I’ve been sulky today. Truly, utterly sulky – with this song playing over and over in my head. I busied myself with some work, which took my mind off my sulk for a bit, but the sulk kept returning, as sulks so often do.
The only thing that slightly cheered me up was a dumb-ass online article that has been widely shared over my Facebook page today about ‘modern dating’ – which made me scoff and scorn as much as the quote marks suggest it did.
I was like, please. I don’t want to read another article about how people want to ditch Tinder and get out there in the real world and actually be able to talk to guys at a bar, like people did in the 1860s or something! Come on you guys! (I say this as someone who is yet to try Tinder, not on moral grounds ((well, I’m not mad on instant validation)) but just cause I can’t imagine anything more embarrassing than bumping into my brother on it. I know. I am still a child.)
Anyway. I have so much on at the moment, as usual, that I can’t seem to find the time to enjoy much of it. I want to do sooo many things – as we all do, I suppose – but I’m so concerned and fixated on success at the end of it that I often forget to enjoy it while it’s happening.
I’ve started to pick up books again because – unlike when I was at school – there is no deadline that looms large with a book, you can plod along with it at your own pace, step by step, page by page, and I feel much better off for it.
Plodding along is particularly apt with the book I’m reading at the moment, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’m pretty hooked because it’s about hiking across an impossible route (not impossible, but hyperbole is perhaps necessary when boring you with information about what books I’m reading) in Northern America – the Appalachian Trail.
Now, I have probably walked pretty far in my lifetime if you calculate every step that I’ve ever taken (from the car to the office, over and over) so this book really speaks to me. (Sorry, I’ve drunk a lot of coffee and am finding myself really funny).
In all seriousness, I once did a spontaneous 13-mile walk with my best friend through surrounding villages near our houses, and I’ve not since had that same simple satisfaction of putting one foot in front of the other, for miles and miles, with no real destination nor appointment in mind. It was good enough to simply plod forward, on and on, lowly and slowly.
The Appalachian Trial, by contrast, is 2,200 miles – but it’s a great book if you’re looking for something to while away your hours with. Also, my mate Chloe – big up – loves it and (presumably) endorses it, so go forth with your £0.04 and pay for that postage, people.
If you just have one hour, then you must watch Lemonade – if you haven’t already. I’m not even going to write about it, all you need is a decent search engine – say Google – and one letter on your keyboard – ‘L’. (Steps have been taken out of this process, i.e you need Tidal – but get a free trial and waste 30 hours of this next month watching it over and over. I’ve seen it twice now, and it was SO much better the second time. NO WORDS.)
I’m 20 in two weeks. How am I handling this information – the cold truth that I’m departing my teenage years without even agreeing to it? Let’s just say that Weezer’s Teenage Dirtbag came on in Flares on Friday night and I cried my way through it while shouting in my 18-year-old friend’s ear: “This song’s for you now, babe. You gotta own it. And remember – it’s not forever.” Ah, the optimism of a drunk 19 year-, 11 month, 2 week-old. ‘Listen to Iron Maiden, maybe, with me. Oo-oo-oh.’ (Maybe).
I’m up against a play deadline at the moment so obviously I’m the least productive I’ve ever been. My acrylics have got to a really difficult length that also makes typing hard. There are no excuses, obviously, cause I’ve just written this 761-word blog post (761 words! Wow, thanks coffee!)
I’m also working on lots of exciting mini projects at the moment, with various friends and foes, some of which I’ll post about on here if they ever come into ripe fruition. The projects, not the people, of course.
On my to-do lists of recent, writing a blog post has always meant to have been at the top, but instead shoved to the bottom for something *more important*. Since I last wrote, I’ve been working 37 ½ hours a week, in a production of King Lear, moved house, and was in Pilton, Somerset, coincidentally at the same time as Glastonbury Festival was on. And luckily we came across some tickets (about three months ago) so went along. It was alright.
For all the blog posts I haven’t written over the past month, I’ve written one thousand in my head. I’ve hit an unfortunate point recently where everything seems to have fallen into place, for the first time in a while, and I’ve hit an unsettling comfortableness.
Comfortable as I’ve been doing all things I really enjoy, but unsettling because I haven’t allowed myself the space to really enjoy them i.e Taking Too Much On Than You Can Deal With Right Now.
The last month has been full burnout, and at times I felt like all I was doing when I wasn’t doing anything was sleeping, only to wake up and CRACK on through to-do lists again. But hey, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not by any means.
When I was little, I would spend whole days during the summer holidays sitting by the phone, making everyone call me the ‘telephone lady’, and answering every phone call with “Hello, you have reached the Lepore’s household. How may I help you today, ma’am?” I like to be useful. And yet I am the laziest workaholic ever.
