I'm fed up now. I'm ill, and on killer antibiotics that make me feel sick. In fact, I just managed to put them through the washing machine, but they appear to have survived. I've had a mare of a week anyway, with moving house and trying to organise Christmas and see everyone and everything - half of Christian's present got lost in the post, so I had to chase up the people I ordered it from and get a refund, and I had to chase up O2 who appeared to have over-charged me, for them to tell me that in fact they hadn't and they were reclaiming money I owe them because of some mistake they made. I've just been out to replace the rest of Christian's present, and discovered I've lost my wallet. I know I had it yesterday, but it could be ANYWHERE. I've just rung work and got them to look for it in the cupboard where I put my bag - it's not there. I'm really, REALLY hoping it's in St Albans somewhere or I'm screwed - Fish is going to look for me later. We like Fish. I've got money to tide me over, thanks to being paid in cash which wasn't in it, but there are some things in that wallet that will be bloody difficult, and bloody expensive, to replace. Fuck fuck fuck. :-( So I'm fed up now. And the arguing's already started at home and I've been here 17 hours.
Kitten's grown, but has essentially grown bigger claws.
Things have happened. I just haven't updated, for several reasons, none of which I'm going into. I'm sad about several of them, but they had to happen.
I have rats now. The black baby (with ordinary ears, not dumbo ones) in the last post is actually one of them - now called Briar and considerably larger. I also have Ivy, who's a bit older and also black, Berry, who's agouti (ordinary wild rat colour - imagine the colour of wild rabbits), and Apple, who's chocolate agouti (that's the same, pretty much, but a bit lighter - the technical definition is apparently that she has brown rather than black hairs in her coat).
Ivy's definitely the most sedate, quite happy just to sit in the hood of the hoodie and watch the world go by. Having said that, I just had to extract her from the bowels of my printer, from whence I didn't manage to prevent her entry. She was very good, and didn't chew anything. Good rat. Berry is slightly more irritating to hold, in that she wants to be INSIDE your clothes...she climbs up my arm to my neck and then struggles down it. This can involve a lot of sharp claws. Once inside, she'll crawl about for as long as you can stand. This is quite a while if she ends up between clothing layers, but if she's against the skin involves sharp feet and INCREDIBLY tickly whiskers. Silly rat. Apple's berserk. Won't sit still at all. Holding her requires the most attention of all of them, since she's desperately keen to be everywhere at once. Briar's a bit of everybody. She tends to be the most scaredyrat - everything makes her jump and run and hide in the tube, which is about the one place I can't catch her from, as she's well aware. I haven't managed to teach them their names yet. I have only had them a week though. I'm not sure quite how to go about it is part of the problem. Dogs have an eagerness to please, which makes them very easy to train - you're just teaching them that you'll reward their attention, to start with. I don't think rats really pay you attention like a dog does. A reward system hasn't yet been set up. I need to teach them the word 'nuts' I think. They LOVE nuts. Hmm.
Other news, I got a Real Job (tm). I'm moving back to Cambridge, though. Stumo pointed out I made 6 months in the Real World before chickening out and moving back to the Bubble. *sigh*. To be honest, if this job had been in London, I'd have still taken it. It's essentially data analysis, as far as I can tell - the job title's 'research and admin assistant'...which doesn't mean anything. It's for a company called Baker Richards, who do arts marketing consultancy. Means I should get a look in at pricing and business strategy in the arts - which ought to bode well for theatre management type jobs, if not producing ones. It also bodes well for marketing in a lot of other businesses, which should mean I have a reasonable chance of career progression of some sort in some direction. Theatre is a bit more one dimensional than that. Essentially, I'm putting off decisions, while doing something that combines maths, presentations and reports with the arts. All boxes I'll quite happily tick in an ideal job.
Fyi, I'm moving back into the Victoria Road flat. Will's living in it these days, and my old room's vacant. The only problem's the rats. Need to pester the landlord, and move.
Went to the hopera on Friday, with Christian, Joy, Michael Nabarro and Anna, whom I didn't know beforehand - very exciting! Was Carmen at the Coliseum, which is a good sort of thing to start with if, like me, you're not that familiar with the genre. It was in English, which I hadn't been expecting, but which was actually fine apart from the occasional cringe-worthy pieces of translation. I did slightly object to having it in English AND with subtitles, though - entirely unnecessary, given that the diction was superb. I found them rather distracting, truth be told, though that was probably partly to do with the fact that they were set at the top of the pros, and we because we were in the cheap seats were looking down, with them effectively between us and the show.
The performance itself was sung very well, and there were some lovely design touches, like the bar scene that Fish blogged about, however there were a lot of things that didn't quite hang together. There were random touches like a couple of girls in flamenco dresses stuck in that bar for no apparent reason. It felt like they'd suddenly remembered it was supposed to be in Spain and wanted to remind us - it felt awkward and director-ish and silly. The other thing that made it a bit frustrating to watch was the sheer lack of energy in the physical performances - there wasn't any electricity between the lead performers. I wanted passion and power and to feel the love and the tragedy and I just didn't. It's possible that that's perennial failure of the genre, but if so it bothers me, especially as this company represents the cream of the talent in this country. I don't know. Maybe we were just too far away - right in the very back row at the top of the theatre. We could hear beautifully, and had full stage view, but it was just a bit far away.
I had Hugh and Lara and Carl round on Sunday to have food and watch a film and stuff. Was fantastic to see everyone, it really was. I felt afterwards that it might actually begin to turn this place into home, if I can have my friends around and make it feel like a location in our lives, then I'll feel less cut off from everyone. I don't know. If I get the job I went for an interview for today (internship at the Gate in Nottinghill - nice, but unpaid...), I won't be moving to Cambridge. I hope I get it, because it's the answer to my job worries, even if I'm going to be very poor by the end of it, but I really would like to be able to go back to my friends in Cambridge if I can.
I went to see some rats today. They're awesome - behave like mini dogs, loving to explore and playing with their humans and everything. I'd love to have some. Parents aren't keen though at the moment. I'm trying to persuade them. My mum's gone so far as to suggest I get a CAT, which she was really against before. Apparently she's said that I could get a cat and lend it to them if I have to live somewhere I cannot have a cat. This would be awesome, though it would make life difficult in other ways. I do live in a flat, for a start. It's odd, because getting a cat would mean I'd have to have a litter tray, which would be smelly to a certain extent, which is currently the worry about rats, as far as I can tell. The thing about rats, pragmatically, is that they only live a couple of years and therefore the commitment is that much less than a cat. I'm not sure what to do now. I'm going to talk to my mum and see what it really is she doesn't like about them. I really don't want gerbils or anything - the rats have personalities and everything in the way that other small animals just haven't. Bah. Decisions. Anyway. It appears that today has been a good day. :-).
Actually a reasonable day, for all that. Managed not to get snapped at or to ignore it if I did. And I was in a good mood until just now. Couldn't tell you why it changed. I'm not really used to living on my own again is part of it...I just feel lonely. Meh. I keep dreaming about possibly maybe maybe moving back to Cambridge. There are people (you: please read that properly - I'm not talking about that, I really mean everyone up there whom I go up to talk to; of course there's that person, but they aren't in any way the be all and end all...I could even see you, if we could ever cope with that.) I could see all the time, and I could live in a shared flat again, and frankly while I'm doing what I'm doing, i.e. filling time and writing job applications, why NOT do it in the town where all my friends live? Because of rent, is why, but I'm wondering if that's really a good enough reason. I COULD get better temping than this, even down here, and I could probably get enough up in Cambridge to make it nearly feasible. Would require more effort job hunting wise, but I COULD.
People keep pointing out that if I've left, I should leave, but the amount of time I'm up there, I clearly haven't left. I'm told not to become one of those people hanging on to their student days with all their effort. I don't feel I'm doing that, and frankly I've always liked being around the old Sods, so I'm a bit torn about that, really. I've ALWAYS hated moving house, with an absolute passion. And no matter how many times I've done it, and in the last 5 years alone that's been a hefty number, I don't get any better at dealing with it. I hate the displacement, and I hate the losing people and the not knowing the place and the sense of trying to break into a community that's already formed. I know I KNOW St Albans, but it doesn't know me any more. It's weird the way it's so the same but that absolutely everything in my world has changed.
There are many many reasons why it wouldn't be a clever idea, of which the most pragmatic is money. Currently, I'm going to try and stick this out for a few more weeks and see where I get to. It's only about 7 weeks to Christmas, which is scary in itself. Maybe I'll get that far.
