Ghosts from the Past

A hobby in the theatre is what I call a ‘crescendo hobby’. Hobbies that aren’t crescendo hobbies remain consistent regarding commitment, enjoyment, stress, hours in attendance, money spent and other themes associated with hobbies. It isn’t the only crescendo hobby. Longest Standing Friend is into archery. Actually, that’s an understatement; since taking up this hobby a few years ago, after deciding her children should do it and she kind of fell into it, she has become so good at it that she represents the country now. (Her children don’t do it anymore. Funny how things work out.) Anyway, I imagine that this is another crescendo hobby, in that one prepares for a contest in the same way that one prepares for a play.
So in the last couple of weeks before the production, all of the above themes started building up to a crescendo . . . As did contact from Wimbledon Man. I didn’t want the latter. What would the crescendo look like, I wondered, not without a hint of anxiety. He’d made contact, which was fine and he’d expressed a wish to see the play, which was also fine. We’d established that he wouldn’t be staying at my house and he agreed that it would be a bad idea, citing his reasons as ‘raging hormones’ and being ‘full of lust’. I wondered if he’d swapped bodies with a spotty adolescent but then he started randomly sending me pictures of himself, so I could see that he wasn’t the victim of some voodoo magic. The pictures added another interesting layer to this strange form of cyber-stalking (still haven’t found out how he knew I’d moved house). Now I have pictures of Wimbledon Man at home, relaxing . . . In the rain, with an umbrella . . . Outside an old-fashioned gypsy caravan. My little Stalker Album is rather like one of those albums you see on Facebook sometimes, of pictures of teddies in different places of interest throughout the world. But I figured that as long as I’m receiving pics of him living his life and not pics of me living my life, then I need not worry. Too much.
Roundabout this time I downloaded Sleep Cycle onto my phone, in order to aid the waking-up process in the morning. One is eased into sleep to the sounds of the sea softly lapping onto shingle and one is eased back into wakefulness to a melodious mix of music in the morning. The app offers a variety of features, including daily graphs which show, as the name suggests, your own personal sleep cycle. I’m not convinced that it isn’t also Rusty’s sleep cycle, seeing as his lack of moulting allows him access onto my bed every night, but it was certainly my sleep cycle whilst Wimbledon Man was messaging me through the night, as my peaks of wakefulness coincided exactly with the times of his messages. I think this would be an apt occasion for use of the expression ‘stream of consciousness’ which is kinda funny seeing as it was while I was not conscious that he sent over the aforementioned ‘stream’. If I liked this guy, like Laurie in Oklahoma!, out of my dreams and into his arms I would have flown by now. But the more love, passion, compliments and kisses (sometimes just a load of kisses. And I mean a LOAD . . . Not just a few) I receive, the less I even want to remain acquainted with him. I have been blunt: ‘I don’t want a relationship with you.’ I told him not to see the play: ‘Don’t come to the play.’ I have been scolding: ‘I told you I was going to sleep yet you continued to message me for another hour and a quarter.’ To be fair, he didn’t come to the play and the nocturnal messages have stopped, but still he messages me every day. I ignore the messages. If they become abusive or he takes up his nocturnal messaging habit again, I will block him. I could block him now, but I feel it is an unnecessary confrontational act and if there is one thing I have learnt from ‘positive handling’ courses (aka restraint training), it is to only use as much force as is required to resolve an issue. Currently, I don’t feel the need to block him and as I still don’t know how he knew about my house move, I favour the softly, softly approach (actually, that description might be pushing it, given my frankness, but I think you get the sentiment).
His resilience would be admirable if it wasn’t creepy. I can take a hint; if I’m ignored for a few days, or there seems to be a lack of interest, or I’m continually starting conversations, then I back off and assume my attention is unwanted. Sometimes I’m wrong, so it’s great. Sometimes I’m not, so I’ve prepared myself. I think it’s fair to call myself easy-going in this respect but of course, if it becomes a pattern of behaviour then even I am inclined to call it a day. I don’t play games. It would be easier, of course, if people were explicit instead of implicit (I think I can assume from accusations of bluntness, that I am the former) but I guess many people are in possession of this misguided notion that it is kinder to be implicit. However, like most people, if someone had sent me the messages that I have sent Wimbledon Man, I would not continue to wear that someone down with romantic advances. Why would anyone do this? Does he think I will fall for his roguish, stalker-esque approach? Does he think that I can be won over by unwanted attention? More importantly, how can anyone demean themselves in this way? Wimbledon Man is attractive. A year ago, when he vaporised from my life, I was sad. I had liked him. But, in the words of Frank Sinatra (and a shedload of other people) I picked myself up, dusted myself off and . . . started seeing the Rastafarian. I forgot about him and evidently, to a degree, he did likewise. We had never had a relationship; we went on a few dates and barely even kissed. So frankly, I’m bemused.