In the past couple of months I’ve been trying to up my productivity, with much dismay. I’ve had to completely stop watching the television, and try to cut down my internet time so I can do all of the important and necessary things in my spare time, such as phoning my mother and pruning my bonsai tree.
I want to do so much, and I want it to happen to me now. Why is it that I keep looking at job vacancies online, when I’m five months into a job I’m really enjoying? I’ve been going straight from work to rehearsals then home, to pack my things into a box to move house – but OMG Tara, why haven’t you started on your play yet? You said you’d have a first draft completed by the first week of August! God, you suck!
Being at burnout stage forever makes you have endless wars with yourself. Never being good enough, putting too much pressure on your tiny mind: Oh god! I’m so busy! I can’t do anything!
I had a huge brain vomit the other day when I couldn’t work out if ‘You’ was spelt like that. The Y looked weird and intrusive. I’d been sleeping for five hours a night.
When I feel like I couldn’t possibly write another paragraph, learn a new song, or go anywhere ever again when I have to interact with people – I have to force myself to ask why I wanted to start this in the first place.
Everything I have ever done as a hobby started out as a thought that excited me so much just before I went to bed. I once got so excited at the prospect of performing a one-man version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I got up in the middle of the night and performed it to myself in the conversatory. Now that’s passion.
But being a true burnout makes one devoid of any passion. A lyric I go back to again and again and again is David Bowie’s “My brain felt like a warehouse/It has no room to spare/I had to cram so many things to store everything in there” from Five Years on Rise/Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
I mean, my god. I wouldn’t ever go to ‘warehouse’ as an adjective to describe the ol’ noggin but like, of course I wouldn’t – because I am NOT DAVID BOWIE. That just sticks with me a lot. Cramming things into a WAREHOUSE. There sure is a lot of things in your brain, Mr. B!
I’m obviously not comparing my simple, small-town mind to that of His Holiness, Davey B, but yes – that lyric – followed shortly after by “I never thought I’d need so many people.” Guh. I digress. I know what I meant initially, but I just fangirled too hard, too fast. Listen to it.
Perhaps I just try and keep busy all the time because I am determined to sustain my interest in ALL THE THINGS. I think part of me feels like because I’m not a student, I have to occupy my time with lots of interests and hobbies, to help make up for a lack of degree.
For creativity to be able to flourish, you really need headspace. Quality headspace, long walks, galleons of wine. Ha ha. Although maybe that is what you need.
I took a book out of the library three months ago and have renewed it FOUR times. If it keeps giving this much, I will eventually buy it.
The book is The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy, by Michael Foley. Obviously I took it out because of the title, which is brilliant, but it makes for a mixture of very interesting reading to be ingested in snippets, lest you’re some philosophy square who knows about guys called Nietzsche and Jung.
The whole book is quotable, obviously, that’s why it made it as a book. The Loss of Transcendence chapter is one that’s been bouncing around this big old warehouse over the last few days. He opens the section talking about Our Lord Bruce Springsteen, and how at a huge stadium concert of his, the people sitting nearer the back seemed completely indifferent and uninterested. I was all, but, this is The Boss! I don’t believe that for a second. But then of course I can. The problem is, myself especially included, the more you do, the less bothered you can become about it.
“Constant exposure to entertainment has left many incapable of sustained interest, never mind transcendence.”
If we can’t sit still, shut up, or stop wanting things, are we missing out on some of the most important things in life? Truly experiencing things – rather than experiencing things and subsequently uploading them to Facebook, or experiencing things vicariously through other people’s Facebook pages?
Having a self-destructive streak (albeit a small one, closer to a strand), this said something to me:
“The paradox is that the most intense experience of the self is the loss of self.”
We spend our whole week agonising over how our hair looks, our jobs, what our ‘purpose’ is, how you will make sure you save more money next month – i.e A constant will to improve oneself, and then go out and get absolutely blotto at the weekend. It is only human to seek a true, real sense of self and satisfaction, only to want to feel nothing at all on a Saturday and dance to Rocky Horror on the kitchen table.
In order to achieve a more natural, non-narcotic feeling of transcendence, it takes time, and dedication. Be busy, do lots of things, but know they will take time to pay off. You can’t have it all now. You just haven’t earned it yet, baby.
Jeffrey Lewis’ song most wonderful song ‘Time Trades’ is all about doing stuff that takes TIME but will be so worth it.
“Skill must first be acquired, slowly and frustratingly. There is no immediate gratification. Indeed, there many never be any. But when the skill becomes automatic, the miracle may occur.
“The activity seems to become not only effortless but autonomous – to take over, to assume control, to be running itself. So the musical instrument plays itself, the sword wields itself, the poem writes itself, the dancer does not so much dance as permit music to enter and take over the body.”
