Category Archives: 29

Harrow

I’m crap with the blogging, I know.

[insert self-flagellation and excuses here. If looking for inspiration, just check out previous blog posts]

A week or two ago I went to a book club. Because I am almost 30 and people who are almost 30 do things like go to book clubs and wear sensible pastel clothing with good shoes rather than dancing all night and taking drugs and piercing every piece of spare skin that is thick enough to jab a piece of metal through (yes, ok, you got me, I never danced all night and/or took drugs and the only piercings I have are in my ears. And, once, at a time when other kids were terrifying their parents with their rebellious, self-destructive behaviour, I stayed up all night to read “Memoirs of a Geisha”. In fact, I would have gone to a book club as a teenager if the opportunity had presented itself, its just the other teenagers didn’t seem interested. Really, wasn’t high school just an enforced book club? Which is probably why I loved it so much and got so offended when people didn’t do the readings).

Anyway. I went to a book club. It was being hosted by my friend who lives in Harrow, which was quite exciting, because I had never been to Harrow and I had this crazy idea a few months ago that I would attempt to visit every tube stop on the map before leaving London and detailing my experience/impressions of each place on the blog. It is a crazy idea I have done nothing about, because we all know how my crazy blog ideas work out. That’s right, they don’t.

So, basically now I am just keeping score, in my head, of how many tube stations I have managed to get to. And Harrow gave me the opportunity to tick off another.

The first exciting thing about Harrow was that I had to take the purple Metropolitan line, which I had never taken before. I know, I know, when will the excitement end? But, seriously, guys, it is exciting, because there are no stops on the Metropolitan line in Zone 3! (People not familiar with London’s tube map will not understand the significant of this. Basically, the inner-city is Zone 1 and then it fans out in concentric circles in increasing numerical order to Zones 8, 9, 10, where you’re not really sure if you are in England anymore, let alone London. So, to not have any stops in Zone 3, its like, woah. This train is going out to the suburbs, man. And, straight out to the suburbs. Once you get on the train to the suburbs, you don’t get off until you’re in the suburbs)

Harrow on the Hill. Where I went there was colour, though. Found at: http://www.oldukphotos.com/middlesex_harrow_on_the_hill_2.htm

Harrow on the Hill. Where I went there was colour, though. Found at: http://www.oldukphotos.com/middlesex_harrow_on_the_hill_2.htm

Anyways, you get out at Harrow station and that’s when you realise you’re not in London city anymore. Because they don’t have maps everywhere for the tourists. Also, because everyone here has enough money/is grown-up enough to either own a map, or (more likely) own a smart phone. So, free maps are not really on offer, which rather ruined my normal mode of getting about in London. Instead I (rather cleverly, I have to admit), walked to the local gas station on the hunch that they would sell road maps. They did. I did a big act of picking up each road map of the area and looking at it and considering it and then finding out where my friend lived and then replacing each map, shaking my head and sighing and muttering to myself, ‘Its just not quite right’ with a look of consternation (I might point out that the nearest shop assistant was approximately 3 metres away from me. I also had my back to them, so most of this fine and subtle acting was lost to… pretty much everyone in the shop except me. But I figured it would help to get into character of a woman looking for a particular type of road map and had not found it, just in case anyone did get out from behind the counter and challenge me. I’m totes method).

I continued my journey away from the gas station and realised that as soon as you turn off the main motorway, Harrow gets pretty real quick. And that kind of tasteful, old-worldly pretty that looks like it should be in a Miss Marple episode. It also stinks of money. Actually, ‘stinks’ is unfair. It implies that I wasn’t enjoying the view. And that would be untrue. Harrow ‘wafts’ of money. It was all very tasteful, very pretty money. I liked, very much, to look at it. But I was also aware, in my cracked Docs and my black pants and my denim jacket covered in homemade badges that I didn’t *quite* belong. I was walking around very cautiously, arms pulled in, like one would walk around one’s grandmother’s living room, terrified of accidentally knocking over and breaking all of those china figurines she has so proudly displayed. In fact, I was half-convinced that someone was going to come up to me and ask me to leave. Like those sales assistants in ‘Pretty Woman’, except they’d be asking me to vacate the entire suburb. This was only enhanced by my encounter with two Harrow residents who were dressed in a fine selection of tan, white knits and high khaki wellies that looked like they hadn’t even heard of mud, let alone walked through it. These two fine elderly folk were walking down a completely empty footpath towards me and instead of going single file to allow me to pass (as one would do in busy London), they forced me to walk in the gutter. The gutter! That’s what they thought of me! They turned me into a guttersnipe!

The book club itself was delightful fun, with far too many brownies, tartlets, dip, quiche and biscuits. There was considerable discussion of the book, NW by Zadie Smith, but not too much as one of the people in the group hadn’t finished it yet. On the way back to the station, we walked over the hill and through the park, where families were setting off loads of fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day. On the pitch-black hill, trying to ignore our irrational terrors of zombies and ghosts and murderers, we looked out across the Northern London suburbs and watched as fireworks flew into the night-sky from all over the North of London, speckling the darkness in a sweetly haphazard and charming way. Sure they weren’t as spectacular and considered as the ones let off Sydney Harbour Bridge each NYE, but it was rather like comparing a homemade cake to a store-bought one. Good things about both, really and it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.

