My best friend has a relatively new baby – (7 and a half months), and the opportunity for her to go and work at our old drama school part time (directing a second year show) came up. What a lovely thing, to be able to bring her deep practical understanding to these people just starting out. It works for her in that it’s not as all consuming as a rehearsal process into a run, so she can look after the little one and keep soliciting for telly work while giving back to the beautiful college that encouraged our kindness and presence. It works for the kids because they get an opportunity to work alongside a practitioner steeped in her craft and robustly validated by her industry, and one who has never shifted into a habitual “teaching” groove. It’s lovely to run workshops from that practitioner headspace.

I hauled myself over to Catford to spend the evening with her, as weekends actually mean something for her at the moment. I’m still recovering from the emotions and the dancing but I’m pretty much square with things now. Seeing her helped round off the remaining edges. We’ve always helped dig each other out of the dumps.

Last time I saw them, her boyfriend was seriously considering going to Shanghai to visit one of his best friends who is doing Punchdrunk out there. I said he should probably just do it. It’s not often you have a good friend you can stay with in Shanghai. I missed one shot a few years ago. My friend didn’t. He went and impulse booked the whole trip coming off a job, blew the whole job on it, and spent 10 days in entry level China. Based on the conversation I’ve just had with him it was even worth the horribly expensive last minute visa. He played me some audio of an “angel” singing in a passenger tunnel in Fu-Jing. It made my heart stop with soaring human-yet-alien vowels. It was just some guy practicing. Not even busking. Using the tunnel’s acoustic to check his form. Gorgeous and unusual.

I found myself yearning to go somewhere unfamiliar again and spend some time out of the groove. I could get behind the idea of a trip to China. I don’t speak a word of the language but if you’re looking for a culture that is utterly unlike the familiar, I reckon you can’t get much better than that. Plus I’m not a fussy eater. But anywhere will do. Who has a house somewhere unusual that I can crash in for a week?

I’m lucky that I still can travel relatively easy. I’ve kept myself unfettered. Very few obligations apart from Pickle. I can just pick up and go. Money or the lack of it and the obsession with keeping myself available for acting work are the only things that have been hobbling me. I take my hat off to my friend’s boyfriend, for just booking a flight, working out a visa and sodding off to Shanghai. Maybe I need to make a show that can travel and book myself a world tour. Maybe I need to just sod off to China and work it out when I get there…


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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