In other news, Nationwide put a stop on my card because of a random fraudulent transaction. Which was good of them, in that I didn't lose any money, but distinctly awkward just the same. I currently have no cash card with any money I can use (I need to shovel some money into my other account or sort out an overdraft on it in case this ever happens again) on it, and this weekend needed to pay an overdue council tax bill (for the last month of residence in Victoria Road when I wasn't a student) and a SoD dinner cheque. Fish paid the latter, and I had to get Andy to pay the former, and I had to borrow some money to see me through until I got paid (in cash) yesterday. That money hasn't been paid in. I was going to go to the supermarket tonight - slightly glad I didn't now because I wouldn't have remembered to pick it up and thus could have had a very embarrassing moment at the till.
Other slight worry re wages: I got paid the full £200 for last week's work. Which is all very nice and all, but I really ought to be missing a fair amount for tax. I also didn't have a payslip. I mentioned this to the manager, Lawrence, today, who told me that we apparently never GET payslips, and to talk to the owner Götz about it. This worries me a little - surely I should get a payslip every time I get paid? It's like a receipt, and you'd always get a receipt for something when you spend that amount of money. Also, it makes me wonder if he's fiddling the tax a bit. If he pays everyone the full £200 every week, and paying the tax properly, we're actually being paid more like £7 an hour, which is nice, but distinctly lots for the work we do. I'd EXPECT us to be paid minimum wage, which is what £200, properly taxed, works out to. I can deal with cash in hand for once in a blue moon, and because it'll all come out in the wash, but I'm going to be slightly worried if it goes on. I haven't asked the other girls, because you don't do that kind of thing, but the envelopes I saw were lacking in coins, which would be necessary to make up random numbers. I haven't filled in the relevant forms yet, which might explain any perceived irregularities, and if I'm not being properly paid by next week I'm not going to have much choice beyond making a fuss. Meh. Might be my excuse to leave...shouldn't leave.
shifts: 6 rejection to interview ratio: 6:1 Gah.
...ditching school staff served. I get the impression it's all going to be the same ones until I happen to work an early Wednesday shift, when they're ALL in during house assembly.
Found this again. Wrote it AGES ago, and I'd forgotten what was exactly the reason for it, but I've just been going back through stuff, and currently it's my favourite thing I've ever written. I think it was when we were studying sonnets in my first year, but I can't remember beyond that. Not sure it's really any good, but I'm actually quite pleased with it.
I have written myself into the sand Of a thousand thousand uncaring souls; But always it seems sea eternal rolls, Smoothing the ground on which I try to stand, Till I might find no purchase to hold hand Or heart outstretching, and make some bell toll - Which might alert you to the starving role That here I play, but may not here extend. So now I return to the drugging sea To better con my part for future tries; And here, alone, play out what might have been, Had you chosen to hold me in your eyes. Yet I treasure still the sand still in my pen - Which you do not miss, though will not see again.
"...The route is lined with restaurants and at every brassiere door I would hear the metallic sound of Edward's solid silver name tag jangling against his Tiffany collar as he turned his head to sniff the kitchen's aroma before trotting on..."
From here, which is entertaining in its own right.
I've got all the right experience. It traditionally involves waiting on tables, working behind a bar, or working in a Salon de The, or in this case, Cafe. (I know there should be accents, but I'm tired.) I don't know whether unfulfilled producers gather the same romantic angst, really. I need a brooding coffee shop with walls lined with books. Maybe I should move back to Cambridge and get CB2 to give me a job - it's just the right sort of place.
On my day off, I went to Cambridge to feed Hugh sausage sandwiches. I was beginning to feel like I hadn't spoken to him in ages, which was because I hadn't, and I missed him a lot. He's currently my bastion of sanity, and I'm leaning on him more than usual. He's wonderful, and I love him very much.
I felt very much better after talking to Hugh, but went and bought strawberries, chocolate and a book anyway. These are the things I buy when feeling miserable. I did dip the strawberries in the chocolate, too. This helped enormously. Weird thing - when you've done that, they're SO much more filling. I could easily polish off a whole box of strawberries, or a whole bar of chocolate or even both, if they were separate, but wrap one around the other and leave it to set, so that when you bite into it you get crunchy, creamy chocolate and gorgeous juicy berry, I could only manage about four. It was white chocolate, with a drizzle of milk chocolate over the top, because by the time I got to making them I'd already eaten the rest of the milk chocolate. (Sainsburys own Fairtrade stuff - as my baby brother put it, The Shit. And he ought to know, he's currently getting up at 5am every day to stack the shelves...)
Trestle rejected me without an interview. I was pretty upset by that, because it's a £14k/year job, which is barely more than minimum wage, in my town, whose arts scene I've known well since I was 14, in a building I've known since it was built and have used often. Meh. I wasn't necessarily expecting to GET the job, but I didn't think an interview was too much to hope for. Who else WANTS that job, apart from a graduate wanting to start at the bottom? What experience do graduates HAVE that I don't? I suspect I need to do an internship and stuff, and I'm hoping to hear soon enough about the BAC one or the Gate one, but even if I get one of those (they're as competitive as the jobs, if not more so), am I STILL going to be fighting for the pocket money type roles? It's slightly depressing. What else should I try for, folks? I need a back up plan. And since I'm not going to be so keen on it as I am on theatre, it would be nice if it had better prospects. Theatre, you hit a ceiling pretty damn quick, so if I'm doing something else, I'd like to be able at least to keep climbing. I'm miserable about this.
They let me loose on the espresso machine today. I can make coffee; I'm crap at frothing milk. Ah well. I'll probably learn sometime. I also had a conversation in French with the French girl, who told me my verbs were shit. Which is true. I'm really out of practice. I should go and spend a couple of months there sometime. I don't doubt that I'd learn properly quite quickly, because I've always picked up languages quickly, and French is just something I have an instinct for somehow. It just fades when I don't use it, unsurprisingly.
Shifts worked: 3 Number of teachers served coffee to personally: 2 (Mr McGuinness, who keeps doing double takes when he sees me, but hasn't yet actually recognised me, and Mrs Edwards, who teased me about what I'd come to. I did sit and chat with Mrs Douglas (Miss Wright as was) and Mrs Wright on Tuesday, too.) Job interview to rejection ratio: 1:5
Arg. Someone very earnestly taught me how to mop the floor today. I couldn't quite believe it. And then told me I'd done very well for my first day. Oh how dull. Meh. I hope I can work busy shifts, or I'm going to go spare. It's money and it's near home. Hopefully the dullness will spur me into getting a real job. I don't think I actually said I got the job, but clearly I did. It was funny today - at least two people walked in asking for work to be told 'the position has been filled' (a line which always makes me think of a snooty lady telling a dog that...way to tell if you watched Mary Poppins too many times as a child). It made me suspect I should be a little more grateful for the job.
I only had a few 'I'm WAY more qualified than this' moments. I did already know that the manager has a psychology degree, though I don't know from where or anything more about him. I suspect he's almost exactly my age, though looking at him I'd say younger. The owner is German and about 50 and cool, and everyone else is a teenage girl or a foreign girl, but nice enough for all that.
Other than that, the weekend had a lot of housewarmings in it. The first one, for John and Fish, was more than a little debauched, and I tried to get hammered, which I've been needing to do for AGES. Didn't succeed, really, though I did have a lot of really strange things to drink and an enduring hangover. It was just one of those long and slightly high nights instead of one of those reckless crazy ones that I wanted it to be. Good fun though. It was a night involving semi-nudity AND cheesecake. What more could be required?
I've got Wednesday off. Sadly I have nothing to do in it other than try and find some jobs to apply for. And then I have Saturday, when I'm watching James and the Giant Peach in Cambridge and pondering trying to get myself some Cam producing work.
Shifts worked: 1 Number of teachers served coffee to personally: 0 (though Mr McGuinness was in today, but he didn't recognise me) Job interview to rejection ratio: 1:4
I'm missing people - if you suspect I mean you, I do. No more than that, but I thought you'd want to know. xxx
This is (a bad photo of) Colin. He's Azrael, Boris and the snails' newest friend. I wanted to call him Simon, because he has amazing whiskers and is equally difficult to find, but Colin fitted better with my naming scheme (guess my naming scheme). He's decided the back of the filter's a good home, and has gone black because that's a good colour to be on the filter. He can CHANGE COLOUR though. Yay. He's one of these, specifically Ancistrus spinosus or a bristle or bush nosed ancistrus. Mostly, he's awesome. There's a picture of an albino version on wikipedia.