And so I thought, ‘well, there probably are some nice things about the suburbs and turning 30 and being domestic, after all.’

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Filed under 29, London

A Practically Perfect 24 Hours

There are a lot of ways to fill 24 hours.

I should know. I’ve had to do a lot of filling of hours over the past few weeks, all of my own accord, with little-to-no assistance from employers or money. One can fill one’s days staring at an empty document on one’s computer titled, ‘Personal Statement’, whilst drinking cold tea. One can fill one’s days watching wish-fulfilment-science-fiction-fantasy TV shows that have a slightly incongruous ‘After School Special’ feel (see: ‘Being Erica‘). One can fill one’s days recovering from a hang-over; or lying in bed, watching Twitter change; or cooking inedible biscuits with whatever you can find in the cupboard (you’d assume that coconut and vanilla really would be a winning combination, so maybe it was the self-raising flour?)

You can spend your days being miserable and unhappy, watching minutes stretch into hours and all because its easier to keep doing what you’re doing than it is to come up with something better to do.

But, from approximately 7:30pm onwards last Friday night, I filled up a practically perfect 24 hours.

It all started at The Albany, which is a lovely little venue I have been to a couple of times in Deptford. Deptford is an interesting place. It is very ‘diverse’ in that polite, not-really-saying-anything liberal speak so popular with bureaucrats and real estate agents. It’s going through a process of gentrification, but it’s well-behind the trendy East (even those bits of the trendy East that are only on the Overground), so its still ‘interesting’. That is, you still meet real people instead of ‘people-doing-a-long-form-durational-live-art-interpretation-of-the-idea-of-a-human-being’ (hipsters, students and artists). Anyway, Deptford is an interesting place. The Albany is also an interesting place. It was one of the first places I saw theatre at in London after I moved – a friend (at the time she was a friend of a friend) was involved in a re-imagined Odyessy, which you experienced as a walking tour through the streets of Deptford. It was excellent – interesting, well-crafted, memorable, I had a great night. I don’t think I’ve been back to The Albany since, but it was such a great night that I keep returning and returning to it in my memory and it feels like I’ve been there a hundred times. I really don’t think I have. Isn’t that weird.

Anyway. I was late, so I was stressed and running. I don’t like to be stressed and running. I don’t mind running on a treadmill. I don’t mind stressing in a stationary position (though I’d really rather do neither), but the two combined is awful. Especially since I had on my new favourite wardrobe creation, which I have dubbed ‘gypsy-hippy-artist-woman’, involving a red headscarf, a lot of swishy black clothing and big round earrings. I look like I’ve either stepped out of the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ or was a 10 year old involved in a very serious game of dress-ups. Suffice it to say I thought I looked amazing. But the running was doing nothing for me.

Of course, the show was running late. This annoyed me. There was nowhere to sit. I had run in a stressed manner when my clothes indicated my mode of movement should be slow, gliding and mysterious. I was sweaty and smelly. I wan on my own so had nothing to do except to pretend to be interested in the free flyers (there is only so many times you can pick up a flyer for an Over 60s social lunch club and raise your eyebrows to the heavens and nod in a way that suggests, ‘Ah, what an interesting project. Sociability! Over 60s! Lunch! What a winning combination! I have never seen such a thing and will immediately pass this on to my many and varied Over 60s friends!’ without beginning to look a little bonkers). Just as I was starting to passively aggressively sigh and stamp my feet (those FOH people had no idea what hit them!) I realised this late start was partially my fault, as the FOH staff were waiting for more audience members to arrive. One of those people was my friend, who I knew wasn’t coming. I had meant to tell them when I picked up my ticket. I hadn’t. The only person holding up this show, therefore, was me. However, I decided to deal with this like the fully grown adult I was and… not tell anyone.

Despite this, the performers decided to get going. Most of my irritation melted away when the first performer, Leo, opened the doors, gave me a big smile and shook my hand. He had salt and pepper wavy hair, a gold earring and was slightly shorter than me. I liked him immediately. Inside, I found the second performer, Patrizia, a with hair so naturally voluminous it added glorious inches to her height. She stood in front of a blackboard and took the name of the ingredient we had bought.

Oh, yes. Did I forget to mention that? Wrapped inside my fake fur coat (which I had taken off because of all the sweating) was a packet of courgettes (zucchinis), hidden from the audience members. Everyone had bought a secret ingredient to contribute to our group meal, which we were all going to cook, and eat, together that evening. That was the premise of the show. It was called, ‘Only Wolves and Lions’ based on a quote from Epicurus, ‘Only wolves and lions eat alone’ (which is an excellent title by the way. That title made me pick up a flyer in Edinburgh. And that flyer brought me to a show in London. So, excellent title guys. Well done). One by one, we presented our food gifts to Patrizia, lay them on the table and sat down.

We ended spending about 4 hours there that night, no ‘interval’ or anything, just cooking, cleaning, chatting and the occasional performance and directed discussion. It was fantastic. A lot of people had come with their friends, but it was quite nice being there and knowing no-one. There was a big discussion about communities in London and whether or not community was something that was being lost and whether or not that was a bad thing, or was that only a middle-class experience, or a youth experience or an immigrant experience etc. etc. etc. Some people got very grumpy, which was interesting in itself, because… well, because I come from a nice Anglo-Saxon family and people aren’t supposed to argue with each other about things. Especially not at parties. You know, no religion or politics?

