The gifts in isolation

Thank you for the support yesterday, I was feeling very down when I wrote.  Yesterday felt calmer, and in no small part because I felt less alone in my emotional roller coaster, it does help to know you’re not the only one feeling all the feelings every day.

But today I feel the need to be more positive and look at what we have done and achieved and experienced in this strange time.  I started keeping a list last weekend of all the new things I have done.

This week there have been a couple of crackers.  Last night the whole family “went to the theatre”.  It’s been a long time since the offspring came to the theatre with us; one does not usually live with us, the other has declared himself a theatre hater. But last night found us all waiting for National Theatre to start their streaming of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ at 7pm.  Mum was ‘with’ us and watching from her own home and friends ‘joined’ us from their homes.  It is sublime, my stomach muscles are noticing the laughter workout this morning.  If you have never watched any theatre in your life, I recommend this at this time.  James Corden is comic timing and physical theatre at its best.  We all roared with laughter and the world was a better place for the laughter.  It is available to watch until next Wednesday.  Do watch it, it will help I promise.

On Tuesday evening we joined Sofa Singers to sit in a Zoom room and join hundreds of other folks in their sitting rooms around the country to sing James’ 1990s anthem ‘Sit Down’.  A favourite anyway and a delight to sing it.  Singing helps you feel good and you forget all else as you belt out (badly in my case) an anthemic chorus.  And then there on the screen appeared Tim Booth, the lead singer of James.  He spoke about having written the song in a time of isolation in his life and how moving it was to see so many happy faces at home singing and clapping along to his song and being soothed and brought together in their own time of isolation.  An amazing moment, to be treasured as we sang with Tim Booth.  Not that he could hear us, nor us hear him, but we knew anyway.  Amazing.

There have been other brilliant experiences, the list grows longer every week.  Which gives me hope that this period is not without learning, not without expanding our world, not without joy and community.

I am hugely grateful for the technology we have and the broadband connectivity to be able to reach beyond these four walls.  

Resting in the theatre

It is one of those weeks where there is a lot happening, more by coincidence than design.  The challenge is to recognise that some of what we have a tendency to call busy is relaxing and energising.  Theatre being the best example of that for me.  I love the theatre, I love the whole experience of watching a live performance along with other people.  I love the sets, costumes, lighting, music.  I am fascinated by the actors’ ability to remember lines, to be in the right spot at the right time. It is magical, in a way that TV or cinema rarely are for me.

There is still a tendency to call it ‘busy’ though.  You have to be at the theatre at a set time, the tickets have to be bought in advance, you have no choice as to when the play ends.  All of those things have correlations with a meeting I suppose. But the huge difference is I am always energised by the theatre – an effect that lasts into the next day.

Last night I saw This Houseat The Rep with friends, so there was a chance to discuss it afterwards which is always fun.  Chatting about and dissecting the play is all part of the enjoyment for me.  Reliving any experience through speaking, writing, or thinking about an experience makes it more impactful, so it is a good exercise, but it’s worth paying attention to reliving the good experiences more than the bad.   I enjoy the anticipation as well, which is what makes the logistics of a theatre trip a totally different experience than attending a meeting.  But maybe I need to try and make the meeting experience more like a theatre trip, now that would improve the quality of life.

PS I am not a theatre reviewer, for that I recommend Love A Good Play, excellent short blogs on each play that an avid theatre-goer sees.  Not that I can find her review for This House, which I am sure she saw in its time at The National Theatre.

Photo of Birmingham Rep from