So yes, busy yourself, and enjoy it. Just don’t expect the rewards to come by as quickly as your weeks are going. It’s only when we take the time to reflect and become conscious of what we’re working hard on, and possibly wait for however long it will take – without succumbing to the need for immediate gratification – will we truly reap the rewards.
I want to do things properly, with genuine feeling. I want to stop reading books with my laptop open. I don’t want to miss out on all the proper stuff in life cause I’m too busy working on a gazillion things, rushing them, and never speaking properly to my mother. Or tending to my bonsai tree.
“Get ready for festival season! This boho dress will have you partying until the early hours. Ted Baker, £250.”
For three months have I endured reading heartbreaking stuff about festival fashion. Festival beauty looks. Top tips for festivals. It makes me feel all weird, like laughing at something cause you thing it’s a joke, then receiving serious looks from french-brainded, bindi-stuck, chiffon-clad girls.
Such propaganda! It’s like these brands are trying to sell yet more shit to us on our (just above) minimum wages, with this promise that you’ll look like Kate Moss or Kendall Jenner (who was recently heralded as a ‘bad girl’ as she stuck her middle finger to a camera during Tyler the Creator at COACHELLA!) Rock n roll!
What’s weird about this pseudo-advertising is that, luckily, it’s not like this at all. Not at British festivals anyway.
In fact, some of the most stylish things I’ve seen at a festival include a mother dressed as Princess Leia holding her baby dressed as Yoda, a man in his pants and thigh high white leather boots listening to Bon Iver, of all things, and a man with his arms straight up in the air at the Stone Circle for like two WHOLE days, as he thought he was a milk bottle and didn’t want to toppled over (okay, I only heard about that one but still – if that’s not style, I don’t know what is.)
So here it is! I’ve milled over these ‘tips’ for the last three minutes and have deemed them worthy enough to be included in this (not so) extensive list.
1) Don’t wear white
This is more of a tip for general life. I don’t even think I will be able to wear white on my wedding day, since I hear there is usually cake, and a lot of wine. In an unintentional slip last week, I bought a gorgeous white knitted dress (think Stevie Nicks) intended for Glastonbury, and then proceeded spill Diet Coke on it as I took it out the bag to look at it. Just don’t wear white.
2) Wear white
Or better, do, and wear your stains with pride. My favourite ever Belle and Sebastian top has cider, wine, and beer stains down it, and I proudly wear it – telling disinterested people the Stories Behind the Stains, like they’re tattoos I got whilst travelling around the world or whatever. Be true to who you are. Without you, stains would know no life.
3) Break up with make up
Now I can’t reallly comment on this as I don’t really have a make up routine, bag, etc – but surely it’s a ballache putting make up on in a field right? Surely it is putting it on every day, right? (Stay with me.)
My usual argument to this is – there are no mirrors at these places – because if there were, people would find a way to do coke off them. You’re not even gonna see yourself all weekend – which makes the first mirror look at home even funnier! (Usual scream at the sunburnt, muddy-faced stranger looking back at you, with tiny eyes and huge pupils.)
Here’s something you could try out for the weekend. Come get us, boys! (NB: You won’t be able to get this off for weeks, so prepare yourself for shifty looks at work, as you swivel around on your chair scrolling through Facebook photos, deep into the comedown.)
Tara’s Beauty Look for Festival Season:
You will need:
1)Moisturiser with SPF (You can usually get this from your Mum’s drawer)
2) Glitter (A quid from Poundland. Or someone else will have it. Do it on budget and ask at the next tent. What? That’s like a quarter of a pint!)
1.Mix whole bottle of glitter with tub of moisturiser.
2.Apply twice daily.
4) Snap happy
Not wearing make up is a suggestion that is often met with the response of people saying – but photos! I need to look good in the photos! Which is true, you have to look great in the photos.
Ways to looks great in the photos:
1)Do a Kendall Jenner and flip em one, girls. That way people will think you don’t care about your sweat patches, mascara-face and cider stains. It’s like we’re at Coachella!
2)Pull the most hideous faces possible, so you can be like “Haha! God, I guess I don’t look great when I pull such ugly faces! (as opposed to) “Haha! God, I must have been reeaaallly drunk in that one!” Make them ALL look bad. BE BAD.
3)Alternatively do just get so drunk you think the flash of the camera is a lightning bolt, and you’re the resurrection of Ziggy Stardust, who is a fictional character anyway, so maybe you’re just a recycled idea, and [continue this way of thinking, ideally with joint in hand – much more functional than a clutch bag, or whatever shit they’re trying to sell us in magazines]
There are solutions to all the problems if you sit and think about them guys. The best one’s will always be the candid ones, anyway – that one of you putting your welly on or pissing in a bottle. Or doing both. Ah, 15 days.