My birthday was lovely, though a little stressful what with one thing and another, and being ill. Thanks for all the good wishes though! I had curry on Brick Lane, and went to the theatre. Was nice.
I had second birthday in Cambridge on Sunday night - sang in Robinson and then went for dinner in Pizza Express. Robinson Choir is now HUGE - it's expanded way beyond anyone's wildest dreams of last year. Granted it's got a lot of non-Binsonites in it, but it's THIRTY odd strong, and just sounding great. We went expecting to be singing stuff in two parts that bored us stupid, but we sang Rachmaninov (Bogoroditsye Dyevo, or Hail Mary to you and me), and Locus Iste (by Bruckner). AND all the graduation hymns. It was fantastic. Came out on a complete high, augmented by the new organ scholar saying nice things after the service. He's someone drafted in from Sidney because we didn't have one. He's a composition student, and is clearly very musical and has a great rapport with the choir, but his conducting's a bit crap. That, though, he can learn. All in all, things look great for them this year, and I definitely intend to be singing up there plenty.
I came home to a heap of job rejections. Pleasant. Meh. Ah well. Hanna and I had a good bitch about job stuff at the weekend. Today I went into Cafe Roma and handed them a CV. Advantages to working there: I can fall out of bed and into work. Disadvantages: Chance of serving a former teacher = pretty damn high. Bah. I really had better get that job. I'm likely to feel myself utterly and completely without hope or point if I don't. Will mean that I don't have to feel so desperate for a job though.
Well. If there are any lingering veggies and I didn't scare them off with the previous meaty offering, the following is something loosely adapted from a Delia recipe, which I decided was infinitely more like chilli than any pasta sauce I'd ever seen.
Easy Pepper Chilli
Ingredients (I do per person, because I'm all on my own these days. Test those basic maths skills...) 1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into 5mm strips 2 smallish cloves of garlic, finely sliced 1 quite large tomato, roughly chopped 0.5-1 tsp cumin seeds (I like cumin - go for half if you're not me, you can always add a bit more!) Dried chilli flakes or chilli powder to taste. Again, start with a few and add more. 1 tsp tomato puree 10ml or so of olive oil. Enough to fry things in to start with.
To serve: Plain rice, lots of grated cheese (story: I wrote 'greater' instead of 'grated' the first time round...and there's no auto-correct involved, here. There must be something Freudian there.)
Heat the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, then add the oil, pepper, garlic and chilli. Stir it all around to coat, then put a lid on it, put it on the lowest heat possible and go away and do something else for 20 minutes - nipping in now and again to stir it. Don't worry if everything looks a bit dark, this is part of the flavour. Having said that, don't let it ACTUALLY burn - dark brown gooey is fine, black and dry is not. Take it off the heat for a few minutes if you need to.
At the end of 20 minutes, the peppers should be pretty soft. This is the point to start cooking rice. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir it a few times, then add the tomato puree about a tablespoon of boiling water. Put the lid back on and leave it to simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato collapses and you have a very thick sauce.
Serve, over rice, with cheese over the top to melt, and some black pepper. Garlic bread and salad would be good, too. And some sport to watch and a beer to drink if you're so inclined. Watching other people play with the Wii and drinking cider is probably my choice, but whatever tickles your fancy.
I had a craving when I got in from my mad weekend yesterday evening. I wanted meat, probably because I have a cold and that's the kind of thing my body does when it's ill. The following is based on something I had an actual recipe for once, but I've no idea where it went. Anyway - that one was a bit fiddlier.
Prep time: about 10 minutes Cooking time: about 40 minutes, but you can leave it alone once you're sure it's at the right temperature.
Per person: 3 good quality sausages Half an aubergine 1 large or 2 smaller tomatoes Half a clove of garlic Olive oil
You will also need a pan, ideally non-stick, big enough to fit all the meatballs in a single layer. Ideally, they should fit quite snugly, but it's not the end of the world if you haven't got a pan EXACTLY the right size. It does need a lid of some sort, even if the lid consists of a piece of foil and a tin plate.
Squeeze the sausagemeat out of the sausages. Rather yukky operation. Roll it into rough balls about the size of walnuts. There will probably be about 6. (The original recipe called for a mixture of lamb and possibly pork, with mint, I think - I don't entirely remember, and anyway it was more complicated. This works fine, and you don't have to faff with anything.)
Slice the aubergine quite thinly (no thicker than half centimetre pieces) and fry off the slices until they have a little bit of colour on them on both sides. Unless feeling extravagant, don't keep feeding them oil every time they soak up what's in the pan - they will quite happily have a whole bottle. Remove them from the pan when done - if you're making this for more than one person you'll have to do them in batches anyway.
While that's happening, slice the tomatoes to a similar thickness, and chop the garlic finely.
Oil your selected pan for cooking the meatballs lightly, then cover the bottom with the sliced tomatoes in a single layer, as fully as possible. Sprinkle over the garlic, and then place the balls of sausagemeat on top of the tomatoes and garlic. Put the aubergine slices on the top, overlapping them in scallop fashion to make an attractive lid.
Cover tightly with a lid or foil and a plate - the meatballs need to steam. Put the pan on the lowest heat you can manage for about 40 minutes. All the vegetables will release their juices and the meatballs will release their fat, and then that will steam the meat. When it's all evaporated and the tomatoes are forming a sticky dark layer at the bottom, the dish is done. Probably worth testing a meatball with a fork to check that it's changed colour all the way through.
Serve with boiled potatoes and a green vegetable - peas, for instance.
Well, maybe fruitful in the very tentative sense that I remembered today that I had £250 of cheques to pay in, and discovered that I had £100 in another account I'd forgotten about. Necessary, that. It's misty in that there is mist. And if you want to metaphorical about it, in the sense that I still have NO CLUE what I'm doing and anything. Not sure about the mellow, really. Of the £250, only about £5 is new money, which I subsequently spent on the new Radiohead album, deciding that a fiver was a sensible price to pay for a recording that they weren't paying the record company for, weren't really publicising, and weren't pressing CDs for. Sal still owes me petrol money from last weekend, but when that's in, I'm going to be back to sinking into the overdraught. Meh. I know I should get some temping, but I know if I do that I'm really not very likely to apply for real jobs, and anyway I frankly don't want to do it. I've done my fair share of shoddy little jobs, and I'm bored of them. I want to get paid to do something I'm actually interested in now. I've done enough working for the money. I appreciate that I'm young and naive and that that's never, in reality, going to happen, but I want to TRY at least. Even if the job's not difficult, I want to be involved in something that I can be vaguely entertained by. I do not want to be responsible for paying other people's bills, serving customers food I don't like and they complain about, or filing exam papers, to name but a few.
I appreciate it's not a position I can keep up for long, but probably another month won't destroy me utterly. Meh. Probably not that long, really. In two weeks time, I will go back to the agencies and get some proper work. No actually genuinely I will. I suppose it might not be agencies - shop work, part-time/shift would do me. In some ways that'd be better, except I'd probably find myself working Saturdays. It also works if I get the job I had the interview for yesterday, actually - that's part-time, so I could keep the two jobs going together in a way that would make one full-time job. Perfect. Yesterday did actually go quite well - I came out on a high, and then recalled I'd not mentioned ANYTHING about PGP, which is one of the biggest parts of my work experience. Dumb. Meh. Anyway. I got on quite well with the two women interviewing me, and I didn't feel it went too badly. It was first round interview, anyway, so if I get a second round one I can make up for that. And if I don't, well, I know what to think about next time around and I'll be better prepared. It's a really very pretty job. I'd really like to do it. It's SUCH a shame it's part-time, but I think that's mostly to do with money on their end. I did mention that the part-time bothered me, but they also said there was potential for it to expand to a full-time job of for me to be able to get some more part-time stuff through their partners. Yay. I should hear how they thought it went sometime today if I'm lucky.
