So was I brave or stupid to try out a role with a new company, and a director who is trying her hand at something new too? Sounds like madness? Yes, it is. As well as potentially extremely embarrassing. So why did I? Because for the first time in my life I felt that I had the confidence to try. Twenty plus years after finishing a Drama degree, where my stage forays were hardly spectacular, or extensive, I decided to give it a go. Quietly. Away from people I knew, and with no one watching. Course, it couldn’t stay like that. And as production week approached, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who had bitten off more that I could chew. Our final rehearsals and first performance, were definitely shambolic.
So why? I did it because I wanted to know what it felt like, if I could learn lines ( I can’t it appears…) and to know more about what I put teenagers through. And I have certainly found out about sickening fear, terror of disgrace and could still yet know about the ‘horrible laughter of the world’ ( I can remember fragments of lines it seems!). I suppose I should have known already, I did know already,there is nothing quite like the doing to consolidate the knowing. Every teacher knows that right? but in today’s classrooms, too often, we regularly forget, or think we just can’t. Doing takes time, it can be awkward, faltering. It requires careful encouragement and a safe environment, which there is just not always space for in our blessed pressurised school system with its constant pressure on performance and results. Who cares about how you got there and what actual understanding you have – just get there!
It’s not me, it’s you. Are you sure this is the right place for you? I’m not quite sure this what we’re looking for? When does not feeling like you fit, mean you don’t fit – and when should you do something about it? How? Where are the parallels between work relationships, relationships with authority and personal relationships? Should I stay, see things through? – or is it a lost cause? And if I stay, will I end up more harmed?
At this mid-life crisis age we are supposed to know better, know who we are, have reached a level of success at something so we can confidently say ‘I am a…’ with some respectable track record. Teenagers put daft, and dangerous, questions into vicious traps in the guise of social media sites such as Ask FM. What does a lost forty-something do? – download Horoscope apps and start looking to them for guidance. A secret shame and silliness!
Sun setting over Belfast, looking down Belfast Lough, from the other side, (Carrickfergus) New Year’s Day.
Last night was my first solo New Year’s Eve. The time had come for the teen to fly to her own party – definitely a landmark moment. Life is not a Hollywood film, so I didn’t resist her bid for independence. Nor did I have the perfect ball gown or a patient Prince Charming waiting in the wings. But then, I never did think I suited Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manolos. Initially I did well, I quite cheerfully cooked myself a healthy dinner, poured myself one sensible glass of prosecco and put on a good movie. Then the film ended…with still a long way to go to midnight. Enter self pity, tears and a few lashings of self-loathing.
A grunt and shudder from my phone shifted me out of that cul-de-sac. Still not Prince Charming, just a ‘like’ on my Facebook picture. It was enough to remind me that someone else was glued to social media, and that, as the comment my friend had just put below the photo, I did indeed look very happy in the picture taken a few days ago with my girl, because I was. And still am. Tears evaporated. I made a cup of tea, found the Jaffa cakes, put on an old CD and had a wee Mummy dance to myself. Midnight came and went, I felt quite snug and content on the sofa. When the critical moments came, I felt no desire to be shivering on the cold banks of the Thames watching the fireworks. I did cast a glance to the empty sofa as the crowd swayed to Auld Lang Syne, but only for a moment. Next year will have to be different, but I feel stronger for surviving this one.
Bloody Friday - BBC Documentary, broadcast on Thursday 19th July.
I watched this yesterday, on the fortieth anniversary of this horrendenous event. On the day Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth met at the Lyric Theatre, I was with a group of teenagers watching Paul Greengrass’ ‘Bloody Sunday’. Equally horrendenous. I was only a small child in 1972 and my family lived a short distance from Belfast. I grew up knowing that this had happened, particularly about the bomb at Oxford Road Bus Station. But I did not quite realise the full extent of the horror. I guess that just shows how easy it is to live in glorious cotton wool in this soggy, grey/emerald isle. All I can say has been said before, and no doubt to some will be typical of a certain class background, which invalidates any worthy comment. Nevertheless, I was moved by the dignity of those featured in the film who have remembered the details of that sunny Friday afternoon through all the decades since. I do sigh at the endless cliched language of our articulate ‘troubles’ pundits, but it is wrong that I managed to forget so much, or never knew it, and yes, it is important that I was reminded again of how difficult the peace process must be for so many. I feel anger that those who drove up and left bombs in places were protected and even honoured in their communities. Victims were further offended by the ridiculous compensation rules, how can this be? Finally, yes, as one survivor asked, what exactly was achieved by blowing up a nine year old boy?
Marion McGilvary ‘s piece, ‘‘I’m lonely. Is that odd?’ in yesterday’s Guardian resonated a little… but then there was so much of it! Finally decided I was quite relieved. I don’t have this many words about rattling around a little. So that must be a good thing.
Out of the Shambles strategy: Reconnect with home town
Not quite sure what I made of all of this. A lot of performers, some spectacle, and plenty of rain. There probably are better ways in which the money could be spent, I guess, but that sounds grumpy. Maybe I just didn’t quite get it?
I like this. Mostly because of what it replaces, and then a little because the quotation is forward-looking. Although, of course, the positive sense of it depends entirely on what the ambition is. Quite a cluttered gable end, designed by committee. But then in this instance, perhaps that is the achievement to be celebrated.
I am definitely not a loyalist though, and will dodge the forthcoming ‘festivities’/riots. I find it all a depressing regression to a sectarian past.