Tag Archives: colleagues

Working Wonders

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Hello, reader!  How was your weekend?  I hope you’re feeling well-rested and ready for your Monday.

Today I’d like to pay homage to colleagues.  In the working world we have no way of knowing what kinds of people we will end up alongside, or how much their company will influence us throughout our lives.  I have been lucky enough to work with some truly brilliant people, and I hope that you have, too.  Here are a few examples of co-workers we could all do with:

The Boss You’ve Accidentally Turned Into
Classic example of my first boss’ standard behaviour: I turned up to work one day with no make-up on and, as sod’s law dictates, I ran into an ex-boyfriend on my lunch break.  My boss’ response was pretty straightforward: “It’s your own fault, girl.  Why do you think I’m always dressed up, even when it’s just to come to this place?  You’ve got to be prepared.”  Wise, wise woman.  I can’t claim to be as savvy (or as well-dressed) as she was, but sometimes I find myself using her turns of phrase and management tactics, which can only be a good thing.  We all resist turning into our parents, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with turning into our favourite bosses.

The Friend Who Keeps You Going
One of the only things that I miss about my last full-time job is the girl I sat next to in the office.  Over the weeks and months we discovered that we got on extremely well, and that we had some fairly important things in common.  When the job started to go sour and I was feeling pretty down about things, it was this colleague whom I confided in, and whose support was invaluable to me.  I hope that you never have a job that makes you sad, but if you do, I hope that someone in your office can make you smile.  Those people are godsends.

The Cool Kid You Randomly Get On Really Well With
I recently did a stint as a front of house supervisor type thingy on a large-scale kids’ show.  My second in command was absolutely brilliant, but here’s the funny thing: I remember sitting next to her in the group interview stages thinking “dear God, this girl is so cool.  I bet we have nothing in common.  And she’s just given a really good interview answer.  Bollocks.”  It’s nice to look back at that and realise that yes, she is insanely cool, but she’s also really good fun.  Not judging people based on first appearances turns out to be particularly important in the working world.

The One You Keep Hold Of
One of the weirdest aspects of leaving a job is that you can go from spending all of your time with a group of people, getting to know their habits and coffee preferences, and then suddenly not see them for ages.  In certain cases the friendships that you strike up with your colleagues can traverse job hopping, geographical relocation and even months of no contact.  It’s strange to look back over my employment history and see how many ex-colleagues have ended up being good friends, and where our lives have taken us.  Harry is a perfect example: we started out working together in a box office, and now he effectively runs my theatre company.  I’m very glad I kept hold of him, and I hope that you’ve got people from your working life who’ve stuck around for your real life.

I also hope that you have an amazing Monday, and that you get to listen to your favourite music on the way to work.

Smells Like Team Spirit

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s your week progressing?  Getting through your to do list at a pleasing pace, I hope?

“Team work” is one of those phrases that fills us with dread and fear.  This is because we secretly think that “team work” means “unable to think for yourself”, “willing to let others do your work” or, horror of horrors, “always up for those God-awful trust exercises that supposedly break the ice, but actually make everyone feel cripplingly embarrassed”.

What you discover very quickly in working world (particularly when you work in the arts) is that when it actually happens, team work is flipping brilliant.  Of course we should all have independent approaches, unique ideas and confidence in what we bring to the job as individuals, but we should also enjoy the many advantages that proper team work offers.

As you might remember from previous posts, I am currently working in a front of house team on a large-scale kids’ show in London.  The job is difficult and the show is not really aimed at my demographic, but the experience is ace.  As they say in The Lego Movie song, everything is cool when you’re part of a team.  Here are a few lovely things about team work that might dispel some of those trust exercise (shudder) memories:

In jokes – weeks, months and even years after the event, in jokes can help a team to feel connected to one another.  In jokes are also a good way to just have a bit of fun at work when the chips are down.

People understand why you’re stressed – if you turn to a colleague and go “aaaargh” (or something slightly more articulate), nine times out of ten they will get what you’re on about.  Not having to explain your stress and still managing to get sympathy is pretty darn efficient.

The play’s the thing – working with a whole bunch of people who care about the same project you do is brilliant, because you are constantly reminded that you are all working towards something bigger than any of you.  This can be scary and inspirational in equal measure, but it is always a motivator.

Down time – it is so nice to unwind in the company of people whose day you’ve shared.  There’s a sense of mutual achievement and good humour when my colleagues and I get the train home from work together, even though most of us have at least an hour’s commute ahead of us.  Stopping at the amazing frozen yoghurt place on our way from work to the station helps, too.

