Random London Evenings

I don’t know why I’ve become so reluctant to blog over the past few weeks. Its not like I haven’t been doing things. I mean, its London! Of course I’ve been doing things! But, for whatever reason, possible blog topics have eluded me. There’s this general sense of, ‘Oh, yes, but, you know, that’s just what I do now. I just visit the Tate Modern on my lunch break, no biggie.’ Forgetting that Jenny of only a year or so ago would have lost her mind over someone who just visited the Tate Modern on their lunch break. I am now that Jenny and yet, I am still (as far as I can tell), in possession of my mind. Sorry, have just started on cider with blackberry liquer (seriously? I LOVE the cider selection in my local Sainsbury’s), so the sentences may be weird. And, also, why is it I only seem to blog when drinking? Not good for grammar and punctuation skills and as we have established before I judge people pretty harshly for those things and I don’t exclude myself from that harsh judgement, meaning I’ll probs wake up tomorrow morning re-read this post and decide that I my 18 years of education were clearly all a waste because I am evidently so dumb and a completely undateable human being. 
ANYWHO. As I said, its not like there hasn’t been things to talk about. I was with the fam in Edinburgh and then the Lake District, the latter of which I had never been to and it was just lovely. ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, except I was with my brother and dad and stepmother and I don’t like Wordsworth. But, despite reserving a special kind of hatred for Wordsworth’s over-the-top sentimentality, I had to admit I was quite the fan of his taste in landscapes. Well played, Wordsworth, well played.
I returned to London and started work experience with a young theatre company called Tonic, which is run by a very talented young director, who I very much enjoy being around and hearing her opinions on things. My main task has been research into climate change for a new play of theirs, which has slightly skewed my perspective on everything in my life whereby I’ve stopped imagining someday buying a nice apartment in some fabulous metropolis and settling down with a lovely bloke and instead have decided to start stockpiling tinned foods in the mountains somewhere and learning how to build fires and find fresh water. But, apart from my paranoia, its been great.
I’ve been to no less than two rooftop parties with hipsters in Brick Lane, which I think makes me dangerously close to being a hipster too, but luckily I don’t have funky glasses or work in graphic design or am incredibly skinny… on all other accounts though, I’m dangerously close.

Tommie Smith. In Clapham. Uh-mazing.

And, then, last night I had one of those wonderfully random evenings that you can’t quite explain but only really happen in big cities. I had been signing up to my local library on Thursday and happened to see a flyer for a screening on Friday evening of a documentary about Tommie Smith and John Carlos (the runners who made the black power slaute on the Olympic podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. In tiny letters at the bottom of the flyer, it stated that Tommie Smith himself would be at a Q&A afterwards. I thought, really? Tommie Smith? He’s going to be in my local library? And, I thought, that’s something I really gotta see. I’m kind of a sook and I do cry at a lot of things, but that image is one of those things that tends to get me choked up no matter what the circumstances. The documentary wasn’t amazing (an ESPN TV documentary with many fast cut aways and lots of ‘inspirational’ music with little on historical detail), but it was certainly a thrill to be in the same room as Tommie Smith and to hear him speak. He’s certainly a character.
My housemate and I then headed home, where I changed and got ready to go to an all-night theatre performance. And, when I say all-night, I mean, all-night. It started at 11:45pm and went through until 6am. At the risk of making it sound naff, it was an ‘interactive’ piece based on Medea. But, it was so much more incredible and beautiful and magical than any interactive piece I’ve ever seen before.
The first half was the wedding of Medea and Jason. When we entered the space, the actors had these huge tents of coloured ribbons attached to their torsos, which they were spinning around in and we could stand under the giant tents with the actors and watch as the ribbons twirled around us and over us and past us. Music was playing loudly and lights were flashing. It was gorgeous, it was so joyful. The marriage of Medea and Jason was exciting and happened around us and with us. We played music, wrote rhymes for the couple, prepared them for the wedding ceremony. After a quick tea, coffee and biscuit break at 2am (in which I grabbed far too many biscuits and tea – caffeine! sugar! must keep up energy!) we went back into the space. This was probably my favourite moment of the whole night. We sat in the now empty space where we had witnessed Jason and Medea’s wedding. A group of women dressed in white ‘peasant’ women, who came through the crowd and took some of us by the hand, two at a time. I was one of the people chosen by a peasant woman. They took us into another room and got us into our pyjamas at which point it became clear that we were meant to be Jason and Medea’s children. We were put to bed, read a story, given hot chocolate and then told to go to sleep. During this time, a scene between Jason and Medea had a scene in the middle of the room, which the other half of the audience watched. I had a hard time not also wanting to watch and my ‘nanny’ had to keep telling me to go back to sleep, tucking me in and stroking my head. There was something so wonderfully warm and comforting about the whole experience that I really didn’t want to end, nor did I ever want to leave my wonderful nanny (who I continued to refer to as ‘my nanny’ in my head whenever I saw her in the show afterwards).
Many other things happened that were so much fun, but I don’t have the words or the time to describe them all. Apart from the show itself, which was wonderful, just being in the Southbank Centre at an odd time was magical in its own right. We had tea, coffee and biscuit breaks on the roof of the Southbank Centre at 2am and 4am and then at 6am. There’s something so peaceful and special about seeing a big city late at night. Its not completely dead, of course, I don’t think big cities ever are, but there’s something wonderful about seeing these big, empty spaces with only two people strolling slowly though them, holding hands, swaying their arms of spinning around. At 6am, we were given breakfast on a long table, with lovely china (some of it looked like it had come from ‘Hungry Tea’) and with the cast.
It was a wonderful experience, though oddly lonely, considering the huge crowd of people surrounding me. Everyone else had pretty much come with someone else and, despite the interactive nature of the show and that fact that during the show I spoke to many people, something about seeing them all in the morning light rather than in the darkness when being asked to do strange things meant I couldn’t talk to them. I leaned against the concrete of the Southbank Centre roof, looked over the orange sky of London and the happy, peaceful people sharing bread and fruit and wished desperately I had someone to share it all with. Of course, there was no-one, so I went home to bed instead.
Don’t feel too bad for me. I do have plenty of friends over here and it was all my own fault for not inviting someone to go with me. And, that’s kind of the interesting thing, because normally going to the theatre is such a complete experience for me that I don’t feel I need to go with anyone; I can enjoy it on my own. The strange thing was that even though was a complete experience, it was so unique, that I wanted desperately to be able to share it with someone.
Anyway, that’s by the by. It was a pretty fab and totally random night. I’m totally wrecked today though. I fell asleep at 6:30pm and woke up again at 7:30pm in the kind of exhausted haze that can only be solved by eating high-sugar, comfort food and then going to bed at a normal hour the next evening. I was meant to go out tonight and I just couldn’t manage it. Instead, I am lying horizontal on the couch, watching ‘Bridesmaids’ and drinking cider. Its pretty good.


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