I went to Oxford on Wednesday to see Eleanor. She's in a pretty bad way because her Dad, who is almost exactly one year younger than my Dad, had a stroke 10 days ago. It's a funny type of stroke, in that it was a bleed into the space between two of the membranes between the brain and the skull, rather than a more conventional clot inside the brain tissue itself. I think she almost knows too much for her own good at the moment, as a medical student. She knows what all the consequences are and the likelihoods and so on. I can't work out whether it's helpful to her to be that well prepared or more painful than not knowing. Anyway, she's understandably jumpy, nervous, and unable to concentrate. They've let her postpone the latest set of exams, which is definitely a good thing, but she's flitting between Oxford, the Royal Free Hospital in London, and her home in Knebworth. We went walking somewhere west of Oxford on Wednesday because she needed to get out of town and out of the familiar for a bit. I'm trying to persuade her that she should come and stay with me for a while, too. There's a vague (very vague) possibility that I'll head to Cornwall for a weekend at some stage in the next while and if I do I'll take her with me if I can, for both our sanities. But it was nice out. There was mist and greyness and all sorts, and completely no wind, so I could take pictures like the ones in this post (although not like them, because I've been playing with these...). Lots of cows and labradors and that kind of thing. Then we headed back to her house in the evening for dinner, and then I came back down to St Albans so I could be here in time to faff about what I was going to wear to this interview all of yesterday.
I need to see more London theatre, like shows at some of the places I've been applying. Should really do that. I'm going to see something on my birthday now (more because it's the only day possible than specifically because it's my birthday), and I really ought to organise that Royal Court trip to see The Arsonists that I mentioned on the DVD list. I'm feeling poor and lazy, so haven't done it. Bah. I am in the process of organising a viewing of the Return to the Forbidden Planet DVD that I haven't seen yet. Sadly, this doesn't really count. Bah.
My weekend is filling up - I'm meeting Pete McDonald at the Tate Modern on Saturday afternoon, then watching a film and eating with Melissa on Saturday night at hers and Kate's new flat, and going out with Mel, Kate and Graham on Sunday to do something. Don't think we've worked out what yet. Back here Sunday night to feed the cat. I like having a cat, she's lovely. And pleased to see me when I come in and EVERYTHING. The only downside is cleaning out the litter tray, but I suppose nothing's perfect.
Andy and I broke up last week. I haven't blogged about it because I haven't known really what to say. It seemed to have become a bit of a shell, and I was feeling like I made life harder rather than better for him, and that his feelings about me were lukewarm. He tells me now that this wasn't the case, but I didn't feel that at the time. I could probably have gone on living with the frustrations I had for quite a while, but it would have ended up with a more bitter break up than the one we've had. Stuff happened with someone else while I was in Cornwall, and I suddenly realised how many things had been missing from me and Andy for so long.
This all sounds horrendously callous, and all the worst possible reasons for ending things, but I've cried enough in the last 2 weeks, and right now I don't want to go into real details. I've agonised over it, and tried to work out the right ways of doing things and do them as much as possible. I'm not sure I succeeded though. Meh. I really, really hope he and I will stay friends, because I think if we can get past this we'll still have an awful lot to offer each other. I'm massively sorry for what's happened between us. There were amazing bits of our relationship, and it's sad that it's over.
I spent my weekend singing for Salvador's ordination in Portsmouth. Dramatic. Had good fun on Saturday rehearsing the Byrd Mass for 4 Voices and some motets. I ended up singing soprano with Sarah Lambie, which was actually really nice. I had been intending to sing alto, but the girl singing alto was really good and I was more use singing sop. We headed down to London on Saturday night. At 6am on Sunday morning, we discovered our tenor wasn't coming. GRRR. VERY rude of him. So I ended up singing tenor, typically. And we had to cut the Byrd Mass and just do the motets. Very annoying. I got paid to sing though! Yay! And proved to myself that my sightreading isn't as bad as it might be. The place was very weird though - Traditional Anglican Communion. Scary lot of people. I've never been to a mroe formal service, and the last mass I think I went to was a Catholic one in Milan, of all places. There were more clergy than congregation, for a start, and all of the clergy had lace on. And there were TWO bishops, for one ordinand. Madness. Lots of bells and incense - and about 5 small boys to do it. I had fun afterwards baiting the priest in charge. Very odd.
Drove them all back to Cam on Sunday night, and then helped Will catch some fish for his tank from Fish's tank. I eventually stayed in Fish's empty house, because I was KNACKERED by this point. Headed back here yesterday in time to clean the house for my dad.
OOOO - someone's given me a job interview! Not for a job I massively want, though. Well, the job itself is nice enough, but it's part time. Grr. 2.5 days a week isn't enough for me. My dad was looking at the description last night and saying he thought it must be a job share, looking at the duties. Bah. How irritating. Anyway. Whatever I decide, it's my first interview, so it doesn't matter too much.
Something I found while I was drifting through the books on a coffee table. In the form I found it in, it was presented just as a paragraph, which gave it an air of simplicity and unpretentiousness which made it nicer I think. No idea what the original format was, and, right now, don't think I want to research it. It's interesting to think that this was written inter-war, though inter-war in America which is a bit different to Europe I guess. Anyway. I've been wanting someone to tell me what to do for a while, and since I ditched religion for anything other than the music and a chance to spar with people, art will have to do. Divide it from philosophy at your peril.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
The dude does appear to be a one poem wonder, though. It's not really poetry, anyway. There isn't much in the way of artifice of language in there - the thoughts are good though.
It also occurred to me today, completely unrelated to the above, that I don't think I ever told anyone why this blog and indeed the old blog have the titles they do. One person (that I can think of) will know as soon as I say and may well know anyway, and some of the others may do, too. Who knows. Depends how much twentieth century poetry you've all read. Anyway. This is why:
I imagine this midnight moment's forest: Something else is alive Beside the clock's loneliness And this blank page where my fingers move.
Through the window I see no star: Something more near Though deeper within darkness Is entering the loneliness:
Cold, delicately as the dark snow, A fox's nose touches twig, leaf; Two eyes serve a movement, that now And again now, and now, and now
Sets neat prints into the snow Between trees, and warily a lame Shadow lags by stump and in hollow Of a body that is bold to come
Across clearings, an eye, A widening deepening greenness, Brilliantly, concentratedly, Coming about its own business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox It enters the dark hole of the head. The window is starless still; the clock ticks, The page is printed.
Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters was one of my earliest collections of poetry, and I adored it absolutely. I think my copy's in Cornwall. When I named my blog, I just remember liking the idea of a page becoming written without the volition of the author, and a blog is a bit like that. A place to dump thoughts and words and pictures which come without conscious composing and which result in entries where when you read back you find you've written something different from what you intended but which is nonetheless more accurate. I also like the threatening, almost violent undertones of the poem - there's a feeling that the thing which controls that writing is sinister, uncivilised, beastly. Hughes had a thing about the underlying nature of man, reaching out to the primal instinct that we share with beasts, and that's visible here, I think. It's not a nice idea, really, but it sums up the way I often feel about my life - that it's beyond the control of conscious will.
I'll have to get my dad to bring that and my Sylvia Plath books up with him when he next comes up with any space to carry such things. I still know chunks of the Arielpoems by heart after a friend introduced them to me when I was 17. They date from my Sarah Kane phase, but have slightly (slightly!) less of the teenage angst about them. Not that I count Kane as less than art myself, but people perceive her that way. (Incidentally, the quotation in my profile is from Kane's play 4.48 Psychosis.) Plath never wanted to write poetry, but did in a sort of manic, unwilling way, which fits so well with the emotions of the Hughes poem I've posted here. Well. I think. Anyway. I could go on forever with poems than mean things to me, but it's really not very interesting to read, so I shall leave you with those two to think about.
Firstly, Nick Fyson's posted some vastly better Minack pictures than mine...well worth a look.
This week I have mostly been: applying for jobs, repeatedly. I was a bit fed up to begin with because the only things I could really find to apply for were unpaid internships. They're likely to be great fun, actually, and will nearly cover travel, which is something. Only trouble is I can't really afford to do that for very long. There have been a few good ones - particularly a job at the Writers' Centre bit of the Soho theatre, which is really nice. I'll be disappointed I think if I don't get an interview for that one, but we'll see. Half way through another application for a Real Job for a company called PHA which does panto management. The fact that it's panto interests me slightly less, but it is a great job mostly because it's a really small company and I'd probably get the chance to have a finger in all sorts of thing. It's also the sort of place where I'd really feel I was making a difference. And it's in Herts - not St Albans, unfortunately, but smaller local venues than most of what we have here. So we'll see. I need to finish that app today.
