Monday, January 28, 2008

I would have a drink in celebration but I may still be drunk from the weekend.

I would have a drink in celebration but I may still be drunk from the weekend.

It is mildly terrifying to realise that today I have been blogging on DA for three years. It is both a wonderful and a terrible thing, with the click of a button, to be able to look back to see what has come between and, having clicked on all three of the 28th of January blogs, it would seem that today is the traditional time for a look back in DA land. And I wouldn't want to break a tradition.

In the last year I've video blogged about queuing for five hours waiting for the Harry Potter launch, seen The Holloways three times and, more impressively, McFly five times, watched more breath-taking theatre than I have ever done before, learnt how to save someone's life, discovered I'm actually a puppet in a West End musical, camped (not by the smelly toilets) at a festival, not sailed in a boat at Whitby, become obsessed with the V&A, still not managed to win a penny at Bingo, fallen in love with Ian McEwan's writing (whilst still wanting Mister Pip to win the Booker), gotten relationship advice from Libby Purves, learnt enough about opera to be able to blag my way through a conversation, bought a pair of Bridget Jones pants, had bucks fizz for breakfast in Chichester, chased Pretty Sloane Boys down the Kings Road, been interviewed by both The Globe and The Royal Court (though, obviously, without being offered either job), written 50,000 words of a novel in less than a month, attended a Brideshead Revisited picnic, run across a deserted Blackpool beach, added Sela (or, as someone christened it, Sailor) to my list of favourite places, had Sunday lunch at the Bedford (twice), worn flashing bunny ears in a theatre, survived being on tour with a theatre company, bought a maxi flowered summer dress that can only be considered as being very successful, liberated a napkin from The Ivy, sung 'She's Electric' in a kitchen with some utterly brilliant people, received two marriage proposals and quite probably drunk more than I should have.

I made a bit of a mess of a couple of things (one of which I am still a little embarrassed about), wore my heart on my sleeve a little too much and cried because of three different people (only one of whom shouted), not to mention at at least half of the third series of Doctor Who. I wasn't always around as much as I probably should have been which, whilst partly due to how hard I've worked at various points this year, was also about how equally hard I was socialising. I forgave someone far too easily for things that probably shouldn't have been forgiven (though I know I would forgive them all over again if it came down to it). I listened to very good advice but I didn't always take it. I surprised myself at just how selfish I could be. And though I know that I did something morally questionable this year I didn't (and still don't) feel guilty about it. And, if I am honest, cannot say I won't do it again.

Maybe, amongst it all, as things got blurred, I gained a few extra bruises and I had to do some adjusting of perspectives, I grew up a little this year. Though, obviously, not so much that I couldn't understand the sheer joy of wearing a Stargirl t-shirt at a McFly gig whilst proclaiming that I hearted Harry. Because I never want to grow up enough to miss out on that.

If the last year has had some extremes (often of my own making) then I suspect the next year on DA will be one more about changes. If things go to plan then this will be my last season at the WYP (for now at least) as, providing someone wants to offer me a place, I'm intending to go back to University in the Autumn to do an MA in playwriting. It also means moving out of Leeds, which should, at least, placate Director Boy as I suspect he is probably getting tired of asking me when I'm moving to London. There are other things I'm also excited about, not least seeing David Tennant in Hamlet (twice!), the combination of John Barrowman and the National Theatre and a trip to Norway some time in the late spring, early summer (for it has been pinky sworn that we will go). I could hazard guesses at other events and I know there are decisions which will have to be made which, for now at least, I have been avoiding making but I suspect it's going to be a good year. And, anyway, if it can't be good then at least I know that it will be interesting. Which is, really, all I could ask for.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Once Upon A Time...

Once Upon A Time...

"You've been very quiet online" Val says as we drive towards the venue where we will not quite believe that John Barrowman will be appearing in.

I take a deep breath. "I've just not felt like blogging".

It's not the first time that this has happened, but certainly it's never had the intensity I've felt in the last few months. I have, in a slight secret moment, even wondered if this was my cue to stop.
I try and continue. "I've been really busy at work and when I haven't I've been writing so there hasn't seemed to be time to blog".

"It would be a shame if you stopped".

