became a Senior Attendant which meant I got to deal with broken headsets and dogs during the audio described performances and even got to stroke an actor or two during a touch tour. There was the emotionally incredible Trilogy Saturdays where, after nine hours of Shakespeare, I wanted to stand up and cheer.

There were latecomers, audience members who made me want to punch something, hours spent stock taking ice cream. There was vomit, malteasers stamped into the floor and a child's nose that exploded. There were shows I loved, shows I hated and a couple I just didn't understand. And then of course there was Bad Girls the Musical.

When the theatre went dark I trained on reception and managed to work out what a good 35% of the people in the building actually do. When the season started again it was with the realisation that I was no longer a newbie, something which I hadn't put my finger on before. I tried not to scare those shadowing me too much whilst trying to cultivate an air of Yoda like knowledge. In a couple of cases it worked. At least up until my penchant for the ice cream became obvious. Down to the one job I did what seemed like hundreds of shifts and worried everyone with my over-enthusiasm for spine tinglingly brilliant The Duchess of Malfi.

There was a sense in which the months from September onwards were almost a holding zone. I'd decided many months ago that I'd rather like to be Duty Manager, if only to have something concrete to answer all those enquiries as to when I was going to get a proper job. And long before it was supposed to be common knowledge that there was a job opening people started asking if I was going to apply. I didn't say it as blatantly, but of course I was. I'd settled it in my head.

So I applied. And - possibly on account of an amusing story or two - I got the job.

Two days later I did my last shift as an attendant and then returned my t-shirt. Or at least I would have if I'd remembered.

Many weeks ago, in a quite moment in the coffee shop because obviously I don't chat when I'm supposed to be working, History Boy and I had talked around applying for the job. History Boy had decided that he wouldn't because he'd miss being an attendant too much, I'd already decided that I'd be willing to give it up. It wasn't until I was knee deep in my first duty manager shift that I realised properly what he meant.

Because being an attendant at the WYP meant all that theatre, all those actors I got to heart. I got to read, to re-draft a play, once even to cry at theatre whilst being paid. It meant I could be talking about quantum mechanics and philosophical cats one minute and about reality tv and which actor missed a line the next. And I will miss that. Because now I've to retire to the office rather than the plush coffee shop sofas it's not going to be the same. This is not to say I'd take the decision back, I emphatically wouldn't as I feel the creeping familiarity and comfort enveloping me. I like shouting 'House Open'. I like writing show reports. Because I'm easily pleased I especially like having a WYP email address.

But I have loved being an attendant, I've met some fantastic people [even if some of them have made me feel old] and I know that if I had to do it again I wouldn't hesitate.

If there's a next time, though, I'd like to request a t-shirt in skinny fit if that's alright.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Now Might Be The Time To Worry

Now Might Be The Time To Worry

"Do you know what Director Boy said to me?"

"What?"

"He asked me if Corinne was a boy's name"

"Which it is"

"Yes - so I told him so, but spelt C-O-R-I-N"

"Exactly"

"And then he said that when he first met me and I spoke about Corinne he thought I was talking about my boyfriend"

"Your boyfriend?!"

"After that I didn't think it was the time to tell him about our pre-nuptial agreement"

Friday, December 22, 2006

25p From Every Phone Call Does Not Go To Charity

25p From Every Phone Call Does Not Go To Charity

If I've made a concerted effort not to drink at the Christmas Party [free glass of wine aside] then I can't say the same about not dancing. I've lost track of the number of songs that have made me grace the dancefloor - I've even persuaded D who, ironically given the fact that he actually can dance, never dances at parties to join me for 'You Sexy Thing'. Now I'm dancing with one of the attendants as we show off our not-quite-ready-for-Strictly-Come-Dancing moves.

"It was my aim of the night to get you to dance with me"

I feel a fleeting moment of panic. Humour over dancing with someone who is now his boss is fine. The possibility that I'm going to have to extricate myself from something else certainly isn't. He's drunk, but is there ever a polite way to do this?

I opt to stay quiet and hope this doesn't continue.

"My next aim is to get you to dance with [History Boy]"

In a flash my panic is replaced by something much more complex. I wasn't expecting this. Have the boys concocted some amusing tally of who can dance with the new Duty Manager?

"Why?"

"It would be good to see you in public as a couple"

My mouth starts to move but nothing manages to fall out. There's not a part of that sentence that I don't need explaining, not least the notion that in any sense are History Boy and I a "couple".

"WHAT?!"

"We decided..."

Oh good lord, there's a "we" in that sentence. How many people have decided this? Has there been a WYP vote or something? Has my life mutated into a reality tv show when I wasn't looking?

Thankfully the song changes and I move back into the larger group, studiously making sure I am nowhere near either my Former Dance Partner or History Boy lest I combust or, worse, start a whole new chain of rumours. I also suspect that I can take this gossip on the chin more than History Boy might - the perverse value of being talked about is something I can't entirely disregard, egomaniac and Northern Division member that I am, but not something which I imagine History Boy shares.

Several dances later, however, I've managed to shake off the nagging feeling. What is one throw away sentence after all? Nothing more than beer and the need to gossip speaking. I dance - or at least something that passes as such - with History Boy, because why not? That we share the fact that we both have at least one brain cell pointing in the right direction does not for a relationship make.

It's only when we're in North Bar a couple of hours later and out of the corner of my eye I catch my Former Dance Partner making heart signs that I feel uneasy. I don't intend to stop talking to History Boy - I'm an adult after all - but it's becoming slightly offputting as I attempt to silently stop the interest it seems to be creating without alerting History Boy to the circus which is beginning to surround us.

History Boy goes to the toilet and I take the opportunity it presents.

"What are you doing?"

Former Dance Partner smirks, raises an eyebrow and draws another heart sign.

"You and [History Boy]"

I'm aware now that the eight or so people around the table are now listening. A couple whisper things I really don't want to hear. Oh God - is everyone in on this?

"Why?"

The girl to my left who has come to the party with one of the other attendants and whose name I don't yet know takes up the baton.

"Because you've been flirting with him for hours".

This shocks me more than any of the other stuff. Not least because I hadn't been aware that I was flirting. Talking with my hands about Oxford and why we both miss it, yes. Flirting, no. Flirting was what I was doing with the man on the table behind us who offered me his Christmas pudding flavoured beer, not what I was doing with History Boy. Or at least not what I was aware of doing. And so I can't quite shake this off as easily as the earlier comments.

I'm still aware of it at kicking out time. There's a parade of hugs and kisses - even for Former Dance Partner, despite my disquiet, and for History Boy's friend who I met less than ten minutes earlier - whilst History Boy and I indulge in a particularly stilted form of goodbye that involves him brushing me on the back. Twice. Crap.

