Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine"

"Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine"

After the rain, the wellies and the umbrellas of last week it is something of a relief to be sat on a bus in a t-shirt, with my sunglasses on and PYFB's 'New Shoes' playing in my ears.

The weather and the music adds to the prevailing mood; I am giddily, exhilaratingly, happy.

It does not surprise me that I find the trousers I need for thirty pounds less than their retail price and in a 'Buy One Get One Free' sale. Neither am I surprised that my items in Oasis come up as less than they should. Even in the Church of Primark I find a queue for the till which doesn't take three days.

I almost skip up the steps to the WYP, new purchases in hand, and just over an hour later I am offered loan of a tent [and lessons on how to put it up].

I know, of course, that this will not last. A Summer cannot last for ever. It is part of the bargain.

But for now, just for this moment, it is enough.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Some times theatre is about Shakespeare and cocktails and pretty dresses. And some times it isn't.

Some times theatre is about Shakespeare and cocktails and pretty dresses. And some times it isn't.

We are ten minutes into the interval, the temperature has dropped to such an extent that the only way we are managing to keep warm is by jumping up and down and hugging the tea urn [not, obviously, at the same time], and the queue for hot drinks streches across the Abbey. Predictably with this being a touring theatre company one of the urns has broken, reducing my own first half drink to tepid mulch. Old Friend and I are in a rhythm with the second urn though and I reckon that, give or take the Ladies' Toilet queue, the interval will finish on time. This pleases me. I am obsessive compulsive about interval timings. It's one of the things that makes me slightly anal as a Duty Manager.

The first that I know that something is wrong is when I notice the mounting pile of drinks waiting to be poured. I look at Old Friend.

"There's no water left".

I look from the urn to the unpoured drinks to the waiting queue and back again with something approaching horror. There is only one thing for it.

"Give me a second".

I leave the bar area and break into something which properly resembles running. Or as close to actual running as I will ever get, stunted as I am by Abbey ruins, audience members and my own inability to run.

I realise when I get to the boys changing rooms that I have never been in them before; it amuses me - even in this moment of FoH panic - that there is a sign saying 'Project Manager' on one of the doors. Such is the glamour of theatre that they are changing in something that once stood on a building site.

I stick my head into the Project Management room. I am greeted with something that looks like there has been a 16th century explosion; men in tights are perched on every available surface. There is even, to my joy, a lute precariously balanced. If it were not for the mounting queue back inside the Abbey I would be loving this moment. I mentally reproach myself for losing track when confronted with such fangirl worthy things. As I survey the room I notice the item of my search in Oliver's hands.

"Can I borrow your kettle?" I ask. And, because this probably needs some explaining since it is their kettle, and it is my interval and I should not be stood here, "The urn has broken down".

It is probably a mark of this being outdoor theatre that the situation is greeted with the horror it deserves rather than the odd looks it would get in any other dressing room.

"But I was going to come and get you to smuggle me a tea" Stage Manager says from the floor.

"I'll see what I can do" I say, aware as I say this that I have already used some of my precious hot water on giving C free coffee.

"I've just boiled it" says Oliver as he hands the kettle over.

"Perfect" I say, turning round the second it is in my hands. "Thanks" I yell back just as I realise that I have boiling water in my hands and probably shouldn't be running with it.

It is just as well that I've made that connection as I find Former Soap Star sitting on the steps to the exit and have to step over him. It is times like this that I feel my life is almost unbearably surreal.

Finally back at the bar I hold out the kettle.

Somehow I suspect that this is going to be a long interval.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What's in a name?

What's in a name?

"What's your name?" asks Rosalind. We have established that she is coveting my pink flowered wellies so it is undoubtedly time for introductions.

"Corinne" I reply.

"That's a lovely name" she says. I beam because that is the correct response. Then -

"Like the character in the play!"

I cannot deny it, the aged Shepherd and myself do have something in common.

"Yes - but the female version" I add with necessary haste lest I lose some letters in the process.

"Like Corinne Bailey Rae" says a voice to my right. I know it is Oxonian before I look round. Bailey Rae. A term of endearment he had called it as I'd blasted him with my alcohol fuelled discontent. So caught up was it that the next time someone called me it, across an empty theatre months later, it sent me spinning backwards.

"Who is" Oxonian continues "ironically, also from Leeds".

There's a pause. I suspect I know what is coming next.

"Are you sure you're not related?"