Going crazy – work can sometimes take over our lives a bit, and when it does it’s nice to know that the people you work with are going crazy at exactly the same rate, in pretty much the same way and for precisely the same reason.  For instance, the kids’ show I’m working includes some very distinctive music.  Surprisingly, it’s actually very cheering to hear my colleagues humming it all day long, because it means that I’m not alone.  The one time that it’s good to crazy is when you’re in great company.

Have a delightful Friday.

The End is Nigh

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Good morning, my dear and lovely reader.  I hope that you’ve got some excellent and relaxing activities planned for your weekend.

Today is my final day of working front of house on a kids’ show in Greenwich.  In a week the show starts up again in Richmond, so I’ll be back to keeping ludicrous hours pretty soon, but for now it’s so long and thanks for all the prams.  Unfortunately, not all of my beloved colleagues are coming with the show to Surrey, so it’s goodbye to a few of them today.  After three weeks of early starts, tantrums, in jokes and camaraderie, we will be sad to see each other go.

Even though today is a bit sad, it’s also very positive: we are moving on to other things, we have all made friends whom we will keep for long time, and we are freaking knackered, so we need a break.  Like most people I am not massively fond of change, but in this case it’s ok that the end is nigh.

We don’t like the idea in general though, do we?  We don’t like to close a door on something and say that it is over.  Especially when it comes to our relationships with other people, the idea of categorically stating that we are finished feels weird, wrong and difficult.

Do you remember when you were about to leave school/college/uni?  Do you remember feeling that your time had come, that you were ready to get out there and do your own thing?  That you had taken as much as you could from a situation, and that you were now prepared to go out and do things your own way?  Right.  It’s the same with people, bizarrely.  We know when we are truly ready to end a friendship or relationship that is not good for us or has reached its natural end.  When we make a friend we tend to assume that they will be around for a long time, possibly for the rest of our lives, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  It’s nice to think that everyone in your life is there for a reason, but sometimes it seems that that reason is to give you a short, sharp shock, and then skidaddle.

I won’t tell you to live every day as though it were your last, or to treasure the people who matter to you: not because those aren’t worthy sentiments, but because you’ve heard them already.  If you’re not adhering to them by now, there’s nothing I can say to change that (except possibly bribe you with biscuits).  What I’m going to suggest is that we try to embrace the endings of things, because we never know where these endings are going to take us.  I’m also going to suggest that we make an effort to be nice to the people we care about, because we probably don’t want to face change and endings without them.

Have a spectacular Saturday.

What Kind of Day Are You Having?

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Good morning, dear reader!  How’s your weekend going?

Firstly, I’m very sorry that I didn’t get time to write a blog post yesterday.  I have failed you, and I am accordingly ashamed.  I can only plead as an excuse that I have had absolutely no free time recently, and I am in a constant state of being almost asleep.

This morning, however, I am awake and alert (and a bit high on coffee), and I am determined to make my absence up to you by writing an extra joyful blog post.  Here we go.

Today I would like to discuss what determines a day as good or bad, and what kind of things we let affect the balance.  If we miss our train, receive some bad news or have an argument with someone we tend to dismiss the day as a write-off.  If we receive good news, go on a lovely date or something funny happens at work, we decide that we are having a good day.

Deciding how good, bad or boring a day is based on small incidents is very central to human nature, but it’s alarming how quickly we make the choice.  If something slightly annoying happens to us as soon as we leave the house, we sometimes decide in advance that this is going to be one of “those” days.  I would like to use yesterday as an example of why we are wrong to do so.

Yesterday I woke up late, was feeling a bit ill, and had a hectic day at work involving tricky customers, calling an ambulance for someone who was unwell, technology failing and other small stresses that inevitably accompany front of house theatre work.  I am very lucky to be working with a brilliant bunch of people on this show, but the fact is that we are all dying ever so slightly at the moment.

We had all, by about half past eleven in the morning, decided that we were communally having a bad day.  Luckily, at about half past three in the afternoon something happened that turned the day around entirely.  Something small, but very significant.

The show I’m currently working on is aimed at very small children, and at various points during the day there are a lot of families milling about in the venue.  At around half past three I saw a very small boy wriggling around in his pram, clearly pretty tired, hot and irritable.  At that moment, another family arrived next to the little boy’s, including a similarly young girl who was also in a pushchair, and also looking fairly stressed.

The families were strangers who just happened to be next to one another in a queue, but at that moment the little boy and the little girl made eye contact, and they both broke into enraptured smiles.  They stopped fussing and fretting, and just gazed at each other in silent awe.  The girl’s family moved away after a moment, but the magical moment didn’t end there: the children kept staring at each other in wonder until the girl’s family was out of the room.

