Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Sound of Summer

The Sound of Summer

Maybe because the sun is shining and yesterday - shock horror - I went outside without wearing a jumper my thoughts have turned to summer. Because the next thing it'll be the World Cup and then Wimbledon and before you know it we'll have hit that one week a year where the sun comes out and I get heat stroke. Which makes me think a few things (other than the need to invest in Factor 30):

1. I need some new summer clothes. Nothing fancy - because I've already spent my fancy budget on the summer dress I wore to Movin' Out - but things like new t-shirts and vests because these are things which you can't really recycle year to year, however white the soap powder adverts say them can get them.

2. I need some new flip flops. I have some nice black ones that will still work as I only wore them briefly last year but I need some general every day ones, if only to give my ballet pumps a break.

3. I need a job over the summer. Potentially bigger than either of the two above, if only for the fact that I don't particularly want to spend the majority of my summer in a hut in the middle of a building site this year. As much as I enjoyed the commuting into Leeds with the hoards and police with guns on the platform.

Now you might note that I already have jobs. But the crucial point here is that the WYP goes dark for all of August, and we're only on conferences in July. Which means that - excluding the training courses we're being made to do - the WYP is not going to keep me in non-stalking funds. And whilst I could probably get lots of holiday cover in Wetherby if there is another option out there I will be taking it. Because writing about foundations sends you slowly and progressively insane. So in a bid to rectify the situation I've spent the morning pulling off as many application forms as possible for temporary work in Edinburgh during the festival. The aim with this is not so much to make money [even for the flip flop fund] as to maybe-just-about-cover-costs and hopefully more importantly get some experience. Not to mention getting the chance to see lots and lots of theatre.

4. I need to book in the time to mourn Tim Henman. Sorry, Murray, but we don't have the history yet.

5. I need to study all the Paris guidebooks in my possession as the trip that was planned before my birthday - in the bleak days of mid January - is now less than a month away. And I still don't know enough to confidently proclaim the sentence "according to my guidebook..."

6. On a not unrelated note I also need to brush up on my French. Or we'll be stuck with Nik asking about swimming pools with libraries.

I'm sure winter wasn't this involved. And definitely didn't involve getting my blue legs out.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The DA Library

The DA Library

After talking to Billygean about the odd contents of the book list doing the internet rounds (think of it like a cold that forces you to realise how much is missing from your reading experience) I thought I'd better put it up on DA. So, at the least, you can see how many of the authors you've heard of. And if anyone has read the Jordan guy please shout up.

Whilst I am not going to give up my pretence that I am - relatively - well read on the basis of a list that has two entries for Dan Brown, one for Yoko Ono and one for what appears to be a sex manual it remains that of the nearly five hundred books listed I have read just under100 of them. So what was I doing when I should have been reading Tolkein? Probably reading Gatsby for the hundredth time.

But it remains that many of the books I would consider to be significant in my life are on the list. There's obviously not enough Shakespeare, or Woolf, or early 19th century poets, or 20th century dramatists, or mid to late 19th century novelists or Chaucer [c'mon if I had to read all that Chaucer then at least I should be able to proclaim it on the internet]. And there wasn't even Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. But as a quick, potted history of some of my reading (especially my childhood reading, the only things it's missing there are all of Blyton's school stories, the Famous Five and the Poirot novels*) it's not bad.

But it did get me thinking, as did the BBC's Big Read which the first 100 of the list comprise of, as to what I'd put on my must read list. Or my definitive favourites. Or the books that changed my life. But I do know, at this point in time, my generic Top Five of novels would look something like this:

1. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald.
2. The Waves, Virginia Woolf.
3. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro.
4. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf.
5. A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh.

After number one that list got difficult. And Woolf would have to hog two spots. For poetry it would go something like:

1. The Waste Land, T S Eliot.
2. Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes.
3. Don Juan, Lord Byron.
4. The 1805 Prelude, William Wordsworth.
5. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney.

Bit more of a mixed bag there. And, really, 1 and 2 are probably quite close together as I love them for hugely different reasons. Finally, for 20th century drama (oh yes, I'm removing the Shakespeare dilema because Desert Island Shakespeare with Paddy was hard enough) it might go something like:

1. Via Dolorosa, David Hare.
2. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard.
3. Copenhagen, Michael Frayn.
4. Closer, Patrick Marber.
5. Cloud Nine, Caryl Churchill.

