Lazy, Hazy and Crazy

Funnily enough, another hobby of mine is writing. Once upon a time I wrote poetry but whereas I am enamoured with other people’s poetry, I don’t think I particularly excel at writing it. Joseph does and I think it was upon casting my eye over his profound and moving poetic offerings whilst he was at uni, that I decided this. I’m good at spontaneously dreaming up funny rhyming verse and I can replace lyrics to adapt a song for my own needs, but as for trying to live up to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘the best words in the best order’ catchphrase, that magical re-ordering of words is best left to proper poets such as him. (And Joseph, it would seem. And as a child, Rhiannon wrote some astounding poetry which, in true mum style, I still have.) Even if I find The Rime of the Ancient Mariner too dolorous to read unless I’m teaching it to Y9 … Actually, who am I trying to kid? I feel disturbed after every lesson within that topic. I purposely shot through it last year and managed to squeeze in The Lady of Shallot while the rest of the department were still on Part I. In addition, I struggle to write any worthy poetry unless I’ve dug myself into a hole of gloom in which to wallow. Karen Carpenter famously sang in All You Get From Love is a Love Song, ‘the best love songs are written with a broken heart’ (or ‘the best love songs are written with a broken arm’ according to kissthisguy.com) and cheesy though those lyrics are, I think they could reach out to most people. Both those lyrics – the real ones and the misheard ones – reach out to me, if we extend the metaphor to embrace writing in general. I became inspired to write a fantasy novel whilst married to (soon-to-be-ex) hubby and yes, the divorce IS taking an EXCEPTIONALLY long time considering the presumed simplicity of it. Anyway, I found myself pondering portals into other dimensions whilst walking Rusty one day, as I gazed across an ideal area of scrubland for a TARDIS to land. On my return I gushed my ideas to (soon-to-be-ex) hubby who was very encouraging, being the nerdy bookish type and so I set about my new project. However, after writing a plot outline, a back-story, character summaries and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, I felt suitably fulfilled to tuck it away on a USB stick and in so doing it also became tucked away into the furthest reaches of my mind. Until afore-mentioned hubby walked out and in-between other calamities, I picked up the unfinished story – or rather the barely begun story – blew away the metaphorical dust and found myself in the throes of writing mania. Then I snapped my wrist, which was the topic of previous blog posts, so I won’t revisit the whole sorry saga, except to say, for the benefit of new readers, that it was a bad break involving surgery and I couldn’t do much with that limb for a while, even after I was minus the splint. So The Barely Begun Story was abandoned after a frenetic flurry of attention. Other neglected pastimes included piano-playing, although that was, eventually, partly due to its residence for quite some time in the hallway of my current home, as that was as far as the removal men would move it. In desperation, it has quietly sidestepped (with some assistance) into my bedroom. Along with a spare sofa. (It’s a sizeable bedroom.) I had begun to teach myself the violin too, but proceeded as far as one YouTube tutorial before the whole wrist-snapping thing.

Fast forward to January this year and I felt suitably inspired to start a blog. Gosh, I’m writing about writing. Blogging about blogging, in fact … Is this meta-blogging? I will not tarry on this topic lest I bring about something unintentional … Like the opening of a portal to another dimension, maybe! Sorry – I guess my mind is on my fantasy story now. Back to my blog. It owes itself principally to a hankering for catharsis. Secondary to that, enough people said in jest that I ‘should write a book’ after yet another recounting of yet another fiasco in my life, that I thought I would. Well, a blog, anyway. I felt the need to offload about the graver fiascos in my life, but not to a person. Or even to a medium which might be read by a person. I never aspired to gain an audience; I only started sharing on Facebook because after I casually let slip that it existed at all, people asked about it. I’m very glad it is being read, for a variety of reasons and I continue to be both surprised and thankful for the interest shown. To speak with candour, the latter has shaped my blog. It may have been one long whine if people hadn’t started reading it. I progressed to funny Tinder moments because friends had laughed at the antics of my clinically insane chickens and my misunderstanding of ‘come and see my Buddhist altar’. But just a couple of months of flirting with Tinder meant that the material was finite. Then after the sequence of events that brought me to The Folky Pub on a night magically tinged with fate, I sourced a new supply of material … The Rastafarian. Of course, I could not access it immediately because I was unaware that this relationship would actually become a blog for a time, but eventually, the honeymooned shine of new love dulled from being lied to, cheated on and wrung dry of money, patience and comfort. And that mishap of a relationship has provided me with enough material to have a complete blog dedicated solely to him, if I felt inclined to grant him such an accolade, so credit where it is due: special thanks to the reggae-playing rogue.