4) Factor 5,000,000
Now, here’s where I’m gonna assume the role of ‘Mum’, but sun cream is so important at places like this – it’s well worth preventing sunburn/stroke (much easier to prevent than trenchfoot, which we’ll come to later.) As glorious at that whole day of sunshine might seem, being all crispy, drunk AND sunburnt is total hell and makes you convert to drinking water over cider, and will make you say terrible things like “How about we all just chill here for a while and watch Ben Howard?”
Your friends will be literally horrified by this severely out-of-character behaviour and will consequently rush to the FRANK water stand to get your free water bottle filled up.
Then you, all sunstroked and floaty: “Is this vodka? I need vodka.”
Passing out from sunstroke is like failing your driving test for parking up on yellow lines – there are way cooler ways to do it.
5) Soak up the D. The vitamin D
Because after all, if we get sunshine, heaven is on Earth – and you’re already in.
6) Stuck in the mud
You’re going to get trenchfoot. Don’t Google it, but you will get it. With 15 days to go, it is worth booking an appointment with your GP now for when you get home.
I went to see The Hard Problem and took notes in the dark. Lesson learnt: Don’t take notes in the dark. When the house lights come up, you will laugh at the illegible squiggles in front of you, and sigh at the subconscious jottings of things you wrote without realising, such as ‘I’m hungry.’ Anyway, I think this is a review. Enjoy!
I went to see a screening of The Hard Problem last week at my local theatre. The problem with not being rich, famous or the holder of tickets for press night is that essentially you cannot provide ‘a scoop’ for your audience, or the 13 readers of this blog. The play ends on the 27 May, and overall I did kind of enjoy it. I didn’t regret paying for a ticket (being an ‘ex’-usher, I’d become accustomed to free theatre), but maybe that’s just because I couldn’t overspend at the interval (of which there was not one.)
I’ve seen a few screenings over the last few years and am into the idea of them. I read an interesting article in the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine this weekend by Bryan Appleyard about the lack of fair distribution of the arts around the country, as opposed to JUST LONDON. It seems, although we already know this, cause like, DUH, London receives just SACKFULS of more funding for arts/culture stuff than anywhere else – and last week’s result of an all-blue government makes me feel, a bit, well, depressed about this. It isn’t all ‘their’ fault, and Bryan even states that it was in fact under New Labour that the arts began to ‘fail’. He adds, however, that the Coalition followed with an “utter indifference.”
He goes on to say the regional arts divide is ‘intolerable’: “Residents of County Durham have paid £34m into the arts lottery since 1995, and received £12m in arts funding in return. The City of Westminster has contributed £14.5m and received £408m.” *jaw drops to ground.*
Anyway, screenings are IMPORTANT, comrades. (Interestingly, though – I managed to see Behind the Beautiful Forevers a couple of weeks ago AT the National itself for a fiver, but paid £15 to see a screening of this. So there’s that. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.)
My only beef with screenings is that we don’t really get to see it how it’s seen. It makes me think of the BBC Four ‘Go Slow’ season: (the two hour canal boat ride, a tour around the National Gallery) uninterrupted television.
With The Hard Problem, however, I found myself getting annoyed at the (otherwise skilful) camerawork. Yes, it was skilful, with great angles and high-quality shots. But for Christ’s sake, let me see! At every transition, the camera panned up to the top of the stage, so we couldn’t see the set changes. I just had total screening FOMO. I wanted to see stagehands all in black, shuffling around in darkness! Isn’t that the joie du théâtre, darling?
I spent most of the show drawing varying sizes of question marks on my notepad. Now, I know it is wrong in the ‘art of reviewing’ to strongly put forward your own opinion of something without considering different perspectives.
I was – as a reviewer – ‘supposed’ to be commenting on the position of the play within the industry, what it ‘meant’ as Stoppard’s first play at the National since 2002, Nicholas Hytner’s last work in his Artistic Directorship. But it was Olivia Vinall’s portrayal of Hilary that didn’t sit with me right.
I have to admit – that’s why I went to watch. She played Cordelia in King Lear alongside Anna Nicole Smith last year, and I wanted to see her in something totally different. (She has also played Ophelia/Juliet – the National’s babe du jour.)
She was shouty. At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt, after all, I was watching a screening and perhaps it was a problem with microphones, or her ‘projection’ wasn’t working well on camera.
But then none of the other actors had that problem and, fair enough, she had TONNES of words to say. Ophelia doesn’t say much. Cordelia buggers off very quickly. And – I know nowt about brain science, or neurology – but it just seemed like she was reeling off the words at times, just going through the motions. And shouty kinds of reeling off. Sorry, Olivia. I tuned out.