And that's a struggle too as I really wanted Martin Sherman's Bent in there but an amazing production that I saw of 5 just edged it.

So what is this blog all about - other than my wallowing in literature? I guess to show that all lists are subjective. And that I really can't get past Gatsby.

*By the time I hit ten I'd read every Agatha Christie I could get my hands on. Thankfully my parents didn't call in the pyschologists.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Predict A Riot

I Predict A Riot

Last time I was the NIA in Birmingham it involved tennis, Cliff Richard and being told that I should have applied to go on X-Factor. This time it had much more to do with bouncing, waistcoats and Leeds accents. In the same turn of events that saw me seeing the-other-Corinne in a venue that wasn't in Leeds I ended up seeing the Kaiser Chiefs in Birmingham because I am clearly incapable of seeing them when they perform under thirty minutes away from my house*.

So, after Nik and I got weirded out at being back at the NIA and not being able to find the Griffin boat this time, it was into the NIA along with lots of people wearing skinny jeans and stripey tops. Not that I could say much as I was wearing a waistcoat. And it is probably fair to say that I only bought the waistcoat because of Kate Moss; I cannot talk about rock chick/beatnik bandwagons given all my glass windows.

What I did want to buy - without fear of any bandwagons - was a t-shirt. Several months ago when Nik and I were on the Oxford Tube we spotted a guy on the pavement outside wearing a Kaiser Chief t-shirt that read 'Everything's brilliant in Leeds'. And I wanted one. Not because everything actually is brilliant in Leeds [what with the one way systems, a small but significant proportion of its residents, the weather, taxi prices, the less that stellar performance of the football team etc etc etc I'm not even going to try and pretend] but because I'm not above wearing something that I know to be untrue in the name of self promotion. Clearly if anyone outside of this blog were to ask me Leeds obviously is brilliant. Fact. At the time I first saw the t-shirt the online store had sold out of t-shirts in my size and then I'd, well, forgotten. But here was a huge merchandise section at the gig with lots of t-shirts and whilst they didn't have the 'Everything's Brilliant in Leeds' t-shirt they did have others. So, after several minutes of protracted discussion, Nik and I decided which t-shirts we were going to get (and, yes, they did have 'Leeds' on them). Only for the man behind the stall to say they'd sold out of the skinny t-shirts of our choice. Which I call shoddy, did they not realise that skinny was going to be the most popular? More importantly, did they not realise that they were depriving me of having a t-shirt that I had been waiting for over a year to get? Which means that CBR and her mugs are firmly winning the music-acts-from-Leeds-promotional-tat stakes.

Only slightly disgruntled it was time to find our seats inside the NIA, to the sound of the first support act. The flaw in this plan was the lack of any lighting and - less explicable - the lack of numbers on the seats. How, please tell me, are you meant to know which seat belongs to you and which to a bald man in bad clothing when there at are no numbers? So I ended up sitting in the wrong seat for the next hour until said Bald Man emerged and I discovered the error of my ways whilst complaining profusely about the NIA.

Maybe it was all part of a mystery game that was compounded by neither of the support acts actually managing to introduce themselves. It might be a crazy idea, but I might have liked to know who I was listening to, if only so I could avoid them in the future and/or make huge claims about seeing them in the future. Naturally Ricky managed to announce 'we're the Kaiser Chiefs' at least fifteen times during their set which probably goes to show why it was their gig. How do they expect to get fans if they don't bloody well know who you are?

All of this is probably painting a picture of my being mildly disgruntled which is not really accurate (you know the things that go wrong are the best blog material) as, what with the Mexican waves and people spotting, I was rather enjoying myself. Not sitting in the right seat with a new t-shirt at my feet admittedly, but still enjoying myself.

But I was glad that the lights dimming down signalled the last (at this point) of the mexican waving because - even I confess - there is only so many times that standing up and raising your arms with a few thousand strangers is entertaining. And then the gorgeous red velvet curtains across the stage pulled back to reveal the Kaiser Chiefs. And Ricky - he was wearing a waistcoat too. Clearly we are on the same wavelength and destined to be lifelong friends. Or, at the least, he's a fan of Kate Moss too.

