Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ABL: Gatsby & Me

After Birthday Letters: Gatsby & Me

The next blog comes from March 1997 when I was fourteen. In the Diary I kept at the time I managed to cover all of this in three sentences whilst spending three paragraphs on the Eurovision song contest that occurred later the same week. Well, some things don't change.

I think part of the transition from being a child to being an adult is the realisation that there are entire worlds outside the scope of your knowledge and if there was a moment that this occurred to me then this was it. Anyone who saw/ has read Some Sort of Beautiful will undoubtedly recognise this moment - so potent was it that I gave it to Kate and it stands almost at the heart of the play, albeit with a significance about the events of that week in 1997 that my fourteen year old self could never have imagined.

Last year I returned to Paris for the first time since 1997 and, curiously, my thoughts on the Eiffel Tower were much more akin to those of Harry in SSoB, than of Kate - up close it was full of tourists and now had the spectre of men with guns patrolling the site. This, however, did nothing to dent the memory - if anything it cemented itself further for how much more innocent we all were then.


I step out of the coach into the darkness. I know from my watch - hastily put forward an hour whilst we were on the ferry - that it's almost midnight. I'm tired from travelling, from the coach, from the conversation that was first excited but has now progressed to mumbles.

The wind hits me in the face and I blink. As I move away from the road I can still hear the rumble of traffic, the headlights giving the place a strange glow.

The group I'm with moves and I start to too; with a purpose whose origins I'm not sure of I walk past them towards the monuments in the distance.

I continue walking until I reach the end of the square we're on; I lean on the wall and for the first time since I got off of the coach I allow myself to look. What I'm confronted with takes my breath away.

In the distance, ablaze with lights and the newly erected Millennium countdown, stands the Eiffel Tower. I've seen it many, many times - in pictures, in films, on tv. But peering at it now - in person - is entirely different.

Lower down than me as I stand on my perch the fountains are proudly demonstrating their abilities; their spray creating a distant lullaby to my scene.

I pan the view and it strikes me that if there is such a thing as perfection then this is it. A miracle of human creation. As the wind starts to blow my hair I know with forceful certainty that there is not a single thing I would change, even if I were given the chance.

I don't know how long I've been stood, lost in the view, but I can hear the chatter than indicates that we're moving on, back to the coach, back to our intended journey. I want to stay but I know I must go. I drink in the view, unwilling to speak to anyone and shatter the moment.

Then, because I must, I turn, knowing I am leaving this behind forever. As I walk the rumble of traffic takes over, the headlights once again visible as I make my way to the coach.

Just as I'm getting on I have a curious realisation.

I can smell the darkness.


NB: The title is, rather pretentiously, an allusion to an allusion - I'm invoking Kate's line in SSoB: "All my life I’ve had a problem recognising reality; it’s always been Gatsby and me staring at an enchanted green light".

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ABL: Psyche

After Birthday Letters: Psyche

The earliest of my blogs comes from the 26th November 1996 when I was 13. I know the exact date and so many other details because I kept a Diary at this point of my life, filled primarily with pop culture references and my test scores [though how I managed to get such good grades given the state of my grammar and the fact that at one point I use the phrase 'well good' I do not know].

From my earliest years I can always remember being borderline obsessed with music - and pop music in particular. Given that I was also obsessed with Smash Hits you might understand why going to see the Smash Hits tour was a very big thing for me indeed. It marked my first ever 'gig' [if you can call it such], my first taste of non-stalking and lead on to me seeing practically every great [and not so great] pop band of the late nineties in that Arena. It was also the sumit of my infatuation with Ant and Dec; I confess that one day I'd like to bump into Dec, if only as a concession to my 13 year old self.

We're about 4/5ths of the way through the evening and I'm perched on my plastic flip down seat (Block 217, Row H, Seat 6 if we're going to be precise) and I can taste my excitment. I've seen such great pop luminaries as Louise, Sean Maguire, Kavana, Upside Down, Clock, Damage, Real 2 Real, 911, OTT, Brother 2 Brother, Alibi, Code Red, Livin' Joy and some American band that - even in this crowd - made so little of an impression that I can no longer remember their name. But the real reason I'm here is still to come.

The artists currently known as Ant and Dec.

I've loved Ant and Dec since the days they were PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove. So big is my penchant for collecting anything to do with them that their posters have crept on to my ceiling, I have their entire back catalogue (in all formats and including a signed copy of Top Katz) and videos of almost everything they've ever been on. I particularly love Dec - my birthday and Christmas cards for the last two years have come addressed to 'Corinne Donnelly' from girls bearing names such as 'Keating', 'Carter', 'Gately' and 'Pitt'. I'm vaguely not very impressed that he's now back with Claire Buckfield. But I've come to the realisation that I want him to be happy and therefore this is ultimately alright.

But now I am just moments from being in the same room as him. I might burst.

The lights flash, forcing me to squint.

And then there they are.

I wasn't quite sure what my reaction would be at this moment but it is apparent there is only one thing for me to do.

I scream.

I'm a little shocked at myself but I can't stop it. I scream again.

And then I hear the opening chords of 'Better Watch Out' and I'm singing and waving my arms in the air.

The next few minutes pass in a blur of arms and voices and screaming the words at the top of my lungs. 'Better Watch Out' finishes and we go into 'Stepping Stone' - a Monkees song that is a particular favourite of mine.

"I'm - not - your - stepping stone!"

Before I'm ready for it to be over Dec announces that this we're at the last song. It's 'When I Fall In Love', their most recent single.

I sing along, pulling out every syllable, every second.

Then they're waving and thanking the audience and the next thing they're gone.

I'm a little in shock as I sit back down, screams that are not my own reverberating in my ears.

Before I have time to process anything though, the lights are making me squint again. I hear the opening chords of Boyzone's 'A Different Beat'.

I'm on my feet again, this time to see Ronan - who is wearing tight black PVC trousers. It occurs to me just how lovely Ronan actually is.

And in this second I'm with all those Boyzone fans, matching the dance on stage.