I went to Cambridge at the weekend to help Andy move house and to get out of St Albans while my dad and my brother sorted my brother's stuff out to go back to Durham. I stayed at Hugh's, because Andy was packing HIS stuff too, to move BACK into our flat in Victoria Road with Will Wykeham and one or two others. Moving Andy's stuff didn't take us long, since his parents had removed most of it the day before. We then wandered into town and sat on Jesus Green with a pile of newspapers, magazines and crosswords. Carl and Heather (in top pic) showed up too, so we had a convivial afternoon that culminated in me chivvying everyone to the Pickerel when it got cold and started to rain, and thence to the curry house. Carl had his camera, so I was playing with that - not that the set on Flickr are from that; they're from my camera. I took them for the playing potential, and I'm actually quite pleased with the results. Would like to see the ones I took on Carl's camera sometime, too. A 50mm lens makes for pretty.
I had a bit of a panic at the curry house. I COULDN'T FINISH MY CURRY. This never happens. EVER. I think I shrunk my appetite a bit in Cornwall, which was a good thing, and also that the more exercise I do, the less I actually want to eat...my body's just better when I do exercise. All in all, I'm feeling quite good about that. My running has been of the order of something like 2.25 miles a day, in just over 15 minutes most of the time, which is pretty damn good. My fitness hasn't sunk very far at all despite a more or less inactive summer.
I went to the (Abbey) theatre on Tuesday to a play reading thing. It's SO weird going back. Literally nothing has changed apart from my going to uni. Even the odd new person is the same as the old people. I know that it's mostly because all the people are real grownups with real lives, but it's still weird.
Anyway. Today I'm going to ring Faber Maunsell because they haven't got back to me about some temping, and finish the PHA app pretty much now.
And also, I'm listening to the Planet cast recording at the moment. WOW. I really need to watch the DVD. Perhaps I shall arrange a Planet DVD watching evening. Takers?
Just a quick note to tell you about Steve though. This was a rather lost racing pigeon we adopted for a while at the theatre - it was there every day, and had to be picked up and removed from sheds and control boxes on a regular basis. We dubbed it, rather tastelessly, Steve Fossett. It particularly liked sitting on the sound desk, under the cover, where it would reset all the levels. Silly creature. It did eventually leave, though we hope not inside a fox.
Besides, I need to talk about Minack. I don't think I ever explained what I was going to be doing with myself this week - maybe I did, but it must have been a while ago. The Minack, as you can see from the picture, is an outdoor theatre perched on the cliffs on the South Cornish coast, between Penzance and Land's End. It's a funny venue in many ways in that the scenery is so spectacular that whatever you put on the stage is more or less dwarfed by it. Design is difficult because the setting intrudes itself onto your piece - in an ordinary theatre, you have a black box which is effectively a blank canvas for whatever you choose to do with it. Here, that's just not the case. They get a lot of Shakespeare, because it's the sort of space that can lend itself very well to that sort of show. G&S, like we were doing, fits equally well. I'm not sure that anything postmodern would have much in the way of success - it would need one hell of a designer to make it work.
This time around, for a change, I was being a sound minion. Was good fun, actually, though it rapidly became clear that I'd picked the most labour intensive of positions for this show. Obviously, because it's outside, we have to bring in our equipment every day. It's also open to tourists in the daytime, so we can't leave things like microphones out because they'll get nicked. This meant that we had about 45 minutes moderate to heavy lifting every day, before we moved onto the lighter but more time consuming task of changing all the radio mic batteries and testing transmitters, receivers and capsules. The latter was quite fun actually - as the single singing noise person (Tamsin and I vetoed the term 'noise boys'. Half of us were girls.) I got to sing into the mics from the desk, confusing tourists who heard me coming out of the band speaker and couldn't work out where I was, or standing on the stage belting. It's REALLY hard to pick something to sing when someone just says 'sing something'. Quite entertaining though. Salvador accused me of never singing anything that's not in a minor key. I realised that I don't really KNOW anything not in a minor key. To cap it all, the Minack opens the house TWO AND A HALF HOURS before the show starts, because a lot of people bring picnics and watch the sun on the sea before the show starts. This means that for a show that starts at 8, the house opens at 6:30. In order to get our prep done in time for a soundcheck, our call was 3pm. For the matinees (2.30pm), our call was 9am. This was a little painful, since on matinee days we got in at 9 and left at around 11, since we had to do a get out every day as well. Madness.
Having moaned a lot so far, it was actually awesome. My back won't recover from its unaccustomed heavy lifting for a while, but it was still awesome. I now have a reasonable idea of how sound works and how you achieve what you're trying to achieve. I'd like to do some more minioning, but I'm not sure when I'll next get the chance - unlikely in St Albans, anyway. If I don't use what I've learnt this week I'll forget it, which will be annoying.
The show itself was pretty good, even given it was G&S - really well sung from both principals and chorus. The violins (viledins) were a little ropey, but the rest of the orchestra was damn good, too. Full and appreciative houses is always a nice touch. No major disasters from anyone's point of view, I think. There were a few quibbles about direction before show week, but when aren't there. It was a first class cast and they pulled it off.
It was a great group of people in general, actually. It was nice to get to know a crowd of the techies I didn't really know before, and to catch up with the ones I've not seen for ages. This year saw a lot of entertaining breakdowns, like the one that involved the towing of Pete's car from Bodmin and the Breaking of the Tow Rope. The Mills van that had been towing Pete's car also suffered, on the switchback bend near the theatre. Nice. Dominic's car also went. I suppose you could even count the petrol/diesel debacle and the Clio's bustness that affected MY car situation, too. Christian managed to run his battery down by running his laptop off it for too long, and ended up stranded in a field until he got hold of some jump leads and a handy person to give him a boost. We laughed though...
Anyway. I drove back up on Sunday in convoy with Christian, so we could share the Tamsin and it could keep us awake. We'd checked into a youth hostel after the get out in the hope of getting enough sleep to cope, but it was still a bit touch and go. That drive has to be one of my less favourite driving experiences. Since I got back, I've mainly been sleeping - a very necessary activity. I have boiled three pans of gravel to fill the big aqarium I'm transferring Azrael and Boris to and bought a new filter for that. I've asked my brother if his boss could give me a job and sent them a CV. I've just sent the brother the CV to print off at work, since I haven't got space to set up my printer until he moves out, and anyway it's in the roof. This will mean I can take that around the agencies this afternoon. I've decided I need to buy that mac pretty damn soon because my external hard-drive has started playing silly buggers and I want to get stuff off it asap. I need a tame student for that, though. I will see if I can mail order it via Andy later in the week, I think.
Long list of stuff. I'll stop procrastinating about the spec letters to random people in random theatres of the 'give me a job please' type. Has anyone got a copy of yesterday's Guardian?
This is mostly a need to vent. So yesterday, after a series of circumstances that can mostly easily be defined as accidents or possibly misunderstandings, my brother put petrol in a diesel car. This was dumb, but not as bad as doing it the other way around I believe. There's a reasonable chance that the petrol hasn't made it's way into the engine as yet - there should still have been a skin of diesel on the bottom of the tank which will hopefully mean that the petrol is still in the tank and thus need only be siphoned off, but that's actually beside the point.
My brother rang my dad to tell him about this, and after a brief discussion, they came to the above conclusions and David was left with instructions about which garage to ring and what to ask for etc. Fine. We went to sit down for dinner, and my mum asked David if he'd told my dad that he'd put petrol in the car because she had told him to, to which he answered yes. It should be noted that this car is nearly new - we've only had it about 6 weeks. It was the first time David had filled it up, and the car he usually drives IS a petrol car, unlike the cars the rest of us drive. My mum had probably used the word petrol though, in a distracted kind of way, because we do, habitually. Hence nobody was really to blame - David thinking he'd been told, and my mum thinking he knew. David could have answered the dinner time question more tactfully, it's true, but it still should not have resulted in my mother telling us to 'get our own food' (it was on the table in front of us by this point) and that 'if she was going to be that stupid we were better off without her anyway'. David and I carried on with dinner - what else could we do? She stormed in ten minutes later, grabbed the key to the (single operable) car from the hook and disappeared in it. Neither of us was that worried, though it would be a lie to say I wasn't worried at all. She has done that before, with reasonable regularity. I got more worried as the evening went on and she still wasn't back by the time I went to bed at 11ish. (I was also worried when David and I had to remove a cat from the roof at about 9, but that was different.) I was severely stressed when I woke up this morning to find she wasn't here and that she didn't appear to have been home all night.