With the opening bars of 'Every day I love you less and less' and some of the best lighting I have seen in a long time*** the gig began. And, within minutes, they had everyone in the room eating out of their hands. When we were instructed in some protracted hands up, hands down movement it struck me that they could request anything at this point and the majority of the people present would probably do it. Now that is what I call POWER. Makes you want to be a rock star, doesn't it?

As we danced, whooped and sang with very little regard for tune or key the gig passed in a whirl. In an attempt to at least provide a little bit of critical overview, I adored 'You Can Have It All' (if only for the fact it prompted the revelation of the Kaiser Chiefs Dating Plan****) and 'I Predict A Riot', which I swear that everyone in the NIA was bouncing to, was possibly the highlight of highlights. Because we could have started a riot. Albeit one that involved waving arms in the air and bouncing.

Predictably the final song of the encore proved to be 'Oh My God' and lasted at least fifteen minutes what with all the singalongs and co-ordinated dance moves we had to do and still I didn't want it to end. Despite the fact they'd been round the album (with a couple of new songs thrown in for good measure) it felt like they'd only just come on stage and we were just getting going.

As if I needed further proof of the general fabbness of the gig, when I left the NIA I was covered in sweat and had managed to bruise myself with my bracelet. A good night all round, then.

*This is not to go into the fact I missed Ricky bonding with members of my family a month or so ago. Because, did you know, we're - almost - related**. Not that I'm bitter I wasn't at the party concerned.

**Well, the related bit's not strictly speaking true. We're not inbred in Leeds. But this is my blog. I can lie if I want to. And I don't think it's too much of stretching the truth to claim we're almost cousins. At the least he calls my aunt "aunt" too. See. Not clutching at straws at all.

***I've done a lot of theatre. Good lighting always excites me.

****That, given the lack of couples at the gig, everyone should just pair off.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In Penny Lane...

In Penny Lane...

You know how I love a good icon. And you also know how I like boys with guitars. So...


Lennon's Roots

See the Blue Plaque in the corner of the picture? Well, they only put those up either after you've been dead twenty years or on the centenary of your birth (whichever comes first). So add all the clues together and you should be able to work out who grew up in that particular home. And indeed which band had their roots in the porch behind Cat and I.

And yes, I was surprised too that one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 20th century grew up in such surroundings. Some how you never have that picture of John Lennon in your head, do you?

When I went to New York I walked past the infamous Dakota building where Lennon was shot and felt only the slightest shiver. On Sunday, in Lennon's bedroom, it felt truly odd. To walk those steps he had done so many times. To stand and sing a line in the porch where he and Paul used to practise when banished from the sitting room by his Aunt Mimi. To look out to where his boyhood tree house was and know that Strawberry Fields used to lie beyond. To almost hear the sounds of the girls who used to camp outside the house. To see everything he once was and a glimpse at what he would become. And - by value of its very ordinary nature, in a house that probaby isn't too far removed from the one I live in now - it was rather haunting. A refrain for a man who died before I was born and yet, emphatically, powerfully, overwhelmingly still lives in the lines of his songs and the sound of his voice.

After Lennon's suburbia the National Trust bus took us to McCartney's more humble beginnings. No Blue Plaque here of course, and the house didn't tingle quite as much with the man who had lived there but there were some brilliant, astoundingly beautiful pictures on the walls, taken by Paul's brother. And the pictures - of McCartney in a deckchair, of him and Lennon writing a song in the corner of the living room, of a young boy - not yet famous - climbing a drain pipe, were an immediate connection to a past that is once mythical and well known and yet simultaneously hidden and shadowy. Those black and white photos spoke eloquently of dreams and belief and a reality at once golden and slightly fractured. But, most of all, they proclaimed the power of those damn chords and everything they evoke and inspire in people.

Music. It's got a lot to answer for.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Made Glorious Summer By This Son of York

Made Glorious Summer By This Son of York

I have a proper blog to write about the experience of working a Trilogy day at the WYP because, whether you find it interesting or not, I think it's something I want in my blog. After all it's writing about seven hours of Will Shakespeare. In one day. Complete with My Richard*. What more can you want?

