Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Well, here we are. I'm sat in an Edinburgh cafe and you're ... well.
Front pages and well-meaning features scream about the tragedy. Your gentle face smiles out from behind the headlines and heavy heads nod and say it's such a shame.
Besides the fact itself, it's this that I find most upsetting. I don't want to remember you like this, as this week's poster boy for mental health problems and those who lose their fight against them. It doesn't see, right to see the word 'suicide' emblazoned across your face, because although you had problems, problems which you discussed with openness and generosity, to me that could never define you.
It was that smile that defined you. The smile that signalled mischief and joy and a little spark of madness. The smile which made those who now mourn you, love you in the first place.
I want to remember you as the clown, the genie, the man who loved his kids so much that he dressed up as an elderly Scottish woman. I want to remember you as the therapist and the radio host, the doctor and the boy who never wanted to grow up. I want to remember you as the maverick who has inspired generations to mount their chairs and follow you, oh captain, my captain!
But I know that these people were never really you and so above all, I will remember the man who breathed life into them all. A man who I can never claimed to have known, but who made me laugh and cry and inspired me and so many others to try and do the same.
I will remember your extraordinary ability to make people and stories come alive, to tickle ribs and tug heart strings.
And I will remember the smile that shone through every show and role and interview. I will make that your true legacy, above the fact that you chose to go.
That's all I really wanted to say Robin. I hope you've found peace. I hope that somewhere, you continue to smile.
All my love,
Monday, November 25, 2013
I'm currently on the way to visit my grandfather. I was woken at about half past five this morning by my housemate being violently ill, so I decided to escape to London a few hours earlier than I had planned. Here are three Haiku charting the journey...
Blue sky tousled grey
Where planes leave forgotten streams
Red across the sky
One breakfast tea please
Unaware of how asleep
Until speech comes slurred
Stare as long as we can bear
At the rising sun
Monday, November 18, 2013
Thursday, August 30, 2012
My friend Andy does magic.
We sit at my kitchen table, with a deck of cards and two steaming mugs of tea, and he shows me magic tricks. And after every one I ask the same thing.
How do you do it?
So he shows me. All the sleights of hand, the clever shuffles, the misdirection. So next time he shows me the trick I can see how it's done and it isn't really magic after that.
When I was 16 I went to Greenbelt.
All the way in the car my friends told me stories of how amazing it would be, all the people I would meet, the incredible things I would see.
And they were right. I walked through the festival as though I was in some sort of magnificent dream. It felt a bit like a magic trick. As if by magic on a Friday morning the racecourse had been transformed into a colourful, joyful, bunting-festooned place.
I loved everything about it. The music, the crazy stalls, the huge sense of community that reached its peak at the Sunday Eucharist. I even loved sleeping on the cold hard ground of the Helicopter Field. I knew this place was special.
Five years later, I am at Cheltenham Racecourse again. Because eventually I had to ask:
How do they do it?
You see, I had hesitated before, because I was scared that if I knew it might spoil it.
But I needn't have worried really. I should have known better. I should have realised that it is a bit like Andy's card tricks, at my kitchen table.
Because even though I know how they are done, it doesn't make them any less special. I know that they are not magic, but rather something even more breathtaking; someone with an incredible talen doing what they love.
And that is exactly what Greenbelt is. It's not magic, the bunting doesn't just spring into being of its own accord. Instead it is a collection of dedicated human beings, each with unique abilities and talents, working together to create something amazing.
So as my time as a volunteer draws to a close (at least until Tuesday!) I shall settle in to enjoy the festival. And this year will be different. Because this year I know how everything is done. But that doesn't make it any less beautiful.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I'm back at uni, and by golly have things been moving fast!
I'll start at the very beginning.
In late 2010, myself and a friend of mine, Andy, went to see a play called Lorca Is Dead, by the rather excellent Belt Up Theatre. It was inspiring.
In early 2011, we went to see another play by Belt Up, The Boy James. This time, we started writing.
By the summer of 2011 we had a (near enough) finished play, The Ball or How to Dance. We also had a name for ourselves.
The Underground Clown Club
The name came from a doodle I did in a seminar, just after we'd started uni. However, it was also pretty apt, in that we kept the company, and the play, pretty secret until September 2011. Because by then we'd decided to put the play on.
Thanks to various wonderful people, we went away for Christmas quietly confident that, after several false starts, we would have a space to perform in in early 2012. By the time we returned to uni we still hadn't heard anything. Then on the Friday of the first week back, we had a meeting with the technical manager of the Drama department.
We walked in, and he asked us what dates we'd like.
We were expecting to have to fight our case, to prove that we would be able to pull off the performance, so when we didn't have to that threw us a little.
We walked out of that meeting, and straight to the pub.
It was as we sat, sipping cups of tea with quaking hands, that it hit us. We were doing a show in 4 weeks time. Beyond the script we had nothing prepared.
What followed was possibly the most productive weekend of my life. By Monday morning we had a cast and crew, but it couldn't stop there. We plunged into rehearsals, found music, props and set and started on publicity work.
Now the performance is a week away! Like I said, things have been moving fast.
For now though, we'll have to keep our heads down rehearse as though our lives depended on it.
See you on the other side!
For more information on The Underground Clown Club and The Ball or How to Dance, please visit our blog or Facebook page!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
When going to the Globe, one must always stand. Unless you are medically unable to that is. But should you be fit and healthy, you should stand, preferably with your chin resting on the stage. There is no better way to experience Shakespeare - because that's what it is: experiencing. None of this passive, observing rubbish. You are right there, having stuff spat at you, being pissed on, flirted with and insulted. I'd rather eat my own hands than sit down and miss out on that.
Standing tickets are cheap. Don't get me wrong, I am HUGELY looking forward to my forthcoming trip to Jerusalem, but for the £25 West End price, I could see five shows at the Globe. Or the National Theatre. Or 250 shows at the Royal Court, where standing tickets are sold for 10p. Can't argue with that.
Currently, I am listening to the One Man Two Guvnors soundtrack, which I was lucky enough to see at the National Theatre this summer (another reason why standing tickets are good: getting into sold-out shows). Stood at the back, boogying to the magnificent skiffle stylings of the Craze, is one of my best memories from the theatre. I would love to see the show again, it is a comedic masterpiece, but I think I'd want to stand again...
After all, it's much harder to dance sitting down...