Tuesday, 26 July 2011

One of the things I really like about working for the Stephen Joseph Theatre is that we are playing in repertoire, which means that sometimes, quite randomly, we get time off. Actors normally do 8 shows a week and work six days out of seven (panto season is the exception, over Christmas it's not unusual to do 20 shows and work eight days per week. I'm exaggerating less than you think) so a three day weekend is a rarity and a delight.

How delighted was I to discover I had one of these coming up on August 5th! Ladies and Gentlemen, I have taken a double dose of carbon footprint denial and booked my flight home early Friday morning.

I am going to catch up with the excellent work Paul has been doing in my absence. I'm not expecting that much will have moved on as I know that Paul took Nikki and family to the UK for their holidays (lucky them!) but I know that he has stripped back the crappy wood round the windows and re-pointed:

He's also stripped back the rotten flooring in the attic. The good pieces to be recycled as oak shelving, rotten pieces to be stored in my sentry box and burnt on my woodburner. When I get it. The floor joists appear to be in excellent condition but he's given them 3 coats of xylophene just in case any future nasties get any bright ideas about coming to stay.

My bathroom will hopefully be finished, I may have a new floor in the attic and best of all, I get to see the father of my baby and decide what colour to paint the nursery.

Baby??? Nursery???

Sorry, rather sprung that one on you from nowhere, didn't I? More later, I've got a show to open...

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Rehearsing a full-scale opera in 4 weeks, with 12 actors is no mean feat.

We’re singing. We’re acting. We’re fighting. We’re dancing. When we’re not on stage, we’re with the musical genius that is Richard Atkinson, augmenting his piano gymnastics with French horn, flute, soprano sax and clarinet. We’re jumping in and out of costumes as we change character literally at the drop of a hat. The costume changes have a plot of their own that scares me with its complexity.

All I can say is that it’s lucky for the Netherlands that the man responsible for this military operation is too busy trying to run Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre to cast his eyes eastward over the sea. If his ambition were world domination rather than bums on seats, the Dutch would have reason to be very afraid.

Unfortunately, we are a cast member down. One of our number has been hospitalised with a debilitating infection that is going to take her out of action for a few weeks yet. A temporary replacement has been drafted in. As we approach the end of our final week of rehearsals, our focus will be split between teaching her what has taken us four weeks to put together; and still trying to get it bloody right ourselves!

Luckily most people are pretty on it. One of our number, who shall remain nameless, is struggling. We go back over their musical lines with alarming regularity whilst they plaintively profess bafflement at why it’s “not going in”.

As this person's a mate, I take them aside and gently suggest that the reason that it’s “not going in” is that they don’t do any private study and spend too much time in the pub. Probably a bit too much truth for a Tuesday afternoon. Better blame it on Bizet! What was he thinking, changing key like that??

So despite naughty naughty Bizet (darn him!) and his confoundedly complicated music, we are opening the show a week today. Our sub doesn't arrive until tomorrow, so the probability of us being able to run the show in its entirety before the dress rehearsal is hovering somewhere around zero. Luckily, my personal circumstances preclude any serious drinking so I have been able to prioritise my work; and as my responsibility in this show is comparatively light, I am preparing to sit back and watch the fun.

Bring on the Bizet!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Swimming Club

Dr Ibrahim al-Duwaish is a 'former' Islamic reactionary who opposes women driving not because it would be un-Islamic, but because it would cause too many accidents. He welcomes new technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because email means that women are now able to work from home and thus avoid contact with men who are not their husbands or immediate family (Thank you Jason Burke, for your illuminating article in Saturday's guardian).

"If you ask women all over the world if they choose a mixed environment or to be away from men, they would choose the latter."


This man is talking through his arse. Our merry band of thespians has now grown from 3 to 12 and half of these are men and jolly welcome they are too. Obviously, they need a little gentle guidance form time to time but their personal hygiene seems to be acceptable and they're damn good fun.

We now have swimming club. In approximately 5 minutes time I shall put on my swimming costume and go and plunge into the north sea. Before breakfast.

I wonder if Mr. Corbitt will remember to bring a spare pair of knickers this time. Last time, having no swimmers, he swam in his undercrackers but finding himself without any replacements ended up sharing stripes, if you'll forgive the expression, in a pair of Mr Rutherford's white jockeys that had already seen a day's wear from their owner.

Two things occur to me:

1) Never borrow or lend a pair of white pants from or to another man unless you know him to be a regular user of andrex wet-wipes.

2) No matter what your gender, it's always advisable to carry a spare pair of pants. Particularly when you have a costume fitting that morning.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Bit Of A Catch Up

It seems like millennia since Marlene, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd given up on the Little House and decided to auction my vital organs in order to buy a share in a Barratt Home in Barking.

Pas de tout mes amis, pas de tout. At the end of Marlene, I resisted the call of Glastonbury Festival... particularly difficult this year as JL was playing with practically everyone except Beyoncé and had offered me a free ticket, PLUS backstage access and a warm bed in the event of bad weather... and sold my soul to Michael O'Leary for safe passage from Leeds to Limoges.

I elected not to hire a car for the week, partly because I didn't want to spend my holiday running round the Limousin like a crazy fool, but mainly because it was fiendishly expensive. Get this:



So a big THANK YOU to all my friends who variously visited me in St Germain, kidnapped me and fed me, did my laundry and delivered it back to me, chauffeured me to and from the airport and assorted supermarkets and were generally tolerant of my lack of transport and extreme work-related fatigue.

Now onto the fun bit: The Little House is of course less habitable than it was when I bought it. Natch. However, exciting things are happening.

The courtyard wall is not longer in danger of collapsing. The well/breadoven (the more informed among us are plumping for well) has been transformed from a soggy chipboard cupboard into a magnificent arched sentry-box. Unless I can find a handy beefeater hanging around Place de L'Eglise, I'm going to use it for storing wood.

The chimney is no longer giving a creditable impression of a banana on top if my roof, in fact it has temporarily disappeared.

And in order to facilitate the normalising of the chimney situation, an échafaudage has been erected and the road duly closed. I'm so proud. I made that happen. Me. I'm the reason my neighbours can't park their cars round the back. And there's nothing they can do about it. I got permission from the Mairie. In French and everything!