Anyways, it was about 11:30pm by the time I got going. I retraced my steps, jumping on a bus and hoping to get to Queen’s Road Peckham before the Overground stopped. But, by the time I had gotten off my bus, the only trains left were not going to my station. My only choice was to catch a Night Bus. But there didn’t seem to be any buses going past me in any useful directions. So, because I can’t stand waiting around for things (especially in London where I’ve gotten used to buses and trains only ever being between 3 – 5 mins away), I decided in the end to walk from Queen’s Road Peckham to Denmark Hill, where I could get a more regular bus. For those of you who do not know London, this is what I did:

Queens' Road Peckham to Denmark Hill from Google Maps

Queens’ Road Peckham to Denmark Hill from Google Maps

Which isn’t that long really, but it feels longer at 12:30am. To some people this might be hell. But, to me, night-walking is bliss (And, as a side note, to me, waiting for a bus pointlessly for 25 mins with no book, no seat and drunken people falling around me is hell). So, I walked. I’m not sure what it is about night-walking that I so love. Certainly the fact that the city is quieter, emptier is good. I usually do it post a show or a gig or a party, maybe something that’s been quite stimulating, possibly loud and the chance to walk and clear my head, or think some more is usually welcome. Maybe part of it is feeling special because you’re walking around and seeing things that others are missing because they are inside sleeping, watching the telly or stumbling around outside drunk. Maybe I just have a death wish or enjoy taking risks. Really, I don’t think that it’s that I enjoy the risk part of it, though, because whenever I think seriously about the potential risks I feel very guilty and ashamed that I sashay about places I hardly know just for the joy of seeing street lamps lighting up bitumen. I think its that I block out the risk part of it and just go with my gut feelings, which is that I just really really really like to walk around at night. And, hey, they’ve got to have lit up all the streets for someone, right? What’s the point of burning all that energy if no-one’s around to see the pretty lights glowing orange in the blackness? Exactly .

I tumbled into bed around 1am and slept as soundly as a huge meal and big walk deserve. When I woke up it was beautifully sunny and I decided that I refused to stay indoors any longer pretending to ‘work’ and ‘write’. Instead, I was going out somewhere green and I was going to walk for hours. Because it was Saturday and the weekend, I took my time getting ready. I had a lazy breakfast and tea. I was enraged to discover that the internet was not working when I woke up, but then remembered that I hate looking at the internet and social media first thing when I wake up, but do it anyway (my lame-ass self-destruction). So, instead I picked up a play from the many unread plays strewn about my room and I settled in. It also has an excellent title. The title made me buy the play even though I had never heard of it. The title is, ‘If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep.’ It was about Occupy and anarchism and politics and the left’s lack of direction and identity and it was, yeah. It was a good read for a Saturday morning.

I then headed to Clapham Junction to take a train to my chosen green destination: Richmond. I had gone walking by the Thames there with a friend a few weeks back and her knees had given up well before I was ready to (there was a village I could see! Just ahead! Just up ahead! Quaint English village! SO CLOSE! SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR), so I wanted to head back and do the walk again.

At the train station there was a huge crush of people on my platform. This displeased me. It confused me too. Where was everyone going at midday on a Saturday? Had everyone had the same idea as me? Then I saw that the trains on my platform were going to Richmond and then to Twickenham. Something twinged in the back of my brain. Twickenham. ‘That’s a sporty kind of place, I think’, said the tiny, poorly used and ill-informed part of my brain that deals with sporty things. ‘Perhaps horse racing?’ It guessed. ‘The Twickenham Races? Yes, yes, I’m sure that’s right,’ it said and went back to sleep. The rest of my brain then analysed the facts and decided there weren’t enough women in ridiculous hats and pointy shoes for it to be the races, so my curiosity getting the better of me, I turned to a friendly looking gentleman and asked in my plummiest English, ‘Sorry, this is probably a daft question, but is something happening today?’ He laughed the uncomfortable laugh of a person who has just suddenly and unexpectedly had their life choices and passions brought into question by a stranger’s indifference and ignorance of something they care too deeply about. ‘Oh, its a Rugby match. England vs. Australia.’

‘Oh, yes,’ mumbled the sporty part of my brain, ‘Rugby. I knew it was either Rugby or Racing. Very similar… same letter, you know…’ and then slumped back into a coma.

I eventually managed to squish onto a train with a variety of burly Rugby fans who proceeded to discuss the perpetual existence of Australians wherever it was that you happened to be in the world. Considering this was a game being held against Australians I was a little bit surprised at the burly gentlemen’s surprise at finding more Australians surrounding them, but I kept my comments to myself.

At Richmond, after finally getting free of the Rugby hordes, I sat down to have my lunch by the Thames in front of a very lovely boat cafe/restaurant/bar which is currently the scene of every friend I know’s imaginary wedding. That is to say, its not that they are telling me they want to get married there, its that I look at the boat and I think, goddamn it, SOMEONE should get married there and I want to be there when it happens! And if it takes wildly inappropriate and unasked for matchmaking and wedding planning, well then, that is just what will have to happen!

