Monthly Archives: September 2013

On ‘There Has Possibly Been an Incident’ and theatre and writing and life and all that other stuff

This is an attempt at a serious, contemplative post. I will endeavour to be serious and contemplative at all times and communicate to you, my readers, earnest and truthful points about emotions I have felt and ideas I have thought. I will at no point make cheap pop-culture references for laughs (unless, of course, I am attempting to make an earnest, serious truthful statement specifically about pop-culture and need to reference it to make my point), I will not be charmingly self-deprecating about my lack of love life and I will not make terrible terrible puns, even if they are especially terrible and delightful. And, I think I will leave it there, because you get the idea and I am already treading on thin ice.

So, yesterday I went to the theatre.

(That is not that exciting, I hear you say. That is something we have come to expect from you, Jenny.

Yes, I know, but give me a minute. I’m trying to build up your anticipation.)

Yesterday I went to the theatre to see a show that I have already seen. Yesterday I went to the theatre to see a show I saw barely a month ago at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Why?

Well, that is the point of this post. Why? Why did I see it again?

The first and easiest answer is that the circumstances I saw the play in at Edinburgh were less than ideal. My father was up for a few days and I was basically letting him make all of our viewing choices for the time he was with me. I bought my ticket to this show thinking it was another show that he had spoken about seeing. It was only after we sat down in the theatre and I looked at the set (a bare office) and listened to the opening music (heavy-metal) that I started to think, maybe, just maybe, I had gotten my wires crossed. I leaned over to Dad and whispered, ‘This isn’t the Scottish storytelling show, is it?’ He shook his head. No, it wasn’t. Right, ok. No worries. I am an experienced theatre-goer, I have been to many shows where I know little to nothing about them before I go in, so I adjusted my expectations accordingly and settled myself down to be surprised.

The other problem for me on that day was something that I struggled with throughout the whole of the festival. I had been up at 9am to flyer on my own, done a show at 12pm (on my own) and was exhausted. I was seeing upwards of 4 shows a day and my brain was shot. The shows that were finding the most success with me were ones that involved a lot of jokes. Preferably about boobs and penises. This play, however, the one that I was unexpectedly at, that I had no frame of reference for, demanded my attention. It demanded a level of focus that I was struggling to give the shows I was seeing at the fringe. I yawned through a lot of it. I closed my eyes. My head nodded to the side. Part of my brain was vaguely aware of the fact that the writing was, quite simply, beautiful. But the other half of my brain was annoyed there wasn’t more fancy boys in fishnets doing high-kicks. Or something. And this half of my brain convinced the other half of my brain (which was too tired to argue properly) that it should just switch off and sit this one out. I let the words wash over me, the occasional excellent phrase crashing my consciousness, but not really holding on too tightly to anything. I left the theatre with a little niggling feeling, a little irritated feeling that something very interesting had just happened in that space, something with big, challenging ideas and I had failed to rise to the opportunity of thought and concentration.

Over the next few weeks in Edinburgh I accidentally came in contact with Chris Thorpe (the writer of this show) again and again. I went to see a show called ‘What I Heard About the World’ because I had once spoken to Third Angel (one of the companies involved in the production) about mentoring me for a project. I bought a copy of the script for ‘The Oh Fuck Moment/I Wish I Was Lonely’, because I loved the title of the second show and it was on at the exact time as my own show so I was never able to see it during the fringe. Looking at the name on the script and Chris’ photo on the front, I suddenly connected the three pieces of theatre. After I had finished both ‘Oh Fuck Moment’ and ‘I Wish I Was Lonely’ in record time, I decided I really had missed out on something at that show I had accidentally seen with my Dad.

The show is called ‘There Has Possibly Been an Incident’. (As a side note, if it hasn’t already been made obvious through past posts, I have an obsession with good titles – possibly because I’m shit at them. This is a good title. Why? I’m not sure. It just is. Its poetic. Its intriguing. Its long but also weirdly succinct. It tells you as much as you need to know). I continued to think about it, off and on, for weeks after the festival. Why had the actors spoken the words in such a deliberately non-performative way? Why did they have their scripts with them? Why was it set in a kind of office space? Were the stories meant to be specific? Was I not picking up on the references? Or were they meant to be general? How were they connected, really? Why oh why hadn’t I listened properly?

The lovely thing about living in London, however, is that if there is good theatre happening somewhere in the UK, eventually (eventually) it will get to London. I didn’t have to wait too long for ‘There Has Possibly Been an Incident’. Almost as soon as I got home, I had an email from SoHo Theatre inviting me to see the best of the Edinburgh Fringe. At first I was very excited that I could see all of the shows I had loved in Edinburgh for the second time in London. Then I got slightly annoyed that I hadn’t taken the opportunity to see other things in Edinburgh and just waited to see these ones in London. And then I got over it and realised the only one I *actually* wanted to see again was the show I hadn’t really paid attention to. I wanted to give myself another opportunity to understand what was going on. So, I booked my ticket.