Friday, July 27, 2007

"My Eyes Open"

"My Eyes Open"

I walk across the grass collecting straw and and mud to the bottom of my wellies as I go. Already the overwhelming heat of last year has given way to something markedly more damp. Former Soap Star is looking decidedly soggy as all around actors attempt to fight whilst brandishing umbrellas. Certainly I suspect that there were fewer plastic ponchos in use at Agincourt than in this portrayal.

As I put away my own umbrella, encased as I am under the protective cover of the bar, I remember - quite unexpectedly - my umbrella's origins. The umbrella of guilt. But such is its beauty and my fondness for it, I'd forgotten that part. Clearly buying pretty things does remove negative feelings. It is an undoubtedly expensive but worthwhile lesson. I still feel the irony of its presence though as it lies in the same place as the person who was - at least for the first couple of weeks of the umbrella's life - its namesake.

C is, even in the rain and the mud and the last minute chaos of a tech rehearsal, impeccably dressed. It is not the impeccably dressed of effort, but the impeccably dressed of effortlessness. As if the clothes were thrown on at random but somehow work. It is safe to say - I could never be unduly harsh to a man who has the audacity to wear a tie whilst recreating Agincourt in the middle of a bog.

We have not yet spoken. This, with the bussle and urgency of everything that is going on, isn't in itself that odd. But other friendships have already been picked up, in-jokes brandished, hugs exchanged. Somehow I do not relish the prospect of five weeks of coded avoidance, as if it were a particularly grubby stain that neither of us wish to allude to.

Maybe because I am inhibited by the rain and the rehearsals to complete any further tasks I realise that I am noticing him more than I did 24 hours earlier. I get the sense that this is a plaster which needs ripping off as soon as possible.

Eventually, maybe on the 5th or 6th time that he has reappeared by the bar, we are alone. He leans over the end table and I look up.

"Do you know where [N] is?"

"He's gone to buy beer". I smile though, because I cannot help smiling.

"Do you know how long he'll be?"

The eyes are just as striking and as fathomless as I remember.

"He's been about an hour, so probably not much longer".

I suspect that neither of us have anything more to say on the subject of N. We lapse into silence, him at one side of the bar, me at the other.

And then, amongst the eye contact, I smile and nod my head. C returns the gesture, a mutual silent acknowledgement of things we will probably never talk about.

Plaster removed, I cannot help but smile as C returns to the stand.

Two minutes later, however, he is back, this time at my end of the bar.

"Can I have a cup of tea?"

The official answer, as we are both aware, is no unless he is willing to pay. I have a rather dizzying flashback to the night he, dressed as a Capulet, tidied up Box Office for me and I smuggled him free coffee. The power of a front of house freebie should never be underestimated.

"Of course".

I make the tea from the collection of plastic cups with their tiny teabags and powdered milk.

"It's vile" I say as I hand the cup over, noticing the bitten nails on the hands which take it. "So good luck with that".

He laughs. I laugh.

And I know everything is going to be fine.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's not a bag. It's a lifestyle.

It's not a bag. It's a lifestyle.

We've just spent the last few hours sitting in Regent's Park watching a musical which (officially) no one has ever heard of. But it was light and breezy and the weather is wonderful, so it is fair to say that I have enjoyed it. Especially the bit where one of the dancers' umbrellas broke. Because people who see a lot of theatre? We love it when it goes wrong.

Now we're following, procession like, after Director Boy who (of course) knows a good third of the cast.

I stride out, pashmina draped around me, Paddington bag on my arm, umbrella (for there was a mini monsoon just before we left the flat) hanging down. As I walk past a man in his sixties catches my eye.

"That was an excellent show; we really enjoyed it" he says smiling at me.

It takes me a second to process this. And then it dawns. He thinks I was in the show. This is not the first time that this has happened to me, but it is the first time that someone has thought this post-show. I wonder briefly who he thought I was, hoping vehmently that it was someone with better legs.

And because there is nothing else that I can do -

"Thank you".

Because I clearly do not have issues for taking credit for something I had absolutely nothing to do with.

When I have walked out of his sightline I exchange looks with the rest of the group.

"Did that man think you were in the show?"

"I think so".

"Ah, it's the Chloe bag. He could smell it".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time

Let's look at the statistics since I last blogged:

Hours worked: Too many.

Hours spent looking at random groups on Facebook: Don't even start.

Alcohol intake: Reasonable to Moderate.

Number of times I've cried at the cinema: Once. Oh, Harry.

Number of times I swore coming out of the Evil Eye to discover that York had been hit by a Monsoon: At least ten.

Number of times my judgement regarding actors has been brought up in conversation: A lot.