But, for now, I'm just going to take the step of plugging the tour on DA. If you're a regular on here you might have realised that I don't plug WYP shows, even when they're going on tour away from the bus lanes and one way systems of Leeds. But I'm making an exception for - as the poster bills it - "Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses". I'm not saying that the shows (there are three of them: Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III) are better than anything else I've seen in the last seven months, or that they don't have their flaws (principally some of Will's patchy script for at least the first play) but they are energetic and charismatic pieces of theatre. They also speak loudly and articulately about the North and its history. There's certainly nothing stuffy about them, and the accents alone should have you in raptures.

So, if the tour's coming anywhere near you, I'd recommend that you hot foot it down. Obviously Richard III's the part that everyone comes to see but if you're willing to take a curve ball (and can't do them both, though I'd suggest that everyone should) go for Edward IV - the ending alone is worth the price of the ticket. Just make sure you give an extra whoop for Rutland/ Richard of York for me.

And, just to prove that I'm putting my money where my mouth is, I'm going to see it again when it comes to Scarborough. Ooo, it's a hard life.

*Crush Situation: Pretty much terminal. I'm blaming it on the fact he had a haircut. And started coming into the Green Room.

And The Boy From Stafford Did Piss Off The Girl From Oxford

And The Boy From Stafford Did Piss Off The Girl From Oxford

So I'm standing in our favourite pub in Liverpool (it has a free jukebox, cheap doubles, a picture of George Formby on the wall and is opposite a stage door) with my older sister and Sally*. Mickey is continuing in his attempts to woo Cat*, aided by some Keats and some charm and hindered by his brother Sammy who is drunk enough that you can smell the alcohol on his breath from five postcodes away and his friend who has clearly had a lobotomy at some point in the recent past. And, despite the hindrances, he's doing passably well. At the least he's providing entertainment and I wouldn't mind being sister-in-law to someone whose job means he can get us preferential treatment in Pizza Hut. Even if I do feel like we've stumbled into a BBC Three sitcom.

And then the next thing the subject's moved to Shakespeare and I hear:

"I'm right and you're wrong".

As a general rule of thumb, it's not a great idea to tell me I'm wrong. I'm aware of my own falibility, especially with stuff like geography, quantum physics and the European Union but you might want to break it to me more gently than that. And you should never attempt it when I've been drinking because it's not conducive to rational conversation. Plus there is never a good time to tell me I'm wrong about something to do with Shakespeare. Especially when I am fuelled with riccardi and coke, in the midst of a BBC Three sitcom and blatantly right.

As several bouncers and bar staff have found out, I'm not one to let the last word slip away from me. Before I knew it - remember I have no volume control in these situations - I was elaborating precisely why I was right. And why Mickey couldn't be more wrong if he tried.

If the situation could descend any further Mickey then had the sheer cheek to suggest that I might not be well read. Given the whole degree and literature from Beowulf to Festen thing this was never going to make me happy. In fact, not being happy is possibly something of an understatement. And clearly I couldn't disguise my feelings:

"You're going to punch me, aren't you?"

"It's one of the options I'm considering"

And I wasn't lying.

*Obviously I do not actually have a biological older sister or a friend called Sally. Without going into a long and winding story, it's something of a regular occurence that people assume that Cat and I are related (which happened again on Saturday night). It's not a regular occurence that Val pretends to be called Sally but on Saturday night she was. We'd had doubles if you're wondering.

*Yes the word 'woo' - despite the fact that it hasn't been used since Mr Darcy finally got his act together with Lizzy - is the most appropriate here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Regular readers may well know that I have three fold reasons for not using buses whilst regular participants in my life will know that I've been ignoring these rules with abandon during the last few months as I'm unwilling to walk the extra twenty minutes from the station to the playhouse. And so last night, what with knowing that I didn't have to rush into Leeds as Thursday Night Live didn't start until 8.00pm, I found myself trapped on a number 56 in one of the special guided bus lanes behind a bus that had broken down. And - such is the laws of bus travel and the nature of those guided bus lanes - the breakdown meant that I was stuck. And was still stuck at 7:50pm, by which time I was starting to get palpitations because I've never been late for anything theatrical in my entire life and didn't intend to start with something involving my own writing.

At 7:52pm precisely I was saved - not by a knight on a white horse but by a balding bus driver on an emergency bus replacement who proceeded to break every speed limit known to mankind as he managed to do the remaining 15 minutes of the journey in under 6. After jumping off the bus and mini sprinting it past the BBC Building and up what - when you're late - seems like millions of steps outside the WYP I arrived just as the tannoy was declaring that Thursday Night Live would be starting as soon as everyone got themselves out of the bar and into the right room. So, after assuring Dean that I wasn't-oh-no-not-me-nervous (to be fair the bus had put paid to any possible feelings), it was up to the room in question where I found a suitable seat towards the back and discovered that 'REM's Back Catalogue' was 11th out of 19 pieces to be performed.