After lunch, I started the long walk towards my English village. Things were going very well to begin with. The sun was out, there were children gambolling down the pathways and jumping in puddles, there were fluffy dogs running beside their owners. The Thames was ridiculously, comically swollen, so that a ledge I had drunkenly swung my feet over on at a picnic in May causing my friends to worry that I would fall in, now had water spilling over it and onto the grass. There was a difference of at least 2 metres. As I got closer to the promised English village, however, things started to look iffy. The path was overflowing. Not just overflowing, but up to my knees in some sections. Approximately, that is, as there was no way I was wading in just to measure how far up I’d get wet to accurately describe to you guys in this blog.

I had only been walking for 40 minutes and I had wanted to walk for hours and hours. Slightly annoyed, I turned around and headed towards Richmond Park instead. By now the sun was gone and people were scurrying back towards their fancy cars and lovely homes. But I was not to be deterred. I was walking for hours and hours! I walked straight into the park and about 10 minutes later it started to rain. But instead of turning around and heading back I decided to keep walking. I ended up walking from Richmond to Kingston-Upon-Thames, at which point the rain was pounding down and I decided I was beaten. I would go and find some kind of public transport and head home. But at the end of the road, instead of public transport, I found a pub called ‘The Albert’. Remembering there was a rugby match on, I approached cautiously. But the place was only pleasantly full, no TV and instead, a huge roaring fireplace with 4 giant armchairs sitting in front of it. Empty. I approached the barman quickly.

‘Can I just order a tea and sit anywhere?’

‘Yes.’

(almost breathless with excitement) Can I sit in front of the fire?’

(slightly confused) Well, yes, as long as there’s a table free… (gaining more confidence) Of course you can!’

At which point I nearly fainted from happiness. Fainted straight into one of those giant armchairs in front of the fire that is! I sat in my armchair (with pillows) in front of the fire, with my tea and reading another play until myself and all my clothes had dried out and the sun was shining again. I then headed back to Richmond Park and walked all the way around to the Roehampton Gate. I essentially walked over 3/4 of the perimeter of the park:

And though every walking muscle in my body ached, I felt amazing. The view back towards London was beautiful. The light was beautiful. I saw a flock of parrots. I don’t know why. Don’t ask questions. They were just there. It was weird and beautiful anyway.

The light was beautiful

The light was beautiful

The light! The light! Oh man, the light!

The light! The light! Oh man, the light!

 

Eventually I stumbled onto a train back to Clapham Junction, jumped in the shower and got prettied up in my favourite ‘1980s does the 1950s dress’. 

And there you have it, a practically perfect way to spend 24 hours. Not that exciting really. Go to the theatre. Make good food. Eat the food. Walk. Sleep. Read. Eat more food. Walk some more. Have tea in front of a fire. Walk all the other places you haven’t already walked. Have a shower.

Life really is pretty easy when you don’t think too hard about it.

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Everything I Learnt in Edinburgh (Without Really Trying)

I meant to write this post when I was in Edinburgh, but I kind of got swept up in Edinburgh, so I didn’t. And then I meant to write it in September, but then I got lots of work and so I didn’t. And then I thought I wasn’t going to write it at all, but I’ve now been unemployed for a very long time and I’ve decided that instead of sitting around in a state of low-level frustration at my lack of employment, I will combine my writerly forces with my completely empty days and use them for good! For the writing of blog posts!

So, without further ado, things that I learnt in Edinburgh (and haven’t forgotten in the months afterwards).

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT AUDIENCES

1) Audiences can sit through your show not laughing, not smiling and come up to you afterwards and slip a 10 pound note into your bucket and tell all their friends to come and see it. Audiences will laugh all the way through, congratulate you afterwards, say they thought it was great and then say, ‘oh! Sorry, I don’t have any cash,’ and slip away out the back.

2) Audiences like to have other audience members with them. They don’t like to be on their own. Audiences are pack animals. They like to shelter together. Especially when it comes to laughter. They like to shelter together in each other’s laughter. Just so they know that laughter is the right thing to do at this point in time. That said, different audiences will decide that different things are funny. As far as I know, they don’t confer beforehand, or during. But, somehow they all manage to agree that some things are funny and other things are not. And they seem to do it more or less as a unit on the same day. And the next day, the audience will decide something else.

An audience in its natural habitat: an empty room. Found at: http://www.agemanagementmi.com/services/iv-therapy/

An audience in its natural state. Found at: http://www.agemanagementmi.com/services/iv-therapy/

3) Audiences do not always know how to behave in a show. Especially in a show that seems like it is pretending not to be a show – one that is not in a theatre, that does not have tickets, that does not have lights. They will happily walk in and out, correct you if they don’t like what you’ve said, answer a phone call during your show (as long as, you know, they go to the side of the room, I mean that is perfectly ok, right?) Part of me thinks, ‘hells yeah! If you’re not keeping their attention, then they SHOULD walk out!’ And part of me just thinks, ‘Yes, but could you just be quiet and pay attention please just for a little whiles because I have worked so very very hard and it means so very very much to me and if you could just PRETEND to like me for a little while, that might make me feel better.’

4) When audiences are aware that the performer can see them, they will sometimes be unnecessarily encouraging with their faces. It makes you think that they are, I don’t know, just PRETENDING to like you and you really honestly just wish they would quit it. Except that occasionally, occasionally, audiences will HATE YOU WITH THE FIRE OF ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND SUNS FOR NO KNOWN REASON and because they HATE YOU WITH THE FIRE OF ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND SUNS they will have no problem with glaring at you the whole way through and then you kind of wish again that they could just pretend a little bit that they liked you just a tiny tiny bit. Not as much as your mum, maybe, but as much as… your pet gerbil.