However, there were things in the play that just worked, so well, and made for most delightful watching. Much of this was down to Hytner’s directorial choices, with a particular highlight when Spike, played by Damien Molony, gave in to Hilary’s pleas and kneeled down to pray…at the light of the minibar. It was a small and simple motion but one that’s stuck with me all day. Signs of class in a renowned director who the National Theatre has recently waved goodbye to.
The set design was another highlight, and although I wouldn’t usually notice things like this, my best mate studies it at *drama school* so I like to take note and report back to him. It was very sleek and functional, not too much or too little. The lighting fixture at the top of the screen effectively represented neurons in the brain, and ‘sparked up’ at every transition, of which there were five or six. It was used to great effect too to create fireworks on Bonfire Night – a significant night for the main characters for reasons I simply CANNOT disclose for spoiler alert reasons, but yes, it was a moment where the penny dropped for me with some simple nifty lighting. A suggestion of a idea where everything clicks into place.
Interestingly, in the pre-show talk that is broadcast as part of the NT Live series, some playwright (of who I embarassingly didn’t take the name of) said you’ll spend the first third of the play wondering what the hell’s going on, the second third figuring it out, and the last third feeling moved by what you’ve seen. It did feel like that – very much so, and I’d be interested to read/see more of his plays to see if this formula rings true. (I may have misquoted the above, I was rummaging through my bag for sweets. No interval, oh, the horror.)
I’d give it three stars, but then again – was I ever even there, if I wasn’t really there? Oh, god, my head hurts.
I gave myself a well deserved hug the other day. I think I’ve been beating myself up too much about things that aren’t in my immediate control, so I wrapped my arms around myself and was like, “Thanks, me. You’re doing just fine.”
After what had been a particularly stressful day, I got home to write up something for a competition – was so not up to it – so then went out for a drive (I am still learning post-first-fail), and ended up getting so angry that Dad was like: “Slow down! You’re gonna crash into that girl on her bike!” And I was all snotty and teary-eyed like: “I don’t even care!!”
I was basically in one of those moods when you literally cannot even right now, and there was no signs of it going away.
(I have since found that when you feel so anti-everything that you cannot literally even anymore, if you listen to ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, things seem much easier to comprehend.)
This week I phoned my boyfriend DEMANDING that he sing ‘Hypnotize’ by The Notorious B.I.G until I felt better. It worked.
The hardest thing about bad situations is that you have to feel all of the things you are feeling, even the horrible, sad stuff that you’d rather fast forward.
Caitlin Moran wrote in her Times Saturday column yesterday (2 May) that her biggest advice for teenage girls is that you “only ever have to deal with the next 60 seconds of your life.”
When someone very close to you rips your heart apart, there is no way around it. (I am reminded of the children’s book, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’: “We can’t go under it; we can’t go over it – We’ll have to go through it!”)
It took me 18 years to realise that – and I’m no good at bottling stuff up. (JOURNAL KEEPER FOR 14 YEARS.) Cry about it, write a letter to whoever it is, trash their house minorly (make sure it’s reversible – no smashing or breaking. Trust me – I’ve KNOWN this)
Figure out how to deal with the stuff, and try it out (preferably without hurting anyone further, that can just re-lousy everything.)
Things aren’t going to be amaaaazing all the time, especially if you’re going through something that’s emotionally tough. You don’t always have to be the best version of yourself; so if you’re going through a hard time, cut yourself some slack. The happiness you’re aiming for needn’t be a constant state of ecstasy, but rather a middle-ish sort of OK. A great article about this way of thinking, written by Tim Lott, can be read here.
My biggest argument against suppressing these feelings (that make your head feel like it will pop off) is that there are ACTUAL reports of HUMAN SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, so just take NO risks honey. It is not worth your beautiful hairdo.
I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Carrie and Lowell’ a lot recently because 1) it’s addictive and oh-so-moreish, and 2) He’s headlining at End of the Road this year.
I had meant to write a proper review of it a few weeks ago but have been really busy doing other general life things; now I don’t think I could serve it justice.
I wholly admit I was not a fan of Sufjan before this, so I have nothing to compare it with, or do that ever-so-important music journo thing of citing his biggest influences – cause quite frankly kiddo, I just don’t know.
All I know is that it was written about his mother and stepfather, and, after a unanimous discussion re: SS by my friends, we came to the conclusion that he could write about rotting fruit or dog shit, or BOTH, and still make it sound beautiful.
For those real-melancholic types around here, check this out:
It both slows your heart down and speeds it up. It’s a wonderful record, and apparently his best.
I went to the National Theatre last night to see ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ Again – this play has been on since November of last year, so I can’t say I’m bringing you cutting-edge, hot-off-the-press reviews, but I get cheap seats, and for cheap seats my friends, you must seriously book WELL in advance.
