Tag Archives: independence

No Man is in Ireland

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Hello, dear reader.  How was your weekend?  I hope you managed to catch up on your sleep.

Last week my lovely friend Katie nominated me on Facebook to post “seven things that you might not know about me”.  I love Katie very dearly, and I respect the fact that she met this challenge, but I will not be completing it myself.  This is for two reasons:

1) Whatever the seven facts about me would be, there’s probably a reason that they’re not common knowledge, i.e. they’re boring as hell.  Who cares about my Year 6 SAT marks?  Not you, that’s for sure.  Not really me, either.

2) I’m a very transparent person, and I’m not sure that there are seven facts about me which aren’t common knowledge.  My Year 6 SAT marks, by the by, were 6, 6 and 5.

I make no apology for the fact that I’m an open book, because I think being honest about yourself is the only way to make real connections with other people.  Obviously I don’t go around with a megaphone broadcasting my personal information to the unsuspecting public of London town, but if someone asks me a question I will do my best to answer it truthfully.  (Except in very specific circumstances, such as when I’m being interrogated by MI5.)

Making connections with other people is important, because we need each other, don’t we?  Even Bernard Black needs Manny.  Ok, here’s something that you might not know about me but could probably guess: I’m very dependent on other people.  I set a lot of store by my friends’ advice, because they’re a pretty wise bunch, and when I’m sad or ill or cranky I want hugs and sympathy.  Sometimes we might berate ourselves for needing other people.  We do this because it doesn’t really fit in with the whole “independent, capable go-getters of the 21st century” persona that we are all so determined to portray, but actually that’s just a knee-jerk reaction to feeling insecure.

It’s all very well to look like a self-sufficient success story, but in reality nobody is completely independent.  No man is an island (or “no man is in Ireland”, which is what I thought the phrase was until I was about 11, and it confused the heck out of me at the time).  Yes, of course we should be able to take care of ourselves, be aware of our own worth and cross roads without other people’s assistance, but there is no shame in respecting and valuing the emotional contributions of the people in our lives.  That’s why we have them in our lives in the first place.

This is also true from a professional perspective.  Working in the arts is demanding (not least because the amount of effort you put in very rarely corresponds with your salary), and we need each other’s support in order to stay motivated.  In the case of Tumbling After specifically (the show I’m directing in Edinburgh this year – here’s some more info in case you missed my last post), the devising process means that we all need to trust each other and be as honest as possible.  Just in terms of the admin, the producer and I find that we are more productive if we meet up to swear and glare at our laptops together.  Sure, we could sit at home individually and do the same thing, but we are more productive (and more importantly, much happier) if we have someone to share ideas and coffee with.

Have a beautiful day.  Go and hug someone who contributes to your life.

Phone Off for Friday

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Good morning!  It’s finally Friday!  And it’s sunny!  What did we do to deserve such good fortune?  I don’t know.  Let’s just enjoy it.

I have decided to turn my phone off for 24 hours, as of 9am today.  On the one hand, this is a pretty big decision that will have an impact on my ability to contact people, check the time and look up travel plans, but on the other hand, it’s just a phone and it’s not going to kill me.  Let me walk you through this seemingly random decision, and then see whether you might want to do the same thing:

Distraction
My friend Andy told me recently that I seem to be really, really busy for someone who doesn’t go to work.  And he’s right.  (Let’s brush over the fact that I tend to work in my pyjamas, ok?)  The point is that I genuinely do have stuff to get on with, and having my phone on my desk is just a distraction.  You’re a  busy person with a lot of stuff to do too, aren’t you?  Exactly.  Imagine how much more efficiently you could work without your phone in the corner of your eye.

Responsibilities
Speaking of work, lots of my friends have several email, Twitter and Facebook accounts synced on their phones (because of all the theatre company stuff we get up to, you see), so whenever anything happens on one of those, we feel the need to respond immediately. However, I have made a life-changing discovery: we don’t have to do that.
If your work comes down to email messaging (i.e. you’re not a doctor, fire fighter, etc.), then it’s really not that urgent.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to work at the same speed as technology all of the time.  You don’t have to stop walking in the middle of the street to reply to a message, or halt a pleasant conversation to check your emails.

Social Skills
Which leads me neatly on to the next problem I have with phones: what the crap have they done to our social skills?  It has now become acceptable to get out your phone and tinker with it if you are in a large group conversation, feeling a bit shy or just bored while your friend is talking to you.  (I have a friend who does that quite a lot, and I won’t name and shame, but you know who you are.  Stop doing that.)