And yesterday I went to see the show again.

You know, the fact of the matter is I’ve done this big introduction because I don’t really know how to express the experience of seeing the show the second time round. There were a lot of things that were different. I knew what I was in for. I was well-rested. After some initial hesitation, I decided to sit front and centre in the first row (incidentally, I don’t know why I was so hesitant to sit in the front row for this show – normally I’m all for sitting front and centre). From the very start, I was completely focused and totally electrified. I felt like the performers were talking directly to me, partly because I was in the front row and so sometimes they actually were speaking their lines directly to me, but also, just because I was so engaged and open to the stories being spoken this time around.

But none of this really explains the huge emotional response I have had to the piece. The huge, emotional, confusing response that I have been unable to shake since I saw the piece yesterday. I stuck around for the Q&A afterwards and that didn’t satiate me. I talked about the show with friends and that didn’t clarify things. I bought the script and read it through (twice) today and still felt unsettled. I tweeted to the Soho Theatre and to the writer and gushed about how much I loved the show and that didn’t help (presumably because gushing doesn’t really do anything and is usually just embarrassing for all involved).

I think there are quite a few things going on that have combined into such a heady mix that I have been effectively knocked for six. And, at this point I am going to try and list as many of these reasons as possible in as articulate a way as possible.

1) Most importantly – I would like to write like that. I would desperately love to write like that. And I don’t know that I ever will. Not because I’m not a good writer, but because (as I’ve said before), excellent writing is not just about putting words together in a nice order on the page. Excellent writing is about ideas and insight. And if you don’t have those, it doesn’t matter how nicely you arrange your words on the page, there will still be no reason for someone to read them or hear them. Excellent writing should break open your perspective of the world and give you a new way of looking. The plays that have truly made an impact on me in the past are the ones that have altered my perspective of theatre, of writing and of the world that surrounds me. This play did that.

2) I still feel like there are ideas in this piece that I haven’t completely grasped. I haven’t been able to fit it into a neat little box and stamp it, ‘Processed – Understood.’ That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have watched and re-watched and read and re-read Angels in America many times over the years and I still don’t feel that I fully understand the ending. It doesn’t destroy my enjoyment of everything else in the play and, if anything, it makes me want to keep returning to the script to finally figure it out. It feels like the ideas are just out of reach and, maybe, maybe, this time, I will get there… Maybe I will never feel like I have completely processed and understood ‘There Has Possible Been an Incident’. It doesn’t really bother me. The challenge it sets is more interesting anyway.

3) The ideas explored in the show of heroism and how heroism happens or doesn’t happen are… comforting to me? In a strange way? The play basically says that no-one has a plan. No-one really knows what they’re doing and they’re making it up as they go along (except for the psychopath who has a plan and has complete conviction). Why would that be comforting? Well, because I’m always nagged by the feeling that there might be something else that I should be doing. That everyone else seems to have been given some kind of magic key to the universe enabling them to truly understand life and their place in it. And, this play is saying, well, no. That’s not the case. Even in the biggest moments, even in the most important moments, we don’t know. We’re making it up. Sometimes we get it right. And other times we get it terribly, terribly wrong. And it’s saying, that search for meaning in your life is not… pointless, exactly. But… misguided. Because meaning is very rarely created by ourselves in one moment or even in a series of moments. Meaning is created afterwards, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes by others – it is imposed on to our actions to help us make sense of them and to craft a narrative.

4) The writing is beautiful. The writing is BEAUTIFUL. The writing is lyrical in the way that music is lyrical and I think part of my obsessing over the play is because the words are stuck in my head in the way that a song gets stuck in your head. But, unlike an album or a song, you can’t listen to a theatre show on repeat (I mean, I could go back and see it a 3rd time, but I kind of think that might start to freak the actors out a little. Also, I think we can all agree I’ve probably given enough of my meagre income to this solitary production already). So I’m stuck reading and re-reading the script, trying to bring to mind my favourite turns of phrase and keep them there until they are completely absorbed and I don’t need to repeat them anymore. And I would list them all for you, except it would take forever. I think my favourite is about a city square that is no longer a square because it has been so pulverised by shellfire that all the hard edges and lines are now a ‘dusty softness’. I mean, just… there is so much to say about just that tiny tiny line.

