Even More London

This poor little blog is getting so neglected. And even when I do get the chance to write, its just in bullet-point form, no overarching themes or ideas, structure to bring it together (because, let’s be honest, all my blogs up until the last couple of months have had these things in DROVES)…. no, its just a list of my day-to-day activities. At least some alien historian researching the culture of Generation X a thousand years in the future is going to be really happy that I did this. I’ll be the next Samuel Pepys.

Except, without the Great Fire of London bit.

Or the plague (please, God).

I don’t want to worry you but I suspect its going to get even worse when I head up to Edinburgh. You won’t even be getting paragraphs, you’ll just get slightly hysterical yelled updates – ‘DAY 10 – ATE A DEEP-FRIED MARS BAR! DAY 14 – HAVE ONLY SLEPT 2 HOURS! DAY 20 – DON’T KNOW WHY I WANTED TO DO THIS! DAY 23 – CAN NO LONGER REMEMBER MY LAST NAME OR HOME ADDRESS! PLEASE SOMEONE SEND HELP IMMEDIATELY!’

Anyway, without further ado, the past 5 days –

WEDNESDAY

What did I do on Wednesday that I can classify as new? Well, this might be too much of an over-share, but its the only thing I can reasonably call ‘new’. I slept totally nude. And, I do mean, TOTALLY nude. No sheets or doona or anything. Windows wide open (the curtains were closed – come on, guys, I’m not a weirdo). So it’s not exactly a completely new thing. I’m a nude sleeper from way back. The summer before I left I can remember it being so hot in my room that I slept nude and then created little ice packs to put on my forehead, my chest and pile up around my middle area. Sure, I woke up thinking I’d wet the bed, but I woke up cool. Which was the only thing that mattered in the Australian summer.

ANYWAY, point is, I’d never had to sleep this way in London before. Even last summer, I might have slept nude, but I still covered up with a doona (which might sound odd, but I’m very particular with my PJ’s and if they’re too cloying or too warm or too itchy or too slippery I generally throw them off in irritation halfway through the night anyway. So it’s best to just get it over and done with early on). Wednesday night, however, was disgusting. It had been 33 degrees during the day (yeah, ok, shut up Australians – I’m not used to it anymore and besides, I came over here to ESCAPE that weather) with not even the faintest whiff of a breeze. I had my windows wide-open (as previously mentioned), but it wasn’t making a bit of difference. The air was still. It was heavy. It was just… hanging there. Pressing down on your head, your throat, your chest, your skin…

Not that anyone in London is complaining, mind you! No, no! We’re all delighted! Delighted! Delighted we start sweating the minute we step outside! Delighted we turn up everywhere with our hair matted and our faces bright-red! Delighted that everyone and everything now constantly smells of sweat! Delighted there are so many people in the outdoor swimming pools that it’s more people than water! Delighted!

THURSDAY

Just to really ram home to me how ‘not special’ Surprise Theatre at the Royal Court was last week, I had this happen to me on Thursday night:

I went to an Edinburgh Fringe networking event. I hate networking at the best of times but I was also exhausted, having done the late shift on Wednesday, the early shift on Thursday and being kept awake all night by the heat and my local crazies (they have only become a fixture in my life the last 3 nights. I really hope they move on soon). I had taken an afternoon nap, which is fine if you don’t have anything else to do for the rest of the day, but generally leaves me feeling sluggish and crabby for many hours afterwards.

Luckily, we don’t have the internet in my house at the moment, so to make a decision about whether or not the networking event was worthwhile, I had to leave my house and go to Caffe Nero to check the listing online. Once I had gotten off the couch and gotten some fresh air, I started feeling better. I decided I should probably go to the networking event ‘just in case something important might happen’ (who knows what). It was ok, but I’m always so awkward, I never know what to ask people, I hate telling them to come see my show and I usually get attached to the least useful person in the room simply because they are the least intimidating. So whilst networking events may be useful to other, normal people, for me they are just an unpleasant evening spent chatting to someone I don’t really like in a corner and eating too much free food.

Despite this, one of the women I met came up to me during the night and said, ‘Do you want to come see The Colour Purple with me? I have free tickets and my friend just bailed.’ This is one of those moments when it helps to have drunk a large glass of rose beforehand. It helps you say, ‘Yes, person-I-have-met-just-an-hour-ago, I will go with you to the theatre and spend the rest of my night with you to see a musical I know nothing about (except that the movie version had Oprah Winfrey in it).’ Luckily my new friend was lovely. She was Canadian and producing and directing a show for the Ed Fringe. It was written by an Australian, so that was interesting, and we ended up having a great night. The show was great, performances uh-mazing (voices in particular) and we were on our feet (with the rest of the audience) from the second the last note died away.