At the close of my last prosaic offering, I promised news on the Rastafarian and more writing. As in ‘news on more writing’, not just ‘more writing’, because the latter is a given, really. So, at this juncture, I could branch off in either direction. This post, thus far, has been a journey to the ‘more writing’ promise of my last post, but I find myself referring to the Rastafarian. I’m sticking with my original plan … news on the Rastafarian can wait.
So, being in writing mode, when I was asked if I would like to write a feature for a website on a movie of my choice, eagerly I agreed. A thousand words. Two thousand words later and still counting, I thought I needed to stop. The dog thought I needed to stop too. It took me longer to edit it than to write it. The trouble with editing, is that in sifting through your work in order to glibly slice swathes of it out, you find yourself re-wording the stuff that is staying, sometimes in lengthier ways and also thinking of new material to add. But I almost got there … I was granted an extra 600 words so the finished product was 1,600 words and now I am the proud owner of a feature about one of my favourite flicks (Georgy Girl) published on a movie website. I am, officially, a guest contributor now and am writing a review for another movie. Indeed, when I sat down at my iPad today (doesn’t have the same ring as ‘type-writer’ or ‘computer’, does it?) I had to choose between writing that and my blog. But as I should re-watch said movie first and the sun was pouring forth Mediterranean warmth, I chose my blog as I could sunbathe simultaneously. Multi-tasking at its best. Earlier this week, when I wanted to sunbathe but felt guilt pangs about neglecting the house, I weeded the garden. So sunny was the weather and so keen was my desire to tan my tummy, that I have weeded the whole garden.

Some time ago I took the Rastafarian to court for money he owed me. He agreed to repay me at the paltry rate of £20 PCM but it was better than the alternative, which was nothing. He did not begin the repayments and so a charge was put on his possessions. I knew he was at risk of eviction and concerned that the bailiffs would have a wasted trip if they visited him, I messaged him to ask if his eviction was imminent.

‘Yes,’ came the unusually straightforward response.

‘When?’ I asked.

‘Now.’

My feelings were a jumble. Frustration, that I knew I had narrowly missed getting some of my money back after the inevitable sale of his goods, had the bailiffs seized them. Disappointment, at the lack of progress. Anger, that he had managed to dodge justice … Again. An indescribable feeling of slight nausea, at the reminder that this unscrupulous man had extorted so much money from me. And lastly, pity. He did not deserve my pity, but regardless of the carelessness with which he lived his life that had brought his lifestyle to its knees, the prospect of homelessness can’t be pleasant. And when an undesirable character endures an all-encompassing hardship such as being without a home, it is as if they have been stripped back to just themselves, so that there is nothing they can hide from you. He could not duck and dive out of this predicament, although I felt sure that he would. But who wants pity anyway? I don’t see my pity for the Rastafarian in a positive light and I doubt he would, either. He asked if he could come and live with me but, agonising though it was, I refused his plea for help. I have spoken to several people about this and the response is always the same – of course, you said ‘no’? Of course, I reply every time, because I did and so he isn’t living with me. I don’t want him living with me: we are not in a relationship, he has treated me badly, I intend taking in a lodger for my spare room, he would abuse my hospitality in every way possible but mostly by never leaving, my resentment for the treatment I have hitherto received from him would increase … I could continue. But my steadfastness flies in the face of values I hold dear, so my choice has not sat well with me. One person only understood but that is not a criticism of those who don’t; moreover, that one person did not figure largely in my life throughout my relationship with the Rastafarian and so conversely, perhaps it is he who is lacking comprehension and the others understand only too well why I had to say ‘no’. But if ever I need consoling, I can recall the words of one friend who wisely said, you can’t reduce the lives of your children to enhance the life of one who does not deserve it. And of course, one’s children are priority. Joseph has finished uni and although he is keen to find his own place, is at home until he does. Rhiannon is switching courses and so is at home also, for the foreseeable future, until she can take up a place on her new degree course. But even if they weren’t, it is the family home and as such, is there for the enjoyment of my family, not the Rastafarian.