I hate you with the fire of Ten Thousand Suns. Found at: http://dashburst.com/10-cats-grumpier-than-grumpy-cat/

I hate you with the fire of One Hundred Thousand Suns. Found at: http://dashburst.com/10-cats-grumpier-than-grumpy-cat/

5) No matter what happens, you generally only have to deal with any given audience for a specific set amount of time. No matter how bad it gets, you know that, eventually, they are going to leave and they will (hopefully) forget all about you (as you will them). This is the case except in a few, rare instances when you happen to flyer them again, or run into them at a food fair, or sit next to them in another, completely unrelated show in one of those weird, uncomfortable coincidences that life sometimes likes to throw at you. This is especially the case if they are your friends. Or you are performing in Edinburgh at fringe time.

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT PERFORMING

1) Sometimes there are bad shows. Sometimes there are good shows. Sometimes you will trick yourself into thinking you can see a pattern in the shows and that you will therefore be able to predict what kind of show is coming next (though, often this is said in hindsight: ‘Oh, well, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN it would be a bad show today, I had TWO GOOD SHOWS in a row! I was DUE for a bad one’). This is never actually true. Sometimes the bad shows are your fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the audience’s fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the venue’s fault. Sometimes the bad shows are the fault of a butterfly flapping it’s wings too hard off the coast of Argentina. (No, seriously) No matter what, you have to keep on going thinking that the next one is going to be better.

This bastard ruined my second Wednesday show! Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy_(butterfly)

This bastard ruined my second Wednesday show! Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy_(butterfly)

2) You are more likely to forget your words at the end of the run, when you’re on auto-pilot, then at the beginning when you are so freaking focused on the words that you are aware if a single ‘and’ or ‘that’ has gotten away from you. At some point during auto-pilot you’ll realise you’re on auto-pilot and then panic because you don’t remember the next lines and you’re not sure if your auto-pilot knows the next lines and then the panic will cause the whole system to shut down and leave you opening and closing your mouth on stage as uselessly as a goldfish gulping for air whilst lying upside down on the breakfast table. This will seem to you like it is happening FOREVER. In reality, it will be a few seconds.

3) Sometimes it is fun to perform and that’s when it goes quickly. Other times it like you are performing whilst your entire body is encased in wet cement and your brain is made of wet wool and your eyes are stuck shut. These are the performances that take the rest of your life to complete.

4) Stage fright is a thing that will pop up at unexpected times for unknown reasons. Also, stage embarrassment, which involves your entire body getting really really hot and your face getting flushed and you stuttering a lot. Stage Fright happens when you cannot face the thought of standing in front of another crowd, in an empty space and making them listen to you for an hour. Stage Embarrassment happens when you’re in the midst of a performance and you’ve just made a joke about Boris Johnson and a woman from the audience yells out that he is her friend and then you want the world to swallow you whole, or at least, you want to bow and walk off stage, except that that would be even more embarrassing.

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT FLYERING

1) There are many different types of flyering. There is the ‘easy’ flyer, which is where you stand in a place lots of people are walking past and you hold out your hand with a flyer and a big smile on your face until someone takes one. There is the slightly more energetic flyer, where you stand in a place lots of people are walking past and you attempt to sell your show in one sentence, with a big smile as those people walk past, as well as hand them a flyer. There is the even more energetic flyer, where you do all the above, but follow along beside them for a while, trying to give them further, (hopefully) tantalising details of your show. There is the ‘hard sell’ flyering, where you go to where a bunch of (presumably) interested fringe-goers are milling and you attempt to convince them, through a small conversation, that you are very charming, that you have a very charming show (for a very charming price) and it would be utterly charming if they could, perhaps, come by and see it sometime. Then there is the ‘gimmick’ flyering, where you flyer in costume; or flyer in drag; or flyer silently; or lie down in the ground in front of people; or you talk loudly and obviously (and HILARIOUSLY) to your co-flyerers about how amazing this particular show is and then hand people flyers as they go past; or give people sweets with their flyer; or give people free tickets with their flyer; or give people discounts with their flyer; or threaten people; or propose to people; or act out your play for people; or become a live artwork with your flyers attached to you etc. etc. etc. etc.

'Hello there friends. Could I interest you in a flyer for my show? Its an all-female production of 'Lord of the Flies' and was very favourably reviewed in the Woolloomoolloo Gazette' Found at: http://www.lolbrary.com/post/9074/planking-level-9999/

‘Hello there friends. Could I interest you in a flyer for my show? Its an all-female production of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and was very favourably reviewed in the Woolloomoolloo Gazette. We’re also doing a 2 for 1 Tuesday deal. Thanks ever so much.’ Found at: http://www.lolbrary.com/post/9074/planking-level-9999/

2) I am good at the slightly energetic flyering and the hard sell flyering. Nothing else. Unless I am hung-over. And then I am only good for easy flyering

3) It is very hard to sum up your play in one sentence. In may take you a week. Or possibly two. Or the whole Edinburgh Fringe run.

4) People like to see stars on your flyer. If they don’t know who you are, they like to see stars. Preferably lots of them. In groups of 4 and 5.