5) The show is very distressing. Extremely upsetting. And I don’t mean in a gratuitous way or in a way that isn’t warranted. But the show is dealing with huge, important ideas and big, scary, inhuman moments. But it is done quietly and calmly and devoid of emotional manipulation. The actors do not raise their voices. There is no underlying musical score dictating what you should feel and when you should feel it and where. And the result is that even though it is distressing, extremely extremely distressing, you don’t cry. You can’t really. There is no opportunity. And I ALWAYS cry. I drip worse than an old tap. I cry in Pixar movies, I cry in Qantas ads (I cry in Qantas ads even when I’m IN Australia, for God’s sake). And so I think that inability to cry makes it… difficult. To get rid of the distressing, uncomfortable feeling. There is no cathartic release at the end. There is no exit strategy. You have to sit there, on the tube, on the bus, whilst eating your cheese sandwich, with these images, these stories and you have to think about them, really, really think about them. I once saw a show in which they didn’t allow us the opportunity to clap at the end and there was a similar uneasiness for the audience as we left the theatre. But, if I can’t clap, how do I know that it’s over and it’s not real? If I can’t cry, how do I know that the bad things have ended and are in no way related to me?

I think that’s about the gist of it. There’s probably more things that I could write about, but I think those are the main points. I’m not great at understanding my emotional responses to things and this post is as much for myself as it is for anyone else. It’s not really meant as a review, either, its just an attempt to understand why this play, of all the plays I have seen over the past however long, has gotten under my skin so completely.

On another point entirely, I still don’t really know why I have such intense responses to certain random things. I mean, obviously, having broken it all down above I sort of see what things are affecting me and why. However, I’m not entirely sure why they affect me quite so much (I mean, I barely got 4 hours sleep last night). Sometimes I worry my brain and emotional response mechanism somehow got stuck in adolescence and I therefore FEEL things in a very OTT and not-completely-healthy way. Like a 15 year old girl who has just found out her high school boyfriend has been making out with someone else in his free periods and it is THE WORST THING THAT ANY HUMAN BEING HAS EVER DONE EVER TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER AND IT IS THEREFORE THE END OF THE WORLD AS SHE KNOWS IT. If my friends’ responses to my response to this play over the last day or so is anything to go by, they certainly seem to think it’s a little odd, and perhaps, by extension, they think I’m a little odd. And, hey, maybe it is a little odd. Maybe I’m a little odd. Maybe well-adjusted adults don’t let themselves get so caught up in stuff like this. Maybe well-adjusted adults had all their emotional epiphanies in high school and therefore nothing in the day-to-day world catches them off-guard anymore and its only the big shit, the family deaths and the natural disasters, that will now be able to break through their hard, well-adjusted adult emotional shells.

But, to be honest with you, most of the time I’m kind of happy I have deep and big reactions to things. I’m not saying I want to be a hysterical crying American on Oprah, losing my shit because someone has given me a make-up kit worth US199, but I also don’t want to sleepwalk through life never letting anything impact on me in any real way.

Nevertheless, whatever the reasons, whether or not it is healthy or not: that is/was the play.

That is/was my response.

And this is/was my blog post.

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Filed under Introspection, Theatre, Uncategorized

Grantchester (and others)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I haven’t written in 2 weeks. But you could all see that coming, couldn’t you? I mean, if it wasn’t obvious that I had given up from the fact that my last post was written drunk and ABOUT A HOT WATER BOTTLE then you must have been able to interpret all the, ‘oh, God, this is so boring, oh God, I don’t want to write, Oh God, why don’t I just reduce every day’s experience down to one teeny-tiny sentence so I don’t have to do anything anymore’ writing that I was very close to giving up the ghost (giving up the goat? I am no longer certain which term is right. Or even if that is the right term for this particular scenario. Don’t judge, I only had 4 hours anxiety sleep last night). Well, you would have been able to realise that if I had been bothering post any of that crap to Facebook, but since I stopped doing that (because it was all crap and ABOUT HOT WATER BOTTLES) you probably all just think I died in the past four weeks and someone neglected to tell you.

I have also been working hard fo’ da money and also writing ACTUAL THINGS (like PLAYS), so I have had to neglect the blog. And, look, in all honesty, I think the neglect was probably a good thing. I wouldn’t want to spoil the blog with too much love and attention. Giving into its every whim and desire will only make it grow into a selfish and demanding blog with unmeetable expectations that no partner blog will ever be able to fulfil at a later point in life. You know? Yeah, you know.

Ah, goddamn, this was going to be a thoughtful, serious and introspective post. Something that I could post, with pride, to social media. And now look at it. I apparently can’t help myself. Also, how now to segue into seriousness and contemplativeness? Or… I could just sneakily change the title and do the seriousness somewhere else entirely, where it won’t be sullied by silliness…

BOOM. Done. This is now a different post.