This morning I get a text: "Haha sorry for tryin [sic] to fix you up with [History Boy]. Good match though! :P".

It's strange but just this once I can't help wondering if my reality tv voters have seen something I haven't.

Scenes from a Christmas Party

Scenes from a Christmas Party

"You can't say anything, I've two shows to do tomorrow"

"Who do you think you are - Alice?"

"Alice?"

"Erm, Dorothy...I'm still in 2005"

"Dorothy hasn't drunk for two weeks"

"I should hope not - she's, what, 12?"
****

"Where are you going now?"

"I'm going home"

"Is that a new club?"
****
"Common People! Class - I feel like I'm a teenager again!"
[To blank looks]
"Crap - you're all thinking how old I am now"
****
"Which college did you go to?"
"St Anne's"
"Poor you"
"Don't insult us just because our buildings look like a 1960's carpark".
"I went to the most important college"
"Which one?"
"Loughborough".

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Even though it all went wrong

Even though it all went wrong

[To bikini clad girl] "I used to be a popstar..."

Because I do forget. I forget how you can make me hold my breath when you sing. I forget how much effort you put into your increasingly strange entrances and how endearing this is. I forget how funny you can be, usually when you're not trying. I don't forget everything that has happened, those heady days when I could say 'I once went two weeks without seeing Al', but I do forget their immediacy. I don't even call you Al any more. If people do ask - and ask they do, though with much less frequency these days - you're invariably Griffin. Griffin, that half fictional, half concocted character within the pages of this blog. Even when you were Al I never really knew you; just a facet, some half glimpsed moments, maybe like Margaret Atwood's Orpheus I could never see you as more than my own echo.

But Sunday night made me remember. I remembered because you remembered. And all that time when we'd pleaded to hear new songs, exploded in delight each time they appeared it's a time I can no longer quite touch. Maybe it will come again. Maybe it won't. On Sunday as you sang Oblivion - the first time in a year that I've heard you sing the song I defined you by for so long - it made my heart soar a little. And not just because it was the album track that Heat labelled 'the soaring Oblivion'. But because I don't want to wipe the past; those incredible first 12 months are very special to me. I'll remember them for the rest of my life. And 'Oblivion' was one of our songs, as we stood outside Wave FM in Blackpool and you choose it to be played for us and sang that final 'Here I Go Again!' it cemented its place.

I'm not sure when the last time I heard you talk about - or even refer to - the tortuous reality tv show. It feels so long ago. Another country. But do you know how cathartic it was to hear you sing of Daniel Beddingfield 'what rhymes with dickhead'? I could barely contain my excitement. Because it still makes me mad, even now. And I'm glad it does for you too.

Of course you weren't to know when you chose to sing 'Fix You' because of the fact it allowed you to lead into a Jimmy Saville joke that it's the song that reminds me of those days in September after C made his way across the atlantic back to his real life. You didn't know this anymore than you knew that 'Fields of Gold' was the song playing in the taxi on that long ago trip from the John Radcliffe hospital when you sat and sung it in Clapham so many months ago. I didn't cry this time - Waggo as Jimmy Saville would have put paid to that alone - but my delight at realising that you were to sing 'Fix You' proved what respect I still hold you in. For lots and lots of reasons, hearing you sing something which means a lot to me is very special. I hope it always will be.

Take That's 'Patience' didn't quite have the backstory but, heck, was it beautiful. 'Silent Suicide' - I could listen to it on repeat. And 'Feeling Alive' - as one of our group said, sometimes the old ones are the best.

Which brings me to 'Bring It On'. Is it really the last time you're going to sing it? If it is then it was an incredibly special performance to end on. One of the best. And for possibly the first time ever an acoustic version which had our 'come on' in it. I imagine you don't even remember where you originated it, how it stuck after that Top of the Pops appearance. That 'come on' has been everywhere with us. Screamed over backing tracks, bands and voices. Sometimes you even got it in the right place. And it marks something more. It marks that we were there. Something I suspect that you know as much as we do.

As we raised our arms in the air, that ever so traditional of dances that at one point everyone used to do, instictively re-creating the video, but which now seems to have slipped, a remnant of that other country, I felt that song as much as I ever have. It's shaded so many things. Giddy mind spinning excitement. Nerve shredding almost-terror. Brilliant rainbow coloured triumph. And quieter, more subtle but equally vivid emotions that I'll never be able to quite shake off. And I knew exactly what this time is about. What it may always be about.

Because, fuck, they got it wrong.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

'What The Fuck?' (Or 'the one where I wait for the hate mail')

'What The Fuck?' (Or 'the one where I wait for the hate mail')

*does finger to lips, shushing like we're in a library motion* "Can you not sing, I want to hear [Griffin]"

There's a moment when I do a little double check. Gayle and I exchange looks. Are we at the opera? At a musical? Has the upstairs room of the Independent turned into the Bedford without my noticing? But no, I'm at a gig.

I do a little mental recount of my favourite moments of the parade of gigs I've been to this year. 'No Tomorrow' in Newcastle, 'Ashes' in Birmingham, 'Run' in Millennium Square, 'You're All I Have' in Dundee, 'Final Request' in Coventry in a room barely bigger than this. And what unites these moments? The swell of the crowd, those disparate voices creating that soaring choir as the song verberates around the venue, singing the words back to where they came.

I don't even need to go that far. I can think back to the Clapham Grand and Griffin's Missing Miles concert, of the almost choir that even today flashes a memory of happiness across my retina. Because this is music, this is performance, this is how it should be. If you want perfection and silence, stay at home and listen to the CD.

And rather than silence I do the only thing I can do. I sing louder.

*Title copyright Gayle.

Impending Disaster

Impending Disaster

So I have a slight issue.

Thursday night is the WYP's Christmas Party. There are lots of things to commend this. I've been looking forward to it. It's something I should go to, what with the fact that I've just got a new job there and all (a new job that means I got asked questions about unions and pensions and all) and I should pop my head in if only to show that just because I've got my foot on the management ladder [ahem] I'm still down with the attendants and all that. That's of course if the fact that I just wrote "down with the attendants" alone doesn't mean that they will all hate me and pull faces behind my back. Plus I'll get a free drink and the opportunity to dance to crap music with theatrical people and it will be perfectly safe because all the actors are gay.

The slight flaw in the plan? The fact that I have to be at work for 9.00am the next day to work three shows that have the possibility of bringing me into contact with 1000+ haribo fuelled children.

And you just know that one of them will vomit.

For Future Reference [Part Two]

For Future Reference [Part Two]

"I've some bad news about Dominic"

Lots of things flash through my mind, stuff like him being an almost alcoholic, voting Tory or having any sort of connection to the CEO of Penguin*.