By the time they've got to 'Words' they've won me.

I leave Sheffield Arena ten minutes later with a huge grin on my face.


NB: The title comes from the name of Ant and Dec's first album. Though I'd hope that you all know that.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

After Birthday Letters

After Birthday Letters

After last year's birthday letters it fell to how I was going to celebrate DA's second birthday. If for Birthday Letters I was (moderately) lazy and got others to do the work for me I felt that this year I'd better get my typing fingers ready and put together something myself.

I suspect I've always been a prime candidate for having a blog; from the age of 13 I've intermittently kept diaries, some just everyday internal ramblings written by someone I don't quite remember, others more self aware structured accounts of holidays I've taken with chapters and epigraphs and everything. As a reader I gravitate towards Diaries, I particularly have a penchant for that strange beast - the writer's diary. I fell in love with Sylvia Plath not through her poetry - which I do adore - but through the words of her sprawling, angry, idiosyncratic, sometimes beautiful, sometimes profoundly not, diary. I came to Ginny Woolf's Diaries fairly late in my relationship with her, not until I came to study her for my special author paper and my tutor suggested I go for a slightly left field angle did I open the pages of her diaries. I spent the next eight weeks carrying those huge volumes to and from the library, jealously hoarding them, not only for the sake of my final essay grade, but because I'd discovered something else within them. I'd fallen a little more in love with her through them.

A Diary is a curious mix of immediacy and distance. The act of writing automatically separates you from the event you're writing about, however immersed you might be. Articulating events, feelings on to a page allows you to box them, draw lines, see patterns. This, however, is not to deny the validity - or the honesty - of the diary entry. If you are happy or sad, disappointed or optimistic, pushing forward or hopelessly retrospective it will show. And in turn you choose to write of these things because as you see the blank page and begin to write this is what you're feeling. At this moment in time this is your world view.

A blog by its very nature of being a public record distorts further. How might this best be phrased? Does the joke have a sufficient punchline? How does the blog scan? I have laid in bed and put together a blog entry in my head on more than one occasion, searching for the best phrasing, the most unexpected twist. I have lost count of the number of times I've uttered the sentence 'can I blog this?' because - in my head at least - I've seen the makings of a good blog in something otherwise insignificant. I never ask if I can blog about big things; invariably I know the answer already. And a blog is probably more attuned to retrospect than any other diary -at the click of a button I can read what I was doing this time last year. It's a dangerous and yet rather thrilling experience.

If the present is never quite the present in blogging terms then this opens up whole new arenas for blog entries. What, I wondered, would I have written at various significant points in my life if I'd had this blog? And, maybe equally interestingly, how would I blog them now?

It's that question that I've tried to answer in honour of DA's second birthday and which I'll be publishing over the next week. The moments that I've chosen are by no means exhaustive and aren't necessarily the ones that I'd have chosen to blog if I'd posed the question last month or, I'm sure, if you asked me in the future. Where possible I've read any diary entries that correspond to the correct period, elsewhere I've had to rely solely on the vagaries of my mind. Unlike DA and my normal blogging approach I've allowed a degree of literary polish in so much as I've sat on them for a few days before publishing them, changing the odd word here and there, playing with the structure in places. On the whole, however, they are much like they were when they first spilt out. In each case I knew the subject I was writing on but wasn't quite sure where it might go. Every single one has surprised me a little.

Gatsby & Me

Psyche

"Let Me Entertain You"

That Goddam Big Suitcase

"All That I Am, All That I Ever Was"

"Patch Me Up Boys, Take Me Home"

My Sun Kissed Trampoline (Or Happy Birthday DA)

My Sun Kissed Trampoline (Or Happy Birthday DA)

Today I have been blogging for two years. This is strange for lots of reasons, not least because this deems this blog as a significant relationship. Albeit one without the answering back.

The last year has undoubtedly been less loudly momentous than the one that preceded it, though in a much quieter way it's been equally significant and certainly without the need to revise for three months of the year [ah, remember the days when I used to blog about which ever piece of literature I'd been reading that day, Chaucer and all] it's been infinitely more enjoyable. I saw more theatre than I've seen since I was 20, went to more gigs than I've ever been to and gained a job I love [even if I do threaten to resign at least twice a shift]. I've been to places I've never heard of and even now couldn't find on a map and stood in a field in Dundee with Nik, screaming my head off. There was a glorious, utterly magical summer which I suspect that I will remember for ever, not least because it lead to the curious realisation that Dean and I will eventually get married. Albeit without the babies.

There were sadder things along the way; my brother was diagnosed with a form of autism, I got a bit panicky and defensive about where my life was heading [not helped by every person who asked me when I was going to get a proper job] and I learnt that sometimes doing the right thing sucks, however sensible it might be. There should probably be a lesson about actors in there too, but you know as well as I that I'd do it all again.

For all this I'm incredibly happy about where I stand now. I'm also incredibly excited by everything that's to come in the next year [and that's just the McFly non-stalking] and where I might end up. And I'm full of love for this blog and everything that's contained within it. Even when it does lead to Dean inadvertently telling History Boy about his blog name.

So, Happy Birthday DA. I look forward to the next one.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Do You Think David Tennant Reads DA? If He Does We've Got A Problem.

Do You Think David Tennant Reads DA? If He Does We've Got A Problem.

"Don't turn around, Corinne"

I'm in the middle of having a lurid green wristband attached to me but the instant that I hear that I shouldn't turn round my instinct is, naturally, to do the opposite.

"Don't turn around"

I start to wonder what is going to await me. Horror movie images flash through my brain. Even better, I start to wonder if it's a Dalek.

Wristband finally attached I brace myself and turn round.

There's only one thing to do with the sight that confronts me. I open my mouth and out comes the most girly-ish, non-stalker-ish squeal you can imagine. It's not something I'm proud of now in the cold, harsh light of day. But it's a squeal.

