Thursday, March 19, 2009

On That Damn Intellectual Arrogance

On That Damn Intellectual Arrogance

"Putting two incompatible ideas together - Tom Stoppard's made a whole career out of it" Double Denim asserts, holding court in a workshop I have come to suspect is firmly about him marking his territory than actually workshopping the material up for discussion.

There is, immediately, the exchanging of looks, quiet smiles. For Tom Stoppard would most definitely qualify as an in-joke. And an in-joke which is at my expense, possibly the favourite kind of in-joke for some of The Writers.

For, in case it hadn't been noted, I rather heart Tom Stoppard. If I could have written any 20th century play then it would most definitely have been Arcadia which has a final scene of such utter perfection that it makes my heart leap. And it has Byron stomping around off-stage. So, Stoppard. There's some love in that room. But for reasons known to no-one Stoppard has become the whipping boy of visiting tutors, much to my chagrin. Because I genuinely believe him to be one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. Clearly Goldsmiths does not agree. And there may have been a little bit of ranting about this incompatibility.

Double Denim catches the silent joke. "Is there a Stoppard fan in the room?"

There is no point me hiding. I've already stepped into the ring with the Publisher of Oberon on this one, so why should I hide from Double Denim?


Double Denim looks at me. I sense I have just opened myself up to his ego.

"It's always the same, two incompatible ideas. Shakespeare plus Existentialism in...what was it..."

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" I say in unison with him. I realise now he is playing some sort game.

"Thrillers and quantum physics..." Double Denim says, all the while looking at me.

Given that there has only been two professional productions of this play in Britain since it was written twenty years ago I realise Double Denim has deliberately picked an obscure Stoppard. Good job then that I saw it last year (and indeed that it gave its name to a character on this very blog).


There is not a flicker, though I sense we both know I have just jumped through a relatively small hoop.

"We could keep playing this game all day" I say, my own arrogance standing to meet his.

I realise as soon as I say this that I probably should have kept my mouth shut and maintained my victory.

Sure enough, Double Denim trumps me with murder mystery and avant-garde art, for I have neither heard nor read Artist Descending a Staircase which is a flippin' radio play.

When he goes on to say that Stoppard no longer has anything to say, it is probably safe to say that Double Denim is not my favourite person in the world.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Newest Boy with Guitar

My Newest Boy with Guitar

Did you really think I could let this pass?

Wub. That would be for David rather than Davina.

Look at the suit. Look at the tie. Look at the fact that, 48 hours later, I probably still need to take a cold shower.

But I think we need to look at further evidence of DT's all encompassing brilliance. For posterity. And my hormones.

The Future Mr DA generally getting rather into it [clearly I did not chose these photos to flatter Davina]:

Come On!

Thinking and looking cute:

Even Cute When Thinking...

Doing some more thinking and still looking cute:

Just look at the pin-stripe...

And - then - if really, really Comic Relief hadn't spoilt me enough, what do they go and provide me with? Only DAVID TENNANT AND A GUITAR. I think I need to repeat that in case someone at the back didn't hear: DAVID TENNANT AND A GUITAR. Which is so many of my favourite things rolled into one that it is almost obscene.

Boy with Guitar. And red shoes.

There was Franz Ferdinand too (last seen at Latitude confusing Dean because all of their songs sound the same), but, if I'm honest, I wasn't really taking much notice of them. What with DT HAVING A GUITAR and all that.

Oh, I would...

And feeling it...

Feeling it...

Sorry, I'm just going to have to pick myself up from the floor. Normal service should be resumed some time around May.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wherein My Non-Stalking Looks A Bit Amateur

Wherein My Non-Stalking Looks A Bit Amateur

"There!" I hiss in my most discrete manner "Deer in Headlights!"

We're sitting in the recently re-jigged common room which is all mis-matched sofas, arty displays and overpriced food which contains far too much tomato and cheese for my liking. But I do not hold that particular fact against it; that it is neither School Canteen nor Corporate Coffee Shop From Hell ranks it highly in my thinking.

Arsenal Fan looks to where I have gestured.

"Good spot".

I smile. I am, after all, trained in this spotting malarky. It had to come in useful at some point.

"If only Charming Canadian was here!"

Arsenal Fan is already reaching for his phone.

"I'm texting him!"

It is probably worth noting that during some long and meandering conversation around the same time that it was decided that the boys would start a blog it was also decided that Charming Canadian would marry Deer in Headlights. His commitment to the cause, despite the fact the two have never spoken, is admirable.

Almost instantly Arsenal Fan's phone beeps.

"He says - 'Maintain eye contact'!"

Given that Deer in Headlights is sitting so that her back is to us the eye contact thing would be something of a problem. Though I suspect that this is one case where I wouldn't have to worry about the whole don't look into the eyes thing. I suspect (excluding a major decision regarding lifestyle choices) I am safe from the pull of Deer in Headlights.

"But is he coming?"

It is the important question.

"I'm just asking him now".

"See " I say leaning back into my sofa, somewhat smug given that it was my idea to meet in the Common Room, "this is why this place rocks".

Arsenal Fan has to concede my point. What with me being right and everything.