"You're not going to tell me he's gay?"

Because, let's face it, it's a possibility, what with him being an ac-tor and all.

"No...I asked Director Boy about him and he said...Dominic's dumb"

Lightning flashes, the polar ice caps melt and Dorothy's house falls on the witch.

"Dumb?"

If there was one thing I wasn't expecting this is it. He's a good actor. Good actor's can't be dumb. Emotional fuckwits yes**, dumb no.

"Yes"

There's a finality to this I can't fight, even though this isn't first hand, even though it's coming from Director Boy who thinks I'm going to turn power crazed. Because why would Director Boy lie?

"I guess that's it then"

And maybe it kind of is. Because I'm also assuming that Dom isn't on Director Boy's Christmas card list, thus scuppering my plans.

"That's what I said to Director Boy - you could have put up with him liking boys a bit, but dumb - he's got no chance"

Everyone laughs and as funny as it is, it's deeper than that.

It's true.

*The first two are pretty self explanatory but the Penguin thing? Let's just say I'm (almost) not quite as fond of Penguin as I was before the start of the summer.

**See first footnote. Though the Tory was actually a bad actor, thus proving that being an emotional fuckwit is no assurance of onstage talent and might even have a little to do with having incomplete DNA.

Unblogged Stories

Unblogged Stories

"A diary is undoubtedly a comfort. I feel better for having written it down, however hard the experience...What I do dislike is not having written anything for a while and then finding I have to catch up" Alan Bennett, Untold Stories.

So, whilst I want to thank everyone who asked where I was and if I was ok [which I am], just this once we'll agree I don't have to ok?

Monday, November 13, 2006

For Future Reference

For Future Reference

Having seen The History Boys and Starter For Ten in the past seven days it should be noted that I have developed a little bit of a crush on Dominic Cooper. I'm brushing under the carpet the fact that he spends the majority of the former in a school uniform and has a storming Essex accent in the latter, lest I start getting worried about myself. Because I'm already a little bit worried that multiple people have asked if I want David Tennant/ John Barrowman dolls for Christmas*. I've got to think: where will this end if I throw in uniforms and not very appealing accents?

Two words: Restraining. Order.

*The answer - obviously - being yes, yes and again yes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Conversation I Never Expected To Have Aged 23 and 4/5ths.

A Conversation I Never Expected To Have Aged 23 and 4/5ths.

"I think you should come to beginners' ballet with me"

I do a little double take, checking in the process that I'm not hearing voices. Or rather valiantly hoping that I am hearing voices because early insanity is undoubtedly preferable to the thought of me going to beginners' ballet. And not just going to beginners' ballet but going with someone who trained at London Contemporary. The damage to my ego does not bear thinking about.

D looks back at me and I realise he's serious. If the world is to end due to a meterorite, polar ice cap melting or the universe contracting because of the mass within it then now might be the best moment for its destruction. Please.

"I can't dance!"

This comes out as an involuntary shriek, the words rising and coating the surrounding air in my abject fear. And I'm having mental flashes, the type you undoubtedly have when you're about to die.

D chooses to ignore my obvious panic.

"Yes you can, I've seen you dance"

This is said as one might talk to a particularly over-wrought three year old. Its only immediate effect, however, is to deepen my panic. Because I've seen the articles of clothing with high lycra contents in them that D currently has in his bag. And it is safe to say that my bottom does not need to go anywhere near lyrca. It doubly does not need to go anywhere near lycra when dancing.

And anyway, my natural poise and grace is not something that is ever commented on. My ability to remember events I really shouldn't remember or my ability to spot photos of Sienna Boho Princess from considerable distances or even my ability to know all the scene numbers for random plays - yes, yes and again yes. But dancing. No, no, no. Even when I did succumb and allow D to teach me 'The Hilton'* the fact remains that it's taken weeks for me to be able to do it unaided and even now I don't do it quite right. And that's a dance that is meant to be crap.

"I was dancing to Steps! That does not count!"

I yell it with a flourish. Because you can't argue that a fairly impressive knowledge of the dance back catalogue of Steps constitutes the ability to dance properly. And I was tanked up on rum that night.

"It's still movement"

I shake my head. The panic is subsiding with the realisation that D can't fight the Steps thing. D, however, just smiles. It's mildly disconcerting.

D goes to ballet. I don't. But I can't help the overwhelming feeling that whilst I may have won the battle I have lost the war.

*'The Hilton' - verb, dance involving jiggly movement of upper body as orginated by Paris Hilton.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Read it now, learn it now and you'll know it whenever"

"Read it now, learn it now and you'll know it whenever"

Not so long ago I was told to go and see The History Boys because i)there were cute boys in it and ii)I would find it "beautiful". Given that I also had a discount voucher to use at the Vue cinema of my choice (a result of D and I going to see Marie Antoinette a couple of weeks ago) I really had no excuse for not going. Let's just pause and do the maths:

Discount x (cute boys + something beautiful) = a good night out.

Or not so much night as late afternoon/early evening because - and I hang my head in mock shame - I'm craving early nights at the moment, undoubtedly a reaction to rarely being home before 11:15pm what with The Duchess of Malfi in the Quarry. But either way, the maths shows you that it would have been rude of me not to have gone to see The History Boys.

Within about five minutes of the film starting - or at least enough time for me to eat the free chocolate bar I'd been given in Borders, no doubt as a thank you for single handedly keeping them in business - it struck me that I didn't understand why I've never seen The History Boys on stage. Because this film, this play, it screams out just how much I would love it*. And not just because it is incredibly well written and acted and, the film at least, made me squeak a little when it showed both Fountains Abbey and the Rad Cam in Oxford. But because it spoke to me. It spoke to me about my own experiences and my own beliefs.

"There are two types of teachers - those who teach you to pass exams and those who teach you to enrich you as a person"

I was sixteen when I heard this, sat in an empty maths classrooms having my first British History lesson with a teacher I'd come into contact with only via those never ending end of term assemblies. I knew nothing more than that he had a long term reputation for smoking biros. I think the word is quirky. Certainly there was a lack of official looking worksheets of the type that we'd been given in European History. Heck, we'd been given binders and plastic wallets and everything there. I felt it safe to assume that Mr C probably didn't know where the plastic wallets were kept. Indeed over the course of two years it was deemed a very good haul if we got so much as a sheet of lined paper. But there were other things. Copies of Private Eye that would appear, large stretches of lessons that would be given over to some random topic that had some outside link to whatever it was that William Pitt the younger was supposed to be doing, debates on voting age and proportional representation. I was sent home with orders to watch The Madness of King George when studying the regency crisis, the first and only time that I can say that watching Rupert Everett has been an educational necessity. I gained not only large chunks of my political outlook in those lessons but an indelible feeling that those far away people with their reasons for going to war, their desires for better working conditions and their fears weren't that different to us. Even more importantly, I was taught how to use an apostrophe. I believe I was taught about splitting infinitives too, but that one didn't stick.