I do not know if you could draw a diagram from that. Maybe if a scanner were at hand I would try. But alas, one is not.

And what am I trying to say here amongst the statistics and the veiled references of my failure to blog? Well, y'know that time last year when I started working for an outdoor Shakespeare Company and I had lots of adventures involving things like vans full of rubbish, and portaloos and needing stitches in my hand (almost). And despite all that, and even despite the vomiting into a bin in front of Famous Actor's Son, and losing my necklace, and spending a good fortnight listening to Coldplay because of C, I still loved it (and in fact came back and wrote one of my favourite ever blogs about it).

Well, that time is (almost) upon us again. It will be different (I have more power for starters) and I know it will make me miss Dean even more than I currently am because the BSC adventures really belong to both of us. Equally I know, even standing here when I am - let me be resolutely honest if only for today, on the strength that he will not read it - probably in love with someone else, there is still a little bit of me that will have to take a deep breath (and not think of Abba songs) when I see those incredibly blue eyes.

But it is - exciting. A new adventure. And if - whispers - the blogging slips, lost in the realms of days in London with Dean, nights at Kirkstall Abbey drinking hot chocolate and hours pounding the empty corridors of the WYP, then know I shall be back with new stories, and people and moments that I cannot forget.

It is just that some times, just some times, I need to let my narratives develop away from my keyboard.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Walking to the bright lights in sorrow"

"Walking to the bright lights in sorrow"

The figure in front of me has long since been taller and bulkier than I am; the days where I'd quell his temper by sitting on him are a long distant memory. It is only in recent months, as he has grown into his limbs, however, that I have felt the physical difference. Known that whilst I may still have a resoluteness he cannot yet match, there is not much I can do about sheer physical force.

Maybe because I have silently acknowledged this I have played the balancing game, holding in my own temper, that scary, head fuzzing feeling that I only ever get with him, when, for a flash, the idea of causing actual pain is overwhelmingly tempting. Because matching un-reasoned anger with reasoned anger does nothing. It is a concession there, a decision to be lenient here, a silent walking away.

But today. I was not quick enough. I could not diffuse the situation in time. The first thing I really knew was when I saw, etched in every aspect of his stance, that he was too far gone. I felt it, as I forced myself between him and his intended target, my persistence rather than my strength managing to break up the hopelessly one sided fight.

And now. It has moved on further, it is beyond reason, between controlled words. My voice is raised, standing as I do in the midst of the books that have been hurled at other targets. Of course they are my books, my childhood copy of the Famous Five, spine broken, laying on the landing. But it is beyond even this.

He goes to move. Raised voices. My only overwhelming feeling is that he must not pass. I know it is a battle I can only hope to prolong, but not to win. But he must not pass.

I know, even in this moment, that we are too near the stairs for this. But, filled with adrenaline, I'm strangely confident that this will not matter. Even as I push against his weight for the first time.

This continues, a game which neither of us can win.

Then, suddenly, he takes a step backwards. I look up as he clutches his chest. A whooping noise emits from his throat.

He does not need to say the words. He cannot breathe.

I watch as his body crumples to the floor, my anger leaking out of me with every movement.

"You're having a panic attack" I say "You need to breathe through this".

I work with the public. I've witnessed projectile vomiting, fainting, blood pouring from wounds, fits. It strikes me that amongst all of this I have never seen a panic attack. And here, in my house, to the little boy who used to place his toy cars in endless lines, traffic jams across the living room floor.

I know he is ok when he tells me to go.

I retreat, picking up the books as I go. Only when I am away from the scene do I feel the aches in my arms.

The slight pain somewhere that I cannot quite identify. The reality of everything that will not be.

I do the only thing I can.

I put Jeff Buckley's Grace on and write; hard, furious, until the words wobble in front of me and I can do no more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Only Dean has said he will stay up talking to me all night so I cannot read the book

Only Dean has said he will stay up talking to me all night so I cannot read the book

"Can I make a request?"

I nod.

"Can I not work on Saturday the 21st". There's a slight pause. "For literary and cultural reasons".

I raise my eyebrows; there is a flicker of recognition.

"Because you're going to stay at home and read Harry Potter all day?"

"Yes" comes the half swallowed reply, the acknowledgement that here is a twenty-something asking for a day off in order to read a children's book*.

"I'll see what I can do" I smirk, all the while basking in the secret knowledge that my re-read is done, my copy reserved and my own day off booked.

