Bristol 28.1.19


Balls. First evening back at BOV since Christmas and there’s no performance.

We’re 5 nights into Angela Carter’s ‘Wise Children’. There’s a caravan on stage with its side taken off so that the audience can see the action taking place within. There’s dressing room tables with mirrors circled with light bulbs and vases of flowers. There’s a drum kit and an array of musical instruments at the back of the stage. The lights are on. The stage lights. The spot lights above the audience. The bronze balcony lights that grow out of the upper circle like flowers’ heads that reach towards the sun. The air con is on gently buzzing in the walls. A few young punters stand at the bar and talk excitedly in the way girls do when they’ve just got together with their friends. Nothing else happens.

It’s sort of become another of my spaces this place. Somewhere I come to think and write and wonder about my past and future. I don’t come here to work. There isn’t any. Not unless there’s a performance. Then I want to be up to my neck in it.

On the night I watched the rehearsals here before of ‘A Christmas Carol’ the house manager let me volunteer to do some ushering. I got to open the doors on the top floor of  the original theatre wall to signify to the punters that the theatre was open (I think this is what they’d do in the old days), I checked tickets and showed people to their seats and I got to watch the performance. It was great but still not enough. I want to be like Jeffrey Bernard (he was actually employed as a stage hand) involved with the workings backstage, being involved with the process chatting and flirting with the actresses and getting drunk with them after the show. Next time I’ll try and speak to the stage manager and see what I can do.

Meanwhile other opportunities present themselves. Always pursuing other avenues or adventures. I did my first TEFL lesson in over 10 years on Friday. It went well. Oh, the simplicity of teaching adults over teaching teenage miscreants (but there’s something great in the challenge this presents). And it’s a lovely Georgian town house. A bit different from the gum stained, no frills decor I’m used to. Oh, and I’m the only male teacher amongst pretty, smiling European ladies. I need to get more work there.

The house has evolved. Agus the Basque is leaving in 2 weeks. It’s a shame. He’s been really easy going and a good companion. We’re giving him a leaving dinner tomorrow. And in a strange twist, Gwen has moved into the basement (where Glauber used to lurk). He went in the Summer but threatens to return in April so Gwen will have to hop it at that point. Gwen Neighbour. She’s cool but she needs a lot of attention. And I don’t. She’s taken to inviting herself either for dinner or to the cottage. I just don’t reply. Bloody WhatsApp politics. People really spend too long on that shit. Groups can be fun if it’s family but so called ‘friends’ groups are just painful. Just make an arrangement and THEN we can talk rather than all this silly wordplay over the interwaves. It’s inviting misinterpretation and often that’s what happens. As Hank pointed out you don’t have the intonation or facial gestures that go along with conversation so that’s part of the problem but the biggest problem is that people use this as a way of making conversation. It’s too weird. Nick, Gwen and I have a group. There they are. Both alone. Both a bit lonely. Her beside the garden. Him in the room above. And me 2 floors above that. Everyone tap, tap, tapping away as though the world depended on it all with in earshot of each other.

I’m still relying on Orchard to pay the bills. The first 2 weeks of the year I was there 4 days a week covering art. It was lovely. Very little trouble apart from a boy called Harvey who won’t work and then shouts at me if I try to ask him to do something.

’Leave me alone, blood!’

‘Sir, you stink!’

Another time we were on the computers and I was pleased to see how engaged he was, furiously tapping away on the keys although instead of doing the design task he’d been set he was on a sex chat room replying to a message from someone who described themselves as a ‘40 year old horny cum slut’. Harvey had already confirmed that he – conveniently – was also 40 years old and fortunately or perhaps unfortunately I missed the remainder of his message.  I left that for Carol in Thrive (the ‘calm room’) to find out about the following day. ‘That’ll be one to tell your friends about’, I said to her, laughing. Ah, the joys of my job.

Had a shocker of a day last week when I had TWO incidents of threatening behaviour and my laptop died leaving  me having to make up the final 2 lessons of the day. What is good, though, and so important with schools is that the 2 boys were dealt with immediately and appropriately (in fact I’m not totally sure about one of them). It’s not so much about them but that I feel supported and more comfortable about going back there. I shall be doing exactly that tomorrow. Considering it’s a supply job I must remember the behaviour is generally pretty good. I like it there. I like the staff. I like the crazy mix of students – such a variety of parents’ nationalities/backgrounds. I don’t know how good their results are. In fact I know they’re having to improve so maybe the teaching could be better but on the most part I like the atmosphere. Having said that I think my supply teaching career has a limited future. Its days are numbered. My ideal is to be doing 2 or 3 days a week and then who knows what next year. I’m just dipping my toe at the moment. Oh, and it’s fun. These various roles. Different places. Different people. And not forgetting my revision sessions at Yate which are going great guns. And my lovely tutees who I’ll really miss when they’re done in June (apart from Jacob. He’s 12).

Finding novelty. Mini transitions. And no drinking (well, a few, and that’ll change this weekend).

2019 has started with real swagger. Don’t let it falter.



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