It was Mr C who suggested to me - one morning in the ramshackle office with its deputy head sign on the door - that I consider applying to Oxbridge. And whilst those months that followed weren't quite as intense as the system shown in The History Boys the fact that many sixth forms have 'Oxbridge Lessons' points to the fact that getting into Oxford or Cambridge is still considered a subject in its own right. I can remember the lists, the hours in the library reading novels I didn't quite love (Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Anita Brookner's Hotel Du Lac), isms I didn't quite understand (Marx , Freud) and rhyme schemes I couldn't quite pin down (yes, you, Mr T S Eliot). And if Mr C's Hector was the background for this, then it didn't mean I was exempt from having an Irwin brought in to test me.

"If you can't talk about Dickens then you must be able to talk about George Eliot"

It seemed churlish of me to point out that I didn't really like Dickens and I hadn't read any George Eliot. I went home read Silas Marner and started The Mill on the Floss. I was still reading The Mill on The Floss as I sat in a service station on my way to Oxford for my interview. And, yes, I did talk about it just as I talked about body parts in Jacobean drama, the notions of time presented in The Four Quartets, Larkin's cosmos and whether I thought that ET was an analogy for the story of Christ. Because you can't deny the pragmatic Irwin entirely. Be it examinations or Oxbridge interviews there's a lot to be said for being able to jump through the hoops you're set. And that piece of advice that I was given pre-finals, it could have come straight out of Irwin's mouth in the wonderful scene where the boys debate writing about the Holocaust: "It's better to be interesting than to be right".

If that was where The History Boys had finished I would have been happy enough, feeling as I did that it touched a part of my life. But what about the part that I found utterly, heart wrenchingly beautiful? If you've seen either play or film you can probably guess.

Posner and Hector discussing Hardy's 'Drummer Hodge'.

As the two characters read the poem they both became reflected in its words, their feelings spread out before them by the writing of a long dead man. And my heart soared and I felt tears running down my face because this - this - is what reading is all about. Not about Irwin's "gobbits", but the feeling that you are not alone, others have trod this path, as Hector so brilliantly puts it, that a hand reaches out to hold yours. And if I firmly believe that there is not much in life that a bar of galaxy chocolate and a Richard Curtis film and/or an episode of Friends cannot soothe I believe even more firmly about literature's restorative powers. Because it doesn't just numb you, it makes you understand. Need an answer? Look in the pages of Will Shakespeare, or Ted Hughes or Ginny Woolf or, if you're feeling particularly brave, Byron. Nothing there? Try Marlowe, Wordsworth, Behn, Stoppard, Browning, Webster, Shelley (either of them), Fitzgerald or Plath. Give Tennyson, Sidney, Bronte (all of them), Hare, Atwood, Middleton, Ishiguro, Austen, heck even Chaucer a go. Hector loves Auden and Housman because they speak to him - they speak of loss, of homosexuality, of youth, of love. They speak to him of himself. And in 'Drummer Hodge' both Posner and Hector reach in and see the lonliness at the heart of the poem; it joins them, binds them with Hardy and momentarily they're no longer alone.

Having shuddered with the boys through their interviews and felt that great flash of satisfaction as they gained their places, by the final moments of the film I was crying again. Crying for everything contained in the final words of the film which, rightly, belong to Hector:

"Take it, feel it and pass it on. Not for me, not for you but for someone somewhere one day"

In my world at least there is no greater call to arms.

*Basic plot outline: a group of A grade grammar school boys in Yorkshire in the early eighties prepare for the Oxbridge entrance exams under the competing influence of an eccentric general studies teacher [Hector] and a progressive History teacher [Irwin].

Friday, November 03, 2006

The fine line between comedy and farce

The fine line between comedy and farce.

Throughout this year I've entered various writing competitions, the letters (and in some cases emails) I've received back have become something of a morbid fascination for me. Because seeing how many ways there are to say no, bugger off is quite fascinating. Favourite until this morning? The Traverse Theatre's [and I quote] "You were a particularly strong applicant and we would have liked to have been able to offer you a place" - the proof of the pudding being that they resolutely didn't offer me a place.

I'd almost forgotten that back in January I'd entered Some Sort of Beautiful into The Royal Court's Young Writer's Festival, so I wasn't expecting a response from the Young Writer's Programme to be among my gmail this morning.

Consequently it was a pleasant suprise that they "would like to invite you to join a playwriting group here at the Royal Court Young Writers Programme". Let's put to one side the fact that the group is in London and would involve five hours of scary coach not-getting-any-sleep travel time every week for ten weeks (eek) and let's just focus on the fact that they're prioritising a place for me on a group that's scarily over-subscribed.

Slightly less of a pleasant surprise was the discovery that rather than attaching the feedback form for SSoB to the email I'd been sent the feedback for another play. I didn't clock this for a while until I got to the sentence "The relationship between Darren and Lydia is the strongest part of the play and has the most potential". And if I were to wonder if they'd got Harry and Kate's names wrong a sentence later I knew we weren't talking about the same thing: "The weakest point is the sudden revelation that Darren is a child killer". Heck, SSoB got twisted in the post. Seriously though, if I get all successful and famous as a writer and get the chance to write some kind of memoir (and let's face it, regardless of levels of fame I'm pencilling in my memoirs, I've got lots of good stuff to use) I'm going to want to call it "Darren is a child killer" just because I suspect that it's the first and last time I'll ever read that on a feedback form.

So, rather than basking in some ego-massage, one finger up to all you student newspaper critics fandango, I'm having to wait for my proper feedback to be sent to me. If I didn't work in a theatre I'd roll my eyes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Be Glad You Didn't Witness Us Trying To Get A Photo Together

Be Glad You Didn't Witness Us Trying To Get A Photo Together

After I'd managed to guess Nik's house number (not mentioning being unable to locate the doorbell) Nik had proudly announced:

"Guess where we're going to eat"

As anyone who knows me will be aware - I don't guess. When there's a guess involved there's a chance you might be wrong. And I don't like to be wrong.

"I don't know - where?"

Nik grins.

"The Golden Arches"

We both do the universal hand signal for the Golden Arches and laugh. I suspect there's something entirely childish in our delight in making trips to a fast food outlet that is frowned upon in certain quarters. And by certain quarters you should know I mean Cat. And, whilst we're at it, my Mum.