"Yes". I see that. DA exists as this wonderful record of all the things I might not remember had I not thought to start it in a blue plaqued house in Oxford in the weeks leading up to Some Sort of Beautiful's production. "Maybe after a break I'll be fine - I mean I've been ill, and work's manic and when I've had some time...I might get the urge again".

I do not know if I say this to persuade myself or the imaginary audience in my head.

***

It's several weeks ago, trapped in the midst of my final NaNo push on a day when my consumption had decided to lighten up a bit, and I'm perched on a stool at 2.30am. It's not Sela this time - for we have been unceremoniously asked to leave my usual haunt on account of it inexplicably wanting to close - but a bar with a bigger cocktail menu and more expensive prices. Not that the expensive prices matter, I've just made History Boy pay. On account of the fact that I was working until midnight I am pleasantly merry as opposed to the outright drunkeness of my companions. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

I don't know how come we've ended up at this conversation, faffing as I am with balancing my overly full handbag on a tiny table.

"The thing you've got to watch with Corinne" - the paddington loses my attention as I hear my name "is that anything you say or do may be written about".

Vintage Queen looks at me, waiting for me to confirm or deny History Boy's statement. I could, of course, lie. But it would be the biggest lie (other than possibly the time I told a hotel receptionist in Middlesbrough that I'd come all the way from Southampton) that I have ever told.

"It's true" I pause. "Anything may be used". If, of course, I deem it funny, or idiosyncratic, or odd enough. Or really, if it just sits nicely with the narrative arc I'm peddling at a particular point. It is not true, in reality, to say 'I have an idea for a [delete as appropriate] novel/play/blog'. Each is made up of lots and lots of ideas, many of which I steal from people I know. I cannot help it. It is what I have always done. It is what I will always do. It is what all the literature I really, really love does.

"But you haven't written about me" Vintage Queen says with almost touching naivety.

It seems almost harsh to disabuse her of such a notion. "Oh, but I have".

"When?"

This is, at least, easy. "You're called Vintage Queen. I blogged about being in the van after the comedy night and about the first aid course when I was being overly dramatic". I know I need to underline something here. "Really, it's just in passing when I'm blogging about stupid things that I've done". Little does she guess, having only read a few of my more questionable blogs, that 'stupid things I've done' would probably be a good description of much of the last year's output.

Vintage Queen is drunk enough, I have decided, that I can get away with this. That it will not lead to questions which are more difficult to answer. And, luck would have it, I am proved right.

***

Later, much later, when I have been the responsible person and, with some smugness, deposited a fairly drunk History Boy into a waiting taxi the conversation returns to me as I check my blog stats and see what someone has been searching for. A name - not one that I would ever use on here, a name I hardly ever use in real life accustomed as I am to the half-ironic nickname, but a name that immediately makes me take a second glance. It bothers me that someone, someone who must know about the twists and turns of my life in the last five months would want to see if I had written about this person. That I have covered my tracks enough that their search directs them only to some old theatre reviews that have nothing to do with the present story is only half comforting. The same half comforting of the curiosity of what those messages on Facebook that I get regular hits from are about.

Until fairly recently I had few scruples about who might be reading. Then, when I found myself refusing to tell people I know DA's address I knew something was beginning to change. The morning I arrived home and removed, with undue haste, my blog address from my Facebook account I knew something fundamental had changed.

Life has, as it seems inclined to do just when you're in the midst of writing out of your skin (it is immodest to say so but I think the last four months, both on and off blog, have yielded some of the best things I have ever written), got a bit more complicated. And there's the other writing, writing I have maybe been able to spoon more of my current emotional imbalance into unconstrained by privacy, or facts, or loyalty. Two thirds of a novel, two drafts of a play. And it is this writing - more than any other - which I feel I have to prioritise now. Because I can get swept up in the progression of where I could end up in the job I currently have, write my blog daily, building its readership and then in twenty years time wonder why I didn't try a bit harder to do what I actually want to do. I want to be a published writer, I'd like a professionally produced play. One day I would like to be the writer who leaves her belongings during a Press Night rather than the person who packages them up and sends it back to her agent. It may not happen, not simply because I may not be good enough (it remains I may not) but because it will simply not happen. But to try in a half hearted gently secluded manner, or, as I see in retrospect happened for a while last year, to retreat entirely because of this. No, that will not do.