So, last week, after I had worked 14 days in a row fo’ da money (no weekends! 10 hour days!) I got 3 days off. I decided the best use of those 3 days was to squish 14 days worth of activities into 72 hours, so I visited my brother in Oxford on Wednesday, visited my cousin in Cambridge on Thursday and went to Brighton for a show on Friday. I don’t have a car, and these places are best reached through London, so I did 3 day trips in a row and spent a lot of time on public transport. Which I don’t mind at all, because it gives ample time for staring out of windows and listening to music, but it was tiring.

Oxford was lovely – my bro is (sadly) heading home this Tuesday after completing his degree, so it was good to see him before he left. I will miss him. I am sad he is leaving because I have never seen him happier than when he was in Oxford and, also, more selfishly, I liked having an excuse to visit Oxford now and then. Oxford feels about 2 hours and 50 years away from London.

Cambridge was up next and it was a stupidly pretty day, so we decided to walk to Grantchester, which is something my cousin and I had attempted previously, but the weather turned and so we ended up eating carrots on a park bench near a canal and bitching about academia and the arts instead. But this time we were actually going to get to Grantchester!

Grantchester is a sillily English place. It is unbelievably Cambridge-esque. Apart from the river that you can punt along from Cambridge to Grantchester, there are blackberry bushes you can pick fruit from; rolling green hillsides filled with leaping frogs; gamboling dogs with country folk dressed in tweed; and styles that you can climb over. According to Wikipedia, Grantchester has the world’s ‘highest concentration of Nobel Prize Winners’ (bet you didn’t think that was a demographic that people measured). People who used to regularly hang out there included Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, Wittgenstein, Keynes and E. M. Forster (who, with others, made up the Grantchester Group). But, none of this I was aware of until later. All I was aware of was this:

The Cam (river), Grantchester

The Cam (river), Grantchester found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grantchester

And this:

Grantchester Orchard. Found at: http://www.orchard-grantchester.com/

Grantchester Orchard. Found at: http://www.orchard-grantchester.com/

And this:

When we arrived at The Orchard at Grantchester it was 3:05pm and we discovered that they had stopped serving lunch at 3pm. Not to be discouraged, we turned our attention to the large selection of cakes. I asked my cousin’s boyfriend if it was silly to get two scones. He answered it was silly to NOT get two scones. Which made me like him all the more.

We sat under the orchard trees with their dropping fruit and their disconcertingly bold wasps and discussed the state of the world, and in particular, left-wing politics, in a manner that I hoped was suitably ‘Cambridge’ or ‘Nobel Prize’, despite that fact that none of us were actually students at Cambridge (anymore) and none of us have (yet) won a Nobel Prize. It was a beautifully restful afternoon and my (two) scones with jam were in no way a mistake.

My cousin then headed out to a cafe for a proper dinner (which I couldn’t actually eat because I had recently eaten TWO scones with jam) and chatted for hours. She fixed the play I had been trying to write for the past 3 years by making me realise that the reason it wasn’t working was because it all hinged on one character coming in and demanding something that they would never ever demand. Like, ever. So, we talked more and more about it and it became even clearer that I’m going to have to cut 3 characters, change the plot entirely and salvage what I can of the 180-odd pages I have written since 2010. It’s one of those things that makes you break out in hives when you first consider it and then, gradually, gradually, you come to realise that this is an incredibly liberating feeling, that you’re going to hack through all the crap ideas and thoughts and feelings that you tried to hang on this flimsy plot and narrative and finally express what it was you actually wanted to express all along. It seems like I do this a lot with my plays – for the first draft I put absolutely everything I possibly can think of into it that is in someways related to what I want to write about and as the days go on, I keep having more ideas and put them in too until the play is so big and ambitious and unwieldy that I doubt even the most experience of playwrights (Stoppard! Chekov! Shakespeare! Kane!) could make sense of my ideas. And, then, just when my frustration with all these competing strands reaches a fever-pitch, there is a burst of light and my brain goes, ‘Actually, all you want to write about is x. Go, go now and write! Write!’ And I do. And it gets done in record time. And it is good (usually). Usually this happens on my own, this time around I had help. My darling cousin let me ramble on for a good hour, told me lots of useful things as well as making excellent suggestions (my play happens to be around her area of research) and put me on the bus with renewed enthusiasm for my script and hope that it might, one day, turn into an actual play that people would pay actual money to see on an actual stage.

On Friday I saw the dress rehearsal for an actual ‘play’, but one that will not be on an actual ‘stage’. Or, Brighton is the whole stage. It is a hugely ambitious play-game using digital technology in the form of mobile phones and earpieces to keep the game-players in contact with their team leaders and hearing the story. I’ve been involved in the trials that led to the production getting to the stage its at and it’s terribly exciting. Combining game-playing with theatre is quite a new and exciting thing that I’ve only become aware of in the past 2 years or so and I’m really happy to have helped out, in some small way, for this production. It’s on in Brighton this weekend and also in York in early October. I’m hoping to travel to York to see it.