So, perhaps this is what the Royal Court should do for their next season of ‘Surprise Theatre’. Instead of having the shows a secret (or maybe, ON TOP of having the shows secret), they send out 10 – 20 people to various events across London with free double passes to a show happening THAT NIGHT, in UNDER AN HOUR and they have to convince someone that they are a) not a creep trying to murder them and b) to come to the theatre with them. How awesome would that be? Now, THAT’S a reality TV show I’d happily be involved in! OOh, and all the drama of getting someone to see a show they never would and then seeing their reaction! Big tough army men to go and see ‘Matilda’! Bottle-blonde ditzes to see David Hare! The tears! The confusion! The hilarity!

FRIDAY

I did a Commedia dell’arte workshop/audition with a young theatre company doing their first production in Cornwall this September. It was fun! There were only 4 of us auditioning, so it made it all a little bit awkward, and they were all much younger than me, but I thought, hells, if I get in I have an excuse to go to Cornwall! Not that you need an excuse to go to Cornwall (I’ve heard Cornwall will let anyone visit Cornwall that wants to visit Cornwall. Cornwall’s not picky. Cornwall’s not a snob. Cornwall loves visitors!) But this show would at least FORCE me to go to Cornwall. And you often need to be forced out of London. London gets its hold on you and then its difficult to let go.

SATURDAY

This is going to sound a bit odd. But, this was the first time I have ever seen a Muslim person pray in real life before. Obviously I’ve seen it before on TV, movies, the news etc. I know the general idea of what is going on and meant to happen. But, I’d never really seen it happen in front of me before. I’ve been in to churches, I’ve seen and participated in that sort of prayer. I’ve been to shabbat dinner and experienced that. But never a Mosque. Even in Marrakech I didn’t ever see it. I heard the call to prayer and saw everyone go inside, but never did I see it in front of me.

This is how it happened:

At work yesterday evening we had a DJ and a function. This means we need to get in a couple of security guards just to keep an eye on the place. One of the security guards came up to reception during the evening and asked if he could use the room. I asked what for and he said he needed to do a short prayer. I said of course, as most of my guests had checked in and it was pretty quiet. Also, there was really no other quiet spot inside the pub/hotel for him to do it in. He took out a small piece of linen and placed it on the ground instead of a prayer mat and then began. As soon as he started I began to have second thoughts, what if a guest came in? What if my boss walked in? Exactly what would they make of the situation? And wouldn’t it be distracting and unpleasant for the security guard as I had to explain to whoever had walked in what was going on?

Of course, almost immediately after this thought popped into my head my boss walked up the corridor and popped his head in. Despite the impression that he was speaking very loudly (I think it was only because I wanted everything to be completely silent for the security guard), my boss didn’t seem to mind. He was a little confused, but certainly didn’t intervene.

When the security guard was finished he stood up and said thanks. I really wanted to ask all sorts of questions, ask him how he knew which way to position himself, what he was saying, how many times a day did he pray and all sorts of other ignorant questions that I kind of knew the answer to but wanted to talk to him about anyway. I felt like we had this really amazing connection just because he had been doing something so spiritual and intimate in my presence.

Of course, he didn’t feel the same way (story of my life), so he put on his shoes in record time and was out of there before I even had a chance to say, ‘No worries’ in reply to his ‘thank you’. For him it was a daily activity that was possibly a little awkward to do in front of someone else and would have been made even more so if I had then proceeded to play 20 questions with him (I guess it would be like if someone started grilling me over… cleaning my teeth in the evening. Or something more important. I don’t know what I do that is daily and important. Eat food? Yeah, that probably has the same significance to me as prayer does to someone else).

SUNDAY

TODAY I PLAYED CROQUET FOR THE FIRST TIME. If you don’t understand how excited I am about this, then we probably shouldn’t be friends.

Come on! It’s croquet! It’s SO ENGLISH (even though it sounds French)! It’s so silly! It’s so genteel! It was in Calvin and Hobbes! Alice plays it in Alice in Wonderland with flamingos and hedgehogs (That’s ADORABLE!)!

Calvin! And Hobbes! Play Croquet! BEST. Found at: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1987/06/07

Calvin! And Hobbes! Play Croquet! BEST. Found at: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1987/06/07

I approached croquet with much enthusiasm but not much skill. And, unfortunately, it turns out that in the game of croquet, skills matter more than enthusiasm. This saddens me. I think enthusiasm should count for more in this world (except in America, where you guys all need to just calm down. Especially everyone on Oprah when Oprah used to give out gifts to the audience. Just, chillax dudes – Oh, wow, look I brought it back to Oprah again – these posts do have structure and themes).

Anyway, CROQUET!

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