Because I am now mere inches away from David Tennant's pyjamas. Or the Doctor's pjs if we're going to be entirely accurate here [not that I am, as a rule, overly preoccupied with accuracy given that theatrical elaboration is always more fun]. But either way this is rather exciting. Pyjamas. That David Tennant has worn. Stripey pyjamas that David Tennant has worn.

Worryingly since I am an adult and allegedly sensible and mature and grown up (sometimes) I have the overwhelming urge to stroke them. This is wrong for lots of reasons, and yet I can hardly fight it. I settle instead for simpering in their direction.

I look at Val who is matching my excitement.

"It's a good job no one else is here".

And I really mean it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where You Were When You Were Young

Where You Were When You Were Young

I'm interrupting my planned Cardiff/ London blogs [yes, I do have more to say about Cardiff; I may be a non-stalker but Val and I did not spend 48 hours crying into our Jack and the Beanstalk programmes when there were cocktails to be had and Dr Who exhibits to see] just because this is my blog and I can therefore do what I like. I'd say Na-na-na but I want you to like me so I won't.

If I've recently blogged about my mental block when it comes to the word 'anonymous' then I should probably add to this why stats are not always a good thing. Over the past few weeks I've noticed an upsurge in hits coming from Oxford University servers. I quite like this [hello to any of you who might be reading this, I hope you're having a good Hilary term] and consequently hope I am not painting the post University crisis adventure too badly. What stressed me today though was that I received was that I received a google from a server that wasn't simply identified as being that of a particular college. This was an English Faculty server. An English Faculty domain that also contained the name of one of my former tutors. And - if that weren't enough to have me running around the room like a mad horror movie heroine - this was the name of the tutor who during my first year I blogged extensively about. No, I'm not linking you; I know when I should stop digging. Sometimes. Needless to say, though, you probably don't have to go too far to find evidence of Pipe Smoking Man should you so desire.

When I wrote my old online diary - at a time when I hadn't heard of the word 'blog' - I clearly felt much easier about painting with great brush strokes caricatures of people who didn't know about the existence of the blog. This was 2001 after all; the days before journalists cried the death of the critic because of the blogger, the days before there were plays about blogging; the days before Dooce got dooced. For many reasons - both big and small - they were also the days before I became the person I recognise now. Life then was smaller, more confined, easier to read. I was spikier, more prone to spilling my opinions [you might not believe it but now I do try and confine this to when they're merited or, at the least, when I'm drunk] as I felt my way into a new life. Consequently as I look back now I can't quite touch some of the emotions that I dashed in bright red and published on the internet. They seem alien, smaller...petty. And I wish that when I'd been constructing those stories from my life, building those characters, enjoying those readers, that I'd looked at some of the stuff that exists only in the subtext between those lines. I wish I'd blogged every night about how utterly glorious that first summer was. I wish I'd blogged how it smelt, how wonderful those parties were. How it felt to stand in the dressing rooms of the OFS Theatre for the first time, running up those spiral stairs that I remain eternally puzzled that I never fell down. I wish I'd blogged about falling in love, about eating ice cream in my kitchen and having extra strong coffee in Friends mugs.

Seeing the server name tonight made me think all of this, giving me the thrill of something I can't quite place. In real terms it doesn't matter what I might have said, or even if my mystery googler was the tutor concerned or not [and indeed why it might have been googled]. What can be done or said now? I have my degree, I no longer come under the realms of the University regulations [do they have a blogging code I wonder]. It is in the past. I was neither without blame nor entirely wrong. And - however acute it might have been at the time - I can look back and know that it arouses nothing any more. They are but words on a page, simply a page that can be googled and looked up for as long as it exists on the internet. If an apology is due then I unreservedly give it.

If that reader, whoever they might have been, pointed to my past then there was a hit from my myspace page that maybe points to my present. And am I happy for everything I put on here to be read today, now? And, if I look back in six years time what will I think?

As much as I strive for something I'm happy with, I don't want to realise I missed the real narrative.

Oh No He Isn't...

Oh No He Isn't...

On the way to Cardiff, as Val's car dodged wind, prostrate lorries and my map reading skills, we laughed about insane journies we had made before. Val remembered battling to Stratford in the snow only to be sat in the theatre and told the performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream had been cancelled as some of the actors hadn't managed to get to the theatre. We both remembered how on January 1st 2005 we'd trekked across to Liverpool from York in fairly horrendous weather in order to give Fox hugs, just because we thought he needed them. When we got to the theatre, however, it was to the signs that Fox wasn't on stage - I doubt he was even in Liverpool. Thus I found myself in the position of having paid the most I ever paid to see Jesus Christ Superstar to sit on the front row and not see Fox, hearing the entire musical sung instead by three of the Fox fans sat to my right. As things go this cannot be considered to be either a non-stalking or a theatrical highlight of my life.

And of course we laughed about this, because so far down the line, and without the words of 'Superstar' sung in a vaguely offkey manner piercing my eardrums, I can laugh. What was not so funny was when the tannoy burst to life in the New Theatre that evening to say that because of a severe throat infection John Barrowman would not be appearing.

"Are they serious?" I hissed at Val because I might have an Oxford degree and be able to talk about T S Eliot's allusions, the importance of Look Back in Anger for British Theatre and Donne's poetry but I can be innately slow at taking in obvious information. Even when I know that using the tannoy system to annoy audience members is viewed as being a bit of a no no in theatre management.

As the houselights dimmed, I had the shooting realisation that I was going to have to sit through a panto that didn't have John Barrowman in it. And, like huge chunks of 18th and 19th Century drama, I cannot confess to being a fan of panto. Which is not to say that I don't believe that panto doesn't have its place - and not only for making sure that all those ex-soap stars and Big Brother contestants don't starve. Panto makes people who don't normally go to the theatre go, this is a good thing. Every year when I was little, slightly before my birthday, we would go see the pantomime at the City Varieties, the highlight of which was inevitably the fact that we would hire a box because sitting in a box is always a statement, even when I was 7 I knew that. And my early exposure to pantomime doesn't seem to have prevented me from engaging with Shakespeare and Stoppard and, aherm, Pinter. But like buying Clarks shoes and watching Button Moon on repeat, Panto is something I seem to have grown out of. So at the opening chords I confess, I was a little aprehensive.

