Thursday, 27 September 2007

Lazy or hard work?

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 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?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Steve Fossett

steve fosset 2
Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
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.

I need a new top post.

minack 2
Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
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?

Friday, 7 September 2007


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.

Thank God I'm leaving here tomorrow.