Saturday I actually managed to spend in London. But, that is all for my serious, contemplative piece later on today. See you there!

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Filed under UK

Ode to the Hot Water Bottle

Its that time of year (and, boy oh boy does the weather want you to know that it is that time of year) and so I have decided to craft a seasonally appropriate blog post. Whilst quite tipsy on (seasonally appropriate) red wine (thank goodness for those red squiggly ‘you’ve-done-something-wrong’ lines, otherwise this post would go out NOT ONLY embarrassingly written, but ALSO with spelling mistakes. SHOCK HORROR).

I’ve already done my, ‘Why-you-are-wrong-and-I-am-right-and-winter-is-ACTUALLY-the-best-season-ever’ post (see here) and I’ve also done my, ‘Isn’t-autumn-lovely-with-its-pretty-colours-and-its-breath-like-smoke’ post’ (see here), so all I am left with now is to break down the various seasons into tiny little bits and comment on them individually: ‘Oh, how I do enjoy the autumn leaves!’ ‘Oh, how I do enjoy seeing my breath!’ ‘Oh, isn’t lovely when you wake up and its sunny and brisk and then you go to work and it gets rainy and miserable and then you have to walk to the tube station in the rain without an umbrella because you thought you didn’t need one and then on the tube you have to choose people to sit next to and they’re all, ‘Don’t sit near me with your wet and dripping sleeves’ (in their EYES) and then you choose the person/people you least like in the carriage (based on carefully deliberated and TOTALLY SUPERFICIAL factors) and then you deliberately LEAN IN (in a non-Facebook-feminist way) to them just so you can make them all wet and cold just like you are because that will somehow make everything better’. Yeah. Its the little things that make the seasons lovely. 

So, in that spirit, here is my ‘Ode to the Hot Water Bottle’ (also in the spirit of previous posts, ‘Ode to the Trampoline‘ and ‘Ode to My Shoes‘).

Do you guys know how awesome that hot water bottle is? I don’t think you do.

Before I came to Europe, I thought a hot water bottle was something that you used only when you were sick and on your special lady times.

But then I went to Ireland and I discovered that the way the Irish show their hospitality to a guest is by putting a hot water bottle in their bed. Even in the summer! No, seriously! I once stayed at a friend’s house in June and her mother had put a hot water bottle in the bed! Under the doona! And, I have to say, I was delighted! I had never felt so warm and cosy and looked after in all my life! Sure I as a little woozy from the slight over-heating, but I was still very, very happy to be there and to be so looked after.

Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the hot water bottle:

1) Containers used for warmth in bed have been around since the 16th century and used to be filled with the dying embers of the fire.

2) The modern day hot water bottle made of rubber was patented by the Croatian, Eduard Penkala (thank you Croatia).

3) Hot water bottles have been supplanted in most countries by better heating and electric blankets (boo) but in ‘developing’ countries, rural areas and places such as the UK & Ireland (yay), hot water bottles remain popular alternatives to the other fancy-schmancy things (source: Wikipedia and life experience).

4) Hot water bottles have seen a recent upsurge in Japan, where they are seen as a cost-effective and ecologically friendly way of staying warm (source: Wikipedia)!

5) There is a wikipedia post for Hot Water Bottles!

6) The german for Hot Water Bottle is: Wärmflasche! It has an umlaut! Hooray!

7) They are like hugging a teddy bear! A WARM teddy bear (yay)! Or a (very small) human being (Yay? Boo? CONFUSION)!

8) They have magic (medicinal) properties! Father’s remedies for an upset stomach included: a) flat, warm lemonade b) time off school c) MANDATORY viewing of Disney cartoons and/or Home Alone d) some kind of watery soup with toast (or those tiny little French mini-toasts that came out of a packet and made you FEEL LIKE A GIANT or possibly ALICE IN WONDERLAND WHEN SHE DRANK THE POTION – obviously the best snack food ever) e) (most important) HOT WATER BOTTLE

9) They come in novelty shapes! They come with novelty furry wrapper things, possibly shaped like your favourite animal (if its stomach was a square)! The rubber comes in a variety of colours (mainly red or blue)!