'Oh, I do like to see stars on a flyer.' 'That's the night sky.' 'Is it? Sorry, I get confused at festival time.' Found at: http://spaceinfo.com.au/2011/11/06/what%E2%80%99s-up-night-sky-for-november-2011/

‘Oh, I do like to see stars on a flyer.’ ‘That’s the night sky.’ ‘Is it? Sorry, I get confused at festival time.’ Found at: http://spaceinfo.com.au/2011/11/06/what%E2%80%99s-up-night-sky-for-november-2011/

5) Occasionally you get given a flyer and realise an artist you really want to see is here at the fringe and you had no idea. Occasionally, you pick up a flyer from the ground and its such a good image and such a good blurb that you instantly think, ‘Oh, yes! I will SEE that show! I will PAY MONEY to see that show!’

6) However, most audiences hardly notice your flyers, they hardly even look at your flyers. They will scrunch them up after they’ve gotten two steps away from you. Throw them in the bin. Throw them on the ground. Place them in their back pockets. They will take your flyer from you, glance at it and say, ‘Oh! Yes, I read about this one!’ And you’ll say, ‘Really?’ And they’ll say, ‘Yes! The one about Julie Andrews!’ And you’ll say, ‘No, no my show is about love and romance and…’ And they’ll cut you off impatiently and say, ‘Yes, yes, I know, I read about it. Its about Julie Andrews. It sounds very good.’ And harrumph off, thinking that you’ve insulted them by suggesting that they are too stupid to realise that your show about Julie Andrews (that is in no way related to Julie Andrews) is actually about Julie Andrews. Yeah? Yeah. Audiences hardly look at your flyers.

'I'm telling you, my show is in no way about... Wait, would you see a show about  Julie Andrews? You would? Then, yes, you're correct. My show is about Julie Andrews.' Found at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-543058/The-nun-switchblade-How-Julie-Andrews-bleak-childhood-ruthless--truth-lesbian-clinch.html

‘I’m telling you, my show is in no way about… Wait, would you see a show about Julie Andrews? You would? Then, actually, yes, you’re correct. My show IS about Julie Andrews.’ Found at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-543058/The-nun-switchblade-How-Julie-Andrews-bleak-childhood-ruthless–truth-lesbian-clinch.html

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS

1) People will solemnly swear to you that they will come to your show. They won’t.

2) You will solemnly swear to people that you will come to their show. You won’t.

'I swear on my unborn child's life that I will come to see your one-woman live art pieces inspired by the comedy of Laurel & Hardy' Found at: http://www.themarriagecoaches.net/2012/01/18/praying-for-your-marriage/

‘I swear on my unborn child’s life that I will come to see your one-woman live art piece inspired by the comedy of Laurel & Hardy’ Found at: http://www.themarriagecoaches.net/2012/01/18/praying-for-your-marriage/

3) It is possible to live in a tiny little bubble at the Edinburgh Fringe, hearing only about certain artists and shows. Then, some day near the end of the festival one of your friends will mention a whole bunch of other shows that existed in their bubble and your world will explode because they haven’t heard about any of your artists and you haven’t heard about any of theirs. Its like your living in parallel universes.

4) ‘EVERYONE’S SHOW IS DOING FABULOUSLY! EVERYONE’S SHOW IS JUST FANTASTIC! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST HAD THE MOST AMAZING REVIEW! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST HAD THE MOST AMAZING PRODUCER COME AND SEE IT! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST BEEN BOOKED FOR ANOTHER SEASON! EVERYONE’S SHOW HAS JUST BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD! EVERYONE’S SHOW MAY NOT BE SELLING OUT, BUT EVERYONE IS VERY VERY VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE AND ALL THE AUDIENCES ARE WONDERFUL AND PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE COME SEE MY SHOW, IT WILL NOT IN ANYWAY BE A WASTE OF MONEY!’

'I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE BEING HAPPIER WITH A DECISION THAN I AM WITH THE DECISION TO BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW WITH YOU AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL' Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/6982747619/

‘I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE BEING HAPPIER WITH A DECISION THAN I AM WITH THE DECISION TO BE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW WITH YOU AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL’ Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/6982747619/

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT REVIEWS

1) Somewhere out there is the person who is going to be totally on board with your show, love every minute, get every subtle message and give your show a great review. Somewhere out there is the person who will think your idea is stupid from the start, hate every tiny little miniscule second, accidentally-on-purpose miss the final point and write a damning review.

2) Once a review is out in the world, there is little you can do to change it. This is frustrating. Reviewers like to say they are ‘starting a conversation’. Except that the artist as no right of reply. I don’t mean to criticise reviewers (I know a lot of lovely reviewers). But an artist who writes back to their bad review is just ridiculous. You’re just going to have to suck it up, good or bad and keep on keeping on (though anonymously commenting on a review and ‘correcting’ a ‘misinterpretation’… well, I mean, that might be something worth considering…)

3) Though it is hard to believe, shows that you think are terrible are going to get better reviews than you. Those lines of 4 & 5 stars are going to trick you into paying money for something crappy. It will enrage you. You will scream to the gods, ‘Why? WHY? WHY DO YOU SO HATE ME AND SO LOVE THEM? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT, WHY DID YOU TRICK ME INTO WASTING 10 POUNDS ON THAT PIECE OF CRAP THAT I COULD HAVE MORE HAPPILY USED FOR THE NEXT 3 MORNINGS’ WORTH OF CHEESE TWISTS??’ All you can do is remember point 1 and a) suck it up and b) realise that someone is going to be similarly tricked into seeing your show at some point by a row of 4 stars and they’re going to feel pretty much exactly the same as you do now about this show.

