Up to Oxford

Terrible traffic on my bus up to Oxford but for the first time in many journeys from London to Oxford I don’t have a lump of fear in my throat about time pressure.


Sure I’m going up to SEE a play. But usually I’ve been going up to be in one. It’s not such a high pressure thing… If I miss the start, the show goes on anyway. I just miss seeing the beginning.

I’ll likely dedicate a blog to writing about the show tomorrow. Today I’ll just use this moment of downtime to write something, so I can have a few drinks at the press night and catch up with old friends without feeling the weight of 500 words pulling at the edges of my fun.

Tristan and I are off to see Bleak House. It’s Creation Theatre, who I did The Tempest with over summer with the scary commute. The show will take place in The Norrington Room of Blackwell’s Bookshop. We made The Odyssey there with The Factory far too many years ago when we were all so young and foolish. The smell of the room will almost certainly trigger huge strange memories. I look forward to it. I dread it.

It’s a strange and beautiful bookshop, Blackwell’s, as Bleak House is a strange and beautiful book. I studied it closely at university. My personal tutor Nicola had written the foreword to the most recent penguin classic edition, and her knowledge and passion for the piece were both contagious. Time has allowed me to forget most of it – although how could I forget the spontaneous combustion? But I’m sure it’ll come back to me in the watching. And knowing this company it will be a sparky and unusual fun telling, rather than an earnest worthy and ultimately dull endeavour such as you might get out of a different company’s theatrical re-working of Dickens. In the same bag as our Christmas Carol, you could argue. Tell the story, mark the changes, have fun while you’re doing it and bring in some music. It’ll be fun.

That’s if we ever get there through this traffic. Tristan’s brother’s son was finally born this morning. The news and the need to celebrate it slowed us down considerably. And the daytime fizz made me slow and fuzzy. This bus is unpredictable at the best of times. The first time I used it to get to rehearsal it broke down. This time it’s gridlock.

Still, we have two hours before the show starts and we’re almost out of London now. Fingers crossed we make it. I might have a doze.

Still not at Oxford, and I’m contemplating the fact that I genuinely believed it would be a good idea to commute by motorbike for three weeks. I am so glad I didn’t get through the test in time. I’d be dead for sure. I was livid at the time. It’s a long dull fast road. I was so tired at times over the summer. Phew.

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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