After a brief intro from Mark Catley the evening began. I smiled, laughed and got a shiver or two in places [and for once not due to the odd heating system of the WYP]. And then came my turn. Which, thankfully, didn't feel anywhere near as vomit-inducing as SSoB's first performance. Afterall I didn't have a projector to worry about.

And it seemed quite sparky, the dialogue flowed and there were only a couple of lines that I immediately thought 'ooo, they HAVE to go'. It did become clear - at least in my head - that one of the scenes was about thirty seconds too long. And the two longer speeches still weren't quite right, the beat of my writing wasn't being felt. But, overall, it did seem to work and - more importantly - had its own voice. Plus it got laughs. Even the stage directions - which were being read out - got laughs. So the egotist in me was somewhat pleased.

It also occured to me that I've learnt some significant things over the course of SYWTBAW? One - writing a ten minute piece doesn't scare me any more. Or at least it doesn't scare me more than is actually helpful. Two - The re-writes really worked. Three - Rules are helpful. I can ignore them if I chose, but only in knowing them can you do this. And Four - there are a lot of people out there who are talented and want to write. But there is the distinction between the want and the doing. Even if I never climb to the Paddy Marber heights I aspire to* I will be doing this for the rest of my life. Which was, possibly, the thread of 'REM's Back Catalogue'. At the end of the piece, to the sounds of the gig around them, Pete stands and asks his best friend Charlie what is out there for him now he's dismissed the last remains of his own aspirations. Charlie replies - in almost the anti-speech of everything I hold dear - that there is the world that greets everyone else each morning where:

"You'll wake up tomorrow get on the train and go to work, we'll go for a pint afterwards, have a laugh with the girls from Admin and then you'll go home and watch some tv. At the weekend we'll go to a gig or to a club and it'll keep on going like that. Other things might swirl around us but this is how it'll be".

For Pete and Charlie the tomorrow that greets them is the 7th of July 2005 but if that is the tomorrow does that make Charlie's viewpoint any more valid? For me, the answer has to be an emphatic no.

And, if you're wondering, I didn't hit five minutes.

*Though maybe I should amend that to 'Oscar Wilde' heights...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Flattery Gets You Everywhere...

Flattery Gets You Everywhere...

Want me to do something? Then may I hold up the following opening sentence of an email for your benefit:

"You are lifesaver, queen of john of gaunt, you should have got a first, wittier than oscar *bows*"

After that, should Gilly have required it, I would quite happily have wiped out a small village.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Why writers should be kept far, far away from the rehearsal room

Why writers should be kept far, far away from the rehearsal room

Before I start I would like my dedication noted - as I am blogging from the WYP. This, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that I have a couple of hours to kill and do not fancy wandering into Leeds having already had a bit of a wander which I was unceremoniously pulled out of by a call saying 'REM's Back Catalogue' was being rehearsed earlier than planned and could I quick step it to the rehearsal room.

So good points from the rehearsal: hey, it reads quite well and apparently has lots of energy. One of the actors is perfect.

Bad points: The two of the four line speeches are not reading as well as I imagined. This was put down to tiredness on the part of the actors rather than my writing, which is a good thing as they're kind of the emotional heart of the piece and I would be buggered otherwise. Apparently I shouldn't panic as there are more rehearsals tomorrow. Because of over running there will be no music. Which is a dissapointment as my play is set at a gig. And, finally, because of the energy of the piece it's being put on towards the end of the evening during the showcase to lift people up after the more static pieces. Which means that I cannot sneak out half way through the evening. Not that I would, of course, but I'd like to think that I might have that option should I require a trip to the bar.

Odd points: One of the actresses saying that it was doing exactly what it says its doing with no greater meaning. Which - I can honestly say - has never been said about my writing. And - to be honest - I wouldn't say that exactly about this piece. I may have to point out the fact that it is purposely set on 6th July 2005 for a reason. What happens before and after that day is very important.

So, I think that can generally be summed up as being a pretty typical writerly response. But I may have to prop up the bar a bit tomorrow lest I combust through fear.

