Grown-Up Cork

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I thought I’d take advantage of some ‘down-time’ to write a little bit more. In the afternoons, the youngest goes to crèche, and of course, the eldest is at school, so after doing some chores, I have some time to myself, which is nice.
So, I arrived in Co. Cork last Tuesday, with no number, no address, no exact meeting place or person to look for and only a fairly small, dark photo of the family to go off. These things hadn’t really bothered me until I was sitting at Cork bus station with all my bags and with no-one who really looked like I was expecting. There were a few dodgy looking old men around, and I was terrified one of them would come up to me and ask was I Jenny, the new au pair, and tell me that he was here to collect me, with some dodgy excuse as to where his wife and children were. In short, for the umpteenth time on this trip, I thought I was potentially in a situation where I was going to be raped and murdered. Ah, my responses to scary situations are always so measured and reasonable, aren’t they?
Of course, as you know can tell, I wasn’t picked up by a scary Irish farmer with no teeth and blood under his fingernails, but by my new Irish family. When I arrived back to the house, it was all systems go, I was shown to my room, unpacked and then sat down to dinner. After dinner, I played with the eldest for a bit, and then joined the dad and his younger brother (who has been living in the USA for the past 20 years) for some beer and cider and TV watching.
The next day was when things got really exciting. I had found out, through the glories of Facebook, that and Irish arts body– Irish Theatre Forum – was holding an ‘Open Space’ meeting on the 9th of February in Cork. My new employers were very kind and understanding about letting me attend this meeting, and they drove me in to Bandon to get the bus to Cork for the day. It was fantastic! One of the funniest things was, that because I had no idea who anybody was, I just kept introducing myself to whoever was sitting around me. These people often turned out to be incredibly impressive and/or established actors, directors or producers of Irish theatre. I met a man who has just signed on for 5 seasons of the new HBO drama, ‘Game of Thrones’ with Sean Bean, and I met another man who had just recently toured Australia (including the Sydney Theatre and the Civic at Newcastle) with ‘The Walworth Farce’ – for any of you who happened to catch it. These were people that I would have felt presumptuous speaking to if I had known who they were, but, of course, they were absolutely delightful, very friendly and very welcoming. Everyone I spoke to thought it was hysterical that I had only arrived in Cork the day before.
The meeting was hugely inspiring and basically gave me a run-down of most of the opportunities available in Cork for artists, as well as a contact list of 90 people in the Cork area who are interested in the arts. One of the arts centres in the city (the Triskell Arts Centre) was holding an open day the following Saturday with workshops and a play reading, so I went along to that as well. I ended up having lunch with a group of people, and making friends with a few others, who offered to show me the sights of Cork, which was again, really wonderful. Everyone keeps telling me I’ve come at a really good time, because nothing has happened in the arts in Cork for ages, but I’m still impressed that in a town of 100, 000 – 200,000 people you’ve got a variety of professional theatre spaces, as well as artists who feel they don’t have to leave for the big smoke of Dublin if they don’t want to. I’ve got a meeting this Saturday with some of them, hoping they’re going to be able to put me in contact with some directors or producers who might be interested in working with me on some fringe festival shows. We’ll see.
Apart from all the artisty stuff, the uncle from San Francisco invited me out to the pub on Saturday night with some of his mates, and whilst I was initially hesitant (I had desperately wanted to do some writing that night, plus, he’s quite a bit older than me, and I didn’t know if I was going to fit in with his mates), but I ended up saying ‘yes’. Again, at the risk of sounding ridiculously perky and insufferably optimistic and sunny, it was just the best! The ‘pub’ is called ‘Chaplin’s’ and its again, basically just a room, with a bar in the corner. I love these style of pubs. I usually really dislike big, soulless, loud and crowded bars, I prefer going to a friend’s house for drinks. So, these Irish pubs are like going to your friends for drinks, if your friends happened to have cider and beer on tap. Everyone was great, one of them was also my eldest charge’s teacher, and they made me feel very welcome. I tried stout for the first time (Murphy’s, not Guinness – Cork people will often have Murphy’s instead because it’s a local drink) which was kind of yuck, but not nearly as bad as I had been led to believe. I met a guy who I think was a bit closer to my own age, Barry (they started calling him ‘Bazza’ in honour of me, the Aussie girl), got fairly tipsy and had a roaring good time. When the teacher asked me how long I’d been in Cork and I said, four days, she was so shocked. She said, ‘But you seem so comfortable and fit in so well. You seem like you’ve been here for ages!’ So that was kind of nice.
When I was in Norway, I held back from people quite a bit, I was shy, and I also felt bad about making people speak to me in English because I didn’t know any Norwegian. It meant, apart from a few very lovely friends that I made early on, I was a bit lonely for the first half of the year. I’m really trying to make sure that doesn’t happen this time round, and so far, I think I’m doing pretty alright. The other thing about Norway was, there wasn’t any real reason for me to be at school and do school work unless I wanted to, and, again, not knowing any Norwegian made it difficult to follow any lessons. Of course, eventually, it was wonderful, but it was a very hard start to the year for me. Here I’m busy all the time with the girls or housework, which means I don’t really have time to feel useless or homesick. Its working out well, I think.
Quick update: Just heard I’ve been given free space and rehearsal time to develop a fringe show (only 6 hours– but still!) for Dublin on the 4th of March. I wrote the application last night. I friggin’ LOVE this country!


Filed under Ireland

5 responses to “Grown-Up Cork

  1. Oh that's all so wonderful Jenny! I love reading your posts 🙂 soo glad to hear that everyone is lovely, you haven't been raped &/or murdered, and you're enjoying both the new family & arts scene. Looking forward to hearing more! Good luck with the fringe event! x

  2. YAAAAY! well done Jen. I've just arrived in Brighton, and am starting to cast around for jobs, a house and networking opportunities…

  3. thank guys! good luck in brighton viv, i'm sure you're going to have a blast! we'll have to find some catch up either in ireland or brighton or in between 🙂

  4. You met a guy from “The Walworth Farce”!? I Loooooved that play- saw the last night by a stroke of luck- which character was he? They were amazing actors and so powerful and courageous! Congratulations on getting the fringe opportunity in Dublin- how will that work in with the nannying? Its brilliant that you are so much more comfortable in ireland than Norway- language can be the worst barrier and the best friend…I have always loved trips to the US because ytou can make friends so easily by being chatty! Wheres in germany….eek!Also cultural issues there and in Norway i hear.Not “tell me the storyof your life” places exactly:) Whereas Ireland sounds perfectly fab.And the murder/anxiety stuff is all perfectly normal and keeps you from ending up in stranger situations than are wise! keep up the blogging-loving it xo V

  5. have no idea what character Ray played in the Walworth Farce- didn't ask, as I didn't see it unfortunately. all my writing and rehearsals will hopefully take place on weekends, so it'll fit in with the au pair work. next week, i'm getting a long weekend because i worked a sunday a week ago, so that's how i'm getting the rehearsal space time. its good = the family are every flexible and accommodating

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