I think I have switched from interesting facts into why I like hot water bottles by accident. Probably all that seasonally appropriate red wine. Anyway, it pretty much all boils down to this: hot water bottles are awesome. They are warm and comforting and old-fashioned in a way that electric blankets and halogen heaters can never ever hope to be (unless, of course, we are talking about electric blankets and halogen heaters in a far distant future when they are also old-fashioned and possibly obsolete due to the MASSIVE HEATING OF THE PLANET AND MELTING OF THE ICE CAPS THAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT TO FACE. DOOM DOOM). Why are they so much more comforting? Probs because you have to hold them directly on to your skin. To, like, directly transfer the heat from one place to another. But also, you either you have to make one up yourself, or someone you know has to make one up for you. It’s not just flicking a switch and having hot air blasting hot at you. You have to put the kettle on. Pour the water (carefully) into the hot water bottle. Put the plug in. It’s not that much effort, but these days we’re so adverse to any thing that in anyway resembles effort that any effort at all suddenly seems special.

‘You waited in the kitchen for 2 minutes for the kettle to boil? Just so that I would have a lovely warm thing to clutch as I slept? I FEEL SO SPECIAL AND LOVED!’

It’s like the difference between growing all the vegetables in your local allotment and then going and picking them and taking them home in a brown box and then washing them and peeling them and cutting them up and putting them in a big pot and spicing them and mixing them and checking on them and taking them out of the pot and serving them to yourself with a little sprig of rosemary; and going to Sainsbury’s and picking up a plastic container of vegetable soup for 1.50 pounds and putting it in the microwave for 3 mins. That is the difference between a hot water bottle and an electric heather (so, basically, everything).

Do you know what else is good about hot water bottles? They are fun. Yes, fun! They are squishy. You can hear the water sloshing around inside. You can rock them back and forth and feel the water moving. Its all very sensorially pleasing.

So, how can I sum this all up?

Hot water bottles people! Get amongst it! I’m going to go make one up now!

Hot water bottles! One red! One blue! One normal! One novelty shaped! Founda at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W%C3%A4rmflasche1.jpg

Hot water bottles! One red! One blue! One normal! One novelty shaped! Founda at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:W%C3%A4rmflasche1.jpg

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Filed under London, Random

One-liners

Aw, man, blogging. Blogs. Blogging blog blogs. Goddamn why’d I ever get a blog?

There has been nothing to blog about this week (oh, except the election. But I already wrote a bad election night poem on that subject so we can just move right along now). But, I am nothing if not consistent (except those times when I’m not), so here I am to fill you in on my ‘inceredibly-exciting-not-to-be-missed-London-life-and-last-year-of-my-twenties’.

But I’m really bored and lazy, so I’ve decided to sum up every day in one sentence.

I considered doing haikus, but I’m going to be honest, I don’t really know the structure of a haiku well enough to write one and wikipedia-ing the structure at 10:20pm on a Friday night seemed like way too much effort.

Also, and prepared to be shocked, I really hate haikus.

I know, I know, you’d think it would be something I’d like, right? But, no. Not really. They just kind of piss me off and leave me feeling deeply unsatisfied in an inexplicable and disconcerting way. Like bad sex. Which might be the point, but I’d just really rather not, ok?

And I fully expect to receive a large amount of hate-mail from all you Haiku fanciers out there, and let me just say, before you start, I will only be acknowledging hate-mail written in haiku form. I mean, if you care about haikus THAT MUCH you must at least be able to tell me I suck within the format, yeah? Excellent.

Anyway, onto my days in one sentence each and one sentence only.

Sunday: Sudden autumnal weather led to lying on the couch writing, reading and drinking tea all day long.

Monday: Swimming and a job offer softened the blow of travelling all the way to Finsbury Park for a show that was sold out – and I didn’t have a ticket for.

Tuesday: Second sold out show (with no ticket) of the week, but this time I made it in to see ‘Grounded’ at the Gate Theatre.

Wednesday: Lovely Crouch End is surprisingly easy to get to considering how far away it is from where I live,

Thursday: Threw water balloons at a man dressed in a schoolgirl outfit wearing a Putin mask whilst this song was playing:

(Oh, London)

Friday: Went swimming at 9:30pm and first got a whole lane to myself and then the WHOLE POOL.

So, there you go. My week. Blog post DONE.

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Filed under 29, London

Korea

In the spirit of yesterday’s poem, I found this one on my hard-drive and thought I’d share. I actually wrote it on some hotel stationary in Korea when I was there on my stop-over in January 2011.

But, here you go, anyway.

 

 

 

Snow

Isn’t soft like people tell you

In poems

Or how it looks in a photo.

Its crunchy

And hard.

Like a driveway of sparkling white gravel

Not a downy-feather quilt.

And those curves and mounds that undulate so prettily?

That call and coo, ‘come lie down’, so silkily?

Points and edges

Too tiny to see.

The ends of a snowflake are sharp, cut out of bright white papers by children’s scissors

And they sting if you get too close,

Prick your sides,

Stand you up to attention quick smart

‘Cause you better believe

There’s no snooze button here, buddy.