God loves them and hates you evidenced by his giving of your cheese twist money to them via good reviews. Stupid God. Found at: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flaky-cheese-twists-recipe

God loves them and hates you evidenced by his giving of your cheese twist money to them through (inexplicably) good reviews. Stupid God. Found at: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flaky-cheese-twists-recipe

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT HEALTH 

1) It is possible to live for a very long time on cheese and bread and not put on weight. As long as you are power-walking across a city several times a day whilst doing so.

2) It is possible to live on only 4 – 5 hours of sleep a night for 4 out of 7 nights a week. It is not nice, but it is possible.

3) Alcohol is not actually very good at the lifting of the spirits and the creation of energy.

4) Depression, anxiety and ‘wanting-to-give-upedness’ is best avoided by enough food, enough sleep and enough friends with whom to have a hot chocolate, a hug and a cry with (when necessary).

THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT EDINBURGH

1) It is beautiful.

2) I want to live there.

3) I’m not allowed to live there and it breaks my heart.

4) Even if I was allowed to live there, apparently the festival doesn’t go on all year round and at Christmas time there is a thing they call ‘winter’. Everyone assures me I wouldn’t like it.

5) Please will someone marry me so that I can live there (I’ll give this winter thing a go).

6) Jacket potatoes are awesome. Vegetarian haggis is awesome. Deep-fried Mars Bars not so much.

7) I’m serious about the marriage thing.

8) Get in touch via the comments.

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All the News that’s Fit to Print

Here are some of the things that I have been up to recently in Ol’ London Town:

1. Had the most amazing piece of Red Velvet Cake ever ever ever at King’s Cross’ ‘Drink, Shop & Do.’ Incidentally, this place has somehow been taken out of my day-dreams and fantasies to become concrete reality in North London. I am forever grateful to the fairy (or fairies) that did this.

2. Ate dumplings for the first time ever ever ever and wondered where they had been all my life. Apparently right in front of me, if other people’s reactions are to be believed. ‘YOU’VE NEVER EATEN DUMPLINGS? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? YOU’RE 29 YEARS OLD AND YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED’. Topped it off with super-indulgent Haagen-Daaz ice-cream, which I’m sure I’ve had before, but I don’t rightly remember it. Salted caramel and banoffee pie goodness, oh my god.

3. Got a run-down on English political history of the 1980s, curtesy of the Tricycle Theatre and Moira Buffini’s ‘Handbagged’. Quite enjoyable. Message I have taken away from it: Thatcher was a tyrant. So, not much new there. However, it did introduce me to Neil Kinnock, who I had never heard of before, and this wonderful speech which was delivered by him on the eve of another election (that Thatcher won):

‘If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old.’ 

Found at: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Neil_Kinnock

It gives me goosebumps.

4. I saw my first production of ‘Ghosts’ at the Almeida Theatre, after studying it at acting school. Its rare that I will talk more about the design of a production than the production itself (or if I do, then that’s a bad thing), but the design of this show was so subtle and so stunning, that I couldn’t stop talking about its wonderful, layered symbolism. I wrote a review for City Road Online, which you can read here.

5. Had a cheeky bottle of red during the day with a kiwi mate, because the bar girl practically forced us to. No, seriously, we walked in and we said, ‘hmmm… what are we drinking?’ And she said, ‘Bottle of wine?’ And we laughed, and she said, ‘There’s only 3 large glasses in one bottle of wine.’ And we went, ‘Oh. Fair point. Better be a bottle of wine, then.’ Also, I decided that if the Tory government insists on characterising the unemployed as drunken layabouts (or similar), I may as well get involved. After drunkeness, we then went shopping (DRUNKEN UNEMPLOYED WASTES MONEY ON FASHION). Drunk shopping is quite fun. If you don’t mind spending a lot of money and then looking at your purchases the next morning to find they are a) the wrong colour b) the wrong size c) the wrong shape d) just wrong.

6. Walked from Clapham Common to Earl’s Court, because, why not? Stumbled across: a charity store in Chelsea (MOST TERRIFYING STORE I HAVE EVER BEEN IN); Emmeline’s Pankhurst’s grave (Brompton Cemetery); a Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park; a sign that said: ‘Warning. These walls have been treated with anti-climb paint’; a community garden that used to be a church graveyard where Roundheads were buried during the Civil War’s battle for the Battersea Marshes.