Where I Am Slightly Nervous

Where I Am Slightly Nervous

Before I got distracted by work, non-blog writing and non-stalking I may have made mention to fact that I had to write a ten minute piece for a showcase at the WYP. Well, after five weeks of Mark Catley dispensing words of wisdom, and the running time of the piece being reduced to 7 minutes (or 5 minutes if you're a nice, conscientious student) and a couple of weeks of swearing on my part on Monday afternoon I handed in something resembling a piece of writing. It's basically me eating SSoB and Four Chords, though I like to think of it as a little coda to the latter. So it's called - at the moment at least - 'REM's Back Catalogue' and the only way it will come in under five minutes is if the actors all speak at the same time.

But today, balanced between a Senior Attendant meeting and a pressing date with Henry VI, I've got to go to the rehearsal. Where proper, paid actors will be reading my words and Catley will be pulling his hair out over the length of the piece. So expect to hear my cringing across the length of the country.

Then tomorrow night some time after eight I - and indeed the general public - get the pleasure of seeing mine and everyone else's work in one of the rooms of the WYP. Eeek.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Every Girl Needs A Mug With Her Name On

Every Girl Needs A Mug With Her Name On

"I'd just like to thank Corinne for having me here"

And, even though I'd never before clapped eyes on James Morrison, I had to concede that it was my pleasure. I like boys with guitars after all, even boys who have a nervous twitch which involves drinking literally gallons of bottled water between songs.

I'd not been too impressed with the misspellings of my name on the walls (Corrine, bah) though I didn't mind too much hearing random people shouting out my name. I'm a future famous person; it's something I'm going to have to get used to. And when I ended up with a mug with my name on I was rather chuffed. Chuffed enough to make carrying a mug through the mean streets of Sheffield ok, anyway.

But whilst I'm sure that Morrison would have been thanking me had he actually met me and the good people of the Leadmill misspelling it given half the opportunity, it remained that there might have been another Corinne in the building. And it might have been her who people were talking about (notice the might, you never can tell when someone who recognises you from your blog is going to crop up). Because on Sunday night Cat and I took the train into South Yorkshire to go and see the-other-Corinne. And I didn't take anything to hit her with about the Radio One Cerinne fiasco.

Which might have had more to do with the fact that I was preoccupied by the fact that South Yorkshire scares me rather than any slights which might have been inflicted on me by CBR. For starters the train was operating on a 1 for 2 seating policy. And then the station was in the middle of some serious building work which rendered our directions invalid unless we wanted to scale some metal fencing. Within minutes though we'd found the Leadmill, and more importantly, the freakiest little bar in the world, where there was no ice or tonic but you could get generic white rum and cola for two pounds. In that move Sheffield suddenly became a thing of wonder and Cat and I whiled away a good hour sat by a window partaking of the generic drinks and identifying generic CBR fans.

When it came to getting into the venue itself it was to discover that i) the toilets were purple and smelled slightly odd and ii) there was now riccardi and coke for an almost as bargainous two pounds fifty. There was also a fan - of the electric variety rather than the DA type - wafting around the stage and freezing everything in its path. Seriously they should take it up the the polar ice caps, it would reverse a good fifty years of damage in a couple of minutes. Thus I became slightly worried that we would resemble ice before CBR had even got on stage.

James Morrison in this respect came as something of a relief and, as partial as I am to solo male singers, I enjoyed him even if I'm only slightly disgruntled to have subsequently discovered that he's younger than me. I can - just - accept that pop acts are a good five years my junior but serious musicians must be older. I refuse to accept otherwise.

After Morrison had departed there was a huge gap as men with wires plugged then unplugged the Sheffield electrical system and each instrument seemed to merit five minutes tuning. Now, I may be of a theatrical bent, but there is no other entertainment medium you could get away with doing this in. Sorry, we need a thirty five minute gap between acts two and three while we change the plugs; Sorry the footballers need extra stretches, talk amongst yourselves for the next forty minutes; Sorry I know this is live tv but you won't mind watching as we change all the camera angles.

When CBR did come on she was wearing a gorgeous green dress (DA always likes someone who dresses with a sense of occassion) even if she did seem incredibly thin. And then she started to sing. Two words. Incredible. Voice. As amazingly distinct as it sounds on the album, which seems something of a feat. Possibly the highpoint of the gig was her sitting on a chair, playing her guitar and with only the gentlest of backing singing 'Like a Star'. Beautiful.