However, it weighs heavily on my being that a man with whom I was in a relationship once, is living on the streets. I have stumbled across him a few times, with other people who are similarly bereft of a home and, presumably, family, or at least one that is in a position to assist. Usually, to be tactful, he is not clear-headed. He is always pleased to see me and asks for nothing. I can’t help recalling Simon and Garfunkel’s song I Am A Rock, because he seems that way now. He has no need of anything anymore. Evidently, he has a ready supply of alcohol and other recreational drugs and he never did eat much. It is summer, so the nights are kind to him and when I commented that he doesn’t smell as if he is sleeping rough, he said that he swims in the sea, fully-clothed, to wash himself and his clothes. He was getting sufficient money to get by through busking, but a fellow homeless person broke his guitar, so that particular avenue of income is no more. Recently, a friend said he could stay in her house whilst she was away, so currently, he has somewhere other than the pavement to lay his head and he has gained some work through one of his zero-hour contracts. He tells me that he is on a list for housing, so possibly, as Autumn gives us a taste of wintry nights and dark mornings, he will be able to pick himself up off the streets and find himself housed once more. There is little distinction between his life with a home and his life without a home. It was not out-of-the-ordinary for him to socialise with the homeless on the streets and on sultry, summer nights, he would not consider it strange to stay out till the first light of dawn, drinking, chatting, singing, dancing, in Pavilion Gardens or another ‘homeless hotspot’, soaking up the camaraderie and cheer only found in the summer months when being homeless seemed liberating rather than desperate. Foreign students would sometimes join the unofficial party, maybe not fully realising the situation; or realising, but not caring, because they could wobble home at some point to a comfy host house or hostel. At worst, the Rastafarian is a narcissistic, grasping, deceitful man capable of riding roughshod over people’s feelings and abusing their goodwill. At best, he is a complicated individual whose free-spiritedness is his best feature and the best way for him to live his life, without getting too close to people to eventually wound them. So being homeless seems to suit him, put bluntly. He does not appear to be adversely affected by his new-found state and so I take some comfort from this. He calls me and messages me but not compulsively, as before, presumably because of lack of funds. He is deluded to the point that he believes us to be in a relationship still, so rather than continuing to re-iterate this point, I ignore these delusions, pick up if he calls, reply if he messages me and chat to him if I see him down on the boardwalk or idling on the sparkly benches opposite the Theatre Royal. He does not deserve to lament my lack of hospitality, but I expected him to, so I am taken aback by his calm accepting of his dire circumstances. Perhaps this is old ground for him, or perhaps it is because this is a life not so dissimilar from his previous one, or perhaps it is because he survived a genocide, so any life is better than his experiences of hand-to-mouth survival. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the free spirit within is sitting back on his haunches and whispering in his ear … It just doesn’t get any better than this …

There has been a lull in the singing hobby, as The Dude has a cornucopian supply of reasons to not play at any more Open Mic nights, so I am very grateful for other offers of accompaniment. Also, my task of treading carefully around his feelings, to tell him that I wish to sing with other guitarists also, is made a little easier. In fact, it isn’t a task anymore, as I am presuming that he has lost interest in being a local musician. I am grateful for his commitment at the start, as I would not have attended the charity Open Mic night without it and therefore would not have attended the one at the slightly scruffy Art Deco cafe near to my home. And of course, it is because of my attendance there, that I gained two other accompanists. One of those is on holiday till September and the other has only offered to accompany me at the afore-mentioned Art Deco cafe (which, incidentally, is the very cafe where I was treated so kindly when I snapped my wrist). So, more time for writing, sorting areas of the house not yet sorted post-moving, meeting friends and looking for a job.

