The Elevator

For a lady who doesn’t really watch tv, I have managed to pick up on some programmes. Yesterday it was Friends, today it was/ is You’ve Got Mail and Good Will Hunting. OK and yes thank you, I am aware that the latter aren’t even programmes: they are films.

I only ever see flashes anyway, I don’t seem have the patience to sit through something when I think I can do something else.Like running, or writing, or sleeping. All three very popular things in my life at the moment.

Still I like the flashes that I catch:

The moment that Tom Hanks gets stuck in the lift and when the people he’s with start playing the ‘If I ever get out of here I will…’ and he has a realisation that changes his life.

Or

The scene where Robin Williams describes the game at which he met his wife. They describe the legendary game only to find out that he gave up his ticket to go for a drink with his future wife.

Or

The scene where Robin asks Matt: What are you passionate about? What do you want to do?

Robin Williams, a young Matt Damon, Ben Affleck when he was still cool and Minnie Driver being English.

Two friends, one ambition. One script, two Oscars.

So.

I guess now it is just waiting for the doors to open again.

Life on Channel 4

I just saw the very last episode of Friends on Channel4 + 1.

Ten years of Friends and we have gone through them again.

The end bit wasn’t even that good.  It was fairly unoffensive.

Nobody dies, we all have babies, get to say I love you and get back together and move off into the sunset. Well sunset.

They go for coffee.

But maybe that is what they are trying to say, all these things happen, ups and downs, tears and laughter, millions per episode, highest rates after 9/11, maybe that is what it all boils down to in the end: going for coffee and meeting up with friends.

Yes or not.

Endings are hard. Look at Lost, it Lost most of its viewers after Series 2 ( Polarbear anyone?) or Heroes – is that even still going?

A good series should really have a good ending. So all we want to know is: who shot JR?

There is an ending. Answers on a postcard please.

In five years time

Everyone knows that essay question or even interview question: Where will you be in five years time? / Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of realisation as I walked into the  pub close to Paddington station. The little group in the back that waved at me, were some of my uni-friends. They happened to be in London on this weekend and whilst we were catching up we realised that it had been five years since we’d graduated.

Five years. Immediately this sparked sighs of  “we’re getting old”, which is obviously ridiculous: at the grand age of  twentysomething no one should sigh this. As the only guy in our little group exclaimed (in fact he was the husband of one of the girls – but more about that later.):” I wish I was in my twenties again! Have my youth back! ” I smiled and realised  that with his 34 years he indeed was the Nestor of the group.

So here we were, four girls who went to uni together and graduated five years ago. What had become of us?

Well …one had gotten married. She was already engaged when she started the course, something that was a little hard to comprehend for other 18 year olds. As one of us said: ” When we threw you an engagement party, we were still living in halls and it felt a bit like make-believe!”  They had decided to get married after she graduated but it took another two years til the big day. I was surprised to hear they had gotten engaged within six months of dating and then still waited that long before tying the knot. Her husband said: ” I just knew. I just knew I was going to marry her but was willing to wait until she had graduated.”  ( So nudge to all those who are being messed about by a man: apparently if he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, he knows. And when he knows, he is not shy about putting a ring on it.)  She is a teacher now, finishing a part-time MA and pregnant with her first child. Boom.

But life can be  turn out very different and not less good.

The second girl had come up for a clowning course as part of research into play and playfulness for her MA in theatre. She is studying at our old university and is even a guest lecturer. Note: she was asked by staff if she wanted to do the course. After graduation she was a freelance practitioner for a while, affiliated with a big theatre south-west and organising courses for young people. She then decided to take the plunge and go to France to do a years course in theatre. She did a crash course French and went. That my friends is brave. But it was tough and the competitiveness of the course put her off performing a little. Then when she came back she decided that in order  to keep pursuing theatre, she had to rediscover the pleasure of it. To me, to have had a knock back and still decide to stick with what you love, is even braver.

The third girl had come over from Australia when we were at uni and for as long as I have known her, she’s worked hard. Throughout uni, during summers, and after. I seem to vaguely remember she went to Cyprus for a year as a holiday entertainer. She is the work hard, party hard girl and I admire her strength. I cannot imagine what it must be like, if your family is half-way across the world. When your ticket home equals a month’s rent. But I know few who are as go-getting as she is. She wanted a job in radio so started by taking shifts with traffic radio. Meanwhile she had a job in a hotel to support herself (apparently the worst job ever – but she sure stuck with it.) and later she worked shifts in a hospice. Currently she is working split-shifts and though we were stunned by the amount of hours she does, she said she would find a 9-5 job hard now. This is a lady who can take care of herself. On top of that she takes care of others, when I said I was looking for a job, she immediately offered to hook me up.  She lives in London too and  despite not having seen each other for years, when we did it felt normal again. She has decided she wants to get back to writing and has a whole plan that she will bring into action. Inventive, adaptable, hardworking and curious for life: I cannot wait to see where she will be in five years time.

