Where’ere thou art…

“Where’ere thou art, act well thy part.”

I have acted. Many people are surprised by this – that I can be on stage, watched by hundreds of people, being any one of a thousand possible characters, when offstage I find it difficult to make eye contact… It’s not so incredible, actually. I wear people like some folks hide behind make-up or loud clothes. You can go on holiday to escape home, work, family, friends, routine, but nowhere on earth will you ever escape yourself. 

That’s why I took to acting with such enthusiasm- the only way to escape yourself is to become (temporarily) someone else. 

I believe an actor has 100% to give. It is their choice how much of it they use on stage. The more you use off stage, the less you have to offer when the lights go down. I prefer to reserve my hundred percent for when I’m on stage. Although I do borrow from it from time to time to help me deal with the more awkward moments in life, like… Well, life really.

I was out the other day and heard such a wailing and caterwauling that I wasn’t sure if some disaster had happened. It turns out it was merely a local act-or out for a few moments of quiet reflection, as he hugged and ‘mwah-mwah-dahling’ed everyone within arm’s reach. And not all of them particularly wanted to be mwah-mwah’ed either.

Loudness of every kind appals me. It’s not snobbery. It hurts. Literally hurts. And when I say ‘literally’, I genuinely do mean literally. It causes me actual physical pain.

I’m sat on a train, escaping to the sea for the day to recharge the emotional batteries, when in swagger a gang of students. They swarm and mewl and raise the rafters to contain their wonderfulness. And I look at them, shutting off my ears and see their self-presumed omnipotence as nothing but a matrix of statistics: height, weight, age, IQ, EQ, life expectancy…

And each generation leapfrogs each other in outrage. One minute you’re one of the caterwaulers… The next, you’re disgruntled at the wailing and the next, you’re considering whether you should just report them to the police at 3am and finally get back to sleep. And of course, when I say ‘minute’, what I actually mean is ‘couple of decades’. That’s what time feels like to me. In a twinkling of an eye you go from the Angry Young Thing who’ll save the world with your Mixed Arts degree to being Outraged of Redhill.

Choose who you want to be. Change your choice every day if you have to. After all, you can always take holidays from yourself if need be.

And me? I’ll just keep away from Redhill for now…


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Trigger Happy

I found out something new this week: the phrase “trigger warning”. Never heard of it before. Found out the hard way. I went onto an online baking forum to make a simple enquiry about an ingredient because of something my doctor has advised me to do (yes, even I have to seeks a physician’s aid occasionally).

Someone got extremely upset over my question because one of the words I used was a ‘trigger’ for them. The word? “Calorie”. As simple (and deadly) as that. It seems they were recovering from an un-diagnosed (what?) eating disorder (which I’d had myself, many moons ago), and certain words get them irritated. So I was asked to put a ‘trigger warning’ on it  Remember that this was a site dealing with baking some relatively unhealthy items!

So, someone weighed in telling this person to put down their internet device and go for a walk, preferably nowhere with food shops that might have foods labelled with nutritional values, then someone else weighed in, supporting the person, and how heartless everyone in the entire world was being. And so the battle between Camp Cottonwool and Camp Common Sense continued for a while.

I stepped in and posted an apology – of sorts.  You know, my sort of apology….

Far be it from me to make light of someone’s issues… You know me, I would never do that, as I stated quite clearly before. My heart goes out to anyone who has a struggle in their lives. After all, mental health issues are no stranger to me, so…

I apologised for upsetting them, and for not having prior knowledge of their issue at time of posting. I thanked  them for helping me learn something new and wished them well. The person felt vindicated and was as nice as pie after that.

Now, I do like to apologise to people, but I do also like acknowledge their behaviour to myself. Funnily enough, No-one ever bothers to read between the lines. For example: One day I was walking down the street and suddenly remembered that I needed to cross the road.  I stopped. The woman behind me walked straight into the back of me, which clearly upset her as I’d interrupted her texting. She scowled at me and ranted something about me watching where I was going. So I simply smiled and said: “I’m so sorry, madam, I didn’t see you behind me.” She softened, smiled back and replied, “That’s alright love.” She just heard what she wanted to hear. The man behind her, however, was about to pass out from laughing.

But seriously, the thing is, every time I go for a ride on my bike, I am reminded of the time I fell off one, fracturing my skull and shoulder, which left me with memory and co-ordination issues. But I choose to get on that bike. Every time I go out in the rain, I am reminded of the time I slipped in thick mud, breaking a finger and shattering an ankle. But I choose to go out in the rain. You get the idea. So, what am I supposed to do? Expect the world to protect me from these things? Or do I show just a lickle bit of common sense and get the heck out of Dodge if something is upsetting me that much?!

I mean, do I go onto Sky Movies and watch Arachnophobia and Eight Legged Freaks and get upset because they contain spiders (remembered I’m terrified of the things)? Do I throw a hissy fit because the description does not contain a ‘trigger warning’? No. I go watch something fluffy instead.  And by fluffy, I mean anything from Frozen to Silent Hill (that line about ‘in the eyes of a child’ makes me blub every time I hear it).