Its up and at ‘em, George McAdam.

 

Here

There’s no warm breeze,

Sighing me to sleep.

The cold wind sticks in like pins

Through my ‘completely inappropriate clothing

For the weather.’

 

(In my mind,

Those are my grandmother’s words,

Scolding as my summer skirt

Is dragged out the door by an autumn wind.

Though, in truth,

She only every said,

‘Do you think you’ll need

A cardi?’)

 

Here,

Even your limbs can’t slack off,

Get away with wandering

With shuffling

Dragging.

Every few steps

I kick up my feet,

And slam them down hard

To get the blood flowing,

Scattering the shards of snow

Like a giant on a rampage.  

 

I jump in circles

And laugh like a child

(Or a mad woman)

At the hard lake and

The ice-locked boats.

 

The snow makes everything Quiet,

With a capital ‘Q’.

(except for the crunching, with a capital ‘C’)

Though, early morning Songdo,

Would be quiet any way.

It feels like

I got the wrong address

Or someone slept in

And everyone forgot to come to the party.

 

A single Korean man

Driving a snowmobile,

Stares

As I run and sing and scream in joy,

‘Its fucking cold!’ 

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When I Was a Child

Didn’t know how to react to the Australian election. So I wrote a poem. I don’t normally write poems.

 

When I was a child you taught me

Always be kind

Always be good

Always share (and others would)

Only take what it was that I needed

And look out for those smaller than me.

 

When I was a child you taught me

Not to argue

Not to use names

Not to bite or hit or kick or spit

To use my words nicely and if I couldn’t

Use them nicely, ‘don’t use them at all’.

 

When I was a child you taught me

The world is fair

And the world is kind

And the world is safe

And right always won (though it might take some time)

And that we were right

And we ARE right

And always will be right

So it is right

That we won; and we win; and we go on winning.

(And even if it didn’t feel like winning sometimes,

It Was.)

 

When I was a child you taught me

That science was immutable;

That love was forever;

That people got what they deserved (eventually);

That hard work always was rewarded (potentially);

That beauty equalled goodness;

That goodness was enough;

That intelligence was valued;

That the world has been, is and always will be;

That monsters wouldn’t get you

(Once the light was on);

That wishing on stars and blowing out candles and picking up pennies

Was a legitimate way to make dreams come true;

That the ‘grown-ups knew what they were doing’

And when I was grown-up,

I WOULD TOO.

 

But when I was a child

You Lied. 

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Back to the Daily Grind

So, that whole ‘new-thing-a-day’ really went down the tube, didn’t it? Ditto the ‘blog-a-day’ thing, or at least, ‘blog-about-every-day’ thing. Turns out the last year of my twenties isn’t so earth-shatteringly exciting that I feel the need to record every last detail. Turns out, the last year of my twenties is just a year like every other year of my late twenties, in which I avoid responsibility, big decisions and grown-up choices in favour of whining, drinking too much and eating chips with cheese and garlic sauce.

Oh well, what you gonna do?

The last week has been pretty boring, which is why I haven’t bothered to blog. I was massively unwell last weekend and then I got a lot better, so I decided to celebrate by going out and drinking a lot, meaning I probably stayed a little bit sick quite a bit longer than was strictly necessary. Monday I got drunk and angry in a park whilst discussing #auspol. Tuesday I drank in a park (but did not get drunk or angry – lesson learnt from the night before). Wednesday I went to terribly trendy Hoxton to watch my terribly trendy young friend play a gig with her terribly trendy band. I enjoyed it, but part of me also wanted to just go home and re-read my copy of ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart’ out-loud. My party side decided to drown my grandma side in alcohol, meaning I got quite drunk on Wednesday night as well. FYI – don’t attempt to explain very controversial ideas and theories surrounding love whilst drunk  and coming home on the night bus. It just comes across as self-pitying and attention-seeking, rather than an intellectual critique of modern romantic Western culture. Little tip from me to you. Last night I headed out to see a friend perform at a scratch in Hackney. Also, I hung-out in a park yesterday, but didn’t drink at all (lesson learnt from all previous days of the week).

So, that’s the run down, now you know what I’ve been up to. And now I can tell you what I’m really worried about.

1) #AusPol

For those of you who don’t know, the Australian federal election is being held on Saturday the 7th of September. And for those of you who have been living under a rock, or who are delusional optimists,or who are not Australians, Tony Abbott is going to win.