Talking of the Rastafarian, my phone acted as go-between (which is its job, I guess) for him and me also. If my phone could talk (which it can, I guess, but with its own voice like Holly in Red Dwarf) it would be saying, ‘Sorry, but – what is actually going on here Lisa?’ And I would say, in all honesty, ‘I don’t know! But I don’t want either of them! If only I got this much attention from men I actually liked!’ Just to clarify, the Rastafarian had behaved unpleasantly towards my daughter in town when she ran into into him one Saturday night. So whereas I was maintaining a friendship – of sorts – with him before, now I did not want to consort with him. He became enraged at this and whereas I was receiving pure slop from Wimbledon, now I was receiving pure venom from Brighton. Neither was satisfactory. (I realise the unlikelihood of the loan repayment but the chances will reduce to zero if I block him.) I requested an end to the verbal abuse and I got it. He ditched his role of perpetrator and assumed that of victim instead; a fawning, lovesick victim. I marvelled at his ability to change his colours, like a chameleon but I also felt slightly disturbed by it. It was a temporary embargo though, because a pattern emerged: abuse, followed by my request for it to end, then sycophancy. Then it was just the latter . . . Which was an improvement. I found out later on, from Rhiannon, that Joseph had contacted him and asked him to stop the abuse. I’m biased, of course, but my children are the business.
I was supposed to go to my second audition last night, but I was offered a free ticket to see Fish (lead singer of Marillion) in London, so I bailed on the audition and went tripping off the The Big Smoke instead. He performed the whole album of ‘Misplaced Childhood’, including ‘Kayleigh’, which I did not imagine I would hear live, so many years after its first release. Anyway, there is a point to this rather indulgent anecdote (that probably describes my whole blog in fact) which is, that the kind donor of the ticket is a friend from work. There were five of us in total who all met in London (I only knew Work Friend) but we began our journey home together. Two peeled off early on, so then there were three of us. Work Friend decided to tell Other Friend about my theory that all men like porn. I wasn’t expecting to have a private conversation spilled forth on the Victoria Line, to an unfamiliar someone and within earshot of the other passengers who, in keeping with lone passengers, looked suitably catatonic and zombie-like. I was also concentrating on the troubled realisation that my hand was stuck to the pole it had automatically grasped for steadying purposes, because there had been something sticky on the pole. I resisted the urge to move it to a less sticky portion of the pole, my logic being that the stickiness may well be on other parts of the pole and moving it could result in twice the number of germs having a rave on the palm of my hand. So I resolved to leave my hand be and turned my attention to this careless divulgence of my shamefully sexist theory. I was on the verge of retracting said theory, when Other Friend, an unassuming, smiley chap who referred lovingly to his wife and therefore could possibly have blown my theory out of the water just by his existence, said, ‘Yeah. I’d agree with that. I think all men like porn.’ I felt vindicated. Work Friend expected support but I got it instead! After Other Friend left and the party of rock fans was down to just two, Work Friend confessed to feeling disillusioned with men. This surprised me. Assuming you’ve read the entirety of this post and you didn’t just skip to the end, you would probably understand my current (I hope temporary) disillusionment with men, but as Work Friend is one, I guess that proves that even men annoy men from time to time …

Returning to the audition, I didn’t get the part I wanted. Clearly, I didn’t sing Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get I Want loudly enough in the loo when I nipped out to use it halfway through the auditions. But I did get a good part. Singing Sister got Elvira (the part I wanted. No sibling rivalry there) and I got Ruth Condomine. In all seriousness, given that I didn’t bag the title role, I can’t think of a better co-star. We are not unaccustomed to playing rivals in love: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (this got physical, which is fine when it’s your sister because you have actual experiences upon which you can draw) … The Importance of Being Earnest (the famous tea scene) to name but two. I doubt I’ll play Elvira now, because it’ll be a while before it’s on again, but I have been fortunate enough to play a plethora of funny and tragic roles and if my regrets are just a few parts I’ve missed, I’ve led a charmed theatrical life thus far.


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