I spent a while debating whether to ring the hospitals or the police first, and compromised by ringing my dad. He was as worried as we were, but he and I decided to leave it at lunchtime - if she'd checked into a hotel she wouldn't have been back before then anyway. I'd just about given it up and had tried to ring my dad again when I saw the car pull into the drive. She came into the house clutching sleeping bag and a kit bag, which suggested she slept in the back of the car - it is big enough. No explanation. No apology. No nothing. I went from being sick with worry to sick with fury, and that is where I remain. I hate living at home. Incidents like this are the reason I can't stand to come back for any length of time and the reason for the stresses of my teens that resulted in some really unpleasant events a few years ago.
Well. Much chaos. Excuse the messy desk - it's tidier now, but Tolly was trying to help me type. Cleo had her op, which went fine, though she's less than impressed at having to wear a lampshade and take pills. Tolly's been the funny one though; he's been absolutely all over us, demanding attention and playing and all sorts. I think he's been quite lonely, especially to begin with when Cleo would only hiss at him any time he came near her. He's been chasing down newspaper and flies and all sorts of things, not to mention my leg and my fingers. The one I like best is below (though they're all much of a muchness), but there are more here, here, here and here. He's a silly kitten. Sorry about the messy room - I was busy tidying at the time, and Tolly was assisting, by deconstructing the newspaper.
We went to see the LLAMAS on Friday night! They're SO COOL. The two we're probably getting are called Pepper and Brandy - Pepper's dark brown, and Brandy's a mix of ginger and cream with a skewbald face. They're boys, and will be somewhere over 18 months old when we get them. That won't be til Autumn/Spring, because we need to fence the place properly and build them a shed and the like. YAY LLAMAS. We'll need to do a fair amount of handling of them, and train them to take a head collar properly so we can walk them in the woods. LLAMA WALKS. YAY!!!!
I've been staying at the Village Hall in Paul with the Pinafore cast for the last couple of nights. I went with them to the Meadery in Penzance on Friday night, post llamas. (People have been asking me about whether I was REALLY late because I was at a llama farm. I could say yes. How cool is THAT??) This was a very silly evening all round - films again here and here. This was not the half of the debauchery that went on. Very entertaining.
I spent Saturday making Becky Thomas a birthday cake, of which I'm actually quite proud - large and pink and filled with strawberries and butter-cream. Excessively sickly and very pink, but that was the specification. I sang with them in church in Paul this morning, too. Nothing MASSIVELY exciting - Stainer's I Saw The Lord - but it was really nice to be singing with a big group of big voices. I didn't stick out! Yay! And so many men, and I didn't have to sing tenor, though I did sing second alto, which is actually pretty similar, because there were more sops than altos. Nice. I'm heading back with them tomorrow to see Twelfth Night at the Minack, and then to deliver timps on Tuesday, and then to see the talent night and cook ANOTHER cake on Wednesday. Lots of drifting about Cornish roads. I'm beginning to think I should just stay there all this week, but it seems a bit harsh on my family and I do want to see my animals.
Erk. I'm SO tired, despite all I've done today was the service this morning and lying on a beach reading all afternoon...
True Cornish lazing, that is. I went walking with my dad on bank holiday Monday, with the dogs, while my mum went diving from Hemmick beach. This picture is taken from somewhere along the South Coast Path above Hemmick beach, through my sunglasses. The sun wasn't low enough to take it without, even at the fastest shutter speed. It's an odd effect - when I look through the glasses, the colour doesn't all leach out like this. If anything, the glasses intensify it. The sepia's quite pretty, but I could have done that with a filter on the camera itself, I think. Also note the awesome spiderweb we found. They put ponies out to graze the cliffs at quite a lot of places round the cliffs, but this was the first time I've actually seenthem.
Cornwall's not a happy place to be on a sunny bank holiday though - everywhere was rammed. Hemmick is down a very steep hill and on a road where the wing mirrors of an average car touch on BOTH sides. When people park in all the passing places and you have to reverse straight up a very steep hill and the road is that narrow, it's an issue. People are dumb.
I went to see the Minack crowd yesterday. I pootled around watching them rehearse for a bit, and then took Salvador to Tescos. I ended up staying for dinner and catching up with people, and then in the pub playing silly card games. Hopefully this time I'll remember the rules of mafia - I really should, it's awesome. Had a great evening all round, even if I did feel a bit spare part-y. I'm going down again tomorrow, on commission from Becky Thomas to bring her ingredients for a birthday cake.
I finally got the eye test today I've been needing to get for ages. I'm entirely unsurprised to be given a prescription for glasses for driving - short-sightedness is usefully hereditary. Grr. Ah well. TV and driving only, as yet, so could be worse. My right eye still feels weird, I think from the glaucoma test where they puff air at you. Anyway. I'm stupendously poor at the moment, so had to talk nicely to my dad to get him to pay for them. Meh. I have to work harder at getting a job...I just can't bear to. I have sent a few emails to a few people about work experience/placement type things, but I've not really looked very hard and I haven't sent the begging letters I need to. I'll try and get a Stage when I'm in town tomorrow, though I'm not sure where to look. I do know that the other person who went for the Donmar job didn't get it either...which I'm not exactly pleased about because it was an equally perfect job for her as it was for me and I would have been pleased for her if a little jealous, but it did make me feel slightly less inadequate. Meh.
Took the cats to the vet today - Cleo has a lump on her stomach which the vet pronounced to be a massive umbilical hernia and which needs almost immediate operation. She's apparently extremely lucky that it's not caused her any problems as yet, especially considering she's been living wild. The kitten has a gender...definitely male, as I was fairly sure. The family seem to have accepted my naming of him as 'Tolly', short for Ptolemy, which goes nicely with Cleo. And Tolly is a perfect slightly silly name for a truly bananas cat. I'm sure he's getting bigger already, and we've only had him since Friday. He was completely unfazed by the vet - he was contentedly playing catch with my fingers through the bars of the box when his mother was being examined, and wanted desperately to explore when it was his turn. He did squeak very indignantly when she stuck a needle in him though, but who wouldn't?
I think Cleo will hate us again tomorrow when she has to go back to have her operation; hopefully it'll blow over soon enough. It's hard to reconstruct her history. She plainly understands and is comfortable around humans, because if you catch her in the right mood she'll play and sit on your lap and generally be very friendly. At the same time, you couldn't look after that cat as a pet and love her as she appears to have been loved without doing something about that great lump on her tummy that's been there since she was a kitten...can you? And surely people in this country and in this day and age don't just put a cared-for pet out to starve if they can't afford or don't want to be bothered with doing anything about it? I think when she finally calms down, she'll be a truly lovely animal, which makes it even harder to understand how anyone could do anything like that to her.
I'm in Cornwall now, having driven down from Cambridge yesterday. The drive was actually fine, in that the traffic wasn't too bad and neither was the weather, but I was pretty dead by the time I got here. This cold is turning out to be a pretty nasty one, though I suspect that anyone other than me who hasn't been running around so much or sitting in any damp caves in wet clothes would probably not find it so icky. Davina and her boyfriend Neill (Davina's an English student who sings in choirs and does theatre...we have connections) stayed last night before heading down to Minack today to see the Philip Pullman plays, which was nice. Davina played the piano for a couple of songs for me for a bit, which was awesome - I don't get the chance to have them accompanied that often. We then moved over to the CD player and sang along to Handel's Messiah...I like THIS sort of karaoke...stuff just has to be at least 70 years old, and then I'm in with a fighting chance.
The dogs have been all over me since I got back, which is always lovely...I miss them SO much when I'm not here. Rocky especially won't leave me alone - he nearly slept on me yesterday. Quite hard sleeping when you have what feels like half a ton of very solid spaniel on your feet. Kiri's a bit more sedate most of the time, but even she's really affectionate when you just come home. She's trying to make us believe she's getting on for an old lady, which she entirely isn't, she's all of 8 and a border collie. YAY dogs.
Today's excitement, though, was new cats! We went to the Cats Protection shelter and had a look at what they had, but nothing really fitted exactly what we wanted. They did, though, have on their waiting list a mother and her kitten. The mother had been a pregnant stray, and the rest of the kittens had already gone to homes, but the general idea was that these two would go together. Our last pair of cats was a mother and her kitten, and they cordially hated each other, so we're not sure these two will really get on in a year or two, when mum decides baby should have found its own patch. We've got room enough that it's unlikely to be a problem though. We don't know the sex of the kitten, so haven't named him yet, but mum's called Cleo. The smart money's on the baby being a boy though, so I want to call him Tolly, short for Ptolemy (yes, I'm an English student. Ptolemy Philadelphus was Cleopatra's son. He wasn't the famous one (there are getting on for 20 of them), and he was never a Pharaoh, though.). Not sure for a girl. Looking it up, Cleopatra's daughter by Anthony was Cleopatra Selene, so maybe Selene would be the answer. That will depend on what the family think.