After the gig the triangle of Sheffield we were in yeilded its final component - a part post office part kebab shop where we could get chips. Seriously, what more could you want?

As if the inhabitants of South Yorkshire wanted to answer that question further on our train back to Leeds we found ourselves caught up in an episode of Rail Cops* and got stuck on a locked train as we waited for the police to meet the occupants of carriage D. Classy.

*Late-ish docu-soap about, well, rail cops.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Sweet Smell of Winning

The Sweet Smell of Winning

Sometimes I win things. And other times I don't (usually because I've refused to play). This would be a time for winning.

I have one name to say to you: Numbersixvalverde.

Try saying that when you're drunk. Which, knowing my alcohol capacity, might easily happen if I were to spend my Grand National winnings in the confines of a bar. Especially if the bar had a 2 For 1 offer.

Occupational Hazards

Occupational Hazards

There are some things that I consider to come with the territory of working FoH in a theatre. It's stuff like eating more ice cream than you should, finding it hilarious to shout 'Get thee to a nunnery' and discovering that the average theatre goer will inevitably greet the question 'what number are you?' with an answer containing a letter of the alphabet. But the absolute worst unavoidable hazard (worse than the vomiting or the fainting or the exploding coffee machines)? Falling in love with actors.

If an actor is good enough his very stage presence can make you love him. And whilst you get this on film and tv there's nothing that quite matches the ability of theatre to do this. Because they're metres away from you, in some circumstances you can almost touch them, you're part of the experience. And even though I really - really - should know better than this having been in the flight path of the Actor EGO enough already I can't help it. I'm still the girl who, several years ago, saw a production of Much Ado, fell in love with the guy playing Benedict and ended up inarticulately giggling into my drink when I bumped into him in a bar. Since that point there's been a list - many of whom I probably don't remember - of actors who have inspired love. Some for only a brief moment in the theatre, some whilst the glow of the production remained and others until some time after the fall out of the cast party.

During at this season - in a purely stage love type way I would emphasise because you know I would be blogging about it sooner if it had been any other case - there's been: a Nordic Adventurer (who took his shirt off on stage), a General (ooo, I'm a sucker for a posh voice) and now My Richard. Which probably needs a little explaining. Because My Richard is not the actor - as good as that Richard is - who is playing Richard III during the 'Wars of the Roses' trilogy which is currently gracing the Quarry Theatre but Richard's understudy. And as a result of circumstances involving an onstage fight, a nail in the wall and a moderately serious operation I ended up seeing My Richard making his mark in the second part of the trilogy a couple of weeks ago. Predictably I fell totally in love with him because, as his name suggests, he was my Richard. Maybe it had something to do with him being the understudy and fighting like mad for his moment but there was a wonderful vitality about him, and a vitality which is totally Richard. Which all made overlook the fact that he is blonde. And playing possibly Shakespeare's least physically attractive villain.

So now it turns out that I'm actually disappointed when I get to the WYP and discover that all roles are as they should be and My Richard is grabbing his glory playing one of the Princes in the tower. And I'm actually disappointed when I'm in the Green Room and practically every member of the cast comes in except him. And I'm actually disappointed that my current good standing in the eyes of the WYP means that I can't come within five miles of adding him to my non-stalking list.

It turns out I am not alone in succumbing to the charms of My Richard, though I admit to being somewhat amused that it fell to one of the male attendants to articulate the discovery of the day: "We're in love with the same man!".

Any bets on who it'll be next?

Friday, April 07, 2006

One of those days

One of those days

I put a trailer in my last blog for what I was doing last night -which boiled down to going to see Riccardi at The Mixing Tin in Leeds and drinking some cocktails.

Generally it went something along these lines:

Riccardi

That is, should you be unaware, Riccardi.

Cocktails

And that would be the result of the cocktails. Or more specifically the result of the happy hour, two cocktails for the price of one fandango.