It made me smile to realise where five years had taken us. Some already pretty certain of the direction they were heading, some still in the gorgeous (and admitting sometimes desperate) chaos of it all. I realised that in five years a lot of things had changed for me in a good way and if that line keeps going, bring on the next five!

Ten Happy Things

1. Home made chicken sweetcorn soup.

2. Indulging in the guilty pleasure of new magazine, rather than book.

3. Holding back on the carbs with dinner, only to eat M&S rocky road cookies after. (I’ll have a half….and the other half…)

4. The smell of just opened lilies.

5. A 45 min phone conversation with a friend. On your mobile. International. And not caring, because for everything else there is…

6.Drinking tea from a hand-made cup and thinking about your friends who gave said cup to you when you visited them in Scotland.

7. Planning a holiday. Even if only in your head.

8. Thinking about the future. Even if not that realistic, though you would make a great empress of the world. Obviously.

9. Looking forward to Sunday lunch with ol’ uni friend, her husband…and their baby on the way!

10. Tomorrow is Friday:  whatever happens, that is always a good start.

In memory of a Maths Teacher

Today, on my sister’s birthday, some sad news reached us: one of our old maths teachers died of a heart-attack whilst out cycling with his son.  My flatmate remarked it was a very Dutch way to go.  When I say old maths teacher, I don’t actually mean his age: in fact, he is a similar age to my parents and I dare anyone to call my mother old to her face!  (Still, the fact is a little terrifying.)

Mr H. was a great teacher, even though he never intended to go into teaching. He wanted to a carpenter or do something more creative. He met a girl, got married, had a family and decided he needed a more stable career to provide for them.

He was one of the rare teachers who, despite 25 years of teaching experience – oh didn’t we all know it- , didn’t believed there was just one way of doing things. If you’d told him you didn’t understand him, he wouldn’t just repeat the same thing but louder (in case you meant to say you hadn’t heard him) but tried a different method. Even better, when you still didn’t get it, instead of declaring you thick: he would ask you to explain to him how you had solved a problem (with the mistake) – so he could trace your steps and identify where you went wrong.

He was the person who walked through the school library one day, passed the shelves I was hiding behind, then as in a movie walked backwards and looked through the shelves at me.  ” Er..are you ok?” I was in floods of tears. One of my friends had left for a clinic the day prior and despite feeling relieved that she finally got help, I also felt utterly sad and confused. He sat me in his office and he gave me a glass of water. I was a little embarrassed and worried that I would have to explain to him what happened but then he left  the room. When he came back, my best friend was following him: he had taken her out of her class with the simple words “I think your friend needs you”. He asked if he was needed, and then just let us be. I appreciated his insight:

1. He knew what was going on.

2. He realised he wasn’t the best person to solve the situation.

3. He knew exactly who would be the best person to solve the problem.

No ego, no panic, just simply adding up the facts, and combining this with an interest in and knowledge of his students.

Your students will miss you, Mr H.: may you finally get to create beautiful clouds in heaven.

Computer Says…

Last night I sat on the sofa discussing the topic of Play and Playfulness in Performance, on how to create a group-dynamic and whether a group facilitator could blend back into a group. (Yes pretentious perhaps but hey sometimes I think I should remind myself I do actually have a post-grad in something I was once so passionate about that I emigrated to pursue it.)

I used words that I hadn’t for a long time, thought about situations that seemed a distant memory and discovered I still enjoyed the discussion. It seemed normal, even though my own practice is very rusty the conversation flowed and I was confident about every point covered.

There was no wine involved, just some food and food for thought. I went to bed very happy.

This morning as I was walking to station through the rain, I started thinking about the joys of being sardined into the carriages on a twice daily basis, about feeling continuously challenged to perform the usual mini-miracles on demand. About where I wanted to go with my  life, where I wanted to be and even more pressing as I approached the sign for the Tube: whether London is my answer…

To Be Continued.

Moment of Truth

Today I got the email to confirm my participation in the (4×5)+1 K.

It felt a bit like the moment of truth…

In the last 3 weeks, the interval training that I have been doing is more 1 week running, 2 weeks not than the recommended daily hikes. The fact that the new job keeps me so busy that I find myself postponing toilet-breaks just to get everything done, doesn’t help either. So after ten hours, you come home and from the three Rs, reading, running and erh writing; running is the least popular in my head.

Still. That e-mail. I had a look at the registration form, you have to tick your ETA ( under an hour – who are you Usain Bolt?, to over 2.5 hours.) and just as I was reading the small print  stating you have to be honest because you will be put in the right running-group, I managed to accidentally close the window.

Accidentally you say…hmm subconscious speaking?

Would I step out like some, bow out gracefully but alive, instead of trying to kill myself over a couple of hours running, there is nothing to prove to anyone right?

Oh yes you are right. But what is the fun in that?

A little too much pride and a little too much madness prevents me from doing this. However my heart made a compromise. So tomorrow when I have stopped seeing double through fatigue, I will sign up properly and tick the Over 2.5 hours box. Pressure off. A little insanity does not make you necessarily suicidal.

All this tomorrow – there is another day. For now: Good night. x