It was set in Mumbai and focused on the lives of a community living in the slums near an airport, and the conflicts they faced with police/money/each other/etc.
I took a tonne of notes, as there was a lot to take in (I felt the play was longer than it ought to have been, but the pace was still excellent) and the writing was very human – of course – as is the writing of David Hare.
For your ease, and my ease: (I don’t need to write a long review – I am now v. hungry) Some – most are illegible – of my notes are included below:
incredible set – reeks of money. National Theatre.
Meera from the Kumars? Excellent
Feisty female roles
Prosthetics – burn make up good but v. gruesome
shows how extreme poverty can make people lose sense of morality
bit on the long side?? Am i tired??
baddies: “let them fight among themselves, then they won’t fight with us”
general audience consensus- good
Actor playing Abdul: Very sexy
I thought it was great to see a play that took a genuinely very humorous and human take on an awful situation (one that I admit I wasn’t aware of.) One minute you were laughing at the ‘look how ridicularse corruption is, darling!’ due to the witty, observational quips in the text, and then you were covering your eyes from somebody having their eyes gauged out after stealing scrap metal.
All in all, it was clear why this play has been running for so long. And even towards the end of the run, you wouldn’t have believed it. It’s not my usual choice of theatre – but I think it’s something that will stick with me for a bit. If you want to read a proper review, please divert your browsers to the search engine, ‘Google.’
In other news, I have started rehearsals for King Lear, been accepted into the National Youth Theatre and got tickets to Glastonbury! So there’s that. Also lined up is a trip to Belgium, Belle & Sebastian next week, in three weeks, and in seven weeks (lol) and my birthday! I’ll be writing about it all.
I’m writing this as my computer slowly dies, as it downloads a virus or something. Forever finding something less productive to do, I began scrolling through Instagram on my phone realising the reason I’d fired up this old machine was to write, so I really had no excuses.(I am on WordPad! There’s no spell check here. Forgive my errors but no-one should have to do this much work on a Sunday.)
I went to Manchester a week or so ago to visit my boyfriend who’s recently moved there. His flat lies right near the Northern Quarter, so I got to see LOTS of hipsters all the time and ended up feeling really-not-at-all hip (I had brought doc Martens but mainly walked around in neon blue Nikes because blisters.) (I think Nike is deemed quite cool these days but I got mine from a bargain bucket at Sports Direct, and from the eyes I get from passers-by, there is just something that tells me they’re not fashion-approved.) I never really got what made trainers cool and I don’t think it will ever click. Trainers used to solely mean P.E lessons and now mean being able to walk around a city without stopping at every bench just for some relief, you know? Who cares if they stop traffic in the worst way possible?
It’s hard to say if the city was what I expected it to be like, as it always is – remembering your initial preconceptions after you visit a place. It was flashier than I thought, but then again my previous images of the place were just that everywhere looked like Coronation Street. Cobbled streets and Rovers Return, but hopefully no melodramatic, multiple-life-taking tram crashes. Anyway.
I was expecting all the industrial architecture, thanks to Morrissey’s depictions of the town in his Autobiography, and I was pleasantly surprised with how gorgeous those buildings looked against the Gothic cathedral and medieval library.
Jack was working during the first two days of my visit, so after locating where the nearest takeaway was, just in case (downstairs! Korean! Delicious seafood soup!) I set off on my own – in my Nikes – to see what the place could offer me.
I do this horrendously pretentious thing when exploring a city solo, where at every sign which points one way (towards the shopping centre, towards the cathedral) I go the other way. Usually, this winds me up in a multi-storey car park and unusually, it did this time too – I ended up walking alongside a motorway that led me into Salford. I was like, OMG! Salford Lads Club! (I’m painfully Smiths-conscious. I later found out ‘The Symths’ played in Peterborough during this weekend and I would have given up a weekend in Manchester to see them – nothing like the authenticity of a really, really decent tribute band. Faux-authenticity, it’s the next big thing)
My life-threatening walk down this very dangerous road could now be classed as an altruistic pilgrimage. Who knows what I could discover? What indie pop gems lay ahead? What I did discover was that my blisters were worse than I thought, Google Maps wasn’t entirely sure where this place was, and like always – my truest daily struggle – I was hungry.
Therefore, as I caved into the fact I might spend the whole day turning my GPS on and off, I decided to take the plunge and go to the ‘People’s History Museum’ across the road and ask them where to find it. Upon entering, I became very shy and embarassed to ask (ironically ‘If there’s something you’d like to try/ Ask me I won’t say no/How could I?’ didn’t apply to this situation) so I stayed put and walked around this wonderfully executed and well laid out museum.
