And so it begins. Echoing the frantic Spring Cleaning at the start of Kenneth Grahame’s sweet dated little tale of English animals, we are putting something together as swiftly as we possibly can. It surely was the hottest day of the year so far as we all sat in a distanced circle by the banks of the Cherwell and did the first week of rehearsal in a morning. Now we probably know each other’s names, and we are aware of things that might have an impact – such as one of us being phobic of dogs in a park that is full of them all day. We even have a sort of kind of script type affair type thing. Even if it’s really just a melange of beats and ideas. And we’ve all learnt four parts of a song.
My job is now to absorb all those animal studies we did so exhaustively under the guidance of Wendy in our leotards when we were young and strong at Guildhall. Then we have to forget it all, put on a decent costume, and try and entertain a whole load of shrieking children and their adults as they rampage through a hot meadow. My homework today is to read two chapters of the source material looking for useful quotes, and to watch videos of badgers doing things.
One thing worth noting, for our transatlantic friends – we do badgers very differently on this side of the pond. Over in the Americas, the mustelidae are complete bastards. Honey Badgers and Wolverines. They’ll bite your testicles off if they can and then come back for whatever else you might have hanging off you. Our Meles Meles variety is larger than your American equivalents, but temperamentally they are completely opposite. They would much prefer to run away than to fight. This is for the best as they are absolutely riddled with fleas and disease. Like a Komodo Dragon, if they scratch you you’ll likely get badly infected. But they won’t and don’t scratch. They just hide. Nonetheless various paranoid types insist they spread tuberculosis and should be regularly shot in large numbers.
The first and only time I have seen a Badger was more or less four years ago today when I got drunk and wrote while walking through Osney Mead, predicting Covid. Now I’m back in Oxford to be the Badger during this damp and uninspiring Apocalypse type scenario. It’s all going to be over before it’s begun, but I’m going to enjoy the humanity of it.
We went to a PUB after rehearsal, some of us. It was Paella night so we definitely all had Paella. It is so hot but it felt the right thing to do. They’ve run out of lime cordial for the soda. I’ve consumed so much liquid today and still I feel like I’m empty. I got cloudy limey soda water and guzzled it. I’m a conduit for liquid. It goes in through my mouth and out through my face.
I’m quickly dizzy when I stand up fast in this heat. The met have issued an amber heat warning. I sleep in a garret and in the daytime I’ll be running around covered in fake fur… Early beds, long sleeps, good food, hydration. All the things one doesn’t normally associate with an acting job. ’twill be fun though. More so once it settles, but already it’s a joy just to be back working live with other humans. Some old friends. Some new faces.
I’ll go to sleep with the song in my head. The Wind in the Willows.