As for the last two, they became a little too intertwined … So, last year it was Toby Hunting (on the pretext of a day-long celebration that school was ‘out’ for the summer) and this year it was … Well, end of school forever for me. That school, anyway, so it was just ‘School’s Out’. My colleagues and I met at a beach bar at midday down on the boardwalk, moseyed up to a cocktail bar in the centre of town in the evening, giggled our way to a music bar in The Lanes later on and then rounded off the evening at The Folky Pub, having run through a labyrinth of alley-ways first, merrily sniggering at cheeky lingerie shops that weren’t even there anymore. I fell through the front door at around 1am, to find my children still up and conversing more lucidly than I was capable of doing at such a time after such a day. For some reason I took it upon myself to check my emails, only to find that I was being invited for interview at 8am the following morning. Now, I would have declined and requested a re-scheduling, but as I had missed the deadline for this job and begged them to consider my application, I felt obliged to accept the offer. Which I did. I even sent them an articulate reply and read it and re-read it for obvious howlers like kisses at the end and proclamations of drunken love and then proceeded to set my alarm for 6am, before taking myself off to bed. I was ready and waiting at 8am, my top half looking passable for a Skype interview. My bottom half was clad in blue and white stripy pyjamas, but they would never know this. I had coffee to rival Singapore Airlines’ jet fuel to my left, out of view (to be stolen in incremental gulps whenever my interviewer looked away) and the interview went oddly well. I wouldn’t recommend an early morning interview after an entire day of imbibing Prosecco, cocktails made from popcorn and ice-cream (during Happy Hour so I had two) and Guinness, but it does prove that the most unlikely outcomes are possible. I’m still awaiting news, as I’m still awaiting the result of my appeal against my redundancy.

Lovely Friend and I met up for Pride and to quote from a song, it really was one of those ‘lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer’. We basked on various patches of grass, some surrounded by over-priced (but delectable nonetheless) hippy food stalls and beer tents, where we deliberated over the cheapest way to drink as much Pimms as possible (pre-buying from a supermarket would have worked) … Others surrounded by nothing and no-one, just grass and azurean skies. We sang along with twinkly cabaret acts and danced in the streets – a throwback to our past lives, melting under bright stage lights and flitting from one side of the Dome stage to the other, trying to keep in time with 30+ kindred souls, not mindful of the finite nature of our youth and that there would be a last time we would see each other. Until recently – Lovely Friend, I know you are reading this, so just to say, I’m glad you are back in my world.  We lost each other for a time and then found each other at another friend’s flat on the seafront, where we took time out from the revelries to drink lovely drinks and eat mojito flavoured popcorn (which is awesome, by the way).  I’ve just realised that I’m wearing the pink jacket that Other Friend kindly loaned to me as I wasn’t really dressed for the street party anymore, after the evening stole the sun and replaced it with saddening skies. So, if you’re reading this, Other Friend – I will return it to you soon (it was much appreciated)!

Signing off to watch the meteor shower, as I believe it peaks tonight. I’m a tad premature, but maybe a rebel Perseid or two will give me a preview, as I may not stay awake for the full show. I gained nothing from last night’s stargazing, except a crick in my neck. I thought I saw a shooting star and in my excitement I took a step to the left and slipped on a slug. Would have been worth it for a shooting star, but it turned out to be a light-coloured moth flying at point-blank range.

 

It’s Been a While

Hello WordPress, my old friend … I’ve come to talk with you again. The irony of my recent silence is that I’ve had a good deal about which to write in the last month, which, weirdly, accounts for the lack of posts.
Where to start … The exit from my job, although it is an ‘ending’, would be a good starting point. The last day of the academic year is normally a light, bouncy affair, involving students who are too preoccupied with the prospect of languishing for several weeks to misbehave and staff who are too preoccupied with the prospect of not having to associate with said students for several weeks, to react to any misbehaviour. But this year, it was a sober affair. The staff had been decimated by ‘restructuring’, so this was the last day for many (including me). More than decimated, in fact, seeing as the percentage of loss was higher than 10%. Strangely, the soberest of the staff, in my opinion, were the ones who were staying. I think I understand this, speaking as one who is amongst the ‘loss’. It is difficult to fathom how your workplace will be when a great change is imminent. You have the pain of saying ‘goodbye’ to colleagues with whom you have worked for a period of time, but without the anticipation of a new life path. When you have been made redundant, you draw on resources to help you through the pain, because humans have the capability to do this. Some struggle more than others and they may enlist outside support, such as counselling, but it is a natural human response to crises, to deliberate and attempt to find some positivity in an otherwise desperate situation, as well as making plans in order to survive the crisis with the best possible outcome. So although the ‘leavers’, on the face of it, were the ones who had no control over their predicaments, in a way, they had more control than the ‘stayers’. The latter had no control over their friends’ departures, yet we had a modicum of control, because by the time we left, we had plans. Those plans may not have come to fruition yet and they may change, but they exist, nonetheless and are currently serving the purpose of providing hope for the future. More of those plans later … So anyway, the last day was a bit gloomy. The students left at midday, leaving us grown-ups to eat, drink and … Well, no-one was very merry. We left the school before polishing off the wine remaining after lunch, which was unusual and took ourselves to the usual ‘TGI Friday’ haunt. I mean that metaphorically, by the way; it isn’t an actual TGI Friday. But the general aura of foreboding followed us to the quintessential English country pub, which would soon revert to being just that, for me, instead of a sigh of relief at the end of a tough week. Whereas I had thought that I might leave my borrowed car there until the next day (in the event of drinking), instead of fizzing with Prosecco, the proceedings began to fizzle out fairly soon, so I left and got home in plenty of time for rehearsal, which leads me onto the play.