By the time the interval came round I wasn't quite sure what to say. Other than that I wondered if it was too late to get a refund. I settled instead for buying chocolate ice cream, hoping the sugar would numb me.

Given the content of the second act, however, I'd have needed to have inserted the sugar directly into my veins for it to have had any counter effect. Somehow a fairly mediocre panto had gotten worse.

"You know what my favourite bit was? The bit where it WENT WRONG".

Though do not let it be said that I didn't enjoy the bit where the joke about a dalek rubbed in the fact that I wasn't watching Captain Jack, or the 17 choruses of 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm' because they were filling for all the songs that had obviously been cut or indeed the bit where they spent five minutes acting in front of backcloths just so they could errect a paper mache Giant. Because they were all great and I wasn't dying inside at the fact that I had paid to see this.

I don't expect Cardiff's New Theatre to be getting quotes from DA to promote their next panto.

Coversely if the New Theatre would like quotes about their Box Office staff [excluding the girl who greeted our enquiry on Friday afternoon with "Has John been off?!"] then I am more than happy to give them because they were lovely and helpful and witty ["we're going to kill him!"], even when we wanted our money back when John pulled out of the Friday night performance at the last minute. Good service from Front of House people largely goes unnoticed but not by DA. "Crap panto, fantastic Box Office staff". I guess you've got to take the pluses where you can.

So the non-stalking of John Barrowman had rather too much of the 'non' and not enough of the 'John Barrowman' element for my liking I have to confess. But I am patient and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I'm drinking cocktails and going to Take That concerts with John, because you all know that this will happen. Just next time I will think twice about anything with the word 'panto' in it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Emerald Airlines - Defying Gravity

Emerald Airlines - Defying Gravity

Emerald Airlines - Defying Gravity


As you can see, I got a wig.* It was rather expensive [a whole 17 pounds] given that it is a green wig and therefore is probably of limited use but I think it was worth it. And if you don't believe me I think the following will convince you:

1. I was asked if I was in the show. As this happened two minutes before The Wizard of Oz was to start I think the safe answer was 'no'. But it's nice to know that I looked like I could have been.

2. A woman tried to take a photo of me on her mobile phone whilst I wasn't looking, non-stalker stylee. Then when I moved she stopped me and asked me to pose for her. I can only assume that this is what life is like when you are famous. Only in this case no one was sending the spotted to Heat.

3. I was cheered by the cast as I walked passed them in the bar afterwards. They might have been drinking, but a cheer is still a cheer.

Maybe because of all of this I really, really didn't want to take the outfit off when I got home. Because life is rather wonderful when you're an air stewardess for Emerald Airlines.

*If you're wondering where the doors are, then they're the ones that lead into the Quarry Theatre at the WYP. So now you almost know what my workplace looks like.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

For Your Non-Stalking Needs...

For Your Non-Stalking Needs...

I will be out of Leeds - and therefore away from the internet - for the next few days.

So should you wish to non-stalk me [or give me ridiculously expensive birthday presents] on Thursday and Friday I will be in Cardiff. Cardiff if nice. It has Welsh people. It also has lots of Dr Who and Torchwood connections and therefore opportunities for me to squeal. And whilst we're on the squealing it should also be noted that Cardiff currently contains one other thing: John Barrowman in Jack and the Beanstalk. Coincidence that one.

On Saturday morning I'm going by train to London. London is also nice. It contains so many people who I would like to non-stalk that I can't even begin the list. On Saturday night I'm going to see Amy's View, because I heart David Hare and this is one of my all time favourite plays of his. On Sunday afternoon I'm going to see Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll. Stoppard wrote one of my top five plays not-written-by-Shakespeare (Arcadia) so I heart him too. Sunday night will mostly be spent in a pub on Holloway Road, with me trying to ignore Dean's assertions that I am old.

On Monday, it's the slightly less exciting journey back to Leeds when the normal service of my life will resume.

We're Off To See The Wizard

We're Off To See The Wizard

"I'm looking for something for the Off To Oz night"

I smile, hopefully if slightly overwhelmed by the rows and rows of costumes that are confronting me.

"Right this way"

Dean - who is not coming but who has been dragged along to help - and I march after Wardrobe Lady.

"Start at the fancy dress section " - she demonstrates by pulling out swathes of material in a shade of green which is already giving me a headache - "and then have a browse"

Wardrobe Lady smiles and leaves. There's a pause.

"Find me a dress. Please". I look pityingly at Dean, hoping that me at my most pathetic might help atone for the fact that he is still telling people about me making him empty a bin at work.

"No problem".

Dean disappears. I try and pretend that I'm looking for something that would work in Oz, when in actual fact I'm gravitating towards the Regency dresses.

Within a couple of moments Dean has assembled two rather beautiful outfits. Whilst managing to have tried on a full parade of witches' hats.

"You so want to come".

With cloak and hat firmly on there's not much that Dean can do to deny it.

"So, it looks like I'm coming then".

"As a witch?"

"I was thinking more the flying monkey".

I giggle and march off to the dressing room.

First outfit is utterly beautiful. It's not a million miles away from the gold dress I wore to Cat's birthday on Saturday. But this is green and intricately patterned. And even though it was made for an actress, when I get it on it is revealed that I have a smaller waist that the actress in question. I am thinner than an actress. The day is getting better every second.

The second outfit is more overtly costume-esque; its label proclaims it to be a product of another Christmas Show at the WYP, in this case Little Shop of Horrors. Again it fits with ample room - oh, this is good for the post Christmas chocolate frenzy ego - and this time whilst I wouldn't necessarily wear this for a night out it makes me feel like I'm a character on stage. I start swooshing. This might just have to be the one.

Whilst I've been busy posing in the mirror Dean has discovered where all the animal costumes from Narnia are hiding. I'm not entirely convinced whether this a good thing or not, as he bounds through costume hire pretending to be various creatures.