The People’s History Museum is essentially about society post-1819 in the city (and nationwide), the importance of the Labour Party after the war (welfare etc) and the value of the vote. There was a great section about the suffragettes which I permenantly smiled at, although with my irrational fear of mannequins the entire event became a bit of an ordeal. Usually I am alright in museums if there is someone with me to look around corners first, or if there are lots of people around. The place was unusually quiet, so I quickly paced around it, taking a few pictures, and finally breathed when I got back to the shop at the end. The fear is long-lived and TOTALLY justifiable OK. All of my worst nightmares take place in Madame Tussauds. Literally never take me there. Ever. Please.
The People’s History Museum was a great place to visit in the run-up to the election. As I’ve said, it was well curated and actually mannequin-free (excepting a part-whimsical part-terrifying puppet of Harold Wilson that needs to just GO.)
Next, I walked along the Salford Quays and noted in my head that, in the cities I’ve visited recently, the first step of regeneration in a big city is at the docks. They (London, Dublin, Manchester) all seem to have these huge office spaces with top floor gyms, Zizzi’s and Pret’s aplenty. I like to imagine what the docklands might have been like 150 years ago and think I may have preferred it.
I stumbled on the John Ryland’s library – which I thought was the functional central library – but the reality actually made me gasp and say ‘Oh my!’ in true Dorothy style. It was beautiful (I didn’t pick up any historical or factual info to bore you with but it was well pretty with WINDOWS.)
Then, I found the real library which was a gorgeous dome building based on the Pantheon in Rome! I know! Italian! This place was great with BFI film archive booths and tonnes and tonnes of useful things and so so busy which was great to see.
The Manchester Art Gallery was well worth my visit, with a National Trust botanic display upon entrance that was lovely in a city of concrete. There was a display of dresses commissioned by the Manchester-based Cotton Board of purely French-designers, using Manchester-made cotton and designed by, uh, French designers. Pierre Cardin, Carven – and all so West Side Story-worthy.
This painting by Andrew MacCallum is called ‘Oak Trees in Sherwood Forest’ and shows oak trees in Sherwood Forest.
His mission was to educate working people and said:
“Show people the best pictures you can get of beautiful common things,
make them notice the beauty of form…of colour…
and when they next see the thing which the picture represented,
they will see in it beauty,
which, but for the picture, they would not see.”
I don’t know much about art, but I think that’s quite lovely for its simplicity.
I also found a Grayson Perry vase, made in 2009 called ‘Jane Austen in E17.’
He links past and present in the work, saying: “I think of Jane Austen as the touchstone of a polite, middle-class culture in Britain. These ladies in Georgian dress represent that comfortable, bourgeois mindset – conservative – yet heavily laced with an arch humour.”
With this, there are cut-outs from gossip magazines as well as photos he took around his studio in Walthamstow (London, E17.) They are supposedly ‘symbols of how far and yet how near East London now is from Hampsire two centuries ago.’
I then moved on to see the Royal Exchange Theatre which was totally beautiful and I hope to see a play there when I go down again this weekend. Photographic evidence:
There was the obligatory visit to the Hard Rock Café, of course: 2 pints of Budweiser, 2 hamburgers, extra bacon on one.
We went to an indie night at The Deaf Institute – achingly trendly place – called ‘I am the Resurrection’, on Easter Sunday! Oh, the pun. I insisted we went for the pun. Also drank at the ‘smallest pub in Europe’ (I’m certain every touristy city has one of these) – but George Best drank there AND a Manchester-born-and-bred woman from the ‘scum of the city’ (her words not mine) said ‘Fuck you, cunt!’ to Jack when he said he didn’t really like football. I love Manchester!
Totally heartbroken that he’s moved up there, but very excited to visit every fortnight or so. I lost my phone and card in a club, realised two drinks later in a different bar, and went back to find it STILL THERE! Let’s just say this sort of stuff wouldn’t happen in London.
I’m in a good mood right now so am eager to write- thus providing the internet with a totally false, happy-go-lucky, carefree version of myself (which only really is evident for around 20 minutes in a 168 hour week.) So enjoy this you guys! (As I typed this, my speakers broke.)
I’ve had a strange old time this week where I have been under a horrific spell of self-loathing and doubt- that culminated in…nothing of value or use to me.
I wrote a blog post a few days ago basically called…”I’M IN LIMBO AND I AIN’T GOT A SAT NAV” documenting my existential crises of the past 36 hours with a lot of corrosive self pity and shameful put downs.
Feeling a little inbetween (see last post) has blossomed into a huge, weighty, dragged-down feeling of being totally in the realms of absolute limbo. (I googled “in limbo” after writing that, as I am often struck by these fancy phrases that we use in daily life so casually. In limbo! Language is silly, and weird.)