Cut to an hour and a half later and Nik, Ali and I are seated in the Golden Arches. It must be said we're a little hyper even before we've started ingesting the processed chemicals in our not-so-big macs because we've realised that it's the first time that all three of us have been in a room together since November 2004. And if we can't be a bit giddy for that reason then there will never be a reason to be giddy. It's probably also for this reason that Nik and I have held off teasing Ali about wearing a pair of (new) high heeled boots to a gig, settling instead for glancing at our flat footwear and smirking in the knowledge of what is to come.

Having almost caused chaos by not knowing what to order Ali has settled on a Kid's Meal and is now assembling the free toy, a bright red car. Actually assembling is probably the wrong word since the only thing that needs doing is its go-faster stripes attaching but it's providing entertainment for all of us. Stripes attached Ali starts to push the car across the table and Nik and I take turns to catch it before pushing it back.

We continue to talk and push the car for the next few minutes.

"It's just like we've never been apart!"

At this Ali gets a bit over enthusiastic with the car. In a blur it heads across the table. Neither Nik or I manage to process this quickly enough to make a grab for it as it goes flying between us, above our heads, across the two tables nearest to us before crashing - in slow motion - at the other end of the room.

There's a silence. The kind of silence you normally only get in disaster movies. Everyone in the Golden Arches is looking at us. Looking at us and undoubtedly wondering what three twenty somethings are doing with a red toy car with go faster stripes. It's a fair question.

Having checked that we've not concussed an old lady or poked a small child in the eye Nik and I turn to look at Ali.

"I don't want the car any more"

At this there's nothing I can do, I have to laugh. Nik - valiantly - retrieves the car from its landing place and returns it to the table where it sits in disgrace for the rest of the meal.

Ali's right. It's just like we've never been apart.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"I got the movie script but don't know what it meant"

"I got the movie script but don't know what it meant"

D and I are sat in the Long Bar at the Sheffield Crucible, dressed in our best 'Press Night' outfits and brandishing free drinks. After wondering if L - the show's ASM* - has run off in fear of how we might behave after the free wine she finally emerges. Once we'e dispensed with the hugs and the well dones the inevitable question comes.

"So, what did you think?"

It's ok, D and I have prepared for this. I jump straight in.

"The acting was absolutely fantastic - all three of them, there wasn't a weak link"

Great this is just how it's supposed to go. D's turn now.

"And the set was brilliant -"

"Really intricate"

"It must have taken you ages to find all of that"

Yes, we're getting through this well. But it might need something else.

"And you never told us about Nigel Harman's bottom! It's incredibly pert"

D and I both swoon at the memory of the Harman's almost gravity defying bottom.

But the swooning means we're off guard.

"You didn't like the play did you?"

So much for our brilliant strategy, less than two minutes in and we've been busted. D and I exchange looks. We could lie or we could tell the truth. And L's our friend.

"Couldn't stand it"

Well done Corinne, that should do it.

"I hate Pinter"

On the much bigger level I'm rather pleased that D has uttered this sentence without my having unduly prejudiced him. On the smaller level though, it's Press Night for Pinter's The Caretaker, part of an unashamed Pinter fest** that the lovely Sam West**** is having between now and Christmas. But we can let that slide. We're not in ear shot of the Press. Or the lovely Sam West.

"I'm almost tempted to come the night that Pinter is going to be here and then throw things at his head for all the trauma that he's caused me"

There's a pause and I realise that I've said this outloud. I think this might be the last time I get invited to a Press Night. There's only one thing for it.

"Did we mention Nigel Harman's bottom?"

* Assistant Stage Manager. Hey, that's a proper footnote.

**The reason for the fest? That Pinter has decided not to write any more plays. And you know I'm celebrating this as much as the next person about this (providing that the next person had their head explode during a production of Old Times***) but a festival? Perverse is what I call it.

***It's a supreme irony that of all the Pinter plays I've seen (either on stage or on film) - and there have been a lot - I have singularly failed to see either The Dumb Waiter which I concede has a fantastic twist or Betrayal which I rather love (because it makes sense!). A cocktail to the first DA reader who spots a production of either of these that I can get to.

****He is lovely. I spoke to him on the phone once and generally saved his ass a (little) bit, something I was more than willing to do because of the fact he called me babe. If you hadn't realised, I'm easily pleased when it comes to actors.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: The Sanctuary, Birmingham

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: The Sanctuary, Birmingham

Smell of Venue: Bands and bottles of pepsi that cost two pounds fifty. Personally, I'd take the cheap beer smell any day. Clearly a cuter venue comes at a price.

Weirdness of Support Act: The concept was still there but in an attempt to not judge a book by its cover I actually listened this time and, wow, there may have been a couple of good songs in there. Not good enough for me to have remembered their name though.

Lighting: Still loving the album cover mimic look and in a slightly bigger venue it looked even better.

Audience Demographic: Not as many girls this time. Still the majority but what was that? Men. Why are they here?

Vocal Talents of Audience: Not quite as impressive as the Leeds Met cohort - clearly the hardcore lyric learning fans were more heavily concentrated in the North. Or all the men are not quite as willing to sing along with little regard for tune or key. Still an impressive 'Last Request' though.

Bouncing Talents of the Audience: And this is where Birmingham managed to trump Leeds. Because there were lots of pockets of bouncing, and not just when PYFB was three songs from the end of his set. I particularly liked the pointing action of a group of girls in the middle and it all made for a rather fab rendition of 'New Shoes'.

Most Annoying Audience Member: The four man mountains in slightly in front of Nik and I. I'm already spouting my gig theory that everyone should be measured on their way in and arranged accordingly so that short people get to see at least an arm, a drum stick or the top of the singer's head every so often. But I will forgive you being very very tall and standing in front of me if you actually look like you're enjoying yourself. But to stand there and not even sing 'Last Request'? Get thee to a nunnery. Or at least away from a PYFB gig.

PYFB Banter: I'm not sure what had happened in the space of three days but for some reason I could understand a good 90% of what came out of PYFB's mouth. And he was rather on top form. The highlights? "This is a new song so it doesn't have a title. We'll call it Johnny Cash. [beat] Johnny Cash doesn't have anything to do with it". "I'm on water as I've had to stop drinking on stage because I get drunk and then do stuff that I can't remember" [Nik and I both interject "Like take your clothes off"].

PYFB Song Titles: Maybe I was aided by kind of knowing the order but it all made a lot more sense this time.

PYFB's Vocal Talents: Maybe the water's paying off. Not even a little crack on 'Million Faces' though Nik and I pre-empt it every time.

Best Song: 'Rainbows' because it conveys something live that I don't think I'll ever get on a recording, 'New Shoes' because of all the bounce, 'Autumn' because it was utterly heart rending and I thought both PYFB and I might cry and 'Last Request' because you can't fight it.