It's at this point that we actually manage to locate the flying monkey costume from the last time that the Wizard of Oz was at the WYP. For a few moments I'm laughing so much that I can't breathe. Because if I learnt all about padding when I went to Belton Hall then that was nothing to the flying monkey padding which seeks to give the wearer both a bottom and a stomach. Dean, who resolutely has no bottom, starts doing surprisingly accurate impressions of Crazy In Love bottom dancing the moment he gets the outfit on. It's mildly surreal.

For all the comic value the Flying Monkey outfit is eventually vetoed on the grounds that it would undoubtedly involve the wings poking several audience members in the eye during the course of the night. And that's not something I want to have to deal about when I go back to work.

Almost two hours after we first entered Costume Hire, we depart arms loaded with bags.

"You know what I need now?"

Dean looks at me. "What?"

"A wig".

We look at each other. It's time to get a wig.

NB: Given the subject matter it would be remiss of me not to link to Val's blog. So there you go.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Well, we're both from Leeds

Well, we're both from Leeds

I'm in the always curious position of saying goodbye to someone I have known for a period of time, but who I know I will never see again. I'm never quite sure what is to be said in these situations; 'have a nice life' seems rather bland. But there has been coffee and cake and i-tunes vouchers so I feel at least the occassion has been marked.

I'm saying my final goodbye and apologising for not making T's leaving party because it is my birthday and I will be in London (not seeing Boys with Guitars in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll) when talk turns to T's novel.

"I don't know if you've got it but I emailed you my novel"

I nod "Yes - I got it, I've read the first three chapters, I'm enjoying it"

I do not add that I quoted a line I liked* to Nik and Dean and they remained distinctly unimpressed.

"It would be great if you could send me any comments"

Suspecting that T doesn't know the extent of my red pen skills when it comes to people inviting comments on their written work** I smile.

"Of course, if you don't mind"

"It would be great"

"I'll definitely send you them". I do not tell him I've made notes already because I have OCD and I make notes on everything I read.

Maybe it's my obvious enthusiasm but T's resolve seems to momentarily flicker.

"It was pointed out to me that sending you my novel wasn't a good idea".

"By who?" I'm slightly shocked, though already wondering if I'm going to have to keep my promise of taping Dean's mouth when it comes to him sharing facts about my life to people I work with. After all they don't need to know just how anal I can be. It doesn't really tally with the rock and roll, socialite reputation I've been carefully cultivating***.

"[History Boy]"

Now it's my turn to momentarily flicker.

"Why?"

"He said that sending your novel to Corinne was like sending your essay on politics to Jeremy Paxman".

I giggle.

"He might have a point".

* "Starbucks is like McDonalds but without the irony".

** Just ask Nik and Gilly what happened when they sent me their essays.

***Don't laugh, people have said both of these things. They also seem to think that I'm posh though, so you can see where this might fall down.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Corinne Off Of Corinne's Actual Diary

Corinne Off Of Corinne's Actual Diary

For numerous reasons I decided that 2007 was the year in which I should, once again, take up a paper - some might say proper* - Diary. Don't think you're being short-changed here, unless messy handwriting and questionable phrasing is your proverbial bag, DA's infinitely more interesting. It has links and stuff after all. And a picture of Marilyn Monroe in a great dress. Non-DA diary is basically for all the stuff I want to remember in 15-20 years time that I can't put on DA because i)I would be sued ii)I would be fired iii)I would be sued and fired. Which probably makes it sound more interesting than it is - but let's be clear here. Non-DA Diary has no readers other than myself and, like a good 95% of Diaries of its ilk, it's undoubtedly not that interesting to any one other than me. And hopefully all the scholars in fifty years time when it gets published. Or not.

But I am out of the habit of keeping such a Diary but if there is such thing as a universal diary code then I suspect that the following might be high up the list:

"On no account leave your Diary - in which you talk about work - lying on the floor of your shared office. This can only lead to inevitable disaster".

As it was I managed to locate said diary ten minutes prior to the office clear out. Phew. Some how it makes all those issues of keeping a public blog seem much easier. There's something strangely comforting about the knowledge that anyone could read DA. In some ways it makes it all so much easier.

*I would poke anyone who said so in the eye.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All The World's A Stage

All The World's A Stage

Before I became Duty Manager at the WYP I applied to be a Venue Manager for the Shakespeare Schools Festival; the reasons for this were threefold:

1. I love Shakespeare. You should know this and if you don't where have you been. And one of the things that I repeatedly come up against in my evangelical quest to convert the entire world is that if the teaching of Shakespeare at high school level is poor then there is nothing I can do. So Shakespeare as interactive, living, breathing drama in professional theatres = a very good thing indeed.

2. I can't deny the fact I am attempting to accumulate CV points. I may be hopelessly in love with Shakespeare but I am not without less pure motivations.

3. You get a free t-shirt. And I'm all about the free t-shirts. Especially when they come in skinny fit.

As it turns out the Venue Director for the WYP is Alan, last seen telling me to write plays about nice people, so despite the fact that everyone [not least me] has been confused all week as to whether I'm working for the WYP or the SSF I think it's proved a good decision. And you've got to love a good decision that comes with a funky t-shirt.

But if I needed more confirmation of this it came when I popped my head in to see the end of one of the sessions in the rehearsal block.

"I'm taking this very seriously, so seriously I'm going to clean my shoes and wear my new funky pants"

The girls listening giggle, one of the boys voices that this is providing too much information.

"There's no such thing as too much information when it comes to my pants - you just don't know this because you haven't seen them".

More giggling whilst more boys try and maintain faces of mild disgust.

"So you need to take this seriously. The sound of 750 people clapping is a wonderful sound. It'll be fantastic. And I'll be wearing a suit so I'll look handsome".

Suit aside, if this doesn't sell Shakespeare to these teenagers then I don't know what will.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Not Sure This Is What They Had In Mind When They Hired Me

I'm Not Sure This Is What They Had In Mind When They Hired Me

I open the money box to check how much merchandise we've sold prior to the show, pulling out the stock sheet.

