A Bit of History

In 1988, following the demolition of a 1950s office block, archaeologists uncovered two-thirds of a ground plan of the first purpose-built theatre to grace London’s Bankside, The Rose. Built in 1587, on reclaimed land from the Thames, it sat amongst other Elizabethan attractions also considered to be unsavoury, such as brothels, gaming dens and bull/bear-baiting arenas. It pre-dates The Globe by 12 years and in fact, the latter probably owed its original creation to its success. Ironic, therefore, that it should fall out of use and disappear from the map in the early 1600s, in contrast to The Globe, which was going from strength to strength.

Today, it is an interesting mix of an archaeological dig and a small, modern theatre with a slightly gothic feel. With an old (as in long-standing, seeing as he’s probably reading this) friend, I attended a ‘readathon’ there last summer, before I broke my wrist. This involved the reading through of the abridged versions of several well-known plays. I had a commitment in the evening, so I could stay for the first four only: Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors and Frankenstein. At least, I think those were the plays … Long-standing Friend can correct me if I’m wrong.

We met outside the theatre and wandered round the corner to have a bite to eat. It was really not much more than a bite, with London prices. Then we wandered back to the theatre. It was a strange sensation, walking into the auditorium; some of it was sectioned off for the dig and there was a distinct cold blast. But it was lit up and looked pretty (I never thought I’d describe a dig as pretty). I was reminded of the only time I’ve been on a dig; a few years ago I joined a local archaeological group and found myself at a site called Rocky Clump. I arrived with a trowel and a fork and lots of trepidation. Having studied Latin to ‘A’ Level, I’ve always found Ancient History interesting and have visited a few amazing archaeological sites in my time. Rocky Clump was not amazing. It was a rectangular hole, filled with people, all holding trowels and forks, with nothing interesting in it. I didn’t even last the day. I scraped, scraped and did a bit more scraping, just in case I needed to scrape a bit more and I found enough earthworms to start one of those wormeries, but nothing else. I left at lunchtime, claiming I didn’t think they’d be there all day and I never returned. Hats off to all those people who dig and scrape and dig and scrape for so little return. I reckon for every minute of Time Team that’s aired, a whole day of digging and scraping is on the cutting-room floor. Anyway, it isn’t all a sad tale of digging and scraping – I enjoyed visiting some pre-dug digs during my time as a member, along with joining some great historical walks both across the Downs and through the streets of Brighton. The latter is where I found out the origin of North Laine and so I have some evidence to support my insistence upon it being called so. A laine was a farming plot and there were 5 laines surrounding the old town of Brighton. In 1977, the area we call North Laine was going to be developed into high-rise buildings, a flyover and a car park, but Ken Fines, the borough planning officer for Brighton at the time, struck by the charm of the area, fought to protect it from development and so the North Laine Conservation Area was designated, the name a recognition of its mediaeval roots. The Lanes have nothing to do with this: they are, as the name suggests, made up of a series of lanes, unlike North Laine which refers to an area and is actually a series of quaint roads (ok, you could call Kensington Gardens a lane). But anyway, we have Mr Fines to thank because without him, bohemian Brighton would not exist.

Back to London! The readathon . . . so, we pulled names of characters out of a hat and then we had to play that character in the shortened play. In Frankenstein I had a few bit-parts which was fine, because I teach it every year to Year 8. It was the same story with Comedy of Errors but that was fine too, because back in the day when I was young and thin, I played Luciana. But we did Twelfth Night and Romeo & Juliet in a row and I pulled out ‘Olivia’ for the former and ‘Juliet’ for the latter. I played Olivia first which was pretty cool and Juliet second, which was even cooler. I agonised over whether or not to replace the name, as I’d just played a big part, but I ran with it. I’m too old to play Juliet now, so I figured that this was my last chance. And Long-standing Friend played the nurse, so actually, it was perfect. I doubt that he will ever get to play the nurse, so no doubt, he was thinking the same.

When I told Long-standing Friend that I’d cried off my audition, his reaction was:

‘What? You enjoyed acting with me last summer!’

He was right. I had. So why was I doing this? I can’t really explain why, but I brooded over it for quite some time. Then I thought: it’s ok. I can do the readathon again, every summer if I want to. That’s what I enjoyed. Just because I liked the redathon, doesn’t mean I want to be in plays any more. Only I am in a play, but not to play a part.

