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I Have Never...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Catch Up Post... Again

Once again life overtook me... Here's short versions of the I Have Never's that never were...

"I Have Never rolled in from a party at 7am in the morning."

I know. How can I say this when I'm almost reaching 30? Well, I've always set myself the 5am benchmark... if a party reaches this hour, it must be good, but it's time to go before it gets messy. Still, it was worth breaking my unwritten rule.

Maybe 'The Cleaners' hadn't been all the production team had wanted it to be. It had still royally entertained the audience. The second night first half had been particularly wonky, to the extent that Iain had actually walked out. The cast managed to turn it round in the second half, though.

On we went to the Melborn Inn. We sat outside for most of the night, though Rent (the band) were playing inside. It was a balmy night, even after dark. Come 2am and Iain invited an elite few back to his - Him & Claire, Dan and Ivan from the band, Anne - a cast member from Tea Without Mother (due to show on Monday and Tuesday eve), me and Ruth - a relative newcomer to the theatre group.

We chatted about many things in Iain's back yards. Slugs featured highly, Ruth got a bit of stick for not knowing the history of the island of Lesbos. In hindsight, it doesn't look so entertaining in black and white. There was a foray for food from the local garage, with those incumbent demanding crumpets, but all the marauders were able to muster was a chicken baguette (surprisingly tasty when coated in melted cheese).

Throughout, I was sober. I ferried everyone home then returned to my own bed, knowing that I would have to get up in two hours...

"I Have Never seen grown men go down a child's slide on a tricycle."

I'll explain in a bit. First the day's travails.

I slept through my alarm. Not a surprise after only a couple of hours sleep. Got up, shaved, then jumped in the car and made the hour's trip over to my parents.

It was Father's Day, and I'd promised I'd go over and have lunch with the family.

The weather was sweltering. Because I had my air conditioning on in the car, when I reached my destination and disembarked my glasses actually steamed up!

We sat immobile in the garden for an hour, before mum showed me part of the garden she had been working on. Dad had chosen a restaurant based on the fact that the last time he had gone it had been freezing cold. Reverse logic - in winter this had been a negative, but now it was ideal. On arrival the logic held, and in the restaurant was considerably cooler than outside.

Also, my sister and her boyfriend were there.

All very pleasant. I was somewhat monosyllabic due to exhaustion (bad son!). The meal wound up, and I set off back for Leeds.

There really should be some sort of law about driving when tired. I'm sure it's as bad as drink driving. Thing is, how would you go about testing it? I turned the Air Conditioning up full blast, the music full blast and regularly slapped myself in the face. Glad I wasn't having to drive passengers...

At home I showered and changed, before being picked up by Carl and Gilli. We'd all been invited to a barbecue at Mike's house to celebrate his piece (The Cleaners) having been staged. Surprise, surprise. Even the concept of a barbecue meant that the skys opened, and an almighty storm ensued. Soon it was over, and we all flooded back outside.

The barbecue had all manner of meat on it. Sausages, steaks, Spicy Thai Pork Balls (apparently Iain's specialty), chicken wings and legs, spare ribs. I temporarily wondered what Frankenstein Beast could be formed if the bits were combined...

Now I wasn't driving I was able to drink. OK so it was a Sunday night, but what the heck? I'd forgotten about taking the hayfever pills, though. I didn't get drowsy, but approached what can only be described as a very tactile place. I wasn't alone in my drunkeness, hence the Jackass style acrobatics described in the I Have Never... Needless to say, the tricycle broke, and a small child ended up in floods of tears.

This had been one heck of a weekend.

"I Have Never made the mistake of over-hyping a show."

Tea Without Mother. It had been great at the National Student Drama Festival in March. I'd raved about it to everyone who knew me since.

Tonight was the night it was coming to our venue in Bradford.

I should have known.

After all, it was a Monday night and most of the cast had had an epic journey up from the South Coast of England. They were not on top form.

I saw various people traipsing out at the end somewhat deflated.

Note to self - don't rave overly about a show you have only seen once.

I got to go out for a curry with Iain and the cast afterwards. They knew that they had not hit the buttons tonight. The atmosphere seemed somewhat subdued. I was sure they would pull it out of the bag on Tuesday night's show.

Problem is, I would be House Managing, and so unable to witness the transformation.

"I Have Never known anyone leave a show before it starts."

Around rolled Tuesday. I was stood at the door of the theatre, welcoming audience members as they arrived. A somewhat gruff local writer turned up.

'Well, I'm here,' He said. 'After all the fuss you've made about it, I figured I'd best not miss it.'

Great, I thought. Please don't let it be like last night. I then mentioned in passing that the tickets had been reduced to £4 because the show was only half an hour long.

Next thing I know, he's in his car and driven off!

I asked the cashier what had happened. He told me that the writer had huffed and puffed about the show being too short and that he had other things to do. It was nothing to do with the fact that there was now no concession price which he would normally have been eligible for...