*Obviously I jest.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A New Addiction Is Born

A New Addiction Is Born

I have spent some time in the past week or so pretending that I didn't join facebook when M's invite dropped through my gmail.

However, such is facebook - people found me.

Because I did not want to stick with a large quotation mark for a face I had to upload a photo. And fill in my profile. And make it look like I actually have friends.

And two hours later...

There is no hope.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm sure there's a BBC3 sitcome in here

I'm sure there's a BBC3 sitcom in here

Director Boy is on the other end of the phone, we are having a three way conversation with Dean as to why not all of us can be a kept man. Regardless of anything else I do not enjoy cleaning enough to merit such status.

"Some of us have to work".

There's a slight noise in the background.

"I'm going to have to go now" Director Boy says in a slightly panicked voice "The cat is attacking my penis".

I splutter.

I hear Dean's voice. "Speak to [Director Boy's Brother] for a minute".

"She went to Oxford so mind your grammar".

"Hello" I say, aware of the fact that DBB and I have never spoken before, but more aware of the fact that in a flat 3 and 1/2 hours drive from me there are two men trying to extract a cat before it causes any permanent damage.

"I can't hear you" DBB says "There are two gay men in the room making a lot of noise".

"Yes, they do tend to do that".

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This is what happens when I am sober for a week

This is what happens when I am sober for a week

I am mostly scaring myself with the extent that I just loved The Big Day. In my defence it was presented by Nick Knowles, a very firm, if not altogether shameful, resident on my List of Shame. But it remains. It was DIY SOS for weddings.

I am such a girl.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Run

Run

I walk across the road, my wellies splashing in the puddles as the rain beats on my umbrella, dripping down until it splashes off the end of the (only mildy extravagant) spokes. I adjust my handbag, feeling the weight - not of its contents for I am used to carrying my life in there - but of the bag itself. Feeling the bag proclaiming its status. Not in an arrogant, look at me, way but in a quiet, knowing way. The half caught secret nod that such a bag confers. Because this is a bag where you either know or you do not. Only up close, when you feel its leather and see its tell-tale signs do you know. Otherwise it is a secret for, not the chosen few, but simply the few.

I can see that we are going to get on. Already it has lifted my mood. Lifted what started - when? With me kicking boxes in my office in impotent anger on Saturday night? No, my grump has its roots elsewhere, that rather odd feeling that something intangible is, at least in its present guise, over. That horrible end of season feeling which sitting in an empty theatre gives you, where the current adventure is over and the next one has not quite begun.

The bag knows none of this. But it hangs there, permenant, comforting as it dangles off of my arm.

In my ears those ever familiar chords strike up. The rain is no longer a hassle, it is part of the myth of the song. I stride out against it, against Gary Lightbody's vocals, lost in my own world of memory, some mine, some of those whose words and thoughts I have bought into.

The memories blur at the edges, the wellies splash in the puddles, the rain drips off of the umbrella, Gary sings as though his heart may break. And, fortified, me and my Paddington march onwards.

Everything is, in that moment, utterly, overwhelmingly, perfect.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Because I have been very, very good until now...

Because I have been very, very good until now...

Doctor & Jack

John Barrowman and David Tennant. In the same screenshot. Russell T Davies you really are spoiling us.

Flames

And if you were wondering - I adored the The Last of the Timelords.

Because it made me laugh, it made me hold my breath and it made me whoop. The acting within it was universally spot on, with superlative performances from the ever reliable Tennant and John Simm. It was also prickly and morally ambiguous enough to have me punching the air in delight.

Yes, I cried. Not the big, fat, hyperventilating tears of last year's finale - but quieter, softer as the realisation of how broken the Doctor is fell down on me as Tennant's eye caught the camera.

And I am, once again, available for all the Doctor's hand-holding needs.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I did say I wanted it writing down

I did say I wanted it writing down

"So you see" I say, waving my fifth cocktail of the evening, "Your view's skewered". Skewered, of course, being the polite debating expression for wrong.

I give it an extra flourish as I sip my drink.

There's a pause as this is considered.

"I seem to have gotten myself into a corner here".

I beam, feeling the flow of woo woo combine with what might be an actual victory.

I watch him holding the half drunk pint.

"Ok, this time I concede". There's a pause, just long enough for us both to recognise it. "You win".

"I win?"

"Yes".

Unaccustomned as we both are to this, I glance round. No one else has noticed, leaving us to it as they so often do.

Strangely, the world has not ended.

"It's just not cricket, is it?"

"It's just not cricket, is it?"

"Pub or cricket?"

"Cricket!"