Other Comments: Nik's face at the bar prices was only bettered by her face when she realised that the mystery encore song was 'Crazy'. I wish I could have taken a photo. We also managed to work out that PYFB's t-shirt prices have gone up since we bought one at the start of the summer. Ooo, get him.

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: Leeds Met

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: Leeds Met

Smell of Venue: Fresher's Flu and cheap beer. Don't you just love student unions?

Weirdness of support act: Quite high. Because being a concept band, with fuzzy tvs and brown coats when you clear your stage scares me.

Lighting: Very, very exciting. Because I'm a girl who likes a theme and when you open with lighting that mimics your album cover I'm going to love it.

Audience Demographic: Girls, girls and more girls. Oh and students. I obviously find this strange given that PYFB is young and attractive with a penchant for taking his clothes off on stage and we are in a student union.

Vocal Talents of Audience: Not quite up to my X Factor standards but nevertheless Leeds Met was in fine voice. So good were they that they could have made the PYFB Choir, if ever he chose to have one.

Bouncing Talents of Audience: Now, you PYFB fans of Leeds you excelled yourself vocally but bouncily? As someone once said - not so much. But you did start to pull it back after 'Rainbows' and 'Loving You' was rather fab. But don't be afraid of the bounce.

Most Annoying Audience Member: Normally the student journalist who thought it ok to write copious notes would have won this (the phrase writing about music is like dancing about architecture springs to mind) but she had her prize stolen by the light brown haired second year in a spotty top who thought it suitable to mock one of my boys. When he was feeling it. This is not amusing, this is brilliant. Next time love, save the money and STAY AT HOME.

PYFB Banter: Er, there might have been some but I'd have needed a translator to say what it was...

PYFB Song Titles: I got his intro to 'Jenny' and, erm, that was it. But it made the intro game much more fun.

PYFB's Vocal Talents: Rather wonderful. I could listen to him all day. Almost.

Best Song: 'Loving You' because I love it, 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' - because we finally got the bounce, the opening of 'These Streets' because we all got the intro wrong and, most of all, 'Last Request' if only for PYFB's face when everyone sang it back at him.

Other Comments: The lack of apostrophes in an 'academic' institution was made up for the fact that we stumbled on PYFB's tour bus as we were on our way back to the car. And it wasn't just a mouldy old van or even a blacked out people carrier but a proper, full size tour bus, undoubtedly with beds and a kitchen and a special groupie room (or maybe not). We couldn't see PYFB in it when the door opened (yes, we did try and see) but it did mean we could wave to him as the tour bus passed us. And if the singles and the album weren't enough to prove it then the tour bus rather shouted it - PYFB might just have made it.

NB: PYFB is, of course, Paolo Nutini

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bridget Jones Has Nothing On Me

Bridget Jones Has Nothing On Me

Val, D and I are comfortably seated in bed at the Evil Eye and for the first time since Evil Eye started serving food we've all managed to get chips. And lest you think that this is not something unsual let me tell you that it is nothing short of a miracle. Despite the fact that the only thing that any normal person wants to eat after injesting their body weight in white russians is a bowl of chips the Evil Eye seems to remain tellingly oblivious, wanting to ply us with spicy noodles having run out of chips somewhere around 5.00pm. And I'm sure you like noodles. Hey, I like noodles. But I like chips more. Today though they may have run out of beef but chips - oh no. Three bowls thank you very much.

Aided by the chips, the alcohol and my snorting coke we've covered why I think D and Val have weird priorities in the cats vs children debate and have moved on to what is distinctly women's magazine territory.

"If you're going to say things like that then I won't marry you"

Val laughs and lest it looks like I'm going insane I need to explain this.

"It was his idea - D suggested it. I think we were even sober at the time"

"Well, we do need an ND wedding"

Obviously now is not the time to question the fact that our mutual desire for big dresses and even bigger hats is manifesting itself in the marriage of me to a gay man.

"I'd be a great husband - I'd encourage you to chase after cute boys"

"You did set out the rule that there would be no children -"

"Absolutely no children - and I'd know if you got pregnant that it wouldn't be mine"

"But you do want to marry me"

"I didn't quite say that"

"Yes you did!"

"I said we should get married"

"Exactly!"

"'We should get married' is the same as when Trisha says 'you should get counselling', you know exactly where it's going to end up!"

Not, I think it's safe to say, in a bridal gown at Newstead Abbey.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And yet I don't seem to have qualms about sharing this with the internet

And yet I don't seem to have qualms about sharing this with the internet

I've watched half of How Many Miles to Basra?, served coffee, been on a teacup run for one of the conference groups and perspired a significant amount of my body weight in the ice cream room. The remaining attendants have gone on an expedition to the Green Room in search of pre-packaged food with lots of e-numbers and I've settled down with The Time Traveller's Wife*. Which, in case I don't get round to noting at some other point, I adore. Even if I suspect that it will make me cry.

The next thing I hear is my name being called. I look up and poking their heads over the banister are D and J.

I do a quick assessment of the situation. I left D on his way to meet J at 5:30. That's four hours ago. And I know that cocktail happy hour at the Slug ends at 8.00. This could be a good or a bad thing.

"We've just worked out how many cocktails D's had"

D smiles and holds up both hands.

"Ten?"

D nods, smirking like he's 8 years old and has just put a slug down my back. At this I don't know whether to be gripped by amusement or terror. To avoid having to come down on either side of the fence I move so we can go sit in the bar. Because drunken people belong there. They do not belong on plush red sofas in the midst of a coffee shop.

D's giggly and talking with his hands. Lots. But I need to get something sorted first.

"Are you going to lie on the floor?"

D looks at me like I've asked if he's going to go drown puppies.

"Noooo".

"Just the last time I saw you this drunk - I was talking to you and then the next minute you were unconcious on the sofa" I do not add "and you told C that I'd loved him from the moment I first saw him".

J laughs and D giggles at the flash of recognition. Someone in the bar has decided to switch the music on.

"Is this the Beatles?"

"No - it's The Kinks"

"Ah, they're all dead"

"Who are?"

"The Beatles" D asserts with a face saying that he's stating the blindingly obvious.

"No they're not"

"And this isn't the Beatles"

"How many of them are dead?"

"Of The Beatles? Two"

"And this is?"

J and I look at each other.

"The Kinks"

"But they're a new band"

There's a brief second before the penny drops. One of our favourite (blood) sports whilst in the Slug is to get D to name the band playing. At its best this involves him flinging out name after name of bands who don't quite exist. And I know it's mocking the afflicted but I can't help it.

"No, that's The Zooks, friends of The Kutons, this is The Zinks".