What photos there are, are here, but they're not great as yet. The kitten's a nutter, chasing around and hunting people's fingers and mum's tail and generally making use of the many excessively sharp points at his disposal. He's (I can't say 'it's'...) adorable though. Cleo has spent most of the afternoon that she's been sat on the windowsill in the study staring outside, desperate to go out, or growling at the dogs when they knock on the door. She's purred tentatively when someone's caught her at the right moment, but she's not really keen yet. Hopefully she will get used to the idea that we're OK when we feed her enough, but at present it's pretty clear that she's been a stray long enough to HATE being cooped up inside. Sadly it has to be, at the moment. She's absolutely beautiful, though - my pictures don't do her justice at all. I'll have a go with the SLR at some stage and see if I can do better. She's a real dark tortoiseshell, the complete opposite, really, of Tiggy, though Tiggy did have a kitten with very similar markings. Kitten's pretty too, with a little white bib and belly, white socks at the back and little white bits on his front paws. YAY CATS.
The other news is that the man who owns the llama farm came down this evening to look at our space and tell us what he thought before we get llamas. Apparently, he's thrilled with the space (I was asleep through this...evil coldy illness), but we need to sort the fencing. I think the general idea is that we'll eventually have four, but we'll start off with two probably in about six or eight months' time. Which means my mum is going to set the island up for ducks sometime in the next few months, probably after she's been to the wildfowl show in November, which means early spring. Menagerie is growing...woohoo!
I uploaded the very few pictures I took in Edinburgh, beyond the statue in the previous post. I was pretty pleased, actually. The evening light in Scotland is lovely because it's so far north, and this particular evening it was so clear you could see the hills on the other side of the Firth of Forth. The skyline lends itself to this kind of picture, too, just in the middle like that. A lot of Edinburgh is big, Georgian, and square, but leaning towards the gothic - so there are lots of turrets and towers like you see here. The stone is also a particularly attractive honey-coloured limestone, with black slate roofing. They whole effect is great!
Edinburgh was fun. Fish and I drove up on Friday night, eventually, after I persuaded him to stop working for any length of time. Even then, he drove and did a conference call at the same time, despite the fact that he had me next to him insured and ready to drive his car for him so that he COULD work. I'm insured on his car for a whole year, because it cost a pound more to do that than to ensure me for a few days. This will mean that during Minack in Cornwall next month, I will have the choice of five cars to drive. Comedy.
We got there about 12:30 on Friday night/Saturday morning, and kicked off early the next day. Stuff bullet pointed is show reviews, the rest is 'stuff I did'...
Carl, Christian (also known as Fish, for those that don't know), Nikki (randomer loosely associated with Carl/EUSOG), and I went to see Little Red Things: The Boy Who Wouldn't Listen, by Gomito at Bedlam to begin with. Carl and I always see the Gomito show when up, and this was its last day. They're a great company, with fantastic physical work and magical storytelling. The whole experience is usually one of delight in what they're doing in front of you, and it's regularly my highlight of the festival. This year was not disappointing from that point of view, but I felt that they hadn't been as imaginative as they have been in the past. The show was a sequel to last year's sell out Little Red Things, and that allowed them to do more of the same, rather than thinking further and showing us new things. It was still good, but I was slightly disappointed by that.
We followed up Little Red Things with The Quest for the Divine Bottle, a piece put together in association with Gomito (there's a link to the Divine Bottle page from the Gomito link above) and based on the work of Rabelais. He was a particularly dirty French medieval monk, and this gave the group plenty to work with. I actually preferred this show to LRT in many ways, because it had the freshness and strangeness that I look for in a piece of theatre, continually making you see everyday things in a different way. The plot did certainly, as Fish puts it, lack cohesion. It felt very dreamlike though, jumping about from line to line and being difficult to follow, and I felt that that was no bad thing. Less polished, perhaps, than the previous, but still thoroughly entertaining.
I wandered over to PGP to catch up after that, and saw Melancholia by the Latino Theater Company. The stagecraft was excellent, and I was thoroughly engaged by that aspect of their work. However, the bare anti-war agenda of the play was a little annoying after a while - it was aimed explicitly at the Iraq war, which might be fair enough, but just saying 'war is bad' is not really profound enough these days, especially at the Fringe. It lost marks for being slightly trite, and n0t recognising, for example, that Iraq is different from any other theatre of conflict.
Sweeney Todd was next up. This was a Cambridge show I'd been planning on seeing for ages anyway - it's by Fitz Theatre (and Sondheim), who seem to have a holding site instead of a website...job for you, Hugh? It was good, don't misunderstand the following - I think I judge musicals more harshly than other things. The music has to be spectacular, as does the singing and the acting in order for me to really enjoy it. These guys did great, and I could see why so many people were saying it was fantastic, but it didn't completely bowl me over. Reasons for this included the lack of full orchestration that meant that some of the texture was lost, dodgy high notes partly due to the fact that it was last night, and a Joanna who needs 6 months of lessons after which time she'll have a voice blended across the registers. She was good, but missed out on being REALLY good.
Rounding off the day was Jesus: The Guantanamo Years by (Elaine's ex) Abie at the Underbelly. I was knackered by this time, and Fish and I were both pretty drenched, so I was not in the most receptive of moods when we went to sit down in the steamy damp cave that passes for a theatrical venue to the Underbelly (I LOVE the Underbelly). However, the writing in this was fantastic. The general premise is that Jesus returns to the stand up scene after 2000 years and tries to get past US security, as well as moaning about the Monty Python spin off. He's a bearded Middle Eastern guy prepared to die as a martyr, and is convinced that his mission is a holy one. Ends up in Guantanamo, strangely. Very well observed and very well put together - what you'd expect from someone who makes his living mostly as a journalist. Prevented only from being my pick of the Fringe by the fact that Abie is not a performer, I don't think. What was needed was for the audience to believe in the character they were watching, rather than just laughing at and being enlightened by what he was saying. It was a shame, that. All the same, thoroughly entertaining, and I was in a much less horrid mood when it was finished than I was when it started.
This concluded Saturday, and we'd made good inroads into the weekend's shows. I only saw two shows on Sunday, preferring to laze, chat, get fed by relatives and get drunk with the PGP/EUSOG crowds.
The first one I did see was The Gently Progressive Behemoth, again at least loosely Cambridge show, put on by Luke Rogers and Nadia Kamil. They did Staggered Spaces in Greyfriars last year and it was great - silly, poignant, honest comedy. This time, it was mostly silly. Quite fun silly, but definitely not as good as before. We did share the audience with Jimmy Carr though, and as he left he said that it was 'kinda fun' and he had 'had a giggle', so their careers are continuing upwards - they have quotes from Daniel Kitson in response to Staggered Spaces...perhaps I should try and pass that on to them?
Then it was time for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the floor of whose flat I was sleeping on. I was actually very impressed by this, having gone not really expecting great things from a kids' show with what was considered a bad script. The performances were universally great though, and I really don't think they could have done more with it.
This was my last show for the Sunday, and I had dinner with Uncle Nick, Auntie Alison, Theo and Evelyn afterwards, and tried to introduce them to the Fringe a bit. I then met Fish for a drink before we left for the PGP end of week party at the Bedlam in the company of the EUSOG rabble. Very entertaining. Too many photos on Facebook.
I met Jacqui (Company of Ten old friend) for breakfast at the Elephant House, 'Birthplace of Harry Potter' as it is now, on Monday, and then went to see:
Smile and Say Thanks at Bedlam with her. This was a typical Bedlam show; new, sweet, and with a few corners not yet cut off. It was loosely about random acts of kindness, I suppose, each characters telling different stories that eventually came together in interesting ways. Very entertaining and enjoyable for first thing in the morning, though there were definitely bits that could have been cut. They had badges. Always a good deal.
I was going to see the Harry Porter Prizewinner (more Cambridge) play Coat that lunchtime, but was too keen on eating and not rushing around too much that I didn't.
I saw Can of Worms instead, which was a play about torture, but very funny and very entertaining performances. I met up with Rachel there, by accident. She's writing a play on contemporary theatre, and I like contemporary theatre a lot, so we tend to run into each other. She felt that, like Melancholia, its message was a bit lacking in depth, which spoiled an otherwise thoroughly excellent piece of theatre. That a piece doesn't have a particularly profound moral does not prevent it being good art unless it has set out to do so - then it fails on its own terms.