I glance down the neat markings until I get to the pre-show total. It's not exactly stellar. Written next to it, however, is "I am a Commercial Genius".

I giggle, possibly rather inappropriately given that I am all grown up and serious at work and this does not include laughing at History Boy. Rather more inappropriately I also giggle because it triggers one of those random memory awakening situations about a response to the phrase "Comedy Genius". It is probably safe to say that if I wrote that response on the sheet the only thing I would be gaining would be my P45.

"The WYP's future is clearly safe. Carry on at this rate and you might even manage to cover your wage".

Post interval the sheet comes back to me.

"I'm actually tripling the price of everything and then pocketing the difference so you don't need to worry about me".

More. Inappropriate. Giggling.

When everything's checked the float is 10p up.

"In that case it was nice of you to pass on 10p of your ill-gotten gains to me. I won't spend it all at once".

When the show's out and the only people left are those in the bar, History Boy pops into the office to hand back the merchandise keys and because we are so not talking about this neither of us allude to anything before he says goodnight.

I open the stock sheet.

"Actually these numbers have no relation to what I've sold, I'm just making them up at the end".

I smile and get on with the mini-mountain of post show work. It's only when I'm tidying up that it suddenly occurs to me that there might be a little problem.

I have to file the bloody thing.

As I see it I have four options:

1. Tippex the entire right side of the stock sheet. Whilst this would remove evidence of non-serious fraud jokes and semi-serious flirting allegations I need to face that this would look dodgy. And that's before I even consider the fact that I don't even know if we have tippex.

2. Accidentally lose the sheet, I don't know, in the bin for example. Looks less dodgy than the tippex it has to be said. But also looks careless. I am not careless. I am clearly just stupid.

3. Do another stock take sheet. Neither dodgy nor careless, but rather a lot of effort. It's almost 11:00pm, I've been in the theatre since 8.50am and, here's the crux of it, I can't be bothered.

4. File it and pray no one looks at it. Ever.

Because I am honest I go for 4. I'm doomed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

How To: Scare Me

How To: Scare Me

Tell me, whilst in the middle of our FoH management team Christmas meal*, that from the age of 25 you need to use eye cream.

Panic? I nearly choked on a piece of chicken.

*Yes, I know it's January; we're a bit behind in Leeds it would seem.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The One Where...

The One Where...

I wish my blog was anonymous.

I also wish that I didn't have a mind blank on the word 'anonymous' and have to spell check it because it didn't look right. Even though it blatantly was.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I Shop - Therefore I Am

I Shop - Therefore I Am

My arms full of dresses I stumble towards the changing room.

'No more than six items' proclaims the sign in front of me.

I stare down at the items in my hands. Definitely more than six, even I as a non-mathematically minded person can see that.

I peer round the corner, no sign of any shop assistant. I give it a good ten seconds before having another look.

Nothing.

I have options here. I can be good and leave some of the offending articles. Or I can claim ignorance [maybe that I can't read?] and take all of the dresses in with me.

Given that I'm not intending to shoplift I decide that it's ok and walk into the changing room, the sign scowling down at me.

Once encased in my own protective cubicle I start arranging the dresses into colours and sizes. The irony is of course that, strictly speaking, I do not need a dress. I have 11 dresses, of various hues and lengths, hanging in front of my wardrobe. I wouldn't like to hazzard a guess as to how many I have within the wardrobe's confines. And even if it is Cat's birthday, and even if I'm going to see Amy's View for my own birthday, and even if I'm going to meet John Barrowman - it remains. I probably don't need a new dress. I have a dress from Whistles I haven't worn outside the confines of my own room.

But meeting John Barrowman? I'm going to want to look fabulous for that, even if he won't see my dress because I'm wearing a big coat over it. I think he's the type of boy who appreciates a fabulous dress. And arranged in front of me are a parade of utterly fabulous, shiny new dresses, all with at least 50% off their price tags.

I have no will power.

I try the first dress on; it's gold with a tiny waist and huge skirt. The minute I look at its reflection in the mirror I know I can't give it back. It is far too beautiful. This will be the one.

But since I'm here, with my illegal six items plus, I might as well try them on.

I'm in the midst of trying on Dress Four - a silver number that I imagine is something Sienna Boho Princess might wear on a night out if she too shopped in Zara - when it occurs to me what fabulous music is being pumped into the changing rooms. Not fabulous music in music that I would store on my playlists but what fabulous music in terms of making me want to dance and buy these clothes*. Charlotte Church, Louise Nurding [as she was then] and now Atomic Kitten shrilling about the tide being high and all that. Girl power, as someone once said.

I waft the dress around and shake my head, momentarily feeling like I'm in the M&S advert with Twiggy and co.

I'm still dancing in Dress Five - a black number that is beguiling simple but which is a thing of wonder when it's off the hanger - when I realise that I've fallen in love with this dress too. Not as showy as Dress One but in its own way every bit as beautiful. Bugger Atomic Kitten.

I brush its sides down. I mean it's black and not at all revealing. I could wear this to work. Not for every day I know, but for stuff like Press Nights.

Yes, a Press Night Dress.

I'm at the till handing over my debit card before it occurs to me that I'm not quite sure where I'd put the radio. Ah, well.

I'm walking with a spring in my step and my new purchases hanging off of my arms towards Borders when I run into Dean (almost literally) who is brandishing a copy of American Vogue.

"I bought dresses" I say it sheepishly not because Dean will tell me off for expanding my wardrobe** but because I promised I wouldn't buy something new to wear to Cat's birthday, thus plunging Dean into a fashion crisis where he too has to buy a new outfit. Before he stopped speaking to me because of the whole sharing a hotel room with an engaged actor thing N, our boss over the summer, told me he thought that Dean and I rung each other up each morning to co-ordinate our outfits. Whilst not entirely accurate he probably wasn't too far off of the mark.