We all laugh.

"It's just too easy to make fun of you when you're drunk"

We carry on in this manner for a few minutes, D elaborating on why 'Vitamin C' would be a good name for a band, something which J and I don't really buy into, until the talk turns to fame.

"You know the wrap party where - if I hadn't been drunk - I could have slept with [Famous Actor's Son]"

It's mean but I can't help it. "As opposed to all those other wrap parties where you couldn't?"

"Well yes, that's my claim to fame"

J looks at him. "Your claim to fame is that you could have slept with [FAS]?"

"Yes"

J and I exchange looks. "Good claim to fame"

"As opposed to Corinne's claim to fame being that she slept with one of his friends and [FAS] asked her if she wanted a threesome"**

In one sentence it's as if the world's stopped. There's no longer any music. It's totally silent. And there is nothing but D's voice which seems to be breaking all volume records.

"Thank you"

"Ah, we already knew"

"Yes but I think it might come as a surprise to the bar staff, not to mention everyone in the Duty Manager's office oh, and the 720 people in the theatre to see Mockingbird"

D starts to giggle and I wonder what Outer Mongolia's like at this time of year.

* Bought in a 3-for-2 extravaganza after reading how much Billygean loved it.

** This is obviously hugely out of context but is I guess how the story would be sold to the News of the World.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Does my bum look big in this?

Does my bum look big in this?
Not wanting to waste a glorious Sunday after our indie rock and roll evening Cat, Val and I went to Belton Hall. It's where they filmed some of the new BBC Jane Eyre*, y'know. It's also a National Trust property which meant I got to flash my NT card properly rather than having it in my purse and pulling it out to surprise people in the middle of Leeds Slug and Lettuce. Because - and I'm sure you'll be equally as bemused as I am - it seems that people don't expect me to be a member of National Trust. It may have something to do with the fact I own pink wellies.

To get back on track and away from my wellies, the afternoon was beautiful, the house itself was gorgeous, all light and airy with what seemed like hundreds of windows and it had a rather impressive fountain in the grounds. And I'm sure it was all very educational. Yes, I know you're going blah, blah, blah get to the chase. Well, the thing about Belton? There was a dressing up room.

Yes, let me say that again in case you didn't get the full impact the first time. Dressing up. With big dresses. Giving you even bigger bottoms.

Does my bum look big in this?


I suspect I could have done with a slightly smaller size - because I do have a waist - but in case you think that I managed to achieve that look without any help I have to inform you - there was padding.

The One With The Padding

J-Lo eat your heart out.

*Just how much am I loving Mr Rochester? Answer, a lot.

"I need something else, to get me through this semi charmed kind of life"

"I need something else, to get me through this semi charmed kind of life"
You might have realised that along with dead writers, Sienna Boho Princess and Boys with Guitars my list of favourite things would also include parties. Not that I need an excuse to dress up and drink alcohol but it's always nice to have one, if only to justify my current alcohol intake. And it's probably only fair to say that Becky's birthday parties are the stuff of legend. In 2004 it revolved around a crazy hat competition - which, because I'm scarily competitive and found it acceptable to devote seven hours to creating my crazy hat, I won. I believe there was also dancing and Jumpin' Jaks but I don't know for sure because I spent the evening becoming intimately aquainted with Becky's bathroom and my stomach lining. In 2005 there was another competition, this time with dares - which, because I am scarily competitive and found it acceptable to take a stolen didgeredoo to the Parliament Street Fountain, I helped Team Griffin to win. This year the competitive element had been removed - let's face it my ego's big enough without adding an inevitable third victory - but there was still a theme: Glamourous Indie Rock and Roll. Even putting aside my prediliction for stalking all those BwG's, the fact that the last few months have included regular three hour cocktail lunches, watching almost-famous people take illegal substances* and more pairs of footless tights than you can shake a stick at points to the fact that I am under the delusion that my life is (almost) one giant song by The Killers. Needless to say I was enjoying Becky's chosen theme rather too much. So much so that I almost bought a tambourine.

On An Actual Deck. Of An Actual Boat.

Thankfully I held in the urge, because a tambourine was always going to be slightly out of place in such a beautiful setting. Because even if you can get past the fairy lights and the fact that we were seated in our own VIP area the fact remains we were on an actual deck of an actual boat. And along with being the only acceptable place you can wear deck shoes it's just a little bit glamourous isn't it?

The Return of the Girl Band

I did, however, firmly believe that I was in a girl band. And that was not just the alcohol talking, sitting here now, having not had alcohol in my veins since Friday night I still believe I'm in a girl band. I'm not sure that I still believe that posing with large wine glasses is totally flattering, though.

Glasses


But, in the list of rock and roll excesses, I'm sure it's one I can live with. Whether I can live with Gayle and my potentially X-Factor winning performance of Semi Charmed Life (aided by Griffin) being committed to film forever is something entirely different.

Away from the embarrassing photos, video footage and jugs of woo woo in the middle of the afternoon it was the kind of evening with its random flights of imagination, old jokes, new jokes, party pieces and Busted singalongs that was almost a little bit magic. And what strikes me as I flick through the photos I am to steal for this blog** is not only how many adventures we've had together but how many I hope we have in the future.

"The Northern Division - it's not geographical, it's a state of mind!"
*Oh yes I drop this in now. You'll just have to wait for the memoirs I'm afraid. Or buy me a cocktail or two.
**Rightful owner, Val.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

There are times when my life is too surreal even for me

There are times when my life is too surreal even for me

"How does the Star Wars theme go?"

After about two seconds G provides the required 'do doos'

"How about Superman?"

"That's a different do -do"

In unison M and I launch into the Superman theme, complete with mock flying motion.

"What about Indiana Jones?"

Blank looks all round. G starts do-dooing.

"That's Superman!"

"This is going to drive us mad"

Two minutes later.

"There's definitely a doo-doo"

Later still.

"One of us must know it"

And into infinity.

"Do- do -dooh - hang on, that's still Superman"

J has the bad fortune to walk past us and, in desperation, the three of us pounce.

"What's the theme to Indiana Jones?"

"I'll have a think"

"No one corrupt his mind with the Superman theme!"

J leaves us. There are more do doos that aren't right.

We're just about to give up and accept the fact that the day is ruined by our inability to remember when J pops his head round the wall.

In a moment of sheer brilliance we hear the "doos".

Such is the unadulterated joy should I have been informed that I'd been granted a trolley dash in Harvey Nichols it would have failed to make an impact. We celebrate. Pause.

"How does the theme to Star Wars go?"

There are blank looks all around. Then, in a moment that probably sums up my life and its somewhat tenuous grasp on normality at the moment, two life size Storm Troopers choose this moment to walk past us.