Almost as soon as the confirmation comes that Charming Canadian is on his way I see him half-run down the ramp into the room. He is slightly, only slightly, out of breath as he greets us and we gesture as to where his future wife is sitting.

"You were quick".

"And the thing is I was still in bed when I got the text".

"You were in bed?!" I cannot hide my incredulity. I have been known to be quick when the situation has required it but this is a whole new level.

Charming Canadian nods.

I am laughing, there is no way to prevent it. "So you got up, dressed and here in ten minutes?"

"Yes!" he exclaims.

There is nothing I can do but bow down to such commitment.

If Deer in Headlights doesn't marry him after this then there is clearly something very, very wrong with the world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Once Upon A Wishing Tree

Once Upon A Wishing Tree

If there is one rule about going to Newcastle (other than maybe taking a photo of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge) then it is that a visit to the Baltic is a must. Not only is the Baltic an absolutely wonderful space, with views of the type that make me think I could absolutely, positively live in Newcastle and filled with art that I don't always understand but which always intrigues me, it also has the most amazing giftshop. And this is me, I judge cultural institutions by the quality of the tat in their giftshop so I do not say things like that lightly.

Given this it was probably no surprise that with a few hours to kill before The Killers (see what I did there?) Bourbon, (Lovely) Tour Guide, Old Friend and I trooped off to Gateshead to have a wander around the Baltic. I have to confess that when I saw the signs on the side of the building which proclaimed that its main exhibition was Yoko Ono I wasn't exactly enthused.

Obviously this is just another reason why I should learn not to judge a book by its cover because when we arrived on the fourth floor it was to the sight of three wish trees. And after my brush with both My I Like in Leeds and 'If I Created The World...' in Bergen it should be clear that I LOVE interactive art. Particularly when it involves words. So, obviously, I had to have a go. And, equally obviously, it took me approximately two hours to work out what I was writing. And then I had to write on both sides of my luggage tag.

The flippant side:

The DT wish.Align Center

The side that nearly wasn't flippant and then became a little bit a lot so because I CAN'T HELP IT:

The semi-serious wish

Due to the time it took to get all the wishing out of the way (and read all those other wishes, some beautiful, some laugh out loud funny, some so achingly poignant that I almost had to look away) it was soon time for us to go off in search of food. So, I did the only thing I could do, and came back the next day before catching my train to finish the exhibition and to add a final wish to the tree:


Which says it all really.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Not Quite Indie Rock and Roll

Not Quite Indie Rock and Roll

Hostel Man leads (Lovely) Tour Guide and I as we step into the office in search of a card machine. Already the accommodation in Newcastle is a step up from the last time that the Norway Contingent holidayed together - in as much as this Hostel is not run by Basil Fawlty and will actually let us divide the bill up in the manner we desire. Because it's not that hard, really, to work out that the person who paid the deposit should pay less at this point. Plus Newcastle may just have trumped Oxford a little bit in that we were just given free coffee with our lunch. And the Dreaming Spires may have many things going for it, but free coffee is not one of them.

"Hello" says Hostel Lady who is perched inside.

"Hello" we trill back.

"Where are you from?" Hostel Lady enquires.

"Leeds". It is, by far, the easiest option at this stage. Even though I am in my seventh month (crikey, where did that go?) of living in the South.

"There are 27 girls from Edinburgh here" Hostel Lady informs us in a manner which suggests that this is very important information indeed.

I aherm. It is the most articulate I can be on the subject, not being quite sure the response that this remark was supposed to elicit.

"There's 13 boys too" Hostel Lady continues seemingly unperturbed "We tried to put all of the girls on the same floor, but I'm afraid two of you will be on the second floor with the boys".

There is, I note, a sort of distress to the fact that two of us will have to share a corridor with boys. Given the fact that I not only do I share a bathroom with a boy but also that in being a female I am very much in the minority group of The Writers I think I might be able to cope with this. That I come with expectations that they will not wash up, will wear tie-dye and will most likely mock me is probably neither here nor there.


Hostel Lady is warming to her theme "And you know - after 10.00pm no visitors in your room".

I wonder for a second if I am fifteen years old again. It may not be appropriate to say that she is far, far too late for any of that.

Mine and (Lovely) Tour Guide's protestations overlap.

"We wouldn't -"

"No -"

Hostel Lady is smiling. "Oh, I know you wouldn't. You both look innocent."

I have to physically prevent my jaw from dropping. I may be wearing my Grandmother's pearls but it's not like I'm wearing them with my Petunia Florals. It's clearly a good job that she hasn't read DA. Or asked me about Actors.

"But those 27 girls..."

I sense a bit of theme here.

"I might need protecting from them".

I wonder what exactly is wrong with these 27 girls. Is it the sheer number of them? Or the fact they're from Edinburgh? (I'd have been more worried about Glasgow*) Or do they each have three heads and a spear poking out of their handbags?

"I'm sure you could protect me, Charlie's Angels".

I clock (Lovely) Tour Guide's bemused face and can only assume that mine is making a similar expression. Charlie's Angels. When there are only two of us. Is this what happens in Newcastle?

