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Category: Adult Diary

The beginning of the end.

22nd November 2018

Now well and truly into Switzerland. Rather a busy Thursday matinee. Reviews came out a couple of days ago. Mostly 2 stars which is a great shame. I really like it. I’ve seen it from tech rehearsals onwards. Everyone has been really lovely. The director is very friendly and treats everyone equally. Her husband is one of my champion theatre set designers. The lighting programmer is very helpful and the lighting designer had to come in late because of prior commitments and I was reassured to see he was not that familiar with the board.

The two actors are very down to earth, though I think I managed to slightly overwhelm Phyllis when I first met her with my enthusiasm, explaining I had seen Honour at The Park. I like Calum as he is quietly observant, but very warm and friendly. He was very nice to my two friends who bumped into him after they had seen the show. Apparently he got a shoulder rub off one of them. I may have to apologise,

The DSM is extremely nice and very funny. And she has a cat. She’s quite chatty on cans which is going to annoy someone who is still here. Talking of which the FOH Manager had a words with them about our “situation” and said it’s not to go on. I gave them some cakes as a peace offering and nothing more has been said which is fine by me. We’re being polite to each other.

Home life. After the huge traumas of replacing the windows and getting the flooring down, it’s all complete and the front room and hallway look really good now AND it’s so much easier to clean up after Weebag. This has alos been helped by a marvellous new floor mop (thanks to IK and LG on Twitter) which squirts and mops. Front room has been tidied up and now looks like a room to invite people into. Also cleared all the stuff piled up by the bannister, and tidied up my room. Still a long way to go and it’s all been very stressful (I buggered my back in the process) but we got a lot done.

Writing. Finished my play To Dream Again. Had a read-through with The Mousetrap gang plus one of their friends. All were very enthusiastic about it and I have to say it read beautifully. I was so surprised and pleased. A friend has also sent me an invite to a session run by therapist he knows well, though I’ve never heard mention of him before. Apparently he is a therapist and a theatre company director Darn (sic) Cheek. He’s been lovely and said to send the play to him. I’ve signed up to London Playwrights. they send out a weekly newsletter with submission opportunities so I have sent off to a number of theatre companies, so a few irons in the fire.

The main news is Mum fell last Thursday and was taken into hospital. Nicholas was there over the weekend and I went up for the day yesterday. She seems to have rallied a lot yesterday morning and ate a good meal just before I left. I had a long talk with the consultant, with Dad. The consultant was very careful talking to us and listening. She said Mum may have to go to Ripon for “halfway” rehabilitation but Dad not keen as he couldn’t travel there. Dad said he gets a lot of help and she suggested the possibility of a big care package. Mum talked quite a lot. the staff on teh ward seem to love her. “She has a smile like sunshine” one of them said. The woman in the bed next to here is desperate to leave hospital, crying on the phone to someone. She has Parkinson’s and I heard her say her daughter has cancer and that she had buried three people in three days earlier in the year. Dad must have heard. He held Mum’s hand a long time. Mum looked deep in my eyes just as Elisabeth had which I found hard. Dad said they were married in 1949. That’ 69 years ago. He spoke so lovingly and respectfully of her to the consultant. The subtext wasn’t hard to read. I’m more upset for them being apart than for myself. Dad talked of there not being much time now and wanting Mum to have the best quality of life possible now. He started talking about how Mum set him off on his career having showed him an advert when they were having lunch together. I managed to record him. I wrote a brief letter this morning. I remembered the ide from the Oceania exhibition at the RA of a people who believe we walk backwards in life. We face the past which we know but move forward into the future which we can’t see. I mentioned this in the letter. It seems appropriate.


18th October 2018

All official for Switzerland. Opens next month so I’ve about two and a half weeks of no work. Guess who is definitely on it. I’ve just passed them outside and got a a false cheery hello which I ignored so no doubt that’s another black mark against me. Just had a coffee with K and a good chat, saying I wouldn’t put my parents in a home. I had completely forgotten that’s what he did but the situation was difference and he didn’t take offence. I also later managed to ask L if her husband, who is a trained experienced electrician, had any experience with electrics. I managed to cover myself by focusing on the fact that the front room’s light stand lamp socket in question has been glued. That’s not electrical. I think we’ve knocked it so many times it’s loosened something in the wiring.

I’m a bit writing-ed out today after this morning’s weekly letter to Mum and Dad. If I have no work for a couple of weeks then I’d like to focus on the writing which I am loving at the moment. Not sure if my lack of enthusiasm to start writing (rather than the doing it) is due to tiredness or the fact that I am enjoying reading A Treachery Of Spies so much I can’t wait to get back to it.