I broke my wrist just days after the readathon so I’m thankful for that. Not that I broke my wrist, just that Fate allowed me to play Olivia and Juliet before pushing me into that chalky puddle. If I’d managed to play Joan of Arc too, or Alison from Look Back In Anger, then it would have been a hat-trick. I think they are my only two regrets.


10 thoughts on “A Bit of History

  1. loconnor1616 February 28, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    You’re welcome. I’m such a pedant when it comes to North Laine and The Lanes. I can’t even bring myself to write what some people call The Lanes, because just by putting it into print I will be giving it credence and who knows? If you saw it in print, it might melt into your brain as an actual thing. P.S. No ‘s’ on the end of North Laine 😉


  2. loconnor1616 February 28, 2016 / 11:41 pm

    Please do enjoy it! To use a cliche, it’s a silver lining. And I like people liking it – it started out as catharsis but now that people seem to be enjoying it, well – that’s a bonus and I’m flattered. I’m with you there – I LOVE tramping through the countryside especially if I’m finding some evidence of our past. I’ve neglected it lately – (soon-to-be) ex-hubby and I were tree-hugging ancient history geeks once we got our walking boots on but since he left I haven’t been on a single decent walk. Obviously discounting dog-walks!


  3. loconnor1616 February 29, 2016 / 12:18 am

    Wow. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. You’re very generous. Sorry to hear that you battle with mental health issues – I guess I’ve had a few in this last year and a half which has been an incredible time of my life. I don’t want to be particularly positive or negative about this period, on the grounds that some terrible things have led to some amazing things. Returning to the original trauma, I feel very much that Ciaran left to ‘find himself’ (sorry for the cliche and I have to clarify that he never used that expression) but in leaving me, I was stripped down to just me; in living entirely on my own, I think I am the one who has ‘found herself’. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think it was right that he left in the manner that he did, especially with children involved, but being left to my own devices forced me to take stock of my life and decide which direction I was heading. I’ve surprised myself time and time again, for example, the choices I make regarding filling my time are different – as an example, I actually gave up a hobby that I thought was the stuff from which I was made. I don’t think people have to take extreme measures like splitting from partners to ensure that they are fulfilling their dreams, as long as they do actually ensure that they are living THEIR lives and not someone else’s. And in case it seems I wasn’t happy before, I really was! My life is just different now . . . The main difference is that I don’t have so many doubts about my decisions because I’m much more in control – I go with my instincts more and I have more confidence in my decisions. I’ve had some blog worthy experiences during this time, hence the blog, but at least I can’t complain of boredom and frankly, worse things happen. Thank you for the comment about my understated ‘my husband left me’. I wanted that to be the exposition of my blog – my situation rather than my problem and from your comment, I feel I achieved it so I thank you for that. I’ve written WAY too long a reply to this. Sorry. Thank you for the recommendations too, by the way!


  4. loconnor1616 February 29, 2016 / 12:50 am

    Ha ha! Love North Laine too. When the children were little that was a day out, on par with The Sea Life Centre or the pier. Yes – way better than The Lanes. I forgive you the ‘s’ and I’m sorry I’m so flippin’ pedantic. It isn’t always a good thing. God it’s late. I should be tired but I’m not.


  5. loconnor1616 February 29, 2016 / 7:44 pm



  6. loconnor1616 March 1, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    It’s a sad face in response to your comment about stomach cramps and swollen throat. Hope they’ve both gone.


  7. loconnor1616 March 1, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    Hmm . . . I think I’m too old for all of them now!


  8. loconnor1616 March 1, 2016 / 11:08 pm

    So many trees . . . Our favourites were yew trees.
    Ha ha – the back dimples – how on earth would I manage a photo of my back? And I’m pretty sure it’s an acquired taste – I see nothing attractive about back dimples!


  9. loconnor1616 March 1, 2016 / 11:09 pm

    My reply has gone – it was a sad face in response to your feeling ill.


  10. loconnor1616 March 2, 2016 / 10:16 pm

    The back dimples . . . Lol. They’re really not a big deal. I don’t know why Toby made such a fuss about them.


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