20 years


I’m still thinking about that reunion yesterday.

Ellen has been photographing old snaps she took of us, and sending them to a WhatsApp group in bunches. At the time I had it in my head that I was old, as I was a little older than some of the people in my year. There really wasn’t much in it when I compare it with how old we all are now. The youngest of us all have babies now. Ellen’s sensible daughter – who we all knew when we were training – she’s older than all of us were when we started, and she’s got an OBE for her work with ebola while we were putting on make-up in a room above a pub.

To get to Guildhall for the reunion I took my usual commute. I found it quite emotional to tread the ground I had walked every day back as the millennium turned, guessing at what might be in store for myself and for others. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, which is why they still remake films that were great the first time round. I wasn’t the only one to get a bit teary eyed as I remembered the uncomplicated past.

These were not halcyon days. Halcyon days are a construct. It’s pretty good now, frankly. But time brings weight. I miss the gung ho way in which I approached things back then, even if I was many degrees more naïve than I am now. My support structure was in full presence. It’s good to connect with that sense of safety again. My mother was a fixed point. I can’t overestimate the extent to which parents anchor us. When I lost that anchor a couple of years after this photo, I drifted for a long long time, and reflexively started protecting myself and building defences.

I’ve been thinking of the girlfriends I left so I could chase my career or my solitude, and the other people I’ve pushed away by mistake. I see that pattern having become a deeper part of my behaviour now that I’m my own anchor. I wonder if I’ll ever break it enough to walk alongside somebody again. I hope so. Some of those eyes around that table – they are unchanged. I love those humans. I’ve looked into all of those eyes and told the truth so many times that even though I hadn’t seen some of them for decades it felt like yesterday. Such a diverse group of unusual humans. We were a strong ensemble. There was a lot of love. Now I rarely see the bulk of them.

There are one or two who I still see, who still touch my life regularly. Some through Factory, others through just walking in similar patterns. But this all consuming antisocial vocation I’m still rattling at forces me to concentrate when people leave the nexus that is London, and often I can go months and months without contacting someone I really like. It’s all so sporadic, shifting from centre to centre. I still love it. But it’s an antisocial job.

In my recall audition at Guildhall before the whole faculty they asked “Where do you see yourself in twenty years?” “Definitely still acting, no matter what. This audition will help determine how well.”

Well. Here I am. Wherever that is…


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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