In a bit to cut off any recriminations I pull the bag open, letting the Magic Of The New Dresses diffuse through the air. Dean peers in.

"Oooo".

It works.

I let Dean drag me to TopMan where he buys a pair of boots in approximately ten seconds, employing the sort of targeted force I can only wonder at, before we head back towards my intended destination.

We're hugging goodbye when he hisses in my ear:

"History Boy!"

I stop.

"Where?"

Dean gestures to Borders and, sure enough, there is History Boy. In a bookshop. Of course.

Dean smirks: "Now I'm going to get to walk to work with him".

I jab him with my finger, not exactly sure whose crush this is. I'm about to say this when we're interrupted -

"How are you two?"

I smile at History Boy before we run through the plans that have each of us running off in different directions. No walk to work for Dean. I just about stop myself from emitting a 'Ha!' out loud.

When we've all said our goodbyes I make my way into Borders. Despite the fact I have gift vouchers I don't buy anything, super human strength undoubtedly demonstrated because I have two fabulous dresses. And a little bit of a crush.

* Unlike New Look who were playing 'Chasing Cars - The Dance Remix'. I was a rabbit in the headlights, I couldn't leave until it had finished but I knew it was going to make me die.

** See Dean's reasoning for why he would make a good husband: i)I'd encourage you to buy dresses.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just because I say 'coke' correctly...

Just because I say 'coke' correctly...

"So where are you originally from?"

"Leeds"

"No way!"

"Yes..."

"You went to a private school, right?"

"No".

"Wow, with your accent.
[beat]
Did you get beaten up at school then?"

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Amount of energy expended on thinking of resolutions = too much

Amount of energy expended on thinking of resolutions = too much

Yesterday I had a look back on the outstanding good mediocre success of my resolutions for 2006. Not unduly deterred by their mixed fortunes I resolved to have another bash at it this year.

So, with as little fanfare as possible, here goes...

1. Write at least 300 words a day, at least five days a week.

I need to get out of the habit of thinking that it is ok to have huge bursts of writing energy and write thousands of words in a couple of weeks thus absolving me of a month or so of writing. Because clearly it's not. Within this I need to polish off the remains of Four Chords, do my second draft of Corinne's New Play [maybe even giving it a proper title] and get to work - beyond the plans - of writing the novel I seem to have promised the first few chapters of to Dean for his birthday. Phew. And - maybe - an entirely new play in the Autumn.

2. Write on DA regularly [and be a bit more social with fellow bloggers].

It struck me when I was reading Alan Bennett's Diaries that there didn't need to be something huge going on in them to keep me interested. Now I'm not suggesting that I'm Alan Bennett but I think it's something I should keep in mind, and not let myself be bogged down with 'heck, I've five huge set pieces to write' and thus write nothing. Billygean has gone for broke and is aiming to blog every day - me, I'm not brave enough to say that, but we'll see how it goes. As for going to the blogging party more - I need to remember to press that comment button on all the blogs I read and love.

3. Find a Pub Quiz.

Let the quest continue...

4. See a play in Stratford/ at the Globe/ at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I've expanded this because I think each of these should be a requirement every year. And it leads nicely on to...

5. See 5 'classic' plays that I've never seen and now I don't work Thursdays take advantage of all those matinees at theatres I don't usually go to.

Because I saw quite a bit of theatre last year (and managed a number of 'classics' that I'd never seen before) but I'm aware of the sheer volume of theatre I saw because I was being paid to. As this is no longer the case I think I can expand my viewing pleasure.

6. Stage one of my plays.

I've been talking about this for a few weeks now, thus meaning that the more people I talk to about this, the more I feel compelled to go out and do it. I'm thinking June/ July time. Clear your diaries.

7. Buy a new pair of jeans.

I love dress shopping. I dislike shopping for trousers. I hate shopping for jeans. Thus I realised the other day that my newest pair of jeans are 3 years old. I looked for a new pair for three months last year and then gave up because it was too traumatic for words. I need to be brave and get beyond this.

8. Learn to do something which I can't do at the moment.

Suitably vague don't you think? But every set of resolutions has to have some form of self improvement on, so here's mine. Now I've just got to work out what it is.

9. Read more poetry.

Because now I don't have to write about metre any more I've rather discovered that I love it. And I'm woefully under-read in this department.

10. Non-Stalk Harry McFly.

It had to happen. He's posh after all.

I'm not going to take bets on which I'll achieve [though I know you'll all be thinking the Harry McFly one]. Same time next year I guess...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Future's Bright - The Future's Throughbicle Shaped

The Future's Bright - The Future's Throughbicle Shaped

I do like to be fashionably late about these things so it's only now that I'm going to be wishing you all a happy new year. Which makes this blog only slightly later than all those texts that got caught in the New Year triangle (I spent most of yesterday fielding these texts, the last of which came through nearly 24 hours after it had been sent. You've got to love Orange).

However I couldn't help but laugh about the text I received which was sent in the early hours of January 1st. Because it probably says a lot about my life:

"What the fuck is a throughbicle? And how many people can you get in one?x"

I know after all the hits I got from google when I spoke about the twobicle [tubicle?] in Oxford [and that was only in passing] I'm entering into dangerous ground here, but I can't help it.

What is a throughbicle?

On Not Reading Ulysses

On Not Reading Ulysses

At the start of 2006 I had the foolish/not too bad/ not entirely original [delete as applicable] idea of blogging some resolutions thus allowing me to return to them 12 months later and show what a good/determined/focussed woman of my word that I am. Or at least I think that might have been the plan. I don't quite remember.

Regardless, it would be remiss of me not to return to those resolutions, if only so you can point and laugh.

1. Read half of James Joyce's Ulysses.

Erm, well, there was this thing you see and the hamster ate my copy of Ulysses. And I would have bought a new one but Borders had sold out in a freak James Joyce rush.

The truth? I started with much enthusiasm for this one; planning to knuckle down in the second half of the year. Obviously when the second half of the year came I was too preoccupied with pretty actors and books that I actually thought that I might enjoy and, predictably, Ulysses never even made it off of my bookshelf.