Do we have to protect individuals from their own choices? Is that what they expect? And if so, what on earth happened to Free Will? “You have to protect me from anything nasty or scary or upsetting out there when I accidentally or willingly come across it or seek it out. Only I won’t tell you what scares or upsets me until it’s too late.”

Hmm. I’m wondering if I should start using trigger warnings on this post, to protect those individuals who have Sanguivoriphobia. Basically, just in case this blog gets visited by someone with an irrational fear of vampires. After all, we have to keep everyone safe, don’t we?

 


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You keep using that word

Consequences.

Happy New Year! Yes, I know I said that last time, and I’m saying it again – for a very good reason. All will become clear. We all blether on from time to time about consequences, usually those of staying out too late, or watching just one more episode on that DVD, or the one more doughnut that-surely-wouldn’t-hurt. But in this regard we’d probably be better off using a more appropriate word: regret. The actual word ‘consequence’ has been superseded by another, more explosive word – fallout.

It doesn’t matter what the word or action is, there will always be consequences; there will always be fallout. Of course, things like social media have amplified this up to the nth degree. Essentially though, putting your foot in it, or saying / doing something stupid / dangerous / ill advised ‘for a laugh’ or because you’re cheesed off with someone / something is a concept as old as feet or mouths.

Example 1: A number of years ago I was out with a friend, her husband and her small son. We were in a small market town in the south of England, which had a real butchers shop. As it was the boy’s birthday that weekend, my friend and her husband asked me to take the little boy into the butchers shop to buy some sausages while they went to buy him a birthday present. All very secret, hush-hush.

So into the shop I dutifully went with this three-year-old child hanging on my hand. The shop was crowded; there were shelves and packages everywhere. It was unusual in that it had two of those big glass display counters. In one unit was the standard array: mince, chops, chicken legs et cetera. In the other was a side of beef. And I mean an entire side of beef. It spread along the whole counter. Being at his eye level, the little boy (let’s call him Bob) was immediately drawn to the scene of carnage.

“What that?”  asked young Bob.

“Beef.” I said.

He repeated his question. I repeated my answer. He tried the question again, slightly more forcefully this time. I thought I couldn’t really unleash the truth on such a small child. However his insistence left me with no option.

“What that?” came the question again.

“It’s half a dead cow. Okay?”

At that point, I had to take him hurriedly out of the shop as he burst into tears rather loudly. I did not tell his parents exactly what had happened: only that he had gotten a little fractious in the shop. The consequences only made themselves apparent a few years later.

Fast forward four years and one sibling later. I was at the christening of their second child. Bob was now seven years old. The proud parents gave a speech about welcoming the new baby to the family. In particular, they were singing the praises of young Bob, who apparently was the ideal older brother. He was a young man of honour and conviction. For example, out of the blue, at the age of three, he had decided to become a vegetarian, and still was one…

I shrunk down in my seat and said nothing…

I have my own scary butchers shop story, which left me with Spectrophobia – you’ll hear about that next time.

Example 2 – and this is where I was leading with my initial salutation. ‘Calan Hen’ is a Welsh tradition that is celebrated on the 6th January. It’s when the Christmas decorations come down, and you have to stop telling people ‘Happy New Year’, because the New Year just ain’t that new any more.

That’s what my mother told us.

Deciding to read up on this nationwide tradition, I uncovered something quite alarming.

None of it is true.

Calan Hen is indeed a celebration of the old New Year, just not what we were all brought up with. It started back in 1752 when the British dumped the old Julian calendar in favour of the new and shiny Gregorian calendar. Consequence? 11 days got lost. The previous New Year’s Day fell on what was now January 12.

But, undaunted, January 12th continued to be celebrated (two for the price of one, if you like), with children going from house to house with apples skewered with sprigs of holly, wishing the householders Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (I’ll leave you to work that one out!!) and collecting calenning (a few coins) as a reward for their good wishes. Oh, and of course there was the football match between one village and the next, with the churches of each serving as goalposts. I think they still do it, although in these days of Health & Safety, less people end up dead or maimed.

And there was something else, too. It wasn’t a nationwide celebration at all. It is a celebration that is exclusive to my home village. Which explains a lot of weird looks I got years later from fellow Welshies that I met.

So, be careful what you say or do – it might just come back and bite you on the bum…

Talking of bums and consequences: on a lighter note, I had one thing happen to me today that (I think) had a positive consequence, if rather painful. I had gone to the market to stock up on all the ingredients I need for my A+ juice and as usual overdid it a bit. So, as I bent over to put things into my rucksack, someone whacked me sharply on the backside. Standing up, I was expecting to see one of my friends. Imagine my surprise to see a completely unknown and random female grinning at me.

“You’re a cute little minx,” she said, “you do know that, don’t you?”

Consequence? I’m gonna have a bruise tomorrow, but it still made my day!!