When we have paid, said our goodbyes and retreated we tell the story to Old Friend and Bourbon.

"She said we were Charlie's Angels!"

"What, all of us?" Bourbon asks.

"No, just the two of us" (Lovely) Tour Guide replies.

"Yes- we're that good".

And clearly because this is exactly what Hostel Lady thought she immediately gets my vote over Basil Fawlty.

*I'm allowed to say that given that my aforementioned Grandmother was from Glasgow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, Play A Song For Me

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, Play A Song For Me

It's Friday night and, for the first time in 2009, I am in The North. This is good for a number of reasons, not least the for the facts that in The North people know how to queue for public transport and that bar prices mean getting mildly tipsy in an establishment which has comfortable seats and fancy wallpaper might actually be a possibility. As opposed to getting mildly tipsy in New Cross, which is something of an accquired taste, particularly when the Camericans keep falling out with bar staff thus meaning that we have to switch pubs on something of a fortnightly basis.

Not only am in The North, however, I am in York. In The Ainsty to be precise. The Ainsty is a pub which I quite possibly would have blogged about over Christmas had I not been doing other stuff that involved copious amounts of not-blogging. I like the Ainsty for a couple of reasons (including the aforementioned bar prices) but mainly because Griffin played there just before Christmas in what was quite possibly my favourite Griffin gig of a very long time. Not least because I came over all 2004 and stole his beer. Even though I don't drink beer. But - raised platform, lots of space, not bad acoustics and a banister for Griffin to attempt to scale during the encore. What's not to like? Which is kind of why Val and I have found ourselves here again.

We are a few songs into the first set as Griffin steps forward. He's a couple of pints down the line, his hair slightly too much over his eyes, the sweat from the gig already visible. There's a fleeting moment when it occurs to me that he was the same age I am now when I first met him. Another lifetime ago.

"Now - " there's a pause, the familiar ability to lay the emphasis in exactly the right place "I'm going to play tambourine".

With that he produces a black star shaped tambourine. A black star shaped tambourine which is exactly the same as the one which was given to me as a present when I left Leeds. The very black star shaped tambourine which is sitting on top of my Paddington, under the sound desk.

Clearly this is too good a joke to pass on.

I duck down, avoiding the Sound Man's legs and retrieve my tambourine. Griffin chooses this moment to demonstrate his own tambourine ability.

He shakes his just as I hold mine up and join in. Only - when he stops I continue just long enough for it to become apparent that there is another tambourine in the house.

Clocking this, Griffin turns and sees that I have just stolen his thunder. Not that it would seem that I make a habit of doing this or anything.

Griffin leans towards the microphone.

"Security to the dancefloor - someone's brought their own tambourine".

It is, we all know, an old joke. But an old joke that still makes me smile.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Songs In A Major Key

Songs In A Major Key

We are seated in the School Canteen, over-priced food at the ready.

"There are no good songs written in a major key" Breakfast Club Boy asserts biting into his apple as if to suggest that this will give his view more weight.

"What about songs that are in written in major and minor keys?" Arsenal Fan asks.

Breakfast Club Boy is prepared. "They just serve to make you grateful for the minor key when it happens".

Obviously, because I spend a good proportion of my life arguing with boys about music, I am unable to stay silent. Not least because Breakfast Club Boy has just written off 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', 'Good Riddance (To Bad Rubbish)' and - hear me shriek - 'Chasing Cars'. Indeed he most likely has written off a substantial amount of the music I actually like, and with his inclusion of the changing key thing, practically every song by The Beatles. Clearly he is very wrong indeed.

"But you're using the term 'good' which is pretty much worthless. What does 'good' mean?"

He looks directly at me and I wonder if his eyebrows are green too or if they are just reflecting his hair. It is not a question I would have thought I would ever have to ponder.

"It means I like it".

I had thought as much, in as much as it translates as music Corinne doesn't like.

"What you need to realise is - it's like if [Arsenal Fan] turned up tomorrow wearing incredibly stylish clothing. The clothing would no longer be stylish just because of the fact that [Arsenal Fan] was wearing them. And it's the same with you and music. You could have every record by Tom Waits and because of the fact that it would sit in your collection with The Killers it would be bland".

It is possibly the first time that my record collection has been specifically lampooned for containing The Killers. It is possibly not wise to point out the fact that it also contains this or this, or even this. And we'd better really, really not get on to this.

Charming Canadian turns to me. "We've got to get this out of our systems before the workshop".

There is at least some acknowledgement that actually insulting me during my own workshop might be against form.

I look to the three boys surrounding me. "I'm sitting in the bullying triangle, aren't I?".

There's a pause.

"It's actually a bullying diamond".

"Yes, the guy sitting behind you hates you too".

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

How To: Make Me Smile

How To: Make Me Smile

Collect a handful of cough sweets, unwrap them and line them up on the floor in front of you. Just so that in case of a cough-emergency during the performance you will have easy access to the cough sweet of your choice without any of the horrible rustling noises that you usually encounter with the unwrapping of such sweets.

Seriously, those Wagner fans may have a special place in my heart.