I’ve never seen B backstage to ask him about his music, and if he has any piano sheet music of his songs. He keeps himself to himself which is fair enough. I’ve gone back to playing the keyboard since I cleared the front room. Still playing Max Richter piano pieces and the La La Land songbook. I should practise more as I don’t feel I am getting better. I wish in a way I could live like we are – if I could really focus on my writing and working in the evening. But then I’d like to do more in the theatre. I’m becoming more and more serious and enthusiastic about my play. It really feels like it is becoming mine. I’m enjoying writing based on a structure, and wondering about adapting a novel next – a difficult/unusual text would have a fresh interest taken in it. I need to think more about this.

19th October 2018

Unexpectedly in the theatre as D rang to say she is sick and asked me to cover. I’d got a planned evening which I’ve pulled out of without problem. Slept badly last night because of disturbances. I got some piano done and had a good swim, as my crawl technique is becoming much more relaxed and therefore stronger. Still can’t multitask enough to coordinate legs and arms properly and end up not moving my legs at all as I concentrate on my arms. Had tea with M locally and we were talking about swimming and yoga. I said I had hurt my back probably straining to keep up with the more advanced lot in yoga class (“keeping up” absolutely not being the point of yoga). M to my surprise said that she has to overcome her ego to stop being competitive in yoga and swimming. She said she once saw a woman swimming really slowly and thought she’d just overtake her quickly to get out of the other woman’s way, and found she couldn’t catch up with her. She’s as bad as me. I never honestly thought she’d be like that and she really made me laugh.

Got home and failed to fix the standard lamp. Not even sure why I am trying. I’m no electrician despite my theatre job title. I’ve been having unsettling dreams, the details of which I quickly forget except one where I was in the theatre, being really awful to everyone about guess who, and then found out they were really good friends with everyone I’d been talking to. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Theatre musings

13th October 2018

Feeling unnaturally calm about everything. Getting the flat back in order has been great and I’ve sat in the living room and it’s lovely. Found out there will be a new show in the theatre in a couple of weeks and Board Op is now contracted for us both as theatre staff for all shows, so we will have work which made me feel a lot better. The Power of Attorney wheels are rolling. There’s the possibility of private tuition with a local five year old with speech delay. And I have been told not to worry about the money situation in spite of the money spent on windows and floors. So all in all I am feeling a lot better. After today’s matinee I’ve got Wise Children at the Old Vic to look forward to – my “surprise” birthday present, and I’m meeting a couple of friends between shows.

Guess who announced they were going to watch the show last night. I decided not to talk on cans as I could not risk making any mistakes with them out front. Then some way through first half I saw them sitting in the Circle wearing headsets. I told the Carp in the interval, who’d also thought about talking but had decided not to, and was relieved he’d made right decision by luck. He told me how everyone wants to see the back them now. Interestingly when the tree hit the gobo on Tuesday really badly, it went straight in the show report. When on the same day it was found that the wireless cans were not working and had not been checked at the half, that was not put in the show report. Aside from that problem, the company haven’t really gelled. They all seem to come in, do their job as separate entities, and then go home again. But they are all very nice. I won’t be that sad when this finishes.

16th October 2018

Good news. New show. Called Switzerland, directed by Lucy Bailey who set up Notting Hill’s Print Room, and whose production of Comus I really enjoyed at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It’s a two-hander about the end of Patricia Highsmith’s life when she lived in Switzerland. It’s coming from Bath and had good reviews. I think it could do OK, though I imagine no one is expecting it to make much money at this short notice, which is fair enough. It is written by a woman too. The theatre has been strong for female creatives since I’ve been here. The bad news is the person we all wanted to see the back of is not going anywhere. At least it’s an already settled production, and I have told my boss I am not going to continue to be muzzled on this. There will be a fresh team of people coming in. Better news is that it runs at 90mins with no interval. There’s an actor from Downton in it apparently. I’ll have a couple of weeks of no work/no pay between productions. Dad may be able to help me financially. But it does mean I can now go to 42nd Street at Drury Lane, and celebrate a couple of birthdays. I have a bit of work with the outdoor play company too.