The play came and went and despite my concerns, I revelled in it. I love acting. I am aware of the things I struggle with, like being punctual, sword-fighting, snow-boarding and staying married. There are other things, of course, but they popped into my mind almost instantaneously, so they deserve to be on my small, select list. However, I feel that everyone should embrace their talents and so I embrace acting as one of my talents. I never feel nervous. I love dressing up, donning layers of make-up and having an excuse to style my hair in (usually) an old-fashioned way. I love pretending to be someone else (is this my inner child?) and I love being in the spotlight (the Leo in me?). I love learning lines (I attribute this to Latin ‘A’ Level and learning pages of Latin poetry. Or maybe I should attribute my love of Latin to a love of learning lines?) and I love pretending to be living someone else’s life. I can barely cope with historical plays such as The Accrington Pals and Our Country’s Good, although those are the type of play that move me to tears, so that I will actually cry on stage when it is required and such parts have definitely taken up residence in my soul for all eternity. Ruth Condomine was not such a part, but I still enjoyed being her for a week. Actually, it was more like three months, because that’s how long the rehearsal period was and so that’s how long the metamorphosis took (I caught myself conversing with people in a Cowardesque manner on more than one occasion, particularly during arguments. I actually used the word ‘hideous’ to a chap in a TalkTalk call centre in India). Irving Berlin’s ‘Always’ moved me every night, because, I believe, my emotions are not dissimilar from a Slush Puppy. Anything historical, even something connected to a fictional black comedy such as Blithe Spirit, pulls at my heart strings and the crackle of needle on vinyl moves me even more, as if I am feeling nostalgia for a time I never witnessed. I blame having children. I was in possession of an inner band of steel before then, but my capacity for crying increased tenfold after the birth of my first child. Initially, I thought that it was because Joseph had a very poor start in life, being born prematurely and with pneumonia and so nothing was definite until he made a dramatic recovery one night and pulled out all his tubes and wires. Anyone reading this who has had a poorly newborn, will understand that I can’t even write that without my heart actually wobbling a little. But I understand that the transformation from sensible, pragmatic woman who is in command of her emotions, to sensitive Mother Earth who is not in command of anything that might involve tears, is not unusual in mothers (and maybe fathers too, although I haven’t encountered many), with or without the trauma of a very sick infant. And in case there are any mothers reading this who are still in control of their lacrimal glands, I have been careful to word this to reflect that this does not happen to all mothers. And likewise, there are many childless women and men, I’m sure, who are already untidy heaps of emotion.

