It’s been ages since I last wrote, which is wrong as I know people do actually follow this and enjoy reading my entries. Sorry. The truth is, things have seemed a little stagnant, and without the old job my enthusiasm has dwindled. Not that the last month or so hasn’t been completely uneventful or lacking any highlights. I’ll summarise a few now, and then go back to the present, and the reason for the title of this blog.
Tired April turned into May and we had our long weekend in Lithuania. This was genuinely lovely; it was great spending time with Ollie and Vilnius was a pleasant surprise. It did us the wonder of good to get some sunshine, cheap food and drink and some escape. It was a lazy, indulgent few days, cafe hopping, sampling local cuisine and browsing bric-a-brac in the town’s markets.
I began to get used to working at Her Majesty’s. The rota became second nature, I trained on bar which was a nice refreshing change and I began to work out some friendships with other members of staff there. The team is much more fractured and cliquey than the Gielgud team was. People are nice enough but nowhere near as instantly happy and welcoming as the old gang.
It has been a wet and cold early summer. As I write the bottom of my jeans are sodden and the sky outside is grey and heavy. We had a patch of brilliant warmth and sunshine at the end of May for about a week which was wonderful but nothing since. Gloomy predictions are ahead as well. During the heat wave I spent a lot of time lazing in parks, wandering about the dusty streets in skirts or dresses and walking near the river. It’s starting to seem like a distant dream now.
To manage our separation, the Gielgud lot have been meeting at least once a week. We’ve adjusted to this, although at first even that seemed like nothing, so used as we’d been to seeing each other every night. When we meet now, we greet each other with happy exclamations and huge bear hugs, as if we’d been apart for years. Mostly we’ve been meeting at the pub after work; luckily we all still work in the West End, albeit scattered around, so our social hours are the same as ever. On one sunny Sunday , however, a group of us went to Chessington which was just brilliant. I hadn’t been in about a decade but it was much the same. The day was completely idyllic – perfect weather, perfect company and more laughing that I’d done in some time.
So, I haven’t lost my FOH friends at all. There aren’t many of the whole team I haven’t seen since we closed. Of course, however, that hasn’t stopped me missing life as it was. The ache for it has been every bit as bad as I was expecting. It’s strange, just not doing it any more. Cast-wise, it’s been interesting. James has kept in touch, which is wonderful. He is so generous to people. I haven’t held many extensive conversations with him, but he’s always there. If I tweet him, he will reply. It seems that once he lets you through his defences, he will allow you to stay there.
Ben has been a different but equally interesting story. After our flurry of final communication that last weekend, he retreated into complete silence. I sent him a few things, but he seemed to be off the internet altogether, his feed devoid of new updates. I was surprised at just how much I missed him. Our chats has always been so enjoyable. Yes of course it made me feel special to have a bond with a celebrity, but above that I also just genuinely liked him as a person. Without twitter, there was no way at all to speak to him anymore and so I had lost that.
This was, until one surreal evening exactly one month after closing night. I was sitting in my room and talking to Viv online, when, from his silence emerged the man himself, with a general message greeting his 72000 followers from Guadeloupe. Apparently he had just arrived to begin filming the Caribbean show he’d told me about. I had barely had time to register my pleasure at seeing him online again, before to my complete shock, he used his next message to reply to me! A few days previously I had mentioned him and James in a joking complaint that there was no reason to report my celebrity spots to them any more (Eric Bana had been in the theatre). James had replied and now here was Ben, saying ‘well come on, who was it...?’ Here is the conversation which ensued. Bear in mind this was the first thing he’d said in a month and in his general tweet he’s mentioned he was on the beach having a barbecue. I was just imagining the delight his fans must have felt upon seeing him active again, followed perhaps by their indignation he spent the rest of the evening talking to just one person!
Me: ‘BEEEN! You’re alive and tweeting! And in Guadeloupe! Wow! It was Eric Bana, ie him off of The Hulk (I work at Phantom now)x
Ben: a very fine comic actor in his day... have you seen The Castle? Just brilliant...
Me: No although I shall have to now. Admittedly was slightly distracted by his prettiness. Are you twitting me from a beach?!
Ben: I am I am. Sun going down. Waves lapping. Mosquitoes feasting.
(this was where I got truly gobsmacked!)
Me: Honoured. Sounds heavenly. Could even put up with the mossies. I’m in Highbury, lovely. Did you see the pics I sent you?
(I had sent him the picture of the two of us just after we closed and later a picture of the newly empty Gielgud stage).
Ben: sent where? On here? Sorry I’ve been in suspended animation on a star cruiser holodeck.
(I resent both pictures)
Ben: looks a bit like you’re my carer! Sweet photo tho. Twitter won’t let me see the others for some reason. Probably a good thing...
Ben (contd.) ... can’t bear the thought of the Gielgud being unfaithful...
(I’d told him what the picture was of. I got the sense throughout our chat that he was missing it all as much as I was, which was probably his inspiration for starting the conversation in the first place).
Me: Please share my pain! (resent photo) Undecided whether 2 go back for Chariots. It won’t be the same – new signs are up!
Ben: like a shard in my heart.
So that was that. Quite insane. Unfortunately he retreated into silence again and I haven’t had a reply from him again since. Perhaps that really will be it now. I hope not. I appreciate all the ties I can maintain from that time in my life, especially such special ones. Promotion has begun for the Ladykillers tour, and with it pictures of the new cast. It’s bizarre to see the poster looking just the same and yet with different faces. Happily though, Will our friend the understudy has been selected to play Stephen’s role for the tour, which is greatly exciting!
At the end of May, after the sun had died again, I enjoyed a night off work to attend another TV recording. This time, excitingly, it was QI. As great as the show itself and seeing the brilliant Stephen Fry in action though was spending the night with three of my favourite people from three different camps in my life: best friend Sophie; boyfriend Ollie and brother James. Recording was really fun and who’d have thought it, but David Mitchell was a guest so I got to see him again! There was apparently no need for all the ninja moves I had to pull to see him when he came to the theatre that time!
The wet weather continued in predictable but fairly spectacular fashion for the long Bank Holiday weekend at the start of June to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Of course, the holiday did not affect me work wise – I got no extra time off, but London was buzzing in the time I was there. Plus, I escaped to Kent for 24 hours for an indoor garden party with all the family. We ate lot of food, played party games and watched the crowds lining the Thames getting soaked as they watched the flotilla. On the Monday, Ollie and his parents attended the concert, whilst I was stuck in work just down the road. On Tuesday, the two of us decided to try to see the royal carriage procession, but central London was packed by the time we got there. Somehow we managed to squeeze onto Whitehall, but the crowds were so dense already we couldn’t get close enough to see anything except the top of the coach and a flash of Kate and Harry’s heads! Everywhere had such a lovely atmosphere though: despite the poor weather and packed streets, everyone was in a good mood and there was a genuine and rarely-expressed sense of national pride being exhibited.
So, full circle. Tomorrow, I am going into the Gielgud to interview for my old job. Yes, I absolutely decided in the end it was the best thing to do. I have handed in my notice at Her Majesty’s and Chariots of Fire opens next week. It was a relief making the decision and I can’t wait to be back. I don’t expect to regain what is lost but I have never lost my love for that place and will be so much happier being back there. If this really were a musical or play, the sun would start shining again and the overture would start up! Watch this space.