Just realised Switzerland is written by same woman who wrote Songs For Nobodies which will be the following production in the theatre. I’ve heard there’s a man from Bristol Old Vic who has a connection with War Horse, and who is going to talk about puppetry in relation to Winnicott’s work at the Freud Museum. Looks interesting. And this Saturday I am going to one of the monthly writer’s day courses at the National. The playwright taking it had adapted a production I need to look into, and I thought an adapter would be a good person to listen to. I had a good and quiet day today – swim, Twitter, Bargain Hunt lunch, emails and a productive three hours of writing. I’ve suddenly gone into a regular metre of speech with a lot of lines in the Bedsit Scene between the Lawyer and the Daughter. Some lines I’ve given five beats. Some lines start with the last word of the previous line. Some lines are 12 by 4 beats. I don’t know how this came about. Why this scene? I can’t answer that. I can’t imagine doing the whole play like this but I’ll be interested to see if it crops up again. I’m on the second draft, so it’s coming out of lines I’ve already written. Overall I am feeling a lot happier and more settled now the flat’s work is almost complete. The cat still weeing in the hall so I won’t rest till the new flooring is down there, and that’s due first week of November.

Clearing out; tidying up

11th October 2018

Got into the theatre an hour ago to find out that Eugenius! is cancelled because of something financial I think. Looked like no one else was going to take it up. I don’t expect the theatre manager will be a happy person. Seems there is nothing else that could come in. Guess who is shouting happily about it as they have no job with Foxfinder’s early closure, and so wants to drag everyone else down who would have had work on this show i.e. me and the FOH staff. Gave me a jolly “Good evening” as we passed at the stage door – I’m usually blanked.

Anyway I’ve texted all I can think of for more work. I’m not actually worried deep down. I feel something will turn up. Odd day.

I spent yesterday and this morning clearing out the front room as the vinyl flooring fitted today. I thought we’d get the final pane of glass in on Wednesday but there was no one available to fit it, so yet another wasted day and I started losing my temper with the window company. Also checked with Carpetright that everything was OK for the flooring to be fitted today, and was told they only had vinyl for one of our two rooms, and that we were in the diary for today but with no time -we’d previously been told between 11am and 3pm. So I rang back the window company and – this is so boring now – they said we’d have someone first thing today. I then arranged for the half-job floor to be done in the afternoon.

I cleared and swept and washed the front room floor, managing to shift everything around in such away that it can be moved in sections. Window fitter arrived at 9am just as I was getting out of the shower. It was the man who had measured up and made all the errors which caused all the problems in the first place. I could barely bring myself to speak to him. I suddenly noticed the cat fast asleep by the fitter’s foot. He hadn’t noticed her.

I left at to 3.30pm and Carpetright turned up at 4pm and got the vinyl down within an hour. I’ve seen a photo and it looks great. I am now feeling strangely calm.

Forgot to say met up with my brother who has found someone to to sort out Power of Attorney for Mum. Dad’s had already been done through a building society. It takes seven weeks to process but if anything happens before official completion we can still use it. There’s one for finances and one for medical. We can only use the latter to make decsions if Mum and Dad can’t decide for themselves. I’m really impressed with it and very relieved it’s sorted.

12th October 2018

Absolutely knackered. I’ve moved everything back into the living room and re-arranged things so that it looks really good. Cleared and sorted some of the piles of paperwork and files, sorted out the bookcase so some books can go to charity, then got books off floor into space I’ve made in bookcase. I’ve hidden a light behind the TV and tried to neaten the piles of videos. Why do we have piles of videos?? I’ve put the CD’s and remotes in a bag hidden away. Also hidden a yoga mat and the cat’s box of unplayed-with toys behind the TV and I’ve blocked view of all the cabling. Table light on a loudspeaker, the little chair under the window with cat’s multi-gym at the side of old sofa, instead of behind it. I’ve put some ceramics from the bookcase on a small table and pushed the sofa right up against the casement side. The cat can still get on her multi-gym from the arm of the sofa and also has the back of the sofa to lie on. Having said that she’s been curled up asleep in the corner of the box room all day. There’s a nasty stink of wee in the hallway I can’t locate, though I did catch her having a wee right in the middle of the hallway outside the bathroom, so I’ve had to use the plastic from the front room to cover up the hall floor. I’m dreading the wee seeping through to downstairs’ ceiling and giving us another room’s decoration to pay for. The cat’s asleep in the box room right where I need to put a load of stuff back under my desk.

I managed to shop in the middle of the school run. Nothing on the job front and no time to look for work today. Busy weekend ahead.

Windows and Decisions

5th October 2018

The window fitter turned up and after chuntering on to himself loudly and complaining constantly, said the pane of glass he brought didn’t fit because it is a standard size, and today’s standard size is thicker than the pane we have which is relatively old. The upshot is we have to get another pane of glass cut. This is the smallest job of the whole window replacement mularky. Of course half the contents of this room are still in our living room, where we have vinyl going down in a few days time. So he went away and I rang the company and politely complained. Two big jobs have gone smoothly and one small replacement pane has taken three days so far. I didn’t want the fitter being blamed as he had been given the wrong information. Obviously the initial “surveyor” has fouled up by not doing his job in detail – surely he would know glazing thickness has changed. I made the point that two measurement errors have caused the company’s staff a lot of unnecessary work and inconvenience for us. Luckily I have not had to take any time off work. I said it had to be done before the vinyl-fitting day, and the new pane of glass has been ordered pronto.