So, all in all, a good night. The highlights? Simon Guitar walking up behind Becky and I when we were at the bar, saying 'hello ladies' and neither of us realising it was him until we turned round; the problems of Leeds bus lanes; Louis Vocals refusing to call me anything but 'Coza'; Ric Drums asking us what we wanted them to play when deciding the set (and only partially ignoring us); 'One of These Days' and our singalong; Gayle and I ending up sloshed in the Golden Arches at 9:30pm and being unable to work the disabled toilet door; almost not being able to get on my bus home because of all the people on my back...

And I seem to have a Next jumper to return to Louis Vocals the next time I see him...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Health and Safety!

Health and Safety!

If there are times when you feel like you're chasing around after yourself then this, for me, is one of them. What with the WYP flinging more shifts my way [and another round of interviews], getting dragged out to Wetherby to type and not use their internet access for blogging, writing deadlines [including the one for the showcase at the WYP], a half finished podcast and some rather intensive non-stalking to do the one thing which all this seems to not be conducive to is blogging. Which is a shame as I've got six or so posts half finished in my head waiting to tumble out. But it's going to have to wait until I have a spare five minutes when I'm not supposed to be doing something else [I seem to be free for a couple of hours on Friday, so hold on for then]. So for now I'll leave you with possibly my supreme moment of the last few days:

"Not that I'm a hypochondriac but my leg is broken and I've developed asthma"

The reason? A moderately long walk around Fountains Abbey. I do despair of myself sometimes.

And though I don't usually use DA to plug anything (other than indirectly what with all the stalking) I'm making a special case for Riccardi's gig at The Mixing Tin in Leeds on Thursday night. Fun and games start from 8.00pm and as well as hearing their new material (and seeing some comedy glasses) you could even end up drinking cocktails with yours truly. Which might put you off. But come anyway. You can always ignore me if that's better and I won't be offended.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Little Ms National Trust

Little Ms National Trust

Ms National Trust

Yes, they are pink wellies. Yes, that's what I call layering. And yes I am now a fully paid up member of The National Trust*.

And I still don't understand why everyone thought that this was so amusing.

*And, despite my grey hairs, officially still a 'young person'.

The Sporting Event of the Year (Almost)

The Sporting Event of the Year (Almost)

I'm not sure at what point the uber affiliation of Oxford gets to you. It's not like they make you sign away your life to the promise that you will always care passionately about anything to do with the University (especially anything that can be deemed to be a competition) - though since I don't understand Latin that might have been part of the general thing they chanted at us when we got dressed in the silly gowns and the tourists took pictures of us. Because there must have been a point, a specific moment, when I went from being someone who didn't remotely care about Oxford to being someone who found booing in the midst of 'This is Soap' at the Edinburgh Festival because of the comments they made about my beloved institution an acceptable form of behaviour. Equally there must have been a point when rowing moved from being something I only ever watched at the Olympics to being something that can give me moments of heart stopping terror.

More worryingly I'm also not sure when I started to believe that beating Cambridge was something on a par with collecting a Nobel Prize. In many ways it's better, you can gloat more.

So the Boat Race. Lycra. Rowers with funny names. The opportunity to thrash those good for nothing Tabs. And the potential to put me in a sulk for the next month.

It must be noted, I've been lucky. We've only lost once since I first made my way up Woodstock Road (2004, when we were, of course, cheated out of our rightful victory) so the Boat Race has actually been a many splendid thing for me. I'm not sure what kind of pull it has on the nation at large, or why ITV deemed the event worthy enough to steal from the BBC, or why so many bad haircuts were on display but, once again, I found myself shouting at the tv.

And we won. Again. And again I felt a fleeting pang of sympathy for the light blue rowers before laughing and pointing. Because how can I feel proper sympathy when they chose to go to Cambridge? And I know that Byron went to Cambridge but that was not his fault as he wanted to go to Oxford but Christ Church was full. These people chose knowingly and I bet none of them keep a bear in their lodgings. So I was ecstatic even though I didn't get my hoped for sinking.

It does make me wonder how long Oxford will have this pull over me. At the moment it's still pretty fresh - I can almost smell the Cherwell and the University Parks and it's not difficult to recall that feeling of tip toeing in the path of so many people before you, of being part of something magical and permenant and iconic. And I know that in the next few months I'm going to miss Oxford because during Trinty Term Oxford is the most beautiful place in the world. It grabs you and makes your heart leap. And maybe the Boat Race will always entrance me because of this. Because it reminds me of who I was and who I am now. And - whatever happens, wherever I end up - I will always be a dark blue.