This guy:

And this guy:

Oh, and this one too:

You know what? I don’t even have the energy to argue with anyone over this anymore. I have been arguing against politicians like this since I was 12 years old and found out that my grandmother was voting for One Nation and Pauline Hanson (this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8R4DknGsaQ OH, AND HOW AWFUL IS THIS VIDEO ANYWAY? DON’T READ THE COMMENTS, YOU’LL WANT TO PUNCH THE COMPUTER SCREEN). I’m tired. It doesn’t seem to do anything. Once upon a time, I believed in a world that was steadily progressing towards some kind of social democratic utopia in which all people were looked after and treated equal and fairly (I thought the entire world was eventually going to turn into Norwegians – until I found out not everything the Norwegians do is perfect either). I know that’s not true anymore – there is no narrative, no clearly defined goodies and baddies, there is only that which we impose onto our history with the benefit of hindsight. My postmodern, poststructuralist education has left me with the ability to see all sides of an argument and the crippling inability to make a decision; attempt to convince another person of my personal beliefs or confidently see the way forward.

So let me just say: on Saturday I am going to be devastated. Devastated by a country that doesn’t realise how lucky it is. Devastated by a selfish, lazy country that wants to hoard and jealously protect its wealth and advantage. Devastated by a country that refuses to imagine the long-term, irreparable consequences of its behaviour. I am going to be devastated by a country that is going to vote in Tony Abbott. That is going to vote him in overwhelmingly. I am going to be devastated. The drinking and sad songs will not end.

And whilst I don’t really have the words anymore to fight with anyone, I have been volunteering for the Greens all week at Australia House, handing out How-to-Votes and being a presence for the party. Because I can’t, in all good conscience, support Labor and because I think Western politics needs to be shaken out of its smugness, complacency and apathy by the shock of a true alternative: genuine policy, conviction and vision.

Volunteering has been an enlightening experience – there is a lot of hostility directed at us volunteers, which I find interesting. I suppose we become the physical embodiment of the politicians they only ever see on television and so they direct all their frustration and anger at us. Yesterday a Liberal supporter (a 70 year old man who really should know better), took my How-To-Vote, scrunched it up in my face and then threw it at me. Luckily I kept my cool and told him there was no need for that and if he didn’t want to vote for the Greens he shouldn’t take the form, that he shouldn’t waste them and I would recycle the one he had destroyed. So, in the end I looked reasonable, he looked psychotic. Which is, of course, how I would like everyone to view Liberal supporters. So, win for me? I guess? A few days previously, on  my second day of volunteering, a woman asked me if Labor was preferencing the Greens in all electorates. I replied that, unfortunately, I wasn’t sure, but that her preferences were her own to decide. She snapped that she knew that, at which point her friend started getting in on the act and telling me that, ‘as a Greens spokesperson’ surely I should ‘at least’ know that. Keeping my smile and the lightness to my voice, I replied that I was a Greens volunteer, not a spokesperson and that I supported the Greens, not Labor, so I couldn’t tell her everything that Labor was doing. I thought also that preferences would depend on which electorate she was looking at. I don’t understand the anger directed at me in this scenario, I can only attribute it to people’s attitudes towards politicians (‘they are stupid’ ‘they’re always hiding something’) suddenly directed at me, because I’ve got the badge on. As someone who has spent most of her life trying to be nice and trying to have people like me, it is a very odd situation to be in.

I think my other problem with politics these days is that I am no longer (if I ever was) filled with anger. I am soaked in sadness. And sadness is not a useful emotion. It is a debilitating emotion. Anger can be channelled, it can be focused. Sadness is just draining. I want to be like this: http://lookingforastronauts.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/anger-for-lucy-ellinson-and-chris-thorpe/ I want to be that angry. That focused, that direct. That useful. But, instead I am perpetually weeping in the corner.

2) Unemployment

I’m back in London and I’m back to being unemployed. Its strange how quickly you sink back into feelings of low self-worth through being rejected and useless. I mean, I haven’t actually been rejected yet. I am just anticipating the rejection. Its been a year since I last had to job search, but the first job application I filled out this week, I just thought, oh god. Here we go again. The great email silence. I don’t know how people get jobs from applications. From applying online. I don’t see how that is something that happens. Anyway, I’m making it more difficult for myself, as I haven’t rung my old employers yet to let them know I am back and happy to work. If I don’t have any success in the next week or so, I will probably do so. But, I can’t work Christmas and I’m not sure I want to go back to being a waitress. What I’d really like is a 9 – 5 job, Mon – Fri, so that I know I have my weekends free and I know what my schedule is like. Then I could take some weekend trips away, see some of the UK, do some writing etc. That’s what I want. I want a little bit of stability after months and months of rushing around and everything changing all the time.

Anyway. That’s me. Politics and unemployment. I’m a little low, but not too bad. I’m zoning out a bit too much on social media. The only thing that’s genuinely making me happy and inspired for the moment is that new copy of ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart’, which I have been reading over and over to myself in bed, on the tube, in cafes… and the potential for seeing theatre at some point.

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