Rejection
There’s a bit in the first Bridget Jones book where she complains about the passive-aggressive role of the telephone in dating, i.e. that getting home to find messages on your machine means that you are loved, beautiful and popular, whereas having no messages means that you will die alone and be eaten by Alsations.
Sometimes we have the same problem with mobiles, don’t we?  The immediate response thing is an emotional issue as well as a work one: when our friends and beloveds don’t reply to texts straight away we feel wounded and wronged.  Let’s take a day off from that.

Rebellion
I’ve just started reading the His Dark Materials trilogy, and it strikes me that we tend to see our mobile phones the same way the characters in the novels see their daemons: embodiments of our souls which we cannot emotionally or physically bear to be parted from.  They’re not.  They’re just phones.
I know that mobile technology makes life a lot easier, but I also know that I was perfectly fine for fourteen years before I even heard of mobile phones.  Our phones do not rule our lives or define who we are.  We exist without our phones, and we are actually far more interesting without our faces glued to them.

Have a record-breakingly good Friday.

All You Need is Love (and Cheese)

As a single girl, there are three sure-fire ways to deal with Valentine’s Day:

  • Dismiss the entire day as a consumerist charade that turns love into a grotesque corporate pantomime.
  • Take the opportunity to celebrate love in all of its forms, even though EVERYONE else seems to be focusing on the romantic aspect.
  • Pull a full-on Bridget Jones: slump on the sofa, wear pyjamas, drink wine and sob uncontrollably, preferably whilst watching Bridget Jones.

I have tried all three in my time (let’s be honest – we all have), but these days I tend to go with the second method.  Love is love.  Ok yes, it would be nice to be able to share this day with a man who likes the fact that I’m incredibly sarcastic and unable to boil an egg, but if you don’t have a love life to celebrate, celebrate the love in your life.  I may be single, but I have a lot of love in my life that I’m very grateful for.  Here are a few examples:

1) Towards the end of 2013, my brother was very ill and in hospital.  My brother is one of my favourite people in the world, and him being ill is the stuff of my worst nightmares.  This was a very hard time for me and my entire family (who all dealt with the situation amazingly well, as did my brother’s girlfriend and closest friends.  Super proud of and grateful for them all).  I knew for certain that he was going to get better on a particular day about two weeks into the nightmare, when he’d been sort of awake for a couple of days, and had just about started talking again.  I had bought him this postcard: i love you more than cheese-500x500

and when I gave it to him, he looked at it, looked at me, looked back at the postcard and then said “I love you more than cheezex?  What the hell is cheezex?!”  My first instinct was to call him a git, but actually I felt so relieved that he was capable of being a cheeky little sod that I nearly cried.  I think he knew, even though he was so unwell, that I needed to hear him say something silly.

2) When I was in my third year of university, I had a very unfortunate and slightly scary situation with a guy who wouldn’t leave me alone.  One night, after a particularly unsettling conversation with this guy, I called my oldest friend Evelyn and literally sobbed down the phone at her.  I couldn’t even form the words to being to explain what had happened.  The conversation went something like this:
Ev: “Vicks, what’s wrong?”
Me: “He…I..aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”
Ev: “What happened??”
Me: “He…aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”

And so on and so forth.  No sense was made.  What did Evelyn do?  She put down the phone, got into her car in Surrey, drove to where I was in Canterbury, put me in her car and drove me back to her flat, where she fed me and hugged me and let me cry out the problem.

3) Yesterday, knowing what a tough week I’d had, my friend Julia drove down from her university in Northampton to surprise me at my flat.  She is incredibly stressed and busy right now, what with being in her final year and having a gazillion things to do, but she found the time to visit me, go out for dinner with me and some of our friends AND have a boogie in the kitchen to Robin Thicke.

4) My lovely house mate Ais is the most wonderful friend anyone could ask for.  She is the best person to have around when you need looking after (Irish genes, obviously), and also the most fun person to go on adventures with.  She thinks of ways to show people that she loves them all the livelong day.  For example,when I woke up this morning I found this outside my room:

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5) When I lost my job on Tuesday, several people called me to tell me how sorry they were, how angry they were on my behalf, and how much they loved me and believed in me.  It is overwhelming to feel so cared for by so many people, and if this day is about love then it should really about them, because they all took the time to show love to someone who was truly in need of it.

Thanks for reading; I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, regardless of your marital status.  You deserve to be loved no matter how single/married/divorced/prefer not to say you are.