This did, however, give me yet another reason to heart David Tennant: "Read it, moved on. No, I've always thought Ulysses might be too far up its own bum". Just how perfect is this man?

2. Complete at least one NEW major piece of writing (20,000 words +)

Corinne's New Play stands at 15,304 words. The Four Right Chords hit a huge 23,217 during its second draft and I've been attempting to cut 3,000 off of it (with middling success) in the last few weeks. 'REM's Back Catalogue' hit 1,699 in its performed version (probably hinting towards why it took more than five minutes to perform). 'The Ballad of Alan Smith' was a relatively tiny 437 and 'Bus Stop' stands at an unfinished 555. Which probably does not fulfil this resolution to the letter but I'm going to give myself this one as I've come to think that 20,000 words is unweildy for a play. Or at least a play that isn't written by Shakespeare.

3. Update everything on DA that needs updating.

Yes, yes and again yes. And whilst I might not have tackled the archives I have added tags to almost 200 of my blog entries. Ooo, I'm smug.

4. Find a new Quiz Night.

I did try, this just suffered because i)Quiz Nights are invariably the nights that I am working and ii)we didn't find one we could win at. Which is possibly the most important criteria for a Quiz Night. At least we never came last.

5. Learn to play 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' on the guitar.

I won't even pretend I tried. And to add insult to blatant disregard of resolutions my guitar now has two broken strings.

6. Make my entry in Becky's Special Book more respectable.

Erm, yes I might have. I certainly didn't send 'stop the flipping clock' texts.

7. Be able to say "I'm a writer" even when I'm sober.

I'm not quite sure when or how this happened but I kind of can. Even though I must confess that I don't particularly feel like one at the moment what with Christmas season playing havoc with my time.

8. Go to the Edinburgh Festival/ see a play at the Globe.

I saw Titus Andronicus at the Globe in May. Which counts in somewhat spectacular style as it was one of my favourite productions of the year.

I was fairly close to going up to Edinburgh but it got far too wound up in the whole soap opera with C and I decided that it would be a lot of money to spend on something I wasn't really in the mood to do. So I had cocktails at the Evil Eye instead. Thus I reckon I get to transfer this one due to circumstances.

9. Continue Team DA's mission to take over the world.

Bit of a stop and start one I have to confess. Let's just say that Team DA is waiting to pounce.

10. Non-Stalk Various Members of the Radio One Breakfast Team.

Well, Nik and I were always going to triumph on this one, weren't we? And in the quest we also managed to come into contact with practically every mainstream Radio One DJ. Rock on.

So I make that a total of 6.5 out of 10 and given that I only totally wussed out on two of them I don't think I did too badly. I mean, not great, but that's a got to be a B- right?

Because I really haven't learnt a lesson from this (other than that there will probably always be something more appealing than Ulysses to read) tomorrow I'm going to blog my 10 resolutions for 2007. Which gives me 24 hours to work out who's going to get that all important number 10 non-stalking spot. Any minor celebrities who are interested, feel free to drop me a gmail.

Monday, January 01, 2007

"It's the tea lady!"

"It's the tea lady!"

I've just finished an eight hour shift at the WYP and am on my way home. REM playing in my ear I rummage through my bag to find my phone to check for any messages. I'm in the midst of doing this when it starts ringing.

Anonymous caller.

Only 'anonymous' really isn't that anonymous. Because the only calls I ever get that come up as anonymous are from the WYP. Before I answer I check my back to make sure that I haven't come home with one of the radios again. No offending bump this time. Phew.

I'm greeted with the words 'can you work tonight?' and I wonder if they've forgotten that I'm no longer an attendant. But I don't like to point this out, in case it looks like I'm being rude.

'Erm, I could but I don't have anything black to wear with me'.

'What are you wearing now?'

I look down. New trousers that I love because I bought them in a sixty second dash, fully expecting that they wouldn't fit and I would have to take them back, only to find that they were perfect and newer silky grey blouse with yellow flowers on it that I love because it is girly and yet still says that I have more power than I really should be given.

I explain this. Only without the power thing, because they don't need to know that.

'That's ok, we want you on coffee shop'

I don't process this fully and before I'm aware of what I'm doing I've agreed to get off the bus at the next stop and walk back.

I arrive back at the WYP.

"We need someone to work tomorrow too".

Because I have a disease that renders me incapable of saying the word 'no', I find myself saying 'yes - that's ok, I will work'.*

It's only when I'm walking to the coffee shop that my brain kicks in and I remember that I've worked coffee shop before. And that I swore never to do it again. And here I am having agreed to 12 hours work in said coffee shop. In the run up to New Year.

It's times like this that I suspect I was away reading Byron when common sense was being handed out.

I set up while hrrumphing as a couple of the attendants awaiting the start of their shifts laugh at me.

"Don't you have to wear a little black hat?"

I look directly at History Boy**, lazers shooting from my eyes.

"No I bloody do not".

I open the coffee shop, the bottle opener breaks and I get covered in coke before the till decides that it wants to beep at me for no clear reason. I start a mantra of 'this isn't normally my job' in a bid to explain my ineptitude. I suspect it only partially works. I tell a customer that I will love him forever because he pays with the correct change. He suggests we get married next week. I almost add 'if that means I don't have to operate this till any more then, yes, see you then'.

Whilst the other attendants are waiting for latecomers History Boy comes to dry the cups, passing back to me those that I blatantly haven't washed properly.

"You're going to learn how to say no, aren't you?"

The worst thing? I've come to love this theatre so much that I don't think I ever will.

* Dean and I have a running joke about our relative abilities to say 'no' and 'yes'. Dean has, without doubt, the most authoritive 'No' I have ever heard, it just stops all lifeforms dead in its wake. In contrast it's my 'Yes' that holds its power. Thus getting me into situations like this.

**Ok, I know, another blog mention. And a title quote. We'll leave it at that and just say that it has been noted.