Back to Blithe Spirit; it was a pleasure. If I’m honest, my reasons for enjoying acting are undefinable. Maybe I’m just a show-off! But it was good to be treading the boards again, especially at a time when I needed a distraction from the woe of impending unemployment. It was only a few months since the last foray into the theatre, but that was as part of a singing trio supporting a play. It is a couple of years since I played a part and that was in Ovingdean, where plays are a rather unique experience. The best way to describe the theatrical experience there is to compare every offering with a pantomime. It could be a murder mystery, a Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean romp, but there is an intimacy in every production that I have not encountered in any other amateur theatre (except during panto season). The usual barrier between players and audience does not exist. People popular in the village are sometimes applauded when they make their entrance. The audience feels able to engage with the players and vice versa. This is not a criticism – just an observation – it is how they do amateur theatre in the hamlet of Ovingdean, but as a resident of Telscombe Cliffs, one does not feel the same bond with the audience. That said, it was pretty cool when Steve Coogan came to see one such play and invited us all back to his house for the last night party. My Facebook status that night was ‘Steve Coogan called me foxy!’ which is probably etched far deeper into my memory than his and is probably no surprise to you, the reader, because not only did I status it on Facebook, but also I ensured my friends outside of the Facebook fraternity knew by word of mouth too. But I digress, as usual … Back to Rottingdean – I had not played a part there for several years – and pleasurable though it was, I have reached the conclusion that acting is not something I wish to do regularly. I have filled my down-time with pastimes that do not require rigid commitment and which have taken me on a different journey and I haven’t missed acting these past years … But it’s good to know that I can still learn pages, pages and yet more pages of lines and playing a part does allow you to exercise your voice, your emotions and your capacity for team-playing. And of course, socially, it is a perfect vehicle for touching base with old friends and making some new ones. I look forward to dabbling in the theatre again in the future, but not in the compulsive manner I did so in the past.

One of my new hobbies is singing. Well, it isn’t really new … I have sung in plenty of shows, a few plays, a couple of choirs and briefly with a band as a backing singer, but rarely on my own. So it is the manner in which I am indulging in this hobby that is new. For some time now, I have been rehearsing with The Dude in order to prepare for our entrance into the world of Open Mic as performers, rather than onlookers only. So, when Singing Sister, Singing Friend and I (totalling the singing trio of which I was a part a few months ago) were invited to sing at a charity Open Mic event, I got excited. Singing Sister wasn’t keen, as she was moving house and so we couldn’t be a trio anyway, regardless of whether or not Singing Friend wanted to take part. So The Dude and I agreed to do it instead; as a duo, of course, not as a trio resembling The Andrews Sisters.
‘We’ll have a couple of Open Mics under our belt by then,’ said The Dude, confidently.
That would have been great … If it had happened. Unfortunately, there was always a reason for us to not do whichever Open Mic we planned to do.
It is only as we approached the charity Open Mic event that I realised how deeply ran the sensitivities of The Dude. There were times when my frustration was difficult to hide and I admit that there were times when I was glad he’d baled. But the thespian in me runs deep, and the mantra ‘the show must go on’ is one that is so embedded in my psyche that it is a part of me, so I struggle with the notion of letting people down.
‘I won’t let you down,’ he reassured me, although I was not convinced until we were actually playing. I didn’t feel nervous, but the nerves got the better of my voice. Historically, my voice suffers during stress. It is an occupational hazard of teaching; obviously, our voices are our main resource, so we probably over-use them, but the occasional and (thankfully) temporary loss of your voice in teaching is only partly due to this and the other cause is stress.
The following evening there was another Open Mic night, a 5 minute bus-ride away from my home.
‘I’m game if you are!’ hopefully, I messaged The Dude.
‘I’m emotionally drained after last night,’ came his reply.
I went anyway … I felt the need to sing better than the previous night and we weren’t committed to this. We could rock up and perform if we felt like it, thereby preventing any stress-induced croakiness (in my case, anyway). But he couldn’t be persuaded to join me, so the purpose of my visit was merely to ‘check it out’.
‘Are you singing?’ said the barmaid, who turned out to be the lady who had organised the event.
‘No,’ I replied, a bit taken aback that she had asked. What made her think I was anything more than a customer?
‘You looked like you might have been singing and you’re here quite early.’
Clearly she was a mind reader.
I explained how I’d like to sing, but I was lacking an accompanist and she told me to introduce myself to the technical organiser of the Open Mic. But I didn’t … I got my drink and sat down.
Two ladies came in with a little dog and started chatting. They, too, asked me if I was going to sing (it must have been the trilby – maybe it was making me look musical). I explained my predicament and again, I was being persuaded to approach the Open Mic guy, so I said I would if he ran out of acts. People came and went … They sang, they played, they sang and played and then it seemed to be finishing. Yet another lady called over to me and asked if I was singing and so I buckled and asked the Open Mic guy if he would accompany me. He didn’t know my songs, but let me sing a Capella. As I placed the microphone back in its stand, the Open Mic guy spoke to me.
‘Would you like to be the backing singer for my band?’
‘Yes!’ I replied, without hesitating and with hindsight, he must have wondered why I didn’t make more enquiries. It reminded me of a time when, as a teenager, I was approached by the producer of a big show in which I played a member of the chorus. He asked me if I would like to be in a play he was directing and my response was identical – an immediate ‘yes’ – because he was a big name in amateur theatre in Brighton at the time. He laughed at my impetuosity and my teenage self blushed with embarrassment. Despite being in several of his shows at The Dome, I had never spoken to him and neither had he ever addressed me personally. Subsequently, I was directed by him in more plays and for a spell he was even my line manager during my time of teaching history. I laugh at myself now, at how I was totally in awe of someone who became a good friend.
Back to the present day and so I found myself agreeing to something that a year ago, would have seemed far-fetched. What a strange journey life is … I nearly didn’t go to the Open Mic night but I did and I’m glad.