Maybe, only now as I stumble towards DA's third birthday, can I see an ebb and flow in its writing. How its tone (and narratives) have subtly changed, the emphasis shifting. This is generally a gradual process, fallen into, as one blog leads inextricably on to the next. For the first time, however, I'm taking a deliberate decision to change the emphasis slightly. Possibly because I don't want to bore myself (it's an important consideration). But also because I owe some people a little bit more privacy than I have possibly given them.

But I have come to realise just how much I love blogging, something I'd forgotten about amongst the weeks of failing to update. And that, possibly above everything else, was what I needed to be made to remember.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Taxi

Taxi

In one swift movement the door locks firmly behind me as I see the taxi drive away from the building.

This is, it should not be underestimated, a bad thing. It is 1.20am. I have just finished work. I am carrying an overfull handbag, a bunch of tulips and the remaining three slices of (not just any cake but) M&S chocolate drizzled birthday cake. And - this is the factor that really tips the situation over the edge - it is raining. The kind of rain which, twenty four hours earlier, had Leeds on flood alert for seven hours.

There is, of course, the possibility that the taxi which has driven away is not the one intended for me. That my taxi has not just been snaffled from under my nose as I stand sheltering in the Smokers' Corner outside an entirely dark theatre. As the rain splashes at my feet it strikes me, for only the second time in my life, that this is a time where smoking would have been a positive lifestyle choice.

I do the only thing (other than eat the cake) which I can: I phone the taxi firm and try not to sound too unbalanced even though I do not have enough hands or enough sanity left to fulfil the task.

The man on the other end calls me 'love' and puts me on hold. It continues to rain.

Finally the man returns: my taxi driver has indeed driven off with another passenger. He has therefore been told to turn round and come back for me.

It is only after I've said goodbye that I begin to think the implications of this through. Is my errant taxi driver going to dump his passenger in some random street, possibly where they will be attacked and end up in little pieces in various farmfoods bags in someone's house? Crikey, this is the stage where numerous factors have combined to mean that I have too much power. I am a little scared myself.

But it is still raining and I have to be back in work in twelve hours time so my momentary flash of concern disappears as quickly as it started. When I see the lights of a taxi I care for nothing other than getting in it.

Only, as I hopefully peer through the window it becomes apparent that whilst I am the only person around this taxi is not for 'Corrin' (as I am traditionally spelt on the monitor).

"I'll speak to control" the driver says, possibly reluctant to take a slightly annoyed, not to mention slightly soggy, woman in his taxi.

I go back to Smokers' Corner where it is at least dry.

After what seems like an eternity the driver signals for me to get in the car. I celebrate by losing my shoe as I step in. I try and distract the driver from my scrambling to find it by giving him details of where I want to go.

When I've located my shoe and shut the door he turns round to me -

"So you know where you're going?"

I make a mental note that next time I have a Press Night I shall arrange to sleep in the first aid room.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Neatly sidestepping my absence to talk about pants (for now)

"There was just the part where I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that something wasn't quite right".

I say this in the middle of Angry Fences Shopping Centre, in the coffee shop which Dean and I used to frequent and which, in our absence, has decided to replace all its wonky tables and chairs with more wonky tables and chairs. Oh, and a sofa. Because it aspires to be Starbucks. But more wonky. Dean is drinking tea and eating a sausage roll. I am drinking extortionately priced bottled water. Water that, in five minutes time, will cause me to be sick in the shopping centre toilets.

I continue. "Somehow all my internal organs felt like they were constricted".

Dean begins to laugh. He knows where this is going.

"And then I realised - I hadn't taken them off!"

Because if I had a slinky, silky petrol blue dress for my birthday drinks (last seen on a Sugababe it would appear) then, probably unlike the Sugababe, I also had Bridget Jones pants on. Pants which I was clearly too drunk to think that it might be a good idea to take them off before I fell asleep (the pants themselves would prohibit anyone else seeing them, let alone taking them off).

And then the realisation hits me.

"I'm blaming the pants for the hangover. My organs were too squashed to process the food let alone alcohol".

As Dean laughs I see my future stretch out in front of me: hangovers, Bridget Jones pants and all.

This is what it means to be twenty five.