Monday, June 21, 2010


Didn't I mention I was going away? I'm sure everyone has been weeping softly into their RSS feeds all week, not knowing what to do with themselves without me there to tell them that it's hot in Manchester and I am poor.

It's hot in Manchester. I am poor.

I have spent the past week in the Outer Hebrides, on the magical (not literally) (although maybe) Isle of Lewis. My Mum and Dad whisked Ben and me away from the trials of inner city life (see: screaming neighbours, financial woe, the cat) to the remote island, where we were plied with wonderful food and majestic scenery. We stayed in a beautiful guest house - Baile na Cille. Our bedroom had implausibly stunning views and a sofa in it, a far remove from the two metre wide room we share here with its crumbling red brick outlook. The beach there is as wide as the sky.

We went out on a boat, looked at other islands, saw basking sharks and seals and big birds that we are going to believe are eagles, went fishing, actually caught fish, actually gutted fish, actually ate fish, walked up hills, walked down hills, ran out of words for the views, learned to play bar billiards (thanks, James), lost many times at bar billiards (again, thanks, James), played table football (ditto), lost many times at table football (ditto), ate loads, got taken to a ramshackle beachside bar in the middle of the night where we were force-fed port and fun, and generally had a fabulous time.

(Last time I went on holiday and then wrote about it in a blog post someone said I was doing "Léonie as Bill Bryson". Obviously I am totally over it, given that it was well over a year ago and I am of course not that sensitive. Anyway, I like Bill Bryson.)

The weekend before that we were in Leeds for the concert at the end of the project I have been part of for the last ten months. It was wonderful, could not have gone better. It took a few days before the post-event anxiety dreams started to trickle through, but they are here now. Last night I had to do the whole thing again but I hadn't washed my hair and they had changed all the music at the last minute. Also someone was playing the trumpet incessantly. I look forward to at least three more weeks of this, but I promise this will not become an "Analyse My Dreams!" blog. (What do trumpets mean, though? Are all my teeth about to fall out? Is the cat going to win a tombola? Help!)

Now I am floundering in a no-money state of delirium. I am trying to get shifts at the café, but without much luck. My other money-making technique, staring out of the window feeling anxious, is not proving very successful either. I am considering doing a Musical Theatre Holiday Club for kids, which just involves backing tracks, a church hall and watching Glee for "research purposes".

I need to prepare for some festivals, as well. Ben and I are performing at Shambala, and I am performing with Eggs Collective at Big Chill.

The sun is shining. I feel that I should be outside, leaping ecstatically through a sprinkler. It is not to be, though, for I must persevere with my fortune-building. Please let me know if you have any ideas, particularly if they involve sprinklers or songs from the shows.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Over the Ginnel

The cat and I are sulking. He is better at it than I am. More committed, I think.

Ben is in (stupid) Bristol and there are no more (stupid) trains back to (stupid) Manchester tonight. I couldn't go and sing at the festival this weekend, and have been consoling myself with the idea that he was going to come back tonight so we could lie around in our pants watching the second season of Mad Men. Now he is not and I am forced to lie about by myself. Sulk.

The cat is sulking because I won't give him any more biscuits. He is not allowed any, he is meant to be on a diet. He's downstairs, muttering darkly to himself about "unrealistic expectations of body shape" and how he might just "go anorexic" to prove a point. I feel sorry for him, because he doesn't have a blog to moan at. (If he did it would probably be called 'Sometimes Disdain And Apathy Towards All Other Forms of Life is All I Have'.)

This week is a Big Week for me. Saturday is the culmination of the project I have been doing for the last year(ish) in Leeds with Opera North. I am excited and completely terrified, depending on how tired I am feeling at any given moment. I usually feel pretty confident about the whole thing when I am whooshing about on my bike (Glinda) (who I totally love), and then when I sit alone staring out of the window trying to ignore all the feline anger wafting up the stairs at me I begin to feel a bit jittery.

It's raining and warm. The roof tiles opposite are slick. I sat for a while leaning on the windowsill with my head out of the window, listening to the sounds of cars and sirens far away. I love looking out over the ginnel, peering into the back yards crammed together unevenly behind each terraced house. Most of them have bright weeds struggling defiantly from brick cracks, and off-white washing lines slicing across them at odd angles. I love the shock of the bright plastic pegs against the paving and the aching, rusty bricks. I have been watching with interest the progress of the naked Action Man, who came to our attention when he was splayed provocatively on a roof, unclothed and rakish, but who is now lying face down in a gutter. The chimneys are relics, withering and unused, but without them the scene would be incomplete.

On the sill of the back, downstairs window of the house opposite me are a pair of very small, brilliant-blue wellington boots. They are upside down. I imagine the wearer splashing about gleefully in puddles. I can hear the children next door, playing loudly, blissfully and unusually free from either parent screaming lashing recriminations.

I like the way the slate roofs are shining. I like the damp air and Sunday calm. The evening sun just awoke and hit a chimney pot, setting the red bricks aflame.

The cat is still silent and being aloof downstairs, but I have stopped feeling so sulky. I will perhaps concede and give him a few more biscuits. Maybe he will come upstairs and lie about with me until Ben gets home.