Next was Mouse; a piece along a similar lines, I guess. It was a monologue, set in a garage where a second, silent character is committing suicide with a car due to the manipulations of the speaker. As an example of its type, it was great. The performance was strong and the story quite interesting. It just wasn't really new - we've all done monologues, and they always go the same way, with the audience discovering more about the character than the character realises. Robert Browning did that to death 150 years ago. Still good, but not new.
Next came dinner with Fish and Mr Linford at the awesome Wannaburger. I love that place...have a look at the menu!
My final show of the Fringe this year was Eurobeat. It had a pretty good reputation by the time Fish and I saw it. It's in the Pleasance Grand, one of the biggest venues on the Fringe, and as such it doesn't really feel like fringe theatre. It was supposed to be a spoof of Eurovision, taking the mickey out of that institution. The thing was, Eurovision is universally acknowledged as a really silly event in any case. They didn't take their mick-taking far enough, I think. There were a few more dirty jokes and entertaining mistranslations, but frankly there are actually quite a lot of those in the contest itself. It missed an opportunity to be absolutely hilarious, and instead didn't do much more than just put the Eurovision on stage.
And that was my Fringe, really. Slightly odd to have family up there, but that HAS happened before, even if not since about 2002 when I last did a show. It was nice to get to know Fish as well, as a person and not someone on the other side of a computer screen. I can nearly think of him as a real person and not the goldfish he has as a userpic on MSN now... I was very glad he was there actually, or I'd have spent a lot more time on my own. I don't think I really assisted him in his attempt to work while he was there, but I think I did manage to drag him to some theatre he wouldn't otherwise have seen. I get the impression he's mildly impressed with my dragging him to see Little Red Things straight off, because he keeps hearing people talking about it and saying how good it is, which is quite gratifying. I'm becoming a Fringe veteran though - this was my 6th since 2001. I may well have spent more time in Edinburgh than I have in Cornwall. Weird. Not working was PGP was a bit strange this year, but I did hang around and stuff, which was sort of nice. I even turned up to the brand new kitchen in the bowels of Augustine's and made them lemon cake yesterday morning, just to get the full Fringe experience. And to make myself feel I'd earned the free ticket to Melancholia Jeff gave me half by accident because he thought I was working. Train back was dull, though I was glad I managed to persuade Carl to get my train back. In Cambridge for a couple of nights before the next theatrical adventure starts in Cornwall tomorrow. New cats on Friday! Woohoo! Need to see what can be done about llamas, too...
'...and her eyes were full of consternation and resentment, like those of a woman who, at the end of her time, at length realizes that however luxurious the nursing home, and however well paid the doctor, her labour is inevitable...'
Another oldie, but it's damp and I'm in Cambridge, so I figured I'd use it. Yes, Graham, I have photo blog envy. Must use camera more.
I only wanted to post to say that I'm useless and keep leaving stuff everywhere. When I came up to see Andy last week, I left half the stuff I'd promised to bring up for him at home. When I left Cambridge for London to see Graham, I managed to leave all my overnight stuff at Andy's, necessitating me scrounging a set of pyjamas and washing the clothes I was wearing. Men's pyjamas have a willy hole. Not a good thing, on a girl. Thankfully the jacket was long for me, so my decency was preserved. When I left Graham's to go back to St Albans I left my toothbrush there. Grr. I ended up at Hugh's last night, without said toothbrush, but then he does have the convenient pay-as-you-go super-cupboard 100 yards from his back door, so at least I could rectify that fairly easily in the morning. Am going to try not to leave things here when I go, but track record this week is CRAP.
For anyone who wants to know, I'm intending to go back to St Albans this afternoon and then be in Cam from lunchtime on Thursday until Friday end-of-work time, when I'll be in a car on my way to Edinburgh until Tuesday. All make sense?! Anyone want to entertain me during the day on Friday? Otherwise quite capable of sitting in a cafe with a book.
Different Graham from the first Graham. First Graham is further away. Tescos.
Must be just over a year since I took this picture, somewhere in the Brecons I seem to recall, on my way to Andy's house on the Llyn Peninsula in north west Wales. It was pretty and summery and I thought it fitted with a few days lazing in the sun in Cambridge.
I headed up on Wednesday, eventually. I discovered that my brother had put an enormous hole in the left hand front tyre (is that 'off-side'? I never know) by hitting the curb at break-neck speed the night before. This meant I spent about 40 minutes sitting on the drive changing the wheel, with the help of the resident black cat, who gave the car a thorough going over inside and out before sitting down to watch and pester. She's a lovely creature - she wouldn't get out of the car, though, when I wanted finally to leave. I had to push her unceremoniously out of the car and then chase her off so that I didn't run her over. Needless to say, the brother is not currently in favour. My dad's going to pay for the replacement, thankfully, which I'm getting done in Cambridge since it's frankly just as convenient to do it there as here, and easier to find a garage up there because I have a better network of people to ask. I've been telling everyone I've seen over the last few days that I changed a wheel all by myself though. Moderately proud of that feat. Shhh. I KNOW it's not really that difficult. Let me feel pleased with myself anyway.
Cambridge was great - the weather was beautiful, and I did all the catching up I wanted to as well as spending a considerable amount of time curled up on the lawn of 4 Adams reading. Hugh and Rob and Kate and Carl and Andy and I went to see the Simpsons movie on Wednesday. It was hilarious - definitely more a long episode than a film, but what else could they have done? We saw an early showing and then went back to Hugh'n'Rob's to make fire - all in all a lovely evening.
I met Fish for lunch on Thursday, and we ironed out all the Edinburgh arrangements. I also swapped my too powerful fish bubble making machine for his one, which is at least adjustable and only has one nozzle. I was thinking, if I get another tank and put it near enough THIS tank, I can probably aerate the two of them from the one pump. Would be a bit chaotic in this house though. Gah.
Went BACK to Newmarket Road on Thursday night to watch The Bourne Identity and cook a veggie tartiflette. That turned out a little more like mashed potato with bits in than anything with any texture, but I can rectify that next time. I think the answer will be to make it more like a gratin than a frittata thing. All the same, it was nice. Andy was very excited because he'd bought a whole keg of Heineken. *rolls eyes*. Methinks he likes me having my car around... Definitely fair enough though - he's done all the driving for AGES. Rob and Kate ventured in from pool later on, and then, completely randomly, Salvador turned up. He was really quite drunk and pretty miserable, due to man trouble in Edinburgh. More or less the first thing he did was ask Hugh to play him Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah', which he sang (loudly for the space, but certainly nicely). I wanted to show him Graham's version (not work/ordinary public safe), but Hugh didn't have a copy. Everybody should have a copy of that. It's awesome. Salvador didn't seem to be in a good enough mood to be permitted listening to the Jeff Buckley version on repeat though - I sent him the other version with the express instruction that he was to learn the words to THAT before he learns the original words.
I met Davina for lunch on Friday, which was lovely. Haven't seen her since my exams ended and it was good to catch up. Have offered her and Neil a bed in Cornwall on their way to Minack - my house is going to have certain hotel-like qualities over that week, but it might as well have a use.
Salvador mentioned on Thursday that he's still missing two female and one male chorus. I'm debating auditioning...I know I have another role, but I suspect that it's not really critical and could be managed if required. Things have been like that since I took that position deliberately because I might have to pull out. It would be sort of nice to do some singing and stuff, but I'm trying to work out if I want to. I'm still feeling a bit fragile, and if it went badly I suspect I would be in a bad way. Meh. I don't know how long I've got to think about it. The other thing is, there's a very very very slim chance that the SM may decide not to go due to personal dramas, in which case, I suspect I'm the logical second choice for that. It's unlikely that she won't go, but there's still that possibility. Have to decide what I fancy...
I spent yesterday in London with Graham and Jenny and Melissa and Kate. The latter two have more or less found a house, so were very excited about that. Melissa went off to New York today for her Merrill Lynch induction thingy, and she's away for 5 weeks before starting the uberjob she's got herself, so it was nice to see her before she sinks into high-powered exhaustion. Kate's around, but I'm in Edinburgh/Cornwall so probably won't catch her before they move in and her law course starts. Sitting around the table at the curry house yesterday, I was feeling very jobless and vaguely hippy scrounger. Meh. Still don't want a job though, even a job that I'm going to like. I need to do something soonish about that, but I still don't really feel any urgency to do so.
Nearly every blog post I've written in ages ends with a job worry. Maybe it's bothering me more than I thought?