In other news, Ex-hubby No 1 married Wife No 3 and we all went to the wedding. The children attended the whole day, whereas I attended the evening only. Many people queried my decision to attend but I weighed up the pros and cons and decided that the biggest ‘pro’ was that I might regret a decision to decline the invite. We’re all glad we went, but possibly not for all the same reasons. There were many people there that I knew: my children, of course! But also my ex in-laws, whom I still regard as family in many ways and also some old friends. Some more recent friends too but the point is, there was plenty of opportunity for socialising and it was like most evening wedding receptions, with dancing, food, a bar and jollity. I came home on the bus with a couple of sticks of rock with their names going through the whole rock. It tasted nice and as I don’t really eat sweets as a rule, it was kinda nice to have it. Kinda weird, too, to be eating your way through rock with your first ex-husband’s name on it, coupled with his new wife. But it tasted nice. What can I say? It’s gone now, which is a good thing, as one can’t really have that sort of thing hanging around the house.
It’s summer, of course, so I’m a little burnt but up until a few days ago, was enjoying exploring my relatively new neighbourhood. Rusty and I have delighted in discovering some stunning cliff-top walks with a selection of paths down to the beach. The under-cliff walk in my new habitat is intermittent, so there are some breathtaking beaches overseen by resplendent and imposing cliffs and naturally occurring caves, which, unfortunately, are too dangerous to enter, because of the crumbly nature of our characteristic chalk. The loveliest of beaches has been commandeered by an unofficial all-male nudist colony, so I am careful as to which part of the beach I choose to meander along, for fear that Rusty will lead me into an awkward situation. On the hottest days, the latter has overcome his fear of the English Channel and launched himself into the sparkly sea for a welcome cool-off. I have joined him on occasion, a good distance from the nakedness and fully clothed, in comparison, in my swimsuit.
As I say, this was up until a few days ago when it transpired that Rusty had injured his leg. Possibly from the strenuous walking, but anyway, he is on bed rest. This information is difficult to impart to him, of course. He is forbidden from taking walks, which is easy to do; or not do, rather. He is forbidden from playing, which is tough, as he has cultivated a wonderfully wistful look, complete with confused head-tilt, when I refuse to throw his toy, even if I give him a cuddle instead. He is forbidden from leaping, which is impossible, of course. He is gaining weight and as he is prone towards being a little chunky, this is not good. The cat, conversely, is underweight and suffering from sunburnt ears. I feed her in the old chicken house now, as I can ensure that the entrance is only big enough for her and not big enough for greedy Rustys or seagulls. I have to move briskly, though, for fear of being mugged by the latter. The other morning, our resident seagull stole a tin of cat food from me, as I was attempting to transfer the contents into Snowball’s dish. However, not surprisingly, it was too heavy and he or she dropped it. It landed on Rusty’s head who promptly ran off with it. The seagull swooped down once more, but failed to secure a grip on the tin. Rusty was suitably traumatised by the potential mugging, however and ran to leave me to take back my rightful property – or rather Snowball’s – and continue with my feeding operation. She has not gained weight, despite my Herculean efforts to ensure she is eating well. And Rusty has not lost weight, despite my Herculean efforts (up until the leg injury) to shift it, through half portions and long walks. And if you have ever attempted to apply sun cream to a cat’s ears, I’m sure you will understand my vexation.
Probably time to stop, despite having a wealth of further material, as this is becoming a gargantuan blog post and possibly losing its way. Still to come … The Rastafarian, more writing and wild nights out mixed with job interviews (btw, it isn’t a good mix).