I’m pretty sure that today I saw love at first sight happen between two toddlers, and even though it was a tiny incident, it unquestionably made my day.  I am telling you about it, you lovely thing, for two reasons: firstly, I hope that it makes you smile and warms the cockles of your heart.  Secondly, it reiterates the point that I’m trying to make: we should not allow the amalgamation of small inconveniences to blind us to the joy that happens all around us.  If we are going to let small bad things ruin our day, we must also be willing to let small brilliant things make them better.

In the spirit of which, I wish you the best Sunday since records began.

10 Things All Theatre Types Do

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Hello, you lovely thing.  How’s this week treating you so far?

Firstly, I should apologise for the fact that I might not have time to blog every day for the next few weeks.  I’ve just started working on a kids’ show in Greenwich, and I will essentially be eating, sleeping and breathing children’s theatre for a while.  I will do my best to keep up with you lovely people, but please do bear with me if I don’t quite manage it.

Today’s blog is (predictably) a theatre-based list of stuff that happens to everyone when they start working on a new show, particularly in a front of house capacity:

1) You work out very quickly who is going to make you laugh during the nightmare shifts – look out for the people who tend to mutter witticisms under their breath during briefings and people who are good at pulling silly faces.

2) You remember how much fun it is to use radios – you’re basically getting paid to play with walkie talkies.

3) You make a new best friend – in my case, one of my fellow supervisors has already “claimed” me as his latest fag hag.  I feel so honoured.

4) You end up working with someone you already know – I love this about theatre.  Nine times out of ten, we end up reconnecting with a friend or ex-colleague in a wholly unexpected context, and that really helps us to relax into new working situations.

5) You find a fittie – don’t look at me like that.  Everyone does this.  We’re not proud of it, but we all like to work out as early as possible whether there’s going to be anyone in our team who is nice to look at.  Just look at, mind.  We’re professionals, after all.

6) You know the show off by heart within two shifts.

7) You are insanely bored of the show within three shifts.

8) You passionately hate the show within three and a half shifts.

9) You find and immediately set up camp in the nearest decent pub.

10) Cheesy as it sounds, you fall in love with theatre all over again.

Right, I’m off to Greenwich to bring joy to hundreds of children.  You have yourself the most enjoyable Thursday of every Thursday ever.

Face Value

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Hello, and a very happy May Day to you!  Did you know that 1st May used to be considered the first day of summer?  Yeah.  Apparently that’s why the summer solstice (25th June) is known as midsummer, even though we all know that it will still be cold and rainy at that point.  Ah well.

Also, this day always makes me think of an episode of Red Dwarf when two of the main characters get marooned and are discussing the distress signal:

Rimmer: I wonder why they call it ‘May Day’.
Lister: Eh?
Rimmer: The distress call.  I wonder why it’s May Day…it’s only a bank holiday.  Why not Shrove Tuesday or Ascension Sunday?

I digress before I’ve even begun.  ANYWAY, one of the slightly surprising side-effects of writing a blog has been my friends’ reactions to it.  If I’m being ambiguous about certain situations or what have you (mainly due to respect for others, privacy and suchlike), my friends tend to ask “was that post about such-and-such?” or “were you talking about so-and-so?”  Sometimes the answer is yes, but to be honest I’m not sure that it matters.  If it’s really important I’ll talk to my friends about it in real life, anyway.  We’re supposed to be going to the pub in about five hours, after all.  Plus it’s your round.

This is something that lots of people (not just girls, before you think I’m stereotyping) find difficult: accepting a statement at face value and not trying to find hidden meaning.  I am terrible for this, so please excuse the blatant hypocrisy.  (I’ll make it up to you with biscuits.  D’you like chocolate digestives?)  I over-think like it’s going out of fashion, so I am constantly asking in wretched tones “but what does that MEAN?”, and trying to determine people’s exact feelings about life, the universe and everything based on sentences as simple as “I’ll see you later”.  I’m a lot better than I used to be about this, but I think a lot of us are constantly dissatisfied with transparency and longing to find some obscure meaning in a bit of opacity.

Why do we do that?  Is it because we are genuinely convinced that every sentence spoken or written has an ulterior motive, a deeper meaning or a secretive subtext?  We do it with everything: text messages from the person we’re enamoured with, oddly formal emails from colleagues, passive-aggressive messages from friends with whom we’ve sort of fallen out.  Why can’t we accept things for what they are, and trust that what people say to us is usually what they mean to say?

I’ll tell you why: because we’re British.  We hardly ever say what we mean out of a neurotic fear of seeming impolite.  This is the nation that can make “sorry” sound like anything from a sincere apology to a vicious death threat, for crying out loud.  So I have a challenge for you, lovely people of this United Kingdom: cry God for Harry, England and St. George, and try to be a bit more open with people.  If you want to be able to take statements at face value then you have to start with the man (or lady) in the mirror.  Michael Jackson would be proper chuffed.

Have the kind of Thursday that would make an excellent movie