Battersea Park Pagoda. Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battersea_Park

Battersea Park Pagoda. Found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battersea_Park

7. Attempted to walk around Oxford Circus on a dry October Saturday afternoon. Which was probably the most horrible experience of my life, topped only by the experience of attempting to go into Hamley’s on a dry October Saturday afternoon. OH THE HORROR THE HORROR. Can I just say something stereotypically grumpy and old-lady-ish for a second? Kids these days? SPOILT BRATS. I saw one mother load up her daughter’s stroller with one of ever different brightly coloured stuffed pony the store had, then turned to her daughter and said, ‘Happy? Every one.’ The kid didn’t look that happy. To be honest, neither did the mother. The lesson? CHEAP TAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY, SO STOP BUYING IT. Ahem. Apologies. I will attempt to get off my (hypocritical) anti-capitalist soap-box now. But, oh wait, up it comes again – SO MUCH CHEAP CRAP AND TAT. EW EW EW. Look, if we could all just stop buying the kids cheap tat, maybe the world wouldn’t end in a horrible blaze of global warming? That might be a place to start. Give the kid a stick, a patch of dirt, a bit of water and let them explore for hours. They’ll soon get used to the ‘outdoors’ and ‘sunlight’ and ‘fresh air’. And, yes, ok, I did buy something for some kids in my life, but they were very carefully chosen gifts, not cheap, not tat and will hopefully be treasured for a long time (THEY BETTER BE). The only thing that cleansed the whole experience from my soul was a panel discussion on feminist theatre and the pornification of popular culture held at the Soho Theatre. Joy. More people to hang around with that think the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

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On Wanting and Not Wanting

When I was 18 years old, I did a project on Buddhism for Religious Studies.

Buddhism was a trendy religion. Even my atheist father had been to a Buddhist retreat once (he had to clean out his nostrils with salty water every morning, but that’s another story). And I used to say (as did all the trendy liberals) that ‘if I had to be religious, well, I’d probably be Buddhist.’ I mean, there was the Dalai Lama; and that nice sounding chanting in picturesque locations; and reincarnation and being nice to animals stuff (which, as a not-yet-out-of-the-closet vegetarian very much appealed to me). It all sounded/looked in the brochure to be pretty good.

I did a very in-depth project (I was in Norway and nobody cared if I wrote the project or not. I wrote it in English and I’m fairly certain that my teacher couldn’t understand most of it. But I was bored and had gotten it into my head that I could use this project to ‘improve’ myself). And amongst all the reading I discovered that one of the main aims of Buddhism is to not want things. And not just ‘things’, as in the Western definition of ‘things’ (like, matching 1D bedroom suites and cat-shaped iPhone covers and swearing Terry Turtles), but like, anything. You’re not meant to really ‘want’ anything: not a dream job, a dream home, not even a strongly-jawed man with sandy locks from a knitting pattern (or similar) with whom you can make sandy-haired, strong-jawed babies. The reason being that wanting something left you open to the disappointment of not getting it. And Buddhists would like to iron out that whole roller-coaster of life and wanting and disappointment into one nice, straight line of contentment. Not overwhelming joy, no, but not all-encompassing sorrow either. Just, nice, peaceful contentment.

My 18 year old self rebelled at this idea and quickly decided that Buddhism was not for me. Sure, I could probably stand to give up on the all-encompassing sorrows that engulfed me when I ate one too many chocolate biscuits and the scales stubbornly refused to go down, but I just couldn’t bear to give up on that overwhelmingly joy I felt when I finally gave in and ate the entire packet of Tim-Tams in one sitting. In front of the TV. No, no, I’m kidding. My 18 year old self genuinely thought that the roller-coaster of life was what the whole point of the roller-coaster of life was. If… if you get me.

Fast-forward 10 years of sometimes getting what I want, but most usually just getting some watered down version of it. Some kind of, ‘whoops! We almost had it there, but not quite! Better luck next time!’ Some kind of, ‘Oh, I know you actually asked for ABBA’s Greatest Hits CD for Christmas, but instead I decided to get you Avril Lavigne’s debut album’ (there may not seem to be a different to you people, but there was MOST DEFINITELY a difference to me). And I’m starting to see what the Buddhists were on about.

I have noticed a shift in my attitude recently. I’m not saying I have stopped wanting things entirely. No, no I think its worse than that. The only things I’ve stopped wanting are the things that I can’t BUY. I have given up on things that seem just too damn hard, things that require other people’s involvement or consent, and have started to focus on anything that brings instant gratification at the entering of a pin code. I have become the perfect consumer. I want food and clothes and books and airplane tickets and TV shows because all of those things are in easy and ready supply.

It also seems to be a fairly reasonable response to a world in which we are, as individuals, pretty much powerless to affect meaningful change.

And I’m not saying that I’m entirely without desire for the other, more complex stuff. But I don’t generally spend my days day-dreaming about that stuff anymore. To make matters worse, on the rare occasions that I do suddenly want something more complex than a pre-made Sainsbury’s Indian meal, the wanting seems to be that more intense, making the inevitable come-down (gradual or instantaneous) that much worse. The rage, oh the rage! Why did I allow myself to want something completely out of reach again?

I think the worse problem comes when you are suddenly jolted out of your happy consumerist bubble and realise that, actually, you don’t have that much power over the things that you get for money, either. You may think its a simple transaction of ‘I have money, I give you this money for your product or service.’ Its actually not. If anything goes wrong and you complain that you did not receive the product or service you were led to believe you would get, well. That’s when you realise how powerless and little you actually are in this big, bad world.

And that’s when you find yourself throwing a tantrum at St. Pancras Station whilst on the phone to a Scottish man named Douglas who keeps telling you he understands, except that he doesn’t, because how can I person who is talking over the top of you whilst reading from a pre-written script actually take in and understand what you are saying to them? 

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Filed under 29, Introspection, London

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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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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Filed under 29, London, Theatre, Unemployment