"Maybe we should ask them".

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hammond

Hammond

What seems like a lifetime ago I wrote a letter to Heat rebuking them for stealing an idea that didn't belong to them. By that point 'The List of Shame'* had been in operation for many months, and all after it was started by some half made comment and a picture of Richard Hammond.

Needless to say I was rather stunned by the events of Wednesday night. Because whilst I don't know Hammond he stands as one of those people who I feel I kind of do, just because of his tv personna and how wonderful and enthusiastic and funny and strangely cute he is. And let's be clear - I do not drive. I know less than nothing about cars. But Hammond on Top Gear? Absolute genius.

So I'm firmly sending out good thoughts to Hammond (brilliantly white teeth and all) and his family in what must be an incredibly difficult time. I hope he's back blowing up caravans in the near future.

*List of Shame: List, of almost national importance, detailing unusual/ unexpected crushes. Originated by Cat and Myself, Winter 2004/2005.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Library Of One's Own

A Library Of One's Own

Never one to ignore a bandwagon when I see one, I jumped aboard LibraryThing the moment I heard about it from Cat. Because if there is one thing I am anal about it is my books. I may live in organised chaos but one thing this does not apply to is my reading material.

My bookshelves are broken down into time periods, genres, authors and, in some cases, publishers. In this manner I know where to find every work of literature and every piece of criticism I own (writing guides? Purple basket under bottom shelf in bedroom. Pre-20th century novels? Bottom shelf on bookcase on landing. Travel guides? Second shelf on desk) I get some strange geeky glow just from looking at the beautiful spines of my silver twentieth century penguin classics or my Arden Shakespeares all arranged together. I find this perfectly normal and not at all weird. It's probably one of the things that will be cited when I'm diagnosed with OCD.

Given all of this, what could possibly be more fun than an online catalogue of all your books? I tell you I can think of very few things, and certainly nothing that you can do without the aid of a woo woo or two. Because a book catalogue is not just a list. Oh no. It's about peering into your soul. Because these books, they're what make you who you are. They're the ideas that have kept you awake, the emotions you've felt, the places you've been and the ones you will only ever go to through someone else's words. So to look into someone else's library is both humbling and rather special. And because we're all friends here, you can see mine.

Obviously I'm in this for the long haul - I'm not going to estimate how many books I've to add yet just because of the financial implications of how much money I spent in the second hand book department at Blackwells during my degree - but the cornerstones of my library are there. At the moment I'm restricting myself to books I currently own, thus it's not a guide to everything I've read, or all the authors I've enjoyed (or hated), just to the ones which are on my shelves or beside my bed (or on my tv in the case of one particularly unlucky new purchase). You probably won't be surprised at all the Woolf or Shakespeare but I probably should warn you about all the Sylvia Plath. I honestly didn't realise I'd accumulated so many. So don't be too disturbed about my hidden obsession.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"And one day soon, we will start hunting cabbages": The Overwhelming

"And one day soon, we will start hunting cabbages": The Overwhelming

It's fair to say that over the last five or six years I've seen quite a bit of theatre. During that time there has been a percentage of plays and productions which have either delighted me with their sheer joy or devastated me with their world view. And if there is one theatre company that has consistantly reminded me of both the power of theatre and its importance as a medium of debate then Max Stafford-Clark's wonderful Out of Joint has to be it. Talking to Terrorists stands as possibly my favourite production of 2005 and so it has to be said that I was a little bit excited about OoJ's production of The Overwhelming coming to the WYP. Little in the way that I get a little bit excited about John Barrowman being cute and excited on 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' or David Tennant turning up at the V Festival.

Even without anything else The Overwhelming deserves a thumbs up for giving me a new theatrical crush in the form of Andrew Garfield who not only managed to be incredibly cute with his floppy hair and shirt-off antics but also proved to be a pretty phenomenal actor - especially towards the play's conclusion. Sadly I didn't know this last bit when he was stood in the dinner queue and I was preoccupied working out whether he was wearing fake converses or real ones.

But actor cuteness alone would not be enough for a OoJ production. And since The Overwhelming is a play concerned with the genocide in Rwanda in the mid nineties it would be a sorry state of affairs if that was the only thing I'd come away from the production with. As ever with OoJ the production wasn't always easy viewing with its multiple perspectives and the way it held a rather uncomfortable mirror up to its audience. What would you do in this situation? Would you risk your life - or that of your family - to save people you don't know? Does a white Western life mean more than a black African one? Could this - will this - happen again?

And to the conclusion I hinted at. The sense of impending disaster which bled through the production led to an ending I found so horrific I could hardly watch. Because I was there in the moment, that terrifying heart of darkness when a father was faced with the choice of saving his family or his friend. And with the sight of his 17 year old son, curled up like a baby, with a rifle pointing at his head, the father made the decision not only to give up his friend but to beg the men to take him to his certain death. To know that this was the only decision.

If that brought me to tears then I wasn't expecting the production's parting shot. To a message of hope, of the power of today, the lights dimmed and two men with machetes walked deliberately, carefully, to a table at the back of the set which was covered with cabbages. With a swift tug of the table cloth the cabbages came flying across the stage, more came towards us as the machetes deftly sliced them until lying on the table there was nothing but a small number of solitary skulls. Then, with a clattering, sickening, thud the corregated iron at the back of the set came down to reveal shelf after shelf holding skull after skull. And then everything went black.

For what it was saying, for the sheer theatricality of how it said it, I had one of the most extreme reactions I've ever had in a theatre - I thought I might be sick. I stumbled out into the light, shakey, unsure, but knowing I'd just seen something that will haunt me. Which is possibly what is at the very heart of the play.

"Minzinga: This will mean nothing to you soon. All of us, we will mean nothing. This is so unimportant to you. You will go home and forget. How fortunate you are."

I might have to start handing out those 'high maintenance' badges

I might have to start handing out those 'high maintenance' badges

"You were talking to him: any thoughts?"

"Straight"

"Damnit, that's what I thought too"

"He's going to let me see the video of him as a munchkin -"

[looking directly at me] "He's what?"

"When he was at Uni, he was a munchkin -"

"I don't believe this - you're doing it again!"

"Doing what?"

[unleashing inner diva] "You're stealing my men! You did it with C -"

"I didn't steal C -"

"And now you're doing it with G -"

"I'm not, I'm being friendly -"

"He's letting you see him as a munchkin! If you sleep with him I'm going to make you buy another umbrella*!
[beat]
This would be a good blog y'know - 'where I steal my gay friend's men'"

"I don't steal them, it's not my fault that they're straight!"

"UMBRELLA!"
*To buy an umbrella: metaphor for guilt, originating from Leeds Wagamama