Theatre and old friends

The tube is sweltering hot. It’s vile. And i royally fucked up. I’m supposed to be going to Balham. I got on the train at Moorgate and didn’t realise I had autopiloted north until I got to Highgate. It’s going to make me impressively late for the theatre. But if I had to be late for one thing today, that would be the thing. It’s been a rare day. I met – or at least put down a tape with the assistant of – a casting director I’ve wanted to get on the radar with. It’s for a hilarious bit of US telly. I dressed up super smart. Even a damn tie clip. Then I swam home in this hideous tube, washed, and put on a tracksuit and trainers to go back out for a workshop audition. The audition uniform. Super sharp suit or barefoot in tattered trainers and movement clothes with rips. An hour and a half being ridiculous with lovely people loosely framed in Shakespeare. A quick pint afterwards because that’s what the group was doing and they seemed like goodies. Then I ran off in completely the wrong direction to see my friend’s show. I’ve seen it before, which is just as well, because it started 1 minute ago in Streatham Hill and I’ve just hit Elephant and Castle. There’s no point even getting stressed about it. The tube only goes as fast as it goes. I lost a good half hour. I’ll just have to miss the start. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak in late. If not I’ll just try to style it out in the bar afterwards. “Yeah that bit when you were oooh. It was, you know, wasn’t it?”

I think the best news of the day is that an old advert is going on the air again. I shot it about a year ago. The usage is always worth more than the fee. So there should be a chunk of money in time for November which will help make sense of my decision to try to walk for over a month in October.

Stockwell now. Still 4 stops to Balham and then 6 bus stops or an Uber. 8 minutes of the show already elapsed and it’s not a long show. I’m thinking of sacking it off… There’ll be other chances. And I’ve seen it before…

I’m gonna go stand by the door.

I didn’t make it. By any stretch of the imagination. I’ve seen the show before though. It’s wonderful, clear and sentimental in a way that makes you remember why sentiment done honestly can genuinely affect us. But by the time I got to the theatre there were ten minutes left. I’ve never been so late for a show. Thankfully I hadn’t booked. So I just sat in the bar and caught people on exit. And was honest. “I didn’t see it, but it’s nice to see you.” But i left early to get a bus home. I was highly aware of not getting there in time. And then CURVE BALL.

There I am responsibly seeking a night bus to save the pennies. But one of my closest friends from school messages me late. This is unusual. I haven’t heard from him for ages. He’s asking when we can see each other. “I’m always best at short notice,” I tell him non committaly. “Fifteen minutes?” He replies. Spot the manager. That is an efficiently called bluff. I’m not one to pass that up. I give him a place near mine. i get to it before him, barely, thanks to Uber. He’s a minute behind me. We commence a catch up.

God. These people that knew me deeply before I totally reinvented my surface out of perceived necessity. They know a version of me free from the constraints of the difference between my childhood and my adulthood. It’s good to know that even if I feel totally different, our relationship remains undamaged, our friendship the same. He’s made multiple children, fallen rightfully in love, seen things change within that, is reassessing. I’ve run around making things, observing people, reinventing myself, failing to value myself enough for a relationship. None of this matters. We will pick up where we left off.

A strange thing happened to me at boarding school, where within the first month all 750 pupils knew who I was but called me “Terry Fuckwit”.  I still sometimes encounter people who assume my name is Terry. The few people who pointedly chose to be my friends put up with attempted mockery for doing so. And now they’re all golden human beings.

My beautiful healthy practical friend, who chose not to join the crowd. His validation was so unexpected and effortlessly meant back then that, along with probably three other human beings, he helped teach the extremely messy teenage version of me that whatever I brought to the table was me and that person was loved and understood. It’s that sort of lesson that allows me to put these daily unedited missives to friends and strangers out into the world.

I’m hoping I’ll see a lot more of him going forward and I am almost certain that I will…


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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