Because it is perfectly normal to be playing cricket in drizzle whilst wearing a collection of Brideshead Revisited inspired clothing. In fact it is totally normal to be wearing such clothing. On a Sunday afternoon. Whilst tourists take your photos. And since I am here, it should probably also be said: I am wearing a wig. Again.

We pack up our picnic - glasses, china plates, champagne bottles and all, leaving out only the cake stand which - with its jam tarts and pastries, is carried out for mid-game snacks. Sunday afternoon cricket is civilised after all.

There is some debate about who are to be Team Captains. On grounds of self preservation Director Boy refuses to go head to head with Dean. History Boy - who has already paced out a properly sized cricket pitch and demonstrated that he can bowl over-arm and everything - has no such qualms.

With touching disregard for my inability to play sport Dean picks me. I skip behind him.

"Because he's the only boy - [Director Boy]" History Boy says. I make noises about blatant sexism.

It ends with Director Boy, J and Val on History Boy's team and myself, Cat and Old Friend on Dean's. I am not exactly sure if there is an advantage on either side. Other than possibly the fact that on History Boy's team no one is wearing a wig.

It is decided that we shall field first.

"Can any of you bowl?" Dean asks.

The silence is deafening. Needless to say it is left to Dean to bowl (underarm, naturally).

History Boy steps up to bat. Since he brought the cricket set I suspect that he has done this before.

He is - not bad. In as much as he can hit the ball and run whereas I can do neither. He scores runs. It is not looking good.

Then, with something that approaches being not-entirely-rubbish at cricket, Dean bowls History Boy out. I am really too excited. Especially since I am wearing a dress which keeps popping on account of my breasts being bigger than the actress's whose dress this was.

Director Boy steps up to the crease. If we were worried then it seems we shouldn't have been. No runs are scored before he is caught out. I could get used to this.

Unfortunately J cracks on to the fact that if she bats the ball in my direction I will not be able to catch it. It is a tactic I can only admire, especially since I get to demonstrate that I cannot run.

Dean takes the only action that can be taken, stepping up his level of concentration. He makes a move to bowl, then -

A noise rips through the air that can only be considered to be one which would not be out of place in a BBC sitcom. I know what has happened before I even look up to see Dean's face.

Still bent over he moves round slightly, revealing that his cream Brideshead trousers have split right along the seam, revealing a pair of black Calvin Kleins which most certainly aren't period.

I am laughing so much that I can hardly stand. It is safe to assume that the England cricket team do not suffer in such a manner. There is a general debate as to whether J should get further points for making Dean do this, or that Dean should get them for the indignity of being forced to spend the rest of the day with a cricket jumper wrapped around his waist. In the end we play on.

Dean and Cat engineer a situation where J is most definitely out. Director Boy and History Boy protest loudly. We, indignant in our righteousness, are louder and J is therefore proclaimed out. Obviously.

Cat catches Val on the second ball and, suddenly, it looks like we might be able to scrape a victory. We troop off the makeshift pitch, Dean with his split trousers, Cat having popped a button on her 1920's tennis dress, Old Friend with soggy shoes and me with my rapidly slipping wig.

Bowling, predictably, falls to History Boy. Cat steps up and makes a rather good show of it in the face of what can only be described a proper-boy-bowling, not at all in the spirit of Sunday afternoon costume wearing cricket.

"Stop being mean" I yell as History Boy bowls Cat out. Which should probably be read as - stop trying to win.

"He is mean" says Cat as she gives me the bat.

"I know. I don't like him any more" I say.

I arrive at the wicket and realise that this is not going to be pretty.

"Be nice!" I yell, wondering what level of threat I should profer if he isn't.

Once. I miss the ball completely. Director Boy laughs and mimics me weilding a bat.

"I went to a girls' school! We didn't play cricket!". This is not entirely true. Some people did play cricket. I was probably off taking part in extra maths lessons or something.

Two. I miss the ball and hear the clunk of the wicket.

I am out for a duck and it is History Boy's fault.

"I really don't like you any more" I say. Competitive sport that it is, History Boy is unmoved. I make a mental note to return such meaness at the earliest possible opportunity.

With a deficit of over 20 runs I pass the bat to Dean.

It starts well, in as much as Dean manages to make contact with the ball. We start clawing back runs.

Then - clunk!

Somehow Dean has managed to knock his own wicket off. It probably sums up the fortunes of his team.

Old Friend manages a few runs before J catches her out. It is over. We have lost.

"Second innings?" someone says.

"Pub!"