Some of my favourite definitions found (one’s I am relating to):
To be in Limbo basically means you are subject to circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from doing something.
a place to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date
in the Middle-Ages, the Church told people that if they didn’t pay some money to the Church, they would go to purgatory (Christian word for Limbo).
So at least now I know WHY I’m in Limbo. (I never used to put my money in the collection basket.)
I feel totally unworthy of things I’m applying for. I know that I’m not really, and I can do it, and I am so capable *exhausts self of hopeful self-affirmation.* I feel stuck in where I am, and I need someone to give me a shot. Maybe I need that someone to be me, and give MYSELF a shot to be more positive and not hold that metaphorical gun to my head every time I begin a new application form.
I didn’t publish it because a) I was in Limbo, with no Wifi, DUH- and b) there’s already too many negative, self-deprecating things on the internet, in my journal and in the world. I know I am feeling really anxious and need some time away from this endless stream of babbling consciousness when I write a sentence that is totally incomprehensible and lacks any sort of cohesion. Usually getting unnecessarily frustrated or upset; I usually cure it by reading a book, of any kind (i.e Princess Diaries 2), like : “Hey! Words do go together!” THUS, my faith in writing is restored and I leave the computer for a bit to go do something SO unrelated, like make banana pancakes, just to, chill, and like be, y’know?(I’m tired.)
Anyway, Saturday is my favourite day as I get to go to London and do some acting classes, so I usually end up coming home feeling pretty inspired and ready to add ANOTHER book based on Stanslavski’s ‘system’ & ‘toolkit’ to add to my Amazon Wishlist.
Currently, I am amidst huge, mounting to-do lists expecting a lot of me daily. They usually begin with SHOWER!!! – which says a lot about my lifestyle. I’m getting a few invitations concerning interviews for workshops and jobs I’ve been applying to which makes the dire process of online application forms and deadlines seem a little more tolerable.
Meanwhile + ALSO: Last week, I went into town a few hours earlier than I needed to for three reasons. It was a Thursday, I’d a) had another rejection email from a drama school and needed some time spent thinking alone, b) broke one of my nails and needed a repair ASAP, c) planned to go around CV dropping, cause, like, money, and like, money.
On the way to do none of these things, I walked towards our local museum and was wonderfully surprised by the exhibition that had replaced the huge, yellow, swirling inflatable thing that had greeted me on my last visit. (It was eerily noisy.)
Last autumn I went to a playwrighting workshop set up by Metal Peterborough, an Arts Council funded platform for local artists- where we spoke about the tricky process of beginning to write something proper for stage. I wrote about it here, I think.
I saw some of the winning scripts this week, at a rehearsed reading night, also at the Gallery. Part of me regretted not trying harder at creating something for the project (I initially struggled with playwrighting a lot more than I thought I would)- but the standard of the work produced was so touching and funny that I’ve decided to have another go at it. (I think the key with writer’s block is to begin with a pre-exisiting idea rather than a blank page. Jean Luc-Godard said…*adjusts tie and clears throat with a smug facial expression*: ‘It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.’) Anyway.
The workshop and playwrighting project was in conjunction with the group’s project of last year – ‘Metal Billboard’ – which culminated in the exhibition I saw last Thursday at the museum. The Billboard artwork posed 10 questions, combined with 10 artist’s interpretations of the given text.
What happens next?
Are migrants not humans?
Are you worth it?
What’s an Artist worth?
Why do animals exist?
Can you Fall up?
For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?
What role does love play in economics?
What is necessary here?
(how about THAT to clear your writer’s block!!)
In September of last year, 10 of these billboards were up around the city, my favourite being the ‘What Happens Next?’ piece, above above, that is stuck ABOVE my bed (so many aboves) which is probably the reason why I struggle to be able to have ‘lazy days’ at home- as I’m constantly reminded that I should be trying to answer that question.
Combined with this was the ‘100 Journals’ project, which was utterly captivating and eye-opening- I’ve been keeping diaries and scrapbooks for a long time and love nothing more than to nose through other people’s lives.
Unfortunately, as is the nature of journals – people (including me in a ((metaphorically)) double padlock kind of way) tend to keep them secretive. Stumbling across this collection of OTHER people’s journals, just lying there for me to read ON A RED CHAIR WITH LEOPARD PRINT CUSHIONS – I mean ????!!
Isn’t it a lovely, simple idea: people keeping a collection of their supposedly mundane and everyday thoughts in a cheap notebook which is then displayed in an art gallery for everyone to read. It was nice to realise that there were people living in my city who were just like me, but due to the anonymity of the project, I had no idea who they were. Which is nice really, as they could be anyone.
I have to go, but thanks for reading.
I am working on a few pieces on paper at the moment which I will type up here if I get a free hour or two. (I usually have a free hour or two. Or three.)