Monday, October 26, 2009

Melancholy weekend

What do you get if you mix:

1. The end of daylight savings, meaning the darkness is starting to close in;

2. Having to say goodbye to a good friend who made the working day that much easier to bear (how dare she defect to Australia with her lovely English boyfriend in order to pursue their future together!);

3. A critical lack of chocolate in the vicinity;

4. A realisation that this is the longest you've not been in a serious relationship for... well, ever; and

5. A week of not very good sleep.

Any guesses? No?

Well, let me enlighten you. What've got yourself is a serious case of the sucks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wins my vote for funniest video on the interweb

"Alright, which of you preppies put gold dust in my fencing mask?"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Playing against type

Phew [wipes sweat theatrically from brow]. I've just completed a four-day intensive acting course. After my well-rehearsed but poorly-acted Shakespeare monologue on the second day, the famously cruel director of the school made me sit down and asked me why I'd come on the course. I had been utterly petrified, to the point where I was on the verge of tears and/or fainting, and it showed. I got the words out, and they were "immaculate" according to him, but I was so paralysed with terror that I could only stand there like a post.

I'm pretty sure Juliet would have been pacing, flitting to the window and back, and making gestures of impatience as she waits for the nurse to return with a message from her beloved Romeo. But the most I could manage was to swivel my torso from left to right. My feet might as well have been super-glued to the ground.

Why? Why put myself through that? That's what I've been asking myself all week. But apart from that horrible moment (and it was only a moment), the rest of the course was really quite good fun. For me, as I tried to explain to the director, it was a kind of personal challenge - my own personal Everest, if you like (well, maybe just Base Camp). For an introvert like me, the thought of performing in front of an audience is far more challenging than the prospect of climbing a mountain. I know I could train to climb a mountain, and make sure I had the right equipment and support. The thought of it doesn't scare me at all. Even jumping off a waterfall didn't compare in the fear stakes to what I went through this week.

Before I went on the course, I would never have imagined that I could sing on my own in front of an entire class, or complete a serious dramatic scene in front of a small audience. For me, just getting through it was a little victory.

I particularly enjoyed the stage-fighting - especially the fencing - and the game of theatrical wink-murder we played afterwards. I thought my "stabbbed in the back" was really quite convincing. But my favourite part - which the teacher assured us was everyone's favourite part by the end of the four days - was the musical number. We learned "A Real Nice Clam-bake" from Carousel, and then performed it as a group, each of us singing a solo line or two from the verses. It left me on a wonderful, warm-hearted high. Maybe that's the point of musicals - they are much more fun for the actors than they are for the audience.

One of the boys from the class - a sweetheart who reminded me a lot of Omar from The Wire - told me afterwards that I should think about getting into some am-dram. I would have laughed and told him he was crazy a week ago, but now I find myself considering it.

Maybe I should start a theatre group for introverts. The In Crowd? Let Us Intertain You? If we could get the audience to sit behind a one-way mirror and not make any noise, it might just work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good times for a change

A while ago, as part of my ongoing efforts to be less cynical and to take postive action towards alleviating my depression, I made a decision - albeit a guilt-ridden one - to curb my exposure to the news. Yes, being aware of what is going on in the world is important - and I realise that some people will be horrified by this admission - but some time back I decided that my mental health was more important to me than knowing all about what's going on outside my door.

Watching or reading the news in the UK makes me anxious, feaful and unhappy. I am not sure what it is about this country and its presentation of current events, but much of the time it seems there are only two kinds of coverage - the gloomy and the inane. It doesn't help that my father, who worked as a film editor at a news station in Melbourne for many years, had a very low opinion of the manipulative nature of the media and the self-important unscrupulousness of the journalists who worked there.

Checking the BBC news site now and again is about as much as I will tolerate now, and that's only because it gives the user some semblance of control over what they are ingesting.

Every now and again, however, a story bucks the trend by reaffirming my faith in humankind. So it is that I heard of Lloyd Gardener, a young man who came forward with information relating to a horrific rape case, and subsequently donated the £10,000 witness reward money he received to the victim of the crime. Decent.

I experienced some Pure Human Decency (PHD) myself recently while cycling home late one night, when a motorcyclist pulled up next to me at the lights and warned me I'd lost my rear light a way back. I thanked him and hopped off, cursing my bad luck - cycling through London at night without a rear light is a bit too kamikaze for my liking - and started walking back down the busy street to see if I could find it. Just as it was dawning on me how hopeless the task was, a Japanese couple walked up to me, the woman's cupped hands extended towards me with a hopeful smile on her face. They had seen me lose my light, fetched it from the gutter and waited for me to come back. I smiled broadly and thanked them profusely, while they bowed and smiled back at me. It was a lovely moment of human connection amid the chaos of Tottenham Court Road on a Friday night.

* * * *

If you'd like to partake of some PHD, consider joining the Karma Army. You don't even have to sign up if you don't want to, you can just practice some random acts of kindness under your own steam. Not newsworthy, perhaps, but definitely worthy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What's hot + what's not on a Wednesday


:: Halloween party planning. The costuming opportunities! I'm thinking stripey-stockinged hula-hoop girl for our circus-themed house party; and road-kill for the Halloween roller-stroll.

:: the delightful Words & Pictures by Quentin Blake, an out-of-print book I've been trying to track down a copy of for ages. Praise [insert deity here] for ebay bargains.

:: Coffee made by the 2009 World Barista Champion. If you happen to be in the East London area, I highly recommend you take some time out to visit lovely yorkshireman Gwilym Davies at his stall in Columbia Road, or at the Golden Horn on Shoreditch High Street.


:: Going shopping to buy a pair of blue-green tights and coming back with boots, heels, belt, two new coats, chunky necklace and jumper. But no tights.

:: Overdrawn bank accounts (see above).

:: This weird Autumnal cross-over period - it's drizzly and the nights are getting longer, but it's been so humid. Awaiting those lovely cold, crisp mornings which mean I can cycle to work without arriving a sweaty mess.

Inspired by miss loobylu.
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