Wasted more time sorting out my own birthday “surprise”, by booking tickets for Wise Children at the Old Vic. Must remind myself of the definition of “surprise”. My back is better but I decided not to go swimming, as it was lunchtime by the time the fitter went, and I don’t want to risk making it worse like last time. I braved it and looked into some of the stuff in the spare room and there’s less than I thought. I managed to get some sorting done and I’ll try and finish tomorrow. We still need to find out best way of getting rid of the sofa, and hiring a car to transport it. I’ll look at the local council’s website, which is usually useless.

Decided to try for ASM on the next production and I texted my boss about it but he has a lot on his plate at the moment and hasn’t got back to me yet. Feel better for making a decision, though.

My brother texted asking if we could meet next week but I can’t as it’s my private tuition time. We do need to sign the Power of Attorney.

8th October 2018

I have to say I’m feeling absolutely exhausted, not helped by Dad telling me last night on the phone that Mum had sort of fallen at the top of the stairs. I rang back today and he said she’s OK though had fallen asleep on his side of the bed and woken not knowing how she had got there as Dad was on her side – I imagine they’ve never swapped sides in their lives.

I cannot explain to anyone not in my situation what it’s like having parents so old, so determined to live independently and now starting not to cope. Watching Dad walk up the stairs right behind Mum with his head pushed into her back to keep her going, just waiting for them to tumble backwards – it’s madness. I’m not thinking about them all the time – whilst I wouldn’t say I’m burying my head in the sand, I am happy not having to directly face what they are going through because I’m not in the house with them – they are nevertheless always at the back of my mind which is so stressful.

I’m exhausted. My desk and half the box room contents are still sitting in the living room. The new pane of glass is due imminently (it HAS to be right this time) and it has come on time because the living room new flooring is going down – so if they don’t get the window fitted this time – I can’t go there. I can not go there.

My back is better and I got a lot more cleared and organised in the box room over the weekend so that’s all good. I got through it quicker than I realised. Sorted out loads of cards, just keeping special ones from people that had an attachment in the writing or sending. I may be making decisions I regret going through my past life but it has to be done. I found a long strange letter from a sort of friend who I imagine is no longer alive, a set of printed photos I have absolutely no memory of being taken, Christmas cards dating back to the mid-1990’s, a large wooden parrot I used to have hanging up when I lived in Highgate, a metal figure from a holiday in Sardinia, tins of 20p’s, a Glen Baxter plate, a box of cassettes, and I got rid of a number of books. The point of this clearing out originally was to get my teaching files out of the hallway, both to declutter the hall and to get it ready for new flooring, so job is mostly done.

I’ve booked Company with the £100 theatre tokens I won. And I went to Dorking (initially having bought a ticket to Woking) to collect my picture from an auction house with extremely unhelpful people. But the picture is lovely and a good buy despite the dreary day trip.

Bert’s Back

I haven’t written since August last year. So much has happened in life that writing this just went off my list. But for some of the time I kept a handwritten journal, although in the grimmest weeks that stopped too. So I will reproduce some of it here to get you all back on track with me.

4th October 2019

Woke up feeling very tired which has remained with me all day. We did the shopping and I took books and stuff I have been clearing (and have been living in piles in the corridor) off to charity shops. I feel that I am beginning to find life a bit overwhelming:

  • job situation continues to be wobbly
  • my back has been painful
  • short of money this month
  • so many outgoings

It’s that home/work/health balance and the bottom line is money. It struck me today that I’m clearing out because I have so much stuff around the flat – in cupboards, under the bed, on top of drawers, filling up the box room. I need to get the box room cleared to get my teaching files in there, as they are lying on the floor.

But of course the root of all this is worry about Mum and Dad, and the upheaval we’ve been through having the windows replaced and the flooring re-done. I can’t/don’t want to think about anything in the future as I’m in the middle of so much.

Then I’ve got the stupid cow making my life so difficult at work.

On the upside went into Foyles and bought Sarah Perry’s Melmoth and Kate Atkinson’s Transcription with the money Mum and Dad sent me.

Upshot – I need to talk instead of bottling up all these feelings so they turn into resentments and then anger.

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