Various emails went back and forth the following day, with the writer stating his annoyance that no-one had highlighted the length of the piece. Responses from the group were many and varied, but the general gist was 'Surely the quality of a show is not dependent on it's length?'.

By the way, they pulled it out of the bag. The audience looked considerably cheerier today on exiting the show.

"I Have Never been to a discussion about Directing."

Pretty tedious this. Futher confirmation that my natural learning style is an activist one and unless I'm involved and doing something, I rapidly lose interest. Probably didn't help that I was still catching up on sleep from the weekend...

"I Have Never been so glad of a night off theatre."

I worked out that it had been well over a fortnight since I had not spent at least some time in Bradford on theatre related activities. My work colleagues asked if I wanted to go out for a drink as one of the staff was leaving.

I declined.

I just needed some space to experience the post show comedown...

"I Have Never had to tout for business."

Friday afternoon, and my boss asked me to do some calls. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected. I guess that's the joy of the public sector - people are more than happy to chat to you.

"I Have Never ushered an open air event."

Alan Lane, who may become a new artistic director for the Mill in the none too distant future, had decided he wanted to stage an event at the Mughul Gardens in Lister Park. If you're not sure of what Mughul Gardens are like, then think what's in front of the Taj Mahal - linearity, minimalism and water.

The weather was pretty much perfect. There was a cast of three - Alan himself, Lucy and Dom. A & D were in suits, L in a white (wedding?) dress.

It was a durational piece which went on for four hours from 5-9pm.

I had to explain what was happening to passers by, and tell them not to be afraid if they were approached by one of the performers, and also indicate that there were photos under the water.
These photos caused us endless problems. Being pretty rudimentarily constructed (an acetated photo with a drawing pin attached to a stick and then a brick), they proved an absolute magnet for passing kids to pull them out of the water and dislodge them from their moorings. Numerous people had to be on 'readjust photos' duty.

Still, it was a hugely rewarding experience. It made me realise how so many people expect their culture to be spoon fed to them. The number of times I had to field the question 'But what's it about?' was unbelievable. 'You interpret it as you see fit,' proved to be my standard response.

My favourite query came from a child.

'Is the lady in the white dress supposed to be the sky?' she asked. Proof if any were needed that a child's imagination is far superior to any adults.

"I Have Never enjoyed going paintballing."

So, I've only been once before, but it had pretty much put me off for life. How a couple of mates had persuaded me to go again I'm not entirely sure. Fear of being left out of a good time I guess.

I knew I was in for a better time the moment we got there. Where as the last time I'd gone it had felt like a bit of a fly by outfit, it was clear that this was the real deal. Proper constructed buildings on the site, as opposed to a field for a car park. Six different game play areas. Extra large outfits (what a relief! Last time I'd had to squeeze into a large). Sausage Butties for breakfast.

There were twelve of us in our group. We divided into two lots of six, and were combined with other players to form two teams. I was in the Purple team, competing against the yellows.

The first game wasn't much fun. My visor kept steaming up, and the paintball belt kept slipping down. At the first opportunity (i.e. after the first two games) I dispensed with both, changing for a considerably more lightweight headgear, and putting spare paintballs in my pockets.

Now came the fun. In the fifth game of the day I finally got two confirmed kills. It was just after I'd overcome my general dislike of getting muddy and dived into a ditch. This proved to be an ideal sniping point and I watched with glee as I picked off the two yellow competitiors advancing towards me.

I'd still not say that my bloodlust now ran unchecked. I just couldn't shake my natural survival instinct. There's something about running at people with guns that my brain tells me is essentially wrong and prevents my body from doing...

In a game after lunch, I was able to show my organisational instinct by shouting '1 2 3 CHARGE' until I was horse. This meant that my team co-ordinated their attacks and the game was won. Of course, when I shouted, I aimed to stay out of firing range myself...

A few games later, and it was all over. The purple team had won! I got a little yellow certificate, and left with a smile on my face and a large purple paint mark on the chest area of my camouflage T-shirt.

Having been dropped home, I got the call to come and help at the Mughul Gardens again. Apparently, due to the gorgeous weather we were still having, the meagre two ushers had been overrun and reinforcements were required. I got there to a scene of devastation. Exhausted actors, photos strewn left right and centre and crowds and crowds of kids. I dismissed the urge to wish for a paint gun, and got back into my best calm usher mode...

"What's the longest time you've left between posts?"

I'm seriously wondering whether it's feasible for me to do a daily post anymore. Hope this catch up has served to patch the gap, if not entirely fill it.

The Foo Fighters:The Colour and The Shape - Again, they've got a new one out, but it's time to go back eight years (is it really that long?) and relive their best. Produced by Gil Norton, famed for Producing The Pixies, no less.
Highlight - Walking After You

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